AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/10/2003 12:06:00 AM ----- BODY: Looking for GA-7NNXP reviews? Go here. Oh, and we've moved. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/08/2003 06:22:00 PM ----- BODY:
Yes, folks, we've moved. Come join us! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/08/2003 05:04:00 PM ----- BODY: It's up! Go forth, to, and let Blogger darken your door no more! Oh, and let me know how it looks in IE - if the text is hiding the sidebars, that sort of thing. It's working for me, but that means nothing with IE. To IE, an absolute positioning to an exact pixel is an invitation to place things wherever it damn well wants. Bah! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/08/2003 01:42:00 AM ----- BODY: Blogger is back. Joy. A three hour outage doesn't even earn a mention on Status.Blogger.Com, it seems. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/08/2003 01:42:00 AM ----- BODY: The usually excellent Steven den Beste points to an "opinion piece" by Tom Utley in The Telegraph (the English one, not Sydney's Daily Terror):
"You know, Tom," this sage said to me, glancing up from his well thumbed copy of Heidegger's Sein und Zeit, "we really ought to make Prince William Governor-General of Australia."
There are a number of problems with this ill-conceived attempt at humour, not least of which is that it's not funny. The one I choose to point out, though, is that the Brits can't make anyone our Governor-General. We send the Queen a list, and she approves one of our choices. I believe that the last list we sent only had one name on it - not a particularly good choice, in my opinion; in any case, it's rather strongly hinted which of the names is to be approved. Oh, and as for Tom's lady friend who failed to find love in the Land Down Under: There certainly are heterosexual males even in Sydney, but most of them are already hooked up with beautiful Australian women. If you can't find a man in England, dear, you're not going to do any better down here. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/08/2003 01:41:00 AM ----- BODY: Tonight in Pixy Misa's Theatre of the Absurd we have a very special double feature: Big Trouble (Barry Sonnenfeld, 2002) and Big Trouble in Little China (John Carpenter, 1986). Big Trouble takes its story from the book of the same name by Dave Barry. Tim Allen stars as Eliot Arnold, formerly a Pulitzer prize-winning humour columnist for the Miami Herald (I wonder where they got that idea from), now divorced and trying to make a living in advertising. He also narrates the film, a necessary conceit given the complex and curious nature of the story. Oh, and there's also an opening narration by Puggy (Jason Lee), who lives in a tree and wins the love of Nina the maid (Sofia Vergara), the lucky bastard. By the end of the film, Eliot has saved the world, remarried, and won the respect of his teenage son (in order of increasing difficulty). In between, things happen. These things involve guns, goats, bufo marinus, and the worlds most valuable garbage disposal unit. Basically, this film is a farce, a screwball comedy, with elements of action thrown in. And the one thing you can't do with either a farce or an action flick is slow down. Never ever slow down, never give your audience a chance to stop laughing or let the adrenalin go cold. Unfortunately, Big Trouble doesn't manage this; there are many fine scenes, some wonderful ones, even, but the pacing is inconsistent. Perhaps this is because they were trying to shove the whole book into an 85-minute movie (and it is a faithful translation; I don't recall anything significant that was missing or changed from the novel). Perhaps its just hard to translate this sort of insanity onto the screen; Striptease, the movie of Carl Hiaasen's marvellous book, certainly suffered when it was turned into cellulite. [That's celluloid. — Ed. Says you. Have you seen the film?] Which is not to say that Big Trouble is a bad film. One reviewer on IMDB called it "the worst comedy of the year", apparently because he couldn't follow the story. What's so hard? There's this guy (Tim Allen), you see, and his son (Ben Foster) is trying to kill this girl (Zooey Deschanel) [What sort of a name is "Zooey"? &mdash Ed.], only not like kill her, it's just this game they're playing, Killer, which if I recall correctly was released by Steve Jackson Games, and there's this toad (Rick Lazzarini) which has taken over the dog's (Martha Stewart. No, really, Martha Stewart.) food dish and these Russians and this annoying guy that makes Fishhook Beer and then the world gets saved. Well, maybe it helps to read the book first. Or maybe not. I did read the book first, and the movie being the faithful adaptation that it is, I knew what was coming. This works fine with, say, The Princess Bride, where it doesn't matter if you read the book or watch the film first, because then you can go right ahead and watch the film or read the book, and it adds to the experience rather than taking away. So, I wasn't confused at all watching Big Trouble, but I wasn't surprised either. Except for the goat; I laughed out loud at the goat. Which is just my way of saying, no, it's not a bad film, much less the worst comedy of the year. Didn't The Animal come out in 2002? No, apparently 2001. Anyway, Big Trouble is a fun film, enjoyable and amusing, a bit cheesy, perhaps, but well worth the hour-and-a-half. Pixy Misa gives it a 7. Big Trouble in Little China most certainly does not have the pacing problems of Big Trouble. It starts off nice and easy, setting the scene, establishing the characters... And then it hits full throttle and never lets up. This is Hollywood's take on the Wuxia film, and it's a good one. If you're not familiar with this school of film, or the stories and legends it draws upon, then you can't expect it to make much sense, and you'll just have to hang on and enjoy the ride. If you are familiar with the genre, you should enjoy the Western reaction to the various mythic elements, which can be summed up as What is this shit? Our guide to this exploration of Chinese legend is Jack Burton (Kurt Russell), a truck driver with friends in San Francisco's Chinatown. When Wang Chi's (Dennis Dun) newly arrived fiancee Miao Yin (Suzee Pai) is abducted from the airport by Chinese thugs, Jack and Wang go to rescue her. Their encounters move swiftly from rival gangs to flying men in bamboo hats (Thunder, Rain and Lightning, played by Carter Wong, Peter Kwong and James Pax) and a two-thousand year old Chinese sorceror who shoots beams of light from his eyes and mouth (Lo Pan, played by James Hong). It's comic book stuff, but it's good comic book stuff. There are love interests for all our heroes (Kim Cattrall as Gracie Law, the aforementioned Miao Yin (Miao Miao), and Kate Burton as Margo the reporter), there are fights, monsters, dark sorcery, bright magic (Victor Wong as Egg Shen), temples, weddings, guns, knives, good men, bad men, ninja girls (can't go wrong with ninja girls)... It doesn't have a car chase, not really, but apart from that the movie is complete. Will Jack win through despite the odds, defeat the evil sorceror and save the girl? Well, duh, of course he will. It's not so important how it ends, because you know that going in; what's important is that it's done with style, with humour, with panache. And indeed it is. Pixy Misa gives it an 8. Meanwhile, Blogger is down again. I'm not stupid, not totally; I can learn from painful experience; I did the Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, Post&Publish dance, and I didn't lose my article. It's still down, and I still can't post; what do you expect from Microsoft SQL Server? Pixy Misa gives Blogger a 4. Catch it on TV. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/07/2003 08:34:00 PM ----- BODY: Nina, the maid in Big Trouble, is played by Sofia Vergara. I think I'm in love. And you know those security seals they put on DVDs? I hate those things! Particularly when they put them on all three sides. Not naming any particular companies (Viz Video). Oh, and in case anyone was still planning to invade Australia, we have lots of cane toads. Lots and lots of cane toads -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/06/2003 02:00:00 AM ----- BODY: Ewww!! Is that how this blog looks in Internet Explorer? I must admit, I'd never tried it; I use Mozilla for everything these days. No wonder nobody was reading it. Well, anyway, that was easy enough to fix. Thank goodness it's just tables and not stylesheets. And Internet Explorer really doesn't get the idea of "reload", does it? Cow of a browser. People use this thing? By choice? -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/06/2003 01:27:00 AM ----- BODY: What's this? An outbreak of sanity? I've commented before on Australia's insanely expensive internet access. At the time I mentioned Comindico, and their unlimited usage plans. I have a problem with unlimited usage plans. First, the ISP will certainly not have enough bandwidth to allow everyone to run at full speed all the time. Comindico appear to oversell their bandwidth 30 times; in other words, they provision 1.5Mbits of bandwidth to the Internet for every 30 1.5Mbit customers they sign up. That's not unusual, by the way. In fact, many ISPs use higher ratios. The problem is, by promoting themselves as an all-you-can-eat network, Comindico are likely to attract the big eaters. If everyone is constantly downloading as fast as they can, everyone will get 50 kilobits per second. That's dial-up speed. And the other problem is that if you give something away for free, people don't value it. Why curb your downloads when they don't cost you anything? It's the tragedy of the commons yet again. Which is why I was interested to note that three ISPs - Swiftel, Optraweb and CyberLink - have now announced new plans with drastically cheaper - but not free - downloads. The plans are almost identical, so I suspect there's some sort of resale deal going on. Quick summary:
per MB
IP Address
Yes, that's zero point six cents per megabyte. Compare that to the 14.9 cents charged by my current ISP. Also nice to see is the 512/512 SDSL plan. At first glance, this has no real advantages for the average user. But when you think about it, ADSL forces us all into the category of consumers: with limited upload rates we're permanent second-class internet citizens. SDSL means that you can run your own web server or file sharing, and give as good as you get. In fact, these plans are perfect for hobbyists or small businesses running their own web sites, as they all include a static IP address and unlimited uploads. So, am I going to switch? Yes. Probably yes. I'd have to give up my free night-time and weekend downloads. But I think I can cope with that; after all, Buffy's over now; no more to download. And I'm probably going to switch to the 512/512 while I'm at it. Hosting providers, who needs them? -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/05/2003 09:16:00 PM ----- BODY: It's not my fault that Google keeps pointing people to Ambient Irony when they are really looking for reviews of the GA-7NNXP. And I'm not the kind of person who would stoop to using this to boost my reader count. If you are looking for a review of the GA-7NNXP, I still can't help you. But if you live in Australia, Eyo now have stock of the GA-7NNXP ($352) and the GA-7N400V Pro ($280.50). The latter board lacks Gigabit ethernet and 6-phase power, and only supports 333MHz memory and FSB, but it does include dual-channel GeForce4MX graphics.
