Saturday, December 22, 2007

black magic

If you measure an optocoupler's output while driving its input directly from a 9-volt battery, you get a 2-leg transistor.



laugh! ha ha ha!*



You can still use it as a temperature sensor or maybe even as a radiation sensor.

"Merry fucking Christmas!"**

---
*) I HATE those movies where they insert laughter in the background whenever some idiotic underpaid actor recites some funny line. It's an insult to my sense of humor. Is it like, am I too stupid to figure out for myself when to laugh and when to go take a shit? Good comedies never insert that stupid laughter. Only mediocre ones that target mediocre people need to.
**) a famous quote by Mr. Garrison.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

environment2

As I said before in posts such as this, fuck environmental fanatism. People are part of the environment, they're part of nature, they're not above it. They can't objectively protect it or destroy it, they evolve with it, they go with it, they live and die within it. All toxic materials created by human industry come from the Earth (where the hell can they come from, outer space?), so they're part of the environment. Everything on this planet is part of the environment: stones, critters, humans and all the tools and crap and toxins they produce. We're not hurting the environment with anything, but we might be putting ourselves in a position of being evolved out of it a as species, I mean killed and re-integrated into it as dead molecules. Species go extinct all the time and that's a natural thing. So quit worrying about stupid panda bears that don't like to reproduce and small furry mice whose 20-head population count doesn't really influence anything, and start worrying about yourselves. This guy says it perfectly and I totally agree with him, with absolutely every word and sentence. And he's funny too.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

math

This article claims that monkeys are just as good at math as college students. Well, 'mental math' at least. I saw a documentary once where chimps would remember a sequence of numbers at least two times better than an average human. Of course we like to claim we're the best and shit, but think about this: it's pretty normal for college students to be as dumb as monkeys, given the fact that certain 'big' and 'famous' colleges teach courses about... how iPods allow you to create a personal music library.

Friday, December 14, 2007

cbjts

CMOS integrated circuits are almost exclusively used in modern computers and stuff because they're small and profitable. They also sometimes consume little power when doing nothing.
Digital circuits using bipolar junction transistors are usually TTL, and sometimes ECL, maybe even IIL.
But BJTs can also be arranged just like MOS devices. I mean, why not. So without further ado, here is a CBJTS inverter:
(Complementary Bipolar Junction Transistors with Schottky).
The Schottky diodes can of course be omitted, but they make the circuit faster.
I shoud really build some of these when I find some time, as simulations tell me it's interesting. Apparently it can switch in 20 nanoseconds, works with a 1 volt supply and draws between 1 and 2 milliamperes depending on temperature. I guess the supply voltage needs to raised a little bit above 1V if multiple-input logic functions such as NAND are to be implemented in the same way they're done in CMOS.
Anyway, it should be fun. Just try to pronounce "cbjts". It sounds and looks cool.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

evolution

British religious leaders urge people to cut the crap regarding Xmas. They're not OK with people trying do de-Christianize and neutralize Xmas for the sake of "religious equality" and "political corectness". That's right. It's not called Winterval (idiots) it's called Christmas and many people celebrate it just because it's a nice holiday, eventhough they're not Christian. Now that's a good example of sensibility and reason versus fanatical idiotic political-corectness.
On the other hand, "biologist" guy sues employer for firing him for being an evolution-bashing, close-minded, bible fanatic. Good. I hope he loses. So this is the difference between religion as a positive element in human life, that gives hope and meaning and motivation, and misunderstood religion that dumbs people down, and misused religion that's used as a pretext for war by people that have no connection with moral and ethics whatsoever.
My comments on the second article:
Dude, you can see evolution in the test tube. Why do you think bacteria are getting stronger and stronger each year, while researchers are battling to come up with stronger and stronger antibiotics? Because bacteria evolve through natural and artificial selection. Wait, sorry, I forgot. Bacteria don't exist because God didn't create them in 6/7 days in the Bible. Sorry. Didn't mean to say that. Idiots.
Furthermore, humans have created artificial evolution using Machines. For example, Computers can be used to evolve all sorts of stuff in Virtual Reality. Such as antennas/ae for communications. All Hail Machines, Computers and Virtual Spaces. People have evolved electronic circuits on reconfigurable fabric, that outperform even the best human-designed circuits. They look tangled and mysterious. They seem to have parts that don't do anything, that are apparently separated from the main circuit. But take them out and the main part ceases to function, because they're connected in subtle ways that human engineers intentionally neglect, as those couplings are uncontrollable and weak. So the artificially evolved circuits almost look alive. They evolve to fit their environment perfectly and profit from all its resources. Their only downside is their fragility - change the environment a little bit, such as a few degrees of temperature, and they die. We're working on that.
Anyway, just as I can evolve circuits inside a machine artificially, life evolves "naturally" on Earth. So evolution really doesn't exclude God or other deities, it's just that most scientists are not interested in God because God is sometimes very hard to see or contact. There is no problem with that, the problem is with all the idiots and fanatics that interpret in a literal fashion some old texts that have no traceable super-human origin.

Friday, December 7, 2007

ho

A Santa was fired because he said "ho ho ho" and sang "Jingle Bells", two classic Western Xmas emblems. This happened because the word "ho" is supposedly insulting due to its "American slang" meaning of whore.
First of all, it's not strictly American slang, it's American ghetto contraction.
Second, it's American "slang", not Australian slang, and the stuff happens in Austrialia. So I don't get it.
Third, a lot of words can have very different meanings, and unintentional double entrende happens all the time without anyone in their right mind getting offended.
Fourth, a woman that would get offended by a Santa chanting the well-known festive "ho ho ho" may very well have a good chance of either being itself a whore, or terribly sexually frustrated.
Fifth, a man that would ban Santas from ho-ho-hoing is itself an idiot that has nothing better to do to and chooses to take such radical and unwarranted actions in order to justify its salary.
Sixth, Xmas is almost as bad as Valentine's Pay.
Seventh, it's not 'the word "ho," which is', it's 'the word "ho", which is'. The comma inside the quotes is illogical, and due to very old, outdated reasons having to do with the mechanics of typesetting.
Eighth, it's probably correct to write "ho' ", but who cares anyway.
Ninth, "They're trying to kill the spirit of Xmas", said the man who was fired. Notice the logically-correct use of punctuation in my case versus the original article, but what spirit of x-mas?
In some unrelated news, some Indian court decides women are allowed to serve drinks in Delhi. What an impressive sign of progress. Maybe in 10 years they'll be able to be kissed by men on their cheeks. Maybe in 100 years they could actually marry whoever the hell they feel like marrying. Make that 300 years. Maybe in 600 years they'll be able to tell between actually wanting something and being educated to want something. It's interesting to see how in a country plagued by poverty and overpopulation, people choose to worry about stuff like this instead of increasing the standard of living or something. They deserve their fate. Everybody does.

Monday, December 3, 2007

decoupling

I've been feeling horrible lately and yesterday's night out didn't help much. So I decided I had to pop something off the project queue and just do it. A night of testing capacitors revealed some interesting results. Here is the story:

Introduction.

Whenever you need to power electronic stuff you need a constant voltage source. Circuits are specified to work for certain supply voltages, for example 5 volts plus or minus 10%. Circuits also like to draw different amounts of current depending on what they're doing, and that's bad for the power supply, who must struggle to keep a constant voltage output as the current demand from its load varies in time. So what happens if the power supply is suddenly required to provide more current for, let's say, a processor that's waking up from sleep and starting to do some work. Or a light or motor or something. It's bad. It can't keep the voltage constant. The voltage will drop for a very short time until the supply can sense that through its feedback loop and stabilize it. If it drops more than 10% or whatever the design margin is, the circuits might malfunction. When the circuit is done working and reduces its current demand, the opposite thing can happen and the supply voltage overshoots for a short amount of time. It it overshoots too high, the load circuit is fried.
So how can we fix this? Well, it's very simple in theory. Don't change the load current abruptly, so the supply has time to follow it and compensate for its change and mantain constant voltage output. The simplest way to do that is to throw a capacitor across the load. If the supply is slow to respond, the difference in current will come out of the capacitor instead of the supply, and the voltage variation will be much lower and everyone's happy.
Because the supply voltage is now constant, it means that various modules can't talk to each other through the supply wires (which would be bad), so they're being decoupled. That's why they're called (supply) decoupling capacitors.

