Stewart & His Constant Search for Patterns in Randomness

Three consecutive tracks in today’s the automatic podcast from “& His” artists:

  1. May FlowerMike Shaw & His Alabama Entertainers
  2. Call On MeCaptain Beefheart & His Magic Band
  3. ResetCasper Fandango & His Tiny Sick Tears

Fresh Apples from Toronto

I’m still midway through splitting tracks, but I thought you might like to hear:

 

The Apples in Stereo - Please (live in Toronto, 20 February 2007)

The Apples in Stereo – Please (live in Toronto, 20 February 2007)

Complete show to follow. I’m not really in a place that I could torrent this from, alas.

when the black flower starts to vibrate, run away from the scary skull with your pet arrow

when the black flower starts to vibrate, run away from the scary skull with your pet arrow

(actually, it’s the IAEA’s New Symbol Launched to Warn Public About Radiation Dangers.)

the reluctant rockstar of climate change

I was at Nicholas Stern‘s presentation to the Economic Club of Toronto today (as was Bob, David, Deb, Glenn, Paul, and about 490 others). He was very low-key; not sure if his dry sense of humour got the response he expected. The CBC covered it.

Nanohazard Symbol Competition

Here are the entries for the International Nanohazard Symbol Competition. Sadly, the competition is closed, but my entry, given below, would certainly have won:

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All the printers I’ve ever owned …

bird you can see: hp print test

  • An ancient (even in 1985) Centronics serial dot-matrix printer that we never got working with the CPC464. The print head was driven along a rack, and when it hit the right margin, an idler gear was wedged in place, forcing the carriage to return. Crude, noisy but effective.
  • Amstrad DMP-2000. Plasticky but remarkably good 9-pin printer. Had an open-loop ribbon that we used to re-ink with thick oily endorsing ink until the ribbons wore through.
  • NEC Pinwriter P20. A potentially lovely 24-pin printer ruined by a design flaw. Print head pins would get caught in the ribbon, and snap off. It didn’t help that the dealer that sold it to me wouldn’t refund my money, and required gentle persuasion from a lawyer to do so.
  • Kodak-Diconix 300 inkjet printer. I got this to review for Amiga Computing, and the dealer never wanted it back. It used HP ThinkJet print gear which used tiny cartridges that sucked ink like no tomorrow; you could hear the droplets hit the page.
  • HP DeskJet 500. I got this for my MSc thesis. Approximately the shape of Torness nuclear power station (and only slightly smaller), last I heard it was still running.
  • Canon BJ 200. A little mono inkjet printer that ran to 360dpi, or 720 if you had all the time in the world and an unlimited ink budget.
  • Epson Stylus Colour. My first colour printer. It definitely couldn’t print photos very well.
  • HP LaserJet II. Big, heavy, slow, and crackling with ozone, this was retired from Glasgow University. Made the lights dim when it started to print. Came with a clone PostScript cartridge that turned it into the world’s second-slowest PS printer. We did all our Canadian visa paperwork on it.
  • Epson Stylus C80. This one could print photos tolerably well, but the cartridges dried out quickly, runing the quality and making it expensive to run.
  • Okidata OL-410e PS. The world’s slowest PostScript printer. Sold by someone on tortech who should’ve known better (and bought by someone who also should’ve known better), this printer jams on every sheet fed into it due to a damaged paper path. Unusually, it uses an LED imaging system instead of laser xerography, and has a weird open-hopper toner system that makes transporting a part-used print cartridge a hazard.
  • HP LaserJet 4M Plus. With its duplexer and extra paper tray it’s huge and heavy, but it still produces crisp pages after nearly 1,000,000 page impressions. I actually have two of these; one was bought for $99 refurbished, and the other (which doesn’t print nearly so well) was got on eBay for $45, including duplexer and 500-sheet tray. Combining the two (and judiciously adding a bunch of RAM) has given me a monster network printer which lets you know it’s running by dimming the lights from here to Etobicoke.
  • IBM Wheelwriter typewriter/ daisywheel printer. I’ve only ever produced a couple of pages on this, but this is the ultimate letter-quality printer. It also sounds like someone slowly machine-gunning the neighbourhood, so mostly lives under wraps.
  • HP PhotoSmart C5180. It’s a network photo printer/scanner that I bought yesterday. Really does print indistinguishably from photos, and prints direct from memory cards. When first installed, makes an amusing array of howls, boinks, squeals, beeps and sproings as it primes the print heads.

not so shuffley

Coincidence, I know, but what’s the odds that, out of more than 460 songs, my nano just played “The Continental”, followed by “Cheat” – both by The Sadies, but different versions of the same tune from different albums? Whoah!

weedtree

Did some remedial gardening today, which included lopping some trees that have sprung up. Man, are these things soft wood:

tree section

It’s about the thickness of my wrist, and got there in only five summers.

