A descant of a different sort

09/28/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Music

Link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/south_east/5382324.stm

I'd not heard of "presbycusis" before the BBC article linked above, but I am aware of the issue of the range of hearing deteriorating as one ages. In addition to giving me another word I can use while losing at Scrabble, the article describes a gimmicky song based, of all things, a cellphone ring tone which in turn is based off a very high-pitched anti-lurking teenager gizmo. The idea of deliberately using higher frequency sounds to add an extra melody to a piece of music that only some of the audience can perceive is a rather clever one.

At the same time there's something inherently annoying in knowing that I'll never be able to hear the full piece as intended should this concept ever be used on something other than a ringtone-based techno track.


How do you identify music without a title?

09/28/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Music

This is more of a general musing. Recently a song came on my MP3 player. The song, recorded on tape from the UK's BBC Radio 1 sometime in the late '80s, is not by any artist I know of. There are no phrases that show up in any of the lyric searches. I've never come across another copy of it while downloading tracks by bands I've never heard of.

All in all, it's a great song and one I'd like to buy a better copy of. The problem is how exactly does one find a track with no distinguishing characteristics other than that you like it? I'd post it here but no doubt that would violate somebody's copyright and I don't particularly want to get Ritchie sued.

I have no idea whether it's even possible, but I certainly would love to have some sort of central repository where a piece of music can be uploaded and then identified by experts in musial esoterica. It's not really a computer recognition thing. Could it be?

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World's largest bug

09/28/06 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Link: http://www.boingboing.net/2006/09/28/google_maps_reveal_w.html

Apparently the VW Beetle wasn't good enough for Germany.


Great sentences to start a post with

09/28/06 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh

Link: http://blogs.msdn.com/macmojo/archive/2006/08/31/733040.aspx

Bugs, how I love them ... I love hunting them down and killing them. Hunting down and killing the developer who caused the bug would be just as much fun if it weren’t illegal in every country in the world, that and programmers would probably be an extinct species if every programmer who had a fix a bug killed off the guy who created it ... and of course if they introduced the bug … well you get the picture, it's not pretty.

It comes from one of the initial posts in the group blog from the Mac Business Unit (MacBU) over at Microsoft. One of the interesting things about the MacBU is how focused on the Macintosh they are -- they're the closest I've seen to the old Amiga users in terms of enthusiasm and interest. That they're at Microsoft at all seems like an anomaly. With the ongoing migration over to OSX as my primary operating system it's nice to know that even in Redmond there's a future for the system.


All true wisdom begins with Cecil

09/26/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly

Link: http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a5_172.html

I'm a sucker for trivia sites. The best I'm aware of is "The Straight Dope" which has the most entertaining bits of patter about the oddest set of questions.

To person who swore that baked potatoes should always be wrapped in tinfoil with the shiny side out, please follow on the above link. If you don't feel like clicking the link, the summary is this: it really doesn't matter which side you use.

Ah, the internet. Home of all that is good, as well as those evil, eeeeevil nasty spambots.


Fullmetal Alchemist

09/24/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Television

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullmetal_alchemist

This anime series seems a lot like many other anime series to start with. Many of the typical anime drawings, character reactions, exaggerations and the like are present. There's a strength of story and characters that show up as you continue watching the episodes, though, and it becomes rather intriguing.

The show is based loosely on the mythology behind alchemy, such as the search for the 'Philosopher's Stone', the alchemical 'holy grail' which allows things like transmutation of lead into gold, as well as other incredible things. There is a "principle of equivalent exchange" in the alchemy in the show, loosely based on "value" (of human lives, of metals) that the Philosopher's Stone would help violate.

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Half-Life: Episode One

09/24/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Games

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-Life_2:_Episode_One

I wasn't quite sure what to make of this when I saw it in the store. If it was different from Half-Life 2 itself, wouldn't it be episode two? Is Half-Life 2 actually episode zero?

Well, it is a sequel to Half-Life 2, and picks up pretty much at the very second that Half-Life 2 leaves off.

You get your white-charged gravity gun (I love that thing) for a while until you escape, then you're back to normal weapons. There's not much 'new' per se in the matter of gameplay, save for flinging cars into ant-lion holes and having to deal with grenade-carrying zombies.

It does have HDR, though, as demonstrated in the Half-Life 2: Lost Coast demo, so if you've got a good video card, you'll experience the light adjustment and visual 'bloom' as you go into and come out of dark areas (the reactor area demonstrates this pretty well).

Main complaint: it's short. It's three times cheaper than Half-Life 2, and it feels three times shorter.

There's new technology alluded to, but which does not appear in the game.

I liked bits of Doctor Kleiner's televised speech. You can listen to the entire thing if you wait for it at the main menu once you get far enough in the game.

There is a "black hole grenade" available if you turn cheats on. I haven't checked that out yet.

