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[sticky post] Hello!

Oct. 29th, 2009 | 03:00 pm

Welcome back my friends
To the show that never ends!
We're so glad you could attend
Come inside, come inside!

— Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression, Part II)

Hi there!

If you're reading this, you're probably just looking at my journal, perhaps even thinking about adding me as an LJ-friend; or alternatively, perhaps I just added you as an LJ-friend, and you're curious about me now. In either case, I'd like to use this opportunity to say a few things.

Trevor: You're skating the edge.
Æon: I
am the edge.

— Æon Flux

First of all, I tend to write freely about topics everything that matters to me; more distanced, "professional" entries may directly be followed by more personal ones (and vice versa), and I will, generally, openly write about all sorts of things, including philosophy, sexuality, politics and more. Some of my entries will be friends-only, others will be publicly viewable, too, and unlike other people, I don't use <lj-cut /> tags or specific "topic filters" (i.e., custom friends groups dedicated to specific topics) to shield people from things they may not want to see.

Well, as long as it's text, that is; I will cut images that aren't safe for work etc. (at least if I remember, which I might not always do!), since I wouldn't want for people to get in trouble if their boss happens to be shoulder-surfing at work. Text, though, is a different issue, and if you'll get into trouble for reading about certain topics at work, you probably shouldn't be checking your friends page at work to begin with.

He said, "I am told that when men hear its voice, it stays in their ears, they cannot be rid of it. It has many different voices: some happy, but others sad. It roars like a baboon, murmurs like a child, drums like the blazing arms of one thousand drummers, rustles like water in a glass, sings like a lover and laments like a priest."

— Mike Oldfield, Amarok (liner notes)

Second of all, concerning friending me: feel free to. There is no need to ask if it's OK to do so; everyone's welcome to, as well as to post comments etc. (as long as they're genuine: spammers etc. will not be tolerated, but that goes without saying, anyway). I may add you back if your journal looks interesting or if I know you, too, but this isn't automatic. If you do want me to add you back, engaging me and talking to me is probably the best way to go about it.

Please don't ask about being added back if I didn't do so on my own, either, unless I already know you well and you want to be able to read my non-public entries.

If I already friended you but you don't know who I am and haven't been in contact with me before, that most likely means I became aware of your journal somehow, took a look, and decided I wanted to keep up with what you're writing — "I find your ideas intriguing and wish to subscribe to your newsletter", as it were. I don't expect you to friend me back or otherwise take an interest in me, but if you do — all the better.

If what it is to be furry you still don't comprehend
Then consider this advice, my curious friend
If you're willing to respect that which you don't understand
Then come take my paw and I'll take your hand.

— from "Furry", by Croc O'Dile of TigerMUCK with help from Tony DeMatio, June 1995

Regarding commenting, BTW, I'm always happy to receive comments. However, things like "lol" are not proper punctuation, and correct spelling and grammar would be nice as well. And of course, I expect people to not be insulting or rude, but that, again, should go without saying.

That's about all I can think of for now. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

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Wasting disk space for fun and profit

Feb. 19th, 2018 | 03:32 pm

If you find that your boot drive's free space is inexplicably diminishing, then (in addition to the usual, like clearing out Windows's separate TEMP directory), you may want to check whether you've got Window's search indexer enabled.

You can find out in the Control Panel; search for "index" or so, and you should find it quickly. Change what it indexes (e.g. just your "favorites" and the start menu), and rebuild the index, under "Advanced".

On my system, disabling it for most of the system took the index's size down from ~23.3 GiB to less than 80 MiB, which is a significant amount of space even today, especially if you're running off an SSD.

As usual, I recommend using WinDirStat to find out what is ACTUALLY wasting space on your drive(s). Be sure to run it as an Administrator, or it won't have access to various directories (including, incidentally, the one containing Windows's search index).

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R.I.P. John Perry Barlow

Feb. 8th, 2018 | 10:02 pm

John Perry Barlow, one of the little-known (to the general public) giants on whose shoulders we're all standing today, passed away recently.

Depending on your age, you may or may not remember John's 1996 Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. Utopian as it may have been, it shaped how people thought and felt (and think, and feel). It certainly affected me.

Good-bye, John; here's to you, and my thoughts are with your friends and your family.

