July 2008

Dear Hello!Project Costume Designers,

The next time you have Hitomi Yoshizawa strapped down for a fitting, please feed her!

[no picture; more and more frequently these days, she’s just bones wrapped in gaudy fabric]

Diablo III preview

Hell has a new overlord, and the torments of the damned tear at our ears.

Oh, wait, that’s just Koharu Kusumi’s new single. My bad. I always get her and Satan confused. It’s something about the eyes.

Stop crying, Aya, ...

…I’m sure they’ll remove the staples soon.


Does the sky taste like chocolate there?

News story from a parallel universe. The Guardian speculates that the World Bank has suppressed a report on the impact of biofuels on food prices, because:

Senior development sources believe the report, completed in April, has not been published to avoid embarrassing President George Bush.

No, I did not know that

Amazon.com home page: “Did You Know Amazon.com Sells NCAA Garden Gnomes?”

No, nor did I know that they sold matching Cheerleader Garden Gnomes.

Phantom meets Heroine

Our story begins with the Phantom Legion, a gang of armored (and, oddly enough, cat-tailed) villains, creating a huge explosion. Later, they gather in front of a vidscreen to receive the praise of their faceless master for bringing him the pleasure of human screams. Singled out for praise is the leader of the strike force, Volken, an armored devil in a trench-coat. The Legion is encouraged to keep up the good (aggressively destructive) work.

The next morning, perfectly ordinary high-school student Toichi Tenkawa listens quietly as his fellow students discuss the explosion, wondering if it was once again the work of the Phantom Legion. Foolish humans, he thinks, how terrified they’d be to discover that the Phantom Volken has taken human form and lives among them.

Lost in thought, he’s surprised when the other boys go wild at the sight of their new transfer student, Kokoro Maishima, a busty blonde who’s also loud, rude, and not the least bit interested in these pathetic boys. Naturally, she’s assigned to the empty seat next to Toichi. Despite her outburst, he politely greets his new classmate and offers to help her out if there’s anything she doesn’t understand. She rebuffs him with a blunt “omae, urusai zo”, shocking and angering him.

Later, Volken and his Phantoms lie in wait to begin their latest act of evil, hijacking a pre-school bus. As they move into position, they’re interrupted by a mysterious and quite curvy figure: The Angel of Judgement, Mighty Heart. Volken/Toichi is stunned to recognize his new classmate, and even more surprised as she leaps into the fray, and is instantly defeated by his minions.

Tied up, Our Heroine’s feminine charms are well-displayed in her skimpy costume, and one of the minions politely suggests a way to deal with their prisoner: they want her to join the gang. Surprised, Volken demands an explanation, and he explains that having a girl around would “enhance” their all-guy family. Volken nixes the plan, so the outspoken minion settles for a little fun, groping his way toward her breasts and commenting on how soft they’ll feel, and if she were to join the gang, she’d be vigorously groped like this all the time.

Our heroine is distressed, and to his surprise, Volken is also distressed, and moves to intervene, ordering them to act like professionals. Unfortunately, he trips on a rock, and catches himself with both hands on her ample breasts. The minions cheer (“Sasuga Volken-sama!”), but Volken is embarrassed, and tries to reassure the crying prisoner that it was an accident, and he was just trying to stop them from molesting her.

Too late. With a mighty explosion, Volken and his minions are defeated, and our sobbing heroine walks off into the sunset. Her true strength, it seems, is buried deep, and only moments of extreme shyness can allow her to call forth her Mighty Beam.

(end chapter one)

Coming from Shonen Champion Comics (publishers of Puri Puri, Zokusei, Hanaukyou Maid Tai, Mai-HiME, and Penguin Musume, among others), I expected Mighty Heart to live up to the “chotto ecchi” part of the back-cover blurb “chotto ecchi-na dokidoki kindan love comedy”. Certainly the cover art suggested as much:


I was wrong

When my friend Hans Reiser was charged with the murder of his wife, I based my belief in his innocence on three factors: his character, his long-standing inability to carry out even simple plans, and the astonishing series of prejudicial leaks that somehow kept coming out in the months before the trial. The fact that the kids (key witnesses) were taken out of the country and not returned in time for initial testimony also smelled peculiar.

Lacking a body or any strong evidence, they tried to build a case where he both killed her in the heat of passion and also planned it meticulously in advance. The former is possible for anyone, the latter was obviously absurd to anyone who ever spent an hour in a room with Hans.

My argument against the former was simply that the person I’ve known since 1993 might kill in the heat of the moment, but had the character to own up to it after. Obviously I was wrong.

