Category Archives: rant

Chairs

I’ve been undergoing torture all my life. These devices of the devil bend my body 90° at the waist, and then again 90° at the knees. Halfway between bent and straight. I can hardly imagine anything less comfortable.

I’d be happy if the chair-angles were either bigger or smaller. Kneeling chairs are nice, as the body/thighs angle is about 110°, which “reduces lower back strain by promoting proper spinal alignment”. Zafu is cool, because you can sit on it in many different ways, according to your current mood. Bean bags are comfortable, they adjust their shape to your shape. Sitting on the floor leaning against a wall with legs stretched out and a small pillow under your back is almost as good as sitting on a bed of leaves leaning against an oak.

But Aeron? No thank you.

Exposure bracketing

I have an old Canon 20D. I’m pretty happy with it, the large pixels behave well in low light conditions and it’s got reasonably comfortable handling. There’s just one thing that’s been really bothering me, and as far as I know, all the other cameras suck just as much as mine.

Exposure bracketing was implemented by someone who hates HDR, photographers, and humanity altogether.

I use continuous shooting mode (hold the button down and the camera keeps shooting as fast as it can until it chokes). First, I have to press the button and hold it for exactly the right amount of time to get three pictures. In the beginning, it used to give me a headache, but after some time I got used to it. It’s stil an inconvenience, but a rather minor issue.

There’s something I don’t get at all: Why do I even have to shoot more pictures to get more dynamic range?

If the wonderful RAW format had for example 32bit depth instead of 12 or 14, we wouldn’t need bracketing at all! You would just take the longest of the exposures, and the camera could record all the data without overblowing the highlights. Or, if that is too much hassle, it could make 3 “virtual” RAW files — by simply taking a snapshot of the sensor’s state at three different times during the single exposure.

Given the amazing feedback I’ve been getting here lately, I don’t expect an answer. But I do wonder — is there anything in the way? Or are camera manufacturers incompetent?

PS: Yes, HDR is an instrument of the devil. If you look at my recent pictures, you might see that I realized that aready. But sometimes, sometimes I like to go to the dark side…

KGS bureaucracy

I have to deal with unreasonable KGS users all day long. They argue about totally insane things ad infinitum. I try to be patient and understanding, as far as it’s possible. I am even trying to be nice to people who complain about escapers.

I got used to KGS users being unreasonable, but I at least expected a bit reasonable behaviour from admins.

tasuki: if I say pretty please, will you move “Photography” room to social? (yes, I know I own way too many rooms, but there’s no photography-related room on KGS and I think it’s a pity)
anonymousadmin: ok, what other accounts do you have?
anonymousadmin: … gotta put you through the hoops
anonymousadmin: yikes… tasuki owns several rooms!
anonymousadmin: how did you get allowed so many??

Haha, good one (you know, admins like to tease each other a little bit). After some more discussion, I check the room and it’s still in “New rooms”. Well, turns out this wasn’t a joke after all.

To explain what’s going on: there are various arbitrary rules on KGS. My theory about these rules is that whoever invented them thought “our admins are pretty dumb so I have to create very concrete rules for the admins to be able to follow them and not to have to apply their common sense”. Unfortunately, the inventor probably wasn’t much mistaken.

One such rule is that for a room to be moved from “New” category to any other, it must have a description and the owner must not own any other rooms. Nice rule. Except that you can circumvent it by finding someone who has no room yet to create this one for you. Or you can simply stop being owner of your other rooms and only own this one.

In my humble opinion, these rules are being misused. For example, this particular rule was obviously designed to prevent certain individuals from creating many meaningless rooms. It was not created to prevent someone from creating a perfectly valid and useful room about something many people are actually interested in. But “we have to follow the rules”. Oh btw, the admin in question also owns several rooms. So sue me.

PS: Take this as an invitation to join the “Photography” room, under Social. :-)

Common sense and frustration

Do you know what common sense is?

Common sense is:

  • NOT setting fixed height for elements whose actual height can change anytime, and especially not setting this particular height to three elements next to each other, to keep them with the same height (common sense solution is to wrap it all in another element)
  • NOT calling your database tables j_aidx_1, j_aidx_2 … j_aidx_n and calling the columns m_1, m_2, m_3, etc; which leads to people writing queries like SELECT a.m_85, a.m_167, b.m_17, b.m_56 FROM j_aidx_5 AS a LEFT JOIN j_aidx_8 AS b ON a.m_103 = b.m_42 WHERE b.m_58 = ‘1’ AND a.12 = ‘0’
  • invoking the live server settings as default instead of using testing environment settings as default, because when something goes wrong in the decision process, you don’t want the live server to get fucked up
  • NOT having the very same function copied to several different “modules” of the application so as to make it extremely inconvenient to change
  • NOT calling your backups “new”, “!new”, “_new”, “____new”, “!!!!!new” etc, especially when each person uses a different flavour of this method
  • using a version control system, and if you are unable to do so, calling your backups by date (preferrably in YYYY-MM-DD format, since it sorts itself naturally)
  • using either tabs or any amount of spaces for indentation, but keeping it consistent (or at least, for fuck’s sake, keeping it consistent within one file)
  • NOT internally calling files for inclusion 1.html, 2.html, 3.html etc., especially when you already went through the hassle of creating nice looking URL’s
  • NOT totally breaking your URL’s and titles by adding a lot of random keywords just to game search engines, when that makes your site either unusable or extremely confusing for humans
  • using one language (human language, like English or Czech) in your application, or at least avoiding mixing up several languages inside one particular variable or function name (findAllNovinky is just lame function name)

… do you know what frustration is?

Native speakers’ spelling

Why oh why do native speakers suck at spelling so much?

English people are notorious for making the most basic mistakes. Your/you’re and their/they’re/there win shared first place for the most annoying and stupid misspelling. It twists the meaning and shows that whoever wrote that can’t even grasp the absolute basics. Also, if your keyboard features the apostrophe, please differentiate between its and it’s.

Another pearl is when people use “of” instead of “have”. Not in “I of a dog” (surprisingly, no one writes that), but much more in “could of” or “would of” (makes me feel like poking my eyes out).

Except/accept, where/were, loose/lose (if you ever “loose a game”, something is seriously wrong with you), principal/principle, quiet/quite… wtf…?

Sadly, English speakers are not alone. I’ve just seen someone repeatedly saying “żucił” (instead of the correct “rzucił”) in certain Polish chatroom. Luckily, I knew the correct spelling and readily corrected that horrendous mistake. But what if I hadn’t known…?

Sincerely, I don’t care about your spelling. What I do care about is my own spelling. And I learn to spell from — you guessed it — native speakers. So, when they fail, I do, too.

After you of read this post, I think your definately not going to make those grammer misteaks again.

PS: Having written that, I expect to make a very serious Czech spelling mistake during the next 24 hours… Karma is a bitch. :-/

The future of KGS

I am getting pretty sick of KGS. It’s been bothering me for several months already.

Most admins don’t care about the users at all. What’s worse, I’m starting to be like that too. I simply follow the rules: “leave me alone, we don’t deal with escapers, the system does it automatically”. Which is true only partially. As of now, the escaper system is still fucked up. Sometimes people forfeit after getting disconnected from just one game. Also, the escaper system is inherently flawed because it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do — it doesn’t protect users with bad connection from losing games. Au contraire — after they reach the critical amount of escapes (quite a lot of people will not continue the game because they are assholes and know that their opponent was marked as escaper), they lose every single game as soon as they get disconnected. If there was a simple five or ten minute limit for them to return, sometimes they would lose, but not nearly as often. Come on, they lose on time very often anyway! Plus the limit would take care of all the escapers.

But wms thinks that people should not be forced to finish their games (like when you are playing against someone who is obnoxious). This is in contradiction with the “rated games are supposed to be serious” policy. I’ll be much more angry when someone refuses to finish the game than when they are obnoxious (what does that mean, anyway? if they break the ToS, the should get banned, if they don’t, someone is just oversensitive here).
Many users complain about escapers, yet most of the admins think that there is no problem (there’s reasonable amount of freedom on kgs, but you are not allowed to talk about escapers in EGR, for example).

Look at the rating system, it is mathematically sound, but it sucks. And users know this. Still, the administration is unable to accept it. Now it sucks a bit less then it used to, but it still does: when people play too many games, they get stuck. Then they can win as much as they want and will not improve their rank. Or it will take half a year. A simple Elo-based system would perform much better. It would make it easier to change your rank, you wouldn’t get stuck, and it would be much more transparent. Users want transparency, not some insane maximum statistical likelihood function over last half a year of your performance.

The KGS server manager is rarely on with admin nick, usually just uses an alternate (secret) account. You know why? … Doesn’t want to be bothered by users… (did I mention that admins don’t care?)

Few months ago, a user reported someone heavily abusing him. No senior admin was online at the time. So I decided to use a senior admin account which I got access to because of some KGS+ lectures. I snooped the chat and wrote a reason “tasuki snooping based on user complaint”, so as to make it all transparent. I just tried to help. But I was scolded and told not to do that again under any circumstances.