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R.I.P. Paul Bocuse

Jan. 20th, 2018 | 09:49 pm

Sad news, indeed: Paul Bocuse, the greatest cook of the 20th century, passed away at the age of 91 earlier today.

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Strong English verbs

Jan. 5th, 2018 | 12:13 pm

There is no equivalent to the German Gesellschaft zur Stärkung der Verben (Society for Strengthening Verbs) in English, but the GSV itself quotes a column by Maggie Sullivan, cited in Steven Pinker's Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language:

Anatole Broyard is right to sound the alarm. We are losing this idiosyncrasy; as a language changes, strong verbs tend to become weak. For example: although shepherds once shore their sheep, sheep are no longer shorn, they are sheared.

This issue would arouse lovers of the English language. Weakening the verbs can only weaken the language itself. To keep English from becoming a feeble tongue, we must reinforce our verbs. Fortunately, I have come up with a two-part plan. First, we must not allow new verbs to enter the language in a weak state. We must ensure, for example, that to clone is established as clone, clewn, clown, as in: Future generations of booksellers may reproach us for not having clown Joyce Carol Oates and Isaac Asimov.... And to gentrify as gentrify, gentrifo, gentrifum, as in: The newcomers gentrifo one block and now the whole old neighborhood is gentrifum.

Since new verbs are few and far between, I offer the second part of my plan—creating new strong verbs. English has some strong verbs with unique patterns for their principal parts, such as go, went, gone. Individuality makes them particularly vulnerable. Their patterns would hold up better if each pattern had more representatives. If we create allies for our unique strong verbs, we can buttress them and increase their number. Here are suggestions for new strong verbs:

Conceal, console, consolen: After the murder, Jake console the weapon.
Subdue, subdid, subdone: Nothing could have subdone him the way her violet eyes subdid him.
Fit, fat, fat: The vest fat Joe, whereas the jacket would have fat a thinner man.
Displease, displose, displosen: By the look on her face, I could tell she was displosen.

Unfortunately I've not been able to find the entire column. Online references are invariably to Pinker's book; and the New York Times' archive only lists two column by Maggie Sullivan. (One isn't freely available, but does not seem related anyway.)

But it seems to exist, for the GSV itself cites more examples, presumably taken from Sullivan's column:

Seesaw, sawsaw, seensaw: While the children sawsaw, the old man thought of long ago when he had seensaw.
Pay, pew, pain: He had pain for not choosing a wife more carefully.
Ensnare, ensnare, ensnorn: In the 60’s and 70’s, Sominex ads ensnare many who had never been ensnorn by ads before.
Commemoreat, commemorate, commemoreaten: At the banquet to commemoreat Herbert Hoover, spirits were high, and by the end of the evening many other Republicans had been commemoreaten.

These are also cited on this page, which also provides a nice poem showing off some expertly-strongthen verbs:

Sally Salter, she was a young teacher who taught,
And her friend, Charley Church, was a preacher who praught;
Though his enemies called him a screecher who scraught.

His heart, when he saw her, kept sinking, and sunk;
And his eye, meeting hers, began winking, and wunk;
While she in her turn, fell to thinking, and thunk.

In secret he wanted to speak, and he spoke,
To seek with his lips what his heart long had soke,
So he managed to let the truth leak, and it loke.

The kiss he was dying to steal, then he stole;
At the feet where he wanted to kneel, then he knole;
And he said, "I feel better than ever I fole."

And a small snippet attributed to Dizzy Dean, whoever that is:

The pitcher wound up and flang the ball at the batter. The batter swang and missed. The pitcher flang the ball again and this time the batter connected. He hit a high fly right to the center fielder. The center fielder was all set to catch the ball, but at the last minute his eyes were blound by the sun and he dropped it!

Of course this last one's incomplete; it really should've read e.g.:

The pitcher wound up and flang the ball at the batter. The batter swang and moss. The pitcher flang the ball again and this time the batter connuck. He hat a high fly right to the center fielder. The center fielder was all set to catch the ball, but at the last minute his eyes were blound by the sun and he droop it!

Any other examples of strong (or strongthen) verbs making a resurgence in English? Let me know. :)

EDIT: I perused Pinker's book; sadly, he does not provide any reference for Sullivan's editorial.

