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Monday, July 30th, 2007

Thé... rrorisme juridique

Translation: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Categories: [ Grumbling | Tea ]

Parmi les quelques blogs sur le thé chinois que je lis régulièrement, l'un d'entre eux (pas le plus modéré dans ses propos, il est vrai) a publié voici quelques semaines de ça un article élogieux sur mon magasin de thé préferré, Langage du thé situé rue des Charpentiers à Strasbourg. En guise d'introduction, l'auteur a listé les magasins strasbourgeois les plus significatifs dans le domaine sans les nommer, en donnant son opinion à leur sujet. L'un des magasins a été décrit comme suit :

« un grossiste importateur-revendeur de thés "bio-équitable" et son jardin zen paumé au fin fond de la campagne (pour ceux qui se contentent d'un joli décor plutôt que de la piètre qualité des thés proposés; le tout étant dirigé par un couple d'anciens XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX-XXXXXXXX écolos-XXXXXXX-XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX qui XXXXXX XX XXXXX XXXX : bref, XX XXXX XXXXX; sans commentaire !!) »

(source: le cache de Google. Les mots qui pourraient être considérés comme diffamatoires ont été censurés, puisque même une citation à titre d'illustration d'un propos diffamatoire est considéré comme diffamatoire).

J'ai appris hier que les responsables de ce magasin ont menacé l'auteur de cette critique d'un procès s'il ne retirait pas immédiatement son article. Ne voulant pas risquer un procès (qui coûterait cher en temps, en l'argent et en santé mentale), il a obtempéré, retirant tout l'article.

Je ne sais pas quel a été le motif de leur menace, mais en dehors de la diffamation ou de l'injure publique, je ne vois rien qui puisse avoir une base légale légitime, et certainement pas la critique de la qualité de leurs produits. Mais surtout, si (ça reste à vérifier) ces gens là ont exigé le retrait de l'article dans son intégralité, ce qui a pour effet de faire disparaître en particulier la critique de leurs produits et l'éloge de leur concurrent, je ne peux que soupçonner qu'ils ont cherché à faire taire un de leurs détracteurs, une technique qu'on peut qualifier de terrorisme juridique (au sens propre, « forcer en faisant peur en usant du système légal »), très à la mode ces dernières années, surtout en abusant des lois sur le copyright ou le droit d'auteur.

Cette histoire m'a aussi permis de me pencher sur la définition légale de la diffamation : juridiquement, c'est une cochonnerie qui s'oppose exactement à la liberté d'expression lorsque des personnes ou des corps sont impliqués. N'importe quelle critique impliquant directement ou indirectement des personnes peut être attaquée pour diffamation. L'injure publique, définie juste après la diffamation, est encore plus difficile à cerner, puisqu'un terme utilisé vis-à-vis d'une personne peut être considéré comme injurieux, alors qu'une autre peut en retirer de la fierté. Par exemple, je me définis moi-même comme un écolo-gaucho-altermondialiste alors qu'un capitaliste néoconservateur trouvera le terme injurieux. De même, toujours à titre d'exemple, des anciens hippies poussiéreux soixante-huitards se souviendrait avec nostalgie de cette époque, alors que d'autres se sentiraient insultés.

Quant à moi, je ne mettrai plus les pieds chez eux, et surtout, je le ferai savoir autour de moi.

[ Posted on July 30th, 2007 at 19:04 | 2 comments | ]

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Memory

Categories: [ Books/Barrayar ]

Memory has been published in 1996 by Lois McMaster Bujold.

