Category Archives: computers

Fuytayblees

It all started about a year ago, at a go tournament in Blansko, where I played a game called “fujtajblíci”. I enjoyed it a lot, so I thought I could create online version. But as you might know, it is quite a huge leap from thinking about doing something to actually doing it.

Anyway, now I really couldn’t resist anymore… And I thought “fujtajblíci” might be a bit difficult for a lot of people to pronounce or remember, so I rewrote the name as “fuytayblees” (insert fanfares here).

There’s much more info (including the rules, for real) at the fuytayblees site itself, so just visit it, register and start playing. ;-)

JavaScript insanity

Seriously, what would you think about a language that is weakly typed and uses the same operator for concatenation and addition?

I think it’s insane.

Well, so much for my first encounter with JavaScript. And although I encountered way more problems (most of which were caused by my own stupidity, as usual), the fact that the plus sign (aka +) either adds or concatenates (based possibly on the current mood of the interpreter) struck me as the ultimate wtf.

Luckily, parseInt() comes to save the day. But still, why not rather use some other operator? I don’t really care which… just anything else, mmkay?

How I didn’t get a Google shirt

Thanks to Orwen who notified me (crap, I just reread the email and noticed that the part “I’m not going to be there because I have lectures at the time” was not written by him but quoted because of forwarding, and that he asked me if I was going to be there) I attended a presentation by Google’s VP of engineering Douglas Merrill called “Secrets of search”.

First thing that I noticed was VUT’s incompetence (not too much of a surprise) – they thought that a rather small room (for cca 200 people) was enough for presentation of someone important from Google. Turns out it was not. So it was a bit difficult to fit in even though I came 10 minutes earlier.

Douglas had about an hour long talk about how Google works. While I already knew most of the things (as did everyone else in the room), I wasn’t bored at all as Douglas was extremely entertaining. I think there’ll be a video of the whole event, so you can watch it (I’ll put the link in here as soon as I find it).

Douglas’ personal blog is surprising in several ways. First thing that struck me was pagerank 2. Anyone who has anything to do with Google has blog with pagerank about 7-9, two is ridiculously low. Second thing was almost total absence of computer related stuff. And the third thing that struck me was how personal things Douglas shares on his blog. This is easily by far the most sincere blog I have ever seen.

Well, as I was leaving the presentation, they were giving out very nice black t-shirts with Google logo… I was near the end of the crowd, and they ran out of shirts just about three people before me. Bad luck. Or not – I got a Google pencil.

The future of instant messaging

I use the internet all the time. About 20% of my internet usage involves searching for some kind of encyclopaedic info (dictionaries included). Another 20% consists of mostly random funny or interesting things, like reddit, digg, links from friends. And finally, communication with other people makes up around 60%.

I sometimes do write emails, but mostly just use various forms of instant text messaging to talk to my buddies. I have tried voice over ip (skype, to be concrete), and I have to admit that it is very useful… that is, if you don’t need to talk to more than one person at a time.

Which brings me to my main point: when talking to my pals using instant messaging, I often talk to many (more than five) people simultaneously. Although this sometimes leads to delays (errm, nope, my 6 hour delays are not caused by communication overload but simply by me not noticing you ;-)), it is still quite manageable once you get used to it.

It is technically impossible to achieve the same level of paralelity in voice based communication. Sure, you could receive the voice messages one after another, and respond them, but it would break the flow. In instant messaging, you can see the last few lines of a conversation, which reminds you about what was going on. Also, in case you need to retrieve some info from the past, skimming through chatlogs is much easier than listening to all the voice messages.

Simply put, I don’t want to receive voice messages, I want to receive text messages.

Now how about the input? This is where many posibilities arise for the future. Voice input (transformed into a text message) seems to be the easiest and the most viable option for the near future. However, it does have some pitfalls, and I personally feel more comfortable using my keyboard.

Another option would be controlling input by thought. Or… maybe not. Imagine you are talking to a girl or… oh well, that was definitely a bad idea.

So to sum it up, I think the future of text messaging is still rather bright. I can’t imagine anything replacing text output. The input part is a bit unclear, but I don’t really care about it all that much anyway.

Discuss.
[…]

Please?
[…]

Pretty please?

Is “eBay Live Chat” a chatbot?

I tried registering on eBay today. Their help pages say that there are two ways to verify an account — either credit card (I don’t have any) or certain email address. First I tried my gmail account, which obviously didn’t work. The next step was an email on the domain tasuki.org, which I own (it is easily possible to verify that by a whois search).

