Updates from May, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Urban 02:04 on 20 May. 2011 Permalink |  

    Dr. Strangelove endorses our app 

    It appears that Dr. Strangelove in the movie with the same title1 also uses the Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer slide rule in a scene or two. I just spotted it (and I have proof: see two screen grabs below, around 01h25 in the movie).

    So now I can add a tagline to Nuke Effects: As seen in Dr. Strangelove.


    1. that is, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 1964 []
  • Urban 14:02 on 14 May. 2011 Permalink |  

    Nuke Effects for iPad 

    Nuke Effects, an iPad version of the once famous Nuclear Bomb Effects Computer just hit the App Store.

    From the Nuke Effects description:


    In 1960s, when the Cold War was at its peak and the world’s two superpowers were locked in a nuclear arms race, the U.S. Government Printing Office published a handy slide rule for estimating the effects of nuclear weapon explosions. It was available for $1.00 to anyone interested in “the study of effects data derived from nuclear weapons tests and from experiments designed to duplicate various characteristics of nuclear weapons”.

    Since then, many things have changed and this slide rule remains a relic of the past. Having become a collector’s item, it is only available for a handy sum on auction sites and as a rather impractical web-based version. Until now.

    This app is a faithful (although—for greater ease of reading—somewhat oversized) digital replica of the real thing. By responding to your touch much like the original plastic version, it brings this museum piece back to life.

    With it you can evaluate 28 different effects of nuclear weapons, of which 13 relate to blast, 5 to thermal radiation, 1 to initial nuclear radiation, 2 to early fallout, 6 to crater dimensions, and 1 to fireball dimensions. Most of the parameters are presented as functions of range and yield.

    The original slide rule was based on a book “The effects of nuclear weapons”. This hefty 700+ page publication (which is in public domain, as well as the slide rule itself) is available at the support site of this app, together with links to the resources used to create this app.


    This app is free (as in free beer). It was inspired by the Trigonir iPad App of my good colleague Dragan and by the web version of the slide rule at Fourmilab. The app was created using the materials, generously provided on the Fourmilab website, which you can also use to build your own paper&plastic version.

  • Urban 00:07 on 12 May. 2011 Permalink |  

    A little home server that could 

    My home server is an old EEE 701 netbook with a 2TB WD elements attached. My selection process was mostly guided by three factors: I wanted a small and silent system with low power consumption.

    I was considering many alternatives, among them a PC Engines Alix machine (500MHz Geode + 256MB RAM) with only 3-5 watts of power consumption, but eventually I decided on a 7″ EEE, for the following reasons:

    • integrated UPS (laptop battery with >2hrs of life; saved me more than once)
    • integrated monitor and keyboard (priceless when things get dirty)
    • expandable RAM (I installed 1GB)
    • low power consumption (with disabled wifi, screen and camera) at 7-9W
    • slightly faster CPU than Alix (EEE is underclocked from 900 to 600MHz, which should extend battery life. I played with overclocking, but concluded it was not worth the fear of an occasional unexpected freeze)
    • much lower power consumption than modern-day quad cores, but just as much CPU power as high-end PCs 10 years ago (much more is not needed for a file server anyway)
    • small form factor
    • cheap (can obtain a second-hand replacement for a small price, should one be needed)
    • had one lying around anyway, collecting dust.

    I run on it a n-lited Windows XP. I gave this a lot of thought and was deciding between XP, Ubuntu and the original Xandros. Still have two of them installed (on separate media: internal SSD and a SD card), but eventually XP won because of the following reasons:

    • On-the-fly NTFS compression (reduces used storage on 4GB SSD system disk from 3.9GB to 2.8GB and my data from 1500 to 1200GB; in other words: with more than 1GB of junk installed in program files, the 4GB internal drive is still only 65% full; NTFS also supports shadow copies of open files and hard links for rsync link farm backups).
    • Some windows-only services and utils I use (EyeFi server, Fitbit uploader, Total CommanderWinDirStat, etc.).
    • Actually *working* remote desktop (as compared to various poor-performing VNC-based solutions).
    • N-lited XP (with most of unnecessary services completely removed) has a memory footprint of <100 MB and easily clocks 6 months of uptime.

