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Hymn for a Dream

Thursday, July 12, 2012

12:45PM - Android

Every few months I come back here, it seems, and most of what's going on recently involves Android phones, so here's a guide so easy even I could follow it to getting your Samsung Galaxy Tab running Cyanogenmod. Why did I feel this was necessary? Because my phone randomly bricked itself. I don't know how.

In order to get started you'll need Odin and Heimdall. You won't need Odin most of the time -- Heimdall is more flexible -- but Odin's user interface is vital for a rare but nasty case, when you can turn on your phone but the screen and buttons stay black. In this case, Odin detects the state of your phone, and makes it possible to boot into download mode with a lot less guesswork.

When using Heimdall, first connect your phone in download mode (turn off the phone, then turn it on while holding down the volume down button), then use Heimdall's zadig utility to install the drivers Heimdall needs. Select Options/List All Devices, then choose your phone, then hit "Install". Heimdall is now good to go. When using Heimdall, for the most part just copy the command lines other people give you. If you want to actually understand Heimdall, don't look at me.

If you completely brick your Galaxy Tab (the older P1000 model; I have no experience with the newer ones) then you have two options: install a stock ROM, or a custom one. It was much easier for me to find and download the custom ROMs, especially for the P1000N. Be very careful; if you have a P1000N and you install stock P1000 firmware, you'll get the problem described above, where the phone will kind of turn on, but you'll get no screen. The P1000's hardware is a little bit different in just the wrong place, it seems.

If you want to install a custom ROM, Cyanogenmod is a fairly stable and safe way to go, and it will bring your phone into the Gingerbread era. Cyanogenmod 7 is easy to flash and there's a Heimdall package for it on XDA developers. You'll need Google apps for Gingerbread, too (known as gapps and available at goo.im -- gapps-gb-20110828-signed.zip is the latest for Gingerbread).

Follow the instructions on the XDA developers page, taking note of the kernel and bootloader to use for P1000L and P1000N, and you'll have a Gingerbread tablet with very little hassle. You will need to flash a new modem if you use this ROM with a P1000N, though, and that might break your GPRS/data. It broke mine. The JP3 modem is the one you most likely want for a P1000N.

If you want Ice Cream Sandwich, it's a bit trickier, especially if you have the P1000N. The easiest way is to get HumberOS's builds, since he makes builds compatible with all the P1000x models. His blog is in Portuguese but the posts about Cyanogenmod are in English. Find the latest one of those and grab HumberOS's build. This will be flashed using the recovery mode on the phone; put the zip on the phone's internal SD card, reboot into recovery, and let the installer do the rest. You need to follow HumberOS's instructions carefully, though, especially about flashing the CwM recovery ROM first (the stock ROM and the ROM installed with Cyanogenmod 7 above are both insufficient for installing Ice Cream Sandwich).

Long story short: if you really want custom ROMs on your P1000N, don't. It's not worth it. But since you won't listen to me (I didn't, after all), I've given you most of the links you need to follow.

And backup your data first; I lost all the apps I'd downloaded and all my contacts (the Heimdall flash will do that, it's like getting a brand new phone).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

3:06PM - House of fire

In seeing yet more reports of NATO bombs going astray, I've come to think that military technology needs to be subjected to the same rigour that civilian technology does.

More and more often, the major world powers do not fight many wars themselves, but often peacekeeping or humanitarian battles on behalf of another agency. Considering this role, the occasional civilian death due to malfunction or operator error is no longer acceptable. Military technology, and the control and use of it, should be subject to the same kind of examination that other technology upon which human lives depend is. A good example is the space program -- given the difficulties that can arise if anything goes wrong, anything that goes up is analysed to death and has at least two backup systems.

In reading about the recent incidents in Libya, at least one seems to be caused by malfunction. This is said to be extremely rare -- it's only happened once in the conflict so far. That, I believe, is still far too much. Consider the failure rate of your average web server, upon which no human lives depend, and which is guaranteed to be operational 99.999% of the time. Compare that to the track record of any recent NATO action.

It's well-known that both machines and humans can fail. Software can crash, gears can jam, people can push the wrong button. It's the job of a good engineer to design around that problem -- failsafes, backup systems, bombs that simply don't explode if there's an error during the launch process. In an ordinary war, perhaps you want your bomb to go off whether or not it hits the target perfectly, but in days where the people you are trying to help are dying, a new methodology is needed.

The current failure rate is not acceptable, and is preventable. Let the world know that you will not accept substandard military technology used in peacekeeping missions, that needless civilian deaths should not be tolerated whether they're at home or overseas.

2:11PM - I'm fat, I'm fat, you know it, uh!

This is why I can't take nutrition seriously: today I had McDonalds for brunch (already had breakfast, I'll have a late lunch later on), and I saw the little nutrition info things on the boxes. For the record, I had a spicy chicken burger, medium fries, a coke, and two pineapple pies (they have pineapple pies over here, so awesome!). Here are the totals (not including the coke):

Calories: 1480 (70% of recommended daily intake).
Protein: 51% of recommended daily intake.
Fat: 123% of recommended daily intake.