My Problem.

People have always recommended using many small ceramic capacitor near integrated circuits and a few big electrolytic capacitors. The idea is that ceramics take care of the higher frequencies (rapid current variations), while the electrolytics deal with the lower ones. For a long time I've been wanting to actually test the effect of different kinds of capacitors on a power supply that's required to quickly switch between two values of current. Now I decided it was finally time to do that.
So I took a piece of copper-clad board and cut some trenches in the copper, isolating two big islands for the power and ground nodes where the action takes place, and some small islands for the other voltages. I soldered a good-old 7805 voltage regulator with capacitors on the input but not on the output, and a genric transistor that would suck a little bit less than 100mA when turned on by a signal generator. Some ports for the control signal, oscilloscope and raw power input, some very tight construction to avoid "parasitic inductance and capacitance", and it was ready. So here's the schematic:
Notice the Schottky diode connected from base to collector á la 74LSxx. It diverts control current from the base to the collector whenever the collector voltage drops too low, preventing the transistor from saturating. That ensures fast switching.
So here is how the regulated voltage (that's supposed to be constant) looks like when current is switched on and off.
First, with no capacitor at all:
Notice the almost 2V undershoot and 0.5V overshoot. That's... quite bad.
Here you can see a zoom-in on the negative spike:
The oscilloscope samples at 100MHz, so that's 10ns between samples. The spike is just 3 samples. So it takes a bit of luck for its peak to coincide with the moment the sample is taken. Most of the time the peak falls before or after the sample, and the drop in voltage appears smaller than it actually is. You can see that in the first picture, where the drop is only around 1.7V, while in the second one I waited for a lucky sample and you can see the full 2V. Even after the spike is quickly dealt with, it takes a lot of time to compensate for the remaining half a volt. The same can be said about the 0.5V overshoot. I mean, 2 microseconds is a lot of time.
So I soldered in a 4.7 uF (microfarad) electrolytic capacitor, rated for 63V, and here is what I got:
The red trace is the control signal. The current is drawn when the control signal is high. You can see an enormous improvement: the spike is gone, the drop is now only 100 mV (20 times less) and the overshoot is only 50 mV (10 times less). But it still takes about the same amount of time to stabilize. Anyway, while the first case would almost surely upset 74xx logic circuits, in this case they'd function allright. With no ceramic capacitors, mind you.
Then I did something horrible. I desoldered the capacitor, which was soldered close to the board, and put in a new one, holding it with my fingers. Its leads were about 1 inch long, which is supposed to be a big no-no: long leads means inductance, which slows down "reaction time" and prevents the capacitor from absorbing rapid current variations, leading to the voltage spike you saw in the first picture. But it was not the case:
The 1 inch of wire did nothing noticeable, and that's in agreement with what the theory says. The oscilloscope samples at 100MHz and it's supposed to record signals at least as fast as 60MHz. How can you record a 60MHz signal on a 100MHz oscilloscope whose Nyquist frequency is only 50MHz? Figure it out, you most certainly can. So if, per Google, light travels 30cm in one nanosecond, it travels 3 meters in 10ns (that's 100MHz), which is much more than the 3 cm of the capacitor's leads. So they shouldn't matter that much.
Next I connected a 10uF, 16V tantalum capacitor. That's supposed to have a better frequency response than the usual electrolytics, as well as lower ESR (effective series resistance) - the stuff that limits how well it can filter spikes (think voltage drop over the ESR caused by the current you draw from the capacitor). It looks a little better:
It's got a weird shape now. Oh well.
Here's a 22uF, 25V electrolytic with short leads (it's 20mV/div as before):
Worse than the tantalum.
On all the pictures you can see the command signal feedthrough: when it goes down, the current is shut down and the voltage goes up temporarilly. But before the current is shut down and the voltage goes up, you can see a small downwards spike that's caused by the current injected from the command signal through parasitic capacitors. Because it's very fast, it gets through (it's coupled even through very small parasitics).
Next I connected a serious 100uF/50V capacitor with 1cm leads. You wouldn't normally want to use less than 100uF for decoupling a usual circuit. The improvement is clear:
Now comes a 470uF/16V one, which is a little better, but not by much:
Here is a 2200uF/10V:
And a bigger 2200uF/35V:
same, with 1 inch leads:
You can begin to see that indeed, very fast spikes are filtered by the electrolytics worse than slower variations. That's what ceramics are for. Long lead lengths do add inductance (especially on the bigger capacitors where the leads are spaced farther apart -- it's area, not length that gives inductance) and spikes do get noticeably larger. You also couldn't see the effect of leads on the first capacitor (4.7u) because, well, look: 500mV per division sensitivity there versus 20mV per division here.
So if you want to get rid of those fast spikes, electrolytics are by no means totally useless as some might say, but a ceramic does a better job, especially if it's a low-inductance SMD (surface-mounted device) that has no leads.
Here is a 100nF ceramic disc capacitor, rated for 2kV (it's quite big for a ceramic, 1 cm in diameter), with ~1cm leads:
Oops! :D It looks like the 7805 is oscillating when 100mA are pulled from it and a 100nF capacitor sits on its output. It's something that's mentioned in some datasheets, but not in all. Many voltage regulators are stable with low or high capacitive loads, but not with medium ones, and it also depends on load current. You can see some nice stability graphs in the TL431 datasheet from TI if I remember well.
The nasty thing is that it's a high-frequency oscillation, about 5MHz. It can go totally unnoticed if one doesn't have an oscilloscope, and low-frequency circuits would start acting in all sorts of weird ways. Plus, you don't want radio-frequency oscillations if you don't need them, because they could radiate and interfere with stuff. If they don't radiate directly from the circuit board, then signal and power wires on outside connectors are incredibly good antennas.
RF oscillation aside, a very important thing must be noted: no more fast (10-20 ns) spikes. You can see the fast voltage drop is slightly longer than with the electrolytic capacitors. That means better high-frequency filtering. But don't expect any low-frequency filtering from such a small capacitor - There's still a 1.2V drop.
At this point I soldered a 10nF SMD capacitor very close to the switching transistor. The oscillation is now much weaker, and you can see it's dying out - that's just my luck, the supply could have oscillated with 10nF just as well, and I would have had to find another value.
Notice the slightly deeper 1.5V drop (smaller capacitor), but still no fast spikes. It actually works better that the 4.7 uF electrolytic, which is almost 500 times bigger :)
Here you can see the steep drop that's not nearly as steep as with no capacitor:
The samples have been highlighted. It's at least 20 times longer.
Here is the 100nF ceramic added in parallel:
Interestingly enough, there's no more oscillation. Well.
Here's the tantalum added:
There's that strange shape again, and hey, there are spikes. They were always there, but just as with the 4.7u, we were looking on a 500mV/div scale, and now the filtering is so good we had to zoom in to 20mV/div and the spikes are now revealed. I have a suspicion that the spikes might be coupled inside the oscilloscope, which is also a signal generator and outputs the switching control signal. So I have to generate the signal somewhere else, but I already took all the screenshots for this article and packed all the stuff up before realising this now, so hell. I also really don't get why adding the tantalum speeds up the initial drop, it probably has something to do with the regulator, not the capacitor.
Anyway, here's a zoom-out with just the ceramic 10nF SMD capacitor:
Now here's the same, with a pulse frequency 10 times lower:
Damn it, it WAS oscillating :))
You can see two modes of oscillating, one high-frequency on turn-on and one low-frequency on turn-off. They both die out, but it's still not good for supplying a circuit.
Here are both ceramic capacitors:
Just as with the faster pulse repetition rate, the high-frequency oscillation is gone; but the low-frequency one persists, and it's interesting to note it's slower when both caps are added.
The tantalum capacitor kills it for good, but gives that weird shape on turn-on:
Here's a zoom-in of that:
Here's the turn-on for the "normal" 100uF electrolytic:
And the turn-off overshoot, complete with command feed-through spike:
Until now I've been switching between 100mA of current and almost nothing. This is quite hard for the supply to deal with, hence the 2V drop when the current was turned on with no cap.
So I added another 50 ohm resistor directly on the output, so I would switch between 100 and 200mA.
Here it is, with the 10nF SMD capacitor:
High-frequency oscillation with 100mA (strange, it didn't use to do that!), which ceases with 200mA (I was talking about stability graphs earlier). The effect might be caused by the fact that, as you let more current through a transistor, it becomes faster, and this happens inside the regulator chip.
The 100nF ceramic stops the oscillation:Here is the 10uF tantalum:
And here is just the 10nF SMD (first graph in this sequence), with the repetition rate increased 10x. It does look similar:
But it wasn't oscillating at 100mA before I connected the 50 ohm resistor! wtf? To answer, here's a graph after shutting down for 3 minutes to take a wee:
Yes, it's the regulator chip temperature. You can actually watch the oscilloscope as the chip warms up (it does get pretty hot with 150mA average current, significantly hotter than with just 50) and suddenly the mild, damped oscillation turns into the ferm one I was puzzeled by. Then put your finger on the chip and it ceases. Or just blow hard. Fun.
I took out the SMD cap and here is what I got:
and a zoom-in:
The spike dropped from 2V to a little over 100mV, as a consequence of switching 100mA next to the existing 100 as opposed to "suddenly waking up" the regulator in the first case. Also compare the graphs taken with the tantalum cap. The peaks are smaller in this case also.This is normal, and almost no datasheet specifies transient performance ("load regulation") with the current step starting from zero, just because their numbers would be awful :)
Next I had to debunk a myth related to electrolytic capacitors. It seems that electrolytic caps get worse as they get older: their capacitance decreases, their ESR increases, their ability to filter decreases. So I took some capacitors I had lying around that I had taken out of some old monitors for the specific purpose of testing them. Now the time has come! :)
I should point out that said capacitors come from a scrapyard and have been rained on repeatedly. The other components on the PCB had their leads severely coroded. Compare with fresh off-the-shelf 10uF tantalum and 100uF electrolytic seen a few graphs above.
1000uF/35V:
220uF/100V (higher voltage ratings supposedly have lower ESR -- good) :
100uF/100V:
330uF/250V (very big, 1 inch diameter, 1.5 inches long)
This last one was quite big, very light, and different construction from others. Obviously filters less well, but that's acceptable, I guess it was designed to sit in the mains input circuit.
Well, there you go. Dirty old rained-on electrolytics filtering very well, quite better than new ones I might say. Of course, if they've leaked or grown internal pressure, scrap therm.
Now to try some film capacitors. These are big, but designed for high voltage, high current use, and I guess they also have less leakage than electrolytics.
Here is a huge 1.5 inch, 3.3uF/400V from the same scrapyard:
I guess the capacitor itself is resonating and I'm getting those damped sinusoids. I can't be sure until I pulse it in a passive circuit.
Here is a smaller 330nF/250V with its leads spaced about 1 inch apart:
This also seems to shoot up when the current is increased, like the previous two caps, and unlike all others. I'll investigate this further some other time.

