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... for homeopathic treatments.

I regularly use the Elmex brand of toothpaste. I think I shall have to rethink that.

Today I saw their newest product variant. It's a toothpaste that prominently features a label "compatible with homeopathic treatments".

On the back label, they explain. "For homeopathic treatments it is recommended to avoid strong essential oils, to avoid impeding the effectiveness of these treatments. Therefore this toothpaste does not contain menthol, campher, ..."

What am I to think of a company simultaneously

(a) advertising its commitment to scientific research, see their web page

(b) believing in Hahnemann's mysticism of atom resonance magically transferring healthy effects through dilutions where not a single atom is left of the agent, with the agent selected by the similarity approach in the first place. A theory which has repeatedly and utterly failed to prove itself in actual scientific studies, and whose proponents claim that this is so "because the studies were conducted in the expectation of failure".

And next year, we're back to witch doctors and leeches. I'm sure they'll have a toothpaste for that as well, that one black instead of white, because "for witch doctor treatments it is recommended to avoid the color white".

Oh, the stupidity...
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I am finally able to watch videos and blu-rays with my new computer. And I can now compute my Windows Experience Index without constantly getting "Display driver has stopped and has successfully recovered."

Turns out the bios of the graphics card was buggy to the point where playing blu-rays with the version of PowerDVD that came with the card was completely impossible on windows 7 64 bit.

A few weeks ago, Gigabyte published an update that fixed the bugs. Before that, for months they happily sold cards that wouldn't play videos and wouldn't allow you to compute the WEI. How that can have passed through their testing department is completely beyond me. This was certainly the last gigabyte product I have bought. I spent lots of time hunting down a solution to this issue.


And why on earth is it that there is no way to flash an ATI graphics card under Windows 7 64 bit, even though the card I have is perfectly current (Radeon HD5870)? Their flash utility doesn't even start under windows 7 64bit, it just starts a background process that hogs 100% CPU, so getting a task manager up to kill it takes several minutes...

Actually if you read the forums they all suggest doing it from a DOS command line anyway, because when flashing under windows you have a certain chance to fry your card.

"Just use an MS-DOS boot floppy disk", they cheerfully say.

Well... Let's go through the checklist.

MS-DOS? No check.

Floppy disk drive? No check.


I ended up having to try 6 or 7 versions of older Windows boot images until I finally found one that could be correctly transferred to my USB disk drive, and that wouldn't boot into a blue screen on my computer.

First I tried Win XP SP 3 - happened to have my old install CD lying around. Install in a VM, make a boot image. Nope. Blue Screen when booting from it.

Then I tried various MS DOS versions. Surprise, surprise, most of these I couldn't even properly extract because they came in the form of ZIP files that unpacked into a DriveImage executable. And that would ask for a floppy disk to write to and refuse to simply unpack the "#"§$% files. Newsflash: I don't have a floppy drive. This is 2010, not 1995. Nobody has them any more.

Then I tried FreeDOS. Wouldn't boot either. Plus they don't give you the files, just an installer ISO image, which forces you to once again install just to get at the three or four hidden files that you actually want to copy.

In the end, I found an iso-image of a repair CD with a USB-enabled version of Windows 98. Transferred that to USB, using a tool from HP. That booted into command line and I was finally able to flash my card.


But then, gigabyte again. They place two files on their website, essentially named

bios_f5
bios_f6a (newest date)

Which one would you have used? If I ask like that, surely there's a catch.

Turns out the a in "bios_f6a" stands for "alpha". So now I had a very unstable graphics card. Good thing I still had another computer around, so I could unpack the other bios. Boot back into my windows 98 USB disk image. Flash again.

And finally a non-broken graphics card. Only now the fan won't go below 50%. Ah well, I'll keep the windows 98 image around until gigabyte manages to produce bios_f6, I guess.

*click*

Apr. 23rd, 2010 09:05 pm
tchk: Squirrel Badge (Default)
Doesn't the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern have its own squirrel population to take photos of? So why is it they always want a photo of me when I drive a car through it???
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Today, we got a small chocolate bunny and a few chocolate eggs for all the families who live in the same building as we do. And, just to be sneaky, we placed the same little Easter nest in front of our own door.

Every time we do this, the kids next door will post a nice thank you note to the Easter Bunny. And it's good they do, we're just helping her out. We rodents gotta stick together.
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Ah, the blue kitty things. Just went to see them again. This time in 2D.

I'm surprised by the discussion whether the film is anti-American. It is only if you have an interesting definition of America.

I'm only slightly less surprised about the claims that it has a racist message - that Jake is white is never really important for the story. And as for needing him to help the Na'vi, it is made pretty clear that he provides them with inside information and a helpful dose of thinking outside their particular boxes. And it is made abundantly clear that the humans have lots of boxes of their own, and that for the most part the boxes of the Na'vi are morally superior.

If you must interpret the movie as a social commentary rather than a story, I'd say it warns of ruthless corporations more than anything ("One thing that shareholders hate more than bad public opinion is a bad quarterly statement", quoted from memory).

