Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Lesson 3

When I was younger (not that I'm not young and vigorous still, mind you) I used to have a small competition in my mind whenever we were taking notes in classes, seeing how fast I could write down what the teacher threw up on the overhead. (Threw up not as in regurgitating.)

Seeing as how the Japanese lectures are in Finnish I have a really hard time taking notes. First of all, I have difficulties deciding whether or not something that the teacher says is worthy of writing down, because I can't write down everything. The second problem comes when I'm actually writing, where I can't decide what language I should write in, with the end result being a mish-mash of terms and phrases in Finnish, and small notes in either Swedish or English next to them, whatever language I translate that particular explanation fastest to.

We got our hands on the literature we'll be using today. We also got some other books earlier on, but they're related more to the language theory side of things. (Note: when I say "got", it means we buy them; you don't get anything for free on this level.) The books are "Situational and Functional Japanese vol.1: Notes" and "Situational and Functional Japanese vol.1: Drills" (which I can't find on Amazon), and "Basic Kanji Book vol.1". (I just noticed that blogger auto-creates links when you copy-paste text which is already a hyperlink. Nice.) We also learned a couple of more hiragana today, but that's really basic stuff. You can very well study hiragana and katakana on your own (which most of us in the class probably have). Just find some page that also has pronunciation examples and you'll hopefully get that down too.

Though I did learn one new thing in the hiragana studies: that the Japanese "u" sound is unrounded, so where you would normally round your lips in English and Swedish you just try to keep them relaxed when sounding the Japanese "u".

The teacher also said something about how the Japanese language was a train and the predicate was the locomotive, how all the carriages could be left off and it still kept on going. (In this anology he drew the locomotive on the right, the carriages to the left, signifying that the predicate would be at the end of the sentence [note: when talking about the predicate, it could very well be called something else, it was just the closest thing that the translator had in mind].)

My toe is much better now, even though I accidentally hit a chair with it today. It feels funky whenever I move it in certain ways. The nail is almost completely blue from (what I assume to be) blood underneath, with only a smallish pink area where it seems to still cling on. I guess the best way would be to just pull it off, but I'm a bit wimpy.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Silly password-protection

In my journey through Blogspot, I've come across a couple of blogs that seem to be password-protected, even though Blogger offers no such service yet. (On a related note, if they ever do make such a feature in the future they should remove any password-protected blogs from the listings so you can't get there by the 'Next blog'-button.) I say "seem", because some think that Javascript is all it takes.

Let's take an example: [removed after attack of better judgement]. The site uses Javascript to pop up a dialog box asking for a password. If you want to know the password, just disable Javascript. It's done easily in Firefox, by just unchecking one box.



After that it is a trivial matter to look at the source and see the code.
if (password == "password") {
alert(" wait!how do u get tat? ")
And remember to only use this knowledge for non-evil purposes.

Silly english

Seriously, this is getting unbearable. I was going through blogs in search of spam and came across a post like this:
iM a ShoRt 14 Yr oLd GurL hU JuX Gt DuMp By HeR 1St StD AnD iSh ExTreMe DePreSsEd OvEr iT..Nw BcM BeRI Zi LIaN Es AfT e BrEak Up..
I had to fight with myself to not drop a comment saying maybe she wouldn't have been dumped if she would speak normally.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Long day & more of what we're learning

Today I had a pretty long day... I had a dentist appointment at 11.00, which might not seem that early if you don't know me. I've always had problems getting up in the mornings, and during summer my waking hours tend to gravitate quite a bit forward, so I might get up around noon. Not to mention my problems I have falling asleep, especially when I know that I need to get up earlier than usual in the morning.

The dentist thing was just a check-up, I had a couple of cavities and some tartar (I didn't know it was called that in English, and I'm not talking about "A member of any of the Turkic and Mongolian peoples of central Asia who invaded western Asia and eastern Europe in the Middle Ages") that will be fixed at a later appointment.

After the dentist it was only an hour and a half until my Japanese class started, so I went to the library for a bit, where I started reading Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto even though I've read it before. I thought about borrowing it but eventually decided it was a bad idea to start reading that again when I have so many books still unread.

In Japanese today we continued basically from yesterday, learning more about phonetics and stuff, and also going throgh a couple of more hiragana. I have the hiragana and katakana pretty much in my head by now, but I did learn that hiragana is originally heavily simplified versions of kanji that have that reading! Interesting... Of course Wikipedia could have told you the same thing with pictures to illustrate it.

Japanese ended at 17.00, after that it was movie night with that dude, as he had "found" Star Wars Ep. 3.