He called his rescue racer crew As often they'd rehearsed And off to save the boy they flew But who would get there first?
The GA-7NNXP, of course! With dual-channel DDR-400 memory, it flies through the benchmarks! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/05/2003 08:27:00 PM ----- BODY: Played with a couple of interesting gadgets recently. On my way home from work yesterday, I noticed that my local Apple dealer had a little stall set up in the shopping mall I pass through. And, nestled between two Powerbooks, there was the new iPod, singing the siren song from the start of Pufnstuf:
Come and play with me, Jimmy Come and play with me. And I will take you on a trip Far across the sea.
My name's not Jimmy, but hey, whatever. My current MP3 player is a Sony Picturebook. This has the advantage of being a full blown PC, so not only does it play music, but also Nethack, the Sims, videos, Microsoft Word... It has the major disadvantage, though, that it runs Windows XP. While XP is at least a real operating system (unlike Windows ME, which just played one on television), it is a big fat mooing cow of an operating system. A nifty gadget like the Picturebook needs a frolicking lamb-like operating system, like OS-9 or AmigaOS. But it's got Windows XP. So while it works, it's not exactly convenient if you just want to put on your headphones and listen to a tune or three. The first thing that struck me about the iPod is how small it is. Looking at the pictures on Apple's web site don't really give you any guide to the size, so let me tell you: It's small. It's maybe one-tenth the size of my Picturebook, and the Picturebook is one of the smallest and lightest notebooks around. Second, it looks better in real life than on the web. The finish is very clean; it's clearly a well-designed and well-constructed item. The flea in the ointment is the controls. Apple make a big fuss about how the new controls are touch-sensitive, with no moving parts to wear out or break down. The down side of having no moving parts, though, is that you get no tactile feedback whatsoever. Is it doing something when I push here? Oh, look, the screen scrolled! How... novel. Still tempting, though. Still very tempting. The other gadget was somewhat larger: A dual-processor Athlon MP 2400+, kitted out with a 3Ware RAID controller and 8 Western Digital 200GB drives. Only 1GB of memory, because the supplier was out of stock of the 1GB memory modules. It came with two 512MB modules for the time being. This is not a slow box. It's destined to house about a terabyte of archival data, and run various searches and reports. I was wondering just how long it would take Linux to format a 1.05 terabyte RAID-5 volume. The answer is: Rather less time than it takes Windows XP to format a new 80GB drive on my home machine. This was easily the quickest Linux install I've done; I've never seen the progress meter go flickety-flickety quite like that. If you have a terabyte of data that needs a home, and a modest budget, then this sort of system is highly recommended.
From her broom broom in the sky She watched her plans materialize She waved her wand The beautiful boat was gone The skies grew dark The sea grew rough And the boat sailed on and on and on and on and on and on.
Not quite so impressive, though, is Red Hat's disk partitioning utility. For some unfathomable reason, rather than clicking to select the drive that a particular filesystem will live on, you have to click to turn off all the drives that you don't want it to live on. This gets tired quickly when you have eight drives in the system. No, I do not want this filesystem on /dev/sdb. No, I do not want this filesystem on /dev/sdc. No, I do not... Maybe they've improved things in version 9; I was installing 8.0, since I know that release works with the software I want to run. Red Hat 9 seems to work, but I'm not about to rebuild a terabyte of data due to some minor incompatibility. No, I do not want this filesystem on /dev/sde. No, I do not... With all my filesystems RAIDed, and my old-fogey habits of having separate partitions for separate things - so that when something inevitably runs amok, it doesn't trash everything in one go - with those two put together, I had about 30 partitions to create. No, I do not want this filesystem on /dev/sdg... Oh, and you know how if you have, say, 28GB of free space on a drive, you can allocate it easily to a new partition by double-clicking on it? Don't do that. Sigh. Reboot. Keyboard-Mouse-English-Custom-No, I do not want this filesystem on /dev/sdb... It took me longer to get the partitions set up than it did to format 1.6TB of disk. That's good, I suppose. But I just know that my next dream will involve check boxes that just won't stay turned off. NO DAMMIT! I DO NOT WANT THIS FILESYSTEM ON /DEV/SDC!! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/04/2003 10:58:00 PM ----- BODY: Frank J. of IMAO has the skinny on how internal combustion engines work:
Well, if you check around the engine (do this when it is off and on a non-haunted car), you'll see a magic rune imprinted on it. This spell keeps the fire inside the engine. Were it ever scratched off, the next time you start your car, KA-BOOM! Every 100,000 miles, you really should have the rune re-enchanted by a sorcerer. Check you car's owner manual for more information.
What Frank doesn't explain, though, is that the rune is there to keep the elves in. The elves actually do the work of moving the pistons, y'see. They're kind of like the magic smoke that is used in so-called "electronic" equipment; you'll have noticed that if the smoke ever gets out, the thing stops working. When you send it in for repairs, all they really do is put new smoke in. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/04/2003 12:02:00 AM ----- BODY: James Lileks has found a movie he actually likes:
I also watched “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” New restored widescreen Technicolor Cinemescope etc. version. Having only seen a scratchy pan-and-scan on TV as a kid, I was curious what the movie really looked like. Oy. It’s just sublime.
I also want to know the story behind the Kirk Douglas interview he mentions. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/03/2003 10:45:00 PM ----- BODY: What do an international banking conspiracy, an ancient, floating Tibetan mountain by the name of L'hi (pronounced lee), a group of schoolgirl crimefighters with an irascible hidden leader, a train that doesn't appear on any timetable bearing the number plate MAD 06, a secretive group of assassins composed of misfits described as being "stillborn into society", a talking vulture, and an extremely badly-written play that was panned by critics fifty years before it was written have in common?
The inscription translates as L'hi hovers over everything. Actually, where I say hovers, it uses a word that also means bank and architecture and is a near-homonym in the original language for vulture. In fact, there's another hundred lines of it, but no-one remembers the rest.
Answer: They interrupted my nap. Stupid dreams. I wonder if the girls will rescue their kidnapped newest member in the next episode... -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/03/2003 07:34:00 PM ----- BODY: Bills went out today, busy busy time is done for another month, and my life returns to normal. Ish. Normalish. Regular blogging will resume after my nap. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/02/2003 09:41:00 PM ----- BODY: For a couple of years it was easy to recommend a video card: just buy whatever Nvidia had in your price range. After a somewhat awkward start with the NV1, Nvidia shot to the lead of the graphics market and stayed there . Competitors like 3DFX went broke trying to catch up. Others abandoned the broader market to try to carve comfortable niches for themselves at the periphery. As the GeForce 2, 3 and 4 rolled out, Nvidia looked unstoppable. Then something happened. ATI came from behind and started narrowing the gap very quickly indeed. Nvidia needed a new chip to show that they were still the undisputed champions of the graphics world, they needed it to be fast, and the needed it now. What they got was the GeForce FX: late, expensive, absurdly power hungry, and not all that much faster than the previous model. Meanwhile ATI rolled on, launching new models in all directions: the 9000, the 9200, the 9500, the 9500 Pro, the 9600, the 9700, the 9700 Pro, the 9800... Of course, a 9500 Pro is faster than the 9600. Is a 9700 Pro faster than a 9800? Who knows? Dan does. At Dansdata he delves deep into the question of which video card, without - and this is important - without bludgeoning you to death with statistics and misleading bar-graphs. (Hardware reviewers should be forced to read Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information before they are allowed anywhere near a keyboard.) If you're not looking for a new graphics card right now (and if you shelled out for a GeForce4 4600 Ultra last year like me, I can't blame you), then you obviously need either (a) a tiny radio controlled tank, (b) a really nifty collection of nifty magnets, or (c) a kitten. Warning: Purchasing two or more of these simultaneously may prove hazardous to your continued well-being. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/01/2003 09:05:00 PM ----- BODY: Good News, Everyone! AnimeSuki is back! If you get the "Those idiots..." page, you'll just need to hit reload. Or if you're running IE, which is a bit fuzzy on the whole "reload" concept, you may need to reboot a couple of times. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/01/2003 04:09:00 AM ----- BODY: I've been looking over the white cliffs of... no. I've been taking closer look at the various hakpacks developed for Neverwinter Nights. At first, I thought that not that much had changed in the last few months. Then I realised that I was looking in the wrong place. Then I found the right place. Yow. People have been busy. I like the looks of this swamp. This strange city is cool too. Here's an alternate version of the standard dungeon. These drylands tilesets are a welcome change from the standard greenery. Drow fans will find this castle and this temple rewarding. And I quite liked this nicely decorated castle. Here's a list of all of the general-purpose tilesets - there's 173 of them - and another list of the tilesets tied to specific adventures. There's 213 of those. The original game came with eight. There are also 58 combination tilesets, getting around the problem of only being able to use one tileset at a time, and 37 all-in-one tilesets. I'm not sure how you can have 37 different all-in-ones, but there you are. Update: Here's a view of the Elemental Plane of Cheese. And here are some Cheese Elementals. These are Nacho Cheese Elementals:
This is what happens when you over microwave nacho cheese, and it becomes a planar vortex to the plane of cheese. Or there may be other reasons, but oh well. They Burn people to death with their boiling cheesiness!