And of course it's not a bit misanthropic. Not at all. There's just evil humans that try to con and eventually murder pretty blue kittycat aliens, all for money.
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may 2010 be better than 2009, which I remember as one of the most stressful years I've ever had, even though I cannot name the events that made it so.
tchk: Squirrel Badge (Default)


... was given to me yesterday by my love.

Avatar

Dec. 23rd, 2009 10:33 am
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You MUST go see that movie.

It's the best movie I've seen in a long time. It may be a bit like Dances with Wolves, but ... it's Dances with Wolves with a visually stunning, alien planet, and with pretty blue kittycat aliens with tiger stripes and tails.
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Today ...

Me: "have you decided on the document structure yet?" (it's only been under discussion for several weeks now)

Client: "We have agreed on a proposal for a procedure to work out a documentation management method."

Me: *snrrrrrk* . o O (must ... keep ... from ... laughing ... help!)

Einen Antrag auf Erteilung eines Antragformulars
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Over the last two weeks, I have done something that I've really missed in the past two years. I've done a bit of coding just for fun, and along with it, started writing up some documentation.

You see, there's this open source implementation of SCA (Service Component Architecture) called tuscany, an apache project like tomcat.

And as with most, if not all, apache projects, I found it to be great software but sorely lacking in documentation. Especially documentation that a beginner should be able to understand. So I wrote up a beginner's guide for it.

And since this was written for my personal fun, I decorated it with squirrels. The coding of the project itself is still under way, and may yet turn into a useful component.
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I have just updated my openSuSE 11.1 vmware image with the latest updates.

Guess what: Tomcat 6 does not even start any more. Again. Exactly the same as the last two times I updated.

Every time I update SuSE, tomcat breaks. *sigh*

Why? Because in /usr/bin/dtomcat6 the $JAVA_HOME variable is not set, which means that all it produces is

/bin/java no such file or directory

The offending line in the script is, "${JAVA_HOME}/bin/java". Which is correct if you set $JAVA_HOME, as you must if using java. But /etc/init.d/tomcat6 doesn't.

It is impossible to even start tomcat, the script bombs immediately. Which means the person who made this update package cannot possibly have tested it...
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Today we went to the Berlin city zoo for a few test photos for my new lens. So now it's photo time. First, have a really cute critter:

Mungo

In the nighthouse, this fennec was sound asleep, and thus lay perfectly still:

Fennec

A pair of lion juveniles at play. If you look closely, you can still see their cub spots in places. I also love what the zoo has done with the big cat enclosures. Spacy and with lots of greens:

Pair of lionsGotcha!
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I am not at all amused about your new "feature" called "Navigationshilfe" that messes up DNS lookups by returning the address of a search page whenever I enter a domain name that does not exist!

Obvious problems:
- this breaks ALL other protocols, for example:

ping weriuzweiur.de
Pinging weriuzweiur.de [80.156.86.78] with 32 bytes of data:


Hint: weriuzweiur.de does not exist. The correct response should be

Ping request could not find host weriuzweiur.de. Please check the name and try again.


- with web links, it provides your search page with any subdomains or parameters I may have entered in my URL. This is an invasion into my online privacy.

Example (just happened to me): my company is using an internal domain that does not exist in the outside world. I inadvertently clicked on a bookmark while not having the company VPN running. Now I need to change my internal company password because it was included with the book mark, so now Telekom knows the password.

Yes, I know I can disable this "Feature" in your customer service center.

I should not have to do work just to make my internet connection work as specified in the relevant RFCs.

Thank you.
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We've just returned from a wonderful one week vacation to the tiny village of Vagnas, France.

Apart from sitting around, talking, playing, watching the scenery (the untouched river bed of the Ard├ęche is particularly beautiful), we visited a stalactite cave. Have a few photos:









Having seen this, I can now understand why some might want to be cave squirrels.
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"Daher aktiviert das Fireface automatisch das Non-Audio-Bit im digitalen Datenstrom. Dies verhindert bei den meisten SPDIF-Receivern eine Verarbeitung des Signals, und damit Beschädigungen an Mensch und Material."

(Therefore the Fireface automatically sets the non audio bit in the digital bitstream. This will prevent most SPDIF-Receivers from processing the signal, thereby preventing damage to people and material.)


"Unter Windows 95 und 98 musste man sich um die MME Puffergröße keine Gedanken machen. Latenzen unter 46 ms wurden von Windows wirkungsvoll verhindert."

(Under Windows 95 and 98 you did not have to worry about the MME buffer size. Windows was perfectly effective at preventing latencies lower than 46 ms.)


Sorry, MOTU, you fail again. That was definitely my last dalliance with your products.

I was outraged when you thought it was ok to force owners of the old PCI-3xx card that never really adhered to the PCI standard (and therefore wouldn't work with XP) to buy the new PCI-4xx card for several hundred bucks when you could have built your hardware properly in the first place. But I swallowed it, the card was many years old, and warranty had long run out on the 1224.

But today I have returned your firewire portable audio interface to the dealership, because your drivers just do not work "under bootcamp" (as most Mac websites seem to euphemistically be calling running Windows on a Mac :P). The forums are full of problem reports, and apparently some folks contacted MOTU, only to get the response "not supported, use MacOS instead".

