February 16th, 2008

#907: [many bad words]

Does the backup program put the files back on the F: drive?

NOOOOO!!! Why would it do that? Of course it put them all on the freaking desktop.

Is there any indication that the thing intends to do that?

NOOOOO!!! Why would there be?

Does it ask me where I want the files put?

NOOOOO!!! Why should it?

End result: after waiting for freaking two hours for the restore, the thing coughs up a bucket of dicks and leaves about 900 MB on my C: drive, and doesn't bother to tell me where it put the files, so I have to go looking the damn things.

So I get to re-start the freaking restore again, and hope that this time I can tell the freaking thing where to put the files.

Steven Den Beste is not alone in his disaster recovery travails.

* * *


...and as I post this it's up to "1 day and 13 hours". It didn't take that long to funnel all those bits through a USB 2.0 pipeline, so I really hope that the estimating function is broken. I'm moving files from one SATA drive to another, for crying out loud.

#908: A bunch of miscellany

Do yourself a huge favor. Get all the Nanoha you can.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS

The more of it I see, the more I like it. The third series in particular is building towards one mother-humper of an explosive climax--from ep 20 it looks like it's going to be a big one, with a lot of fireworks.

The first series is 13 eps long and, from ep 7, I can see that they have put a lot into it. In fact, in ep 7, I'm seeing things that tie in with the third series, and I'm recognizing them before they're called out.

From the beginning of ep 1 of the first series I thought it might be a case of "Well, the show's a lot more popular than we expected and we need to do something--let's add all this stuff!" But they didn't do that; the stuff was there from the beginning.

Having come into the series through the back door--watching several eps of the third series before I got my hands on the first series--I already kind-of know how things play out in the first series, and I've got a few indications of what happens in the second series; but I don't really know and, in any event, the journey is almost always the interesting part.

Nanoha is good.

* * *

On the front page of this week's Crete Record there's a story about a fatal accident which occurred not far from here.

--the Crete Record is the local newspaper. It runs to about 50 pages, more or less, and comes out once per week--

The accident involved a 17-year-old kid and an off-duty police officer. The cop was doing, the article says, "between 83 and 100 miles per hour".

The investigation concluded that the kid either failed to stop, or failed to stop completely, for the stop sign, and pulled out in front of the speeding off-duty cop who was in his personal vehicle and not a cruiser.

Regardless, I think it's the cop's fault.

The kid, at age 17, can be faulted for not stopping completely for a stop sign, yes. But his inexperience probably led him to misjudge the rate of closure of the cop's pickup--he wasn't expecting the other vehicle to be going no less than 33 MPH over the speed limit (and probably faster). He probably believed that he had plenty of time to get out of the other vehicle's way; certainly I don't expect the kid was trying to cause an accident.

The cop, on the other hand, should have known better. I'd be willing to bet that the cop knew what the speed limit was; and since he was both off duty and in his personal vehicle, he was not trying to get to an emergency or something. He was just going home.

What possible reason could that cop have for going 83 MPH in a 55 zone? We know what would happen if he got pulled over; he'd show the guy that pulled him over his badge and they'd talk shop for a bit, and then he'd get sent on his way with a warning. There's no way any cop would ever give another cop a ticket, regardless of how richly he deserved it.

The way Illinois law is written, the cop can't be cited for anything other than speeding, even though his excessive speed caused an accident which killed a 17-year-old boy. He was going at least 33 miles per hour over the limit and there is simply no reason or excuse for him to have been going that fast. None at all. A police officer ought to know better.

* * *

In the same vein, then, I'm going to talk about radar detectors.

They should be illegal.

I used to think otherwise. But as I've gotten older, I've come to realize that the people who have radar detectors have them for one reason, and one reason only: to help them get away with breaking the law.

They say that that's not why they have them; but let's be honest, shall we? Why do you need to know when a police car is nearby if you're not worried about being ticketed for the way you drive? Why do you need to concern yourself with the presence or absence of the police if you're going to obey the law anyway?

