August roundup

Sep. 2nd, 2015 11:54 pm
tassosss: Oh, Mine Eyes! (Rygel)
[personal profile] tassosss
I upped my ante and went for a 15k writing goal, but ended up at around 11k. Most of that was on the Abby/Kane thing that I'm not sure I like. I might do a hatchet job on it and see what falls out. It's almost done. I have to finish the current scene I'm working on then one more scene after that. I was mostly stuck on the crossover, but yesterday got myself unstuck. And I've sorted some stuff out for the original novel that I hope will get that project started again.

Mostly, August felt very blah about writing because I'm stuck in the middle and I felt like I should always be working on something I wasn't.

I read Caliban's War, the second of the Expanse series which has my new favorite character. And I've started the third book, Abaddon's Gate. I really will do a proper review at some point.

Black Sails - I have 3 eps left of season 2. I keep watching this one episode at a time because I love all the characters and don't want anything to happen to them, but they're all on different sides to each other, and it makes me anxious.
Orphan Black - with friends, we're about halfway through season 3 now, and it is still awesome. I've been saving up Orphan Black meta to read.
Orange is the New Black - watching with a different friend. We're about halfway through season 1, and I'm really liking it. I don't have a lot else to say about it though.

Other Fannish stuff
As usual, [community profile] the100  stuff. Feeling a little down about it because I feel a bit like I'm shouting into a void. I think it may be part of my general malaise wrt fannishness right now.
I started reccing The 100 fan art on [community profile] fanart_recs, and I'm doing it again this month.
Meta about Abby Griffin
The 100 Fic Recs, short because I haven't had much time for reading fic. I'd rather be writing.

[syndicated profile] mit_engineering_news_feed

Posted by David L. Chandler | MIT News Office

Researchers at MIT have developed a family of materials that can emit light of precisely controlled colors — even pure white light — and whose output can be tuned to respond to a wide variety of external conditions. The materials could find a variety of uses in detecting chemical and biological compounds, or mechanical and thermal conditions.

The material, a metallic polymer gel made using rare-earth elements, is described in a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society by assistant professor of materials science and engineering Niels Holten-Andersen, postdoc Pangkuan Chen, and graduate students Qiaochu Li and Scott Grindy.

The material, a light-emitting lanthanide metallogel, can be chemically tuned to emit light in response to chemical, mechanical, or thermal stimuli — potentially providing a visible output to indicate the presence of a particular substance or condition.

The new material is an example of work with biologically inspired materials, Holten-Andersen explains. “My niche is biomimetics — using nature’s tricks to design bio-inspired polymers,” he says. There are an amazing variety of “really funky” organisms in the oceans, he says, adding: “We’ve barely scratched the surface of trying to understand how they’re put together, from a chemical and mechanical standpoint.”

Studying such natural materials, evolved over millions of years to adapt to challenging environmental conditions, “allows us as engineers to derive design principles” that can be applied to other kinds of materials, he adds.

Holten-Andersen’s own research has examined a particular kind of crosslinking in the threads mussels use to anchor themselves to rocks, called metal-coordination bonds. These bonds, he adds, also play an important role in many biological functions, such as binding oxygen to hemoglobin in red blood cells.

He emphasizes that the idea is not to copy nature, but to understand and apply some of the underlying principles of natural materials; in some cases, these principles can be applied in materials that are simpler in structure and easier to produce than their natural counterparts.

In this case, the use of a metal from the lanthanide group, also known as rare-earth elements, combined with a widely used polymer called polyethylene glycol, or PEG, results in a material that produces tunable, multicolored light emissions. The light emission can then reflect very subtle changes in the environment, providing a color-coded output that reveals details of those conditions.

“It’s super-sensitive to external parameters,” Holten-Andersen says. “Whatever you do will change the bond dynamics, which will change the color.”

So, for example, the materials could be engineered to detect specific pollutants, toxins, or pathogens, with the results instantly visible just through color emission.