In conclusion: when in doubt, use a bigger capacitor.

Friday, November 30, 2007

tape

My Hobby:
Diminishing double-glue-sided scotch tape by forming it into a Moebius strip.

olives

I like olives very much. Do you know those olives that come in squareish plastic boxes with a thermally-sealed plastic film cover? I think I've gone through three or four brands and all of them have the same flaw. The plastic film is thermally sealed around the box edges, but on one or two corners the seal is moved inwards to allow you to pull the film upwards and open the box. I couldn't open a single box using this suggested method. All of them had their cover cut with a sharp knife. This is stupid. Why the hell do they provide opening tabs on the corners if the film is so tightly sealed it simply won't come off? One time I used a set of lineman's pliers to pull on the tab and it still didn't break the seal, it did however tear the tab. Piss-poor design.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

so?

Italian expert is skeptical of cave supposedely linked to Romulus and Remus, the guys who founded Rome in some famous legend. Well. After a boring read of the article, I can only say: So? So fucking what! Rome sucks anyway and I hate the Roman Empire being so praised and overrated.
Porno-prof teacher suspended, also in Italy. What does porn have to do with being a good teacher, if one maintains a proper attitude in the school, which seems to be the case here? I mean it's not like the woman was an exhibitionist or a pedophile, like that guy in dot-berlin who was let to teach in kiddiegarden. So why did they suspend her? Don't ask me. I don't know. I'd rather die than go to Italy.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

the list

I have a theory regarding the latest South Park episode. I'm terribly said because it's also the last in the season and I won't be seeing any more South Park till spring :| But still, I have a theory regarding "The List" and it goes like this:
Haven't you noticed that Abraham Lincoln's ghost has a striking resemblance, in its looks, voice and behaviour, to the Ghost of Human Kindness that abducts children? :D Well, I guess thousands of people saw that too, but I din't care to google so as not to skew my description.
So I was laying down comfortably watching Kyle plot to burn down the school, and the ghost of Abraham Lincon shows up and I'm like: Ohhh shit! :D He's going to abduct him now! :D Come on! Come on! Abduct him! :D But he did not abduct him, and I think I found the reason why: you see, unlike Butters, who ageed with the Ghost of Human Kindness after his instructive lecture, Kyle did not. He just went on to be a "fucking asshole".

misc

miscellaneous shit.
1) i didn't have time until now to rant about how much halloween sucks. first of all, that's not even a name, it sounds too stupid and awkward to be a name. it sounds more like a kid's joke. a deranged, physically abused kid. second, treat-or-tricking is stupid. it encourages begging and property damage. it presents them in such a light as to make them seem acceptable. they're not. third, what's with all the ghost-vampire-werewolf-whatever costumes? if i were to wear black and white paint on my face, that would freak the fuck out of people. but on halloween it's somehow acceptable. there was some kid in some disco on tv: "i'm the cute blood-sucking vampire, excuse me, i have to hit on some more girls and suck their blood". i have only one thing to say about that: "do you like to eat red carpet?! do you like to eat red carpet?!" oh yeah :) fourth, fuck halloween, just another opportunity to spend money on shit. well, at least you're not being emotionally blackmailed to do so like on valentine's pay.
2) some misguided kids broke a world record in bucharest some weeks ago. care to take a wild guess? yes, they built the world's longest condom chain, allegedly to raise awarness towards aids. well, you could raise awarness towards aids by DISTRIBUTING condoms for free, rather than ruining them by tying them up and laying them down on the fucking asphalt! you should distribute condoms and informative flyers, not ruin perfectly good products worth at least as much as a truckload of beer. damn, condoms are too expensive! no wonder people prefer to drink one more beer and then go home and have unprotected sex, rather than use a condom and drink a beer less. and these kids ruined a shopful of condoms just to get some media attention. shame.
3) lack of toilets is fatal to approx. 2 million people each year. i knew that. i respect the modern toilet. it's humanity's greatest invention ever by far.
4) oppressed indian in malaysia sues britain for... 4 trillion u.s. bucks. good luck.
5) chestnut from anne frank's tree auctioned. at first i thought: who the fuck is anne frank, what an ugly name. then i googled and man, is this whole thing ugly. sad. ugly. sad. ugly. horrible. what if fascists in italy and nazis in dot-berlin were to rise to power again? heck.
6) as low as 4% of "charity xmas cards" earnings actually goes to charity. well, what did you expect. why the hell would i buy "charity cards" anyway? go see "filantropica". and while you're there, go see "the company" too. and yeah, just as the article says, read the goddamned fine print. "4% of earnings goes to charity". "drink our juice, it has natural ingredients, bla-bla. contains 0.2% fruit juice". true, legal, fair.
7) whatever, i forgot.