The fact is, people who have radar detectors in their cars have them so that they know when to slow down and stop tailgating so they don't get pulled over for driving like raging assholes.

People with radar detectors tend to drive faster and more aggressively. Half the time I'm tailgated for going "only" five over the limit, when the bonehead passes me, I see that he's got a detector on his dashboard. Usually he roars on ahead as if he were trying to win the Indy 500 or something.

But you know what's interesting? Mattel makes a radar gun. It's a toy. It says in the instructions that you shouldn't use it near public highways. Why do you suppose that is?

I have one. I still have to test my theory, but according to the labels and the documentation it operates in the 10 GHz band, which is the right ballpark. If I'm right, this thing can be used to set off radar detectors.

A company marketed a device manufactured exclusively for that purpose, a few years ago; the FCC shut them down because a microwave (radar) device must include a receiver, not just a transmitter, and it must actually measure speed. (More's the pity.)

If I'm right and this thing is able to set off radar detectors, I swear I'm going to mount the thing in my vehicle with a remote switch. That will be fun.

* * *

"More of an annoyance than a serious problem" department: the crappy backup software didn't back up all the files on the F: drive. The files it missed I still have, elsewhere, but they're on an EIDE drive and it'll take some doing to get them moved to the F: drive again.

It pisses me off because I specifically told the thing I wanted EVE-RY-THING on that drive backed up--all the files, no matter how big or small. Instead, it backed up all the music, video, and image files, but left a lot out--none of it irreplaceable, thank God.

So I'm going to have to dig deeper into the damn software and figure out how to make it do what I want it to do and then re-copy all the files from the old drive to this one.

Argh etc.

* * *

Still no new PreCure pages. Friday I slept more. Friday evening I did the hard drive thing, watched TV while the replacement drive formatted, watched more TV while stuff copied, etc, etc. Precious little time for capturing images and stuff.

I'll get to it, I promise. Sooner or later.

* * *

Apparently White Knight, the most recent Dresden Files book, has finally been released in paperback. Awesome.

#909: Nuts and bolts

Liberals are crazy. I don't know, but it's an entertaining thought.

* * *

I support drilling on Titan.

Titan, one of Saturn's moons, "...has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth...." In other words, if we run out of oil here on Earth (which I'm thinking won't happen) we can just go to Titan with some space-tankers, load 'em up, and go to town.

...granted there are a few minor engineering hurdles to be surmounted: how we build ships capable of going to Saturn when we haven't even gotten to Mars yet, for example, or how one puts an economically viable amount of hydrocarbon into orbit around one of the largest moons in the solar system when the best rocket the US has can't lift more than 20 tons at a time.

Still, these are engineering problems--we don't need any new science or technology to deal with them. And there's the little matter of having the will to go mine Titan for hydrocarbons. But there's no reason we can't if we really want to.

...of course, if we do that, we'll have all the eco-morons complaining that we're "destroying the fragile Titanian (?) ecosystem". The same pantywaists who will worry about the Moon when we're exploiting it, and Mars when we're terraforming it, will cry and moan about how we don't have the right to "destroy" Titan.


Titan's gravity is low enough that we ought to be able to build a space elevator there using materials we can make right now, though. So I'm thinking we'd have giant inflatable ships with ion thrusters and autopilots. A ship flies itself from Earth orbit to Titan, where a pilot steps aboard and docks it with the elevator's upper terminal. There'd be some kind of conveyor system--tanks which act like buckets, hauling the desired HC fractions up the cable to the top. (There'd be mines on the surface, probably remote-controlled.) The HCs are allowed to fill the tanker ships, and then the tankers are undocked and put into a departure orbit. Autopilots set, they'd lazily ply the maximum-economy orbits between Earth and Saturn, as continuous a chain of ships as orbital mechanics would allow. The HC would freeze solid while in transit; micrometeor impacts probably wouldn't be an issue. The inflatable tanks would be compartmented, even so.

