Friday, March 30, 2007

Convert to Pastafarianism (no, it's not Italian)

Reading this article on digg, I began searching the web for this very cool religion called Pastafarianism and I feel that it relates to me in a very spiritual way. In other words, it makes me laugh my ass off!

As you can read in the Wikipedia article, the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the world (or is it the other way around?) in order to prove to idiots that you either think or you believe. There is no middle ground. Thinking requires trusting your observations, emitting theories and then validating them by using observed data. Believing doesn't require anything, therefore being easier to do, and can (and most of the time will) deny your ability to observe, your capacity to reason or to grasp reality and look down on your desire to understand anything that is believed.

Well, seriously now. One cannot believe the world was created by the Spaghetti Monster... Or maybe one can, as long as they accept the obvious fact that the Spagetti Monster was created by the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Copying a database from Sql2005 to Sql2000

You sometimes need to copy the exact structure of a database to an Sql2000 server, even if the source server is 2005.

Follow these steps:

  • open 2005 Sql Server Management Studio

  • right click on the offending database and go to Tasks -> Generate Scripts

  • do NOT check Script all objects in the selected database

  • click Next

  • set Include if NOT EXISTS to False

  • set Script for Server Version to SQL Server 2000

  • try to check only the objects and types of objects you actually need

  • create the script

  • delete all occurences of "WITH (PAD_INDEX = OFF, STATISTICS_NORECOMPUTE = OFF, IGNORE_DUP_KEY = OFF, ALLOW_ROW_LOCKS = ON, ALLOW_PAGE_LOCKS = ON)" from the generated script



Now the script should work on an SQL 2000 Server..
For the copying of data, the Server Management Studio has an option called Copy DatabaseExport Data, also in Tasks, that now accepts an Sql 2000 Server as destination.

Slave culture

In the Romanian jargon there is an insult: slave. It appeared ten years or so ago and it stuck. It probably came from Gypsy talk, probably holding more meaning to them, since they were liberated from slavery and into the worst social problem Romania has. But at least the cool ones are not slaves anymore, even if they recreate daily the hated cliche of the typical Gypsy Roma and are stuck in the mentality that work is somehow a shameful act.

But the word is also used by Romanians. You might see young people that have a little business or a scheme to get money quickly use it to refer to the people that are employed somewhere and go to work every day. And they are somehow right, since a lot of the rich people in Romania, business owners, top managers, land owners, etc. are uneducated folks. Instead of going to school, they chose to fight, risk, learn in the school of life. And it shows. They have a lot of money and no manners. They have a lot of opportunities, but don't really use them. They are no longer rude people with no money, they have money now, but are stuck into being the same people they started with. Kind of like the joke where the anus wanted to be the manager of the body.

How about the slave, then? The guy that goes to school, goes through all the (mechanical) motions of learning, passing exams, getting a job, living a "normal" life? Well, we are mostly wasting our time. The money we get are what we need to live, maybe even enough to get a car or, if one is lucky, an apartment. People like us spend their entire lives surviving and dreaming about what we would do if we had more money. Meanwhile, we lose 8 hours a day working, 3 preparing and going to work, 7 sleeping, 1 or 2 eating and are left with 4-5 hours in which to do "what we like". If that isn't slavery, I don't know what is, but in all that time we make the system work.

Slimy manager types that themselves work for uneducated bullies that somehow got into fortune work in the system as well. Poor 'unslavy' thieves occasionally steal something, thus making policemen work all day and accept bribes. Businesses run into the political framework maintained by corrupt politicians who themselves obey the laws of economics, which are heavily influenced by the people from other countries, who themselves are only cogs in this great machine we call humanity. And of course, all those good managers that work for great people and all the Gypsies that go to school and work and all those politicians who actually want to make a difference, too.

