No Lunch For Deadprogrammer

I haven’t lost much weight in the last few months on the Atkins diet and I am still nowhere near my target weight. And I am not cheating, really. So the three pronged approach must be tried.

A) Forcing myself to eat breakfast, late lunch and having no dinner
B) Cutting down on coffee and artificial sweeteners
C) Going to gym more often than once every two weeks.

So, instead of lunch today I’ll do a little post. I need to come up with a good name for this kind of a post. Slashdot calls it “Slashback”. I can’t come up with something witty. Little help?

In any case, here goes:

Very talented brings us The Matrix and Terminator in the Russian lubok style. He’s also the one who placed Cheburashka, the Soviet Pokemon in the world of Star Wars and The Matrix. I’ve seen the images floating around in journals for a while, but they never revealed the author. Don’t you hate that?

Nobody expects the Mozilla developers! Mozilla is rather nice right now. Two features really make the difference – tabs and popup blocking. And favicon.ico rendering that isn’t broken. Three features. And NT challenge/response support. Four. And proper keyboard shortcuts. Five.

Tabbed browsing is absolutely perfect for journal reading. Unfortunately from time to time the browser window doesn’t refresh and becomes a jumble of screen layers forcing me to restart the browser. The same thing happens to Trillian sometimes. Does anybody know how to fix that?

I am listening a lot to Kora music. Djelika by Toumani Diabate is oh so amazing. You really, really got to get it. This is the best coding music ever. What’s a bit funny is that Mr. Diabate quotes the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” in the title piece. It’s just so awesome! Just listen to the sample at Amazon. Don’t even listen, just buy the damn CD. Did I ever recommend anything bad?

got me interested in the Chapman Stick. At first I though it was a kind of a Theremin. I tried listening to a classical recording of Theremin, but didn’t like it.

But it turned out that the Stick is something very different. And also hella cool:

“… One piece, Backyard, that appears on the album was used in the film Dune. The director’s cut of the film shows a decorated Stick painted gold playing the role of the mythical “baliset” instrument described in Frank Herbert’s novel. Emmett’s recording is what we hear when we see Patrick Stewart play the baliset.”

I really want to get a cd of “Parallel Galaxy”, but can’t seem to find one for sale.

Lunch is over.

Music to My Ears

I would like to note, that I am not one of those people, who say “I can’t live without my music”. You know, the kind that never go anywhere without a walkman or a music producing device of some kind. I would give up music rather than literature or visual arts. I absolutely hate dance, but that’s another story.

My musical tastes followed a rather strange path. As a kid, I didn’t have much preference for music. I tried to get into classical music, but it seemed either boring or cartoony to me. Then, came the Beatlemania period. I really, really liked the Beatles. For me Beatlemania happened in the late eighties / early nineties. I still have an email address that reflects that.

Having listened to all the Beatles albums it was the time for me to find something new. I tried classical music again, got bored and got into jazz instead. Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Thelonious Monk and the like replaced the fab 4 for me. I can’t get into blues too much though. Too depressing.

I started exploring a little further. Unexpectedly I liked bluegrass. Bluegrass is a type of country music that sound more like jazz. The Carter Family and Doc Watson became my new favorites.

Now my tastes are getting curiouser and curiouser. I noticed a black musician who plays an exotic instrument sometimes in the subway. He never failed to get a dollar or two from me. I did a little bit of research, and turned out that the West African instrument that he plays is called a Kora.

(picture taken from )

And the musician is in fact a Griot, a master historian and story teller. I bought some Kora music cds from Amazon, but that only made me realize that the guy in the subway was a Griot and Kora player of a highest caliber. Maybe the gleaming columns of the 34th street station added to my enjoyment for jazzy and modern, yet so ancient sounds of the Kora.

Unfortunately this Kora player didn’t have a cd, but he did have a little business card (a printed piece of paper in fact) that said that his name is Lankandia Cissoko and gave a phone number for his agent. You know, how come those crappy new agey idiots that play in Times Square have a cd, and this guy doesn’t? Totally unfair.

I always held electronic music in contempt. makes me think about giving that a try. I am thinking about exploring Theremin music first.

Yagi Decorated

You know, most New Yorkers don’t look up much. No matter how cool everything is around them, they don’t want to look like tourists. But I am secure enough in my New Yorkedness to walk around looking at skyscrapers and taking pictures with my touristy looking camera.

