Boat Sketch

Sketch of a small sailboat made on my N810

Sketch of a small sailboat made on my N810

This is a small sketch of a person sailing a small boat that I made on my N810's touchscreen while passing some time recently. I'm rather pleased by this little sketch so I thought that I'd toss it up here.

On airplane bandwidth and latency

Having recently used Virgin America to transport myself across the country, I was very pleased to have Internet access while I was in the air. This, however, is not the sort of airplane bandwidth and latency that I am going to talk about. Instead, I would like to discuss a comparison between the bandwidth and latency of typical Internet connections with those associated with taking a hard drive on an airplane.

Let's say we compare a high speed (\(15\mathrm{Mbit}\)) DSL connection to taking a moderately large hard drive (\(500\mathrm{GB}\)) on a plane for data rates between San Francisco and Boston (\(\approx 7\mathrm{hr}\)):

Bandwidth:

  • DSL: \(15\frac{\mathrm{Mbit}}{\mathrm{s}}\)
  • Airplane: \(\frac{500\mathrm{GB}}{7\mathrm{hr}} \times \frac{1\mathrm{hr}}{60\mathrm{min}} \times \frac{1\mathrm{min}}{60\mathrm{s}} \times \frac{8000\mathrm{Mbit}}{1\mathrm{GB}} \approx 150\frac{\mathrm{Mbit}}{\mathrm{s}}\)

Latency:

  • DSL: \(\approx 100\mathrm{ms}\)
  • Airplane: \(>7\mathrm{hr}\)

For fun, let's try something a little bigger on both sides: OC-768 vs Boeing 747-400F plane filled with \(2\mathrm{TB}\) hard drives.

Bandwidth:

  • OC-768: \(38\frac{\mathrm{Gbit}}{\mathrm{s}}\)
  • 747-400F: \(\frac{250000\mathrm{lb}}{7\mathrm{hr}} \times \frac{2\mathrm{TB}}{1.7\mathrm{lb}} \times \frac{1\mathrm{hr}}{60\mathrm{min}} \times \frac{1\mathrm{min}}{60\mathrm{s}} \times \frac{8\mathrm{Tbit}}{1\mathrm{TB}} \approx 93\frac{\mathrm{Tbit}}{\mathrm{s}}\)

Latency:

  • OC-768: \(<100\mathrm{ms}\)
  • 747-400F: \(>7\mathrm{hr}\)

Clearly, hard drives on an airplane will win in a purely bandwidth driven application but airplanes suffer from incredibly high latency. You will have to decide which is best choice based on your particular use scenario.

Transformers 2: not good but awesomest

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Transformers 2) is not what one would refer to as a good movie in the sense that Forrest Gump or Seven Samurai might be considered good. Transformers 2 is, however, an awesome movie in the sense that summer blockbusters are designed to be awesome. It's pretty typical to see a movie that's got crazy effects and action but with a story/plot that mostly exists to give pause and glue to hold things together, which is somewhat farcical, in my opinion.

The logical conclusion to the trend of summer blockbusters is that story/plot isn't actually that important and, if done wrong, can really drag a movie down. So, what happens if you reach that logical conclusion and make a movie that is an open acknowledgment of the frivolity of plot in summer blockbusters? You end up with something that is a gorgeous, shiny, moving piece of art, that pleases your senses but not your intellectualism; you end up with something that every traditional movie-watcher will think is terrible as they hunt for plot and a, so to speak, good movie.

This is the case for Transformers 2. Critics, in looking for plot and traditional quality, have failed to see the gorgeous, shiny, sense-satiating, monster of an experience that Transformers 2 is. The critics made a similar experience with Speed Racer, which was not very compelling but nonetheless excessively beautiful.

