Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rolodex still exists

I was pretty astounded recently to come across the company rolodex, yes they still exist and they have cool stock photos of trendy business people using a physical rolodex right next to a laptop.

But what is Rolodex now that the focus of their brand obsolete?
Rolodex is the organizational authority when it comes to innovative, easy-to-use products for the home, office and in transit. [source]
To be fair Rolodex was probably innovative in 1958; as far as I can tell it improved on the wheeldex (shown below) by adding knobs on the side and having two rings instead of one.

But what do they say about innovation?
We are revolutionizing the way you organize your workspace and home life to help bring balance back to your world. [source]

Okay, lets check out their products ... super, they make a laptop stand

My favorite part: this stand is rated to hold any laptop up to 15 pounds.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A new paper

I just had a paper, "Photon sorting in the near field using subwavelength cavity arrays in the near-infrared" (based on some of my dissertation work, and lots more excellent work by Isroel Mandel and others) accepted for publication in Applied Physics Letters. The paper is open access, which means the full-text PDF version is available for free.

The idea behind this paper is similar to one we published last year. This structure that we designed and made:
can spectrally and spatially split incoming radiation into different holes in the metal:

Unlike the previous structure, where the incident energy is almost entirely absorbed, this one transmits the light through. Additionally, the other one worked at microwave wavelengths; this device operates at near-IR wavelengths, which is much harder to pull off.

For the rest of the info, read the paper!

I. M. Mandel, et al., "Photon sorting in the near field using subwavelength cavity arrays in the near-infrared," Appl. Phys. Lett. 103, 251116 (2013).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pacman Credit Card

Well I finally have a new credit card design. I colored it in last night - have yet to see if it will get rejected when I try to use it ...

My last credit card design seems to have made a few rounds:
It was on Tumblr:

9gag (this is a very prestigious website JKLOL):

and it got like a million comments when this facebook page shared it:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Close call

This is the closest we've been to empty:
I suspect we could've made it another good 10-15 miles, honestly.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Why T-Mobile is awesome

We Lansey brothers aren't usually the type to push commercial products up here on the blog but I have recently been so happy with +T-Mobile  that I want to tell you all about it. And I promise they didn't pay me anything to say this.

Earlier this year they did away with the "lock you in" style contracts that the mainstream telcom providers use to keep people on their expensive plans. It is SIM-card based so I bought a pretty good phone on ebay for cheap and it works... but the main reason T-Mobile is awesome is that if you have an unlimited data +texts plan in the states then you have:
Unlimited International Data and Texts
Imagine this, you cross the border and get a text from T-Mobile with these sweet sweet words
"Welcome to South Korea, Unlimited web included as part of your global coverage" ... "Unlimited text incl with your global coverage."
I had a layover of only a couple of hours Incheon but in that time I found out what the currency was worth, read the Wikipedia page about the city and observed my exact position and local area with GPS.

With unlimited data you can hop on a random bus in a random city and know that you can Google for directions back, find hotels nearby or book a flight. The experience of international travel has fundamentally changed to one of previously unimaginable convenience.

Thank you T-Mobile!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Backwards Hebrew sign

There's a new gas station on Route 4, that for some bizarre reason feels the need to thank their customers in Hebrew:
They clearly just fed "Thanks for your business" -- "תודה על העסק שלך" into Google Translate, but the text direction got flipped. Fortunately, this isn't quite as permanent as some Bad Hebrew Tattoos, but I was still amused. (There's a "Welcome" sign on the way in with the text backward as well, but it's hard to take that picture decelerating off the highway.)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anachronistic Subway Advertising

The other week I saw this stupid ad on the subway [click to embiggen]:
Aside from the fact that I'm not sure this is a map of Brooklyn:
And that, even if it is, it's a highway map and unlikely to be helpful to two hipsters who got lost walking around Brooklyn streets.

Ignoring all that, when is the last time you saw people walking around carrying a full-size, physical, paper map of where they are? I think most people just pull out their cellphones and use their favorite map 'app'.

I am reminded of this modern superhero, Guy With a Cellphone Man!

Loading Ready Run: The Hero We Deserve

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hello From Yesterday

My normal day to post is Tuesday.  For my brothers it is now Wednesday.  I say for my brothers because I have not lived on the East Coast for almost two months.  In fact I have moved.  I now live in sunny Southern California.

 A picture I took on the way.

I moved to CA for a job with the Navy.  So I now live and work on the West Coast where it is still Tuesday, so happy yesterday to all of you Tommorowers.

The local fauna of Walmarts are somewhat different out here.

I will leave you with a picture of the first things I baked since I moved.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Hong Kong

Hong Kong was amazing, it seemed like there were no suburbs, just skyscrapers and jungle.

Definitely lots of business happening, this was at the LED lighting trade show.

