Friday, July 31, 2009

You can put environment variables in Windows command prompts

I never knew you could do this. I learned this from a page about putting the machine name into the command prompt. The machine name often shows up on Solaris/Linux prompts, but you don't usually see it on Windows. Anyway, you do it via an environment variable, using the standard prompt command:

prompt [%computername%]$S$P$G

gives you a prompt that looks like [mymachinename] c:\temp>

The original page that gave me the idea describes how you can put this code into a registry value so that it gets executed for every console you run.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Comicon 2009 Costume Gallery

Six hundred different costumes from ComiCon 2009. I'm in heaven. Check out this Space Marine costume, looks handmade and fantastic.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Steven Brust wrote a Firefly novel and it's free

I was looking up some detail about Steven Brust's Jhereg books, which I am currently rereading for the umpteenth time, and I bumped into this fact on his Wikipedia page: he wrote a novel based on the Firefly universe, and it's available for free download under a Creative Commons license. You can get it in an easy-to-read PDF or one-file html format.

Monday, July 27, 2009

This is what's staring at me on my desk: The Creech

I love this action figure of the character Creech, which I received from my brother and sister in law in Georgia one Christmas. I've never read this character, but I really like how the sculpt of this monster turned out, with its giant metal gloves and cybernetics on top of bulging muscles, and its cybernetic tentacle hair depending from a sort of implant node on the neck.

In fact, though I found some art and description of this character online, I have little interest in the comics version of it. The art I've seen doesn't do it for me the way the sculpt does. The sculpt is gritty and solid while the art seems fanciful.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Don't forget that it's not that easy to change the world

Writer Crawford Killian has an interesting post from July 2007 about the genre of Connecticut Yankee novels, the sort where someone goes back in time and tries to import technology...usually making sweeping changes to the world.

The comic Partially Clips has something to say about this idea.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

T-shirt art for Vacation Bible School

I drew this art to go with the Lord of Life Lutheran Church's summer vacation bible school program this year, which will use the Discovery Canyon commercially-designed program. I think the idea is that there are several magical animals which can take kids on a magical journey to magicland. Something like that. I like drawing animals. Note the exceedingly large praying mantis. I did that so that it wouldn't get eaten right off by the lizard, and make the children cry.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Souped-up and jury-rigged

I recently discovered two phrases which I had all wrong. I know that I've smugly thought other people were wrong when they used these phrases correctly, so as penance I did a little research.

  • Jury-rig: I knew people used "jury-rig" to mean the same thing as "jerry-rig", that is, something that is improvised or hastily fixed. But I thought "jury-rig" derived from a clueless mispronunciation of jerry-rig. In fact, as best I can determine from the intertubes, both are valid phrases, jury-rig deriving from a sailing term. But jerry-rig refers to German improvisation in wartime, and is pejorative. So, jury-rig, the one I thought was a mistake, is not just correct, but a better term to use. I think "jerry-rig" is just the way I first heard it used.
  • Souped-up: When people spelled it "soup", I'd secretly smile. They were confused, I thought. I was sure the proper way was "suped-up", as in "to make super." But nope, Merriam-Webster and other sources use "souped-up." My reverse etymology failed.
There, I feel better now.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two points of view in biology handily discussed

I was going to go contentious and label this post "Factions in Biology" but I know how creationists seize on disputes in science. Of course there are disputes in science. It's all about the latest evidence. Anyway: this article, The Genome: An Outsider's View, talks about how molecular biologists and natural history biologists come at the discipline from very different viewpoints, likening the two to the blind men viewing an elephant parable. It's an instructive idea and a nice piece of science writing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A perfect mix: Littlest Pets Go To War

This is what happened when Chloe encountered the toy tank I bought from an all-boy garage sale this weekend.

We're planning on rating her Littlest Pets for Warhammer, but we haven't gotten around to it yet.

More papier mache mountain pictures

The previous photo didn't really show much except the enjoyment of my daughters, so I wanted to provide a couple of additional ones.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Choppers scrambled to stop the burger madness

I'll just continue reposting my favorites from BoingBoing and Metafilter here, thank you very much. Here's one...In the UK, a fellow mentioned an all-night party on Facebook. UK police responded by scrambling a chopper to stop the madness. Apparently they really worry about raves getting out of hand over there. But it was just 15 people eating burgers.

Shoot, I've had 15 people eating burgers at my house. Clearly this is why we had to revolt against British rule...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mountain with Dark Tower

The other big craft project I did while the family was away was to build a mountain. It's made from a thick cardboard tube and foam core, with cardboard strips to make the mountain sides and the whole covered with paper mache.

