Yenya's World

Wed, 29 May 2013

E-shop Reviews

Apparently at Mall.cz they think that they sell only perfect goods, and don't want people to write negative reviews to some of the goods, even though the description contains plain lies. As an example, we take this 9V rechargable battery. In the description, they say:

The rechargable NiMH battery from GP Batteries lasts up to 5 times longer than alkaline batteries [...]

There has to be some serious magic used by either Mall.CZ or GP Batteries, which causes that the battery rated at 8.4 V with 200 mAh capacity lasts five times longer than an ordinary 9V primary alkaline cell. Apparently the later according to Wikipedia has 565 mAh capacity, and thus stores three times more energy than the rechargable batery from GP Batteries.

I have written a comment along these lines to the Mall.CZ system on May 7th, but it is still not published as of now. So beware of any e-shop which doesn't allow negative comments, such as Mall.CZ. It is interesting that some bigger shops like DX are perfectly OK with people writing negative reviews to some of their goods.

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Vašek Stodůlka wrote:

It is possible in some use cases to "last 5 times longer". When you put alkaline cells to camera, they can last as low as 50 shots, but NiMh batteries about 250. Alkaline batteries cannot produce high current very quickly - so technically your comment may be considered as not true. And there is "up to", which can also 0,5x. :-) But if this is a 9V battery, which you put to some kitchen scale, it will last about few months and alkaline can be there for years. But it is still "up to 5x", so they are right. :-)

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Thu, 25 Apr 2013

Re: The Shared Office Printer

PHD comics is as funny as always. What I consider interesting is the last problem - printing on a special paper (a.k.a. the "Print Sprint"). I solve this problem differently:

Usually, such a print job is single-page only. So the easiest solution is to use the manual feed input. Open the manual input tray, print your job with manual tray specified, return to the printer, and feed your special paper into the manual input tray. People usually don't specify the manual tray as input.

Another alternative is when I don't want to research (again) how to print using the manual input tray from the command line. I run something like "sleep 60; lpr myfile", walk to the printer, open the default tray and manual input tray, wait a moment, and when the print job arrives, just select the manual tray from the front panel of the printer.

Of course it heps if CUPS together with the printer can cooperate enough to display at least the print job name (including the hostname) or even the job owners' login name, to be sure that it is really my print job. How do you print on a special paper on shared office printers?

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Thu, 11 Feb 2010

Web Comics Dying?

Is it just an unfortunate coincidence, or are several web comics sites slowly dying?

For example, Order of the Stick is updated only every two weeks or so, User Friendly runs repeated strips for about a year now, and even BOFH has not been updated since last December, and had only 17 stories last year.

Did the authors manage to get a real life finally? Or have they been swallowed by the Internet black hole which is Facebook?

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2 replies for this story:

avakar wrote:

You probably wouldn't be so sarcastic if you knew the story behind User Friendly: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/read.cgi?id=20091125&tid=3270602

Yenya wrote: Re: avakar

I have of course read that Illiad's post, but it still does not contain any hint about why the UF is more-or-less dead now. But then I am a UNIX admin, I am not really good at reading between the lines.

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Wed, 20 Jan 2010

Wikipedia Warning

Warning: idling at Wikipedia can be dangerous, as it can destroy your image of completely innocent things forever.

For example, that nice, melodic, and gentle Paul McCartney's song "Mull of Kintyre" will never be the same again for me (click on your own responsibility).

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Thu, 29 Jan 2009

Questionable Content

When browsing the Web, one can often find a content, which is - how to say it - questionable. Recently I have found an excellent example of it :-)

Hannelore Questionable Content is a web comic written by Jeph Jacques. It is not only interesting and funny, but it also contains humanoid robots, lots of rock music references (not that I get most of those), occasional anime references, and the highest proportion of characters with mental disorders from all the web comic strips. The only annoying part is occasional filler strips and guest strips. But on the other hand, it is actually released five times a week (unlike the Order of the Stick these days).

For a light intro you can read for example the story arc beginning in the strip #1322 from a week ago. Or start from the beginning. Favourite character? Hannelore the obsessive-compulsive disorder, of course. Go forth and waste your time :-)

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Wed, 10 Dec 2008

Just a pointer to two interesting blog posts I have just read: Ted Ts'o discusses the ethical problem of wanting an e-book version of something which is out of print for a long time, and also has an interesting follow-up in which he discusses whether copyright is a matter of money (like most books or films) or control (like in some software, especially many copylefts like GPL). So what do you think about handling rights for the work which is abandoned for a long time, or simply which is not available in your local part of the timespace? And should rights for "static" work like books, music, films, photos, etc. be handled differently than rights for things which can be improved by further work of other people (like software)?

