Older stuff below

So, it took me a while, but I finally imported my rather sparse collection of Posterous notes. A couple of them need tweaking, and I’m sure I’ll get around to that some day. 

 

In other words, anything below this line was from Posterous, and may not look as neat as it did there.

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Thoughts on Moral Dilemmas

Let me tell you a joke.

 

There’s a company that sells chicken. They’re doing okay, but they could be doing better. They do a review of everything, and find that if they could find a more efficient way to pluck the chickens, they could greatly increase their profits.
“Get me the smartest man you can find,” says the chairman, “and ask him to come up with a better way to pluck chickens.”
His men go out and find the smartest man in the country – a Nobel Prize winner in theoretical physics.
They bring him to the company and explain their problem. He thinks for five minutes, and says “Okay, I’ve got it.
“First, we assume the chickens are perfect spheres in a frictionless vacuum…”

 

 

I was watching an episode of The Mentalist the other night, and it had a whole thing around Moral Dilemmas – you know the sort, “There’s ten people on a railway track and a train is coming, do you push a fat guy off the bridge to save the other people?”
I flat out refuse to answer these – or, if I think the asker is well-read enough to get it, I’ll answer “Mu.”
Mu is always the correct answer. These questions are false constructs – no-one will ever be in such perfectly sterile morally ambiguous situations, and so the answers to such questions are meaningless – about as useful as a plucking machine designed for perfectly spherical chickens.
Sometimes, people counter this with the “Well, what if a psychopath gives you a gun and tells you to choose one person to kill, or he’ll kill all of them?” dilemma. Yes, such situations have arisen, but I am fairly sure that there is no way to tell what you would choose until you are actually in that situation, no matter how many beers you discuss it over in the pub.

 

Note that I have no problem with discussing the moral consequences of such dilemmas – these are, after all, the real point of asking such questions. However, there seems to be an insistent, arrogant mindset among some people that it is absolutely necessary that you have answers for these questions, and that those answers will reveal your moral character.

Bullshit.

 

(And, speaking of bulls, does a cow have Buddha nature?)

A quote.

“Stark, you fuck, how the fuck are you, fucker?”
“Fuck you,” I said, turning with a smile. I know my language is far
from ideal, but Ji makes me sound like a rather fey poet.

We chewed the rag for a while. I recapped the last few months,
mentioned a couple of mutual acquaintances I’d run into. Ji told me
his land had expanded another half mile to the north, which explained
his bar’s continued existence, recounted a couple of especially
horrific successes, and used the word “fuck” just over four hundred
times.

Continue reading

AV, Coke machines, and overextended metaphors.

I am not much more than a vaguely interested bystander in the whole AV debate going on over the Channel, but Richard George’s metaphor of buying drinks at the pub at the end of his longish post on AV inspired something in me. Late at night, my unpreoccupied brain found another, simpler metaphor – that of the Coke machine.

And so, without further ado, I present to you, the increasingly strained metaphor of voting systems as Coke Machines:

UK (current system):
You choose your drink*. If the machine has run out, you get nothing. No refunds.
UK (AV):
You choose your drink. If the machine’s run out of that one, you get another choice. Still no refunds, and the machine’s often out of everything but Coke and Pepsi anyway.

[*The machine lists your choices as Coke, Pepsi, Fanta, Espresso Coffee, Green Tea, Genuine British Tea, and Bovril.
What you actually get, though, is Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi, “New” Coke, watery Decaf, an unspecified herbal beverage, pond scum, and Bovril. ]

…. but of course, I couldn’t let it rest there.

US:
You have several choices of drink, but you always choose Coke or Pepsi, in case you get the wrong drink.
Australia:
You choose several drinks you might like. The machine gives you an odd mixture of some of the most popular ones. You forget about it for another four years, and go back to watching the cricket.
France:
There is a wide range of drinks on offer. You choose one, then go on strike for three weeks because the machine gave you the wrong change.
Italy:
The large, well dressed men standing next the machine mention that Coke is a very refreshing beverage, and very popular with lots of people. There’s plenty of Coke in the machine.
Pre-2011 Middle Eastern Democracies:
No matter what drink you choose, you get Coke.
Current Middle Eastern Democracies:
Someone has pushed the machine over. You can’t tell if it’s working, because there are too many reporters in the way asking you what you think about it being pushed over.
Pre-Glasnost Communism:
The machine is free, but only serves a generic Cola, and is only stocked one day a year. No-one knows which day. Occasionally you get a live hand-grenade with the pin pulled.
China
You are given a drink by the machine. The ingredients are not listed. The machine tells you it is good for you, so you drink it.

N. Korea:
The machine plays stirring music with intermittent kazoo interludes. You are not allowed to touch it to find out that it’s empty.

… and that’s about where I fell asleep. Feel free to come up with additions or improvements.