After his Cryo-revival, Miles suffers from random-happening seizures, causing him to injure an ImpSec agent he was saving from kidnappers. He tries to conceal the fact from Illyan, but the latter learns about it anyway, and forces Miles to resign from ImpSec, officially being medically discharged. Some time after that, Miles learns that Illyan, the man who remembers everything thanks to the memory-enhancement chip implanted in his brain, starts to make mistakes, confusing time and events. Illyan finally breaks down completely and is sent to ImpSec's clinic. Miles wants to visit him, Illyan being an old friend of his familly, but he is denied access. Thanks to Gregor, Miles get a temporary Auditor's charge, granting him almost absolute power. Miles then starts to investigate the reasons for Illyan's problems, and convinces Illyan's doctors to surgically remove the chip. Illyan is alive and pysically well, but suffers from short-term memory problems and depression. An analysis of the chip shows that the cause of the malfunction is a very specific bioweapon, designed to destroy these kinds of chips. Miles decide to conduct a thorough internal investigation in ImpSec HQ, and discovers that he is being framed for the attack on Illyan. He manages to get an alibi, and continues the investigation. Next, evidence that a Komarran ImpSec officier, friend of Miles and the son of the man from whom ImpSec took the bioweapon ten years ago, is found and the man is arrested. Miles cannot believe him guilty and goes on investigating. Finally, he remembers the air filters installed in each and every room, which have caught some amout of the bioweapon (which is spore-like). He sets up a trap for the real responsible for this mess, who happens to be the interim head of ImpSec. He finally confesses that he wanted to be head of ImpSec, whereas Illyan had planned to put Miles to the job.

[ Posted on July 28th, 2007 at 14:02 | 1 comment | ]

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Les prionniers du Darshan

Translation: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Categories: [ Books/Comics/Troy ]

ISBN: 2849468509

© Amazon.fr

Dixième volume de Trolls de Troy, Les prisonniers du Darshan (II) raconte comment Waha s'échappe de sa prison et libère Teträm et Pröfy, avant de s'enfuire, poursuivis par les troupes de Dame Meshantä. Ils réussissent à lui faire donner des peaux d'un troll blanc adulte au lieu de celles des bébés qu'elle avait fait enlever, ce qui a pour effet de réveiller incomplètement Nymethny. Un vieux sage troll invoque alors Swoog, le dieu des trolls, pour combattre Nymethny, qu'il réussit finalement à vaincre.

[ Posted on July 25th, 2007 at 17:53 | no comment | ]

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix

Categories: [ TV/Cinema/Harry Potter ]

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0373889/

© Imdb.com

Harry is attacked near home by dementors. He protects himself by magic but he's then asked to defend himself in front of a court of wizards. The point is that the Minister of Magic refused to believe him when he claimed that Voldemort is back, and tries to silence him. He also meets the Order of the Phoenix, an organisation founded by Dumbledore to fight Voldemort over a decade ago, which all his adult friends are members of. Back at Hogwarts, Harry and his friends face their new teacher of Defense Against the Dark Arts, Dolores Umbridge, a member of the minister who reforms the teaching in order to prevent the students to learn any useful fighting magic and become “Dumbledore's Army” that would, in the Minister's paranoia, take over the Ministry. Therefore, Harry, Ron and Hermione decide to create a secret association for teaching proper defensive magic to the students, without Umbridge knowing. Harry also has weird dreams, induced by Voldemort, where he see Ron's father being attacked inside the Ministry while patrolling by night. At Hogwarts, the situation has become worse than ever, with Umbridge getting appointed Inquisitor, and then Headmaster. When Harry sees his godfather being killed by Voldermort in the Ministry, he decides to go there, along with his best friends. Umbridge tries to stop them, but they manage to get rid of her and fly to London, to the Ministry. There they fight Deatheaters, who are trying to get their hands on a prophecy on ehalf of their master. Harry manages to listen to it before it gets destroyed. It was about him and Voldemort not being able to be alive both at the same time, one having to kill the other. During the fight, Sirius gets killed. Then VOldemort himself comes and attacks Harry, who is saved just in time by Dumbledore. The Minister arrives on the ground just before Voldemort escapes; he now has to acknowledge his return.

[ Posted on July 25th, 2007 at 17:31 | no comment | ]

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Komarr

Categories: [ Books/Barrayar ]

Komarr has been published in 1998 by Lois McMaster Bujold.