I'm sure they do! Here's a Ninja Cow. There's also a nattily dressed Cow Wizard, but I seem to have lost it. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/01/2003 03:44:00 AM ----- BODY: If you're truly bored and it's daytime in San Francisco, why not spend thirty seconds looking at small blurry pictures of small blurry people looking at small blurry sea lions? Oh, yeah. Here. I think the sea lions are the things sitting on the rectangular things. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/01/2003 01:19:00 AM ----- BODY: Readers? Maybe, Maybe Not. I just took a look at my Sitemeter referral stats. Endlessly fascinating. Apart from my friends on the JREF Forums, I have a (presumably disappointed) fellow of excellent taste looking to download the Marx Brothers on Bittorrent; a couple of irritated people who were after a review of the Gigabyte GA-7NNXP (I must say it looks good on paper, and I may be getting one when the next pay cheque comes in); more people of discernment looking for Jungle Guu, Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar and Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (AnimeSuki is where I found Jungle Guu, but it's down right now. It is available on Kazaa, partly because I'm sharing it (cough). Likewise MST3K; I have about 20 episodes downloaded and shared - that's around 14GB worth. Sugar is available on DVD, so be nice and buy it.) And someone arriving from who I'll forgive for the blinking links because I'm listed in (his? her? its?) blogroll. And a fine blogroll it is too; look at the company I'm in: James Lileks, Glenn Reynolds, Rachel Lucas, Frank J., Emperor Misha, Tim Blair, Mr. Mustard... I mean, I'm down near the bottom of the page, but what a great page to be down near the bottom of. Except for the blue text on a blue background, that is. For the person who wanted to limit uploads in Bittorrent under Linux: the --max_upload_rate option may do the trick. The person looking for pictures (presumably) of Guu in the bear suit: sorry, I don't have any. The Weird Al fans: sorry, I still don't have Poodle Hat. It's not out for another week in Australia. Wow, there really are a lot of people looking for reviews of the GA-7NNXP. Sorry, I could swear I found one at work on Friday, but it doesn't show up in my searches now. You could do worse than looking here at nForcersHQ or keeping an eye on AMDZone. If you live in Australia (like all right-thinking people), CW Supplies have the GA-7NNXP for $333 and the nearly-as-good GA-7N400 Pro for $239. As for the people searching on "Nullarbor Plain horned kangaroo" and "mootrix comic", well done! You've discovered Ambient Irony! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 6/01/2003 12:36:00 AM ----- BODY: How To Trash A Movie Sequel With Style James Lileks was not impressed with The Matrix Reloaded:
“Um - it’s all underground? The steel mill is entirely underground?” “That’s right. Tall as a 50-story building, when completed. It will be the world’s biggest underground steel mill.” “It’ll be the world’s only underground steel mill.”
Nor was Mark Steyn overly pleased with X-Men 2:
Nobody who genuinely loved superheroes would do that to them. The exception is Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, who plays the shape-shifter Mystique. I can’t say Miss Romijn-Stamos’ shape is in much need of shifting, particularly as she spends most of the movie dressed in a kind of skin-tight slime that makes it look as if she’s just emerged from the pit on Lesbian Mud-Wrestling Night at the local sports bar.
Are there any good movies on the horizon, now that Return of the King has been pushed back to 2004? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/31/2003 09:16:00 PM ----- BODY: Dungeons and Dragons players, start your engines: Shadows of Undrentide, the first expansion pack for Neverwinter Nights, has gone gold. Development is underway on the second expansion, Hordes of the Underdark. No details can be found here. I have to admit I was disappointed with NWN. The bundled campaign was, frankly, dumb. Compared with the brilliance of recent D&D titles (other than the execrable Pool of Radiance II), NWN was a drab little story of no great interest. Torment, by comparison, was simply amazing; both Baldur's Gate games had strong storylines; and both the Icewind Dale games, while targeted primarily at the hack-'n'-slash crowd, were full of delightful touches. NWN was just blah. But that didn't worry me too much, since what I really wanted was the NWN tools (the Aurora Toolset) for designing my own adventures, and the NWN engine for playing them. Unfortunately, they have problems too. The toolset I can live with, since it's the end result that matters. The game engine, in and of itself, isn't too bad, though I will always prefer isometric perspective for this sort of game. (Until you get fluid realtime photorealistic rendering working, anyway, and that's some years off yet.) The problem is the tiles. When you want to build an area, you are given a choice of tilesets: Forest, City, Sewers, and so on. Once you've made your choice, you're stuck with it: you can only use one tileset for a given area. This wouldn't be so bad if the tilesets had more variety in them. But when your players can open a door and say at once "Oh yes, a #4 castle room, the only searchable location is the desk drawer.", you have a problem. You can't pick an empty room and fill it with furniture manually, either. You don't have empty rooms - they generally come prefurnished - and even when you do, you just don't have the furniture. The forests look nice. The water effects are great. The falling leaves, the ambience of the sunlight through the treetops, are wonderfully rendered. So why didn't they take a little time to produce a stream that can bend at something other than a right-angle? A road that can run in a direction other than precisely North-to-South or exactly East-to-West? As for the indoor settings: why is everything so darn big? I want some nice claustrophobic effects in my tombs. I want my players bumping into each other and tripping over sarcophagi when they're in a desparate battle against the advancing horde of kill-crazed zombie werespiders. What I definitely don't want is a room the size of baseball stadium. Any fool can tell you that zombies are hockey fans, and don't care for baseball at all. I wish the designers had taken a look at The Sims. Its design tools are nothing amazing; houses in The Sims aren't likely to win any architectural awards. But in terms of flexibility it's miles ahead of what Neverwinter Nights offers. And so I put NWN to bed about six months ago, and went back to playing Nethack. Now the first expansion pack is about to hit the shelves, and my interest has resurfaced. Why is that? Well, for one thing, I like Dungeons and Dragons. I like it lots. I've been playing D&D in its many incarnations for twenty years now, and in that time it has gathered a richness of material that no other game can match. As an example, I went shopping recently and bought seven new hardcover official D&D rule books. That's entirely ignoring the softcovers, the adventures, and the huge amount of semi-official and unofficial material. For another thing, Bioware seem keen to do the right thing with NWN. Though the tileset model is flawed, they are open about the file formats involved, and the result is a suprising number of fan-created tilesets becoming available for download. Fan-created monsters too, and armour and statues and all sorts of things. They're known as Hakpacks, and here you can see a listing of what's been created just in the past week. Check out this example of an underwater setting. That seaweed looks a bit odd because it's just modified trees: this was originally the forest tileset. And here are some really amazing monsters: myconids (mushroom men), familiar to Icewind Dale fans. Bioware recognise the value of fan content, and are working to make NWN automatically download hakpacks as needed. The problem is, you see, that if you want to play an adventure that needs a particularly hakpack, and you don't already have that hakpack, the whole thing goes splat in an unpleasant way. Apart from the tileset problem, and the dire lack of furniture that you can place on your own problem, NWN is amazingly flexible. It includes a full programming language which can change anything in the game (apart from those pesky tiles, of course). Bioware are working to add a database to it. (Hint: Use Berkeley DB; it's free even for commercial use, and it works.) Maybe I need to wait for Neverwinter Nights II to see a proper fix for the tileset problem, but in the meantime I think I'll buy Shadows of Undrentide, download myself a few hakpacks, and give Neverwinter Nights I another try. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/31/2003 12:07:00 PM ----- BODY: Still having problems with squirrels? This site has the answer. They can also solve your koala, wombat and penguin infestation worries. On top of this, they explain why everything tastes like chicken, and how to properly cook a frog. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/30/2003 08:37:00 PM ----- BODY: Squirrels Went Berserk We may think we're safe living in Australia, but as recent news shows, there is no place truly safe from the evil wiles of the squirrel conspiracy! Little known fact: Dave Barry is no more than a front for the furry menace! Handy tips on how to deal with the squirrel threat are available here and also here. And you thought lemurs were bad... (via The Squirrel Conspiracy) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/29/2003 03:06:00 AM ----- BODY: Tuesday, the day that will go down in history as having been eaten by mice, I went out and bought another two DVDs. After all, I only have 41 already in my to-watch pile. These two are special. These two came recommended. First up, Big Trouble, the film of the book Big Trouble by Dave "I am not making this up" Barry, as recommended by reader Susie. (Yes! We have readers!) Second, Big Trouble in Little China, as recommended on the Bad Astronomer's Good Movie page. Reviews will follow, as sure as droppings follow day-eating mice. Logically, they'd go on the shelf next to Ranma ½: Chûgoku Nekonron daikessen! Okite yaburi no gekitô hen, but I like to keep my anime separate from other stuff. In case of cross-pollination or something. I don't know. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/28/2003 06:51:00 PM ----- BODY: Yesterday got eaten by mice. Between busy busy time at work, and Blogger being Blogger, no blogging for me. Not here, anyway; I did update my MT testblog. Actually, no, that was after midnight, so I was right the first time and yesterday was eaten by mice. What I would have blogged yesterday had it not been eaten by mice is this: Coolness is where you find it:
As perhaps the clearest evidence yet of the power of sophisticated but inexpensive game consoles, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has assembled a supercomputer from an army of Sony PlayStation 2 devices.
I know that's why I bought mine.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the project, which uses the open-source Linux operating system, is that the only hardware engineering involved was placing 70 of the individual game machines in a rack and plugging them together with a high-speed Hewlett-Packard network switch. The center's scientists bought 100 machines but are holding 30 in reserve, possibly for high-resolution display application.
