August 2011

Lion warning

If you turn on the new Filevault full-disk encryption on a system that has more than one user, and have a secondary user (possibly limited to ones not authorized to unlock the disk), then if you allow the screensaver to activate (which by default will also lock the screen), clicking the “Switch User” button can cause a kernel panic. Not all screensavers will do this, but it is 100% repeatable for the ones that do.

Ironically, I first had this happen while running Jamie Zawinski’s BSOD screensaver…

[Update: okay, switching to a “safe” screensaver isn’t good enough if you actually log into the secondary account and then log back out. That’s triggering a panic for me, even with one of Apple’s supplied screensavers. Also, once the disk has been unlocked by an authorized user, it appears non-authorized users can log in just fine.]

Imminent Death of Productivity Predicted

The English adaptation of Chantelise is out. Free demo, 10% off through Friday. From the folks who brought you Recettear

TV Japan, good and bad

On the whole, I’m glad that I hooked back up with Disk Network and subscribed to TV Japan, but only because my box has DVR functionality. If I were limited to what’s on when I’m home, it wouldn’t be worth the $25/month.

My goal was to listen to a lot more Japanese, and more importantly, to unexpected Japanese, delivered in a variety of ways. Because I’m incapable of ignoring human voices (which really sucks when you work in a cubicle…), I expected the constant exposure to tug at my brain a little, as I tried to understand it, and that’s what I’m getting.

In particular, because I’m generally not actively watching, I can’t anticipate the general category of phrases I’m going to hear. Maybe it’s a period drama with formal speech, maybe it’s a surly teenager griping, maybe it’s a detective grilling a suspect, etc. This has done a lot to break me of the habit of trying to analyze or translate sentences; either I understand it or I don’t. If I got it, I don’t have time to set up for the possible responses; all I can do is keep going until I end up baffled. This is the same approach that gets me through light novels, where if I stop too long to reason something out, I’m no longer reading. I’ve built myself a much stronger support system for the novels, but then, it’s simply harder to read the languange than it is to listen to it.

Things I skip:

  • children's shows
  • anything with English, especially Japanese dubbed over still-audible English
  • any show where they frequently talk over music that has vocals (travel, soft news, talk shows, etc)
  • health, beauty, and exercise shows; they can be fun to look at, but the speech is deadly dull
  • large chunks of shows like Music Station; too much rap and hip-hop influence
  • most non-pop music shows, especially amateur singing
  • anime; they simply don't run anything interesting
  • angsty teen school drama
  • stand-up comedy


The haves and the have-nots of Frito-Lay

I confess, the one that caught my eye was the pig. I think a pork-positive icon would be more informative, given that most of their brands do not at first glance conjure up the image of delicious bacon fat. Indeed, in most product lines, almost everything has a no-porcine-enzymes icon on it, and many of the ones that are missing the icon are still listed on the pork-free page.

I’m not complaining about the detailed nutritional/allergy/religious information on their web site, I’m mostly just amused by their attempt to represent complex concepts with “clear” icons. In particular, the Baked icon that looks like Bacon, the nearly-identical Lactose-free and MSG-free bottles, and the Additive-free drop of oil.

AsoIku 8, random notes

Just finished chapter 3, and things are heating up. Kio has persuaded the others that it’s time to go on the offensive, and stop just reacting to their opponent’s machinations. And it’s time for a permanent embassy. Also, it’s almost Valentine’s Day, so chocolates are being acquired and/or assembled for delivery, especially by Sara, who has a lot of assistoroids to bake for.

Jens is settling into her exile, working as a waitress at Colonel’s coffee shop in Tokyo. The neighbors have long since become accustomed to the local Dogs and their assistoroid, and accept Jens without hesitation.