Friday, November 08, 2013

3rd Grade Math Fail

A friend sent me this question from a 3rd grade math assignment:

I'm not even going to start on the stupidity of these sorts of 'plug and chug' assignments. This teacher is teaching something that goes beyond nonsense (just what is a "multiplication sentence" anyway?!?), and is just plain wrong! The phrase 'six times three' means the exact same thing as 'three times six'. Multiplication is (generally) commutative. Furthermore, the following should also be perfectly valid multiplication sentences deserving of full credit:

  • 1*18
  • 2*9
  • (√18)*(√18)
  • -18i*Exp[i*pi/2]
No wonder so many kids think they're "not good at math." They're being taught mindless drivel -- that doesn't even have the small benefit of being, at least, correct. And they've certainly never learned math.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

New York, Massachubatds

Just following up on Eli's post, here you can see the sweatshirt in its natural habitat.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Geographically challenged

Jonathan/Yoni sent our children a new sweatshirt that he saw in his travels:
This may well be the funniest sweatshirt I've seen. In case you can't read the text, it says:
New York

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More Thanksgiving/Hanukkah Press Coverage

I was also quoted in Monday, October 14th's Albany Times Union about the Thanksgiving-Hanukkah coinciding calculations. The reporter got things mostly right, and I had much more of an extensive quote than in the Wall Street Journal.

The wonders of useful coins

Coins are useful in China. This is pretty amazing for me as an american, used to paying by credit card for everything possible, just because coins are so useless. In this blog post I'm going to rant a little about the reasons.

  • Prices are prices. When you buy something for 2 Yuan, it costs to Yuan. When you buy something in the US for $2, it costs $2.13 or some other random amount that is impossible to calculate in your head and changes for different items and across states.
    This has two advantages
    • Round number prices, stay at round numbers reducing the need to use tiny change all the time. The fact that the smallest currency is 0.1 Yuan means you don't has as many ridiculous prices like *.99 cents for every little thing. 
    • You know the price ahead of time, so if you want to pay in coins, you can count them while you wait in line, not while people wait behind you.
  • Their smallest coin is worth about twice as much as a US penny. This is even though Chinese currency is worth way less than US. It is equal to 1/10th of a Yuan, sort of like a dime.
  • Coins have more buying power here. The truth is that this reason doesn't have as much of an impact as the previous two. Very few things can be bought for just 1 Yuan, but you can buy lots of stuff for 2-3 Yuan which is easily counted up to with 1.0, 0.5 and 0.1 value coins.

In case you aren't interested in my rant. Here are some more photos!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Hi everyone, I'm in China! The internet is really slow, and blogger is actually blocked by the great firewall... please expect short, infrequent and randomly timed blog posts from me for a while.

Friday, October 04, 2013

I am quoted in today's Wall Street Journal

Today's front page of the Wall Street Journal contains a story about how Chanukah and Thanksgiving coincide this year. The reporter for that story contacted me because he read my blog post on the topic from December 2010. I was one of the "researchers," and I got a quote in the paper, too!

Also, just so everyone knows, this is not the last time for many thousands of years before Chanukah coincides with Thanksgiving.  As I pointed out in that previous post, in the years 2070 and 2165 after finishing (or in the middle of) Thanksgiving dinner people will light the first Chanukah candle. Additionally, although the first day of Chanukah won't coincide with Thanksgiving until the year 79043, (assuming the calendar isn't fixed before Passover happens in the summer in the year 15115), in the year 76334 the eighth day of Chanukah coincides with Thanksgiving.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grandma Rose Lansey, 1920-2013

Two weeks ago, our grandmother, Rose Lansey, passed away at the age of 92.
Grandma in September 2007
A brief obituary can be found here:

Grandma always encouraged us to try our hardest, and that we, like her, could do anything we set our minds to. We will miss her greatly.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

mheslop youtube comment [explicit]

My old Paternoster video had a very interesting comment on it the other day ... you can't make this stuff up, oh internet. Careful though ... the comment is a explicit and surprising so proceed with caution. mhslop says:
That is more mad than going in to a gym where people hang their clothes up on pegs armed with dog shits freshly picked up off the pavement, and inserting them into people's underpants. In other words, fucking insane. But possibly very fun.
Thanks for the comment mhslop!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

No Re Entry

I saw this door recently, with the explicit sign "No Re Entry." And yet, I suspect that people tend to manage getting back in, somehow.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My thesis

It only took a year, but DARPA finally cleared my Ph.D. thesis for public release. If you're interested, you can read it on my website, here:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Escape from the Past

When cleaning out a room, someone in the Biomedical Research Lab uncovered this important set of VHS tapes:

That's right, there was a time where a VHS tape could help you escape from the past and provide solutions for "the 21st Century"!:

Monday, August 05, 2013

Fun with the Droste Effect

These past few weeks I've been creating some Droste-style effects with Matlab. This one is my favorite, my new background image. Let me know if you can think of a good title for any of these 'art' pieces.

This is the old ish clock I 'fixed,' that has been spotted on the blog before. 
finite ish Clock

infinite ish Clock

These are a pictures from the first version of the program. It was just a few lines of code but it warped the image a little making me look like an elf. I fixed the warping problem but some other more subtle problems appeared in certain circumstances. Although I understand how the problems arise, it isn't trivial to actually fix them.

While playing around with the spiral pattern, I accidentally created some sweet Moire patterns. Click to see the full version with all the circles in all their glory. This "piece" is titled "Coffee Power" (by my friend Fanny).
Coffee Power

This is the same as the first image but before I added the angular component that creates the spiral.

Sunflowers are already kind of fractally and spirally to I pulled this one off of flikr (thanks gypsygirl70) and made some cool patterns.

title anyone?

If you want to create images like these without using my hackey Matlab code then check out the MathMap image processor which works as a GIMP plugin.

This isn't the Droste effect, but I think it looks nice anyway.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Poem: Adventures in Mystic

These are pictures from Mystic when the night began

A tall boat floated and reflections were grand

I walked by a shop selling dark glasses

Cars on a bridge; I photographed their passes