Monday, October 31
So if you were a guy cursed to turn into a girl (or vise versa) whose curse would you prefer?
Ranma's from Ranma½
Futaba's from Futaba-kun Change
Maze's from Maze: Megaburst Space
Megumi's from Tenshi na Konamaiki
And am I missing any important examples? One-off switchers (Keiichi from OMG), body transfers (Galaxy Angel), technological assists (Dual) and cases of straightforward parental confusion (Ryuunosuke from Urusei Yatsura) need not apply. Just those who are stuck with the problem whether they like it or not.
Saturday, October 29
Ace is deconstructing the vampire myth. One thing he says is
Recoil From Crosses?: Yes. Very cool. But I like Fright Night's take on it. You can't just put up a cross and expect a vampire to cower. "You gotta have faith for that to work on me."Sucks for me (sorry!) - I'm an atheist.
Only... I have these little Tux* case badges** including some that are gold or silver plated.
The next vampire who tries to put the bite on me is in for a surprise!
* The Linux penguin.
** Those little 1" square badges on the front of computers.
Friday, October 28
It's been stuck on zero the past few days, but today I got a real number:
If that's average for munu (a reasonable assumption, I think) then the whole shebang is worth about $10 million.
Anyone? AOL? Microsoft? Bueller?
I popped for the new servers last week, when they had a special offer to waive the $99.95 setup fee.
I got them, confirmed set up properly, today.
Today they have a special offer to double the memory for free. That would save me $500 in the first year. (I decided to only go with 1GB of memory per server because of the upgrade price. If it turns out we need 2GB, that's how much difference it will make.)
I've sent off an email asking if they're willing to do anything for me. Apple were a bunch of doody-heads, but hosting companies rely on continued business, so maybe...
Bumped to the top: THEY SAID YES!!!
Yay! 2x2GB = Munuden!
Update: Memory installed! All systems go! DedicatedNOW rocks my world!
Now I just have to make the application-type stuff work.
Peggy Noonan frets that the world, or at least America, is handbasketly hellbound:
I think there is an unspoken subtext in our national political culture right now. In fact I think it's a subtext to our society. I think that a lot of people are carrying around in their heads, unarticulated and even in some cases unnoticed, a sense that the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks. That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed, or won't be fixed any time soon. That our pollsters are preoccupied with "right track" and "wrong track" but missing the number of people who think the answer to "How are things going in America?" is "Off the tracks and hurtling forward, toward an unknown destination."Well, Peggy, America has been hurtling towards an unknown destination for 229 years now. Longer, really, because the same spirit was present even before independence.
Hurtling forwards is no great drama. Hurtling backwards, now that would be a problem.
I'm not talking about "Plamegate." As I write no indictments have come up. I'm not talking about "Miers." I mean . . . the whole ball of wax. Everything. Cloning, nuts with nukes, epidemics; the growing knowledge that there's no such thing as homeland security; the fact that we're leaving our kids with a bill no one can pay.Cloning shmoning. Sheep that look like their "mothers". Big deal.
Nuts with nukes? We've had that since the fifties.
Epidemics? You mean like SARS, which killed hundreds of people, nearly as many as died recently in a panicked crowd in Iraq?
No such thing as security? And this is news?
As for leaving our kids with a bill they can't pay, this is possible for a number of European countries; far less likely for America which isn't suffering the same demographic implosion.
A sense of unreality in our courts so deep that they think they can seize grandma's house to build a strip mall; our media institutions imploding--the spectacle of a great American newspaper, the New York Times, hurtling off its own tracks, as did CBS.Not the first time the courts have got something wrong. As for the great American newspaper - does the name Walter Duranty ring any bells?
The fear of parents that their children will wind up disturbed, and their souls actually imperiled, by the popular culture in which we are raising them.By that devilish jazz music!
Senators who seem owned by someone, actually owned, by an interest group or a financial entity.Uh, Peggy...
