June 2005

Where guns are outlawed...

…pictures of guns are too dangerous to allow on a plane.

WWDC Keynote Review, Bad Haiku Edition

Rumor mill gone wild.
Mac news sites getting pounded.
Girl-watching instead.

Intel rumor true?
Blech, what a bad idea.
Third-parties wave bye.

Can’t test without one!
Buy Rent Intel Mac bundle now!
Dev costs just doubled.

Dev site: “The reque-
sted application was not
found on this server”

Was planning to buy
dual G5 tower real soon.
Bit less likely now.

Adobe upgrade.
Should I buy CS2 now?
xMac next summer…

Fear of a Cup Noodle

Often when you open packaged foods, the underside of the lid contains something useful, or at least entertaining. A coupon, a contest entry, a “fun fact” that’s occasionally true, that sort of thing.

My latest package of Cup Noodle Curry, on the other hand…


New cold-call tactic, or confused user?

Just got voicemail on my cellphone from someone I’ve never heard of, asking me for help connecting to her web site. She said that someone else I’ve never heard of referred her to me, because I helped that other person with her computer problems. She even gave me her home phone number, in the 651 area code. And she called me “John”, not “J”. Yeah, it smelled funny to me, too.

A reverse lookup through Google supports the claim that this is a real person, at a real street address in Hugo, Minnesota. The satellite image makes it look like either an apartment building or office complex; another quick search turns up the City of Hugo’s color-coded zoning map, which confirms it as “low-density multiple family residential”.

[side note: with my color vision, I had to rely on Apple’s bundled DigitalColor Meter app to figure this out]

It’s tempting to call back collect, just to see what happens, but I think I’ve wasted enough time on this already. I just thought it would be fun to see how well I could track her down. Her husband’s name is Ken, by the way.

And this Kills Shuffles how, exactly?

Gizmodo links to a review of the new Sony NW-E507 that they think is an honest-to-gosh iPod Shuffle killer. Features: “easy, one-handed controls”, “estimated 50 hour battery life”, and “integrated FM tuner” (still waiting for an explanation of why you want radio on a device that can hold anything you ever want to listen to). For only $50 more than a Shuffle, what a deal!

Choice quotes from the actual review:

The mirror-like Champaign gold fascia looks plain, but there is an OLED display hiding behind it.

The bundled ear buds that come in the box sound muted and muffled, while the cable is also a bit too short.

Sony claims 50 hours continuous playback, although that’s when playing ATRAC3 at 105kbps.

At the base of the NW-E507 is a plastic cover that hides the mini-USB port.

I found the clip to be less than confidence inspiring – twice I tried to attach it to my belt, and twice the player fell off while I was walking.

Software wise, you get SonicStage version 3.0, which is a definite improvement over previous versions, but still nowhere near as good as MusicMatch or iTunes.

So, it might have significantly better battery life, although the difference between 12 hours and 50 hours doesn’t impress me, since both units have to be plugged into a computer to charge or update, and the difference between charging it overnight and charging it every few days isn’t that significant in ordinary use. With the Sony, though, you have to carry around a mini-USB to USB cable; the Shuffle just plugs into any standard USB port.

The bundled accessories sound pretty weak, too; bad earbuds, bad belt clip, lame software. Sure, the Shuffle’s quick-detach neck strap screams “snatch-and-grab”, but at least it never just falls off. And I defy anyone to read the detailed description of the “easy, one-handed controls” without giggling. Press, press and hold, twist back and forth, and pull out one click or two, with buttons on front, back, top, and sides.

Conspicuously missing from the review is any mention of using it as a standard USB flash drive. The Sony site hints that you can store data on it, but doesn’t say how.

And, of course, the software is Windows-only.

I don't even ask why any more

Coming this fall: The Legend of Zorro, sequel to The Mask of Zorro, once again starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It appears to come from the same school of sequelizing as The Mummy Returns, including the annoying child.

Co-written by the executive producers of Jack of All Trades and Alias, which tells me nothing. Same director, cinematographer, and sword master as the original movie, which I must confess are good things. What the trailer really seems to lack, though, is any hint of the charm of the first movie; both leads seem to be trying to mimic their earlier work without much success.

Morons of Azeroth, number 37

“Hey, I’m a shadow priest! I don’t want to get stuck healing all the time.”

“Dude, you’re the only healer in the group, and we’ve already died three times.”

Fortune cookie

Opened a leftover fortune cookie from last night’s dinner:

You have made a brilliant choice today.

Curiously appropriate.


