6me.us URL shortener

By elf February 17th, 2012, under stuff

So I wrote an IPv6-compatible URL shortener today… 6me.us !

And I even made a Chrome extension 😀

Use it, bitches!

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Thank you Terry Brooks – a unique first edition ‘The Sword of Shannara’

By elf October 9th, 2011, under stuff

I think I was about 11 or so (back in ’91 or ’92) when one day I was rummaging around in one of my parents’ book shelves in the house (being of the religious literary types, they’ve amassed a lot of books!). For reasons unknown they had this book in their collection: The Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks.

This was Terry’s debut novel and to my dismay I didn’t realise until today that this book in my posession is actually a first edition! I’ve no idea what its value is and don’t really care, to be honest, because I’ll never sell it. Why? Because it means so much to me.
This book introduced me the world of literature which, up until that point in my life, I had vehemently avoided. I hated reading anything, possibly because I considered the activity closely related to homework. So when I found this book with its glossy artwork I was blown away. Who is that guy that looks like Jesus? What’s with the blonde-haired characters dressed in white? A dwarf? Swords, maces,  bows and arrows? Cool!

I had to know what the story was for such epic artwork to be painted, and to my delight the story was no less grand in scale. Thus I had discovered the joy of reading for pleasure.

After twenty years I’m proud to look at the collection of books I’ve accumulated, and I’m happy to say The Sword of Shannara has helped shape my life in such a positive way. I love literature and reading, the fantasy genre – even to the point of playing Dungeons and Dragons – and I’d like to thank Terry & his publisher for putting together such an inspiring work that could make such an impression on a kid like me.

Below is a few photos of my copy… yes, it is rather tattered, but from my point of view this book has character! A section has even been bound upside down and is missing about 10 pages. I’m not sure whether this flaw is unique to this actual copy or whether it was known to be a problematic print run. There is no RRP and it now has that fabulous “old book” smell. Click the images for the full-size view.

The Sword of Shannara - cover

dust jacket - fairly worn (well-read!)

The Sword of Shannara - glossy fold-out

Beautiful illustrations by the Brothers Hildebrandt

The Sword of Shannara - copyright page

Seems legit.

The Sword of Shannara - upside down binding 1

pages 153-184 bound upside down!

The Sword of Shannara - missing pages

pages 163-174 missing!

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media center box rebuild; my astro blog

By elf May 29th, 2011, under stuff

so the thermaltake blue orb ii cpu fan was getting somewhat loud, making my media center box quite unpleasant and distracting from the home theatre experience.

So I went and purchased a Noctua NH-C12P SE14 cooler. AWESOMELY QUIET. I can’t hear the thing AT ALL 😀 and with a 14cm fan it keeps the mobo cool too!

I also took the opportunity to remove the 2 x 500gb (raided) drives and start using an external 2tb drive. So now I have an internal 2tb (50gb system partition), and an external 2tb. Not only is it a bit more quiet, but it also saves on some power.

This of course means I had to reinstall Windows 7… (some might ask why I don’t use mythbuntu or something – that’s another story). I don’t exactly have a legit version of the OS though, so I had to crack it. In the efforts of being a little more community-spirited, here’s a copy of the Windows 7 Loader that I used to force it to pass the product activation. Enjoy 🙂

On another note, as of a few weeks ago all my astronomy-related posts will now be viewable over at blog.creationova.com – check it out!

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ISS sighting for my region

By elf April 5th, 2011, under stuff

So it would appear there is a good 5-minute opporunity to view the ISS from Brisbane / Gold Coast region next week. Hopefully my Arnold Schwarzenegger arms (a pre-requisite for owning 30×100 binoculars without a tripod) will be up to the challenge of tracking it! I don’t think I’d be able to track it with the telescope very easily; that would involve leaning over on a weird angle, trying to find the sat through the finder scope, getting the focus right, using an appropriate eyepiece, and guiding it by hand.

SATELLITE LOCAL DURATION MAX ELEV APPROACH DEPARTURE
DATE/TIME (MIN) (DEG) (DEG-DIR) (DEG-DIR)
ISS Fri Apr 08/06:45 PM 1 14 10 above S 14 above SSE
ISS Sat Apr 09/07:10 PM 1 27 11 above SW 27 above SW
ISS Sun Apr 10/06:01 PM 4 18 10 above S 11 above E
ISS Mon Apr 11/06:26 PM 5 88 11 above SW 16 above NE
ISS Tue Apr 12/06:53 PM 2 16 16 above WNW 11 above NNW
ISS Thu Apr 14/06:09 PM 1 14 14 above NW 11 above NNW
ISS Tue Apr 19/05:47 AM < 1 13 10 above NNE 13 above NNE

We shall see.

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more star gazing

By elf March 26th, 2011, under stuff

A great night to be viewing the heavens: the temperature has dropped off, not a cloud in the sky, not too much of a breeze. Visual magnitude is about a 6, and earth hour was on lol.

Tonight I saw with my 1200mm 8″ dob (with 25 and 10mm eyepieces):

  1. Saturn and four of its moons! Titan, Tethys, Dione and Rhea.  :O
  2. Eta Carinae
  3. Tarantula nebula
  4. the Alpha Centauri double star
  5. tracked a satellite for a bit across the sky with my 25mm ep from southwest to south! Thankfully I have Stellarium and there just happened to be a sat passing over the right spot at the right time – Radio-Sputnik 15!

Awesomesauce!