That didn’t work either, so I decided to contact eBay Live Chat for help:

Vit Brunner hello
Vit Brunner I want to register
Marnie B. I’d be glad to assist you on that!
Vit Brunner I don’t have a credit card, I have a paypal though
Vit Brunner and I wonder what kind of email address I have to enter so that it verifies me
Vit Brunner I tried a gmail address, which didn’t work, then I tried address on my domain that I own, didn’t work either :(
Vit Brunner I have a school address, but I’d prefer not to leak the information out
Vit Brunner (I don’t want my school to have any info about my ebay account, that is)
Marnie B. I’m sorry to hear of the trouble. Let me see what I can do on my end.
Vit Brunner could you tell me what kind of email is enough to verify me?
Marnie B. Thanks for asking. What I can suggest you to use is your work email or paid email address if you have one.
Vit Brunner well, the email address on my own domain is not enough?
Vit Brunner I think that is a paid email address :)
Vit Brunner and the owner info for that domain is publicly available
Vit Brunner but it still asked me for credit card information
Vit Brunner the domain is tasuki.org, if it helps you :)
Marnie B. I see. Actually paid email address can be use as an alternative because it may reduce the chance of being asked for a credit card…
Vit Brunner a whois search shows that tasuki.org is indeed owned by me
Vit Brunner isn’t that enough to verify me?
Marnie B. But if you’re still being asked for it, I believe you really have to enter those information. But you can try your school email if you want.
Vit Brunner how is it decided which email is good enough?
Marnie B. Honestly I’m not sure because our system is the one who verifies the email address.
Marnie B. You would only know if you won’t be asked for a credit cared.
Marnie B. *credit card
Vit Brunner sigh…
Marnie B. I appreciate your interest in doing business with us.
Vit Brunner so I am going to try my various random email addresses… but I think it’s pretty strange that my email address on a domain which I apparently own is not good enough
Vit Brunner that’s actually about the best verification you can get

The rest of the chat sadly got lost because the chat was ended by Marnie B. which caused the window to close suddenly. Anyway, I think this is enough to see what the conversation looked like. The answers were either rather general or completely off. The typo and its correction is a bit suspicious though — would they really create a bot this sneaky? To be sincere, I am not sure.

I tried it once more and got to talk with Joy D. That was quite tiring, as Joy D obviously didn’t understand my problem with verification very well and kept insisting on me trying a different browser (I use firefox and Joy D said I should try Internet Explorer). This is exactly what bots do — when they don’t know, they switch to a different topic. On the other hand, Joy D seemed a bit too confused to be a bot. So, I really don’t know.

I hope I persuaded you to try eBay Live Chat yourself, please share your experience! :)

PostScript

I want to have some real Hex and TwixT boards, so I’ve been playing around with PostScript a bit.

I found Larry Doolittle’s Hex board and started editing it without knowing almost anything about PostScript. The results were – you guessed it – disastrous. PostScript is not really intuitive language (for me, at least). But then I found a great PostScript tutorial, which helped me immensely.

First I edited Larry’s Hex board – I added black outline to two opposite sides (for the sides not to get confused), and scaled and rotated the 13×13 board (which is littlegolem standard, therefore defacto universal standard) so that it’s playable with normal sized go stones and fits on A3 sized paper (I am very happy that it fits). You can download my 13×13 hex board on A3 for use with go stones.

The next thing I needed was a TwixT board. This time I only found a pdf, which was exactly not what I wanted. So, with a lot more help of the PostScript tutorial mentioned earlier, I created a PostScript TwixT board.

I made it to be highly customizable, you can find parameters on lines 10 to 21. You can easily change size of the board (the number of holes), the space between holes, holesize, color of holes, filling of holes, color of the guiding lines (or whatever they are called, you know, those lines that help you choose the right move ;-)), width and color of the border, basic line width, and finally horizontal and vertical offset. I sincerely think all those settings could be quite useful to anyone who wants to print a customized TwixT board.

I agree that the code is not really great (I stay true to the “it was difficult to write, so it should be difficult to read” principle), but it works and I think that’s what counts.

Here is a short example of PostScript language:

1 step mul dup moveto
boardsize 2 div 1 sub step mul bs 2 sub step mul lineto stroke

Which means, rewritten to human language:

move_to(1*step, 1*step);
draw_line_to((boardsize/2 – 1)*step, (bs – 2)*step);

In PostScript, everything is based on LIFO (last in first out) stacks, so when you want to do 3+4, you have to write 3 4 add (3 and 4 are put into the stack and the function “add” takes two values from the top of the stack and returns their sum back on the top).

I could show a lot of other PostScript examples but I think it’s better for you to have a look at the code yourself (it’s heavily uncommented, I didn’t want to take the fun out of it).

tasuki elsewhere

Maybe you noticed the new cathegory in the sidebar – “tasuki elsewhere”.

It’s not like I publish anything on youtube or deviantart, but I do use the “favorite” feature.

