May 2006 Archives

Akismet now available for MT


The Wordpress anti-spam took Akismet is now available for Movable Type:

Via Paul Frankenstein.

Canon Pixma ip1600

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So, thanks to a credit card offer, we get a choice between a $300 Park'n'Shop voucher or a Canon Pixma ip1600 photo printer. Now, I figure that any printer (even if it does only cost $300) has got to be an improvement on the current situation. Sadly, this was not the case.

(Current Situation: I have an Epson Stylus Photo 700. This is a reasonably good, if slightly old printer, which takes about 5 goes to get a page out with all the right colours and pixels filled in. It's shared off the Samba server on the Linux box, which means that I can print from the Mac, the Windows box, the Linux box, basically any machine on the local network, and even my Palm if I'm feeling optimistic.)

So, I insert the ink cartridges in the printer after powering it on and plug it into the Linux box. That's the primary machine and the only one guaranteed to always be on. Some configuring later, I find that there are no drivers for this printer and that Canon are among the worst of all the printer manufacturers for releasing printer drivers for Linux. Not good.

OK, so I figure that the little Mac Mini is the second most likely machine to be always on and from which people would like to print. Nope. No Mac drivers for this little printer either.

(Note when I say "No Printers" I mean that it is not possible to even use this printer as an ASCII printer. It won't recognise anything sent to it!)

So, wake up the Windows XP box, and insert the drivers disk. OK, that works, and it's reasonably quick to print a test page. Test it out with an image from the DSLR, and it's not too bad. So, ok, brand new print cartridges and it's ok. Not an auspicious start.

What I really want to know is: just how difficult is it to make printer drivers for Linux? They don't have to be the fastest or most appealing, but all you really have to do is publish all the printer codes. Printing is a solved problem. There is almost nothing new or proprietary which could be revealed by letting people know how to put Printer X into bitmap mode. Make your printers obey a generic set of codes (thank you Epson!) or release the simple codes which let users print to your printer. If it's costing Canon extra money to convert their drivers to Linux/MacOS, why do they have separate printer codes for individual printers in the first place? Have a standard basic set with extra (proprietary if you want) features for higher end printers, but don't cripple the basic printers.



Now that Lordi have won the Eurovision Song Contest, I have only one question: Why is there no Klingon Heavy Metal?

It is a good day to ROCK! And the day is not yet done!

It burns us, my precious


I spotted this review of the new MacBook yesterday over at Ars Technica

The review is mostly positive, but it does have this paragraph:

I then ran two instances of this script in order to peg both processor cores. The system would step the speed of the processor up to 1.833GHz until the processor crossed a threshold of approximately 82°C at which point it would step the processor down to 1.667GHz. When the processor dropped below 80°C it would speed step back up to 1.833GHz and the cycle would continue. As expected, this would cause the system's fans to rev up to their full speed and overall, the machine was very noisy at this point.

82°C! 82 frickin' degrees Centigrade! And it idles at 63°C! Apple's quality control people need a good kick in the pants for allowing the whole thermal paste fiasco in the first place. There is absolutely no need for a modern PC to run that hot. My desktops run at no more than 45°C under heavy load, 33°C at idle. (That's true for the dual 1Ghz PIII and the heavily overclocked AMD64 3000+.)

Taxi hassles


Well, I don't want to steal Fumier's Schtick, but Hong Kong Taxi Registration No. KS 499, it is customary to stop at red lights in Hong Kong. Going through a pedestrian crossing (on Canton Road at 18:15 tonight) at 50kph+ when the green light is given for pedestrians is just stupid. I'm amazed there wasn't a trail of bodies and viscera attached to your vehicle when you got through. Just because you had your hand on the horn doesn't mean you have automatic right-of-way.

New Macbook


Well, they're here. The new Macbooks.

Back when the Intel Mac Mini came out, I said that the MacBook would have a similar specification:

I guess the new iBooks will have a substantially identical specification when they're announced. Hopefully they'll have a higher resolution screen, though. A 1280x1024, or even 1280x800 dual core iBook would be very nice indeed.

Recent posts about the amount of heat generated by the Macbook Pros and the fact that the graphics hardware is underclocked to preserve battery life (and avoid heat generation) have tarnished the luster a bit. It's likely that the Intel graphics won't be underclocked, though, and, while the Macbook won't be a gaming power house, it'll be fine for most slightly older games. No Oblivion for you, but you could probably play NeverWinterNights quite well.

A word of warning to those who fancy one, though. In my experience, 512MB is barely enough RAM for OSX10.4 (although 10.4.6 is a big improvement), and sharing the system memory with the graphics won't help it at all. You want at least 1Gb, and preferably just max that sucker out to 2Gb. Having said that, two cores should improve the responsiveness of the system tremendously.

Yes Sir, Mr. President


And now, a message from the President.

Heh, George W. Bush, Baseball Commisioner. And I bet he's doing a heckuva job on that.

Another Wingnut


I am a great fan of Science Fiction. It used to be that there were a great many authors whose works I'd look forward too with great anticipation.

Then many authors got blogs.

When you can see a favourite author's real political positions, it can really open your eyes. It can also profoundly affect the way you think about their works.

