Tim and the Tin Titan


No Logo?
A logo for hackers has been proposed. It is geeky enough, derived form the Game of Life (A dead cell with exactly three live neighbors becomes a live cell, A live cell with two or three live neighbors stays alive, In all other cases, a cell dies or remains dead) and it is graphically simple.

Some people will doubt that people as free thinking as hackers could have a common logo but think about it, even anarchists have a logo...

Here is the proposition: The glider: an Appropriate Hacker Emblem

Space Humor
What was really said on the moon: Neil Armstrong - The Truth
Also, what would happen if someone was left behind? Lots of swearing apparently.


How silly will you look using your new N-Gage to make a phone call?
No sillier than this. Check out the whole funny collection at sidetalkin.com.

The story under your feet
rachelleb.com street writing chronicles the "street art" that one woman encounters. She also seems to like showing off her feet and shoes :)

For the librarian in your life
Librarian Tees from the University of Dalhousie's School of Library and Information Studies. I especially like "Librarians do it quietly" and "Less Shush, more Lush".

If you have a couple minutes of free time
thepictureofeverything.com is a site that host, well, a hand drawn picture of everything. Seems to be mostly characters from TV shows and such (at least in the upper part that I inspected) but the guys is so confident that he got everything that if you think he missed something, send him a mail and he will either point out where it is on the picture on add it to the next section. There is also a "key" that tell you what you are mousing over.

How will it all end?
End Of The World is a funny little animation in the style of Odd Todd (check out his Laid Off series of animations [1,2,3,4]).


Interesting Update
Picasso Dreams: It's just a coincidence... brings some new points to the Jessica Lynch "hero" story: Apparently, four of her "rescuers" have died in mysterious circumstances recently. How do you keep someone quiet? You threaten their lives. And what do you do when they don't comply? You carry out your threat. It also mentions the uproar in the veteran community that her bronze star caused.


Strange Moments, Part 2
Clothes hanger at my chiropractor's office:

How did that get from Abu Dhabi to Montreal? If you were a professional with your own practice, would you really want to give the impression you steal hotel supplies?

Talk about fast service
When you use a Porche to make your deliveries...

Strange Moments
Right in the middle of downtown, on a parking sign post: A novel screwed into the pole, six feet off the ground. And I seem to be the only one who finds this weird or who notices at all.

I'm going to email these pictures to the author and see what the answer is.

Cultural Significance
Here in Quebec, there is a law called Law 101. This law is meant to protect the French language form the evils of the English language. Among many restrictions and by-laws (language in the workplace, on television, etc.), one of the most visible aspects of the law is the rule that states that French on signs has to be twice a big as English. The Office de la Langue Francaise actually has "inspectors" that go around and verify this. Needless to say that this restriction pissed off a lot of business owners who already had biligual signs where both languages were of equal size. There were some exceptions such as political advertisements. This led to this bizarre arrangement:

This sign appears to be illegal (the French words are not twice as big as the English ones)

But look closer:

Strangely, Eaton's had to drop the " 's " from it's name to comply but McDonald's did not... A case where money talks? Probably.


I'm sure you were dying to know
I must be behind on my urban folklore cause I had never hear of cum being so good for the skin it gets rid of pimples. Well, CUM VS MOISTURIZER - Vice Settles the Score! From one of my favorite magazines, Vice.
They originated in Montreal but have now moved to New York if i remember correctly. If you can get your hands on a print copy, it's free, otherwise, you can read it on the web. They actually used to be called Voice until the Village Voice newspaper sued them, so they just dropped the "O". Wacky, off-the wall articles and be sure to take a look at the fashion DO's and DONT's every month, the comments are hilarious:
"Look at this little package of walloping femininity. She’s so pure and good and girlie you’d expect bubble gum to come out of her nipples."


Another layer of duct tape...
The "define:" function in Google returns sites which define what you are looking for:
Google Search: define:mandelbrot set

But note that omitting the ":" produces different results. You get a definition at the top, before the first results, with a "More definitions" link.
Google Search: define mandelbrot set

Discovered much later than Julia sets, it is generated by taking the set of all functions f(Z)=Z^2+C, looking at all of the possible C points and their Julia sets, and assigning colors to the points based on whether the Julia set is connected or dust (cf Prisoners and Escapees -- Julia Sets Discussion).