Let me focus for a minute on the presidency, another institution in trouble. In the past I have been impatient with the idea that it's impossible now to be president, that it is impossible to run the government of the United States successfully or even competently. I always thought that was an excuse of losers. I'd seen a successful presidency up close. It can be done.I'll give Ms. Noonan this one. Isaac Asimov wrote a story on exactly this subject some years ago. In the story, presidential candidates must pass a series of test on various subjects, and as time goes by and the job grows, the requirements become more and more stringent until, one election year, none of the candidates manages a passing grade. The problem is resolved by having a team of experts answer the tests in their individual fields, with one man acting in the presidential role, taking advice from his cabinet.
But since 9/11, in the four years after that catastrophe, I have wondered if it hasn't all gotten too big, too complicated, too crucial, too many-fronted, too . . . impossible.
The special prosecutors, the scandals, the spin for the scandals, nuclear proliferation, wars and natural disasters, Iraq, stem cells, earthquakes, the background of the Supreme Court backup pick, how best to handle the security problems at the port of Newark, how to increase production of vaccines, tort reform, did Justice bungle the anthrax case, how is Cipro production going, did you see this morning's Raw Threat File? Our public schools don't work, and there's little refuge to be had in private schools, however pricey, in part because teachers there are embarrassed not to be working in the slums and make up for it by putting pictures of Frida Kalho where Abe Lincoln used to be. Where is Osama? What's up with trademark infringement and intellectual capital? We need an answer on an amendment on homosexual marriage! We face a revolt on immigration.Canada? Beer. Snow. A determination to be recognised as Not America. And a nasty case of France.
The range, depth, and complexity of these problems, the crucial nature of each of them, the speed with which they bombard the Oval Office, and the psychic and practical impossibility of meeting and answering even the most urgent of them, is overwhelming. And that doesn't even get us to Korea. And Russia. And China, and the Mideast. You say we don't understand Africa? We don't even understand Canada!
The port of Newark? Isn't there a Harbour Master, a Mayor, a Governor, a Director of Homeland Security, a whole bunch of people working on that? It's not like playing Age of Empires where you have to click on the little people to get them to do anything.
When I was young we didn't wear earrings, but if we had, everyone would have had a pair or two. I know a 12-year-old with dozens of pairs. They're thrown all over her desk and bureau. She's not rich, and they're inexpensive, but her parents buy her more when she wants them. Someone said, "It's affluence," and someone else nodded, but I said, "Yeah, but it's also the fear parents have that we're at the end of something, and they want their kids to have good memories. They're buying them good memories, in this case the joy a kid feels right down to her stomach when the earrings are taken out of the case."You said that, Peggy. No-one else said that.
This, as you can imagine, stopped the flow of conversation for a moment.Yes indeed. One of those moments.
Then it resumed, as delightful and free flowing as ever. Human beings are resilient. Or at least my friends are, and have to be.Well.
Do people fear the wheels are coming off the trolley?Some do, I'm sure. But some of us are busy trying to upgrade the trolley's turbojets to ion drives.
Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.Well, duh, Peggy.
You're talking about journalists, who never really did anything about anything in the first place - excepting a few accidents of history - and now are being shunted off the public stage entirely. The Trolley of Journalism is not just off the tracks but upside down in a ditch. Hopefully a passing blogger will call for an ambulance.
You're a lobbyist or a senator or a cabinet chief, you're an editor at a paper or a green-room schmoozer, you're a doctor or lawyer or Indian chief, and you're making your life a little fortress. That's what I think a lot of the elites are up to.Let's see:
Politics, politics, politics, journalism, politics, actual useful human being, potentially useful human being, politics.
You don't think there might be a reason why these "elites" act this way? (And in the case of politicians, always have?)