My deviantart favourites contain a lot of pictures of nature (often landscapes), many nude chicks and some great vector art by celsojunior. All in all, if you have at least two minutes, have a look at it!

On youuutube, I have organized my favourites into playlists. These are in facts not playlists but just categories. Some of the videos are utterly hilarious, so if you have like, errrm, 5 hours, make sure you watch them all! ;-)

As a side note, I’m at my sister’s computer now (but running my X programs through ssh) because my LCD is being repaired, and I have to say that this is for sure the worst keyboard I have ever used.

Green IS cheesy.

Well… where to start?

The other day I read a complaint on Keoblog that all the wordpress blogs look the same: Kubrick theme. Well, I used to use it too. With that dark image in the header which didn’t fit there at all.

So I thought it was time to do a redesign… I did some search and found a template containing the functions that I need to call in proper loops. Needless to say, I’d hate it if I had to explore all the wordpress functions just to make a different design. I started writing the css from scratch and editing the template files. The design was created in the Chaotic Way ™. I had no idea what I was about to create, I just knew that I wanted the header image to stay where it was and that I would like to have some light green (CF0, more exactly) in it.

I couldn’t get the colours right (as usual). It was looking real awful, until I tried to make the whole background (which was previously white, black, and all kinds of grey) green. Suddenly, I got a surprisingly good looking contrast. The rest was a piece of cake… Well, in fact it all took me about 10 hours and that’s without the bubble strip (which I added today) and smilies. ^^

Oh yeah, smilies… you know the gorgeous looking smilies I used to have here? They are gone (and I also broke the backward compatibility, so some of them will not be displayed and you will see text instead). They were way too big and broke the text flow, so I basically stopped using them in the text. And they were transparent gif’s. Ooops, as we all know, gif has no partial transparency, so the borders of the smiley are just fading to white. If you put such a smiley on a black background, it is ugly. So I took the small invision smilies (16×16 pixels) and had some fun with GIMP (normally I don’t link to such obvious things, but I think I should at least share a little bit of google love).

How to make full transparent images in GIMP? First, you have to convert the picture (if it is indexed) to RGB (use menu Image > Mode > RGB). Now you just choose Layer > Transparency > Color to alpha. Then you have to repaint (or copy from a backup that you had made) the places which really should be white (like eyes). There is one drawback to this method: the light parts are semi-transparent. You can either copy these parts from the original smiley or just let them be semi-transparent (it usually doesn’t hurt to have the smiley a bit darker on a dark background and it will look exactly the same as original on white background).

Oh well, that’s it… no more writing for me… now it’s your turn to write your remarks (noticed the “be the first to comment”? ;-))

EYGML

EYGML stands for European Youth Go Masters League. I’ve been creating (official) EYGML 2007 pages. I have learned a lot of new things, and I have refreshed some that I knew already…

I’ve…

  • …discovered some xhtml/css tricks (like using double divs right inside each other to avoid weird margin adding).
  • …learned to work with GIMP (using layers religiously) when creating logos and favicons.
  • …finally learned to use (My)SQL.
  • …wrote almost a thousand lines of php, including:
    • highly automated registration, logging in/logging out, possibility of changing personal info
    • choosing a random quote from a file formatted as a standard ‘fortune’ file
    • showing nearest three birthdays (actually you can call the function with a paramater like 500 to learn that Lacour will be 31 years old on 10.10.2016 (poor guy))
    • automatic info updating from the official EGF database
    • sgf uploading and parsing of the result
    • (members only) voting for a logo
    • and last but not least: GD – it completely rocks, now you can see GD generated graph on the logo voting page, and if I ever get a possibility to create something else with GD, I will :-)

The pages are a bit of a mess, but when I’m done with all the features (I still need to create the league playing system, for example), I will try to make the interface more comfortable for users.

Amarok

The creators of Amarok say “rediscover your music”… and I did.

I always thought that having playlists and just opening them with any simple player was enough for me, but now I thought I might try to use something more sophisticated. I tried Rhythmbox, it was simple, clean and working but nothing astonishing. On the other hand, I competely fell in love with Amarok.

Although Amarok is a qt application (I strongly prefer gtk and I don’t use any other qt ap, but Amarok is so good that I don’t care), I fell in love at the first sight. It’s a bit slow, but it has many nifty features like grouping/searching by various criteria, album cover preview, complete lyrics and info about author/album (it downloads all that from the internets, very kewl) just one click away. It can also pop up a small window with info about the coming song. The window is transparent and you can choose where it pops up. It will disappear after a short interval (set by you, of course).

And they get bonus points for this message:

One of Mike Oldfield‘s best pieces of work, Amarok, inspired the name behind the audio-player you are currently using.

Go ahead and rediscover your music too!