Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I bought a 4GB ASUS EEE PC for Y28,000. It has Windows XP Home Edition. The 4GB flash drive comes with less than a gig left free after the OS is installed. I removed Explorer, Outlook Express, and as many Microsoft wares as possible while installing a suite of essentials.  A 4GB SD card also slots in. 

I will try to leave none of my files onboard; keep them only on the SD card, a USB memory stick, or external hard drive. I put GIMP portable on the SD, may try that with Go-oo (open Office) and other wares, too. I'm posting this with Google Chrome. Will also consider a version of Ubuntu to run off an external drive. Windows XP in Japanese is even worse than the English one as far as I am concerned. Because of the laanguage, xp OS, small keyboard and 800x480 monitor, It's not very comfortable to use, but it works well, it incredibly light, and has a camera.

I wasn't born yesterday.

I heard Keith Olbermann mention on the Countdown podcast that it was his birthday. I checked it out and added him to the amazing lineup of savants born on 1-27

Monday, January 26, 2009

3D Time Travel (and the future?)

While searching for an image of a stereoscope, I came across Early Visual Media, a kind of archeological museum of image culture. The aims of the site are diverse and varied. It's certainly entertaining and very educational. Among the stereoviews, you'll find some nudes and related collections from the 1800s! Yes, your grandmother's grandmother was a flousey. And although she is dust, she looks pretty hot. The site's creator, Thomas Weynants, has an exhaustive bibligraphy of publications and links. Television in its earliest forms is among his interests.

There is a fLIckr group of stereo photography--actually several groups divided into parallel, cross-view, and anaglyph factions. Can't we all just get along? Via Xorsyst, I found the wonderful fLIckr site of Okinawa Soba and his T-Enami dedicated site as well. Since we're on the subject, you could start at this 3D set and his instructions for parallel viewing. I may require several years to fully explore Rob Oechsle's collections.

Digital stereoscopy is slow to get started despite what seem to be advantages. I think it is more practical than ever before, as all photography now consumes fewer resources. Only the design of the camera lens --not all components-- would need to be effectively doubled. An 8-megapixel camera would become a camera which takes two 4-megapixel images and stores them in a single image. Three-dimensional photographs would have much more information (regarding depth) than 2D photos and would have applications in forensic analysis, for example. Surveillance cameras might benefit from 3D video imaging as well. In addition to depth, the photographer who wishes to use the 2D image has 2 slightly different versions (of the 2D image) to choose from. Dust and scratches could be more easily removed with a second image as a reference. Perhaps a new file type like the JPEG could be created, but in principle it should not be necessary. The left-eye and right-eye images can just be recorded side-by-side in a single wide jpeg. EXIF data or some tag in the 3D jpeg could indicate to software that this is a stereoscopic image. (Alternatively, software might detect this fact automatically.) In that case, additional tags could indicate from several options for displaying the photo. The left and right sides of the photo could be displayed straightaway in parallel as a default. A tag indicating cross-eyed viewing could instruct software to divide the image and display the right-eye image on the left and vice-versa. A third way to view it would be to display the right-eye image and the left-eye image in the same frame in rapid succession, like an animated GIF, producing the illusion of three dimensions in this way (the "wiggle" method). This works for people with one eye since it fools the brain rather than the eye. Another technique would be to specify either the left or right or the image as a default to display, and the other half to display upon mouse-over.

There are a few easy adjustments to be made on the software side before stereoscopy can experience a mainstream boom or revival. I would hope that a digital camera maker would come out with stereoscopic model soon and find it to be extremely popular. Alternately, the development of 3D display technology may be driven from the display side, it a breakthrough occurs there first and enables the easy viewing of 3D content on inexpensive screens.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More goat

Newspaper claims suspect transformed into a goat

Fri Jan 23, 6:07 pm ET
LAGOS, Nigeria – One of Nigeria's biggest daily newspapers reported that police implicated a goat in an attempted automobile theft. In a front-page article on Friday, the Vanguard newspaper said that two men tried to steal a Mazda car two days earlier in Kwara State, with one suspect transforming himself into a goat as vigilantes cornered him.
The paper quoted police spokesman Tunde Mohammed as saying that while one suspect escaped, the other transformed into a goat as he was about to be apprehended.
The newspaper reported that police paraded the goat before journalists, and published a picture of the animal.
Police in the state couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Belief in black magic is widespread in Nigeria, particularly in far-flung rural areas.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Google Charts QR-Code API

