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shig's rants

comics:goats, something positive, kingdom of loathing,
stuff:csse @ uwa, unisfa, abc news, on tv in perth.
Wed, Aug. 10th, 2011 03:13 am
Okay, so it's not often that I try and learn another programming language just so I can understand a journal article. Turns out everyone that was anyone in computer science around when I was born pretty much just dreamed in ALGOL or something...

Basically, it's just to get every possible topological ordering of a partially ordered set. On the bright side, I learned a ludicrous amount (only compared to how much I knew before) about set theory to figure out even what I wanted to do, much less understand the papers that showed how. Then there was the ALGOL. Turns out I could probably have skipped it and treated it as pseudocode, but it was an experience.


The paper I was working from is here:

My implementation is here:

Possibly it will be useful to someone else :)


Mon, Nov. 8th, 2010 06:25 pm

The BOM publishes weather radar data online. This is awesome. The palette they use is practically useless for colour-blind people. This is NOT awesome.

The luminance of the scale they use is all over the place. Here is a sample image., and here is the same image in black and white. See how easy it is to make out without relying on hue? Although I can see colours, the scale at the bottom of the image gives a good idea of how easily I can differentiate the scale in the radar map. i.e. badly.

I threw together a few lines of Python that will change the palette of the images to something that is useful for colourblind people:
Read more...Collapse )
Here is the image above converted. (I'm not dealing with the GIF transparency properly).

Incidentally, the storm going over Sydney at the moment is INSANE.


Sun, Oct. 17th, 2010 12:35 am
Today I made my first ever guitar.

There are some really important things to take into account when building a guitar. Things that are very important if you want your guitar to sound even okay, and these things cannot be ignored.

I ignored most of them. My guitar still sounds ok. It was build this afternoon and tonight with a set of strings and stuff found lying around the hacker-space. This is awesome.

The real reason that I could ignore most of the important spacing stuff is that it's fretless (I'm using an open-D tuning). All I have to care about is individual string tuning, not intonation. Without frets, I could set the action very high and avoid buzzing. All else aside, building the frets would probably be as hard as putting the rest of the guitar together itself.

The body, neck and head of the guitar are all a single piece of pine that was hiding in the corner. We were totally air-guitaring with it when it was only a single piece of pine. The tuning machines are bolts with some of the thread filed flat and little holes drilled through for the strings. The strings are anchored behind a bit of brass sitting between the bridge and the main body. We were using an acoustic pick-up to plug it into an amp (I don't have electric pickups yet), which surprisingly sounded quite good.


mood: accomplished accomplished


Sat, Sep. 25th, 2010 07:29 pm

So someone on Reddit was talking about elitism in the Linux community, and titled the post "I had Linux when it was on vinyl"

I'm now trying to figure out if I can get a minimal kernel (maybe one of the 0.9 ones?) stripped down enough that I could actually digitally encode it onto vinyl.

So cassette drives I used as a kid apparently used 600bit/sec AFSK. I was thinking 1200bit/s AFSK would probably be fine for vinyl. At 45 minutes a side for an LP, that should be around 400kB, which would be enough for a small kernel.

I could even put a simple root filesystem on the B-side!

ETA: Data on vinyl has been done before. Looks like I was right about it being possible :-).

Mastering is going to cost me anywhere from a couple of hundred US to ten times that. It will be much cheaper to just make one rather than master and press a small run unless I can find somewhere that specialises in small runs...

mood: creative creative


Thu, Aug. 26th, 2010 12:15 pm

It was interesting reading this article in The Drum:

Myself, I'm wondering if the Greens are going to be able to hold on to the staggering swing they have had advantage of this general election.

The Greens have a strong branding based on environmental issues. With both parties eschewing strong climate change policy in the run-up to the election, The Greens have probably picked up a noticeable amount of votes on that issue alone. It would be interesting to see what would happen to The Greens' primary vote if either Labor or the Coalition took a strong stance to prevent climate change.

mood: contemplative contemplative


Wed, Aug. 25th, 2010 11:43 am

So I have a new phone: a HTC Desire running Android 2.1. It's very shiny.

