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Archive January 2003
Tuesday 28 January 2003
The following post consists of programmer ranting. You need read no further if this won't interest you.

Tsk - several hours of coding video capture stuff, to make a webcam plugin for RavenGive, entirely wasted; the Win32 SDK has a lot of stuff about "AviCap" windows, which were working reasonably well as far as I got, except for not supporting my TV capture card (it supported video camera and webcam). I wasn't too bothered by that, since several other programs shared the problem - but some didn't, so I was a little irked. Only later did I stumble upon the DirectShow method of video capture, which is almost certainly the method used by those programs that didn't share the problem, and also seems likely to be better behaved in general. It's also, of course, going to be entirely unrelated in every way to the AviCap interface. Tsk, wasted time.

On the up-side, my jpeg interface libraries are excellent, capable of whapping bitmaps to jpegs and back with a single function call each way. And leaping tall buildings. [14:16] [6 comments]

Saturday 25 January 2003
Hoorah for terrible vaudeville wordplay. First, upon Damask, perhaps the only person who would genuinely play the straight-man in the joke; "You're going to say no in a minute, aren't you?" "Huh?" "You're going to say no in a minute, aren't you?" "No."

And then, somewhat less deliberately, with Holly opening; "I've got your foot." "No you haven't." "I've got both your feet." "No you haven't. You don't have any feet." "I have four feet." "Haha! That means I win."

Hm, you may have to say the latter aloud to get the joke. And then wish to kill yourself/me. [09:55] [1 comment]

Friday 24 January 2003
The greatest TV show in the world, ever - Man versus Beast - was just on Fox. The world champion eater, amongst humans, versus a 1000lb bear, in an "eat 50 hotdogs faster" competition. A sumo wrestler versus an orangoutan half his weight, in a tug of war. An elephant versus forty-two midgets, in a pulling-a-plane competition. A sprinter versus a giraffe, and then versus a zebra, racing 100 metres. I'm hoping that next episode it will have Stephen Hawking versus a fish, in a talking competition. [06:46] [3 comments]

Thursday 23 January 2003
Hm, a blog ranking site added me without asking, all arbitrary-like. Not a bad idea, in a way, but ranking blogs by the criterion "how many of its readers will click a link" is probably not the best way. [06:35] [2 comments]
An opinion on browser font sizes - I think that websites that allow the user's browser font-size settings to have an influence (which really should be all) should arrange it so that the smallest relevant text on the page remains legible when the browser is set to 'smallest' font. This seems perhaps a little silly, in that it will give 'normal' users an unpleasantly large font, but that's what the setting is there for. You can adjust it as you see fit - but who would ever want to adjust a font to "so small that it can't be read because there aren't enough pixels"? The user configurable range should be from "very small and legible" to "big enough for a blind person". Any user-selected range should have its limits set at or before the point of unusable - there's no point in any font being smaller than legible (unless the content is usually irrelevant, as with my archive/comment links), and there's no point in any font being so large that it doesn't fit on the screen.

So, from the point of view of an HTML-writer, the size one smaller than the CSS "x-small" should be the smallest you go. From the point of view of browser design, I quite like Phoenix's "smallest font" setting, which enables you to set a boundary cutoff to prevent pages dipping into illegibility. I'd like it even better if it went one step further, with an option for "smallest font" being done as an automatic adjustment to your overall font-size setting, such that every page's smallest font will be the stated size, and the other fonts on the page will be, proportionally, as they should be by the designer's layout. This would keep the design to its proper shape, but would allow for people with dull eyes or high resolution screens to keep the font legibly large, and for people with sharp eyes, low resolution screens, and an anti-aliasing-capable operating system to keep it usably small, consistently, regardless of the page designer's idea of what a good size would be. [05:26] [3 comments]

Wednesday 22 January 2003
Further thought on the subject of affirmative action. Those institutions that give bonus points for being a minority; how would people feel about that if it weren't "+20 for being a minority" but rather "-20 for being a caucasian male"? I don't think many would think that sounds fair, but in effect it's exactly the same thing, since the scores are purely relative and non-proportional. [06:55] [10 comments]

Tuesday 21 January 2003
Curses! Apparently I agree with the Bush administration on something. That was never supposed to happen. Affirmative Access replacing Affirmative Action. I don't entirely agree with it as described, but it's certainly a meritocratic improvement over the current quota method, or the also-current "minorities get twenty points free" method.

