May 24, 2016

More proof that Australia hates us

A hundred thousand flying foxes have invaded the town of Batesmans Bay, south of Sydney.

The article says they're a threatened species so the authorities can't kill them. It would be stupid to kill them anyway; they're major insectivores and taking that many out of the ecosystem would have significant consequences. (Kind of like the farmers who shoot all the hawks and then complain about being overrun by rodents.)

So the authorities are going to have to come up with a way to scare them away. I wonder how the bats feel about firecrackers?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in System at 07:25 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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Vivio cries

I really like Nanoha Vivid. I liked the anime and I like the manga, but it looks like most of the rest of the world doesn't agree.

The anime stopped in the middle of the story (right after Einhart and Corona fought in the tournament) and clearly was intended to be the first half of a split-cour series. But they didn't release it on BD, which is a very, very bad sign and there's no indication whatever of another cour coming in future. I think it's dead.

As to the manga, that's still ongoing. Chapters come out once a month, and a circle called "Vivid Translation" has been working fitfully on it -- or not, as the case may be. The most recent chapter they've translated is #62 and that was in January.

They just posted an explanation and said they haven't given up. The art cleaner is dropping out, or may as a practical matter have dropped out months ago. They just faced reality and recruited someone new, so maybe we'll start getting chapters again. That's what they're saying. But they've been saying that for months now without delivering.

I sure hope they mean it this time; I want to know what's happening with Ixy.

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I also want to know why Corona had to fight Tao in the middle of a limestone cave. And who the blonde chick is who stole Sacred Heart and forced Vivio to fight without it, and why. And a bunch of other things.

Volumes have been released about twice a year, and the most recent volume (#16) came out in April. It begins with chapter 78 and probably contains 5 chapters. But we don't know because no one seems to think it worth scanning and posting anywhere I've found, and I've looked.

I understand that they're volunteers and at best crabbing at them would be counterproductive. They owe me as much as I'm paying them, which is to say "nothing". But it's frustrating, especially because they put together a "B-team" who have been translating other titles from the Nanoha manga canon and making lots of progress doing so.

If I had a choice, I'd prefer lower-quality output from a B-team to nothing at all, but that apparently isn't how they feel. It's a shame.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 06:06 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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A race!

So my order to NewEgg was for two flash disks and two cans of compressed air "dusters", and as always seems to be the case Newegg divided them into two orders and shipped from two locations.

The flash disks shipped from Oakland by Fedex overnight, and Fedex tracking says they're at the Portland sort facility and on track to deliver today "before 8 PM".

The dusters shipped from Tukwila, WA by UPS overnight, and UPS tracking says it's in Portand and on track to deliver "by end of day".

So who will win the race, Fedex or UPS? Stay tuned...

UPDATE: AND THEY'RE OFF! UPS tracking shows "Out for delivery" as of 0701.

UPDATE: Fedex shows the package at Lake Oswego as of 0817.

UPDATE: Starting from the pit lane, Fedex now reports the package on a truck out for delivery at 0852.

UPDATE: And there's the checkered flag! 1220 Fedex wins. Now to see how well these memory sticks work.

UPDATE: I might have known; like all mass storage makers, they're using 109 as a "gig" instead of 230. Windows says 468G.

UPDATE: And a 22G transfer went at 33 MB/s, compared to about 12 MB/s for the USB2 drives. I think we have a winner here.

UPDATE: And UPS limps across the finish line at 1320. And now I can go take a nap, thank goodness, because I really need one.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Daily Life at 05:33 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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May 23, 2016

Bakuon -- in the future

I'm really looking forward to this:

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Lime is really getting into it, baby!

It might be in the next episode, but it's probably the one after that.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 10:39 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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This is sad

"J-Pop Idol Mayu Tomita Stabbed by Fan in Tokyo"

He stabbed her 20 times, including once in the neck. The only reason she didn't die immediately is that he was using a pocket knife. But there isn't anything else good about it. Depending on what he hit in her neck, it may be impossible for her to fully recover. With that many wounds it may be impossible anyway, and even if she can it'll take a long time.

Anyway, according to the report she hasn't regained consciousness, which is never a good sign.

(Note: there are apparently two idols with this name. This isn't the one who is in AKB48; this is the one who starred in the show "Secret Girls".)

UPDATE: Of course, there isn't anything new about rabid fans; ask John Lennon or Jodi Foster. But it's still sad when it happens.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 06:27 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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Bakuon ep 8 -- Punny Christmas!