Google charts dynamically generates various kinds of charts as you need them--right in your browser or on a web page. Venn diagrams, bar graphs, pie graphs, and even maps are available! An interesting one is the dynamic generation of QR codes. A very appealing feature is that you can set the EC (error correction) level on these. I didn't see this in other online QR code generators. EC level H allows your code to be readable even if 30% of your code is obscured. That should be ideal for the purpose of embedding it in a manipulated image. It compares to the default level L, which only allows 7% of the data to be restored. Version number is set automatically depending on your request. I'm a little drunk now, so I may not be able to summarize it very well. Al Khahol can make you geeky (cuz it definitely don't make you sexy (unless the opposing party is even more drunk)).
Basically, you start with
and add the chart type (cht)
to indicate you are making a QR chart. Then you can add the other specifications or parameters, such as size. You can't get much smaller than 40 for a QR code, and I'm not sure what the upper limit is… (177x177 -- but you could be using multiple pixels per bit). Suppose it's 200x200.
That (chart size, chs) is obligatory. The output encoding default is UTF8 so you don't really need to add that. You could encode you Japanese kanji using Shift_JIS
otherwise you can leave it out. ISO-8859-1 is also available, whatever the hell that is.
Specify the L, lingual string(?) with
&chl=your text string here
Then my favorite part ,
chld=<L, M, Q, or H>|
This is the EC and margin, where you can specify error correction and margins, according to Google,

Four levels of error correction (EC) are available. The default level (L) allows the QR code to be read even if up to 7% of the code is misread, missing, or obscured. Other levels provide error correction for codes where up to 30% of the code cannot be read. The number of characters that can be encoded decreases as the EC level increases. See Versions, error correction and maximum characters for details.

The default margin is 4 modules. This means that a blank space equivalent to four rows at the top and bottom and four columns on the left and right is placed around the QR code. This is the minimum required by QR readers.

Optionally, specify an EC level and margin with

is one of the following:

L allows 7% of a QR code to be restored

M allows 15% of a QR code to be restored
Q allows 25% of a QR code to be restored
H allows 30% of a QR code to be restored
defines the margin (or blank space) around the QR code. The default image has a margin equivalent to 4 rows / columns of the chart.
looks like

looks like|%3C2%3E
Some characters will change in the browser URL to appear as follows:|%3C2%3E

so don't be confused.

If you type,1
you get

Even more interesting is maps. For example, type (or cut and paste) into your browser (or insert on your web site) and this map will appear.

440x220 seems to be the maximum size.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Witness to History

Hello, President Obama!

Mr Cheney and his gloves. He leaves no fingerprints.

See ya!
To President Obama: Congratulations!
To my fellow Americans: Yay!
To my fellow world citizens: Sorry for the last 8 years.
To my fellow expats: What next?

all photos cellphone+CNN

America's Pet Goat

The hooved and horned one will be gone in a few moments. The long national nightmare has ended.
Update: I must say that if there was a purpose for George W. Bush's life and reign, it was to create the conditions for the rise of Barack Obama. Perhaps we should be thankful to Governor Bush for that.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tony Blair Witch Project -- continued

It lives! This is from a cellphone snap of a BBC broadcast. A small amount of post-processing has brought out the beauty of Tony's features. His "W" is still visible, although it may be getting botoxed out gradually and tastefully, Blair-style. Or is it becoming a "YY"? Is it just me or is he starting to look a little like either Dwight Eisenhower or Don Knotts (if they had appeared on Six Feet Under)?

Notice how the Israel-Palestine conflict has just magically disappeared since Blair has combined his flair for diplomacy with that of Condoleeza "Destroyer of Worlds" Rice? Tony, yer doin' a heckuva job!

This is one more possible fate for Obama to avoid; don't become Blair, Clinton, or Carter. He's already managed to avoid becoming Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and Jesse Jackson.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Few favors for feathered friends from frequent fliers

In contrast to the fuss made over the occasional bird or bat accidentally killed by wind turbines, birds unfortunate enough to nest near airports are systematically exterminated as pests, and the question asked is "Are we doing enough to kill the birds?"
The accident also raised questions about whether airports around the country are doing enough to deal with bird flocks.
The agency that operates New York City's major airports said it has a multimillion-dollar program to chase birds off its property, but can only do so much to protect planes once they are in the air.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it kills thousands of birds every year in the marshy waterways and tidal flats that surround its two major airports in Queens, and uses guns, pyrotechnics and hawks to drive away birds.
Among the other tactics: Bird eggs are coated in oil to prevent them from hatching. Nests are removed. The agency also plays recordings of bird distress calls, and landscapers remove any shrubs and trees that might be attractive to certain species.
Source: AP news article in the IHT
A network of maglev trains connecting the major cities will work so much better than the jet-propelled, winged aluminum canisters careening through snow, sleet, rain, and flocks of seagulls that we have today, even though the wind turbines and concentrated solar collectors to power the maglevs may whack or roast a few birds, too. Perhaps you could shave a few hours off by flying, if it's coast-to-coast across the continent, but the carbon tax may be prohibitative.


The swarm-bot concept and implementations are impressive, but what was the scientist(/performance artist?)'s motivation for using a living human girl (the symbol of the hope and future of humanity?) for this demonstration, rather than a dummy (dressed in fatigues, say), mannequin, bag of flour, or something else? 

