Sunday, August 31, 2003

GourmetSleuth - Guide To Beef Cuts

Friday, August 29, 2003

Poo Ice Cream

During the summer months, my neighborhood is patrolled by no fewer than three ice cream trucks and also a guy selling ice cream out of a pushcart.

All of the trucks look to be small businesses. No corporate "Good Humor" trucks here. Two of them literally look like somebody just took a normal old van and slapped some ice cream stickers onto the side and put some loudspeakers on top to play "its a small world".

The third truck is more elaborately decorated. It has a big sign that says "POO ICE CREAM". Also, in Spanish: "HELADOS DE POO". I have no idea what it means. It must do pretty good business in this neighborhood, because the driver keeps coming back.

Main Page - Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a multilingual project to create a complete and accurate free content encyclopedia. We started in January 2001 and are currently working on 152432 articles in the English version.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Stupid Ant Tricks

There's just something about typing the following command lines many times a day:

ant jar
ant war
ant ear

Now, admittedly Sun gets some of the credit for this because they came up with the idea of jar, war, and ear files in the first place. But once you combine those with Ant, it brings all kinds of images to mind. Kids keeping ant colonies in jars. Ants crawling into people's ears while they sleep. Giant robot ants fighting great battles with lasers and rockets... you get the idea.


The author of this project emailed me after reading my ealier comments about ASCII UML. It is an "ASCII UML class diagram interpreter and sourcecode translation engine". I haven't tried to use it, but this is an example of what the UML looks like:

[Human]<|--+--[Woman]<>-- +mother +child {0..*} --[Human]
           \--[Man]<>-- +father +child {0..*} --[Human]

Armed Response Technologies Inc.

This is one of the things that came up when I searched for "deathstation 9000".
Armed Response Technologies has a range of ADPs (acronym-driven products) to suit all needs, and we are more than willing to customise our products to your specifications. Whether your defense requirements are large or small, we have a bomb, or even a bullet, with your name on it.
We also provide sophisticated control systems to help you to ensure that your defense ends up in the right place and doesn't explode prematurely. Our free consultancy service has also proved very popular. Our discreet service is legendary. For that very reason, we can't give you a list of satisfied customers. Suffice to say that they comprise most of the leading governments in the world, and a surprising number of Fortune 500 corporations.

I have removed the stylesheet switcher. It was cute, but it relied on some things in the HTML and CSS that were just a little too non-standard.

The problem is that there is not really any support in HTML for having multiple, alternative stylesheets embedded into the same document as <STYLE> elements. Alternate stylesheets really do need to exist as separate CSS files. Personally I consider this a glaring flaw in the HTML/CSS standards, but what are gonna do?

Well, guess what. As this blog is hosted on Blogspot, I don't really have anywhere to put any such files. The tricks to which I resorted to get alternative stylesheets to work, only worked in Mozilla and IE. In Opera, for instance, all of the stylesheets were applied at once and there was no way to turn them on and off, and the page looked really funky. I don't even want to know what it might've looked like on the DeathBrowser9000.

Now you have two choices: either live with my colors, or configure your browser to show yours.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Halloween IX: It Ain't Necessarily SCO

SCO, having willingly made itself a sock puppet for the boys in Redmond, therefore becomes the first company other than Microsoft to have its utterances admitted to the gallery of infamy that is the Halloween Documents.

There follows the usual point-by-point takedown. Unlike SCO's claims, this analysis is based entirely on public information which third parties may verify by chasing links or through their local library.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

raelity bytes :: /

I had assumed from the domain name that this must have something to do with the Raelians. You know, the clone people. But nope, its just a blog.

