• The directory files/tmp/drutex-962e86def9d61fd77c579572a2c5fc15-1 has been created.
  • The directory files/tmp/drutex-962e86def9d61fd77c579572a2c5fc15-2 has been created.

The Secret of Magician Derren Brown

I was watching a documentary about the 50 greatest magic tricks a couple of weeks ago, and they were talking about the "paranormal" era whereby people were fascinated by the idea that bending spoons was possible etc. This is what enthralled the audiences; the possibility that it might just be true.

The general public has gone through this fad and bending spoons is now discounted as a cheap trick, but they have come to believe in a new kind of magic: psychology. I believe that these two fads are analagous.

My hypothesis about Derren Brown is therefore as follows: The majority of Derren Brown's tricks are fake. The people he uses are actors. The entertainment value comes from the Derren's claims that he is performing some kind of psychological manipulation on the subjects. He is not.

People are willing to believe that such psychological tricks are possible because it is interesting and the zeitgiest, containing terms such as cognitive behavioral theory, placebo effect and so on, provides an appropriate backdrop from which to believe it. And thus, after witnessing one of his "psychological tricks", instead of saying: "He just paid some actors", they say to themselves and each other: "oh yes I can kind of understand how that might work".

The reality is, there are no instances of "psychological manipulation" at all, rather, it is all acting. It is the classical ruse of the magician, the allure of mystery, simply applied to a somewhat novel paradigm that people are currently eager to buy into due to the fashions of the zeitgiest. What do you reckon?

What Do You Want to WATCH?

The majority of stupidity and trite opinion comes directly from the media. Many people are unfortunately unable to think for themselves, and it would seem that many do not even realize they have this capacity.

A lot of people seem unable or unwilling to challenge anything and will accept any source of information as fact, however spurious that source, such that even advertisments are believed and integrated into the minds eye of the beholder.

Why would a person willingly WATCH adverts? I must admit it seems quite insane. But I have seen it with my own eyes. I have seen people sitting infront of the TV WATCHING the advert breaks again and again. The same messages repeated being drilled into their soft heads.

All they want to do is WATCH.

A fly on the wall, in such a household, would hear the following phrases repeated: "What should we WATCH next?" and "What do you want to WATCH?".

As if this "WATCHING" is the only feasible action available (!)

Why not turn the fucking thing off? Why not stop for just 30 seconds and ask yourself "What the fuck am I doing with my time"? Think about it. You don't have to WATCH anything. There is no requirement!

Fuck the TV and do something else.

You might ask me, why do I care what other people do?

I guess it annoys me so much because I strive intellectual stimulation and almost all of TV is completely braindead. This in itself is no problem, since obviously, given everything I've just said, I know that I am not obliged to watch it.

The problems arise when I am in a household with people who do like to WATCH, because then I am in trouble as to what I should do. I don't want to appear reclusive and hide away in a room typing this blog (for example, heh). I am in the household by my own admission because I like the people and want to spend time with THEM (not their TV).

To be clear I am not some anti-TV zealot: as a medium, the technology is fantastic. It is the content which bothers me.

I like factual programs such as "How's it made". I also like to learn from online lectures. I also like a good film or good comedy. What I can't stand is: lies, celebrity, and stupidity. And the latter three unfortunately make up the majority of programing.

Since my viewing pleasures are so limited, and since I do not see widespread opposition to mainstream programming, this leads me to the conclusion that mainstream popular TV is the dummy in the dribbling mouths of the majority.

I need to have a good opinionated debate every once in a while to keep myself sharp, and so when I'm surrounded by WATCHERS who don't like to think or do anything else but WATCH, I feel starved.

This makes me annoyed at THEM because my needs are not being met. My defense is to assume they are stupid since they don't have the same needs as me. Which itself is quite stupid and makes me predujiced.

I find it very difficult to interact with people who can't debate or who are scared of voicing their own opinion (perhaps because they don't have one). I feel imprisoned when I cannot express my own opinion for fear of upsetting others.

I don't want to feel like that. I want to feel free and contented.

But this is clearly a problem which I cannot blame on other people. Nobody is forcing me to do anything. And nobody is required to have an opinion about anything or behave in any particular way.

An obvious solution suggests itself: I must follow my own path. It would be strange for me to sit hear moaning to you, and yet do nothing about this when I have all the power in my hands to change things. The solution says that I should not be scared what others will think of me, if I don't want to join their WATCHING. The solution says I must try to seek out associations with people who do the kind of things I like, and then I will get my social needs met without such sacrifices.

Yet this is easier said and formulated than done. One cannot just select a social group and determine their relation to you as one would select words to use in a sentence. Besides the fact that nobody deserves treated as sociopathically as the last sentence would demand if it were possible. I am neither that cold nor so calculated and I would never want to be. And so it would seem likely that I will have to do things that I don't want to in order to maintain the social contact that I want and need to be healthy.

