Max Romantschuk's weblog – October 2003 archive
I say King's Quest I still kicks ass.
Did you use to play computer games as a kid? I sure did. Electronic Gaming Monthly did an interesting test: They rounded up a bunch of kids from the Playstation geneation and tested what they thought about games from the 80's and 90's. If you ask me the results were somewhat disturbing, then again the selection of games in the experiment was fairly limited.
Pyrotechnic Pidgeon, for your browsing pleasure.
What browser are you using right now? If you're running Windows I'd say there's a fair chance you're using Internet Explorer. A year ago so did I. Nowadays I've abandoned IE, because there's something much better: Mozilla Firebird.
Mozilla Firebird is the browser-only component of the Mozilla project. I've been using it for quite some time now and I must say I never looked back. Firebird is simply superior to IE. You might feel that browsers are invented already, but Firebird really has some very nice features which will make your daily dose of the web much more easily digestible. Version 0.7 was released today, so go and take a look!
All your base are belong to us.
Do you know what Engrish is? There is some in the heading, for one thing. Here is the definition of Engrish, according to Engrish.com: "Engrish can be simply defined as the humorous English mistakes that appear in Japanese advertising and product design."
So now you know. So now, in order to brigthen up your monday, haul ass over to Engrish.com. Oh, and don't do what I did and read the site while trying to eat... Not a good idea.
Who cares about top performance these days?
Via Technologies has announched a GigaHertz class processor which consumes 7 watts. The Inquirer reports: Via introduces seven watts tiny 1GHz X86 chip. Think about it... this is around a tenth of what the high end Athlons and Pentium 4s consume. The thing doesn't need a fan at all.
I find this much more interresting than the speed record game Intel and AMD are up to. This is the technology which will eventually make it possible to have silent, fanless and devilishly small computers. That's the read deal.
Of interrest to Finns: Arvi Lind is doing his last news broadcast tonight. This guy has been on the air longer than I've existed. Hats off.
Page Not Found!
We all hate the numbers 404, right? It tells you that you that the page you're looking for no longer exists, or maybe you just typed the URL wrong... But sometimes typing an incorrect address can be fun, try this: http://www.netscape.com/thisaddressdoesnotesixt.
The month in retrospect
This month I've had 840 visits to this page, and I'd expect to end up at a shave under 900 by the end of the day. I guess I should be proud, but I'm mostly sceptical.
I've posted substansially to Slashdot this month, a lot of visits from there. But I have updated almost every day, and it seems I do have some kind of regular readership. I've still got mostly no idea who reads this though, as I only know of one person who keeps coming back at regular intervals. Anyway, thanks to all who do! And if you consider yourself a regular reader of my blog, do drop me a line if you feel that things are going in the wrong or right direction.
Anyway, on tho the catch of the day. It is 65 years since Orson Welles' radio play, War of the Worlds, created widespread panic by (unintentionally) making people believe that the Earth was under attack from Mars. Go figure. There's a movie by the same name by the way, reeeeally tacky sci-fi. Scary if you're young enough, otherwise just laughable. Via Slashdot.
Speaking of space, have you ever seen the Space Simulator Cluster? I'd sure like to have one of those. Why? Just because.
The Inquirer and Newsforge both have refreshingly different reviews of Apple's OS X 10.3 up, makes for a nice comparison. Add the one which I linked on the 28th this month and you whould have enough fruit to last all winter... Just kidding. Anyway, it's interresting to see how Apple is playing it's hand, the industry is changing, that's for sure. Open source is gaining momentum, Apple is doing it's best to gain from this while Microsoft (and SCO) is spreading FUD.
Every self respecting geek has a Swiss Army Knife, right? At least most did before those darn Leathermen started appearing... Dan has been looking at an especially cool version, one which has an inflammable warning on it's side. Take a look at the Victorinox SwissFlame.
Now then, while you're busy burning down your house you might like to play with these remote controlled fighting tanks. Even without the pyromania, I sure would!
Ah, brings back memories, now doesn't it? I must admit though, I played Firepower on a PC and not the Apple II.
Now then, off to hoping for that cold to go away. Stupid viree.