That's what I think is going on with our elites. There are two groups. One has made a separate peace, and one is trying to keep the boat afloat. I suspect those in the latter group privately, in a place so private they don't even express it to themselves, wonder if they'll go down with the ship. Or into bad territory with the trolley.The latter group, Peggy, is known as engineers, and they have kept the human race afloat for 8000 years, since we first grew beyond the tribe. They do not wonder if they'll go down with the ship, because they are too busy fitting the ship with wings. But they do wish from time to time that the passengers would stop trying to knock holes in things.
(via the Llamas)
Sometimes dreams really do come true!
(via Chizumatic (20051026))
Every day the loony part of the left blogosphere complains about the tightly controlled, always-on-message nature of the center/right blogosphere. In fact, the only thing we have in common is that we think that the loony left is indeed loony.
But why do they think that we all get our talking points faxed directly from Lord Rove's office every morning?* Because that's what they'd do:
Movers and shakers in Washington, especially their younger staff, pay attention to blogs and, increasingly, seek to engage them. At the Democratic National Committee (DNC), chairmanQuickly, now: Who's the chairman of the RNC?
Howard Dean, who pioneered the use of the Internet to raise funds for his 2004 presidential campaign, has set up an Internet Department to get his message out to the blogs.
"Sometimes there are stories that don't fit with our larger, overall national media strategy that we send out to encourage and motivate and engage people in the blogosphere," says DNC spokesman Josh Earnest. "It's hard to imagine how we could communicate with them so effectively without this new technology," he adds.
Bzzt. Time's up. No, I don't know either. It wasn't on the fax.
* When of course he converted to email years ago.
Why aren't the headlines reading "Barely 2000 American soldiers lost in 30 months, Iraqi's ratify Constitution enabled by overthrow of Ba'athist fascism"?The answer is, because the people writing the headlines learned the wrong lessons from the 20th century. Or the 18th & 19th centuries, for that matter.
Basically, the opponents of the liberation of Iraq in the West* are Transnational Progressives, Tranzis for short. The Tranzis believe that everything that was bad about the 20th century - that is, WWI, WWII and Vietnam, tranzis having a very poor grasp of history - was due to the conflict of nation-states. It was to eliminate this conflict, and ultimately to eliminate the nation-state itself, that the League of Nations, and its successor the United Nations, were formed.
Now, if you are an adherent of this belief, it logically follows that nation-states are bad, and America, the richest and most powerful nation-state of all, is the very worst. And that since the fundamental nature of the nation-state is bad, only bad can arise from the actions thereof.**
So everything America does is bad. But Saddam Hussein was a fascist, and the Tranzis are intrinsically opposed to fascism, because fascism exalts the nation-state above all else. This opposition is fundamental to their ideology.
Of course, the Tranzis have had no success whatsoever in achieving their goals. So naturally America (which is evil) cannot ever achieve those goals, because those goals are good and America (as the premier nation state) cannot do good things.
1. America is not in Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people. (Because America is evil, and doesn't do such things.)
2. If America says that it is in Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people, it is a lie. (See above.)
3. If America follows a course of action clearly designed to liberate the Iraqi people, it is (a) only from some hidden motive and (b) doomed to failure.
4. If the Iraqis actually become free, for example, voting in huge numbers in clearly free and fair elections, then that is necessarily bad, because democracy is unfair to the people.
5. If Iraq, with America's assistance, becomes a prosperous, safe and generally healthy nation, then prosperity, safety, and health are ipso facto also evil.
So, the underlying source of all the wailing and fury of the left is that the liberation of Iraq has proved them to be wrong. And unless America fails, and fails horribly, they may be forced to admit it. Remember, when the left tried to free the world they ended up killing a hundred million people. So America has to, has to, has to fail.
Because the alternative would be unthinkable.
Steven Den Beste has written on this at length, and explains it better than I do here, but I don't have a link handy.
* Ignoring for the moment the Ba'athists and the Islamists, who oppose it for the very sensible reason that they want to be in control.
** Well, the idea that only bad ends can arise from bad means is another logical fallacy, but we'll leave that one alone for now.
Just doing a spot of benchmarking.