    I do occasionally regret my choice, but for now familiarity and convenience still trump unrealized possibilities. But upcoming BTRFS might be just enough to tip the scale in favor of Linux.


    What I run on it

    • Filezilla server for remote FTP access (I use FTP-SSL only)
    • Rsync server (Deltacopy) to efficiently sync stuff from remote locations
    • WinSSHD to scp stuff from remote locations
    • Remote desktop server for local access
    • Windows/samba shares for easy local file access
    • Firefly for exposing MP3 library to PC/Mac computers running iTunes (v1586 works best, later versions seem to hang randomly)
    • A cloud backup service to push the most important stuff to the cloud
    • EyeFi server, so photos automatically sync from camera to the server
    • “Time Machine server”, which is nothing but a .sparsebundle on a network share, allowing me to backup my Mac machines (tutorial)
    • Gmailbackup, which executes as a scheduled task.


    Some other random considerations and notes

    • Disable swap file when using SSD (especially such a small one).
    • No more partitions for large drives: I just “split” the 2TB drive into dirs. The times of partitioning HDDs are long gone and such actions brought nothing but pain when a small partition was getting full and needed resizing. Think of dirs as of “dynamic pools”.
    • No WiFi means no reliability issues, more bandwidth, more free spectrum for other users and more security.
    • WD Elements runs 10ºC cooler than WD Mybook when laid horizontally and is also cheaper.
    • Use Truecrypt containers to mount sensitive stuff. When machine is rebooted, they are unmounted and useless until the password is entered again.
    • Use PKI auth instead of keyboard-interactive authentication for publicly open remote connections.
    • Use firewall to allow only connections from trusted sources.

    In any case, this is just a file/media/backup server and I’ve been quite satisfied with it so far (I’ve been using it for over a year). However, all my web servers are virtual, hosted elsewhere and regularly rsynced to this one.

    • dare 19:30 on 12 May. 2011 Permalink

      i’m impressed. se posebej, da mas cas merit temperaturo diska v razlicnih legah 🙂
      seriously, mene si preprical. pravis, da se dobijo rabljeni po 100 EUR?

      ej, kaj ce bi tole cross-postal na Obrlizg? men se zdi ful fajn geeky stuff

    • wujetz 08:58 on 13 May. 2011 Permalink

      mene tud preprical…

      sam eno vprasanje – a je zadeva dovolj mocna, da postavis gor se kak game server (BF, CS,…)?

    • Urban 21:58 on 13 May. 2011 Permalink

      @dare: tole s temperaturo sem odkril slucajno, ker vsake toliko zalaufam odlicen in zastonj CrystalDiskInfo (pove kdaj se v SMART zacnejo nabirat napake, kar pomeni da bo disk odletu). Tam je blo pa z velikimi rdecimi crkami pisalo 60ºC, kar ni good; WD Elements ne pride cez 45ºC.

      za rabljene poglej na bolho; zdele lih edn prodaja za 99eur celo z 2GB rama..

      @wujetz: nimam pojma kok to pozre cpuja; stock frekveca je underclockana na 630MHz, normalna je nekih 900MHz, lahko ga pa navijes celo do 1GHz (enostavno izberes brzino iz menija odlicnega utilitija http://www.cpp.in/dev/eeectl/ ).
      Giga je ze solidna brzina, ampak za to mors met neko mal bolse hlajenje (vsaj ventilator na max)

      za kej vec info prever forum zagrizenih userjev: http://forum.eeeuser.com/viewforum.php?id=3

  • Urban 02:18 on 11 May. 2011 Permalink |  

    Sladkor: grenka resnica 

    V spodnjem predavanju (1.5h) avtor razlaga večino “civilizacijskih bolezni” z enim samim krivcem: fruktozo. Najbrž ne škodi, da je dober govornik, ampak argumenti, ki jih predstavi, so precej smiselni.