Essential free Windows software

This is a list I made for someone of the free Windows software I like to use, and should try to remember to get on a fresh Windows install. It’s probably a bit out of date now.

|– Audio
| |– audacity
| |– CDex
| |– Exact Audio Copy
| |– Juice Podcaster

|– Development
| |– cream
| |– eclipse
| |– geany
| |– cygwin
| |– GnuWin32
| |– python, etc

|– GamesAndToys (Random sample)
| |– Armagetron
| |– DOSBox
| |– OoLite
| |– Scummvm
| |– Ur Quan Masters
| |– Beneath A Steel Sky (CD version)
| |– Google Earth
| |– Celestia / Stellarium / WinStars
| |– Xaos

|– Graphics
| |– aqsis / Pixie / Yafaray
| |– blender / ayam / Wings
| |– gimp & Paint.NET
| |– Inkscape
| |– Luminance HDR & UFRaw
| |– autostitch
| |– pencil / synfig studio

|– Internet
| |– Firefox / Chrome / Opera
| |– thunderbird
| |– FileZilla
| |– putty
| |– Skype
| |– tightvnc / UltraVNC
| |– UltraVNC_1.0.8.2_Setup.exe
| |– utorrent / Vuze / JDownloader, etc
| |– wget for Windows

|– Multimedia
| |– Media Player Classic Home Cinema version
| |– QuickTime_Alternative_322.exe
| |– vlc
| |– VirtualDub / VirtualDubMod / AVISynth
| |– GSpot
| |– HandBrake

|– Misc
| |– SweetHome3D
| |– Stanza

|– Office
| |– Open Office / AbiWord
| |– gnucash
| |– kompozer / scribus / TeXMate

|– Security
| |– avira_antivir_personal
| |– clamwin
| |– Comodo firewall
| |– FreeOTFE
| |– spybot search & destroy

|– System
| |– ProcessExplorer.zip
| |– ProcessMonitor.zip
| |– smartmontools
| |– SMPSeesaw.msi
| |– StartupCPL
| |– SysinternalsSuite
| |– TweakUi Powertoy
| |– unlocker
| |– USB Drive Letter Manager
| |– WinMerge
| |– InstallPad
| |– VirtualBox
| |– VirtuaWin / Dexpot / MSVDM
| |– X-Setup Pro
| |– ycopy
| |– MyDefragPowerGUI or similar

|– Tweaks
| |– FolderSize
| |– Greenshot
| |– InfoTag Free / ContextMagic Free
| |– Launchy
| |– Rocket Dock / MobyDock /RK dock

|– Utilities
| |– 7zip / IZArc / Peazip
| |– CDBurnerXP & IMGburn
| |– NotePad++ / Notepad2
| |– PowerPoint Viewer (MS)
| |– SumatraPDF / PrimoPDF / Foxit Reader
| |– TreeSizeFree
| |– XnView / FastStone Viewer
| |– CDisplayEx / Comical / ComicRack
| |– datacrow / Coollector
| |– workrave

HP printer joke error messages

Below is the contents of a text file that begun as a brief April Fools joke, and kept growing. It was used with Yaakov’s Perl script and a custom cron job (since lost) to alter the ready message of an HP printer at a place I used to work.

Things to note: The cron job was a hacky affair that had hardcoded probability weights assigned to various lines, and follow-on rules for others, etc. So, for example, “READY” – the correct, standard ready message – would appear about 30% of the time, to make it more confusing when it was different. I think the the many variations of READY made up a total of 50 to 60% of the weighting. Oh, I was subtle…
Then there’s the things like the various song lyrics, and the Pong routine, which would always run through in sequence. There might have been a  couple of other little hacks, but those were the main two.

Also, the printer had a two line, 32 character display – thus the odd spacing in some lines, to get things to split correctly at 16 characters.

It’s worth mentioning that not a single person at my workplace ever questioned or even mentioned odd printer messages.

Anyway, there’s just enough time before this April 1st for you to hack together your own cron job or scheduled task and batch file. Have fun!

"READY",
"READY?",
"READY!",
"READY...",
"REDDY",
"R3ADY",
"STEADY",
"READYISH",
"READE",
"READ",
"RE@DY",
"REEDY",
"REDDIT",
"ROADY",
"ROWDY",
"RATTY",
"UNREADY",
"ALMOST READY",
"READY - ARE YOU?",
"READY""SET""GO!",