But the HCs would be too valuable to burn as fuel; WTF, you think we're crazy? We need that stuff to make plastic and do other useful things in orbit. Those ships aren't going to build themselves and we'll need a lot of HC to make those inflatable fuel tanks. Besides, we'll be doing other interesting things while all this is going on--the infrastructure we need to mine Titan for HC can be used for a host of other interesting and highly lucrative projects. Once we have a comfortable amount of tankers in the pipeline, we will find ways to use this bounty of organic chemicals--believe me--for other purposes.

Honestly, every time I learn something new about the vast resources of the solar system, it makes me want to jump up and down and shout at people: IT IS RAINING SOUP AND YOU'RE TOO STUPID TO GO FETCH A BUCKET!

#910: Nuts and other hardware.

This Fiero forum post is a NASA person expressing his incredulousness that a cotter pin is used to secure the front wheels of a Fiero. "How is it that wheels are not falling off all the time from such a crappy design?" he asks, aghast.

Later, he says, "That design never would have been approved by NASA. We require two fault tolerance to a catastrophic failure. A nut with no pre-load, no safety wire, just a cotter pin. That cotter pin breaks and it's bye bye wheel."

A few points:

1) The bearing design used on the Fiero is a mature technology. Literal millions of cars have been built using this design for front wheel bearings, and its failure rate is statistically insignificant. It's inexpensive, it withstands amazing amounts of abuse, it's easily serviced, and the operating parameters are so well-understood that automakers are still using this technology.

2) If a car suffers a bearing failure, it inconveniences the driver. It might cost him a couple hundred dollars to rectify the problem. If a satellite or manned rocket suffers some kind of failure, it costs billions to rectify and may kill someone.

I'm just as happy that NASA isn't in the business of approving automobile designs. If it were, every trip to the supermarket would cost $500,000 and the car would need a complete overhaul afterwards.

* * *

I just could not resist adding that little wisecrack to my post in that thread....

* * *

Everyone's saying it's about time to stick a fork in HD-DVD.

* * *

Steven reports that Bandai is trying something unusual: they're going to release anime in the US at about the same time they release it in Japan. But there is a little catch.

The US release will cost as much as the Japanese release does.

"Which is," Steven goes on to say, "3-5 times what we're used to paying here."

It's not going to work. It might prevent fansubbers from doing their thing, but I fail to see how the sales can even recoup the costs of paying someone to translate and subtitle the stuff. Even if it's done in-house.

I could be wrong about this, but I don't think I am. Even if all the disks are the same the packaging will have to be different because most of us in DVD Region 1 don't read Japanese. (I can read hiragana and a handful of kanji, though. I'm pretty sure this puts me ahead of about 90% of anime fans.)

As of today, I have been an anime fan for 13 years and 8 months. In that time, I have seen perhaps two series that were worth paying Japanese prices for; and a handful of movies. The rest of it was worth about what I paid for it; if I'd had to pay Japan prices for anime, I wouldn't be where I am now, let me tell you. My response to anime would have been, "This stuff is entertaining and all, but God damn it it's too freaking expensive!"

* * *


Dr. Roderick Galloway says, "Can not satisfy your girl enlarge your girlfriend". I'm afraid I don't understand this. How does making my girlfriend bigger help me satisfy her? "Your problem is that your girlfriend is just too skinny. Put her on 'Beefcake 2000' and then you'll be able to satisfy her"?

I don't ask for much. It would help if these jerkoffs could at least try to make their statements approximate coherency.

Doctor Dale Elkins says, "Girls will drive crazy with you if you lengthen your jang". This is stupid. The last thing we need is more girls driving crazy. It's bad enough when they drive, put on makeup, and talk on their cellphones at the same time.

And I have to ask, how would they even know my "jang" had been lengthened, anyway? Do women have a secret "jang sense" which tells them when a guy's "jang" is long enough? Does excess "jang" length overdrive this sense, driving them insane? Could they sue me for this?

Jon Shaw tells me, "Try Our Trial Pak - You Will Return For More". He is as much as telling me that whatever he's selling is highly addictive. And like a true pusher, he's even offering me the first dose as a low/no price "trial". This is not the way to sell me on a product, Jon.

