Adult Swim’s Bump Making Computrons

YouTube – “Adult Swim bumps are made using special high tech computrons” and then proceeds to take the rise out of MS and Apple… short and sweet.

A BartLink(tm)

Happy New Toy!

In the manner of Dave Walker:

Happy New Toy To Me,
Happy New Toy To Me,
Happy New Toy, Happy New Toy,
Happy New Toy To Meeeee!

…in this instance the new baby is a Canon PIXMA IP5200 Printer which I purchased for the ludicrously silly sum of £62.00 (sixty two quid!) from Amazon.

I’ve lived the last 20 years with a selection of dot-matrixes – including possibly the world’s only dot-matrix postscript printer, which I kludged up with some homebrew code that turned the Epson unto a 284x300dpi raster printer, fronted by Ghostscript; and for a while I had a cast-off SPARCprinter laser…

But 62 quid for 9600dpi colour? That’s just silly. Of course the cost of paper will be horrendous, but that’s another matter.

Aggregate Reader Stats

One of the notorious problems of Blogs and RSS is a matter of determining the approximate size of your reader base; many people prefer to use the metric of “the number of subscribers via RSS readership at [foo]”, where foo is any of the big aggregators.

So here’s a little list:

  • Bloglines: 35 subscribers
  • Livejournal: 25 readers
  • Rojo: 3 subscribers
  • Newsgator: 1 subscribers

The stats aren’t enormous compared to what some blogs get, but they are comforting.

Hello you lot, I hope you are having a good time?

Taking passwords to the grave

Key phrase: “I advise clients to put all their passwords to things online in an estate planning document”; that scares the willies out of me, I wouldn’t recommend it. The intent is sound, but I would advise people to put the passwords in a encrypted file under their control, and log the password for that in escrow, elsewhere.

Otherwise the inertia against changing (say) your e-mail password, will be too great. I suspect even what I recommend above is too complex for average joes.

I also love the last two paragraphs, which run:

Although his password remains a mystery, Talcott, who worked as a mainframe programmer when he wasn’t traveling around Europe, acknowledged the importance of data retention for posterity in a poem titled “Eating Salad With My Fingers:”

“Our office romance is over because I am no longer employed,” Talcott wrote. “Where is our offsite backup tape?”

Article follows. An AdrianaLink.

Taking passwords to the grave

William Talcott, a prominent San Francisco poet with dual Irish citizenship, had fans all over the world. But when he died in June of bone marrow cancer, his daughter couldn’t notify most of his contacts because his e-mail account–and the online address book he used–was locked up.

Talcott, 69, a friend of beatnik Neil Cassidy, apparently took his password to the grave.

It’s a vexing, and increasingly common problem for families mourning the loss of loved ones. As more and more people move their lives, address books, calendars, financial information, online, they are taking a risk that some information formerly filed away in folders and desks might never be recovered. That is, unless they share their passwords, which poses security threats.

“He did not keep a hard copy address book. I think everything was online,” said Talcott’s daughter, Julie Talcott-Fuller. “There were people he knew that I haven’t been able to contact. It’s been very hard.”

“Yahoo (his e-mail provider) said it wouldn’t give out the information due to privacy laws, but my dad is dead so I don’t understand that,” she said.

But it’s not a question of privacy rights so much as property rights, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

“The so-called ‘Tort of Privacy’ expires upon death, but property interests don’t,” he said. “Private e-mails are a new category. It’s not immediately clear how to treat them, but it’s a form of digital property.”

Attorneys advising clients on estate planning should ask them to determine who they want to have access to their computers when they die, Rotenberg said.

That’s exactly what San Francisco-based estate planning attorney Michael Blacksburg does. “I advise clients to put all their passwords to things online in an estate planning document,” he said.


Laptop Explosion in Alan Cox household

Thinkpad go boom. Telsa writes:

22nd September 2006. This used to be Alan’s laptop, an IBM Thinkpad 600 with third-party batteries we bought separately: ie possibly not IBM’s. Last night it exploded.


