September 27, 2009

Images for Sherlock Holmes story 'The Dancing Men'

I spent some time over the past couple of days reformatting some of the Sherlock Holmes stories from Project Gutenberg for use on my iPhone (I read in Safari, using the file:// framework addition hack via Cydia). In any case, I was not surprised to find that the Gutenberg version of the Holmes story The Dancing Men, available here as part of the collection The Return of Sherlock Holmes, did not contain the graphics of the 'dancing men' cipher messages that are central to the story. I was, however, surprised to find that I couldn't find a complete set of the messages on the internet (at least, not with 5 or 10 minutes searching - I'm lazy). However, I did get four of the six messages. Since one of the missing ones (message 2) was short, and the last was created using the others, I spent some time creating a full set of graphics for the story using cut and paste.

Since Gutenberg assures me that this tale is out of copyright, I offer this image set of the Dancing Men cipher images for anyone that might find it useful.

Here they are displayed separately:

Message 1:

Message 2:

Message 3:

Message 4:

Message 5:

Message 6:

E / N / V / R:

(Thanks to for the originals I used!)

Posted by jbz at 6:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 23, 2009

Hooray, it was a bug not a feature!

As maw pointed out, Apple seems to have agreed it was a bug, not a half-finished feature:

iTunes 9.0.1 provides a number of important bug fixes, including:
  • Addresses an issue with the Zoom button not switching to Mini Player.

And hooray, the zoom button now goes to/from MiniPlayer! Yay!

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September 22, 2009

Clear, concise and efficient webdesign

My new favorite web tool.

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September 21, 2009

AT&T Corrections

Okay, not as bad as I thought. The AT&T femtocell is only $20/month if you want unlimited calling - which does, in fact, represent an increase over the service offered with your cellular plan in most cases. Also, if you pay that monthly fee, there is no upfront charge for the device itself. If you don't want unlimited calls - i.e. as I understand it, if you want to just have your normal cellular plan operate through the device, minutes and rates staying the same - you just pay a flat fee for the device.

As Engadget says, though, it's still pricy when compared to the competition...

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AT&T misses the point entirely, yet again

AT&T has been working on a femtocell solution for some time now. Details of that offering are beginning to surface. Unfortunately, it looks like AT&T has completely missed the point of this device.

Dear AT&T:

If your network was in fact doing the job you claim and promise it does, there would be no need (repeat: no need at all) for a femtocell. If your cellular network actually reached into the places we need it to reach, and had the carrying capacity you so blithely promise in your advertising, then femtocells would only be necessary in extreme conditions - inside very high-interference structures, for example, where we can't really lay the blame of poor service on your network infrastructure.

The problem, though, is that the entire reason femtocells are necessary is because your network sucks.

So telling us that you're going to charge us $20 a month on top of our current bills for the privilege of utilizing our own bandwidth, power and space to fix the problems in your network isn't going to stop people from complaining and/or switching providers. On the contrary, it's going to make your entire situation worse.

Keep telling yourself this: we're asking our customers, who already pay us, to utilize their own private bandwidth, power, and physical space to improve the performance of our network. We shouldn't also being asking them for money for the privilege.

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September 18, 2009


How can I be level 19, have the plasma rifle, the railway rifle, Sydney's Ultra SMG AND a Rock-It launcher, have explored Old Olney to Girdershade and STILL ONLY HAVE 5 Bobbleheads in Fallout 3???


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September 15, 2009

People who need a fucking sense of proportion

Get real. Ban smoking in outdoor parks in New York City? Oh sure. You've already driven the smokers outdoors from their offices (okay) from restaurants (I guess) and bars (what the living fuck) and now you want to ban them from smoking in parks? Which will open the way for all public spaces in the city, even those maintained by private entities, to mimic the ban?

Fuck. You.

And I'm not even a serious smoker. I smoke cigars or pipes, generally around once every couple of weeks. But I gotta tell you, when I'm smoking that one cigar or pipe, I too want to fucking relax in the outdoors.

