What? Look, somebody's got to have some damn perspective around here.
Boom. Sooner or later... Boom!
Friday, September 29
This is interesting: MakeVM. It's a little shareware utility that creates virtual machines - either blank ones or clones of existing disks - for VMWare.
This is great if you're running VMWare Player (which doesn't have the ability to create new virtual machines itself), or if you're running VMWare Server and want to migrate an existing Windows server to a virtual environment.
Costs $19.95 for the full version. The free download is limited to teeny-tiny VMs, so I'll need to buy it. I have a couple of Windows servers here at work that do almost nothing but which I can't actually unplug, because they only do almost nothing. Now I can finally get rid of the buggers.
Got my 4GB memory card. Although Canon doesn't list the Ixus 800 as supporting SDHC (which is required for SD cards larger than 2GB), Sandisk does, and I found a couple of people reporting that their cameras worked just fine with 4GB cards.
And so does mine.
Over 1400 photos at maximum resolution and image quality (well, that's JPEGs, not raws).
Now I just need to find something to take a photo of...
Thursday, September 28
Had a little excitement at work today. Apparently several blocks of Sydney's CBD went dark, including, of course, our office. Our elderly UPS valiantly struggled along for nearly a minute before expiring; the blackout itself lasted about an hour and a half.
Then I had to fix pretty much everything. Crashed databases, lost routing tables, failed NFS mounts (the systems didn't neatly reboot in the required order), unending fscks (This volume has not been checked for 562 days* so I'm now going to scan every one of your seven million files and there's nothing you can do to stop me so nyah.), broken RAID sets, misconfigured network cards...
Knoppix was used. It would have been even more not fun without Knoppix.
* Actual number.
Wednesday, September 27
Just finished watching Shakugan no Shana.
I do recommend it, though it is a little uneven. Jonathan Tappan has an interesting review of it, but it is rather spoiler-laden, so you might not want to read beyond the opening paragraphs (avoid even the synopsis!) until you've seen at least a couple of episodes.
And now I'm going to take a nap.
Tuesday, September 26
My copies of Macromedia Studio, Eye Candy 5000 (the complete bundle), Acid Music and Sound Forge have arrived. Vegas Video and Paint Shop Pro XI are due later this week.
And I've ordered a 4GB card for my camera, a 320GB disk for my PC, and a 16X DVD burner to replace my old CD burner - which has gotten stuck with my Neverwinter Nights CD inside.
I start working from home on Secret Project M from the 5th of October.
Oh, and while I was at it, I upgraded my ADSL plan:
You have 58628.37 MB quota, and 59601.46 MB offpeak quota remaining until shaped at 64kNow, nothing can stand in my way. Bwahahahaha!
I ended up getting the Ixus 800 IS, the same model as TJ at Riuva. Based on both specs and sample photos it appears to be better than my ancient Sony S85 in every way. Despite having a smaller sensor (1/2.5" vs 1/1.8") and of course a smaller lens, the sample photos from the Ixus have more detail and less noise.
More pixels, wider zoom range, much faster, much more storage (4GB vs. 128MB, same price for the respective cards), optical image stabilisation, much smaller and lighter, bigger screen (twice the screen area on a camera half the size), one-third the price. And the Sony is not a bad camera - apart from the slow auto-focus and some shutter lag, and the limitations of Memory Stick - it does take very nice photos. It's just that five years has made it completely obsolete.
One little thing: The two cameras, bought five years apart, both came with 16MB memory cards.
Monday, September 25
Is pretty darn good.
I think it's licensed by Geneon, but doesn't seem to have been released yet. (A search of their sucky site reveals nothing.)
One thing I particularly like is that it's paced more like the first Slayers series than, say, Bleach. Dramatic rescues take one episode, not fifty. Plot points actually get resolved.
And like Slayers, you have a flame-haired flame-eyed super-powered chibi-chan.
Fear the kawaii!
Sunday, September 24
Thanks to Wonderduck for pointing me to two great new AMVs. Both are from artists previously featured here at Ambient Irony.
First up, Stop Watching Anime and Go Outside! by Doki Doki Productions. Music is There Is Life Outside Your Apartment from Avenue Q; video from Genshiken (which I haven't seen) and other shows, some of which you are sure to recognise. (More details at Doki Doki's site.)
The first two munu servers were named Mica and Mew.
(Well, technically there was one before that, but since it was the only server it was just called mu.nu or something like that. It was retroactively renamed Pooky when it came time to decommission it.)
Saturday, September 23
Back in the 80s, through to the mid-90s, I bought New Scientist every single week, and read it from cover to cover.
And then... Well, let's just say that I didn't leave New Scientist, New Scientist left me.