Mew is the current server. Comparing it with Kei. The Lovely Angels are equivalent in brainpower* so it doesn't matter which one I test.
|Compress MySQL Backup||25m15.65s||13m9.937s||91.8%|
|Uncompress MySQL Backup||4m27.88s||2m41.47s||65.7%|
|Compress Trackback Log**||53.87s||26.15s||106%|
|Uncompress Trackback Log**||3.65s||2.62s||39.3%|
|Python Loop Test**||5.9s|
The problem with this is hyperthreading. Hyperthreading splits each CPU in half, but Linux doesn't know about this, so just how reflective of reality these results are is somewhat up in the air. The best approach is to run the test many times and pick the lowest number. Or to shut down every other application... Which the Munuvians may not appreciate.
* In this incarnation. Management makes no representations, etc, etc.
** Best of ten trials.
*** Note to self: RPM distributions tend not to be well-optimised. For anything you'll be using a lot - particularly languages - compile your own. It's just a ./configure; make; make install anyway.
Thursday, October 27
I got rather annoyed last night when I received an email informing me that the new servers were configured with 64-bit Linux when this was plainly not true.
It turns out that although they offer 64-bit Linux, you won't get it if you ask for CPanel as well becase there are known problems with that combination (which doesn't surprise me - even though CPanel list it as supported). What they do instead is install a 32-bit kernel specifically optimised for 64-bit processors, which is what they meant when they told me it was 64-bit.
That means that the new servers are ready... For me to start working on.
There's a new episode of Bleach out, number 55. Maybe because something actually happened last week, there are 27,000 people downloading it right now. That's about 6 terabytes of data, or 6 months of munu. For one episode of one show. Subtitled.
I was looking around for a BitTorrent tracker on the weekend to host my anime video clips, and was annoyed because most of them seem to be written in C, and require compiling and installation rather than just being plonked on the server. This is why. If you have 27,000 people hitting your server at once, your program has to run as fast as possible.
Since I don't have 27,000 people hitting my torrents - or even 27 - this is something of a nuisance, but that's how BitTorrent is designed. The more people downloading, the better it works.
With a name like that, I just had to buy some. How could I not?
Low fat, low cholesterol, and no worries about mad cow disease because they're not cows.
I also picked up some 'roo fillets while I was there.
Cooking tips here courtesy of the KIAA.
If this pans out - and it looks pretty damn solid - George Galloway is, as the article puts it, screwed.
Couldn't happen to a nicer fascist scumbag.
The billing system is down.
The billing system is down because the billing database is down.
The billing database is down because the database server will not restart.
The database server will not restart because it thinks the shared memory is in use.
It thinks the shared memory is in use because it has a bug related to releasing shared memory segments.
It needed to release the shared memory because it crashed.
It crashed because a user exited while holding a microtransaction lock.
The user exited while holding a microtransaction lock because an index key on another, federated database could not be deleted.
The key could not be deleted because the index is corrupt.
The index is corrupt because the other database crashed.*
The other database crashed because it ran out of disk space.
It ran out of disk space because the database directory was full of backup files.
The directory was full of backup files because if the backup filesystem is not mounted, the backup script writes its files into the source directory.**
The backup filesystem was not mounted because both disks in the RAID set had failed.
The disks in the RAID set had failed because they timed out during reads.
They timed out during reads because there's a bug in the firmware on WD200JB disks.
I don't know why there's a bug in the firmware, perhaps we'll die.
* Even so, this shouldn't happen.
** That one is my fault.
mod_rewrite is your friend. It is not that confusing (once you've spent an hour or two reading the documentation and the examples... twice) and it is very powerful.
For example, if your software only lets you set up blogs as mu.nu/blogname and you really want it to appear at blogname.mu.nu, mod_rewrite will do that for you. You can stick it in an htaccess file, and it will still work (it does this by magic). It works even if blogname.mu.nu is on a different server to mu.nu/blogname. (And if you happen to have a cluster, this means you can effectively use the bandwidth of all of the servers.) You can redirect this but not that if that's what you need. You can even, with a little tweaking, automate the creation of the rulesets.
