Max Romantschuk's weblog – February 2004 archive

Nothing to say.

Friday 27th of February, 2004 - 11:40 – Permalink

There is absolutely nothing worth noting floating my way today. Ironically it's Friday, which usually means there are plenty of good links around. On the other hand, my coding project (a new engine for this site) is going well. I have made a rather cool dynamic class loader which will return an instance of the correct class based on what content the engine is told to display. There, now that I've bored everyone to death I'll just resume doing mostly nothing. Sorry to have wasted yet another precious minute of your day.

Professional photography for the masses

Wednesday 25th of February, 2004 - 12:10 – Permalink

I doubled as guest and photographer at my brother-in-law's wedding last weekend. I was using my trusty Canon Digital Ixus 400, armed with two 256MB memory cards, two batteries and the battery charger. I chose to shoot at 1600x1200 pixel resolution, with low JPEG compression. At those setting I had room for something like 500 images, and I ended up shooting around 450 images all during the event.

Which brings me to my main point. Digital cameras have made it possible for anyone to shoot like a professional photographer would, taking hundreds of images and selecting the best ones afterwards. What I mean by making it possible is of course the cost issue, or rather the removal thereof. Digital photographies cost next to nothing until they are printed, and you only have to print the best ones. Good stuff.

Is that a scanner in your palm?

There's a story on Slashdot featuring technology "that lets people use their cellular phones with cameras as scanners. It says all you have to do is move your phone over the surface of the piece of paper while recording a movie, and the technology (some sort of software I presume) will construct a high resolution image from the individual frames of the video." OK, I quoted a whole lot back there, but this kind of technology is really interesting. The story comments note several related projects, like ALE and Video Orbits. I find it very cool that technology is coming to the point where one can compensate for sub-optimal quality using larger quantities of source material combined with sofisticated processing. This is actually rather close to how the human brain is thought to make an image, because the resolution of the eye really isn't that great. Or so it is claimed in some of the cognitive science textbooks I've read.

Draganflyer IV

Monday 23rd of February, 2004 - 13:05 – Permalink

I quote: "Simply put, the Draganflyer IV gyro-stabilized helicopter with optional Eyecam video system is the highest tech flying toy in the world." OK, the link and emphasis were my additions, but this little baby is probably the coolest thing I've ever seen on the RC helicopter front. The best part is anyone can fly it, because the Draganflyer has it's own space age stabilization system (sorry for using the term space age, I just could't resist the temptation.) I want one of these babies!

The Slashdot article linking this thing has some interesting points on some privacy issues raised by stuff like this, because attaching cameras to these models is rather trivial...

Maintenance monkey

Friday 20th of February, 2004 - 12:02 – Permalink

I moved the entries for December and January into the archive. As I've said before the site is really in need of an overhaul, and I've actually managed to produce some code for a new engine. There's still a long way to go, but I do believe that the solution model I'm implementing is going to work out rather nicely. Time will tell.

refcards.com

refcards.com looks promising, at least the Emacs reference card proved itself useful just now.

All work and no play...

Wednesday 18th of February, 2004 - 11:17 – Permalink

...makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Play.

Disturbing horror movies aside, people do need to play every now and then. I ran across a look at multi-display gaming over at Tom's Hardware. They showed a game I haven't encountered before, X2 - The Threat. Having been a huge fan of Wing Commander: Privateer back in the day I got really interested in X2, as a quick look around showed many similar concepts. I found a preview at hardCOREware.net which contained some interesting tidbits. X2's press page has more links to reviews and the like. Judging from what I've read I'll probably like this game... providing it'll run on my machine.

Online culture, and stuff.

Tuesday 17th of February, 2004 - 11:19 – Permalink

I ran across the Wikipedia entry on Slashdot subculture, which I'd be inclined to call a Slashdot survival guide. On the subject of documenting online culture, check out MeatballWiki. It's an excellent resource on all sorts of communities you can find online. MeatballWiki has an entry on Slashdot as well, naturally.