The economic illiteracy of the editors I could cope with, more or less; it's a popular science magazine, not an economics journal.
But the growing scientific illiteracy was harder to stomach. The increasing tendency to "study the controversy" and publish articles that were complete and obvious nonsense eventually drove me away.
Friday, September 22
I haven't watched any anime for a while. The last major things I saw were Haruhi Suzumiya and Renkin San-kyuu Magical? Pokaan (and I still haven't finished watching either one).
Is there anything notable in the current season, now that I have time to watch stuff again? There's the second season of Honey & Clover, but I haven't finished watching the first season of that.
So preferably something that is good, but short.
I poked around in the three squigabytes of fansubs that I've accumulated and came up with Shakugan no Shana, which looks like it will keep me occupied until I can sort out what's what in the new shows. I've always liked shows where the hero gets killed in the first episode.*
* Paging Yakumo Fujii...
Celebrating 61 years of preventing war between Germany and France.
(Actually, the party isn't until October 24th, but I'll forget the point by then.)
It's not perfect - see my difficulties with the clock under CentOS, for example - but I expect that sort of thing will become less common as OS developers take up VMWare as an important target platform. Linux is Linux, though, so for now it's enough to know that Fedora 5 works fine.
I needed a new Windows PC at work, and I needed at least two servers to test Minx, and I needed a replacement for our ancient development box* and thanks to Intel and VMWare Server I have them all parked neatly under my desk.
I'd be happier if I had 8GB of memory rather than 4GB, but that's still a bit pricey at the moment - and opens up the 64-bit can of worms, which I didn't feel like doing just yet.
* A Pentium III 550.
If you're not listening to Penn Radio every day - or at least, every Tuesday - you are really missing out.
I was laughing so hard this morning that the guy next to me on the train actually got up and moved.
Well, at least I assume it's because I was laughing.
P.S. Back episodes available for download here.
Thursday, September 21
Fedora Core 5 has lost the convenient option to install everything. You have to select the various categories, select the various sub-categories, and then open a pop-up window to select the optional sub-components.
I selected all of the basic things, and selected sub-components until I ran out of patience.
This installed 4.6 gigabytes of stuff. It did not install iostat. Or sar.
Update: Updating Fedora is abysmally slow, as always. And while the update is running - which looks set to take several hours - you can't install anything. Bleh.
Wednesday, September 20
I installed another virtual machine, this time running Fedora Core 5. The clock seems to work (yay!) and Python 2.4.2 runs my benchmark in 1.8 seconds, about 60% faster the new munu servers. On the other hand, I installed Python 2.5 on the new servers and it is 10% slower than 2.4.3.
Meanwhile, my iPod has decided that my correct timezone is Abu Dhabi. I have no idea why.
I'm setting up Kyon as a template so that I can copy it to create Yuki and Mikuru. Having installed the operating system (CentOS 4.4), I'm now installing all the bits and pieces that Minx relies on. Such as Python 2.5RC2.
I downloaded and configured it, and then ran make:
real 0m54.730sI wondered how that would compare with the new munu servers:
real 1m48.209sWhat the fnord?! That's one heck of a difference, particularly when you realise that Kyon is running under VMware. Same version of GCC, by the way.
real 2m12.971sAbout what I'd expect - the new servers are a little faster than the old ones.
But Kyon just zooms along - if what you want to do is compile Python. It's kind of a slug for desktop use. How does it go for other server-type stuff?
Let's see. I have a little Python benchmark. Nothing complicated, but it gives the interpreter a little test. Old server, Python 2.4.2:
real 0m3.373sNew server, Python 2.4.3:
real 0m3.028sOkay, slightly faster, as expected.
Kyon, Python 2.3.4 (which is what CentOS 4.4 comes with, the slackers):
real 0m0.919sUm. That's a pretty significant improvement.
Just one small problem:
The timer is off... Apparently by a factor of two, though it varies a bit. I increased the loop count by a factor of ten and hand-timed it. Computer says 9 seconds, I say 18.
That's gonna really suck for my development work.
Python under Cygwin gives 1.5 seconds for my benchmark, and I confirmed that (roughly) with hand-timing, so the Core 2 really is a lot faster for Python code. Just not quite as fast as Kyon wants me to believe.
Update: A bit of digging came up with this, which doesn't help much, because I've set Kyon up as a dual-processor machine. But it at least explains what's going on.
Tuesday, September 19
I've had my brain slug removed.*
The thing that has eaten all my time for the past two months is done, dealt with, finished, over, forgotten, dead and buried at a crossroads at midnight with a wafer in its mouth and a stake through its heart.
