February 2010

WoW performance on the S12/ION

Fledge asked about the gaming performance on my ION-equipped Lenovo S12. At the time, the only benchmark I had was that it was possible to ride an epic mount around in Dalaran one evening at about 6 frames/second, but there’s really nothing you can do to get decent performance in Dal, on any machine; WoW just can’t handle a big crowd of people.

So, a more realistic test. Last night, I created a brand new level 1 human warlock named Lenova and ran her up to level 7. My framerate never dropped below 18 fps in the starter area, and averaged 24 fps there and in Elwynn Forest. It dipped to 14 briefly when I went into Goldshire (duels and a crowd), averaged 40+ in the mines, hit 12 in the main square of Stormwind (big crowd), but stayed a steady 15 outside the bank in Ironforge (moderate crowd). I even watched the character-intro movie, and it only had a few moments of choppy framerates; for the most part it was quite smooth, as was the gryphon flight back from Ironforge to Stormwind.

I had the visual effects settings pretty low, obviously, but this was at a full 1280x800, with the music and ambient sound on.

[Unrelated to gaming, but I like the fact that Win7 on the S12 is automatically switching to hibernate after the machine has been asleep for a few hours, and correctly resuming.]

[Update: we just tried the Star Trek Online headstart, and just flying around in space, we could get 10+ fps; once we entered a space station (which had a rapper as background “music”; word to my Federation homies, blech), it dropped to 5-6 fps, and lowering the resolution didn’t help much. The Atom just doesn’t have the guts, even assisted by an ION.]

Amazon recommends...

You know, this one actually makes sense. Unlike the “you bought a hard drive, so you might like truffle oil” recommendations I usually get.

The Fame Workout


If I were offered the choice between a box of Honeycomb and sex with a supermodel, I’d have to ask which supermodel.

Today's mail: scam, fraud, and cash

I had three entertaining items in the mail today:

  1. an equity loan offer with highly deceptive terms, from a company with an important-sounding name that was obviously made up for the occasion.
  2. a transparently fraudulent "loan modification" offer pretending to be from the bank that holds my mortgage.
  3. a report that really was from my bank, informing me that my escrow account is so healthy that not only are they cutting my mortgage payment by $150/month, but also that they're legally required to refund the excess money that's accumulated, so here's a check for $1,500.

So, one out of three for the day. Not bad.

It's not fair...

Five people at the table. Two of them have never, ever heard the phrases “jump the shark” or “break the fourth wall”.

Why, oh why, if the pod people are here, aren’t they replacing my friends with alien zombie catgirls?

Japanese I can't translate

未だ筈は筈の儘 = “mada hazu wa hazu no mama”.

I came across this one quite a while ago, and all my teacher could say about it at the time was that she couldn’t think of a way to explain it in English.

Do Not Want

I mean, I didn’t see one catgirl in there. How can this be the future?

Dear Microsoft,

You know, I’ve grown so accustomed to operating systems with native Unicode support that I’m still getting over the shock that Windows 7 still has I18N holes you could drive a truck through. And this time I’m not talking about the deep-seated belief that all USB keyboards have the same layout.

It would be one thing if you’d just chosen a different encoding, but no, the file system is UTF-16, text files open in UTF-8, and cmd.exe opens in ISO-Latin-1. I can switch cmd into UTF-8 with /u and manually change the output mapping with chcp 65001, but since I can’t select a font containing kanji, that’s of limited utility.

Thanks to the beta Console2 application, I can verify that it’s possible to get, say, a Perl script or a sqlite session to print kanji from cmd.exe, but since Console2’s developers circular-filed a bug pointing out that their app would be completely compatible with Chinese, Japanese, and Korean if the redraw code just counted characters instead of bytes, I don’t expect things to improve any time soon.

(Windows PowerShell, for all its apparent shell power, still runs in a window that can’t seem to display anything but basic missionary-position Western European characters)

I don’t want to layer Cygwin or Ubuntu on top of Windows, for obvious reasons, so I’m forced to resort to Emacs shell-mode to see gorgeous anti-aliased kanji on a bare-bones command-line (well, after I spent 45 minutes deciphering the poor documentation for the arcane font-mapping elisp commands…). Stone knives and bearskins, when any Mac or modern Linux distro supports nine billion languages out of the box.

