Archive for September, 2006

Home Repair

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

It looks like every geographic area has its own version of duct tape
in the used-far-outside-its-intended-domain sense when it comes to
home repair.

In the neighbourhood of Home.1 it is paint. There is nothing that
cannot be fixed with an extra coat of paint. Door is scratched?
Paint it! Floor is not level? Paint it! Roof leaks? Paint it!
Window broken? That has not actually happened to me, but I am sure it
will get painted.

Near Home.2, things are different. The material of choice is sealant
of the type properly used for sealing around the tub. It is
everywhere. Cracked marble? Seal it! Lose tile? Seal it! Crack
between floor board and floor? Seal it! Need to make wall paper
stick at floor board? Seal it!

It could be worse, I guess. Maybe some places use floor wax or drain
opener to get through the day.

A public service announcement: anyone who suggests going furniture
shopping to me in the near future (i.e., months if not years) risks
getting whacked over the head with a corner sofa in his or her choice
of beige or red fine, Italian leather.

Treeview Sorting

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

If you click on the column header of a regular treeview, the
entries will get sorted by the values in that column.

That works fine for the file chooser, at least if you sort by
filename.

It works horribly for programs like Banshee that display a long
list of (artist,album,song) entries. Sort by artist, according
to the treeview, means something like “sort by artist, and insofar
two entries’ artist values agree, pick a random ordering”.
That is useless! (It is a different matter whether Banshee has
the right interface for its song list. Add a few thousand songs
and I have the feeling the UI will suffer.)

To be useful, one ought to have the option of telling the treeview
that sorting by artist really means to sort by the (artist,album,song)
tuple.

So what am I not seeing?

Quantum Traffic

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

In classical multi-lane traffic, cars travel in one lane or
another. When a driver wants to change to a different lane, he or she
does so quickly and order is maintained. However, in quantum
multi-lane traffic, it is quite common to observe a car that is, say,
70% in one lane and 30% in the next. The precise meaning of such a
state is unclear, probably ranging from “I think I want to be in this
lane, but I might need this other one later” to “My ego is too big for
just one lane.” Either way, it is rather unnerving for classically
trained drivers. You can find quantum multi-lane traffic all
over Beijing.

Speaking of Beijing traffic, one cannot help marvel at the city-wise
art show put on display for drivers in the city. I refer here to what
looks similar to the traffic lights you can find in most western
cities. It is only looks that are alike, though, because the Beijing
ones seem to have no traffic regulating function. Instead you can
imagine drivers admire yet another masterpiece from the artist’s “red”
period while proceeding at full throttle.

(To be fair, I’m sure there are rules. Some of them even written down, but clearly they are different from what I am used to. Then
again, I find the Pittsburgh left turns scary.)

IP-over-DNS

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

I’ve been in Beijing for a while. This is the first of a series of
blog entries relating to that trip.

Why does it cost $10 to get internet connection for one day at an
airport like JFK? The cost behind it cannot be much more than a DSL
line at $30 per month and renting a closet at the airport.
One would assume that, if allowed, any of the stores present could
easily put up a competing service. They probably need the internet
connection or something similar for credit card authorization anyway.

But clearly competition is not working here as prices have not come
down from the skies. I would assume that there is a local monopoly in
place. I can see good reasons for imposing such a thing in an
airport. After all you do not want too much unrelated radio traffic
going on when you have a fleet of airplanes to handle, but couldn’t
they at least have made it a duopoly? Or put price limits on the
monopoly?

In the meantime, would it be unethical to set up a ip-over-dns gateway?
They seem to allow dns lookups for free.