Seriously, the people who think this is a good idea need some perspective. Take the following quote, from the New York Times article on the proposed ban:

Adele Jeune, 47, a home health aide from East New York, Brooklyn, does not smoke and had no objection to a ban. “I love clean air,” said Ms. Jeune, who was sitting on a bench in Union Square. “And if I go somewhere like this, I want to smell clean air.”

Let me get this straight. You are sitting in the middle of Union Square in fucking Manhattan (a place with, I might add, current ongoing construction within and around the park) and you're seriously telling me you want to ban smokers because you like smelling 'clean air?'

Jesus H Christopher tapdancing Christ on a popsicle stick, lady, this is New York City. You wouldn't know clean air if it bit you on the ass. Tell you what, if all you people would agree to first go after the fucking incense salescreatures who infest lower Manhattan and love to burn nineteen examples of their wares at a fucking time in some form of suicidal anti-advertising, then you might have some credibility with me.

Posted by jbz at 1:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Quiet time

Apparently some large butterfly types enjoy kipping for the night on stone steps, like the ones in the park near my house. And also, apparently, iPhone cameras are completely useless in the dark, maybe even to Holga values of useless.


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September 13, 2009

Shipping Delays++

So I had to buy a new phone, because mine actually broke (not just because there was a New Shiny. I'm proud of myself. Held out over a year and a half past the New Shiny!) and I was terribly worried.

I was worried because the recent iTunes/iPhone update seems have broken jailbreaking and (perhaps) permanently broken unlocking. This is a problem for me, because I spend perhaps 75% of the time on my phone reading eBooks - and because I like my eBooks to a) be HTML and b) live locally on the phone (I commute via subway) I have to jailbreak it.

Thankfully, and perhaps I must thank my old phone for its timing, the phone I purchased today still had OS 3.0.1 on it. Which means I can jailbreak it and happily use it as always, provided I am careful to always click 'No' when iTunes asks if it can please please pleeeeease update the firmware.

Posted by jbz at 11:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

(Planned) Obsolescence

Hm. My iPhone bought-the-day-of-release iPhone 2G has started failing to accept touch input along the bottom 2cm of the screen. This is a problem, since it's where the Springboard icons are, as well as 'End Call' and even 'Unlock.'

Perhaps restoring it will help, but I doubt it. Drat. If this this really has gone south, then I have to replace it - it's my only phone...


Okay, this is screwed up. The screen works much lower than the top of the Springboard icons, because I can type in the Search mode on the bottom row (albeit not the Space row). But it won't accept input on the main screen (and this is after a Restore).

Sigh. Looks like I'm gonna be poorer.

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September 12, 2009


I have to admit, when I first read the headline here, I kept thinking of this. I'm going to hope that was SWJ being clever.

"Mutual understanding." Oooohhhhhh.

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September 11, 2009

There is hope for the future.

It comes in two flavors and both are WIN.

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I love Murakami here is one of his illustrated short stories just for you and the betterment of your day.

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September 10, 2009

Contribute to Joe Wilson (R-SC)'s Democratic opponent.

Oh, if only Josiah Bartlet had been the President Rep. Joe Wilson had yelled 'You lie!' at. Then the verbal fireworks would've been entertaining. Still, if we can't indulge in the verbal squashing of disrespectful fucks like this, we can still participate in their electoral squashing. ActBlue will let you donate to Joe Wilson's Democratic opponent, Miller.

Apparently Mr. Miller has taken in over $100k since the importunate outburst.

Posted by jbz at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Return what you have *stolen* from me

Me with one of my favorite recent acquisitions - a printed-on-canvas version, lovingly and meticulously reconstructed, of the Map from Time Bandits. Woohoo! Now I need to get it framed. Which is odd, really, since I have all my framed items in boxes two years after moving in because hanging things on the (rented, plaster, concrete-backed) wall of my apartment

The story behind the map and how to get one can be found on BoingBoing.