This may mean that I can use an existing CMS rather than having to write one myself. Further research is definitely indicated.
Wednesday, October 26
The nice people at our new hosting provider have sorted out the clustering and reinstalled the operating system on our new servers.
Only they seem to have reinstalled the 32-bit version.
So it will be another day before I can get started.
On the plus side, we get another freebie: XController, which I was planning to buy. It makes CPanel much simpler and less cluttered. Try the online demo... While we wait for the OS to be reinstalled.
I was looking for more anime to extract clips from, and I thought to myself Rizelmine, that had a nice opening sequence. So I look on the server and... No Rizelmine. Check the unsorted directory. Nope. Check the backup folder. Nothing.
Well, damn and blast. Rizelmine came out a couple of years ago, so it would be licensed by now for sure, and I'd have to buy it on DVD, rip it, and re-encode it before I could actually make the clip. I'll be doing that soon enough (once I get through the fansubs), but it was a bit annoying that I'd lost a series that I once had. (And a bit disturbing that it had happened at all. I thought I'd juggled the various server switches smoothly enough not to have lost entire directories full of anime.)
Turns out, though, that no-one's bothered to pick up Rizelmine. It's still in fansub. Clicky clicky, download.
In fact, according to my list, it's backed up on DVD #20, but I don't know if that's the full series or just the first half. Just the first half, I think, because it says that Kokoro Library is on there as well, and it wouldn't all fit if it was the full two seasons of Rizelmine.
Downloading is easier, anyway.
(If I was with Telstra on one of their non-capped broadband plans, they'd charge me $510 to download that much data. Yeah. Still. In 2005. Bunch of thieves.)
The two new MuNuServers, Kei and Yuri, are almost here. There was a slight mix-up with the operating system (the 32-bit version of CentOS was installed instead of the 64-bit version), and the clustering is waiting on parts... Well, a crossover cable, to be exact.
One bonus: They ran out of 160GB drives, so we got a couple of 200GB drives instead.
It will take a couple of weeks for me to configure and test everything, and then we'll move everything across. This should result in a shinier, happier, more responsive munu for everyone.
Tuesday, October 25
Okay, sometimes I'm a bit slow. I only just now realised why 2x2 = Shinobuden:
I am a female ninja
(watashi I, kunoichi a female ninja)
Ninin ga Shinobu desu
2x2 = Shinobu (ni two, so ninin two-two; Shinobu is her name, and desu meaning is, or in this case, am. I'm not sure precisely what ga means here. Note that the verb comes at the end, so the first line makes no real sense by itself. Or at least is ungrammatical.)
Why the 2x2? Well, Shinobu is a trainee ninja, and when exercising her ninja talents she has a tendency to say nin nin, as in ninja. So nin nin becomes two times two.
I'm sure you wanted to know that.
The video clips for Shinobuden are very cute, particularly the closing sequence, which is done in claymation. (So is the closing sequence for Futakoi Alternative, by the way.) You can download them here; three seeds, no waiting. (Actually, I think the seed count is wrong, but there are at least two.)
Just don't ask me where the -den suffix comes from.
I've added another collection of anime clips for you to enjoy. If enjoy is the right word. From the 12th-century Hungarian historical drama of Chrno Crusade to the Amazonian documentary masterpiece Green Green; from the psychological thriller He Is My Master to the gritty study of pre-teen pregnancy in the slums of Osaka in Mama Is A 4th Grader, these clips will have you on the edge of your seat, and sometimes over the edge.
As always, downloads will be slow until I get a second seed up and running.
(Warning for diabetics: Contains sugar.)
VirtualDub doesn't automatically insert keyframes if you do a direct stream copy. That's why sometimes I can't get a clip to start at exactly the right frame - but it works if I use a different episode of the series. It's latching on to the nearest keyframe, and some encoders are very sparing with them.