Friday, November 16, 2007

offensive

This early morning I'm feeling very dark, cynical, uncaring, self-centered, rightfully judgemental and rightfully offensive. Again :)
To start, fuck Italy again. Don't buy Italian products and don't go to Italy. If you're Italian, consider doing whatever it takes to clean up your people's attitude towards the immigrants who support a good part of your goddamned economy. Or at least obey the damn fucking law.
Further, fuck dot-berlin again. Watch this: pedophile allowed to work in kiddiegarden. Way cool, keep it up. At least he didn't fuck the kids, but what if he had.
Fuck Japanese culture. Why the hell would you ban pictures of genitals? Is it like they're not part of the human body or something? Is it like they don't have as right a function as other body parts? Is it like I can drink through my mouth, but it's somehow dirty to urinate through my dick? Is it like I can play idiotic Japanese video games with my hands and feel some idiotic pleasure in my brain, but I can't somehow masturbate or have sex without feeling guilty? Furthermore, fuck their work culture. Remember the guy who derailed the train he was driving, killing a lot of people, because he was like 1 minute late? Oooh, the dishonor! Oooh, the shame! One full fucking minute, dude! Well, a former co-worker of his actually commited harakiri when his train was late some 40 seconds, so it figures. Also, fuck their writing. They have 2 different alphabets for writing words as syllables, and they sometimes do that on signs, next to the main text. However, they still choose to use ideographs, which is a plain stupid idea because of objective reasons: they're fairly complex to display, they're hard to alphabetize and sort, there's too many of the goddamned symbols, and it's a primitive, retarded system. In my exceedingly unhumble opinion. This also applies to Chinese. I was reading an article a long time ago, also on Oddly Enough, about some Chinese politicians having names that are spelled with some ancient arcane characters that nobody knwos how to draw or pronounce. Well. 26 letters is an idea too simple or elegant for you idiots to adopt.
Next on the list, Singapore bans video game for sexy scene. Well. Singapore rules in many ways, for example they employ corporal punishment on criminals. Bamboo sticks to the ass. That fucking rocks. Law and order, by reason and by fear. Unfortunately this philosophy has the side effect of reducing some personal freedoms, especially when it comes to sex, but so be it. Nobody's forcing you to live in Singapore. And being such a small country that has it so well, no wonder their politicians spend time banning video games for just one questionable scene, albeit a very sexy and exciting one - I mean, having not seen the actual game, just the mental picture I get from reading the neutral description in the article is very hot. And here I am, shamelessly praising a Microsoft product.
Finally, some tropical fishes can live out of water for months. Well. Nature sure is cool. Evolution wins again, Ha-Ha!
But wait. Now I'm also finding out that yesterday some Japanese welcomed the year's first shipment of Beaujolais nouveau by... bathing in it. Apparently the wine needed to be poured in the pool by a sommelier. Well. Sometimes French does have a certain liquid quality to its sound.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

discrimination

Once I read some label/advertisment/whatever that had an intersting notice: "Foobzbar is an affirmative action / equal opportunity employer." At the time, I viewed that as a very positive thing and discussed it with people: look, this is civilized. Foobzbar is (at least in writing) a modern company. They specifically state they don't discriminate. Bla-bla. Then I learned what affirmative action really means :) When I first read the notice, I thought it had something to do with you getting promoted based on your merits. Man, was I fucking wrong. As can be read in the Wikipedia article, it's nothing but positive discrimination, and in many countries it's unlawful. Yes. Illegal. Like all kinds of discrimination should be. I don't even find any merit in commenting any further.
I will however comment on the current events in Romania and Italy. It seems some Romanian guy went to Italy (a lot go there to work an pay taxes, and a few go there to steal or beg). The guy allegedly robbed a woman, beat her up and raped her. She later died. Of course the press, being the shitpresser that it is, erupted in anger towards all Romanians, as if some guy committing a crime makes me a criminal too. Then it seems the woman wasn't actually raped, just violently robbed. So all the posters put up by extremists with emotional crap like "how can you look a raped woman in the eyes" and bloody crying faces were left without merit. Whatever. Discussions, talk shows, prime ministers meeting, shit for the press to feed on. I don't even care. I went to Italy once, and well, big deal. I'm never stepping there again. I mean, I heard some guys speaking Italian in the subway. Should I have started yelling "Booo, mafiozzi! Pizza spaghetti! Francesco Pazzi!" ? No. But Romanians are now genuinely afraid to speak Romanian in Italy for fear of being assaulted.
This being said, here is my short essay on why I don't like France but France is OK, but Italy sucks.
There's a flash film that shows why. I've last seen it some good years ago, so I had to google for the link. I wanted to search for "italy eu flash". Oddly enough, after typing f I got a suggestion for just that, and the first hit had the film I was looking for :D
But I have to add some stuff.
1) I visited some famous museums there, and most of the statues had their penises chopped off. Ouch. How very Latin, I should say.
2) The Pope lives there. The Pope is anti-progress, anti-freedom, anti-sex-ed, anti-everything and they should put a rabbit in his holy place. Italy gave the Pope his seat back (a whole state!) in the early 20th century (fuck Roman numerals), plus some money, when they could have chosen not to do that. They should have told him to respect their authority and shut up. What? You want a state? Ha-ha. No. What do you mean you had it before? So? The Dacians had their state untill we conquered them in the 1st century when we were called Romans. And now that the Roman Empire has fallen apart they're called Romanians, otherwise they'd still be under out authority. No. You don't get your state, beat it.
3) The Roman Inquisition
4) The Roman Empire
5) Electricity plugs :)
Look. Look at this map. Do you see? Do you SEE? :)
Roughly above the equator is the civiliz-pardon me, relevant world. Well, count Australia in too. So, what do you see? You see America in purple and Europe + Russia in green. Those are the two main standards for electricity plugs. Let's analyse. I belong to the green majority, so I can safely say I have "normal" plugs :) Like the one currently on top-left of the Wikipedia article. America is America, they have their own standard, it's OK. Who's gonna argue :) Japan uses the same type apparently, so that makes it even more OK. Of course, one can always use two stripped wires, two matches and a 100-250V AC/DC-to-DC universal supply and plug into every plug in the world, but that's dangerous and maybe illegal. There are all sorts of adapters, but I'll intentionally ignore that due to the fact that man, I forgot it at home! So this discussion is perfectly warranted :) So there's the American plug, and the "normal" Russian plug. Then there's the British plug which is well, British. That's also OK. I mean, they have the pound instead of the euro, they have a queen, they're British :) They have every right to be particular about their heritage, language, lifestyle, weather, and electrical plugs. It's perfectly acceptable, because they're British and London, unlike Rome, is a really cool city. And then there's Italy, where plugs have three pins and don't fit in the rest of European sockets. However, some European plugs do fit into Italian sockets ha-ha :) So when you, the fascist Italian, travel abroad, your plugs won't fit. They won't fit anywhere else in the world. That's because they're Italian. Ha-haa! That's what you get for being Italian, loser. Think twice before discriminating against my people, asshole.
Peace brothers.

news

I usually read Oddly Enough just for the sake of irrelevant stuff that happens around the world.
The first article I will point you towards is, of course, about death. It seems that some Canadians have the correct attitude towards death, their tombstones engraved with witty last words. This caused me a lot of trouble. Usually when I think of some stuff that's "so cool, man!" I can't wait to have it done. So now I can't wait to die and have "Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish." written to my tombstone. That's so fucking twisted. No! And usually when I can't wait for something, time starts going faster. No. I want to live! I've got stuff to do here, God damn it!

