Saturday, July 22, 2006

Israeli CS player continues to play regardless of bombs

An Israeli Counter-Strike player is pushing the limits on CS addiction. He was seen playing on his usual server, even though the area he lives in might get bombed. When another player asked him what the situation over there was, he replied "I just heard a siren so perhaps I should seek a bomb shelter, but what the hell, my house walls should give me SOME cover". And he just kept on playing.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Kevin Rose says "haha totally" in response to comment

"that's fucken hilarious that kevin rose got his comment pwned by his own system"

There's a story on Digg about a Youtube vid where a weird naked indian cowboy talks about what bad kids shouldn't do on YouTube (with a cigarette and a cowboy hat... yikes). Someone suggests that the video should be playing above the TOS at YouTube, to which Kevin Rose says "haha totally".. and GETS BURIED. -59 diggs and counting on the comment. We must save him, quick, go to the article and Digg him up! Otherwise who knows it will start raining frogs.

In other news, Paul Graham had breakfast. Again.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Can you speak Japanese?

I met Kimmo yesterday and he thought I was prejudicous to think that that there wouldn't be any people with Japanese skills among anime/manga/jpop fans. Maybe I am wrong and there are actually tons of such people! The reason we had this conversation was because I was complaining how I am often wanting to have someone to help me with manga translation issues (not scanlation, real work) or adding products to the manga shop, but that people with the necessary skills don't exist. I would gladly be proven wrong, so if such a person is hiding out there somewhere then please contact me!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Computers ARE part of the crazy utopia!

I spent two years studying Japanese at a university in Tokyo. Every day I spent around 5 hours with other students, doing reading comprehension and kanji exercises. We had spoken language classes as well. It was tough, exhausting but I think about the experience with warm feelings now that I have some distance to it.

A type of exercise I particularly enjoyed was having debates. I even attended an extra curricular debate club once, which was interesting because the debaters were all Japanese but they debated in English. They seemed so "in the zone" when doing the debating, forgetting about trying to speak perfect English but instead aggressively getting their point out. I decided not to join this club though as I felt I didn't need any more English exercise and because I'm not a club-attending personality.

Our in-class debate exercises had some great topics, nothing really controversial or anything, but interesting none the less. The university I was in is called ICU or "International Christian University", but some people liked to joke that it actually means "Isolated Crazy Utopia". It was surrounded by a small forest, which truly was crazy considering how tightly packed the area around it is. I'm seriously digressing here, but just look at the picture below. The green parts are the university and around it are very tightly packed houses.

Our debates were often about about kind of save-the-world utopistic stuff. As if we could actually save anything just by talking about it in class. Well I liked to take it seriously though, even if it was just language exercises it's that much more meaningful if you imagine that the debate is serious. One thing we debated about was what to do about poor people. And I suggested that computers could be the solution. I don't think they understood me at all. Instead of computers they need food and shelter. They were happy with that answer.

So let me continue the debate here. Computers can be part of the solution in my opinion. Not so that starving people can play Half-Life and watch videos on YouTube, but because with a computer almost anyone can become instantly employed. There are plenty of options for making money online and if you have modest expectations of what you can make, survival is possible through the net. Basically I believe that if I have an Internet connection then I will never go hungry. This happens to apply to me because I already have some skills which I can use to work over the net, such as programming and Japanese translation.

I'm not saying that we should fly over some starving country and drop iBooks with a satellite link to the net from an airplane. But even in poor countries not everyone is absolutely poor and there are people who are able to take chances. In India there are now some small companies which hire people to type in text. All you need to know is how to read and type. Materials are sent from abroad to be typed into digital form and then these people do the bulk work and send the results back over the net. This is a service for which there is a need as old archives and such get digitalized. Amazon's Mechanical Turk lets anyone make a few dollars through repetitive simple work. With RentACoder developers can compete to do programming work online.

Taking the digitalization as an example, not even a net connection is required to take part in the work, as the company takes care of that part. Then after acquiring a basic way of supporting oneself it becomes possible to advance to other skills and better pay. My explanation was a bit rambling, but the point is that through the Internet money can be made and your location doesn't matter. I really like the MIT Media Lab $100 laptop project, because through it more and more people can have basic skills on using a computer and take part in the global workspace. I've even personally hired some people through RentACoder. It works great!