Pressed

I've been short on extra time (and energy) lately... among other things this has resulted in the undone and way overdue task of updating my archives. I'm also trying desperately to find time to code myself a better engine for this site. I think I've come up with a solution model which would be quick(-ish) to implement, but still be extendable in the future. It remains to be seen how I can convince my wife it's OK that I'd spend several hours being ultra-social in front of the computer...

Spin the wheel of fortune

Friday 13th of February, 2004 - 12:23 – Permalink

Several resources across the web are reporting that parts of the Windows 2000 and Windows NT source code has leaked out into the wild:

OK, so what's the big deal anyway? I'd say there are two very serious implications of the leak. First of all I'd say it's quite likely we'll see a whole wave of new worms and virii as a result of the security holes which are likely to be discovered in the code. This, if you ask me, is the lesser concern of the two.

The much more serious implication is the fact that this gives Microsoft a perfect opportunity to launch legal attacks on projects like Samba, Linux-NTFS, Wine, and ReactOS, to name a few. Even if not even a single developer of any of these projects so much as looked at the code, Microsoft is likely to be able find enough "evidence" to drag these projects into court. Regardless of the outcome, a messy legal battle is never a good thing for a community-driven project. I, for one, feel that it may only be a matter of time before one of the projects mentioned above finds itself in the scenario I just depicted. Hopefully I'll be proven wrong.

BlogWoes

I still update this site mostly by hand. I was reminded of one of the disadvantages with this approach when I noticed I had forgotten to note the entry time the last few weeks. Argh.

In semi-related news I found a little something on well-designed weblogs. That, in turn, led me to the rather cool site of Dunstan. He's done some pretty cool things on his site, using homebrewed stuff. He won't give out his own scripts, but recommends WordPress, which seems like a blogging tool ahead of the game. Judging from the site, that is. Haven't had time to try it out as of yet...

Are you is or is you ain't?

Thursday 12th of February, 2004 – Permalink

Slashdot ran a story on the nature of the Internet yesterday, linking a piece by Doc Searls and David Weinberger titled World of Ends - What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else. I'd say it could well be considered recommended reading for all Internet users, despite the fact that I don't agree with the authors on all points.

Haunted cabinet, anynone?

An elaborate scam or a genuine Dibbuk Haunted Jewish Wine Cabinet Box? Who knows, but definetly something for the So Weird it's Fascinating -category. Via Antti/ Geek Savant.

Server swap successsful.

Wednesday 11th of February, 2004 – Permalink

My site is now running off a new server. By now most DNS servers should have updated, which means most of my readers will see this entry. An unfortunate few might end up at the old server. Some of you might have noticed a default Apache welcome page yesterday, that was the old server getting confused with the updated DNS records... Anyhoo, things should work fine now.

Sexually Addicted?

Until last night I was under the incorrect impression that "sex addicts" are just people who have an above average sex drive. Last night's documentary on the subject really opened my eyes. Actually, sex addicts are like drug addicts or smokers; they are addicted to cretain neurochemicals. In the case of sex addiction we're talking serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline at least. The thing is that (for reasons somewhat uncertain) the levels of said chemicals aren't quite in balance in a sex addict's brain. Sexual arousal naturally increases the levels of these neurochemicals, making you feel better and/or get high. The downside is that you can also get addicted to the elevated neurochemical levels, which in turn drives you towards upping them again... ad infinitum.

In any case serious sex addiction can cause a person to mistreat him or herself just as drug addiction can. Fascinating, yet scary.

Law making - Game breaking

Slashdot reports on the common goals and challenges for government officials and massively multiplayer game designers... What can I say? A community is a community is a community.

The 100-Million Mile Network

Cool stuff in eWeek on the challenges of building a deep space communications network. Also via Slashdot.