50 Reasons Lord of the Rings Sucks

(via Miscellaneous Heathen)
For the humor-impaired or those who don't have time to read it, most of the items on this list are meta-parody. Except for the following, which appear to be genuine (though still sarcastic) criticism of the movie:
  • The mutated muscular soldiers of Mordor turned out to be hilariously ineffective fighters, a dozen of them held off by a single dying human. Apparently they made the beasts by crossing Orcs, Goblins and the French.
  • The most advanced civilization is that of the elves, which are long-haired, new-age types? Sorry, Mr. Jackson, but modern science has proven that in any modern civilization, hippies would be extinct.
This strange stylistic shift proves that either:
  • The list was written by more than one person.
  • The author suffers from multiple personality disorder.
  • The author is sloppy, careless, or clueless about writing. This is hard to believe about somebody anal enough to even make such a list, even if it is a parody.
  • These are part of the meta-parody, because the author actually likes hippies and France. This is also somewhat hard to believe.
  • The stylistic inconsistency itself is part of the meta-parody.


Another Malleteer (Michael Dorman) blog, which I ran across completely by accident.

Raymond Chen - History

A series of articles about bizarre moments in the history of Windows, written by somebody who's been there and seen it from the inside. (via Joel)
The original wallpaper for Windows XP was Red Moon Desert, until people claimed that Red Moon Desert looked like a pair of buttocks.
Why do you have to click the Start button to shut down? Short answer: The same reason you turn the ignition key to shut off your car.

Free software UI

More of the Free Software UI debate.

Why Free Software usability tends to suck

The reasons are many and varied, and maybe one day I’ll turn this into a long and heavily-referenced essay

Well, its already heavily-referenced, anyway (as in, many other people refer to it; not as in it's full of references itself).

GNOME Armageddon

This is a troll, but its a troll that makes some interesting points.

Personally, its been years since I used either Gnome or KDE. My last *nix machine was an old cobbled-together P133 that could only really handle FVWM.


Devo lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh substitutes the lyrics "Swiffer's good" for the "Whip it good" of the original.

Google Search: trafficway group:misc.transport.road

Misc.transport.road has always been home to two related but different discussions about the word "trafficway".

One is the controvery over the building of the "South Lawrence Trafficway" in Lawrence, Kansas.

The other is, what the does "trafficway" mean, anyway? This, btw, was the original topic of discussion that caused misc.transport.road to be created.

The relationship between these two subjects is a microcosm of misc.transport.road (and also misc.transport.rail, misc.transport.urban, etc.): there are basically two kinds of threads on these groups.

One kind of thread is where pro- and anti- road (or rail, etc) folks duke it out over the social and political issues.

The other kind of thread is pure roadgeek (or railfan, etc) obsession over the details of the transportation infrastructure. These discussions are far removed from moral arguments for or against that infrastructure, almost as if it were a natural phenomenon to be observed. This is the kind of thing that I like, and is why I read these groups. I wish the other kind of discussions could be moved to talk.politics.

However, there is enough overlap between the people involved in both kinds of discussions, and topics tend to drift from one to the other so easily, that I don't think any separation is possible.

Besides the same thing happens in almost every newsgroup. How about that Heinlein..

This is a picture of Peachtree Road in Duluth (Georgia) that I took with my cell phone. The approximate location is shown on this map.

This is a rarely used, nearly abandoned stretch of road wedged in between Buford Highway and the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks. I say "nearly" because I saw no sign of the road being officially closed, and there were even a few houses on it near one end, but it does not appear to get any regular maintenence. It runs mostly parallel to Buford Highway, and joins with it at both ends. It was presumably the original alignment for the highway.

Alabama Roadgeekery (ASCII-art enhanced!)

This past weekend we went to Birmingham for my wife's friend's baby shower, and also visited my cousin in Cullman. This was my chance to notice a few things about Alabama roads.

On a long stretch of I-20 east of Birmingham, workers appeared to be burying some huge pipeline in the median.

Our hotel in B'ham was out on US-280, well outside of I-459. That section of 280 is a partial example of something that is very common in Alabama and (at least in my travels) not particularly common in a lot of other states: non-freeway highways with two-lane, two-way "service roads" or "access roads" on either side. Numerous other examples exist in Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, and even Tuscaloosa. This is a styleized representation of a "typical" Alabama highway:

---> Access Road North
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
---> Main Highway Eastbound
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
<--- Main Highway Westbound
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
---> Access Road South
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Remember, these are surface roads, with at-grade intersections. In many cases, like this stretch of 280, lots of at-grade intersections. Streets crossing the highway have to intersect all four roadways. Presumably this system was originally designed to allow at least some local traffic to use the access roads instead of clogging up the main highway. Unfortunately, the access roads tend to be on the losing end of stop signs with the streets that cross them, and they are frequently interrupted so that you have to get out on the main road anyway.