Or possibly because they still haven't finished Final Fantasy X. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/26/2003 11:54:00 PM ----- BODY: Blog of the Day is Professor Bunyip:
Anyone who works on the theory that you get what you pay for can't be too surprised by Blogger's recent problems. They've driven Tim Blair to a new home and tempted the Professor to follow suit. Unfortunately, despite donning a pair of elephantine trousers, borrowing a back-the-front baseball cap from young Master Bunyip, and addressing his computer his "dude", all that slash-dot-font-template stuff at Moveable Type was incomprensible when the Professor logged on early in the evening. It was even moreso after a bottle of red, several ports, an Irish coffee, a few more ports and, ill-advisedly, a long telephone conversation with Mrs. Bunyip's youngest brother, the clan's purported expert in matters cyber. The only wisdom gleaned from that exchange: An intoxicated academic should not expect sound counsel from a red-eyed young fellow whose explanations are punctuated by the background bubbling of a bong.
Stylesheets! Bloody stylesheets! Even if you get them right they don't work! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/26/2003 11:21:00 PM ----- BODY: Horned Kangaroos? Who ordered the horned kangaroos? Come on, I don't have all day. Right. Giant marsupial lions? Who ordered giant marsupial lions?
The lion-like predator, which could stand nearly a metre and weighed about 250 kilograms, had a pair of retractable thumb-like claws to disembowel or drag prey up trees. But a reconstruction of one of its feet has revealed for the first time that all of the lion's digits were retractable, not just the thumbs.
That's so cool. You got opposable thumbs, monkey boy? Well, so do I, only I can disembowel you with mine!
Dr Long said the prize of the Nullarbor fossil specimens included a horned kangaroo: "It is an adult specimen with a very peculiar bulbous nose."
Yeah?! Well, same to you buddy! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/26/2003 11:16:00 PM ----- BODY: America is on holiday and half my favourite bloggers are AWOL. Blogging being the incestuous business that it is, this means I don't get to steal report any new news from other blogs. Meanwhile, Fark is having a boobies moratorium. Really, why bother running the site if you're not going to have boobies? -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/25/2003 11:02:00 PM ----- BODY: Good News, Bad News, Good News Good news is that Azumanga Daioh has been licensed by AD Vision. Looks like it will be a while before it hits the shelves, though; ADV are notorious for sitting on licenses, sometimes for years. ADV are also releasing Full Metal Panic, a fact that I had somehow missed. Have to get my pusher to add it to my standing order. Bad news is that AnimeSuki have had their server pulled for being the victim of multiple DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. Good news is that they'll soon be back on a better server with a different hosting company. Unsurprising news is that Blogger ate my post. Ctrl-a, Ctrl-c, Post&Publish. Get it stuck into your head. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/25/2003 10:41:00 PM ----- BODY: Blog of the Day is Eject! Eject! Eject!:
When I was nine I saw a leprechaun. I’m not kidding. I was in the back seat of our car driving up the hill from the hotel my dad managed, back in Bermuda. I’d ridden up that hill, in that seat, hundreds of times. I knew every rock and clump of grass by heart. Anyway, there he sat, up against a familiar rock: little green pants, little green vest, little green top hat, small little bone-white pipe. Captain Ahab beard – white, no moustache. I screamed like we had just run over Lassie.
Bill's an essayist rather than a day-to-day blogger, so he doesn't update his site that often. When he does update, though, it's guaranteed to be good. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/24/2003 11:56:00 PM ----- BODY: Spent a pleasant evening crawling around on the floor playing with my nephew Lionel. It's amazing how quickly kids grow up. I can remember not so very long ago he couldn't track you with his eyes when you moved. Now, it's book at bedtime. Lionel pulled out his favourite, a sort of picture-dictionary. Open it to Toys. Where's the teddy bear, Lionel? No, those are building blocks. Where's the teddy bear? Good boy! Oh, next page? Okay. Fruit and Vegetables, Lionel. Where are the strawberries? Good boy! What's next? The Seaside. Where's the lighthouse? Good boy! Admittedly, he has actually seen a lighthouse, which probably helped. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/23/2003 08:20:00 PM ----- BODY: I'm too tired to blog. I'm almost too tired to type. Blah. And I ran out of chocolate. Sucks to be me. On the other hand... Uh, no, can't think of anything. Shoo! Go read Dave Barry or something. A book. Read a book. Dave also writes books. Good books. Funny books. But between him and Carl Hiaasen, I'm not likely to visit Florida until after it's been submerged beneath the rising waters of the ocean for a good long while. A coupla thousand years oughta do the trick. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/22/2003 11:52:00 PM ----- BODY: Book of the Day is The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. It appears to be another Discworld-for-kids book, like The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (which was excellent). If you've read any of Pratchett's other children's books, you'll know that they're also great for grownups. I can't review it yet, because I haven't, um, actually read it. I only bought it today, and I'm still reading Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet which I bought yesterday. (I hope the current run of reprints covers the complete series, because I haven't read most of the later ones.) Web Site of the Day, then, is, which is the centre for information about Pratchett's writings, particularly the Discworld books. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/21/2003 11:51:00 PM ----- BODY: Web site of the Day is If you've previously read the original story, it's time for another visit, as the author has more stories to tell. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/20/2003 09:19:00 PM ----- BODY: Bleah! OK, the site now looks fine in Mozilla and Opera. It also looks fine in Internet Explorer. Exactly how I wanted it. As long as your font size is set to "medium". Mozilla and Opera have no problems with changing the font size; Opera has a nifty trick of scaling everything and works no matter what; Mozilla works perfectly at three sizes and reasonably well until you start getting into the absurdly large; Explorer - resize and bleah. Well, I'll probably do a "plain jane" stylesheet for people with odd browsers, or those who need font sizes cranked up real large. Hmm hmm hmm. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/20/2003 10:49:00 AM ----- BODY: While my database is rebuilding I thought I'd try out a Javascript-based trick for browser-selective stylesheets. Works. Ha ha! Of course, I still can't get IE to display things properly, but at least now I can decide exactly how I want it to be broken. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/20/2003 08:29:00 AM ----- BODY: Mozilla users can preview the new Ambient Irony here. IE users can wail and gnash their teeth. If you don't have any teeth, they will be provided. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/20/2003 07:59:00 AM ----- BODY: Oh, that's charming. Blogger ate my rant. Grrr! And Moveable Type, while stable and elegant, is as slow as a wet week. Grrr! Grrr!! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/20/2003 07:57:00 AM ----- BODY: There's no question any more: Mozilla is by far a better browser than Internet Explorer. Just two features are enough to blow IE out of the water: popup blocking - I never see a popup - and tabbed browsing. I often have a dozen tabs open. One window, twelve web pages. No clutter, fast, simple. Right-click a link and it opens in another tab while you keep reading the page you're on. But there's a third and even bigger reason: IE's CSS (cascading stylesheet) support sucks. That's the mildest word I can think of to describe it. What can you say for a browser that implements the right-hand margin backwards, so that your page is guaranteed to extend beyond the width of your window? Or how about a browser that, when you overlay one section of the page on another, makes all your images disappear? I have a beautiful layout for my new Moveable Type blog, simple and elegant, and IE fucks it up beyond redemption. I could mess around and generate alternate stylesheets for Mozilla/Opera vs. IE, but the whole goddamn point of stylesheets is that you're not supposed to have to do that. Grr. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/19/2003 10:18:00 PM ----- BODY: Gigabyte have some nifty new motherboards out for AMD fans, the GA-7N range. The GA-7NNXPV features dual-channel memory, 4 DIMM sockets (yay!), 333MHz FSB and memory support, USB 2.0 (4 ports on rear panel), Firewire/IEEE-1394, dual ethernet ports, 6-channel sound, AGP 8x/Pro, 5 PCI slots, and dual VGA outputs. The GA-7NNXP lacks the video out, but supports 400MHz FSB and memory. Rats! Why can't I have one board with everything? -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/19/2003 09:05:00 AM ----- BODY: Light blogging for a day or three as I get ready to launch my new Moveable Type blog at -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/19/2003 04:18:00 AM ----- BODY: For more Dave Barryesque goodness than you could poke a reasonably large stick at, why not visit AutoDave!, the automated Dave Barry column generator. Looks like they've done a bit of work on it since I last visited. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/19/2003 04:10:00 AM ----- BODY: Word of the Day is pertinacious. (Which probably means it will end up being the word of the week. — Ed) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/19/2003 04:02:00 AM ----- BODY: Dave Barry (who I really should add to my blogroll seeing how often I link to him) has an
here (it's Blogger, so the permalinks are broken just like mine) pointing to an article which can be found here. Speaking of which, rabbit would be the perfect new flavour for Pie in a Jar and "Pie in a Jar" would be a great name for a rock band. (via Dave Barry) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/19/2003 01:16:00 AM ----- BODY: Archives! We got archives! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/19/2003 12:35:00 AM ----- BODY: Blog of the Day is Suburban Blight:
And the Winner Is... Yes, it's time once again for the Unmitigated Twat of the Week Award! This week, we're departing slightly from tradition; this week, there was a tie for first place. All of these ladies' twattiness is equally unmitigated. So, without further ado, I give you The Unmitigated Twats of the Week, the High School Hazers! Mom, if you're reading, cover your ears. Or, umm, eyes. Now.
Kelley gains points for quality anti-idiotarian rants, but loses points for having a blog that looks so much better than mine. But I've got Moveable Type working now, so in a few short days weeks I should be moving to a shiny new home. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/18/2003 09:52:00 PM ----- BODY: To all the people looking to download Poodle Hat, I'd just like to point out that (a) it's not even out yet and (b) maybe when it is out, you could, like, you know, buy it. On the other hand, if you're looking for Azumanga Daioh, it's on Kazaa. Interesting thing, Sitemeter. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/18/2003 06:08:00 AM ----- BODY: Song of the Day is When I Held Your Brain In My Arms from MST3K (the Terror from the Year 5000 episode):
There was a time, so bright and gay, It seems like only yesterday, When I held your brain in my arms. Your adrenaline was like wine, Sweet perfume was your endocrine, When I held your brain in my arms.
