The boring rants of a lazy nerd

Saturday, May 28, 2005

This Blog - Bookmarks

A significant part of my Firefox bookmarks has been added to the sidebar in a hopefully manageable way. It should be noted the bookmarks are a mess. Please report problems with navigation, validation, dead links, uselessness, etc. here.

The hefty (30k) thing was not compressed so it would be accessible from non-typical UAs such as lynx (verified!).

Friday, May 27, 2005

Various - Update

  • Yesterday on the bus ride home I've seen two girls from Oketz (they are very distinctive by their male uniform, lack of shoulder unit insignia and a Colt Commando). It made me even prouder in my uniform, thinking of the training these girls went through to get into an elite combat unit and how nice they still look and sound. Oketz appear to choose well from Nahal's girl battalion "Karakal".
  • I've listened to some Bond (Born, Shine and Classified). It's too world-music and has too much electronic and other interference so you can barely hear the string quartet itself. Few tracks are interesting beyond the first in every album. If I compile a list I'll post it. Also, undressed publicity photos (as well as dance/hip-hop/whatever remixes) cheapen the classical act so it cuts down on the people who came to listen to four classically trained performers while doesn't gain too much of the Britney Spears audience since they don't cut it as pop icons.
  • A friend suggested going playing war games* for his birthday. It was very cool (not cheap though), but now I hurt all over: bruises on both thighs, an arm, a shoulder, palm and a bit on the back (only torso and head are well protected during games, so arms and legs get hit a bit). Also, I got splashes of paint in the face some of which is in my hair. Some of those bruises look like they'll stay for a week or so. But hey, it's as close to military action a non-combatant like me is ever likely to get. Was lots of fun.
    Personnel are Russian speakers and were a bit miffed we had two non-Russian speakers in a group of eight so they had to give the instructions in Hebrew. A common problem in modern Israel are those weird people who live here for more than twenty years and still didn't learn Russian…
    * - English site is all "under construction", but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Personal - Social Circle Meme

A variation of the thing from Rebecca:

Why are you on my referrer logs?
Comment and tell me. Then post this in your blog/journal.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Music - Sampling

No, this is not about the process of digitizing an analog signal (though it is well worth your while to find out what "digital" actually means, even of you're not a technophile like me, at least so you know when advertisers clearly lie).

"Sampling" as in tasting a little bit of everything in a buffet or listening to a bit of various unfamiliar musical styles/performers to find out if you're missing out on something good. Like radio is supposed to be. Unfortunately, since all I get at work is commercial (remember payola?) brainwashing courtesy of local recording companies / RIAA franchises, I steal music from the net to find out what I like (Schoolgirl will be glad to hear I don't listen to much Yanni any more...).

So, if, perhaps by accident, you've discovered a large file with a "rar" extension and perhaps the words "ape" or "cue" in its name on your computer and decided you're not afraid of communism and would like to give it a try, here's some advice.

First of all, congrats on choosing the cd image instead of the mp3s. It means you value the quality of your music, and won't let some ripper's poor choice of encoding software to alter your perception and possible appreciation of the artist's work. Having an actual CD image, possibly compressed by some lossless compression method, enables you to recreate a bit-identical copy of the audio CD, so you'll know what you get when you buy it (well, that and the inlay, but that too is often provided as high resolution scans).

What you need to do then is extract the archive using unrar (free from

$unrar x foo.rar

Now you can either play it, if your player supports cuesheets and decodes Monkey's Audio (plugins are available for popular media players), burn it to CD (again, plugins are available for popular burning software), or convert it to mp3s (for use in portable players or some such). For that, you need the proper decoder (in this case, mac), cuetools, shntool and of course lame (all free software). When you have the latest versions installed, just:

$cuebreakpoints CDImage.cue | shnsplit -n "band-album-" -o cust ext=mp3 { lame --preset standard - %f } CDImage.ape

and (after a while) - voila!

I have yet to find a way to specify certain tracks to split so you'd be able to do less work to get a single track or even fork off multiple instances to use that SMP machine you might have properly. But at least you don't need to create temporary files.