Movies are Magic

Monday 9th of February, 2004 – Permalink

I saw two movies during last week. Let's start with the really bad one, shall we? Of all the big budget crappy movies I've seen to date, Scary Movie 3 was the worst one yet. Don't see it. I got free tickets for a preview showing, so I only lost time, not money. There were a few good jokes in the movie, but overall it was really, really, really bad. Most of the jokes were simply tasteless, stupid, and insulting to various groups.

There was one surprising little treat in Scary Movie 3 though... for me that is. At one point the lead character is browsing the web, and I noticed she's running Linux on her laptop, using Mozilla Firebirdfox. It's nice to see Open Source / Free Software in mainstream movies. Firefox (just noticed version 0.8 has been released and the name changed) is an excellent browser. If you're using IE, get Firefox.

Mononoke-hime

The second movie I saw last week was Princess Mononoke. It was a very nice Japanese animated movie, with a plot which gave some food for thought instead of spelling everything out for you. I warmly recommend it. Do remember that it's not for children just because it's a "cartoon", there's a fair bit of violence involved in the plot. In case you didn't know, Japanise anime actually covers all kinds of movies. There's movies for children, movies for grown-ups and even porn.

Siteswap

I'll be swapping servers later today. There should be no problems, but hey, you never plan for those, do you?

The Buddhabrot Set

Thursday 5th of February, 2004 – Permalink

My limited knowledge of complex mathematics is not enough to understand The Buddhabrot Set, but I sure know it looks cool. Math can be quite beautiful at times, don't you think? Via Blogdex.

History in the making

Slashdot reports that the Groklaw team has decided to create a 'timeline' for Unix and Linux development. This should be an interesting one to watch play out, as the majority of the original Unix and Linux creators are still around. I'm sure future historians will be grateful, especially taking into the growing social impact software is having on our society.

Catch-up mixed plate-o-links

Wednesday 4th of February, 2004 – Permalink

Having failed to blog at normal frequency lately I've ended up with quite a pile of stuff worth mentioning (in my opinion, anyway.) In order to get things back on track I'v decided to dedicate a generous 40-someting minutes to today's post. Unfortunately typing with one hand isn't exactly fast, so don't expect a novel or anything.

Far Cry

My brother-in-law showed me the demo of a yet to be released game called Far Cry a while back. It's basically a run around and shoot things style game, but the AI far smarter than most I've seen so far. I wish I had the money to upgrade my machine, as this game promises to be something different. Check out the goodies:



But it's just carbon, right?

The Washington Post is running a story titled For Science, Nanotech Poses Big Unknowns. I was surprised and intrigued to read about some of the less obvious risks of nanotechnology, among others the surprising qualities seemingly harmless materials take on at nanoscale. Via Slashdot.

Hackers of the World - Unite

Slashdot linked a rather good story on BBC News, Linux steps into the limelight, covering a slice of the changes in the IT industry happening. Especially nice is that the article takes into account some of the cultural aspects of the Free/Open Source Software movements. In related news, Richard Stallman met with India's President, discussing open source software. The president had taken things seriously, reading Stallman's biography in preparation of the meeting. Also via Slashdot.

Whoops!

Tuesday 3rd of February, 2004 - 13:06 – Permalink

I just noticed I've had the wrong year on these entries for the past month... And I feel quite stupid to boot. Feel free to mail me if you notice similar mistakes in the future.

Listen to your body

I've been battling with a case of RSI for far too long by now. Every time it seems like it's getting significantly better I find it's worse next week. Lately I've been using mostly or only my right hand for typing, but it seems even heavy duty resting is proving uneffective to rid my left hand of it's irritated state. As I need my hands for work (and blogging) I'm not very happy with the situation. I've seen a doctor, but it seems I'll have to go for another visit soon unless some fairy godmother solves my problem.

A word of advice: If your hands start hurting from typing, stop immediately. Once the pain eventually forces you to stop it might be too late.

Groundhog Day

Monday 2nd of February, 2004 - 14:41 – Permalink

'nuff said. Via the Inquirer.