Miles has left the military and has become an Imperial Auditor. He is sent to Komarr to investigate the partial destruction of the soletta, a device orbiting around the planet and concetrate energy from its sun towards the surface. Miles spends some time on the planet's surface time with his co-auditor, at the latter's niece's place. While there, Miles fells in love with Ekaterin (the niece), and learns that her husband (Tien) has been loosing lots of money on bad investments. Miles then discovers that Tien is involved with the people responsible for the destruction of the soletta, taking bribes from them while they embezzel money from a terraforming project under Tien's supervision. Tien being an insufferable husband, Ekaterin decides to leave him, just when the Auditors discover about the embezzelment and Tien's involvment. Tien decides to tell Miles all that he knows, but dies in an accident. The Auditors then discover what hardware had been bought with the embezelled money, and manage to infer its purpose: the four Komarrans involved have built a device that will close permanently the wormhole linking Barrayar to Komarr, its only path to the galaxy, as a revenge for Barrayar's invasion of Komarr several decades ago. The four conspirators are nowhere to be found, since they disappeared concurrently with Tien's death. Meanwhile, Ekaterin has gone to the space station where passengers and goods transit from Barrayar, in order to welcome her aunt. She is seen by one of the Komarran conspirators who takes her hostage with her aunt. Ekaterin manages to destroy the device shortly and call for help, leading Miles to the station. He manages to negotiate with the Komarrans, free the hostages and catch the conspirators. At the end, Ekaterin accepts his invitation to Vorbarr Sultana.

[ Posted on July 23rd, 2007 at 20:18 | 3 comments | ]

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

Cetaganda

Categories: [ Books/Barrayar ]

A novel by Lois McMaster Bujold published in 1994.

Miles and Ivan are sent to Cetaganda as representatives of Barrayar at the funeral of the late Empress. During a weird incident, Miles puts his hands on a mysterious object, and discovers later that it is the Key that opens the genetic database of the Cetagandan nobility, which in turn is necessary for deciding the genomes of the future noble heirs. Miles is contacted by a Lady who wants to get the Key back, but she immediately notices that it is a fake. Miles wants to help her finding the real Key, sensing that this whole story is a plot aiming at creating a diplomatic incident between Barrayar and Cetaganda. The Lady is the chief geneticist of the Empire, and she tells Miles that the late Empress wanted to backup the genetic database by giving copies to the eight planetary governors, each of them believing that he is the only depositary. The plan was only half implemented, and now one of the governors is trying to get it all for himself. After a difficult investigation and several attempts on his life, Miles discovers who the thief is. He goes onto his ship and manages to retrieve the Key. He finally gets the Cetagandan Medal of Honour.

[ Posted on July 14th, 2007 at 23:28 | 1 comment | ]

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

1 an

Translation: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Categories: [ Blog ]

Et hop, un an de blog, 270 message, et même quelques commentaires. Et aussi presque 42000 spams.

[ Posted on July 11th, 2007 at 17:51 | 2 comments | ]

La sinsé gravite au 21

Translation: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Categories: [ Books/RC Wagner ]

ISBN: 2910899055

© Amazon.fr

Un roman de Roland C. Wagner republié en 1998. Viper est un transporteur spatial indépendant. Achernar VI est une dépendance de la Terre et la seule planète de la galaxie où l'on peut produire des biopuces grâce à son absence de micro-organismes. Suite à une maladresse, Viper contamine la planète puis s'enfuit avec Ganja, une biopuce expérimentale unique en son genre capable de servir d'interface entre n'importe quels systèmes, électroniques ou biologiques. Sur Terre, il est comdamné à payer pour les dégats occasionnés. La Ligue Secrète pour le Désarmement le contacte ensuite pour faire évader un de ses membres de Spirit of America, la planète de Clowns gris, réputés pour leur esprit belliqueux, leur régime totalitaire, leur xénophobie et leur autacisme. Les Clowns gris sont les seuls fabricants d'armes en dehors des terriens, et ils s'apprêtent à envahir, dans un but encore inconnu, une planète voisine de la leur, Nieuw Amsterdam, qui est aussi la seule planète où pousse la sinsé, une herbe très en vogue qui est en passe de remplacer l'alcool, le tabac et le cannabis. Comme Viper a besoin d'argent pour payer son amende, il est forcé d'accepter. En transitant par Stellara, une station spatiale située entre la Terre et la Lune, il rencontre une Stelle qui lui propose de lui fournir un moyen d'entrer sur Spirit of America en échange d'un peu de contrebande. Après quelques péripéties, il arrive sur la planète des Clowns gris, mais l'agent de la ligue n'a pas pu venir à son point de rendez-vous. Viper doit traverser la planète pour aller la chercher (car il s'agit d'une jeune femme, la fille d'un des principaux industriels de la planète). Le retour est semé d'embûches, mais grâce à Ganja, ils parviennent à s'échapper. Ils se rendent ensuite sur Nieuw Amsterdam où ils parviennent à faire évacuer la plupart de la population et à sauver quelques rhizomes de sinsé avant l'attaque, qui avait été avancée. Grâce à des indices accumulés auparavant et à Ganja qui lui permet de s'interfacer avec la plante, Viper comprend que la Sinsé est un organisme intelligent, ce qui explique qu'elle est capable de muter pour s'adapter aux métabolisme des humains et devenir moins toxique. Enfin, les Clowns gris attaquent la planète afin de la stériliser complètement, mais leurs missiles se retournent contre eux, encore une fois grâce à Ganja qui a perverti les IA guidant les missiles. Le plan des Clowns gris était de stériliser Nieuw Amsterdam afin de la que la planète soit utilisable pour y produire des biopuces, la vendre à la Terre, puis s'en emparer afin de s'approprier la technologie des biopuces.