Ahh. They don't write them like that anymore. (They never did. — Ed.) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/18/2003 02:58:00 AM ----- BODY: Word of the Day is quotidian. (Well, of course the word of the day is quotidian. If it wasn't quotidian, it wouldn't be the word of the day. — Ed) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/18/2003 01:59:00 AM ----- BODY: I forgot to install one little thing after rebuilding my poor PC. This has now been remedied:
Thanks for using Winamp. You are installation number 273,375,923.
Uhhh... That's rather a lot, isn't it? Mind you, it really does whip the llama's ass. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/18/2003 01:17:00 AM ----- BODY: Blog of the Day is Practical Penumbra:
Many people have asked me why I called my blog "Practical Penumbra." (Actually, that's a blatant lie; no one has asked. But I'm sure a lot of people are wondering........ok, maybe not a lot. But I digress......). I have always enjoyed saying the word "penumbra". It is, however, a difficult word to slip into daily conversation. I have therefore always wanted to name something "Penumbra" for that very reason, but having no offspring (unless Frank decides to take me up on my offer to bear his children), and an adopted kitty who came with his own perfectly good name already, I have never had the opportunity to name anything "Penumbra". But just "Penumbra" seemed a little lacking, so, having long been a great fan of alliteration, "Practical" sounded like an excellent adjective. Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
While I still think that Ambient Irony has a better sound to it, she's right about that alliteration. (It took me four tries to type that damn word correctly, by the way.) Maybe I should try a bit of that... Invidious Irony? Ambient Ambiguity? Hmm... -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/17/2003 04:48:00 PM ----- BODY: Song of the Day is First and Second Law off the At the Drop of Another Hat album by Flanders and Swann:
The First law of Thermodynamics: Heat is work and work is heat Very Good. The Second law of Thermodynamics: Heat cannot of itself pass from one body to a hotter body Heat won't pass from a cooler to a hotter You can try it if you like but you'd far better not-a 'Cos the cold in the cooler will get hotter as a rule-a 'Cos the hotter body's heat will pass to the cooler
-------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/17/2003 04:30:00 PM ----- BODY: And if anyone out there knows the origin of the expression "Oo-glay? Eh-mipto!", please contact me. Click where it says "Tell me", on the left. No, your left. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/17/2003 04:18:00 PM ----- BODY: public static void main, public static void main, public static void main, and typo was his name-o! I hate Java. It was completely obvious that Java was a huge pile of dog poo the moment they showed the Java version of "Hello, world!":
class HelloWorld {
public static void main (String args[]) {
System.out.println("Hello World!");
In Python, the entire program is
print "Hello, World!"
Which is why I program in Python rather than Java. If you need to interface with Java stuff, you need to take a look at Jython. It's Python, with all the requisite Python goodness, but it is written in, runs on, works with, and compiles to Java. And like all the good things in life that don't cost anything, it's free! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/17/2003 04:07:00 PM ----- BODY: Useful Web Thingy of the Day is Sitemeter. It tracks how many people are visiting your site and where they came from. And it's free. Scroll allll the way down to the bottom to see. I put it on the left originally, under the Blogger icon, but it's too big and screwed up my formatting. No matter, it works fine wherever it is. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/17/2003 04:02:00 PM ----- BODY: Blog of the Day is Friday Fishwrap:
I don't know why these made me laugh so hard.. I think it was the possum.
This refers, of course, to Teen Girl Squad over at HomeStarRunner. Note that the obligatory adorable kittens have all found good homes, so you're too late! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/17/2003 03:05:00 AM ----- BODY: Shiny Happy Disk Drives Well, it's happened: Hard disks have broken through the historically significant* $2/GB barrier. The drive in question is a 120GB Maxtor, now retailing for $219. Last week it was $249; two weeks ago it was $269. That's pretty rapid deflation even for a product that's seen price per unit fall by a factor of 5000 since 1990. So the only question is: How many? The sooner I get rid of the rest of those poxy Deathstars the better. *I just made that up. Update: The same supplier has Opteron processors and motherboards. A bit pricy for the home user, but dirt cheap if you need a 64-bit dual-processor server. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/17/2003 02:37:00 AM ----- BODY: Dire as it was, Deathstalker and the Complete Lack of Plot was only slightly more boring than Harry Potter and the Extremely Slow-Moving Story, which somehow managed to score a 7.3 on IMDB. Now there's a movie that could do with a MiSTing. If you should feel the urge to watch either one, a few minutes of The Princess Bride is the recommended treatment. May cause excessive quotations. Do not operate machinery if effected. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/17/2003 02:18:00 AM ----- BODY: Bunny With Things On His Head of the Day is Oolong. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/17/2003 01:41:00 AM ----- BODY: Remember James Lileks' swing? No, me neither. But Gnat seems to like it. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/16/2003 03:40:00 PM ----- BODY: Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell is one bad movie. Even with Mike and the robots it was barely watchable. Deathstalker 2 wasn't nearly as bad, though that was at least partly due to having Monique Gabrielle wandering around wearing not very much at all. A quick glance at IMDB shows Deathstalker 2 with a rating of 4.1 against Deathstalker and the Script from Hell at 2.0. Looks like 2 was the best of the bunch, in fact. Godzilla vs. Megalon doesn't seem to be a whole lot better. Maybe I need to buy some popcorn to enjoy MST3K properly. Mmm, popcorn... -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/16/2003 02:49:00 PM ----- BODY: Another grey and rainy day for Sydney, but it's expected to clear up by Sunday. Which would be nice. Just in case it does rain all weekend, I went out and bought Buffy seasons 5 and 6, Futurama season 2, and Babylon 5 season 1 on DVD. (Grace Bros is having a sale on DVD box sets, hence the sudden splurge.) It looks like I've already watched most of Futurama Season 2, but at least now I have a nice high-quality version which I actually paid for. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/16/2003 08:50:00 AM ----- BODY: A Tiger? In Africa?
Those struggling to distinguish the small alpine country in Europe from Australia were dealt a blow when a kangaroo was hit by a car and killed in central Austria.
Skippy! Noooo!!
A police officer in Steyr reached by phone said that coming across a kangaroo - dead or alive - was "extremely uncommon around here."
No kidding. (source: Yahoo News via The Wall Street Journal) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/16/2003 04:57:00 AM ----- BODY: Episode 6 was sadly the last of Jungle wa Itsumo Hale nochi Guu Deluxe. I think there's a short special around somewhere, though. I'll have to see if I can dig it up. And this quiz tells me I'm Hale, which is no great surprise.
You are Hale! You are a gamer and a very
sweet person, but your friends, family, and
your life are constantly causing you to stress
out. Hang in there, things will get better! Which Jungle wa Itsumo Hale nochi Guu character are you?
-------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/16/2003 04:44:00 AM ----- BODY: Frank J. over at IMAO discusses feminine hygiene and notes that any dead bloggers should redirect all their traffic to him. If I die, Frank, I'll make sure I do that. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/16/2003 02:14:00 AM ----- BODY: Blog of the Day is Time For Your Meds!:
Cameron Diaz performed my surgery. Well, at least after I got the IV of Versed, she did. And she did it topless, folks. It was quite a show. Everything went well (how could it not?), but it was not without mishaps.
Come for the kitties, stay for the awww, they're so cuuute rants. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/15/2003 04:47:00 PM ----- BODY: Obligatory Marx Brothers Reference File 1:
Hello, I must be going, I cannot stay, I came to say, I must be going. I'm glad I came, but just the same I must be going.
Hooray for Captain Zoidberg! [Spaulding! — Ed] Whatever! Hooray! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/15/2003 04:40:00 PM ----- BODY: Comic of the Day is Under the Lemon Tree by Ralph E. Hayes, Jr. I'd really advise that you start from the beginning. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/15/2003 08:47:00 AM ----- BODY: Buffy Season 6 and Futurama Season 2 are out on DVD! Also, yesterday marked one month of blogging. At least three people have read at least part of my blog, so clearly it's not all in vain. I really do have work to do, and so I must be going. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/15/2003 08:42:00 AM ----- BODY: Rain, rain, Rain, rain won't you help me You know this day, isn't going to last for long; Rain, rain, Rain, rain won't you guide me These arms, these legs, propel them to another day. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/15/2003 08:38:00 AM ----- BODY: Another episode of Futurama, an episode of MST3K (Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell), an episode of Buffy (season 7, episode 21, the final semi-final as it were) and the Azumanga Daioh movie have joined Jungle wa Itsumo Hale nochi Guu Deluxe episode 6 on my hard drive. All in all a good night's downloading. Some day soon I may have the opportunity to watch them. Now stop bothering me, I have work to do. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/15/2003 01:33:00 AM ----- BODY: Jungle wa Itsumo Hale nochi Guu Deluxe Episode 6 is available now on BitTorrent. Which means that by tomorrow it will be on Kazaa, and by the weekend it will be everywhere. Meanwhile, why not waddle on over to AnimeSuki for this and a huge amount of other anime goodness. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/15/2003 01:11:00 AM ----- BODY: Song of the Day is Everything You Know Is Wrong by Weird Al Yankovic:
Everything you know is wrong Black is white, up is down and short is long And everything you thought was just so Important doesn't matter Everything you know is wrong Just forget the words and sing along All you need to understand is Everything you know is wrong
Weird Al's new album, Poodle Hat, is out on May 20th. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/15/2003 12:56:00 AM ----- BODY: Blog of the Day is Gweilo Diaries:
Today we've got a possible North Korean plot, Chinese underwear soup and lots of gratutitous breasts.
