You're Amelia!
You're late!
Amelia Pond! You're the little girl!
I'm Amelia, and you're late.

Saturday, January 26


Bad Software Design


Let's say you have an ADSL router - we'll call it a Getnear DG834 - and you're happy with it, but you just installed a second ADSL connection and you want to extend your wireless network, so you bought a Getnear DG834G (G for 802.11g wireless), and you plug it in to your notebook and run the installation software, you'd better be damn sure that you turn off your wireless access before you do that because otherwise the software will SEEK OUT AND BRAIN-WIPE YOUR EXISTING ADSL ROUTER.

A factory reset will fix that, but you'd better remember exactly what your username and password are...

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Tuesday, January 22



Sorry, still recovering from an unexpected total existence failure here at Pixy Labs.  But during my recuperation, I got a chance to catch up on Moyashimon.

Originally, Shinsen Subs was fan-subbing this show; then their translator had to leave for personal reasons.  BSS picked it up, but their release of the later episodes was delayed.  SEES took up the slack, but stopped when BSS announced that they were still intending to complete the series.  Then finally Kiki Delivers delivered.

This is my number two show for 2007, just behind Potemayo.  Like Potemayo, it's a quirky comedy, though this time about bacteria instead of potato-cats.  I hope to have a full review of it up sometime soon, but in the meantime, if you haven't seen any of it, here's the opening:

And closing:

The show was produced, broadcast, and fansubbed in HD, and looks miles better than youtube, but that gives you and idea of what you're in for.

And if there's anyone reading this who has seen the whole show, a question:

Update: Apparently not.

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Saturday, January 19



Hey, this looks kind of cute.

Okay, maybe a little dark, but after all it involves so you can't avoid a little darkness.

Hmm.  That was an unexpected turn.  How's this going to play out?  Maybe -


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Friday, January 18



Or, Return of the Revenge of the Hard Drive Destruction Bunny, Episode 5: Slow Lingering Squeaky Death on USB Street

I had one thing left to do before my new Windows box was fully operational and I could turn the old one off for good: Migrate iTunes.  This is an absolute cow of a job, and it's not being made any easier by the fact that the disk holding my podcast collection has suddenly decided to drive off a cliff.

Actually, it hasn't died all at once, but it has developed, apparently, a couple of hundred thousand bad sectors.  I've set an rsync script up to try to scrape the data off, but the drive sometimes resets itself after spending too long re-re-re-reading one sector and then rsync skips the rest of that directory.

Updately-doo: I've retrieved 172GB out of 174GB from my podcast directory.  There's a bunch of duplicates in there too, so some of the lost episodes are probably retrievable.

I'm also thinking that if this disk has been playing up for a while, that might explain some of the odd behaviour of iTunes, such as it suddenly freaking out and re-downloading an entire podcast (hence the duplicate files) and eating 10GB of my precious bandwidth unexpectedly.

Or that might just be iTunes.  Who knows?

Unfortunately, Windows doesn't report drive errors until it actually fails outright.  It will sit there for a minute, or two, or five, trying to read a particular sector, and not bother to tell you that anthing is wrong.

I have smartd running on my Linux box, but it mostly reports that my drives are hot enough to boil water (when in fact they are only slightly above room temperature).  I want a cute anime girl popping up on my desktop to tell me that the engines are about to explode drive C has had so many unrecoverable read errors in the last hour, or whatever.  Don't make me go and crawl through the log files, because I'm probably only going to do that after something has failed.

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Wednesday, January 09


Put Them All In A Blender And Set It To Puree

Warning: The following post contains more than the usual Ambient Irony level of vulgarities.  But it fucking well needs to.

More insightful coverage of the proposed Great Firewall of Australia:
BROADBAND Minister Stephen Conroy faces an uphill struggle in his plans to increase internet censorship by boosting the official blacklist from a puny 1000 web pages to many millions of banned websites.
Quick aside: The 1000 web pages mentioned here is a list of sites that the Australian censors make available to web-filtering companies.  It is not a list of sites currently blocked or banned by the government.
Industry commentators say the task may be beyond the capabilities of filtering mechanisms and procedures, and it would be impossible to block all such material.

Senator Conroy will seek to halt access to child pornography, X-rated and violent material for all home users through mandatory filtering by internet service providers.