In addition to the amazing experience that Transformers 2 is, its quality has also inspired, what is probably the finest review of anything, ever. io9 puts it quite well in their review, Michael Bay Finally Made An Art Movie, which I completely agree with. Excerpt below:

Transformers: ROTF has mostly gotten pretty hideous reviews, but that's because people don't understand that this isn't a movie, in the conventional sense. It's an assault on the senses, a barrage of crazy imagery. Imagine that you went back in time to the late 1960s and found Terry Gilliam, fresh from doing his weird low-fi collage/animations for Monty Python. You proceeded to inject Gilliam with so many steroids his penis shrank to the size of a hair follicle, and you smushed a dozen tabs of LSD under his tongue. And then you gave him the GDP of a few sub-Saharan countries. Gilliam might have made a movie not unlike this one.

In short, read this review; ignore the other reviews; go see Transformers 2; get overstimulated; and enjoy the culmination of all that is the summer blockbuster.

[PROTOTYPE]

At the suggestion of my good friend Rodin, I grabbed a copy of the game [PROTOTYPE] (which I am going to refer to as "Prototype" because the brackets and capitalization are annoying to type) for my Xbox 360. Rodin's suggestion was a very good one and so I am passing it on to all of you; Prototype is awesome, you should go get a copy and start playing it.

Discussing the story behind Prototype won't really give you a sense of why you should be playing it so, instead, let me start off by saying that it's a game where you can jump kick helicopters. Let me say that again, you can jump kick helicopters; this includes Apaches, and you can destroy them by so doing. Other things you can do include consuming people for their knowledge and powers, shooting spikes through the ground to destroy entire city blocks, or throwing tanks at mutated monsters. All of this massive destruction and awesomeness takes place within the context of being able to run up the sides of buildings so as to jump and glide from one to the next. Your character is truly superhuman in a ridiculous and completely amoral manner; you will consume civilians just to restore a little bit of health.

The controls are tight, if a little complex, the camera is ok, and the gameplay is as cathartic as video games get. I've sunk, and enjoyed, enough hours of Prototype to say that it's worth the $60 that I paid for it. It doesn't matter what you're playing these days, you should put it down and go get a copy of Prototype; unless you're boring, you'll thank yourself for doing so.

Oubliette (was Abyss)

I recently considered the naming of abyss and decided that the word oubliette made a better name. Oubliette is a much more appropriate description in understanding the theme and purpose of the machine as a replacement for thevoid.

The name change happened a while ago but I'm bringing it up now because oubliette is on my mind. Having just purchased six Western Digital 1.5TB drives and another SATA controller, it is finally time to obsolete the last remnants of thevoid. This actually stirs some amount of sentimentality in me but, even though the hardware and operating system are no longer that of thevoid, oubliette will carry the purpose and data forward. It is almost as though oubliette is my ghola thevoid.

For those with technical interest, the drives will be arranged in an mdadm RAID6 array with luks dm-crypt. This should provide me with 6TB, secure storage, and two drives worth of failsafe.

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Thanks to hunch, I recently discovered the anime Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, or just Gurren Lagann, which I have really been enjoying.

Gurren Lagann is, at its heart, a mecha anime and, as anyone who knows my love of Transformers and Battletech will understand, that is a plus in my book. The art is great and the battle scenes are just awesome. On top of that, there are some pretty great characters in the show; I am especially fond of Kamina. Also, Gurren Lagann has already run its full 27 episode course, which means that I can watch it and enjoy a degree of completion, which is a thing that I really enjoy being able to do.

As far as anime series go, Gurren Lagann is the first one that I've seen and really enjoyed since Trigun. I wouldn't say that Gurren Lagann is not Samurai Champloo caliber but it's certainly worth hunting down and giving a shot.

Sleep and stress: inversely correlated

I have noticed in my life that there is an inverse relation between the quantity of sleep that I get and the degree to which I am experiencing stress. It is unclear to me in which direction causality lies and it may be nothing more than a correlation but I recall times in my past where I went as many as three nights without sleep. All but the last of those such times were before I understood the sensation of stress--such is my disconnect from my emotional state.

As I think about it, I am inclined to suspect that not sleeping is a sort of coping mechanism. In the extreme of those three night vigils, I would reach a level of exhaustion that was so strong and pervasive as to be able to wash over any other stress that I might have been feeling. Eventually, I would sleep and the rest would be needed to such a degree as to make everything else seem insubstantial.

