War on "piracy" makes Sudafed-from-meth a reality

Sunday 26 February 2012, 14:17

There's a very amusing article making the rounds that purports to be a scientific paper on the subject of how to make Sudafed from crystal meth. The idea is that because of the War on Drugs and the fact that the popular cold medication pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can be used to synthesize methamphetamine, it has become really difficult and annoying to buy pseudoephedrine when you just want to use it to treat your cold. So, the authors claim, instead of buying Sudafed it is easier to buy crystal meth and do a bit of lab work to convert it to Sudafed. Using safe, readily available household chemicals, like chromium carbonyl.

I'm sure the article was meant as a comment on drug prohibition, but it occurs to me that it's pretty much exactly the same thing we see in real life with video "piracy." Efforts to prevent "piracy" have created so much inconvenience for non-pirate buyers, and have had so little effect on the availability of "pirated" video, that people end up choosing the "pirated" versions just because the non-"pirated" ones have become basically impossible to obtain and are getting steadily worse, while the "pirated" choices are getting easier and better. It's much the same point The Oatmeal made recently.


Friday 17 February 2012, 14:48



最近与党は、新しい法案の提案しました。警察権を上げてインタネットの盗聴を作って法案んです。対決法案ですね。ヴぃっク・テーヴスさん(Vic Toews)と言う政治家は、その法案のスポンサーをします。公安相です。月曜日に、国会に、テーヴスさんは「[critics] can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.」と言いました。もじ公安相たちを支持しなければ、児童ポルノを支持しているということになりますよ!(@_w_deeさんの翻訳の介助ありがとう)英語のことわざは、「That's when the shit hit the fan.」です。たくさんの人は怒気になりました。

Testing with Autotools, Valgrind, and Gcov

Saturday 4 February 2012, 09:27

I only have limited faith in software testing, partly because of my lack of faith in software engineering in general. Most professionally-written code is crap, and the more people use "methodologies," the worse their code seems to be. I'm inclined to think that the best way to remove bugs from code is to not put them in in the first place. Nonetheless, writing tests is fun. It's an interesting way to avoid doing real work, and some of you might enjoy reading about some test-related things I tried on a couple of my recent projects.

IDSgrep 0.1

Thursday 26 January 2012, 21:27

I've just released the first packaged version of IDSgrep, which is an implementation of the ideas I posted last month about Ideographic Description Sequences. It's meant to bring the user-friendliness of grep to kanji dictionaries. Compiling it will require the usual Unix tools, and using it effectively will require a copy of KanjiVG, but you can look at the screenshot of it in action on the SF.JP site.

It'd be really nice if I could publish a paper about this. I'm looking at some academic-type computer science conferences, but it might actually be more on-topic for the more industrial or open-source type of meeting. If any readers have suggestions on what might be a good venue, I'd like to hear them.

SOPA/PIPA protest disappointments

Wednesday 18 January 2012, 13:40

As you probably know by now if you live under a rock and get all your news through the Net, several popular sites are protesting current US proposed Net censorship laws. I'm glad to see that happen, and I'm glad that a lot of people are paying attention, and I don't want to understate how glad I am of those things. But I'm also disappointed by a lot of what I'm seeing, too.

Distributed version control is not my favourite technology

Wednesday 11 January 2012, 11:41

Not too long ago a free software project I'm peripherally involved in decided it was time to replace its old and not broken version control system with something new and broken, and the lead maintainer conducted a straw poll of what the new system should be. My suggestion of "anything, as long as it's not distributed" was shouted down by the chorus of "anything, as long as it's distributed." Having lost the argument in that forum, I'm going to post my thoughts on why distributed version control sucks here in my own space where it's harder for me to be shouted down.


Saturday 31 December 2011, 21:43

It's the end of 2011, and I'm writing this from my parents' home in Nanaimo, where I'm visiting over the year-end holidays. If you ask me how this past year has gone, I'd have to say it's been mixed. Some good things have happened; some not so good; and my current situation is what I'd call metastable.

Ideographic Description Sequences: some thoughts

Monday 19 December 2011, 15:14

I went through a bit of a crunch to get Tsukurimashou 0.5 out the door before my year-end vacation. With that done, and at least 99 kanji to do before the next planned release, I have a chance to sit back and think about some longer-term and spin-off projects. Here are some ideas on kanji searching.

UPDATE: A prototype implementation of the system described here now exists as part of the Tsukurimashou project, and you can check it out via SVN from there. Packaged releases will be available eventually.

Tsukurimashou 0.5

Friday 16 December 2011, 19:15

This is an archived old announcement, for a version of Tsukurimashou that is no longer the latest. You can find the latest version in the Tsukurimashou project on Sourceforge Japan.

I've released a new version of the Tsukurimashou fonts (project home page). This one contains 776 kanji, including all those taught in the Japanese school system through Grade Two and half of Grade Three. The bigger news, however, is that I've also added a set of fonts for the Korean hangul writing system. Those should now be beta quality - you should now be able to write the standard modern Korean language in its entirety. Downloads: source code; precompiled fonts; demo PDF files.

These fonts are far enough along now that I'd really like to create a bit of "buzz" around them; that's part of the sneaky plan behind my recent technical postings about my experiences building the fonts. I'm hoping that a lot of people will read those, and, especially, share them on systems like Twitter and the other one. In the new year, after I've posted a couple more (I'm aiming for weekly technical postings), I'll evaluate whether they are attracting third-party traffic and whether I want to continue them. They take up time I could be spending on writing code, but having people use the software is important too.

Building a build for something weird

Monday 12 December 2011, 22:39

Here are some thoughts on the Tsukurimashou build system. You can find the code, and some documentation of how to use the build system, in the package, but this posting is meant to look more generally at some of the issues I encountered while building a build for something weird.

The thing is, Tsukurimashou isn't a piece of software in the normal sense, but a package of fonts. It's written sort of like software, using programming languages, but the data flow during build doesn't look much like the data flow during build of the usual kind of software package. As a result, although it seemed like using Make was the thing I wanted to do, the way I've written my Makefile doesn't look much like what we might expect on a more typical software project. Working on it has forced me to see the structure of the project quite differently from the way I'd usually look at software, and maybe some of the ideas from that can be applied to other things.