This is no freedom, we are all slaves. We allow ourselves to be blinded by a value system, be it invented by us or just stolen from someone else, and we live by it. We all choose our swords and then we let ourselves die by them. True freedom is inside, not outside, it's in the dreams, not in their realisation. I might even venture on saying that it's in the quantity of the dreams, not their quality, because that is what enslaves us, dreaming of a single thing, being desperate to achieve it and then to hold on to it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Changes to the blog...

I need your input, readers dear! I've changed the blog so that when you double click on a word a google window appears that you can expand, close or scroll at your leaisure. Do you like it? Would you like to dblclick and search this blog instead? Or maybe digg or something? Do you hate it? You want it removed? Does it hinder you in any way? Thanks.

Simplify Programmatic File Access - by John Cronan

I've found this interesting article by John Cronan about using the Abstract Factory pattern to access files, no matter if they are on FTP, HTTP or the local or networked file system. Basically he uses WebRequest.Create rather than any *Stream* class.

Interesting enough, he seems to be the only one providing a solution to the problem of accessing local file system resources when the default access rights do not allow you to, even if the logged on credentials would normally give you the access, thus solving an issue of the FileWebRequest class. Unfortunately he uses P/Invoke, which kind of contradicts the whole "more flexible than thou" approach of the article.

Overall an interesting read which gives you flexibility of file support, while taking away some of the specific advantages like seeking or appending. It's a definitely better approach than StreamReader and the ugly "URI formats are not supported." error.

A bonus for using this method is that it is compatible with the Office 2007/Vista Open Packaging addressing model, by way of the PackWebRequest class.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Free energy?

I've just finished watching "Free Energy - the Race to Zero Point", which is a documentary of sorts listing ideas of ways to produce free energy with open systems, or getting a lot more efficiency than present systems. The speakers are authors of controversial books and editors at magazines names as crackpotty as possible. The narrator himself looks like a Hitchcock wannabe, presenting the end of the world. Heck, the film is not even listed on Imdb, therefore this blog entry.
But, even if I am mostly convinced that this is a piece of sensationalist propaganda and not true science, I am left wondering how much (if any) of this is truly real? Did Moray have a device that lit up light bulbs without fuel or batteries? Are the numerous inventors presented there just crackpots or do they have something? I find it difficult to believe that all video proof that was presented in the movies was faked. Why would they?
Yet most of all I resonated with the idea that is, unfortunately for this movie, presented by all featured people: economic interests reign supreme and devices that don't need to be connected to power grids, use oil or that can be regulated by established industries are not only avoided, but actively attacked. It does make sense, doesn't it?

So, without further due, here are some start up links from Wikipedia to help you make your own mind:
Zero-point energy
The Casimir effect
The Hutchison effect
Thomas Henry Moray
Cold fusion
Electrostatic levitation

Friday, March 23, 2007

Do you know what a flu pandemic is? Do you know how many and when did they occur?

Well, I don't. I was first shocked to find out that the 1918 "Spanish" Flu pandemic killed 50 million people and I found out about it only in my twenties. Now I see that the pandemics are recurring events, there are lists with the virus strains and where they originated, while information from before 1900 is unreliable since medicine was not really.

Timeline of pandemics: 1918,1957,1968...
Check out this link that shows a history of flu strains and the three flu pandemics from the last century.

The Provenance - great goth Swedish band

While listening to my favourite songs on Pandora, I heard a song that I really enjoyed. The band was The Provenance, from Gothenburg, Sweden. and I immediately started looking for more on the Internet. Here is one of the best songs I've heard in a while, with a video that could have been way better. The music, though, is worth it.

Catching Scarlet in the Sun - The Provenance

They have a site, but not very updated and, since they just released their fourth album but only joined YouTube in October 2006, I guess they are not really Internet people. So let's us lend them a little hand, shall we?
Official Web Site - Actually, their site is dead, their domain for sale.
MySpace site - ugh, it seems that the band has been... well... disbanded. Their last blog entry says as much: "bye".
YouTube user site

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Japanese rap music at its best [Tokyo Drift soundtrack]

Of course, sooner or later YouTube blocked this video. Let's try something else:



It seems there is a fashion of combining English and Japanese in popular music in Japan, but this is really ridiculous. Just check out the lyrics: "Not a Chinaman 'cause I ain't from China, man... I am Japan, man.". Damn that's funny :))

Here are the complete lyrics, translation included

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tired of playing games all day using a keyboard and a mouse, maybe a joystick or a wii stick?