I'm back to working on Minx. Being paid to work on Minx. Not quite full time - under the agreement I worked out, I have to look after some other stuff as well - but it is the major focus of my day job. (As well as being a major focus of my free time.) Yay for that.
Right now I'm setting up Kyon, Yuki and Mikuru, the Minx development and test servers. Haruhi is running pretty well, by the way, though of course the super-duper Core 2 Duo with 4GB of memory is brought down to Earth on a regular basis by software, peripherals, and networks.
My iPod is still working. My notebook has started crashing randomly again.
And tomorrow I turn 40.
I'm not going to have a mid-life crisis. I'm too busy dealing with actual crises, thank you very much.
*"Poor little guy starved to death."
Friday, September 15
Found on a customer review page for a memory card:
Cons: No built-in street-level GPS. No host-device-accessible cold fusion power unit. No antigravity or timetravel capabilities. That's pretty much it.Also, Sandisk have announced a 4GB mini-SD card. That's a lot. And here's a 2GB micro-SD card. Now they're just being silly.
Thursday, September 14
I'm in the market for a new camera.
I have a Sony DSC-S85, which is quite a good camera, but it's rather slow (really bad for action shots), has only a modest zoom range, and only supports Memory Stick cards up to 128MB.
I'm not a professional photographer, or even close, and for the most part I'm planning on taking outdoor photos for web use. I need a camera that is fast, easy to use, not overly bulky, not overly expensive, has a good zoom lens, and can take a decent sized memory card.
I'm thinking of getting the Panasonic FZ50. It's not a pocket camera by any means (it's bigger than my S85), but 10 megapixels and a stabilised 12x Leica lens? Works for me.
Yes, a digital SLR would be better. But a digital SLR with a couple of decent lenses would run twice the price of the FZ50. And I'm not going to be producing A3 prints of my photos; I'm going to be scaling them down, if anything.
Wednesday, September 13
This Ugly Yet Beautiful World? Where did that come from? I've never even heard of it.
Oh, KonoMini. Right. Never mind then. I couldn't even be bothered to watch the fansubs.
One cost of living in Australia: With one fifteenth the population of America, and effectively one anime distributor, we don't get sales like this. I could order it from Robert, but by the time I take into account shipping, customs fees, and Australian sales tax, it ain't so cheap any more.
Plus, I already have the Ah! My Goddess movie, Ai Yori Aoshi, Armitage, El Hazard, Lain, all of Mahoromatic, Read or Die, Sol Bianca, Sugar, Tenchi Muyo, Trigun... And two copies of Haibane Renmei.* There's Stellvia - I have the fansub, but haven't watched it - but apart from that the most I'd be doing is replacing VHS tapes (or in some cases laserdiscs) with DVDs.
Now, if it was $5 per DVD from a store here in Sydney I'd be right there.
* I did say I'd spent a lot on anime.
ARM 86KGuy can't make up his mind.
AWW 88KHate to tell him that it was discontinued in the early 90s.
Pete Zaitcev doesn't like Media Factory. He's not alone there, but I have to disagree with his reasons.
Media Factory was the first, and so far the only, anime studio to take any action against the fansub community. They didn't sue anyone, but they did request that people remove any fansubs or links to fansubs of Media Factory properties. Which is certainly their legal right, but does break with the idea that fansubs are tacitly accepted - as long as the fansubs are withdrawn from distribution once a series is licensed outside Japan. (AnimeSuki in particular is very good about this.)
Now, you can understand why studios might be willing to accept this. Their major market is Japan. A show airs on TV, they get paid, and if it's a success they stand to make the big bucks on DVD sales and plushies. Getting licensed outside Japan is always a bonus, and it helps a lot if there's a fan base outside Japan. The American anime distributors keep an eye on what the fans are talking about when they decide what to license. (Usually. Sometimes they seem to be thinking of something else entirely.)
And fansubs drive that base.
So what happened to change Media Factory's mind? Well, they had something of a hit with a TV series called Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. Which I really really hate, but that's beside the point. They followed it up with a DVD release called Akane Maniax.
And it was on the fansub sites practically the day it hit the stores in Japan. Including "raws" - direct rips of the DVDs.
One might understandably get a little upset at that.
I love my fansubs, and I sometimes don't worry too much if I decide not to buy the DVDs afterwards because I've spent, um, a lot of money on anime over the past decade. (Including at least 15 Media Factory titles, just going from memory.) And I have fansubbed some episodes of the original Dirty Pair series myself*, and might even get back to completing the task one day.
But if the studio asked me not to, I would think no less of them for that.
* From someone else's script. I just edited it and fixed the timing and stuff.
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