All in all, a long day for me. Good thing I don't have anything scheduled for tommorrow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Legal filesharing (for some)

I don't know if anyone else has caught this article at BBC News, but it appears as if Sony has made a deal to let users of a certain ISP share music by artists on Sony labels. The fee is then tagged onto the connection bill. This system, the one where a part of the broadband charge would go to the labels, is one that sounds most reasonable for both parties; users get to share music with each other and the artists get paid (in theory).

But I'm a bit worried, because at the heart of the business would still be the same old companies that were dragged kicking and screaming into the business of legal downloads (iTunes Music Store, the new Napster etc.) and who still complain that the prices charged for those legal downloads is too low. So then you would basically have the record companies write your bill instead of the service provider, and believe me they would want to get as much as possible.

The other problem is that there are lots of other files being shared other than music. You have movies, books, games, professional computer applications costing thousands of dollars... If it's digital, it's most likely being shared. What will happen when those companies realize that they could get a piece of that same pie?

And let's theoratically say that this system does become widespread, will the fan of a band or artist feel satisfied with just a low-quality MP3? Probably they will also buy the CD, in effect having paid twice for the music. Some might believe that the price per track on average will be lower than the current legal downloads, but honestly, I don't think so. As long as the old system with record companies being in charge of the distribution, I think they will have the customers pay through the nose, preferably as many times as possible for the same content.

Learning Japanese, I think I'm learning Japanese

Today was the first day of my Japanese-lessons and even though I have studied on my own beforehand for quite some time now, the rate at which we'll be going is scary. It was mostly an introductory class today, the teacher talking about the humanistic subjects and where Japanology fits in. He also briefly touched on linguistic stuff like morphemes and phonetics. All this in a Finnish, which isn't my native language, nor is it one that I have such a firm grasp of as English. (To be honest, Swedish and English are the only ones I have any sort of grasp of.) Though I can understand most of the Finnish that I hear, I have difficulties forming any form of response (at least a coherent one).

Some might wonder what I'm doing living in Finland without speaking Finnish as my native language, which I think Wikipedia has a much better explanation to than I do (and then I won't have to think of something to write on my own):
Finland-Swedish is a variety of Swedish spoken in Finland. From the 16th century Swedish, not Finnish, was the main language of jurisdiction, administration and higher education in Finland. In 1892 Finnish and Swedish became official languages with equal status, and by the time of Finland's independence in 1917 Finnish clearly dominated in government and society.

Finland has since then been a bilingual country with a Swedish-speaking minority (5.08% of Mainland Finland's population in 2003), speaking Finland-Swedish, living mostly in the coastal areas of southern, south-western, and western Finland.
As it happens, I live in one of the places where a large part of the population is Swedish-speaking.

So, I'm learning Japanese through Finnish lectures. I wonder a bit what I've given myself in to. Thank (insert higher power of choice) that I had learned about some of the stuff like morphemes and phonetics before, otherwise I probably would've been completely lost.

We're about 20 or so (didn't do any head counting) on the course, quite a diverse bunch I'd say. I didn't see any of the extremes mentioned in this article, but there were a few that made you go "huh?"; like the girl with pink hair, the one with a t-shirt of a Visual Kei band, the really small girl that looked like she was twelve or something... But what struck me was that everybody there is probably either very smart or too stupid to not realize how difficult it's actually going to get. I wonder a bit which of the two groups I belong in.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Onward with Japanese

Tomorrow I'm actually beginning the course in Japanese (though I'm suspecting the first day will only be introductions etc.) at that weirdo place. Fortunately I don't have to get up too early, so it'll probably be fine. Still feels a bit weird to actually do it.

I found out how to block most embedded sound files with adblock (you use the * wildcard in front of any file extension like .mp3, .wma, .mid and so on). I'll probably miss the one-in-a-million webpage that actually embeds sounds in a good way, but it has greatly reduced the stress of going through crap blogs made by angsty teenagers insisting on exposing you to their bad taste in music just because their page happened to come up. I also find it annoying with people who overlay stupid graphics over the blogger navbar, and I've been toying with the idea of completely blocking free image hosts like photobucket and the like, if only it weren't that I use those too. I've also discovered that adblock doesn't seem to block files served from an ftp server.

I haven't been practicing the keyboard that much lately. It's like I haven't really been doing anything lately except for playing GTA: SA. I should really try to finish Crime and Punishment so I can return it to my sister. (Though something tells me that will take a while still.)

Btw, here's a pretty fun clip of some dude starting to dance in a record store. (3gp, Quicktime will play it.)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

GTA once more (and other stuff)

So my brother (from now on to be called "The Wizard") got GTA: San Andreas to work again using his l33t car-wax skillz. Apparently it is "the shit" to put car-wax on scratched discs. Well, it worked better than my oily idea, so kudos to Mr. Wizard.

