Archive for September, 2003

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

– Nuo4 – Promise

承諾 – Cheng2 Nuo4 – Undertake Promise — Promise (to do something)

Status of 承諾: Kept!

Just talked to 三喵, she does indeed realize that as of right now she only has one hour of smoking left. She has three 香煙 – Xiang1 Yan1 – Fragrant Smoke — Cigarettes left, and then, that will be it.

Wish her good luck !

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

– Lei4 – Tired

I can’t believe I haven’t done this word yet! I got up at 5 this morning to teach a class, and now I’m just plain .


Date: September 28th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
2 msgs

Some things never change

Yesterday, 20 years ago, RMS posted this to Usenet:

Starting this Thanksgiving I am going to write a complete Unix-compatible software system called GNU (for Gnu’s Not Unix), and give it away free to everyone who can use it.

And he actually did it. The Linux that half the world runs on today is the product of the effort that he started back then.

What about the other half of the world? It has a different philosophy. This is Bill Gates’ famous Open Letter to Hobbyists, sent on February 3, 1976:

Almost a year ago, Paul Allen and myself, expecting the hobby market to expand, hired Monte Davidoff and developed Altair BASIC. Though the initial work took only two months, the three of us have spent most of the last year documenting, improving and adding features to BASIC. Now we have 4K, 8K, EXTENDED, ROM and DISK BASIC. The value of the computer time we have used exceeds $40,000.

The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these “users” never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.

Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?

Is this fair? One thing you don’t do by stealing software is get back at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn’t make money selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free?

Date: September 28th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
6 msgs

– Jiao1 – Teach

– Xue2 – Learn

Date: September 28th, 2003
Cate: Geekism


What’s more geeky than riding around town on a Segway? Building your own.

I especially like this part, where he is comparing his to the real one:

Safety Features


Everything is dual redundant. For example, “in the unlikely event of a battery failure, the system is designed to use the second battery to operate the machine and allow it to continue balancing until it is brought to a safe stop.”

My Scooter

There is no redundancy or backup system. It is not even robustly made. Loose wires literally dangle out the bottom. In the fairly likely event of the software crashing, a wire coming loose, a component failing, or the batteries running low, the wheels will lock and the entire kinetic energy of the system will be used to accelerate my head toward the ground.

Date: September 27th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Wa1 – Dig, Excavate, Scoop

is what you should do, twice, to vanilla ice cream before having apple pie.

Date: September 27th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ying1 – Brave

英雄 – Ying1 Xiong2 – Brave Hero — Hero

We saw Hero tonight. I liked it! It has the one thing that all good kung fu movies have. Put your mouse right here to see what that is. (warning: somewhat of a spoiler)

Date: September 25th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Die2 – Trip

跌倒 – Die2 Dao3 – Trip Fall

Time to get a handrail for the stairs!

Date: September 24th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
3 msgs

– Mo2 – Rub

按摩 – An4 Mo2 – Press Rub — Massage

The first time I was in Taipei I got lost trying to find a subway station. While walking down one street, a guy leaned out from a store front, made a massage type guesture, and said 按摩? 按摩? But that’s not why I wanted to post this one.

摩天樓 – Mo2 Tian1 Lou2 – Rub Sky Tower — Skyscraper

The second time I was in Taipei, we made a special trip to see the Taipei 101 building, which was still under construction.

It will finally be complete in October, and will become the world’s tallest building. Go Taiwan! But watch out: Here comes China, with the Shanghai World Financial Center! Of course, then there’s this building, maybe…

Date: September 23rd, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Wen1 – Warm

溫度計 – Wen1 Du4 Ji4 – Warm Degree Count — Thermometer

氣壓計 – Qi4 Ya1 Ji4 – Air Press Count — Barometer

濕度計 – Shi1 Du4 Ji4 – Wet Degree Count — Hygrometer

風速計 – Feng1 Su4 Ji4 – Wind Speed Count — Anemometer

Date: September 22nd, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Xie4 – Crumb

I’m told that there’s no word for “crummy” in Chinese. I figure if – Mao2 means fur, and 毛毛的 – Mao2 Mao2 De5 means furry, then 屑屑的 – Xie4 Xie4 De5 must mean Crummy.

Some people might think I don’t quite have the credentials to coin a new word. They’ll see! They’ll all see!

