“Internalize the concept that git is designed to forget things. If you haven’t seen something reach another repository, maybe it didn’t. Heck, even if you did see it go somewhere else, maybe it fell out of the historical record there and then got garbage-collected.”

— How to use Git to lose data, by David A. Eckhardt, CMU CS Prof

Haibane Renmei on DVD for $30


If you’re wondering where the DVDs of Haibane Renmei went, they’re being closed out in anticipation of the box set release in October. So, if you don’t want to wait six weeks for the $120 set ($90 at Amazon), and you haven’t already bought most of the discs for $30 each, you can currently get the entire series at Anime Corner Store for $30 plus shipping.

Me, I’m stuck looking for disc 2, because I already have the others…

Rural wilding


[Update: Cox & Forkum agree…]

What could possibly go wrong?

Scientists are proposing reintroducing large mammals such as elephants, lions, cheetahs and wild horses to North America to replace populations lost 13,000 years ago.

My favorite line is this one, which tells me that they’re shoveling elephant dung disguised as “science”:

Reintroducing the modern relatives of the Late Pleistocene losers to North America could spark fresh interest in conservation, contribute to biodiversity and begin to put right some of the wrongs caused by human activities.

No mention of the fact that elephants are incredibly destructive to the environment, and that their populations are exploding in parts of Africa that forbid hunting.

No, wait, I lied. This is my favorite line:

"Free-roaming, managed cheetahs in the southwestern United States..."

Sounds like they’re really trying to manage the ecotourist population. :-)

Naked propaganda


By golly, the collected propaganda of the North Korean news agency really does sound like the stuff you hear from the American Left. Sample quotes:

The South Korean authorities will face a stern punishment of the nation for their flunkeyist deeds.
Minju Joson today exposes an ulterior intention of the crafty Japanese reactionaries to legalize overseas expansion for aggression under the pretext of "coping with emergency on the Korean peninsula."
As already reported, the U.S. State Department in a recent "annual report" on the world human rights slandered the DPRK again. The "annual report" does not deserve even a passing note as it is full of absurd view on value and logic reversing black and white. Because the United States is not qualified to say anything about the human rights situation in the world.

Dear FedEx Driver,


When delivering a package to someone’s house that requires a signature, do not gently tap on their front door, wait 12.7 seconds, and then leave a little note. Doorbells were invented for a reason, and if you’re unable to locate them, it’s possible to put a little oomph in your knocking. Done properly, the customer who’s spent the entire day at home waiting for you will not be forced to drive 20 miles to your depot to claim his package.

I might be more forgiving if this were the first offense, but you’ve done this to me several times this year, and the only suggestion you’ve offered is “sign a waiver so I can leave packages without a signature”. Not being a fool, I refuse to consider this a viable solution.

Besides, I remember when you pulled the same stunt a few years ago, and decided to deliver my expensive new computer to a neighbor across the street whom I’d never met, without leaving a note on my door…

Love, J

PS: the formal complaint is in the mail.

[update: after all that hassle, the item being shipped turned out to be bad, and now has to be returned. Sigh.]

6Sense, podcast edition


A Japanese-language online radio show I like, 6Sense, is published in an annoying way. They keep more than a month’s worth of archives online in MP3 format, but each episode is split into 60+ audio files, accessed through a Flash interface.

Examining the Flash app told me very little. Examining my Privoxy logs gave me the regular-but-unpredictable naming convention for the audio files, and a little more digging turned up the URL that the Flash app calls to get the list for a specific day. After that, I simply used wget to download the complete show… as 60+ MP3 files.

Knowing that someone had to have written a Perl script to concatenate MP3 files, I googled and found mp3cat, part of Johan Vroman’s mp3cut package. Making the results into a podcast required the use of another Perl script, podcastamatic, and a web server to host the results. I just turned on web sharing on my Mac, moved the files into ~/Sites, and typed the appropriate URL into iTunes.

With the latest version, iTunes supports podcasts directly, but the integration is kind of peculiar, and carries over to the iPods. Both correctly track what you’ve listened to, and where you left off in the middle of an episode, but otherwise they’re not treated like regular audio tracks.

In iTunes, if you finish listening to one episode of a podcast, instead of moving on to the next episode, it skips to the current episode of the next podcast. On iPods, there’s no concept of “next” at all; when a podcast ends, it just stops playing. If you’ve set it to repeat, it repeats the episode you just heard. Unfortunately, not all podcasts are an hour long; some are quite short, such as ナナライフ, which averages about 90 seconds.

Ironically, the least sophisticated iPod handles podcasts the best right now. The iPod Shuffle just treats them as sound files, and syncs up the play count when you connect it to your computer. When you delete an episode from iTunes, it’s deleted from your Shuffle. Not perfect, but better for long drives (and I’m driving 150 miles a day right now, as I settle in to my new job…).

Putting all your eggs in two baskets


When I was getting ready to switch jobs back in June, I decided it would be a good time to consolidate all my backups and archives, sort out my files, and in general clean up my data. The vehicle I chose for this exercise was a pair of LaCie 500GB Firewire 800 drives.

The idea was to copy everything to one of them, then clone it all to the second one, which would be kept offsite and synchronized on a weekly basis over the Internet. My many other Firewire drives could then be used for short-term backups, scratch space, etc. One thing led to another, though, and I didn’t unpack the second drive until Tuesday night, and it was DOA.

LaCie’s online tech-support form didn’t produce a response, so I called them this morning. Ten minutes later, a replacement was in the mail, due to arrive tomorrow. They charged the new one to my credit card, and they’ll refund the money once I ship the dead one back (using their prepaid label). Because the price has dropped since June, the refund will be about $30 larger than the charge.

While I’d have preferred to have a working drive the first time, I like the way they handle problems.

The Secret Truth


I hate Adobe Illustrator. I’ve always hated it. If the folks responsible for CorelDRAW! hadn’t turned it into crap by constantly shipping new major releases that didn’t fix crippling bugs that were in the previous version, I’d still be using it. On Windows, no less.

Oh, sure, they never really got on the typography bandwagon, severely limiting your ability to use features like ligatures, swash caps, true small caps, optical kerning, etc., but there were a lot of things I could do in Draw 4 that are still a complete pain in the ass in Illustrator 12. Some days, I still find myself writing PostScript by hand and importing the results, just to save time and energy.

And it keeps getting slower. Photoshop is still pretty snappy on my 1.25GHz G4 PowerBook with 2GB of RAM, but Illustrator gets sluggish well before I start trying to get fancy, and it doesn’t have Photoshop’s scriptability, so I can’t easily automate a complex task and walk away while it runs. There’s no real competition out there today, though, so I’m stuck with it.

Sigh. Done ranting for the day, off to cook and kill murlocs. (note that these are separate activities…)

Sake cheat card


After trying out a few types of sake and doing a little reading on the subject, I decided to gather up all of the useful information commonly printed on labels and menus, and arrange it on a double-sided 3x5 card. It was as much an excuse to play with the new version of Adobe Illustrator as anything else, but it should come in handy the next time I try to figure out what to buy at Mitsuwa.