Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Here's a picture of the little grey kitty sitting on a tree stump in my yard.
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cocoa Tutorials

Cocoa is the programming API for developing Mac OS X applications.

I've been meaning to learn Cocoa for a while. Now that I have access to a Mac at home, I can finally dip my hands in some hot Cocoa.

Check out this tutorial by Drew McCormack for a nice, helpful intro, especially if you're a scientist working with a Mac.

Also, don't forget to check out Apple's tutorial on Cocoa and Objective C.


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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI remember the Ninja Turtles from way back in the 80's, when kids were going crazy about them. When the 90's kicked in, they sort of faded away as the fad passed. Recently I've seen some of the old episodes of the original animated series on Youtube, and I must say it hasn't aged well. I suppose when you're 10 years old, the atrocious writing and choppy animation didn't bother you much. The Turtles were so popular there were several live action movies based on it. I don't remember much of them, but I do know they got progressively worse. One of the sequels had what has got to be the most humiliating primary villain movie death ever; Shredder got killed outside a Vanilla Ice concert.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFlash forward to 2007. We have a new 3D animated TMNT movie, named simply "TMNT". For those of us nostalgic about reliving our childhood, this movie is for you. It's been panned by critics as being unoriginal, but it's one of those films that critics hate and fans love.

The storyline has a very "Ghostbusters II" feel to the premise (see, I'm a child of the 80's). We have the four protagonists split up and retired from saving the world (with one of them entertaining kids at birthday parties) and it takes an ancient evil threatening the city of New York to bring our heroes together to save it.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketThe film opens with a tale of an ancient warrior releasing some nasty evil monsters into the world and becoming immortal a few thousand years ago, but sentencing his brethren to become stone statues. In the present day, we find out that Leonardo has been in Central America pulling off Zorro-like stunts (albeit ninja-style), in a quest to "become a better leader". April O'Neil tracks him down and tries to persuade him to come back to his brothers, who is lost without him.

Back in New York we see Donatello working phone tech support (a really funny moment if you work in IT), Michaelangelo working as an entertainer for kids and a very emo Raphael skulking around the city being a costumed crime-fighter a la Batman. Leonardo eventually returns, just in time to see strange monsters popping up over the city. Raphael seems to have a huge chip on his shoulder against Leonardo, which even leads to the two fighting it out with weapons later in the movie.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketEventually the turtles sort out their differences, and band together to fight the villains that were introduced at the beginning of the movie. The Foot clan also makes an appearance as henchmen to the main antogonist. With Shredder dead, the ninja babe Karai leads the remaining Foot clan members. Also, April O'Neil is now a ninja (don't ask how that happened) and teams up with her beau Casey Jones to help out our heroes.

There's plenty of good stuff in the movie, primarily the animation. The director takes full advantage of the medium, as we get to see really cool camera angles especially during the Leonardo-Raphael smackdown. The voice acting was also superb, and we got some celebrity voices such as Patrick Stewart, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ziyi Zhang for the supporting roles. While they gave good performances, I found some of the celebrity voices a tad distracting. It's hard to listen to Patrick Stewart and not imagine Captain Picard. Also the movie was a bit short, but I guess it's hard to keep kids still for too long in a theatre.
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If you're a TMNT fan, you'll love this movie. If you're not, you may still enjoy it as long as you're not expecting Gone With The Wind when you go into the theatre.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


Today I was going around campus, looking for adventures, when I found this fellow sneaking around between the rocks:

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People have asked me whether they hunt undergrads or terrorise the faculty, but as far I know, these monitor lizards are peaceful and rather shy.

Debian Etch Released!

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Woot! I got this in my email today:

From: Alexander Schmehl [email blocked]
Subject: Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 released
Date: Sun, 8 Apr 2007 15:15:36 +0200 (21:15 MYT)

The Debian Project
Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 released
April 8th, 2007

Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 released

The Debian Project is pleased to announce the official release of Debian
GNU/Linux version 4.0, codenamed "etch", after 21 months of constant
development. Debian GNU/Linux is a free operating system which supports
a total of eleven processor architectures and includes the KDE, GNOME
and Xfce desktop environments. It also features cryptographic software
and compatibility with the FHS v2.3 and software developed for version
3.1 of the LSB.

