December 31, 2004

Goodbye 2004

Last post.

Bad news: I lost my phone again. Idiot. And after I was warned about keeping your PDA secured.

Good news: I just met the owner of the storage room down the hall from our condo. That room was part of the biggest regret of my short life. When we bought our condo, the developer was selling that room (like around 150 square feet of storage!) and asked that I make an offer. I low-balled and they would never return my calls. The one time in my life that I try to haggle and it goes south. So anyway, the lady who owns it was inside rearranging some stuff. It was completely filled and although I didn't think she'd want to sell I had to ask. Lucky break--she's interested and will call us next week with her asking price. Groo. Vee. I love it when a plan works out.

Happy New Year.

Continue reading "Goodbye 2004"
posted by sstrader at 6:57 PM in Misc | tagged new years | permalink | comments (0)

December 29, 2004

New book by Jared Diamond

I had first heard about Jared Diamond in the seminal yet long defunct magazine Lingua Franca (Google Lingua Franca magazine for the full story). His book Guns, Germs, and Steel was revered and given a high place among its most influential books of academia.

He's recently released another book, similar in scope, called Collapse. Yet where GG&S focused on how Western society survived, Collapse examines those that failed and attempts to explain why.

Check out the Malcolm Gladwell review in the recent New Yorker and this excerpt I had forgotten about from Harper's June 2003 issue.

Continue reading "New book by Jared Diamond"
posted by sstrader at 11:41 AM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)

December 27, 2004

Support for recording shows added to RadioWave

In between X-mas stuff, I've been adding support for scheduling recordings and adjusting time zones. The results aren't perfect, but it's very close to providing a functional tool.

Continue reading "Support for recording shows added to RadioWave"
posted by sstrader at 9:34 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

December 26, 2004

A poor legacy

Recent discoveries:

THANKS TO a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA ...
The Bush administration refused to release these records to the human rights groups under the Freedom of Information Act until it was ordered to do so by a judge. Now it has responded to their publication with bland promises by spokesmen that any wrongdoing will be investigated.

- From the editorial War Crimes.

The United States has never before officially practiced torture. It was not deemed necessary in order to defeat Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. Its indirect costs are enormous: in their effect on the national reputation, their alienation of international opinion, and their corruption of the morale and morality of the American military and intelligence services.

- From the editorial Torture reconsidered: Shock, awe and the human body.

And finally, I'll allow Sen. Biden to restate the obvious:

There's a reason why we sign these treaties: to protect my son in the military. That's why we have these treaties, so when Americans are captured they are not tortured.
Continue reading "A poor legacy"
posted by sstrader at 1:16 PM in Politics | permalink | comments (0)

December 24, 2004

Today's reading list

  • 2004: The 50 Best Albums
  • New coal plants bury 'Kyoto'
  • Who are the nation's 'cheapstates'? Try the blue ones.
  • Head (1968)
  • Head (1968)
Continue reading "Today's reading list"
posted by sstrader at 1:31 PM in Today's reading list | permalink | comments (0)

December 23, 2004

P2P4U

Ed Felten and Alex Halderman over at Freedom to Tinker wrote the world's smallest P2P application in 15 lines of Python. Fifteen lines of anything can be pretty obfuscated, so Richard Jones clarified the intent of the code. The code can be run as a server (serving its own files and connecting to other servers to also server their files) or as a client (able to connect to and download from a network of servers). Connections are password-protected.

Wow.

posted by sstrader at 3:21 PM in Programming | permalink | comments (1)

Genius idea #4

Someone needs to create and exchange center for gift certificates and gift cards. If you have a $20 Target gift card but could really use an Amazon gift certificate, you would go to the exchange Web site, check the exchange rate, and request a transfer. You would then send in your card and get an Amazon gift certificate sent or emailed to you. Some cards would have low demand (RadioShack?!?), so their exchange rate would be worse. Some cards lose value depending on how long ago they had been purchased. Cards could always be exchanged for cash at a lower rate--basically simplifying two trips to the store to purchase an item and then return it for cash.

Continue reading "Genius idea #4"
posted by sstrader at 11:32 AM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)

December 20, 2004

Basic search added to RadioWave

I've added a Basic Search tab that allows keyword searches throughout the listings. Schedule listings are available for one week in the future and are kept for one week in the past. Search parameters are passed as URL parameters, so searches can be kept as links and be re-run at a later time.

