pm215: (dragon)
A first installment of holiday photos, mostly from a day-long hike I went on in one of Japan's more pointy regions. Not pictured: the horrible sunburn I got because I am an idiot.

I think Yudonosan shrine is one of the best I've been to -- I'm not going to tell you what's there because you're not supposed to spoil the secret for other people, but I will say that it's best appreciated if approached via the five hour hike from the other side of the mountain...
pm215: (dragon)

Went to the Fitzwilliam's exhibition of Japanese woodcuts of snow; particularly liked this one and this one. (NB: exhibition closes on the 13th, last chance to see...)

Picked up A History of the Japanese Language and Ancient Jomon of Japan cheap in Cambridge University Press's sale (they're flogging damaged books out of a little shop on Peas Hill at 3 quid per paperback and 7 quid per hardback).

Fitzbillies' chelsea buns are quite good.

no boom!

Nov. 18th, 2012 06:30 pm
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I have replaced the exploded capacitor in my PERQ, fixed a memory diagnostic failure by unplugging and reseating the CPU and memory cards, and it now boots to the operating system. Not bad for a thirty year old machine..

(Next question, is anybody at work fool enough to help me lug it in for the 'Curious Computing Celebration' the week after next? :-))


Nov. 14th, 2012 10:34 pm
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I own a PERQ1; a computer now 30 years old and which I haven't tried powering on in about a decade and two house moves. I thought I'd see whether it worked this evening. The answer appears to be that the PSU is OK, the CPU/logic boards broadly functional, but a resistor/capacitor unit on the hard disk blew up when I applied power to that part. I think Maplin sell a reasonably close equivalent part, though, so it shouldn't be too hard to fix as long as it isn't either a symptom or cause of further damage...
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I put this together this weekend:
lots of buttons in a cardboard box

It's an arcade stick without the stick -- up/down/left/right are buttons. (The idea isn't original; these guys make a professional quality retail version, for instance.)

The buttons are Sanwa (ie decent quality microswitch based ones as found in actual arcade machines) from Gremlin Solutions. The box you probably can identify yourself -- I was worried it would be too flimsy, but Apple's boxes are pretty solid corrugated cardboard and even the areas with lots of buttons close to each other are not too floppy.

The two empty holes in the bottom are the result of experimenting with button placement. The HitBox layout has the Up button at the bottom under the left thumb. This apparently works well for Street Fighter II style games where up is jump and you can just think of it as the "jump button". However the game I play (Touhou Hisoutensoku) has aerial melee as a fairly significant gameplay component, and I found that layout just too confusing for guiding your character around in free flight. So I switched to an inverted-T which is rather better. (The left-thumb button now is 'graze'.)

If you open the lid it looks like this:
rats nest inside

The thing in the middle is a plastic bag containing the PCB from an old USB gamepad. I removed the original gamepad buttons and soldered on the wires out to the new buttons instead. (The gamepad was dreadful quality because its original button/pad hardware was cheap and nasty, so it was no loss. In fact it had been lurking in my junk pile for some years...)

It works quite nicely, although it is still going to take me some time to be able to move anywhere near as fluidly as with a gamepad. Interesting experiment and fun to put together, though, which was really the point.

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I've been taking part in a neuroscience research study about how the brain develops and changes over the course of adult life. As part of this I spent an hour in an MRI scanner listening to beeps and watching Alfred Hitchcock. At the end they gave me a souvenir photo, conclusively proving that I do in fact have a brain:

Kind of odd to think that all those folded up bits of grey stuff somehow make me me...

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I passed a milestone last week: I've now been studying Japanese for ten years! (My first notebook from my first lesson says it was on 27th February 2002.) So that's three years of evening classes, nine months full time study in Japan, over six years of independent study, and fifty-six books... Also, I've finally got round to booking a holiday in Japan this year (itinerary not yet decided but probably mostly Kyoto area).

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I should mention that I now have a blog for work-related technical stuff: translatedcode on wordpress. For LJ readers, fanf kindly set up a syndicated account you can add to your friends list if you prefer.
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Well, I cast my vote for the new chancellor of the University of Cambridge this afternoon. The queue was quite long (about 45 minutes from start to finished-voting), but I'd brought a book, and it was all very well organised (including a setup where they handed you a gown on your way into the building and collected it at the exit to be run back around for the next person), so it didn't feel like an overly long wait. The university had laid on complimentary tea and cakes afterwards (on the basis that since elections are only once every fifty years or so it could afford the expense, I assume) and I had a pleasant chat with a random economist who'd come up from London for the vote.

It was a curious experience to vote for something where I genuinely had no idea what the outcome would be -- I'm used to elections being sufficiently well polled in advance that you go into the voting booth already knowing what most other people think about the question. In this case the electorate is rather large (150,000 graduates) but obviously most won't bother to come down to Cambridge for the vote, so the turnout is rather unpredictable. My guess is that most academics and staff will vote for Sainsbury, a lot of alumni will vote for Blessed, and that it will come down to how many of the latter turned up.

(FWIW, I voted Sainsbury, Blessed, Arain, Mansfield.)

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This morning's keynote presentation (800K PDF) at the KVM Forum was a collection of statistics about QEMU development over the last year. Slide 6 lists the top ten contributors this year by number of patches submitted:
Author                    | Commits | Percent
--------------------------+---------+---------  |     217 |   7%      |     174 |   6%         |     169 |   5%      |     162 |   5%    |     158 |   5%      |     156 |   5%       |     121 |   4%    |     109 |   3%             |     105 |   3%       |      97 |   3%


Jan. 30th, 2011 10:08 pm
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Somebody's started making vaguely drop-shaped handlebars with 22.2mm grip diameter. Shame nowhere in the UK seems to be stocking them yet.

[22.2mm is "mountain bike" standard, as opposed to 23.8mm for "road bike"; my bike's gear shift lever is 22.2mm but drop bars are pretty much exclusively 23.8mm. Aren't standards wonderful?]

Oh, and anime-watching people who aren't watching Puella Magi Madoka Magica definitely ought to be.

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My place in Cambridge (unlike Reading) has a garden. I take a rather laissez-faire approach to gardening (read: I mow the lawn and prune away obviously dead things but not much else). One of the effects is that there are rather a lot of this flower, which seems to thrive under these conditions; can anybody identify it? click for a photo... )
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From the Independent on Sunday:
"We anticipate that this year bike theft may be on the up as high fuel prices mean people look for ways to economise [...]" said Martyn Foulds from Halifax Home Insurance.
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Bandai are bringing out a set of toys which transform between animals and kanji. I totally want a set. They're only 105 yen each, but I bet the shipping would be painful :-(
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Neojaponisme has a roundup of the last decade of Japanese music with handy links to youtube. Shugo Tokumaru turns out to be quite good, although I wouldn't go so far as to call him the Messiah the way the article writer does :-)
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The Asahi has a big photo gallery of pictures of some of the Japan Railways Christmas steam specials in the snow...
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Dog New shinkansen


Dec. 7th, 2009 09:17 pm
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Apparently the listening part of this year's JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) included an excerpt from a 'radio drama' which sounded suspiciously like Evangelion with the serial numbers filed off...

It's already made it to youtube [Japanese only, obv.]...

Who says examiners don't have a sense of humour? (Caution: may only be funny if you're the sort of Japanese nerd who might find themselves in a JLPT listening test in the first place :-))

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