Archive for July, 2008


Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

This one (epicentre about 40 miles away) shook us pretty well for about 30 seconds. A few things fell off shelves, light fixtures and projector screens swung about with some violence, and my friend’s go board fell down. No damage or injuries though – thankfully it was fairly mild, although still the strongest and longest quake I’ve experienced in my almost five years here.

What’s on your “quickstart bar”

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

…to use a hopefully somewhat generic term; or whatever you call that thing that sits at the edge of your screen and has icons for stuff that you launch a lot? Not the menu(s), the single-click launches. Or if you roll that way, what do you have hotkeys for?

Here’s mine:

  • Firefox – been using it since ~2004 (when it changed name from Firebird)
  • Evolution – not a lot of thought in this; it’s Ubuntu’s standard, and it does the job
  • Pidgin – I used it when it was called Gaim
  • Liferea – Internet news hasn’t been the same since I started with the feeds
  • Emacs – I don’t type well enough to use vi (and I use SLIME + SBCL)
  • Eclipse – with CDT plugins
  • KDevelop – an alternative to Eclipse, a bit nicer for automake stuff
  • RapidSVN – only just realised it’s a rabbit with an eyepatch! I thought it was some sort of comet in space…
  • gnome-terminal – because one always needs a command line
  • Amarok – pretty near best-in-class for organising & playing music
  • Tomboy – for the to-do lists which never shrink…

The next Big Thing is not a Big Thing

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

It seems lately (for the last six months or so) that I keep running into tech news about social networking sites. Myspace, Murdoch, Facebook, Zuckerberg. Trading soundbites and claiming that they’re hot and others are not. Myspace peaked, Facebook overtook, everyone’s wondering what’s around the corner or who will be next to take the social networking crown.

Is it just me, or does nobody quoted in this debate seem to understand the direction of technology? NOBODY will be next because fundamentally, the Internet doesn’t work that way. Scale-free networks don’t work that way.

Social networking sites at the moment are living in a thin stratum where “market share” still means something and decentralising technology hasn’t quite arrived to sweep everything out of the way with its long tail. But it will come. It’s being held back a bit right now by the lack of a common, interoperable browser development platform, but before too long, decentralisation and platform agnosticism will alter social networking the same way they’ve altered how we browse the web, how we get content, how we talk to each other.

This is the 21st century. There’s no such thing as brand loyalty when technology enables such huge coverage, filtering, and communication. We really are moving a bit closer to the Bitchun society and its Whuffie economy.

Summer of Love

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

It’s 2008, so what better way to celebrate a new millennium’s twist on the summer of love concept than by remixing 1968 vs 1988? Break out the bittorrent and chill out to the stylings of Buffalo Springfield VS 808 State VS Deee-Lite VS Prince VS Duran Duran…


Friday, July 18th, 2008

Sorry about the lack of bloggage lately. I’ve been busy buying a house. We closed escrow and everything, and we’re moving next week. Can’t wait until next weekend when it’ll all be over, relatively speaking.

In other news, Mike Vanier’s Foundational Programming Languages made the front page of Proggit today. Reading it was oddly familiar.

So I heard about Dr Horrible from a few people, and it’s pretty entertaining. You only have what, a day to go see it and get in on the early adopter status.

If you missed that, go watch Richard Feynman’s lectures on Quantum Electrodynamics. No, really. If you have a smattering of high school maths, this is eminently understandable, and it’s incredible that this isn’t more widely known or publicised. Basically, QED explains everything you know and see everyday (excepting a few things explained by gravity or nuclear physics), and theory fits experiment with an accuracy that is unprecedented in almost any other endeavour.

That’s all for now.

Book Meme

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Here are the Top 100 Most Popular Books on LibraryThing.
Bold what you own, italicize what you’ve read. Star what you liked. Star multiple times what you loved!

1. Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone by J.K. Rowling (32,484) *
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) by J.K. Rowling (29,939) *
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) by J.K. Rowling (28,728) *
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) by J.K. Rowling (27,926) *
5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling (27,643) *
6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by J.K. Rowling (27,641) *
7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (23,266)
8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (21,325) *
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling (20,485) *
10. 1984 by George Orwell (19,735)
11. Pride and Prejudice (Bantam Classics) by Jane Austen (19,583)
12. The catcher in the rye by J.D. Salinger (19,082)
13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (17,586)
14. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (16,210)
15. The lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (15,483) **
16. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (14,566)
17. Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) by Charlotte Bronte (14,449)
18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (13,946) *
19. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (13,272)
20. Animal Farm by George Orwell (13,091)
21. Angels & demons by Dan Brown (13,089)
22. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (13,005)
23. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (12,777)
24. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah’s Book Club) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (12,634)
25. The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, Part 1) by J.R.R. Tolkien (12,276) *
26. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (12,147)
27. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (11,976)
28. The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, Part 2) by J.R.R. Tolkien (11,512) *
29. The Odyssey by Homer (11,483)
30. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (11,392) *
31. Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut (11,360)
32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (11,257)
33. The return of the king : being the third part of The lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (11,082) *
34. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (10,979)
35. American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (10,823)
36. The chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (10,603)
37. The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams (10,537) *
38. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (10,435)
39. The lovely bones : a novel by Alice Sebold (10,125)
40. Ender’s Game (Ender, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card (10,092) *
41. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) by Philip Pullman (9,827) *
42. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman (9,745) **
43. Dune by Frank Herbert (9,671)
44. Emma by Jane Austen (9,610)
45. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (9,598)
46. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bantam Classics) by Mark Twain (9,593)
47. Anna Karenina (Oprah’s Book Club) by Leo Tolstoy (9,433)
48. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (9,413)
49. Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (9,343)
50. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (9,336)
51. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (9,274)
52. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (9,246) *
53. The Iliad by Homer (9,153)
54. The Stranger by Albert Camus (9,084)
55. Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen (9,080)
56. Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens (9,027)
57. The Handmaid’s Tale: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (8,960)
58. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (8,904)
59. Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (8,813)
60. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery – (8,764)
61. The lion, the witch and the wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (8,421)
62. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (8,417)
63. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (8,368)
64. The Grapes of Wrath (Centennial Edition) by John Steinbeck (8,255)
65. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (8,214)
66. The Name of the Rose: including Postscript to the Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (8,191)
67. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (8,169)
68. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (8,129)
69. The complete works by William Shakespeare (8,096)
70. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (7,843)
71. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (7,834)
72. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (Perennial Classics) by Barbara Kingsolver (7,829)
73. Hamlet (Folger Shakespeare Library) by William Shakespeare (7,808)
74. Of Mice and Men (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) by John Steinbeck (7,807)
75. A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens (7,793)
76. The Alchemist (Plus) by Paulo Coelho (7,710)
77. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (7,648)
78. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (Barnes & Noble Classics) by Oscar Wilde (7,598) *
79. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by William Strunk (7,569)
80. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (7,557)
81. The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2) by Philip Pullman (7,534) *
82. Atonement: A Novel by Ian McEwan (7,530)
83. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (7,512)
84. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (7,436)
85. Dracula by Bram Stoker (7,238)
86. Heart of Darkness (Dover Thrift Editions) by Joseph Conrad (7,153)
87. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (7,055)
88. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (7,052)
89. The amber spyglass by Philip Pullman (7,043) *
90. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin Classics) by James Joyce (6,933)
91. The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel (Perennial Classics) by Milan Kundera (6,901)
92. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (6,899)
93. Neuromancer by William Gibson (6,890) *
94. The Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics) by Geoffrey Chaucer (6,868)
95. Persuasion (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen (6,862)
96. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (6,841)
97. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (6,794)
98. Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt (6,715)
99. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (6,708)
100. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (6,697)


Tuesday, July 1st, 2008
  • Another book sale last weekend. A bit light on technical books this time, but I did snag quite a quantity of old SF paperbacks, and a box set of software engineering classics.
  • Of late, I’ve had some unsolicited interest in RotateAVI. There is a reported bug that causes it to hang on 0% though – I’ll have to track that one down.
  • California’s hands-free cellphone law came into effect today. Another way for the cops to get their revenue quota, with a very questionable basis in science.
  • Congratulations to Zach on both his latest releases.