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filling the void

Saturday, June 30, 2007

New Features in Google Maps

Google maps has some new added features that will absolutely blow your mind.
The primary one is drag-n-drop re-routing, but also traffic information (I can assume that this is only available in selected cities), and all sorts of other new GUI features.
As seeing is believing, I will refer you to this other blog post with a lovely video of the entire thing in action.

You have got to check this out, absolutely amazing.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Science is Awesome

Here's some guy who's built some Tesla coils, lasers and other awesome science projects.
I can think of few boys, regardless of schooling, who wouldn't think this was cool.

check it out.


(used up)^5

I guess the hits just keep on coming. As some of you may know, my hard drive hasn't been completely healthy of late. Yesterday I ran some tests and found out that things are actually worse than I had previously thought. A couple of months back, a lot of stuff on my computer started breaking. My monitor, my graphics card and my mouse.
Replacing these things cost me a lot of money. Money that I didn't really have. Of course, being a firm believer in Murphy's Law, I thought to myself "if all my stuff is breaking, then I can bet that my hard drives are next". Since I didn't want my hard drives to break down without me having a copy of all my data, I purchased a new hard drive. It turns out that it was just in the neck of time.
Today my sick hard drive decided to not be part of my computer anymore, and disconnected in mid-backstroke, so to speak. After nursing it back to health, it had decided to conveniently "forget" about a lot of my files, which I managed to recover while watching CNN and Discovery downstairs for a painfully long time.
It was a long and troublesome path, but now I have my data back. This incident, however, has convinced me that I need a new OS drive. I saw that they had recently dropped in price, so I might just go get myself one in the coming weeks. In the mean time, I'm going to be making more frequent backups of my system to ensure that I don't loose anything important, should my hard drives decide to quit on me again.

This is basically the last piece of computer hardware I can change before having to get a completely new computer. If anything else (motherboard, cpu, ram) quits on me, then replacement parts will be almost impossible to find, due to the age of the parts. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the electronics will last, and let me live to fight another day.

Now I just need a good backup program.


I, Videogame

I just watched this documentary on the discovery channel called I, Videogame.
Apparently it was a thing in parts, and I have no idea which part I saw, but it was about how the video game industry is closely tied in to the military, both with regards to content and technology.
It ended with a wonderful little blurb though, that I wish I could quote (which I can't, because I don't exactly remember what the guy said, but ) it went something like this.

Here's this pen, and with it I can create these wonders and empower people and set them free.
Here's this pen, and with it I can write the death sentences of millions of people.
Look at the power this pen has (the pen is mightier, as we all know. Or as Sean Connery calls it in Celebrity Jeopardy, the penis mightier).
In the end, it's not about the tools we use, they are just enablers for humans to make decisions.
You can never blame anything on the tools, it is always man that has to take the decisions.

This is so true. People can say what they want about video games and violence on TV being a bad influence on children, bad parenting, living in a crummy neighborhood, whatever, but what people fail to realize is that in the end, there has to be a human there to make the decisions. Be it to save someones life, kill someone, or just do absolutely nothing.
People make decisions, not tools.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My University Experience

In 6 panels.

(Ohh and btw, the machall archives are back up, yay!)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

US (no longer) develops 'Gay Bomb'

I recently stumbles upon this comic strip. First I thought it was just a joke, until I followed the link and found this.

The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soldiers to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistibly attractive to one another," Hammond said after reviewing the documents.

You know as far as non-lethal weapons go, I guess this wouldn't outright kill anyone (is it possible to be sodomized to death?), but I'm pretty sure that dropping something like this over a platoon of Muslim die-hard soldiers might cause them all to get summarily executed once the effect of the chemicals wore off. Or they would shoot themselves. In any case, dumping this on anyone but the most tolerant soldiers (who probably aren't in the armed forces anyway) would almost certainly lead to some kind of fatality. Actually, it doesn't say of it does wear off or not, but I can't possibly imagine that someone could develop a chemical that could forever switch a person's sexual orientation.

Luckily, this proposal from 1994 was quickly dismissed. It would have made for good comedy though...