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AO3 invites

Jan. 3rd, 2018 | 10:19 pm

AO3 (Archive Of Our Own) has been suspending invites and new user registration for a while now to deal with an enduring, persistent spammer problem.

However, they recently gave each of their existing users one invite code as a kind of yule gift. That includes me, so if you've been wanting to get on the site but found yourself unable to, now's your chance.

Let me know if you want the invite code in the comments below. First come, first served, though I reserve the right to ignore requests from people I don't know etc. If you get skipped... tough cookies.

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GIF-less animations

Jan. 2nd, 2018 | 03:29 pm

You may find yourself wanting to make an animation, say for use on Telegram. You may also find yourself working in GIMP, only to the find that that program (even in the latest preview release, 2.9.8, which came out in mid-December 2017) appears to lack any support for saving animations in any format other than GIF. Which wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that the GIF file format is more than 30 years old and (crucially) lacks support for truecolor images.

GIMP also has no support for either MNG or APNG so far as I know; there's an APNG plugin, but it's not working in the current stable GIMP version (2.8.22), at least not for me.

There's some ways out. First of all, there's a tool called APNG Assembler that does exactly what it says on the tin: it takes a bunch of frames and converts them to a single APNG. (There's also a matching APNG Disassembler and APNG Optimizer.) It's straightforward enough to use and works as intended.

The only downside is that GIMP also seems to lack any ability to export all layers of an image to individual files as once, so you'll have to save every frame of your animation individually. (The best way to do this that I've found is to Shift-click the "Eye" icon in the Layers dialog for each layer in turn to make only that layer visible, then export as normal; the image will be exported as you see it, i.e. only the visible layer. This works reasonably well if you only have a small number of animation frames.)

Of course APNG doesn't work for Telegram, but MPEG-4 does. GIMP also cannot handle that, but ffmpeg can; there's a terse little tutorial here. The only snag I ran into was the following:

$ ffmpeg -r 10 -f image2 -s 800x1033 -i frame%d.png -vcodec libx264 -crf 25 -pix_fmt yuv420p test.mp4
Input #0, image2, from 'frame%d.png':
  Duration: 00:00:00.70, start: 0.000000, bitrate: N/A
    Stream #0:0: Video: png, rgba(pc), 800x1033 [SAR 2835:2835 DAR 800:1033], 10 fps, 10 tbr, 10 tbn, 10 tbc
[libx264 @ 02cbe0e0] height not divisible by 2 (800x1033)
Output #0, mp4, to 'test.mp4':
    Stream #0:0: Video: h264, none, q=2-31, 128 kb/s, SAR 1:1 DAR 0:0, 10 fps
      encoder         : Lavc56.60.100 libx264
Stream mapping:
  Stream #0:0 -> #0:0 (png (native) -> h264 (libx264))
Error while opening encoder for output stream #0:0 - maybe incorrect parameters such as bit_rate, rate, width or height

Hardly an informative error message; it turns out that the problem is the -pix_fmt switch, though. Leaving that out works as intended:

