July 2013

AsoIku book 14: Pope cinema

Work has kept me from finishing this book, allowing me to defer the decision of what to do next, since I haven’t found OCRd copies of books 15-17 to run through my scripts, and I don’t feel like scanning and OCRing my own copies. Back to Kino? Back to Louie for another book and a half? Make an attempt at Haruhi, Dirty Pair, Tsutsui stories, Nishimura stories, porn novels (lots of new vocabulary!), or go back through and reread without the crutches? Haven’t decided yet.

Anyway, continuing with AsoIku 14 from where we left off, chapter five ends with our favorite teenage goth-loli cyborg MI6 agent kicking the asses of the same domestic terrorist group she slaughtered in her first appearance, who have been nudged by Nirumea into hating alien catgirls. This leads to a short discussion that there are so many violent fringe groups trying to get into Japan to stop the Pope from meeting with Catia that the Japanese agencies are merely coordinating the cleanup, requesting that each country take care of their own whackos.

The chapter ends with the revelation that this historic meeting is scheduled for 清命祭 (read as Shiimii in Okinawa), a Buddhist ceremony honoring one’s ancestors, or more importantly, exactly one year since Kio met Eris.

Chapter six finally brings the Pope onto the field. Antonia dispatched a private jet to Italy, and to save time, Kio is teleported there to meet him at the plane, as are the Catian escort craft, which consist of Eris and Manami in Ruros and a squadron of assistoroids in tiny little F-22s that leave their feet dangling as the landing gear. The Italian Air Force provides a more conventional escort, but of course the assistoroids steal the show, neatly diverting the reporters until the Pope is aboard.

While they’re waiting for him to show up, though, Eris has Manami trapped on her ship, and forces her to admit that she still wants Kio. Eris being Eris, she offers to share, and assures her that Aoi will agree. Manami denies everything, of course, until Eris reveals a secret she’s been hanging onto since book 8: 6-chan spotted her sneaking a box of homemade chocolates into Kio’s house for Valentine’s Day. Eris had also tried to question Yun-fa, and discovered that his memories of that period were quite thoroughly locked down out of loyalty.

I can pretty much insert the scene from the anime where Manami fought back against the idea of such a relationship by referencing Earth law and custom. It works about as well here, with Eris hand-waving it all away. Eris’ trump card, though, is a guilt trip: if the meeting with the Pope tips the balance enough to normalize relations between Earth and Catia, it wouldn’t be a first-contact situation any more, and she’d be recalled to the homeworld for extensive debriefing and retraining, and wouldn’t be back for 1-3 years. Left to themselves, Kio and Aoi won’t move their relationship forward; they need a sparkplug like Eris, or a pushy busybody like Manami. Or both.

Meanwhile, once they’re in flight, the Pope strikes up a conversation with Kio (in fluent Japanese), leading off with his favorite Japanese movies: Kurosawa’s Yojimbo and Sanjuro, and Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor. Thanks to movie-buff Aoi, Kio is well-prepared to discuss these films and how they reflect Japanese character.

More stupid emacs defaults

Emacs 23 adds line-move-visual, on by default, which changes the behavior of previous-line and next-line commands to take you to the next row on the screen. That is, if your line wrapped because it was too long to fit in the window, Control-N takes you to whatever position in that line happens to be one row below the current position.

This is the way the NeXT-derived widgets in MacOS X implemented their “emacs-like” editing, but it’s not the way Emacs has ever worked, which makes it a baffling choice for a default behavior. Especially since it breaks keyboard macros for line-by-line operations, something quickly noticed by users (update: actually, the official release notes don’t even mention a tenth of what they changed; you just have to guess, apparently).

So, using Emacs as an actual text editor now requires, at minimum:

(defun set-auto-mode (&optional foo) (interactive "p") (fundamental-mode))
(setq-default initial-major-mode 'fundamental-mode)
(setq-default enable-local-variables nil)
(global-set-key (kbd "TAB") 'self-insert-command)
(setq-default inhibit-eol-conversion t)
(setq line-move-visual nil)

[and why didn’t I notice when I installed it on my laptop several years ago? Because I reverted to the vendor-supplied Emacs at some point (I no longer recall why), and the Linux distros on our servers only recently upgraded to it]

WebTV finally shuts down

September 30th. I wonder how much of my procedures and scripts survived to the end, on what was once the largest Solaris deployment inside Microsoft.

Bad VPN software drives out good

So, we were completely unable to install Juniper’s Network Connect client on someone’s Win7 box. The error number we got led to N completely different solutions that worked for some people and failed for us, which suggested that there were N different problems covered by that error number, and ours was N+1.

While cleaning things up on the box, I came across a Virtual Router package that was installed, which he wasn’t using, and which hadn’t worked anyway. Coincidentally (coughcough), around the same time more than a dozen additional network interfaces had been created in the device manager, none of them with names, drivers, or any useful detail.