Episode Two ought to be a little more interesting, but we'll see. I'm looking forward more to Team Fortress Two, though it looks awfully, awfully cartoonish, like a big 3-D Popeye episode :)


Your regular DRM update

09/21/06 | by Adam | Categories: Copyright

Link: http://www.boingboing.net/2006/09/21/windows_media_player.html

Want to see why I'm moving away from Windows? OSX may not be better in the long run, but at least so far it's not moving in this direction.


Trackbacks gone again

09/19/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Whining

After a brief attempt to enable trackbacks on the blog, I've disabled them again due to the incredible spam load. Some people do seem to be doing their darndest to hobble the more interactive aspects of the web.


The most insane laptop ever

09/18/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://laptopmag.com/Review/Dell-XPS-M2010.htm

Normally I'd say that Dell was smoking something particularly potent when they created the monstrous XPS M2010 but I know at least one person personally who would probably buy it.

The scary thing is that it actually has a battery and runs for about three hours on it.


Oh lordy, not more DRM

09/18/06 | by Adam | Categories: Copyright

Link: http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/16/embedded-rfid-to-smack-down-dvd-piracy/

One of my hot buttons is, and has been for a while, Digital Rights Management (aka DRM.) The main overall change is that the content (the music, movie or book) is no longer considered to be sold but merely licensed. The ability to then sell your copy (and associated license) is also being gutted with the slow move to electronic distribution.

People who've been around for a while know this in an earlier form as copy protection in software such as dongles, passcodes, overburning, bad blocks on disks (and discs), as well as other nefarious methods. Frankly, software licensing is where this all came from and when it comes to being restrictive the music and movie industries are very fast learners indeed.

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Hell Pizza?

09/18/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions

Link: https://www.hell.co.nz/index.jsp?city=Christchurch

I was looking at threads on Fark as usual and someon had posted a funny billboard as an ad for, well, the sign just listed hell.co.nz at the bottom.

So what is hell, then?

About the funniest site for a pizza place I've ever seen.

All the pizzas have an "evil" theme. (Quite frankly, I'd remember "Hawaiian" a lot better than I remember "Greed") The list of ingredients they put on a pizza ranges from the mundane to the quite bizarre (avocado, tuna, satay... er, refried beans? apricot sauce? pine nuts?)

Also, you can fling the little devils around the screen on the website, which they fully deserve :)

Kinda wish we had one here, but I wonder if its success depends on how much of a sense of Kiwi humour you have :)


Anticrepuscular Rays

09/17/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Science, Travel

There was an interesting phenomenon that took place on the horizon opposite the sunset when we were leaving the Masai Mara game park one evening. It was a stark diagonal band in the sky, that resolved itself into a couple of bands a little later.

Dena followed up on an "Astronomy Picture of the Day" picture today which looked rather similar to the phenomenon we encountered, and after some digging, she found out what the effect is.

They are "anti-crepuscular rays", and they're caused by the sun shining through and being blocked by clouds and holes in the clouds. The diagonality is just a perspective effect.

They look quite pretty :)

Anticrepuscular Rays


Code Project is Moving - Literally

09/16/06 | by Nimble | Categories: Announcements [A]

Link: http://www.codeproject.com/

The Code Project is one of my favourite programming resources these days, and has a prominent place on my personalized Google home page.

But the link today to an interesting article was cut short by an interesting-looking announcement:

We are Moving!

We are currently hauling our servers halfway across Toronto in a precision operation involving some U-Haul vans, somone's old Pontiac, and a taxi. Once we have located our new hosting facility, untangled the cables and found enough powerboards we'll be back online.

Everything should be back to normal late Sunday, September 17, 2006

It's nice to see the human side pop out of sites every now and again. I don't suppose they'll be thoughtful enough to provide pictures :)


Weblog privacy

09/15/06 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

This one came up today in a discussion with a relative. She'd found a weblog belonging to yet another relative that was expressing some fairly personal information, and was wondering about the ethics of reading what's functionally a private diary. My feeling is relatively straightforward: post your writing on a weblog -- in this case blogger.com -- and it's public. You may own the copyright on the expression, but the content is now fair game for all.

I don't really see this as an issue. Want to express your feelings in writing? Buy a paper diary. Want to share your feelings amongst a group of friends? Open up a private mailing list, password protect the discussion group, or better still, have a cup of coffee with them. Post on blogger? Better be willing to live with that one when everybody and their dog finds it.

Using only Google, I can still find posts I made to newgroups dating back to early 1995 and other mailing lists. Using a variety of other tools, I can practically build a complete history of whoever I want. This stuff doesn't go away (unless you're using Ritchie's weblog :)). Even with the private mailing lists and discussion groups above; once it's in a digital form, it's out of your control and spreading in the wild is just a forward click away (or a miss-clicked CC:)

My personal rule of thumb: if you're not comfortable with your parents, siblings or friends reading what you wrote, don't write it.


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