Here's my kwik remote psychoanalysis: The creator(s) see their creations as beautiful. To them, they are like children. They want you to see them as cute, colorful, intelligent, helpful tools. They are probably tired of people seeing these as potential vacuum cleaners or luggage trucks and want to jump-start the public imagination to see the swarm-bots in hospitals, refugee camps, de-mining, doing humanitarian work and winning the Miss Universe contest. They are protecting the children. In short, some of the humanity of the child should rub off on the swarm-bots just by being photographed together. They think this is good PR. 

There is another way to see it, based in the animal brain and subconscious. As humans, we instinctively feel protective toward small children. We also interpret the small moving things as animals like rats. Their behavior is that of a scavenger, or feeding behavior. It seems they will drag the girl off to their lair first. They seem to have incapacitated the girl with a tranquilizer or muscle relaxant, or perhaps she fears their power or is trying to trick them into thinking she is dead. As living things with a hive-mind, they will seek to become stronger, the will to power, probably by injecting nanobots into her bloodstream, where they will gain control of the pain and pleasure centers of her brain and contribute to the Swarm by luring other humans to where they can also be captured and absorbed by the swarm. 

Stereo-card collection

This is a collection of stereoscopic postcards from the San Diego Historical Society. I keep waiting for stereoscopic digital cameras to come out, but it seems I'll have to wait a bit longer, perhaps for a cheap and high quality display technology. 

CH4 on Planet Four

Major news: A NASA press release today and article in Science gives details of the emissions of methane from the surface of Mars. This would seem to raise the probability of finding life to 50% or better. I checked Intrade to see if they were offering a contract on it; they weren't (altho Steve Jobs leaving as CEO this year was at 70%). Some people posting on news sites seem to be resistant to any ideas of life beyond the Earth, but it's really not unexpected, as meteor impacts have thrown tons of matter from Mars to Earth and vice versa over the millions and billions of years. They'll get their heads around it before too long. 

A Banner Day

The scowling, muzzled visage of vice Richard "Dick" Cheney, traces of his sidekick Governor "W" Bush and moll, and the twisted, satanically-W-inscribed fo'ead of Tony "W" Blair have long held a place in the banner image of this blog, reminding you, the reader, that the world is full of kindly elderly gentlemen (and ladies) who secretly wish to hurt or kill you and chew off your face. Although I hesitated to remove these reminders of an earlier time before the inauguration due to a lingering paranoid suspicion that Mister Cheney's minions would crash a fleet of airliners into the inauguration ceremonies, decimating the attendees and leaving Mister Cheney as the highest-ranking surviving government official in the Secure Undisclosed Location from which he would emerge and declare himself ruler for life in a new Republic, I feel that the probability of such a plot succeeding, were it to be attempted, is safely low enough that I can delete his muzzled mug and all signs of the others and allow myself to imagine and enjoy an era when they are slowly forgotten. They have been replaced with a sunflower, a lotus blossom, and --lest we forget and lower our guard-- a bee.  

Thursday, January 01, 2009

404 - File not found

This is post number 404. I have deleted some posts before, and will do so again, so it's a meaningless number, especially since I am thinking to post (and post-date) some things I have been doing since November 9. This marks the end (perhaps) of an extended period of non-blogging. This has been a time for reading, listening, and action other than blogging. (I did add some feeds of Japan bloggers to the sidebar, though.) There are dozens of candidate topics for blogging daily, and I have reverted to sending mass e-mails, so I will try to resume blogging, perhaps by e-mailing posts. Blogging is just not a very high priority in the big scheme of things, as much as I would like to do more of it.

I have never been a fan of the "Blogging will be light the next few days" sort of message. This just seems wrong for several different reasons. First, it is presumptive about the future. I may be dead in the next few days. In that event, any "Blogging will be light" prediction will seem quite ironic. It is similar to signing in for every day of the month at the beginning of the month. Second, it assumes that there are readers, that the readers are sentient beings, and that the readers care. There may be no readers (statcounter could be fibbing?), those readers could be bots and spiders, and the reader(s) could be apathetic or hostile to the perceived probability of future postings. Finally, self-referential scribblings will accumulate and distract, eventually forming a large proportion of one's posts. If 20% of a blog's posts are about the expected frequency of future posts, or apologies for past nonexistent posts, it would be a nuisance to read. Fundamentally, this blog is not to serve or build a community of readers, but just for me to express myself. I would like to have one or more readers, but not too many more than that.

However, having said that, I will try to resume blogging (but it may be light for the next year or two…). I list no email address, but comment modulation is on and results in an email sent to my account, so post a comment to send me a mail. I have only rejected one comment, and that because it was about ten thousand words in German about UFOs. I guess there was no upper limit on comment length at that time, but it exceeded my own upper limit, which is that comments must be no longer than the cumulative content of the entire blog, at least, particularly when in a non-English lingo.

Happy New yEar, reader! It's a cow. The end of the noughties is within countdown range and the teenies will be upon us soon. After '09 the "twenny" will come into use, as in "twenny-ten".