August 31, 2007

Fear Of A Baptismal Planet

Filed under: Uncategorized — mhoye @ 10:42 am

“Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has called for urgent action against the threat of climate change, while speaking in Tromso, the largest city north of the Arctic Circle.”

A key point:

“The service ended in a procession to the Arctic shore, where Russian
Orthodox Archbishop Simon of Murmansk blessed the ocean.”

So the reason that there are no more vampires in the world is that the ocean has been blessed, effectively making all the water in the world holy water.


August 29, 2007

Engines Of Creation

Filed under: Uncategorized — mhoye @ 9:14 am

Via Warren Ellis, I see that Uncov is putting the boots to Robert Scoble, who seems to have mistaken self-importance for significance with his usual industry.

His videos might work for you; I can’t watch them. They crashed my browser out, but hey, brittle, unreliable technology is just a symptom of the future, right? Right? Eh? Eh?

This is all to call your attention away from his bullshit and towards something unquestionably great; the definitive last word on audioblogging and videoblogging was written three years ago now, by Maciej Cegłowski, at Idle Words. It is here, and a very good listen indeed, but if you’re interested in reading it, you’ll find it here.

Transmission Control

Filed under: Uncategorized — mhoye @ 12:07 am

The TCP/IP Model
is a practical way of dividing up bits of your networking setup
into five different levels of abstraction, so that getting from “a box
that sucks electrons out of your wall” to “im in ur intertubes, mailin ur lolcats” is marginally less of a big stupid mess. Got a problem with your lolcat-mailings on the intertubes? Here’s what you need to know about your network problems,
from the ground up. And, as a public service, the background music you
should be listening to while you deal with it.

  1. The Physical Layer.

    The wires going from your computer into your wall socket. Relevant questions
    include: is there electricity in my house? Is my computer plugged in? Is
    turned on? How about my network cable? If the answer to all of these is yes, go to layer two! If it is not, congratulations, You Are Here. Solve these problems.

    Music: Firewater – Dark Days Indeed

  2. The Data Layer.

    This is basically your network cable. If you live in the future, it’s your wireless connection, and if you live in the bronze age it’s your telephone cable, your wizened and bespectacled little man hunched over his telegraph key, the string between your two tin cans or your smoke signal or something, Christ, I don’t know, I’m not some rusted-out freaking relic over here, ok? Relevant questions continue to be “is it plugged in”, but now involve the small blinky lights on the box rather than the hundred-watt bulb in the ceiling. Are your tiny lights
    blinky? Does your modem screech? Is your employee tapping away fiercely? If yes, proceed. If not, you’ve got a hardware problem. Try replacing the cable, but I don’t know what you’re going to do about morse code guy.

    Music: Jello Biafra & Mojo Nixon – Plastic Jesus

  3. The Network Layer.

    In dimly remembered frontier days long past, when big- and little-endians were made to drink at separate fountains and the love affair between gallium and arsenic was still flush with the passions of spring, this third layer was a fractured and difficult land, of many schools of thought and much protracted, fiery debate. Nowadays, it pretty much means “I have an IP address”. If so, proceed!

    Music: Tom Waits – Telephone Call From Istanbul (live)

  4. The Transport Layer.

    I’m pretty much spent from coming up with that protracted metaphor up
    in layer three, so try and imagine the same sort of thing here except
    with a lot less people caring that much about it. In place of debates
    of the form “Ali In His Prime Vs. Tyson?” or “Gretzky or Howe?”,
    imagine instead “A Young Mike Tyson Vs. A Slightly Overcooked Steak”,
    or perhaps the subtler “Gretzky Vs. Hoye?” Can you ping Google? If so,
    move ahead one square.

    Music: The Blue Man Group – White Rabbit

  5. The Application Layer.

    This is the place where things that you actually want to get done on the
    interwebs get their doing. Email, Firefox, BitTorrent, you name it –
    if you’re driving a truck through your series of tubes, this is where it
    happens. If you’re here, and everything works, you didn’t have a problem
    in the first place. But since you’ve walked past all the rest of it,
    this must be where your problem lies, and good luck to you.

    Music: The Epoxies, “Everything Looks Beautiful On Video”.

Good night, internet, and good luck.

August 17, 2007

A Value Proposition

Filed under: Uncategorized — mhoye @ 5:45 pm

The expression “a picture is worth a thousand words”, was first uttered by Fred Barnard in 1921, a dimly-remembered age when a soda cost a nickel and steam-powered kinetoscopes were a plausible technology.

Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that this claim is accurate.

It’s difficult to directly evaluate the picture/word exchange rate, but by the beginning of the Second World War, Heinlein was being paid a penny a word and a 5×7 film plate cost between $2.75 and $4.00. If we posit an average three hundred and thirty words per picture, this represents an inflation-adjusted devaluation of approximately fifty percent.

