Archive for June, 2003

Date: June 30th, 2003
Cate: Regular

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House: They won’t fix everything we want, but we’re taking it anyway. Closing in T-31 days…

Class: Just had the midterm. During the second half of the class, we have to form “teams” and work on a “project” “together” which is not my preferred way of doing things. We’re supposed to take an existing program and refactor it to be chock full of patterns. Maybe we can use this one?

THE LONG AWAITED OFFICIAL MESSY-78 POSITION STATEMENT ON RSS, PIE, VALIDATION, <)) ECHO ((>, SSF, XML-RPC CHARSETS, AND WHATEVER ELSE IS GOING ON: I dunno.

Date: June 30th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– You4 – Right

And – Zuo3 – Left.

They look pretty similar. Inside right you can see – Kou3 – Mouth, and in left it is – Gong1 – Work. Not sure if there is any deep meaning there.

Date: June 30th, 2003
Cate: Regular
5 msgs

New excuse: atrophied right lobe

More Brain Power Needed for Mandarin Than English

Using brain scans on volunteers, Scott discovered that different areas of the brain are used to interpret words and intonation.

The left temporal lobe of the brain is active when English speakers hear the language but Mandarin speakers use the left and right lobe, which is normally used to process melody in music and speech.

Intonation is important in Mandarin because it gives different meanings to the same word. The word “ma” for example can mean mother, scold, horse or hemp, depending on the tone.

“We think Mandarin speakers interpret intonation and melody in the right temporal lobe to give the correct meaning to the spoken word,” Scott said in a statement.

She believes the research could provide insights into what happens when people are forced to re-learn speech comprehension following a stroke.

“It seems that the structure of the language you learn as a child affects how the structure of your brain develops to decode speech. Native English speakers, for example, find it extraordinarily difficult to learn Mandarin,” Scott said.

Date: June 30th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
6 msgs

FoF 0.next

By the way, I am still working on the next version, with categories and users and CSS and all that stuff. Here’s a top secret preview:

FoF 0.next

Yes, eventually the unread/total items will sum up under the folders. Eventually.

Date: June 30th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ge4 – (a measure word)

One of the charming features of Chinese is the measure word. If you want to say a quantity of a certain kind of thing in English, you just say

(number) (thing)

Like “one duck” or “five people” or “ten minutes”. Not so in Chinese, instead you have to say

(number) (measure word) (thing)

For example

五隻豬 – Wu3 Zhi1 Zhu1 – Five (measure for pigs and some other kinds of animals) Pigs

There are different measure words for all different categories of objects. is the most common one, and is used for people, and seems to also be used when no other one fits. But there are HUNDREDS more, for all different seemingly random categories of things. Sometimes one measure word is used for multiple unrelated things. Here’s just a few to give you the flavor:

– Ba3 – handfuls, things with handles, and some abstract things
– Ke1 – small spheres
– Ke1 – trees, cabbages
– Kou3 – population, mouthsful, wells
– Gua4 – string-shaped things, strings of things
– Ban1 – crowds, classes, scheduled transport vehicles
– Tai2 – performances, engines
– Ju4 – tools, corpses

Yes, even corpses get their own measure word, for all the times you need to refer to great stacks of dead bodies. This whole business is so complicated that Jenny isn’t even 100% sure that is the right one for pigs. It probably depends on the breed or something like that.

Date: June 29th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Yi2 – Amiable

This is a very obscure word. It might not render well, or at all, in your browser. I had lots of trouble finding it in Unicode, for a while I thought they might not have even made a Unicode character out of it. But, finally, with Jenny’s help I found it. Why?

康㦤 – Kang1 Yi2 – Sharena! She was our secret guest at the Zoo.

Judy named her this way because she wanted her to be healthy (recall – Kang1 – Healthy) and well liked, so the story goes. Her younger sister’s name had a different motive.

Sharena and Jenny on a Camel

The zoo was great! I now like giraffes, but I’m pretty sure they’re not from Earth. Look for a posting with more pictures in the next few days at m.info.

Update: In some browers this character renders as a Korean word. You can tell if your browser is rendering it wrong by clicking here. It should look like the picture under “The Unicode Standard”. If the picture under “Your Browser” is different, then your browser is showing it wrong (for some unknown (to me) reason).

Date: June 28th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Kang1 – Healthy

康涅狄格 – Kang1 Nie4 Di2 Ge2 – Connecticut. Also shortened to 康州 – Kang1 Zhou1. means State, so is Connecticut the healthy state?