Continue reading "Basic search added to RadioWave"
posted by sstrader at 1:42 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

Random numbers

I've still got cryptography on the brain from reading Cryptonomicon (so I'm going to be drinking cosmos after reading the DeLillo?!?), and probably will for a while. Looks like the rest of the Internet does also. Here's a collection from 1955 titled A Million Random Digits published by RAND [Wikipedia]. Good random numbers are hard to come by computationally, so I assume this was a good crib in the early days of computation. I pointed out recently how truly random numbers must come from natural systems, not calculated. This document from 1959 titled A Generator of Random Numbers contains a description of how to create a random number generator to attach to a computer. Plug-and-play?

[ via BoingBoing -> A Million Random Digits ]

[ via Schneier on Security -> A Generator of Random Numbers (2 meg PDF) ]

Continue reading "Random numbers"
posted by sstrader at 11:04 AM in Science & Technology | permalink | comments (0)

December 19, 2004

AudioFeast

I was pointed to AudioFeast as a similar Web utility to what I'm trying to create with RadioWave. It has downloadable radio channels including music and specialty news channels. There are eight free "basic" channels and then additional ones that seem reasonably priced. Their What You'll Hear page lists the major categories and shows, with everything they offer listed in their Audio Library.

I suspect that most of the content is simply redistributed from the source either by contract or by some sort of fair use. For example, NPR offers access to archives of many shows such as Fresh Air or The Motley Fool. AudioFeast simply rips them and provides them as downloads instead of streams. Much of the streaming content out their is open for anyone to grab.

Continue reading "AudioFeast"
posted by sstrader at 11:09 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

Cosmopolis; DeLillo, Don

None of his books has every really matched the evocotive wackiness of the first one I read of his, White Noise. This has been sitting in the queue with Underworld ... Underworld still has a dusty bookmark, months since place, where the wife abandoned it (though, she gave Cosmopolis high marks). I've chosen this 200+ page book (with slight pages) as a palette-cleanser after Cryptonomicon.

Continue reading "Cosmopolis; DeLillo, Don"
posted by sstrader at 1:33 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink | comments (0)

Currently Listening To

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts should be required listening for anyone interested in pop electronic music. Released in 1981, this work was both a product of its time and a milestone. Byrne and Eno drew from existing pop and experimental styles and fltered them into a definitive expression of those styles. Their daring may seem at points quaint now, but I always find something that still surprises. Greater minds than mine have dissected this many times prior, so I'll just point out the line from the seminal opening track "America Is Waiting." The track samples what sounds like a venting talk radio host, punctuated against the jerky, clumsy 5/4 rhythm: America is waiting for a message of some sort or another. Out of context, the emptiness of that phrase is brought to the surface. A medium dispersing "messages" can only recycle the presence of need but itself can offer no content.

I got into a knock-down-drag-out last night during a family dinner over George Winston of all things. Invariably, Philip Glass came up as the perfect counter-example to the spare-but-cliched music of Winston. The Hours is a pleasant collection of short pieces from the film. There is also a solo piano release available. I don't have either and am listening to them on Rhapsody, so this CD's not on Radio from the Ether. I purchased the Symphony No. 3 CD from a birthday gift card but hadn't taken the chance to give it a good listen.

My friend's label, OttoTone Records, released its first sampler last week. The Web site is a little in flux (I swear I'm working on it...), but there's an abundance of tunes on the sampler from the best of what west Georgia has to offer. Check. It. Out. Why don't you?

Continue reading "Currently Listening To"
posted by sstrader at 12:06 PM in Current Interests , Music | permalink | comments (0)

December 18, 2004

400th entry

My whiteboard's filled with topics I've come across and need to research (and post), but the anniversary's gotta come first. The only changes around here since the 300th are the Sheet Music search link bundled with the other music links on the main page and the very recent Current Activities section that I'm trying out. The Sheet Music link doesn't have a lot of content. The Current Activities is intended to keep important stuff bubbled up to the top for a period.

The more important changes have been the sabbatical (almost two months in!) and my obsessions: RadioWave and the new rock opera.

Life is beautiful.

Continue reading "400th entry"
posted by sstrader at 11:34 AM in Misc | permalink | comments (0)

December 17, 2004

RadioWave in Firefox

Someone commented on a JavaScript bug with RadioWave in Firefox (why not FireFox?). I have a release version of Firefox and everything looks OK. The only JavaScript in RadioWave exists with the selection of stations in RadioWave > By Station > Schedule in the drop down. That seems to be working OK.