Using a now fully integrated installation process, Debian GNU/Linux 4.0
comes with out-of-the-box support for encrypted partitions. This
release introduces a newly developed graphical frontend to the
installation system supporting scripts using composed characters and
complex languages; the installation system for Debian GNU/Linux has now
been translated to 58 languages.

Also beginning with Debian GNU/Linux 4.0, the package management system
has been improved regarding security and efficiency. Secure APT allows
the verification of the integrity of packages downloaded from a mirror.
Updated package indices won't be downloaded in their entirety, but
instead patched with smaller files containing only differences from
earlier versions.

Debian GNU/Linux runs on computers ranging from palmtops and handheld
systems to supercomputers, and on nearly everything in between. A total
of eleven architectures are supported including: Sun SPARC (sparc), HP
Alpha (alpha), Motorola/IBM PowerPC (powerpc), Intel IA-32 (i386) and
IA-64 (ia64), HP PA-RISC (hppa), MIPS (mips, mipsel), ARM (arm), IBM
S/390 (s390) and -- newly introduced with Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 -- AMD64
and Intel EM64T (amd64).

Debian GNU/Linux can be installed from various installation media such
as DVDs, CDs, USB sticks and floppies, or from the network. GNOME is
the default desktop environment and is contained on the first CD. The K
Desktop Environment (KDE) and the Xfce desktop can be installed through
two new alternative CD images. Also newly available with Debian
GNU/Linux 4.0 are multi-arch CDs and DVDs supporting installation of
multiple architectures from a single disc.

Debian GNU/Linux can be downloaded right now via bittorent (the
recommended way), jigdo or HTTP; see <> for
further information. It will soon be available on DVD and CD-ROM from
numerous vendors <>, too.

This release includes a number of updated software packages, such as the
K Desktop Environment 3.5 (KDE), an updated version of the GNOME desktop
environment 2.14, the Xfce 4.4 desktop environment, the GNUstep desktop
5.2, X.Org 7.1, 2.0.4a, GIMP 2.2.13, Iceweasel (an
unbranded version of Mozilla Firefox, Icedove (an unbranded
version of Mozilla Thunderbird 1.5), Iceape (an unbranded version of
Mozilla Seamonkey 1.0.8), PostgreSQL 8.1.8, MySQL 5.0.32, GNU Compiler
Collection 4.1.1, Linux kernel version 2.6.18, Apache 2.2.3, Samba
3.0.24, Python 2.4.4 and 2.5, Perl 5.8.8, PHP 4.4.4 and 5.2.0, Asterisk
1.2.13, and more than 18,000 other ready to use software packages.

Upgrades to Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 from the previous release, Debian
GNU/Linux 3.1 codenamed "sarge", are automatically handled by the
aptitude package management tool for most configurations, and to a
certain degree also by the apt-get package management tool. As always,
Debian GNU/Linux systems can be upgraded quite painlessly, in place,
without any forced downtime, but it is strongly recommended to read the
release notes for possible issues. For detailed instructions about
installing and upgrading Debian GNU/Linux, please see the release notes
<>. Please note that
the release notes will be further improved and translated to additional
languages in the coming weeks.

About Debian

Debian GNU/Linux is a free operating system, developed by more than
a thousand volunteers from all over the world who collaborate via the
Internet. Debian's dedication to Free Software, its non-profit nature,
and its open development model make it unique among GNU/Linux

The Debian project's key strengths are its volunteer base, its dedication
to the Debian Social Contract, and its commitment to provide the best
operating system possible. Debian 4.0 is another important step in that

Contact Information

For further information, please visit the Debian web pages at
<> or send mail to <>.

Monday, April 2, 2007


There is a litter of three kittens that hang out near my house. Here are they are, lounging around looking for food (you can see the third one in the last photo if you look closely):

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