He's wrong, of course. Breasts are never gratuitous.
gra·tu·i·tous Pronunciation Key (gr-t-ts, -ty-) adj. 1. Given or granted without return or recompense; unearned. 2. Given or received without cost or obligation; free. 3. Unnecessary or unwarranted; unjustified: gratuitous criticism.
Well, okay, I'm happy enough to accept definitions 1 or 2. But unncecessary, unwarranted or unjustified? Bah! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/15/2003 12:49:00 AM ----- BODY: Since I rejoined the workforce I've been thinking about upgrading my PCs. I have two main computers (plus a notebook), and they're both over two years old. They're 1.2GHz Athlons; one running WinXP (which is a whole 'nother story in itself) and the other running Linux (Red Hat 8). Now, my rule of thumb is to upgrade a computer (assuming I have the money) when the replacement is (a) cheaper than the original and (b) at least twice as good. So, I should be looking for a 2.4GHz Athlon, right? Small problem: there isn't one. There's a confusing gaggle of performance ratings, and if you're trying to work out how fast a particular Athlon might be, you have to know that the XP2400+ has a 266MHz bus and 256KB of level 2 cache, the XP2500+ has a 333MHz bus and 512KB of cache, but runs at a lower clock speed, and the XP2600+ apparently comes in two flavours, with a 256KB cache and either a 266MHz bus and a higher clockspeed or a 333MHz bus and a lower clockspeed. The XP2800+ has historically come in three different flavours, so very much caveat emptor. Then there's Intel. I'd rather avoid Intel, not because their products are bad, but because they are evil. Not as evil as Microsoft, not nearly as evil as the RIAA, but clearly on the darkish-grey side of the line. But the Celerons are pretty cheap, and run at 2.4GHz, so... Turns out Celerons pretty much suck. I'm not sure why, exactly; they have the P4 architecture, and the 400MHz Celeron bus is as fast as that found on any Athlon. Presumably part of the problem is the 128KB cache, but they should be good for something. But I benchmarked a 1.7GHz Celeron, and my tests showed that it was no faster, and often significantly slower, than my existing 1.2GHz Athlons. So, no joy there. Finally, there's the P4. The shiny new 800MHz bus version is out. That huge bandwidth increase seems to offer only trivial performance increases, though, on the order of 3 to 5 per cent. On the other hand, they all have hyperthreading enabled, so it's sort of like getting a dual-processor system for free. On the other other hand, most of the time I'm only running one thing anyway. So, what I've decided to do is blow all my money on beer and skittles. Or, since I don't drink beer or play skittles, keep it. Except for the iPod. Still gotta getta iPod. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/15/2003 12:03:00 AM ----- BODY: Looks like someone has found the St. Claire Safety Sign Builder. Yup, looks like. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/14/2003 09:21:00 AM ----- BODY: I think it's raining again. Water falling from the ceiling is a pretty good indicator of rain, isn't it? -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/14/2003 03:19:00 AM ----- BODY: Learning from Pain Experience Windows XP is reinstalled. SP1 is reinstalled. Mozilla is back, complete with the mandatory Orbit 3+1 theme. Orbit makes Mozilla look so much snazzier, it's like a whole new snazzier version of Mozilla. All my email, bookmarks, address books and such are where they should be. More importantly, my incomplete Kazaa downloads are restored in all their glorious incompleteness and busy crawling their way towards completion again. Hooray! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/14/2003 01:17:00 AM ----- BODY: Blog of the Day (Hey, didn't we just do one of those? Yes, but it's after midnight now, and anyway, I like this one. Yeah, well, okay, but don't blame me if we all die horribly. How the heck could that happen? We're just recommending a Blog of the Day! Yeah, I'm just saying... Oh, are we still on?) As I was saying, Blog of the Day is Flooded Lizard Kingdom presented by Princess Piewacket:
Me: "Mom, when you requested a decorative rain gutter spout that looks like a stone gargoyle for your suburban Houston house, you said you wanted the plain gargoyle or the dragon gargoyle. But you also said you wanted the long kind, and those only come in plain gargoyle and stupid-looking squirrels on a rock. So I got two plain gargoyles, figuring that then they would be twins and have a psychic link that they could use to communicate if invaders enter the yard." Mom: "Good thinking."
Gargoyles! I always wanted to be a gargoyle! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/14/2003 12:36:00 AM ----- BODY: Format format format Watch that Maxtor format. Format format format Hard drive! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/13/2003 09:01:00 PM ----- BODY: Blog of the Day is The Puppy Pile! ktpupp's just started and needs encouragement. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/13/2003 08:52:00 PM ----- BODY: Scrik scrik scrik scrik There's no more hated sound in all the world. Scrik scrik scrik scrik My file transfers all seem to have stalled. Scrik scrik scrik scrik I have a new 80 gig Maxtor; I'll do what I must. Scrik scrik scrik scrik Another IBM Deskstar has bitten the dust. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/13/2003 05:24:00 AM ----- BODY: Web Site of the Day is Bad Astronomy. In particular, check out the movie reviews. He pans The Core much more thoroughly than I did in the cinema while waiting for The Two Towers to start. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/13/2003 05:19:00 AM ----- BODY: What is the Mootrix? -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/13/2003 04:30:00 AM ----- BODY: Badgers? Badgers? We don't need no stinkin' badgers! And here I was hoping that I would turn out as a cat. (via The Truth Laid Bear, who turned out to be a bear but I think he cheated, particularly since I'm back to being an Insignificant Microbe) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/13/2003 02:17:00 AM ----- BODY: Shipping
Winning Bidder is responsible for all shipping costs, permits, cranes or any other equipment needed for loading and transporting, insuring the Property and all costs and risks associated with loading and transporting the Property. Car weighs approximately 40,000 lbs. Location: Fort Worth, TX. Pick up information will be provided to the winning bidder.
Oh well. Never mind then. (via Slashdot of all places) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/12/2003 04:42:00 AM ----- BODY: From the You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department: Oklahoma City seizes 30,000 mice
Oklahoma City police succeeded in busting an illegal rodent farm but now authorities are faced with the problem of what to do with 30,000 white mice seized in the raid.
That is, I presume, as opposed to a legal rodent farm?
"We have completely emptied our truck port where the vehicles come in and have it totally filled with mice. We don't know what to do with them. They are sitting and waiting," Lira said.
Well, if they're only sitting and waiting, you don't have a problem. It's when they start - you know - that you have a problem.
"He told us he wanted out of the mouse business," Lira said.
Should've called Disney. (Yeah, yeah, via Dave Barry) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/12/2003 04:34:00 AM ----- BODY: Site of the Day is Water Rockets. Whoooosh! Cool Toy of the Day is the Safety Sign Builder (requires Adobe Acrobat). (Both, unless I'm losing my marbles, which is entirely possible, via Dave Barry) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/12/2003 04:08:00 AM ----- BODY: Blog of the Day is Mean Mr. Mustard who is in his own words "lazy as a comatose sloth on Thorazine". Good thing blogging doesn't require strenuous physical activity, then. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/12/2003 02:48:00 AM ----- BODY: Web Comic of the Day has to be As If! The link takes you to a lovely pink-and-blue portal page, from which you can jump straight to the latest strip or go to the archives to see older stuff. All of the strips from day one are online, or you can download them as zip files to read at your leisure. What's it like? It's like, well, cool. And stuff. Just read it, willya? -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/12/2003 02:43:00 AM ----- BODY: I'm tinkering with Moveable Type but right now that blog is even uglier than this one. When I get it up and running, you'll be the second to know. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/12/2003 01:04:00 AM ----- BODY: All of a sudden I'm a wiggly worm. Not, as it turns out, because anyone reads my blog, but because I was indexed by the automatic indexer at Alas. But I'll enjoy my wormhood while it lasts, which is not likely to be long. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/11/2003 06:42:00 PM ----- BODY: Kids these days! The Defective Yeti is on the receiving end of the blissful ignorance of youth. Meanwhile, The Ghost of a Flea is on a roll, and points us to - among other things - the Cheeky Girls. I'm not sure if I'll forgive him for that. Oh, and Cold Fury fisks a sandwich. (You Instapundit [no link] readers will have seen this already, which just shows that you should have come here first! Or something.) He should have done what I do: Take an Aussie Snacks Roast Chicken Roll (which consists of - get this - roast chicken, on a roll) and add some mozarella cheese. Two minutes in the microwave and you have piping hot mouth-watering cheesy chickeny rolly goodness. Yay! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/11/2003 05:15:00 AM ----- BODY: Site of the day is The Museum of Unworkable Devices:
This museum is a celebration of fascinating devices that don't work. It houses diverse examples of the perverse genius of inventors who refused to let their thinking be intimidated by the laws of nature, remaining optimistic in the face of repeated failures.