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Peter Kruty wrote: Costs factor

Well I don't see any difference between so called "static" and "other" work as you mentioned. From my point of view is software bunch of intellectual work. Same for books or music, SW or movies. In a similar way how you can deconstruct software into pieces reuse / improve / recombine, you can also deconstruct music into samples / tracks which can be then recombined into other work (mash-ups, hip-hop ...). Also in a similar way how you can reuse intellectual idea encoded into algorithm you can also reuse theme of the music piece, or of the book. Only difference I can see is the ratio of fixed costs and variable costs. In software industry it is huge difference, where fixed costs for creating of software (let say game) can be millions of dollars, comparing to cents which costs producing of one copy of the SW - CD/DVD. For book this ratio is different as printing of the book is more costly then CD. This ratio is also similar for music/movies because of the way how they are distributed, but it is different for books. What is the consequence? With the increasing amount of produced CDs/DVDs/Books overall costs (fixed+variable) for producing are decreasing (fixed costs are diminished with the amount of products sold), therefore it is cheaper for manufacturer (cost per piece) therefore the income increases (because with the increasing amount end price is not lower). It is interesting to see that in the industry where most of the products are cheaper to produce with increased amount is the pressure on copyright control bigger as they are trying to keep their sells as high as possible. In the books industry it is still not so significant, but with the increasing amount of ebooks provided the pressure will increase as well.

Milan Zamazal wrote:

I think that in that particular case the answer is very simple: Don't care about the book and read something else. It respects author's wishes. Of course, it's easy to circumvent it, but why to do so? There is a lot of good literature to read. OTOH, there are real problems with copyright control. It sometimes happens that a technical book gets out of print and the issuer, who took all rights away from the author, doesn't intend to make the book available again. The author has to make hard negotiations to get permission to distribute his own book freely. This is a real problem, because it goes against author's wishes and with technical books there may not be an alternative book to read. So it's more important to tell authors what's necessary to do rather than what they should wish. As for the level of control put by law on each kind of intellectual work, it is a political decision. There is no easy answer based just on general ethical principles.

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Tue, 18 Nov 2008

Without Visa?

Today's newspapers are full of articles commenting the fact that Czech citizens now can travel to the U.S. without visa, and taking it as a big achievement of Czech politicians. Having gone through the U.S. visa procedure myself recently, I wonder why no journalist pointed out the sad truth, that in fact, the visa procedure is still there.

The meaning of the phrase "not needing visa" for me is being able to decide to cross the border at any time in any country, and equipped just with the passport being able to appear in front of the passport officer, who in turn should immediately be able to decide whether to allow me in or not (possibly asking some trivial questions like whether I want to work in his country or in which hotel I want to stay).

But the current procedure is still the same visa procedure as before (including lots of big-brotherish questions and gathering of personal data). The only differences are that it takes only three days to validate the request instead of a month, it can be filled in online instead of in the U.S. embassy, and it requires a biometric passport (big brother again). And probably the immigration clerk would check the passengers without visa more thoroughly (at least this is how it has been a month ago when I travelled to Portland).

So nothing to see here (definitely no material for the front pages of the newspapers), move along.

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5 replies for this story:

petr_p wrote:

I suggest to see interview with U.S. ambassador in Czech Republic in `Události, komentáře' . It's big diplomat because he talked all the time however didn't answer for such questions you placed here. Or maybe he was just tired due to late time ;)

petr_p wrote: URL

The URL is [http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/vysilani/1096898594-udalosti-komentare/208411000371017-17.10.2008-22:30-po-pozaru-do-usa-bez-viz.html]. (Your system seems disliking angle brackets.)

Milan Zamazal wrote:

I think there's another difference: you don't have to pay for the procedure, right? Combined with the fact that you don't have to travel to Prague at a defined day, waiting a queue there and talking to an officer this means significantly less burden. The biometric password requirement is actually no additional gathering of data: They take photo of you and your fingerprints when you enter U.S. So yes, you provide personal data etc., but the procedure is cheaper and easier.

Yenya wrote:

Yes, it is cheaper and easier (and collects as much data as the visa procedure). So I would not call it "visa-less".

ppp wrote:

AFAIK, it collects even more data than the visa procedure.