Date: September 21st, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Kong3 – Fear, Dread, Horror

恐龍 – Kong3 Long2 – Horror Dragon — Dinosaur

Sharena called up today and said she wants us to take her to see dinosaurs this winter. OK! I’m trying to look up what the different dinosaurs are called in Chinese, so far all I can find is:

暴龍 – Bao4 Long2 – Violent Dragon — Tyrannosaurus Rex

WAIT A MINUTE! Here we go: Dinosaur names in Chinese!!!! It even has a super secret three way decoder wheel that tells you what the root words of dinosaur names are, and what they mean in English and how they are translated to Chinese, like Bronte – Thunder – 雷聲.

恐怖 – Kong3 Bu4 – Terror

恐怖份子 – Kong3 Bu4 Fen4 Zi5 – Terror Group Member — Terrorist (evil cottages?)

Horror movies are called 恐怖片 – Kong3 Bu4 Pian4 – Terror Movies. Also Jenny uses this all the time sort of facetiously to describe things people do that are so wrong or so shocking that they’re scary. If somebody could finish two large pizzas, for example, that would make them 恐怖.

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

– Hua4 – Draw, Picture, Painting

動畫 – Dong4 Hua4 – Moving Picture — Animation

Date: September 20th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Ji4 – Season

季節 – Ji4 Jie2 – Season

夏天 – Xia4 Tian1 – Summer Day — Summer

秋天 – Qiu1 Tian1 – Fall Day — Fall

冬天 – Dong1 Tian1 – Winter Day — Summer

春天 – Chun1 Tian1 – Spring Day — Spring

I’m posting the seasons because I just today figured out that Chun Li (from Street Fighter) is 春麗 – Chun1 Li4 – Spring Beautiful.


Date: September 19th, 2003
Cate: Otherwhere
4 msgs

Best Restaurant Name Ever

Monkey Mountain Chicken Farm – 猴山岳土雞城

According to the review, they make a mean tomato and egg, and an even better dragon whiskers (龍鬚菜). They also say you might have trouble getting there because taxi drivers believe the mountain to be haunted. I’m sold! Another one for the list next time we’re in Taiwan. (As if that happens all the time.)

Date: September 18th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Hong2 – Red, Popular, Revolutionary

紅寶石 – Hong2 Bao3 Shi2 – Red Gem Stone — Ruby

藍寶石 – Lan2 Bao3 Shi2 – Blue Gem Stone — Sapphire

Are they all going to be this boring?

翡翠 – Fei3 Cui – Male Kingfisher Female Kingfisher — Emerald

I guess not.

鑽石 – Zuan4 Shi2 – Drill Stone — Diamond

I wonder why?

Date: September 18th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ling2 – Zero

I rented F-Zero GX today, it’s pretty good. Very very fast. They warned me at the video store to be careful of motion sickness, and I see what they mean, I think it’s faster and spins around even more than the last F-Zero game.

Even though there’s a character for zero, when writing out numbers, just a plain circle is sometimes used to mean zero. For example, 501 would be 五0一 – Wu3 Ling2 Yi1 – Five Zero One. Yes, sometimes numbers are written (and spoken) in this positional format, as opposed to the non-positional one I mentioned before. You have to figure out which one is meant by the context! I guess it’s kind of like English, where we are just as likely to say “one oh one” or “one hundred and one” for the number 101.

Another cool one is 零食 – Ling2 Shi2 – Zero Food — Snack.

And 零錢 – Ling2 Qian2 – Zero Money — Change.

Finally 零用錢 – Ling2 Yong4 Qian2 – Zero Use Money — Allowance.

Date: September 16th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
3 msgs


And for the absolute opposite point of view from mine below, see Russell Beatie: Is anyone else *astounded* by the announcements coming out of the Sun Network event in San Francisco? I really am. From what I’ve heard and seen so far, Sun is really doing what it needs to do to both change their business model and communicate (read: market) their message.

Date: September 16th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Yan2 – Grind, Research

I need to pick a topic for my 研討會 – Yan2 Tao3 Hui4 – Research Discuss Meeting — Seminar. It turns out my advisor is into the whole Semantic Web thing, but I’m not sure I like that stuff. She likes RDF, how about RSS? Last semester I got off easy by just turning in Ball Universe, maybe this time I can just turn in Feed on Feeds.

Date: September 16th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
6 msgs

Project Orion is promoting something called Project Orion today. I hadn’t heard of it before, so I went to the site to check it out. From the FAQ:

Q: What is Project Orion?