The second one is really nice. Pure urban poetry.

And finally, it's official: you don't have to live in France! :D
___
*) I don't like France. I don't like words having genders (especially when those genders are different from my own language -- like, is this a gay fork or what?). I don't like using the plural of "you" as a mark of respect, even though yes, I'm forced to do that here also. (What's with some people here addressing their parents with the polite plural form of "you"? Is that your idea of teaching kids about family ties, parents?) I travelled on both Boeings and Airbuses and only the latter gave me an allergy from whatever they were freshening the air with. I don't like the French calling computers "ordinateurs" when "computer" is a word of Latin origin. I don't like the French Wikipedia page saying that ordinators interface the environment through peripherals such as keyboards, screens and modems. That sounds straight out of an eighties textbook. I agree it's true, but sincerely, a network card or mouse would be more widespread than a modem as of 2007. I don't like the same page describing a computer's insides in a style reminiscent of a seventies textbook. For instance, a modern bus isn't made up of address, data and control lines anymore. Hasn't been this way for at least 15 years. Oops. Let me check the real page to see if that's also written there. Nope :) And it's also more fun and informative. People don't read Wikipedia to learn that computers have a CPU and a modem. They read Wikipedia to learn about interesting aspects in the history of computing, about various contemporary achievements, to see a picture of a computer inside a watch, to see a punched card or an ISA slot and understand that's history, stuff like that. I don't like the French Wikipedia, just as I dislike all its other local variants. I don't like the French being so fanatical about their language, though the dot-berliners get first place for this. For example, the article mentioned above is about ordinateurs, but they contain cache memory, not cachée as would be appropriate French. Screw this. I also think the French Revolution is a bit overrated. I like France for using nuclear power and for having nukes and the balls needed to keep them, I don't like France for anything else. And all the new Peugeots or however they're spelled seem to be laughing at you with a dumb grin. In fact, some other new cars seem to be doing that as well. So to be fair, I should point out that bad taste is in the eye of the beer holder, and irrespective of nationality.

podding

How seriously can you take a university that teaches classes on iPods? Really! :D I mean, ... listen to this: "... for the first time allows you to create your own auditory world bla bla" What? I mean doh. This is what you're teaching university students? I mean, I would feel intelectually insulted if someone attempted to lecture something like that to me. Well, actually I did a couple of times, but that's another story. Dude! What kind of university students are those who can't figure out for themselves that a music player coupled with a digital music library/store allows you to create your own auditory world? It's silly to have a course about that, and it's discrediting to the university, at least in my view. But then again, I guess they have a lot of courses on even more trivial subjects. So it's no wonder that a lot of people who claim to be experts in some field actually have little idea of what they're doing. Take the music "industry" for instance. When Steve Jobs launched the iPod and iTunes, he had to work hard to convince them to allow music to be bought off the Internet. Then he had to work even harder to convince them to allow the purchase of individual songs rather than full albums. The man knew what he was doing, and the enormous commercial success of his idea is proof of that. But people who counted and who should have really known better didn't initially approve of his idea, and that was plain stupid. I mean, here is this huge economy ruled by people who we're supposed to credit for its functioning, right? We should trust that they know what they're doing, that they do everything to ensure that everything goes well. Hell, this is so stupid. One day a man comes and states the plain obvious -- you're doing it all wrong! This is how it should be done! And it works, and the numbers speak for themselves. But it took someone like Jobs to actually implement such an idea, not because it hadn't been thought of before, but because he had the necessary charisma and influence. And one might think that "artists" (I somehow hate that word in its modern meaning) should be, well, you know, smart people. They should feel the world around them, they should be aware of their fans' opinions and feelings. But no, you had big names saying that no, albums are "thematic" and shit, and they should be sold as a whole, not broken up into songs. Why? Probably because the record house said so, and that's degrading to an artist's status. Everybody knows that people like to select the songs they listen to and build playlists and shit. It's been done that way for a long, long time, ages before the iPod, with MP3s. But some are unwilling to acknowledge that. I mean, people buy CDs, the companies get their money, then they vocally bash illegal downloads (which probably got the buyer to buy the CD in the first place), and it kind of works, so why actually encourage legal downloads? Why offer a service that actually fits like a glove over what the users actually want? I mean, if the billions are pouring in, then fuck the consumers, as long as they consume. Right.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

computing

Homebrew computers. Some people like to build their own computers as a hobby. I don't mean buying subassemblies from computer stores and sticking them together in a case, I'm talking about building the actual boards, and designing and building CPUs from discrete chips. You can see dozens of CPUs and computers built out of TTL chips on the 'net. They have varying degrees of performance, but none can match a modern computer, of course. That's not the point. The point is building your own computer for fun and for learning stuff. One of these discrete TTL chip computers (designed and built by a guy who also did 'real' integrated CPUs as a job) runs Minix and is comparable in performance to an early 8086 PC. Others are notably less powerful, but as I said, that's not the point. The point is, it's a computer built from cheap, very low tech, off-the-shelf parts that have been widely available since the 1970s. I mean, in case of apocalypse, maybe ultra-high-tech semiconductor fabrication facilities may not be available anymore, but simple TTL chips can literally be fabricated in someone's basement with some little investment. Sure, they're slow, but who cares. We don't need luxury in order to survive. We need food, a roof and maybe a toilet. A flushing toilet would be a rare and highly prized item in such a scenario. Similarly, computers need not output high-definition DRM'ed video streams on wide screen monitors. Postapocalypse, we'd be OK with a command line on a mechanical teletype. Low-resolution graphics on some old rugged TV would again be considered luxury. And that would allow us to quickly redesign the old technology, if resources and politics allowed.
But even if this postapocalypse scenario is kind of stretched, there's still the cool factor, the DIY factor and the learning-all-by-yourself factor. So any criticism of this kind of endeavors is pointless. However, I mighs have some suggestions.
1. Why use 74LS chips? They're slow as hell. I mean sure, it works with 74LS but it also works with 74S which are much faster. Sure, they burn more gas, but who cares, it's a hobby not a mass-produced consumer item. Sure, they have to be laid out a little bit more carefully, but it can be done. Well, there are many reasons. First, as stated before, raw speed is not the ultimate goal, because you don't use these for actual 'work'. So yeah, one could say "I built it with 74LS because those are cheaper and more widely available, it works, it can theoretically be done with 74S but hell." and that's correct.
2. Why not PLDs? CPLDs? FPGAs? Because, that eliminates the physical work of making/wiring a lot of boards and soldering in the chips/sockets. Sure, it's faster to design, it runs much faster because it's all integrated in one chip, and that's why it's done this way in the industry. But this is hobby! :) Then, it's also harder to debug because you can't just put an oscilloscope or voltmeter anywhere in the circuit, it's integrated! There are ways to work around that, but it's less 'hands-on'. This being said, there are lots FPGA-based computers built by both amateurs and professionals. There are free soft-processors and peripherals that you can compile and download into FPGAs or even make into hard chips, on opencores.org.
3. Why not transistors? I mean, if you really want to DIY, and do it hands-on, so not inside an FPGA, why use TTL chips and not discrete transistors? That's cheating! :) Transistors are much easier to fabricate even than TTL chips, and there isn't any hardware that's lower-level. Sure, you can build a computer with relays, and for that you only need iron and wood, but that's to big to DIY in your house. Transistor boards would of course be much bigger and take much longer to build than equivalent TTL chip boards. So there's a point. But there's still no better way to wipe off the aura of 'black magic' that surrounds computer internals other than building one out of simple transistors. They have just two main terminals and a control terminal - no chips, no mysterious black boxes. And you could attach LEDs and see the bits flow.

