As an aspiring electronics geek, I am still collecting cool tools and techniques for my projects. While working on a weekend project, I stumbled upon a treasure trove containing meticulous (almost obsessively complete) advice regarding soldering and circuit board design. These videos were the perfect addition to my education, and even though I already had halfway-decent soldering technique, I have definitely improved as a result of the videos. It even inspired me to get some new tools, like a needle-tipped soldering iron and desoldering wick.

So, unless you’ve been formally trained in an EE course, I really recommend the Tangent Tutorials series of videos. Excellent work, Tangent!

RTFA: http://www.tangentsoft.net/elec/movies/

Tangent Tutorials
Getting Started Soldering

TT #1: Basic Soldering Equipment – My advice on the basic equipment necessary for DIY electronics work. 27 minutes.

TT #2: Basic Soldering Techniques – How to solder thru-hole components, plus basic advice for all sorts of soldering. 9 minutes.

TT #3: Surface Mount Soldering Techniques – How to solder surface-mount components using only basic DIYer equipment. Covers SO-8 chips and 2-lead parts in 1206 and larger size packages. 14 minutes.

This first video is “Hedgehog in the Fog”.

An award-winning animation feature by Yuri Norshtein. Winner of the following awards:
- Outstanding Film of the Year (London UK 1977)
- Winner of 2nd Prize (Sydney Australia 1978)
- Winner of 3rd Prize (Chicago USA 1977)
- Tokyo All time animation best 150 in Japan and Worldwide: Hedgehog in the Fog “№1 Animated film of all the time” (2003)

This animation is really excellent. Suddenly, I’m curious about Russian animation, and I find “Polygon”:

An animated film by Anatoly Petrov of 1978. An outstanding feature in term of realistic technique. It won the following prizes:
- Official Selection Oberhausen, Germany 1979
- First Prize Yerevan, USSR 1978

Ah – it becomes clear that these are both from the same production studio: Soyuzmultfilm. From Wikipedia:

Soyuzmultfilm (Russian: Coюзмультфильм, translated as Union Animation) is a Russian animation studio based in Moscow. Over the years it has gained international attention and respect, garnering numerous awards both at home and abroad. Noted for a great variety of style, it is regarded as the most influential animation studio of the former Soviet Union.

…and continuing:

The Studio was founded in 10 June 1936 under the name Soyuzdetmultfilm (Союздетмультфильм – abbr. from Union Children’s Animations). The name was changed to Soyuzmultfilm on 20 August 1937. Initially comprising only a few scattered workshops, Soyuzmultfilm grew quickly, soon becoming the Soviet Union’s premier animation studio. The studio produced exclusively traditional animation until 1954, when a “puppet division” was founded and the first stop motion-animated film released. The puppet division would later also make cutout-animated films.

During the Soviet era, the studio employed a maximum of over 700[1] skilled labourers and released an average of 20 films each year (the highest number was 47, in 1973).

The 60s, 70s and 80s saw the release of many films whose characters became an integral part of Soviet culture: Winnie-the-Pooh (Винни-Пух), Crocodile Gena (Крокодил Гена), Karlsson-on-the-Roof (Карлсон, который живёт на крыше), The Musicians of Bremen (Бременские музыканты), Three from Buttermilk Village (Трое из Простоквашино), Nu, pogodi! (Ну, погоди!), Hedgehog in the Fog (Ёжик в тумане), The Mystery of the Third Planet (Тайна третьей планеты) etc.

The variety of animation styles and the unprecedented degree of artistic freedom given to its many animators made Soyuzmultfilm perhaps the most diverse of the world’s major animation studios.

Soyuzmultfilm’s creativity was fueled in part by the unique conditions of the Soviet Union which made it possible for the studio to disregard the commercial appeal of its films. Because animators were paid by the Academy of Film regardless of how well or how poorly their products sold (though they were not, in fact, “sold”), they were free to pursue their artistic vision without giving a thought to finances.

Whoah!

Amid the hoopla over Virgin Galactic’s commercial space ship tourism, and considering proof of water on the Moon, the thing that’s on everyone’s mind is obviously the Moon Colony. I need to tell you something: Lunar Internet ping times are going to be very slow – possibly longer than 3 seconds.

moon picture

You might be thinking, “so what!? I’m on the freaking moon as a freaking moon colonist, and I don’t care about some stupid Lunar Internet anyway.” But that’s just your inner Troll coming out in a particularly ironic way, because without the Lunar Internet, you will have no forums in which to Troll. So, obviously, you want the Lunar Internet if you’re a Moon Colonist, and obviously you’re going to care about ping times.

You might be thinking, “what’s a freaking ping time? When I became a moon colonist, they didn’t tell me about the ping times.” Of course they didn’t mention the ping times, because the uncomfortable truth is that they’re freaking slow. Let me explain.

On the stupid-fast Terrestrial Internet, the Internet is mostly connected by long-haul fiberoptics, which means your lame-ass racist forum-trolling gets blasted around the Earth via lasers and some copper wiring. Aside from routing overhead, most of this process happens at the speed of light, which is why you see ping times like this:

ping google.com
PING google.com (74.125.67.100): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 74.125.67.100: icmp_seq=0 ttl=54 time=41.112 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.67.100: icmp_seq=1 ttl=54 time=40.746 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.67.100: icmp_seq=2 ttl=54 time=40.468 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.67.100: icmp_seq=3 ttl=54 time=40.158 ms
^C
--- google.com ping statistics ---
4 packets transmitted, 4 packets received, 0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 40.158/40.621/41.112/0.352 ms

In other words, it took 40 milliseconds to get a packet to Google and back. Here’s the part where you throw up in your mouth: the Moon is about 1.2 light-seconds away, meaning round-trip ping times are going to be at least 2.4 seconds due simply to the speed of light (or apparent lack thereof). Let me be clear: 2.4 seconds is 2400ms, which is 60 times slower than the Terrestrial ping times I demonstrated.