With the possible exception of one short stretch of Buford Highway, I have never seen anything like this in Atlanta.

Mapquest doesn't really show 280's access roads with any accuracy, but this aerial photo doesn't lie.

Here is a mapquest map of Airport Boulevard in Mobile, one of the most (in)famous examples of this kind of highway. It is a common urban legend in Mobile that the person responsible for having planned Airport Boulevard actually committed suicide after seeing what a mess it turned into.

I explored 280 on into B'ham. Between I-459 and US 31 there are few traffic lights, left turns are rarely permitted, and there are even some freeway-style interchanges. They could probably go ahead and make the road into a full freeway without too much trouble. In fact they might even be planning to do so, since there were a lot of "road work" signs around.

After driving up I-65 to Cullman, we decided take US 278 back to Atlanta. Except for some four-lane stretches just east of Cullman and in places where it is multiplexed with US 431, this is mostly a two-lane road with occasional "truck lanes". While I have seen plenty of truck lanes in other states, including Georgia, I still regard them as something of an Alabama specialty.

The 4-lane sections of 278 also exhibited another thing that, while certainly not limited to Alabama, is especially common there. In hilly areas, one half of the highway tends to roll with the hills, while on the other side the ground has been flattened by any means neccessary. This is obviously due to the two sides having been built decades apart, with completely different technology and standards. It results in a pretty big difference in elevation between the two sides, which can produce some interesting intersections. The cross-roads sometimes have to turn sideways between the two halves of the highway in order climb the hill.

             | |
             | |
-------------+ +-------
- - - - - - - - - - - - 
-------------+ +-------
             | |
     +-------+ |
     | +-------+
     | |
-----+ +---------------
- - - - - - - - - - - - 
-----+ +---------------
     | |
     | |

Monday, August 25, 2003

They seem to have done something to the Blogger interface so that it looks totally messed up in Mozilla.

weblogs: a history and perspective

An essay so old that it is itself now part of Blog history.

I maintain that I remember seeing personal journal websites waaaay before Blogs-as-internet-filter became popular.

These started back in the days when it was safe for a geek to make a website that detailed daily romantic failures and unrequited loves, because it was highly unlikely that the unrequitedly-loved non-geek would ever see the website. Just like a real, old fashioned schoolgirl diary, except online for all the world to see.

I suspect that the explosion of "journal" blogs mentioned in the above essay was really a case of the Blog party being crashed by lots of people who had already experienced and/or participated in the earlier web-diary craze.

At this point I have not done any research to back this up. Its all in my fuzzy memory.

Friday, August 22, 2003

I have updated the Evil Grinn BBS pages with some details of how I converted the BBS to HTML.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

At this moment, it is raining and the sun is shining at the same time. From my 13th-floor window at work, you can clearly see the individual raindrops glittering in the sun. They look almost like ice, or diamonds.

Here Be Dragons

This is one of the results when I searched Google for the phrase "here be dragons". The main reason I'm blogging it is because of the bizarre use of a Gordon Lightfoot song as the background MIDI for a page about a book about medieval Wales. Also because there's at least the potential that the website also contains something interesting about the history of Tuscaloosa, Al.

MapHist Illustration Page

I'm not going to give this away.. go look at it for yourself.

"Here Be Dragons" on Old Maps

How and when did the notion that old maps commonly bore the phrase "here be dragons" become established in popular belief?

I looked this up because I found myself actually using the phrase "here be dragons!" in a serious technical email at work.

miscoranda - What a Character

This blogger proposes that the obscure "house" character could be used for links to "home". Interesting. How does this look:

Unicode 4.0.0

Further blurring the line between Blog and bookmarks. Like shootin' fish in a barrel.