This hideous yagi antenna is on a top of one of the old art deco buildings on 46th street. By the way, it turns out that it named “after Hidetsugu Yagi (1886-1976), Japanese electrical engineer” and not baba Yaga as I thought. Actually it should be called “Yagi-Uda” because he invented it with the help of Dr. Shintaro Uta.

Looks like nobody cared much for Dr. Yagi’s work in Japan at the time. Of course, they regretted it after they discovered that it was used by the Allies as a radar antenna. This reminded me about how Pyotr Ufimtsev’s dense paper titled “Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction”, which was completely ignored by the Soviet military scientists, gave Denys Overholser, a Skunk Works radar specialist, all the theory needed to build F117 stealth fighter.

Indeed, yagis are very useful. You can extend the range of wi-fi networks with a yagi made out of Pringles can (gotta build one) and I’ve heard of a guy that made a yagi for his cell phone, so that he could access weak cell networks while biking across America. They may not look very good, but they have a kajillion uses in radio and tv.

Too bad there is no book about Dr. Yagi on Amazon, but here is a rather interesting site about Japanese inventors. Here’s Dr. Yagi’s statue and here’s an iteresting quote that I’ve found: “US War Crimes Commission witnessed that Professor Hidetsugu Yagi was the first Japanese “to speak proudly of his work instead of denying it all.”

The Saddam Hussein Reader

I don’t really know much about everybody’s favorite contemporary mustached dictator.

I didn’t know that Saddam’s full name is Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti. I didn’t know that his wife Sajida, two years his senior, also happens to be his first cousin. That’s seems right, she is the one who gave birth to the abominable Uday and Qusay. Uuu – die. Brrr..

Anyway, looks like Saddam’s biography shouldn’t be any less entertaining than “The Sopranos”. There’s a whole bunch of Saddamy goodness on Amazon:

The Saddam Hussein Reader
The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Understanding Iraq
or this:

What to pick, what to pick…

All I Really Want for Christmas is a Memex

I am finishing up “Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing “. Next up are “The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal” and “Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century”. I’ve read a good chunk of Ted Nelson’s “Literary Machines”. It’s difficult. Just like Nelson’s personality. I’ll write about all of that in a little while.

I can’t fricking believe how expensive “From Memex to Hypertext: Vannevar Bush and the Mind’s Machine” is. You know, overall, used books at Amazon got so expensive. I used to be able to find almost anything for a few bucks, but now people have snapped up all the cheap copies. The only advantage of buying used books there is that they will be shipped faster. This sucks. Where is Xanadu? Where is my Memex? Where is my flying car?

Speaking of expensive. I’ve finally broke down and purchased a Tablet PC. It’s an Acer TMC102Ti . I’ve got it for about $1700 at, and it comes with a $100 rebate. I finally own a laptop! I’ll post a review soon.

Jerky-Makers Anonymous

Following , I think I am going to buy a food dehydrator. You see, it’s freaking impossible to buy beef jerky that doesn’t have any sugar in it. Usually it’s like 3 grams of the bad stuff for serving. And it’s a bad thing for people on low carb diet, like me.

But I’m going to be a bit more scientific about this. I am going to buy a book.

As always, Amazon reviews are informative and amusing:
“The book could have been summed up in a paragraph or less. “cut meat and dry it””
“This is NOT the definitive book for beginning jerky-makers, but it’s probably a good buy for an experienced jerky-maker to add to his/her library. “
“A Book for Big Fans of Jerky”

Ok, and it looks like the somewhat suggestively named “Just Jerky : The Complete Guide to Making It” is the winner.

Imaginary Dragon is A Square Root of a Negative Dragon

I’ve been fooling around with SDK today. I’ve always wanted to write a wishlist manager. I tried to export my wishlist out, but not all records are being returned. Looks like it’s a known bug according to their bulletin board. Ok, I guess I’ll have to extract it page by page (it seems to be working a page at a time).

At the same time I discovered a silly bug in the way wishlist results are displayed. To reproduce” modify “” part of the query string in the url, to jump a few pages forward. Then press “previous button” : numbering of items will turn to negative numbers. Yeah, pagination is usually tricky to code right. But if even I can do it, so should Amazon programmers.