Continue reading "RadioWave in Firefox"
posted by sstrader at 7:23 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

December 16, 2004

Today's reading list

  • The Most Hated Advertising Techniques
  • complete css guide
  • Not Funnies
  • Several comic book related stories
Continue reading "Today's reading list"
posted by sstrader at 4:45 PM in Today's reading list | permalink | comments (0)

Watchmen and annotation

Matt G. just sent me this site that annotated every panel of Watchmen [Amazon]. I had previously posted about an annotation of V for Vendetta. The reader definitely benefits from such Cliff Notes to accompany the detailed research of Moore's writing and all that's added by the artists.

Continue reading "Watchmen and annotation"
posted by sstrader at 12:00 PM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (1)

December 15, 2004

RadioWave updated with database support

I've updated RadioWave with a few more stations and now have them cached in a database. Loads should be much quicker (~5 seconds instead of ~30 seconds) and it's the first step in adding a search page.

Continue reading "RadioWave updated with database support"
posted by sstrader at 8:55 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

Context

I've been previewing the next rock opera to the wife. I have eight of the songs somewhat playable and memorized. The piano playing is still a little shakey and the vocals are even more shakey because I sitll have to focus on the piano (and, well, it's my voice). Otherwise I'm ecstatic to be this close--the end of the year is the goal to get the last four songs (~22 minutes) playable and memorized. Go team.

She commented yesterday something along the lines that she's not sure how to listen to a rock opera--how to listen to a collection of songs that tells a story--because she's used to listening to just "pop" songs. I told her to think of it as a "musical" instead (ew). I would blame the confusion on sub-par playing and mumbled singing, but I had the same comment from a couple of other people--friends--on The Journalist. Strangers have ripped me a new a-hole for poor quality in this or that regard, but friends have understood the labor-of-love aspect so I'll discount any unlistenability as the source of the confusion.

One friend, after listening to The Journalist, said they didn't know how to judge it because they didn't know what a rock opera was. It may just be context. Listening to a song on the radio or from a CD or in a bar is just somehow different than having someone you know belt it out. And then there's the old joke of dihydrogen monoxide: labels can be as confusing as they are helpful.

Continue reading "Context"
posted by sstrader at 5:16 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, 'Fortunately...'

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, 'Fortunately...'

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, "Fortunately...". James Reed Corrigan, the grandfather of the title character, plays hide-and-seek with neighborhood children during the viewing of his recently deceased grandmother. An older red-headed girl catches his attention.

Continue reading "Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, 'Fortunately...'"
posted by sstrader at 2:14 AM in Art , Current Interests | permalink | comments (0)

December 14, 2004

Security

Bruce Schneier has a list of recommendations for Safe Personal Computing. He's the man when it comes to security in almost any form, so let's go through and see how many points I fail (eep).

(Security is an area that's become quite the testosterone-tinged hobby these days. Just bring up a discussion on firewalls or ftp around the office and watch the dicks get whipped out and measured. Once you get beyond non-trivial computing (which is the point that most every household is at), you get non-trivial security issues. Blame it on the vendors or the technology in general, but there are often no simple answers.)

Continue reading "Security"
posted by sstrader at 10:12 AM in Science & Technology | permalink | comments (0)

December 13, 2004

Etymology

Here's yet another online reference site: the Online Etymology Dictionary. If the "bar discussions" I've had with people are any measure, this has been needed for a long time. And as if the content weren't enough, the site is a model of layout and simplicity.

Continue reading "Etymology"
posted by sstrader at 1:50 AM in Language & Literature | permalink | comments (0)

December 12, 2004

Music Gutenburg

Wow. Mutopia offers free sheet music for anything in the public domain (70 years after the composer's death and 70 years after the editors' and arrangers' deaths). Scores are available in Postscript, PDF, and Lilypond formats.

Mutopia currently contains 468 scores.

[ via The Rambler -> Mutopia ]

posted by sstrader at 4:57 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

December 11, 2004

Coming down, part 2

Two hours (and three cups of coffee).

posted by sstrader at 9:19 PM in Misc | permalink | comments (0)

Coming down

Years of drinking coffee, heavily drinking coffee, and I'm finally going through my first withdraw. My drinking's always been high volume but erratic, and I've never gone through this before. I think the sabbatical's ratcheted up my intake and age has ratcheted down my resilience.

Where's my Christmas miracle?

