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Sat, 19 Feb 2005

Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music

Go forth, and enjoy. Totally awesome overview of all things electronic. House, Trance, Hip-Hop, Jungle, etc. This is what all encyclopedias and/or history classes should be like. Follow the lines for at least one of the sections / groups and you can hear a lot of what he’s talking about. It was tough for me later on because I was experiencing a music-overdose… will definitely have to revisit this later.

I’ll also take this moment to recommend the AllMusic guide, whose “related artists” feature and “recommended picks” are actually quite good when researching music.

10:01 CST | category / entries / links
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Tue, 15 Feb 2005

Patents (old) and Lawyers (older)

It was never the object of those [patent] laws to grant a monopoly for every trifling device, every shadow of a shade of an idea, which would naturally and spontaneously occur to any skilled mechanic or operator in the ordinary progress of manufactures. Such an indiscriminate creation of exclusive privileges tends rather to obstruct than to stimulate invention. It creates a class of speculative schemers who make it their business to watch the advancing wave of improvement, and gather its foam in the form of patented monopolies, which enable them to lay a heavy tax upon the industry of the country, without contributing anything to the real advancement of the arts. It embarrasses the honest pursuit of business with fears and apprehensions of concealed liens and unknown liabilities lawsuits and vexatious accountings for profits made in good faith.

—American Judge, 1882


Just a reminder- Stupid patents were stupid in 1882, and are still stupid today. Lawyers (as a class, not as individuals) aren’t that great either. Fundamentally, if two lawyers are ever talking, one of them is always wrong.

The setup for the “kill the lawyers” statement is the ending portion of a comedic relief part of a scene in Henry VI, part 2. Dick and another henchman, Smith are members of the gang of Jack Cade, a pretender to the throne. The built-up is long portion where Cade make vain boasts, which are cut down by sarcastic replies from the others. For example:

JACK CADE. Valiant I am.

SMITH [aside]. ‘A must needs; for beggary is valiant.

JACK CADE. I am able to endure much.

DICK [aside]. No question of that; for I have seen him whipp’d three market-days together.

JACK CADE. I fear neither sword nor fire.

SMITH [aside]. He need not fear the sword; for his coat is of proof.

DICK [aside]. But methinks he should stand in fear of fire, being burnt i’ th’hand for stealing of sheep.

You can almost hear the rim-shot after everything Dick or Smith say here.

Cade proceeds to go more and more over the top, and begins to describe his absurd ideal world:

JACK CADE. Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows reformation. There shall be in England seven half-penny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hoop’d pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it felony to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass: and when I am king,- as king I will be,-

ALL. God save your majesty!

Appreciated and encouraged, he continues on in this vein:

JACK CADE. I thank you, good people:- there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord.

And here is where Dick speaks the famous line.

DICK. The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.

The audience must have doubled over in laughter at this. Far from “eliminating those who might stand in the way of a contemplated revolution” or portraying lawyers as “guardians of independent thinking”, it’s offered as the best feature imagined of yet for utopia. It’s hilarious. A very rough and simplistic modern translation would be “When I’m the King, there’ll be two cars in every garage, and a chicken in every pot” “AND NO LAWYERS”.


19:17 CST | category / entries / links
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Sun, 13 Feb 2005

Favicon generator

Must give props to this brave jedi:

Upload a 16 x 16 pixel PNG and click ‘Faviconify!’ to create a favicon for your website. This favicon maker supports alpha transparency.

Once you create your favicon.ico file, upload it to your root directory of your website and put the following code in your html page in the header:


I was trying to find some free program that worked on a mac to make a favicon (Gimp wisely doesn’t include that piece of junk format). Convert (imagemagick) doesn’t support it either (at least on my webhost), enter Google and Mr. Degraeve. Upload a PNG, receive a zipped .ICO file. Yay. Check out his T-Shirts too, some of them are amusing.

11:39 CST | category / entries / links
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Paul Graham Parody

Everyone I’ve asked agrees that Javascript is nasty and tasteless.[2] It’s not hard to see that it would be a waste of a hacker’s time to be proficient enough in Javascript to create an elaborate, interesting, interactive application in it. But few people have looked beneath their natural revulsion to find Javascript’s deeper flaw: curly braces.


[2] Eric S. Raymond has zero lines of Javascript in fetchmail.


…Love ‘ya, Paul, but this one is too funny to not pass on.

02:47 CST | category / entries / links
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Fri, 11 Feb 2005

Or, One Person’s Experience with HDTV and the Superbowl

So, Brad is some guy from the EFF (the ACLU of cyberspace). I think he’s pretty important, but what’s more interesting is his story about using MythTV with a HDTV tuner card.

During one high-tech moment, it was also clear that the TV was really a computer display. After the buxom Godaddy censorship parody, somebody commented that Godaddy had a different ad that had gotten refused by Fox and it was on their web site. A few clicks and I had the Firefox browser on my screen. With my 6 megabit connection, I installed the latest Flash player in about 10 seconds and was quickly playing the refused ad. Then it was back to our regularly scheduled commercials.

So all this high tech stuff is great, but there’s a catch. The tuner card that receives the signal from the TV station and lets the computer write it, in its transmitted form to the hard disk will be illegal to make or import after June of this year, 2005.

Yes, illegal. A card that simply takes an unencrypted stream of data from the public airwaves with a TV show in it, and copies it, unchanged to a disk file. Now, because I already have mine, that one won’t become illegal. If you get one now, you can keep it. But nobody will be able to make new ones in the USA after that date.


I would love to go make that same setup (you can see he has one of those shuttle PC’s) … it actually looked like an old G4 Cube at first.

