This accidentally fell out of her pocket when I bumped into her. Took me four goes.

Sunday, November 30



Just finished watching Popotan.


It's a study of friendship, and family, of memory, and loss. With gratuitous boobies, ferrets, and dancing dandelions. It may not be the most significant anime series ever, but it is nonetheless recommended.

I particularly liked the closing credits of the final episode, where the fansubbers thanked everyone involved in producing the series, a reminder that people work hard to subtitle these shows because they love them.

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I Laugh At Your Pathetic Computer

Tropico 2 recommends a 2GHz or faster Pentium 4.
Railroad Tycoon 3 recommends a 2GHz or faster Pentium 4 or Athlon.
The current version of Adobe Premiere* won't run because my processor doesn't support SSE.

Time to upgrade, I think. Oh look, I just happen to have a pile of parts here waiting to be assembled. Pity the motherboard doesn't arrive until Monday...

* I downloaded the trial version.

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Saturday, November 29



Quote One:
Philip Taubman, Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, said that "in this day and age, there should have been a way to take more reporters. People are perfectly capable of maintaining a confidence for security reasons. It's a bad precedent." Once White House officials "decided to do a stealth trip, they bought into a whole series of things that are questionable."
Quote Two:
Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, criticized the White House correspondents who made the trip without spilling the secret. "That's just not kosher," he said. "Reporters are in the business of telling the truth. They can't decide it's okay to lie sometimes because it serves a larger truth or good cause."
Quote Three, in a pointed response to One and Two:
But Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of National Review Online, called the trip "a political masterstroke," saying: "This wasn't lying about an 18-minute gap on a tape or lying under oath. If they had announced the trip and there were attacks and people had died, everyone would be screaming bloody murder about how Bush put people in harm's way. I'm sure the press corps has their dresses over their head about it, but I sincerely doubt anyone in the real America will have any concern about it whatsoever."

(From the Washington Post)

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Friday, November 28


On Religion

Religion is not a topic I've discussed here before, but I thought I might tackle it today, as it will explain why I didn't post anything yesterday.

I am a member in good standing (indeed, a lay preacher) of the Invisible Pink Hello Cthulhu Church of Last Thursday.

We of the IPHCCoLT have only a few articles of faith, but we hold to them firmly.

1. The Lord of All is Cthulhu the Great and Powerful.
2. Notwithstanding His* exulted position, He** is small and cute and will feature in a Genuine Licensed Range of Products to be released by Sanrio starting 2004.
3. He** is also both pink and invisible.
4. Cthulhu the G&P, despite being small and cute, will eat us all. Church members will not be exempted from the Apocalypse, however, they will be eligible for reserved seating.
5. The Universe was created last Thursday, with all that is in it, including ourselves, our memories, and the IPHCCoLT.
6. For this reason, we hold Thursdays as sacred, and will do as little work as possible thereon.
All praise Cthulhu the G&P, and may He** eat us last!

* Or Its.
** Or It.

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Thursday, November 27


Out of Inodes

Not the first thing I suspected when the mysterious errors started appearing. Normally, Linux allocates enough inodes so that you can't possibly run out - you'll always run out of disk space first. But no, clever me has to reduce the number of inodes on this filesystem to save space, because it's never going to be used for strange and unforseen projects that create tens of thousands of tiny files.

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Wednesday, November 26


Look What's Up, Doc!

A four-DVD set of classic Warner Bros. cartoons!

And it's not even that expensive. Wonder if there's an Australian release planned...

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Getting to Giga

Here's a good article on the future of microprocessor design in the era of billion-transistor chips.

The free ride chip designers got from the lithography* people ended, pretty much, at the 0.25 micron node. One of the big side effects of this is that power consumption is now going up rather than down, as you may have guessed if you have looked inside a late-model computer. The enormous fan bolted directly onto the CPU is something of a giveaway.