The materials can also detect mechanical changes, and could be used to detect stresses in mechanical systems, Holten-Andersen says. For example, it’s difficult to measure forces in fluids, he says, but this approach could provide a sensitive means of doing so.

The material can be made in a gel, a thin film, or a coating that could be applied to structures, potentially indicating the development of a failure before it happens.

Metal-coordination bonds in polymers have been the subject of other work by Holten-Andersen: In a separate paper he published Aug. 31 in the journal Nature Materials, he reported making polymers with tunable mechanical properties, including stiffness. These materials are naturally self-assembling and self-healing, he says, and could be useful as energy-absorbing materials or in biological implants that need to be able to absorb impacts without breaking, he says.

“What’s nice here is that the materials change color in response to such a wide and rich set of stimuli,” says Stephen Craig, a professor of chemistry at Duke University who was not involved in this research. He adds, “The fact that the reference state can be made white is quite useful; it’s often easier to detect by eye that something has a faint shade of green, for example, than that it is one shade of green as opposed to another.”

Craig sees a variety of potential uses for such materials. “I can imagine using these or similar materials as in situ monitors of a wide range of conditions,” he says, adding that practical deployment of the technology could be facilitated by the fact that “the core hydrogel scaffold used here is so prevalent in studies of both biological and fundamental polymer physics questions.”

This work was supported by the MIT Energy Initiative and the MIT Sea Grant via the Doherty Professorship in Ocean Utilization.

Customizing 3-D printing

Sep. 3rd, 2015 12:00 am
[syndicated profile] mit_engineering_news_feed

Posted by Larry Hardesty | MIT News Office

The technology behind 3-D printing is growing more and more common, but the ability to create designs for it is not. Any but the simplest designs require expertise with computer-aided design (CAD) applications, and even for the experts, the design process is immensely time consuming.

Researchers at MIT and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel aim to change that, with a new system that automatically turns CAD files into visual models that users can modify in real time, simply by moving virtual sliders on a Web page. Once the design meets the user’s specifications, he or she hits the print button to send it to a 3-D printer.

“We envision a world where everything you buy can potentially be customized, and technologies such as 3-D printing promise that that might be cost-effective,” says Masha Shugrina, an MIT graduate student in computer science and engineering and one of the new system’s designers. “So the question we set out to answer was, ‘How do you actually allow people to modify digital designs in a way that keeps them functional?’”

For a CAD user, modifying a design means changing numerical values in input fields and then waiting for as much as a minute while the program recalculates the geometry of the associated object.

Once the design is finalized, it has to be tested using simulation software. For designs intended for 3-D printers, compliance with the printers’ specifications is one such test. But designers typically test their designs for structural stability and integrity as well. Those tests can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours, and they need to be rerun every time the design changes.

Advance work

Shugrina and her collaborators — her thesis advisor, Wojciech Matusik, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and Ariel Shamir of IDC Herzliya — are trying to turn visual design into something novices can do in real time. They presented their new system, dubbed “Fab Forms,” at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Siggraph conference, in August.

Fab Forms begins with a design created by a seasoned CAD user. It then sweeps through a wide range of values for the design’s parameters — the numbers that a CAD user would typically change by hand — calculating the resulting geometries and storing them in a database.

For each of those geometries, the system also runs a battery of tests, specified by the designer, and it again stores the results. The whole process would take hundreds of hours on a single computer, but in their experiments, the researchers distributed the tasks among servers in the cloud.

In their experiments, the researchers used eight designs, including a high-heeled shoe, a chess set, a toy car, and a coffee mug. The system samples enough values of the design parameters to offer a good approximation of all the available options, but that number varies from design to design. In some cases, it was only a few thousand samples, but in others it was hundreds of thousands. The researchers also developed some clever techniques to exploit similarities in design variations to compress the data, but the largest data set still took up 17 gigabytes of memory.

Intuitive interface

Finally, the system generates a user interface, a Web page that can be opened in an ordinary browser. The interface consists of a central window, which displays a 3-D model of an object, and a group of sliders, which vary the parameters of the object’s design. The system automatically weeds out all the parameter values that lead to unprintable or unstable designs, so the sliders are restricted to valid designs.

