“No, no, information really does want to be free.

“Just like shoes want to be rich, fences want to be happy, clouds want to be famous, and pencils just want to be loved uncritically.”

—Bill Snyder

Friday, January 23 2015

Not Cosplay: Eri Ishida

Eri Ishida

More from the Ultraman 80 era here (including some nudes). Still active as an actress.

Wednesday, January 21 2015

Dear Amazon Recommendation System,

My mind conjured up a rather horrible image of the events that led to this recommendation:

Pampers, because you like circular saws

This one kind of made sense, though:

Luvs, because you want a shop-vac

Monday, January 19 2015

Dear Japan,

I did an image search for antique treasure boxes (骨董宝箱).

I got catgirls.

Never change.

Antique treasure boxes

(this is probably why…)

Stress relief

[It’s been one of those Mondays. Never mind the now-deleted package drama; that was just the warmup for the work day. First came the co-worker who still doesn’t understand the urgent request he made, then my Mac’s video card went out (saved, at least for now, by an SMC reset), and then… forget it, here’s Fuji, from The Kimono Gallery on Tumblr.]

Mt. Fuji

Chrome tip

If Chrome starts running really slowly on a Windows machine, and even google.com seems off in other browsers, but the rest of the web is reachable just fine, turn off IPv6. I ran into this yesterday when my router’s connection to Tunnelbroker got a little flaky.

Sunday, January 18 2015

Dear Hello!Project costume designers,

The new interns are fitting right in, I see.

Hello project internship

Thursday, January 15 2015

Gosh, could this be spam?!?

Hmm, I wonder if this email, sent to my Amazon email address from someone at “netvigator.com”, could be less than 100% legit:

Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2015 09:13:07 +0200
From: “Target.com” <mlclchow@netvigator.com>
Subject: Thank you for buying from Target.com

As Thanksgiving nears we want to advise you that our online shop has an order addressed to you.
You may pick it in any store of Target.com closest to you within four days.

Please, open the link for full order information.

Always yours,
Target.com

The link goes to jsyxzx.com, registered in Hong Kong, but I think most people will catch on before they reach the point of clicking on it…

Monday, January 12 2015

512GB Crucial MX100 for $214?!?

I thought they were a good deal when I paid nearly twice that at the beginning of December, but damn.

Wednesday, January 7 2015

Dear Amazon,

I would pay an extra $N/year for a Really Prime service which included the feature “will not use USPS for shipping”. Every other carrier you use is either on-time or early, but I get things faster from Amazon Japan than when you do “two-day” shipping via USPS.

You seem to assume that if a package is processed at the local post office in the wee hours of the morning, then it will manage to reach my office 0.7 miles away before the end of that same business day. Sadly, it ain’t so. They might manage to make it there by 7pm, but they’ll just cruise on by, because they know the front door is locked. If they’re busy, they won’t even do that, they’ll just wait until after 8pm and mark it “business closed”. Or both, turning it into a four-day delivery.

Saturday, January 3 2015

The Modern Catgirl

Asuka Kishi is a very popular model in Japan, which means she spends a lot of time wearing swimsuits and lingerie in front of cameras. This is a good thing.

(NSFW below the fold; honestly, she’d be BSFW fully clothed)

(Continued on Page 4518)

Thursday, January 1 2015

Ecto died, testing MarsEdit

Suddenly, and I mean less than two minutes after I had used it successfully, the offline blogging tool I’ve been using forever started throwing XMLRPC errors. Support for it was abandoned years ago, so I haven’t looked for a replacement until now.

MarsEdit let me submit an edit to the previous post, so let’s see if it makes a new one successfully, and to double-check the encoding, I’ll insert some kanji: 漢字.

Now for a picture below the fold:

(Continued on Page 4516)

Tsune-gumi on the Bakadai

Baka no Takadai, version 6

15 inches high, 26 inches wide, 16 inches deep. These are terrible dimensions for a Takadai, but they work pretty well for an idiot’s makeshift version: the Bakadai. The braid is coming out nicely, at least; it’s 25-strand Tsune-gumi (3/3 twill), done with a single strand of cheap medium-weight acrylic yarn per bobbin, in a simple zig-zag pattern.