Choose fast recompress from the menu, though, and you're all set.
Monday, October 24
44 Reasons Why the Chomskians Are Mistaken. It's talking about Chomsky's infamously bogus lingustics, not about his infamously bogus politics. (Although the same problem - a cargo-cult approach to understanding the world - underlies both.)
Sunday, October 23
I have put up a torrent of my collection of anime clips - opening and closing credits of various shows - here. The tracker page is here if you're interested. The total size is 1,830MB, so it might take a while to download.
Currently there's just the one torrent containing all the clips; creating and seeding dozens of torrents is too much trouble unless there's a lot of interest in this.
Let me know if you have problems downloading (other than speed; it will be slow to start with until I get another seed running), or with playing any of the files.
Oh yeah, this includes the opening and closing credits of Kamichu! in "glorious fake HDTV". Fake it may be, but it is significantly better than the standard 640x360 files.
Wednesday, October 19
The Daily WTF. It's sort of a funny version of comp.risks:
The Dexia Bank ATM machines are expiriencing a curious problem. The machines stop functioning when someone enters the number 7, making it impossible for people with a 7 in their pin (personal identification number) code to perform a cash withdrawal.I think I know the programmer.
The problem has been occuring for a month. To prevent people from running out of cash, they are able to perform cash withdrawals inside. "We are expiriencing a problem with the software", a Dexia spokesman admitted last wednesday in the daily journal Het Laatste Nieuws, "the problems should be solved within three weeks."
I have for some time now been struggling to extract a video clip of the closing credits of Kamichu!, which is one of the best shows to come out of Japan this year. I do this all the time, and have amassed quite a collection - which is currently off-line until I can make it into a torrent, because it was using up more than 20GB of bandwidth a day.*
Anyway, for this work I use the simple but very functional VirtualDub. VirtualDub lets me say "start here" and "stop there" and snip out a minute and a half of video without the time-consuming (and quality-destroying) re-encoding. It just grabs what's there, bit-for-bit (and creates new keyframes as necessary).
But VirtualDub is designed for AVIs with fixed bit-rate MP3 soundtracks. Kamichu! has been released so-far as an HDTV** Matroska file with AAC audio. Standard VirtualDub won't have a bar of it. VirtualDubMod, which has been patched to handle Matroska files, crashes violently on Kamichu!
I'm not that easy to stop, however. I used MKVextract to split the Matroska file into an XVID-encoded video-only AVI and a separate AAC audio file. Then I used All Converter to turn the AAC file into a raw WAV. Then I fired up VirtualDub again, and told it to load the video from the AVI and the audio from the WAV, and re-interleave them into a new AVI file and snip out this bit (the opening credits) and that bit (the closing credits) for me.
Which it did. And lo, the opening credits were very good. But the closing credits were teh suck, because the audio was hugely, and I mean hugely out of sync with the video, and the main reason that the closing credits of Kamichu! are cute is that they are in sync with the music. As you will see when I put them up for you to download. Via Bittorrent.
This caused a certain amount of puzzlement as it slowly dawned on me that not only were the audio and video out of sync, but that the problem became worse over time. Close examination indicated that even if they were in sync at the start of the clip, they were out by fifteen or twenty seconds at the end, which is a hell of a lot.
This, it turns out, is because the closing credits run at 30 frames per second, while the rest of the show runs at 24 fps. Why anyone would wish to do that I have no idea, but that is indeed what they have done. In the original video file it works just fine, but when I clip out the closing credits, it falls apart. But if I take that clip and tell it hey, you run at 30 fps... It works!
But you can't see it, because we have no bandwidth left.
* Between the anime fans and the bastard referrer spammers, the bandwidth well has run dry this month. I was planning to get another server to offload some of our stuff, but the hosting company seems to have run out as well.
** As it happens, it's really just up-converted anamorphic widescreen 704x480 video, not native 720p. It still looks pretty.
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