Moving one of the sliders — changing the height of the shoe’s heel, say, or the width of the mug’s base — sweeps through visual depictions of the associated geometries, presenting in real time what would take hours to calculate with a CAD program. “The sample density is high enough that it looks continuous to the user,” Matusik says.

If, however, a particularly sharp-eyed user wanted a value for a parameter that fell between two of the samples stored in the database, the system can call up the CAD program, calculate the associated geometry, and then run tests on it. That might take several minutes, but at that point, the user will have a good idea of what the final design should look like.

“Autodesk has simplified versions of this project,” says Ryan Schmidt, a senior principal research scientist and head of the Design and Fabrication Group at Autodesk Research, the research arm of the leading manufacturer of CAD software. “We have a thing called Project Shapeshifter that is very similar to what a lot of other people are doing right now, which is making these geometry generators that have a parametric model you can explore. But they all have this common problem: that you can very easily make something that won’t work on your printer. What I thought was super-exciting about this work is that it can prevent you from designing something that isn’t going to print or that isn’t going to be strong enough once you’ve printed it.”

“As soon as I saw the [Siggraph] talk, I sent it to the people who work on Shapeshifter and said, ‘You guys should have this,’” he adds. “The sliders are an interface to what they did, but the underlying technology actually has a much broader application, I think, than just this consumer product for CAD novices.”

How YOU doin'?

Sep. 3rd, 2015 12:12 am
splash_the_cat: (Default)
[personal profile] splash_the_cat
Things to which I have been up:

I read lj daily still, but I'm pretty chatty about fannish and me stuffover on twitter (, and pretty not-chatty but love to let other people do the work and reblog it on tumblr (

Quentin starts kindergarten Tuesday. DOES NOT COMPUTE. Untitled

I decided I wanted a vegetable garden this summer and thought making one from cinder blocks would be so simple! FUCK YOU, PINTEREST. Okay, it was pretty simple. And heavy. OMG so heavy. But I did not break anything, even the finger I got stuck between two blocks. And now I have a wealth of tomatoes. And one watermelon the size of an egg. (from like early June. Those tomatoes are now taller than me.).

I have had to create a hashtag entitled #thisisnothelpingmychanningtatumproblem. Because I have one. It's delightful.

I have this problem because of Jupiter Ascending. I cannot textually render my feels about this movie. It is my tween space princess fantasies writ large in glorious excess. I was essentially writing fanfic for this movie 30 years before it existed.

And now some things I am squeeing about:

Mad Max Fury Road vid rec! Na Na Na by violace. Just freaking fantastic.

Jupiter Ascending! Bright Star by kuwdora. Superb editing, fucking brilliant song choice. 

This vid gets better with every view. Fab editing, utterly FANTASTIC song "Hydrogenuine" by cherry. Jupiter Ascending.
weasleytook: (Default)
[personal profile] weasleytook posting in [community profile] crossovering
The final deadline for the late pinch-hits is in a little under 24 hours. All pinch hits, and any edits to already posted fics, should be posted no later than 11:59 p.m. on September 3. (what time is that for me?)

We will keep the collection open for treats right up until stories go live, and we'll let you know when that is with fair warning, but it will be some time on September 4, as long as everyone has a full length story waiting for them.

Happy writing!

Carolyn Mackler

Sep. 3rd, 2015 04:16 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
“What I love about saga novels is you can really sink your teeth into the characters,” says bestselling, award-winning YA author Carolyn Mackler (The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Printz Honor 2004; etc.). “I love being in this alternate world, feeling that emotional heft. It’s transcendent for me.”

3:17 am

Sep. 3rd, 2015 12:09 am
[syndicated profile] ao3_doctorwho_feed

Posted by JayDelahaye


He's still working on the 'not waking Rose up at ungodly hours of the morning' thing. But there's a good reason this time.

