August 31, 2004

Get your Greek on

Adam Howitt (of Cold Fusion fame and fortune) originally pointed me to this BBC site for basic language study. Here's the section for studying Greek. A group of us will be in Athens and Santorini for a little over a week starting the 22nd.

I'll be updating this entry with my notes on conversational Greek. To display Greek characters, I'll use the Greek code charts from this site providing a draft standard for Unicode Greek characters on the Web. It's a little tedious, but it's more readable than the beta code I had used when studying ancient Greek.

This'll just be simple stuff to help me remember the basics.

Continue reading "Get your Greek on"
posted by sstrader at 2:14 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

August 30, 2004

David Foster Wallace interview

Tonight at 7:00, WABE is broadcasting a David Foster Wallace interview recorded at City Arts & Lectures. The City Arts & Lectures shows are recorded at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on Van Ness.

Continue reading "David Foster Wallace interview"
posted by sstrader at 11:11 AM in Language & Literature | tagged david foster wallace | permalink

Why Democrats will lose the election

Overheard at the RNC and broadcast this morning on NPR:

I'd rather have a leader who looked to God for leadership than a leader who looked at himself as a leader.

This may not be an unusual opinion.

Continue reading "Why Democrats will lose the election"
posted by sstrader at 9:14 AM in Politics | permalink

August 29, 2004

Rock music is dead

MTV Video Music Awards: Jet playing a polished version of "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" and I can't help but think:

  • The Woggles are the kings of retro-60s garage and they're wallowing in nobodydome, but at least they have the credibility of like 5,000 releases. Seriously.
  • The Who would have destroyed the stage and never been invited again.
Continue reading "Rock music is dead"
posted by sstrader at 8:41 PM in Music | tagged the who | permalink

August 28, 2004

Currently Listening To

One of the best concerts I ever went to was a movie. Philip Glass was touring with an ensemble performing his movie music in theaters while the movies were projected on the screen behind them. They came to Atlanta and performed at The Fox. We only got to see Koyaanisqatsi, but it was stunning. I had never watched it before but had heard much about it. The performance, often blazingly fast, was flawless.

I had originally listened to the Stravinsky piano music from inexpensive albums purchase through The Musical Heritage Society. They were white covers with no-frills, black & white printing and liner notes on the back (Naxos seems to have similar intentions). MHS always had some good obscure stuff that I could experiment with--I got a recording of the Messiaen piano preludes from them. This Stravinsky recording includes two works from his neo-classical period: the sonata and the concerto.

Continue reading "Currently Listening To"
posted by sstrader at 12:17 PM in Current Interests , Music | permalink

August 27, 2004


Yes: hot!

I was just speaking with a friend at work and realized that I'm not the only one who now thinks that boney, flat-chested women are hot thanks to Women's Olympic Beach Volleyball.

Don't take my word for it, check out the almost NSFW Misty May and Kerri Walsh photo blog.

posted by sstrader at 1:09 PM in Misc | permalink

August 26, 2004

Parabola magazine

Lisa picked up the recent issue of Parabola. Parabola is a magazine that is published quarterly, and each issue contains essays covering a specific theme. The theme of the current issue is "The Seeker" and the essays examine, obviously, searching.

Continue reading "Parabola magazine"
posted by sstrader at 7:22 PM in Language & Literature | tagged catcher in the rye, coyote | permalink

August 25, 2004

That's gold Jerry, gold

Bump pointed me to a site that compared a country's number of Olympic medals to its population. The intent is that population size should be considered when ranking how successful countries were at the Olympics. Australia and Slovakia have a clear lead, with the US in 30th place.

Continue reading "That's gold Jerry, gold"
posted by sstrader at 12:01 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

Review: You Shall Know Our Velocity! (4/5)

I know that I say this after every book, or at least I say this after many books, many books that I remember reading, but I feel like I just have to say "wow" after reading this. There are such quotes that I'd like to give away. So many lyrical quotes where the writing is So There that I wish I'd have written or dog-eared them along the way so that I could give them now.