[ Posted on July 11th, 2007 at 17:44 | no comment | ]

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Caylus: Prestige or Favours?

Categories: [ Games ]

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/178418?size=large

© BoardGameGeek.com

When thinking about Dan Rosewater's expansion cards for Caylus, I wondered how to decide if a card should bring extra prestige points or rather royal favours?

Reviewing the official cards in Caylus, I came to the following conclusion:

  • You get prestige when you do something that increases your rank in the social hierarchy, when other people in city notice you more, maybe respect you more. In other words, you get prestige when you make yourself look good in the eyes of the others. This can be achieved by expanding the city and the castle of course, but also by making donations to the church, or wearing expensive cloth (made by the tailor) or jewellery (made by the jeweller, if you use this extension card).
  • You get a royal favour when you do something that makes you look good in the eyes of the King, such as promoting education (e.g., building the university), arts and culture (building the theater, the monument), providing entertainment(fighting in the joust field), or flattering the King (building the statue – because I'm pretty sure the statue is a statue of the King).

Then about Dan's cards:

  • The Guild of Thieves: I love the idea, but I think that the card should allow players to trade prestige points in exchange for deniers or resources (how many of them remains yet to be decided). This would be consistent with what I wrote above, i.e., when you do something bad such as using the services of a thief, you loose some amount of prestige. Moreover, those should not be stolen from other players, but taken from the “bank”, i.e., stolen from someone in general. Resource/Denier exchange between players is not a part of the game mechanics, and maybe it should remain so. Finally, it should maybe cost more than one or two prestige points to build, I think. And it also could give its owner a denier e.g., as a tax taken by the guild from its members, when used by another player.
  • The Hospital: I love the idea too, but I think that it should not provide a royal favour to the players, but rather be used for trading any resource or deniers for prestige points. In other words, when you make a donation to the hospital, you get to look good in the eyes of the people in the city. Maybe the hospital would be worth getting a favour when built, though.
  • The Royal Luxury Taylor: this one I hate, because there is already a taylor, and getting prestige for nothing is not in the spirit of the game.
  • The Trader: I somehow like it, but again not really. There are already trader-like buildings in the game, such as at the market, the peddler, the alchemist and the bank. Otherwise, it acts as a resource providing building mixed with the comptoir, providing both resources and deniers, which is something new. I have to think more about it.

[ Posted on July 10th, 2007 at 11:19 | no comment | ]

Monday, July 9th, 2007

Caylus' Economics

Categories: [ Games ]

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/178418?size=large

© BoardGameGeek.com

The resources in Caylus are not equally easy to get when using production facilities such as farms, sawmills, quarries etc. We can then find what are their respective values based on their scarcity and by extension, we can derive the values of the deniers and of the pretige point.

Values of Resources

If we consider that all the production facilities have been built, we can count how many resources are produced by each of them (when an alternative is possible, such as in the wooden farms, we consider only half of the number of resources; resources gained by the owner of stone buildings are not taken into account) and calculate values of the resources relative to each other. Here are the results:

  • Gold: 100.0 (reference value)
  • Food: 18.3
  • Wood: 18.3
  • Stone: 20.2
  • Cloth: 25.3

Food and wood have the same value, stone is worth 10% more than the two previous ones, cloth is worth 38% more than food and wood, and 25% more than stone, and gold is worth the most, as expected.

Deniers

So, how much are deniers worth? It depends a lot where you spend them or where from you get them.