Dear Prius Driver,

Just a helpful tip: when you find yourself being passed on the right by a dump truck that’s barely able to do the speed limit, you’re in the wrong lane.

Also, when you finally change lanes to allow the person behind you to pass, wait until the other four people behind him pass before you pull back into the left lane. You’ll live longer.

Dear Potter Valley trailer trash,

(pressdemocrat.com, via Clayton Cramer)

A Potter Valley woman wounded herself and a man July 3 while attempting to kill mice with a .44-caliber Magnum revolver, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

The woman, 43, had drawn the gun from a holster under her left arm, intending to shoot mice scurrying across the floor of a small travel trailer on Highway 20 in Potter Valley, according to the Sheriff's Office.

A few notes:

  • Concealed carry is illegal in California for mere mortals, unless you blow the local sheriff (financially or literally). If that's the case, I feel sorry for him, and hope he finds a better outlet for his frustrations soon. (if you only have it around the house, why the shoulder holster?)
  • If you're adequately concealing a .44 Magnum in this weather, I hope it's stainless steel, because you're either overdressed or really, really large.
  • Mice are very small and fast, .44 Magnum bullets are very large and fast. Both are good at passing through walls. Even if you hit the little bugger, you're going to do serious damage to your trailer. And quite possibly the neighbor.
  • I'm just guessing, here, but what kind of jug wine goes with mouse-hunting?
  • P.S. Get a hearing aid. You're going to need it after setting off a magnum inside of a trailer.

How's that working out for you?

Got this in my change from lunch today:


Dear Emacs,

Here’s what I think of your “modes”:

(defun perl-mode (&optional foo) (interactive "p") (fundamental-mode))
(defun cperl-mode (&optional foo) (interactive "p") (fundamental-mode))
(defun text-mode (&optional foo) (interactive "p") (fundamental-mode))
(defun html-mode (&optional foo) (interactive "p") (fundamental-mode))
(defun sgml-mode (&optional foo) (interactive "p") (fundamental-mode))
(defun sh-mode (&optional foo) (interactive "p") (fundamental-mode))
(defun java-mode (&optional foo) (interactive "p") (fundamental-mode))
(global-set-key (kbd "TAB") 'self-insert-command)
(setq-default inhibit-eol-conversion t)
(setq default-tab-width 4)
(put 'narrow-to-region 'disabled nil)

Japundit hits bottom, digs

The quality of contributions to the group blog Japundit has been sliding for a while now, largely due to some marginal contributors, but now they’ve done something that puts me off my lunch: Boye Lafayette De Mente has joined the party.

As with his books, his turgid, self-important prose and “unique” view of Japan is enough to make me stop reading completely. Blech.

The love that dare not speak its name

John McCain comes out:

"Dare I say Abba?" he replied. "Everybody says, 'Ugh. Abba.' Why is that? Abba was the largest-selling record act ever. Nobody likes them, but they sold more records than anybody in the history of the world, including the Beatles. But everybody hates them. You're a no-class guy if you like Abba. Why does everybody go see Mamma Mia!? Hypocrisy! Rank hypocrisy! I'm not embarrassed to say I like Abba."

Of course, they're LARPers!

Commenting on the common fantasy that America is a repressive police state, Steven says:

It's almost like LARPing for them, with the added benefit that they can feel "besieged and persecuted", and feel like they're part of a revolutionary movement, without actually risking anything important. Because what they're doing is about as dangerous as going to a slasher movie.

Indeed. Leftist Activist Repression and Persecution: a new game from the makers of Emo: The Whimpering.

Mighty Heart, volume 3

  • No sign of the emotionless killer loli. She must still be off arranging heads in her trophy room.
  • No Anekomimi backup story this time.
  • EcchiHentai rival phantom is in the first five chapters. He drugs schoolgirls, almost gets MH to trade herself to free them, publicly humiliates Toichi in a fight (not understanding why his opponent stayed in human form), lures MH out for another duel, then easily evades her attacks in her topless power-up form until Toichi shows up and she asks him for some hands-on assistance, the resulting emotions transforming her "divine wrath club" into its max-power (and NSFW) form.
  • Then, one of Volken's minions gets his own two-chapter adventure, as the eyepatch-wearing nazi chickdominatrix returns. It's a slightly skewed boyminion meets girldom story, with a happy ending.
  • Next, it's Karol versus Mighty Heart in a fierce cooking battle, with Volken and his minions as judges. MH takes the lead with the first course, but Karol wins the rest, until the final course, the main dish: Karol's Passion Banquet (juicy tropical fruits on a bed of fresh Karol) versus Mighty Heart's Snowy Suspension Bridge (one large udon noodle stretched between her mountains, with a cup of dipping sauce in the valley below). MH is the winner by a nosebleed, leading a pissed-off Karol to yank away the noodle, triggering a Mighty Beam explosion.
  • Moving right along, Toichi and Kokoro accidentally ingest matching "Love Portion" candies, leading them to come this close to a real kiss, before a classmate breaks in and reveals the candy's powers were just false advertising.
  • In a rare service-free chapter, Toichi/Volken uses his great power and the fearsome reputation of the Phantom Legion to save a playground from destruction.
  • Finally, the boss orders Volken to investigate Kokoro in order to learn Mighty Heart's weaknesses. He follows her to her rather unusual home, sneaks in when she steps out, and naturally ends up trapped in her closet while she undresses. G-cup.