Words: 220, Chapters: 1/1, Language: English

Ask the Right Question

Sep. 3rd, 2015 12:05 am
[syndicated profile] ao3_doctorwho_feed

Posted by Bad_Wolf_Katori


However, I need you to promise me something before you see this planet. The question that you asked me, to take you somewhere that will always take my breath away, no one I’ve traveled with has ever asked me that before. This world that I have brought you to is unique, extraordinary, in any and every measure. But-no one, besides me, is aware its existence. It is pure, untampered beauty. That is why I must ask you swear to me to never breathe a word of this planet to anyone. Lest it be harvested, colonized, and all its serenity, grace, and untainted wonder be lost. So, Detective Knight, do I have your word?”

Words: 2749, Chapters: 2/?, Language: English

Fake Psychics and Psychic Paper

Sep. 2nd, 2015 11:27 pm
[syndicated profile] ao3_doctorwho_feed

Posted by Sarah1281


Instead of hiding in London, the Plasmavore takes refuge in a Santa Barbara hospital. Now instead of a doctor with a crush, the Doctor's got a psychic detective and his partner at his side as he attempts a life without Rose but with plenty of pineapples.

Words: 66914, Chapters: 13/13, Language: English

[syndicated profile] blackingitup_feed

#TeamBlackness returns to discuss the shooting of a Texas cop, the condition of his murderer, and how Fox News worked very hard to connect it to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.


Sep. 2nd, 2015 08:52 pm
thistleingrey: (Default)
[personal profile] thistleingrey
Rose Lerner, A Lily among Thorns (2011, 2014): Lady Serena once worked in a brothel; now she owns a pub/inn. Cloth dyer and chemist Solomon Hathaway, who once overpaid her and fled without having empty sex, wants her to find his family's missing earrings so that his sister may be wed. A French spy, formerly Serena's friend, returns to the pub in order that Solomon may have a reason to help Serena as well. Then, as I dozed, a profusion of elements! Napoleonic spy versus spy, a not really dead relative, a ditz with hidden depth, twins with secrets....

I like the folding in of normal-folks characters of color, i.e., neither magical plot devices nor elevated uniques. If you have a luminary alone, it's not always plausible, and if you have only the diverse company (in a musical's sense), it's not enough, but I'll take the latter over the former most of the time. And I appreciate the acknowledgment of the considerable emotional scars of compartmentalization and survival-caliber masquerade, despite finding the whole not quite cohesive for the extent of rupture indicated.

Lerner's books (I've also read Sweet Disorder) work better if I disregard their setting as best I can, as with Courtney Milan's historical novels: Lerner wants to do interesting things with her fiction, but mannered nineteenth-century London is not a good match for the execution. I don't care who you are or how you first met---a twentysomething person calling a prospective client by his given name two minutes in, without asking, is not suitable; that he doesn't notice is not suitable. I mean, he doesn't even choose not to notice. Couldn't get away with that in laid-back L.A. when I was a small child, never mind 1809 London. That he borrows the barmaid's apron to wipe up the floor during supper in the pub, during which he and Serena are to discuss the lost earrings, is startling but not inherently unsuitable. The issue is manner of interaction and address. Oh, whatever.

Did schools in England admit girls before the mid-nineteenth century, to the extent that no one thinks twice about "was at school with" for two daughters of landed gentry?

Why do romance novels with complex female leads and a het primary pairing have either asshole male leads or My Job Is Supportive Patience-bot male leads? Can't the male lead have a bit more nuance without falling part or ruining the adventure?

Okay, after starting a third Lerner, I take back some of this. One moment. (Two weeks.)
[syndicated profile] file770_feed

Posted by Mike Glyer

Comedy gold — The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Thug Notes Summary & Analysis. [Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the link.]

[summoning ritual]

Sep. 2nd, 2015 11:28 pm
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
[personal profile] snarp
Another fool-proof method of bribing me, if anyone wants to try this out, is to completely fill my freezer with channa saag.

