Casting: making a green sand mold

Today another episode in my seldom-updated series about building a home aluminum foundry.

The technique I use for casting aluminum is called “green sand” casting not because the sand is green (though the sand I use is in fact slightly olive coloured) but because the sand is moistened with water and clay rather than oil. I made the sand myself; it’s a mixture of about ten parts olivine sand to one part finely powdered bentonite clay, and then “tempered” with water until it feels right. (Use a spray bottle set to a fine mist and stir the sand as you temper it.) It should feel like perfect sand castle building material: wet enough to hold its shape but not so wet that you can squeeze water out of it. If you can make a “snowball” of sand with a fist and break it cleanly in half, that’s probably good. Continue reading

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London and Budapest

I recently spent a week visiting customers and giving talks in Europe and holy goodness, never have I been in so many countries in so little time. I flew from Seattle to London, changed planes, flew to Amsterdam, visited customers in the Netherlands and Belgium, then took the Eurostar from Lille back to London, and that was just the first two days! Continue reading

Funniest Hungarian joke ever

No computer stuff today; since I am actually in Hungary today on business and it is the the anniversary of the happy event mentioned below, today’s FAIC is a rerun. Enjoy!


I’m back from my fabulous adventures in Austria, Romania and Canada and I had a fabulous time, as you might imagine. We were in Romania for a wedding of some close personal friends who live here in Seattle; much of the groom’s family escaped from Romania during the Communist period and settled in Austria, so we spent some time in Vienna and then headed to Bucharest, and then crossed the Carpathian mountains by bus into Transylvania for the wedding. Some of the highlights included:

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Standard and Daylight are different

A couple weeks ago I had an online meeting with some European colleagues; I showed up in the chat room at what I thought was the agreed-upon time and they did not, which was odd, but whatever, I waited ten minutes and then rescheduled the meeting. It turns out they did the same an hour later. I’m sure you can guess why.

If you have been sent a link to this page, it is to remind you that “Eastern Standard Time” is not defined as “whatever time it is in New York City right now”, it is defined as “Eastern Time not adjusted for Daylight Saving Time“. Parts of the world in the eastern time zone that do not observe Daylight Saving Time — Panama, for instance — stay in Eastern Standard Time all year, so it is an error to assume that Eastern Standard Time and Eastern Time are the same time.
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Friday fun with Ogden Nash

Someone at Reuters is having too much fun:

China threatens drama
if Obama
meets the Dalai Lama

Followed by

Obama
meets the Dalai Lama
despite China drama

I am reminded of the immortal words of Ogden Nash:

The one-L lama, he’s a priest
The two-L llama, he’s a beast
And I would bet a silk pajama
There isn’t any three-L lllama

To which my Bostonian friend Marty responds “that big fire was a right three-alahmah”.

Um, no

Dear non-English-as-a-first-language-speaking phishing attackers, let me point out all the ways that I know that this is not actually from PayPal:[1. Oddly enough gmail did not flag this as phishing, despite having a PayPal logo embedded in it and a link to what is obviously a phishing site.]

Dear Costumer, [A costumer is someone who makes clothing for actors. You meant "customer".]

We need more information from you [missing period]

We need your help resoving [resolving] an issue with your account. To give us to work together on this, [this phrase doesn't make any sense] we’ve temporarily limited what you can do with your account untill [until] the issue is resolved.

We need a little bit [of] information about you to help confirm you [your] identity [missing period]

Note: Please note that in 50% of cases you will receive this e-mail in the spam box, [comma splice] it is because of the increased security emailing services you use. [No, it's because you're criminals.]

UPDATE: This is deliberate! How astonishingly devious. See this transcript of On The Media and this Microsoft Research paper.