Enough with this! Geeks are not supposed to move, even use their hands to push something so small as a mouse. Moving a mouse all day builds muscle and you know that is bad! So check out the OCZ Neural Impulse Actuator at work. A head band, a wire, no movement. Geeky! I want one of those!

ODBC Escape sequences!

In other words: those curly bracket things in SQL. What? curly brackets in SQL? Yes! Imagine that :)

The idea is that most database systems adhere to the ODBC standard, at least ODBC 1.0. That means that, when you communicated with a database, you can send so called ODBC escape sequences that are translated into the SQL engine native objects.

Quick example: SELECT {d '2007-03-15'} will work in all ODBC 1.0 compliant DBMSs, including Microsoft SQL Server, MySql, PostgreSQL, Oracle, etc. and select a date object from 15 of March 2007, no matter the server configured country or language.

Interested yet? You can read the ODBC Programmer's Reference for more details. Short story shorter, here are the working and interesting parts (to me) of the ODBC escape sequences:
select {d '2007-02-13' }
select {t '22:20:30' }
select {ts '2007-02-13 22:20:30' }
select {fn curdate()}
select {fn curtime()}
select {fn User()}
select {fn Database()}
select {fn week(getdate())}
select {fn quarter(getdate())}
select {fn monthname(getdate())}
select {fn dayname(getdate())}
select {fn curdate()}
select {fn dayofweek(getdate())}
select {fn dayofyear(getdate())}
select {guid '12345678-1234-1234-1234-123456789012'}

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ajax enabling your controls

Ok, so you have the greatest control library ever made and Microsoft releases Asp.Net Ajax and none of them work anymore. What is one to do?

Eilon Lipton to the rescue! He writes a very good article about Ajax enabling your controls without linking to the System.Web.Extensions dll.

However, the article is a bit outdated. Here is a piece of code that solves the problems (at least for the latest version of Asp.Net Ajax):
Type scriptManagerType = Type.GetType("System.Web.UI.ScriptManager, System.Web.Extensions, Version=1.0.61025.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35", false);
 if (scriptManagerType != null)
 {
 RegisterClientScriptResourceMethod = scriptManagerType.GetMethod("RegisterClientScriptResource", new Type[] { typeof(Control), typeof(Type),typeof(string) });
 RegisterStartupScriptMethod = scriptManagerType.GetMethod("RegisterStartupScript", new Type[] { typeof(Control), typeof(Type), typeof(string), typeof(string), typeof(bool) });
 }


This is because the namespace has changed since the writing of Elion's article from Microsoft.Web.UI to System.Web.UI and there are two methods named RegisterClientScriptResource and two named RegisterStartupScript so you have to get the right one. Else you get the "Ambiguous match found" error.

There you have it!

Creating a Web User Control in NET 2.0 that can be validated

The .NET validation framework has two parts, the client Javascript validation and the server validation. That means that the Javascript code needs a value to validate and the server validation needs a property to validate.

So, first step, you create your web user control by putting some controls in it. Then, you want to add a validator to the page to reference the newly created user control. And you get the error "Control '{0}' referenced by the ControlToValidate property of '{1}' cannot be validated.". Why? because every control to be validated needs to be decorated with the ValidationProperty attribute:
[ValidationProperty("Text")]
public partial class ucDate : System.Web.UI.UserControl

Adding the first line to the control tells the validation framework to use the Text property of the UserControl.

Next step, you run the page and you notice the javascript doesn't work. The client validation works on html controls, by looking (recursively) for a 'value' attribute. When one looks at the source code, though, there is no html control that has the id of the user control. It doesn't use a span or a div to encapsulate its controls. All the controls have the id to show they are children to the user control, but the actual user control does not appear in the html source. So what is there to do?