Of course, now you need Google Search: define:Julia set.


Delinquent's Stash
I went exploring around my neighborhood on my bike yesterday. I started by following an old abandoned railway line I had meant to check out for a while. The tracks and cross pieces have been removed but the gravel is still there. This creates and impromptu trail across the back of properties. The people that live along the track had reclaimed the space between the track and factories, retaining walls or stores to plan gardens, they all had ramshackle fences but the plans were well cared for.

Further along the tracks, I came upon a wooded area that I did not know existed in my neighborhood: it is bordered by a field behind a factory, two dead end streets and a fence that I will later learn is the northern end of a municipal park. I started poking around and I eventually found a trail that leads into the woods. These paths were over-managed (dead trees lined up on the edges, felt paper layed down in the path) and definitely not what I expected to find. There were also 3 small bridges (little less than a meter wide, no guardrail, varying in legth form 4 to 20 feet) scattered around the trail. An even stranger occurrence was the two carved "totems". I use the term loosely as they were rather crude and it looked like they were made by 12 year old boy scouts. The whole experience was getting a bit surreal. On my way out, after a dozen loops around the trails (they are quite short), I met a man who was pointing out the totems to his two guests. Turns out he's the one who carved them. The man was in his fifties, long white hair and several bits and tips missing from various fingers. I could not help but picture him loosing those fragments while carving these naive totems with the tools found in his kichen drawer.

Back on the old tracks, I found a hole in the fence that separates the park from the tracks. Since it is big enough to ride through I figure is it often used as a short cut and that I would use it to get back home. On the other side of this hole, I found, splayed out on a car-sized rock, someone's hidden treasure trove. There was a shopping bag full of lego blocks already assembled into various house-like shapes, some yu-gi-oh cards and mage knights figures strewn about so that at first glance you would think that these belong to small kids. But after stopping to take a closer look (can't help it, I'm curious like that), I also found empty drug baggies (1 inch by 1 inch ziploc bags), an empty 6 pack of beer and what appeared to be the butts form a whole pack of cigarettes. Ok, so teenagers come here also, I thought. Then I stated to find the weird stuff: a brand new pair of leather men's dress shoes, a single sheet of paper with an essay called "the man called Noah", Polaroid of a (maybe) ten year old kid on the phone with "me talking to kim, 26 dec, 7:30pm" felt-penned on it, another Polaroid of a boy, maybe 12, posing at attention in a boy scout uniform, another out of focus picture was of a guy with short dreads on a couch. Then the bizarre stuff: a copy of the watchtower (jehova's witnesses booklet) bound in sewing thread, stuck full of pins and the badges and symbols from yu-gi-oh cards cut out and put in empty drug baggies.

It was like looking at someone's life through a strobe light that only flashed once every few weeks. I felt like Amelie when she discovers the secret stash in her apartment except that mine belongs to a drugged up, rebellious delinquent. I left everything as it was, and rode away wondering who the people who came here were and whether all of this will be here next time I go biking around there. I'll be sure to go see...

To be able to write humor like this
dong resin vs. the very modern toilet is probably the funniest blog post I have ever read. One guy describing his experiences with an ultra hightech toilet in a swanky restaurant.

That's some flush. Like a jetski in a koi pond.

You want to shit like it's ten years from tomorrow? Of course you do.


Separation of church and State
I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.
Thomas Paine

If you ever wonder why American constitutional scholars believe that there should be a separation of church and state, just take a look here at the thoughts of the people who were the "Founding Fathers":

I have examined all the known superstitions of the Word, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the world ...
Thomas Jefferson

Ref: Bible
I was reading through the Matrix Reloaded trivia On IMDB and I can across the fact that Agent Smith's license plate is actually a bible verse: IS 5416 for Isaiah 54:16 -> Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

The length and depth to which the creators of this movie go to add in the little details that make it an impressive imaginary world. Like, for instance, the fact that the hack that Trinity uses to get into the power station's computer is a real one. I can't wait for Revolutions...