Tsune-gumi on the Bakadai

I’ve had to rebuild it several times already, as I discovered where the stresses were (version 2 included a 4-kilo kettlebell for stability…). The latest version added sandpaper on the takeup bar, to keep it from unwinding the finished braid every time I pull the shed open to pass a bobbin/shuttle through; a real takadai uses a ratcheting mechanism, but I didn’t have one laying around the house, and the only tool I’ve used so far is the saw blade on my Leatherman, to cut the dowel to size.

The key components are the 8 sliding koma and their frames, which are constructed out of two sets of the Martha Stewart Knit and Weave Loom Kit, which I found on sale on Amazon for $20. Side note: I couldn’t get it to work well for weaving or single knitting, but I did make a decent double-knit scarf before I tore it apart to use for takadai parts. It’s a decent kit, but much better at $20 than the current $33 or the retail $45.

The other parts are a cheap lap scroll holder from a craft shop, a three-tier sword stand that I don’t need while my swords are off being polished, two short lengths of dowel, a bungee cord, a “bone” folding tool, a chopstick, three little strips of sandpaper, some gaffer tape, and some rubber bands and string. And a bunch of weighted bobbins, which I already had from my Marudai.

Bakadai v6 close-up

(note that the uneven thread spacing and the camera angle make it look like I’ve only got 2 threads under the chopstick at one point; there are actually 3 there)

Technical limitations:

  • held together with string and rubber bands, so not the most robust thing in the world.
  • hard to set up at a comfortable height; currently it works best standing.
  • the front bar of the scroll holder is always in the way.
  • each koma only has 5 pegs, so I’m limited to a maximum of 15 strands per side.
  • the angle from front to back is way too steep (about 20°).
  • it’s too small to use my hand to create the shed, so I’m using a chopstick.
  • the scroll frame isn’t deep enough; another 6 inches or so, and I could use the biggest parts from the Martha Stewart loom to create a much longer frame for the koma to slide in, and use longer pieces for the koma, allowing me to increase the number of strands and even out the spacing between them.
  • the sword stand is too close to the scroll holder. On the plus side, it’s close enough that I can use the takeup bar to hold the chopstick in place while I pass bobbins through, which makes it feel more like using the real thing.
  • only one set of koma on each side, so it’s limited to single-layer braids. Not that I’ll be ready to try double-layer braids any time soon…

If version 6 holds up well, I won’t make any significant changes to it [okay, there will be at least one more version; the sandpaper isn’t quite enough to keep the weight of 25 bobbins from gradually unwinding the takeup bar]. Instead, I’ll focus my efforts on designing parts with OpenSCAD to be milled on a Shapeoko 3 in the Spring. I have two sets of plans, from Rodrick Owen (with errata) and Carol Franklin, and my experience with the Bakadai has already given me a few ideas that will simplify the milling.

The first thing I build will be a better-proportioned Chibi-Takadai and a set of smaller bobbins, with only the top sides milled to keep it simple. The bobbins will have to be done in two parts and glued together (with washers for weighting), and the koma will have to sit at an angle rather than running in a track; that works well on the Bakadai, and will be even better with purpose-built parts.

[Update: for version 7 I replaced the takeup bar with a 1-inch dowel, the largest size that just fit inside the rubber hooks of the bungee cord. The tension is perfect, and it didn’t unwind at all when I made another Tsunegumi braid. The only remaining modification I need to do is put longer leaders on my bobbins.]

Wednesday, December 31 2014

Another seal is broken…

Momoiro Clover Z (yes, them) has collaborated with Kiss (yes, them).

Jpop teamup: Momoiro Clover Z and Kiss

Available on Bluray at the end of January, hopefully only in Japan.