Recently I (ab)used a bug which enables all admins to make permanent rooms. Yes, I know the rules for room creation, and it was a reasonable room (co-owned by Fan Hui). As no senior admin was online (only the server manager with alternate account, not to be bothered, as usual), I used the trick to make the room permanent. I was told not to do it again.

I haven’t done anything wrong, I was using tricks (which I am not officially supposed to do to) to help users and do the work of senior admins (while they keep hiding behind their alternate accouts, not to be bothered). Yet I get scolded for trying to help. And when some other admins seriously fuck up, nothing happens. Sure, we all make mistakes, but it is necessary to accept and correct them, if possible.

Unfair banning happens, but I think it’s not such a serious issue. It’s at most 48 hours, which doesn’t really harm the user too much. Still it sucks when people get banned for “offtopic chatting” or just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Much worse thing is unfair deranking. That is very harming to the user, he practically loses the account. Users often get emotionally attached to their account, so this is perhaps the hardest punishment. However, these fuckups (usually caused by someone deranking just based on same ip or without checking the games at all) usually get corrected after a complaint. Not always, though.

There is one more thing, unnecessary deranking. The official policy (aka wms) says “deranking is not a punishment, deranking serves to protect the rating system”. Well, if one established user plays against himself to get 9d to be able to brag to friends, sure, the 9d needs to be deranked to preserve consistency of the ranking system. But deranking the other account might not be necessary. This was not a repeat offender, he did not lie, he admitted it and said he’s done it just for fun, and added that he didn’t want to use that account to play against other players so as not to damage the rating system. I see no reason to keep both accounts deranked, yet that seems to be what most admins support (or they just don’t care, as usual).

And there has been at least one occasion when an admin was unable to accept his mistake and very persistently and repeatedly kept on harming an obviously innocent user, although he was told by other admins not to do it. Punishment for this admin? None.

There are more skeletons in the KGS closet, I think I could write a book on the topic…

KGS has one very important thing though — amazing user community. Users who care and who try to help (although most are ignored ;)).

Still, currently there is no overally better server than KGS, so we somehow have to live with it. And if you avoid EGR and play no serious games, you will probably be able to avoid most of the potential troubles.

I hate chess

Call me biased.

As much as I love cheese, I hate chess.

Chess is often regarded as “the best board game”. Some say that chess is profound, that it requires more skill to master than other board games, and chess players often act arrogantly (take that, bastards, I can be arrogant too).

What I dislike the most about chess are the completely stupid and artificial rules, where each piece moves differently. It’s a huge mess, not elegant a single bit. Chess players say it adds depth to the game. I say bullshit. If depth means a lot of variations, then go has way more variations then chess.

Strategy (long term planning) is almost nonexistant in chess, it’s all down to how far you can read (Chess is 99 percent tactics. –Teichmann).

Ok, now I’m done with chess, let’s look at some more interesting games:

Go has the most possibilities, but I also find it to be the most beautiful game (Go uses the most elemental materials and concepts – line and circle, wood and stone, black and white – combining them with simple rules to generate subtle strategies and complex tactics that stagger the imagination. –Iwamoto Kaoru). Nuff said.

TwixT and Hex are connecting games. The two players try to connect their sides – one vertically and the other one horizontally (which creates the conflict). Both these games have simple enough rules for a small child to learn yet the tactics and strategy are fairly deep. I am not so sure about Hex, but TwixT is a largely unexplored game. The level of TwixT play on littlegolem (where the world top players play, as it’s almost the only place to play TwixT) has risen quite dramatically during the last two years.

And then there are many other games with simple rules yet profound strategy, and I think that they all deserve way more attention than the omnipresent chess, which suffers from being inelegant with its too complicated rules and which is based solely on one’s reading and involves almost no strategy or long term planning at all.

Yes, I know that this post is not going to convert any chess players, but hell it made me feel better. B-)

Friday the thirteenth tech support

I think I should create a category called “rant” in my blog.

I think you also read all those funny stories… Secretary: “I have a problem with Windows.” Support: “What do you have on your monitor?” Secretary: “A flowerpot.”

