All posts by Tari

Wednesday link dump

Because I have nothing better to do right now, it’s a good time to dump the interesting links that I’ve been accumulating.

Glowy.  Also radioactive.
Cherenkov glow in the Advanced Test Reactor
  • While radioactive hunks of matter are often portrayed as glowing with a green tinge, we all know that’s not actually true.. unless there’s Cherenkov Radiation involved, as in many nuclear reactors- that’s not green, though.
  • Google have (for now) won the suit against them by Viacom regarding copyrighted content being uploaded to YouTube, which is good news for everyone except maybe Viacom.  It’s still fun to read choice excerpts of correspondence involving all sorts of mudslinging in the case (warning: lots of curses).
  • OpenStreetMap is a neat project to create free maps, similar to Google Maps, Bing Maps, etc.  Cool stuff, and all the map data is Creative Commons, meaning it could be used for any number of shiny projects.
  • There might be life on Saturn’s moon, Titan, observations courtesy of the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini mission, which has been bouncing around the Saturnian system since mid-2004 after launch way back in 1997.  It’s far from a sure thing, but it’s really exciting that predictions of how life might work on Titan have been supported by observation.
  • This study (PDF) of internet routing to previously unused blocks is quite interesting, especially the numerous SIP streams pointed at (section 5.1).
  • The EFF (kind of like the ACLU of internet, if you’re not familiar with them) recently put out the HTTPS Everywhere extension for Firefox.  When it’s this easy to lock down your web traffic, there’s no reason not to.  What’s your excuse?
  • Huge things are cool.  Want to feel tiny?  Go ask Wikipedia about the local supercluster, then consider how tiny everything humanity knows is, relative to that.  When you’re done scrabbling about in your own Total Perspective Vortex, consider epic timescales for extra kicks.  Yeah.. cosmology is awesome.


..and that’s several weeks of accumulated cool-things.  Enjoy.


After putting up with the lack of support for Windows 7’s jump lists in PuTTY for a while, I finally got tired enough of it to do something.  Nothing as cool as patching PuTTY to do them itself, but I wrote a wrapper which indexes the saved sessions, allowing the user to select which ones should be included in the list.

From the project page:

PuTTYJL is a wrapper and patch for PuTTY written in C# for .NET 3.5 and Windows 7, adding support for the new Jump Lists, allowing you to create jump list entries for saved sessions in the registry and optionally just launch the wrapper to start a default session in PuTTY.

Get it here.

Hacking life

Today (er, yesterday) was a big day for science.  In the May 20th issue of Science, there was an interesting paper detailing how researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute (yup, name means nothing to me there) successfully created a life-form containing entirely artificial DNA [abstract,PDF].  This is really exciting stuff.

As the authors of the paper note, sequencing genomes is nothing new, but there’s a gigantic leap between just knowing how something is made and being able to make it yourself.  Although this modified strain of yeast has mostly stock genes from other yeast and just over a million base pairs, Wired Science notes that our ability to manufacture chunks of DNA has grown by around 100x in the last five years.  Following such a linear pattern, we would be able to build a human genome from scratch (~3 billion base pairs) within ten years.  From here, where can we go?  Anywhere.

Consider what living things do in nature.  Now take some of that variety and modify it a little to do something more useful.  Say, design an enzyme allowing yeast to break down oil from spills and removing any other metabolic pathways.  You suddenly have a bacterium which eats oil spills, then the colony dies when the oil goes away.

Sure, something like that is a ways off; we don’t have anywhere the necessary knowledge of the biochemistry involved in such a thing (or do we..?  I could be entirely wrong).  Proteins are amazingly complex molecules, and their assembly/folding is rather poorly understood at best.  However, give it a while, and we could begin to do radical things within the framework of living things.  Say, custom-designed viruses to patch our genomes.  Literally, life hacking.

This is simply incredible stuff, and it’s the first step toward the singularity, IMHO.  More thoughts on that in the coming days.


Go read.  You can come back in a bit and be mildly confused.

Look, it's CLI-tan.

..or don’t (if you did, good).

Ubunchu is.. interesting.  I’ve lately taken to ignoring most things that so much as mention UbunchuUbuntu (as my StumbleUpon history will attest to), but it’s good to know that there’s still plenty of sense, if you know where to look.  Not everyone is spewing nonsense from their nostrils, evidently.

The truth is over there

There’s a pretty impressive amount of truth lurking in Ubunchu under the silliness and not-quite-OS-tan levels of moe.  Basically every opinion voiced in the manga is accurate, IMHO.  In my mind, there’s a place for each OS- each has is strengths, and certain weaknesses- what you get from any system is a combination of what it can offer well and what you put in.

Ubuntu, for example, is a very newbie-friendly Linux distro, and it’s very good at being free and (generally) easy to use.  Try to control it too much, and it might break on you- that’s just how the game works.