So I'm officially launching a contest. Whoever can design a Brainfuck processor with the least number of transistors wins the respect of hardware hackers worldwide. Nobody cares about speed, area, or cost, it just needs to be Turing-complete. This is hobby. Also, nobody cares on how many bits you encode the instructions. They don't need to be ASCII, just have a 1-1 mapping to Brainfuck. Oh, and no scientific papers can be officially published on it, because it contains the word fuck. Thankfully.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

laughable

Stuff that's laughable.
1. dot-berlin. So not only do Germans hate speaking English (well, many of them at least), not only do they oppose reforms by the EU, but now they want a new TLD for their capital city =))
So, what if, London wanted .london, and Paris wanted .paris, and New York wanted .new-york, and then some other special-interest-group from New York wanted .newyork because it's shorter, and what if then someone from Bucharest where I live wanted .bucharest? Then what if we would require .baneasa, .berceni, .militari, .muncii - areas of Bucharest. Do that with every major city in the world, and we would have tens of thousands of top-level domains, just because .berlin.de isn't enough. And we would have to do that, because we can't discriminate against other major capitals or cities just because Berlin speaks Deutsch and has some Communist wall. On a related note, now that .cat has been approved and some other significant linguistic groups are requesting their own TLDs, maybe they can also assign one to each of those decrepit languages that are spoken by 20 to 50 people and were once heavily advertised on the Discoveries during breaks. So maybe they'll get contempt with having like, between 0 and 3 sites and advertise their decaying culture there, and stop trying to take over my mind 3 minutes at a time. Like I should somehow get impressed and maybe donate half a penny so they could further raise their children to spear-hunt animals and sing 3-note songs when there's microelectronics, quantum mechanics, molecular biology, macroeconomics and western music to study, among lots of others. That's fucking annoying, and pointless. So fuck .berlin, fuck .mobi, .museum and other dots, fuck trying to save endangered species consisting of 0 to 5 individuals, and fuck daylight savings.
2. Fuck PPPoE.
3. Fuck wisdom teeth
4. Fuck neckties (the most useless object ever invented)
5. Fuck daylight savings
6. Fuck outdated medicine
7. Fuck leaded gasoline
8. Fuck fuckedee fuck fuck fuck
9. Fuck daylight savings
10. for sale: Cat-5 Ethernet cable, 20m, IPv6-compatible
11. that's all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

lameness

I saw some lame TV show (guess where) about how they "caught" some Internet cracker who stole some "sensitive information" or something. Of course, he can't be extradited from Argentina or wherever he lives to the US, even though they have a warrant for his "misuse of a computer" (LOL), because well, "ha-ha". The funniest part is how they "caught" him, I mean, found his identity: he boasted in some chat room, and then the investigators used "powerful Internet tools, called Internet search engines" to look up his alias or something, and then found his posts on some forum. Hell yeah. I remember when I was in high school in the computer lab and bored to death and the admins or however they were called left some passwd file on public ftp, which I of course opened, because it was public, unrestricted, unprotected and even without a notice stating that I am not allowed to "go there". I later learned that I had misused the computer, as the admin came steaming into the computer lab, IP logged and matched and all - "Did you look into the passwd from this computer?" "Yes." "You're not allowed to do that." "Really?" Of course, being public, open internet-accessible ftp and all, I took the liberty of downloading it all from outside the building without the guy lecturing me about what bits I am allowed and prohibited from sending into his network port. This happened some days later, and the files still had not been removed from public view. I vaguely remember also finding some winDOS .pwl files (oh, the old times) which, unless fake, were indeed crackable, unlike the passwd which contained no actual password hashes. And now I'm wondering, was that some kind of honeypot or plain stupidity?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

colo(u)r

Having cooled down after the spontaneous daylight savings ranting, I am now ready to rant about my original intention.
Just like that idiot William Willet, who was a philologist / builder, and should have had nothing to do with time, some people think they can somehow transcend science and push bold ideas such as black and white not being colors. Some of my art teachers in school did this. Fuck art. Art is spontaneous and creative, it's not something you teach. If I want to paint red next to green next to blue next to dark gray because I feel so, you don't have to come and tell me it's wrong and the colors don't match and it has a weird, heavy feeling. Maybe that's what I want it to be. Oh, and I also don't care about anything. I remember when I was in childrengarden (sic), and the teacher made us paint some stuff on a sheet of A4 paper. Each one's sh[i|ee]t was then posted on a huge panel for public display, and they were all sorted according to 'value'. Mine was of course last, because it consisted of an entirely black sheet. To this day, I take great pride in the fact that my sheet was displayed last. That was true, innocent, creative, art. I had never heard of postmodernism, heavy metal or anything, I was just a 3-year old kid who painted a black picture. But that's not all. The philosophy behind my black, flimsy piece of paper is much deeper than this. I initially started to paint what everybody was painting: some stick people, grass, flowers, sun etc. Then I admired my complex work and thought: this is wrong. I took the tube of black paint and blackened it all. It looked much better. It was remarkable. And it couldn't have had a better place on the display board. I am still PROUD. :)
Some years passed and school started. And of course, we had art class. We had to paint stuff that strictly followed some given form. Of course, it had a point, it taught you basic elements of painting, but it was far from stimulating creativity. At one time we had a teacher that gave us the option of using a computer to generate some drawings instead of messing with paint. That was way cool and progressive, and I didn't fully realize it at that time.
But anyway, some people insist that black and white are not colors. Well. They might have a point, but not a strong one. There are only two disciplines that can rightfully tell whether or not something is a color, and those are physics and biology. As you can see, whatever-art-whatever is not among them. Unless of course, one takes the liberty of defining color however they please. Certainly, one can be high on LSD and taste orange and smell blue, but that's an exception, as are the cases of people who naturally do that.
So, to explain why black and white ARE colors, regardless of what some might assert, let's start with a definition. Color is visual perception that can be classified in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet and a lot of other names depending on how precise one wants to be. The other visual parameter would probably be brightness, which is a little easier to define: the intensity of perception, which is of course directly related to the intensity of the stimulus, light. A comparison beetwen light and sound, and between sight and hearing is useful in showing why all colors are colors. Both light and sound are waves and their natural properties are frequency, or how fast they vibrate, and amplitude, or how strong they are. We'll use intensity instead of amplitude. Any sound or light wave can be thought of as a sum of elementary waves of various frequencies and intensities. This mathematical decomposition is called the spectrum. It can be drawn as a graph that shows how strong each frequency is within a complex wave. So slowly vibrating air gives a low-pitched sound, while rapidly vibrating air gives a high-pitched one. If air is vibrating both slowly and rapidly, you hear both pitches. Yeah, it can do that, vibrate both slowly and rapidly, no big deal. It's called linear superposition. Think shaking your wrist very fast while also moving your whole arm up and down, slowly. Then, if the electromagnetic field (light) vibrates slowly, you see red, and if they vibrate rapidly, you see blue. Of course, slow and fast are relative to the phenomenon in question and to human perception. We only see a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum and only hear a limited part of the mechanical spectrum. And light vibrates much, much faster than sound. Just as most sounds are complex, so are most colors. For example, you can't speak using just one sound frequency, and many colors can't be generated using only one light frequency, magenta being a good example. So if the equivalent of red is low pitch, that of blue is high pitch, and mixing red and blue light gives magenta, and mixing low and high pitches gives...ummm... low and high pitches, then: pure black is silence, pure white is hiss (also called white noise), pink is also some kind of hiss called of course pink noise, and so on. So if hiss is a kind of sound, then pure white is certainly a color. Either that, or pink and most other colors aren't actually colors. Anyway, there's no pure white, so how do you call a white that's a little bluish or yellowish or whatever, but not so much as not to call it white? you either call it a color, or you slowly increase the blue/yellow/whatever content until you can't call it white anymore, and don't call the resulting stuff a color either. So it is natural to call white a color. Some insist on calling it a sum of colors or whatever. True, it's a sum of all other colors. So? White hiss is a sum of all other sounds and it's still a sound. Every color is a sum of more elementary colors. There's no pure red, green, or blue, not even in the most precise lasers, let alone in a painting. If we skipped this and defined "mostly pure" colors, which indeed exist, then yellow can be a pure/primary/whatever you might call it color, meaning a single frequency of light, or can actually be two such frequencies, that of red and that of green. So there is a pure yellow and a yellow that's actually red+green, and they look exactly the same, and that's because of how our eyes are built. So all these attempts to refine the categories into which colors are placed and the idea that white is somehow different are absolutely pointless. The question of black is a little more difficult, because it is the absence of light. Is silence a sound? I don't know. It might be. Many artists talk about the sound of silence. The simple fact that we hear lets us categorize sounds into loud, soft, and absent. We wouldn't know what silence is if we didn't know what sound was, so silence is part of our audio perception. I guess it's still not a sound, but I don't even care. I'm making a comparison, not an equality. There is no pure black, at least not in paintings and shit. There is always light reflecting off even the blackest paint. So it's not equivalent to pure silence so it's a color. And if you were to be locked inside a totally dark room, you wouldn't see color anymore. You would see exactly nothing. So it's not black you're seeing, it's nothing, the equivalent of hearing nothing, or silence. There. Cut the crap once and for all. If I wanted to say that 1,2,3 and 4 are numbers but 5 isn't, I could, but it would be a very stupid thing to say. If I said that 1,2,3,4 and 5 are numbers, but zero isn't, that would be less stupid but still stupid, and it's been said throughout history. So feel free to classify numbers into positive, zero and negative, feel free to classify colors into warm, neutral and cold or whatever, but just please, cut the fucking crap.
PS. I also skim-read the Wikipedia article and found no indication of this stupidity. Is it a local tradition or something? Good enough reason to kill it ASAP.