As always, Wikipedia has something to say about this. This animation shows a gigantic killer laser being fired at the Moon. Take note: the killer laser beam travels at the speed of light.

Speed_of_light_from_Earth_to_Moon-2

Here comes the math. Light travels at 300,000 km/s. The moon is an average distance of 384,000 km from the Earth. Since velocity = distance / time, and we want to know how our ping times will be affected, we solve for time (in seconds).

300,000 km/s = 384,000 km / seconds;
seconds * 300,000 km/s = 384,000 km;
seconds = 384,000 km / 300,000 km/s;
seconds = 1.28 s

When I said round trip ping times would be 2.4 seconds, I was secretly reporting the best case scenario, which only happens when the moon is at its perigee (i.e. minimum distance to Earth). As you can see, in the average case, round trips are closer to 2.56s. Guess what happens when the moon is at its apogee? That’s right – it takes even longer!!!

So while you might enjoy Lunar life toiling in the ice mines (because that water isn’t going to excavate itself) you will certainly not enjoy the high-latency Lunar Internet. Keep in mind: all of the best content will be available from Earth for some time to come. Sure, you might find a few servers that are local to the Moon Colony, but they’re going to be lame like the 1990s Internet, with heavy use of the HTML blink tag and “under construction” icons.

On the evening of August 4th 2009, some crazy, self-absorbed, adolescent-brained asshole (who happened to be 48 years old) walked into a fitness center in Pittsburgh, PA and started shooting randomly. All told, he killed at least three people beside himself.

…a moment of silence for those who were murdered…

The morning after (i.e. today, now) the Internet hive mind is piecing together the story behind this tragedy, and what we find is shockingly pathetic. The killer, George Sodini, put his crazed rantings online for all to read after his death, but this isn’t another instance of a society failing to hear these threats or to identify a cry for help. Instead, Sodini’s message was trivially encoded to be revealed only after he was dead.

Sodini’s sobfest probably started in the year 2000, when georgesodini.com was registered. The domain name is registered through August 1, 2010, meaning he had absolutely no expectation of his website being accessible more than a year after his horrible deed.

georgesodini_whois_rtfa

Browsing through his website, we find all the sophistication of a late-1990s web designer, complete with the revelation that the dude was using wordpad to edit his website. To the technically un-inclined, this is a sure-fire sign that Sodini was hardly a shooting star.

wordpad_rtfa

That said, it’s the site’s code comments, which are hidden from plain view, that are among the most interesting. The very first thing you see when inspecting http://georgesodini.com/ is the suggestion that a password-protected section of the website is available.

password_protected_rtfa

At the bottom of the page, we can get a little taste of Sodini’s vindictive and single-minded obsession with his love-jilted past. There is some reference to several images (which are no longer online) whose names are suggestive of an ex-girlfriend. There also appears to be a direct message to someone, suggesting Sodini was sharing these pictures.

photogenic_debra_rtfa

In the middle of the home page, there is a cryptic section asking us to enter the date of Sodini’s birth and death, but this has been commented out (and is therefore inactive). Apparently, Sodini thought to move this to a separate section of the website, called “Life or Death,” which forms the magnum opus of this man’s trivial cipher.

birth_and_death_comment_rtfa

birth_and_death_form_rtfa

When the date of Sodini’s death is entered, a “hidden” page is revealed. The direct link is http://georgesodini.com/20090804.htm – which has already been published on the Intarwebs as the blog of his murder plans.

murder_rationale_rtfa

This page is a rambling, ranting condemnation of his childhood experiences, complete with an uninterested father, domineering mother, and bully for a big brother. This would be understandable if it were coming from a 12-year-old on myspace, but the fact that it’s a 40-something tech dude at a lawfirm casts the rant in a whole other light.

The note contains all the signs of a deeply depressed individual, complete with willful self-perpetuation of the situation. Perhaps in an attempt to blame his troubles on society, Sodini closes his note with the following code comment, which is hidden from plain view:

hesitations_rtfa

Yes, if only that one woman had paid attention, blah, blah, blah.

Getting to the bottom of this, the one thing I can’t believe is how someone could so effectively defeat their own aspirations. It’s almost unreal that this guy talked himself into murdering a room full of totally innocent people. What’s crazier that he believed this would be a better course of action than simply taking steps to directly address his problem.

Let’s see… maybe try speed dating? I hear people get married on World of Warcraft all the time. There’s absolutely no ambiguity that the guy was aware of what he wanted (i.e. a meaningful relationship), but the total unwillingness to try to make it happen for himself is almost heroic in the pathetic extent of its tragedy.

Since we now know Sodini wouldn’t have killed anyone if he had just said “hi” to a few women, we know this is a truly sad situation, because innocent people were killed for what is literally no reason at all. If the guy at least had some convictions, then in an anti-hero sense, there might have at least been a Hollywood aspect to this case. Instead, all we are left with is a sad, shy coward, who did everything he could to ruin other lives just so he could avoid improving his own.

This is really, really sad. My heart goes out to those lives who are affected by this man’s actions. I wish this never happened.

Wow, it took me forever to find this freaking phone number! I figure other people are probably looking for it too, so here you go: 1-866-2-GOOGLE is the phone number for Google’s adwords support.