So this is what I meant by computers being part of the solution for poverty, dear ICU debate teacher. Of course basic education is needed as well, but a computer is also a learning device. I'm sure many kids in developed countries have learned to read and write (or type) by using a computer. I personally learned English a lot through Sierra's adventure games and learned the basics of Japanese through material which I downloaded off the internet. With free laptops distributed by the millions for free to kids in developing countries they will have this chance as well. Based on what I've read a version of Wikipedia will be included with the computers, among other educational software. I hope they don't forget the games, they provide great motivation.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Microsoft fined -- crazy?

Microsoft got a 270 million euro fine. Umm... seems strange that EU can fine a largely American company. I mean if you think about it, they really should fine Microsoft as much as possible if they are allowed to. After all, it's money coming straight from USA to EU's coffers. Let's fine every American company to their full worth and EU will definitely become the superpower of superpowers! I'm sure we can find something to accuse them of.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Loituma craze part 2

I just noticed that according to Google Trends, loituma is now more popular than Hamasaki Ayumi!

Evil Dr. Kraft acquires biscuit company

Kraft acquires United Biscuits Spain... for 522 MILLION DOLLARS *evil laughter*

"The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program" A computer program with a geeky sense of humor apparently.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Loituma craze

An already folded Finnish band got it's song used in a Flash video which has been spreading now like wildfire around the net. The band is surprised but welcoming the publicity. First time I've ever seen major newspapers write about a flash video. The band has even received fanmail from people who started to like them after seeing these vids.

Sulake Gets $7M Funding From Japan

Online and mobile games company Sulake Corporation has received $7M funding from Japanese SoftBank BB, Asian Groove formed Movida Group. Sulake is the Finnish interactive entertainment company which created the popular Habbo Hotel series of games. Habbo hotels operate in multiple language versions in 18 different countries and receive 7 million uniques visitors each month. Movida Group believes Habbo Hotel has great chances of becoming popular in Japan as well.

TalousSanomat (Finnish)
Sulake press release

Pirate Bay ad revenues being sent to a Swiss bank account?

This is a quick translation of an article which appeared in Finnish. If you understand Finnish then by all means read the original instead.

Stockholm - The image of Pirate Bay as a movement with a cause is crumbling every day in Swedish media. It seems that the advertising revenues are ending up in a Swiss address (minus some fees), an address where a company running "tax planning" is operating. "Tax planning" means channeling funds to countries with low taxes.

Svenska Dagbladet is hinting that Pirate Bay, often considered the flagship of the pirate movement, has no ideology behind it. Not only are large sums of money involved, it seems that there is a Swiss party involved.

After several Swedish magazines attempted to calculate advertising revenues for Pirate Bay, Svenska Dagbladet said that the advertising revenues for the past four months reached 600000 SEK (84000 USD or 65400 EUR). This information was provided to the magazine from the advertising company Eastpoint Media.

Svenska Dagbladet reminds that in reality even larger sums are involved. Pirate Bay operates internationally and advertising sales are therefore also international and being sold by more companies than only Eastpoint Media. In addition it was recently written in Dagens Nyheter that going prices for advertisements on Pirate Bay have recently been on the rise.

Not all of the revenue ends up in the hands of Pirate Bay operators. The companies selling the advertising space take their own share first, after which the rest of the money ends up in the account of a company called Random Media (according to Svenska Dagbladet). The company appears to have a phone number in Stockholm, but its address is in Switzerland.

A company called Geneva Management Group (GMG) operates in the same address with Random Media. GMG deals in tax planning and funds management. Apparently in practice this means channeling funds into countries with low taxes, making it difficult for officials to get information as the banks are very secretive in these countries.

GMC is unwilling to comment on its relationship with Random Media. Daniel Oded, a representative for Random Media, also declined to comment on the handling of funds for Pirate Bay. Oded is said to have patented a system relating to Internet advertising in 1999 and is said to be currently working for an Israeli company called Target Point.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Son dls pron from dad on eDonkey, gets caught

A guy was downloading porn at home in his room with eDonkey, when suddenly he hears his dad yelling from the next room "hey! what are you downloading in there!". So he wonders how could his dad possibly know what he was downloading. In the discussion that followed it turned out that daddy also had eDonkey open on his computer and happened to be sharing the exact file that his son was downloading, realizing this when seeing a familiar IP in the downloaders list.

This must be true because it was said on IRC (#bf). Reported on (similar to

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Steve Jobs' pilgrimage to India

Steve Jobs began to have an interest in religions while studying philosophy at Reed College. In 1974 he was working at Atari, saving money to make a trip to India, "to see his guru". After saving enough he asked his friend Dan Kottke to join him, even offering to finance his ticket after he was reluctant to go because of the expense (later in 1976 Kottke also became the first paid Apple employee). In India they encountered by chance a guru who takes Jobs up the mountain and shaves his head. Later Kottke also had to shave his because of the lice and fleas. They experienced poverty head first, traveling around in simple Indian clothing under the heat, bargaining for food in towns. In the end Kottke's travel cheques are stolen and the trip had to end. Apparently Jobs did not find enlightenment, but his experiences surely influenced his later work.

