“Use common sense in routing cable. Avoid wrapping coax around sources of strong electric or magnetic fields. Do not wrap the cable around fluorescent light ballasts or cyclotrons, for example.”

— Ethernet Headstart Product, Information and Installation Guide, Bell Technologies, pg. 11

A for Effort…


…but I don’t think Christian manga has much of a chance in the current market.

Serenity Christian manga

Admittedly, putting a cute girl on the cover with the subtitle “bad girl in town” will pull in some eyeballs, and it’s a good time to release anything called “Serenity,” but the interior art is crap. Perhaps if you’d hired the person who drew the cover?

If it shows up at local bookstores, and it’s not shrink-wrapped, I suppose I’ll look inside to see if it’s done well, but I have a hunch the writing is heavy-handed and the art is weak, a sure way to sink this new venture.

PS: the redemptive power of high-school bible study groups is a more fantastic premise than either Eiken or Battle Vixens. Good luck with that.

A busy month


12/7/2005
Oral final exam for Japanese 1. Get fitted for a tux.
12/9/2005
Fly to Las Vegas, to...
12/10/2005
Walk my sister down the aisle for her wedding.
12/11/2005
Turn 39, then fly home for...
12/12/2005
Written final for Japanese 1.
12/13/2005
Buy my first suit.
12/14/2005
Last class for Japanese 1, deliver small gifts to the teacher and her two assistants. While this could be interpreted as oseibo, in truth two of the gifts were an excuse for the third. I'm quite taken with the youngest one.
12/15/2005
Three-hour flight to Minneapolis, three-hour layover, two more hours to Dayton, Ohio, in order to be...
12/17/2005
Best man at my brother's wedding.
12/21/2005
Flying home to sleep it off.

I’m a bit fuzzy on just how many brothers and sisters I’ve acquired in the past week, a lively mix of Canadians and Ukrainians.

PS: my mother did not in fact die from the shock of seeing me dress formally twice in the same century.

Fuggin’ around


Just keep clicking…

This recent entry explains why Playboy wanted Deborah Gibson naked. Not just because she’s got a great body, but because she shouldn’t be allowed to dress herself.

I think it must be a new kind of camouflage; she’s dressed to hide behind the Sixties.

Yeah, what he said


I love the Internet. Whenever someone writes about how a certain group of people behave, inevitably commenters will prove his point by example. Either they’re not reading past the first paragraph, or they’re so self-absorbed that they simply can’t recognize themselves in his words.

The third possibility is that they’re just drive-by commenters who don’t even bother to read the words of someone who disagrees with them, and just regurgitate reflexively.

Four cores, no waiting


My dual-dual-core PowerMac arrived this week. I had to go with the “low-end” graphics card, because there’s a 6-8 week delay on the better one (I simply refused to consider the best one, which would have added $1,650 to the price), but performance is quite spiffy, and the machine is quite quiet in normal operation.

How quiet? I can occasionally hear a bit of drive noise when it’s chugging away, but I’ve yet to be able to pick the fans out from the background noise in my house. I’m sure that will change when I really start pounding on the CPUs, but when it’s idle, I forget that it’s turned on.

Sadly, since I’ve come down with the seasonal muck, it’s all I can do to sit up long enough to play World of Warcraft for a few hours. The good news is that I can crank up all the video options and still get 30 frames/sec on my 20” Cinema Display. Well, except in front of the bank in Ironforge, but that problem’s on the other end.

Configuration details:

  • 2.5GHz Quad-core PowerPC G5
  • 4GB DDR533 Non-ECC 4X1GB
  • 250GB Serial ATA-7200rpm
  • 16x SuperDrive Dual Layer (DVD-R/CD-RW)
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6600 256MB SDRAM
  • AirPort Extreme + Bluetooth

The machine it’s replacing is a dual 1GHz G4 (WindTunnel aka “Dual Mirrored Doors”), so some performance improvement is to be expected. :-)

Thank you, University of Kansas


I’m delighted to see Intelligent Design being given the serious attention it deserves:

A course being offered next semester by the university religious studies department is titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies."

A new low in gaming lawsuits


I’m sorry, but this is bullshit so raw that even a Democratic presidential hopeful wouldn’t touch it:

The parents filed a suit against Blizzard Entertainment on Wednesday, saying their son jumped to his death while reenacting a scene from the game, the report said.

What scene would that be? The one where you deliberately send your character off the edge of a cliff, knowing that he’ll die when he hits the ground? Or did he leave a note saying that he was going to teleport to the top of the Twin Colossals and try out that cool new Parachute Cloak he picked up at the Auction House in Gadgetzan? Or did these loving parents just not pay enough attention to their kid to notice that he was suicidally depressed?

If this cash-grab fails, no doubt they’ll turn up a witness who claims that the kid was shouting “Accio Firebolt!” on the way down, and sue J.K. Rowling next.

Automating


Most of the real bang for the buck with OS X Tiger is under the hood, but as cool as things like Core Image are, Apple found it easier to focus their marketing on three key features: Dashboard, Spotlight, and Automator. The only problem with this is that they’re not done yet.

Spotlight should have been released as an open beta for users to play with and developers to write plug-ins for. Instead, Apple made it pretty much the only way to search in Tiger, and hijacked a very useful keyboard shortcut to activate it. Worse, the indexing process is a major pig, and the default behavior is to index the entire contents of any disk you attach to your computer, as soon as you connect it.

Dashboard is a cool prototype of a number of ideas. If they ever finish the APIs necessary to write full-featured programs in DHTML, a thousand useful special-purpose tools will appear. As it is, all we’ve got are a thousand web-scrapers, search buttons, and picture viewers, and many of them are CPU hogs. To be honest, I’m more excited by the tantalizing glimpse it gives of a future desktop-layering API; the way that the Dock, Exposé, and Dashboard exist outside the desktop while interacting with it has real potential. I think we’re going to see more such layers in future releases; the most obvious candidates are screen savers and the grab-bag of tools with “float above over windows” options, but there are certainly others I haven’t considered. My other hunch is that a mature version of Dashboard would be a perfect match for an Apple PDA; the SDK’s emphasis on small size and distinctive front graphics fits almost too well.

Which brings me to Automator. It’s actually good enough to call a released application; the problem is that it isn’t what Steve told us it would be. In another year, perhaps, third-party developers will have fleshed it out with a wealth of plug-ins that make it possible to really tie your applications together in useful ways without programming, but it’s not there yet.

So. Today’s problem: my manager’s SO has 3,680 audio files that she wants to put on her iPod. Unfortunately, they’re in a format iTunes doesn’t understand. Google turned up a few Windows utilities that claim to grok this format, but the only Mac tool likely to work was a Mac OS 9 app, and I really didn’t want to reinstall Classic just to find out.

To my surprise and delight, however, QuickTime Player reads them just fine, and it has an Export function that will let me write them out in AIFF or WAV format. In theory, this is a perfect task for Automator: “for each file in these directories, open it up and write it back out in WAV format, then send the whole lot to iTunes and have it convert them to MP3/AAC”. In practice, however, the only thing that Automator can do is allow you to select the files and send them to QuickTime Player; converting them requires a bit of AppleScript programming. Automator will run that script once you’ve written it, but unless you get lucky and find something on the web that’s pretty close, it may take longer to automate the solution than to do it by hand.

I got lucky. Even better, I happen to have another 8,400 of these files that I wouldn’t mind having on my iPod…

[update: it turned out to be easier to hack the script to walk the directory tree directly, so I don’t need Automator at all, just AppleScript. The only way to improve the script further would be to write it in Perl and generate the necessary AppleScript; that way I could have a decent string-handling library.]