Also interesting is Brad’s look at WishTV, see also an example of a Buffy Episode configuration, so you can see what it looks like. Neat-o stuff will be happening in the future. Remember, drop the “TV-recording over the air” part and connect to a BitTorrent Satellite via RSS and see what happens. Remember, TV (especially now) is just bits on the wire or bits over the air. Very interesting.

23:48 CST | category / entries / links
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Mon, 07 Feb 2005

When were planes invented?

<saph> So um
<saph> I was putting in dates on for tickets
<saph> and I put march 20th for the departure date
<saph> and it gave me an error saying that my travel dates have to be within 330 days
+of each other
<saph> and the little calendar thingy on the side said that I had apparently chosen
+March 20th year 1900
<saph> were planes even /invented/ by 1900?

Tip ‘o the hat to #twisted, Twisted is a life-saver, life-changer. If you are doing anything network related (and some other things too, from what I can tell), it will change the way you think about programming.

It’s highly callback and event-oriented, which appears to be perfect for networking tasks, potentially related to Aspects / Aspect Oriented Programming (my understanding of AOP isn’t that great, but Twisted provides ~hooks~ for network activites rather than you doing a lot of waits yourself).

Back to work…

23:04 CST | category / entries / links
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Thu, 03 Feb 2005

Coolest Watch Ever

Today I found the iPod of wristwatches, which is far more useful to me than an iPod, since neither one plays .OGG files (that’s geek humour). What I like most about it is the simple, fast, quick, intuitive method for setting a variety of alarms. Although it’s a digital watch, almost everything is done via a scrolly-wheel, like old-school analog watches. Words cannot describe how useful it all is, but I will try.

It’s got spaces for 10 countdown timers, 10 appointments (mini-PDA), variable interval alarms, etc. The way you access them is great: click mode twice, and you’re at the countdown timer screen (with your most recently used countdown timer selected). Scroll the scrolly-wheel to navigate through the ten available, click start on one you want to start. If you don’t see a timer that matches what you need, pull out the scrolly wheel, and you’re instantly in “set” mode. Twiddle up or down to increment / decrement, put scrolly-wheel back in, and press start. Bam. You’ve now set a reminder to:

Need to start another timer? Twiddle scrolly-wheel to find appropriate one, click start.

Invited to a Superbowl party on Sunday? Mush the mode button until you see APPT. Find empty appointment spot. Pull out scrolly-wheel, twiddle time in 5-minute increments. Push start button and get prompted for “remind $n minutes/hours before”. Pull out scrolly-wheel even farther (it has two “out” settings), and all of a sudden you can scrolly-wheel back and forth through upcoming days (to set it for Sunday). Push scrolly-wheel back in, you’re done.

Plus the damned thing will keep track of your excercise times on a weekly basis so you can see how long you’ve been excercising. Mush over to the TRAINING LOG screen, twiddle scrolly-wheel, and you’re reviewing total accumulated times on a week-by-week basis (you store those times into the LOG via the chronometer). Brilliant!

It’s really designed for excercise geeks, but I think it’s going to work out great for a computer geek, probably would work well for lawyer / sales geeks too. Another neat thingy is it has a count-up, count-down counter too. Like if you wanted to do a pushup, then push the button to record it, then do another, record it, etc. I think you’re supposed to use it for longer-term things (like laps, days of exercise per week, etc), but you get the point. You could work gate admissions or be a bouncer/fire-marshal with this thing. Simply amazing!

02:00 CST | category / entries
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Wed, 02 Feb 2005

Behold the power of Vim!

Found the coolest tips today, involving motion commands. Was spurred by a comment from some random weblog (Frymaster?).

First start with hjkl0$. These are the basic motion (movement) commands. Then get more advanced with “f<letter>” (Find letter, forwards). F goes backwards. Then I found out about t/T (unTil).

The neat thing about Vi (and Vim) motion commands is that you can use them with vydc, so df. is “delete until find period”. Now I have dt., “delete until period”. Someone suggested (thank you Anonymous Hero) looking through the :help motion.txt sections. Wow, I never suspected that there were such interesting commands in there!

So, the neat thing is that once you’ve started a command that expects a motion (like dyc, etc.) you can utilize a new set of motion commands that aren’t normally available. Without further ado, here’s nice list.

:help motion.txt

viB — select inner block (brace-fu)
vaw — select a word
v3aw — select 3 words
vas — a sentence!!
vap — a paragraph!
va} — the next brace-foo
va) — the next paren-foo

Again, these all work with dyc, etc. If you’ve got some C-like code lying around, try the following. In between some paranthesis (function calls, etc) try the two following:

di) — delete inside the paren-thing
da) — delete all the paren-thing

Or c, v, y, as you see fit, or }, or iB brace/function-fu

Writing this while Bush is speaking in the State of the Union address, he seems a lot more knowledgeable, lots of good ideas in there, maybe he’s got his ornery up now and is willing to spend it all without fearing the need to get re-elected? Hopefully he doesn’t mess it all up. Renewable energy? Who would have thought? Gotta back those words up with actions, though.

20:28 CST | category / entries
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Tue, 01 Feb 2005

Grrr @ Large Media

Go read Cuban:

This technology revolution was and has been amazing for two reasons.

First , is that the technology has continued to evolve this long. We may be at a point where we arent suprised to read about new technologies, but entrepreneurs continue to generate new ideas that lead to new products and services. Technology continues to have a significant impact on the US economy and to create jobs.

Second, is that the government managed to stay out of the way for as long as it did. Who knows why, but our elected officials managed to let the free markets stay free. Until now.

Things started to get a little shakey back in 1998.

In October of 1998 the Digital Millenium Copyright Act was passed. The DMCA was basically a law that set a very un-nerving precedent. That the government would do what it could to protect the interests of content owners at the expense of technological development.


…I’ve donated to the EFF, have you?

21:24 CST | category / entries / links
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