In toe-related news, it feels much better. The swolling has gone down quite a bit and it's starting to approach a size one could consider to be nearly normal. I was afraid to put water on it the first night, so I wore a plastic bag over my foot when I showered. The second night I tried without bag and no problem arose, and today I even searched out (OK, so it wasn't me that did the actual searching, but whatever) and gave the foot a little bath. Hilarity ensued as I poked the blister full of blood (which wasn't coagulated as I thought it was) and observed a small stream of blood and plasma pour out and disappear in the water. As I said before, the swelling has gone down a bit, but the toe has now turned a strange shade of blue. Though I was told it would adopt this colour, I'm still unnerved by it.

I have also been clicking on to the next blog a lot lately, flagging all the adblogs I come upon. It's almost become a reward in itself to flag spam-blogs, something that I look forward to much more than another blog mixing capitals and minuscules like they were freely interchangable and give silly "your browser is not win32 compatible"-errors on anything else but Windows.
In any case, I've found some of the silliest resource-hoggers that pre-/teen bloggers use to fill out their blogs instead, you know, actual content, and just taken the liberty to adblock it in Firefox. (Yes, some of those little doo-hickies might have something that almost approaches significance on them, but I'm gonna take that risk.)
Some of the domains I've blocked: www.tag-board.com, ads. and chatter.flooble.com, www.popuptraffic.com (I mean, that's a no-brainer, and yes, I've seen it used on a blog...), www.unkymoods.com and www.clocklink.com. If you know of more of these useless little stupidities, please drop a comment so I can check it out and see if blocking it could delay my decay into full-blown insanity.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Flag-day

Not really, but I love the new "Flag"-function. It gives me a whole new purpose for pressing that "Next blog"-button. (And hey, maybe I'll find something really cool in the process!) Before I got really, really tired of seeing another blog with just ads come up, but it feels a lot better now that you can actually do something about it. (If they actually check them out later on is another matter, but just the feeling of flagging a purely-ad-blog is nice.)

My toe hurts really bad, hope it's not broken. Will probably need to find some pain-killers before I go to bed.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Life is pain

Especially after your toe has been crushed by a bottle of Coca-Cola Light (that's Diet Coke for those who didn't know).

My mother came home today after doing some shopping and being the good son I am I was going to unload her of the two bottles of Coke Light I'd put on the shopping list. Unfortunately she released one of them before I had a grip on it, dropping the 1.5 litre bottle, representing a weight of approximately 1.5 kg (about 3.3 pounds) from a distance of ca. 40 centimeters. That would make it hit my toe (the one next to the big toe, btw) with a speed of (if I've read this right)... 10.8 KM/h, and taking only 0.28571429 seconds to fall? And hitting with a force of 11.76N? Does that sound right? I haven't taken a physics course in years.

Anyways, it's all weirdly coloured now and a big lump of coagulating blood under the skin right at the root of the nail. Speaking of the nail, I was told it will probably fall off. Eww. I've never had a nail fall off before, so that would be a first. At least it will grow back out again, right?

Right..?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Still no GTA: SA

(Boy today is weird. This is the third time I try to post this; the first time a power-failure ate the post and the second time I accidentaly posted it to another blog.)

I got the new DVD drive, but still no GTA: SA, which means it's probably a disc problem. It does look a bit scratched... In order to fix the scratches I thought maybe you could put on something to fill them out and polish a bit. Hmm, what to use. How about oil? Put a bit on, wipe around a bit and it's good as new! Except for a bit icky and the box doesn't recognize it. Oops. Better wash it off, but oil doesn't come off easily, does it? Should probably use dishwashing-paste (is it called that? That can't be.. You know, the stuff you use for manual washing). Wash it off a bit and it did look better. Shinier at least. And with a bit of further abuse (note to self: probably not a good idea to abuse the new dvd-reader) it did sort of start, just that the loading music sounded like static and it gave another "dirty disc"-error as soon as it was done loading.

Oh well, at least I got a belated birthday present from my grandmother in the form of some cash. Thanks grandma :)
There were some nice used keyboards at the music shop... No, can't think of another one so soon after.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Wedding

No, not my wedding, but my cousins. (And she's only one year older than me. It's weird to see those around your own age getting married while I myself hardly feel grown up.) Only the second wedding I've been to so I can't speak with any long experience, but both weddings I've been to have been quite boring. The first was last year around midsummer (a bit after maybe, now that I think of it), my uncle's, so the mean age was quite high. This one was attended by a number of younger people too, meaning more of the opposite sex to glance at. Yes, there was cute girl that sort of caught my eye (no Martin, not the one you were after), but that will lead nowhere, why that is will become apparent.