Its a new and innovative initiative that has the potential to change the face of the enterprise software industry by making enterprise infrastructure software predictable in its delivery, more freely accessible for evaluation and even more affordable to purchase. This will be achieved by taking a fresh approach to how enterprise infrastructure software is designed, developed, delivered and deployed.

OK, I now have no idea what Project Orion is. Let’s read a little more:

Q: What are the objectives of Project Orion?

To radically simplify the acquisition, deployment and management of enterprise infrastructure software, relieving customers from the escalating levels of complexity and cost.

Still nothing. As I read further and further on, it became apparent that this has to be some sort of joke:

Q: What are the top three Project Orion objectives to reduce customer cost?

- Through provision of a deployment reference architecture that reduces planning and testing.
- Through pre-integrated and pre-tested enterprise infrastructure software reducing additional integration needs.
- Through simplifying operations for enterprise infrastructure software feature, patch and upgrade needs.

Now wait a minute. Not only does that not make any sense, some of it doesn’t even parse! Did they have an intern write this? Here the document begins to read like a piece of well-crafted totalitarian propoganda, memorized from a very early age:

COMRADE! What are the key customer benefit objectives of Project Orion?

Sir! To reduce complexity and saves time and resource costs!
Sir! To reduce and simplify enterprise infrastructure software project planning and time to deployment!
Sir! To reduces time and simplify enterprise infrastructure software patch, upgrades and day-to-day operations!
Sir! To improve time and accessibility to new features and functionality!
Sir! To accelerate the development and deployment of network services!

Very good, you may carry on.

Maybe at some point this document does contain actual content. Let’s skip to the end:

Q: What is the key takeaway from the Project Orion announcement?

This is a journey to change the face of the enterprise infrastructure software industry. Sun is leveraging it’s world-class competency in developing and releasing large-scale system software through its success with the Solaris Operating System. It’s making enterprise infrastructure software integrated and open; predictable in its delivery; more freely accessible for evaluation; and even more affordable to purchase. Driving complexity down and cost out.

Leaving aside that fact that you should never, ever trust anyone who tells you what “the key takeaway from this” is, and the grating spelling and grammatical errors, it still doesn’t mean anything! The entire FAQ does not, in any way, explain what this Project Orion actually is! It does explain that Project Orion is not a software bundle, that it is better than a best-of-breed solution (nice trick), that it does not target a specific competitor, and that it supercedes SunONE, leverages N1, and goes beyond SunTone. Thanks, that really helps.

I think Steve Ballmer has done a better job explaining what .NET is than this. Idiots.

Date: September 16th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Dun1 – Squat

As of today, Verisign is the world’s largest domain squatter. They have effectively registered EVERY .com and .net domain that wasn’t already registered by somebody, and are redirecting all the traffic to themselves. If you go to one of these domains, you get served up a bunch of sponsored links! For example, try Do you see the Verisign page? They’re TYPOSQUATTING on my domain! It used to be that this would return an error to your browser, which it could then handle as it pleases. Most browsers would just put up an error message, IE would send you to MSN. Not any more! As far as your browser can tell, exists.

Their snazzy new central “not found” page also has a cross site scripting vulnerability. Great. Perfect central place for hackers to attack. Any malware they manage to put there will be downloaded by a large portion of internet users very quickly.

Geeks around the world are trying to figure out how to restore the old behavior, or force Verisign to restore it.

Date: September 15th, 2003
Cate: Geekism
4 msgs

Setve Mitunlilo :: msesy 78

I saw it first at jwz, who wrote a Perl script to test it. Uncle Jazzbeau is trying to find the origin of it. And now Aaron Swartz has provided a EoM plugin for it!

Try it yourself!

Date: September 14th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Mo4 – Ink

墨西哥 – Mo4 Xi1 Ge1 – Ink West Brother — Mexico

I continued my plan to see all the movies in the “Once Upon A Time In” series today with the Mexico one. I thought I was doing pretty well in this, having seen “West”, “India”, and “China”, but this search shows that I’m actually way behind.

The Midlands? America? On The Beach? Sicily? China AND America?