Monday, June 18, 2007

Used up^4

It seems I might have to plow down some more cash (cache) in to my computer soon.
I have noticed that the write performance of my OS drive (2xHitachi T7K250 in RAID0) was abysmally poor. I was getting write speeds of around 4-6MB/s, whereas on my 500GB T7K500, which is not raided, I'd get up to 45MB/s.
Granted, the read performance is about 50% better on my OS drive than on my backup drive, and read speed is what matters, but I can't help but think there's something wrong.
I'm pretty sure I'm right. I found out that write caching was only enabled on one of the two drives in the raid. "Weird", I thought, and hit the button to enable it.
No dice, it just jumps back to "disabled". No matter what combination or tool I used, including Hitachi's DOS-based feature tool (that did allow me to set the noise level on the disks to a lovely silence), it wouldn't let me enable the cache. Sure, they all said "yes, it has now been enabled", but when I checked, it still wasn't enabled.
I've emailed Hitachi and Silicon Image about this, and I'll see what turns up. I'm pretty sure that my drives are out of warranty, especially since the RMA tool on their web page didn't recognize my serial number, but there might be a trick or some sort.
If there isn't, I'm probably looking at getting another T7K500 or something, put that in a raid, and use my current OS disk for backups.
We'll see. I can't really afford to buy more computer hardware right now, especially since I want to afford a vacation this year, but I might have to. The drive is usable, but it's a pain in the ass to use it.
To be honest, it is about time for a completely new computer. I mean, I'm running a RAID setup here, and my girlfriend's Dell laptop boots in a fraction of the time, and it's not top of the line.
Getting in to Windows is ok, but from the login screen to me being able to press buttons is a good couple of minutes.
My computer is a little over 4 years old now. With Quad core around the corner, I could basically quadruple my processing speed for the same money I paid for this 4 years ago. Way to go Moore, your law still holds!

Granted I don't actually need all this processing power, as my hard drives are the bottle neck, and it runs fine once it has booted and everything is in RAM, but still.
I can't help but feel like I'm running an outdated machine. It is the student way. Some time when I actually have something resembling a salary, I'll splurge on a new computer. Until then, I'm keeping this one.

Also, I don't know where I'll move after I've gotten my M.Sc. so purchasing new hardware is generally a bad idea. Unless nothing actually breaks, I should be set for another 2-3 years, hopefully.

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Absolutely Fucking Incredible

This no-name average joe (with terribly bad teeth) sings opera like it's what he was born to do.
Watch it and tell me that you don't think this is completely amazing (even if you don't like opera).

Of course, it helps to have a powerful song to sing...

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mr Moustache

Hah, I just ran across this at a link at the bottom of Engadget. It's a stick-on beard, complete with a small 'stache to match.

When the guy started droning on about how this was an awesome way to get the ladies, I kept thinking to myself "wow, this is just about the stupidest thing I've ever seen". Lo and behold, about half way down the article, the guy agrees with me. Phew. I guess the world is still somewhat safe..

EDITED TO ADD: Ohh, and I'm not going to use Windows Live Writer anymore. I just posted using it, and it felt like the entire app was falling apart. I'm sticking to the blogger interface, until I find something better.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Darth Vader being a Jerk

Hmm, the "save now" button grew with each character I typed. interesting...
Anyway, this is just way too good to not blog about.
I'm going to try to embed the video. I just hope it doesn't autoplay.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Trying Windows Live Writer beta 2

Seems to be pretty nice. I told it the url of my blog, and it analyzed it, told me I was using blogger, and installed the appropriate components. It will also allow me to edit in more of a WYSIWYG than the default web-based blogger tool will. It will let me edit in a way so that I will see what the final post will actually look like. No doubt this is because it just downloaded my style sheet from blogger, and is now using some edit-enabled version of some Internet Explorer control to let me do my editing.

While the blogger tool is great, I sometimes suffer from a poor internet connection, and then semi-offline blogging is a good idea.

I don't know if I'll actually use this in the end. It depends on what features it has, how well it works, stability and so forth, but I'll try to do a couple of posts with it to see how it works.