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Fri, 17 Oct 2008

Stitching Photos

In Oregon, I took several photos from one point in order to try to stitch them to one panorama later. The shots were taken from hand, so it was not optimal. In further experiments I would have to use a wider angle lens and higher overlap of the frames (I used about 20 % on each side). Manual exposition and focus is a necessity in order to get the same level of light across the whole view.

Columbia river

The image above is composed from eight photos taken at the Crown Point above the Columbia River. Best viewed using two wide monitors in Xinerama/XRandr dual mode :-)

The image has been created using Hugin, which is a really nice and intuitive software. I have been able to create the panorama without even reading the manual. Altough, reading their tutorials definitely helps (a funny bug there - the tutorial section labeled "Czech/Čeština" contains only one tutorial, which is actually in Slovak :-).

Stitching photos is another ugly case of software patents abuse: the algorithm for automatically detecting suitable alignment control points is patented in the U.S., which means that even though the patent is definitely not valid in Europe, precompiled software distributed globally (like Hugin) cannot use it.

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Thu, 16 Oct 2008

Driving in the United States

I will not write about everything I did in Oregon (you can get better insight to the way of life in the US from the point of view of a foreigner in a Linus' blog), but there is one pretty interesting topic: my experience from driving a car in the US. There are several differences for the European driver:

As for the automatic gearbox, it was pretty interesting. While the machine can change gears definitely faster than human, it cannot predict what the driver wants to do. For example, I when I needed to accelerate in order to overtake, the car (Chevrolet Aveo and then a brand new Chevrolet Cobalt) firstly choked on a current gear for maybe two seconds, then shifted to a lower gear, providing some acceleration, and just before the engine entered the RPM area of the highest power, it decided that it is still not enough, and shifted down once more, taking the engine to the red RPM values :-(

Maybe I would learn how to accelerate properly with an automatic gearbox after some more driving, but for now it is not usable for anything more than slow and careful cruising (which is how people drive in the US). However, I can imagine that an automatic gearbox with some tweaking (probably a "hold the current gear unless RPM is already near maximum" button and a "shift one gear lower" button) would provide the better from both systems.

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3 replies for this story:

Vasek Stodulka wrote:

I had (and still have - but the car is currently used by my sister) an automatic transmission on my old Honda Civic and it was (is) absolutely awesome. It acts like early CVTs - how much you press the gass pedal, that much RPM (and power) you have - it shifts absolutely seamlesly and you do not know, which gear you are using. If you want more power, you can manually shift to "*" (star), by this you disable overdrive (a reduction behind the gearbox at a ratio about 1:1.2) and the engine revs some more and brings some more power. When it is still insufficient, you should gear "L" and it disables shifting last gear and the gearbox acts even more aggressive allowint the engine to rev more. I know, that modern gearboxes acts differently, but don't tell me, that it is worse, then my ancient '85 three-speed veteran.

Yenya wrote: Re: Honda Civic

A friend of mine has cca 1999 Honda Civic 1.4 with an automatic gearbox, and he said something similar to you. I am going to test it myself.

Tomas Janousek wrote: Subaru Legacy

The automatic gearbox of an old Subaru Legacy is also one of the good ones. As I have been told by a friend, it has a "kickdown" feature -- there's a switch behind the throttle pedal which, when activated by "kicking" the pedal, shifts one gear down. This makes fast acceleration quite easy, no need to touch the shift lever. I did not drive this car for more than an hour, though. I also noticed that there's a big difference in shift speeds. The thing in Subaru Legacy shifts almost instantly, whereas the semiautomatic gearbox in Smart Fortwo needs some 2 seconds to do it.

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Thu, 14 Aug 2008

Orange Sunglasses and Chromatic Aberation

I bought a new sunglasses for use on my bicycle. Somebody recommended orange colour because of supposedly better levelling between shade and light (which I often need, esp. on the forest roads), so I went for orange ones. I have discovered that when riding a bycicle, I see the edges of shadows coloured asi if my eye had chromatic aberation:

The edges where the sunny part is nearer to me tend to be blueish, while the opposite edges are yellowish. It is only visible when in move. When I stop, the aberation disappears. Can anybody explain this? The "when moving only" part could be explained by focusing to a different part, and seeing the shadows only marginally. Or is it a known optical illusion?