At the bank, one denier is worth 50.0 or 40.0, depending on the amount you change.

At the neutral market, its worth 4.6, 5.1, 6.3 or 25.0, depending on the kind of resource you trade, respectively food/wood, stone, cloth or gold. At the wooden market, these values are respectively 3.1, 3.4, 4.2 or 16.7.

At the neutral peddler, it's worth 9.2, 10.1, or 12.7 for food/wood, stone or cloth, respectively. At the wooden peddler, the values are respectively 18.3, 20.2 or 25.3.

Prestige Points

The taylor changes cloth into prestige points, with a rate of one cloth turned into two points. This sets the prestige point's value to 12.7.

The jeweller sets the value of the prestige point to 20.0 or 22.2, depending on how much gold is spent at once.

The church sets the prestige point to 2.1-2.5 (with a denier worth 3.1).

Building wooden buildings sets the prestige point to 18.3 (farms, sawmill, quarry), 9.2 (mason, market/peddler built with food), 9.6 (market/peddler built with stone) or 10.9 (notary, market/peddler with cloth).

Building stone buildings sets the prestige point to 12.8 (farm, park, workshop), 6.4 (architect, taylor, bank, alchemist) or 5.7-15.1 (church, depending on how much prestige the favour can be turned into).

Residences are harder to evaluate, since they cost a denier in addition to the cloth, but using the lowest rate of the denier (3.1), it can be set to 14.2.

The points obtained from the construction of prestige buildings are worth as follows: 15.5 (library), 16.0 (cathedral), 14.8-20.0 (monument), 16.3 (hotel), 13.4-18.2 (theater), 13.7-18.6 (university), 14.7 (weaver), 15.5 (granary), 11.7-20 (statue). Some of these buildings also give favours, which can be turned into one to five prestige points, which explains the variable values for the monument, the theatre, the university and the statue.

Finally, building at the castle sets the prestige point's value to 7.1-18.9, depending on which part of the castle is being built and wether you get a favour that can be changed into prestige points because you were the first builder.

Optimization

Now, how do you get the most out of it? This is not the same as rich, since we have seen above that the value of deniers is very much variable depending on who you deal with.

One possibility would be to sell at the market food/wood for deniers, and then buy cloth at the peddler's or even gold at the bank. This allows to change e.g., one food/wood for three cloth or two golds. It's much more interesting than going to the alchemist's (one food/wood for half a gold), except if you can't spend two rounds on the transactions.

Another possibility is to sell wood/food at the wooden market, and then buy prestige points at the church, at a very low cost. This is probably the cheapest way to gain prestige points, but it's quite slow.

With building construction, the best choices are the architect, the taylor, the bank and the alchemist, since they bring prestige points at the lowest cost.

At the castle, the best possibility is to be the first to build a piece of the walls and turn the favour into five prestige points.

Warning

These values are true only when all the production buildings have been built. If some of them are missing, the value of the resources that they are not producing is getting higher and this changes all the calculations. If I have time, I'll make a script that recalculates all these quickly.

[ Posted on July 9th, 2007 at 00:11 | no comment | ]

Sunday, July 8th, 2007

Interesting Times

Categories: [ Books/Discworld ]

ISBN: 0552142352

© Amazon.fr

Seventeent volume in the Discworld series, Interesting Times has been published in 1994 by Terry Pratchett.

