An important update from the International Earth Rotation Service

Which, I think I've mentioned, is the coolest name for any organization ever.

To: authorities responsible for the measurement and distribution of time

A positive leap second will be introduced at the end of June 2012. The sequence of dates of the UTC second markers will be:
    2012 June 30, 23h 59m 59s
    2012 June 30, 23h 59m 60s
    2012 July 1, 0h 0m 0s
The difference between UTC and the International Atomic Time TAI is:
    from 2009 January 1, 0h UTC, to 2012 July 1 0h UTC : UTC-TAI = - 34s
    from 2012 July 1, 0h UTC, until further notice : UTC-TAI = - 35s

This means that tomorrow, 4:59:59 PM PDT will be followed by 4:59:60 PM PDT prior to the advent of 5:00:00 PM PDT.

Of course there is a leapsecond.com:

Now that you know what a leap second is, have you wondered if you can see one? Can you hear a leap second? Several of us enjoy capturing leap seconds. You have to be quick; you have to plan ahead. You have only one second to fish and then wait a year or two, or even seven, before your next chance. Below are examples of catching a leap second in the act.

As a kid in the summer of 1972 I used a short-wave radio cassette audio tape recorder to record the first leap second. Alas, I still can't find that tape.

Also, great news, everybody! The venerable leap second has gotten a stay of execution until at least 2015: ITU Radiocommunication Assembly defers decision to eliminate the leap second. The Earth gently wobbles in relief.

Previously, previously, previously.

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B612 Sentinel

The First Privately-Funded Deep Space Mission

The B612 Foundation wants to map the inner solar system's asteroid inhabitants and chart their orbits over the next hundred years. And to do so, it will build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission in the history of human spaceflight.

There are entities watching the sky, like NASA's Near-Earth Object program, which has logged nearly 10,000 objects -- 90 percent of the estimated objects larger than a half-mile across. But according to B612, there are a half million more asteroids larger than the one that devastated the Tunguska region in northern Russia in 1908. Of those, we've mapped only one percent. Sentinel aims to map the rest.

B612's principals announced that they have raised enough money to fund the design of their Sentinel spacecraft and set a launch goal of 2017 (a second window in 2018 is also available). The optimal place from which to view Earth's orbit and the things that cross it is from a place somewhere around Venus's orbit, between 0.6 and 0.8 astronomical units. It will get there via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will set it on course for a "slingshot" around Venus that will bring it into into a final orbit that will carry it anywhere from 30 million miles away to up to 170 million miles away.

The data flowing back from Sentinel (which will be managed by NASA's Deep Space Network) will be made public. NASA and other space agencies can use it to pick out targets for exploration or study. Commercial entities like the upstart Planetary Resources can tap it to discover potential targets for asteroid mining.

This is awesome, but "between Earth and Venus" counts as "deep space"?

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Ghosts With Shit Jobs

I just watched Jim Munroe's movie, Ghosts With Shit Jobs, and it is amazing! You should watch it immediately.

I donated to the Kickstarter so I got the 720p download, which was a pretty cool way to do it. "Hey, the movie's finished. Here's your copy." It's nice living in the future -- at least until the Chinese repossess The Cloud.

I think the "human spammer" was my favorite segment.

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New Moon in The Wild

I'd like to think that the video for No Church in The Wild is a sequel to New Moon on Monday.

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Vimeo download escalation

Vimeo has recently deployed countermeasures that makes it harder to download videos, unless the uploader has marked them as downloadable.

This affects both my youtubedown script, and Miro. Since Miro is what I use to subscribe to most of the blogs through which I discover new music videos, this negatively impacts my mixtapes, which is how it impacts you.

So help me reverse-engineer their new countermeasures, ok? If we fix this bug, my mixtapes get better.

Here's an example: http://vimeo.com/43940325.

As of their new site roll-out a month or two ago, the new way to download that video would be to load "http://vimeo.com/43940325?action=download" with the header "X-Requested-With: XMLHttpRequest", but with private videos, that's a 404. However, if you request that style URL on a downloadable video (here's one) then you get HTML with links to MP4 files.

On a private video, when you hit "Play" in either the Flash player or the HTML5 player, it loads "http://av.vimeo.com/Nx5/Nx3/Nx9.mp4?aksessionid=HEX&token=CTIME_HEX2" which returns the full MP4. Those URLs go 403 after some small number of minutes, and it loads a URL with different hex each time you hit play (though the decimal numbers stay the same), so presumably the ctime is a part of the hash.

The fact that this works in the HTML5 player means that they are computing those URLs from Javascript somehow, rather than with a secret key that is baked into their Flash player, so that's promising. But I don't have a lot of experience reverse-engineering gigantic Javascript apps.

Since it will be the first thing you find when googling, let me point out that the old moogaloop URLs like "http://vimeo.com/moogaloop/load/clip:ID" are 404. You used to be able to use those to get a signature, then construct a download URL like: "http://vimeo.com/moogaloop/play/clip:ID/SIG/EXP/?q=hd", but no more.

Ideas?

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DNA Lounge update

DNA Lounge update, wherein there are some construction photos.
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Early morning frost on the Planes of Eternal Torment.

I think I just saw Parking Enforcement hassle a FedEx truck for blocking the bike lane.
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metrics and malloc

Dear Lazyweb, how do I get real font metrics on iOS?

On OSX, the only way I've found to do it is:

  1. Make an NSTextStorage and NSLayoutManager;
  2. Get an NSGlyph from that;
  3. [NSBezierPath appendBezierPathWithGlyph];
  4. currentPoint to find the width;
  5. bounds to find the bounding box.

(You'd think you could get the NSGlyph with [NSFont glyphWithName], but that expects full Unicrud names like "LATIN CAPITAL LETTER A WITH ACUTE" and there is no way to get one of those from a single-character NSString, so I don't understand why that API even exists.)

Naturally, none of these APIs exist on iOS.

  1. [NSString sizeWithFont] gives us width and ascent, but nothing about the bounding box or bearings.
  2. [NSString drawAtPoint] to an offscreen CGContext returns the width of the character and the overall ascent of the font;
  3. CGFontGetGlyphBBoxes() might help (or it might just return the ascent/width again instead of the bounding box, I don't know) but there seems to again be no way to map a single-character NSString to a CGGlyph.

So I'm stuck with assuming that all characters have a 0 lbearing and rbearing, and things get clipped. See query_font() in xscreensaver/OSX/jwxyz.m.

Secondly:

Does the malloc on iOS contain any tricks for allocating out of a private heap? What the LISPMs called *default-cons-area* and PostScript called save/restore. E.g., it would be convenient to do something like this in my code:

#define malloc(x) malloc_in_heap (my_heap, x)

And then at the end, flush that heap in one swell foop, that is, I want to be able to say, "I swear that nothing references any pointer that has been allocated out of this area any more, regardless of whether all corresponding free calls have been made; unmap it all right now."

I know about NSAutoreleasePool, but that doesn't help with malloc, only NSObject.

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Robot Hand beats you at Rock-Paper-Scissors every time.

"And that's how we can go from a chess computer to the apocalypse in just four years."

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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The Hundred in the Hands

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