<div id='<%=ClientID %>'></div>

You put all the controls in the ascx file of the User Control into this div. There you go! The validation works!

There is one more quirk regarding web user controls that have more children that render an html object with a 'value' attribute. In that case, remember that the validation starts from the very top, in our case the div. One could build simple javascript functions on the onchange or onsubmit javascript events, for example, to add a value attribute to the div. Best way would be using the onsubmit event, but be careful that the validation sequence also runs on the onsubmit event.

TextBox2.Attributes["onchange"]="document.getElementById('"+ClientID+"').value=this.value";


On popular demand, here is a complete example codeThis is a control that holds two TextBox controls. The control will be validated both on server and client by the value of the second Textbox, the first will be ignored.


using System;
using System.Web.UI;

[ValidationProperty("SecondTextboxValue")]
public partial class vuc : UserControl
{
public string SecondTextboxValue
{
get { return tbValidated.Text; }
}

protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
string script =
string.Format(
@"var vuc=document.getElementById('{0}');
var tb=document.getElementById('{1}');
if (vuc&&tb) {{
tb.vuc=vuc;
tb.onchange=function() {{ this.vuc.value=this.value; }}
}}"
,
ClientID, tbValidated.ClientID);

ScriptManager.RegisterStartupScript(Page, Page.GetType(), UniqueID + "_submit", script, true);
}
}


The ascx looks like this:
<%@ Control Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeFile="vuc.ascx.cs" Inherits="vuc" %>
<div id="<%=ClientID %>"> value="<%=tbValidated.Text%>"
<asp:TextBox ID="tbIgnored" runat="server"></asp:TextBox>
<asp:TextBox ID="tbValidated" runat="server"></asp:TextBox>
</div>


How it works:
  • The javascript validator will look for an html element with the same id as the user control. If it has a value attribute, it will be validated, else it will go to the next control in the hierarchy. If the containing div would not have a value attribute, then the validation would have occured on the first textbox value, as the first element that has a value attribute. That's why the value attribute will be set on textbox change and when first loading the page.
  • The server validation will work because of the user control property that exposes the Text value of the second textbox and the ValidationProperty attribute that decorates the code.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Geological history of Earth

I am just linking this small page about the evolution of Earth. You may see when the planet formed, how the moon appeared, the different geological eras, major meteor impacts and extinctions, the evolution of species and some information about the impact humans have on the environment lately.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Audio Spotlight - the narrow beam of sound

I've told a lot of people about this, but forgot to blog about it. Shame on me, because this revolutionary concept can change the way we think of sound.

Audio Spotlight enters the category of directional sound systems, more precisely it creates sound from ultrasound. The result is that you can direct a single speaker towards a certain area, and only people in the area can hear the sound.

There are drawbacks, as obstacles getting in the way of the sound beam block the sound from reaching further on. There are limitations to the frequency response and the dispersion pattern. I also don't know if the system can create loud sounds as this would probably need high power ultrasound and I don't know how healthy that would be.

But, even so, the idea is marvelous. As you can see from the animation from the Audio Spotlight site, you can attach a sound to a picture in a gallery, and the sound will only be heard by the people in from of the picture. Imagine that in a museum. Or think about having a restaurant with audio spotlight above the tables, playing whatever music they want and not bothering the other people. Combine it with some form of sound barrier between tables and you get a classy private place with no walls and a lot of people. Or think of a disco where you can separate the sound of each instrument and play it in a slightly offset area so people can dance to the music equalized however they like it. Or even a club where people can hear the music loud on the dance floor and really weak at tables, so they can talk.

This invention comes (of course) from MIT, more precisely from Dr. Joseph Pompei while he was a student at the MIT Media Lab, himself son of another distinguished doctor, Dr. Francesco Pompei.