Internationalization (I18n), Localization (L10n), Standards, and Amusements

Character histories - notes on some Ascii code positions

This document contains some remarks on the history of the Ascii character code, especially on how and why some code positions were assigned to different characters in different versions and proposals in the development of Ascii

This is just part of Jukka Korpela's extensive Characters and Encodings website. See also: The ISO Latin 1 character repertoire - a description with usage notes which actually tells you what every Latin 1 character is supposed to be used for.

Standards by Dik T. Winter

Early history of ASCII and its ilk. Including GOST, the Soviet equivalent of ASCII (which, unfortunately, lacks a hammer-and-sickle symbol).

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

What I'd really like to see is a list of every Unicode code point assignment, with information about exactly what vendor's proprietary system contributed that character to Unicode in the first place, and what it was used for there.

For instance, it is obvious to anybody who remembers the BBS days that many of the Block Element characters all came from the IBM PC (or MS-DOS) character set, aka cp437. I am pretty sure, because I am familiar with these characters, that they were deliberately put into Unicode for compatibility with old PC software.

Now, if I didn't know this, how would I have looked it up? For instance, I'd like to know what the hell pre-existing system (if any) had a Hammer and Sickle symbol (U+262D). Some proprietary OS used on the Kremvax, perhaps?

Also, even though I am pretty sure that the "house" character (U+2302, or ⌂ if your browser has a glyph for it) came from the IBM PC, where in world can I find out what IBM actually thought the character was supposed to used for? For making actual little bitty houses in character-based games?

This may be another one of those "obvious" things, but it just occurred to me that Microsoft's WGL4 really is just a unification of all the characters that different MS products (DOS, Windows, and regional variants thereof) supported long before Unicode came into the picture.

Asians Hate Unicode

Yes, they do. I'd probably be pretty mad too if the characters that I use everyday could only be represented by using the surrogates mechanism which requires twice as much memory and is not widely supported by software. Meanwhile, the 16-bit Basic Multilingual Plane contains every bizarre character that was ever invented by Western computer companies in the pre-Unicode days.

The secret life of Unicode

"A peek at Unicode's soft underbelly". This was written in May 2001 by someone at "". I am really, really, surprised that a company with a name like that would survive the end of the dot-com boom, but their website appears to still exist.

Brief History of Character Codes in North America, Europe, and East Asia

I can't believe I've never blogged this before. It's been in my bookmarks for ages.

Some of the Unicode-related stuff is a little dated, but the author has also written an update called "Unicode Revisited".

I intended this Web document to serve only as a background piece to relate how the TRON Multilingual Environment came into existence and to prepare BTRON users for the arrival of the true BTRON multilingual environment, which finally appeared in commercial form in Cho Kanji on November 12, 1999. Unbelievably, a large number of non-BTRON users have also viewed it

I have no idea what TRON or BTRON are. I just think these are good articles about ASCII, Unicode, and why Asians hate Unicode.


"Studying the Beatles"

Monday, August 18, 2003

Homepage of La Folia, a musical cathedral (1672-2003)

La Folia (pronounce as 'lah foh-LEE-ah', literally meaning mad or empty-headed) is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of music. This simple, but intriguing tune was first published in 1672. Its roots go back to the 16th century. It would remain a major challenge for numerous composers up to the present day

Olav Torvund's Chord Progressions for Guitar

More pop chordal theory.

MoneyChords is your one source for the best free guitar lessons available on the Web. Click to the left for a large and growing collection of Guitar and Guitar Chord Lessons, Chord Progression Studies, Tablature, Songwriting Resources, and Jazz/Standard Chord Substitutions

The most interesting pages here are probably the chord progressions, since they list the popular songs that use each progression.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Hey Joe Versions

The first group to record "Hey Joe" was the Surfaris in 1965. In 1965 "Hey Joe" was recorded by The Leaves as well. In 1966 they recorded it again with a fuzztone guitar sound. Also the Byrds, Love, Shadows of Night, Warlocks and many other bands recorded the song in 1966.
A Japanese group called the Golden Cups recorded a version in 1966 that adapted the song to different cultural standards.
Tim Rose recorded "Hey Joe" in 1966, one month before the Leaves' version entered the charts. Rose played the song at less than half the tempo. He changed the key of the song to E instead of A. Rose also roared out the verses, and added his own variant on their structure.
Jimi Hendrix picked up this version of "Hey Joe" and made a European hit out of it in 1967.