I’m skimming the story, and only translating dialogue occasionally, but it’s actually turning out to be pretty good, enough that I’m going to go back and read it properly. It doesn’t seem to have much of a fanbase, so I’ll have to pull out my scanner to get a few nice character pictures.

I’m also going to spend some time reading the wiki page and the author’s blog, because this really doesn’t look like someone’s first work. I’m suspecting a history of porn comics under another name or as part of a doujin circle.

Spam: マネーを貰ってタダSEXしませんか?

My Japanese spam is just more fun than my English spam. In this little missive, I’m promised that hot Japanese women are looking to pay men for sex!

Usually, it’s the other way around…


Dear Apple,

Please make the iPhone screen at least twice as large (4x6 good, 5x7.5 better), add a stylus, and come up with a name that doesn’t piss off Jobs by sounding too much like “tablet” or “Newton”. Maybe iSlab, iSurf, iCanHazTouchscreen, iFinallyhavethetechtomakethiswork; something like that.

Crank up the CPU a little, though, because I found Japanese text input rather sluggish on a friend’s original iPhone.

Dear Spammers,

Thank you for (still) not learning to make the carpet match the drapes.

I was idly scrolling through my junkmail folder this evening (looking for more entertaining Japanese spam…) and came across the following:

Subject: Cute dogs massacred in Texas

Alex Rodriguez hot steamy adulterous pics with Madonna

Using Opera's revolutionary e-mail client: http://(removed)

I understand trying to trick people into reading your message with a “newsworthy” subject line, but you really ought to try to make the body match, or you’ll lose that precious click-through (necessary to infect Windows boxes with your Russian botnet code).

By the way, thanks for sending out English-language spam encoded in KOI8-R; it’s a useful clue for anti-spam tools.

[Update: no, seriously, you’re killing me here. Subject: “Charred bodies found near White House”, Body: “Have a break, have a Kit Kat - free online chocolate bar giveaways”. Also, Subject: “Hilary Clinton vows revenge”, Body: “The best places to shag in the wild, all listed right here.” Do. Not. Want.

By the way, I see Charter Cable still isn’t blocking outgoing SMTP]

Dear Amazon Japan,

Please don’t send me the “complete your collection!” email for something when you haven’t yet shipped out the first items in the set. In particular, when I’m waiting for you to ship volumes 1 and 2 of a series, don’t send email about volumes 10 through 15.

Oh, yeah, I'm buying it

Birds of Prey, on DVD. This is worth it just to ogle Dina Meyer. The storyline was cheese, but considering the quality of the actresses involved, it was smoked cheese. Astonishing that it took this long to reach DVD; there was a time when the words “Mia Sara shower scene” would have been enough to justify an immediate extended unrated multi-angle director’s cut box set.

Dear Adobe,

I think I’ve figured out why the Creative Suite 3.3 Standard (upgrade version) installer insists that you exit every running application and not try to use your computer at all until it’s finished: you don’t want anyone to find out that the guy who wrote it doesn’t know how to manage memory.

I made the mistake of trying to open a file containing all my software licenses, so I could look up my CS2 keys if they were needed to validate my upgrade, and I couldn’t fork a process to do so.

What’s more, the act of opening a terminal window to look at the file caused the installer to fail on the current and pending pieces of the application. I had to stop, undo the partial install, clean up some other cruft, and do it all again.

Later, after I started using my computer again, I ran the updater, and since it looked like it was going to take forever, left it overnight. Sometime in the wee hours, the InDesign update noticed that Safari was running and aborted, throwing up a dialog box that blocked the rest of the updates as well.

Gosh, thanks. I just remembered why I hate upgrading your software: my time is worthless to you.

PS: remember when complicated expensive professional software came with documentation? Yeah, didn’t think so.

