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April 5th, 2012

06:19 pm - it's that time again:

Time for another episode of No User Serviceable Parts!

This time I'm not going to complain about self-tapping screws at all, nor am I going to have pro and con lists, nothing like that. This time I'm just going to ask you what's wrong with this picture.

The picture behind the cut, that is.Collapse ) This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
Current Mood: crotchety


March 16th, 2012

07:32 pm - Seven random things

Comment to this post, and I will list seven things I want you to talk about. They might make sense or they might be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself.

From vvvexation:

Years after I abandoned a career in chemistry, it dawned on me that what I had really enjoyed was the lab work. Now I can't help wondering if I coulda made a go of it on the synthesis side instead of the theory side.
Are yummy, but should be referred to as 'scones' or 'cookies' to avoid confusion.
I have spent almost no time around them and would like to know if they're actually as foolish as they are reputed to be.
the Singularity:
In its original form, it was predicated on laughably optimistic notions of progress in AI research. Human-equivalent robots need at least 50 more years of R&D, and disembodied intelligence may never be achieved. That said, it is a useful corrective for people who assume the future will be just like the present day, especially those who, by the present day, actually mean Pleasantville.
Has never really appealed to me.
One time, someone in the Cornell University Marching Band hit me in the face with their trombone. ... Fuck, was that fifteen years ago already?
I read it in ninth grade, more or less back-to-back with The Dispossessed, instead of paying attention in Spanish 1 (still the worst instructor I have ever had). Years later I reread The Dispossessed and was blown away by just how much of it had gone right past me. If I reread Dune, either the same thing will happen, or the Suck Fairy will have visited and I won't get past page ten. I kinda don't want to collapse the wave function. (For the record, the Suck Fairy had already gotten to the sequels when I picked them up for the first time. I did manage to make it through volume two before I gave up; I doubt I'd do the same today.)
This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.


January 15th, 2012

03:15 pm

A monopoly on the means of communication may define a ruling elite more precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of “monopoly on the means of production.” Since man extends his nervous system through channels of communication like the written word, the telephone, radio, etc., he who controls these media controls part of the nervous system of every member of society. The contents of these media become part of the contents of every individual's brain.

Thus, in pre-literate societies taboos on the spoken word are more numerous and more Draconic than at any more complex level of social organization. With the invention of written speech—hieroglyphic, ideographic, or alphabetical—the taboos are shifted to this medium; there is less concern with what people say and more concern with what they write. (Some of the first societies to achieve literacy, such as Egypt and the Mayan culture of ancient Mexico, evidently kept a knowledge of their hieroglyphs a religious secret which only the higher orders of the priestly and royal families were allowed to share.) The same process repeats endlessly: Each step forward in the technology of communication is more heavily tabooed than the earlier steps. Thus, in America today (post-Lenny Bruce), one seldom hears of convictions for spoken blasphemy or obscenity; prosecution of books still continues, but higher courts increasingly interpret the laws in a liberal fashion, and most writers feel fairly confident that they can publish virtually anything; movies are growing almost as desacralized as books, although the fight is still heated in this area; television, the newest medium, remains encased in neolithic taboo. (When the TV pundits committed lese majeste after an address by the then Dominant Male, a certain Richard Nixon, one of his lieutenants quickly informed them they had overstepped, and the whole tribe—except for the dissident minority—cheered for the reasertion of tradition.) When a more efficient medium arrives, the taboos on television will decrease.

— “Appendix Teth: Hagbard's Booklet,” Leviathan, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, 1975.

Thirty-seven years later, still relevant, and if you're reading this you know what the “more efficient medium” was.

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January 14th, 2012

09:59 am

Upon discovering that Photo Editor A has inexplicably discarded the time stamps on ninety-four photos, causing Photo Editor B to get peeved and file them all under "No Event" instead of a sensible date, there are three types of people in the world:

  1. Those who ignore the problem.
  2. Those who manually re-enter the timestamps on all 94 photos using an interface not intended for this task.
  3. Those who figure out how to write a shell script that would automatically copy the time stamps over from the archived raw files.