Now also available in Portugese. When you've finished boggling at the perpetual motion machines, wander over to Donald Simanek's site for further scientific entertainment. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/11/2003 04:47:00 AM ----- BODY: I've grabbed all the Futurama I could get my hands on, so now I'm downloading Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (MST3K to its fans). Which I have never seen. I don't know if it's ever been shown in Australia. Hooray for Zoidberg! [Broadband — Ed.] Broadband! Hooray! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/11/2003 01:14:00 AM ----- BODY: Blog of the day is Amateur Hour, if for no other reason than introducing me to the amazing collection of nifty Flash games at Orisinal. Amateur Hour has some interesting points to make on media and communication and stuff like that too, so give it a read when you get tired of eating flies. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/10/2003 04:30:00 PM ----- BODY: Steven den Beste, who knows, like, everything, explains why you can't build a helicopter whose rotor moves faster than the speed of light. So you might as well stop trying now, and take up basket-weaving. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/10/2003 04:12:00 PM ----- BODY: But at least it's stopped raining. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/10/2003 04:10:00 PM ----- BODY: Blog of the day is Motley Cow. Your host for this evening is Zarathustra2101. No, I don't know what happened to the previous 2100 Zarathustras. I'm sure I've seen that cow roaming around Sydney, by the way, but right now I can't find an appropriate link. Bah! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/10/2003 02:33:00 AM ----- BODY: What the audience could not possibly know was that I was absolutely, completely, soaking wet. Lileks, of course. And it's Natalie. Doh! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/10/2003 02:30:00 AM ----- BODY: Four! Five if you count Harvey. And the BloggerPeople seem to have fixed the Mozilla problem. Either that, or it was an ephemeral phenomenon like rainbows and butterflies, only less pretty and more annoying. New Improved Blogger seems to be working well. Maybe it's time to monkey with my template so I can get the archives back up. Of course, it will still eat your posts whenever it feels like it. Damn and blast! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/09/2003 01:55:00 AM ----- BODY: Well, I migrated to the New Improved Blogger without testing it first. It seems to work fine except that I can't log in using Mozilla anymore. Well, poot! Anyway, coupla quick links: Slutertarian or Slutpublican? You decide. Dave Barry has an interesting article about Fire Ants and the Flies That Eat Them. And Frank J. over at IMAO enlightens us as to the speed of gravity, in case any of you were wondering. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/08/2003 10:45:00 PM ----- BODY: So, who am I hurting when I download episodes of Futurama off the net? Not the local broadcast networks, because they took it off the air after showing only four episodes (picked, as far as I can tell, at random). Not the cable networks, because of the two available, one isn't in my street and the other won't connect me because I live in a townhouse. This despite the fact that it is already wired for their service and there are only two free-standing houses in the entire street. Bastards. Not the DVD sales. I've already bought all the Futurama DVDs available locally. Maybe I could buy more from America, but wait! They're region coded so I can't play them! Which leaves... Actually, it doesn't leave anybody. Except hypothetical future distributors. And I'll start caring about them when they finally get their butts into gear and become actual present distributors. Mind you, the picture quality of the episodes I've downloaded so far has ranged from bad to terrible. (Anyone doing this stuff should take a look at some of the Anime available for download - the picture quality is far better.) I would gladly pay to download these episodes from the source - though the quality would have to be better. Look! Money to be made! Over heeere! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/07/2003 02:44:00 PM ----- BODY: Three! I got three visitors at the JREF Storm Shelter! Three! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/06/2003 10:46:00 PM ----- BODY: When I'm not blogging, you can often find me at the JREF Forums. Not at the moment, though, because they seem to be fairly seriously broken. I ran up a quick forum server thingy for people to visit until JREF is fixed: the JREF Storm Shelter. I wonder if I'll get any visitors... -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/05/2003 10:48:00 PM ----- BODY: Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, who doesn't need another link, looks like he writes a lot, but most of his blog is really made up of quotes. Well, I can do that too:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.
There. That's always been a favourite of mine. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/05/2003 07:10:00 PM ----- BODY: Which reminds me: Pibgorn by Brooke McEldowney. Read it. It's good. Though sometimes slow-moving. Right now it's in the middle of a long and complicated sub-story, so it may not immediately make sense. Stick with it. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/05/2003 01:14:00 PM ----- BODY: Blogger New! Tastes great, less screwed-up archives. Or so they say. I'll give it a whirl with a test blog before the wholesale migration. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/05/2003 01:12:00 PM ----- BODY: Still raining. At this rate we might as well unevolve back into fish. Or maybe just amphibians. But there are many parts of Australia that are still in drought. Sydney is where it is, after all, because it does rain a lot here - relative to the rest of the country. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/04/2003 12:19:00 AM ----- BODY: 'Smatter of fact, I did write a blog entry on Friday. It went something like this: Blog of the day is Sedgewick's Adventures in College - or it would be except that by some strange twist of fate Stupid Stupid Blogger™ is down again and I can't update my blog. Anyway, I know exactly how Joanna feels when she says "It's 5:18 in the frappin' morning, and I still haven't gotten any sleep." I do that all the time. At least I'm not in college any more, so the only exams I have these days are these once-a-month get-it-right-or-your-ass-is-fired bill runs. I love bill runs. Or maybe that's the Travacalm talking. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/04/2003 12:13:00 AM ----- BODY: Not to mention the bout of food poisoning. Very much not to mention the bout of food poisoning. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 5/01/2003 06:49:00 PM ----- BODY: Mnglrglrflbl. It's that time of month again. I work as a programmer in the billing department of a small phone company. Our bills go out at the start of the month. And we run a sort of just-in-time development process. And there are always changes to be made. So for two or three days each month I don't sleep. Or blog, of course. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/30/2003 03:40:00 AM ----- BODY: James Lileks wants a new iPod too. Great minds, and so on. What he actually got was a swing. Read it. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/29/2003 06:34:00 PM ----- BODY: I gotta get me one of them iPods. The new models are cooler than ever, even if the "dock" looks worse than useless. 30GB of storage, 6 ounces, 8 hours playing time. Connects via FireWire or USB; doubles as an external hard disk for my perennially full Sony Picturebook. You can even play Solitaire! Clearly, what Apple and/or Sony need to do is smoosh this thing together with the nifty Sony Clie NZ90, which wonderful as it is, is direly lacking in storage. Then add a multi-system cellphone and GPS and you'll have the ultimate geek gadget. Except by that point it will weigh as much as my Picturebook, and still do less. Never mind then. I'll just take the iPod. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/29/2003 02:07:00 AM ----- BODY: Meanwhile, Google has picked up my blog! If you search on "Stupid Stupid Blogger" I'm right there. On page 2. Funny how that works, considering that no-one links to me and it took months to pick up my other site. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/29/2003 02:03:00 AM ----- BODY: I'm part of the Blogosphere Ecosystem! 'Course, I'm an Insignificant Microbe, coming in at number 1964 out of 1966, but you have to start somewhere, right? Right? -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/28/2003 08:27:00 PM ----- BODY: The other problem with Whuffie, of course, (and Doctorow does touch on this in the book and in the interview) is that it is controlled by positive feedback. And we all know how well that works. For those who don't, consider your favourite economic boom-and-bust - from the tulip craze to the Great Depression to the bubble. Or lynx and hare populations in the Arctic. Or consider a nuclear explosion, which is a great example of positive feedback. If you're lucky, positive feedback will give rise to boom-and-bust cycles. If you're unlucky, you'll get a boom-and-splat. Not a good way to run, well, anything, really. Unless you want to make a very large bang. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/28/2003 10:31:00 AM ----- BODY: To be fair to Mr. Doctorow, he does point out in this interview that his society would not function as described; and that it would need:
some kind of antitrust law or garbage collector that periodically comes along and randomizes Whuffie
Whuffie is the measure of respect in the society of Down and Out; more than that, it's that society's equivalent of cash - as much as it has any equivalent. Of course, unless you've brainwashed 100% of the population, the anti-trust laws or garbage collectors will need to be backed up by the men with the you-know-whats. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/28/2003 09:59:00 AM ----- BODY: Episode 5 of Rizelmine went plooie too. Sigh. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/28/2003 09:56:00 AM ----- BODY: Oh, yes. As always, by the light of day it's neither as original nor as interesting as it was at 4 A.M. But here goes: When you are designing your Utopia, remember this: People will be people, and to make things work, somewhere there will have to be men with guns. And it does not necessarily make things better for them to be hidden from view. What brought this on? Last night I was reading Cory Doctorow's new book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It's not a bad book, and you can download it for free, which is always a plus. But the society described in the book simply wouldn't work - unless there are, somewhere behind the scenes, men with guns. Read it anyway. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/28/2003 09:27:00 AM ----- BODY: I had an interesting an original thought last night that I wanted to share with you. Unfortunately, I've forgotten what it was. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/27/2003 02:35:00 PM ----- BODY: Oh, look! It's raining. How... novel. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/26/2003 04:36:00 PM ----- BODY: The problem with downloading stuff from a filesharing network is that you don't know what you'll get. The episode of Buffy that I downloaded using BitTorrent proved to be a dud - after I'd dragged all 433MB back to my PC over my sorry excuse for broadband. One episode of Jungle Guu was plagued with video glitches. One episode of Azumanga Daioh dropped out with a minute or so to go. In case anyone is listening: I'd pay to be able to download these files directly from the source. That's pay as in actual money. You'd have to get the price right, though. A DVD box set of Buffy runs about $120, or around $5 per episode (Australian prices). A download would have to be cheaper than that, and if quality is significantly below DVD standard, it would have to be significantly cheaper. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/25/2003 06:32:00 PM ----- BODY: So, just how often does Easter coincide with Anzac Day to give a three-day working week? I'd work it out, but I think I'd rather take a nap. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/24/2003 11:49:00 PM ----- BODY: You know that headache you get just because you're tired? And all you need to do to make it go away is get some sleep? Only you can't sleep because you've got this headache? I've got one of those. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/24/2003 02:46:00 AM ----- BODY: Weda. Hale's mother's name is Weda. Just thought you'd want to know. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/23/2003 04:01:00 PM ----- BODY: The Internet is a time machine. I did 18 out of my 20 impossible things, and of the remaining two, one can't happen before the end of the month and no-one has actually decided what the other one is yet. So I can say that they're done and no-one can prove otherwise. In other words, I'm blogging from work. So why is the Internet a time machine, you ask? Well, you could (and indeed should) take a look at and spend a happy - if somewhat dazed - afternoon lost in the 50's and 60's. It's well worth the effort, particularly if you missed them the first time 'round. But what I was actually thinking of is this: Tonight, when I go home, I'm going to watch next week's episode of Buffy. Which means I can spoil it for the guys at work. Hahaha! Not that I'd do that, of course. The thing I have to remember is: Don't get greedy. No-one likes a greedy time traveller. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/23/2003 08:17:00 AM ----- BODY: I have 20 impossible things to do before I go in to the office today, so I won't have time to blog. Oh. Oops. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/22/2003 08:40:00 PM ----- BODY: Well, I've watched Buffy now. Of course, now I have to download next week's episode and watch that too. No minutes! No waiting! But this time I think I'll leave it to run overnight so that it doesn't chew up my precious peak-time badnwidth. Meanwhile, kAzAa is chewing up all my upstream bandwidth, since I dropped Azumanga Daioh and Jungle Guu into my share folder. (And Rizelmine.) But I don't pay for uploads, so I don't care. Nyaa! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/22/2003 02:05:00 PM ----- BODY: I'm working from home today. Yay me! On a less cheerful note, I forgot to watch Buffy last night. Well, poot. And episode 10 is well and truly history as far as BitTorrent is concerned. Fortunately, Kazaa (well, Kazaa Lite) found it for me and is happily downloading now. Unfortunately, this is costing me, depending on how you want to look at it, $12, $60, or nothing at all. I'm sticking with "nothing at all", thanks. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/21/2003 04:17:00 AM ----- BODY: Tip for Time Travellers: Don't get greedy. (via Dave Barry) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/20/2003 08:47:00 PM ----- BODY: Family dinner last night to celebrate my brother's 35th birthday. Since it was his birthday, he got to choose the restaurant, and as expected we went Thai. I hate Thai food. Probably because I'm a supertaster. Coffee tastes horrible to me (for all its wonderful aroma) as does pretty much anything alcoholic. I thought for years that wine was an acquired taste, until I learned that most people can't tell that it tastes nasty. Anyway, everyone else in my family (with one exception) loves Thai Red Beef Curry. To me, it tastes like it's been boiled in dishwater. Some other dishes are even worse. We had a fish curry dish once - I'm not sure exactly what it was - that everyone loved so much that they ordered another serving. I had to restrain myself from spitting out the single fork-full I tried. My nephew Lionel feels no such constraints. If he doesn't like something, it's gone. Of course, he's 18 months old and cute as a bug, so he can get away with it. Fortunately, he loves rice (though he wasn't too impressed with the saffron rice) and prawn crackers. When we'd finished our basket of prawn crackers and were waiting for our entrees, Lionel was eyeing the baskets of crackers being delivered to other tables. They're going the wrong way! Prawn crackers over here! Oh well. The Massaman Lamb was actually pretty decent, as were the curry puffs. And rice is rice, so I didn't starve. We had dessert at my brother's house - chocolate cake and coffee for everyone else; chocolate cake and hot chocolate for me. Mmm. Chocolate. Oh, and remember my little internet rant, wherein I mentioned a company called Comindico? Turns out that my brother's company is a Comindico reseller, and he'll put me in touch with someone there. So I can hope to have real internet access soon! Fingers crossed, as I said. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/20/2003 08:46:00 PM ----- BODY: Stupid Stupid Blogger™ ate my post. In fact, Stupid Stupid Blogger™ has been effectively down for hours, at least as far as updates go. Fortunately, I'm smarter than Stupid Stupid Blogger™, and I copied my post when by Geeksense™ started tingling. Just as blind people tend to be more alert to sounds, working as a programmer for [mumble] years helps develop a sense of when an application is going to barf in your lap. Anyway, the BloggerPeople™ have fixed whatever it was, so I'll post my post now. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/19/2003 04:09:00 PM ----- BODY: Microsoft VBScript runtime error '800a0005' Invalid procedure call or argument: 'mid' //functions/, line 15 Ah, that explains it. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/19/2003 04:06:00 PM ----- BODY: Oh yeah. It's still raining. Knock it off already, will ya? -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/19/2003 04:02:00 PM ----- BODY: Has Blogger always been this buggy? My archives are broken. I can't regenerate them. I can't fix them. I can't even delete them. I've seen no shortage of other server-side errors either. I'm new to this blogging thing, and thought that this was the easiest way to start. Now I'm thinking it might be less painful to write the whole thing in Python, if not 6809 assembler. The phrase "stupid stupid Blogger" springs to mind for some reason. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/19/2003 03:45:00 PM ----- BODY: Steven den Beste has an interesting analysis of just why the French are such weasels. One thing that it fails to take into account is that the French have always been weasels - or at least for the past thousand years or so. Charlemagne doesn't seem to have been a weasel, but then again, he wasn't French. Irregardless of which, you should read it, and this piece by Guy Milliere titled France is Almost Finished as well. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/19/2003 01:30:00 AM ----- BODY: Okay, so I've been watching Tiny Snow Fairy Sugar. So? Want to make something of it? Phear the power of the cute side. Phear! -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/19/2003 01:14:00 AM ----- BODY: The Australian police seem to be having fun today. Two questions come to mind: 1. Operation "Sorbet"? 2. Heroin comes in brand names now? What sort of a name is "Double Uoglobe" anyway? (via USS Clueless) -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/18/2003 07:02:00 PM ----- BODY: Australia is a nice place to live as long as you don't want to use the Net. As I've mentioned, I have lately been watching quite a bit of Anime that I've downloaded using BitTorrent. The way I do it is this: 1. I log in to my web server in the U.S. (I pay about $80 per month for a server including 100GB of uploads and unlimited downloads.) I use the Linux BitTorrent client to download the file I want. And of course I leave the window open for others to download the file in turn - though I tend to limit the upload rate because otherwise I'd hit my monthly usage limit within a day or so. If I exceed my monthly usage limit I have to pay an extra dollar or so per gigabyte. 2. I wait until 1 A.M., and then download the files from my web server to my home where I can actually watch them. Why do I have to wait until 1 A.M.? Because my ADSL connection, for which I pay $190 per month, only includes 2.5GB of "peak" downloads, where peak is 8 A.M. to 1 A.M. weekdays. If I exceed my usage limit I have to pay an extra $150 per gigabyte. No, I'm not kidding. Off-peak, which applies on weekends and from 1 A.M. to 8 A.M. weekdays (and costs me an extra $30 per month) is free - but if I download more than 10GB in a month, my connection is throttled down to about one fifth of normal speed. It doesn't get reset each month, either - you don't get 10GB first before being throttled. If you download more than 10GB in a month, you start the next month pre-throttled. Recently, a download I'd left to run overnight took longer than expected and ran into peak time, putting me 200MB over my monthly limit. That cost me $30 - about the price of a DVD here. If it wasn't for off-peak times, downloading a single episode would cost as much as a whole DVD. Why don't I find a better ISP? Well, until very recently, there wasn't one. The deal I just described was about the best you could find in Australia. Now, though, a company called Comindico has started offering unlimited downloads on ADSL through a number of resellers. If they are any good (it's too early to tell yet) this is going to shake up the Australian broadband market big time. Fingers crossed, because there a few industries that need a kick in the pants more than the ISPs in Australia. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/17/2003 09:18:00 PM ----- BODY: To whoever is in charge of these things: Yes, we did ask for rain. Yes, we are grateful. Thank you. But perhaps you could take a short break? -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/17/2003 01:34:00 AM ----- BODY: First I say that a blog has to be about something and that I can't just sit here and babble about what I've been watching, then I sit here and babble about what I've been watching. (Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu and Azumanga Daioh, for those who haven't been paying attention.) So to redeem myself, here's another link to someone else's blog, and more specifically Frank J.'s proposal to Nuke the Moon. For peace. Of course. -------- AUTHOR: Pixy Misa DATE: 4/16/2003 12:57:00 AM ----- BODY: Two of the best anime series I've seen recently are ones I didn't buy, but downloaded from the net. I didn't buy them not because I'm cheap, but because they're not for sale. Not in English, anyway, dubbed or subbed. The first is Jungle wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu (Jungle Guu for short), which translates roughly to The jungle was always nice, then came Guu. Which is pretty much the story. Hale is a young boy growing up in a jungle village with his mother, whose name I can't remember right now. Hale's quiet life is turned upside down when his mother adopts the little orphaned girl Guu, who is not quite what she seems. Having watched only 15 (out of 26) episodes so far, I can't actually say what Guu is, and I'm not at all sure that it becomes clearer in later episodes. But it doesn't really matter. Guu is weird, her facial expressions are wonderful (you get a taste of them in the opening credits) and is the perfect foil for Hale. Jungle Guu is definitely off-beat, but in a way that quickly grows on you. I could give you more details, but I'd likely spoil something. Just watch it. The second series is Azumanga Daioh, the story of a group of high-school girls. They don't dress up in combat suits and battle alien invaders. They don't transform into mini-skirted magical maidens and save the world. They don't even fall into a parallel universe and find themselves forced to examine their own identities. They just go to school, like more-or-less normal girls. But that's more than enough. Azumanga Daioh was originally produced as 130 5-minute shorts and has been resewn as 26 half-hour episodes, though you wouldn't know it except for the sub-episode titles and the unflagging pace. Frequently rib-crackingly funny, sometimes poignant, never dull, Azumanga Daioh is a delightful study of high-school life. If you want to watch these - or other anime that hasn't yet been picked up English-language distributors - hop on over to AnimeSuki, which is a nifty directory of BitTorrent downloads of fan-subbed anime. (BitTorrent has to be the least annoying file-sharing program ever, and works not only amazingly well, but also on Linux. Which is a good thing, because for some reason it crashes my otherwise stable WinXP box.) --------