Shell out for albums you like - the artists do get a little of that money!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Personal - Book meme

I was named by Lou, so now that I have time I shall do her bidding.
  1. Total number of books I've owned: I've counted 50 on the shelves. I have no idea how many more are still packed in boxes (no shelf space in the rented place). I don't count the pirated eBooks, or my parents' library.
  2. The last book I bought: a preorder of HBP, actually.
  3. The last book I read: see last post.
  4. Five books that mean a lot to me:
    1. The Potter books, obviously. For all I've lost and gained in Fandom.
    2. Dune
    3. LMB's Vorkosigan books
    4. A book in Hebrew I received as a gift in 4th grade about a Jewish boy who survives alone in a ghetto in Poland during WWII. Being a children's book, it had a happy ending.
    5. I loved Robinson Crusoe as a child. And consequently had a rather mad wish to build a tree house for the longest time.
    It's interesting to note that what I liked most about those books is how the hero manages on his own. The rest are… supporting characters. Damn, that's sad.
  5. Tag five people and have them fill this out:
    1. Teri
    2. Emily
    3. Rebecca
    4. Leslie
    5. acemyth

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Books - Shadow Of The Giant

So I've just finished the book. It took me three evenings (I'm a very slow reader). Yesterday I thought Orson Scott Card was just publishing more stuff to make money, the way I feel about what has been done to Dune, but today I've changed my mind.

No, it doesn't say anything new, per se, and it was kind of tying up loose ends, exactly as he promised two years ago (he left just a small bit for developing into plots of future books, if he ever needs the money, but then, the afterword in the acknowledgments section feels like it's the last book of the series...). The psychology was a bit simplistic, though it might be just realistic, but the geo-politics sounds about right (again, I don't know what I'm talking about). The last chapter was very touching. Actually, most of his ending are very good (contrast with Neal Stephenson for example). It really is a good book. I don't know about the non-preaching moralism, and how all that stuff gets along with the author's personal beliefs, and when (if at all) are characters speaking for him, but the whole settle-down-and-have-kids as the proper goal for sane people's ambition resonates very well with me.

BTW, the whole marrying the best female of the generation who is not your sister reminded me of themes in HP fandom. I think I read too much fanfic. (go Capt. Obvious!)

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Fandom - Congrats Melissa!

I remember in her first few posts on the now happily defunct HP message board, she was in the process of graduating from college... Anyway, hard work does pay off, and you've earned it! Now, anymore Firelox fic? ;-)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Found on The Web - Gangsta CS

I've known for a while there are some hard-core comp-sci geeks on LJ, not just liberal arts and poli-sci _______, but somehow I've never read anything of Brad's before. Anyway, he has a lot of cool stuff, among which I've found the funniest link 3v4r: So Much Drama in the PhD, by Monzi.

ETA: Apparently, there is a genre for this stuff.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Private - Musical taste

I recently loaned a friend a bunch of CDs I had lying around the office for a weekend. He said the music is depressive but it does appear to be conductive to a programmer's productivity. My music, depressive? It's not like I listen to Air's Virgin Suicides soundtrack on repeat or something! (A decent one if that's what you like, though I'd advise a visit to a therapist).

Here's the list. What do you think?

Private - This week

The 5th was the Israeli Day of The Holocaust, the 9th was 60 years since the end of The Great Patriotic War (my grandparents are veterans), today is the Israeli Memorial Day and tomorrow Israel will celebrate its 57th birthday. Personally I think it's too close together. It's symbolic of course, but you have to separate the days a bit more to let it sink in.

This time it was a bit more personal for me, a bit less abstract. I wish future years won't add more specific faces to the image I have in my mind's eye during the minute of silence.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Tech - QEMU

So, as I said earlier, I've installed the latest release of windows for home users in qemu (also latest release, 0.7.0) to test my dhtml (not ajax) in m$ie. It works, but:

  • official documentation is sparse and unofficial is not up to date and user-friendliness is of the sort that gives open source its bad reputation.
  • Performance is nowhere near "good" (even with kqemu), but can be made tolerable by keeping tabs on the swapping (or having lots of RAM). I had to decrease memory allocation for the guest in order for it to be responsive while I have Firefox open on the host. Also I switched from KDE to Fluxbox, applied a patch enabling dma on the winnt guest and switched to raw rather than sparse disk image file format.
  • Installing and configuring Samba for file-exchange between guest and host isn't terribly user-friendly as well, BTW.

I've browsed the developers' mailing list archives and they do have many good ideas, so I believe the future is bright for emulation (running OS X on an Athlon 64 is in the roadmap, and that is close to the holy grail for me). Basically, computer-savvy users only for now, unless you wan to pay for Virtual PC or VMWare (and that can't run an architecture different from the host's).

It turned out my blog's CSS editing doesn't work in m$ie. Have not debugged it yet, but it being deployed for a while now and nobody saying anything is kind of depressing (since I know for a fact not all of my hits are made with Firefox).

Obligatory pic.

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