Archive for February, 2004

Date: February 29th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Gang1 – Steel

鋼琴 – Gang1 Qin2 – Steel Stringed Instrument — Piano

(I guess because the strings are made of steel?)

The player in the famous Mario piano video has appeared! Check the last few comments…

Date: February 27th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ji4 – Dose

安慰劑 – An1 Wei4 Ji4 – Peace Reassure Dose — Placebo

Date: February 27th, 2004
Cate: Regular

1 smoot in feet

Two high-strangeness stories came in off the feeds today. The first: Unit of measurement elected head of standards board

Back in 1962, some fraternity at MIT used one of their pledges, Oliver Smoot, to measure the Harvard Bridge. This became part of MIT and general geek folklore, and today even Google recognizes the Smoot as a unit of measurement.

Just recently, the very same Oliver Smoot was elected to be the President of ISO, the people who define internationally the units of measurement used for, well, everything. I can’t put it better than overstated:

Is it just irony that a unit of measurement was elected to be the Grand Poobah of international standards? Or is it that Smoot has been cast into this position by that one fateful night, unable to escape his role as a measuring stick? Or perhaps he is an obsessed megalomaniac who will settle for nothing less than the Smoot being recognized as the basis for all measurement?

In any event, I’m sure his position is quite deserved, as in the past he has shown us all that he is a great ruler.

As I was still recovering from that one, this came in: For Exercise in New York Futility, Push Button.

Millions of dutiful city residents and tourists have pushed them over the years, thinking it would help speed them in their journeys. Many trusting souls might have believed they actually worked. Others, more cynical, might have suspected they were broken but pushed anyway, out of habit, or in the off chance they might bring a walk sign more quickly.

As it turns out, the cynics were right.

The city deactivated most of the pedestrian buttons long ago with the emergence of computer-controlled traffic signals, even as an unwitting public continued to push on, according to city Department of Transportation officials. More than 2,500 of the 3,250 walk buttons that still exist function essentially as mechanical placebos, city figures show. Any benefit from them is only imagined.

Amazing.

Date: February 26th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Zhang4 – Account, Tent

SBC/SNET/Yahoo! dialup and DSL users: Unable to log on to the Internet? Just today, they apparently changed, without warning, a large number of 帳號 – Zhang4 Hao4 – Account Number — Usernames. Try logging in with <username>@snet.net instead of just <username>. Your 密碼 – Mi4 Ma3 – Secret Number — Password is still the same.

In other useless debugging news, if your phone is broken, call the phone company, and if your car won’t start, drive it to a repair shop. Keyboard not found, press F11 to continue.

Push to test. <click>. Release to detonate.

This has been a public dis-service announcement from Messy-78.

Date: February 26th, 2004
Cate: Regular

Real Ultimate Snowball Battle

In Japanese Hands, Snowball Fighting Has Really Grown Up

On winter evenings, men gather outside a hotel in Japan’s frozen north to heat snow with an oil stove in a vinyl tent. When the powdery stuff becomes malleable, they shovel it into a mold resembling a giant cupcake tray, and stamp out 1,000 perfectly round snowballs of regulation size: no less than 2.56 inches in diameter and no more than 2.76 inches.

Here’s where you can buy the regulation practice snowballs (46g nylon covered beanbags):

I also found this collection of videos explaining the game, This one covers some of the basic rules.

Date: February 25th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Tun2 – Piglet

supposedly means Piglet, but it is also suspiciously used in these two words:

海豚 – Hai3 Tun2 – Sea Piglet — Dolphin

河豚 – He2 Tun2 – River Piglet – Blowfish

Date: February 24th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Yao2 – Mother of Pearl

Also known as Nacre.
Date: February 24th, 2004
Cate: Regular

Nacreous

Today’s English Word of the Day is “nacreous” (NEY kree us):
1. [adj] having a play of lustrous rainbow-like colors; “an iridescent oil slick”; “nacreous (or pearlescent) clouds looking like mother-of-pearl”; “a milky opalescent (or opaline) luster”

2. [adj] consisting of or resembling mother-of-pearl

Date: February 24th, 2004
Cate: Geekism
3 msgs

E PLEBNISTA!