Ryunnu is horrified to discover that she’s one of the bad guys. She’s a very good analyst, and her research programs managed to assemble scattered facts that revealed some very unpleasant truths about their actions on Earth. The alliance of three outlaw races hasn’t just been illicitly engaged in mining and trade, they’ve been deliberately interfering in international relations to keep Earth divided and controllable. She thinks of her race as honorable, proud, and noble, and wishes she could talk things over with her big sister. She settles for Muttley, swearing him to secrecy.

Mamami, who wasn’t on the ship last book to meet little Raama, gets a shock as she meets Chaika’s oldest daughter Seruka, a quite tall, gray-clad, short-haired (lit: ベリーショート), reserved catgirl about Eris’ age, who seems a bit embarrassed by her mother. Her reaction to mention of her father suggests that he’s a bit of a character as well.

The way to Seruka’s heart is to show her your wood. Apparently she spent her childhood on a forest planet that Chaika used to be stationed on, and has found artificial wood a poor substitute. She practically snuggles the wooden posts in Kio’s house.

Seruka is helping with the embassy move (from the Wikipedia entry, I gather she becomes the security chief there), and has an assistoroid with her who shows that Earth culture is definitely having an impact on the ship. Last book, the only custom models were seen at the repair depot, with the rest being standard models that varied only by color.

Seruka’s wears a beret, a leather jacket, and an eyepatch. When instructed to gather data on the layout, contents, and wiring of Kio’s house, he pulls out a recording device (which looks suspiciously like an old 8mm film camera) and begins moving around in a crouch. When Sada-yan asks him why, he answers “low-angle is the man’s angle” (lit: ろーあんぐるはおとこのかくどだ)

His name? Snake.

Encrypted Lion sleep/hibernate note

  1. Full-disk encryption is unlocked at power-on.
  2. Users not authorized to unlock the disk can use the system normally once it has been unlocked. (subject to random kernel panics...)
  3. Sleep does not lock the disk.
  4. Hibernate does.
  5. A sleeping Mac will automatically switch from sleep to hibernate if power is interrupted or the battery gets low.
  6. A sleeping Mac may switch to hibernate under other circumstances, such as "been asleep for X minutes". The hooks are there, but I haven't seen this behavior yet on one that's not low on battery.
  7. [Update] normally, when you shut down, you have the option to choose not to reopen applications on boot; if, however, other people are logged in, the override-and-shutdown-anyway dialog does not include this option. And, of course, you're not allowed to change the default behavior.
  8. [Update] If you wake up the machine while it's very low on battery power, and manage to enter your password before it insists on going back to sleep, then when you plug it in and wake it up, you will not be required to enter your password. The "emergency low-power" sleep does not re-lock the screen.

Taken separately, each piece makes perfect sense. It’s only in combination that there are some surprising behaviors, which can become even more fun when you add in some of the poorly-thought-out iPadifications.

Apple’s goal (incompletely implemented and rushed out the door) is to blur the distinction between “on” and “off” at all levels, so that your Mac, like your iPad, is always in the state you left it, whether you put it to sleep, shut it off, crashed it, or whatever. For a single-user, single-task device like the iPad, this is a reasonable goal. For a laptop, especially one that doesn’t run only Apple-supplied software and may be used in very different environments, it may be the exact opposite of a good idea.

For a laptop that contains data sensitive enough to encrypt, it’s downright stupid. Left Hand, go have a little chat with Right Hand about what you’re doing, mmkay?

AsoIku book 8, finished

Sada-yan gets all the girls. Chiba-chan and Kin-chan get some maid-time as well, but Sada-yan is The Man.

And they did what with the space elevator?

And gosh, where-o-where did that third box of chocolates come from in Kio’s bookbag? Is it finally time for a third confession?

Also, the Americans-as-bad-guys thing is getting old. Yes, the villains have been pulling their strings for a very long time, and it’s the country they draw most of their local resources from, but it feels like there’s a bit of authorial axe-grinding mixed in. Given the post-war history of Okinawa, I can understand it, but I find it more distracting than perhaps the Japanese audience does.