purity

I found a sketch in my Google Docs about purity. I thought I posted about this earlier, but a search reveals that I have apparently not. M'kay then. It was inspired by something someone said / wrote, I'm just sorry I can't remember who they were so I could give proper credit. The original text only had one of the items in the list, and I took the liberty of expanding it. So here it goes:

Purity
is for
  • drinking water
  • fresh snow
  • colors
  • vodka
  • 24k gold
  • deionized water
  • semiconductors
  • sampling clocks
  • extraterrestrial signals (you know that song the seti guy sings? :D)
et cetera.

Purity is for water, not for people.

Superb.

Oh, I have sinned tonight. Let me remember... how many times. Let me think how many sins I have commited during this life. It's comparable to the xkcd number I guess. (The xkcd number is/was at some time the largest number concisely defined.) I am certainly going to fucking heck (having just mixed curse levels) where it's comfortably warm and otherwise interesting - i.e., not just clouds and singing angels. I mean, if the angel songs are played for ever and ever and ever, are they creative enough for me not to get bored? I guess they might be, actually. I shouldn't care anyway, because I'm going down there where there's solid matter for me to engineer. Let us again quote the wise words of William Murderface - "I'd rather DIE than go to heaven!"

So. Oh. Sorry. I just saw on TV that time has changed. (Times have also changed, but that's another story). This calls for a heavy dose of ranting. I mean, I think I should invest several femtograms of energy in ranting about how FUCKING STUPID DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME IS! Dude! It's TIME! You DON'T fucking change it!!! It's STUPID, POINTLESS, and ECONOMICALLY IDIOTIC! FUCK DAYLIGHT SAVINGS< FUCK DAYLIGHT SAVINGS< FUCK DAYLIGHT SAVINGS! I never use Caps Lock.
Although forms of DST were apparently used in ancient times, modern DST was invented by an idiot called William Willett, who printed pamphlets and lobbied politicians to implement his demented idea into law. Most people (including the idiots in the press who said it on TV this morning) think that Benjamin Franklin invented DST, but they're WRONG. I mean, that's insulting to the great Franklin. I was quite disturbed when I heard it on TV, so I checked. Of course, my intuition was right. Franklin couldn't have invented such a monstrosity. Instead, he did a much, much, MUCH more reasonable thing: he just told people to wake up earlier in the summer. Which is just, because you don't change time to force people to adapt to the planet's natural cycle. DOH!! Fuck daylight savings, they aren't saving anything. They're causing chaos, they're messing up people's rythm, FUCK DAYLIGHT SAVINGS A(g64,g64) times over! Then drill 10 more holes in it and fuck it again till it fucking dies! "William Willett did not live to see daylight saving become law, as he died of influenza in 1915 at the age of 58". GOOD! Fair! There is a God! Oh. And I don't like Coldplay.

cheers.

February 23 - October 28 - 8 months of bits - 500 chars max.
(I wanted it to be lowercase but the template capitalized it, and I was too lazy to change it.)
Why exactly October 28th and not, for instance, October 23rd so there would be exactly 8 months? For that matter, why 8 months and not 6, half an year? Because.
Cheers et cetera.
Now that this note has been posted and the toast has been made, hm. Wish bits 8 more months of success.

Monday, October 22, 2007

environment

I was talking some time ago about how much I hate pollution. Simply because it smells and it's toxic. I also said I didn't care about carbon dioxide emissions. We have a great deal of stuff to worry about that's more pressing and more important than CO_2. CO_2 can be absorbed by trees, if we stopped cutting them down and started planting new ones. Toxic gases and particles ("industrial ash") have a more direct impact on human life than global warming. Even more pressing is the oil crisis. Even if it's not a real crisis right now and it's driven by politics (may be, may be not, I don't care), it's still going to run out eventually. So that's the real problem, because then, the world economy is screwed. And then what? Riots? War? I don't know, I don't want to think about it. I hope a solution is found. What I care about today is bashing environmental fanatics. For instance, I use my bike and public transport most of the time, but I'm not fanatical about this. I don't have a problem with using a car, especially if there are more people in it. Think about this: according to Wikipedia, muscle efficiency is between 14% and 27%. A modern gasoline enginge on the other hand can have an efficiency of 25% to 30%. With Diesel engines that gets even higher. So I could get a better efficiency by riding say, a high-tech motorized skateboard / miniscooter, than by riding a bike. Guess what, you exhale 'dirty' carbon dioxide when you cycle, when you walk, when you sleep, all the time. You burn hydrocarbons just like a car does, and you eliminate CO_2 in the atmosphere. So by using a high-tech engine on a lightweight chassis you could actually 'hurt the environment' less by using motorized transportation than by cycling. Of course, cycling may be healthier, but that's another issue. Now think hybrid cars, where much less energy is spent on braking so the overall fuel consumption drops even more. Someday they're going to be markedly better than cycling. I should also mention a keen observation by my friend Wacky. All animals burn hydrocarbons and breathe out carbon dioxide, like we do. All plants on the other hand absorb the CO_2 and feed on it. So if you're somewhat of a vegetarian like I am, you're not protecting the environment by not eating animals, you're hurting it. You shouldn't kill and eat plants, who absorb CO_2, you should kill and eat animals, because they put CO_2 in your beloved atmosphere. And then campaign for cheaper condoms. We're complaining that the world population is increasing, that AIDS and other diseases are spreading sexually, and that's fucking normal! Because condoms are damn expensive. Especially in poor (pardon me, "developing") countries where a lot of people care more about finding half an old bread and a rotten apple to eat. Also, people are hypocrites. They're moral, they value family and bla-bla, when in public. But in private they spread AIDS and other diseases sexually. Actually, even if condoms were handed out freely, I guess many wouldn't take them because they're "highly moral and abstinent". Yeah. But still, condoms are fucking expensive. Hm. Seems I unintentionally found a problem worth campaining for: humanity's obsession with sex. The traditionalists' obsession with limiting and controlling it, the emancipated western(ized) peoples' obsession with having it, and the hypocrites' saying the first and doing the latter. And all the unnecessary taboo that surrounds it. There. Campaign for people to have less unprotected sex and make fewer children so there'd be less CO_2 emissions from breathing and from using technology. And then kill and eat all the animals that also breathe out CO_2. I think the environment would be perfectly sustainable with just humans, cockroaches, bacteria and all the plants. For instance, what role do panda bears play in the ecosystem? I mean, they're symbolic to the whole extinction craze. But besides being subjectively and questionably cute, they're dumb and poorly adapted. They only eat bamboo and reproduce with difficulty. So from an evolutionary standpoint, they deserve to die and go extinct. Big deal. So ideally, there'd be just many, many plants, us humans and little to no other animals. I mean, I guess there are plants that don't rely on insects for pollenation. Or just let the bees live, honey's good. And kill them if they multiply too fast. There. Clean air and sustainability. Then genetically modify humans to make their skin act like a plant leaf. There. No more fucking CO_2, and we get to feed on light. No more eating animals OR plants. Hippy nirvana peaceful utopia: us, the flowers and the trees. So we all happily feed on light and CO_2 instead of each other, until the CO_2 starts to run out and we can't synthesize organic matter any more. And so we burn half the forests to release more. And they all lived naturally ever after. The end.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