Continue reading "Review: You Shall Know Our Velocity! (4/5)"
posted by sstrader at 12:27 AM in Language & Literature | permalink

August 24, 2004

Genius idea #1

[ updated 29 August 2004 ]

I had this idea a few months ago, but genius ideas are genius ideas. If I get it down in writing here, I will always remember to go back to it. And if I never get back to it, maybe someone else will implement it and become the Hero of the Playground.

So, as anyone and everyone is giving away email space these--10 MEG, 100 MEG, and Google's 1 GIG--I had an idea of how to harness it. You could write an application to access that space via a POP3 interface and turn it into a virtual, remote hard drive. Files would be stored as Base64 encoded mail messages, and the software would make them look like files on a virtual drive. This would turn free email into free off-site server space for backups or remote storage.

Continue reading "Genius idea #1"
posted by sstrader at 5:25 PM in Science & Technology | permalink

August 23, 2004

Bach studies

Here are two excellent composition study guides covering J. S. Bach's music.

Thanks to The Rambler for posting these.

Continue reading "Bach studies"
posted by sstrader at 6:34 PM in Music | permalink

August 22, 2004

No, but there's an I in idiot

At this hypothetical company, we're one week away from having the clients in-house and testing the new software for all major features. They'll be here for two weeks and will expect to see everything working at around 90% compete. All the features should be there, but they can still be a little rough around the edges.

This'd be OK, except for the fact that the project's understaffed and still very (very) far behind. That's always a problem anywhere you go, so I guess you do what you can with who you have. Until, of course, one of those-that-you-have comes up with this little gem as I'm emphasizing how much we're behind, and how we gotta do some non-goofing-off for the next week:

But I'm on schedule, aren't I?


Continue reading "No, but there's an I in idiot"
posted by sstrader at 11:41 PM in Programming | permalink

Pocket PC MIDI editor

[ updated 23 August 2004 ]

For a mere PP $15 (PayPal dollars), I ordered MidNote from PDAMusician. MidNote is a MIDI editor that has a staff notation interface.

Continue reading "Pocket PC MIDI editor"
posted by sstrader at 7:31 PM in Music | permalink

August 21, 2004

About the author

This is a short description of the author of Messages from the Ether.

Continue reading "About the author"
posted by sstrader at 11:09 PM in Misc | permalink

Keyword Index

This is a collection of keyword searches into Messages From the Ether. Updates will be made as new subjects are discussed.

Continue reading "Keyword Index"
posted by sstrader at 10:53 PM in Misc | permalink

Language and thought

New Scientist has an article about a recent study of a Brazilian tribe and how they differentiate between different numbers of items. The tribe, the Piraha, have a word for "one," "two," and "many" but not for any other values. Members of the tribe were shown a group of four items and then a group of five items. They could not tell the difference between the two groups.

This suggests that language defines, or can define, the limits of what we are able to think.

Continue reading "Language and thought"
posted by sstrader at 1:34 PM in Science & Technology | permalink

Samuel Barber

He's much more than just "that music from Platoon" (although that is a stunning piece).

Continue reading "Samuel Barber"
posted by sstrader at 3:38 AM in Music | permalink

Trying to talk myself down

Have you ever tried practicing piano with the television on? Or with someone watching? Doing your scales and arpeggios and velocity exercises, and then repeating a phrase over and over, screwing it up, then repeating more slowly and again. You try to focus and get in your head--or outside your head, whichever--so that it's just the music. You work through the longer, difficult sections in one pass, hoping that when you get to that last phrase you don't think too much about it and psych yourself out. It's a balance of thinking (about the music) and not thinking (about you playing the music). Or something like that. And then something breaks your concentration.

I don't know how people with children get anything done.

Continue reading "Trying to talk myself down"
posted by sstrader at 1:26 AM in Music | permalink

August 19, 2004

Pointer arithmetic

One rule: avoid it.