My cousin is somewhat religious, and most of the people (girls) there are then by default in the same group: no-drinking, no-swearing, honest-to-god Christians, who will probably go with good Christians like themselves. And the truth is that I'm not really Christian. I don't go around saying that I don't believe in God and the Bible, which probably means that people just assume that I am [Christian]. This would of course lead to problems when I eventually explain my opinions about religion.

But all of that is irrelevant since immediately as I see a girl that I like I become completely silent and reserved. This girl was in fact someone I had gone to school with some years ago that I had forgotten the name of... You'd think that I at least could have asked for her name, but I thought that would just make it painfully obvious that I didn't remember her. When I got home I got the urge to search out some old photobook from the school-days and see if I could even just find out her name (but I couldn't find it).
I don't know what it's due to, but it's probably because of this... affliction* of mine.

*I'll tell you about this sometime.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I like to play

So I got myself the Keystation 49e I talked about earlier. My brother and I went to the music shop today and checked out the gear they had (even though I was pretty set on this one) and I tried out some really nice ones that were way out of my price-range. Compared to the cheap hand-me-down I've been using earlier the ones I tried out sounded exactly like a real piano! I don't remember any specific names, but they were very nice.

They also had a couple of other used keyboards that I looked at, but even those were a bit too expensive, though not by much. If I'd had an extra 50 there's a real possibility that I would've gotten one of those instead, even though I would've needed an extra MIDI -> USB adapter. But I must say that the USB on the Keystation is a very good addition, it makes setting it up a breeze (assuming you have relatively new hardware). The combination with Garageband is a very satisfying one. It really feels like you'd be playing on a more expensive piece when you're playing one of the big synth leads in GB...

I even recorded a short piano piece! It took a couple of attempts before I could play it through without messing it up too badly, but the thrill I got when it was done was a huge one... I can see why so many people dream of being musicians.

Monday, August 08, 2005

wtf?

The next thing out of his mouth came somewhat of a surprise. "You know, I am gay and I think you are quite hot". At first I thought I had heard wrong but he repeated what he just said and added: " so I think I'll come on to you now"
Way to go, bro!

Decisions, decisions...

Hmm... I've found a pretty neat, little USB Midi keyboard, and it doesn't cost too much. This would be almost perfect for having hooked up to the computer and using with Garageband. It only has 49 keys, but I don't really have much space around the main computer either. (I also have an older iMac upstairs, but that's not powerful enough to run Garageband.) It has pitch bend and modulation, but doesn't seem to have weighted keys...
So I could get that, but then it would take a bit longer to save up to something a bit more powerful.

This isn't the blog you're looking for

One of the first (if not the first) comment I ever got to a posting said that this blog sucks. No offense taken (I'm guessing it was someone who was just copying The Hitchhiker's Guide and the alien who had taken it as his mission to insult every person in the universe), but the poster had a point: I don't make for a very good blogger.

For the archetype of a blogger I would point toward someone like Xiaxue. Lots and lots of postings, sometimes very long way from the start of a post to the actual point of it. Not to mention a load of pictures. It often reads (yes, I read it occasionally) as just a stream of thought, not really focusing on anything in particular. I wish I could write like that, heck maybe I can, I did it once before, but then I was in a particularly bad mood. But when I'm calm and, I almost said centered but that's not really right... sober... I'm way too self-editing to allow myself to write whatever comes into my mind.

I have list of things and ideas that, at the time of noting them down, I thought would make good subjects to discuss here. But now whenever I look at the list I think everything on it is way too unimportant to bring up. This is probably due to that the mood I'm in when I note them down quickly disappear. Ideally I would blog them as soon as I get them in my head. (Which is actually what I did with this post, so that's a step in the right direction.)

The other blog that I would like to bring up is one that I wouldn't say is the typical blog, but the one that I would like to write if I had the guts: terry lin's blogger. I've linked there before and I'll probably link there again in the future. The reason I like it is because it's so stripped down of all the un-essentials: no links, no contact details, no comments, no sitemeter. Just the postings and the reader. With no indication of how many other readers he has, it gives it a more intimate feeling than other blogs. If he'd had comments enabled I bet that I would probably just skimmed it through a bit before pressing that 'next blog'-button. (No comments gives it a feeling of unreachability, a sort of rarity. If I was more paranoid I'd suspect that he knows the same and has done it on purpose.)