"WARP CORE BREACH",
"TOUCH ME",
"SCORE = 3413",
"STEP AWAY",
"SET TO STUN",
"FEED ME",
"NEED MORE SPACE",
"POUR ME A DRINK",
"IN DISTRESS",
"NICE SHIRT",
"NO PRINT FOR YOU",
"RADIATION LEAK",
"HANDS UP",
"PRESS MY BUTTON",
"TAKE ME HOME",
"LOOKS LIKE RAIN",
"NICE HAIR",
"BE GENTLE",
"BE KIND",
"INSERT DISK",
"BUY ME LUNCH",
"DON'T STOP",
"TAKE A BREAK",
"BLACK SABBATH",
"FREEEEEDOOOOMM!",
"I LIVE...",
"BEER'O'CLOCK",
"I HEARD THAT",
"BUKIT NOT FOUND ERRAR",
"DO NOT WANT",
"OH, HAI!""KTHXBYE!"
"   LOOK OUT!    HE'S BEHIND YOU!",
"LOOK!           UP IN THE SKY!",
"IS THIS ALL THATTHERE IS?"
"THERE'S NO NEED FOR THAT",
"     IS IT         FRIDAY YET?",
" |   THIS IS NOT         A PIPE."
"WHY MUST I BE A PRINTER IN LOVE?",
"I KNOW WHAT     YOU DID...",
"YOU CAN'T PRINT THAT!",
"YOU WANT ME TO  PRINT WHAT?!!",
"WHERE DID YOU   SAY IT WAS?",
"THIS ISN'T MY   TRUE CALLING.",
"HELLLOOOOOOOOO  ADELAIDE!!!",
"YOU'LL NEVER    CATCH ME!",
"ZZZZZZZ...",
"   THANK YOU,     COME AGAIN",
"D'OH!",
"MMMMMH....      PAPER...",
"I'M WRITING A   NOVEL, YOU KNOW.",
"NO MORE PAPER!  I WANT PIE!",
"FETCH ME...     A SHRUBBERY!",
"THAT'S WHAT     SHE SAID",
"NEXT TIME,GADGET...NEXT TIME....",
"WHY WOULD YOU   DO THAT?!",
"HUR STÅR        DET TILL?",
"HEY, CAN YOU    SMELL THAT TOO?",
"BORED NOW...",
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!",

"I THINK YOU     OUGHT TO KNOW""I'M FEELING VERYDEPRESSED..."
"HERE I AM, BRAINTHE SIZE OF A""PLANET, AND ALL I DO IS PRINT...",

"ERROR: AN ERROR OCCURRED",
"ERROR: PRINTER  NOT FOUND",
"ERR: EXISTENTIAL     ANGST",
"ERROR: THIS IS  NOT AN ERROR",
"ERROR: PUSH ALL BUTTONS TO RESET",
"ERROR: PAPER    UPSIDE DOWN",
"ERROR: PAPER    INSIDE OUT",
"ERROR: PERFORM         A TANGO",
"ERROR: NOT THE  DROIDS YOU SEEK",
"ERROR: I NEED          A HUG",
"ERROR: JOKE IS  GETTING STALE",
"ERROR: BUT IT   WORKED LAST TIME",
"ERROR: WHAT WEREYOU THINKING?!",
"ERROR: WAIT 'TILTHE WEEKEND",
"ERROR: PRINTING        TOMORROW",
"ERROR: NOT FUNNY",
"ERROR: QUE?",
"ERROR: NO, JUST        KIDDING",

"YOU DON'T NEED  TO SEE HIS ID..." "THESE AREN'T THEDROIDS YOU WERE""LOOKING FOR...",

"PC LOAD LETTER",
"...___... ...___... ...___... ..",
"NO HABLA INGLES",
" OUT OF CHEESE  +++MELONMELON+++",
"I'M SORRY, DAVE,I CAN'T DO THAT.",
"MAUVE ALERT!    MAUVE ALERT!",
"THIS IS NOT A   DAFFODIL!",
"OUT OF BLACK INKUSE BLACK PAPER",

"ERROR: I'M ALL  OUTTA LOVE...",
"WHEN...WILL I...WILL I B FAMOUS?",
"THE FAX MACHINE IS NOT MY LOVER",
"WELL ITSA       AAALL RIIIGHT...""JUMPIN'JACKFLASHITSA GAS GAS GAS",
"DAAAAAAAAY-O....HE SAY DAAAAAY-O",
"LA LA LAH...""  LA LA LAH..."" LA LA *LAH* LA LAAAAAAH!",
"YOW!            I FEEL GOOD!""I KNEW THAT     I WOULD, NOW...",
"NEVER GONNA GIVEYOU UP...""NEVER GONNA LET YOU DOWN...",
"RAINING AGAIN...""OH NO, IT'S     RAINING AGAIN...",
"IT'S ASTOUNDING...""TIME IS FLEETING...""MADNESS........."
"TAKES ITS TOLL.""LET'S DO THE    TIME WARP AGAIN!",
"ISTANBUL, NOT   CONSTANTINOPLE",

"THERE ONCE WAS AMAN FROM NANTUKT""WHO@@#*^$#ERROR:OBSCENE OVERFLOW"

"PLAYER 1 INSERT COIN TO CONTINUE",
"      PONG      |              |",
"                |-             |",
"                |-             |",
"|-                             |",
"|  -                           |",
"|    -                         |",
"|      -       |                ",
"|        -     |                ",
"|          -   |                ",
"|             -|                ",
"|           -  |                ",
"|         -    |                ",
"|              |        -       ",
"|              |      -         ",
"               ||    -          ",
"               ||  -            ",
"               ||-              ",
"               ||  -            ",
"               ||    -          ",
"               ||      -        ",
"         -     ||               ",
"           -    |              |",
"             -  |              |",
"               -|              |",
"               *|              |",
"                |              |",
"                |              |",
"                |          DAMN|",
"   GAME OVER       PLAYER 1"