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va wrote:

I can't say anything to your "error" (never seen such thing), but I think orange color is not a good choice. I use sunglasses on a motorcycle and I have had several colors (mostly orange or grey - theese are the top sellers), now I strongly prefer blue and I can also recommend yellow. When you use orange, brown or grey, then the world looks like it is cloudy or dark and in theese conditions I can't fully enjoy my ride. Yellow sunglasses has the opposite effect - it seems to be nice weather even if it's cloudy and eyes are very comfortable. Blue ones are neutral in this way (no "weather effect" for me), the light is very comfortable for my eyes and I think they have the effect of "boosting" the colors of semaphores (other sunglasses - including yellow - have IMHO opposite effect) - which is maybe not such important on bicycle. :-)

Vasek Stodulka wrote:

^ That was me. :-)

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Mon, 14 Jul 2008

Lawful Ransom

My almost five years old compactflash microdrive in my camera has finally died, so I have decided to buy a new CF card. To my great surprise, about 10 % of the total price is the "authors fee". Which is law-imposed tax (a ransom, in fact) for supposed loss on authors' fees caused by distributing copyrighted work using this CF card. WTF?

Does it mean that having paid this ransom I can now legally use this CF card to transfer copyrighted work, as I have already paid the authors' fee? Or is there a way of getting this money back, provided that the card will be solely used in my camera, i.e. to store and transfer my own author's work? According to the Czech law, these fees are collected by a mafiaa-like organization named OSA, which then distributes it to their members (after subtracting their operating expenses, of course).

But in order to become a member of OSA, there is a minimum amount of author's earnings per year, which is quite high. Well, I really don't need to have a share on the total ransom collected by OSA, I just want back the money I have paid to them myself when buying this CF card. How can I do this, my dear lazyweb? A related question: is this ransom collected even for CF cards in embedded systems (think medical computers and other systems, where is no way they can ever be used for tranfering random files)?

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6 replies for this story:

wrote:

Actually, this is quite funny story. The fee was originally set that way, that it was told how much you have to pay for 1MB (on flash media), it is not some percentage of the price. This was long time ago, when 64MB flash cost about 500CZK, and the fee was about a few CZK - nothing worh of writing a blogspot or newspaper article. But the times changed and now you have 2GB falsh for 500CZK and the author fee for 1MB is still the same. (!) It was definitelly some sabotage of the law done by authors lobby. The best you can do is contact your senator.

Vasek Stodulka wrote:

^that was me. :-)

wrote: Yenya

Well, contacting my senator is definitely a thing to do, hope he will find the case interesting enough :-) Just a minor correction: it is not authors' lobby, I think. Real authors (= artists) probably do not have anything significant from OSA. This is a lobby of mass producers (think Eva a Vasek) who create for a job, not for the art itself.

Milan Zamazal wrote:

You can't get your money back in any way. The case of ransom charged on computer hardware etc. was even judged by the ombudsman office and they said it's in full compliance with current law. However they also said that the amount charged per MB should decrease in future as common media capacity increases. But the only way to get rid of the ransom is to change the law. As for copyrighted works, AFAIK we can legally copy works from *original* media, unless they contain some copy protection, from TV and radio and it's at least not punishable to fetch publicly available files from internet. So I'd suggest to copy works from OSA members (and members of other cliques) and to buy works from other authors.

Michal Fabik wrote:

You are right that there is a limit in minimum earnings (among other things) to become an OSA member, but it is possible for virtually anybody, including for example my quite insignificant underground metal band, to register with OSA and become entitled to their own share of the ransom. The only condition is to prove that your work has ever been "publicly used". I emailed an OSA representative to ask how such a "proof" gets authenticated, i.e. why don't I just do a studio recording and mix in some crowd noise to make it sound "live". Her reply wasn't of much use, she basically just confirmed that you have to prove your work has been "publicly used" - "for example by acquiring a confirmation from a music venue proprietor" (her words). So I suggest you bribe your favorite music club owner to call OSA and say something like "Hey, Yenya performed here just yesterday ... sure it was open for the public, the concert was called 'Catslashdevslashurandomgreaterthanslashdevslashdsp'". Then plaster white noise all over the internet and wait some ten years to get your money back:)

petr_p wrote:

Actually, there is a work around: Buy it abroad and persuade customs officer not to open the package (e.g. the seller/shipper claims it as a gift).

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Tue, 04 Mar 2008

Presentation Charts

The "most funny image of the day" award goes to this one:

pacman chart

Seen at Slashdot, the source URL is http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/images/2007/03/16/pacman.jpg.

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Vasek Stodulka wrote:

LOL, good one. I'll use this in some presentation.

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Sat, 11 Aug 2007

The Best Deal

I normally try to avoid looking at banner ads in the web pages. However, today I have seen something which I nominate for my Daily WTF award :-)

banner ad screenshot It was an ad to a digital SLR camera (which is why I have looked at it at all). The screenshot is cropped, it was twice that high, with the other half describing the camera and saying that Circuit City offers the Best deal.