Actually, child pornography has only appeared as a (deeply dishonest) rhetorical point; the filters are intended to block access to violent or pornographic material in general.  Child pornography is, of course, already illegal to create, distribute, or possess.
The scope of the problem is, however, immense. Policing child pornography alone could be beyond present capabilities.
True, the police have been unable to stamp it out, but that's not what this article is saying:
According to Bernadette McMenamin, the chief executive of anti-child-abuse group Child Wise, more than 100,000 commercial websites offer child pornography and more than 20,000 images of child pornography are posted on the internet every week.
I can certainly believe the 20,000 images a week, considering the sheer volume of stuff that hits Usenet alone.  The 100,000 sites seems rather high, and Ms. McMenamin offers no evidence to support her numbers.

But that's not the point here.  The point is this:

Various international groups have estimated the number of child pornography websites alone to be in the millions, while one local internet service provider told The Australian it could be as high as 30 million sites globally.
The point is, the people writing about this are completely clueless.  There are 30 million child porn sites globally?  Thirty million?  Are you out of your fucking minds?

Are there 30 million sites on the web with violent or sexually explicit content?  Yeah, maybe, and if these morons go ahead with their plans this will become number 30,000,001.  But to equate pictures of women who have temporarily mislaid their clothing with something that is outlawed in every civilised country in the world is either incredibly stupid or outrageously dishonest.

Senator Conroy's office is, however, not deterred.

"Admittedly, it will be difficult, but that's the intention," Senator Conroy's spokeswoman said yesterday. "Obviously there are many sites out there and they change their names. It's going to require a fairly vigilant monitoring system and it's not going to be 100 per cent foolproof."

So, they're going to pay people to track down these 30,000,000 sites, check them carefully for restricted content, and add them to the list?

(Snipped - a few paragraphs regarding the technical limitations of internet filtering and the fact that Senator Conroy's plan is doomed from the get-go and will cause nothing but damage to Australian business and Australia's reputation.)

The internet regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, has struggled to stem the flow of prohibited web content, as most of the material is hosted offshore. Moreover, it can only act on complaints.
Struggled to stem the flow of prohibited web content, eh?  And how much has it struggled?
In 2006-07, there were only 602 complaints, resulting in five take-down orders over locally hosted content; 494 overseas-hosted items were referred to internet filter makers for inclusion in their products.
Good grief.  And these are the people you expect to police the entire internet?  I had more queries regarding in that period (albeit not about offensive content) (mostly) and I operate that in my spare time with a budget of zero.

Oh, and five take-down orders?  And now you're planning to escalate that to 30 million blocked sites?  Good luck, guys.
The US is by far the largest source of illegal and offensive material. In 2006-07, it accounted for 53 per cent of the total, according to ACMA, followed by Russia at 11 per cent.
America, fuck yeah!
ACMA's Donald Robertson confirmed there were "currently 1000 pages on the blacklist".

"We're also part of an international network that generates 300,000 investigations per year into offensive and illegal internet pages," he said. "The majority of these investigations relate to child pornography."

300,000 investigations per year?  That's quite a lot.  I'd like to know what these investigations involve; I suspect that most of them involve "Go away you idiot; there's nothing illegal about that site."

Senator Conroy's spokeswoman said the blacklist would be expanded through liaison with the Australian Federal Police, and international agencies such as Interpol and the FBI.

Oh good, the police will be involved in a national internet censorship scheme.
She said technical difficulties would be resolved in filtering trials being conducted by the ACMA in Tasmania. "We have a lot of experts coming to us saying, this can be done," she said.

"We'll be testing the best overseas models, the best advice and the best new technologies." Three previous trials by ACMA - in 2001, 2003 and 2005 - all found problems, including filters allowing banned material through and wrongly blocking legitimate content. A test of six filters recorded a relative loss of network performance ranging from 18 at best and 78 per cent at worst.

Only 18 to 78% performance reduction on a small-scale test?  Let's make it mandatory for the entire country!
Senator Conroy has been prodded into action by Family First senator Steve Fielding, and the Australian Family Association, which scorned the former government's $85 million free filters for families package as wholly inadequate.

It called for automated content filtering technology to scan for objectionable content, and a new "grey list" of sites, such as those promoting anorexia.

And the agenda becomes blindingly clear: Following the ideology of a single senator who isn't even part of the governing party, the Australian government is supposed to examine every web page in the world and decide who can and can't read what.

