Skellywag

Monday, February 27, 2006

Flux Flix

I went to see Aeon Flux with Matej. The "cute girl + black cat suit + weapons" combo, though Charlize Theron did much better than Kate Beckinsale in Underworld. The plot was substantially less dense and freaky than the animated series, which is a shame, as I was looking forward to some real oddity in this one. It turned into a cheesy love story, with possible christian right overtones (e.g. demanding that women should get pregnant, etc.). Fun though. Nice imagery.


Pre-Google Optimisation

I have bought several books prior to my next Google boogle on 6 March, with Google Advertising Tools looking promising. On a related subject (i.e. internet-driven sales and micro-payments), I came across an interesting article on Wired dealing with the "Long Tail" of interest in obscure books, music, and other publishable things, which teh intarwebs is drawing out, given that - with hard disks - it's as economic to stock a "copy" of a best seller as it is to stock some dull tome on Victorian Scrap Pan Bogeys.
Edit: I just found a bunch of stuff on my next interviewer ;-)

Also, as a follow-up to some ideas I had on RSS replacing SQL, some enterprising souls have created a complete web RSS suite, and NewsGator have an enterprise offering which somehow integrates with Exchange etc. There are a couple of DNN modules which aggregate RSS feeds, but few seem to be using RSS internally to build content. I might mock up some Python or maybe Ruby to demo the flexibility of the "RSS, not SQL" idea.

Essentially, I'd see content-driven sites as built from tens or hundreds of micro-feeds, all parsed by super-fast RSS/Atom parsers, and perhaps with special back-links to expand the usefulness of RSS. This would be a step towards a more Semantic Web. More later.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Enhancing Picasa

As a photographer, I have myriad photos. I need to be able to find photos quickly, by theme/tag/label, especially if I start submitting to stock photo sites. Crucially, I have to tag the photos in the first place. Every single one. *yawn*

So, what I want is a tool to suggest labels for me. Software which would inspect the images, and suggest labels.

Digression: Google Picasa, whilst sporting a dodgy installer, and over-the-top UI 'enhancements' (everything slides smoothly about, which is really patronising), is half-way to what I'd want. However, labels must be added manually. Boring!

How about using Google Images to pull out keywords from existing photos which could be applied, in reverse, to new photos? The complexity of the algorithms needed to suggest labels is thus reduced to simple image pattern matching, or feature extraction - non-trivial, but already done a thousand times. Then use the wealth of data already present in Google Images to suggest labels for new images, based on exising images and their associated search terms.

Given that Picassa runs on the desktop, we can use the high performance of the PC/Mac to do the image comparison (no huge server farm needed) - all we need is a way to hook into Google Images, pull down similar photos, and "reverse" the Google Image results: outputting text (labels) for a given image).

This might imply some standard means of quantifying elements/aspects of the image: colour, shapes, etc., and sending that data to a central server, in order to get the match. Alternately, Picasa could send a reduced-size image to the server, and try find matches based on that reduced size. I suspect for many images, you'd get helpful suggestions even based on thumbnails, but I have no way of justifying that ;-)

Shame there is no Images API yet.


Slapdoodle Google

Yes, I should have saved a draft. But you don't expect the Picasa installer to REBOOT THE PC. I lost 2 hour's worth of blog posting. Jerks. I have a UPS on this machine, so it ain't dodgy power. Probably some arsehole kernel DirectX testing routine. Grrr.

Yahoo isn't much better. I pay money for this crap. It's times like this when I just think I should smash up my PC and buy a Moleskine.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Guardian Photo Prize

I finally despaired of the Guardian techies sorting out their online application form for the photo competition, and burnt a mini-cd with my portrait of Beck. There don't seem to be many entries in the gallery section (flash) - gimme the prize, dammit!


Unequal Rhythm

Interesting conversation with Hari last night: creativity, performance, inspiration, and rhythm. In particular, we discussed the differences between Greek/Bulgarian/Slavic rhythms, melodies & polyphony, and those of Western Art music. I pointed out how the VAST majority of "classical music" is in 2, 3, or 4 time: even for music in 6/8 or 9/8, the essential beats (stresses) are completely regular and fall metronomically in line with - say - a dripping tap.