Arch, my Linux distro of choice, is quite different- it’s one that expects you, the user, to go poking around and configure things yourself.  Arch is great at being configured to exactly fit your needs, provided you’re willing to take the time to learn things for yourself (do eeeet, I say).

Windows is good at being itself- not free, but generally worth the price for those who know what they’re doing.  I’ll freely admit that Windows tends to be overkill and even something of a liability (what with malware and all) for uninformed users, but I feel that power users can get a lot out of Windows with excellent dev tools like Visual Studio, a huge multitude of games, and the multiple ways to do just about anything.  Say what you want about Microsoft, but their developer support is superb.

OSX?  Well, it’s good at being simple to use and not free.  I won’t say much on that since I generally make a point of ignoring Apple products, but I hear such systems are well-liked in the creative community.  My main complaint is that it generally only gives you one way to do whatever it is you might want to do, which is rather painful for someone like me, who likes to poke around in things.

Bottom line

Operating systems bring a variety of benefits to the table, and it’s up to you, the user, to decide which one(s) fit your computer usage style best.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to SSH into my server to check on my CLI IRC client. ( ^‐^)_

Oh, and I want a sysadmin’s club.

CPU Comparison Shopping

I’ve been slowly working towards putting together a new PC build to replace my current one, a Core 2 Duo- based system I built about three years ago, which is starting to show its age.  In the interest of comparison shopping, I put together a spreadsheet and some charts looking at the newer Intel (i5/i7) and AMD (Phenom X4/X6) processors.  Turns out that Intel’s Core i5-750 seems to be the best deal in processors for what I’m looking for in a system at the moment.

Raw Data

Clock speeds are in MHz, TDP in Watts, and cost is price in USD at newegg as of 5/3/2010.  Processors with SMT (hyperthreading) are noted in the Cores column.

Manufacturer Model Cores Clock TDP Cost
AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE 4 3200 125 159.99
AMD Phenom II X4 940 BE 4 3000 125 161.99
AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE 4 3400 125 180.99
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T 6 3200 125 309.99
Intel Core i5-650 2 3200 73 184.99
Intel Core i5-661 2 3330 87 199.99
Intel Core i7-920 4 (SMT) 2660 130 279.99
Intel Core i7-930 4 (SMT) 2800 130 294.99
Intel Core i5-750 4 2660 95 199.99
Intel Core i7-860 4 (SMT) 2800 95 279.99

Continue reading CPU Comparison Shopping

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Having just recently finished watching Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, I figured I’d share the fun with whoever happens to stumble across this.  Perhaps this is the beginning of a pattern, in which I’ll be posting mini-reviews of media I consume.  Who knows.  Anyway, let’s get into it.


Gurren Lagann is the product of Gainax, the same studio (notably) behind Neon Genesis Evangelion, but that doesn’t really mean anything- the two are completely different, even in animation style, which took a bit of getting used to.  It’s a mecha, so you’ve got plenty of robots stomping around, explosions, and post-modern themes.  Most importantly, however, Gurren Lagann is loaded with silliness.  To get a feel for exactly how silly, let’s just say that at times there are multiple levels of mecha-piloting-mecha recursion.

The Cast of Gurren Lagann
Partial cast.

“Your drill will pierce the heavens”

See what I did there?  That’s basically the point of the entire thing, and it’s the source of most of the silliness.  There’s a very good reason for it all, but whenever something happens that makes no sense, it can be justified because “drills are magic”.

The setting

It’s some undisclosed alternate reality or future, where it seems all of humanity lives underground in small villages, and it’s been that way long enough that it seems like the way things have always been.  Simon the Digger lives in one such village, working to expand the village, but it’s not really why he digs.  He digs to find treasure.  In addition to Simon, we have Kamina, a bit of a troublemaker, who wishes to escape the conservative village elder and escape to the surface, dragging Simon along, piercing the heavens to freedom.  It’s a pattern that gets repeated multiple times throughout the 27-episode run: fighting for freedom.

Bottom Line

Gurren Lagann is silly, fun, filled with explosions, and totally worth watching.

Oh, and how’s this for a tidbit?  40% of the animation budget for the entire series was spent on the last 5 episodes.  The sheer insanity is.. mind-blasting.

Really messed up
I agree.

Now in production

For everyone who didn’t know about my tests with WordPress, you’re probably very surprised by the sudden change in the page, but this is the new, as I’ve moved (well, redirected) the site root to WordPress now.

Comments, questions, suggestions are all welcome, and enjoy the new setup.

The Colors!

With a surprisingly small amount of effort, I’ve added a splash of color to this otherwise pretty boring theme.  Huzzah!

Some additional tweaks, and I think this will be worthy of moving up to be the main page of the site, rather than just an experiment.