Some of the people I see addicted to TV, the important ones in this story, are people I love. I don't want to hurt them, but I must also love myself and make sure my needs are met first and foremost.

And so I must continue to struggle. Yet tonight I shall struggle no more, I shall yield. Tonight I shall embrace the "stupidity" of the TV :-) So that I may enjoy the company of those I love.

Hotlinking

Hotlinking is when people link to images directly from your website and inadvertedly use the bandwidth, either intentionally or more likely they just don't think about it. Luckily if you create .htaccess file either in your website root or image directory of interest, you can redirect referrers. This site: http://www.htmlbasix.com/disablehotlinking.shtml can automatically generate a file if you are too lazy to learn the format (I was also too lazy haha).

Anyway, I redirected people to a picture of a Kangaroo from wikipedia (which allows hotlinking), so this is what a couple of websites look like now:

These sites were linking to Peloquin from Nightbreed:

So its quite funny that now that King Darkness has a Kangaroo as a sig. Perhaps I should periodically turn hotlinking on and off so as to have more fun with this. Nah, I'm not that cruel.

Incidentally Nightbreed is one of my all time favourite films, if you haven't seen it I highly recommend it.

The Political Alignment Con

Isn't it funny how political parties are either classified as left, right, or somewhere in the middle?

As if it is totally natural to have "left" and "right" politics without there existing anything else.

Surely policitics isn't some stupid one dimensional linear scale. I think rather that each political policy; money, justice, resources, work ethic and so on is a dimension, and how the party acts on that dimension determines their place in some space with a dimension much higher than one.

Why is it, that people try and pretend that left and right are the only possible politics. As if there cannot be something which is totally different from either?

This is the inherently biased way people think. People are told: there is left politics, and right politics, only. And this bias is propagated in the media all the time. As if they never stop to think, hangon a minute, maybe this classification is a bit dumb, a bit one dimensional.

Sugar and Vice Jewelry

A couple of my friends who are themselves a couple, make a living by designing and making custom Jewelry. It's funny. I've known these friends for a long time, and see them all the time, since they live with my girlfriend. But I never really paid that much attention to their business.

 

 

Well, I just checked it out, and turns out their stuff is actually pretty cool. Which is to be expected since they are pretty cool themselves. So, if you are into Jewelry, why not check it out, here is the link:

http://www.sugarandvicedesigns.com

If you think it's cool, I'd be happy to pass your comments on to the authors in person.

Cheers

Ash

 

You Deserve It!

Yesterday I was eating a large pizza and had gotten through approximately half of it. Feeling a little down, I thought I'd have a couple more slices to console myself.

My mind responded to this idea with a subvocalization in my head saying "you don't deserve that".

Now the mind wasn't saying "you are bad, you don't deserve that treat", it was saying "you are good, you don't deserve to be given that unhealthy crap".

This got me thinking to how I can use this in everyday life.

Imagine, you are going to do some exercise, but your lazy part says "nah fuckit". At this point motivator comes in and says "you don't deserve that, you don't deserve to be treated like that, you are good, you deserve to be treated well, please ignore lazy part and go and enjoy your run".

Do you see how this works? It changes weakness into an injustice imparted upon you by your own mind. And the response is to preach entitlement of being treated well by yourself, consequently turning the situation around.

I don't know how effective this strategy will be, I'll try and give it a go. I mean, I deserve the best, my body deserves to be treated to the best quality motivational strategies. hehe

LTE

Hi,

How are you? Good? I hope so.

So I am quite busy at work right now, developing an inter-cell interference coordination algorithm for LTE. I have come up with a reasonable idea for a solution and now need to code it and test it. I will of course integrate this code into our existing source base for the LTE simulator rather than coding my own LTE simulator from scratch.

Don't know what LTE is? LTE (Long Term Evolution) is a 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) standard for next generation mobile network technology. The specification can be found here:

http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/Specs/html-info/36-series.htm

LTE is based on OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access) technology. This is in contrast to 3G systems which use CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), a spread-spectrum radio access technology.

OFDMA in LTE segregates the frequency space, say 10Mhz, into a number of subcarriers (600 in this case), groups of 12 subcarriers are then grouped into resource blocks. A resource block spans 7 "symbols" in time (assuming normal cyclic prefix length) and thus an LTE resource block has a "size" of 12 subcarriers in frequency x 7 symbols in time.

A symbol is a point on the constellation diagram of a particular modulation and coding scheme (MCS). LTE supports QPSK, 16-QAM, and 64-QAM, which can encode, 2, 4, and 6 bits per symbol, respectively. 

WIthin a set of bits, the data is subject to further coding which increases robustness to errors at the expense of data rate.