Take Jerry Pournelle, for example. Now, I knew that he was a conservative, and probably quite right-wing. But, during the lead up to the Iraq War, he was clearly opposed to the notion that America should even have an empire. I had a lot of respect for that. Pre-emptive wars are not conservative at all.

After the invasion? He polished up his jackboots and got straight in lockstep with the party-line. I suppose I should have expected it — he was always in very tight with Republican administrations — but it was quite jarring to go from "Well, I guess the guy has his own biases" to "has the man no capacity for critical thought?".

(Of course the utter disaster which was the sequel to The Mote in God's EyeThe Gripping Hand — which was so full of basic errors put me off the combined writing of Niven & Pournelle anyway.)

So, fast forward to this morning, when I'm checking out Daily Kos, and I see a link to this excresence: April 2006 Message from Dan. It's from Dan Simmons, the author of such fine works as Hyperion, and The Hollow Man, and it proclaims that this "War On Terror" the American Right are conducting as an excuse to give Tax Dollars to Halliburton is really a war for the survival of "The American Way" against "Radical Islam". It states that Canada and England will end up as Islamic Shari'a states, presumably because they're insufficiently devoted to the Republican Party.

Dan Simmons, you're a gibbering loon.

Neocon Astroturfing


From Sunday's SCMP:

China's chance to do good

Your editorial "China can help reason prevail in Iran dispute" (April 30) seemed more concerned with US threats than with Iran's obvious ambitions.

That's probably because the USA is the one threatening Nuclear War and Invasion. I must have missed the part where Iran had a history of invading smaller countries for economic reasons, especially oil.

This, in a nutshell, is an outlook shared by the United Nations, the European Union, China and Russia. All these parties have demonstrated that they will not stand up to Iran. Their rhetoric is no more than a tool to pacify the US.

Deep in our collective hearts, we all know that only the US stops tyrants and terrorists carrying out diabolical schemes that would result in a world none of us would like to live in.

No, Mr. Sarway, The US does not do that. The US seems quite happy to build up tyrants when it suits American interests. Also, I seem to recall many Americans were eager to supply at least one set of terrorists with arms and money. (I'm referring to the drug-dealing, kidnapping and bank-robbing organisation known as the IRA.)

Iran has had previous regimes destabilised by US forces and I'm sure has a very jaundiced view of America.

As China rises, it can afford to put altruism above economics and weigh in on the side of good.

If it did this, not only would Iran end up not armed with nuclear weapons but China would be on course to true superpower status in a world sorely in need of another "good guy".


Source: SCMP.

"Weighing in on the side of good" apparently means agreeing with whatever George Bush says, does it?

Wake up and pay attention, Mr Sarway. The current brouhaha over Iran's ability to make teaspoons full of slightly enriched uranium has nothing to do with whatever Iran is doing. It's about the absolute belief that America has to control all the oil in the world.

(Irrelevant Aside: I wonder is this the same Charles Sarway of Jolie Intimates?

I just got hit with enough attempts to post spam comments that the load average of the server hit 50+ and this caused the server to crash. This is not because Linux can't handle the load - it's mainly down to the slower disk interface and smaller memory in this Dell 220. It only has ATA-66 and 512 MB Ram. The smaller RAM means that it has to page in and out of memory more often, and the slower disks means that doing that takes longer.

The older motherboard had ATA-100 (33% faster) and 50% more RAM and easily stood up to the tens of thousands of hits per day I had during SARS. I think I'll have to rescue that motherboard from the slag heap and move the web server back over.

When I saw the load averages, I thought I'd been slashdotted, but apparently it was just the fault of comment spammers attempting to post 100 comments at once on this blog. Spammers are scum.

This is, by the way, the first time I have ever seen a Linux box crash due to load in the 7 years that I've been using the OS.

Stairways to Heaven, a collection of covers of the classic Led Zeppelin track.

And yes, the Rolf Harris version is there. Complete with Wobbleboard.

Via Making Light.

UPDATE: The Leonard Teale makes me wonder (sorry) about what a William Shatner version would sound like. (That was not a request Bill.)

Shenzhen woes


Seen in Tuesday's unlinkable SCMP:

Shenzhen police beat us, say HK robbery victims

Three Hong Kong residents, who were robbed and then arrested in Shenzhen after they fought with their robbers, returned to the city yesterday. The victims, aged between 22 and 27, were confronted by three robbers at 7pm on Sunday. The younger man was assaulted by the three, who tried to steal his mobile phone and $2,000. His friends fought with the robbers and, when Shenzhen police arrived, both groups were arrested for fighting.

The Hong Kong men said they were beaten in police custody and were made to sign a document promising they would not pursue further action. They were released on Sunday night and sent to a Shenzhen hospital for treatment. They arrived at the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint at about 2am yesterday and were taken to North District Hospital for checkups.

And people wonder why I don't like the place...

Beer Belly!


No, not mine. The Beer Belly.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over.

Aerobie Aeropress


This Aeropress looks very interesting.

Via The Sideshow.

Now, if only there was a local retailer (or at least one closer than CoffeePress in Queensland...) Oh well, next time I'm down in Brisbane, I'll pick one up.

Web Comics

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Sheldon artist Dave Kellet has a nice use of frames and white space in Sheldon comic from 30th April 2006.

UPDATE: I'm not comfortable with having the graphic on this site, so I've removed it. Click on the link.

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