The Canon i80 printer drivers are bad software. I'm living on a Mac laptop in Zürich, which is mostly OK. But boy, Canon doesn't make it easy to use their printers. On a Windows machine I just plug it into the USB port and it works. On the Mac I have to go to the web site, manually find the drivers, download the DMG, mount the DMG, guess which file to open, open it, type my password, wait 2 minutes for drivers to install, wait 3 more minutes for the Mac to mysteriously "optimize system performance", then reboot. Only then do I get to print my photos.

I suspect the fault is more Canon's than the Mac's. Except for the optimize and reboot part; that's the Mac's fault. Isn't this Unix? Doesn't it have loadable device drivers? If I have to be aware of lpd, I'm gonna scream.

  2005-08-30 07:01 Z
Having a fresh cup of coffee in the morning greatly improves your perspective.

Being nine timezones away from most of your friends is lonesome online. My IM buddy list is all dark, no one answers my email for hours. I'm kind of looking forward to this isolation as a way to focus my time more productively.

An awful lot of Swiss people smoke in restaurants. Alive with pleasure. I dread the coming colder months with all the windows and doors tightly shuttered.

  2005-08-28 07:33 Z
Even though this is my eighth or so time in Europe, and second as something more permanent than a tourist, I still find it amazingly difficult to find my way around and do things. So it's a good feeling to have accomplished some stuff. Got the monthly tram pass for Zürich. (80CHF, unless you have a photo when it's 73, or you can also get the "only good after 9am but good for a longer trip" for the same price.) Figured out the half-price Swiss train ticket thing (150CHF/year, unless you're a tourist where you can get one month for 99CHF but then if you're here for three months you want the year pass anyway). Even succeeded in buying a coffee maker, a decent chef's knife, and some sauerkraut, Wurst, und Wein. Almost a local!
  2005-08-27 13:55 Z
After nearly 24 hours of travel (thank you, Air France, for my four hours in CDG) we've arrived home and safe in Zürich. Lots of stress in travel, of course, and some apprehension about our new apartment. But as soon as we got the Internet link working all was well. The important things, you know.

The city looks good, and it sure is nice and easy to get around. The river is running high and fast but Zürich has escaped the flooding that's devastated several other towns in Swizterland.

  2005-08-26 13:33 Z
You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop.

We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

Pat Robertson on the 700 club, speaking about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
  2005-08-23 15:45 Z
I finally figured out what it is that bugs me about the Segway. It's impossible to ride one without a look on your face that says "hey, look at me! I'm on a Segway!".

Well, that and the whole "wheelchairs for healthy people" thing.

  2005-08-21 21:30 Z
I've been reading The Ultimate History of Video Games. It's full of lots of details I didn't know, a thorough accounting of the development of the game business with lots of first person accounts. But what's most fun is the pointers to weird-ass games I'd never heard of before.
Like Chiller. It's a fairly straight-forward Exidy light gun game, only completely fucked up. See, the game is about shooting corpses and zombies. See the man in the Rocky Horror underwear on the left? Shoot his skin to flay him alive! See the guillotine? Shoot it to behead the woman! See the press on the right? Shoot it six times to crush the man's skull! If you get all the way to the last level there's a girl zombie whose clothes you can shoot off. Boobies! Then you shoot her to pieces. My favourite is the winch you shoot repeatedly to lower the guy into the river of blood where a crocodile eats him, one joint at a time.

There was some controversy when the game came out, and apparently it did not sell well in the US. I think it was intended to be funny, but really it's just disturbing. And not a very good game. Still, there it is.

  2005-08-21 16:26 Z
It took me three tries to pass Yahoo's captcha test.
I'm a human alright, but I can't tell what the hell that says.
  2005-08-16 19:53 Z
I'm finding Fire Emblem really engrossing. It's a great mix of puzzling strategy and cheesy Japanese RPG.
I love the simple nobility of the charaters' stories combined with the clean anime-style animations. The story is incredibly sprawling, involving three main protagonists and 20+ supporting characters. I will destroy the Black Fang!
  2005-08-15 03:18 Z
One of my favourite memories of my trip around Europe in 2001 was discovering the art of Space Invader. I was wandering around Aix-en-Provence and there was this funky mural of a Space Invader character. How odd, I thought, then moved on. Later I saw more space invaders in Genève and by the time I saw them in Paris I knew I'd discovered something truly weird.
It's been a few years now and the artist has become more explicit about his work, including a fancy web map. And a lot of people have caught on to it. There's still a special thrill for me when I run into one of his mosaics somewhere, and it's fun to get photos. I love the way his work turns urban spaces into a game. Photographs of the murals seem to capture interesting context.
  2005-08-14 21:47 Z
I've moved my blog from to Also switched to Apache 2. If you notice any trouble, please let me know.

