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Sunday, August 15, 2004

8:20 PM - Neo Sapien

A digi-doodle of a Xevoz Alpha Ranger.

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3:44 AM - A boring non-event

Franklin Foer characterises Iraq's surprising victory over Portugal as a meaningless victory because Olympics football is "a boring non-event."

Foer is right in pointing out there isn't much interest in Olympic football matches and he's also right in acribing this to the limitations imposed on the Olympics football tournament e.g. each squad may only have three players over 23.

But I think he's wrong about the reasons for those limitations. According to Foer:

With the calendar so jammed, the soccer world simply has no need for another major tournament. And the game's elite can't afford the physical toll of another long event.

I think the more pertinent point is FIFA doesn't want the Olympics tournament to overshadow their own little soiree and FIFA should be worried because contrary to Foer's claim that the Olympics gold medal has no appeal to footballers, Ronaldo insisted on playing in the Olympics despite the protestations of his manager.

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Saturday, August 14, 2004

6:39 AM - WordPress: Switching directories

I was a little disconcerted to find my main site's WordPress login page had been cached by Googlebot and I was particularly alarmed when Googlebot later spidered its way to the lost password screen. Now that might not have a genuine security threat but I didn't want to take any chances. Nobody wants to be a Googledork, right?

The simple fix is to simply tell Googlebot and other search engine spiders to steer clear of my WordPress administration files. This can be accomplished by the use of a robots.txt file in the root directory.

But I now had a new problem. My blog entries were in the same directory as those admin files and the robots.txt file was also preventing search engines from indexing my entries. I'm not big-headed enough to believe that this site would be tremendously useful to most folks but there might be an entry or two in here with useful links for others if they could only find it. The trick was to allow the search engines to index my blog entries without indexing the admin files.

So I moved my blog entries to the root directory. The WordPress site has instructions for doing this and the process is straightforward. I did lose the ability to edit the blog entries directly but it's a relatively minor inconvenience and I'm willing to accept the trade-off for the added peace of mind.

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Friday, August 13, 2004

10:04 PM - Time to split

I've been trying to clear up space on my hard disk by moving files to CD-Rs and ran into a slight problem. I had a couple of large video files which wouldn't fit on a single CD-R.

Here's where HJSplit enters the picture. It's a tiny (174KB!) freeware utility that splits a large file (up to 10GB) into smaller chunks. There are more elegant solutions for splitting video files but I love HJSplit's simplicity. There's an online manual but this really is an idiot-friendly program. Cons? The only thing I can think of is that you need HJSplit when rejoining the split files but the program is so tiny you can store it with the split files.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

11:54 PM - Correction

From a previous entry:

My only disappointment is that I can't play a transforming Shapeshifter in the original campaign.

It is possible to play a Prestige Class character in the original campaign. I guess I hadn't fulfilled one of the requirements when I tried playing a Shifter the first time.

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11:54 PM - "Art can be fun"

The Cow Parade: Cows as objets d'art.

(Faves: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

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11:54 PM - Bend it like Beckham

The Guardian reports there is a significant number of gay football fans:

When England played Croatia in June, a bunch of fans gathered in the gay pub the Duke of Wellington in Soho in London. David, a 35-year-old in PR, remembers: "There was just this whole bar full of lads. Everyone was cheering and roaring for England. It was like being in any straight pub. But then not. Beckham bent over to pick up the ball. Suddenly it was a gay pub again."

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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

10:35 PM - Say it with software

Gifts for gamers you hate: #1.

(Image found on eBay.)

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10:31 PM - To sleep

From the BBC:

Encephalitis Lethargica was a devastating illness that swept the world in the 1920's.

It attacked the brain, leaving victims like living statues, speechless and motionless.

During the outbreak, nearly a million died, and millions more were left frozen inside their useless bodies, in institutions.

Noone knew what had caused it, or how to treat it.

Austrian neurologist Constantin von Economo noted:

To look at these patients, one would suppose them to be in a state of profound secondary dementia. Emotions are scarcely noticeable in the face but they are mentally intact.