That last one makes me laugh. Where is all that fat going? Even the calorie intake is pretty ridiculous, and I figured out that the McDonalds packets are using an average of the adult women's and men's recommended intake (2000 calories per day), but even if you give me an allowance of 2200, it still seems a little small. I eat twice that some days.

I know nutritionists are doing their best to figure out how this stuff all works, but it's not all there yet, and those little labels on the back of your food? They're the equivalent of a prescription for bloodletting at the barber's. In rocket science at least the laws of physics are very well known, even if they're not easy. The chemical alphabet soup that is the human body? Good luck, you'll need it.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

12:00AM - Your tears don't fall

So it turns out I've made a rather big mistake. I thought I was stronger than it seems I am -- or I thought I was weaker than I turned out to be. The result is the same. I think I thought myself clever, or I just assumed too much. The result is the same.

And I will not be the only one to pay penance. I'm so sorry, all I wanted was a warmer, friendlier world. I'm sorry.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

12:59AM - The grass is green

Jianmeicao (健美操) is a kind of dance aerobics, and in the past four days I looked at some videos and choreographed a routine for it. Now I have to teach all my workmates the routine - it's easy enough, it should be possible to learn in under a week. Because that's all we have, the show's on Monday. Lovely people these, know how to plan ahead, all that.

The word itself is funny, because although written down it's different, when spoken it's almost an exact homophone for "looking at beautiful grass" (it becomes obvious once you put the missing words in to make a less ambiguous sentence: "kanjian mei de cao"). I also taught myself to make a paper rose - now that's something that will come in handy.

Yoga's getting hard - there are all sorts of things I hadn't thought about before, and keeping everything in mind when practicing asanas is not easy. Still, if it was easy then we'd all be gurus, right?

Friday, April 8, 2011

12:41PM - Lemonnnnnnnnnnn

I found lemon balm! In China!

This is remarkable. If you're not familiar with Chinese cuisine, it almost universally (North, South, East and West) prefers not to use any kind of herbs (in the culinary sense of the word, not the botanical). Coriander/cilantro is the only herb I've ever seen used, although some spices and other seasonings are used regularly (chilli, salt, and MSG being the most common).

So how did lemon balm get here? You'll never guess what function the deliciously lemony-smelling lemon balm plant serves in modern Chinese society. Go on. Guess. I'll wait. I'm on the internet, I'll wait until the connection resets.

It's used to "detoxify" paint fumes (it most likely just covers up the smell; I have my doubts that it really has any detoxifying effects) in newly refurbished apartments. Its Chinese name is, in fact, "poison-inhaling grass" (xiducao, 吸毒草).

So I bought a plant and I'm going to use it TO MAKE TOAST! For Science!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

10:27PM - See my baby walking down the street, I see red, I see red, I see red

The cable (the ever-so-nifty Apple® cable that only Apple manufacture (and because they're the only ones, do it at a rather steep price) because their computers are the only ones with this absolutely brilliant video out port while all the other laptops are stuck in the dark ages with a so-standard-it-hurts VGA out port that almost any monitor can be connected to, I mean what fun is that) that connects my monitor to my laptop has decided that blue and green are optional, and unlike the last couple of weeks, creative positioning of the cable to get whichever wire is loose to unloosen has failed to work.

In other words, my monitor only shows red.

The really interesting thing about this, though, is that the things my brain remembers the colour of are still that colour, so long as I don't think about it too much. Some bits turn invisible, of course, if there's no colour in the red channel, but otherwise, I'm getting the distinctly strange effect of having some shades of red appear as green or even blue.

Just when I think I understand colour. Maybe I should break another cable and see if I can get it to show only blue.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

12:36PM - Science fiction double feature

Single feature, actually. I stumbled across Daily Science Fiction recently, and have been reading it on a regular basis since. You might want to have a look too, if you enjoy quality science fiction short stories.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

1:09PM - I'd rather stay here with all the madmen than perish with the sad men roaming free

Is the "literary" genre simply a catch-all for work that doesn't fit into a genre that already exists? I do try hard not to think of literary fiction as the stuck-up snobs of the fiction world, but they make it so hard.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

2:08PM - Robot robot robot

Since he's been writing, and winning awards, for ten years now, I must have been living under a rock to not have heard of Ted Chiang. More surprisingly, given the awards he's received (the Nebula award among them), many of his stories are available on-line. I just read The Lifecycle of Software Objects, and it's a brilliant piece of fiction. It doesn't sound like it from the title; just ignore the title. It's surprisingly deep, almost entirely character-driven sci-fi, and it's hidden behind very utilitarian prose. This isn't the kind of story to sweep you in with amazing turns of phrase and moments of description that will make you weep with beauty. No, this story is not that at all, and yet it is this way because the prose serves the story, not the other way around.

But this is not a review. Just go and read it. It's not long.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

11:04PM - What's going on

Salary is like menstruation: it comes once a month, and after a week it's gone.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

11:52PM - Bunnies, bunnies, it must be bunnies!

