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.



I was rather amused a while back when, at a golf tournament co-sanctioned by the LET and LPGA, the name Jeongeun Lee6 popped up on the leaderboard — my first thought that the font had a strange G glyph, and my second that it was a typo, but it turns out that no, there really is a golfer called that.

Fast-forward to today, and I hear the commentator (during a later round of the same tournament) remark something along the lines of “Jeongeun Lee6 with her second shot now … no Jeongeun Lee5 in the field this week, though she did play last week at Evian”.[1] I thought he was joking, but it didn't sound like it, and his co-host didn't remark on it …

… so I googled it, and it turns out that not only is there a Jeongeun Lee5, there's also a Jeongeun Lee1, Jeongeun Lee2, Jeongeun Lee3 and Jeongeun Lee4, and they're all professional golfers. Talk about confusing! Amused me to no end though.

1. Evian's in summer, so obviously I'm not watching live coverage here.

Dramatic singing

From five years ago, at Jólagestir Björgvins 2015, here's a great performance of Hjartað lyftir mér hærra by María Ólafsdóttir and Eyþór Ingi Gunnlaugsson:

This gets really dramatic at roundabout 4 minutes in, with the two of them inspiring each other to put ever more energy, heart and soul into their singing. I think the climax is reached when Eyþór Ingi hits that high note at 4:36 — but what an excellent performance from both of them! Absolutely outstanding, and what a great gift this is.

(And what a marvel of modern technology that this performance from a concert in Iceland roundabout five years ago can be watched roundabout anywhere in the world, anytime, at little to no cost.)

If you want to read along, here's the lyrics:

Þegar himinn opnast yfir þér
Óskastjarnan birtast hér
og þá logar ljós á ný,
lifnar hjá þér birta svo hlý.

Allir draumar okkar rætast
ef við bara fylgjum þeim,
þegar von og vilji mætast
mun viskan færa okkur betri heim.

Töfrar heimsins eru ljós í ljúfum blæ,
lífið mitt er einfaldlega það besta sem ég fæ.
Óskin mín er yndisleg,
allt fer hér á besta veg.
Og auðvitað trúi ég.

Þegar himinn opnast yfir þér …

Allir draumar okkar rætast …

Töfrar heimsins eru ljós í ljúfum blæ …

Trúi ég á minn æðri mátt,
allt sem býr í hjarta mér,
fegurð lífsins, já, frið og sátt,
Fögnuð þann sem ríkir hér.

Því hef ég bæði von og viljastyrk
þetta veit ég hér og nú,
þannig verður þrá mín virk,
Því trúi ég.

Töfrar heimsins eru ljós í ljúfum blæ …

Óskin mín er yndisleg,
allt fer hér á besta veg.
Og auðvitað trúi ég.
Trúi ég.

Lyftir mér hærra! (Hjartað lyftir mér!) (8×)

The background singers that are occasionally seen are the Reykjavík Gospel Company BTW, splendid performers in their own right.


On working

Maybe it's just me, but the reason it's difficult to work all day, I've found, isn't so much that it's necessarily draining (though it can be), it's that when you eventually stop, it's already (late) evening.

And it's only then and only after you've taken care of more paperwork and personal effects, tidied up a bit etc. that that feeling of “now the day can start!” comes up.

But by then it's 9 or 10pm and there's not much of a day left, and I think it's the collision of those two feelings – “let the day begin”, and “the day is almost over” – that really gets to me.

It's not so bad when I stop work early enough to genuinely have time to do things I like, and not just sit around too-tired-for-anything-but-not-quite-tired-enough-to-got-bed. Maybe I should try to work less.


Flash alternatives

So, official Flash support from Macromedia Adobe is finally coming to an end. And this doesn't just mean there won't be any updates, it also means that all existing Flash installations will work. Gotta love built-in kill switches.

In practice this is an issue for older, Flash-based content that will now become inaccessible. Fortunately there's some alternatives. Gnash is dead and never went anywhere, of course (as seems to be the case for many GNU projects), but Newgrounds, which obviously has a huge backlog of Flash-based content, has a player here, and there's also a played called Ruffle under active development.