(I used to always overhear people asking Jenny, in Chinese, where we lived. She would reply 康州 – Kang1 Zhou1. I assumed it meant “condo”, only recently did I learn the truth.)

also has something to do with our Special Guest for the trip to the Zoo tomorrow. Can you guess what it is?

Date: June 27th, 2003
Cate: Regular
10 msgs

donotcall.gov

donotcall.gov, the national Do Not Call registry, (cool URL, nice job,) is online, but currently seems swamped with traffic.

It let me click the “Register” button…

“Connection refused”… retrying…

Entered my number…. Submit…. AAhhhh! Stil can’t get through! Anyway. It’ll probably be up by later today. Don’t forget to register!

Date: June 26th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Yi3 – Use, According To

This word is part of an expression that Jenny gave me as my “expression of whenever she feels like teaching me one” the other day.

以為 – Yi3 Wei2 – Believe, Consider That.

我以為你是豬 – Wo3 Yi3 Wei2 Ni3 Shi4 Zhu1 – I think you’re a pig.

(That is the same that appears in Why and Because.)

Date: June 26th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
3 msgs

FoF 0.1.1

Get it here

If you’re upgrading, just overwrite your existing installation (except for your config.php file). FoF is now compatible with PHP 4.3.2, and mod_gzip handling is restored.

Details of problem, and solution, here.

Date: June 25th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
4 msgs

– Dong4 – Act, Do, Move

– Wu4 – Thing, Object

So what is a Thing that Moves? 動物 – Dong4 Wu4 – Animal!

And if you put them in a – Yuan2 – Garden, you have a 動物園 – Dong4 Wu4 Yuan2 – Zoo. Which is where we’re going this weekend!

Date: June 25th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
3 msgs

FoF vs PHP 4.3.2: The Empire Strikes Back

OK, it turns out there are even more bugs. PHP 4.3.2 changed some other subtle things, beyond the gzip stuff, and FoF just totally doesn’t work. I’ll make the fixes and release a new version tonight.

Date: June 25th, 2003
Cate: Geekism

Feed on Feeds & PHP 4.3.2: Workaround

You can work around the problem in PHP 4.3.2 by adding this line to the end of your config.php, just before the closing ?>:

define('MAGPIE_USE_GZIP', false);

Something seems to have changed with PHP’s gzinflate function. So the workaround is to turn GZip encoding off completely until we figure out what is going on. FoF will work fine with GZip turned off, but since the RSS files fetched will not be compressed, it will use more bandwidth.

Date: June 25th, 2003
Cate: Geekism

Feed on Feeds advisory: Does not work with PHP 4.3.2

As reported at LaughingMeme, there is some sort of bug or change in PHP 4.3.2 that causes FoF to fail with an out of memory error. Hosts around the world are starting to upgrade to 4.3.2, so you may be hit with this soon. I’ll debug as soon as I can.

The problem seems to occur only on some feeds, but on those, it happens reliably. One example is Aaron Swartz’s weblog.

Date: June 25th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Re4 – Hot

It kind of looks like this character is sweating, doesn’t it?

熱鬧 – Re4 Nao5 – Hot Noise — Lively, Bustling

Lively

台北很熱鬧 – Tai2 Bei3 Hen3 Re4 Nao5 – Taipei is very lively.

Date: June 24th, 2003
Cate: Kung Fu

Heroic Grace

HEROIC GRACE: THE CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS FILM

June 27th – July 10th at the Lincon Center. Looks great! They’re showing everything from one part of a silent serial called RED HEROINE from 1929 (the other parts are lost) all the way up to CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. The focus seems to be on the best of kung fu and swordplay movies from the 60’s and 70’s.

Date: June 23rd, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
11 msgs

– Hu3 – Tiger

means Tiger by itself, but the more complete way to say it is 老虎 – Lao3 Hu3 – (literally) Old Tiger.

Two Tigers

Jenny and I are both Tigers, according to the Chinese zodiac. It goes by years instead of by months. By the western zodiac, I’m Pisces. Tiger-Fish isn’t that cool. But, Jenny’s a Tiger-Lion. Watch out!

中文.com has an interesting expression:

虎頭蛇尾 – Hu3 Tou2 She2 Wei3 – Tiger Head, Snake Tail

It means “impressive start, disappointing finish”.