Although, shipping on my last order from Amazon Japan was scary-cheap, and the yen is hovering around 120 to the dollar, so if you want it, I recommend combining it with the recent Babymetal concert disc where they cover Morning Musume

Thursday, December 25 2014

Dear Amazon,

Another slight classification error:

#1 best-seller in computer monitor accessories?

I’m not sure how you’re supposed to use this with your computer monitor, but I suspect first-person shooters are involved…

Thursday, December 18 2014

Bugs I could do without

I have no idea why, but the order of the output of the permute() function in the Perl library Math::Combinatorics depends on the number of elements in @ARGV. This resulted in a rather frustrating debugging session, in which it was assumed that the output was deterministic, and one could reliably shift off the null permutation.

Seriously, when the mere act of adding a command-line option that is completely ignored by the program changes the output, your library is kinda fucked.

Tuesday, December 16 2014

Dear Amazon,

Please stop handing packages over to USPS. Two-day shipping is now four if I’m lucky, on a package that will be completely useless to me soon, since they didn’t even try to deliver on Monday, and then (allegedly) showed up at my office today at 6:04pm and found the front door locked.

Sunday, December 14 2014

The 3,855 Interlacements of 17-strand Shigeuchi

No, I’m not actually going to include all of them. Not only would that be worse than visiting an endlessly-scrolling Tumblr full of animated GIFs, the vast majority of them are just plain ugly. In addition to the Carey diagram, I’m just going to post six reasonable ones and six random ones, to give you an idea of what’s available.

I’m not going to try an exhaustive search on 25-strand Shigeuchi; 2^17 was bad enough…

[Note: these diagrams are not compatible with ee0r’s 17-strand taka-on-maru braid, which looks pretty much the same, but obviously has a different braiding sequence. Mine is described at the end of this post, and I’ll do a real step-by-step with pictures later.]

(Continued on Page 4509)

Thursday, December 11 2014

9-strand Shigeuchi (繁打九つ組)

The most common sageo (mounting cord) for a katana is a 9-strand braid normally done on the takadai, but instructions for making it on a marudai are here (my own instructions on how to make it on a foam disk are here, in abbreviated form). After a little practice (and the acquisition of a set of 240-gram tama), I made a quite nice one for my primary iaito, using DMC embroidery floss (6x 4-meter strands) to get just the right color combination. It’s extremely quick and easy, especially if you follow Tada-sensei’s pictures and lift two tama at once.

Commercial Shigeuchi sageo are only found in two styles, solid and 2-strand zig-zag (221111111). The reason for this is that most of the other interlacements kind of suck. Shigeuchi is an oblique 2/2 twill pattern, and the progression of strands across the braid is much more regular than most kumihimo braids. Here’s the Carey diagram for the front side (the back is just a 180° rotation):

Carey Diagram for 9-strand Shigeuchi

As you can see, every strand follows the same ordering in every column, severely limiting the possibilities. In fact, the standard “clockwise from the top” numbering system obscures the regularity a bit; if you numbered the five strands on the right 1-5 from the top, and the four on the left 6-9 from the top, the numbers in the above diagram would all be in order, which quickly became obvious in my 9-color test braid.

Viable three-color patterns are even harder to find, and the only three I’ve found that are worth mentioning are 111113322 (double zig-zag), 113323332 (crossing double-zig-zag) and 111223332 (sort-of triple-zig-zag). I’m sure there are others, but my script didn’t do a good job of reducing the search space, leaving me with 674 GIFs to pick through.

(Continued on Page 4508)

Monday, December 8 2014

Amusing enough to get a link…

My family’s coming to town for Christmas, so I went looking for things to do and places to eat. The most amusing thing to show up was this Freedom Festival, which turned out to be an ad for Diaz Brothers Bail Bonds.

Sunday, December 7 2014

Tank-ful New Year, Duck Edition

Perhaps someone will want this to help make 2015 brighter…

Ducks!
“Need a clue, take a clue; got a clue, leave a clue.”