Max Romantschuk's weblog – January 2004 archive
I've been a little too busy to blog this week, but things should be stabler soonish... Anyhoo, I had to post Hektor, the graffiti robot. Sort of a "cool-factor just went through the roof" -kinda thing, don't you think? Look at the pics and read the PDF. Via Slashdot, Max out.
He did it!
I haven't really commented on the SCO vs. Linux dispute, as I haven't really felt very educated on the subject. The Inquirer has an article by the Groklaw team, called Digging for Truth, which is a rather complete introduction on the issue from last September. Recently the whole dispute and everything around it has been blown way out of proportion. Some idiot who apparently thought he was doing a good thing wrote a virus known as MyDoom, which, among other things, attacks SCO's site. CNN, educated as they are, reported Slashdot users thinking this was a good thing. I looked at the source article, and I must say CNN did a good job of making it look like the whole Linux community is supporting this, when the truth is rather the opposite. Reading past the first few posts would indeed have shown that not all of the Slashdot crowd supported the virus writers nor their actions. Bruce Perens made a good stand about how most people in the community really feel. There's also more in another Slashdot article... I really hate this kind of FUD campaigning, especially when part of the media seems to march by the beat of SCO's drum.
The Inquirer reports on a story on BusinessWeek online, featuring Linus Torvalds' comments on SCO's doings. Linus has more or less given up on SCO ever making any sense, unfortunately the legal systems doesn't really require them to do so either... or they do, but not making sense is a good way to buy lots and lots and lots of time. Groklaw is helping the community to take SCO's claims apart, but the whole thing is likely to keep on going for some time to come. Argh.
The one and only IKEA Walkthrough
MUD? That's dirt, right?
Now then, the above link might be amusing to anyone, but it's hilarious to anyone who's played a MUD. Having played NetHack is equivalent. Speaking of NetHack, did you know they thought of everything?
Flying Viking Kittens
Here are some Flying Viking Kittens who want to take you to a Gay Bar, courtecy of Joel Veitch from http://www.rathergood.com/. Flash is required, but I'd say it's worth it, even tough I can't explain why I found it as funny as I did...
The Mixmaster Reloaded
Mina Naguib's Website Mixmaster, mentioned yesterday, seems to be working now. Check out my site layout with the content of http://www.stileproject.com/. Note: Adults only.
I just had to take five and post this link... Check out Mina Naguib's Website Mixmaster, it's probably the coolest website-mangling app I've ever seen. As I was posting this the site seems to have died... trying again later is definetly worth it.
Next to Nothing
Slashdot is running a story on a substance called aerogel. The material has some rather amazing properties, as NASA's Jep Propulsion Laboratory reports here. There's also another Slashdot article, a New York Times article, and a FAQ and photo gallery at the JPL. The photos aren't faked, in care you're wondering...
Wired's Vaporware 2003. 'nuff said.
Trip to the twilight zone
Most people will never be raided by the FBI, but fortunately some people document their own personal FBI raid experience for all to read. I do reserve the right to question publicising such a serious matter (regardless of if you're guilty or not,) but I did find it a worthwhile read. The site is currently fast like a bug stuck in tar, but alive and kicking none the less. Via Slashdot.
be mental, be a superstar
Mapping the little green men
Slashdot reports that the "ESA (European Space Agency) have released an image of the surface of Mars, captured in 3D and full colour." I really like the fact that they put the images up for all to see, after all, space exploration shouldn't be something for any one nation to do alone... like *cough* some *cough* world leaders seem to think... the Mars Express page at ESA is definitely worth a look. This page is slow/down at the moment, my link should be OK.
Delayed link massacre
I ran into a bunch of cool stuff on Friday, but never found the time to post it. So, in hope that you didn't read all this already, here goes... First of all, check out Zalman's TNN 500A silent computer case at Tom's. Excellent stuff, but the price tag is a wee bit too much for my wallet (some 1400 dollars!) Then again, this is indeed a niche product, and I'm sure lots of recording studios and acoustic labs will be interested.
To redo or not to redo?
For fellow coders: Neil Gunton wrote a piece called Rewrites Considered Harmful? Gunton argues that rewriting code is, in many cases, bad. Both the article itself and the associated Slashdot article are rather thought-provoking, which is something I consider a Good Thing, regardless of where you stand.
The New York Times is reporting on a proposal to spend 1.5 billion dollars on a program for training to help couples develop interpersonal skills that sustain "healthy marriages." The story itself is located here, registration is required.