Continue reading "Pointer arithmetic"
posted by sstrader at 1:31 AM in Programming | permalink

August 17, 2004

That's not my beautiful code

The general consensus in development seems to be: leave crap the way it is. Everyone eventually has to work within existing, often flimsy code, and the etiquette of what to change must be defined. We should not only consider issues of style but also those of refactoring. And just where does style stop and implementation begin? If we don't have a strong grasp of these issues, the scheduling pressures will cloud our good sense, and the political pressures will promote inaction.

There's no excuse for allowing bad code to continue to be bad.

Continue reading "That's not my beautiful code"
posted by sstrader at 8:50 PM in Programming | permalink

August 16, 2004

Arte Bagge

Peter Bagge (of independent comics fame) has the most irrational screed against the fine arts, art museums, modern art, and experimentation I've ever seen. Ever. He's like a caricature of ignorance: angry at the apparent arrogance of people who create something he doesn't understand. As if any expression more difficult than a representational landscape is flawed over-intellectualizing. I need to walk through this line by line (begin angry rant now):

Continue reading "Arte Bagge"
posted by sstrader at 9:29 PM in Art | permalink

Limitations and caution on CE

The standard library implementation that comes with eVC 4.0 does not include the IOStream library. That means no [i|o]stringstream and no [i|o]fstream. The biggest loss with stringstream is the type-safe number conversion. fstream offers similar benefits wrapped in a, generally, clear-cut interface.

I had mentioned before about the delicate nature of CE with regard to memory corruption--the OS will allow the overruns and such until your code eventually locks. Walking through can be very slow and tedious. Another instance where silent memory corruption can occur is when you reference COM objects in your code. I had a code path the bypassed ::CoInitialize(), checked all returns on CreateInstance(), and still ended up with corrupted memory.

All of these memory problems were bugs in my code. However, they would have failed immediately and at the point of the error in a desktop application. There's just less room for error on CE.

Continue reading "Limitations and caution on CE"
posted by sstrader at 3:22 PM in Programming | tagged mobile development | permalink


Office Depot is accepting old electronics for recycling. It includes the following items (with some restrictions):

  • printers,
  • scanners,
  • fax machines,
  • personal computers,
  • desk-top copiers,
  • monitors,
  • TV and TV/VCR combination units,
  • digital cameras,
  • cellular phones

Now, this is great, don't get me wrong, but they're only doing it until Labor Day. This is a service that needs to be always available. I'm sure it's a maintenance hassle, but it'd be nice to stop landfilling with all this crap.

Continue reading "Recycling"
posted by sstrader at 11:57 AM in Misc | permalink

200th entry

This is fun.

I expect I'll be slowing down soon--just because the novelty's gotta wear off at some point, and I'm not sure how much of a time-sink this is. It's certainly a useful time-sink, but we've gotta have our limits.

Since the 100th entry, I updated much of the layout and content with keywords and MP3 links, and cleaned up some of the cross-browser issues. And you should notice that I'm now XHTML 1.0 and CSS compliant. My main page images are a little large--but fuck dial-up.

And as a sort of anniversary present, I had my first comment spam today! Eight main page entries each had a comment from an online casino. We'll see how often that shit happens before I resort to a spam filter.

Continue reading "200th entry"
posted by sstrader at 1:03 AM in Misc | permalink

Review: Da Vinci's (restaurant) (3/5)

This is becoming my new favorite restaurant: it's open till 2:30 AM every night except Sunday, it's got a good selection of wines and inexpensive Italian food, and the bartender is hot--and she knows us by name already. Cool.

Continue reading "Review: Da Vinci's (restaurant) (3/5)"
posted by sstrader at 12:32 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

August 15, 2004

Book order

More books!

How We Are HungryDave Eggers$15.40
David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest: A Reader's GuideStephen Burn$9.95
Oblivion: StoriesDavid Foster Wallace$17.65

The IJ reader's guide should be fun--it'll be nice to get a "hard" analysis that I was incapable of while reading. This site is a good resource for references and analysis too.

Continue reading "Book order"
posted by sstrader at 6:59 PM in Language & Literature | tagged david foster wallace | permalink

Eggers' third

I'm starting Eggers' second book and found that he just, on the 9th, published his third. How We Are Hungry is a collection of short stories. Not much information except that it's only available for pre-order on Amazon and it's already hit the sub-1000s sales rank.