Today I am type two. On some other day I might be type three, but probably never type one.

(Technology makes more work for us: if I had been shooting with my old film camera, there wouldn't be any timestamps to correct.)

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January 13th, 2012

08:27 am - In Search of Clip Art
I need a particular piece of clip art: a black-and-white vector drawing of an eye, seen from the side, styled to look malevolent somehow. I have not been able to find any such thing except on sketchy-looking icon search sites that want money. (I'm willing to pay a small amount of money for this, but not to a site that has probably itself ripped off the image from someone. I can't afford to spend more than about US$10.)

Is there an LJ or DW community where one may commission such things? (This isn't for a journal icon, so those communities seem inappropriate.) Or if you would like to draw me one yourself, please do get in touch. :)

This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.


August 17th, 2011

05:33 pm
The first few paragraphs of this paper are terrible. May I have permission to keep writing, rather than fixing them, please?


June 25th, 2011

09:59 pm - TMBG in San Francisco in November - tix on sale TOMORROW
After quite a hiatus, They Might Be Giants are coming
back to San Francisco this November (11/12 and 11/13, at the
Fillmore). I still don't know how much the tickets cost or how fast
they're going to sell out, but I have links to where you *should* be
able to buy them -- tomorrow. (The 26th, in case that's today by the
time you get this.)

11/12 San Francisco, CA – Fillmore - on sale 6/26 -
11/13 San Francisco, CA – Fillmore - on sale 6/26

I plan to attend the 11/12 show, on account of that one's on a
Saturday. I would love to see any and all of you there (and do feel
free to send this along to anyone else who might be interested) but I
regret, I cannot coordinate -- please buy your own tickets and make
your own travel arrangements.. (But please do let me know if you'll
be there.)

(1 comment)

June 6th, 2011

07:02 pm

because i'm sick and playing way too much match-3...

in a standard match-3 game where one move is swapping two adjacent tiles, each move must create at least one line of 3 or more tiles of the same color, all such lines are immediately removed and scored, and there are no special moves or tiles: what is the maximum number of tiles that can be removed in the first scoring round, i.e. before the empty space is filled? from this configuration you can get 14 tiles...


(swap bold tiles) and i don't think you can do better, but maybe i'm missing something.

The number of tiles that can be removed on the second and subsequent scoring rounds is bounded only by the height of the board, because of this pattern:

.B   .

(vertical bars indicate repetition) but it's still interesting to ask what is the largest kingwise connected pattern around the pattern removed in the first round that can be removed in the second round. you might think it's this pattern:

.AA    BB.

with 18 tiles to be removed, but there is no way to create this pattern by exchanging two tiles, from a legal game position.


June 2nd, 2011

09:08 pm - Things found while cleaning my desk
  1. Packaging for one camera, one spare battery for said camera, two different types of memory module, and a shirt.
  2. Two sets international power adapters.
  3. CAD$4.77 and HKD$1, in coins.1
  4. Four tablets ibuprofen.
  5. One bottle glass cleaner.
  6. One box strike-anywhere kitchen matches.
  7. One whiteboard, 16.5" x 23".
  8. One square cup containing dry-erase markers and a Sharpie.
  9. Two checkbooks drawing upon accounts closed more than a year ago.2
  10. One pen-holding insert for a Timbuk2 brand messenger bag.
  11. Two coasters.
  12. One FedEx envelope (used).
  13. One pair scissors (small).
  14. One prepaid UPS merchandise return label.
  15. One proxy ballot for a company that my parents purchased shares in on my behalf when I was a little kid.
  16. One rubber band.

1 I have never been to Hong Kong.

2 How should I dispose of these? They're too fat for my shredder.


March 14th, 2011

09:25 pm - Display and camera calibration gear wanted
Does anyone within reasonable driving distance of Mountain View, CA (let's say no more than about 60 miles as the wolf runs) have gear for calibrating the colors on a computer monitor and/or a digital camera, that I could borrow for a couple days?

(1 comment)

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