Too bad, the interface had a small effects section built in, which would have been nice to use while recording vocals dry but hearing them with a bit of reverb on the headphones.

But I'm not losing ten years of work in the form of Samplitude and Sonar projects, which are not available for Mac OS.

So now I have a Fireface 400 instead, and that works just fine. The drivers, including the ASIO control panel and Mixer are only 730 kB in size. When I saw this, I just knew this hardware would work perfectly. And of course it did. (Hm, perhaps Vodafone should hire RME's programmer to work on their Mobile Connect software? It might suddenly lose a lot of bloat.)

Now if only the WLAN chip in the MacBook wasn't so disgustingly bad, I'd get latency free sound even while online. But that isn't so important because I don't usually chat while recording or playing live music.
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... is now my cellphone.

I finally got too annoyed with Vodafone's unbelievably bad UMTS software (30 MB RAM eaten all the time, causes bluescreens for me, puts itself into Autostart every time you run it, then slows system startup by a full minute until removed again, ...) I don't understand how anyone could write such horrible software given that a UMTS card is a #/"§& Modem behind a serial port.

So I put the SIM card from my original PCMCIA card into my cellphone, a Nokia E51, which I now cannot use for phone calls any more. And installed WalkingHotspot on it, which turns it into a WEP enabled hotspot (no WPA2, unfortunately, because with Ad Hoc WLAN WPA2 doesn't work).

Not only can I now connect both my computers to the same connection, there is also no more software needed on the system. Good riddance, Vodafone Mobile Connect. I just need to enable WLAN now, and click ok on my cellphone whenever a client wants to connect.

Oh, and did I mention that Vodafone's transparent http proxy is totally impossible. Not only does it "downgrade" pictures, which I could live with, it messes up some https connections, which I find very scary...

But that's just fine. I need better security than WEP anyway, so thank putty for SSH tunnels. Fixes the proxy problem once and for all, too.

I'd be all praise for WalkingHotspot if their web shop hadn't just now decided to give me an error right when submitting my payment confirmation (it costs money, only 7 day free trial), so I had to do it all again, and now I don't know if I've bought it twice. Not overly worried about $24, if all else fails I can get them back via chargeback on the credit card.
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Finally I have been in the mood to compose orchestral music again. I haven't done that in many years.

I find it takes about an hour to write eight seconds, and that is just to have all the parts for all the instruments. It'll take about the same amount of time again to go through all the tracks and add detailed volume and modulation control events, and add more detailed tempo flow.

Tech stuff

Jan. 16th, 2009 06:37 pm
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Two weeks of stay home vacation are almost over. It was so good to finally have some time to do non work related things again. Let me tell you about one of the things I did.

Some tech geekery under the cut. Warning, may make Apple fanatics cringe. )
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What a weekend.

On Friday I took the train to Cologne together with Tekumseh (don't know if he has a lj). Met up with my kittycat, who gave me two birthday gifts, one somewhat expected and the other totally unexpected. Seems he stayed up half of the two previous nights to bake a cake made of chocolate, nuts, almond paste and cream. So sweet of him, and just perfect for a squirrel like me. Speaking of sweet, the cake itself tried to top the record set on the calorie scale by that infamous chocolate cake of death some ten years ago for a different occasion.

Having checked into the hotel we were staying at over the weekend, we left our stuff there , but took the cake along to go to the "Cafe Especial", a Mexican restaurant. It seems when you need a restaurant where you can eat at 10pm, your choices mostly are Mexican or Greek. Well, I didn't mind, I like Mexican anyway, and the restaurant served tasty food.

When everyone had arrived, I unwrapped the birthday presents my friends had given me. Thank you all so much! I got two additions to my DVD animated film collection (why won't they make more cartoons with squirrels?), two calendars (with squirrels), some red wine (just put into squirrel), a baileys drink set (more sweet stuff for squirrels), and a pack of Nuremberg gingerbread (for squirrels).

We had been a bit sneaky and had given the restaurant the cake to keep in the fridge until everyone was done eating. Then we brought it out, and when we left, everyone was so incredibly stuffed that we were joking about rolling places a lot.

The next day, we got up late, walked around idly in Cologne a bit, had steak for a very late breakfast, then sat in the hotel room some more. We have very little time to just sit and talk among ourselves anymore, so that was a highly welcome opportunity.

In the evening, we walked the short distance to the venue the Cologne Fur Dance was taking place at. From what I gathered, the Zeughaus is a dance school that rents out their place for parties at night. And that's exactly what we had. A dance party. DJs Cheetah, ORCI, BigBlueFox, and Kenai did a great job providing the music, the XXXXXXL fog machine made our embarrassing lack of dancing skills so hard to see that it didn't matter anymore, and our fursuiters provided the cuddly scenery and lots of fun with passing cars and pedestrians outside the door was had.

Today, we slept in a bit, and in the early afternoon I had to say goodbye to Tabalon for the week, as usual. But now I feel I've properly celebrated my birthday!
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We have just returned home from Eurofurence 14. The short version of the con report is "It was wonderful, a shame it's over."

Welcome sign

But I'll give you the long version, with pictures, if you only follow this link."
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