The MAP!
Posted by jbz at 11:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 9, 2009

Epic. iTunes. Fail.

iTunes 9 upgraded itself fine on my work Mac (I don't trust iTunes enough to install new versions on the Mac with my main library until it's been thoroughly tested). But, EPIC GODDAMN FAIL: clicking the green window button NO LONGER sends iTunes into 'MiniPlayer' mode. No, now there's a whole new #$&)(@# command for that, 'Switch To Miniplay' in the View Menu, with hotkey Cmd-Shift-M.

The window buttons still appear on the miniplayer. But this change means that if you have iTunes minimized into the MiniPlayer, and click the green button, it expands to fullscreen just like it used to. Great. But if you click it again, it instead behaves *differently* and sends iTunes to a different window size (presumably one you used prior) rather than back to the damn MiniPlayer.


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The BBC falls prey to sensationalism

This irks me. I don't think that anyone reasonable ever claimed that there was no such thing as a liquid explosive which could take down an aircraft. Unfortunately, all that this film shows is is that...yes, there are liquid explosives in existence which could be used in half-pint quantities to do considerable, quite possibly fatal damage to an airliner in flight.

What it doesn't show is that there exist such explosives which are:

  • Reliably transportable to the airport and onto the plane
  • Easily prepared surreptitiously either on the flight or past the security cordon
  • Easy to conceal and transport secretly once assembled (i.e. no strong odd smells, sudden toxic effects from the mixing process, can be effectively kept in easily-obtainable containers)
  • Easily and reliably detonated

While the film does show 'mixing actions' and what appears to be the use of a standard drinks container to hold the resulting explosive, that's not enough. I understand that they're not going to identify the compound, much less the steps required to create it. However, they do note that an 'explosives engineer' was tasked with doing this demo - and he sure looks like he's handling things gingerly during the process.

Is that because he's habitually careful? Okay, but I'd be much more afraid of this if you showed me a substance that he could casually toss around in the bottle, fully prepare from (relatively) safe ingredients at his little mixing table in the field, sniff around the bottle a few times, and then walk to the plane and back without looking like he's afraid it's going to go off at any second.

Again, I'm not saying that this experiment didn't, in fact, show just that kind of explosive - but my point is that we don't know that, and *those* facts about the liquid explosive in question are much more troubling and relevant to policy. The fact that it exists and can make a big bang? Not so much. We already knew that.

Posted by jbz at 4:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 3, 2009

Microsoft Will Out

I'd been all worried. I bought an Xbox360, and for pete's sake, it was nice. It worked. I was singing its praises to my friends. I was beginning to worry about myself.

Then I bought two of the Play & Charge kits. Rechargeable battery packs for the controllers, along with cables to connect them to the console USB to er, both play and charge if the packs run low.

Took 'em home, unpacked them from their murderous fucking blister packaging, plugged 'em in to my controllers and the Xbox, got two green lights on the chargers, left them there overnight as recommended in the insert - 'charge for a long period before first use.'

So today, I pick 'em up. Both lights green. One controller boots the Xbox as normal - but the other does nothing. At all. Even when plugged in. I try unplugging the first controller, and it dies immediately. Second won't sync up even when plugged in.

So I find an entry on the net which states that these things really do suck and a common method of kickstarting a battery pack is to slide the cable juuust into place until you see the green light on the cable. If the light is, in fact, green, you slide it out and rapidly back, not making full contact. If you do this enough times, at some point it will turn *red* which means the thing is charging. Miracle of miracles, that works on the one which boots the box but won't hold charge.

The other? Nothing. I tried switching the battery pack to the other controller. Dead as a doornail. And what's worse - the damn thing won't even operate with that cable attached but no battery inserted. I have no frigging idea.

Brand new, these two are.

So, whew. Microsoft, thank you for fulfilling my expectations, as prejudiced and hideous as they were.

Posted by jbz at 7:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack