The Pigs Are Out of the Barn

Amazon yanks bought copies of 1984 and Animal Farm from customers’ Kindles due to publisher’s demands: LINK
So, you know that snooty question from the douches that think they’re too hi-tech for dead tree media? The one about what’s so different about printed books and e-books? I guess the difference is that book stores don’t come around to your house and steal back the books you bought unannounced (but reimburse you).

Tab Mix Plus for Firefox 3.5 (unofficial release)

If you are like me, you need this addon and are willing to install a dev version: LINK
I can’t stand having to scroll through tabs in a single row…
UPDATE: Just to be clear, clicking the link above will initiate an installation of a Firefox Addon. Please see the comments of this post for clarification. (thx Luis)

Torrent alternative

Download your torrents via http: furk
I tried it. It was free and it worked as advertised. It probably isn’t an RIAA honeypot; they ain’t that smart.

Still in broken PC limbo

The homebrew LCD hack didn’t work, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. My backyard repair dude rewired and replaced one old broken set of fluorescent tubes with old working (?) ones with some brilliant desoldering/resoldering skills and only charged me 80 baht, and I managed to get the monitor back together again without even having extra screws left over afterward, but it was all for naught. Sometimes you jess gotta say SHEEEEIT Clay Davis style. SHEEEEEIT!
Anyway, I’ll get around to taking new photos of Max the Destroyer and posting them from my laptop I guess; sorry it’s taking so long but I’m busy, busy, busy, and hate downloading photos to anything but my redundant archives (main PC) first.

Working Around Planned Obsolescence

All of the PCs I’m using at home are ones I brought over from Japan in 2006 so they are all either very well-used or broken now. My main laptop is a Latitude x300 which was manufactured about 150 computer years ago*, and the screen hinge broke so it’s held open with a bent metal ruler I jam in the gap between the large-sized battery and the main body every time I use it. All 3 desktop PCs failed in some way or another so I broke them down into parts to create a super franken PC which would have kicked serious ass about five years ago but is now just kinda OK.
I’m not complaining about this state of affairs – it’s just something that comes with the territory when spending so much on baby consumables and hospital stays and barriers and sterilizers and car seats, etc. – but it is kind of funny to think about how much has changed the past couple years. I basically traded money for happiness and never looked back; life is great in that regard. I guess what I’m trying to say though, is that I really appreciate living in a place where I can try and save money in creative DIY ways.
Case in point: I brought two LCD monitors over when I came, a Mitsubishi and an Iiyama, chosen at the time of purchase (early 2005?) for cost performance and 100 – 240 volt capability out of the box (all of the electronics I bought between 2005 and 2006 were “world voltage” and NTSC/PAL compatible). The Mitsu (typically) broke first, something wrong with the control unit. It’s basically a brick since the cost for real repairs is more than the cost to buy a new one, and the back room soldering repair dudes with burnt fingertips and flux in their hair were unable to fix it. So it sat in my work area gathering dust for about ten months. The Iiyama is a cheap piece of shit Nam was using until the Mitsu broke (and her desktop PC broke at about the same time, so we just starting sharing the aforementioned franken PC)**. The fluorescent bulb(s?) burnt out, so half the screen is dark. After doing some research on the net, I decided that the bulbs themselves were probably interchangeable if I could get to them, since they were both sourced at around the same time and are used in the same size monitor (4:3 res 17″).
So I took both of the monitors apart last night and was able to remove the bulb assemblies (2 assemblies per monitor, 2 bulbs per assembly). The wiring is a bit different, but I think it can be figured out by one of the back shop soldering pros. So the the next step is to take the assemblies down to my favorite shop run by an old man who wears magnifying glasses. I’ll tell him what I want and he should be able to figure out how to rewire the Mitsu bulbs to the Iiyama assembly after desoldering them all. I predict the work will cost a few dollars, which most Thais would consider expensive but which I’m totally willing to pay as long as its done right. Now, if he gets the wiring right and if I can get the monitor back together correctly (there were a couple of tricky ribbon PCB connectors in a tight space I might need to make a special tool to close shut), and it all works correctly and safely and all – I’ll be really happy. And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be forced to buy a new, bigger, shinier monitor. So I guess that’s OK too. It’s just that driving a 38 year old car and using ancient PCs and teaching (not this term, admittedly) in a 40 year old building with warped wooden floors and uncleanable black boards puts one in a strange state of mind sometimes, where the idea of new is viewed as wasteful and godammit, why the hell should I buy new shoes when the holes in these aren’t even that bad yet?
I guess what I really wanted to say is that the new photos of Max I was going to post are trapped on my monitor-less desktop PC, and will be posted as soon as functionality is restored.
*6 human years. I love this little notebook and think it’s one of the best designed systems, ever, just really old now of course.
**A completely unrelated piece of trivia interesting only to me is that the Iiyama is either an OEM piece of shit made by NEC or the Chinese company that put it and its sister NEC model together felt that having only slightly tweaked control buttons was a big enough differentiation between the two.

Firefox bold text problem (that wasn’t actually a Firefox problem)

As the title indicates, I noticed a sudden problem today in Firefox (on Windows XP) when checking Gmail – all of the text was bold. So I fired up Chrome to see if FF was the problem and all of the text in Chrome was in italics… These two problems together indicated a corrupted system font.
If you have ever have this problem, you need to reinstall the Arial font family (TrueType). The executable installer can be found here or here.

Sunday Backup Organization

Max and mommy went to his grandparent’s house so daddy took the time to organize five years of DVD (originally all DVD-R but more recently DVD+R for Improved! Error! Correction!; everything important is on genuine “That’s” brand Taiyo Yuden 16x media, everything else is on TDK or SONY 8x or 16x [end historical optical media note]) backups.
I must say, we are in a fairly sucklical state of backup media at this point in history. Optical media like CDs and DVDs (and presumably BluRay Disks as well) apparently degrades in a matter of a few years in extreme cases, and keeping things on a form of media (HDs) that constantly spins at thousands of rpm and can die at any moment can hardly be considered a safe archival system.

Tuk Tuk USA

From Autoblog Green: Tuk Tuk coming to American roads near you?

“…vehicles are currently undergoing EPA and NHTSA testing for road-use approval, though its line of trikes is reportedly already for sale for off-road use.”

Of course, for the US market they are completely overdoing it; you can even order colors like Cranberry Red and Clematis blue in standard, metallic, or pearl finish. Also, it seems they are making stretch models:
Real tuktuks don’t have 4 cylinders, yo.
All that’s left to do is some hydraulics work and installing a decent sound system.

New Snakeskin Head Drum

On the way to my uni’s sports day a couple weeks ago, we stopped off at a famous temple (from the ancient “kao noi ka mae” story) where they sold various trinkets, sticky rice baskets, and musical instruments at a series of stalls on the dusty temple grounds.
After testing out this drum and hearing how nice it sounded, my coworker and I debated about who should buy it. He said he had too many drums already, so I bought it. The man who sold it to me didn’t say who made the drum, who killed the snake, or if it tasted delicious, and I didn’t ask. Just having a drum with a snakeskin head is cool enough. One thing was kinda gross, though. The first day of pounding on it, scales were flying off everywhere. I looked down once to find my forearm covered in snake scales that were sticking to my sweaty skin. It was djembeistic and cathartic as hell.
Basic Specs

  • 100% Natural Boa Constrictor Head, 9″ (~23 cm)
  • Glazed pottery body
  • Expertly tied with 100% natural cotton twine and 100% artificial plastic straps
  • Deep throbbing bass response

I will cry out loud when this thing eventually breaks, it’s way too cool.