It’s funny as long as it happens to other people, but I get a lot of similar questions while admining on KGS, and believe me — it’s not funny, it’s just very very tiring. :|

The name has been changed to protect the guilty. There is a menu called “Rooms” on KGS, and right in this menu, there is a button called “Open Games”:

leebark: I accindently exited out of open games! How do I get back?
tasuki: Rooms > Open games
leebark: what catogory though?
leebark: main?
tasuki: no room list, no category
tasuki: just click on “Rooms” :)
leebark: I’ve clicked on rooms but it’s not there
leebark: :.[
tasuki: look carefully
tasuki: it’s in the rooms menu here
tasuki: not in the room list
leebark: I got it
leebark: thanks
tasuki: great…

He didn’t even say hello or hi (I respond very reluctantly to users who ask stupid questions and don’t even bother to greet me). He asks me something he could find out by himself, and then fails to follow the directions I give him (he searched in Rooms > Room List > [Various Categories]). I had to repeat it three times for him to get it. :-/

The second one was even worse:

tomoyuki: Please help me, how can I enroll the outcome?
tasuki: go to http://eygml.tasuki.org/
tasuki: log in
tasuki: proceed to the league page
tasuki: find the game in the table, click “sgf”
tasuki: and upload the sgf file of that game
tomoyuki: thank you
[ half an hour of silence ]
tasuki: so will you upload it? :-)
tomoyuki: how can I upload my game?
tomoyuki: from what?
tasuki: the sgf file
tasuki: you can download sgf of a game from kgs by right clicking on it in your gamelist
tomoyuki: It says “The game should have been played between tomoyuki and VincentV but it was played between VincentV and Prodigious. ” What can I do?
tasuki: you should upload the game played between tomoyuki and VincentV, NOT the game between VincentV and Prodigious
tasuki: each user can only upload their own games
[ tomoyuki has logged out without uploading the game ]

I think this requires no further explanation. I could upload the game for him, but am I expected to upload all the 250 games that we are going to play in the league? :S

I have enough of people complaining that the game uploading procedure is too difficult (it isn’t, it takes one click to choose which game to upload, one click to select the game file, and one click to actually upload it; could it be any easier?). I have enough of people using different KGS nicks than they chose in their profile (which they can edit anytime) and complaining that they can’t upload their game. I have enough of people writing their nickname in ALL CAPS once and in lower case the other day and being surprised (remember kids: Capitalization is the difference between “I had to help my uncle Jack off a horse.” and “I had to help my uncle jack off a horse.” (if you don’t know what the second one means, good for you)). Just choose one capitalization of your nickname/password and stick with it, mmkay? ^^

Simply put: I don’t enjoy providing free tech support for idiots in my free time. I enjoyed creating the EYGML site, I learned something and created something useful. I think I spent few dozens of hours doing that. Now it’s the users’ turn to do some work (the navigation is intuitive for most people, however, the few who don’t find it intuitive should first try it out, or try thinking, before asking me silly questions).

With love,
tasuki

Project Gutenberg

I’ve been playing with (pdf)TeX lately, and I thought it might be a good thing ™ to transfer some of the Project Gutenberg e-texts to pdf. So I did. And now what?

The Project Gutenberg website seems quite nice on the first sight… even on the second sight… the books are neatly organized and searchable and what not. Ok, now try to actively participate… Where’s their irc channel where I could ask questions? (they have none) Oh well, what about a usenet group or a web forum? Nothing like that, only a maillist (here I could include a long essay on why I hate maillists, let me skip it while just mentioning that maillists are generally unnavigatable).

Now I’m sick after having spent about an hour trying to find out how to submit the pdf files to Project Gutenberg. I learned all about how it should be formatted and what exactly I have to do and what I mustn’t do and all stuff I am not interested in. I have taken a .txt from Project Gutenberg, spent some time mostly playing with regular expressions and a bit of hand work (not everything can be done with regular expressions), and now I have a .pdf that I want to submit.

So… anyone knows how to submit it? I don’t and I’m not going to waste any more time searching for it. Later on, I might decide to publish the pdf’s elsewhere (prolly here).

Blah, lately I’ve been getting upset very easily… this morning, I responded to a hoax email that someone whom I don’t even know sent to about 200 people. I sent the response to all those 200 people and made it quite clear what I think about the sender. I think he deserved the public humiliation.

How I got screwed

The participation at the Czech go championship used to be almost for free, sometimes we even got money for each won game (not much, but still).

This year, everything has changed – almost 100€ for entry fee + accommodation. I don’t want to spend that much money for something that should be free (I already placed third in the qualification tournament series and earned my right to play at the championship, why pay for it?).

When I complained about the price, I was told that: today it is not much money, and my go club could pay that for me. Well, I’m not going to ask my go club for any money, because I barely ever go there and don’t even pay the annual club fee… that would be just plain unfair.

The other day I learned that one guy (who wasn’t even qualified in top ten and but placed 18th in the qualification) got around 90% discount (because he was a student – but hey, I’m a student too).

If they think, that after this I’m going to help with transmitting the games on KGS… well… bwahahahahaha…