Translation weirdities

08/18/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Potpourri

While on Arcnet, a IRC-compatible channel populated by former Amigans, I made a slightly disparaging comment about wiener schnitzel. One of the resident German speakers responded with the word:


My German's a bit weak so I popped that into Babelfish. It translated it as "ass-play the violin". I know that sometimes concepts fail to translate between languages and cultures, but if Altavista's done that correctly, it's a very odd insult.


Wireless data pricing can be steep

08/17/07 | by Adam | Categories: iPhone


Imagine you're used to American cellphone pricing which, while hardly free, is quite cheap. Imagine you've gone somewhere else which has a roaming agreement so you have service. Imagine you've not read the charge tariff.

Now imagine you're the proud possessor of an Apple iPhone with its data-hungry design and you use it.

After all that imagining, now visualize the US$3000 bill you'll get when you return home.

Still, I guess it's cheap compared to a $218 trillion mobile bill issued to a Malaysian recently...

(Via Daring Fireball)


Immortalize yourself in Lego

08/16/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


Well, not Lego per se, but you've seen the South Park character generator and people are pretty familiar with the Wii Mii's. Same thing, except it's a digital Lego minifig.

And no, you can't see the one I created for myself.

(Via Pharyngula)


A pox on cheap LED mice

08/15/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Whining

I'm currently using an inexpensive Belkin USB optical mouse (F8E814-BLK-OPT.) It has a very annoying habit of sometimes randomly placing the pointer on screen when moved. As I'm using a four-headed workstation this means the arrow could be pretty much anywhere and it takes a while to find again after one of the random jumps.

If only the batteries hadn't died in my Microsoft "Wireless Laser Mouse 6000" (there's a mouthful...) Despite originating from the great evil empire in Redmond, it works like a charm.


Electric bike

08/14/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

One of the more interesting technologies that's beginning to makes its presence known (again?) is that of the electric bicycle. If you're familiar with the older moped or bromfiets technologies you'll know where I'm going with this. There're two major variations: fully automatic and power-assisted. The former is more closely related to a scooter in the sense that it's an autonomous powered vehicle where the rider needs to do little more than point it in an appropriate direction. The latter is an interesting bit of human-engineering: it won't work unless the rider pedals but at that point gives a bit of assistance. Hardcore cyclists will no doubt sneer at either option but I think it's an excellent way to persuade people to use something other than a car to get around.

Full story »


Owned today, lost tomorrow

08/13/07 | by Adam | Categories: Copyright


Just another data point on why DRM is bad for the purchaser.

(Via BoingBoing)


Wind-up MP3 player

08/12/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


This is a smart idea: the EMP-MX71 is an MP3 player (albeit bulky) powered by a wind-up motor rather than a standard battery. Naturally it was designed by the same person who came up with a wind-up radio, something else I thought was a good idea.

(Via BoingBoing)


That rather paints them into a corner

08/11/07 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh


In one of the first sentences on the page describing the Mac Pro, "MyMacDealer" uses the unfortunate phrase:

Fastest Mac ever.

Well, I guess that's it over for the Macintosh. 3 GHz and it's never going to go faster. Ever.

Fortunately though, MyMacDealer isn't the last word in Apple's development cycle as this verbal silliness isn't repeated on their site(*). Instead Apple does make this pretty daft statement:

your imagination has finally met its match.

Still, credit where credit's due as there's no reference to the "ultimate" anything. No, I lie:

It also gives you four PCI Express slots and lots of I/O options for ultimate flexibility.

The adverglish, it hurts so much. Make it stop.

* Well, actually it is, but they hid it in a meta description box instead of in clear text. They've done it before with earlier systems. For example:

“The new dual 1-GHz Power Mac G4 with NVIDIA GeForce4 graphics is the fastest Mac ever and the fastest personal computer ever for creative professionals,” said Philip Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.


The Tech Commandments

08/10/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly


I'm not sure how I missed this Joy Of Tech comic when it was initially published back in, well, I'm not sure really, but it's a good 'un.


"For the horde!"

08/04/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly, Games


Warcraft? The Australians are worried about "World of Warcraft" as a terrorist training program?

You could try to sell me on "Counterstrike" or "Battlefield 2" where you can at least create virtual environments to practice in. Quoting an online game as pre-laid out as WoW as "an attempt to recreate simulated world environments" for terrorist training and coordination is nuts, and certainly doesn't give much confidence in the underlying thesis.

(Via The Boy Genius Report)


What? Now?

08/03/07 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


I'm not much for the various leadership, productivity and self-actualization gurus -- being obliged to read Stephen Covey’s "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People" was a rather trying period -- but sometimes their advice isn't all bad. This one I like:

"two minute rule": if a task comes up that you think you're ever going to do (write a thank-you note, look up a reference, make a call), and if doing it will take less than two minutes, then you should always do it now. The rationale is that keeping track of it to do it later would take much more time than those initial two minutes, and delaying it will cause you mental friction in the meantime.

(Via Ezra Klein)


You wouldn't like me when I'm angry...

08/01/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


Well, that's nice.

According to various scientific papers, as a left-hander I "can think more quickly when it comes to tasks such as playing computer games or playing sports."

The downside is that I'm a bit more likely to go psychotic while doing so than the slower righties.


Of course, buried near the end of the article is the usual disclaimer:

The study leader, Dr. Clyde Francks, said in a statement, “People really should not be concerned by this result. There are many factors which make individuals more likely to develop schizophrenia and the vast majority of left-handers will never develop a problem. We don’t yet know the precise role of this gene.”

(Via Antigone)


Bringing Teh Funny

07/31/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly, Reviews


I like a good turn of phrase. To wit:

I dislike crapping on sci-fi movies for 'bad science'. It's like crapping on Lord of the Rings for having elves and magic.

It's a movie. If there were ever to be a truly realistic sci-fi movie, it would be several years long and there would be thousands of boring characters all working tediously in small, underfunded closet-sized labs, and the only way to know we'd solved whatever problem would be to scour the peer-reviewed journals for a hint of a mention of 'oh, by the way, we saved the earth. Probably. But we need independent confirmation.'



07/30/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


I've been trying to avoid the whole lolcats meme thing, but this one got me on two counts:

1) It's funny.
2) I have absolutely no idea what the animal pictured actually is but it does a great Monty Burns impression.


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"Ready, Aye, Ready" was a slogan used by Canadian politicians to indicate Canada's willingness to assist the British Empire in any conflict. It remains in use as a motto for some of the Canadian military. It has almost nothing to do with the content of this blog.


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