Friday, October 29, 2010

Anime — The Book of Bantorra : Armed Librarians

A belated review, by some months, belated enough that it's fallen off the Crunchryroll roster.

I tried the first episode late last year, and wasn't impressed, but went back after a lot of talk about how the series was getting awesome later on; and fortunately the awful CGI from the first episode seemed to be a one-off.

In a climate where cute girls doing cute things and high-school romance seemed to have driven almost everything else off the table, Bantorra was a welcome return to an adult cast (with well endowed women) and OTT violence. However shoehorning a series of ten light novels with more plot twists than you could shake a stick at into a 26 + 1 recap episode series didn't quite work out so well in the end.

The setting was interesting and unusual in many ways -- a sort of alternate 1940s, where magic also exists, and people have made up European-style names that look and sound more like keyboard mashing (Olivia Litlets, Parney Pealrmanta, Enrique Bis'hile...); in a world where at death, a memory snapshot fossilizes as a "book" that can be "read" by touching it.

So the big struggle starts off between the Armed Librarians under Acting Director Hamyuts Meseta of the Bantorra Library, and the Church of Drowning in God's Grace, whose noble thoughts about the value of humans is belied by their separating their flock into True Men (at the top), Mock Men (mid-range operatives) and Meats (the masses). And then things get more and more complicated, with -- except in the occasional digressive arc for a bit of back-story -- the villains of the piece changing again and again, and major characters being killed all over the show.

Perhaps had it been a 40-episode series it might not have seemed quite so erratic and all over the place; or maybe it would have still seemed like it was trying to fit in everything and the kitchen sink. Overall a decent enough piece of entertainment and one that at least did all it could to be different from the current pack.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Javascript Airport weather decoder

While weatherpixie remains on extended hiatus, I have finally put together a simple in-browser replacement. It uses James Padolsey's cross-domain Ajax plug-in for jQuery (indirecting via YQL), a simple parsing script from Manuel Heras, here separated into a stand-alone script, and an iframe-based page to do the work.

The final piece of heavy lifting is to get the appropriate METAR report for the local airfield, and that's just a few lines of javascript --

Here, EGSC is the ICAO code for Cambridge Airport. And that's a lot closer to home than the Met. Office who give out current conditions at Bedford on the Cambridge forecast!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Road rage

Some weeks ago, I was working late, and so cycling home after the usually flurry of commuter traffic.

Coasting one of the downhill parts, doing in the 15-20mph range, I suddenly heard this strange whirring sound behind me -- and then, suddenly, a whole flotilla of sport cyclists.

Now, when they travel solo, going along in their spray-on advertising, nose on the tarmac, arse in conjunction with the planet Jupiter, they are just subjects of merry jest. When they travel in packs, it's different.

Six to eight pairs of them streamed past me, peddling like the clappers, leaving little to no clearance, doing only the absolute minimum to move out of their straight line and pass, nearly forcing me into the verge -- much more threatening and aggressive road use than any of the buses or farm vehicles I usually have to contend with.

Between their silly outfits and bad behaviour, the sort of thing that gives cyclists a bad name, and discourages cycling as a more relaxed form of transport.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A season in the saddle

Three months ago, I finally got around to getting a cheap and cheerful trip computer for my bike. Three months later I have done 767.4 miles at an average of 11 mph, as well as measuring that the final part of my journey to work that I couldn't measure with the car odo, starting with an off-road part, comes to just over 1.6 miles each way.

This also measures up to my order of magnitude guesswork that I average closer to 2000 miles in the saddle each year than 1000.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Computing per-service SIDs without sc.exe

How it's done is well known:

When configured to have a per-service SID (i.e. type of SID either "Unrestricted" or "Restricted"), the service SID is computed as S-1-5-80-{SHA-1(service name in uppercase)}

Here's a quick script to do it, that can be the basis for including the computation programmatically into e.g. installer generation.

So running it we get:

>& 'C:\Program Files\FSharp-\bin\fsi.exe' .\ssid.fsx MyService

which compares nicely with:

>sc showsid MyService

NAME: MyService
SERVICE SID: S-1-5-80-517257762-1253276234-605902578-3995580692-1133959824

where each of the 5 trailing facets is just the decimal representation of 4 bytes of the SHA-1 hash taken as a little-endian unsigned integer.