Anyway, I can't help but feel like I'm in the twilight zone. Are people really this clueless? Relationships require dedication, work and compromises, plain and simple. Unfortunately some people have this weird illusion that "the right one" for you is a person with which a relationship won't demand anything on your part. People like this end up in lots of consecutive fast food relationships, never putting down the effort to really build a solid foundation for something that could last for decades.
One of my collegues showed me Soma FM. A quick listen at his workstation showed great promise on the Groove Salad station at least... My own workstation's aural capabilities are currently null and void, but maybe someone else wishes to second my opinion?
I spent the morning accompanying my wife for a pregnancy health checkup, so I'm a little short on readworthy stuff today. Fortunately, I did run into some stuff on which to direct your attention.
Saying goodbye to film?
Slashdot is reporting that Kodak intends to stop selling film cameras in the U.S. and Europe, instead focusing on digital cameras. I wonder if we'll see other manufacturers follow suit? I do feel that film still has a lot to offer, but mainly for professional photography. The story has some interesting comments, this one in particular.
Hard disk technology
LostCircuits is running a series of hard disk technology articles, called As The Hard Disc Spins. Not for everyone, but worthwhile reading for anyone who deals with building or configuring their own computers.
On Finnish Blogs
Finally something for my Finnish readers: Jarno Virtanen, author of Valkoinen tausta, mustat kirjaimet has written an interesting piece on blog placement, naming and writing in general. Check it out: Uusien blogien lytminen. Via pikseli.biz.
Cool Stuff of the Day
Regarding yesterday's entry: The police thanked us for the nice pictures of the crime scene. Our digital camera has thus proved itself useful as well as fun. It saved my wife (who filed the report) a whole lot of expaining, as the whole "How did they break in?" bit was covered with a printout of a few simple pictures.
It sounds like something straight out of a comic book, but the LaserMonks are actually a bunch of genuine monks following "in the tradition of monastic business endeavors". They sell replacement ink and toner cartridges for printers. Nice. Via Slashdot.
What do you do when you have a bunch of NASA engineers in who all need to live according to Marsian time? Why you order custom mechanical watches of course! These babies are sure to be collectors' items in the future... Also via Slashdot.
TouchGraph GoogleBrowser V1.01
I can't claim to really understand this rather interesting application, but it did a nice dynamic graph when I gave it my URL. Further exploration required... Note: You need a recent Java plugin. Via Blogdex.
Limecat is not pleased.
Sometimes I feel like there is a fundamental force in the universe which makes sure that things can only go so well at any given time. As I've mentioned previously, I'm going to be a dad. Lately I've had quite a lot of stuff to do on that account, mostly involving getting a bunch of stuff in preparation of the birth of our twins. Yesterday the last major missing piece of the puzzle was acquired, a car (thanks dad!) It seemed like one could finally sit down and take a breather.
Not so. Just to keep me on my toes the universe decided to make some jerk break into our storage booth. The booth is separate from our actual apartment, it's in a separate storeroom on the ground floor of our apartment building, holding one storage booth for each apartment. Fortunately we only lost my skies, but it's not like I'm happy about the whole thing. The monetary loss is no big deal, but the fact that whoever did it gained access to the room holding the booths without breaking any locks disturbs me greatly. In a worst case scenario, it might even be a neighbour of ours.
The worst aspects of the whole thing is the psycological effects of an invasion to your privacy, and the whole hassle with reporting to the Police. Most of all, the reminder that there really are an unnecessearily large amount of misguided people and/or complete jerks in this world is never a nice thing to be forced to think about. By no means is this the end of the world, but I'd still rather not have to deal with stuff like this. Unfortunately, we all have to from time to time.
Today it seems that the Internet wants me to get a serous case of RSI, because there seems to be an unending flood of cool stuff floating around... Then again, it's friday. So in an effort to compensate for the lack of quality with horrendous quantity... here goes. Ladies and gentlemen, Brace Yurselves.
The Consumer Electronics Show is on over in good old Las Vegas, and the Inquirer reports on various stuff. By far the coolest is the Flying Mole CPA-M1616. Despite the name it's a rather innovative audio amplifier, borrowing engeneering ideas from blade servers. This baby will scale from 2 to 16 channels of eardrum bleeding love for everyone around. In an interesting audial twist HP will license the iPod...
Tom's is also covering CES, with multiple articles on their front page.
Mail order with a twist, or should I say tingle?
