Ubuntu 11.04 "Window Grippers"

In case anyone else was as annoyed by the Ubuntu 11.04 "Window Grippers" (aka the obnoxiously large resize handles), instructions to disable them can be found here.

Saving the world, from one obnoxious UI change at a time...


grep 2.8

So I was sitting around today, lamenting the fact that grep isn't multithreaded, and decided to actually do something about it.  Since all of the appropriate Google searches just seem to list other people lamenting the same fact, I started messing around with things.  Turns out, I can get a 20-50% speedup just by doing this:

find $files -type f -print0 | xargs -0 -n10 -P8 grep -H $ARGS "$pattern"

(Word to the Wise: There is also a similar, but very wrong way to do it...)

find $files -print0 | xargs -0 -n10 -P8 grep -H -r "$pattern"

 So after tuning the threading numbers there, and feeling pretty good about myself, I decided to look up the mainline GNU Grep source, and see if there wasn't something I could do to help.  So I pull up the current source, and upgrade my box to use grep 2.8 instead of Gentoo's stable 2.5.4, and Holy Snapdragon!  (Yes, I actually said that...)  I got a 10x-60x speedup on the workloads I was testing.  Yes, you read that right.  My tests that were taking 48-80 seconds, were now finishing in 1-2 seconds.  I dunno what kinda magic they threw into grep 2.8 but good work guys.  Still no multithreading, but with the new version, I have real trouble just finding a workload that needs it.

So, my Gentoo countrymen, if ever there were a time to use unstable, this is it!


Skype and Gentoo amd64

I have a weird problem where my skype video intermittently (read mostly) doesn't work.

I found a solution here:

Apparently it doesn't figure out it needs to load the 32-bit versions of v4l ...



Fun fact of the day: "echo *" and "echo */" do not do the same thing... (with the obvious distinction).


Standards of Proof

Standards of Proof in the Internet Age

The Dark Ages
1960?-1970?: Published Work

Birth of the Internet
1970-1979: Electronic Article by a University Professor
ca 1980: a posting on Usenet

The Web
late 1980s - early 1990s: some grad student's personal website
ca 1992: AOL encyclopedia article
ca 1996: a page on GeoCities
late 1990s: corporate sponsored web pages

Social Networking
early 2000s: some guys Blog
ca 2006: a video on YouTube
2007: a Wikipedia article
2009: some celebrity's Twitter feed
2010: a poll of your Facebook followers

Source: My Personal Thoughts, April 2011.
(Some of the above mentioned sources were consulted for historical accuracy... the rest was fabricated.)


Firefox 4 animations....

I just installed Firefox 4, and the juries still out, but I needed to disable the tab animations just to make it usable.

What is with people and fancy UI animations these days?  I mean, they're fun to write, and they're cool for about 10 seconds, and then it's just annoying.  Like, after I've clicked a button, or closed a tab, I'm done with it.  I've already moved on, and am paying attention to something else, so if it suddenly starts flashing, or blinking, or sliding, it's completely distracting.

But thank you Firefox 4 developers for adding an option to disable it!  The nice thing about open source is there's usually someone who complains loud enough to get an option added.  :-D


Copyright and Eminent Domain

Can Congress legally restrict the copyright terms if it wanted to?  Or, having granted a property right, are they restricted to claiming eminent domain, and issuing compensation for seizure of private property as required by the Constitution?  They certainly seem capable of extending copyright (having previously done so). 

Perhaps one could argue that a copyright is essentially a state-granted monopoly rather than a property right, and is thus subject to various restrictions, that Congress has the right to change and regulate at any time.  Of course, those with vested (and yet unvested, if Congress extends it again) interests in promoting the term "Intellectual Property" would no doubt disagree.  Perhaps we should start calling it "Intellectual Monopoly Rights" and see if it remains as popular.

Dunno.  Food for thought.

Ungrammatical Constructions?

I would like to take a moment to lament the construction of the word "do-gooder."

My postulated etymology for the construction of the word is as follows:

First, we take the transitive use of the verb "to do," meaning "to bring about or accomplish."  So far, so good (no pun intended).

Next, we need to give it an object.  Take the noun "good."  Well, it's not really a noun... it's more of an adjective.  WordNet defines it as "having desirable or positive qualities."  To turn an adjective into a noun, we (of the English language persuasion), typically add the suffix "-ness."  But in English, the term "goodness" has more of a moral connotation, and loosely means "the quality of being good," just like "redness" and "coldness" denote abstractly the quality of being red or cold respectively.  What we really want is a way to refer to the set of things having goodness, at least to the degree at which the adjective "good" can be applied.  So really, we want the object of our verb to be the compound noun "good things," where the word "things" is implicitly restricted by the context to mean "things one can do," or more commonly, tasks or deeds.  So our basic particle of meaning here, is "to do good deeds," but in the interest of brevity, we're going to neologize the noun "good" to mean "good deeds."  It's perhaps a tiny stretch of meaning, but I don't want begrudge a man the lack of an obviously implied word.

Now, we're going to conjugate our phrase, yielding "do good."  Which, if you are willing to accept in parlance my derivation for the noun form of "good" above, becomes a perfectly acceptable action.  One can say "I do good," and "he does good" with impunity.  But for the purposes of our future construction, we really need to consolidate the phrase "do good," into a single word.  So, we create an intransitive form "do-good" by binding the word "good" as the object of the action "to do."  This is not entirely well-formed English, as one cannot reasonably say "I do-good" or "he is do-gooding" without the obvious problem of conjugating what used to be a noun.  But nevertheless we will operate!  (Cardano ca 1545).