Continue reading "Eggers' third"
posted by sstrader at 2:51 PM in Language & Literature | permalink

August 14, 2004

Daily Show

The Daily Show had Spinsanity's Bryan Keefer on this week. First of all, watch The Daily Show! I finally remembered to TiVo it and had a slew of caustic ribaldry to greet me and my hangover this morning.

Continue reading "Daily Show"
posted by sstrader at 5:34 PM in Politics | permalink

Rhythmic invention in compound meters

Here's a quick look at the Kansas song "The Spider" from Point of Know Return (1977), the 2nd movement of Philip Glass' Symphony No. 3 (1995), the 3rd movement of Walter Piston's first String Quartet (1933), and the 3rd movement of Sergei Prokofiev's seventh Piano Sonata (1939-1942).

Continue reading "Rhythmic invention in compound meters"
posted by sstrader at 11:53 AM in Music | permalink

Friendly skies

Patrick Smith over at Salon has been continuing his assault on that crazed woman who saw terrorists in a group of Syrian musicians. I assumed the story played itself out and is now, appropriately, forgotten. Have I not been paying attention? Well, in case I haven't, here are local copies of his original and three follow-up articles.

Continue reading "Friendly skies"
posted by sstrader at 7:46 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

August 13, 2004

Open Water (Spoiler)

Some additional thoughts on Open Water. Do not read if you haven't seen the movie. I really, really mean it.

Continue reading "Open Water (Spoiler)"
posted by sstrader at 9:23 PM in Cinema | permalink

August 12, 2004

Web components and distributed programming

Kottke has an interesting post on binding all of these Web tools together to make a platform of sorts.

[S]mall pieces loosely joined. Each specific service handles what it's good at. Gmail for mail, iCal for calendars, TypePad for short bits of text, etc. Web client, desktop client, it doesn't much matter...whatever the user is most comfortable with. Then you pipe all these together however you want...
Continue reading "Web components and distributed programming"
posted by sstrader at 11:56 PM in Programming | permalink


I woke up at 4:11 last night after I heard a blast outside. Must've been the storm, but all I could think of at the time was that it was some trouble-making off in the distance. So I looked at the clock to remember the time.

Continue reading "Storm"
posted by sstrader at 11:00 PM in Misc | permalink

Review: Open Water (3/5)

ticket stub

I spent much of the exposition of this movie waiting for the event to happen. That waiting was a little distracting, as was the poor sound quality, but both were manageable as you got lost in the flow of the story and responded to the two protagonists. It was those two actors that kept my attention.

Continue reading "Review: Open Water (3/5)"
posted by sstrader at 9:44 PM in Cinema | permalink

Classical music order

More music!

46527HaydnString Quartets Opp. 33 & 74$5.98
46730HaydnString Quartets Opp. 55, 64 & 71$5.98
46831Georg Kulenkampff, Vol. 1Schumann & Brahms—Violin Concertos$5.98
46921BrahmsSymphonies Nos. 1-4$11.96

I'm continuing with my collection of the Pro Arte Quartet's recordings of Haydn. Also inexpensively trying to fill in some of the standards that I'm missing.

Continue reading "Classical music order"
posted by sstrader at 11:36 AM in Music | permalink

August 11, 2004

String algorithms library from Boost

While I was looking to see if Boost had updated their site to include documentation for the multi-index containers, I saw that the next version will have a string algorithm library. Their site seems to be a mess now, but I found the documentation here.

Damn if it isn't everything that I had already written, but of course done so much more elegantly.

Continue reading "String algorithms library from Boost"
posted by sstrader at 11:56 PM in Programming | permalink


This is facinating. Or scarey. Nokia has some software for your phone and PC called Lifeblog. You use it to record and notate whatever-it-is you do all day.