A message coming to Ankh-Morpork from the mysterious Agatean Empire requests the Great Wizzard to be sent there. He is identified as being Rincewind, who is then brought back by magic from the island where he was stranded after his last adventure (thanks to Hex, the supercomputer that can say thousands of location spells in a short period of time), and sent the same way to the Agatean Empire. He there meets a horde of seven elderly barbarian heroes led by Cohen the Barbarian (the Silver Horde), and is soon after taken by the “Red Army”, who is fomenting a revolution in Hunghung, the capital city of the Empire. The legend has it that the Red Army, led by the Great Wizard, would once again free the people from the oppressing emperor, or something like that. Rincewind manages, against his own will, to make them enter the Forbidden City, but they are immediately taken prisoner by the guards. In prison, he meets Twoflowers, and learns that the Red Army's cadres are Twoflower's children; the revolutionary movement itself is based on the book he wrote after his holidays in Ankh-Morpork and which caused him to be sent to prison. The doors of Rincewind's cell open mysteriously, he frees the other Red Army prisoners, and he is forced by Twoflower's daughter to go and try to kill the Emperor. But he is already dead, assassinated by his Grand Vizier, who wants to put the blame onto the Red Army and use the counter-revolution to get himself onto the throne. But the barbarian Horde has already taken the throne, using the fact that not many people know what the emperor looks like and that anybody could actually play his role. But the heads of the five great families who are continuously fighting for the power declare war to the Horde, and they will have to meet on the battlefield the next day, seven against seven-hundred thousands. Rincewind manages to flee the battlefield, but only to enter by accident a huge storage where seven thousand golems made of red clay await someone to use them again (there are bits of magical armour dedicated to that purpose). Rincewind puts the armour on, and leads, without really knowing what he was doing, the original Red Army to the battlefield, provoking a panic in the armies and allowing the Horde to take once again the control of the imperial throne. But Rincewind soon disappears, transported magically again by the wizards of Unseen University. But instead of arriving in Ankh-Morpork as expected, Rincewind lands in XXXX.

[ Posted on July 8th, 2007 at 17:14 | 1 comment | ]

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Fonts

Categories: [ Games ]

Here are the fonts used in game artwork that I have needed for making my own game components. For both games below the fonts were not freely available, but in the case of Caylus a good replacement was available, and for Carcassonne I used MyFonts.com's sample text rendition to get words or pieces of words, and then I used potrace to trace a vector contour and save the words in EPS. This gives the possibility to change the size of the words without any of the aliasing problems that occur when resizing a bitmap. Assembling the words or pieces of words to make titles was annoying, but that's better than nothing.

Caylus

The offcial one is Engraver's Old English.

Replacement fonts, available for free:

Carcassonne

The font is very similar, although not identical to Lindsay, and has no known free equivalent. Lindsay is thinner, its legs are a bit longer and has no serif on e.g., the left leg of its “n”.

[ Posted on July 5th, 2007 at 11:53 | no comment | ]

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

Onze Racines

Translation: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Categories: [ Books/Comics/Les forets d'Opale ]

ISBN: 2849466441

© Amazon.fr

Cinquième volume de la série Opale publié en 2007. Darko et ses amis sont à la recherche d'un village caché appelé Onze Racines, construit dans la racine d'un des deux arbres géants dans lesquels les Titans avaient érigé des palais. Ils y arrivent, prisonniers des habitants dudit village. Ils y trouvent le dernier sage Shelmilis qui doit enseigner à Darko à se servir du pouvoir de la pierre de son bracelet et de son grimoire. En échange, le sage (qui est une petite créature espiègle) demande que Darko aille réveiller la dernière femelle Shelmilis, endormi dans l'autre palais des Titans et que seul un c½ur pur peut aller chercher. Darko accepte et y va en compagnie de Tara, triomphe des épreuves du gardier et accompli sa mission.

[ Posted on July 3rd, 2007 at 16:38 | no comment | ]

Les trois yeux des gardiens du Tao

Translation: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Categories: [ Books/Comics/Largo Winch ]

ISBN: 2800138610

© Amazon.fr

Quinzième volume de la série Largo Winch, publié en 2007. Largo a autrefois réussi à s'échapper d'une prison chinoise au Tibet grâce à une triade chinoise. Maintenant, la triade lui demande de payer sa dette: il doit voler un parchemin précieux à un homme d'affaire chinois avec lequel il doit justement signer un contrat. Il est découvert en plein forfait, arrêté et envoyé au Tibet dans une prison chinoise.

[ Posted on July 3rd, 2007 at 14:53 | no comment | ]

# Dossier # Mensonges

Translation: [ Google | Babelfish ]

Categories: [ Books/Comics/Alpha ]

ISBN: 2803622491

© Amazon.fr

Dixième volume de la série Alpha, publé en 2007. Une BD qui n'en est pas une avec quelques planches entrecoupées de texte et dessins. L'idée est de présenter le passé d'Alpha : il est le fils d'un espion du KGB infiltré aux États-Unis qui a eu une brève liaison avec la mère d'Alpha. Cet espion est le descendant de nobles russo-finlandais.