But he's saying "Pak", not "pack". Does this guy read Niven? Is he offering me Tree of Life? Could I handle being a Protector? The super-genius part would be extra cool, but I doubt I could handle the other physiological changes I'd have to undergo.

The liklihood of a spammer being hard-SF-literate is probably vanishingly low, though. It's more likely that he's trying to sell me drugs--drugs that at best would do nothing, and at worst would either result in a crippling addiction or death. (Or both.)

I hate these guys. I really need to invent a machine which lets you stab spammers in the face via the internet. It'd be a plug-in module for most popular e-mail clients. Next to the "reply" button on the toolbar there'd be a "STAB THIS MOTHERFUCKER IN THE FACE" button, and when you clicked it, the guy's monitor would emit this glowing energy blade that would stab him in the face. It wouldn't do any lasting damage, but it would HURT A LOT, and after a while spammers would get the message and stop spamming people.

I would sell this machine for $1,000,000 per copy.

* * *

Funny line from Magical Girl Pretty Sammy OVA 1:

Sasami is imagining her life as Pretty Sammy, how she would go beat up criminals:

Sammy: This is going to hurt you a lot! [punch]
Criminal 1: Ow! That really hurt!
Sammy: And this is going to stimulate you! [kick]
Criminal 2: Hey! That felt kinda good!

Needless to say, that is not how Pretty Sammy's evil-bustin' powers work.

I digitized this line from another MGPS OVA, just because it was kyoot-overload:

"With a gentle touch at the keyboard, just click on Pretty Sammy, and you can download me into your heart!"

* * *

Speaking of magical girls, I still have no PC pages to post. Monday will be the second week since I started it, and it will have been 5 days since I last posted any pages. Well, it's not supposed to be a job, so F it.

* * *

They're predicting thunderstorms for Sunday. Whee.

#911: Nuts and other loonies

I should stop that.

Violence Prevention Center says stupid things. Anti-gun people always issue this kind of statement following any sort of massacre. I guess the theory goes that the guns loaded themselves, drove round to the site of the massacre, and fired themselves at innocent people, and the guy who's been blamed with the crime was just under some kind of underhanded alien mind-meld or something.

That must be it: a gun warps your mind. If you own a gun, sooner or later you think, "Hey, I wonder what it would be like to shoot this at someone?" This is proven by the fact that so many gun owners have shot people.

Oh, wait! Wait a moment! There's a flaw in that argument, isn't there? If that were true, insane places like Florida and Texas which are "shall issue" concealed carry permit states would have skyrocketing murder rates...and, hmm, it seems that the opposite is true.

The more people are allowed to own guns, the lower crime rates go. Take a look at cities where gun control is allowed to exist, and compare their murder rates to cities where citizens can own firearms if they want to.

The correlation is so strong that if it applied to global warming, we'd all be on bicycles right now, pumping like mad so we could surf the internet: more guns equals less crime.

VPC wants all sorts of draconian limits on citizen firearm ownership. Apparently a magazine that can hold more than ten rounds is now a "high-capacity" magazine. I can remember when a thirty-round magazine was considered "high capacity". Now it's ten. If they ever manage to get 11-round mags outlawed, then six-round mags will be "high-capacity", and eventually they'll have us down to muzzle-loaders.

What I really like is the last line in this press release: "Establish a system whereby university officials are notified when a student purchases a gun from a gun dealer."

I don't think this goes far enough, though. We should warn university officials whenever any student:
  • subscribes to any publication which advertises guns (including Popular Mechanics)
  • joins the NRA
  • expresses enthusiasm for movies which feature gun violence
  • shows signs of enjoying things like hunting and fishing
Only by taking these important steps can we stop the cycle of violence...or some such crap.

These pusillanimous dorks get exactly one thing right, though not the way they intended, when they say, "Mass shootings are not a force of nature unstoppable by man. They are the predictable result of our nation’s weak gun policies, and much can be done to prevent them."

If we let people carry guns, this kind of thing won't happen as often, and when it does, it'll be stopped quicker with fewer fatalities. This policy has worked every time it has been tried.