Update:
However, with great power comes... ah, forget Spiderman! Anyway, there are voices expressing concern on the evil use of such technology. Like this link here, expressing the opinions of Barry Blesser, one of the most respected names in digital audio.

Now, I guess that the best invention ever would be directional earplugs! :)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Ray Tracing, a graphics model for realistic lightning using low resources

I found this article on BBC News that told of a series of new algorithms for 3D image rendering using the tracing of light rays rather than polygonal rendering. They also use less resources than traditional algorithms. Interesting enough, so I searched the Internet. I think this will usher a new era of computer games, not to mention a boom of cheap 3D movies. See how the reflections generate secondary and tertiary reflections in the image?

Check out the site of the OpenRT project for videos on how this works.

Update 2011: Apparently the site is pretty much dead except the front page. It's an old post anyway.

Other Links:
Ray Tracing basics at Wikipedia
A free open source (GPL) OpenRT implementation

svchost 100% CPU utilisation

For a while now, whenever I start my computer at work, I get to wait about 5 minutes with my CPU up to 100% due to svchost.exe. Of course, this being an important component of Windows, I cannot delete or disable it, neither can I see what subprocess is causing this utilisation with the normal Task Manager. However, one can download Process Explorer and see a lot more information. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, back to the original problem. I noticed that the problem was the ntdll.dll (ntdll.dll!RtlAllocateHeap+0x18c to be exact) which is, again, a Windows important file.

Only googling to the extreme did I find that the issue is caused by Windows Update, scanning your computer each time you start it. If you disable Windows Update, you don't get the updates, but you get rid of the wait.

Here is a discussion with Microsoft MVPs about possible solutions.
Also, try this link.

And if you do have Process Explorer, you can set the priority of the offending task to Bellow Normal, which will allow you to run any program normally while the Windows Update process runs only on spare CPU. Normal Task Manager does not allow you to change the priority of the process.

Blocking Unwanted Parasites with a Hosts File

Windows has a file called hosts, found in Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts, that can contain local domain name to ip conversions. It's like a local DNS service with a text database. That means that if you open the file and write 127.0.0.1 www.microsoft.com then every time you try to access microsoft, the browser will redirect to your local machine, effectively making it unreachable.

You can use this to block some of the sites you don't want your child to access or whatever, but most of all, you can disable the access to sites that are known sources of unwanted ads, spyware, malware, etc. Or, as I did, disable access to sites with online games that you are addicted to :)

You can find an updated hosts file at mvps.org. Backup your previous hosts file, for safety, then overwrite it with this.

Update: If you have a blog on Google's Blogger, you should comment (by adding a # in front of the line) or delete the line of the hosts file relating to service.urchin.com #[Urchin Tracking Module], else you will get some javascript errors when entering Blogger. Or you can just ignore all javascript errors.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Noir Desir, a good French rock band

Unfortunately, the lead singer is now in prison after accidentally killing Marie Trintignant, his girlfriend and the daughter of famous actor Jean-Louis Trintignant. This clip is manga-style, but that's not why I put it here, it's because I really like the song.


Noir Désir - Un Jour en France


Links:
Noir Desir at Wikipedia
the Noir Desir site

__doPostBack works, WebForm_DoPostBackWithOptions doesn't! Heeelp!

I've seen many a forum and blog entries that look like the title of this entry. I was frantically trying to find the solution for this a few hours ago and found a lot of questions of the same type, most of them abruptly ending into nothing. No solution, only the questions. What was I to do? Debug!

The problem was that buttons with __doPostBack seemed to work and those with WebForm_DoPostBackWithOptions did not. I pressed them and nothing happened.

Debugging the hell out of the two javascript functions (both used by NET 2.0, on who knows what conditions) I realized that the problem was not in the javascript functions! The problem was a false one.

The real problem is in the validators. If you have a validator on a field and the field has some wrong values in it and both field and validators are hidden, the submit will not work and you will not see what the problem is. Let me make this simple: if you have problems with submit buttons that seem not to work, check your validators!