Laughter is the best medicine
On a lighter note, here are some of the more humorous comments in the discussion thread for the article on Metafilter.com mentioned in my previous post.

lumpenprole: Is there a secret condom testing room in the vatican? Is that why the pope always looks so tired? Or did the big G appear in a flash of light and, not bothering to mention anything about the middle east, say: "Condoms. Bad."?

jack_mo: Jesus must be spinning in his grave.
LouieLoco: He actually ascended into heaven.
Cerebrus: Was the launch tube rifled?

What do you say to that?
According to the vatican, condoms don't stop Aids. Yup, you read correctly. They do not stop AIDS. In fact, the archbishop of Nairobi, Raphael Ndingi Nzeki, said: "Aids... has grown so fast because of the availability of condoms."

And when the World Health Organization counters with "Condoms provide a highly effective barrier to transmission of particles of similar size to those of the smallest STD viruses", the vatican's Cardinal Trujillo replies: "They are wrong about that... this is an easily recognisable fact."

In Lwak, near Lake Victoria, the director of an Aids testing centre says he cannot distribute condoms because of church opposition. Gordon Wambi told the programme: "Some priests have even been saying that condoms are laced with HIV/Aids."


I don't even know what to say. It just goes to reinforce my beliefs that these people live in their own little world of clinical insanity where preventing contraception use is more important than preventing death.


Scarier Than Fiction
This Wired article is chilling. They basically talk about a group of crackers that developed a way to hide a website's IP address. The first reaction of most people is "That is ridiculous, if you don't have a real IP address, how can customers get to your site to buy the product you are spamming them about?".

Well they have found a way and here is what I understand from the article: They compromise half a million computers using viruses and direct attacks, mostly home computers running windows on high speed lines, and install a Trojan program. When someone requests a hidden site, the request gets bounced around a couple thousand times between some of the hijacked computers before reaching the site and making the trip back the same way. This is the computer equivalent of the phone stunt they pull in the movie Sneakers where they route a phone call a couple times around the earth and over a satellite to confuse a trace.

This also means that the spammer's site can be hosted anywhere while having very little chance of being shut down. The requests that come to the site seem random and since noone can trace the the site's location from the URL in the spam, no one can call the hosting company to have them shut down. This point is demonstrated by the crackers by having their demo site hosted on one of the strictest anti-spammer hosting company. Seems the only defense is to block the DNS servers the crackers use, but that can easily be changed.

This story just seems to be straight from a science fiction story to me. I know it's not that far fetched but for some reason, the fact that stealth sites can exist is a bit of a shake up of the certainties I had about how the internet functioned. It seem brilliant, something that Case in the novel Neuromancer should be using. I have respect for those who conceived of this idea and it's execution but I despise what they are doing with it.

Bright Idea
IBM has stated to use the same kind of accelerometers found in car airbags to know when a laptop is in the middle of being dropped and automatically positions the hard drive read arm in the rest position so it wont scratch up the disk surface on impact, which is apparently a common problem [article]. I like this kind of solution: using existing technology to solve a new problem in an unconventional way. I'm sure this wont be cheap but it should eventually trickle down.

Is it bigger than a bread box?
Crunchweb.net has a nice little visualization of the 87 billion dollars that Bush wants to spend in Iraq. It is really mind boggling.

Even more interesting is this feature by TomPaine.com. I especially like the fact that $87b is more than 10 times the environmental protection budget.

They can always find money when it's something they really care about. But when it's for the environment, education or medical care? "Ooooooh sorry, we just gave or last dime to that guy over there..."


So boring it's special
I like boring shoes. By this I don't mean bland shoes, I just mean shoes that don't make me look like a clown. I usually wear the same pair of shoes to work everyday and sometimes on the weekend when hiking shoes are a little bit too "dress down". I even wear these shoes in winter. This would be surprising with the winters we get here but it seems silly to don huge boots for the 17 meters/43 seconds I am outside between my house and car and the car and the metro station. Of course, this means my shoes are destroyed in under a year.

Well, last weekend I bought this year's shoes. They cost me, with tax, 207$. No, they do not have a built-in phone nor do they have motorized stair assist. They are just the only pair of shoes I could find that do not make me look like I am going bowling or boxing. The fashion seems to be that if it's not a dress shoe then you have to look as if you are a cast member of the Big Lebowski or Raging Bull. Goddamn...