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WikiLeaks insurance file – download here

By elf March 7th, 2011, under stuff

>>>>>> http://www.elvenspirit.com/insurance.aes256 <<<<<<

This is the Wikileaks “insurance” file originally posted on TPB last year. What is it? We don’t know exactly… it’s a 1.4GB file encrypted with AES256 (which is possibly incorrect), the contents of which is quite speculative at present – it could be an archive of all their documents including the unpublished Gitmo and BoA leaks, or it could be ‘cablegate’-related documents. It could be a collection of lolcats for all I know, though I don’t think Julian Assange would be that mean to us.

The fact is we don’t know what it is, but we do know it was released by Wikileaks as an insurance policy against the disruption of their work, and only Julian (and possibly his cohorts) hold the key to decrypting it.

So feel free to download your copy today.

Here’s the magnet torrent link in case you want to get it that way.

File integrity checksums:
SHA1: cce54d3a8af370213d23fcbfe8cddc8619a0734c
MD5:  94a032849b1f446e3a1ed06cf4867a56

Oh and did I mention my WikiLeaks mirror? lol 😉

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an even better wikileaks url

By elf February 12th, 2011, under stuff

my mirror: wizards1strule.com !

“Wizard’s First Rule: people are stupid.” Richard and Kahlan frowned even more. “People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.”
Because of Wizards First Rule, the old wizards created Confessors, and Seekers, as a means of helping find the truth, when the truth is important enough. Darken Rahl knows the Wizard’s Rules. He is using the first one. People need an enemy to feel a sense of purpose. It’s easy to lead people when they have a sense of purpose. Sense of purpose is more important by far than the truth. In fact, truth has no bearing in this. Darken Rahl is providing them with an enemy, other than himself, a sense of purpose. People are stupid; they want to believe, so they do.”

Wizards First Rule – by Terry Goodkind

Quite fitting, I think.

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wikileaks URL

By elf December 3rd, 2010, under stuff

http://46.59.1.2

Please use that URL while their DNS hosting is down 🙂

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mkv / h264 in Windows 7 Media Center

By elf November 23rd, 2010, under stuff

If you’re reading this it probably means you’re having issues with high def h264 content in WMC7 displaying properly. My experience with using the built-in codec was rather odd… some videos would play fine, some would play but have horrible blocky glitches / artifacts appearing every so often.

I use the Shark007 codec pack. It’s an easy, no fuss, powerful yet minimalistic approach to managing the codecs on your win7 box. I’d tried a few combinations to no avail, until I learnt that it usually takes a registry edit to force Media Centre to stop using its built in codecs and start using the additional/alternative codecs supplied in the Shark007 package. I even got my set up working perfectly in Windows Media Player, but WMC insisted on using its own!

Thankfully the Shark007 package has a special tickbox that makes disabling WMC’s own codec easy:

Tick that box called “Disable the DivX Media Foundation splitter” 🙂

Here’s my H264 tab for the record:

Not using WMC’s built in decoder now also means that AC3Filter gets used for the audio. A few clicks of the AC3 configuration now means that I can watch bluray rips with proper 5.1 surround sound 😀

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work, Titan, atheism vs agnosticism

By elf June 22nd, 2010, under stuff

A long time between updates… hmmm.

My employment with the corporate overlord of the past 6 years is ending. June 30 is my last day with them. A lot has happened over that period of time… commuted from brisbane to the goldcoast for work, got married, built a house and moved to the gold coast, got a pair of cute cats, employment transferred back to brisbane, now commuting from the GC to bris every day…
Big change is a-comin’!

I spied Saturn’s moon Titan for the very first time a couple of days ago with my 30×125 binoculars. Saturn’s rings are side-on at this time of year/orbit, so i’m not sure whether i saw them or whether it was some sort of optical aberration. Its always satisfying to find something ‘new’ which you haven’t seen before, not to mention the pleasure of scanning the sky for other notable things like the Carina Nebula, etc.
Next on the agenda – see if i can find anything in the vicinity of Cygnus A.

This might come as a surprise to many people,  not the least of which would be my wife (forgive me! 🙁 )… i don’t consider myself to be a christian anymore. The reasons are many and varied, but I just don’t see the evidence. Over the past decade or so i’ve become increasingly scientific in my world view, thinking about my beliefs with what i think is a healthy degree of skepticism.
So at the end of the day i’ve found the need to classify myself as an atheist… i can’t see any evidence of any religion as being actually provable, demonstrable fact. Most scientists are atheists… so then why would I consider agnosticism instead? Well, i’m currently (still?) of the opinion that the average human has the capacity for spirituality. It is this very capacity that makes me ask: is spirituality a concept based on some tangible condition, or is it merely an aspect of typical human thought processes?
I believe the jury is still out on this issue (as Dr Ellen Arroway in Carl Sagan’s book Contact mentioned). Apparently, scientists/medical folks have actually measured that at the precise moment of death the human body weighs very slightly less. What is that? Is it the ‘soul’? I don’t know. We need more proof.

But all I can say is that it would be awful nice if life after death was fact. This is why I’m confused as to whether to call myself an atheist or agnostic; i want to believe… but i have to be skeptical.  But maybe even such a concept of an afterlife is a fallacy. Heck, maybe ‘spirituality’ could actually be a ‘6th sense’ of sorts… maybe it is a capacity of mankind that we collectively need to discover and actually – demonstratively – prove exists. How?
(just don’t ask Why – i’m not a philosopher!)

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