Now, why the field was hidden and its values filled and the validator enabled is a problem, but that I can fix easily. The "Oh, I am so stupid" phenomenon probably stopped a lot of people posting the solution after they found it.

Abarat - Clive Barker

Clive Barker is a man of extraordinary imagination and, while HellRaiser is what people most know him for, I think his "young adult" books are what define him. And by this I don't mean sweaty teenager sex, but wonderful fantasy worlds that also have a tang of darkness and stories that have a conclusion beyond the idiotic morality taught to little children. They are also a bit more actual, without dwelling on feudal or anachronistic features like, say, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. I liked "The Thief of Always" and I also enjoy, although not to the same extent, "Abarat".

Abarat is a magical series, much like a darker Alice in Wonderland, with two books currently having been released. The classic "girl enters magical world" is expanded to the point of bursting with the description of the 25 isles of Abarat, one for each hour (including the 25th), each with their own features and crazy-weird inhabitants. Abarat is also a twisted mirror of Earth, with coca-farma conglomerates trying to destroy the magic in the world.

You can find a site at www.thebooksofabarat.com, very nicely done, that teases the imagination with flash animations and excerpts from the books.
I've read a review that compared Abarat to Harry Potter and even declared that it is the writer's alternative to it. I dare say that is completely wrong. The worlds of Clive Barker are about finding your way through your own inner power and imagination, whether you choose the path of Light or of Darkness. Purpose is what defines a Barker hero, not taking sides.

Bottom line, a nice book, clearly well written (I like Barker's style), and the storyline is detailed and well thought of. I may not be in a wonderland mood right now, but it is the best book I've read in the last month. There was an attempt to create a movie based on Abarat schedulled for 2005, but, according to the Wikipedia entry for Abarat, creative differences killed the project.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Son of Avonar - Carol Berg

I enjoyed this book. It is the fantasy story of a medieval land where magic is seen as the most sinful of things, all through the eyes of a woman that falls in love with a magician.

At first, I thought the ideas were nice, as the entire plot reminded me of Berserk , the latest chapters of the manga, and so I upped my expectations a bit too far. Then I realised that, even if the book was written in an even and professional way, I wasn't getting caught into the story. Was it because I couldn't relate to a woman? No, that wasn't it. After a few more uncomfortable pages I realised that the thing missing from the book were true emotional descriptions. The lead character was almost cold, rational as very few women (or any people of that age) would be. The scenes were detailed enough in describing whereabouts or scenery, even facial expressions or human interactions, but no feelings.

I thought to myself "Damn! This is a book as I would write if I started writing one". Funny enough, after I finished the book, the author was described as an American mother of three, who writes books while being a software engineer. I am curious of the percentage of software people that have a lack of emotional vocabulary like I do.

The ending of the book was also slightly disappointing, as I couldn't relate to any of the characters and their actions. The reasons for the story to end like that also eluded me. However, as I wrote in my first sentence, I enjoyed the book, as it was well written. I don't think I will read more of the series.

The Algebraist - Iain M. Banks

Rarely have I had the honor to read such a boring book. It took me forever to finish it, as you can see, only so I can blog about how unreadable it is. It's not like Iain Banks doesn't have the good ideas that make a book great, but he has no idea on how to use them.

The entire book had the feel it was patched together from pieces of text written with completely different moods by different people. The ideas shifted from one to the other without any sense. The science was ludicrous. And worst of all, the ending had that wonderful "huh?" feeling, when all the plot finally ends just as boringly as it has begun.

And all this in a book that talks about the Universe in the far future, with great empires spanning galaxies and fighting epic battles with weird technologies. I appreciate the effort, but not the result. The book seems like something a writer would do and throw away and a publicist would pick up from the garbage and publish.

duteVino played in Suburbia

Update: the band released their first album in December 2009

Last month I blogged about the Romanian band called duteVino. On the 8Th of March they had a concert in Suburbia and I decided I should go.