To finish our construction, we will add the common suffix "-er" as in "woodcutter" or "farmer" to add the role distinction of "one who performs a task" (or at least "that which performs a task" if you want to include such inanimate persons as "staplers" in it's ranks).  Thus, we finally have "do-gooder," meaning "one who performs the task of doing good deeds," or more succinctly "one who does good" (by performing redundancy elimination, and dropping the implied "deeds" and "task").  But, if one is willing to admit it acceptable to restrict the category of "good things" to "good deeds," and drop the qualifier to accept the neologism "good" to mean "good deeds" in context, then I call to question, why we needed to include the operative verb "good" in this at all?  A "potter" is not "one who pots," but "one who effects pots," so to speak.  Why then, can't we simply refer to a "gooder" as "one who performs good things" and call it a day?  This seems to me, both more succinct, and avoids the grammatical awkwardness of the "do-good" construction.  But alas, 'tis not so.

To summarize then, we have:

"to do" + ("good" + "deeds") => "to do good deeds" => "to do good" => "do good" => to "do-good" => "do-good" + -er => "do-gooder"



Essence of Anime

I recently typed up a list of anime reviews for one of my friends, with a one-line essential summary.  I thought they were pretty funny, and since this is my blog, that means the editors think it's pretty funny too, and it posts.  :-D

Without further ado:  Essence of Anime
(Some spoilers ahead.)

Title: Rating
Executive Summary: "Better than it sounds."

Ah My Goddess! 5/5
Shy, quiet guy has a magical girl enter his life.  Her siblings rage magical war.

Black Cat 2/5
Little girl hunted by bad guys.  Lone wolf kicks butt with a pistol.

Bleach 5/5
Highschool boy gets a giant sword, and hunts monsters.

Chobits 2/5
Pervert finds a girl with amnesia.  He proceeds to treat her like his daughter, and they fall in love.

Cowboy Bebop 3/5
Iconoclast bounty hunters have misadventures.  Vaguely reminiscent of Firefly.

Death Note 5/5
Highschool student turns meglomaniac when he discovers he can kill people.

Element Hunters 4/5
Elementary school students fight Pokemon.  Some science words are used.

Escaflowne 2/5
Girl ends up in Wonderland.  All the boys love her.

Evangelion 1/5
Boy pilots mecha.  His life sucks.  Then everyone takes LSD.

Full Metal Alchemist 6/5
Two brothers use magic to do good, and save the country.
Series rebooted as "Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood."  Both are awesome.

Full Metal Panic 5/5
15 year-old soldier saves violent girl from Russians.  Some mecha.

Gin Tama 4/5
Chaotic-good Samurai fights aliens in post-Modern Edo.
Random episodes are perverted (in a toilet humor sense), but the rest are awesome.

Great Teacher Onizuka 4/5
A Real-Man teaches highschool.

Hakuouki 3/5
Girl pretends to be a boy, but is found out.  Period drama, Edo Japan.  Magic?

Haruhi Suzumiya 5/5
A 14-year-old girl is all-powerful, but doesn't know it.

Honey And Clover 5/5
Art students live life.  One of them is a little girl.

Ichigo Mashimaro 5/5
5th graders play afterschool.  One of them is a narcissist.

InuYasha 6/5
Girl time-travels to Feudal Japan and falls in love with a half-demon.  Epic.

K-ON! 5/5
Highschool girls form a band and eat cookies.

Minami-ke 3/5
Three sisters try to be normal.

Mushishi 4/5
A man solves problems caused by magical bugs.

Nabari No Ou 2/5
A kid has undisclosed magical powers.  Ninja fight over him.

Naruto 6/5
Ninja children fight and make friends.

Ninja Scroll 0/5
Really slow.

Nodame Contabile 5/5
A concert pianist and a conductor... fall in love?

Ouran Host Club 4/5
Poor boy is enslaved by rich kids at a private school.  They find out he's a girl.

Saiunkoku 4/5
Girl dreams of being a man, but everyone keeps being smitten with her.  Vaguely set in China.

Saiyuki 1/5
Some demonic-ish people fight on a quest.

Samurai Champloo 4/5
Girl convinces two Samurai to stalk her.

School Rumble 5/5
Forget love triangles, these high school students have a love dodecahedron.

Seirei No Moribito 5/5
Kid swallows something magical and alive.  Epic fantasy drama.

Shamanic Princess -5/5
Most awful series ever.

Shaman King 2/5
Kids fight using ghosts.

Skip Beat 3/5
Girl swears revenge on her childhood friend, because he's a jerk... but he's a rock star.

Soul Hunter 1/5
Gods run China.

Suzuka 2/5
Loser falls in love with track star.

Toradora 5/5
Chibi misfit with anger problems finds a friend.

Trigun 4/5
Super-human gunslinger refuses to kill anyone.

Tsubasa Chronicles 5/5
Counterpart to xxxHOLiC.   Fantasy quest.

Witch Hunter Robin 3/5
Girl can shoot fire... but why?

Working!! 5/5
So... many... crazy people!

xxxHOLiC 5/5
Kid meets a witch.  They become friends.

Zetsubou Sensei 0/5
Social commentary.  Also creepy.

EDIT: Apparently, in order to get the right timing and emphasis on my terseness, it helps to read some of them as if you were Strong Bad... or so I'm told.


How to disable middle-click clipboard URL loading in Firefox

It has always annoyed me that if I accidentally middle-click somewhere in Firefox, it tries to load whatever is in my clipboard as a URL.  Granted, I'm not one of the old-school Unix folks who actually uses middle-click to paste things normally, but that's always seemed crazy to me.  I mean, if I want to enter a URL, I click on the address bar, where URLs are normally entered, and not in the middle of the window.  Weird.

At any rate, go to "about:config" and set "middlemouse.contentLoadURL" to false, and this obnoxious behavior goes away.