Ha, the Internet is great. That last post has sent me on an amazing Google-powered journey through Trek Trivia. Everything from “NO KILL I” to “Botany Bay?!!? OH NO!!” to “Queen to Queen’s level three”. I’ve determined what the ultimate Trek trivia question is. Anybody know this one, no cheating?

Of course everybody knows the self destruct sequence of the Enterprise, code one, one-A, two-B, zero zero zero… DESTRUCT… zero, all that stuff. Here’s the question: HOW DO YOU ABORT THE SELF DESTRUCT SEQUENCE?!?!? Do you know the code? What? You don’t? 8… 7…. 6…. 5… GET OUT! GET OUT OF THERE! GET OUUUUUUTTTTT!!!!!

Date: February 24th, 2004
Cate: Geekism

Klingon Mummification Glyph

Pop quiz! The Ships Of Star Trek. I got 7 out of 10 on this, even though it seemed like most of the questions were on Deep Space 9 or Voyager, which I never watched.

(I do have to take issue with one of the answers. The Federation class “Dreadnought” is CLEARLY documented in the original version of the Star Fleet Technical Manual, which being published in 1975, I think must be considered canonical.)

Date: February 23rd, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Shui4 – Taxes

Tax time. Want to save on your taxes? Get married and buy a house!

Date: February 22nd, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Ban1 – Group, Team, Squad, Work Shift

上班 – Shang4 Ban1 – Go to Work

And for some reason the translated title of the movie “Office Space” is 上班一條虫 – Shang4 Ban1 Yi1 Tiao2 Chong2 – Go to Work One Bug.

Date: February 22nd, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Feng1 – Maple

楓糖 – Feng1 Tang2 – Maple Sugar — Maple Syrup

楓樹 – Feng1 Shu4 – Maple Tree

Date: February 21st, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ha1 – (sound of a laugh)

Today we have another of those magnificent obsessions. Greg Pringle has compared the Chinese (mainland and Taiwan), Japanese, and Vietnamese versions of each of the 哈利波特 – Ha1 Li4 Bo1 Te4 – Harry Potter books, and has posted pages commenting on the translations of each chapter name, riddle, song, and owl.

There’s other good stuff on his site, like this page explaining the politics of the different ways to say “week” in Chinese. And this unbelievably huge database of bird names (curious about nuthatches?).

Ha! And he’s got the definitive page on Hainan Girls, just like I do for Taiwan Girls.

Date: February 19th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Yuan2 – Circle, Round, Unit of Currency

圓周率 – Yuan2 Zhou1 Shuai4 – Circumference Ratio — π

Date: February 19th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
3 msgs

稿

稿 – Gao3 – Manuscript, Draft

I finally completed the first 稿子 – Gao3 Zi5 – Draft of my Seminar Paper tonight. This is good news for me, and good news for anybody who would like to see a new version of Feed on Feeds. I haven’t been working on it at all lately because of that stupid wonderful paper.

If FoF were in better shape, I’d be less embarrassed about recommending it when people like these are talking about server side aggregators.

Date: February 17th, 2004
Cate: Geekism

What other kind of simple is there?

Sitepoint on Feed on Feeds: "Simple, but in a good way."

Date: February 17th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Qiao3 – Skillful, Coincidental

巧克力 – Qiao3 Ke4 Li4 – Chocolate

Date: February 17th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ge2 – Square Pattern, Frame, Line, Shelf

格子糕餅 – Ge2 Zi5 Gao1 Bing3 – Square Pattern Cake Biscuit — Waffle

Date: February 16th, 2004
Cate: Regular

Suspicious timing?

Earlier this week: Republicans Accuse Kerry of Planning Dirty Campaign

The head of President Bush’s Republican Party accused Democrat John Kerry’s campaign on Thursday of planning the “dirtiest campaign in modern presidential politics” in a scorched-earth bid to oust Bush in November.

Soon afterwards: KERRY FIGHTS OFF MEDIA PROBE OF RECENT ALLEGED INFIDELITY

A frantic behind-the-scenes drama is unfolding around Sen. John Kerry and his quest to lockup the Democratic nomination for president, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal.