It is quite obviously made for vista, and it looks less than stellar on my XP system, but I don't see myself switching anytime soon. I tried a Vista beta this summer, and I was not impressed. It wasn't stability or anything like that, windows killed that beast years ago. Rather it was the completely unusable "interface" that they have equipped vista with. I love the way Explorer (Windows explorer, not Internet Explorer) works. They threw that out completely and instead gave me some useless search-like tool. If I wanted to search, I'd install google desktop. I organize my files and folders. I know exactly where to find things. I don't use the indexing stuff in xp either.

It's going to be interesting to see how it handles spelling and tags (called categories) here too. I really like the way it is done in the blogger web tool. (Hmm, not nearly as good as blogger, but it's just one thing. We will see).

I can't insert pictures, because it has some weird "upload to ftp"-functionality, which blogger doesn't use. Good thing I don't publish pictures that often then.

How about adding links? (This is a really nice photo blog, you should check it out). That's something I do from time to time.(That seemed to work fine.) Shortcuts for text formatting seem to work fine too.

I also do quotes, from time to time, and I must say that I find the blogger tool lacking in this respect. Things like empty lines before and after quotes show up weird. Also, the (blogger) preview leaves a lot to be desired, since it doesn't take in to account your font size or column width when showing you your preview. Blogger should just load up your style sheet and present the preview via that. That would be much better.

Nicely done of them to put the buttons in the same order as in the blogger interface. Someone up in Redmond is thinking. (Yes, much better quote handling than blogger). That is it for now I guess. More things will follow...

(The last thing I do before posting is spell check. WLW does NOT have this functionality! What a waste. They've been doing it in word since forever. It should be included.)

Going to blogger let me do some spell checks, and I had been somewhat naughty.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Right Career

I've been reading up on a lot of expat links recently (that's expatriot, as is someone who leave their native land), and all I can find is low paying banking jobs. Also, I keep reading that IT is dead as a career, and people advice me to move on to something else.
The thing is, I didn't choose IT as a career, I have it as a passion. I love working in IT, computers is my live, so you'll excuse me if I don't just turn my coat to the wind and give up when it seems convenient.
Apparently, banking and finance is the sector to be in as an expat. At least outside Europe (which is where I want to go). The proposed salaries are what mostly gets me though. I was reading about Malaysia just now, and they said that someone fresh out of university (which apparently means a B.Sc., not an M.Sc., for some reason) would make the equivalent of around 400 Euros per month. Hell, I get twice that from the government in study aid. Just my rent in my student house is currently 350. I realize that the cost of living might be less, but it can't be that much less.
How does one make enough money in Asia? Do I have to stick to Europe to get a proper salary?
It would be convenient, as I could just move wherever the hell I wanted without having to think about visas and stuff, but it's not what I want.
My heart has belonged to Asia for as long as I can remember. I don't know if it is the cultural contrast, or just my love of the times I've actually spent in Asia, but I do know that I need to go back, and not just for a week on the beach (even if I could use one of those right now).
As some of you already know, I have more or less given up on the middle east as a possible place to move. The risk of being randomly imprisoned for weird things just doesn't fly (which is, incidentally, the reason I refuse to set foot in the US too...).

Handling people's money, or preferably handing the money of people who handles peoples money has always been lucrative. The problem, I think, is that people forget that to do this you need all the other amenities of life. You can't earn money on an empty stomach, and you sure as hell can't survive in the financial world without computers.
Mark my words. There will be a time when everyone has said "we don't need computer people anymore", that those of us who have stood by our passion will be redeemed. When all the posers are long gone, we will command a premium.

We will do it, because it is our pleasure!

T.E. Lawrence: My friends, we have been foolish. Auda will not come to Aqaba. Not for money...
Auda abu Tayi: No.
T.E. Lawrence: ...for Feisal...
Auda abu Tayi: No!
T.E. Lawrence: ...nor to drive away the Turks. He will come... because it is his pleasure.