It seems as though, for quite a long time, I have had to approach my emotional state from an indirect point of view; sussing out how I might be feeling by watching my reactions and back-tracking to the most appropriate descriptor for my state. This is an arrangement that I have come to accept and although it often works well enough, it can be a little slow as far as processing is concerned.

I'm sure that there exist other thoughts on these matters and things that I might express but, mostly, I am finding the issue rather pertinent at this (just after) one in the morning time. I intended to go to sleep a number of hours ago and, at this point, I will not get much sleep, which causes me to suspect that I am avoiding sleep in some manner correlated to stress. Unsurprisingly, this continues to be my standard way of being; such is my life, I guess.

Electronic Organs: the old school analog synths

Conn 580 Organ

Conn 580 Organ

Conn 580 Organ side view

Conn 580 Organ side view

Because indulging impulses and ridiculosity are both things that are fundamental to my being, I purchased, off of the craigslistnettertubes, an electronic organ. Most specifically, I purchased, for my apartment place-thing, a used Conn 580 manual organ. There was a wonderful alcove in our apartment that was the perfect size for an upright piano or similar; I was browsing the interwebworknettubes and went to the craigslisternettertubewebworks and happened to find this wonderful organ for sale. To my advantage, the man I bought the organ from was nice enough to deliver it to our apartment. Of course, hauling the organ up two flights of stairs was quite a hassle but it's here now and it's not moving again for a very long time.

Conn 580 internals

Conn 580 internals

This organ, much like most other electronic organs, is a complex device composed of gobs and gobs of analog electronics. It would be accurate to describe the device as an early analog synthesizer. Amongst the many other awesome things about this organ, the top can be flipped up exposing the crazy mass of wires, oscillators and other circuit craziness. The number of switches, buttons, keys, and such on this organ is rather mind-boggling and I'm only starting to figure out what half of the stuff does. That said, I've been pretty successful at tossing out some pretty awesome sounds without knowing what I'm doing.

With luck, having a keyboard in the house with provide me sufficient impetus to get around to relearning how to play a keyboard. I feel like I want to get back to knowing how to play the piano (or, in this case, organ). Failing that, though, I've got the potential to make some pretty fun sounds.

Influenza Influence

Arising from a nap taken while sprawling across three seats on MX976 from Guadalajara to San Francisco, I am reminded of a desire to comment on the so-called swine flu. Of the five flights taken during my trip, none have been at capacity and two have provided me with full rows for myself. The true utilization is in stark contrast with the near full planes that were described when I purchased my tickets; I understand Mexicana was allowing refunds of some sort on account of the flu.

Cancun was, I have been led to understand, empty relative to other years at this time. The resort at which I stayed was likely at no more than 30% occupancy; near full capacity is the norm. Other resorts and hotels were closed due to a lack of guests. This, of course, meant that we largely had the resort to ourselves but, selfishness aside, it also means that the local economy is suffering an absolutely horrible collapse and any locals without sufficient savings may need to seek other work. Compounding with the general global downturn, there will likely be a profoundly negative effect on Cancun and other Mexican resort areas.

The response of the Mexican government is rather interesting as well. The government had health checkpoints set up at airports and state borders. Individuals are required to fill out a questionnaire as to whether or not they are suffering any flu symptoms and then have their temperature checked by thermal camera or infrared probe; neither of which I suspect is particularly accurate. What they would do to one who fails such testing is unclear as they did not seem set up for any sort of quarantine. Furthermore, a few Tylenol, aspirin and lies ought to be enough to get anyone through. The whole exercise reeks of security theater, a topic which I fear raising lest I rant far beyond your patience.

Frank Herbert's deeper meaning

Having just finished Heretics of Dune, I am, once again, wowed by Frank Herbert's skill as an author. There exist very powerful thoughts within his writing that seem to plant themselves in the psyche as Leto II planted himself in the worms of Rakis. As I sit here, I can't help but react with a desire to better myself mentally, physically and socially. I feel as though this is a moment of opening and from here my choices are to pass through into the chapel perilous or step back, allowing the doors to close.

As to which path I shall take, I cannot say but it is my great hope that I will have the strength to push forward.