This may seem obvious, but for some reason it was a big "eureka!" moment for me: Frank Zappa's "Flower Punk" is not a sped-up parody of Jimi Hendrix's version of "Hey Joe". It is a parody of the earlier, fast garage version(s). Duh!

Friday, August 15, 2003

There appears to be no Unicode character for the "Jesus Fish" symbol. Depending on the font you're using, one of these might or might not look like one:

alpha: α
mathematical "is proportional to" operator:

But we all know that its a bad idea to use a character just because it "looks" like the one you're looking for, if the Unicode charts say that it's really something else.

Google Search: "html art"

A lot of "html art" is pretty abstract, and people in non-English-speaking countries seem to be really into it.

ASCII art and more (eng.)

This is page of the guy who wrote the ANSI applet I blogged earler. Lots of ASCII, ANSI, and HTML art.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Speaking of Unicode, I think my favorite Unicode range is U2600-U26FF, "Miscellaneous Symbols". Talk about miscellaneous! Not only does it include characters like card suits and smiley faces that are in most traditional fonts, but also:

chessmen (the whole set, in both white and black)
religious symbols
signs of the zodiac
radiation and biohazard warning symbols
skull and crossbones
hammer and sickle (I knew Unicode was a commie plot!)
way too many variations of the recycling symbol (the environmentalist wackos are in on it too!)

An HTML unicode chart that can use images to show you all the characters that your system can't otherwise display.

No more Unicode charts in GIF format?

With the release of Unicode 4.0, the folks over at appear to have done away with the code charts that show every character as a GIF. Now you have to read the PDFs to see what the characters are supposed to look like. Bummer.

Unicode test material

More Unicode browser support stuff.

Unicode and multilingual support in HTML, fonts, Web browsers and other applications

I think I might have gotten this from Novarese, but I'm not sure.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Dynamic ANSI Applet

I don't know if this thing is just slow because its Java, or because they're trying to make it feel like 2400 baud.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

8Bit Video Games on TV

why is it that the folks are usually holding a Playstation controller, yet the sound effects are ALWAYS from Pac-Man or the Atari 2600?

I've often wondered about this myself. This has really been going on since the days of the NES. Even if you can actually see the game that the characters are supposed to be playing, no matter game it is you hear Pac-Man. And not arcade Pac-Man, either. The unmistakable "dot dot dot" sound of 2600 Pac-Man.

This is my theory: The game's sound is probably turned all the way down while filming the scene, and then the "dot dot dot" sounds are added later by the sound effects guy. My guess is that the Pac-Man noises are already in the standard arsenal of effects (right between the gun shots and the Three-Stooges eye poke sounds), and that it is quicker and easier to use what they already have than to record the audio from the actual game.

Second theory, in case the first one proves wrong: if they used the audio and the video from the same game, they would violate the copyright of that game. But by mixing and matching two different games, they don't have to pay for the rights to either. This is much less likely to be the case than my first theory.

The Evil Grinn BBS Archives

I have organized all Evil Grinn content with its own index page.

I still promise that I will post a technical article on exactly how those ten-year-old BBS files made it onto the web. I might just get Slashdotted with it, since at some point I probably violated the DMCA.

I improved the WWIV-to-HTML conversion a little, so that I can now make links to individual BBS messages.

After going through the trouble to get this archive online, its sobering to see how little of it has any lasting value. Of course, the same could be said about Usenet.

Here is a message in which I am caught in an uncharacteristically bad mood.