Strange ways of reaching me

I was going over my statistics just now (of course I track who visits. I get so happy when I see that people have seen, even if they might not have read, what I have written), and I saw that I had a visitor from Korea. (Wow, that was a horribly incorrect sentence, but you all get it).
They were looking for "ioftpd cubnc", which is a fair search string (via google, btw).
It is true that I am the author of cubnc, but this is not the best way to seek support (but you are still welcome to leave a comment to that end).
Normally, the #cubnc channel on EFNet would be a better place to look.
If I can't answer myself, then I'm sure someone else can.
Right now I've got a lot of exam stuff to take care of, but after that I should be on irc with more frequency.

EDITED TO ADD: Since the search engines are indexing this thing, I might as well be a link whore and link to cubnc and say that cubnc was primarily designed with glftpd in mind, but that it also works perfectly with ioftpd. Ok, that's enough of that.

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Internet Speed

As I wrote about last time, our internet performance has been abysmally bad.
I felt like 300 baud would have been a step up.
We finally solved the problem though. It turns out that my room mate was running eMule full force with a massive amount of simultaneous streams. I disconnected his cable and saw my speed soar.
It was like getting out of prison. They joy I felt was boundless.
I haven't talked to him about it yet, though. It didn't come up in conversation, and now the internet performance seems to be ok.
Maybe he has limited the number of threads or bandwidth or something.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sharia Schmaria

For a couple of weeks now, I've been reading up about moving to Dubai.
It seems like a great city. Nice temperatures, ocean front, good money, no taxes, and nice temperatures. Did I mention nice temperatures? It's got nice temperatures.
I was reading about it, looking at jobs and possible salaries and cost of living and whatnot.
All in all it seemed like a great country, until I read this. It's an article from gulfnews.com about the sharia laws in effect, and how they can affect me should I determine to move (or set foot in) the UAE (or any other country with sharia laws).
It turns out that it is illegal for a man and woman who are not blood relatives or legally married to be in a "closed space" together. Even elevators count and cars count, to some extent.
Sharing an apartment is obviously out of the question.
My favourite part is this:

Dr Khalifa Rashid Al Sha'ali, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Ajman University, said if a man and a woman who are not related are caught alone in a private place, they face a jail sentence or lashes even if they were not involved in any suspicious act.

Fucking LASHES?!?!?!?!
What the hell. I mean I'm no fan of adultery, but this is fucking nuts.
And it appears that good neighbors call the police on their neighbors too, should they see something like this through their window.
This is absolutely fucking insane. This is what you get when you let religion take over lawmaking. I don't care what religion it is, I just know that the church (or mosque or temple or whatever) has nothing to do with the state. Nothing no matter how you slice it.

And to think I seriously contemplated it. I'd rather live in the heart of red china with their censorship and people disappearing due to secret police and whatnot over this. At least communist people let you fuck whomever you damn well please.

I realized that these things were in effect in some Arab countries, but I thought that the UAE was supposed to be so open and western and cater to foreigners, but with shit like this, it makes you wonder...

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“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Too hot?

The people who know me will undoubtedly have heard me saying something like "there is no such thing as 'too hot'".
While that is still true (even though it is over 30 degrees here and the air pressure is really high), there is something to be said for being too sick for the heat.
Now, had I been in healthy and had my allergy medicine actually worked, 30 degrees wouldn't have been a problem at all.
However, this is not the case. My head hurts, my nose is running, and my bones and muscles are sore and ache like you wouldn't believe. All this (which is basically heavy allergy problems, combined with the cold from hell) is making the situation a very unpleasant one for me.
I can't get any work done, I can't think, I can't focus, and my deadlines are a couple of days away.
If we could at least get some rain and thunder to clear the air (like the weather service has prognosticated for the last couple of days) things would be better.

I guess I just need to get healthier, but that still doesn't solve the problem of my allergy medicine not being even close to efficient enough.

Life sucks right now. It had better get better really quickly, otherwise I might have to kill some people...

Also, on another note, our internet is working terribly slow again. Over 15 seconds to load the google homepage on a good day. I don't know if my roommates have some p2p service running in the background, thinking our 4/1 (or whatever it is we have) cable tv connection can take it.
I'm pretty sure that this is not the case though, as we have a godawful isp. You'd think that utwente.nl, "the fastest campus in the world" would provide proper internet service to the people living off campus, but this is a fucking joke. I'd be better off with some GPRS plan for my phone and surfing through that.

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