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It's winter and we're approaching the end of December. Which means Hijiri's birthday is coming up and soon she'll be 16 and elegible for a driver's license. In fact, she already has one. There's a country which will issue one for enough money (and if there's anything Hijiri has it's plenty of money) and the Japanese government will accept it and roll it over into a Japanese license without any test.

more...

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 01:34 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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May 22, 2016

Catching up: Onigiri, Wagamama High Spec

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A couple of 3-minute shows have been running for a while, so let's see what they've been up to.

more...

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 02:21 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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May 21, 2016

Backups

I've been a bit worried about my lack of backups lately since my WHS died. I still have one NAS but one of the two drives in it reports as being dead. (Probably I could get it back by hitting it with the handle of a screwdriver when the power is off; likely the problem is the seek head is jammed. But it's been months and it's RAID and I don't know what would happen after that. Not worth the risk.)

A better answer is to have some other backup. A while back I bought six 128G USB2 flash disks and this evening I rolled copies of a bunch of my anime onto three of them. But you'd be surprised how few series will fit on 128G. My Railgun directory is 71G all by itself.

So another visit to NewEgg was warranted, and by damn they were selling 512G USB3 flash drives for about $250 each. So I just ordered two of them, and they're supposed to arrive on Tuesday, and we'll see how it goes.

Turns out all the USB ports on my computer are USB 3. The new drives are nominally rated 250MB/s write speed. I don't expect to make that, but surely these will be faster than the USB2 sticks I bought last time, which have been averaging about 12MB/s.

One reason I won't reach 250MB/s is that my NAS, where my anime is stored, can't feed data to me that fast. But it surely can exceed 12 MB/s.

I hope.

Regardless, even if these new drives are not very fast, this is 1TB of reliable storage that can't lock up because of a sticking seek head. And that's worthwhile all by itself.

(Oh, and by the way: this post is not a request for suggestions or advice. Just thought I'd mention that.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 08:29 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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Here's a news flash from our Vice President

The most important thing about an army is how diverse its soldiers are.

We'll win future wars because our enemies will look at the Army and say, "Hey, they have lots of women and homosexuals in the ranks. We better surrender."

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Rants at 12:59 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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May 20, 2016

Why are we watching?

(Yes, this post is about anime, so stick with me.)

May I introduce B.F. Skinner? He did critical work in understanding conditioning. Everyone has heard of Pavlov's Dogs, but that had to do with low level neural circuits and its practical application is extremely limited.

Not so Skinner's work. He was studying processes which happen at the highest levels of the brain. It's known as "operant conditioning" and it's extremely powerful. It has to do with reinforcement: the person who is training you is trying to achieve certain results, and he uses rewards to make you comply.

It's more complex than that, however. How does the operator get across what he wants the subject to do? You start by rewarding behavior which is close to what you want, and get more and more specific as time goes on.

You want the pigeon to peck the keyboard of a toy piano. So the first thing you do is to starve the pigeon so it's voraciously hungry. The pigeon wanders close to the piano, and you dump some food in a hopper which the pigeon immediately eats. But it wants more, so it wanders back to the piano and when it gets a lot closer, you reward it with more food. It goes like that; eventually you reward it when it puts its head near the keyboard, and you reward it for pecking the keyboard, and so on.

Quite complex behaviors can be induced this way. And they can be reinforced really very strongly. He also studied "schedules of reinforcement" and came up with some surprising results. "Continuous reinforcement" is what you use when first teaching the desired behavior but it isn't very effective at maintaining it.

The most effective schedule of reinforcement is to reward randomly, with varying amounts of reward. Small rewards more commonly, and bigger rewards more rarely. If the reward schedule is consistent, the subject knows each time whether there will be a reward. But if the schedule is random, then he thinks, "Well, maybe this time it'll hit."

Skinner's work was anticipated by tinkerers a hundred years before him, when they invented the slot machine. It turns out to be a nearly perfect device for teaching people to stick coins in the machine.

So what has this got to do with anime? Wonderduck asks, "Why are we watching?" when really excellent shows come around so rarely and unexpectedly?

The answer is that we've been conditioned. Smaller rewards more often (shows which are good but not great) and an occasional masterpiece without warning -- isn't that exactly like a slot machine?

Which makes us think, "Well, one more try; maybe this one will turn out to hit the jackpot!"

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Engineer's Disease at 08:56 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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