Date: September 14th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
4 msgs

– Qi4 – Gas, Air, Weather, Breath, Angry

Wow, I’ve really opened up pandora’s box with this one. I just wanted to look up how to say 天氣 – Tian1 Qi4 – Weather, but I didn’t know you had to use to say that.

doesn’t just mean regular air and gas. It’s also what traditional chinese medicine is based on. (which, despite being “traditional”, is still quite widely practiced, as far as I can tell. for many types of ailments it seems to be what a chinese person would try first. for others, it may be what you try last.) is the life force that flows through your body that accupuncture is trying to realign. Also, in every kung fu movie ever, is the most important thing. If you can properly focus your you can pretty much do anything, like punch trees and make them blow up.

氣功 – Qi4 Gong1 is a system of exercises you can do to improve your , which leads to all sorts of benefits. Some of the exercises are quite scary. I love the URL of this place, but their information is a little sparse:

And for some reason, 生氣 – Sheng1 Qi4 – Produce Gas means to get Angry. The other expressions with this always trip me up because they seem backwards:

你生誰的氣? – Ni3 Sheng1 Shei2 De5 Qi4 – You Produce Whose Gas? (whose “” are you producing?) — Who are you mad at?

我生你的氣! – Wo3 Sheng1 Ni3 De5 Qi4 – I’m Producing Your Gas! — I’m mad at you!

Strange strange.

Date: September 13th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Pai2 – Line Up, Arrange, Push

牛排Niu2 Pai2 – Steak

Date: September 12th, 2003
Cate: Regular
1 msg

Strange Flavor People

There’s two somewhat odd people who work in my building. Not for my company, but in my building.

The first guy is on crutches, and is almost always hanging around the front door of the building, smoking a big fat pipe. He is young, and very friendly looking. He wears lots of flannel. He looks like the type of guy that would say “How you doin?” to you if you made eye contact with him, so I always have to very carefully not look at him, without appearing to be actively avoiding it. He’s out there, smoking, with his crutches leaned up against the wall next to him, all the time. Whether I’m coming in, leaving for lunch, or randomly going out in the afternoon to do something, he’s almost always there. I’ve been working here for over two years, and as far as I recall, he’s always been there. My gut feel is that he’s a CIA agent or simliar.

The second guy is stranger. He’s an intense, fast moving asian guy. I’m not going to try to say exactly what nationality because it’s been shown that I score no better than chance on that question, but I will say that he looks a lot like the wrestler Tajiri, who is supposed to be Japanese, but much skinnier. The thing that makes this guy odd is that when he leaves work for the day, he emerges from the building wearing a surgical type glove on one hand. I’m not quite sure which hand it is. As he’s walking to his car, he removes the glove, and throws it on the ground. I’ve seen him do this three of four times when I happen to be leaving at the same time as him. Other days when he’s left earlier than me, I see the glove sitting on the ground out in the parking lot. This glove dropping is highly ritualized, because the glove always ends up in a very specific area of the parking lot, within a radius of not more than 5 or 10 feet. And I know I’m not just seeing the same glove over and over again because it will not be there in the morning, but appear in the afternoon, or vice versa. Why just one glove? Why not take it off and throw it away at work? These mysteries torture me.

Usually the discarded glove is quite clean, but one time it was covered with a substance of the same color and consistency as salsa.

Date: September 11th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Shu4 – Tree

三十顆小樹 – San1 Shi2 Ke1 Xiao3 Shu4 – Thirty Small Trees

Date: September 11th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Bang4 – Stick, Club, Bat

棒球 – Bang4 Qiu2 – Bat Ball — Baseball

The Company took us to a baseball game today. Our local team was behind, but then caught up in the eighth inning. At that point I left. Tonight’s the season premiere of Enterprise, didn’t they know that? (by the way: not good)

Here’s some other sports:

板球 – Ban3 Qiu2 – Plank Ball
橄欖球 – Gan3 Lan3 Qiu2 – Olive Ball
羽毛球 – Yu3 Mao2 Qiu2 – Feather Ball

It’s obvious what sports those are.

Date: September 9th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Kao3 – Roast, Broil

三喵 gave us a grill, so now we can 烤肉 – Kao3 Rou4 – Roast Meat – Barbecue all the time! Now Jenny just has to learn all the secrets of Weberizing™.

