first sounds

Mar 29th, 2008 Posted in history, tech | no comment »

Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have succeeded in playing back the first known sound recording, made in 1860 by a Parisian named Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. What’s interesting is that the sound waves (of a woman singing) were actually recorded on paper, and the LBNL scientists were able to convert the graphical waveforms back into audio.

the big chill

Mar 24th, 2008 Posted in networking, travel | no comment »

In a couple of weeks the job will be sending me up to the McGill Arctic Research Station (M.A.R.S.) on Axel Heiberg Island in northern Canada. I’ll be helping install a satellite Internet link and local wireless networking for the research station. Axel Heiberg is a geologically interesting place, complete with ancient forests and green ice.

not your ordinary office

Mar 19th, 2008 Posted in science, tech | no comment »

Here’s a list of five (and five more) unbelievably cool research facilities. Not sure which is my favorite, although my photographer’s eye is certainly drawn to the Z Machine.

freebsd encrypted disk images

Mar 19th, 2008 Posted in computers | no comment »

A few months ago a need arose to create an encrypted disk image on a FreeBSD system. While this is trivially done under Mac OS X (using Disk Utility to create an encrypted .dmg), the process for doing it under FreeBSD is a little more involved. Here are some notes that I wrote up on the process at the time. Please let me know if you come up with a better solution.

a date that will live in infamy ;-)

Mar 12th, 2008 Posted in history | no comment »

My birthday was on March 1. Leafing through an “on this day” type history book in a bookstore (and later Wikipedia), I discovered that some interesting things happened on one March 1 or another. The two that caught my eye were the Battle of Adwa in 1896 (a rare instance of an African country, Ethiopia, defeating a would-be colonizer, Italy) and Pennsylvania becoming the first state to abolish slavery in 1780. Other things that were interesting were the founding of Rio de Janeiro (1565), the beginning of the Salem witch trials (1692), the admission of Ohio (1803) and Nebraska (1867) to the Union, the establishment of Yellowstone National Park (1872), and the completion of the Hoover Dam (1936).