For those who haven't enjoyed such an experience: start with what you think is a low-grade sinus headache then move it higher and forward, all the while focusing in intensity. I was trying to ride it out--no addiction is going to get the better of me--but the wife insisted I stop the madness (here, take your heroin). We'll see how long it takes.

posted by sstrader at 7:18 PM in Misc | permalink | comments (3)

December 10, 2004

More high-level consensus

In Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Science magazine confronts various members of the government and elsehwere who suggest that there might be substantive disagreement in the scientific community about the reality of anthropogenic climate change and unequivocally states that [t]his is not the case. They emphasize that all major scientific bodies in the United States whose members' expertise bears directly on the matter agree including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

Is this some blindly-held belief that has gotten a foothold in the societies of Amerian science? Is this the only example? Non-scientific attacks on other scientific "theories" include the obvious creationist and Intelligent Design blather which are also summarily rejected by scientists yet believed by many. At what point does this become accepted?

[ via /. -> Science magazine ]

Continue reading "More high-level consensus"
posted by sstrader at 11:38 AM in Science & Technology | permalink | comments (0)

December 9, 2004

RadioWave

A first, basic version of my Radio TiVo utility is now available here. The site is called RadioWave and contains browseable listings of six different radio stations:

  • NPR - Internet news stream
  • WABE 90.1 FM Atlanta classical
  • WCLK 91.9 FM Atlanta jazz
  • WCPE 89.7 FM Wake Forest classical
  • WRAS 88.5 FM Georgia State (no stream, possibly outdated Web schedule)
  • WREK 91.1 FM Georgia Tech

RadioWave screen-scrapes the Web sites and presents the program schedules hourly or daily by station. You can browse future days, but detailed listings are generally only available the day of the broadcast. The "Now" tab returns to the current time and day. Clicking the musical notes starts the stream; clicking the call letters navigates to the that station's tab. On the station tab, you can also navigate to the station's Web site and schedule page.

Besides adding more stations, I plan on making the following changes (feel free to post any suggestions or complaints):

Continue reading "RadioWave"
posted by sstrader at 6:44 PM in Music | permalink | comments (0)

Real suicide clubs

Who could've expected it? According to this BBC article, there are real suicide clubs in Japan that help people meet others who want to die.

Continue reading "Real suicide clubs"
posted by sstrader at 12:43 AM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)

December 8, 2004

Today's reading list

  • News Analysis: Overhaul of U.S. intelligence still has far to go
  • God, American History and a Fifth-Grade Class
  • Mush Journalism Lets The Lie Spread
  • Army Spun Tale Around Ill-Fated Mission
  • The 6 Myths Of Creativity
Continue reading "Today's reading list"
posted by sstrader at 9:42 AM in Today's reading list | permalink | comments (0)

December 7, 2004

Today's reading list

  • Don't believe the hype, No more heroes: music
  • Old Faithful, Testing the limits of love, by David Sedaris
  • Take a Chance, Scientists put randomness to work
Continue reading "Today's reading list"
posted by sstrader at 5:37 PM in Today's reading list | permalink | comments (0)

December 5, 2004

Lyrics: "Question" by The Kleptones

[ 22 Jan 2007 ]

I've just moved this to Wikipedia. It may-or-may-not be appropriate there, so it may-or-may-not last. We'll see. Thanks for all of the assistance.

"Question" is the last song on The Kleptones CD A Night at the Hip Hopera. I'll try to label the source of the lyric samples as best as I can. I'm not sure what Queen clips are used for the music.

Continue reading "Lyrics: "Question" by The Kleptones"
posted by sstrader at 1:43 PM in Music | permalink | comments (17)

December 4, 2004

Code search

I'm sorry I have not really tested this, but this was too cool not to pass on. A source code search engine. It may-or-may-not contain cool stuff, but I'm sure it's worth the effort to find out. I was just praising the breadth and depth of SourceForge as a resource for the hapless programmer, while bemoaning it's lack of organization ("I need a compression algorithm..."). Koders may answer that.

It's similar-but-different than the code library index I've been slowly building from the C/C++ Users Journal.

Continue reading "Code search"
posted by sstrader at 11:48 PM in Programming | permalink | comments (0)

Bhopal

NPR recently reported on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster [Wikipedia]. The victims and survivors suffered greatly and those responsible--Union Carbide and Dow Chemical and the politicians in both India and the US who protect the corporations--are unlikely to ever come to justice. Bastards.

posted by sstrader at 8:23 AM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)

Custom news

This article is reporting that the editors of the Chilean newspaper Las Ultimas Noticias (The Latest News) decide on content based on the popularity of online articles. More page-views for a specific story will prompt follow ups and work on similar stories. This is a good idea for People and Us but a bad one for The New York Times--and one which I doubt they would ever adopt.

Continue reading "Custom news"
posted by sstrader at 8:12 AM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)