I always have problems finding finishing words for these things.

Fin.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Bugs in my life: Black Beetles

These are my nemesis. I don't know exactly what their true name is, but they do look a lot like these buggers (heh, buggers). For about as long as I can remember we've had these small bastards running around the house. On quiet summer-nights you can sometimes hear them crawling inside the walls. I remember one day when I was taking a nap and woke up to find one of them crawling on the pillow right beside my head. Nasty.

When I was younger these were also my favourite object for insect-torture (common, most kids do stuff like that). When I captured one (which wasn't easy as they usually stay hidden during the day) I used to cut off their extremities, starting with the antennae and then the legs, watching the squirm with the small stumps of legs they had left. (Yes, very cruel, I know.) Probably the reason that I liked torturing these bugs in particular was because they were/are so elusive; sometimes I would wake up at night and hear them inside the wall. I'd take a needle and try to stick it into the wall in hope that I'd nail it, but that never worked.

They are also regular inhabitants of the shower/sauna (sort of a conversion really) we have in the basement. This is an old house and the basement is sort of a middle-land, not quite outside, but not really inside. It's a bit like the sewers of a city: those that have no business there would rather not think of what could be down there and those that go there on a regular basis are already used to it. So, anyway, our shower/sauna hybrid used to have these wooden planks as a floor (and under that the foundation), and the black beetles would love to hide under and between them. You try to squash them with something, like a shampoo bottle, but they'd run in there between those boards too fast. Occasionally you got one, but that was the exception rather than the rule.
But a couple of years ago, those old wooden boards were ripped out and replaced with newer, smaller ones that you could lift up and move around. (It's a number of inch-wide or so boards connected with some rope, looks a bit like a wooden carpet.) And ever since I've been mashing them more than ever. I see one try to run under and hide and I can just lift the board up and hit it with a bottle, shoe or whatever I have handy. (Once I didn't have anything handy so I just squished it with my thumb. Ew.)

Though I don't think I'll ever see them completely gone I do find that killing them satisfies some sort of need, perhaps the thrill of the chase still left from the days when early humans would hunt on the plains of Africa, or maybe just mans simple need to kill everything unknown to him.
(Speaking of hunting, there's something really satisfying about catching a fly right out of the air with your hand, even though the result is very, very messy.)

Friday, August 05, 2005

Overhaul

Yay. I like it.

If you don't know how it looked before, it was something like this:

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bored

I've grown really tired of this current template and thinking of changing it a bit. The decision is also helped by the fact that Martin has almost the exact same.

It's also very, very cloudy here. The sky has been the same shade of grey the whole day, which makes it seem like the entire day has just been the same hour-or-so stretched out over the entire day. The old wind-up clock on the wall has also stopped long ago, adding to the illusion. (Noone who cares enough to wind it up is home...) At least I got some piano practice in today. I felt some time ago that I sort of hit a wall, around the time I started trying to read notation. So I took some time to check the 'net for resources and little by little I've started to decypher it (notation, that is). Still a long way off, but a little step in the right direction.

I guess I should also find out when school starts and stuff... damn, I'm lazy. Or maybe not lazy, but I feel really unmotivated to do this school-stuff (except for the Japanese course that I finally went around to applying/getting accepted for, yay).

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Xbox: still half past dead

I opened my box today and tried to clean out the DVD-drive a bit with some canned air. Still no GTA though. But the experience I got from it will probably come in handy when I eventually install the new DVD-drive I ordered. It worries me that the one I ordered is also a Thomson drive, but right now I just want to play some GTA... It still seems to play DVDs alright, even double-layered ones. Maybe I'll take the game over to that other guys place and confirm that it's just my box and not a disc-related issue.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Xbox: half past dead

Looks like my old Xbox now has one foot in the grave as it has stopped loading up GTA: San Andreas. Could it perhaps have been due to repeated abuse caused by irritation from "dirty disc"-errors..? Nah!

So, yes. Perhaps I have a bit of anger management issues when it comes to my Xbox. But the problems with it are, or were, really bad even from the start. It start giving "dirt disc"-errors shortly after I bought it at launch on March 14, 2002. The problem is with the DVD drive and is well known; most of the early models (including mine) came with a crap Thomson drive that probably started throwing errors when it was still on the assembly line. It still seems to play some discs OK, so my theory is that it just doesn't read the second layer of DVDs too well (Halo still seems to work, Halo 2 and GTA: SA don't load).
I sort of regret my abuse now, but the truth is that it would probably have died sooner or later considering the various comments about the Thomson drives.

So now starts the search for a new drive. Maybe I'll see if I can get it modded at the same time.