On a vaguely related note, TV-dubbed Rush Hour is horrendous - how can "wassup, mah niggah?" possibly be considered more offensive than "wassup... Negro?" [09:30] [3 comments]
Automated newspaper-letter spamming, courtesy of the republican party, apparently. Fantastic. [02:18] [0 comments]

Sunday 19 January 2003
USPS has helpful advice on how to pack a hippo. Also, via a link in the hippo section, how to pack Pet Rocks and how not to pack Gorillas. [05:01] [0 comments] Decode the original spam subject line: Want to see giant sore-throated male chickens inside a cat which belongs to a miserly small teenager? [04:55] [0 comments]

Saturday 18 January 2003
Post about configuring Linux on an HP Pavilion ze5170 deleted because all the links were out of date and that machine is out of date and someone asked me to remove one of the links. [14:37] [4 comments]
Heh. BlogNomic, mentioned on the thirteenth in the context "no doubt it will be irritating in a month or two"; it lasted little more than four days. Fantastic. I always hate Nomics more than I remember. Or rather, Nomics are alright - I hate players. [03:13] [3 comments]

Thursday 16 January 2003
Deliberate misunderstanding for comic effect of the day, advertisement-based as usual; "Singulair can help you control your child's asthma." What a fantastic idea. "Go to your room." "I don't wanna." "ASTHMA ATTACK! Now go to your room." [00:22] [2 comments]

Wednesday 15 January 2003
An entertainingly paranoid look at electronic barcoding technology: RFID tags. [11:18] [0 comments]

Monday 13 January 2003
Hm. BlogNomic, with a pleasantly spartan starting ruleset. No doubt it will be irritating in a month or two, but until then, might as well. [23:48] [0 comments]

Sunday 12 January 2003
Battlefield Earth isn't so bad. It's like a sci-fi cross between Gymkata (we have the ravine, and the horrible fight scenes) and Lord of the Rings (we have Legolas, Aragorn and Boromir the indistinguishable, and 'epic scenery'). I believe Battlefield Earth was slated mostly because it lacked music, and because it was John Travolta. Blade 2, on the other hand, is like Gymkata with Vampires. I should form a collection of movies-that-are-like-Gymkata. And then burn it. [07:37] [5 comments]

Thursday 9 January 2003
Hoorah for ridiculous American justice! If you've purchased any audio media between 1995 and 2000, and you were in America, you can claim probably $20 via a settled class-action suit to do with alleged price-fixing. File a claim here. Read an article about it here. [00:36] [1 comment]

Wednesday 8 January 2003
Another cookery exploit; so-called garlic soup, presumably along the same lines as stone soup, since it involved more potato and onion than it did garlic. A pleasantly simple recipe, if irksome in its fiddliness; finely chop up a bulb of garlic, an onion, and a potato. Add basil, parsley, salt and cilantro. Throw it all in water. Simmer for half an hour. VERY DELICIOUS! [06:15] [6 comments]

Tuesday 7 January 2003
Random consumerism comedy rears its head again. Not a particularly good one, but probably worth a mention. A ridiculously expensive mug, with "the traveller has no tales to tell" written on it; the barcoded identifier on the back tells us "SF499D - MUG THE TRAVELLER". [10:46] [3 comments]
Banking tips for Maryland/DC/Virginia folk; don't use Chevy Chase bank. They suck. I can't even spend half my balance on a single transaction, even if I call and try to specifically authorise said transaction. Whose money is my money? Hint: The answer is in the question. Apparently the bank not only thinks the money isn't mine, they don't even think it's theirs; it belongs to Visa now. "We can't do anything." Apparently a Paypal debit card has a transaction limit three times as large. Screw Chevy Chase, the internet shall henceforth move my numbers. [04:07] [1 comment]

Sunday 5 January 2003
A rather amusing thing to do with the Lunix kernel, for you geeks out there... (cd /usr/src/linux; egrep -ir "(fuck)|(shit)" *) - this produces all the comments in the code with the regular curses in them. There's about 150 instances. Not too bad, really, considering the volume of non-swearing. [04:41] [1 comment]

Thursday 2 January 2003
I mentioned making Picalilli the other day. A while later, I realised that my readers would almost certainly love to see the jars of bile that resulted. Behold! [09:41] [5 comments] Hoorah for purchasing two high-powered laptops on impulse. Online auction-thing about to end, with them going for $1100 each (whereas laptops of similar specs are normally nearer $1500). Both the ladies were wanting laptops, my bank balance was sufficient (and below truth, unlike most), and frivolity compelled me. All techno-lust shall be sated. [08:58] [4 comments]

Wednesday 1 January 2003
What is one supposed to do with bottles of skanky oil? Not pour them down the sink, I know. Not throw them out with other stuff. Then what? The only thing I could think of is that they should be saved up and then used as Molotov cocktails. Holly suggested that, since we're in America, we could save them up and serve them as ordinary cocktails. Fantastic. [02:46] [3 comments]

Tuesday 31 December 2002
We just watched Memento. About time, I suppose, with the plethora of recommendations it's had. Highlight for me; asking Holly, in all seriousness, about an hour and twenty minutes in, "has this been in black and white the whole way through?" I seem to intermittently share in the movie's thematic memory loss. [08:44] [4 comments]