As an example, a simple coding scheme would be to simply send the data twice, which would give a rate of 0.5 on the given modulation. Of course incredibly more sophisticated schemes exist than repeating the data, which collectively give a range of rates that translate to wide range of data rates (bits per symbol).

The choice of MCS depends on measured SINR (Signal to Interference + Noise) conditions, since adding noise to a system, effectively blurs the points on the constellation diagram of the modulation scheme from the perspective of the receiver. And thus the constellation diagrams (the MCSs) with sparser point spacing on, e.g QPSK, would be selected in situations with more noise.

The choice of MCS, and thus data rate, will be selected to track the mobile phone's (user equipment UE) current SINR conditions, so as to maximise throughput whilst still allowing the mobile to decode packets with low error.

Each resource block will give a different SINR for each UE and thus the scheduler can assign each block to the UE with best SINR. This is called frequency selective scheduling.

In LTE, scheduling decisions can be made every ms, or subframe. And thus the system can quite easily track changes in frequency dependent SINR variations, giving a performance boost.

So in a nutshell, LTE promises to offer sophisticated UE specific matching of data rate to radio conditions. The whole system is packet based and thus LTE supports a wide variety of services.

Alright, that's my LTE rant over. Lookout for LTE in the next couple of years. Well lookout for it now, since you should see the name coming up if you haven't already.

Python script for changing xml attribute values in a heirarchical xml file

Hey, long time no see!

Imagine storing all the food in your fridge and cupboards in different rooms of your house. Now imagine trying to follow the recipe. Each time you want an item you have to navigate through the house to the different rooms, and then back to the kitchen.  Obviously it would be better to have all the ingredients lined up in front of you.

This arduous process is equivalent to using an XML parameter file to run scientific experiments. If you want to vary multiple variables systematically then you have to go in and change each one and then come back out. A simple linear text file of parameter=value statements would be the equivalent of having the ingredients lined up.

So, you have to use XML, and you have this problem. So what do you do? Well  if you are me, you write the following script to change an attribute of a heirarchically organized XML file to different value:

# python program to change value of a parameter in an XML file
import sys
from xml.dom.minidom import parse

# test that arguments have been provided correctly
if sys.stdin.isatty() or len(sys.argv) != 1 + 2:    
    print "USAGE:"
    print "   cat param.xml | pchange node.node.attribute value"
    sys.exit()

# load the xml file
simParams = parse(sys.stdin)
currentNode = simParams.getElementsByTagName('SLS');

# find the attribute to change
xmlParseNodes = sys.argv[1].split('.')
xmlAttribute = xmlParseNodes.pop()
for node in xmlParseNodes:
    currentNode = currentNode[0].getElementsByTagName(node);    

# change it
print >> sys.stderr, 'Changing ' + sys.argv[1]
print >> sys.stderr, 'Attribute before \"' + currentNode[0].attributes[xmlAttribute].value + '\"'
currentNode[0].setAttribute(xmlAttribute,sys.argv[2])
print >> sys.stderr, 'Attribute after \"' + currentNode[0].attributes[xmlAttribute].value + '\"'

# dump the new xml file to stdout
print simParams.toxml()

This assumes the XML file doesn't duplicate tags so there is only one X.Y.a. This is a reasonable assumption in many circumstances. In order to vary two attributes a and b, I would do something like this (in pseudocode below):

for a in 1 2 3 4

   for b in 1 2 3 4

      cat parameters.xml | pchange X.Y.a TeX Embedding failed!b > params_TeX Embedding failed!b.xml

   end

end

Pretty cool huh?

Dry Clutch Replacement, NSR 250 MC18/MC21 SP

Here is my MC18 NSR 250. It has an SP engine with a dry clutch. I ordered a new dry clutch kit from Tyga Performance for the MC21. It will fit the MC18 SP engine.

 

The clutch is under the right fairing panel. This is easily accessible by undoing the metal screws so that it folds down.

To expose the clutch, which is under the cover:

Undo the clutch spring bolts:

 

If you were stripping the engine, you would remove the plate pusher thing as I did below, being careful not to lose the bearing, but this isn't really necessary in this case so its probably better to leave it in.

Then just remove all the plates:

 

 

 

  

  

 

 

Oh yeah, I used these allen keys to remove the plates:

The final friction plate has rubber things on it to hold it in:

One of mine was actually worn away:

 

This is the final plate:

On mine someone had written "outer" on it to indicate so. Must have been whoever rebuilt the clutch last time. The innermost plate, hear called "outer" is thinner than all the other steel plates. In my replacement set however, Tyga don't bother with a thinner outer plate, to increase the spring preload and give the clutch more bite.