Burn baby burn
The time of this entry is no mistake, it's exactly 12 hours since my last posting. Tom's Hardware has a huge DVD burner review up. Worth a read if you're planning on giving someone (or yourself) a burner for Christmas.
With the soothing sounds of 3 kilos by The Prodigy in my ears I'm sitting here and wondering what to write about. I've observed that blogs with cool writing tend to be popular, problem is I'm just not a cool person. I'm not boring either, I guess I fall into the weird/unorthodox category.
Writing about technology doesn't exactly make things any better, but let's face it, at least I know about technology. There was a rather good look at Apple's latest incarnation of OS X over at The New York Times. Some interresting new features in there.
My little social experiment (see October 24th) produced a total of 36 visits, more than the 15 I saw yesterday, something at least. Thanks to whoever did as I asked.
There is no spoon.
You are Neo, from "The Matrix." You display a perfect fusion of heroism and compassion.
Via Quizilla. What Matrix Persona Are You?
Not much else happening today. I'm having an average monday nightmare at work, utterly uninteresting for the rest of the world's population. My stats seem to show a small regular readership, but I'm quite convinced they'll get bored soon enough.
On to more interesting stuff... I've done vector illustration (or should I say tried to do) since elementary school, starting with Corel Draw 2. If that sentence made any sense to you go take a look at Hydro74. This guy's artwork calls for some serious respect.
Today, tomorrow and yesterday
I fear most of my readers probably never program computers, but I am who I am, so I felt I really had to link 99 Bottles of Beer - One program in 571 languages. It might even be interresting for non-programmers, it's really amazing how many different ways there are to do the very same thing.
As for the future, having followed Intel and AMD play tag for a couple of years now I found Arron Rouse's analisys on the upcoming year quite interresting. There's a fair bit of processor manufacturing knowledge involved, but good stuff none the less.
Slashdot is covering C64 programming nostalgia, I'm sure some of you still look back at the good old days, right?
If you find all of the above utterly boring you might find these rudimentary instructions on establishing job security useful...
Prepare for information sickness
I'd like to conduct a social experiment. If you feel that you know a person who might be interrested in my weblog send him/her a mail containing my address. I'd like to see if it afftects my stats. I normally have around 25 page views a day, one would imagine at least 30 could be attained. I'll obviously report any change, if there actually is any.
On to the picks of the day. For some reason there seems to be much more interesting stuff floating around today than on an average day. First and foremost GNU/Linux luminaire Richard Stallman broke his arm yesterday, and right here in Finland, none the less. Richard would probably agree with me that Robert X. Cringely wrote a rather good article on open source: How Microsoft's Misunderstanding of Open Source Hurts Us All. Definetly worth a read.
There's an interresting observation done by FiringSquad, adding more memory to certain computers can actually make them slower. The observation is part of FiringSquad's article Building the Ultimate High-End Gaming Workstation: Stage 2. Speaking of things ultimate, check out the The Ultimate Laser "Printer" at good old PC Magazine.
Last but not least... Victoria's Secrets had a glitch which allowed customers to view other customers' orders on its web site. Ouch... what would your wife say if she found out that other people were able to see her chosen selection of sex clothes, including sizes?
When I stepped off the bus this morning I felt the first snowflakes of the upcoming winter land on my face. To this day I still feel the boyish excitement that you see on elementary school kids when the first snow falls. The day is off to a good start.
The Inquirer has an interesting article up on blogging, worth a read. Now then, back to work.
History repeated itself. (See yesterday.)
I've been following my visitor stats for quite some time, as I still feel the need to have people actually read what I write. As I've said before I'm mainly doing this for myself and my eventual offspring, but none the less the desire for fame doesn't seem to go away.
A look at my stats tell me that I've gotten 585 visits to the page during the ongoing month. Not bad for a personal site. Still the vast majority seem to take a look, then leave and never return. I can easily boost my stats by excessive posting to Slashdot, but random visitors aren't what I'm after. I'm looking for people who I can call readers, people who will come back.
What really makes a successful blog? If you ask me the ultimate measurement of success is a devoted readership. OK, so I'm stating the obvious. But how do you make your blog successful? I believe a key factor is focus. If a blog is focused on a specific subject the people who share that interrest will be more likely to return for more.
