Monthly Archives: February 2009

Roll Up The Rim 2009

OhRoll Up The Rim 2009 Contest Rules yeah: I happened to walk downtown and found a couple of Roll Up The Rim cups laying around, which effectively means that that specific time of the year has arrived. So, yeah, the contest rules are right above (or on the right side, depending on your geographical location), they are there once again (notice that the Tim Hortons site still has the year of 2008 in its title tag).

No breakdown of winning cups per size this year: the numbers don’t look really appealing either (open these two in separate tabs: 2008 and 2009). BC, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces are the losers in the amount of winning cups, Ontario leading the pack. Alberta and that area north, south, west and east of Tikrit Calgary is the big winner this year: it looks like we see the same pattern as last year (Both Quebec and the US once again are winning out here). Be advised: If you recently moved away from Nova Scotia to, lets say, New Brunswick, just to get a bigger chance in winning something, you’ll be disappointed. New Brunswick is considered part of the Atlantic region. This is a a lame attempt to make a joke. Thanks.

The actual prize distribution hasn’t really changed either: I find it funny that the price this year is a Toyota Venza AWD V6 (obligatory link to Toyota): Since 2006 Hortons opted for Toyota cars as the first prize. Maybe that’s telling. This year (“The Year of the Ox”1), cash prizes seem to be the preferred choice and yes, Toshiba laptops. These are not overly expensive laptops and they carry that boring T3400 processor: However, Toshiba is so happy to be part of the Tim Hortons Roll Up The Rimmm-uh-whatdoyoucallit, that the laptop comes with a special sleeve (obligatory Toshiba link. with photo of sleeve).

You’ll look so hot when you bring that to school. Who’s bringing the donuts today?

1 The Year of the Ox has of course nothing to do with the topic. I just brought it up for no particular reason. Get it?

Previous entries: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002. Or click this tag for all posts tagged with ‘Roll Up The Rim’.

Some KDE

I runKDE 4.2 a mix of Gnome and KDE on one of my computers: for a couple of Mono related things, I ended up frequently running the Gnome desktop. Just today, I decided to follow-up on the notifications telling me that I needed to do a dist-upgrade (or rather a partial upgrade), which seemed to suggest that the latest KDE version was finally making it to me. Yay.

Everytime I re-open (or rather revisit) KDE I get surprised, and today was not an exception: once again, it looks like the KDE team seems to hammer out excellent releases. I don’t see a point to go through what has changed, this something you can probably find from the release notes, which, today, I don’t feel like pointing out where they are. OK, that was a joke.

But seriously, on this lowly laptop, windows zoom by, close up, roll down and all in a sober and subtle manner. There appears to be less disk activity, which suggests that performance has improved since the latest Neon release I was running here a while ago. I find Konqueror still clunky and not so flawless yet (there’s that evil non-Flash player bit), however, the spelling checker finally seems to be working. There are still too many unnecessary messageboxes popping up (the notifications are pretty good and useful) asking me to confirm too many things at times. I definitely (still) can’t stand the “Plasma” desktop windows. For some kind of reason, I can’t stand the way how the “close bar” seem to automatically appear on the right or left side of the window.

Delicious, nonetheless.

The reds, whites and blues

I slightly follow US politics now: even after a historic change of presidency, my general impression is that it’s just politics as usual and that is not really of interest. The other day, I noticed that Fox News is spearheading ‘the warnings on the wall’ shows, where the usual pundits warn of an impending US collapse (or apocalypse) because of the the ‘socialist’ tendencies of the Obama administration. Too much static. Too much noise. I predict that in a couple of years the differences between a Bush and Obama administration will be hardly noticable.

We were hit by a snowstorm last (was that Thursday) which added another 10 or 15 cms snow to the pile in the yard. There’s another storm forecasted for Sunday night, Monday morning and I bet, it will probably arrive on schedule with more of that white stuff. Where am I supposed to keep this snow now?

On the good side, there are signs that Spring is slowly turning the corner: the weather has been moderately cold at night (between -11 and -15) and is slowly becoming bearable during the day, almost sub-tropic when temperatures hit the magical 0 degrees mark.

Update 1: The official warning says 25-35 cms.

Update 2: A CBC report about the snowstorm, today (02/23/09)

Ice, Ice, Maybe

Everytime a Wix script (Windows Installer XML) fails to compile, it logs ICE errors. For some kind of reason, whenever these errors or warnings pop up, I keep humming the tune of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” (Youtube, if you’re so obliged).

I have always been a fan of NSIS (@sourceforge), the Nullsoft Installer System, but I hear that NSIS’s installers don’t run 100% flawless on Vista systems. Wix then, and that’s not because it’s the best system: it’s slow, clunky and the errors are highly Vanilla Ice, Baby.

A couple of years ago, I used to use InnoSetup, but nowadays, I find it too tied to the Delphi language: There’s no doubt in my mind that Embarcadero has great plans for Delphi, but their “reasons why you should buy Delphi” remind too much of the old ‘slogan’ days. You know: “RAD”, “productive”, “rich” and “ease”. I don’t want that: I want Push-Button Spreadsheet Power.

And shit, yo.

Sardines, cans, computers

A couple of daysSardines in tomato-sauce ago, I was watching Planet Earth (BBC’s award winning documentary) and I noticed one of the documentary’s crew member trying to though out a can of sardines (see photo). We used to eat that stuff too, that is, on white bread and that. I don’t recall seeing it too often in our kitchen, so I wonder if it was (regularly) part of my dad’s yearly ‘Christmas package’1. It’s not that bad as it looks like. Seriously.