Intrigue surrounds a woman who recently fled the country, reportedly at the prodding of Kerry, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

A serious investigation of the woman and the nature of her relationship with Sen. John Kerry has been underway at TIME magazine, ABC NEWS, the WASHINGTON POST, THE HILL and the ASSOCIATED PRESS, where the woman in question once worked.

And then: Actress And Anti-War Activist Jane Fonda Speaks to a crowd of Vietnam Veterans as Activist and Former Vietnam Vet John Kerry (LEFT) listens and prepares to speak next concerning the war in Vietnam (AP Photo)

But then: 1971 Photo of Kerry Doctored

As a 20-year-old photographer documenting the country’s struggle over the Vietnam War, Ken Light snapped the picture of John Kerry at a peace rally in Mineola. It captured the future senator alone at a podium, squinting into the sun.

Light did not photograph Jane Fonda on that warm June Sunday in 1971. The actress, who is reviled by many Vietnam veterans for her vocal stance against the war, did not even attend.

But when opponents of the Democratic presidential hopeful began e-mailing Light’s picture to one another four days ago, it depicted Fonda standing by Kerry’s side. The photo had been doctored.

And just today: Woman Denies Rumors of Kerry Affair

A woman who has been the subject of rumors linking her to Sen. John Kerry denied Monday that she ever had an affair with the Democratic presidential candidate.

Breaking her silence four days after the allegations surfaced on the Internet, Alexandra Polier issued a statement to The Associated Press, saying, “I have never had a relationship with Senator Kerry, and the rumors in the press are completely false.”

Date: February 16th, 2004
Cate: Geekism

Space Computer

The computers that power Spirit and Opportunity are BAE Systems RAD6000’s. They run at 25 Mhz (not a typo), and cost $300,000 (also not a typo). Here’s two articles about them.

I guess what you pay for is the radiation hardening, the greater temperature range, and the higher mean time between failures? The RAD6000’s MTBF is rated at over 375,000 hours. I can find some server-grade PC motherboards rated at about 30,000 hours. I don’t even want to know what consumer stuff is rated at.

Date: February 15th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Hua2 – Flowery, Showy, Magnificent, Splendid

華盛頓 – Hua2 Sheng4 Dun4 – Washington

林肯 – Lin2 Ken3 – Lincoln

Date: February 15th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Shi2 – Ten

For our tenth anniversary, Jenny got me ten presents! Many of them were even actually for me.

I got her fried chicken.

Date: February 14th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Qing2 – Feelings, Love, Passion

情人節 – Qing2 Ren2 Jie2 – Lover Day — Valentine’s Day

XXX OOO ♥♥♥

Date: February 12th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ji1 – Machine, Opportunity, Chance

隨機 – Sui2 Ji1 – Follow Chance — Random

Random numbers

Nonrandom numbers

Date: February 12th, 2004
Cate: Regular

FREEDOM! Yeah!

IT WORKS! I got a region-free DVD player the other day. It didn’t work at first, but there’s a firmware upgrade, and now I’m 100% region free. I asked Walde to bring over his most diabolically formatted DVDs to test. He produced a disc that was the “perfect storm” of DVD incompatibility: A region 2, PAL, anamorphic wide screen disc. And it played perfectly!

I believe it is every American’s patriotic duty to circumvent DVD region lockout, or any other artificial limitations put in “consumer” products. Crippled technology sucks!

If you’re interested, this player that works for me is an RJ Tech RJ3700, and we got it from Sina.com. It came with two “free” karaoke microphones. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Like I said, it didn’t work out of the box, but there’s a firmware upgrade available from the manufacturer. The instructions for how to burn the firmware to a CD were very vague, but I happened to find this set of instructions for a Polaroid player that must use the same chipset or something. I had success using the firmware provided by RJ Tech, but burned and loaded using the instructions provided by Polaroid.

Date: February 12th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– You2 – From, By, Reason, Cause

自由 – Zi4 You2 – Freedom

Date: February 10th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Zai1 – Disaster

We ordered a region-free DVD player. It finally came today! Yes! Free of territorial lockout forever! We’ll be WINNING, as they say.

災難! – Zai1 Nan4! – Disaster!

It doesn’t work. It almost works, but when playing widescreen movies, it stretches them out to fill the whole screen. There’s an option in the menu to turn this off, but it doesn’t do anything!