My handful of regular readers have surely noticed that my blog is not really focused on any one subject. Things come and go, at the predictability levels of a monkey on acid controlling a set of traffic lights. In a way I guess one could say that my blog is a distorted mirror image of my interrests. Deriving further one could conlude that the focus levels of my blog reflect the focus levels of myself.
I'm not a very focused person. I tend to do things in bursts, staying interrested in a little bit of everything. You can't actually do everything at the same time, hence the bursts. Today I'm interrested in the (non?) success of my blog... Next week? Who knows.
Providing that history repeats itself I will lose some readers on Pinseri's Top-list today. People tend to get bored when you don't link something cool...
I am your goddess.
According to the highly developed science of Internet-based tests I am the Greek goddess Athena. The sudden gender mixup is bound to cause serious psychologial trauma... I must say I liked being Obi-Wan Kenobi better. See the August archive for details.
What else? It's been a slow day. Chip fetishists might like to look at what Big Blue's been up to. Chip pr0n, chip specs.
Standard issue standards hunter
I've been drooling over DVD writers for quite some time now, mainly due to the fact that my music making hobby renders me with large datasets which I would be wise to back up. I've done so with CD's, but the last time I backed up my sample collection I needed 11 disks to do so! Ouch.
So far I've kept away from writable DVDs for two reasons: Price and standard/compatibility issues. The thing is that there is a plenthora of formats in which DVDs can be written: DVD-RAM, DVD-R and DVD-RW, DVD+R and DVD+RW. Naturally their not cross-comatible (yet).
I did some research on the history and existing standards of DVD writing, and found this nice DVD format introduction. I also found a very comprehensive FAQ on DVD in general, here is a link to the section dealing with recordable formats. I'd recommend both for anyone who's planning to buy a DVD writer. A little knowledge might save you quite a bit of headache.
Finally, for my Finnish readership: The MBnet Hintaseuranta page for DVD writers.
Who's your daddy?
Every now and then I really enjoy the likes of South Park and similar over the top yet superfunny immature jokes. Face it, there's a person who likes the very worst jokes in all of us. Now, a bad joke doesn't have to be unfunny. Bad jokes can be funny as hell, and still considered bad. So bad it's good -bad.
I'm on my way to a party, waiting for my ride. I guess I'm trying to get into gear. If any or all of the above made any sense you should take a look at joecartoon.com. Flash required.
How to lose your data
I'd say that an estimated 100% of all people who have used computers for more than a few days' worth have lost data. I've lost data both due to my own stupidity and hardware failures. I don't know which one I like less. In interest of exporing the subject further I'm going to subject my readers to a number of creative ways to lose data. Hey, after all, it's Friday.
More on low power computing
My comments from yesterday on the new Via Eden N processor have been backed by Ed Stroligo of Overclockers.com. Ed also adds an interesting twist in the form of a game of Survivor... Go and meet the AOL tribe and the Linux tribe.
How a computer case is made
Tom's Hardware has an atricle up covering the manufacturing process of a computer case from start to finish. Who would have thought that making a case requires hundreds of individual steps?
There is an associated discussion on Slashdot. For some reason everyone seems to be stuck in cynical mode. Complaints about worker safety, lodging, hidden advertising and bribes is all over the discussion. I for one feel that the covered company, Chenbro seems like a pretty good place to work by Chinese standards. I'm sure there are issues which could be improved, but one shouln't ignore national differences completely. Some people really still seem to think that the center of the world is placed on the northern American continent. A simple gravitational experient (like dropping a stone) should prove otherwise.
If you have the time and interrest, read the article at Tom's Hardware. And do try to stay open minded, will ya?
Sex is good for you.
Don't press the shift key, or face the concequences...
The guys over at the Inquirer think that someone slipped mescalin into their coffee. I wish it was true, but the real deal is that a Princeton student has been sued over a paper on CD copy protection circumvention. This would seem to make some sense still, but all is lost when we find he published the fact that pressing the shift key was all that was needed to "circumvemt" this particular solution... Yeh gods...
I created an archive over lunch. The results are just as quick and dirty as one would expect. Feel free to browse, the navigation is below the... um... navigation.