Continue reading "Life"
posted by sstrader at 1:05 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

August 9, 2004

Letter to Dave Sim

My response to a challenge from Cerebus creator Dave Sim via Neil Gaiman's journal, offering fans a free signed issue of Cerebus and saying that most people will be too lazy to send in a letter. I'll let this sit here a couple of days, re-read it a few times, and then send off for ma' free issue o' Cerebus!

Continue reading "Letter to Dave Sim"
posted by sstrader at 9:33 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

Dear Cerebus, give me stuff.

So, Neil Gaiman's got a blog--the Neil Gaiman who's mostly famous for his writing on the Sandman comics but who's written quite a bit more than that--and Dave Sim recently wrote him a letter. The Dave Sim who wrote Cerebus and recently finished the 300-issues, 27-year run. Aaaaand, Sim's offering a free, signed Cerebus to anyone who'll write him, a letter not an e-mail, requesting one.

BoingBoing passed this news along from the Neil Gaiman entry.

Continue reading "Dear Cerebus, give me stuff."
posted by sstrader at 10:48 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

Binary content links

The O'Reilly Network site has an article on the failure of the Web to provide authors a means to quote from media files as easily as they can quote from text files. If a Web page is laid out correctly (using name attributes), I can easily link to specific sections on a page. There is no easy way to link to sections in an audio or video file.

Continue reading "Binary content links"
posted by sstrader at 12:28 AM in Programming | permalink

August 8, 2004

V for Vendetta

One of Alan Moore's graphic novels, V for Vendetta, is being copiously annotated by Madelyn Boudreaux.

Continue reading "V for Vendetta"
posted by sstrader at 4:41 PM in Culture & Society | permalink


The author of Maus, Art Spiegelman, has a new graphic novel out called In the Shadow of No Towers. The New York Times interviews him about it. The interview's not too enlightening, but it's a quick read.

This character — me — got so shaken up. I think like a typical American who can get narcotized by the mass media. For me, politics was always put in a strange box, sort of like "baseball for nerds." But since Sept. 11, that bubble has burst.

Thanks, BoingBoing.

Continue reading "Towers"
posted by sstrader at 1:08 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

August 7, 2004

To serve man

Are arguments based on altruism (presented to correct an opinion based on flawed logic or false information)? Or on arrogance (originating from hubris and vanity)? And what is the basis of the cause of the argument, the original statement? Ideas can exist in our minds as easily as in a public place. Why was the idea put out there in the first place? Altruism or arrogance?

Continue reading "To serve man"
posted by sstrader at 3:46 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

Indexed containers from Boost

This month's C/C++ Users Journal came in, and it has an article describing the Boost Multi-index Containers Library. This library provides a container template that can be defined with zero or more unique and non-unique indexes. This is genius. Imagine having immediate access to separate, ordered views for your data without having to resort or, worse, provide multiple containers.

Continue reading "Indexed containers from Boost"
posted by sstrader at 1:43 PM in Programming | permalink

August 6, 2004


Listened to Vaughan Williams' 2nd String Quartet (1942-43) today. Also relistened to The Lark Ascending. The quartet had a touch of Bartok via Sibelius: folk rhythms in the primitive vein; long, irregular, impassioned phrases. Oddly, his Wikipedia entry mentions that from 1924 a new phase in his music began, characterised by lively cross-rhythms and clashing harmonies. They suggest that the time of the 2nd quartet came after that period, and in a period where he entered a mature lyrical phase. So much for the relevance of online reference material.

Continue reading "VW"
posted by sstrader at 9:44 PM in Music | permalink

Just give up already!

What would you do if you really enjoyed ... skiing? But what if you had no time to ski? Or lived in the desert? Pretty silly passion, huh?

Maybe you'd try everything you could to find a way to ski. It'd be like an after-school-special! You'd prepare special skis that work on sand dunes. Camels would pull you along, and you'd have overcome adversity. Tada! Or maybe you'd just be lying to yourself. You're not really skiing. And you've just replaced you dream with something else to make it seem like you've achieved something.

Move to the mountains! And if you don't: it's you that has failed.

posted by sstrader at 9:20 PM in Misc | permalink


Another great conspiracy! This one lines up terror alerts with each dip in Bush's approval ratings. I don't have to tell you that they found a correlation. Of course, believing such things would be downright counterproductivary.