Date: September 8th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
3 msgs

– Lou4 – Leak, Divulge

We’ve got one. A really weird one. It seems the pipe feeding hot water to the dishwasher leaks, but only when I take a shower??!? Is that even possible? Maybe isis will know the truth behind this one too…

Date: September 7th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
8 msgs

– Chi2 – Spoon

湯匙 – Tang1 Chi2 – Soup Spoon
茶匙 – Cha2 Chi2 – Tea Spoon

This was confusing me because Jenny always taught me that spoon is called Tiao3 Gen1. I searched for spoon in my dictionary but all I found was . I asked Jenny for help, but she couldn’t find Tiao3 Gen1 in her big dictionary, and she wasn’t even quite sure how to write it. Her family was over today, and I asked them, and the consensus was that you CAN’T write it! Apparently Tiao3 Gen1 is some sort of regional slang that you can say, but you can’t write. That sort of thing happens I guess in non-alphabetic languages from time to time.

has another pronounciation, and another meaning:

鑰匙 – Yao4 Shi5 – Key

UPDATE: You can write it after all! 調羹 – Tiao2 Geng1. Thanks to isis for setting me straight on spoons.

Date: September 6th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Cai3 – Pick, Pluck, Collect, Select, Choose, Gather

Today was a great day for a fair, and tomorrow should be a perfect day to 採蘋果 – Cai3 Ping2 Guo3 – Pick Apple Fruit – Pick Apples!

Date: September 6th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Shen2 – God, Spirit, Soul

– Jing1 – Classics, Sacred Book, Scripture, To Undergo

易經 – Yi4 Jing1 – Change Classic – The I Ching Book (I’ve mentioned this before)

道德 – Dao4 De2 Jing1 – Way Virtue Classic – Tao Te Ching (I’ve mentioned this before too)

聖經 – Sheng4 Jing1 – Holy Classic – The Bible

For some reason if you put and together you get 神經 – Shen2 Jing1 – Nerve.

神經病 – Shen2 Jing1 Bing4 – Nerve Sickness. This is also a slang expression that means “You’re crazy!” When Jenny and her sisters are together you’re almost guaranteed to hear it.

Date: September 5th, 2003
Cate: Otherwhere
5 msgs

Cyber War!

Taipei Times: Cabinet says computers under attack

The Inquirer: Taiwan accuses China of waging Cyberwar PRC suspected as source of Trojan horse assault

I think they may have got it wrong: pretty much the entire WORLD is under “CYBER ATTACK” from China. Most of the hack attempts and spam I get (email spam and comment spam) are from China. I can’t even count how many times I’ve tracked back IP addresses and got something like “Hai-Ke Cyber Cafe, 123-432 Zhu Tou Rd, HuaiDan district of Tianjin, China”.

Date: September 5th, 2003
Cate: Geekism

Mystery in Space! Eating Angry!?

What are the titles of Star Trek episodes in Japan? Here are some of my favorites. It helps if, like all educated people, you know the plot by the title:

The Paradise Syndrome -> Asteroid Crush Course Intercepting
The Man Trap -> Vampire Monster on Planet M113
The Naked Time -> Dangerous Space Disease (also The Deadly Years -> Deadly Space Disease)
Shore Leave -> Funny Funny Amusement Planet
I, Mudd -> Alice in Wonder Space
The Ultimate Computer-> Terrible Computer M-5
Day of the Dove -> Mystery in Space! Eating Angry!?
Court Martial -> Space Court-Martial

Some of the Next Generation titles are pretty good, too:

The Best of Both Worlds -> Floating Mechanical City Borg
Hollow Pursuits -> Perverted Hologram Deck
Remember Me -> Terrible Warp Bubble
Chain of Command -> Battle Species Cardassians

by the way: the Japenese characters on those pages are in the Shift_JIS encoding

Date: September 5th, 2003
Cate: Regular

Internet Meme Watch

I finally thought of one before robot wisdom or NTK:

* eye for the * guy.

Date: September 5th, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Kuai4 – Chopstick

筷子 – Kuai4 Zi5 – Chopsticks

刀子 – Dao1 Zi5 – Knife

叉子 – Cha1 Zi5 – Fork

Spoon is somewhat confusing. Another day.

Date: September 4th, 2003
Cate: Geekism

Internet Archive now Searchable!

The Internet Archive is now searchable! So far, this is all I’ve found: A syllabus for a Calculus course, from 1995.

Date: September 3rd, 2003
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Kuai4 – Fast, Quick, Swift

DSL here is very – Kuai4 – Fast which makes me very 快樂 – Kuai4 Le4 – Happy.