Hixie's Natural Log

2005-08-17 21:03 UTC Fire and Water

One of the things I saw when I was in Switzerland was the fireworks display. This was intended to last 50 minutes, in three parts, each from a different pyrotechnic company. It's launched from launching platforms on barges on the lake and from the piers.

Unfortunately they had to have a delay between the first and second parts because... one of the launching barges had a minor fire.

Five minutes later, no problem, fire was put out, part two ran and was beautiful. Then between parts two and three... twenty minute break! Multiple fires had started on the launching barges! Some quite major ones! Several fireworks exploded of their own accord! Oops.

The people putting out the fires seemed remarkably relaxed about this, too. As far as we could tell (from where we were sitting, on the roof of one of the building lining the lake) there was just one little boat running between the barges, and it was just meandering gently about. Apparently they couldn't just use water hoses, since that would have ruined the fireworks for the third part, and were just using small buckets of water and sand which they threw on the flames.

It's the first time I've seen fires during these fireworks, although apparently they had the same problem last year. From what I've read, it's caused by some of the fireworks overheating and making other things catch fire. I guess with pyrotechnic displays this is a risk you run, but you'd think they'd know how to avoid it by now.

As always, the display ended with the Jet d'Eau being switched back on during the finale, this year lit a deep red. Beautiful stuff. However, overall, I don't think I was as impressed with the finale this year as I was when I attended it with Nadia (includes photos). It was beautiful, don't get me wrong, it just wasn't overwhelming like it was back in 2002.

I'm already planning to go see the fireworks display next year. Only 51 weeks to go!

2005-08-16 15:46 UTC Off the Grid

I spent two weeks in Switzerland (staying with friends and family), and it was great. I strangely didn't miss the Internet at all. Now I have to catch up on what I missed while I was away. My e-mail. The news. Four hours of Stargate and two hours of Top Gear. Fifteen days of Web comics. Work.

My e-mail alone is going to take weeks to catch up with. I had 3956 new e-mails when I checked my inbox after 358 hours off-line (not counting any of my Opera work e-mail). 61% of that is bugmail (from the bug systems of Mozilla, Webkit, W3C, Apache, and other projects), from which we can determine that on average I get one bugmail every 8.8 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I won't be reading most of that bugmail. If you asked me to comment on a bug in the last two weeks, please ask me again on IRC, or ask me again in the bug in about 10 days (by which time I might be caught up and reading bugmail again).

I just worked out that at the current rate of replying to mail, it'll take me 11 months to deal with all my new messages, by which time I'll have received another 82,000. Joy.

My mum recently got a semi-professional digital camera, so I played with it for a while when I was visiting my parents in the mountains.

My first picture was a low-aperature-value close-up of a screw:

The hardware-store kind:

To give you an idea of how large the original picture was, here is just the screw, at the original resolution, taken from the same original JPEG image:

Eight million pixels! (photo)

I later played around with capturing the local wildlife:

A fly: (photo)

A grasshopper: (photo)

A ladybird: (photo)

I might put some of my other photos up at some point.

In general I don't like cameras; I find people use them to "keep a memory of" events to the point of not actually experiencing the event they are trying to keep a memory of in the first place. I'd rather just experience the event, and if one day I want to remember what it is like... do it again.

However, doing photography for the purpose of doing photography, i.e. as an art form rather than an exercise in archiving memories, seems to be quite fun. Although quite time-consuming, as far as hobbies go. Nor particularly cheap ($1200 for a macro lens?!).

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2005-08-01 10:18 UTC Holiday

I will now be gone for two weeks. I can't remember the last time I was off-line for such an extended period of time.

I'll miss you.

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2005-07-28 12:24 UTC My melting hot laptop

A couple of days ago I was about to go to bed when I smelt the acrid smell of a melting electromagnet. After some sniffing around I determined the source to be my Thinkpad's power supply.

This is the second time that a laptop power supply has burnt out on me. When I went to the system admininistration team at the office for a replacement part, they told me to not work so hard...

What worries me is that when I noticed that my power supply was melting inside, my reaction wasn't "Quick! Turn off the power and shut down the laptop!", it was "Hm, I wonder if it would last the night. Maybe it might catch fire, I'd better put it in something fire-proof so that it doesn't light my clothes or the floor on fire. If it does catch fire the smoke alarm will go off anyway so I'll have time to douse it, no problem." and it was only after about 30 minutes that I realised that if it did burn up it would take the wire with it and thus light my bed on fire. Only then did I actually reluctantly turn off the laptop and unplug the power supply.

I think I may be a little too addicted to this Internet thing.

2005-07-27 02:40 UTC Three quarters of a week-long weekend

Xiven visited Kamakaze and I this week.

What we've done so far, in no particular order: played Twilight Imperium III, played Robo Rally, played Ricochet Robots, played with my trains, saw the naked statue park, visited Aker Brygge, went to a hardware store, ate at Gio's and Taj Mahal, watched Monarch of the Glen, played Super Smash Brothers Melee, updated the firmware on my router (though that didn't reduce the random dropouts), went to a decent superstore (two bus rides away from my flat), and various other things.

The link is strong, it's disturbing. However it wasn't strong enough to overcome communication problems at the start of the week and so Xiven and I failed to meet at the airport.

Next week I'll be visiting family and friends in Geneva and other parts of Switzerland. Offline. For 15 days. Finally.