Weird weather; there was a dandelion flowering, and some of the trees had buds.

Frosty’s Drano (or the snowmen’s suicide pact)

Catherine pointed out that the current Tim Hortons “Happy Holidays” campaign depicts an ill-advised, possibly fatal, beverage choice for snowmen:

tim hortons suicidal snowmen

To me, it’s clearly a suicide pact. They don’t want to see another summer. They’re going to a better place where it’s always ten below.

in the running

Almost ‘Best of The Year’ time. In the running are:

A Hawk and a Hacksaw – The Way the Wind Blows
A.C. Newman – Souvenir of Canada – EP
Beck – The Information
Calexico – Garden Ruin
Casper & the Cookies – The Optimist’s Club
Colin Meloy – Colin Meloy Sings Shirley Collins
Eels with Strings – Live At Town Hall
Elf Power – Back To The Web
Erynn Marshall – Calico
Faun Fables – The Transit Rider
Grandaddy – Just Like The Fambly Cat
Grant-Lee Phillips – nineteeneighties
Hidden Cameras – Awoo
Joanna Newsom – Ys
Jolie Holland – Springtime Can Kill You
King Biscuit Time – Black Gold
Mayor McCa – Cue Are Es Tea You
Peter Stampfel – The Jig Is Up
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 – Olé! Tarantula
Sufjan Stevens – Songs For Christmas – Volume V: Peace
Sufjan Stevens – The Avalanche – Outtakes And Extras From The Illinois Album
The Be Good Tanyas – Hello Love
The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
The Essex Green – Cannibal Sea
The Flaming Lips – At War With The Mystics
The Handsome Family – Last Days of Wonder
The Instruments – Cast A Half Shadow
The Sadies – In Concert Vol. 1
The Wailin’ Jennys – Firecracker
Thom Yorke – The Eraser
Thomas Dolby – The Sole Inhabitant
Wendy Arrowsmith – Crying Out
Yo La Tengo – I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

Miraculously, all of them fit on my iPod Nano, so they’ll be in heavy rotation over the next week or so while I decide.

very, very old school

Mac OS 7.5.5 Notepad

As I appear to have broken Catherine‘s ability to play Crystal Quest by upgrading her eMac to 10.3.9, I need to find an alternative way to run it. I remember running Basilisk II years ago on a very old Linux box — indeed, my ancient instructions are still here: archive.org :: Installing Mac OS 7.5.3 under Basilisk II on Linux, and quite amazingly, are still useful.

I found the following helpful to get it going under OS X:

dirty harry

Went to Harry Ramsden’s in Glasgow last night for old time’s sake, and we probably won’t ever be back. The service was slow, the food so-so, and the bathrooms disgusting. It has lost its Harryness, alas.

amalgam squidge

Got yet more mercury alloy trowelled into my head tonight by Dr Choi. I have to say, the best bit about going to the dentist is the squidgy noise the filling paste makes as it compresses into the cavity. It means it’s nearly over, and the burring slow drill is banished until next time.

hpshopping.ca really hates French people

hpshopping.ca really doesn’t like Francophones. If you go to the section for the HP Compaq dx2200 series, you’ll see the following:
$589 for an english machine, $9999 for a french machineYup, the French version’s nearly 17x the price of the English one.

mame is lame

I suddenly got a retrogaming jones on, and had a strong need to play Robotron. So I downloaded MAME and some ROMs, but no dice — every archive was missing files. Seems that to get the few games I need, I have to download a 16GB torrent of ever game that MAME supports.

My arcade game sensors withered about 18 years ago, so nothing past about 1988 registers with me. You could probably fit every pre-’88 ROM onto a couple of floppies. And it’s not like I’m not allowed to play the ancient Williams games; I have the Arcade Classics CD somewhere which has the games in licensed (but MAME-incompatible) form.

pear shaped plan

I fear my plan to have the T21 as a home server has gone wrong. Looks like the mini-PCI network card has blown, leaving it invisible to the network. Since the screen backlight is dead, I can read no diagnostics … ;-(

Update: Aha! The backlight gods must’ve heard me, for the T21 actually graced me with a visible screen for a few hours. It was down to:

  • A bad line in my fstab which was trying to mount an unattached USB drive. This drops OpenBSD into single-user mode.
  • no dhclient configuration, so the machine would not automatically appear on the network. Since I swapped out the purportedly faulty mini-PCI network card for a spare (what?! you mean you don’t have spare mini-PCI network cards about the house? Tsk.) I had to tell the system that this was the new card to get a DHCP address.

So all works now, and I’m happy. Now to attack the LaserJet 4 duplexer, and swap it onto my refurbed printer …