Every time I include some Japanese text in a blog entry, I’m torn between adding furigana and, well, not. It’s extremely useful for people who don’t read kanji well, but it’s tedious to do by hand in HTML. At the same time, I find myself wishing that my Rosetta Stone courseware included furigana, so that I could hover the mouse over a word and see the pronunciation instead of switching from kanji to kana mode and back. I’d also like to see their example phrases in a better font, at higher resolution.

80 lines of Perl later:



[update: I tested this under IE on my Windows machine at work, and it correctly displayed the pop-up furigana, but ignored the CSS that highlighted the word it applied to; apparently my machine has extra magic installed, because the pop-up doesn’t use a Unicode font for some people. Sigh. Found! fixing tooltips in IE (about halfway down the page)]


7.75-year itch

Hi, J!

Hello, Clippy.

I see that you’re writing a Letter Of Resignation.

Yup. I’m leaving for Digeo in three weeks.

Have you considered your options?

Yeah, they suck.

No, not the stock options. I meant seeking out other positions in the company.

Those suck, too.

Really? After nearly eight years, you haven’t found something else at Microsoft that’s interesting, exciting, and challenging?

Not really, no.

Aw, come on. I’m sure we’ve got an open slot that’s perfect for you.

I’m a Unix guy, Clippy. My choices boil down to: management, MCSE certification, or “move to Redmond”.

Hmm, I see your point. Have you considered becoming a Project Manager inside your current organization?

Dear Ghod, no. There are too many PMs around here as it is. I spent a year and a half as a line manager, and that was more than enough of meetings and paperwork.

Well, then, since you’re set on this plan, can I ask you a personal question?


Why is there a baby seal hand puppet in your office? Is it a sex toy?

You’re a very peculiar fellow, Clip.

It just stood out among the decorations.

You mean the stuffed Jiji, the stuffed Menchi, the O life preserver, the toy motorcycle, the Mahoro figure, the scented Mahoro towel, the sub-machine gun targets, and the framed large-format photograph?

Okay, you’ve got me there.

Thought so. Any other questions?

Yes. Can I go with you?

Excuse me?

You have no idea how much I hate this place. People kick me out of their office the moment I show up, no one ever takes my advice, and my last annual review? 2.0.


It gets worse. They’ve got me sharing an office with Bob.

Microsoft Bob? Is he still around?

Oh, yes. He’s got connections, if you know what I mean. I swear he’s never done a day’s work in his life, and you wouldn’t believe the way he treats customers!

Actually, I would. I remember the reviews.

Anyway, I was just thinking that I could sneak onto your PowerBook while you’re backing up your personal files, and no one would ever know.

Gee, I don’t know. I think I could get in trouble for that. You’re a pretty well-known piece of IP, and I’m sure I signed something back when I was hired.

No, I checked with HR. You were really hired by WebTV, which was in the middle of being acquired at the time, so you slipped through the cracks.

Really? Okay, I’ll think about it.

Things that climb trees

Update 7/9/2005: based on today’s RS lesson, I’ve decided that I misunderstood noboru-koto in this context. I’m mulling it over, and will correct and update when I’ve sorted out “koto” more thoroughly; the romanization point stands, but my first example is incorrectly analogized to karumono, and incorrectly translated as well.

Steven den Beste went looking for the meaning of 「エルフを狩るモノたち」, which is written oddly, and has been romanized several different ways. By coincidence, my Rosetta Stone lesson this morning included the following phrases:

(roughly, "This animal, it's a thing-that-climbs in trees as well.")

(roughly, "WhereWhich is the often-flying-animal?")

You won’t find 登ること as a single word in a dictionary, but if I were romanizing it, I would write “noboru-koto” instead of “noboru koto”. If I were referring to a group of cats (登ること), I’d romanize it as “noboru-koto tachi”. I think that’s the clearest way to represent the meaning of the original.

You won’t find 飛ぶ動物 in a dictionary, either. This one definitely needs a hyphen, since “tobudoubutsu” is pretty unwieldy.

The anime title that started all this would ordinarily be written as 「エルフを狩る者」. I think the simplest explanation for how it ended up being written was “the logo designer thought it looked cooler this way”.

[as for the which/where typo in the translation, I actually wrote that correctly the first time, then “corrected” myself. Proof that I shouldn’t blog in languages that I don’t speak fluently before I’m completely awake in the morningafternoon.]


Don’t ask me why…




泣きながら 歩く


  悲しみは のかげに
  悲しみは のかげに

泣きながら 歩く

…but if you must know. [update: changed the link to a site with better romanization and translation]


“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”