Amusing note: did you know someone out there is trying to sell a C Shell port for $350 a seat? No, seriously. I’d have choked on my beer if I drank beer.

[and why am I trying to hack Japanese with Perl and SQLite on Windows when I have a perfectly good Mac or six, and a perfectly functional EeePC running Fedora12? Because the Lenovo S12 won’t melt flesh when the CPU gets busy, has a very nice screen and keyboard, and Win7 is in most other respects an excellent desktop operating system. I wasn’t kidding a while back when I said that Perl and Emacs are the difference between a computer and a toy; iPad enthusiasts take note…]

Random Thoughts

“I cried because I had no salt, until I met a man who had no entropy.”

Um, isn't California kinda broke?

Trains. They fix everything.

Underground tunnels, elevated tracks and even "stacked trains" running through Palo Alto are all options still on the table for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the agency charged with building a $42.6 billion high-speed-rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

How can you come back when you never left?

I’ve always thought of the phrase “comeback album” as meaning “first release in a long time from someone who’s dropped out of sight”. In the K-pop universe, it apparently means something quite different. Girls’ Generation released two incredibly successful EPs last year, had a major concert tour, released a single with a popular boy band, is constantly on television in one way or another, and one of the members is even the lead in the current theater production of Legally Blonde.

Everywhere you look, though, you see talk about their eagerly-anticipated “comeback” album, Oh!. Just like the Fall ’09 Genie EP was their previous comeback, and the Spring ’09 Gee EP was the comeback before that. The anticipation makes sense to me; they’re talented and hot, and their label invests in quality songwriting, choreography, costuming, and career development. It’s just that “comeback” seems to have crossed the ocean with only its literal meaning.

So, on to Oh!:

They’re performing this song constantly on television, in all three of the outfits featured, as well as little white tennis dresses with knee socks (go ahead and look; you know you want to), but that’s not all. The fans had barely recovered from the surprise ending of the video when they started performing the second song from the album, Show! Show! Show!. I could do without the excessively curly hair extensions and the “hats”, and to be honest, it’s not my favorite musical style, but I can watch them all day long…


Cambridge Mass. Suicide

This story about the “Cambridge Climate Congress” would be hilarious satire if it weren’t dead-serious social engineering. Click through to read the PDF about the “climate emergency” and the quest for “environmental justice”. Count the fluff-headed buzzwords scattered throughout. Picture their future, and when you’re through throwing up, bitch-slap a socialist.

Crossing the streams

I’ve been following Mari Yaguchi for some time, starting with her debut in Morning Musume, and I’ve been impressed at how well she’s diversified her career, enough that being kicked out of the band was only a minor setback to her plans for world domination. She’s well-established as an actress, writer, spokesmodel, tv host, and all-purpose talent, and she even still sings occasionally.

Yasutaka Tsutsui is a famous writer and actor, probably best-known in the US for his science fiction novella 時をかける少女 (“The girl who leapt through time”), the basis for the anime film of the same name. Pete and I have been trading notes on his work for a while, starting when he went looking for a short story he’d originally read in Russian. We eventually found the original Japanese version, and last week he sent me a copy, which I finished reading last night.

So what do I find this morning?


Melon's Not Dead, or will they?

After being kicked out of Hello!Project in The Grownup Purge, idol group Melon Kinenbi’s career initially didn’t look much different. The label had been grudgingly giving them occasional promotion and a single once or twice a year, and they had a monthly concert gig with guest performers, and that continued. In fact, things improved slightly, with the release of five indie singles collaborating with other bands, leading up to their just-released album and DVD, Melon’s Not Dead (even available on the US iTunes store), and an upcoming 10th-anniversary tour.

Their last tour, and last album as a group. When the tour ends, they’re disbanding, and the team of Smoky, Quirky, Psycho, and Bambi will be no more.

My copy of the album arrived yesterday. I was already fond of Don’t Say Goodbye and Seishun On The Road, but some of the others don’t work for me, largely because the groups they collaborated with have very different styles. Review to follow.

Dear Amazon,

Please don’t pollute the well. Search results for the writer Masako Bandou return a link to an Amazon US product page for the title “13 of Pornographic Chica Japanese Language Book”. No details, no availability, no hint that the book has ever actually existed. Because it doesn’t.