I thought that perhaps the crudware had hit some arbitrary limit on the number of devices, and deleted the garbage ones and uninstalled it. Still no good.

Later that evening, the user did a little more digging, found a different error string, and followed it to this thread on the Cisco support forums, where a similar mishap was preventing a VPN install. The limit turns out to be 1024 network interfaces, and the vast majority of them were concealed deep inside the registry, with no GUI-visible hint that they existed.

An unofficial registry-cleaning script was created by someone at MS, and is linked in the thread, and that solved the user’s problem. I generally frown on running random Windows binaries linked from forum threads, but he was a consultant, and it was his own laptop, and he ran it before I found out about it, so…

ESXi 5.1 on Dell

We bought a Dell R620 to run VMware ESXi 5.1U1. It was pre-configured to correctly boot the supplied ESXi image from an SD card. Bringing it up on the network was trivial. Downloading the Windows vSphere Client software was trivial. Configuring a datastore so that you could actually use the product was annoying.

Y’see, they shipped it with a Windows GPT partition table, and attempting to use the disk produced a lengthy timeout and disconnect, every time. Occasionally, I’d get a pop-up error message, but couldn’t select it to cut and paste, and enabling ssh on the server showed that no errors were being logged.

Typing the error message in by hand (“… HostDatastoreSystem.QueryVmfsDatastoreCreateOptions … failed”) and googling it turned up detailed solutions for the problem, with obsolete commands. So, for the benefit of anyone else who gets into this state on ESXi 5.1:

  1. Enable ssh, and log in as root.
  2. Run esxcli storage core path list, locate your disk by the display name that showed up in the vSphere Client, and save the contents of the Device: field (mine was naa.6b8ca3a0e8405800195f77a21641467c).
  3. run partedUtil mklabel /vmfs/devices/disks/device msdos

Now you can use it as a datastore.

If you're allergic to stupid...

…stay away from any unmoderated forums or comments for the next few days weeks.

I mean, damn.

[Update: also forums moderated by “diversity of everything except opinion” Leftists (redundant, I know); I’ve read several lengthy threads where not a single person participating has even a passing familiarity with what was presented in the courtroom. Their bigotry has left them filled with hatred over “facts” that the prosecution was unable to provide even a shred of evidence for.

Of course, these are the same folks still carrying a grudge over Bush “stealing two elections”, so law and reason were never their strengths…]

Real-life Escher Girl

I stumbled on this picture recently, and was struck by how effortlessly she pulled off the classic Escher Girls boobs-and-butt pose.

Misa Kusumoto, Escher Girl

After a bit of digging, I discovered that she’s Misa Kusumoto, a 21-year-old actress/model who’s just released her first DVD, which includes this photo on the back cover. A few more pictures from photographer Shin Yamagishi are available, as well as a very short bio.

Unhelpful Youtube behavior

If you search for the K-pop band named “시크릿”, the default sort-by-relevancy will put their videos at the top of the list. If you switch to sorting by upload date, however, you will see only a long list of completely irrelevant videos whose titles happen to include the English word “secret”, which is what 시크릿 spells out phonetically.

The underlying idea makes some sense, but it’s not applied evenly or consistently. Many videos will not be found if you search for them in the wrong/other syllabary (a different subset will be found by searching for シークレット, for instance). Fortunately, putting double quotes around the string disables the auto-translation, excluding irrelevant results.

AsoIku book 14, finished

[actually, finished over the 4th of July weekend, but I’ve been distracted recently]

When we left off, the Pope was talking movies with Kio, and Eris was talking harem membership with Manami. With Kio put at ease, the Pope spends the rest of the flight politely grilling him for details on how he met the Catians. All offscreen, so we’re left guessing just how much detail is involved.

Meanwhile, Eris is still wearing down Manami’s resistance, bringing up the whole “Kio gave up on her because he thought Jack was the name of a boyfriend”, and quoting a proverb: 焼け棒杭に火が付く (“Wood half-burned is easily kindled”). Unable to flee, Manami resorts to obvious lies, insisting that the Valentine’s chocolates were store-bought, not hand-made, with her voice getting louder and her face getting redder. Overwhelmed, Yun-fa hides by climbing back into her sports bag and zipping it shut from the inside.

[Side note: Manami uses 出来合い (dekiai = readymade) to describe the chocolate, but it turns out that this word has a second meaning: “common-law wife”. Coincidence, I’m sure.]

The long, long flight finally ends, with the Pope literally kissing the ground and Manami feeling like doing so as thanks for getting away from Eris patiently steering the subject back to the harem no matter how hard she had tried. In the end, Manami had agreed that she wouldn’t leave, but insisted that she’d never join the harem because “I’d never get a confession from Kio… ohshit”. Eris, true to her nature, pounces on that line. With the last of her willpower, Manami gets Eris to agree that Kio has to bring it up, and nobody gets to “help”.