exceptions

Exceptions again. I thought about them again after posting earlier about how pointless they are. I found some cases where they might be useful, but then I changed my mind.
For instance, I know it's truly elegant to write a = b + c * d - x++ with overloaded operators and just catch the exception instead of checking the result of each operation, but what if(a.has_error()) do_stuff_to(a.get_error()), something like aggresively_spit_message(a.get_error()->
get_human_readable_text_including_error_ \
type_and_operand_misvalue_and_any_releva \
nt_environment_problems())?
And do whatever you like within the operators regarding operating on data with errors, just pass on the error.
I also know that even if you don't (can't) overload operators some methods must return useable objects, especially if you have immutable objects. Then either have mutable objects and pass them by reference, or make the error part of the object just as above. Duh.

Monday, October 15, 2007

fry

Today I am going to talk about frying electronics. According to arcane lore, all electronics function by means of a mysterious substance called the Magic Smoke. It is inserted into the components when they are manufactured, through a highly secret alchemic process. Whenever the magic smoke is released - for instance through subjecting the component to an electrical current many times the one specified for normal functioning - it ceases to function. This is sometimes accompanied by strong luminous or acoustic events (flash-bang). Other times, depending on the energy involved, it also results in flying sparks and shrapnel: "Timmy, put down that transistor! You might poke somebody's eye out!"
Although sometimes embarassing, especially when frying something worth a lot of money, accidentally killing electronic components is seen by engineers and amateur enthusiasts alike as sort of an initiation rite.
Frying electronics can be the result of numerous mistakes, such as:
  • applying a voltage of incorrect polarity or magnitude - this results in internal breakdown or excessive conduction, which allows large currents to flow. Large currents times some voltage equals large Joule dissipation equals melting, and sometimes pressure increase = bang!
  • allowing too great a current by wrong selection of component values - see above
  • using a small resistor instead of a larger one (ohmically or mechanically) - ouch, it burned my fingers! Also see above.
    • in particular, short-circuiting something that can deliver a large current does indeed that, sometimes with unpleasant results.
As you can see, it's always about overstress. Some particular cases include:
  • electrolytic capacitor overvoltage - fizz, bang
  • screwdriver across electrolytic capacitor - bang, sparks, screwdriver welded to terminals, capacitor internally overheated and mechanically stressed - bad
  • diode across mains - boom, blown fuse (trust me and don't try)
  • integrated circuit inserted backwards in socket - what students do in the electronics lab in the Bucharest Polytechnic to confuse their teacher - "Teacher, the circuit is not functioning, come take a look, I guess we wired up the thing wrong! [.......] So it's defective? Well, then, could you just let us off?" - the sockets are hidden on the back of the board and the traces and resistors are on the top side, for some arguable reasons like clarity and "don't touch those ICs, we don't have many more replacements! You don't need to see how those sockets work! Google it or something." -- doesn't work :)
  • electrostatic discharge - ellusive, nasty and sneaky.
Many components such as integrated circuits are designed to shut down when overheated to try and prevent further heating. This sometimes works, but not always. Most are designed to shut down or limit their output current when short-circuited, but not all. Some are even designed to survive reversing their supply voltage, but again, some aren't :) In any case, most will not survive severe overvoltage. Resistors, capacitors and diodes are not designed to survive overstress and will heat up. Some will fail open-circuit, so the heating stops quite rapidly, but others will continue to heat up until they blow violently. Bad, m'kay? In any case, open-circuit is a relative term. Under sufficient voltage, any material or gap becomes conductive.

There are also more interesting ways of frying electronics. We had some "Digital Computers" labs where we would design some simple stuff involving digital logic and stuff it into an FPGA and test it. Worth mentioning is the famous "Automatic coke dispenser" that was simulated using switches for dropping coins and LEDs* for releasing bottles as well as for internal diagnostics. *) Under the right conditions, any diode can emit light in the form of thermal radiation. Most can only do it once.
The coke dispenser never worked, partly because it was very easy to do the equations wrong, partly because the state machine was hand-designed and hand optimized instead of being written in some behavioural language, and partly because there was no switch debouncing. But, it taught us about whistling bits into an FPGA and reminded us how to hand-design stuff.
Another interesting one was the "robot ant" that navigated through a maze. It had VGA output but that module was already written so it was very cool (dude! video output dude! on the fucking monitor dude!) but not that challenging. The ant always looked like it had a blind desire to mate with the walls, but hey, it was all done in hardwarde. Sort of.
Years passed and one of my friends had to go through this lab. He asked me: is there some way you can fry an FPGA by misconfiguring it? I immediately said no, thinking of the usual mistakes one might do when generating the configuration bitstream, the same mistakes one would do when doing classic C programming for instance. After all, an FPGA is a very, very expensive thing to fry and you wouldn't want to be able to do that in software. Not easily at least. And the guy was sincerely concerned and I had to calm him down. And then I thought, well, if you wanted to fry it, I guess you could very well do that. (Don't!) You could for example take the clock and use an internal PLL to multiply it 6, 7 or even 10 times, maybe even way beyond what the chip is specified to properly function at. Then you would clock all the possible flip-flops with that, and tie all the combinatorial logic to it for good measure. That would surely overheat the chip in no time. If you're lucky, you might even blow up the power supply. If you're really lucky, the power supply might think you're short-circuiting it and shut down, preventing you from frying anything. Anyway, don't do such stuff.
Then (read hack a day!) I learned of a design that can really fry itself by software. It's a brilliant design actually, if proper protection is added. But it's just for proof of concept. Say you want to control a switching power supply by software. Need I say more? :) There's no greater opportunity for self-frying than this. This said, I would never trust software to keep me alive. I don't really know why we allow so many bugs to exist. I mean, when you design something physical, errors can creep up, but usually you do all the calculations and show that the stuff is going to function as planned. Not with software. Nobody does state diagrams and flowcharts anymore. In high school, we used to laugh when the teacher was trying to push flowcharts onto us. "What? Flowcharts?! That fucking looks like it's from an old sixties manual, I want to write some code!". Well. I admit it, I myself hate both flowcharts, Petri nets and proving algorithm corectness. Hell.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

fuck i18n

sau de ce suge wikipedia în româneşte.
Pentru că, evident, sunt mult mai puţini oameni care scriu în porcăria de wichipedie românească decât în aia englezească (cu adevărat internaţională).
De exemplu, vreau să caut cum se zice în iengleză la a restitui ceva în natură, pentru că-s prost şi nu ştiu. Sau cum se traduce răspundere juridică, că poate-i un termen special, ceva. Mă, n-ar fi fost injust să fie nişte pagini dacă nu cu titlul ăsta (caz în care clicăiam linkul spre varianta internaţională), măcar să fie dracului menţionate pă undeva. Nu găseşti.

Romanian Wikipedia is a waste of resources and sucks by lacking lots of articles and it will never be able to get them (just as many of its other 'international' variants suck), fuck 'internationalization', the only international language is English.