Dear Free Software Foundation,

$20 says that the Neo FreeRunner, which you think will someday surpass the iPhone and all others, will be about as successful in the marketplace as the Hurd.

Precisely because the FreeRunner is, as you say, “supported by a worldwide community of people rather than a single greedy, dishonest and secretive entity.”

[Update: Ouch. Also, ouch. Second-rate hardware is acceptable on an early dev model that you don’t intend to actually sell to users, but when even the “improved” UI is crap, that “worldwide community” has a lot of focused, carefully directed, market-driven development and testing ahead of it. Oh, wait, that’s the boring work people want to get paid for. Never mind.]

Dear Hello!Project Costume Designers,

I think Yuuko Nakazawa has a few issues with how you’re dressing her. If you see her approaching the wardrobe dungeon carrying some sort of long, vaguely cylindrical package, run.

Or, you know, don’t. I’m on her side.


"Germans?" "Forget it, he's rolling."

Barack Obama, July 16, 2008, as seen on CNN:

Throughout our history, America's confronted constantly evolving danger, from the oppression of an empire, to the lawlessness of the frontier, from the bomb that fell on Pearl Harbor, to the threat of nuclear annihilation. Americans have adapted to the threats posed by an ever-changing world.

Never dissemble the gun

Good advice, even in Engrish.


Dear PocketMac,

Blow me.

PocketMac for BlackBerry

“Hi, I’m a badly-written installer for a small utility that does only one thing, and does it poorly. You’re stuck with me, though, so I can fuck up your machine as much as I want and make you spend half an hour getting your environment back the way you like it.”

“PS: this update might fix your problem. Or not. But I’m going to make you reboot just to find out. Nyah nyah.”

Ah, the classics

Sony Reader firmware update, finally!

[Update: sample picture of a PDF with kanji and furigana below the fold]

Quite a while ago, Sony promised to update their e-ink reader (the 505 model, at least; owners of the original 500 are SOL) to support Adobe Digital Editions (emerging DRM ebook standard), as well as fix a lot of bugs and in general support the product. People have been wondering if it would ever happen, or if it would be a new model. The recent UK release of the 505 was a head-scratcher as well, since it came without any announcement about the overdue update.

It took a while, but it’s here (more precisely, it’s linked from here; there’s no direct download link). Lots of other improvements, including SDHC compatibility and… (wait for it)… kanji in PDF files! You still need to use one of the hacks to see Chinese and Japanese text in text files and menus, but now that there’s a real firmware installer for the 505, you can recover from bad hacks.

Looks good so far.

[Update: the PDF reflow works pretty well for straightforward text-heavy PDFs with sensible internal layout. That is, the order the text was generated in the PDF file is the order it will appear; it doesn’t understand “columns” as such. Unfortunately, the Microsoft Word equation editor violates this constraint, and furigana in Word is implemented as an equation. Net result: Japanese PDFs may turn into crap when you ask the reader to reflow them, so you should format them for its page size.

This also means that graphics-heavy PDF files can’t be resized at all. Maps and complex diagrams must be converted to JPG to be useful, because the PDF viewer still doesn’t scroll, and the resize button is always a reflow button now.

Generally, the UI is much faster (except the date-entry screen, which is glacial), and page-turning is slightly faster. The only EPUB-format document I’ve tried turned out to be very graphics-heavy, which basically locked up the device during rendering. I haven’t tried an SDHC card, but people are reporting very mixed results. I’m loving the kanji support in PDFs, and look forward to trying an updated version of the Unicode font hack to get kanji working in text files as well.]


Miko Moe: yes, it's porn

My latest order from Amazon Japan arrived today, and one of the things I threw in was the Miko Moe comic it recommended to me a while back. In case you missed that post, here’s the cover again:

Miko Moe

The only way that this is not representative of the actual comic is that the girls are large-breasted and sexually aggressive. Our Hero is a teenage boy helping out at the shrine, and he gets some action in every chapter. It looks like the bluette is Miss Right, but at the moment she’s Miss Alittletootight. Fortunately, the other girls are, um, “filling in”.

[note that I’m not shocked that it’s porn; I was expecting it to at least be ecchi, and wouldn’t have complained if it had been a yuri-fest. I just have to wait until I get home tonight to really look it over.]

Dear Free Software Foundation,

Way to win hearts and minds, you spoiled little children.

In every Apple retail store is a so-called "Genius Bar" -- a technical support station, the purpose of which is to offer help and support for Apple products.