The difference between 2-, 3-, and 4-based rhythms and those based around 5, 7, 11, etc. - prime numbers - is very striking (no pun). Time signatures based on prime numbers obviously cannot be evenly subdivided, and so produce a much more complex and dynamic pattern, one that is not monotonous (in a technical sense). A couple of days ago I walked past the "The Glittery Fish Woman" for the zillionth time in the last 18 months, but this time listened to the rhythm she was playing: it was in 5/4, with stresses on 1, 3, 4, like this:

X:1
T:Glittery Fish Woman Rhythm
M:5/4
L:1/4
K:C
|G z G G z |
[Created at the ABC Convert-a-matic page.]

Okay, big deal? Well, a 3/4 or a 4/4 rhythm just wouldn't cut it. She was playing the 5/4 using her customary "peas-in-a-Pringles-tin" shaker. 5/4 holds its own, whereas anthing regular (i.e. simple rhythm, not compund) would just be annoying and dull.

Having said that, I am listening to some Rachid Taha, which is in 4, but with the stressed beats being 1 and 4 - this produces a mucre interesting rhythm than the usual 1, 3.

In general, however, western music is the poorer for its paucity of rhythm. I am looking fed to Hari's Greek mp3s ;-)


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

This must be the place

Photo taken behind Brixton prison: now up on Serendipiccy. Having a cheapo digital camera on my all the time is good fun.

More in a similar Urban vein on suck-ass Yahoo Photos, such as fishing-net plate glass and spooky graffiti in Amersham.

Photos of tags and stencils can be a bit lame, but sometimes and increasingly (?) - probably thanks to Banksy - there are more unusual words and combinations worth a photo.


Gothic nightmare

No, not the sinister, exploiting Cambridge goth church, but rather a splendid new exhibition at Tate: Blake and Fuseli.

...the word 'nightmare' derives from 'mara' (imp) rather than ‘mare’ (horse)...

Half-simian... incubus... all rather fine. Blake is one of my most-admired artists, for a whole raft of reasons: his words, luminosity of colours, feverish imaginations, commitment, craftsmanship, service of passion and desire.

Very much looking fwd to this one.


Geek-fight!

This is the cutest exchange I have read on TEH INTARWEBS for a long time:

That’s it, people. If you didn’t get your booking confirmed within eighteeen femtoseconds of the starting pistol, you’re screwed. Because there are one hundred thousand hungry people out there who need to attend San Diego Comics Convention in order to walk right past all that comics shit and go straight to sniffing Brandon Routh’s cricketbox, sending bits of themselves to the cast of SERENITY and masturbating ferociously in the men’s stalls while wearing V FOR VENDETTA masks and discounted Hulk Hands.
...it gets better...
Do you smell that? It’s fanboy, son. Nothing else on the world smells like that.

Who is this Ellis guy anyway? He thinks he all that cuz he wroted “Planety”. The facts is, KomiKon is AWESOME becuz people dress up like stuff — but nobody dresses like Warner Ellis, I guess, mister sour grapes.
linkage:
Revenge, eh? So, mister Ellis — (swishes brandy in large glass) — let the games begin, unless they are games of skill, or physical exertion of any kind, or with math. I know the bitter bitter truth, why you are so threatened by my genius, my, class, my big glass of brandy. It’s because you’re so OLD, so terribly terribly OLD, isn’t it!

I mean, what more do you want? Let's list what we have here:

  • geeks
  • artists
  • age
  • beards
  • wordplay like fencing - see the sparks!
  • gay sex
  • brokeback-esque cowboys (maybe?)
  • l33t 5p3ll1ng @ll r0und
  • ...and people filthy perverts falling over themselves to watch

That's history there. Transmet is still the best comic I have read. Sadly, as it was also the first (or second, after Preacher) comic I read, most other comics are just so much lager pissed up against the wall in comparison. Planetary is pretty good, but not quite so gritty as Transmet. Also, the cats don't smoke, nor have two heads. That is just supercool. I think if I were to go tranny (trans-species, that is) I'd head towards a chain-smoking dual-brained feline with a weak bladder. Did I mention that I'm looking forward to old age? I can take up smoking in earnest, you see, claiming that it is a defence against alzheimer's disease (and that recent research is CLEARLY WRONG).


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It's like a padded cell "on wheels"

E.R.C. Inc.: what a splendid company. They make their money from selling torture chairs to the US Military for use in Guantanamo Bay.

I cannot think of many sicker ways to make a living.

Heh, this blog is apparently a 'spam blog'. This from Blogger:

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog.
...