I've got a very long extension cord at home, which I use for my headphones when watching TV and moving around at the same time. Wireless headphones would be an ideal solution... which made me thinking, would it be possible to combine WLAN's and wireless headphones? Think about tuning in to a stream coming from a specific IP, and being able to listen to that all over a WLAN. I tried to google for this small miracle, but it seems that no one has combined all the necessary bits and pieces, yet.
I don't think that this is technically terribly hard. You need WLAN hardware, software and hardware for the IP, streaming and decoding bits, and the audio hardware. Still, I think it would be much nicer to have a couple of wireless headphones which use existing standards rather than their own proprietary solutions.
Think about it: in addition to using your headphones at home you could take them with you to a friend, tap into the WLAN and go on listening to music. The possibilities become even more exciting when you think of the possibilites with larger outdoor networks...
So, when this product turns up... remember, you saw it here first.
The audio sample I shamelessly linked belongs to this page.
It's the sauce, right?
There isn't much to write about today, but a few things did strike my fancy (that ended up sounding a bit awkward...) Anyway, the Inquirer has a piece on the possible future demise of HP. I'm inclined to agree with the author, but I wonder if we really will see a day where nerds and geek alike will say HP and think of this?
A quick note: I'm no fan of racist jokes, which makes this subtle-but-clever anti-racist joke all the more enjoyable.
Out of focus
Yet another weekend has flew by, I can't help feeling like it was Friday yesterday. I had no time to write, but I did get a nice MALM drawer chest from IKEA (Would link, but the IKEA site isn't responding.) I must say the people designing the assembly instructions at IKEA know what they're doing. There is not a single word in any language in the assembly instructions, but we had no problems at all. The goal is naturally to keep the prices down, no localization needed. None the less, I'm still impressed.
I tried posting this little story from the Helsingin Sanomat international edition to Slashdot, but sadly it was rejected... The summary says it all: Pictures taken with mobile phone showed up on neighbour's TV.
Below is the kind of link that should really be posted on a Friday, but what the hell... Ever seen the homepage of Jesus Christ? If you're inclined towards Christian fundamentalism you should probably pass, otherwise it's worth at least half a laugh.
Trust me, trust me not.
If you care about your rights in an increasingly digital world, you should take fifteen minutes of your time and read this article on trusted computing by the Electronic Fronteir Foundation. The issues at hand are quite complex, but none the less I feel that people need to know about these things. I for one don't wish to find myself with a treacherous computer now or ever. Information wants to be free.
On the edge
You know what a Segway is, right? This guy built his own. Crazy, but impressive none the less.
I've been thinking more and more about reorganizing the site lately. In the process I'm planning to rewamp the layout too. I found this site which has a bunch of cool CSS tricks as well as links to most resources I've already used and some new ones too. If you ever end up designing pages it might prove useful indeed.
Thoughts and stuff
Today I had had a (statistically) huge spike of feedback. During the last year I've gotten pretty much no feedback at all on the stuff I stubbornly keep posting here. I suddenly found myself with two individual pieces of feedback within hours of each other. Mindblowing.
I'll just take the liberty to quote what Rizzn wrote: "despite your expressed feelings of bloggin inadaquacy, keep it up. I enjoy your writing style." I'm quite flattered. I guess I've got reason to be too, as this is my first actual spontaneous feedback on the monster that is this page (still working on a solution to the mess.)
I'm also quite happy to know that I made Scott's day.
I feel I've decided what to do with this blog for now. I'll write what I feel like, when I feel like it. The people who wish to will read, and maybe after five or ten years I'll even have a few regular readers. Who knows? I guess this is mostly for me, myself and I. Should be interresting reading in 20 years. Someone remind me to read this in 2023, OK? Note to self: modify this entry in 2023 to confirm if I did.
It's OK to say the F word on TV
Apparently Bono of U2 fame used the F word several times during the Golden Globe Awards. This caused a bunch of complaints, and led the the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) investergating the whole thing. The Inquirer currently runs a story regarding this earth-shattering development. There is also a really, really interresting FCC report (PDF) on the whole thing.
Joking aside, it's nice that the US government still is censoring less than MTV, who wouldn't run a Darude video due to people being shown for too long under water... Kids might try it and die, you know!