October 2007

Rosario + Vampire

So, there’s an upcoming tv anime series based on the manga Rosario + Vampire, and they’ve put up a promo site that makes it look like a fan-service comedy with schoolgirl vampire hunters. This has a certain Buffy-esque appeal to it.

Except that I own one volume of the manga, and it’s filled with blood and murder. Also fan-servicey schoolgirl vampire hunters, but the bad guys aren’t at all cute, and neither is what they do to their many victims.

Even if they tone that down for the anime, I don’t think I’ll be looking forward to this one.

Network Autofellatio

How did I spend the last two days? Discovering that a machine that was powered off was sending a two megabit/second stream of SMTP traffic out through our firewall to another machine that had been powered off four days earlier, and that would have been on the far side of a VPN even if it had been turned on. And the VPN configuration had been removed from the firewall, which by this point was a completely different machine (hardware and OS) from the one that had been there four days earlier.

Blazing Knocked-up Classmates

For quite a while now, a fair percentage of tv anime series have been based on porn games, sometimes scaled down into a simple harem comedy, sometimes left raunchy. I’m thinking that this one (NSFW! NSFW!) will end up going straight to DVD, with no attempt at a tv-safe version.

Anime producers have managed to tone down “screw the schoolgirl” stories before, but when the declared bust sizes range from A to P Q and a number of them are equipped with 母乳, well, I don’t think it’s destined for television.

[and, yes, it comes from a company called SQUEEZ (NSFW! NSFW!)]

[I think the title 炎の孕ませ同級生 should actually be translated as “inflamed knock-me-up classmates”. By the way, the subtitle makes it clear that you’re supposed to impregnate all of them, which means that the 母乳 is just there to add a bit of flavor to some of the sex scenes.]

[no, after waking up, it’s not the imperative -mase, it’s the stem of the causative -maseru, so “knock-them-up”]

[Update: the promo videos (1, 2, NSFW! NSFW!) are hilariously awful. As are the theme song lyrics.]

[Update: Apparently you’ve got your work cut out for you…


Biased sampling...


It’s not fair, of course, but it’s not staged, either.

Dear Sony,

Why on Earth are you shipping a brand-new, business-class laptop with a 14-inch 1024x768 display?!?!?


So it turns out that the reason the Choco Party girl is making the hand gestures is that she’s playing janken:

choco = choki = scissors,
party = paa = paper,
goodgood = guu = rock.

(what, you somehow missed the video? NSFW, unless you stress-test lingerie for a living)

"I do not think it means what you think it means..."

First line in the description of a random ebook that turned up in a general search at Fictionwise:

Desperate straights call for desperate measures

[FYI, the quality of most of their content seems to range from fanfic to slush.]

Sony Reader 505

So I bought the second-generation Sony Reader. Thinner, faster, crisper screen, cleaned-up UI, USB2 mass storage for easy import, and some other improvements over the previous one. It still has serious limitations, and in a year or two it will be outclassed at half the price, but I actually have a real use for a book-sized e-ink reader right now: I’m finally going to Japan, and we’ll be playing tourist.

My plan is to dump any and all interesting information onto the Reader, and not have to keep track of travel books, maps, etc. It has native support for TXT, PDF, PNG, and JPG, and there are free tools for converting and resizing many other formats.

Letter and A4-sized PDFs are generally hard to read, but I have lots of experience creating my own custom-sized stuff with PDF::API2::Lite, so that’s no trouble at all. The PDF viewer has no zoom, but the picture viewer does, so I’ll be dusting off my GhostScript-based pdf2png script for maps and other one-page documents that need to be zoomed.

I’ll write up a detailed review soon, but so far there’s only one real annoyance: very limited kanji support. None at all in the book menus, which didn’t surprise me, and silent failure in the PDF viewer, which did. Basically, any embedded font in a PDF file is limited to 512 characters; if it has more, characters in that font simply won’t appear in the document at all.

The English Wikipedia and similar sites tend to work fine, because a single document will only have a few words in Japanese. That’s fine for the trip, but now that I’ve got the thing, I want to put some reference material on it. I have a script that pulls data from EDICT and KANJIDIC and generates a PDF kanji dictionary with useful vocabulary, but I can’t use it on the Reader.

…unless I embed multiple copies of the same font, and keep track of how many characters I’ve used from each one. This turns out to be trivial with PDF::API2::Lite, but it does significantly increase the size of the output file, and I can’t clean it up in Acrobat Distiller, because that application correctly collapses the duplicates down to one embedded font.

I haven’t checked to see if the native Librie format handles font-embedding properly. I’ll have to install the free Windows software at some point and give it a try.

[Update: I couldn’t persuade Distiller to leave the multiple copies of the font alone, because OpenType CID fonts apparently embed a unique ID in several places. FontForge was perfectly happy to convert it to a non-CID TrueType font, and then I only had to rename one string to create distinct fonts for embedding. My test PDF works fine on the Reader now.]


  • Passport
  • Tickets, tour vouchers, limo and luggage-transfer coupons
  • Cash and traveler's checks in appropriate quantities
  • Comfortable walking shoes that are easy to slip on and off
  • Camera (20/2.8, 50/1.4, zoom, charger, mini-tripod, media, USB cable, GPS geotagger)
  • Laptop (also charger, ethernet cable)
  • Rented cellphone, in case the company gets really desperate
  • One set of nice clothes (well, better than my usual standard)
  • Enough clean clothes to get through several days, not so many that I can't fill the rest of the suitcase with souvenirs on the way home
  • Headphones, earplugs
  • Coat suitable for sightseeing at ~8,000 feet above sea level on the slopes of a dormant volcano
  • Sony Reader filled with Wikitravel dumps, subway and bus maps, and a whole bunch of stuff located through extensive use of Google Earth Plus
  • Sunglasses
  • Daypack
  • Compact umbrella
  • Sundries
  • Partner in crime
  • Eleven days

Soon. Soon.

