August 25th, 2014

#4348: -_-

So tonight it's like a steam bath outside. It's August 25 (about 2:30 AM on 8/25) and we're finally getting some summer weather. *sigh*

I came home from the store and was beside myself. Mrs. Fungus was nowhere in evidence but as I began writing the previous post she came home and confirmed my suspicions, to wit that she had gone shopping for some various sundry groceries.

Wrote the post, made dinner (chili dogs and corn on the cob, very tasty) and then I proceeded to hack my way through half of Azeroth which--as hoped--did a pretty good job of calming me down.

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To my "Bluetech" channel on Pandora, I added the varieties "Entheogenic" and "Patrick O'Hearn", which has resulted in a serious expansion of variety. It was starting to get a bit repetitive, playing the same 30 or so songs over and over again as I culled the junk. Adding a couple of new varieties helped.

One of the first new songs played after I did that was something Gaelic by Enya, from A Day Without Rain, and I gave it a thumbs up. I would not have considered Enya much like Entheogenic, but considering that I like Entheogenic, Enya, and Patrick O'Hearn, it all goes together well enough for me.

I especially like to listen to that channel on Sunday nights between 10 PM and midnight, because it's very much like listening to Musical Starstreams but with the added bonus of being able to say "don't play that" to shitmusic, such as the track that tried playing that was done on accordion. Okay, any ambient music that includes accordion or muted trumpet is right the hell out, damn it.

* * *

Well: the synopsis and bio are done, and I've made a single PDF of those and #RELEASE_CANDIDATE_ONE, so I think I'm ready to take the plunge. I just need to do it, and since my next day off is coming up pretty soon, I think that's when I'll do it.

Making a single PDF of them was not easy, though once I figured out how I'd have to do it, I think only had to make the effort.

What I could not do was to cut-and-paste the synopsis and bio to the head of the novel, because (it turned out) the novel has different margins that turned my single-page efforts into multiple pages, even after I switched them to single-spaced format. Changing the margins for the synopsis and bio ended up wrecking the format of the novel's first several pages, so that failed, too.

I ended up finding and downloading a freeware program that lets one combine PDF files into a single whole; that did it. Hooray.

...but of course I can't install software without logging out of my regular username and logging in as administrator. *sigh*

* * *

In the old C-64 days there was a software speech synthesizer called Software Automatic Mouth, or SAM. (SAM was available for a lot of different machines.)

I played with SAM extensively, to the point of writing programs that were essentially audio sketches. SAM's various parameters were programmable so you could change the pitch and speed and other things, giving it different voices.

SAM had an accent that you could not really program away. There were two basic ways to program speech. The first was to use the Reciter, which was essentially "text to speech", but it had a few peculiarities in how it parsed English. Sometimes you had to get creative with the spelling to make things sound right.

For example, I never managed to make SAM say "pussy" correctly. It either sounded like "pus-y" ("pus" with a Y on the end) or "poo-see", which was kind of how Sean Connery said it in Goldfinger, but still not entirely right.

"Penis" came out sounding like "pen iss", so I had to spell it "peenus" to make SAM say it right. And all these years later (about thirty, this year) I still sometimes imitate SAM's accent and say "Uut a pee-nus." ("What a penis," but rendered in SAM's accent.)

...and Mrs. Fungus picked it up from me, not knowing anything about the origin of it. A few days ago I caught her saying it, and wondered why...and then had to explain to her what it was from.

Last night, then, I surprised her: I downloaded a C-64 emulator, and installed it on Floristica, then found a disk image of SAM. Loaded one into the other, and then called her into the computer room.

SAM: Uuut a pee-nus.

Mrs. Fungus: AHH HA HA HA HA HA....


I'd actually had the idea a few days earlier, but got stuck when installing the emulator (under my regular username) threw an error code. Installing the PDF combiner unstuck my brain, though, and I was able to proceed.