My new computer - or at least the processor, since I don't have the rest of the parts just yet - is around four thousand times faster than my faithful Amiga 1000. We're going to see a similar increase in performance over the next 15 years, but it will be a little different this time. We are likely to get more processors rather than just faster ones, and lots of special-function circuits. When you have a billion transistors to play with, but a fixed power budget, the priorities for the chip designers change drastically.

Um, read the article. It's got pictures! Well, graphs, anyway.

* Lithography means writing in stone. It was invented as a new printing technique in the late 18th century, but the term has now been recycled to mean the production of silicon chips. (Or at least, a key stage in their production.) Ironically, the original stone used for lithography was limestone, which is calcium carbonate and contains no silicon at all.

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A Few Million Orders of Magnitude

Dear Dan,

When you say "there are 16.8 million to the power of 307,200 possible images that can be displayed on a 640 by 480, 24 bit screen", you are of course correct, but when you continue "and to display all of them, you'd need 2400 televisions showing 25 frames per second for eight billion years", you are off by a very considerable margin.

Those 2400 televisions, in that time, could display 15,147,648,000,000,000,000,000 frames - a 23-digit number, a little over 15 sextillion.*

But 16.8 million raised to the power of 307,200 is... Well, bc ain't gonna calculate that one for me in a hurry.** Let's call it ten million (7 zeroes) raised to the power of 300,000. That's a 1 followed by 2.1 million zeroes. We're talking big big big numbers here. If every subatomic particle in the Universe was a TV, showing one frame every Planck Time... You wouldn't even be started by the time the entire Universe had dissociated into electron/positron pairs (or collapsed into the Big Crunch, depending on the value of the Cosmological Constant).

But what's a few million orders of magnitude between friends?

*That's an American sextillion, 1021. The old-fashioned British sextillion is 1036, a very much larger number.
** bc just came back with the answer. Of course, this involved a lot of scrolling of the screen - after all, it's just an 80x60 terminal session - but it's pretty impressive.

(I emailed this to Dan, but I thought it would make a nice blog entry as well. Dan's Data is one of the best geek sites around. Dan knows his stuff, knows what's cool (Giant magnets! Tiny tanks! Backyard trebuchets!), and doesn't talk down to the non-geeks.)

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Poxy Little Pillbox

My new modem, the D-Link 302G, the one that turns out the be three quarters of a router as well as a modem, that modem, sucks.

I can't get NAT to work through my real router, the Netgear RO318, because the D-Link, being a router (of sorts) itself, wants to do the NAT. Only, not being a proper router, it won't do it properly, and the two will not play nice together. It's like having to look after a pair of two-year-olds and cook dinner.

So I set up NAT just using the D-Link, only it has the most retarded NAT setup I've ever seen. You can put in a range of local IPs, and a range of global IPs, but you can't put in a range of port numbers to be forwarded untouched. In fact, you have to put in a range of local and global IPs, even though in almost every case you'll only be interested in one of each.

Now, I download a lot of anime, and I use the wonderful BitTorrent program for that. BitTorrent uses ports 6881 through 6889, but I can't just enter that range (as I could with my Netgear router), so I have to enter nine separate rules. And every time I have to type both IP addresses in twice, even though the stupid thing already knows what its global IP is, and even though it doesn't make any sense for me to be specifying a range of local IPs.

So, nine rules for that, one for SSH, one for my web server, one for my mail server, one for DC - and the default rule, without which nothing else works.

Only there's this slight flaw, in that the D-Link 302G DSL modem-and-three-quarters-of-a-router only allows you to enter twelve NAT rules. Oh, that makes a lot of sense. Let's just deliberately cripple this thing, shall we?

Cows. That's all I have to say on the subject. Cows.

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Two-Thirds of a Yay

I have a shiny new Pentium 4 2.60C with HyperThreading™

Only... Only it's just the CPU, because I haven't got around to ordering the motherboard or memory yet.

[Not much good then, is it? — Ed.] Quiet, you.

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