Life among the Internets

I’m pleased that I’m not the only one whose response to Gizmodo’s latest round of “wacky, mysterious Japan” articles was “could you at least tell us the name of the store?”. At least with this one, one of the pictures had a URL in it, but it’s a chain with a number of locations, not all of which have a robot department.

I’ve been tracking down cool stores for the last few days, and it’s just peculiar to see people who are online and plugged in failing to do simple things like, oh, link to their web site, or for the advanced student, find them on Google Earth. The directions to the various Hello!Project stores read like treasure maps: “after you pass through the arch, take fifty paces east, enter the alley, follow it to the end, then back up ten paces and turn left. Arrr. Me hearties.”

Bad QA, no donut!

This should never happen on a Mac: “reboot in single user and type several cryptic commands if you can’t log in after upgrading to Leopard”. It will give months of ammunition to the paid Ubuntu shills, and even let some Windows users feel good about themselves (“see! see! I told you the grass wasn’t green over there!”).

Changing how user passwords are stored: good. Forgetting that they used to be stored another way in a previous release: bad.

As usual, when my copy arrives, I’ll install onto a test machine and let it bake for a few weeks. My primary machine won’t get upgraded until we finish moving the company into a new building and I get back from my upcoming vacation in Japan.

Hey, wait, I can play this!

I knew I’d find a use for my Xbox 360 sometime: Portal. I’m trying very hard to hold off until after we finish the building move and I get back from Japan, but I doubt I’ll be able to resist, between the trailer, the 2-D Flash version, some of the many gameplay videos, and this:

Leopard first thoughts

[update: Blech: Safari now constructs synthetic italics for fonts that not only don’t have them, but shouldn’t, such as kanji. Just like IE! Oooooh, smell the bug-compatibility!]

Blech: The excessive translucency really sucks in the Dock and the menubar. I’ve got application icons that are invisible, and a multi-colored menubar that varies between mostly-functional and useless. UI visibility should not depend on the user’s choice of background screen.

Woo-hoo: The behavior of Software Update is a significant improvement; previously, it was possible to keep working while binaries and libraries were changing on disk, which had some nasty failure modes. Now, if an update is going to do something like that, the machine logs you out before replacing everything.

Blech: existing WPA/802.1X configurations are not preserved correctly, and the new dialogs are goofy and glitchy. I’m still not sure I’ve got it fixed, or that I’ll be able to repeat it on a dozen other machines. The “strongly-recommended” keychain update didn’t help in the slightest.

Partial Woo-hoo: Spaces works. It behaves in odd, unexpected ways, however, and will definitely take some getting used to.

Blech: the Finder is a mess.

Woo-hoo: adjustable desktop icon grid.

Um, okay: the Finder’s built-in smart folders have potential, but why does the “All Images” search sort the porn to the top?

Blech: why is “Bluetooth Sharing” turned on by default?

Blech: why was my previous firewall setting replaced by “Allow all incoming connections”?

Woo-hoo: Japanese and J-E dictionaries integrated; the search capabilities aren’t as comprehensive as JEdict, but it’s not based on the free Edict data. I don’t know how good Shogakukan’s dictionaries are, but just having a second opinion is often useful.

[yes, this is a test machine; nothing I actually rely on will be upgraded for weeks]

PS: It’s probably coincidence that one of the backlights on the LCD panel started to fail after the upgrade…

PPS: why does the wireless fail to authenticate (WPA2, EAP-TTLS) when I log in (showing connected but with a self-assigned IP address), but succeed immediately if I run “sudo ifconfig en1 down” (note: just down; it brings it back up on its own)?

Lost in Spaces

When you switch between open applications by clicking their icon on the dock or using Command-Tab, Spaces switches you to the space where that application has an open window.

If that application has windows open in more than one space, it alternates between them. So, if spaces 1 and 3 contain open Finder windows, and spaces 2 and 4 contain open Terminal windows, switching back and forth between the two will show you all four spaces in a consistent, predictable order.

Except when it doesn’t. Currently, I’ve got a set of windows Spaced out where repeatedly pressing Command-Tab takes me on a very peculiar tour: 1, 5, 2, 4, 1, 5, 1, 5, 1, 4, 2, 4, 1, 4, 2, 5, 1, 5, 1, 5, 2, 5, 1, 5, 1, 5, 1, 5, 2, 5, 1, 4, …

Wish list for Spaces:

  • visual indication of current space (background color, etc)
  • named spaces (#3 is less useful than "build monkeys")
  • ability to isolate desktop icons to a single space
  • consistent switching

[Update: I killed it! I added a second Terminal window to one of my spaces and started rapidly hitting Command-Tab to see if it changed the behavior, and after a few cycles, Spaces went kablooie. I lost Spaces, Dashboard, Dock, Exposé, and Command-Tab. Fortunately I landed in a space that had a Terminal window, because “Force Quit” doesn’t include an option to restart the Dock (which is the parent app for all of the above).]

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