I haven't tried either, but may in the future. Prequel (the webcomic) in particular has had some very cute and cool Flash minigames in the past, and I'd very much hate to see these get lost and become inaccessible forever.

TeXstudio, SumatraPDF and synctex

Pro tip: if you're using TeXstudio and SumatraPDF – which you probably are, since TeXstudio is the best TeX environment by far, and SumatraPDF is the best PDF reader –, you may be happy to learn that SumatraPDF actually supports synctex files; simply go to Settings > Options, and set the ,,inverse search command line`` to something along the lines of C:\Program Files (x86)\TeXstudio\texstudio.exe "%f" -line %l (the quotes will ensure that this works as intended if your filename contains spaces):

Then simply double-click anywhere in a PDF to go back to the corresponding line of the TeX document — very useful for quickly fixing typos, say.

Conversely, TeXstudio allows you to jump to specific points in the PDF as well using ,,Go to PDF`` in the context menu. In order to make use of this, go to Options > Configure TeXstudio > Commands, and set the External PDF Viewer to something along the lines of "C:/Program Files/SumatraPDF/SumatraPDF.exe" -forward-search "?c:am.tex" @ "?am.pdf":

Side note: the SumatraPDF documentation actually suggests using "C:/Program Files/SumatraPDF/SumatraPDF.exe" -forward-search "?c:am.tex" @ -inverse-search "\"C:/Program Files (x86)/TeXstudio/texstudio.exe\" \"%%f\" -line %%l" "?am.pdf" there to automatically set the relevant SumatraPDF config option, but this does not work for me, so it's better to just set it once by hand.


Luminence-priority progressive JPEGs

One thing I've been seeing more of lately that still startles me every single time is luminence-priority progressive JPEGs.

What do I mean by that?

Now first of all, you probably know that there's two major variants of JPEGs, regular ones and progressive ones. Without getting technical – I don't know the details either –, if a (large) JPEG image loads slowly from top to bottom, it's a regular one; if it shows in full right away but very pixelated and then gets progressively more fine-grained, it's a progressive one. You may also know that JPEGs don't use three color channels internally but rather one luminence channel (Y) and two chroma channels (Cb and Cr).

What I've been seeing more of now is images which seem to be encoded in such a way that the luminence data loads first – gets priority – and the two chroma channels afterward. I honestly didn't even know this could be done, but apparently it can, and the visual result of this is that when the file's loading, you'll first see a grayscale version which then gains color (and may have an intermittent ,,false color`` appearance when only one of the chroma channels has been loaded).

Has anyone else seen this in action? What are your thoughts?

Using ffmpeg to convert MP4s to WEBPs

I previously mentioned how to use ffmpeg to convert MP4s to GIFs — of course ffmpeg can also convert to WEBP, which may well be a better choice. You don't need to mess around with palettes there either, so in principle it's as simple as saying

$ ffmpeg -i input.mp4 output.webp

There's one snag though: the resulting image may not loop. (Some image viewers will make it loop anyway; others, notably browsers, pay closer attention to what the file says and and don't.)

There's a -loop option to ffmpeg, so you may be tempted to try, especially after some web searching, to say

$ ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -loop 1 output.webp

in the (sensible) belief that this is a boolean flag. But it's not; as best as I can tell, this flag controls how many times the image should loop. So -loop 1 is really the same as not looping at all.

Your favorite web search engine may also tell you to use the value -1 for infinite looping. Makes sense — but doesn't work:

$ ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -loop -1 output.webp
[WebP muxer @ 000000000063bd00] Value -1.000000 for parameter 'loop' out of range [0 - 65535]
[WebP muxer @ 000000000063bd00] Error setting option loop to value -1.
Could not write header for output file #0 (incorrect codec parameters ?): Result too large
Error initializing output stream 0:0 --
Conversion failed!

Fortunately, the solution's right there: pass the largest allowed value:

$ ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -loop 65535 output.webp

The resulting WEBP image will then (I presume) loop 65535 times, which is sufficiently large to be indistinguishable from infinite looping in practice. Whew!