The new host is I shopped around for an inexpensive dedicated Debian host. I like layeredtech because they don't sell you management, just a host.

  2005-08-13 22:38 Z
One of the more interesting things we did when visiting New Zealand was go to Stewart Island. south of the South Island. All through our trip we'd tell locals "We're going to Stewart Island" and they'd say "really? I've never been there". It's a tiny place, about 400 permanent residents.

Stewart Island has retained most of its unique endogenous life. Ulva Island was outstanding, a small nature refuge with lush forests and odd birds. There are hiking trails all over the island, too, seemed like a great place for a ten day trek.

We particularly enjoyed our tour with Sam and Billy the Bus. Sam's what they call "a character", an old timer who enjoys taking the tourists around in his van and spinning yarns about the people on the island. Definitely worth the experience.

I love remote places like this. There's something very comforting about the quiet, the odd collection of people, the knowledge that there's not much to do. I enjoy being in places like this, and I enjoy knowing I'll be leaving again in a couple of days.

PS: if you're thinking of visiting, do yourself a favour and take the plane. Even the locals say the ferry crossing is awfully rough.

  2005-08-10 15:46 Z
I've been emailing on the Internet since 1990. I use the one true quoting style when responding to emails, dating back to at least the earliest days of Usenet. It allows people to carry on a conversation in email.
Hello Kodos, I'm glad things are going well on Rigel 4. Thanks for writing back, wanted to answer a few specific things.

>The thing I miss most about Earth is tasty human flesh.
No problem, I know just the source. They are extra plump in the place known as Uh-mare-e-kuh.

>>I'm concerned about Kang. His antennae look sick.
>Why? What's wrong with his antennae?
Don't you think they're an unhealthy shade of green?

Reading this snippet it's easy to see the conversation. Previous relevant text is succinctly quoted with >, you can chain the > to indicate history. This style is so ingrained in the Internet culture I'm amazed to find myself explaining it.

But it's disappearing. I frequently get emails from people now who don't understand it. They gamely try to follow my style by writing a full reply on top of my email, or inventing their own mechanisms like replying in ALL CAPS or inserting random other markup. I'm not surprised when non-tech people have trouble with email quoting. Frankly I'm glad my lawyer is on email at all, so I won't quibble. But lately I've even seen a fair number of Google employees who don't get this, either. We're supposed to be the most savvy of the net savvy!

Part of the issue is cultural dilution: you can't increase the Net population 10,000x and expect the culture to stay the same. I also think it's technological. Outlook, Gmail, etc all encourage bottom quoting by starting you out in an email reply with the original message below where you're typing. Wrong choice. And modern email technology often does away with the notion of line breaks entirely, making the line-oriented > quoting mechanism fail.

We need to find something that works for everyone.

math owie was on this issue back in 2001.
  2005-08-09 17:22 Z
I'm looking forward to something fairly exciting: I'm going to be living in Zürich for three months, starting the end of August. I'm going to work in Google's Swiss office.

I'm really looking forward to it, both as a career opportunity and as a way to try living in Europe for a time. I've travelled a fair amount, even lived in Budapest for a month, but this feels like a significant thing. Should be fun.

I've been listening to Swiss German tapes and it's clear my high school Hochdeutsch didn't prepare me for living in Switzerland. I'm sure I can get by with just English, but it seems like much more fun to order a beer in the local language.

  2005-08-06 18:18 Z
I love BitTorrent. Not because it lets me steal the w4rz0rz, but because it's a really great new transport for large downloads. I've been impressed with Bram's stewardship of the protocol and am glad to see he's pursuing commercial options.

But open source protocols in hackerland are fragile, there's a danger they fragment. And that seems to be happening with BitTorrent. I'm seeing torrents now with three kinds of tracking: the standard TCP tracker, UDP tracking, and trackerless. Which client works for all?

I'd been wondering why my torrent downloads recently weren't working. I think the problem is that Debian testing installs bittorrent 3.4.2-4, which doesn't seem to work very well. The 4.0 .deb from works better.

  2005-08-04 15:29 Z
IGN has just published their 2005 list of top 100 games. It's a great list, well written, with lots of interesting editorial choices. It's also hard to understand the whole list because of the article format. So I created a version of their list in CSV form as well as an HTML table. The table has the tablesort magic, click column headers to resort. Interesting to group by year, or publisher, or platform.

IGN is a great publication, you should definitely go visit their article. Their list includes box art and interesting editorial comments on each game. I'm only providing this list as a simple index into their articles.

  2005-08-03 15:43 Z