If I were assembling a second season of the anime, so far I’d have two episodes to hit the highlights of books 5 and 6 as a recap and new-villain introduction, three for the mix of fun and non-enemy-driven crisis in book 7, and two or three for book 8, leaving room for some filler before the big action-packed finale. What I don’t know yet is if book 10 can be that finale.

Book 9 is side stories, one of which was already used (quite well) as episode 9 of the first series. From a casual skim of the pictures and contents, book 10 has major conflict, but I don’t know if it will make a satisfying finale, and a lot of the things they changed or skipped for the anime will make it hard to adapt. Director Kawasaki has a significant role, and Jens-in-exile is a much more sympathetic character (which will take a lot of work; anime Jens is about as warm and cuddly as a hacksaw). And then there’s The Ichika Problem; she’s hooked into the story any number of ways, and the OVA’s casual revelation that no one is surprised she’s a catgirl is problematic. They definitely shouldn’t bring in the Shureio crew at this late date, but they still have to explain how she’s connected to all the players, and spend some screen time getting the other Catians familiar with her (pleasepleaseplease use the drinking party with Chaika).

For good filler, I want Aoi’s family history, which I only know about through the Wikipedia entry. Unfortunately, that would bring in a good chunk of books 12 and 13; to make it work, they may need two episodes, and I’m not sure they can fit it into the continuity. That might also make a good OVA, if they never get another season.

Am I still enjoying the books? Yes, but their serial nature is a bit annoying sometimes. If I could read them at full speed, the developments among the supporting cast wouldn’t seem so agonizingly slow, but as it is, they tend to show up for one or two scenes, have an interesting moment, and then vanish again without resolving any of the open questions. For instance, I have a real problem with Ryunnu still not knowing that Jens is on Earth. Not only are they both running around in Tokyo, but Ryunnu has been hacking around behind her boss’s back to find out what’s really going on, and Muttley is now her assistant and confidant. I know this all comes to a head in book 10, but a lot of their actions are driven by their connection as sisters, and it’s been months.

…and now book 9 is nothing but side stories. Good ones, I expect, but still, it will drag things out for me. Grumble.

Fear of not flying

It’s hard to look forward to a relaxing vacation when the airline keeps silently canceling your outgoing flight. This is the second time my sister has checked her upcoming itineraries and discovered that our flight from San Franciso to Osaka was missing. No notification email, no refund, no hint on the site that we ever booked such a flight, and not much concern from the folks who answer the phones. If the higher-level support rep doesn’t sweeten the deal for us after the second screw, I will be “less than polite” about it.

Our new flight connects through Tokyo, adding three hours to the day. The good news is that a flight to Tokyo is less likely to be canceled, and the domestic leg is JAL.

Grumble. Clearly I should stop using the Brickmuppet Travel Agency, before we get to Kyoto and find our hotel burned down.

AsoIku book 9, struggling

[Update: Momiji’s opening action scene from episode 1 was also adapted from book 9, but more loosely. More on that after I finish it.]

This book takes place at two different points in the timeline, identified as “winter break” and “after spring break”. Book 8 ended with Valentine’s Day, so the first part is flashback. The framing story is Ichika sitting at home on New Years Eve, playing mahjongg with Ichika, Ichika, and Ichika. I get the impression that the other three are from parallel universes.

Chapter 1 is an end-of-year party at Kio’s house, featuring the first real appearance by his parents. (Dad had previously shown up just long enough to offer Eris a beer in book 1).