Now back to Jens and Ryunnu. Tokyo is not quite under martial law due to the influx of terrorists and other violent protestors, but most people are staying off the streets. Jens heads out for an unspecified meeting that ends her involvement in this novel, while Ryunnu sits at her computer and does her best to take over Nirumea’s computer network and eliminate all of her online resources.

Meanwhile, our favorite teenage goth-loli cyborg MI6 agent has teamed up with Jack, who springs into action for the first time since book 1. They bust in on a high-class hotel suite and discover that their targets, the radicalized animal-rights group Noah’s 11th Grandchild, who had recently staged a flashy-but-inept protest as a diversion to cover the arrival of their real operatives, has managed to assemble their secret weapon and escape to parts unknown. Their secret weapon is a pair of 分子振動砲 (molecule+vibration+cannon), able to wipe out a big chunk of Tokyo. They call Aoi to alert her that the bad guys are on the loose, and she heads out.

Antonia and her maids run a shell game on the press corps, allowing them to round up all of the heavily-armed terrorists embedded as cameramen and reporters. They’d set up a large number of phony locations for the big meeting, while the actual location was quietly arranged by someone with no public connection to the group: Ichika.

The bad guys have been tracked down to the sewers, and when she reaches the scene, Aoi is surprised to discover that another team got there first: a squad of three Unatan powered suits, sold by Antonia to the JSDF. They take out the first cannon and mop up the minions while Aoi goes after the second. She slices it into tiny harmless bits with a special weapon provided by the Catians, a two-meter-long vibrating katana with a one-meter hilt. Somehow she even manages to cut gyakukesa with this monster, despite its ridiculous size.

With the terrorists disarmed, the meeting proceeds, and Kuune chats up the Pope. They get in one brief exchange on-screen, and then we cut to the epilogue. To no one’s surprise, the Pope gives a big thumbs-up to the alien catgirl invasion, and diplomacy proceeds to the next level. Also, Aoi welcomes Manami to the harem (pending a confession from Kio, of course).

I’ve left out a lot of little things from this one, but that’s because they’re just random details. Ichika teasing Jens about a boy who’s sweet on her. Kuune teasing Melwin about not finding a boyfriend during the exchange program. Aoi’s sexy former combat teacher who now runs the alien-relations agency, who in the text strongly resembles Kuune in looks, attitude, and bustline, but in the picture is just a hot milf with A-class zettai ryouiki. Ichika’s apprentices at the studio, who are also earthborn catgirls and catboys (with the girls in army gear and the boys dressed goth-loli). The cyborg goth-loli MI6 agent quoting Anne of Green Gables after she takes out a group of terrorists. Etc.

The action had a rushed, inevitable feel to it. There was no real feeling of threat or menace, and Nirumea, still on the loose even after losing the cyberwar with Ryunnu, has been reduced to a joke of a villain. And what’s the main focus of book 15, which I’d have to either scan and OCR myself or try to read raw? Aoi’s half-alien little sister returns to try to marry Aoi.

I think it’s time to take a break from this series.

What’s next? Tentatively, I’m OCRing one of the few series that I have decent scans of (1000x1600 PNG is adequate for a page of Japanese text; the more common 800x1200 JPG is not), for two reasons. First, the proofreading process forces me to improve my kanji recognition without the crutches provided by my scripts. Second, it’s Miniskirt Space Pirates.

I spent several hours this weekend tweaking my copy of FineReader Pro for best results and proofing the prologue, which taught me something interesting about how Abbyy handles vertical Japanese text: they rotate the page and treat it as rows of left-to-right horizontal text with rotated characters. This explains some of the more surprising recognition errors, such as the way “一” is sometimes recognized as “I”, and why it has difficulty figuring out the difference between full-size and small vowels, often inserting gratuitous font-size changes instead. These problems would be less common with a higher-resolution source, but running the books through my Lego DIY book scanner would add as much time as it would save.

Oh, and how does book one start? With the staged duel between Marika and Kane.

Dear Glamour Photographer,

Don’t get so distracted by Anna Konno’s hotness that you forget about the laws of physics.

Anna Konno, slightly deformed

(via the very, very NSFW Gazou Navi)


  • George W. Bush was legitimately elected President. Twice.
  • Vaccines save lives, and do not cause autism.
  • There is no such thing as a "climate-change denier", just people who think that Global Warming is 99% social engineering and 1% climate science.
  • George Zimmerman did not get away with murder, and the verdict, which did not depend on "standing his ground", would likely have been the same in 48 other states (and possibly even in Ohio).

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