[/summoning ritual]
[syndicated profile] file770_feed

Posted by Mike Glyer

(1) Pat Cadigan is still making cancer her bitch. I didn’t plan to travel as much as I did this year, it just happened that way. And I’m not done yet. I have at least one trip, possibly two left … Continue reading

Reading Wednesday

Sep. 2nd, 2015 08:40 pm
laceblade: Cardcaptor Sakura, smiling at viewer, surrounded by pink. Text: RESOLUTION (CCS: Resolution)
[personal profile] laceblade
I'm not great at this once-weekly posting about books, am I?!

Mercedes Lackey update: After reading/really disliking Winds of Fate a while back, I was concerned I'd only like the first trilogy; however, I read Exile's Honor and By the Sword and really liked both. tbh I LOVED By the Sword so much. Super excited to read Oathbound also. Reading in publication order seems really important, and I think is why I floundered so much in Winds of fate. I kinda want to reread the Valdemar parts of Winds of Fate with more context now.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken - I remember reading this several times in elementary school, but all I remembered about the plot/characters was that I liked it. It holds up well - LOVE! - and apparently is part of a series, so I'm looking forward to finding out what happens to everybody.

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu - Basically like Animorphs where a Yeerk takes over your brain & can control your movements, except no morphing lol. This was a real page-turner and hit a lot of my trope buttons, but I really hated how the female characters serviced the plot [as in I can't remember the last time I felt so angry over this] and it REALLY needed an editor. Did it get edited at all? It felt like no. STILL, I liked it enough to be interested in reading the next book to see what happens.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman stuff - I read Fall of Light even tho [personal profile] jinian warned me not to. This was pretty creepy but I liked the protagonist?? Still, uncomfortable/sense of unease. Read Heart of Memories really annoyed me, and Stir of Bones actually kind of really set me off. I need to not read things where the protagonists talk about wanting to be dead :)
It's kind of put me off trying more by her, even though I'd like to try more. :/

Story of Saiunkoku manga - UGH SO GOOD. I LOVE THIS STORY SO MUCH. [personal profile] intothespin said on twitter that Shurei is like Leslie Knope and YES, SO MUCH YES. ALL SHE WANTS IS TO BE A CIVIL SERVANT AND DO A GOOD JOB AND HELP HER COUNTRY. It really speaks to the state employee in me, :*) In addition to bureaucracy + shoujo manga + amazingness.
I really wish the novels would be translated into English, either professionally or by fans, so I can find out what happens next, :( I think the manga and the anime left off in the same place.

Time Stranger Kyoko, vols. 1 and 2 by Arina Tanemura - pretty good, fluffy fun? But what I loved most of all was the implicit f/f declaration of love. Like Tomoyo and Sakura, it just makes me go *____*

The Movement by Gail Simone - Suggested by someone at comics club, honestly can't remember who. Sadly, this tried to grab a niche from the Occupy movement, and fill this space of "fuck the system" vs. police, but the dialogue was terrible, I gave zero fucks about the characters, and it was just really bad.

Phoebe and her Unicorn - Meant for children, compared to Calvin and Hobbes. Lots of one-off pages that also tell a story about a precocious girl with a prissy unicorn friend. Boring, hated it.

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory, aka her book about Mary, Queen of Scots. This details when she was held prisoner by George Talbot and Bess of Hardwick. I REALLY LOVE MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS? I THINK I LIKE HER MORE THAN ELIZABETH I? It's funny - I have a couple coworkers who are really into Tudors books [one of whom is the one lending me all these, who's sadly leaving for another job!], and one of them really despises Mary QoS, thinking she was stupid for not just taking her Scottish crown and being happy with it. Gregory makes her sympathetic, and from her POV all of her actions make sense, to me. Her observations of Elizabeth as mean, entirely under the control of William Cecil, and how she reacts to fear/etc. rang 100% true to me. Bess of Hardwick was pretty fun to read about, too. I can see why some people would dislike the impressionistic POV-switching that's going on between the three characters, but for me it help the pace going in what was overall a reflective book, excepting all the Rise of the North stuff.


brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)

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