DHTML snow warming our hearts, cores and planet

animated GIF of the christmassy Strato home page with snow and some cpu temperature stats

Hosting provider Strato delights us with animated snow this season, which they programmed inefficiently so our hard working CPUs can warm our hands resting on our laptops and also our hearts. It goes nice with the busy hum of my snow blower CPU fan.

Multiply that by thousands of users staring at the Strato front page and soon snow, like its DHTML simulacrum, will be a faint, nostalgic memory.

My Radio Has Only One Button: A designated Raspi-based WFMU player

I use my Raspberry Pi to listen to the radio (all day, every day). After trying something complicated for a while, I settled on a lightweight combo of ssh, a screen session and mplayer. Which started to annoy me. And I was in the mood to procrastinate so I spend half a day making this project, putting the GPIO to good use!

  • Push that button to start playing the WFMU stream!
  • Optional: push the button again to stop (not recommended)
  • The LED indicates keypresses and blinks when playing the stream

Technical details

Continue reading “My Radio Has Only One Button: A designated Raspi-based WFMU player”

Band name-y, password-y 3 word combos with exactly 1 youtube hit

Inspired by the band Almond Ice Director¹ and my inability to remember this name I wrote a very simple password generator à la correct horse battery staple, and searched the passwords/band names on YouTube.

At that time Almond Ice Director had exactly one song on YouTube so I picked the search terms that yielded exactly one result³, using them as whacky bands to make a sound collage.

You can listen to it on episode 36 of my radio show, around the 1h07m mark, see the code and find the list of results below (~10% of searches had exactly 1 hit).

¹ “you can’t direct almond ice², so he’s really the director of nothing” – I’m paraphrasing Giuliano from the band.
² which is totally a big thing in Sicily
³ YMMV. I used the API via curl. Searches are probably localized & new stuff is uploaded.

Abandonment Comparisons Filibusterer
Adequate Economize Recluses
Battery Undiscovered Anywise
Bazaar Housebreaking Candid
Befall Haunt Unambiguously
Blasphemously Unaided Cox Continue reading "Band name-y, password-y 3 word combos with exactly 1 youtube hit"

Scraping Elite Force

As blog “research”, I read this very long and moderately interesting half-oral history of Elite Force I+II (a Star Trek video game and its sequel).

I remembered that Elite Force was build with the Q3A engine, which I have often worked with. This engine has a particularly open design, it is really easy to get to the textures – something 10 year old me would have been surprised and delighted about.

So I downloaded the demo, dug a bit, threw some imagemagick in, and here we go: Continue reading “Scraping Elite Force”

Skype clapperboard, laughs, starfields

I made this video to promote our new science fiction podcast:

The sound is an outtake from our other podcast. At the moment we talk over skype, but both record an audio track. To improve the re-syncing in post production we had the glorious idea to facilitate some sort of makeshift clapperboard: we would both clap at the count of three!

Turns out, there is a substantial delay in skype connections (it must be over 300ms) that you usually don’t notice unless… you try to do something in sync. I imagine singing together over Skype is impossible?
By the way – I did notice that while superficially Skype seems to emulate a real life coversation, the delay and other audiovisual artifacts does affect the… flow of conversation: we tend to speak over each other more frequently; punchlines work differently.

For the visuals I went back… not as far as ’95 – which is where I believe the classic Windows screensaver “Starfield” originated – but I had a weird retro-inception what-the-hell-am-I-doing moment when capturing an old Windows XP virtual machine that I forced to preview a screensaver. I guess one could run the VM full screen through a CRT…


Zero Width Nose Joke

Are you a grumpy old man and as annoyed by yellow-faced fake-unicode smileys as I am? A while back I made a oneliner that puts un-replaceable, un-shortenable, un-compactible, un-improvable strings of (semi)colons and various parentheses into my clipboard to paste into comment boxes and chats.

Tired of copying and pasting that oneliner every time I’m in need of :), I just added a collection of premade special-stringy-smileys – example output, so to (technically) speak.
GitHub’s Gist editor helpfully highlights unprintable characters, including the Zero-Width Non-Joiner character I use to keep : and ) apart. And bingo, they show up as red &middots;, or, more aptly, as god damn clown noses, showing me what I am for going through all this hassle to get oldschool text-faces from the good old days – a clown. A sad clown.

But, come on, they’re super handy, so here you go, fellow grumps: :‌) ;‌) :‌( :‌D :‌P