Date: June 23rd, 2003
Cate: Regular
1 msg

New symbol of our security

DHS

Date: June 23rd, 2003
Cate: Geekism

Safari 1.0

Apple had some sort of show today. Lots of announcements!

Get your Safari 1.0 here

OS X 10.3 “Panther”

New camera doohickey

ObOhByTheWay: New dual 2GHz G5’s will be out on September 1st. $2,999!

Date: June 23rd, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Xing2 – Do, All Right, Capable

To ask somebody if they can do something you might say 你行不行? – Ni3 Xing2 Bu4 Xing2? – You can or can’t?

is tricky, though. You can also pronounce it Hang2. In this case, it means Line, Row, Company, Business, Profession. When is used as Hang2 (and when any word has a second pronunciation) it is called 破音字 – Po4 Yin1 Zi4 – Broken Sound Word.

Date: June 22nd, 2003
Cate: Regular
7 msgs

House Update

Things are still going well. The home inspection revealed a few small problems, which we’ve asked the sellers to fix before closing. They have until Tuesday to respond.

Today Jenny and I spent the day going around to electronics and home stores, looking at all the various things we might buy for the new place. Surround speakers, a Weber, rugs, new kitchen stuff, paint, window treatments, washer dryers, outdoor furniture… The possibilities of how we can upgrade and customize are pretty exciting! Up until now we’ve always lived in apartments and have never felt that we should be buying “permanent” stuff.

Won't you be my neighbor?

T-39 days until closing…

Date: June 22nd, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– An1 – Peace, Calm, Quiet, Content

is a picture of a woman (女) under a roof. You’ll see this one written on candles in places like Pottery Barn a lot.

早安 – Zao3 An1 – Good Morning
晚安 – Wan3 An1 – Good Night

Good night.

Date: June 21st, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ma3 – Ant

Actually you have to say 螞蟻 – Ma3 Yi3 to say Ant.

Date: June 20th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ke3 – Thirsty

by itself means thirsty, but you can also say 口渴. I used to always think this is what Coke was called, but it’s not.

Date: June 19th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
1 msg

Java.net

Maybe because there’s nothing that interesting there?

On the Java road is cool, but really the rest feels like marketing.

Date: June 19th, 2003
Cate: Geekism

MicrosoftPrototypeCrawler -> MSNBot

I too have been visited by MSNBot, but I don’t think this is a new development. Remember MicrosoftPrototypeCrawler?

Date: June 19th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Ke3 – Can, Able To

There’s a million expressions of the form -Verb, which usually mean something like Can Verb or Can Be Verbed. For instance:

可以 – Ke3 Yi3 – Can Use — Can, Able To
可愛 – Ke3 Ai4 – Can Love — Cute
可笑 – Ke3 Xiao4 – Can Laugh — Funny, Laughable
可怕 – Ke3 Pa4 – Can Fear — Scary, Dreadful
可口 – Ke3 Kou3 – Can Mouth — Tasty

That last one is part of what Coca-Cola is called in Chinese: 可口可樂 – Ke3 Kou3 Ke3 Le4. It means something like “Tasty and makes you happy”. There apparently is some truth to the story about Coca-Cola being originally transliterated as something meaning “bite the wax tadpole” but I haven’t been able to piece together what that would have been yet.

– La4 – Wax
– Ke1 – Tadpole

Maybe it was 口蝌口蠟?

Date: June 17th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Fan4 – Cooked Rice

Yesterday’s word only means uncooked rice. Cooked rice is .

Rice is important. At meal time, you say it’s time to 吃飯 – Chi1 Fan4 – Eat Rice, even if you’re not having rice. The three meals are known as 早飯 – Zao3 Fan4 – Morning Rice — Breakfast; 午飯 – Wu3 Fan4 – Midday Rice — Lunch; and 晚飯 – Wan3 Fan4 – Evening Rice — Supper. And a really good job is a 鐵飯碗 – Tie3 Fan4 Wan3 – Iron Rice Bowl.

Date: June 17th, 2003
Cate: Regular
2 msgs

Today’s experiment…

Yatta

We got the house, and are now in the Critical Section between contract and closing. INSPECTION is on Friday.

Date: June 17th, 2003
Cate: Regular
1 msg

Kitty-chan

Kitty Chan

Golden Kitty. A steal at ¥400,000!