Happy Year of the Rabbit*, everyone!

* They're immune to myxomatosis now, so you'd better learn to like them!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

12:15PM - Just like everybody else

So I just mentioned Spock and "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" in another discussion, relating to teaching kids, because there are just so many of them and the ones that I feel deserve attention don't get it because the ones that need or demand it are taking up too much time. I feel especially bad because many of the deserving ones are just so patient. They sit there and wait their turn until I've finished dealing with all the bouncers, runners, screamers, criers and completely-off-the-wallers, and they're not always happy, but they wait anyway. This can't be doing good things to their psyche and they will grow up either with a grudge, or become just like everybody else because you don't get anywhere by being nobody. You have to shout and fight and push and shove if you want to get what you want, because the meek inherit nothing, not even the scraps from the pig trough, because pigs are thorough. If you are good and subservient and do everything they tell you to do then you will get as a reward the honour of being their slave until your usefulness has been burned out of you and they throw you aside.

Screw the many. If you have a voice in the world, fight for those who have no voice, so that they have a choice - so they have the freedom to live a life of their own.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
-The United States Declaration of Independence.

Monday, January 10, 2011

11:28PM - Turn to the left

I don't envy the famous anymore. Not that I ever did, but I now especially don't. I had a reporter from a newspaper following me around taking photos of me doing various fairly normal activities for the last three hours, and the novelty of stopping to take a photo every few seconds starts to wear thin about the time you have to pose with food halfway to you mouth, after a long and tiring day. Perhaps I'm just a curmudgeon. The reporter's actually a nice guy, and he takes very good photos.

As to the why - I'm a foreigner. That's the long and short of it. Me living here for three years is apparently interesting enough to make the local paper.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

10:58PM - Only you know

Not only photos but a video will follow, possibly even soon! Even though it will be a crappy video - not much you can do with a hand-held digital point-and-shoot in noisy and crowded conditions.

What happened on the 30th of December was this: there was this big end-of-year thing for a university, and many of the teachers did performances of one kind or another, and one of the teachers wanted to do two-person yoga with me. We did so, and we did pretty well too. 3rd place out of 17. I don't know who came first, I'll check tomorrow, but I strongly suspect it was the guys making tea with the very pretty calligraphy.

Also possibly perhaps more exciting news, but that can wait until it's actually news, and not just possibly perhaps news.

All in all, a good end to the last and start to this year. I'm looking forward to maybe having free time next month? No, too much to ask for.

Monday, December 27, 2010

12:59AM - I hate the world today

Not really. Actually, I'm only mildly annoyed, and that's at management at work, who need to be treated like little children if you want anything to happen.

But I won't talk about that. Instead, here are some photos of me and my girlfriend doing yoga together (no, we still have our clothes on, get your mind out of the gutter you perv). Shot at a studio; I like the grey background best. Simple works.

I believe I can flyCollapse )

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

11:12PM - On the top of my things to do list

It's pimping time! You've always wanted to write a story a day. No, there's no need to be so humble as to deny it. I know. Now is your chance, for there are many titles over at the Story a Day website, floundering, desiring of your attention. Come on, I procrastinate like mad goats, and I can do it. So can you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

3:56PM - Hot tramp, I love you so

Not done with the hate. You know, this wouldn't be nearly such a problem if there were English-language video sharing websites other than youtube. A single website is blocked, and entire continents of information are now inaccessible.

3:41PM - All the words they steal

HATE.

EDIT, re-edited: unicode error not Great Firewall's fault. I still hate it. Original post, edited to remove single erroneous character, follows:

The Great Firewall of China has officially progressed from a minor annoyance into actually hampering perfectly innocent things I want to do. See, most of the blocks don't bother me - I never used facebook much to begin with, and they've unblocked livejournal and wikipedia. The one that gets me right now is youtube. It would be fine if it was even only youtube, but in practice all similar websites are similarly unavailable or crippled.

Youtube isn't normally a big deal. Video sharing websites are a dime a dozen over here. Tons and tons of them, and without the copyright restrictions youtube has. Fine for watching movies, but utterly crap for searching for stuff I actually want to watch, like belly dancing tutorials. I know there's tons of stuff on youtube on this very subject, but I can't see any of it, and I sure as hell can't search for it on Chinese video sharing websites because I can't write Chinese. Besides, it'd be nice to watch something I didn't have to strain my brain to understand, or is actually a primary source, rather than a Chinese person who studied it and then passed it on (not that there aren't good dancers here, there are many, but is it too much to ask to see belly dancing videos of, say, Egyptians? Turks?). SO MUCH HATE. Can't someone give me a free (of restrictions) line to the outside world, here?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

12:06AM - We'll put this thing to bed when I crack your head open

Some of you may have been aware of and even participated in isadg. Whether you did or not, I urge you to check out the new official-like website, isadg.com. Thank the very sparkly stefficus, preferably with a virgin sacrifice (celery is fine too), and head on over. New titles every day, really!

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