$ ffmpeg -r 10 -f image2 -s 800x1033 -i frame%d.png -vcodec libx264 -crf 25 test2.mp4
Input #0, image2, from 'frame%d.png':
  Duration: 00:00:00.70, start: 0.000000, bitrate: N/A
    Stream #0:0: Video: png, rgba(pc), 800x1033 [SAR 2835:2835 DAR 800:1033], 10 fps, 10 tbr, 10 tbn, 10 tbc
No pixel format specified, yuv444p for H.264 encoding chosen.
Use -pix_fmt yuv420p for compatibility with outdated media players.
[libx264 @ 0499de80] using SAR=1/1
[libx264 @ 0499de80] using cpu capabilities: MMX2 SSE2Fast SSSE3 SSE4.2 AVX
[libx264 @ 0499de80] profile High 4:4:4 Predictive, level 3.1, 4:4:4 8-bit
[libx264 @ 0499de80] 264 - core 148 r2638 7599210 - H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec - Copyleft 2003-2015 - http://www.videolan.org/x264.html - 
options: cabac=1 ref=3 deblock=1:0:0 analyse=0x3:0x113 me=hex subme=7 psy=1 psy_rd=1.00:0.00 mixed_ref=1 me_range=16 chroma_me=1
trellis=1 8x8dct=1 cqm=0 deadzone=21,11 fast_pskip=1 chroma_qp_offset=4 threads=12 lookahead_threads=2 sliced_threads=0 nr=0
decimate=1 interlaced=0 bluray_compat=0 constrained_intra=0 bframes=3 b_pyramid=2 b_adapt=1 b_bias=0 direct=1 weightb=1 open_gop=0
weightp=2 keyint=250 keyint_min=10 scenecut=40 intra_refresh=0 rc_lookahead=40 rc=crf mbtree=1 crf=25.0 qcomp=0.60 qpmin=0 qpmax=69
qpstep=4 ip_ratio=1.40 aq=1:1.00
Output #0, mp4, to 'test2.mp4':
    encoder         : Lavf56.40.101
    Stream #0:0: Video: h264 (libx264) ([33][0][0][0] / 0x0021), yuv444p, 800x1033 [SAR 1:1 DAR 800:1033], q=-1--1, 10 fps, 10240 tbn, 10 tbc
      encoder         : Lavc56.60.100 libx264
Stream mapping:
  Stream #0:0 -> #0:0 (png (native) -> h264 (libx264))
Press [q] to stop, [?] for help
frame=    7 fps=0.0 q=-1.0 Lsize=     140kB time=00:00:00.50 bitrate=2292.9kbits/s
video:139kB audio:0kB subtitle:0kB other streams:0kB global headers:0kB muxing overhead: 0.646833%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] frame I:1     Avg QP:23.21  size: 87998
[libx264 @ 0499de80] frame P:4     Avg QP:24.84  size:  9412
[libx264 @ 0499de80] frame B:2     Avg QP:26.30  size:  8026
[libx264 @ 0499de80] consecutive B-frames: 42.9% 57.1%  0.0%  0.0%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] mb I  I16..4:  8.2% 68.4% 23.4%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] mb P  I16..4:  2.7% 12.9%  2.6%  P16..4: 12.3%  4.6%  2.2%  0.0%  0.0%    skip:62.8%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] mb B  I16..4:  1.1%  5.5%  1.8%  B16..8: 15.8%  5.0%  1.4%  direct: 2.0%  skip:67.5%  L0:30.9% L1:66.6% BI: 2.5%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] 8x8 transform intra:69.1% inter:73.4%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] coded y,u,v intra: 54.6% 27.4% 27.4% inter: 7.0% 1.5% 1.9%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] i16 v,h,dc,p: 23% 58%  4% 15%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] i8 v,h,dc,ddl,ddr,vr,hd,vl,hu: 13% 43% 13%  3%  4%  4%  7%  4%  7%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] i4 v,h,dc,ddl,ddr,vr,hd,vl,hu: 17% 18% 12%  6% 10% 12% 11%  7%  7%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] Weighted P-Frames: Y:0.0% UV:0.0%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] ref P L0: 62.0% 11.9% 18.9%  7.2%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] ref B L0: 80.8% 19.2%
[libx264 @ 0499de80] kb/s:1619.39

So, to recap: export your layers, and use ffmpeg to assemble them. There's likely GUI frontends for ffmpeg, and perhaps there's a more convenient way of exporting an image into one file per layer; if you know of either, let me know.

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Happy New Year

Jan. 1st, 2018 | 12:11 pm

Happy New Year!

Image: Yyna @ NexusMods

(Not my image, but still!)


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Happy yule

Dec. 21st, 2017 | 03:28 pm

'tis the season:

Image: doommonsters @ Tumblr

Happy fuckin' yule, fuckers.

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Stylish 3.0 breaks Firefox

Nov. 11th, 2017 | 09:00 pm

If you're using Firefox, and you've noticed that it's suddenly become slower, and started to peg one CPU core at 100% load...

...check if a) you have the Stylish add-on installed, and b) it's recently (auto-)updated to version 3.0.1. If so, go back to version 2.1.1 (available from the Old Versions page) and disable automatic updates for this add-on for the time being, and the issue should be fixed, for now.

(Of course all this is indirectly due to Mozilla's asinine decision to throw the entire existing extension framework out the window with little notice, much less a transition period or anything like that.)

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