Archive for March, 2006

Baby it’s cold outside…

…but I am hatful.

Yeah, I think I’ll heep her :-)

Words of the day: Rez, teledildonics

This weekend I was at J.R.’s place and we installed a hard drive in her PS2. Jordan supplied a memory card containing exploit code which executes from the card when the PS2 begins running most PS1 game discs. From there, you can run arbitrary code, including loaders for the network-attached hard drive, FTP servers, Linux kernel… We obtained a copy of waRez and played it.

It’s an interesting game. Reminds me of a futuristic, hackery version of Starfox (the first polygon-based rail shooter I ever played. Yes, I’m sheltered), but with thumping techno music and synchronized vibration. In Japan, it comes with a “trance vibrator”, which they suggest putting on your neck or something, although I’m sure an innovative gamer could think of other places to put it.

Considering these things are no longer for sale, and to my knowledge, no longer manufactured, discussion inevitably turned to… “hey, you’re an EE… how hard would it be to make a USB-controlled Rez vibe?” (Somebody’s been reading too much Slashdong!

Not that hard, it turns out; someone already hooked an official unit up to a USB analyzer and reverse-engineered the protocol; armed with their code for the linux driver, I could easily (heh, as much as I’d like to be known as “that guy who makes USB dildos”) reverse-reverse-engineer (er.. would that be forward-engineer?) compatible hardware to the original. I could even add my own software extensions for blinkylights and such.

As always though, lawyers would likely spoil all the fun. Specifically, making a compatible aftermarket device (that the game will actually recognize as compatible) would require copying the original manufacturer’s Vendor ID and Product ID, which probably precipitates a visit from the original manufacturer’s and/or the USB-IF‘s legal heavies. (OTOH, I can no longer find any evidence that the original manufacturer, ASCII Entertainment Software, still exists; a URL listed as their official website returns a portal-potty landing page.) This copying could be seen as either ‘an open and shut case of passing-off’ (as one opinion online put it), or a necessary step for interoperability. I tend to see it the latter way, considering we’re talking about 4 bytes, far less than the 42-byte ‘program’ whose duplication spawned Lexmark vs. SCC. I would liken interest-group ID assignments to the service provided by ‘star registry‘ companies, e.g. more of a polite suggestion without actual legal teeth, but that’s just me.

Dark Roast and the Coffee Pod Conspiracy

Who controls the British crown? Who keeps the metric system down? We do! We do!
Who leaves Atlantis off the maps? Who keeps the martians under wraps? We do! We do!

For the last half-year or so, I and many co-workers have been using a Senseo single-serving coffee machine that someone randomly stuck in the lunchroom. It operates on pre-made coffee ‘pods’; a coffee filter with a measured amount of grounds already sealed inside it. There are many different flavors and mixes available, ranging from the standard (coffee-flavored…mild, medium, dark) to the floofy (with names such as Vanilla Vienna Cafe and Killarney Blast). I like Dark Roast, because it’s the closest, most flavorful and caffeine-ful thing I can get to espresso. Yeah, I’m hopelessly hooked on Dark Roast. It’s incredibly opaque liquid crack.

Jeff, our other EE, hooked me up with my first and second stockpiles of Dark Roast pods; even gave me the first one free. But he’s announced he’s no longer putting together orders for people (he’s already the one we turn to for our Digikey fix); and from now on we’ll have to fend for ourselves. So I went looking at my favorite grocery store…Vanilla Orgasm, Hazelnut Waltz, Mild, Medium, D’oh! No Dark Roast. Every kinky flavor known to humankind, but no dark roast. Hmm… So I try some more stores. Chocolate RazzBerry Blast, Avocado Explosion, Ketchup Popsicle Surprise, Mild, Medium… D’oh! In each case, my beloved Dark Roast is again conspicuously absent.