    

That's all of them:

Here are the new parts:

 

Look how awful the innermost friction plate was:

 

Here is new and old, side by side:

 

With all the plates removed, I gave the basket a clean:

 

And then just replace all the plates with the new ones in reverse order, I didn't bother to do the photos for the reverse, so here is the first friction plate, after the first steel plate has already been put in:

And that is all of them:

So put the face back on:

And now for the new springs:

Oops, forgot to compare with the old springs look:

 

Tighten up all the nuts to 5Nm and put on the clutch cover again and its done. I also replaced the clutch cable incase it had stretched, not that this would make much difference since I could just adjust it but I thought what the hell:

 

The adjustment can be done here and on the handlebar:

So that's it, pretty simple. I actually haven't tested this yet since I didn't have time on Tuesday by the time I finished. 

I got these instructions from here:

http://www.nsr-world.com/workshop/rebuild/

Which shows the full rebuild of the engine. Pretty cool huh? Have to try it out when I get the time and let you know how it goes.

Frustration with things

Sometimes I get really frustrated with reality.

Take today for instance. Nothing in particular annoyed me, in fact, it was a rather normal day, although I was slightly tired. But I could tell that pent up frustration was seething within me, ready to escape.

Frustration at what exactly? Well a number of things, to name a few:

  •  The atmosphere at work feeling like some kind of competition as to who can generate the most patents, useful or not.
  •  My external assessors voice in my head telling me "oh you have to produce something novel".
  • Related to the above: this massive pressure to produce something novel for the EngD.
  • The PS3 I bought being effectively useless for movies due to it being the wrong blu-ray region; and me being stupid enough to buy it, and now it being too late to raise an ebay dispute.
  • My car, not having its CV joints fixed, despite several hundred pounds paid to various mechanics for exactly this job.
  • Stupid slow computers at work slowing me down and getting in my way.
  • My own home computer seemingly spontaneously developing virus's (I have to switch back to BSD I think, or at least dual boot).

None of these are really that big, and I guess the biggest is mainly the EngD thing, since I am putting so much pressure on myself to succeed in it. It's really difficult not to, since I can't be too laid back about it otherwise I really won't succeed at it.

All the other things just add to the fire.

I can tell I'm pent up because for example, I'm cycling home and I'm on the road and some stupid car comes up along side me and the driver mimes a "throwing hands up in the air" , "can't you see there is a cycle lane there" kind of gesture, and then he drives off. And my reaction is to want to kill him.

Incidentally there is a cycle lane but it's totally shit. It is like it was added as an afterthought as it gives no right of way for cyclists so you have to stop at every junction and cross the road manually. Thus every junction slows you down significantly. I almost got knocked off a few weeks back doing this because some twat just turned in without looking and thus from then on I decided I would ride on the road. Besides loads of people block the cycle path with their cars.

Anyway, so this guy in his car, this really annoyed me, because he did it deliberately. Some tough guy, oh intimidate the guy on the bycicle, yeah real big guy. Fucking twat. I felt like reacting and gesturing like "what" with my hands, but I knew he would stop and a confrontation would occur. So I just did nothing, and he goes off thinking "oh what a tough guy I am, intimidating people on bycicles". Why is it that I think someone should smash his face in with a crowbar?

What kind of thoughts are those? The thoughts of someone with a lot of pent up frustration. The problem when it comes to this kind of thing is, nothing can be done of a bully in the real world, unless he actually physically damages you and then the police can get him, so intimidation is a sport that the bully is free to indulge in to his hearts contents (I say he, although I expect if you are a woman then similarly female bullies exist).

I sometimes fantasize about having a gun in my pocket for exactly this scenario, where I would then force this man out of his stupid tough guy car and ask him what the fuck his problem is. I'd ask him, at gunpoint, "Why do you go round intimidating others?". I mean what the fuck is with these people.

Of course, I would never do this. And this is the rub. I'm not going to land myself in jail like these idiots, and what kind of person would I be if I indulged my rage and killed someone? I'd be a monster. So the only real reaction is to do nothing, do nothing and take it like you take all the rest of the shit you deserve (just joking, you don't deserve any of it).

Unless you are actually attacked only then can you beat the shit out of the attacker in self defence. But when I get really frustrated, the buffer that stops me from reacting to these kinds of people, seems to get thinner and thinner. And I can imagine that if I didn't have outlets for my frustration, I'd be pushed and pushed to the point of bursting, and kill some bully and then end up in jail.

I think about crime and punishment quite a lot and I always get stuck when I realize that there exist people out there who are just totally unreachable. People who are absolutely bent on being assholes. People who cannot be reasoned with. People with fundamentally ingrained immorality.

What can society do with such people. Of course the idea that we just destroy them crosses my mind every time, but then how could we possibly reconcile such barbarism with the ideology of the society? I don't think we could and therefore I ask myself will it ever be possible to conceive of a society which is inherently non-violent?
 

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