Curiously, using various comparative metrics the picture-to-word exchange rate was reasonably stable over the course of the next few decades. While first color 35mm film was introduced in 1950, the addition of colour-adjectives did not represent a significant increase in the picture-related word supply, certainly not enough to offset the reduced costs achieved through streamlined manufacturing processes. The well-known volatility of the silver market in the late seventies and early eighties had yet to set in, and though the cost of pictures declined slowly (adjusted for inflation), the relative cost of words declined comparably, lending stability to that market. (Silver nitrate is a critical element of the photographic process, and until recently Eastman Kodak was the world’s largest corporate consumer of silver.)

In the early 80’s the picture-word exchange rate shifted dramatically in what is widely regarded as a “perfect storm” of completely unrelated events – Nelson Hunt’s efforts to corner the silver market and the beginnings of the consolidation of the media by large corporations drove up the cost of silver substantially, while the real value of words dropped dramatically. Pictures were briefly expensive but talk was, more than ever, cheap.

This might be the high-water mark of the picture’s worth in words. Not long after Hunt was bankrupted and convicted for his attempt to corner the silver market, the renormalized price of silver and the introduction of affordable autofocus cameras made photography much more accessible to the wider public. The resulting increase in the picture supply more overcame the imbalances of the still-soft word market, and the per-word value of pictures continued its downward trend.

Fluctuations in the both supply and demand for pictures and words would remain relatively modest for another ten years until a pair of technologies would cause the most significant value-shift to date – namely, the introduction of affordable digital cameras and the explosive growth of the internet. A sudden glut of pictures should have been accompanied by a comparable increase in words, but the low relative quality of those words, the advent of instant messaging and SMS, down-rezzing and idiosyncratic abbreviations made the market difficult to evaluate.

In reality the problem turned out to be one of calibration;with the new irrelevance of the admittedly problematic silver-cost metric and both pictures and words themselves now worth very close to nothing in real terms, how does one correctly evaluate them on a comparative basis? The answer turned out to be simpler than expected: combine the two. In early 2006 the idea that later became known as LOLcats began to take hold, clearly fixing per-image word-value by embedding verbiage in the image itself. Fixed-word values are of course variable, some as low as one and as high as twelve, with very little consistency from one example to the next. Fortunately, over a sufficiently large sample set, it is now possible to directly evaluate the picture/word exchange rate to with a reasonable degree of precision.

So, although it represents a significant devaluation from the 1921 value, in Q3 2007 a picture is on average worth between four and seven words, two of which are misspelled.

August 15, 2007

Retronerd Chic

Filed under: analog — mhoye @ 12:37 am

Ok, this is pretty sweet.

A while ago, I picked up an Hauppauge HVR-950 and got it all set up and working. It’s a truly remarkable little piece of hardware, I should tell you; both standard- and hi-def TV, IR control, over-the-air (including OTA-HD!) as well as cable reception, it’s basically all for the good. But I was missing what turned out to be a pretty key piece, the A/V cable accessory that is, naturally, sold separately. It provides RCA and S-Video-in that works right out of the box, a rare treat in Linuxland. (Well, not entirely out of the box. It’s not 1997 anymore, ALSA! Come on!)

So just for kicks I pulled out my GameCube, which has a Gameboy Player attached to the bottom, and I tell you this: when the nostalgia seizes you, the GBP is an excellent way to get your old-school Nintendo retrogaming freak on. There is a very distinct frisson, for which even the crafty Germans do not yet have a long word, that comes seeing those old three-inch-square games writ large on a modern screen. A WaveBird completes the experience, an experience that is, if I do say so, quite fine.

So if you’ll excuse me, I believe it might be the nineties, and that there is therefore time for Klax.

August 8, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — mhoye @ 3:42 pm

Shaver seems to have caused some confusion, which (while I don’t claim to be speaking on anyone’s behalf, here) I think it’s worth clearing up.

It’s important to remember, I think, that when somebody in an organization expresses their enthusiasm for, and confidence in, their processes, that the manner and degree of their expression becomes an integral part of their company’s official policy on the matter. For example, when Steve Ballmer throws a chair and says that he is going to “fucking kill” Google, that’s not just a throwaway comment, made perhaps in the heat of the moment – it is in fact now official Microsoft corporate policy to have Google employees sexually assaulted and subsequently killed with office furniture whenever their paths might cross.

You can understand why they would prefer that not be widely publicized, but it is nevertheless literally, precisely the case.

August 7, 2007

Staring At The Ceiling

Filed under: Uncategorized — mhoye @ 7:11 pm

I had a good trip to a cottage, and had a good time with my friends, I had a good drive back and I had a good full day of painting and house-labor afterwards.

If somebody can tell me why I can’t seem to get more than an two hours of sporadic sleep a night out of any of that, I’d appreciate it.

Though in truth, I’ve got a pretty good guess.

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