Vegard Skjefstad

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Map Age Guide

It looks like ’tis the season to post low hanging fruits like videos, links and other people’s cartoons. The popular nerd & geek cartoon XKCD has been slowly going downhill over the last year or so, but with the latest installment, creator Randall Munroe hits it out of the park once again. Have you ever looked at an undated world map and wondered when it’s from? Here’s the solution (click will bring you to a large version):

XKCD: Map Age Guide by  Randall Munroe (http://xkcd.com/1688/)

An Ode to South Park

Rewind to 1992. Two students at the University of Colorado, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, sit down with construction paper, and a little too much special glue.

The result is an animated short film titled “The Spirit of Christmas“, also know as “Jesus vs. Frosty“. Three years later, in 1995, Fox executive Brian Graden pays Stone and Parker $1,000 to make another animated short as a video Christmas card. Armed with a new batch of construction paper and glue, they create another animated “The Spirit of Christmas” short, “Jesus vs. Santa“.

“Jesus vs. Santa” makes its way around the internet before it eventually catches the attention of the American cable network Comedy Central. They hire Matt and Trey to develop the South Park series, which premieres in the United States with “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe” on August 13, 1997.

Like the two “The Spirit of Christmas” shorts, South Park’s debut episode is animated using traditional cut paper stop motion animation techniques: The 22 minute long episode took between three and three and a half months to complete. The initial reviews are negative, both at home and abroad, and most focus on the low, obscene comedy.

“Sophomoric, gross, and unfunny.” — Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel on “Cartman Gets an Anal Probe”.

But from the bad reviews grow a dedicated flock of followers who managed to see South Park for what it really is: Intelligent, dark, adult satire with the occasional over-the-top dick joke crammed in for shits and giggles1.

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Hi Ya

This weekend has been both extremely stressful and very relaxing.

I had to get up early on Saturday to fix a server with a PCI-X riser card that had gone FUBAR. The voltage sensor on the card showed that the 5V current had gone completely off the charts and a fail safe mechanism had kicked in. For some reason “fail safe” in this context meant that the server was automatically turned off, and it was not possible to turn it back on without removing the riser card.

Excellent. My guess would be that just automatically disabling the riser card should be enough to prevent the system from a complete melt down. That said, I know very little about server hardware architecture and should probably just keep my mouth shut. Read more

Sunday Evening

The weekend has been pleasantly quiet and since it’s only a few hours left of it, there is a fair chance that it will stay that way, too.

Knock, knock. I should enjoy it to the max, next week I’m back on support duty and I’ve got this bad feeling deep down in my stomach telling me it will be a very busy week.

Gine is at home visiting her mother for the last time before she leaves for Australia on the 12th of December. Even if Gine is not really living with me in the apartment, she is here pretty much all the time and not having her here for a weekend I sort of fell into limbo.

Thankfully, I’m still able to be entertained even when she’s not around. Or as Eric Cartman would have said it: “I can play with myself. I play with myself all the time.” Both Friday and Saturday evening were spent with a glass of Tia Maria (comes highly recommended) and SimCity 4. A city of about 200K citizens needs the constant attention of their mayor – even if he shows up drunk to do the job. While probably not the most social way to spend an evening, I have to point out that in my defense I have been trying to find someone to go to see the Borat movie with for the last two weekends now.

Unfortunately, all my “friends” have been “busy”.

Yesterday I met with Hans Olav who left for Tenerife today with Frida for a week of vacation. They are staying at a resort they realized was “perfect for large families” just after they booked the trip, but I’m pretty sure that won’t be a problem. They know how to entertain themselves, too.

After seeing Hans Olav, I stepped by a DVD store to pick up Family Guy season five. They had two copies left, but unfortunately they were unable to find DVDs anywhere. Bummer.

Frustration, thy name is Amitech

The Simpsons Season 8 was released on DVD in Norway yesterday. I didn’t buy it because I though I had ordered a copy from Amazon in the UK, a somewhat below-average smart move since it would have made the DVDs rather expensive because of taxes. Some investigation showed that I hadn’t bought it from Amazon after all. I think I might dream things at times.

Anyway, today after work I took the bus downtown, bought the DVDs, and then took another bus back home. I magically arrived at the bus stops, both at home and downtown, about thirty seconds before my bus, there was no queue at the store so it all went like a breeze.

Too good to be true? Yes, it was.

When I got home, I turned on my Windows Media Center and realized that there is suddenly something horribly wrong with the sound coming from the soundcard’s line out connectors. There is nothing playing on the box, the DVDs are safe in their cover, still I can hear a very distinct background noise. For no particular reason there is now a constant blur of white noise coming from the speakers.

It’s nothing wrong with my amplifier, I’ve checked that. It’s nothing wrong with my speakers, I’ve check that. I wiggled the audio cables and if they are pushed up, the sound almost disappears. But there is nothing wrong with the cables, as one might expect: I plugged a couple of headphones directly into the line out on the sound card and the white noise can be heard there, too.

It’s something wrong with my Amitech Homecenter Living 412, the worst piece of crap hardware I’ve ever bought.

Tomorrow I’m calling the store – again – hopefully it’s an easy fix. If not, I’m considering asking for a refund. Even if they fix it or not, the Amitech Homecenter Living is not a Windows Media Center box I’d recommend.

On top of this, the bloody thing is still turning itself on every now and then on what seems to be irregular intervals – except for midnight sharp.

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