Why is that? My brother thinks maybe they just don’t stock it because most people don’t like dark roast (per his experiences at the coffee shop), but I think some form of diabolical global conspiracy is more likely. There’s probably a chemical in it that cures cancer or something, that the medical industry wants to keep down.

In the meanwhile, if Senseo don’t wanna play nice, someone should put together a definitive compatability matrix for the multitude of (sometimes interchangeable) coffee pods and systems out there. Somebody‘s gotta make a compatible Dark Roast pod I can buy at a real grocery store!

(To feed my addiction, Friday I broke down and ordered Dark Roast pods from Amazon… I’ll get them “sometime next week” *twitch*)

Top Google pagerankers exposed…

Results 1 – 10 of about 25,270,000,000 for -32768. (0.04 seconds)

Enter most any query, including a numeric one, into Google and it will return all the pages which contain that term or are pointed to by links containing that term.

But not long ago, I couldn’t remember whether -32767 or -32768 was the maximum negative int16, so I tried to Google them each and see which had more hits. And I got back… the entire Google index, in PageRank order.

I found that entering any large negative number as a search query had the same result. When changing the query the specific “first page” set, and their order, may shift slightly (or not), most likely as a result of your query being farmed out to one of hundreds (or more) of clusters that are not necessarily synced with one another, but the specific number entered doesn’t seem to greatly affect this result set.

Equally interesting is what happens (or rather, doesn’t) when viewing the cached version of one of these results. In this case, Google’s cache retriever does not attempt to highlight the term on the page, give notice that it only appears elsewhere (e.g. links pointing to that page), or indeed, any acknowledgement that you used a search term at all.

What is that?

A little more playing shows that the same effect applies to any other text preceded by a “-“. My best guess is that Google’s server is interpreting this as an “exclusion” search term (the same way you might search for “bush +kate -george” to get the singer instead of the president) without checking if the query actually includes a positive search term as well. In this case, an exclusion search for some string of text that doesn’t exist on any webpage would simply return the entire index. (And since there is no other measure of relavence, since all pages equally don’t contain the term, it will default to using PageRank to sort for relavence.) Whoops!

It’s been beautiful weather in Boston the past couple days…

but still…

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The food-warming fridge of potential doom

Yeah, so our refrigerator died the other night. Well actually, it’s been slowly dying since the last week*, but nobody really noticed ’til recently when they went for their ice cream and it was all melty. I just thought maybe the freezer door didn’t close all the way, and overnight with a verified closed door would refreeze everything.

Yyyyeah, like no such luck. Anyway, yesterday morning I went in for some sandwich fixins’, and it was about 80degF on both the fridge and freezer side. Oh, and it stank. Not that general “oh, I think something might be spoiled” stank; more like the air in the kitchen was shimmering like that over asphalt on a hot summer day. IT STUNK. But I was late for work, so I left it to stink and went to work.

My housemates, knowing that tonight was the night we were to open that foul stinking beast and clear all the rotting food out of it, were nowhere to be found. Cunts.

“I’m goin’ in!”

So yeah, that’s how I spent yesterday evening. I masked off my face with a t-shirt doused liberally in some kind of girl-chasing stinkum that’s been sitting on my shelf since time immemorial. Three bags of spoiled food on the curb. I made the mistake of opening a tupperware full of (it looked like it was once turkey, mashed potatoes and something green)…my eyes watered and I almost blew chunks right then and there. That stench was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before in my life. It was downright colorful, a sharp prickly rainbow of oh-god-why-did-I-open-that. After reapplying cologne to my face-shirt, I sealed up that bag immediately and threw it to the curb, and decided any other tupperware in the fridge was beyond salvage. If they don’t like it, they can start a fund for replacements.

Anyway, this fridge was not much more than a year old, so it’s being replaced tomorrow under warranty. By then I’ll be making sushi and trying to forget.

*come to think of it, I had been spending more quality time on the can this week than usual, but I didn’t know why.

Protected: I’m not dead!

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