Who voted for these cretins?  Because, if it's you, this is your fault.

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Sunday, January 06


Don't Do That To Me!!!

Okay, so I've been having trouble with these external drives of mine, and one of them I converted to an internal drive, recovered the data from it, reformatted it, moved 300GB of stuff onto it, and then put it back in its old case.

At which point it refused to work, causing me a minor heart attack.  So I opened up the external case, and discovered that it wasn't spinning up.  after a few minutes of poking around I realised that the power light was only coming on when the USB cable was connected, which (with these cases) means that the power isn't connected.

Which could explain the not-spinning-up business.

So I reconnect the power (the plug was in, but loose) and try again, and the drive...  Isn't recognised by the computer, and it's going tick-tick-tick.  Which is a common symptom of death in disk-drive-land.

So I shut everything down and put the drive back in its internal bay, and reboot, and up it comes as though nothing had ever happened.


Okay, I'm off to burn about 120 DVD-Rs.  I'll get back to blogging when I'm done with that.

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Tuesday, January 01


If It's Too Hot To Touch...

Dec 31 03:52:58 yurie smartd[2904]: Device: /dev/sda, SMART Usage Attribute: 194 Temperature_Celsius changed from 120 to 121
For the love of Murphy, will you guys just convert to metric already?!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 04:18 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Progress, Of A Sort

I've always been fascinated by computer animation, and I've enjoyed tinkering with it ever since my Amiga days, which partly explains why I just bought Carrara 6 Pro, Bryce 6.1, and a bunch of 3d models and add-ons.  The other part of the explanation is that Daz3D, the company that now develops Carrara,* was having a 50%-off sale on many of their products.  Since they offer an additional 30%-off to members of their "Platinum Club" and gave me a 30%-off coupon as a new customer,** I was able to pick up around $1000 worth of goodies for $250 or so.

Then came what always follows when you overspend at a big sale...  I had to carry it all home.   Even though Daz3D apparently use Akamai for software distribution, and there's an Akamai node at my ISP right here in Sydney, this took quite some time.

Because (a) there were dozens of individual files to download and (b) it was over 3GB in all.

My first disk drive in 1988 held 40MB and cost $400.  I just downloaded 3GB of data and burned it to a 30¢ DVD-R.  From $10 per MB to 10¢ per GB is (even before correcting for inflation) a 100,000-fold decrease in storage costs.  And a good thing too, because I just downloaded 100MB of 3d hair.

This is what I was engaged in when I discovered that as far as Windows was concerned, I no longer had a DVD burner.

Anyway, once I work out how to make it do something - anything - I'll post some piccies.

* The history of Carrara and its stablemates like Poser and Bryce is too complicated to repeat here, but you can find some of the details at Wikipedia.
** No, unfortunately this doesn't add up to a 110% discount.

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I Will Note...

That my Linux box, Yurie, running identical hardware to my Vista box, Haruhi, has not missed a beat.  No application or system crashes, no untowards errors (except that it detected and reported a problem with NCQ on my Western Digital drives).  Just smooth sailing.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 03:07 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Not So Different After All

Now my PC won't access external drive N, or my DVD burner.

I took the external drive - which contains my entire iTunes repository (including 18 months of podcasts) - and plugged it into my notebook.  It came up fine.

The DVD burner is another matter.  Windows helpfully reports:
Windows was able to successfully install device driver software, but the driver software encountered a problem when it tried to run. The problem code is 39.
Gee, thanks. roll eyes

After you remove a program from your computer, you can no longer access the CD drive or the DVD drive successfully. The CD drive or the DVD drive does not appear. Or, you receive an error message when you try to access the drive. This article contains two methods to resolve this problem. One of the methods requires that you manually modify the Windows registry to remove the UpperFilters registry entry and the LowerFilters registry entry. You must restart the computer after you follow the steps in this article.
Dear Microsoft, die in a fire.
This article is intended for a beginning to intermediate computer user.

(The solution actually works, but the incompetence that would allow a user-installed program to accidentally disable a storage device is nearly as remarkable as the fact that Microsoft is apparently incapable of fixing this.  True to form for both Microsoft and Apple, the fix breaks iTunes, which then whines incessantly about it until you reinstall.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 02:54 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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