The bar is nice. It is slightly smaller than Fire, but a little classier, with small tables and taburets on one side and with a more open space (less colonnades). I got there with my wife and a friend and hunted the chairs until we had some table space.

The band started singing soon enough and they sounded really nice. The girl vocal has it all: the looks, the voice, the nicety. The band itself is made of four people and, since I am not a musician, I can't comment on the quality of their instrumentation. They sounded OK to me. duteVino played (I think) all the songs from their upcoming album, ten in total, and Gruv they left for the encore piece.



Unfortunately, the sound engineer was a moron. It's not like you can find good sound engineers anywhere on the street, but at least find one with guts! You see, the "chicken" way is to maximize the sound of instruments and minimize the sound of the vocal. In this way, even if there is faltering in the voice, most people won't realize it. Or at least I think that's the explanation why most concerts leave you almost deaf from the sound of the instruments while you struggle to understand (or even hear, as was the case here) what the vocal says.

The result here was that the voice of the singer was almost inaudible and I wonder if I would have enjoyed the concert if I didn't know some of the songs beforehand.
All in all, I like the band. I won't call myself a fan, but I will try to buy their album, nonetheless.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Inner Universe - Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex soundtrack

Ok, let me feed my weird side. This is the soundtrack of a very nice anime series, itself spun from an anime movie called Ghost in the Shell. The series was called GITS - Stand Alone Complex and this was the opening song. This is not the official video for this song, especially since it depicts images from the movie, not the series, but I liked it better. Enjoy!

The original video was removed from YouTube, this is another, same song.


Inner Universe - GITS SAC OST
Composed by Yoko Kanno
Performed by Origa
Click here for lyrics and details.
You can also download the manga for Ghost in the Shell and its sequel (GITS 2 :) ) at narutocommunity.net, after a very annoying registration and a lot of popups (or javascript errors).
Try these direct download links, although they might not work:
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell 2
Warning: don't use multiple connections or download accelerators. This site only allows one connection from one IP, apparently.

And here is Making of a Cyborg, by Kenji Kawai, the original soundtrack for the movie.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Real Time Blogging

You might think you are so cool when you blog about whatever goes through your head, but people have done it before you since times immemorial. Bucharest, for example, is filled with Real Time Bloggers (or RTB) and you may find them really easy by going on any public transportation vehicle (or RATB).

The RTB is easy to recognize. He or she (let's call them it) has old and discolored clothes, smells really bad and, most importantly of all, can't shut up. It will tell you its entire life story and any (if any) thoughts that it has had in the last 15 to 20 years. It will tell it whether you want it or not, usually hitting end tape and repeating itself in about 30 minutes which is, by the way, the average time someone spends in public transportation to get to one place to the other in the city.

Now, you might think that this has nothing to do with any network (aka web) or logging (since it is all verbal), but if you spend some time researching this you will notice that they are everywhere and they pretty much say the same things, so they have their own network and they are saying the same thing from their own unique perspective. So it's exactly like blogging.

Also, don't confuse them with beggars. Beggars smell worse, they ask for money and they usually make sense. They are the real life equivalent of spam or commercials. And everyone would like to click them really hard, but they are afraid they will catch some virus or some other malware.

The interesting thing is that they don't really talk to each other and in the winter, when their publicistic careers peek, there is one on each single bus, trolley, tramway or subway. If one leaves the vehicle, another one comes. So they have a very efficient way of disseminating information, unlike web bloggers who, being relatively new to this business, still wait for others to come read what they had to say and sometimes flock on the same information highway.

I also tried to add an image to this entry, however, no doubt due to their experience in blogging, couldn't find one. They probably don't have any contact with our own, new and untrusted network, and prefer the more advanced technology of 3-D smellovision.

So, quit being so full of yourself. Blogging may be the oldest profession in the world, for all you know. You're not special!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Evanescence - a very beautiful performance

I don't usually enjoy live performances better than the studio sound. I am sorry, I know that there is a completely different atmosphere, that the true quality of the artist is revealed in live concerts and that the creativity and spontaneity of the band or singer can only be seen face to face, but the sound is usually worse and the way it comes out not usually exactly what the artist wanted or expected.
But this particular performance from American band Evanescence was very emotional and it moved me, even from a recording on YouTube. Enjoy!