On my way home the other night I got to thinking about the C-64 emulator, and realized I have no f-ing clue how something like that is even programmed. The good emulators look--to the software that runs on them--totally like the hardware they're meant to run on, even to the little hackery tricks that programmers could eke out of the machinery.

Even though the "hardware" exists only as patterns of bits in physical silicon that was a distant fantasy when the emulated hardware was in production. (As I've said before, fairly recently--how many C-64s can dance on the head of a pin using modern nanolithographic techniques?)

It's pretty amazing to me: the emulator is so good that it even forces me to type slowly enough for the emulated C-64 to see all my keystrokes! The same old patterns emerged when I was fooling around with SAM: I'd try to type "you" and only "yo" would appear before I hit the spacebar, and I found myself typing slower and harder to get the thing to see all my keystrokes...just like it was 1984 again. Jeeze.

...because the C-64 didn't have a keyboard controller. The CPU scanned the keyboard matrix as part of the interrupt routine; the thing was a $200 computer and at that price point (even in 1983, or maybe "especially in 1983") that meant you had a budget for one CPU and it had to handle everything. So when I was running the SAM Reciter, it was running a BASIC program, the SAM Reciter, and handling everything else, so of course it wasn't able to process keystrokes as fast as it could when sitting at a command prompt.

* * *

80% chance of rain every day for the next five. I doubt the grass is getting cut this week. *sigh*

* * *

In the "I really must stop buying the Good'n'Plenty" department, tonight is the third time this week I've suffered from hypoglycemia early in the morning, because I had some of that freakin' candy after dinner. ARGH.

* * *

Anyway, time to get some sleep, I suppose.

#4349: Short shrift

Today is almost over, and I need some WoW time to relax in before I go to bed, so the bloggeratin' is gonna be abbreviated.

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Three before-and-after images of the California drought. This is why lettuce is $2 a head and green peppers are averaging about $2.50 a pound in season.

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Karl Denninger reminds us that people need to chill the hell out.
How close to perfectly-manicured does your lawn have to be? There is an enormous difference in personal cost, whether you spend the time or you spend money, between a "perfect" (or nearly-so) lawn and one that is a couple of inches too long and somewhat ragged for three or four days out of every couple of weeks. It could be three to five times as expensive in either time or money to have one over the other.

How close to "neat as a pin" does your household have to be? Again, there is an enormous difference in personal cost between "lived in" and "picture-perfect." The latter could easily require, for many people, the hiring of a maid -- the equivalent of putting an hour a day, every day, into cleaning. Double that if you have one or more kids, incidentally.

How close to perfect does your experience in a restaurant need to be? If the food is great and the drinks nicely-made and to your liking, and you're with someone you like, if the waitress forgets about you toward the end of your meal and you wait 15 minutes for the check what did you actually lose? Let's assume you didn't have a business meeting you had to be at; you were headed home afterward. Did you really lose by that or did you gain another 15 minutes with someone you enjoy?

How close to perfect does your car have to be? You "need" a new one every 2 or 3 years? It'll cost you twice as much to operate it, on balance including insurance and depreciation, as something older. Of course it looks nicer and has bluetooth and all the other pretty-pretty things -- but does that define your happiness?
It's why the bunker is not 100% neat as a pin all the time; my wife and I want our home to be neat but it does not need to be fit for the cover of Architectural Digest for us to be comfortable. There are, therefore, a few things laying around rather than put away; there are frequently a few dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and gasp! we leave our shoes out in the family room. I guess that just means we're living in squalor or something.

Denninger's point, however, is that a lot of the things that people obsess over are, in fact, a waste of time and effort: "...[D]o you really want to run your personal life that way? These choices make an enormous difference between going to bed with a smile and not, between being*****ed off and disappointed and being content, bemused or even pleased."

I really don't. I'd much rather go to bed happy, even if it means the grass isn't picture-perfect.

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Related to that last, it rained to a stinkinous extent today, on top of the major 40-minute gullywasher we had on Sunday.