You may have heard of the disease through the movie Awakenings which was based on a book by Oliver Sacks.

Encephalitis Lethargica also has distinction of being one of the few neurological diseases to have songs inspired by it. Fittingly, the three songs (count 'em: 1, 2, 3) I found online were soporific.

(Link obtained from Neil Gaiman's site.)

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Monday, August 09, 2004

9:49 PM - To T|E or to T|E2

I'm having second thoughts about getting a palmOne Tungsten E as My Very First PDA.

Now I will concede you tend to get a distorted idea of the quality of hardware (or software) when browsing online forums because posts complaining about problems tend to outnumber posts gushing about how the product works flawlessly and as advertised.

But I find it interesting that there are a couple of T|E owners (1, 2, 3) who've gone through three or four units in the 10 months the model has been available. I suppose that's encouraging in the sense that T|E owners are sufficiently impressed by it to get another unit and it's alarming in the sense that the model seems to have serious enough flaws to warrant replacement.

(The negative reviews on Amazon are particularly dismaying. I'm suspicious of some of the reviews, though. One reviewer claimed [screencap] to have removed the batteries from his T|E after having problems and that's fishy because the model has a single battery and replacing it requires a soldering iron.)

Aside from the screen buzzing problem I mentioned earlier, there are reports (1, 2, 3) of the navigator button being flawed and furthermore, the model seems to have a data corruption problem (1, 2) when syncing data with some third-party apps.

The database problem doesn't bother me since it's highly unlikely I'll be using any third-party database applications. (I doubt I'll be relying on the T|E's PIM functionality all that much.)

The hardware problems, on the other hand, do worry me. However, I'm encouraged by the fact palmOne Malaysia is offering a one year warranty -- oddly, palmOne USA is only offering a 90 day warranty -- and replacing a defective unit seems relatively straightforward.

I could opt to wait for the rumoured follow-up to the T|E. According to scuttlebutt, the T|E2 will have a 320x480 screen and it will include Bluetooth connectivity. Is there anything to the rumour? I think so. The T|E2 rumour popped up at the same time as the Zire 31 rumour and the latter was released four months later. Will Palm release the T|E2 in October? It would mark the one year anniversary of the T|E and the current T|E promotion -- an attempt to sweeten the deal to get rid of existing stock? -- ends in September.

I'll mull things over the next few days before making up my mind. This is going to set me back 200 or so dollars and I want to be sure before I plunk down the moolah.

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1:05 AM - Reyes catches the eye

Ah, it begins anew.

John Dykes is as enthusiastic as ever.

Shebby Singh is still overusing the phrase "very, very." (Everything is very, very this and very, very that.)

Steve Darby is still dour.

Martin Tyler is, as ever, a pleasure to listen to.

Andy Gray, as always, does a disturbingly good impression of a Japanese man slurping his noodles whenever he breathes loudly.

And the match itself? Well, humble pie was served but sadly, it was United who had to swallow it.

Reyes starred as Arsenal beat United 3-1 (pix) to lift the FA Community Shield. It was sobering to see United torn apart by some young Arsenal players. Fabregas, Clichy and van Persie might not be household names just yet but they will be soon enough. The Gunners could have scored six if their forwards were sharper in front of goal. Reyes somehow conjured up a strong candidate for Miss of the Season in the very first match of the season and that was after the man-of-the-match did brilliantly to get into a goal-scoring position.

United, on the other hand, looked very ordinary out there today with two exceptions. The first exception being Smith's fantastic volley for United's only goal of the match. The other exception was Bellion and his mutant-like ability to get caught in offside positions.

I don't think August and September are going to be pleasant months for United fans. United should be much stronger when van Nistelrooy, Ronaldo and Ferdinand return to action but until then it looks as if the team is going to struggle. And even at full strength, I feel the current squad lacks the kind of creativity and unpredictability necessary to win the Champions League. Ferguson needs to spend when the January transfer window opens.

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