WTF?

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Fri, 10 Aug 2007

Frying Pan

Our relatively new (~1 year) frying pan with teflon coating is becoming more and more sticky, so we are looking for a replacement. However, I don't think buying the new frying pan every year is the right solution to the problem.

So far the average lifetime of our frying pans has been slightly more than a year, with almost daily usage. After that, it either become sticky, or the teflon coating started to crack and fall off. And we are (at least moderately) cautious about the pan surface - we don't use sharp accessories inside of it, we don't put it in the dishwasher, etc.

The Wikipedia article on pans (marked as [[citation needed]] :-) says the following:

With the exception of cast iron frying pans, a Teflon coating can be applied to the surface of the pan to make it non-stick. This is popular for frying pans sold to the home user but less so for those used by professional cooks and restaurants. Cast iron naturally becomes non-stick through use and so would not benefit from a Teflon coating.

Is it true - do I want a cast iron pan? So far the Teflon-coated frying pans seem like an example of a product with a built-in obsolescence, designed to keep the manufacturer's cash flow steady. What about other materials (like titanium)? My dear lazyweb, what frying pan do you use/recommend, and what is the average lifetime of it?

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Honza wrote: Tefal worked for me

Hi, I bought a teflon pan from Tefal about 5 years ago and it worked great all this time. The surface is a bit scratched now, but probably due to sharp utensils a friend of mine used it on it - it is not sticky. I'm a single user, but I use it quite frequently (2x a week or more). I read somewhere that it helps if the teflon cools down when covered with oil (ie. it is better if you do not wash it immediately after usage). I'm not sure about the explanation why this help (it allegedly helps teflon to stay non-sticky), but it seemed to work.Also, I wash it thoroughly only from outside. From inside, I get of the remnants of food, but let the teflon stay a bit oily. Of course, I also had a few bad experiences with no-name teflon pans, so maybe I was just lucky this time.

Vasek Stodulka wrote:

Also for me Tefal rulez. I have been using it for five years frequently and it was only scratched by knives. Now we have two new Tefals from wedding. You can even use a non-sharp metal tools (like spoon) on pan and they will not damage it. It is also written in manual that you can and it is for me a guarantee, that Tefal is a quality pan. Other manufacturers restricts using of any metal things on the pan, in other case they revoke a guarantee. And with non-sticky cast pans I do not know. We have one iron pan (probaly not a cat one) without teflon and it is definitely so sticky, that you must use a bunch of oil to cook an egg.

Yenya wrote: Tefal

Hmm, I think two out of three of my last frying pans were Tefal. I did not find them more reliable than other brands.

Jan Kokoska wrote:

I can recommend Le Creuset cookware (e.g. http://www.dokuchyne.cz/lecreuset/), it's been great for the 2 years I've had it and you get a free replacement if anything happens to it that I've heard other people to exercise successfully. The warranty is 10 years for non-stick cookware like frying pans that you're asking about (for wok, it's lifetime). It's definitely not cheap though, but you can find yourself a discount on eBay or elsewhere (that's what I did). But someone famous once said that he wasn't rich enough to buy cheap things...

anicka wrote:

One of my friends bought an iron pan in some Chinese shop in Prague, quite expensive one for Chinese shops standards, by the way. He was advised to do some magic with an oil and his pan at the beginning (I do not remember exactly) and he got a pan which is less sticky than any of the teflon pans I have ever had (even the Tefal ones). I know I have not helped you much, but at least I can confirm your story. (BTW, you surely know that eating fried meals every day is not the best choice... ;-))

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Thu, 29 Mar 2007

Order of the Stick

Order of the Stick Have you ever played a fantasy role-playing game like Dungeons & Dragons[?] (or a local variant Dračí doupě)? And did you enjoy it? Then you may want to have a look at the Order of the Stick, a quite funy web comics, which takes place inside the RPG. The image is taken from the OotS cast page.

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5 replies for this story:

thingwath wrote:

Oh no. So much time wasted, again. At least I can blame you :-)

mirka wrote:

mirka wrote:

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/tabletop_roleplaying.png

rz wrote:

The users who had read OotS also enjoyed: http://www.thenoobcomic.com/daily/strip001.html (More about online RPGs and their specialties rather than DnD in general. Watch out for the hordes of generic evil creautres!)

Yenya wrote: Re: thenoobcomic

Hmm, I have looked at it, but I don't like it.

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