Maps, Rocks, and Places

Geography is about more than the capitals of countries you’ve never heard about.  Geography is about place, and anything that has a place is geography.  Geographers study the distribution and spread of disease.  They study how landforms are changed by the forces of man and nature.  They study the diffusion of slang terms.  They look at the distribution of particular styles of architecture within a community as a surrogate for the origin and culture of the people who live there.  Anything that has a place or a distribution in space is fair game.  Geography is about us and our world.  And most of all, geography is about maps.  Beautiful maps.

Geography is deep in our roots at the Turtlshel Project.  Come in and find out more than you ever knew there was.  And maps.  Beautiful maps.

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Nerd Fashion

Sometimes there’s just nothing better than jeans and a pair of Chucks.  Or a good jacket.  A fine Oxford shirt.  Or a bow tie.  Bow ties are cool.  We’re not high fashion here – we just like to look and feel good.

[image courtesy of Steven Guzzardi on albumarium.com]
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Learn Something New, Be Something More

Version 3.1 of YOU is just around the corner.  Maybe they’ll be announcing it at the next MicroApple Developers’ Conference.  I wonder what kind of FEATURES it will have.  Maybe a new degree, or a bunch of new skills?  Or maybe YOU 3.1 is just totally badass.  Upgrading YOU is up to YOU.  Be what you want to be.

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Introducing Nerd Q&A

You have questions.  You do, really, I promise.  Or somebody had a question.  We have answers.  Lots of answers.  We have answers in search of questions.  We have answers in search of answers.  We even have answers that like foreign films and long walks on the beach.

[image courtesy of Derek Bridges on Flickr.com]
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Extinction: 100 Years Since Martha

Extinction: 100 Years Since Martha

I remember reading the story in the Scholastic News as a kid – a species of bird so numerous that when it migrated it completely blotted out the sky, sometimes for days.  An abundant species so hounded by hunters that within a human lifespan they were completely gone.  100 years ago today Martha, the very last known living passenger pigeon, died at the Cincinnati Zoo.

All around the story is interesting – there are a lot of things I’ve learned in the last couple days that I didn’t know.  At the time, the passenger pigeon was the most numerous bird species in North America, with billions of individuals, and may have been the most numerous bird species in the world.  Martha lived to be somewhere between 17 and 29 years old (Wikipedia claims that 29 is the most commonly accepted age), which just blows me away.  Is it common for birds to be that old?  Martha was frozen in a block of ice after her death and sent by train to the Smithsonian where she was photographed, skinned, mounted, dissected, preserved, and put on display for most of the next 85 years.

I didn’t understand all of the social and ecological issues when I read that article all those years ago – thinking about the age I was, it was probably the 75th anniversary of Martha’s death.  Even though the extinction of the passenger pigeon was a horrible tragedy, it was also the catalyst for many of the fundamental protections we have today.  It’s interesting to think of myself sitting in school learning about an extinct bird (I think we also learned about California Condors at the same time – an issue that was big then), never knowing that 25 years later my career would be focused on endangered species restoration.

Quote of the Week – Unknown Source

Quote of the Week – Unknown Source

Passwords are like underwear. You shouldn’t leave them out where people can see them. You should change them regularly. And you shouldn’t loan them out to strangers.

Unknown Source

 

The Quote of the Week seems particularly apt given the turmoil we have seen in the world of privacy and computer security the last year or so.  It seems every week or so there is a new announcement of several million passwords stolen, a new spying program, some major software flaw that affects every version of every application since DOS 1.0, or some slick social engineering trick that turns people into stupid password-providing drones.  It’s always been a crazy race between the attackers and defenders – though it seems lately that not only are the defenders generally losing, sometimes it’s pretty hard to tell which side is which.

Adult-sized Plywood Big Wheel Tricycle

Adult-sized Plywood Big Wheel Tricycle

m40-bigger-wheel-moe

Make has a post featuring Australian Jon Canton’s adult-sized plywood Big Wheel tricycle.  After enlarging the dimensions from the kid-sized toy to and adult-sized toy, Canton used a Shopbot desktop CNC to cut out the pieces of the five-foot-long tricycle from 10 sheets of plywood.  Although I can’t imagine any excuse I could use to get my wife to let me build one of these, this is unbelievably cool. One of my very earliest memories is the boy next door letting me ride his Big Wheel.  Apparently I called it a cyclebike, which was my word for motorcycles almost until I was in junior high.  I have no need or even use for one of these, but I want one.  For reals.

Make an ORNL Tiny-Titan Supercomputer with RPi

Make an ORNL Tiny-Titan Supercomputer with RPi

I have been following the ORNL efforts since the Stone Soup-er Computer and have wanted to do something like this with Mini-ITX machines.  Then the other night I saw the mini cluster chapter in the 21 brilliant things to do with Raspberry Pi book.  Next project?

Quote of the Week – Abraham Lincoln

Quote of the Week – Abraham Lincoln

The legitimate object of government is ‘to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves’.

 

Abraham Lincoln, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, “Fragment on Government” (July 1, 1854?), p. 221.

 

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