This was one of my most successful crafts ever; the girls immediately brought dolls to it and began playing with it. They were not deterred by the ominous dark tower that tops it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Barbie car for Lily

I found a dirty, beat-up Barbie car at a garage sale for a quarter, while the family was out of town. I cleaned it up, replaced the windshield, added a hood ornament, and added some bling.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Clamp-on table legs

Here's a couple of examples of a neat green idea: adjustable table legs that clamp onto a flat surface, making it easy to turn any door/surfboard/whatever you have lying around into a table.

Example one: the mechanism is either inspired by or made from a caulk gun.

Example two: uses a simpler screw mechanism.

Kroot Knarloc sculpt, knarloc finished

My Knarloc sculpt is finished. I plan to add a rider and some tack, but the creature itself is done. I can see some flaws but I'm definitely excited about how this one turned out. It's modeled on these ForgeWorld sculpts, and here's my previous post about this project.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Paper mache cat for Lily

My family was away for more than two weeks. I used the time to make lots and lots of crafts. Here's one of them: a paper mache cat/container.

I swear by all that's holy it's cuter than it looks in this photo.

I made it by blowing up a balloon and taping it to an empty coffee can, which I'd poured a little plaster into to give it some weight. I paper mached it and then cut a big hole in the back of the head to allow access to the hollow inside for storage. I should've put more mache on first, though, as it didn't want to hold its shape.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm a pepper

Since I made this chicken recipe for the crock pot yesterday, and substituted Dr Pepper for the lemon lime soda, and ate some for lunch today, I found myself

drinking a Dr Pepper
while eating a meal that contains Dr Pepper
while wearing a Dr Pepper t-shirt

I expected some weird cosmic events to ensue, but nothing so far.

Oh, and the brown sugar chicken? Well, if you leave out the black pepper and substitute Dr Pepper as I's not that exciting. Needs salt.

Shirts from The Big Bang Theory

The t-shirts that the character Sheldon wears on The Big Bang can purchase any and all of them from a site called

Monday, July 13, 2009

This is what video games do to your kids

I like how this episode of Partially Clips pans people's fears of video games....pointing out that if games cause monkey-see, monkey-do violence, we should see other effects:


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Weekly newspaper-style comics from DC

Starting two days ago, DC released something called Wednesday Comics, newspaper-style $4 issues, released once a week. They also did that 52 thing, which released once a week. I only saw one issue of that one. Anyway. Interesting idea. Here's a link.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Work in progress: Great Knarloc

I'm trying to sculpt a Great Knarloc, a riding beast used by the Kroot from Warhammer 40,000. It's basically a big featherless chicken that can kill you. Here's what they look like if you do a fantastic paint job.

These photos show the initial armature I made, and the first few layers of clay. It's pretty ugly right now, but I'm happy with how this one is turning out. I used photo reference (that's right, the hard part is finding a plucked chicken to work with...), but I'm doing a different pose.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Inspiration through misunderstanding

I saw some miniatures on the web that someone made for a variant setting for the Mordheim skirmish game. One of these miniatures caught my eye as a neat subject.

However, the first image I saw was a small thumbnail and I misunderstood what I was seeing. That turned out to be a good thing. I like what I thought I saw better.

I thought I was looking at a strange bipedal lionlike creature. And I got the idea of a friendlier such beast, with a kid riding on its head, grasping its mane.

So the above is my initial drawing for such a design. Here's the figure that inspired it.

Warhammer Fantasy paper buildings

I was looking for some free paper fantasy buildings to print & glue together. I liked these from Daves Games the best. They seem to be simple to construct but have really fun art -- a nice compromise between realism and cartoonishness, very appropriate for gaming.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Adding missiles to Tau Piranhas, magnetically

The goal: missile attached under the wing

I wanted removable Seeker missiles on my Piranha models. It occurred to me that I had some tin flashing lying around, and I could save on magnets by cutting small pieces of that and gluing it onto the Piranha undersides, then using neodymium magnets on the missiles.

Seeker missiles are optional one-shot weapons and any Tau vehicle can take a couple of them. I don't have very many missiles yet, but this was a quick way to add missile attachment points to a bunch of vehicles. No drilling required, and the tin flashing can be cut with strong scissors/shears.

I cut a strip of flashing, then cut small squares from it

I glued the metal squares near the front of the wing undersides

To magnetize the missiles, I drilled holes and cleaned them out with a hobby knife, then superglued a tiny round magnet in place

Magic District posts about entitlement in fantasy

I bumped into this blog, the Magic District, by a fantasy writer, a while ago. I liked this particular post a lot. It brings up the issue of how fantasy is full of main characters who have what she calls "powerless power," or power that derives from an unearned trait like looks or, in fantasy, magic.

Most books, she points out, have their unearnedly (new word!) powerful characters turn out to be nice and decent folk, but in real life that's not so common. She suggests a plot about a character who loses their special ability and has to rebuild; I love this idea.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A wikipedia clone with attractive women in office gear?