We get Josefsson's mail order catalogue at home every now and then. I was flipping throug it the other day and my brain registered the following: clothes, more clothes, shoes, sportsware, various "effective" sports equpiment and sex toys, more clothes... Wait a minute, sex toys? Yup, modern mail order firms carry a rather surprinsing array of products, and what better way for the shy to aquire said technology than to order a nice little wand-o-luv with their sweaters... Actually I think it's great, because it solves the whole shame-porn-eevil concept which is often associated with some of the more shabby shops of the adult play equipment trade. Ultimately the whole issue is rather ridiculous, as I've stated before, what people do in their own bedrooms and privacy is their own business.
Useless side note: Finnish readers can verify my claims by entering the word sauva in Josefsson's search box.
While browsing Blogdex, I ran across these 9 drawings were done by an artist under the influence of LSD. Scary-cool.
Last but not least, also featured on Blogdex, the 2004 weblog awards are under way. The prevous years' winners are an interesting bunch, and maybe some of you even wish to nomitate someone for something? Feel free to nominate me as well, but stay assured I won't win anything. I generate nowhere near the amount of traffic required for even a snowball's chance in hell of winning.
If you feel a little too bored and yet strangely energetic I can offer you two novel ways to spend the rest of your day: Either wrap and aparment in tinfoil or make your very own font, from your own handwriting. Should keep you busy for a while, unless you're actually sensible. Via Blogdex.
I've been planning to get a bunch of those cool mini-PCs right after I win the lottery. As long as the lottery won't comply it's always cool to look at what cool stuff you could buy if you had some extra money... Weird how that never really seems to happen. Anyhoo, Tom is running a nice mini-PC roundup which I'd recommend checking out if you have the urge to upgrade. As long as you don't need any special purpose peripherals I'd go for a mini-PC over a regular beige box any day.
Slashdot is running a story on recent doings by Real, the guys behind the RealPlayer (or whatever they call it now) media player. The interesting thing is the actual Slashdot discussion, people are really letting out steam (and making good points) on how offensive Real's player has been in the past. Branding, in the software industry, is clearly very dependent on the user experience the software delivers. It seems Real has created a rather, um... undesirable brand with the Slashdot crowd. Lessons to be learned: Make nice software which doesn't try to force feed people a bunch of extras when all they ever wanted to do was to play the darn video (dare I say porn?) clip.
Speaking of media players, as an alternative to the ever-more-bloated Windows Media Player I can warmly recommend BSPlayer. Plays most stuff, and does a better job at it than most.
Better late than never
I start my second year of blogging with a slight delay. Thanks to the way the holidays happened to occur this year I managed to get a whole six days' worth off by taking two days off. Consequently I haven't really had the time/energy to blog at home. Then again, I have the whole year to make up for it, right?
Whats with all the stuffed animals, and what's with the glass?
This quote pretty much says it all... "A 7-year-old boy had to be rescued with the help of a locksmith Saturday after crawling into a supermarket's stuffed animal game machine while his father talked on the telephone." Check out the whole article at the Chippewa Herald. That little boy sure has been trough something that very few people have, ougt to be something to tell the girls when he grows up... Imagine the pickup line: You know, I had to be rescued from inside a stuffed animal machine once... Via Blogdex.
Are you is or is you ain't a console?
The Inquirer reports on a new games console which is to be introduced this week. The article points to more detailed information over at TechBits. The interesting thing about this console is the fact that it's actually a Windows PC, designed to run games designed for any Windows PC. At a rumored price of 300-400 dollars it could be quite a bargain, and not just for gaming. Imagine having a server in the basement storing all the media, and using this baby as a front end. Something for the MythTV project perhaps?
Sharing the load
It's getting harder and harder to squeeze more power into single chips by each new computing generation. 3D graphics was put on a special purpose chip long ago, and dual processor PowerMacs have been the norm in Apple's high end workstations for quite some time. Both Intel and AMD have been speculating on bulding multiple processors into a single chip. But even so a single machine can only go so far. Some things, like searching for aliens can't be done by a single machine. The load has to be shared by many machines.
Therefore it should come as no surpise that distributed computing, or grid computing has gotten a lot of press lately. I was still quite surprised, positively, that Apple has released Xgrid, which "turns a group of Macs into a supercomputer". It's nice to see more players in this arena as well, because I really hope that all that surplus power out there could be harnessed for something useful in the future. After all, most computers do nothing at all something like 90% of the time. Cool stuff. Via Slashdot.