  • Mom isn't quite as bad as Sara when it comes to assistoroids.
  • They return the ridiculous rent Kuune paid for use of their house as the embassy. Kio hadn't known about it, and was shocked at the amount.
  • Mom gives it back to Eris in the form of a bank account in the name Eris Kakazu. Kio and Dad exchange uneasy glances, recognizing Mom's not-so-subtle matchmaking.
  • Uncle Yuuichi and Itokazu-sensei are dating (thanks to the events of book 6), but currently keeping it a secret.
  • Sara's been busy making formal new-year outfits for all of the assistoroids. She enlisted Ichika's aid, but this apparently happened before the other three Ichikas showed up.
  • Timing issue: before they show up, Kio and Eris talk about having already met her parents. Also, when Aoi shows up, her thoughts seem to match up with that, and later Kio reflects on having been to space three times (first time to save the ship, second time to get his genemods reversed, third time for book 7). The problem is, book 6 ended on Christmas Day, and then I'm pretty sure book 7 was nearly a month later, based on the amount of time the various world navies had to get used to the sight of the assistoroid patrols at the space elevator. Oops?

Chapter 1.5 is a collection of secret documents and conversations covering the government reactions to events from the initial reception of messages from the Catians through the end of the year. Lots of stilted official-style writing and vocabulary, so I’m sure I missed some things in here.

Chapter 2 is the last remaining major item that was used in the anime, Lawry’s visit to Earth. This is something I want to read carefully. As adapted for the anime, it fleshed out the Catians and Eris nicely. Also, while it seems to be a standalone piece, there may be a significant bit of foreshadowing for the conflict in book 10.

Munuvia DNS outage

Looks like Pixy’s empire has temporarily vanished from the net; I can’t get response from either of the nameservers. One of them is pingable, but not answering DNS. I’d send email, but, well, y’know.

[Update: all better now]

Momiji in action

For some time now, I’ve been wondering if the opening action scene in episode 1 was taken from somewhere in the novels. Yesterday morning, I found its origin in chapter 3 of book 9.

The day before Lawry arrives on Earth, Aoi finds the key to a post-office box that was used to contact her back in the bad old days when she was a secret agent. She goes to the post office intending to just drop it off, but before she has a chance to say anything, the employee has gone off to retrieve her box. Inside, she finds a variety of messages related to her former career, none of which matter to her at all, and one foreign letter, in English (yes, this is how it’s printed in the book…):

Hello momiji.
Do you remember me?
I am "Burning rose".
Woman into whom life changes thanks to you.
…wish to express our gratitude to you by us.…
I want to meet one of these days if it is good.
Let's meet by you in the Yogi park on February xx day if this letter is read.

It returns if not coming…………

The date? Tomorrow. In flashbacks, Aoi remembers a certain night mission, from a time before she met Kio. It’s basically the same battle at sea against smugglers, up to the point where she’s disposed of the crew and is alone in the cargo hold. In the anime, she heads up to the bridge and confronts the last survivor, and the scene ends when he blows up the ship to kill them both.

In this version, while down in the hold, she’s attacked by a powerful pyrokinetic, Burning Rose, a former CIA agent turned mercenary. There’s no contraband in the crates; the whole thing was a setup to take her out, and Rose has the upper hand. It’s a deathmatch, both of them armored from head to toe and heavily armed, and in the end, Aoi seems to be the only survivor, pulled out of the sea by her support ship. Yeah, the ship still blew up, but it was more of a side-effect of their fight than a deliberate act.

Aoi remembers the soulless fighting machine she was back then, and wonders if she’s still strong enough to take on an enemy from her past. She hides her concern from her assistoroids, afraid more of what Rose’s powers could do to them than for herself, and cheerfully gives them permission to spend the day with Lawry. She carefully checks out the rendezvous point in advance, then prepares her weapons and heads out.

It’s a very public place, and she’s not sure what the trap will be, but when she gets there, all she finds is a lovely young American woman sitting on a bench, casually reading a book for newlyweds. Scanning the area for threats and not finding them, Aoi calls out, “Where are you, Burning Rose?”. The young woman on the bench stands up in surprise and asks, “Are you Calamity Momiji?”. (yup, the kanji 悪縁紅葉 (“Evil-Destiny Momiji”) is given the furigana reading カラミティ・モミジ)

Rose is honestly thrilled to see Aoi, and embraces her so quickly that she forgets about her weapons. Rose is so happy that she’s practically babbling as she talks about trying to find a good way to reach Aoi to thank her. Why? Because after her half-dead body washed up onto a nearby island and she was nursed back to health by the Intern who found her, she discovered that her powers were gone.

She could be a normal woman, escaping the lonely and dangerous life of an esper. She feels like she’s been born again, and hopes that Aoi’s new life is going well, too. And then she runs off to greet her husband (a certain Intern), leaving a bemused Aoi waving as the happy newlyweds walk away.

Amazon recommends...

My deepest fear is that someday these Amazon recommendations will turn out to be right.

Mixer Glove Urine Toast

There are worse places to be bitten...

…but I can now state from experience that a mosquito bite on the eyelid is quite annoying.

Also, unrelated, never run an application that’s located on an NFS file server at the other end of an OpenVPN tunnel. That hurts, too.

iPadification, continued

In OS X Lion, it is no longer possible to manually create 802.1x profiles. You must use the iPhone configuration tool to generate a .mobileconfig file for users to download and double-click.

Dear 4minute,

Korean girls should never rap in Japanese.

Okay, neither should Japanese girls (or, well, anyone, in any language), but somehow it’s particularly bad when the gratuitous rap break in the middle of a bouncy pop song is delivered phonetically.

Also, why such harsh autotune in a video that’s full of cuddly cuteness?

And is it just me, or does Hyuna look like a tiger cub in a room full of kittens, particularly in the dance scenes?

And why, since it sounds like very-nearly-17 SoHyun is the only one who actually speaks Japanese, does she get so few lines?

Sorry, girls, but the awful rap and autotune will keep me from buying your albums, because I don’t know if I’ll be able to listen to them without pain; I’ll stick to watching the video with my hand over the mute button (not a euphemism). Hyuna’s solo effort Bubble Pop, on the other hand, is pure eye/ear candy.

Touring Japan with Google Earth

Google Earth now has layers for Japan Tourism and Kyoto Tourism, linked to pictures and English text provided by JNTO. Good stuff, although of course the national-level layer is pretty sparse. Fortunately, we’re going to Kyoto.

Amazon Betterizer

I make fun of Amazon’s recommendations a lot, but they do put a lot of work into improving the system, and the latest effort seems to be the interactive betterizer.

[Update: sample output; it doesn’t know me very well yet.]

[Update: with a bit more training, it offered me the complete Incredible Hulk TV series on DVD for $29, so I can’t complain.]

Dear Lenovo,

Between the product page that focuses almost exclusively on vague descriptions of bundled apps, the extremely weak coverage of yesterday’s press conference, and the distinct lack of detailed product reviews based on actual shipping hardware, one might wonder if you’re not terribly excited about releasing the ThinkPad Tablet, even with the real digitizer hardware that makes it possible to use a stylus for more than fingerpainting.

I managed to find confirmation that it supports the regular Android Market as well as the Lenovo App Store, but does it work with Amazon’s App Store? Can you cleanly delete unwanted bundled apps, such as McAfee for Android? Does the note-taking app include all of the optional handwriting recognition languages, such as Japanese? If not, are they available as add-ons?

The product doesn’t seem to be really getting launched, y’see. Most of the press coverage is still from over a month ago, and is a mix of direct quotes from press releases and handwaved comments about how good it will be when it’s finished.

Which suggests that until this week, it was still so rough that it couldn’t be sent out for real reviews. This might have been okay if you’d been the first company to launch an Android tablet, or perhaps even if you hadn’t already shipped a similar one (without the pen) in the IdeaPad line.

[Update: the ship date keeps slipping on, and I don’t think it’s due to a huge number of orders…]

AsoIku book 9, finished

(and, actually, book 10 started; I just didn’t have time to write anything about it earlier)


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