Continue reading "¡Terroriste!"
posted by sstrader at 7:01 PM in Politics | permalink

No and then!

At this hypothetical company, it's been said that the grammar and prosody of some of the non-native English speakers is a barrier to communication.

Since for my undersand [the client] do not use click, just set the use scheduler flag in server to false, then do not need worry about this code. The crash is length problems.

And, no, understanding the context doesn't help. No and then!

Continue reading "No and then!"
posted by sstrader at 3:41 PM in Misc | permalink

The policy (trait) pattern

Policies allow you to affect the internal workings of an otherwise opaque class by providing that class with secondary classes. The secondary classes are used by the primary class to define how it should implement its algorithms, or to provide those algorithms themselves.

Continue reading "The policy (trait) pattern"
posted by sstrader at 12:28 PM in Programming | permalink

August 5, 2004

Notes: Seven (2004), Tony Banks

Cashed in a b-day gift card and got the new Sonic Youth, Philip Glass's 3rd Symphony (1995), and this CD of Tony Banks' recent orchestral work.

It's a suite of seven pieces for orchestra, orchestrated by Simon Hale and performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Mike Dixon.

Continue reading "Notes: Seven (2004), Tony Banks"
posted by sstrader at 11:17 PM in Music | permalink

August 4, 2004

Notes: Nursery Cryme (1971), Genesis

I've been re-listening to a very old album from Genesis. Nursery Cryme was their third and came out 33 years ago.

Continue reading "Notes: Nursery Cryme (1971), Genesis"
posted by sstrader at 5:22 PM in Music | permalink

A question in the form of an answer

You know how when you smell something bad you always try to figure out where it's coming from? And so you smell harder in all directions to get the scent. After a while you loose the scent and have to try all over again because the smell couldn't have gone away on its own. It's more likely that you've just grown accustomed to it and can't smell it any more. Which should be OK, but what if the smell's coming from you?

What then, smart guy?

Maybe it's not ... can't anyone smell that? And you should be happy if others don't notice anything, because then if it is coming from you then nobody'll care. They can't smell anything--why should they care?

But maybe, if it's not that trash can or some such nonsense someone tracked through the hallway, maybe it's a mental illness. Didn't Oliver Sacks study some weird people who smelled colors or heard texture or something like that? If there's no odor at all, it's gotta be some neuralgia or agnosia? Doesn't it?

But can't dogs smell cancer? Or was it just fear?

(file under: gotta-write-something-today)

Continue reading "A question in the form of an answer"
posted by sstrader at 3:14 PM in Misc | permalink

August 2, 2004

"Invalid column number" error with CRecordset

I recently was performing the simplest of database queries with CRecordset and ran into a snag. Snags are OK, mind you, as long as the answers out there somewhere.

They weren't, but they are now:

Continue reading ""Invalid column number" error with CRecordset"
posted by sstrader at 4:20 PM in Programming | permalink

August 1, 2004

What was said, Part 3

Ron Reagan's and Kerry's speeches.

Continue reading "What was said, Part 3"
posted by sstrader at 10:11 PM in Politics | permalink

Electoral link

The Electoral Vote Predictor site now offers a simple image you can link to to display the daily updates:


Tres groovy. I've wanted something like this, but since my recent redisigning I don't know if I want to clutter up the place.

Continue reading "Electoral link"
posted by sstrader at 9:25 PM in Politics | permalink

Style guide

This is an explanation of the formatting styles used on this site. Updates will be made as I formalize the different aspects of layout and style.

Continue reading "Style guide"
posted by sstrader at 6:59 PM in Misc | permalink

What was said, Part 2

A continuation of my earlier assessment of the DNC speeches. Looking at Gore's speech:

Continue reading "What was said, Part 2"
posted by sstrader at 4:42 PM in Politics | permalink

Be creative

A wonderful list titled "How To Be Creative."

Funny cartoons, too.

posted by sstrader at 3:29 PM in Culture & Society | permalink