Alan was on the other side of the room from the laptop. I was elsewhere. He yelled out, I ambled towards the room in my own good time, and then I heard Fire! Real fire! Call the fire brigade, now! and I speeded up a bit.

From Alan subsequently, I gather there was an explosion and flying pieces of laptop, and a fireball, and a couple of fires started where (presumably) boiling battery landed, and one fragment smashed an LCD monitor. And then there was smoke and smell (there is still smell) and smoke alarm wailing and firemen and sirens and paramedics (happily unneeded) and police and a man with a notebook asking questions for the fire report.

And now there is black dust everywhere in the room and a stench in the house but remarkably little damage. To my disgust, even Alan’s model railway is intact, although the platforms look like they have been covered in coal (hah). Because the fragments went everywhere, we have an entertaining session of “check all the wires” ahead of us now.

One more thing. Smoke alarms are a really good idea. Ours went off within minutes. I don’t know whether this is true for all of the UK, but in Wales the fire service will come round and check your house and and give you smoke alarms for free and tell you useful things you might need to know. I am very glad they did.

To answer the collective inquiries and observations of IRC and phonecalls: no, it does not look likely that the data is recoverable; yes, there was a backup; I don’t know how much work was lost; we are fine (Alan has some very minor burns from flying laptop shrapnel and has lost a bit of hair, but no more than you would get from playing with a soldering iron); no, as I am not a geek, it never occurred to me to stop and take photos of the exploding laptop — I left the house like the nice 999 person told me to — but the pictures on the exploding laptop website give you a very good idea of what happened; Conrad, I’m sorry I didn’t ring back last night: I meant to, but as you see, I was distracted!

And contrary to all expectations (diolch, Gareth..), it wasn’t mine, I was nowhere near it, and this one was absolutely nothing to do with me.

continues, with updates

I’m expecting them as likely to get slashdotted, so I’ve duped the photos:

__olion-1-jump.html __olion-2-jump.html __olion-3-jump.html __olion-4-jump.html __olion-5-jump.html

It’s Friday. You’ll probably be bored. Read this.

Stormtrooper Effect

The Stormtrooper effect, also called Stormtrooper syndrome, is a cliché phenomenon in works of fiction where minor characters (cannon fodder) are unrealistically ineffective in combat against more important characters (almost always the protagonists “equipped” with character shields). The name originated with the armed Imperial Stormtroopers in the original Star Wars trilogy, who, despite their considerable advantages of close range, overwhelming numbers, professional military training, full armor, military-grade firepower, and noticeable combat effectiveness against non-speaking characters, were incapable of seriously harming the protagonists. The effect is generally employed either to increase the dramatic tension of an action scene or to accentuate the heroes’ fighting prowess.

The Stormtrooper effect is, in fact, much older than the Star Wars trilogy, and is common in cowboy films, action movies, martial arts films, and comics. It is often a source of mockery by critics, satirists and fandom, but it is generally recognized as bringing a camp appeal to works which employ it because of its use in quickly and effectively heightening a story’s dramatic atmosphere. One of the reasons the effect had never previously been named is due to the highly erudite and self-deprecating nature of science fiction enthusiasts.


Taking into consideration the nature of Redshirts in Star Trek (minor characters who usually die quickly after being introduced), the pseudo-philosophical question of “What would happen if Imperial Stormtroopers and Redshirts got in a firefight?” is well-known among fans of both series. The simple answer is that the Storm Troopers would mercilessly slaughter the Red Shirts, as they are not major characters and thus receive no protection from the Stormtrooper Effect.


The Inverse Ninja Law is a similar phenomenon that occurs frequently in martial arts movies, and role playing games. It is also sometimes called the Anime Ninja Effect or the Rule of One.

The Inverse Ninja Law states that the effectiveness of a group of ninja is inversely proportional to the number of ninja in the group. While a single enemy ninja is often portrayed as a significant threat to the protagonists, a large group of ninja is significantly less of a threat, and as such is easily defeated. This is sometimes applicable to other close combat “oriented minions as well.

Accordingly, effectiveness, e, should be computable given the number of ninja, n, and some as-yet-undetermined proportionality constant, k, as follows:


continues at Wikipedia