I was surfing on the search term 'wargame' and I found this page:

It looked pretty ordinary at first. I clicked a link, went to another page on the same site. At the top of the each page was a picture of a woman wearing office clothes, but looking like a model. I bounced around a little...the same four or five pictures are reused at the top of every page, whether they are relevant or not...they usually aren't. A strange thing. I can't figure out what the point of that decoration is. They're too subtle for me.

God Bless John Wayne

Seen on biking to work last week.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Glucose reader that plugs into Nintendo DS

For diabetic kids, Bayer has come up with a glucose reader that plugs into a DS slot. Alas, you can't use it on the very latest DS, the DSi. But this is a really interesting integration. Really, you could use a DS as a screen for any gadget.

My Little Tyson

I wanted to send my littlest one something, and she loves My Little Pony dolls, and she's with her uncle Tyson now, so my course of action was clear. I'm given to understand she very much enjoyed coloring My Little Tyson.

Tyson's dignity should note that he's riding a unicorn. Nothing less would do for such a fancy bastard.

Unusual miniature figures

I love figure models. I've built a lot more models since I figured that out. And since the miniatures industry went in the plastics direction, mini models are easier to build and modify.

I painted miniatures when I was a kid, and now that I'm getting back into the hobby I find that it's changed a bit. There's a lot more plastic miniatures, which are built of many pieces rather than the one-piece or few-pieces models that metal afforded. So building theses plastic models is more like building a plastic kit. It's more work, but it has advantages: the figures are easier to modify and they are lighter, so they store more easily with less damage: pile them together and they don't break each other.

The availability of resin casting has made a lot of garage kits available, too. There seem to be a ton of small-run, unusual figures available now. Here's one site that can guide you to a number of them:

Some that I liked were this squat-bodied dwarf with an impressive beard, a pipe, and some nice armor, this odd one called Toxic Girl, and this full-figured adventurer gal (maybe I've been sheltered, but I got a kick out of seeing a figure decked out as a D&D-type adventurer but with the proportions of a real woman).

Ah, and this one: The Travelling Court of the Brownie King, depicting a castle on the back of a dinosaur.

Create your own bike lane with lasers

Here's an idea for a gadget that projects a bike lane boundary next to your bike. It uses lasers, so it must be cool.

The selling point is that you're less likely to, you know, be killed if you're in a bike lane.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Fixed my mower's gas tank

So, my mower has had a crack in the gas tank for forever. If you filled it within an inch of the top, it'd leak.

This struck me as a bad thing, but somehow nothing ever exploded. And gas tanks and mower engines seemed like a lot to try and fix.

However, over the course of the...years I let this problem sit, I had occasion to take the mower apart a little bit. A couple of times. And eventually, I noticed that the gas tank was just a plastic part mounted on a couple of screws and connected by one hose.

Meanwhile, I had become acquainted with the wonders of epoxy.

So, last weekend I ran the mower till it stopped, removed the gas tank, rinsed it, glued it with JB Weld, filled it with water to test the seal, dried it in the Texas sun, and reinstalled it.

And filled that baby to the rim. Runs beautifully, too. I am so proud.

I shoulda posted this one on Father's Day. Without dad's example I'd never have gotten around to fixing something like this.

And the funniest thing about it is that it was really really easy to do. It just took me realizing that it was going to be easy, to get around to it. That, and I had to take the mower's covers off a couple of times before I realized it was no big deal.

Interview with a capybara owner in Texas

I dunno where I found this one, but it's pretty charming. I like the Texas connection and the fact that it's author Jeff Vandermeer doing the interviewing.

Gaming forum for Austin miniature wargamers

If you want to set up a game in Austin, this site has forums where you can arrange to meet with folks to play: Austin Miniature Minions. You can ask for a pickup game or plan one out days in advance. A lot of Warhammer, both 40k and Warhammer Fantasy Battles, but other games too.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Join me in a trip through the Creationist museum this holiday weekend

I don't actually want to go anywhere, but John Scalzi went there, took pictures, and added snarky comments. Great fun.

Your Creation Museum Report, from The Whatever, by John Scalzi, 2007

Just so you know, hardcore creationism includes the idea that despite all of paleontology, the world was created only about 6k years ago. And dinosaurs coexisted with humans.

It wasn't as tough as you'd think, because back in the Garden of Eden days, all the animals were herbivores. No joke. There were T-rexes around, but you didn't have to worry about them eating you. Maybe stepping on you, but not eating you.

Until after Eve and the whole apple fiasco. Then you were a buffet walking.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


I feel it is my duty to support the nascent Crabcore movement by posting the one known example on the tubes, Stick Stickly's elegant rendition of 'Attack Attack'.

If I had a nifty MP3-playing alarm clock, I'd put this on it right now.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Crap Detection 101

From Metafilter, I was directed to this article about how to be skeptical when finding information online. Some good advice there.