You can use Apple's helpful online booking system (no registration required) to reserve time slots at the Genius Bar. There are currently 217 Apple stores in seven countries, giving us plenty of slots to book. We want as many people as possible to book slots this Friday and Saturday. Why not book more than one? Having lots of slots booked will get Apple's attention and ensure that the Geniuses have done their homework.

Head over to your local Apple Store at your designated time. Be sure to get a business card from your Genius first and then politely ask them the questions. For each question, give them a score between 1 and 32, with 1 being a really bad answer, and 32 being an answer that really showed insight into the restrictive practices of the iPhone.

In other words, “we’re not Apple customers, and we’re not even going to pretend to be; we just want to fuck up a real customer’s day and annoy people who’d rather be solving actual problems”. This is right up there with Barlow’s asshatted dancing protest outside the Republican National Convention in 2004.

Dear Maki Goto,

Hello!Project dressed you funny, and they were really pushing a slut look that didn’t flatter you. Avex’s wardrobe and makeup artists? Kill them. Kill them all. Make them suffer.


Crime will go down if the victims are too starved to run away

It’s times like this that I’m glad I don’t follow local politics. Also that I have three cops living on my street.

Dennis Donohue, mayor of Salinas, an agricultural community dubbed America's salad bowl and the birthplace of the Nobel Laureate, John Steinbeck, appealed to the community to participate in a week-long Fasting for Peace campaign.


"Make no mistake, a single fast or city flower or group of grandmas alone won't reduce violence in the streets," the paper stated. "But combined, they inject positive thinking into a city so desperate for some, and represent another chance for Salinas to come together over a community problem."

And why is this news in the UK? Because the Great Nanny has made this sort of wishful thinking their last remaining hope for crime control.

Nice to see not all of my neighbors are as deluded as the mayor, though:

"Fasting will accomplish NOTHING with regard to the gang violence problem. It is your typical liberal form-over-substance response to a serious problem that needs serious action, not new-age hullabaloo."

Make More People!

I’m doing some load-testing for our service, focusing first on the all-important Christmas Morning test: what happens when 50,000 people unwrap their presents, find your product, and try to hook it up. This was a fun one at WebTV, where every year we rented CPUs and memory for our Oracle server, and did a complicated load-balancing dance to support new subscribers while still giving decent response to current ones. [Note: it is remarkably useful to be able to throw your service into database-read-only mode and point groups of hosts at different databases.]

My first problem was deciphering the interface. I’ve never worked with WSDL before, and it turns out that the Perl SOAP::WSDL package has a few quirks related to namespaces in XSD schemas. Specifically, all of the namespaces in the XSD must be declared in the definition section of the WSDL to avoid “unbound prefix” errors, and then you have to write a custom serializer to reinsert the namespaces after wsdl2perl.pl gleefully strips them all out for you.

Once I could register one phony subscriber on the test service, it was time to create thousands of plausible names, addresses, and (most importantly) phone numbers scattered around the US. Census data gave me a thousand popular first and last names, as well as a comprehensive collection of city/state/zip values. Our CCMI database gave me a full set of valid area codes and prefixes for those zips. The only thing I couldn’t find a decent source for was street names; I’m just using a thousand random last names for now.

I’m seeding the random number generator with the product serial number, so that 16728628 will always be Elisa Wallace on W. Westrick Shore in Crenshaw, MS 38621, with a number in the 662 area code.

Over the next few days, I’m going to find out how many new subscribers I can add at a time without killing the servers, as well as how many total they can support without exploding. It should be fun.

Meanwhile, I can report that Preview.app in Mac OS X 10.5.4 cheerfully handles converting a 92,600-page PostScript file into PDF. It took about fifteen minutes, plus a few more to write it back out to disk. I know this because I just generated half a million phony subscribers, and I wanted to download the list to my Sony Reader so I could scan through the output. I know that all have unique phone numbers, but I wanted to see how plausible they look. So far, not bad.

The (updated! yeah!) Sony Reader also handles the 92,600-page PDF file very nicely.

[Update: I should note that the “hook it up” part I’m referring to here is the web-based activation process. The actual “50,000 boxes connect to our servers and start making phone calls” part is something we can predict quite nicely based on the data from the thousands of boxes already in the field.]

Closed Captions provided by...

…some guy. Somewhere.

Doctor Horrible’s Sing-along Blog is briefly being streamed again, and I noticed that Hulu offers softsubs as closed captions. These were not provided by the producers of the show. Just a hunch.

A hero's drill

This is how the world ends...

The trailers for Hellboy 2 may or may not be advertising a good action flick. One thing they’re definitely advertising is the creeping doom that is political correctness.

Take a good look at this frame:


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