Evanescence - Taking Over Me - live at Rock am Park

RoBlogFest or Lonely People of the World, Unite!

My tastes in blogs are rather particular and the number of blogs I am visiting is not large. I write mostly about computing and personal taste and a lot of the things that really bug me! Well, I did use to be a debugger, after all.

Returning to Roblogfest. This was some sort of top blog thing + a party where bloggers got together and talked about ... wait a minute! What would bloggers talk about? And even more than this, would they repeat the most interesting stuff in the blogs the next day? I imagined blog entries like "Yesterday I talked to [some guy - with a link to the guy's blog] at Roblogfest and it was really interesting what he said about [this - a link to the entry of the guy's blog]". That's the Internet for you, hyperlinking to the extreme, I thought, feeling slightly smug and imaginative.

Returning to Roblogfest. I kept bumping into it, while reading some blog or the other, waiting for some smart thing to enlighten me. Instead: the RoBlogFest competition, with voting and everything. I imagined stuff like "The least interesting blog category: Xulescu's, winner with 5534 votes" or "Most read blog: Roblogfest". Well, it wasn't interesting enough to care, so I ignored it. I kept reading BBC news and Google news, looking for stuff. Who cares about who's blog is better or not? Isn't the blog a symbol of personal expression, uncorrupted by external demand?

Returning to Roblogfest. The competition is over, the party is over. The blogs are full of Roblogfest again. This time people either enjoy having won something (more people on their blogs?) or thinking the whole competition was stupid (they didn't get more people on their blogs). Also, a lot of pictures, little youtube videos and stories about how bloggers got together and talked and whatever. Lots of links, too. "I talked to [this guy] yesterday. The rest I didn't know. I wanted to know them, but some I didn't". Most of the bloggers were kids. Some cute, some not, mostly the kind of social pariah which would write their feelings in a blog rather than sharing them during a party. They enjoyed the party, though.

This reminds me of that joke, with two people meeting in a park and admitting to each other that they really enjoy walking alone in the park, then decide to take the walk together. Yeah, I am sure now I feel smug. I am definitely superior. I would have liked to be that young again... or to go to parties and meet cute blogger girls, but I am well beyond that. I am definitely superior. And my blog is better.

Friday, March 02, 2007

theSTART, a very nice Rock with female vocal band

theSTART are a Rock / New Wave / Electronica band from Sudden Valley, California, as it writes on their mySpace web site. They also have an official website. I've discovered them quite a long while ago, but back then I didn't use to put images and video to the blog. Anyway, without further due here is the videoclip to the song Gorgeous, by theSTARt. I hope you enjoy it.


Yesterday, the video worked, today it's stuck on "Loading". Just in case you experience the same problem, here are the available videos with theStart.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

cannot open the file: mk:@MSITStore: ...

Update!!
Rick Strahl saves the day again in this post where he explains the "protection" mechanism for files downloaded off the internet in Windows and the "Unblock" option in the CHM file's Properties. If that doesn't solve it, read on.

Sometimes, while trying to read a Html Help chm file (STOP MAKING CHM FILES!), you get an error like "cannot open the file: mk:@MSITStore:idiot.chm". Googling it you quickly find out that the issue is the HHctrl.ocx file in Windows\System32 and that there are more than one version, the newer ones not always being better than the older ones.

There are a lot of suggested solutions on the web, from manually re-registering the OCX with regsvr32 to downloading the "right version". If you want to try those, you want to check the HTML Help - Diagnostics page, look for MJ's Diagnostics, a piece of software that tries to automatically find the Html Help problems and fix them. Well, that didn't work for me, though.

The solution I found: HTML Help Switcher 1.3, a utility that changes the Html Help OCX to any version you want with a click of a button.