The actual book sold by Amazon Japan is called “13のエロチカ”, which should properly be translated as “13 Erotic Stories”. The loanword used is “erochika”, which is not the nonexistent hybrid English-Spanish loanword “ero-chica”, but the perfectly ordinary “erotica”. The book even includes French on the title, “13 Histoires Erotiques”, just in case the casual viewer is confused.

The two possibilities are a lazy “self-publisher” using machine translation (of at least the titles) or a used book store that was trying to unload a bunch of used Japanese books, and was ambitious enough to hire someone who had taken a year of Japanese and could mangle the titles into Engrish, but didn’t bother including the ISBNs.

The only good thing I got out of this little adventure was the discovery that a Google image search for the acronym “asin” returns something far more interesting than publishing data.

A difference in the style

The following four images are the front covers of the Japanese editions of two well-known science fiction novels (two each, because novels are frequently split into two volumes in Japan). I have crudely blacked out the author’s name, so as long as you don’t sight-read katakana, you can examine the covers and try to guess which novels they are.

two well-known SF novels

The Japanese and English titles are below.


iTunes I18N

Interested in Girls’ Generation, but don’t want to order CDs from YesAsia? You can buy their latest album from the US iTunes Store, but only if you know to search for “소녀시대”.

Interested in the extremely talented South Korean singer Younha, popular in both Korea and Japan? Don’t bother looking, she’s not there, not as Younha, ユンナ, or 윤하. On the bright side, if you search for “윤하”, you’ll find 윤손하, who is also a pretty, pretty good singer, although her Wikipedia page suggests that she’s a bit of a bridge-burner.

"Sorry about all those childhood diseases I helped bring back. My bad."

Jenny McCarthy, outspoken anti-vaccination activist, is now furiously beck-pedaling thanks to the discovery that her child is not autistic, and likely never was.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled herd immunity.

…unless Jenny and the gang already killed you, of course.

Amazon Recommends

We had a little contest tonight, to see who got the least comprehensible recommendation from Amazon. Here’s my best: The Complete Benny Hill, because I bought a crockpot.

Slow-cooked Hill

Amber Benson, novelist

The first time I realized that Amber Benson had more going for her than I’d been shown was when she opened her mouth during the Buffy musical and sang. Suddenly a decent actress who’d capably immersed herself into a minor supporting role in the series was now a singer with a lovely voice. The second was when I got a good look at her face when she wasn’t made up to look plain and a bit frumpy; she looks as good as she sounds. The third time was when Amazon recommended her novel Death’s Daughter, and I discovered that she had another voice worth hearing.

It’s not my usual genre of fantasy; at least, the things Amazon starts recommending once you buy it are the kind of chick-flick broody-goth romangst fantasy that have stronger ties to Harlequin than Tolkien. Fortunately, Death’s Daughter is neither dark nor brooding, and the world-building is first-rate. The supporting cast is only lightly sketched, admittedly, but the heroine makes up for it by being quite thoroughly developed, and carries the story along superbly. It’s a good book, and now she’s made another one, Cat’s Claw.

It’s a lot of fun. I don’t usually stop in the middle of a page, laugh out loud, reread it, and then laugh out loud again. Benson got me to do that in Cat’s Claw. I won’t say where; if you read it, you’ll know the spot.

Definitions that don't help...

I was looking up a Japanese word. I knew what it meant. I knew how it had been formed from the parent word. I knew the writer had used it correctly. It just wasn’t in my usual dictionaries, and I wanted to see if there was some nuance to the usage that wasn’t obvious from the construction.

The word was 偉大さ (“idaisa”). Idai by itself is in most dictionaries. As a noun, it means greatness, mightiness, grandeur; as a -na adjective, great, mighty, grand. The -sa ending converts adjectives to nouns, so idaisa should end up with exactly the same meanings as the noun form of idai, but it could emphasize one in particular, or it could simply be more formal. In this case, I think it’s a bit of both; formal, because it’s the foreword to a book about her youth, and emphasizing mighty, because her story is about Ultraman.

But the reason I’m writing is to mention the one dictionary entry that did list idaisa, and included among its meanings a word forged from the purest Scrabbleite:


Yeah, that helped, thanks.

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