Request Received

We have received your request for a review to verify that your blog is not a spam blog. Someone will look over your blog and respond to xxx@yyy.org.uk

How spooky is that? Some random Google minion gets to choose whether my blog is real or not? *waves* Well, HIYA! If this isn;t real nuff fer ya, I'll take my blog elsewhere.

Appropriately, today is Valentine's day. Google: LOVE or HATE? heh heh


Greek womb find excites experts


Monday, February 13, 2006

LEGO with a Difference

Babbage's design could evaluate 7th order polynomials to 31 digits of accuracy. I set out to build a working Difference Engine using LEGO parts which could compute 2nd or 3rd order polynomials to 3 or 4 digits.
Too. Much. Spare. Time.


Google 0wnz Your Hard Drive

...the new "Search Across Computers" feature will store copies of the user's Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and other text-based documents on Google's own servers...

Splendid. So when the CIA comes knocking, Google's just gonna tell them to sit and spin? Everyone becomes The Receiver, and shady state departments just shaft away.

Heh, I have a face to face interview with Google later this week. Oh, the irony.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Gay cowboys?


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Making a Hashtable() of it

Dammit, dammit, DAMMIT. Note to self: speed up computations by pre-calculating results and storing in a hashtable.

4th Google interview mostly okay, except for the killer question, needing the answer: use a hashtable.


"...a disturbing resemblance to apartheid"

From the Guardian:
Israelis have always been horrified at the idea of parallels between their country, a democracy risen from the ashes of genocide, and the racist system that ruled the old South Africa. Yet even within Israel itself, accusations persist that the web of controls affecting every aspect of Palestinian life bears a disturbing resemblance to apartheid.

Part One
Part Two

After four years reporting from Jerusalem and more than a decade from Johannesburg before that, the Guardian's award-winning Middle East correspondent Chris McGreal is exceptionally well placed to assess this explosive comparison...


"It's obviously SEXML"


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

New word: Moofing

Moofing n. the act of restraining yourself from going for a moofin!


Toning

This week I will be printing up some B+W images for this Guardian photo competition. I have a selection of old pics I could use, but quite fancy taking something especially for it too. Depends on time.

In other news, I have a 4th interview at Google on Weds.

Finally, check out Gollum Dogg over at Gizoogle!


Monday, February 06, 2006

Collating Wasted Hours with SQL Server

Wasting time with SQL Server Collation settings. Bah.

The old system was running SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS, the new system Latin1_General_CI_AS - this is enough to throw the above error, and a developer was seeing this when running stored procedures. Everywhere seemed to be at the same collation level, but the subtlety was that master, model and tempdb were at different collations to the user databases, and of course temporary tables reside in tempdb which was at the different collation setting from the user database...

So basically, with SQL Server 2000, your database server instance is tied very tightly indeed to your databases. Ick.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Fucking hell

 

CRASH AND BURN

 


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

int num_interviews = 0xF;

Just finished my second Google interview, by phone. I thought I might be nearing the half-way point (say, five interviews). HA HA. There will be 15 interviews.
FIFTEEN.

Heh, bring 'em on.

The guy I spoke to started to include me in his "we" when talking about the job. Promising...

Update, 2006-02-03: Was just called up to be asked to provide a non-techy explanation of SOAP. I didn't have the right hat on, and waffled. Badly. :o(
They also said that my Analytics knowledge was poor, and that I should revise before next week. Which kinda implies 'interview' but who knows?


Appropriately enough...

...Pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey first determined the average penis to be six inches long when erect. However, a medical debate now rages on where a penis should be measured from. The consensus seems to be that the average is an inch shorter than Kinsey had it...

These lengthening procedures alter the length of the penis when flaccid; there is no "proportional" effect when erect. Thus penis enlargement is termed "locker-room cosmetic" - in other words, the big dick is for the benefit of other men as they undress at the gym.

From (bizarrely) http://www.guardian.co.uk/women/ story/0,,1697949,00.html, via springheel_jack


Use once, then throw away

Thanks to lzz, I now get A FRESH NEW GIRL EVERY DAY. I use her once, then throw her away, although they do make good surfaces for writing poetry upon.

Starting the day with a new girl each time is totally decedant: a true delight.

For contrast, some girls who are not going away, thankfully.


Interview, schminterview

Another interview with the defenders of Chinese civil liberties tomorrow. So the last one didn't go as badly as I thought.