Monday, 31 August 2009

Problem gambling

...together we can beat the odds.

Instructions for fixing any conceivable computer problem

XKCD comes through for us again.

I'm going to refer all computer-related questions to that URL from now on.

Update: ok, here's a fallback if that one fails - no-one will ever return from that URL.

Pointless referendums

Oh no, not again!

This guy really knows how to waste everybody's time. Clearly he lacks the imagination to find a better way to get publicity for his cause.

It would be nice if he could at least settle on one that he has to pay for himself.

On the other hand, the last one was quite lucrative for me on iPredict...

Sunday, 30 August 2009

How to make a warning marker that will remain undisturbed and comprehensible for 10000 years

An interesting problem in security, engineering and anthropology: marking radioactive waste burial sites.

Don't ride things that make you look smug

Apparently people are annoyed by transportation devices that make it look too easy, like electric bikes and segways.

Unicycling does well out of this effect since it looks a lot harder than it actually is. Certainly most of the reactions I get from people are of amusement (often verging on hilarity), or just that's cool!

Meteor photos

Meteors from all over the place, including the current 2009 Perseids.

Programming editor wars

Yet another 'editor wars' discussion on Hacker News.

I'm always surprised by how many people come out in favour of Emacs and Vi in these debates. Despite their undoubted power in the hands of an experienced user, both feel to me like slightly stone-age tools, wilfully and perversely eschewing recent progress in GUIs, usability, learn-ability, intuitiveness, and unsurprisingness. Admittedly I haven't spent the time to become proficient in either, but with similarly powerful but infinitely more modern tools like jEdit and Eclipse available, why would I?

Powerful tools should have interfaces that empower the new user right away, not cripple them until they fortuitously discover the right tricks, or work through 10 tutorials, or digest the entire manual.

My contributions:

Unicycle comments of the day

By the Overseas Passenger Terminal, which we rode around despite the wind:
Small child: Bikes!
Dad: Yes, bikes. Look, a single bike!
What the hell is a 'single bike'?

On the waterfront near Odlins Plaza:
Girl: Oh look, a tricycle!
Guy: It's a unicycle.
Girl: Could you fall off, so I can laugh at you?
Yes I could, since it was remarkably windy. But I managed not to, at least until we were out of sight - anyway I was too busy laughing myself at the 'tricycle' thing. We speculated that maybe she was counting both of us (Sally was with me on her 'double bike').

Kid near Queen's Wharf:
How do you know all that stuff?

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Unicycle comment of the day

In Californian accent, from some dudes with bikes down by the waterfront:
That's pretty gnarly, dude

Dual screen laptop

Now THIS is about the first new and useful feature in laptop design for quite a few years*:

I think I'll probably wait until the four-screen version comes out though.

*blue lights, pink cases and differently-shaped keys don't count

Friday, 28 August 2009

Next unicycle

I want one of these 29-inch-wheeled mountain unicycles:

I can't go fast enough on my current 24-inch unicycle:
...which I have had since I started learning in March, and which I now use to commute to work (a lot of fun) - it's capable only of a moderate jogging pace, limited by how fast you can pedal without wobbling.

Also the thin road tyre is not so great on uneven ground. The 29-er should be about 20% faster and make it easier to ride over bumps. It also has much better, grippier pedals.

I'm half considering this speedy 36-inch monster:
...which would be 50% faster than my 24-inch, and is quite capable of some offroad riding too. However, it's a much bigger step up in pedalling 'gearing', so I'm worried that I might not be able to get up the Wellington hills at first, or ride slowly enough to cope with pedestrians on the way to work.

Probably I will go for a 29er for now, until I'm a bit more experienced.


Whoah! We just had a nice little earthquake here in Wellington.

It was not (at my location at least) strong enough to cause any damage - except maybe to my nerves. NZ apartment buildings bounce and vibrate and creak quite well.

It was a 5.2 - a respectable minor shake.

Details from GNS Science / GeoNet:
NZ Standard Time:Friday, 28 August 2009 at 2:10 am
Latitude, Longitude:41.44°S, 174.72°E
Location:20 km south of Wellington
Focal depth:30 km
Richter magnitude:5.2
Location map
Shaking reports

Update: there have been aftershocks, but none of it did any damage. More info

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Cruel names and other dangers

My girlfriend came across two kids from the same family, named 'Evie' and 'Flo'.

Who would name their kids Eve 'n' Flo?

NZ has lately been pretty good at producing kids cruelly inflicted with comedy names, guaranteeing them a hellish time growing up (there have even been some court cases where the parents were ordered to change the name), but this is the first I've come across where the comedy involves multiple names.

Wonder if it was deliberate. (Shirley they're not Sirius?)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Buy a quad-core xeon server, get a free fishing rod!

Random special offer of the day (seen on - I particularly like the product code:

Only in New Zealand...

Peano cruise

Fed up with endless TV adverts for P&O Cruises, I daydreamed about a competing service that would knock them out of the market.

Peano Cruises - they go on forever and visit absolutely everywhere.

First boot

I think it's about time I had somewhere to collect my rants, ramblings and randomness, so here it is.

Caution: this blog may eventually contain such disparate topics as software, science, prediction markets, and unicycling.