    Fruktoza je ogljikov hidrat, ki sladkorju daje sladek okus. Namizni sladkor (saharoza) je sestavljen iz ene molekule glukoze (dobra za nas, ker jo lahko metabolizira praktično vsaka celica v telesu) in ene molekule fruktoze (slaba za nas, ker jo lahko metabolizirajo le jetra).

    Bistvo v enem stavku:

    Kako rečeš snovi, ki jo lahko metabolizirajo le jetra, ta pa ob tem ustvarjajo vrsto problemov? -Strup.

    Teza avtorja je, da je poglavitni razlog za debelost, diabetes in kardiovaskularne bolezni zahodne civilizacije kriva fruktoza; te pa zaužijemo še več, odkar so malomarni znanstveniki v 70-ih letih zmotno ugotovili, da so za vse bolezni krive maščobe.

    To je sprožilo poplavo izdelkov brez maščob in brez okusa, ki so jih izboljšali z dodajanjem sladkorja/fruktoze (to danes najdemo skoraj v vsaki hrani v obliki koruznega sirupa, ki je izjemno poceni). Fruktoza pa za povrhu, poleg številnih drugih škodljivih učinkov, tudi zavira občutek sitosti (možgani še kar naprej mislijo, da stradajo), na koncu pa prav tako konča v obliki maščobe.

    Predavanje zaključi z nekaj predlogi:

    • nobenih sladkih pijač/sokov: fruktoza v tekoči obliki se najhitreje absorbira in naredi največ škode;
    • čimveč vlaknin: “fruktoza v naravi je zapakirana skupaj s protistrupom,” zato je sadje o.k. V bistvu je razlog to, da se tako fruktoza dlje zadrži v črevesju, kjer jo sprocesirajo bakterije.
    • čimveč gibanja, ki predvsem pospeši metabolizem, tako da se fruktoza v jetrih sprocesira preden pride do škodljivih posledic.

    Če imate uro in pol časa, priporočam ogled. Ob poplavi vseh nasprotujočih si informacij na temo prehrane se mi je tole zdelo zelo kot “velika poenotena teorija vsega,” ki marsikaj razjasni. In ki se sklada tudi z logiko: če pomislimo, je koncentriran sladkor edina “hrana”, ki v naravi ne obstaja in ji naše telo ni bilo tekom evolucije nikoli izpostavljeno — tako da nanjo tudi ne more biti prilagojeno.

    • Roman 08:16 on 11 May. 2011 Permalink

      Coca cola Conspiracy.

    • Urban 22:01 on 13 May. 2011 Permalink

      Kokakola ma še en hud feature: nima “taste memoryja”.. se pravi, ne naveličaš se sladkega okusa, kot se ga recimo pri čokoladi..

  • Urban 22:50 on 4 May. 2011 Permalink |  

    Kako do Pandore 

    Ko se mi posluša glasba in mi gre po glavi kak komad, si ga najprej poiščem na Youtubu. Potem brž alt-tabnem stran in se zatopim v druge zadeve. Ko je muzike konec, sledi zlovešča tišina, ki je najprej niti ne opazim. Nato sem jezen sam nase, ker je nisem takoj opazil, in se z muko spravim brskat po related komadih, upajoč, da najdem še kakšnega, ki bo skladen z mojim počutjem in z melodijo, ki mi hodi po glavi.

    Ponavadi si zavrtim še enkrat istega in upam, da se bom vmes spomnil kakšnega pametnega nadaljevanja. Pa se ne. Ker vmes razmišljam o drugih rečeh. Namreč, všeč mi je, če je dobra glasba ozadje, ko delaš kaj drugega, ne pa, da si aktiven D.J., ki razmišlja samo to, kaj bo še zavrtel.

    Pa saj obstaja nekaj zanimivih rešitev; imamo Youtube playliste, vendar moraš najti kako dobro, kar predstavlja preveliko začetno investicijo. Nekaj časa sem bil navdušen nad Zebralizerjem, dokler nisem doživel overdosa Lady Gage (katere glasba mi je sicer všeč, ampak po celi diskografiji se pa nažreš).

