Friday, November 30

xkcd... still great

This is from Monday, but despite being a few days old it's still pretty awesome. As usual, the punchline is actually in the mouseover text.


xkcd - Success

Friday, November 23

I bought a new iMac!

I have been saving up for a new computer for a while, so with Apple's Black Friday discounts today I went to their store and bought one. It's a 20" iMac with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor, which needless to say is a huge improvement from the three-year-old Powerbook that was previously my main machine. The new Mac will be even speedier when I increase the RAM, but I didn't want to pay Apple's outrageous charges so I'll be getting that upgrade someplace else. Still, the 1GB of DDR2-667MHz memory that came with it is nothing to sneeze at.

Apparently the two Apple Stores I usually frequent were very busy today, but luckily I was at Apple's retail Web site before I went shopping and I discovered a new little-known location not far away; I went there (at about 10:30am) and had no wait whatsoever.

It came with Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) pre-installed, but a 10.5 (Leopard) DVD came in the package so I could immediately upgrade to the newest operating system. They must still have a backlog of 10.4 machines that were already assembled and packaged. I didn't have any personal data on the computer yet, so I completely wiped the hard drive and installed 10.5 rather than upgrading.

I'm really enjoying it, and I'm trying to stay with the bundled software and hardware as much as possible. I'm still using the Mighty Mouse, iChat, and Spotlight instead of the replacements I had in place on the old machine. However, Safari just wouldn't cut it for browsing and I already installed Firefox.

Anyway, I'm rambling now (if I wasn't in the first place; this is a personal blog after all), and I should probably get back to playing with the computer. And maybe eating. Between going to the Apple Store, cleaning my office to make space for the new computer, and setting everything up, I just realized a little bit ago that I forgot to eat anything. Dinnertime!

Apple retail stores revamp for holidays - Yahoo! News

Thursday, November 22


Well, after three and a half years of running this blog I finally bought a real domain name: I might have bought it two years ago; however, right when I was considering it, somebody called the Augmented Fourth Brass Quintet bought it and put up a static page that never changed through the entire two years of ownership.

My blog isn't actually hosted at my new domain; going there in your browser just redirects you back here. However, I do keep a server there for files and other miscellaneous personal use... for instance, you can download MP3 files of my college composition recital (I know, it's more than four years old and I should probably record something new) at Also, if you download that, make sure to use your MP3 player to look at the "lyrics" I've embedded in the files; while there aren't really lyrics to most of the pieces, you can see my Program Notes from the original performance in there.

My new URL!

Sunday, November 18

Geek Code update

Well, since I've been an IT professional for more than 2 months now, I figured that it's time to update my Geek Code (seen at the bottom of any page of my blog). Here it is for those who don't like scrolling:

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a-> C++> ULXB++++$ P+ L++ E--- W++ N o++ K? w-- !O M++
!V PS+ PE+ Y PGP- t- !5 X- R- tv+ b++ DI++ D--- G++ e++(*) h--- r+++

(my geek code decoded)

Friday, November 16

Translating thought to sound

Eric Ramsay, who has been conscious but paralyzed for eight years (and thus unable to communicate), will soon be able to "speak." Neuroscientists have been able to decode the electrical pulse information from the speech area of his brain, and hopefully soon their computer will ba able to decode that information to recreated the sounds Mr. Ramsay is attempting to convey.

BBC NEWS | Health | Paralysed man's mind is 'read'

Friday, November 9

A Coded Musical Message

It looks like I've found the perfect story to take me out of my blogging hiatus. It's about Giovanni Maria Pala, an Italian musician and computer technician who proposes a very plausible theory that there is a musical composition hidden in Da Vinci's much-lauded painting of "Last Supper."

Come on... it's a guy who's both a musician and a computer tech, and he spent four years solving a pictographic/musicological puzzle. If I lived in Italy, I'm sure I would have been helping the guy! The composition is found by overlaying a musical staff on the painting and treating the pieces of bread and the human hands as musical notes based on where they fall within the staff (here's a photo from the Associated press, though I bet that link will be dead in a week).

I find it odd that he didn't also include the wine glasses as musical notes, given that both wine and bread are still used today in churches as they participate in the sacrament of Communion that celebrates the Last Supper. However. I suppose Pala's book ("La Musica Celata" -- "The Hidden Music") probably serves up some explanation regarding what led him to choose only hands and bread.

Unfortunately the AP article draws a lot of parallels to the pseudo-thriller The Da Vinci Code, but in any case the actual story being covered here is very interesting. I don't think Pala's book has been translated into English, though I'd probably read it if it were. I suppose I can get a friend who lived in Italy for a while to read it and give me the "executive summary"...

Leonardo painting has coded 'soundtrack' - Associated Press

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The Geek Code desperately needs updating, but in any case here's mine (as of 2010-02-28):

Version: 3.12
GIT/MU d+(-) s:+>: a C++> ULXB++++$ L+++ M++ w--() !O !V P+ E---
W+++ N o++ K? PS PE++ Y+ PGP t !5 X- R- tv+@ b++ DI++++ D--- e*++
h--- r+++ y+++ G+

If you really care about knowing what that all means, you either know the code already, or you can get it decoded for you here.