Monday, August 11, 2003

The Evil Grinn BBS, 1993

An archive of the last days of my BBS before I took it down when I went to college. The HTML is still pretty ugly at this point. Sometime soon I may write up a longer explanation of how I converted the BBS files to HTML.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Fast, Cheap or Good; pick 2

One of the most insightful Slashdot comments I've read in a while.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Rocklopedia Fakebandica! - Miscellaneous Non TV/movie entries.

This is a list of fake bands 'n' singers that are NOT from TV shows or movies; novels and commercials and whatnot.

Rocklopedia Fakebandicat

Finally, all the fictional bands and singers from TV and movies listed in one convenient, scarily obsessive place. Why? It's the Internet, stupid!

Technical Self-Employment Is A Fat Paycheck Waiting to Be Pocketed

Computers are still complex to make, complex to learn, complex to integrate with other gadgets. More importantly, they still have more than one knob or lever. Until that day of machine self-reliance, I see a golden opportunity: an under-served market waiting for the ambitious to step in.

Evil Grinn BBS ANSI Art Screenshot Gallery

Screenshots from the BBS that I ran when I was in high school. Some Robertson's Planet content, including the Stofonian flag and examples of both Elosian and Stofonian writing.

Robertson's Planet: The Great Migrations

These maps show the locations of the speakers of Elosio-Meelian languages before and after the "Great Migrations". These migrations took place at various times over a thousand year period. As always, these maps are very sketchy and not to be taken too literally

Monday, August 04, 2003

Musical Terms that I am Defining

I have been using these for a long time, and I am hereby stating their definitions so that everybody knows what I am talking about. If these words and phrases already mean in some pop music subculture that I don't know about, then tough. I am going to keep using my definitions, and encourage their use by others.


Music where the drum kit consists of only one drum, or the drummer plays the entire kit as if it were one big drum, and most especially where the whole band conspire to play like one massive drum. Note that whether or not the rythym is suggestive of the human heartbeat is irrelevant. Short sections of pulsebeat occur in most genres of rock, but the first and most well-known band to sustain it for entire songs is the Velvet Underground.


The main riff of a song. Also as a verb, "to mainline", "mainlining", means to play the main riff.

Dungeon Rock

Hard rock, metal, or prog rock with lyrics that deal with topics from J.R.R. Tolkien or Dungeons and Dragons.

Explicit references to the Judeo-Christian God and/or Devil disqualifies a song as Dungeon Rock, because those were deliberately left out of both Tolkien's work and the original D&D. I suppose some sort of exception might be made for things like King Arthur's quest for the Holy Grail, which is nominally a "Christian" myth but not actually part of the Christian religion. And I guess you can talk about witches, as long as you don't specifically associate them with having sold their souls to Satan, and you don't intend your song to be about Wicca.

Norse myth is OK as long as it is approached from an "adventure" standpoint rather than as part of neo-Pagan spirituality. Ditto for Celtic. Same for Greek myth, if you leave out songs that are really about Jungian psychology and other contexts in which it is obvious that the myths are only being used as symbols to illustrate some intellectual point. Myths of peoples outside of Europe are theoretically fertile ground, but as these are treated in neither Tolkien nor early D&D, there isn't really any excuse for using them in Dungeon Rock.

There are many examples of Dungeon Rock from Led Zeppelin, Rush, (early) Black Sabbath, Rainbow. There are apparently quite a few modern metal- and prog-type bands out that there would fit the bill.

I am not sure if music from other genres counts or not. For example, 60's psychadelic music about elves and fairies; or Goth(ish) music about Vampires.

Maps of Robertson's Planet

Highly Innaccurate, not-particularly-to-scale maps of Ristkon, aka "Robertson's Planet". These maps drawn from memory, without having looked at a canonical map in years.

Updates to the Master Timeline of Robertson's Planet. This is based on more files I pulled of some old floppies. New dates have been added, and dates that were already on the chart have been corrected to be more "canonical".

Friday, August 01, 2003

Zelda Classic Enemies

This is really a page about Zelda Classic, not the original NES Legend of Zelda, but it is the best page I found that has pictures of every Zelda enemy. They are actually pretty close to the original. I might just have to play this Zelda Classic thing, too.