    Zato že nekaj časa z velikim zadovoljstvom uporabljam Pandoro. Gre za storitev, ki temelji na profesionalno katalogizirani glasbi: vsak komad oceni glasbeni ekspert in mu določi glasbeni genom. Tak genom je sestavljen iz približno 400 lastnosti komada (tempo, melodija, ritem, forma, kompozicija, besedilo, ipd.). Ekspertu glasbene teorije (ki je dejanska oseba, ne algoritem) naj bi ocena enega 4-minutnega komada vzela 20-30 minut. S takim potratnim načinom analize delajo že od leta 2000 naprej, več deset ekspertov pa vztrajno dodaja vedno novo glasbo.

    Uporabniška izkušnja izgleda takole: izbereš nek začetni komad (ali samo avtorja) in s tem ustvariš “radijsko postajo.” Potem ti Pandorini algoritmi na osnovi glasbenega genoma sami izberejo naslednji komad, ter vse nadaljnje. Če ti je kakšen res všeč, ga lahko lajkaš, če ni preveč všeč, ga dislajkaš, če pa ga naravnost ne preneseš, ga lahko preskočiš (skačeš pa lahko samo naprej). Na podlagi tvojih mnenj se postaja prilagaja in vedno bolj ustreza tvojemu okusu. Ko se ti zahoče česa drugega, enostavno ustvariš novo postajo, na staro pa se lahko vrneš kasneje.

    Pa še nekaj, ravno včeraj je Pandora objavila novico, da so katalogizirali tudi več 10.000 skečev več kot 700 stand-up komikov, tako da po novem ponujajo tudi personalizirane zabavne vsebine.

    Toda (vedno pride toda).

    Pandoro lahko poslušaš samo v ZDA. To dejstvo me je dolgo jezilo in sem IP geolokacijo poskušal obiti z različnimi brezplačnimi proksiji. Zadeva, ki se je nekako najbolje odrezala, je bil tunelski program Ultrasurf za anonimizacijo surfanja. Žal pa sem bil do njega vedno malo skeptičen: nikjer nobenih informacij, naložil pa si samo eno malo .exe datoteko1. Ker sem vlekel čez njega kar precej prometa in to povsem zastonj ter brez reklam, sem vedno imel slab občutek, da mora vsebovati kakšno zlonamerno programsko kodo. Iz previdnosti sem ga vedno poganjal v takem ali drugačnem sandboxu (bodisi virtualni računalnik, bodisi zaprašen netbook).

    Potem pa je začel še precej slabo delovati in glasbo je prekinjalo vsakih nekaj minut. Za malo denarja, malo muzike, sem si mislil. Malo sem pobrskal in našel zelo ugodnega VPN2 podnudnika (strongVPN). Brez možnosti menjave lokacije3, ki je za Pandoro ne potrebujem, stane $7 (4.5 EUR) na mesec. Najbrž pa obstaja še kakšen cenejši.

    Dva protokola, ki ju podpirajo (L2TP in P2TP), zna uporabljati večina naprav (od Windowsov XP naprej) out-of-the-box, tudi iPhone, iPad. Takole izgleda moj radijski sprejemnik of choice (zgoraj levo je vidna ikona, ki kaže, da smo na VPN).

    Aplikacija na iOS-u je za nameček še precej boljša od flash aplikacije za PC, ki se ob neaktivnosti uporabnika ugasne s sporočilom “Nočemo igrati prazni sobi”. Sklepam, da je Pandora za Android enaka kot ta za iOS.

    VPN do ZDA pa je uporaben še za kup drugih stvari (recimo predvajanje videa), in nenazadnje, za hitro in transparentno kriptiranje povezave, če surfamo preko odprtega WiFi omrežja (kjer prežijo zlobni vohuni).

    1. trenutno u1008.exe z njihovega sajta, pogooglajte sami []
    2. VPN je virtualno zasebno omrežje, ki omogoča, da preko interneta vzpostavimo varen tunel do končne točke []
    3. v ZDA pokrivajo 9 večjih mest, plus še cel kup mest v skoraj 20 drugih državah []
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