I have been running Windows Vista (64-bit, represent!) lately (the last three months or so) and don’t have really much to complain about except for that, yeah, it doesn’t run some of my old stuff (Delphi 7) and it generally feels ‘unorganized’ or ‘inconsistent’. My biggest pet peeve is Vista’s Reliability Monitor: its concept makes totally no sense. What is that saying again? Lies, damn lies and statistics?

A couple days ago, I marked ‘Fandro’ as a legacy project. I have not looked at the program’s sources for months and I’m not even sure if I still remember how it exactly works. I’m currently considering in changing the license for the program, provided that I can find a way to properly clean up the code and that. After all, my Delphi 7 copy doesn’t run under Vista 64.

I’ve been steadily working on Convendro (my FFMPEG front-end). I was planning to do some extra stuff this weekend, but decided against it and started up cleaning and reorganizing the code. There are still some open things I have to set my brains on: for example, I’m considering supporting other encoders, which will require changes to the way some of my Preset objects work. But yeah, I’ve been converting older avi files to mp4s (for my iPod Touch), just to see how it holds up against WinFF, Videora and others.

1 During Christmas, Dutch employers give their employees a box of ‘goodies’.

Debian 5 (“Lenny”)

Via Slashdot, I found out that Debian “Lenny” (or 5.0, so you will) has been released. On February 14th. I can feel the Debian love at Slashdot.

Seriously, this looks like a major release (or setback if you’re in the other camp), with features like KDE 3.5, OpenOffice 2 and, yeah, oh, dear, I know where this is going to, why, Debian, why? From the earlier mentioned/linked to interview with the Debian Project Leader:

TR: But have you ever considered a Gnome-like approach to releasing – that is, always release after 6 or 12 months, and stick steadfastly to that?

SM: So far within Debian we’re happy with the ‘release when it’s ready’ approach. We like to do stable releases, it’s very important for us and to our users, but we want to make sure that it’s right. We can aim for a particular date, but unless we get a lot of buy-in and know for a fact that it’s going to be ready, we’ll happily let it slip another couple of months and make sure it’s good.

On the flip-side, Debian’s careful release schedule at least ensures that users won’t get the KDE 4.0 and other bleeding-edge crap: By the time KDE has matured, Debian user will have a working desktop environment. And as they say, when packages land in Debian ‘stable’, they’re most likely stable.

I also see that the website finally contains that note that you (only) need the first CD to install a standard Debian install. To find out what’s new in Lenny, check the Debian Wiki. Previously on xsamplex (“Etch”, “Sarge” or just all related posts or tags).

Against The 70’s

The only Against the 70s reason to get Mike Watt’s very first solo album, “Ball-Hog or Tugboat” was because his name had popped up on Sonic Youth’s ‘Whitey Album’ (and others). If I remember correctly, I wasn’t overly impressed with Watt’s album: It features a whole pot stew of musicians (Sonic Youth, Eddie Vedder) except for the onions. What. Huh.

From that album, the only interesting song is ‘Against the 70’s’ (30+ second sample), which features Eddie Vedder on the vocals and the onions. The only thing I can say about the song is that to this day, I have no idea what Vedder is singing about. However, for some kind of reason, I find the song amusing in the light of the the current US corporate mess: a CEO invokes the 5th amendment in a tainted peanut scandal that killed at least 9 people and the current banking crisis.

What’s more to say?

1 I used a generic album sleeve: I was kind of surprised to see the actual song appear on a Pearl Jam collector


Note to self: Meh... Or Yay.the source version of ffmpeg comes with h264 presets. Earlier, I mentioned where to get the ffmpeg binary from (note, as far as I can see, the last build was done in 2008), so there may (indeed) other recent versions hanging around somewhere. The presets are in ‘ffpresets’ directory: Most of them seem related to x264 encoding.

I also noticed that the commandline parameters seem to change at the whim of the developers. I already ‘compensated’ for most of these issues, but was rather surprised to find that my ‘latest’ SVN build wasn’t so ‘recent’. Alright, at least we took care of that during the initial design stage.

For more details on specific iPod based command-line arguments, Robert Swain’s ‘iPod video guide’ got me past most of the initial encoding issues.

Added screenshot (see above): Lets see how good the commandline arguments are…

Links go here

I was playing with Mono last night, only after I found out that it supports static compilation which makes Mono a lot more compelling for going cross-platform. Much to my surprise, I found out that some of my (personal) applications came unscathed through the Mono wrench: that is, they run and impressively, in some cases they do what they’re supposed to do. If I have time during the weekend, I’ll see if I can put some side by side comparison images together.

Back to physics: The Physics Factbook lists facts only with some hilarious sample calculations, like ‘the speed of a subway in ‘Batman Begins’, the speed of a ‘Rogue Bludger’ and the ‘Force of a SuperHero’. Not all of it useful. Of course.

I was duly impressed by this set of images of Earth (Warning: might load slowly). All images seem to come from the Earth Observatory and some of them make good background/wallpaper.

If you’re into American politics (and the current Obama administration): A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times featured Barack Obama’s top-advisers, aides and members of his administration. For some kind of reason, some photos look unreal (creepy at times). Unintentional, I gather.

Noteflight reminds me of a sequencer (Musicator GS) I used to program my Roland SCC-1. Noteflight is a site that allows you to write music online and (oh noes) share them with others. It looks neat, but I’m not sure if this concept will be a money-maker. That said, yeah, what happened to Musicator GS? Wait, maybe the company that made the programstill exists (the price hasn’t changed either, after all these years…).

Update 1: Recent Slashdot discussion about Mono.