The biggest downside so far is the lack of battery life (which apparently improves after a few days to only require charging overnight), which will probably be a bit of a drag at WorldCon where I will no doubt be using the thing more than normal. The other downsides that I thought it had it turned out were easily changed, or I just didn't know how to use a feature properly. The upsides are great though:

o Slide, Slide, Slide, Slide. I love sliding panels around. It's like THE FUTURE!
o Integration with the internets: As part of it's initial setup I told it my twitter and google account details, and now it's hooked into my online life. I've also added my home IMAP server, Facebook account and Flickr, and I can now just do things like "Email this person the address of where I am right now", or "I just took a photo. Post it to Flickr and SMS a copy to my Dad". Maybe you people with your shiny iPhones are all used to this, but I just love how I can get everything to talk to everything else.
o Having new message notifications on GTalk, Twitter, SMS, IRC or email all show up in a consistent way no matter what I'm doing, where I can either ignore them, or check them and immediately go back to what I was doing.

A+++. Would buy again. No bobcat in box.

mood: tired tired


Wed, Aug. 25th, 2010 11:32 am

I think I need to switch off any Election related internets for the next few days, just to give my brain a bit of a break.

This doesn't seem to be working very well. I resolve this every few hours, but then figure it won't hurt to go and quickly see how the Grayndler 2CP count is going or check out the latest Chaser Green Ad parody. Rinse. Repeat. Realistically, Anthony Albanese is going to take Grayndler with a healthy 4 to 5% margin, and there isn't going to be a government formed this week. Yet my ability to not care is seemingly lacking.

On the bright side, trip to Melbourne for WorldCon is only a week away, and happily will be catching up with people, not working, and hoping to find new authors to get excited about. I still haven't taken a look at the programme, partially for the wishful thinking that it will be more awesome than I could ever imagine, and partially in the knowledge that I'll have a great time even if it's full of Twilight Fan panels.

(Always easy to put a dig in at the Twilight fans. I should grow up some. Or they should. One of the two...)

mood: tired tired


Fri, Aug. 6th, 2010 05:05 pm

GUMMOW J: "The United States is a country in which some millions of people are disenfranchised because at some stage in their life they were convicted of a felony, a sentence for which has long since been served. It is not necessarily an attractive place to go to for analogies if you are talking about franchise as we understand it in our country."

mood: relieved relieved


Mon, Mar. 8th, 2010 10:29 am

I'm so used to Twitter that I'm going to have to try and use full sentances in this post with concious effort. I'm still writing like
despite this.

So I've had a busy few weekends.

A couple of weeks ago I went to check out a Sydney Hackerspace called
Robots and Dinosaurs. It's in Rockdale, so is a couple of trains,
but was totally worth the effort. On the Sunday I went to Soundwave,
and saw Reel Big Fish, Placebo, AFI, Jane's Addiction, Jimmy Eat World
and Faith No More. It was brilliant.

Last weekend on the Friday night I went to a the Mu Meson archives to
check out wacky 80's music videos put out by a dangerous cult. Saturday
during the day was back to Robots and Dinosaurs, where people were
melting down aluminium and pouring into moulds. Saturday night was at
the packed out Mardis Grais, and catching up with Rod and Matt FTW!
The next day, got up insanely early to spend 2 hours on a train heading
up north to Wyong for a huge amateur radio field day / swapmeet. Having
not actually camped out the night before to get to the swapmeet at 6:30am
(no joke) most of the best stuff was gone by the time I got there, but
it was well worth the effort anyhow.

This Friday just gone I went to a packed out show of The Rocky Horror
Picture Show: One of the first in Sydney for a couple of years.
Saturday it was back to Robots and Dinosaurs again. This is beginning
to be a bit of a habit, but now I am a full member. Yesterday I went
slightly crazy and decided to rent a car[0] and raid Ikea. Spent way
too much money, but now at least the house isn't looking so empty.

For extra points, figure out which of the events above the small
child didn't come with me ;-)

[0] For those not in Sydney, Ikea is pretty difficult to get to with
public transport at the best of times, much less with a small child and
trying to carry heavy boxes of furniture. I can't get the mail delivered
to my house much less furniture.

tl;dr: I did lots of stuff.

mood: exhausted exhausted


Fri, Nov. 20th, 2009 12:48 pm
Booted into Ubunt^WChromium OS. It was loading off the USB stick so it took 6 whole seconds.

I'm using it on a Thinkpad, and basically seeing how long it's going to take before I get driven nuts enough to boot back into Debuntu. So far it's looking like it would be very nice on a netbook (surprise surprise), but at least it worked out of the box with my hardware[0]

For something that isn't going to be released for another year, it's actually pretty stable. Probably because almost everything that is running at the moment is Chrome, which has been my browser of choice ever since it was released as alphaish on linux.

So far I can surf web pages, see that my battery is charging, surf more web pages, and desperately trying to ignore the craving to open a text terminal to SSH into my VM to read my email and IRC.

[0] By out of the box I ignore the hours of downloading and not that long to build