Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

September 20th, 2010:


I think a lot of the air is going out of the whole pirates thing; surely I thought there’d be more pirate talk online yesterday, but saw virtually none. Dare we hope that declaring a holiday for a meme may be the kiss of death for that meme? I’m not sure what else will work, as they don’t respond to DDT anymore. So perhaps somebody needs to declare International Walk Like A Zombie Day. I’m open to suggestions on dealing with vampires. Suck Like A Vampire Day? They already do.

The pirates themselves are still out there, even if they’re not talking much. I got a note from the Jolly Pirate last week telling me that he has finally filled a 2 TB hard drive with MP3s, mostly downloaded from Usenet. The collection comes to 350,000 songs. He just grabs whatever gets posted, no matter what it is, and looks for duplicates when he’s bored. (He admits that about 10% may still be dupes; I’m thinking that figure is higher.) This is boggling; I wouldn’t have thought that that many songs had ever been produced in all human history. But what’s more boggling yet is that all 350,000 will fit on a $100 2 TB SATA drive. I asked him how long he’s been gathering them, but have not heard back yet. That’s just under 100 songs per day for ten years. (My guess: he’s been scrounging songs from his friends by the thousands.)

I’m anal about filenames (I’m the Degunking guy, after all) and not a hoarder to begin with, but I’ll bet others have that problem too. Perhaps someone should write a utility that compiles a database of Bayesian signatures for each MP3 file, so to easily spot mostly similar (but not bit-for-bit identical) song files having different titles. Easy Duplicate File Finder doesn’t do this. I’m not an expert at such things, but it might also be able to suggest excessively similar photos (like the endless hundreds we have of various Pack members) that might be deleted and never missed.

I’ve been using the minuscule and frighteningly response Atlantis word processor for odd documents lately, and turned on the sound effects just for jollies. Atlantis plays small sounds at certain times, including a very realistic typewriter click on each keystroke (trust me, I know what those sound like!) a typewriter bell when the line wraps (ditto) and an odd little “mew” like a kitten when it encounters a word not in its dictionary. It also plays a sound like a car horn the first time you touch a key after pressing either Caps Lock or Num Lock, which is surprisingly useful, especially for people like me who watch the keyboard as much as the screen while typing. For awhile I found this annoying, but at some point I ceased to notice it, and now when I type on close-lipped Word 2000 it “sounds funny.” Odd how quickly we adapt to small changes in our environment, quickly making them the norm. Or maybe I just miss my old Underwood Standard.

I had the strange notion today that when I finally get around to building my Geiger counter, I’m going to craft an oak-and-brass case for it, with fluted knobs, shiny trim and whatever other odd touches might be necessary to make it a steampunk artifact. Of course, then I’d need to get with my sister to design the rest of the outfit to match. (“Does this Geiger counter make my butt look small?”)

The shingles rash is spreading around the entire left half of my torso, and is so touchy now that I can’t lean back in my computer chair. So be glad you’re not here; not only am I growing contagious but am also uncharacteristically grouchy. I’ve been making some good progress on the first novella I’ve attempted in almost thirty years, but it’s increasingly difficult to get into flow with the constant electrical-ish prickliness on my back, which morphs into a weird sort of pain with any kind of contact. So I may have to set Drumlin Circus aside for awhile, and continue to gather research on the Pleistocene megafauna. (In the story, all the circus animals are megafauna now extinct on Earth.) I learned yesterday that there was once a 6,000 pound giant wombat, and am trying to get my head around the concept. Whatever else our early human ancestors did, they certainly ate well. For awhile.