Is Iron Man made of Lego?

I was re-watching Iron Man recently and noticed something interesting.  During Iron Man’s first “boot up sequence”, in the “terrorist” caves of Nowhereistan, some butchered C code is displayed on a faked up laptop screen.

C source code from Iron Man Movie

The code displayed on screen, although missing some syntactically important characters such as semi-colons, is actual valid C source code.  So valid in fact that I wondered where it came from.

After a quick Google I found it. This code is in fact as follows:

    send[0] = 0x65;
    send[1] = 1;
    send[2] = 3;
    send[3] = 5;
    send[4] = 7;
    send[5] = 11;

    if (rcx_sendrecv(fd, send, 6, recv, 1, 50, RETRIES, use_comp) != 1) {
	fprintf(stderr, "%s: delete firmware failed\n", progname);

    /* Start firmware download */
    send[0] = 0x75;
    send[1] = (start >> 0) & 0xff;
    send[2] = (start >> 8) & 0xff;
    send[3] = (cksum >> 0) & 0xff;
    send[4] = (cksum >> 8) & 0xff;
    send[5] = 0;

    if (rcx_sendrecv(fd, send, 6, recv, 2, 50, RETRIES, use_comp) != 2) {
	fprintf(stderr, "%s: start firmware download failed\n", progname);

    /* Transfer data */
    addr = 0;
    index = 1;
    for (addr = 0, index = 1; addr < len; addr += size, index++) {

The code above comes from a firmware downloader for the RCX (a programmable, microcontroller-based Lego brick), written in 1998 at Stanford University by Kekoa Proudfoot. You can get the full source file here and it is distributed under the Mozilla Public License.  This is the same license used by Firefox and many other Open Source software products.

The sequence in the film in which this code appears suggests that the code is either being downloaded as firmware to the Iron Man suit or being used to upload firmware to an RCX Lego brick that is somehow involved in the operation of Iron Man.

So it appears that Iron Man is either powered by Open Source software or made of Lego.  I’m not sure which is cooler.

The power of video games to sell music.

I watched the Mirrors Edge story trailer on my XBOX 360 the other night and noted at the end of the trailer it mentioned the music was from an artist by the name of Solar Fields.  The music in the trailer being nice low key ambient trance had me interested in finding out more about the artist.  A quick Google had me at his home page and MySpace profile listening to a couple of tracks which were nice.  A quick search of the iTunes Music store had me buying the 2007 album EarthShine.  I would probably have picked up others if they had been available as DRM-free iTunes Plus tracks.

The album, by the way is very good.  The sort of dance/trance that I enjoy a lot.  I also notice that Solar Fields is playing the Earthcore festival here in Melbourne in November.

Plex. XBMC for Macs.

Plex Icon

I just downloaded and had a brief play with Plex on my Macbook.  It is basically a direct port of XBMC (Xbox Media Center) to the Mac platform.  This makes me want to buy another Mac to plug into the telly to replace my current XBMC.

The trust old XBOX is getting a little underpowered.  It can’t output HD and it can’t decode HD content on its puny 700Mhz Celeron processor.

Now, where can I find a cheap Intel Mac Mini when I need one.


Over the Christmas break I watched the documentary Helvetica.

Helvetica Poster

It seems that Jeff Atwood over at Coding Horror has been similarly intrigued by typefaces and the history of Helvectica and its many knock offs, of which Arial is the most commonly seen.

Jeff linked to an interesting article from 2001 by Graphic & Type Designer Mark Simonson who discusses the history of Arial and how to spot it. Having looked at the samples on Mark’s site comparing Arial to Helvetica I think I can say I prefer Helvetica a lot more than Arial. Its seems to be a more balanced typeface.

Steal This Film

I just finished watching Steal This Film II. It is a very well put together documentary about copyright, big media, and the cultural shift that is happening away from pure consumption to a much healthier consume/produce model. I highly recommend watching this film, and although it is a copyrighted work, the producers of the film want you to steal it, hence the name. If it weren’t copyright you couldn’t steal it. So here is part one:

Watch part two, three, four and five, on YouTube.

Now having said that I encourage you to support the artists you like. Attend their concerts, buy their music (when they’ll get paid, ie directly from them, not from iTunes), movies, books etc.

Remember, just because you paid for a CD or DVD don’t assume that the artists behind it will get paid. Just look at the current Hollywood writers strike for an example of where creative people behind the media you enjoy aren’t getting paid their dues.

Try and find artists out there who aren’t backed by big media. Support them. They need it more than Warner Brothers, Fox, and Sony.