Date: June 16th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
5 msgs

– Mi3 – Rice, Meter

I’ve mentioned 米 before. Not only does it mean Rice, it also means Meter. What else is there? How do you say Gram? Am I going to do another of those dull tables that I get so excited about? No! Somebody beat me to it:

SI Unit and Prefix Names in Chinese

This is the JACKPOT! Meter, Kilogram, Second, Kelvin, Ampere, Mole, Candela, … Micro-, Pico-, Nano-, Kilo-, Mega-, Giga-, even Exa-, Peta-, Femto-, and Atto-! My favorites! They’re all here!

Date: June 15th, 2003
Cate: Meta

INCONCEIVABLE!

<TV Announcer>
  If you only see one episode of Chinese Word of the Day this year, SEE TONIGHT’S.
</TV Announcer>

It turns out that whoever is in charge of naming numbers in Chinese has a good sense of humor. What we call Ten Vigintillion (1064) they call “INCONCEIVABLE”. And there’s more!

Now that I have the ultimate table of Ridiculously Large Chinese Numbers, my next research project: Exceedingly Small Chinese Numbers. I wonder if they have equally ingenious names for one quadrillionth, or a picosecond?

Date: June 15th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Jing1 – Capital, Ten Quadrillion

appears in both 東京 – Dong1 Jing1 – Tokyo (East Capital) and 北京 – Bei3 Jing1 – Beijing (North Capital). But here’s the real reason why it’s the word of the day. I’ve been working on my table of Ridiculously Large Chinese Numbers. Turns out big Chinese numbers have some great names: Inconceivable! Unmeasurable! And BIG NUMBER! The only numbers we have with even halfway interesting names are Googol and Googolplex.

(in case you don’t know, a googol (not misspelled) is

1
0000000000
0000000000
0000000000
0000000000
0000000000
0000000000
0000000000
0000000000
0000000000
0000000000

and a googolplex is a 1 with a googol zeroes after it)

Date: June 15th, 2003
Cate: Regular

Yvonne

The famous girl from StarbucksPhotos.com, Yvonne (center):

Jenny, Yvonne, Sally

…is coming to the USA to study, and in fact, may stay with us for a few days before her classes start! With any luck, it will be in our new house.

Date: June 15th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Deng3 – Wait, Class, Rank, Grade

We are now 等待 – Deng3 Dai4 – Waiting to hear back on another offer on a house… It seems like this one will go through. SO SCARY!

Today’s experiment……..?

Date: June 14th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
3 msgs

– Guan1 – Close, Shut, Turn Off, Concern, Involve

So open is and close is . They look similar. The frame around both is – Men2 – Door.

Inside is – Jian1 – Even, and inside is something meaningless and confusing, but it seems to have something to do with threads or looms.

Date: June 13th, 2003
Cate: Meta
3 msgs

Power laws

According to the NITLE Weblog Census, my site has 18 incoming links (roughly agrees with Technorati). That puts me in the 97th percentile of well linked weblogs.

A weblog like Homer vs. Kidd, with 2 links, is in the 75th percentile. About half of all weblogs counted by the census have no incoming links, and another 25% have one.

The highest you can get is a weblog like dive into mark or Where is Raed ? which are both in the 99.99th percentile. It’s all part of this power law stuff.

Date: June 13th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
1 msg

446,343 and counting

NITLE Weblog Census

With an API and downloadable raw data to boot.

Date: June 13th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
1 msg

IE for Mac is also over

IE 5/Mac is the end of the road, says Microsoft. Sort of obvious with the whole Safari thing and all. Since IE/PC’s life was quietly ended some time ago, this means IE now abandonware. IE is like the Mac OS 9 of browsers, except there’s no OS X to upgrade to. Ever. (Hi Pere!)

Zeldman originally broke the news, then posted a few days later saying maybe it’s not so bad, IE6 is kind of OK, but then realized that Longhorn won’t be out for at least two years and concluded we’re hosed:

In other words, for the next two years, 85% of the web using population will have buggy support for CSS float, no support at all for adjacent sibling selectors, and no hope of PNG transparency unless developers are willing to write proprietary, IE-only code or deploy sophisticated JavaScript workarounds to make IE/Win do what other modern browsers do natively. Not to mention IE/Win’s known caching problems with background images and its insistence on displaying the a:active state even when a link is no longer active. Can anyone tell us how two more years of flawed standards support is supposed to be a good thing?

Date: June 13th, 2003
Cate: Regular
3 msgs

He’s OK!

He's OK!