Please read these sources for a more detailed account:
iCon (PDF, page 23 onward)

Monday, July 03, 2006

DIVs are the source of cool for Javascript

Back in the day people were obsessing about how to shave off a few clock cycles in their rotozooming effect written in pure assembler. You can understand why I feel a bit giggly when someone is fussing about how #000 is so much more smaller and more efficient in CSS than #000000. We have come a long way -- now it is not even possible to write a smooth rotozoomer that works in browsers in a compatible way (there is a trick for that on IE though). We just have to forget about that sort of effects. One sort of pixel-setting which is allowed though are horizlines, continuous horizontal spans of pixels. These are relatively fast to do since they can be simulated with DIVs. What can you make with horizlines? Polygons! In other words you can make 3D. It will be quite slow, so you can only use a very limited amount of faces, but a cube at least is still doable.

If you squint, you can see that it just consists of many horizontal lines. And you can create a horizontal line with a simple <DIV> tag. Use CSS to set the width to what you want, make the position absolute and set it on the screen where you want using the left and top styles. For the color, you can use the background style. Of course a single horizontal line will get you nowhere, so you need to have many of them. In the image displayed above there are around 500 of them. To create movement, javascript is used to calculate where they should be and the styles are modified on the fly. Pretty perverse, really. The inefficiency compared to assembler is mind boggling, but hey it works (mostly).

To create anything remotely cool, you want things moving. And to get things moving, you need to know how to modify styles in runtime. To do this, you first set a javascript timer to call a function say every 20 milliseconds. The setInterval function can be used to do this, as you surely already know. So you do setInterval("tick()", 20) for example, and then your tick function will be called 50 times per second. Inside this tick function then you do your magic and shuffle the pre-created DIVs around.

Okay, this set you wondering about how to precreate the DIVs. I feel sorry for even mentioning that, since now I will have to explain that as well. You could only create the DIVs as you need them and destroy them afterwards, but that would be slow since you would be altering the DOM tens of thousands of times every second. A better way is to just create those DIVs in the beginning. Just use document.createElement("DIV") in a loop.

        // First create a cache of horizlines
var i;
for (i=0; i<cnt; i++) {
hors[i] = document.createElement("div");
hors[i].style['position'] = "absolute";
hors[i].style['top'] = 0;
hors[i].style['left'] = 0;
hors[i].style['width'] = 0;
hors[i].style['height'] = 0;
hors[i].style['backgroundColor'] = "#000000";
document.body.insertBefore(hors[i], document.body.lastChild);

I will not go into any more details now, but suffice to say that inside your tick() function you can then reference the hors array and change the positions using hors[x].style['left'] = 400; for example. If some hors are unnecessary, just use the visibility style to set them to hidden or move them to a negative vertical position so that they will not be visible. Now all you need is some junior high school level math to create a cube out of them. Search the net for "triangle filler" to see how to do that.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Majority Wins AJAX game

Yesterday I made an AJAX-based game. I don't say AJAX just because things are sliding around nicely, but it actually does use XMLHttpRequest to send some data back to the server. The idea of the game is to try to guess what others would guess others would answer to a question. Confused? Just try it at

I was completely in the zone while making this game, it took maybe only 6 hours to make. It's funny how when doing something interesting I can be 10x more productive than doing something I'm forced to do. If I had done this at work, I'm sure it would've taken more than a week.

I posted it on Digg, but only got 4 Diggs. It was a real disappointment, since to be honest it was the whole goal of making this game. Maybe I should've been more blatant and use the words "AJAX" and "Amazing" in the title. It's a bit sad that I've missed my chance now, since reposting wouldn't be very nice.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Jason Steele & Charlie the Unicorn

Update: New videos: Charlie the Unicorn video for YouTube LIVE and Charlie the Unicorn 2

I discovered a pretty funny video called "Charlie the Unicorn". After watching it I Googled for the maker "Jason Steele" and found another good one, "Spatula Madness". Great South Parkish animation and stories with that required sense of nihilism.

Charlie the Unicorn

Found some fan art too. On their site there are some other videos as well, even some live-action stuff, but perhaps it's not as good. If Jason Steele ends up big and famous, Charlie the Unicorn could become cult stuff.