So we’re back in region 1 jail.

Date: February 10th, 2004
Cate: Regular
3 msgs

Offshoring? Rightshoring? Bestshoring? Worstshoring?

Looks like offshoring may be a “big issue” in 2004:

Bush is pro:

Wading into an election-year debate, President Bush’s top economist yesterday said the outsourcing of U.S. service jobs to workers overseas is good for the nation’s economy.

Shipping jobs to low-cost countries is the “latest manifestation of the gains from trade that economists have talked about” for centuries, said N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Kerry is con:

Little wonder offshoring has become a red-meat issue for angry trade unionists and their supporters. After his victory in the Iowa caucuses last month, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry railed against federal tax incentives to companies that outsource jobs. “We are not going to give one benefit or one reward to any Benedict Arnold company or chief executive officer who take jobs and money overseas and stick you with the bill. That’s over,” he said.

Date: February 9th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
4 msgs

– Su4 – Fast, Rapid

速度 – Su4 Du4 – Fast Measure — Speed, Velocity

Date: February 9th, 2004
Cate: Geekism
2 msgs

Don’t waste your time with IE

Get Firefox

Date: February 9th, 2004
Cate: Geekism

Yucca on Characters

Want to read a treatise on the 18 different types of spaces in Unicode? How about on the 16 different types of hyphens and dashes (and their line-breaking properties)? OK, maybe you DON’T want to read about those topics, but need to? Try Jukka “Yucca” Korpela’s Characters and Encodings.

There’s lots more good stuff at his site, including this page of millions of useful links and tables related to web authoring.

(via dive into mark)

Date: February 8th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
5 msgs

– Meng4 – Dream

惡夢 – E4 Meng4 – Evil Dream — Nightmare

白日夢Bai2 Ri4 Meng4 – White Sun Dream — Daydream

This has been word of the day, weekend edition. Thanks for joining us.

Date: February 7th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Ri4 – Sun, Day

日本 – Ri4 Ben3 – Sun Origin — Japan (of course, they pronounce it Nihon there)

This character is also used to write dates. February 8th would be 2月8日 (2nd moon, 8th day).

Date: February 7th, 2004
Cate: Regular
2 msgs

It’s got a hat

I just discovered languagehat today. It’s great! He (?) speaks 13 languages, and seems to be familiar with, like, all of them or something. He also likes hats.

Just the other day there was this great post about Asian Acronyms. Note that not only are his posts really good, but the comments are actually insightful and interesting too. And according to GeoURL, he’s nearby, maybe in Connecticut, or Long Island. (It actuallly shows him as being in the middle of Long Island Sound. Maybe he’s in a top secret underwater language research lab, with Dick Cheney. And he probably calls him Mr. Cheeney, not Mr. Chayney.)

Subscribed!

Date: February 7th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
1 msg

– Bai2 – White, Pale, Clear, Pure, Blank

白菜 – Bai2 Cai4 – White Vegetable — Cabbage

Date: February 6th, 2004
Cate: Regular

Bacterial Skeletons

New research on the famous ALH84001 meteorite shows that the internal structure of the fossilized worm looking things very closely match the internal structure of real bacteria on Earth. Here’s an article about the research.

The even more amazing thing is, if this is right, life on Mars pre-dates life on Earth!

Date: February 5th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day

– Jiao4 – Religion, Teaching

教皇 – Jiao4 Huang2 – Religion Emperor — Pope

Date: February 5th, 2004
Cate: Regular
1 msg

Pope-grade breakdancing

“They” finally found a video of the guys breakdancing for the pope.

But it’s still not high enough quality to make what I wanted to, the holy grail of surreality: An animated gif of the guy spinning around, while the Pope hits him with his “Pope wave”.

You may consider this a lazyweb request.

Date: February 4th, 2004
Cate: Chinese Word of the Day
2 msgs

– Bian1 – Compile, Compose, Weave

編譯程式 – Bian1 Yi4 Chen2 Shi4 – Compile Translate Program — Compiler
組譯程式 – Zu3 Yi4 Chen2 Shi4 – Assemble Translate Program — Assembler
鏈結程式 – Lian4 Jie1 Chen2 Shi4 – Link Program — Linker