Regular shopping cart pagination uses “pg” token, and works ok with this manual jump.

Right now I am in the process of consolidating all of my information in a hyperlinked map. The tool I am using is called Treepad. But it’s late, I’ll write more about that later. Good night.

The Legend Of How Much Crap Michael Can Buy on Ebay

Pull this cool emergency shutoff button from an Amdahl mainframe that I’ve got on Ebay. Come on, pull it.

I think I’ll replace the power button on my computer with it.

Some time ago I purchased a book about Amdahl, called The Legend of Amdahl. Turned out that the book is one in a series of books by Jeffrey L. RodengenJeffrey L. Rodengen. It looks like the dude was given access to many a company archive, but the prose is pretty much dry and many important (mostly negative ) things are omitted. I can’t say it better than this reviewer at Amazon: “.. the author gives a lifeless, through-the-gauze-lens account that reads like a compilation of Amdahl PR releases and internal newsletters.” Indeed most pages read like press releases.

In any case, it looks like that was the only book ever written about Amdahl. And there are some pretty cool photos in the book. And some interesting moments can be found.

There is an interesting anecdote about Gene Amdahl in the book. One of the first Amdahl mainframes was delivered to some Texas university. When it was installed, the college officials were horrified. You see, the official color of Amdahl, maroon, is also the official color of that college’s bitter rival, Texas A&M. Instead of repainting Gene suggested a more cost effective solution – adding a sign that would say “Property of Texas A&M” or “Stolen From Texas A&M”. The officials instead sent the panels to a nearby car dealership to be repainted. But it looks like Mr. Amdahl has taken a part in a college prank or two in his day :)

I’ve also got “The Spirit of Amd: The Legend of Advanced Micro Devices “, “The Legend of Ingersoll-Rand ” and “The Microage Way”. I think that I will collect all the books in the series at some point. “Legend of Halliburton” and “The History of American Standard” are next.

Whatcha Gonna Do?

Today I had lunch with lj user tonomo at a really cool Cuban cafeteria called “Margon Restaurant“. That place rocks! On our way back asked — where would I go if were to become homeless. Knowing me, I don’t think he was much surprised by the fact that I already gave this question much though.

One thing for sure – I would not go to a shelter. You see, homeless people don’t go to shelters because those places are very dangerous. It’s very easy to get beaten, robbed and raped at the same time there.

I guess I would try to raise some “capital” first. said that it would probably be a good strategy to try and look really miserable. But my approach would probably be to drag around some humorous sign. Something classic, like “Tell Me Off for $2” or “Official Sperm Donner – Fill My Cup and I Will Fill Yours”. I would definitely not beg for money in two places – trains and near places where people eat. I would try to pick places where people go for a walk – near Central Park of ferry terminals.

Having enough money for a subway fare would allow me to ride around in subway cars. In winter it’s a sure way to keep warm at night. I would have to take a lot of cat naps, sleeping for long periods of time would be dangerous. I would try to switch to Uberman’s sleep schedule. I would also spend a lot of time sleeping and reading in libraries. Libraries also have bathrooms (as well as some of the better terminal subway stations).

Keeping my personal hygiene at a semi-decent level would be hard, especially in winter. I suspect that there are some churches that have showers, which let homeless in. Dunno. That’s a tough one.

Finding a place to stash my things would be tough.

There used to be times when homeless could rent a small cubicle in special “hotels” for very small sums of money. There’s an amazing book by my favorite photographer, Harvey Wang, about such places. It’s called “Flophouse: Life on the Bowery“. Well, those places are now gone with gentrification and all.

Another alternative would be to become one of the Mole People, but I am afraid that after that book came out, all the homeless were kicked out of the tunnels. My favorite chemistry professor, Dr. Hussey, told me once about homeless that lived in the tunnels under Brooklyn College. Those tunnels were secured as well, I believe.

There is a “Homelessness For Dummies” type book called “Homeless Survival Guide“. The price is a bit steep at $18 though. To the wish list it goes.

You know, “Clean Underwear from Amazon’s Target Store” is a good suggestion (as always). Not so “Ladybug Rain Boots” and “Helicopter Sleepwear Sets for Baby”.

In any case, what’s your homelessness strategy?