[ Posted on July 3rd, 2007 at 14:48 | no comment | ]

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Water Rocket Theory

Categories: [ DIY | Science ]

The physics involved in flying a water rocket is not very complex if you have studied a little bit of mechanics and fluid mechanics. It is summarized in a PDF file written by Peter Nielsen, Associate Professor in Civil Engineering of the University of Queensland, Australia. I wrote a Perl script that implements the formulas and outputs data plotable with Gnuplot.

water_rocket_theory

I just finished fixing a bug in the script which was promising wonderful performance of my rocket (like over 200 m altitude and a maximum speed of over 350 km/h), but which were never reached by our rocket. The water rocket that we built last week-end is in theory able to reach 38 m after 2.7 s of flight. Its top speed is 35.5 m/s (126 km/h) after 0.33 s of acceleration, and the acceleration increases from 95 to 169 m/s2 within the same time.

After that, it decelerates during a bit over two seconds, and then starts to drop back to the ground, and lands about 5.8 s after take off (omitting the effect of the parachute).

water_rocket_theory_2

Tuning the parameters of the script, I found the following optimal values: the weight of the rocket should be 140 g, the filling ratio of the water tank should be 0.38 with a pressure of 7 bar, and 0.45 with a pressure of 5 bar. Because of former erroneous calculations, I thought that the optimal filling ratio was about 0.60, which lead to much poorer performance, due to the overload. This second graph shows the theoretical height, speed and acceleration of the rocket during its last flight. The water empties in about 0.32 s, which corresponds to what has been seen on the video clip, and the maximum height is 36.8 m, which seems reasonable (although it has probably never been reached because the parachute opened far too early).

The drag coefficient is one parameter that is very difficult to estimate, and for now its value is 0.9 for the calculations, which is barely better than the one of a brick (about 1.1). Its real value may be less. Or more. Who knows…

Also, the leaks in the pressuring system make it difficult to estimate what was the actual pressure in the rocket at take off. And water was poured without real accuracy, so the above filling ratio may as well be 0.8 or 0.5.

[ Posted on July 2nd, 2007 at 17:06 | no comment | ]

Water Rockets 2

Categories: [ DIY ]

Reijo and Juha have been busy last week building another rocket using old CDs as fins and also building a new launching pad out of metal tubes. Here are the pictures.

CD_Rocket

Sikaflex has again been used to glue the fins to the bottle.

This launchpad is made of metal tubes and doesn't leak anymore. Moreover, it is orientable and mounted on a stand (on the contrary to the old one which was attached to a pole).

Lauchpad_Metal_1 Lauchpad_Metal_2 Lauchpad_Metal_3 Lauchpad_Metal_4

[ Posted on July 2nd, 2007 at 17:05 | no comment | ]

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

Solaris

Categories: [ TV/Cinema ]

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0307479/

© Imdb.com

Chris Kelvin is a psychiatrist who has been sent to the Solaris space station, located near an mysterious space stellar object called Solaris in order to investigate strange phenomena. When he arrives, the station is empty except for the captain and an engineer, all other crewmembers are dead. He soon discovers that his dreams (about his dead wife) are becoming reality i.e., a creature looking exactly like his wife appears in his cabin overnight. She doesn't know where she is or why she is there, though, but she remembers her husbands memories. The other crewmembers have experienced the same thing. The captain wants to get rid of the creatures, but Kelvin refuses to loose his wife a second time. She tries to commit suicide because she understands she's not real, but she resurrects, as it seems that the creatures cannot die. The captain has however built a device that desintegrate the creatures. The “wife” wants to use it on herself, but Kelvin won't let her leave the cabin, and even stops sleeping in order to keep an eye on her. He however gets eventually sick and she takes advantage of it in order to take her own life for good with the help of the captain. Some time later, they discover that the space station is being attracted towards Solaris and that they must abandon ship. They then discover that the engineer is actually a clone that had killed his human counterpart some time ago. And Kelvin discovers just before take off that he himself is a clone (he probably died when he was sick and dreamt himself alive). He then decides to stay on the station. When it enters Solaris, his mind joins the one of his wife ad they can be together again.

It seems that the director of the movie tried to compete with 2001: A Space Odyssey to make the slowest movie with the smallest amount of action where it is the hardest to understand what happens.

[ Posted on July 1st, 2007 at 12:58 | no comment | ]