My demands were rather simple:
- mat black leather
- seams on the inside
- rounded toe

I could almost hear the salesman say "Oh, well that'll be a special order then!" I feel like Denis Leary bitching about fancy coffees or microbrews... Take a look a the current fashions in a store near you and wonder how long it will take before this trend will be in the discount bins.

And are shoes the shoes worth it, you ask? That's the worst part: they're fucking great...

Who needs an X-Box?
Online flash games seem to have made quantum leaps in the last year or so. Here are a couple that I find impressive:

IGPX is a mech style, turn based strategy game. You can either play the fast and light Team Suzaku or the slow and tough Sledge-Mamma in 5 different scenarios on the same map. You have 7-8 different attacks, from sub-machine gun to katana. It is tough to beat the computer, especially with the Suzaku team, you really have to use hit-and-run tactics.

DragRacer v2 is, as the name implies, a racing game. This is Fast and Furious for your browser. You race, you win money, you buy upgrades, you try to beat tougher opponents in the story mode. One odd point is that you don't loose any money or your car when you loose a race so you can try as often as you like. It takes a while to get used to the timing of the shift but once you do, try to take on the "story" adversaries. They get real tough around level 25.

Fire Man - Incoming Storm is a Mega-Man style game. Very well made, with the style, music and ennemies of the original, including those damn propeller robots!

NewGrounds.com has tons of goodies including all kinds of games including some very un-PC ones like Disorderly. Explore around.


Why did I not think of this myself?
Step 1: Get a cat
Step 2: Make a website for your cat
Step 3: Ask women to pose naked with your cat on the site
Step 4: Snap pictures of women who want to pose with cat
Step 5: Repeat Step 4 over 170 more times...

Welcome to LittleGrayGuy.com. Unbelievable what people will do just cause you ask them to...


Please Stop
Stop the singing on television. Please. Engough already. I was never a big fan of live singing on TV. I do like music videos, but those are more like mini-movies to me. The musical guest is always the segment I flip channels on. So in this light, I can't take one more stupid "sing on TV an be famous" show.

The first American Idol was something of an oddity. It was a show where they showed you the crass and shallow side of the music business and instead of being weirded out by it, the public lapped it up and asked for more. They wanted "their" singers to win.

But now it's American Idol 2, Junior Idol, Canadian Idol (Ben Mulroney... yerk), the one where people dance instead of sing, etc... And here in Quebec, we are treated to our local version: Star Academie. Imagine Big Brother combined with Idol and you get the Idea. And like everything "reality TV" in Quebec, it's a copy of a French (or Belgium, can't remember) show.

The worst thing about the show is that it is the product of Quebecor Media, a giant communications company. They own TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, magazines and a record label. The whole incestuous chain in one convenient stop. The gleaming example of this is that one evening on the show there was a "controversy" on how the voting was done to remove someone. The next morning the Journal de Montreal had a full front page splash "Contreverse à Star Academie!" on the cover with a huge picture of the evicted contestant. And what was the tiny little by-line at the bottom of the page? "300 morts dans une attaque terroriste à Bali". It's nice to see who owns the newspaper does not affect it's integrity or journalistic morals. Of course the "controversy" was all the talk on the radio stations and in all the magazines. The winners got a recording contract on Quebecors's label. It's blatant end-to-end manipulatiooffo the public by bombarding them into submission with all your media outlets and the CEO of thcompanyny is proud of this fact, as stated in this article.

Also, the fact that the winner gets so much exposure while having but so little effort into their "artistic" career seems very unfair. The actual artisbelieveses in his work, it becomes his life and passion, suffers for it, perseveres through the bad times. The real artists don't just take a half day off work to go stand in line and sing a tune, karaoke style, to some bored judges for a chance of going on TV.

But I know I am trying to swim up a raging river on this one. People look at me funny when they ask me who was my favorite on Star Academie and I tell them I did not watch the show.

Please, stop watching the shows, stop buying the album, just stop the singing...

Random Quote
Of course power tools and alcohol don't mix. Everyone knows power tools aren't soluble in alcohol... -- Crazy Nigel

at the bottom of slashdot.org this morning