Saturday, December 31st 2011
Happy New Year!
We've just popped a bottle of Champagne in our hotel room and will soon be leaving for a six-course all inclusive evening at a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Blue Mosque, Haga Sophia and the Bosporus strait towards Asia.
Thanks for 2011. It was quite eventful, detailed report to follow. But now: belly dancers and kebap! We welcome 2012! Have a happy new year!
Wednesday, December 28th 2011
Going Where East meets West
Bollicks to this, I'm off to Istanbul!
That's right, folks. If you're going to celebrate New Year's Eve, you might as well celebrate it in the Ottoman Empire. Or the remnants thereof. That's why me and Lady C are traveling economy class to Constantinople tomorrow at noon! There's free wifi at the hotel, no viruses, surveillance ++! so if I can remember it, I will up some images to the blog, or my sigg3.net flickr page!
Right now I have a lot of packing to do, so I gotta go! Cheers!
Saturday, December 24th 2011
While the video was made by the atheist organization TheThinkingAtheist.org, and focuses on the American Christmas celebration, I think it has quite a lot of interesting historical facts:
With this freshly in mind, I can go eat at the Winter Fest with the good conscience only a warm-hearted non-believer can. Have a Happy Yuletide and Frohe Weihnachten!
Wednesday, December 21st 2011
Split video files using ffmpeg
I've been working with large video files lately, files that are too large for regular storage media. I've come to learn how much better ffmpeg is at these jobs than the graphical tools. Mainly because the graphical ones draw more resources and require more fiddling about, in total taking more time than a short command. Here's the only command you'll need to create new files from one source video:
$ ffmpeg -i INPUT -vcodec copy -acodec copy -ss START OF VIDEO -t DURATION OUTPUT
So, let's say I have bigvid.mpeg that's 50 minutes and want to split it in files that are 30 minutes and then another with the next 15 minutes, discarding the last 5; respectively small1.mpeg and small2.mpeg.
Here are the two commands to deliver what we want:
$ ffmpeg -i bigvid.mpeg -vcodec copy -acodec copy -ss 00:00:00 -t 00:30:00 small1.mpeg
$ ffmpeg -i bigvid.mpeg -vcodec copy -acodec copy -ss 00:30:00 -t 00:15:00 small2.mpeg
As you can see the start of video operand is relative to the input file (source video), while the duration or -t parameter is not. The -vcodec and -acodec options aren't strictly necessary, ffmpeg's default output codec should match the input.
ffmpeg and audio delays
However, I have experienced that videos created without codec specification will have audio delays or audio that is not synchronized to the video stream. Specifying both the audio and video codecs as exact copies using -vcodec copy and -acodec copy as in the examples will give you less headaches. That's all!
Thursday, December 8th 2011
CONGRATULATIONS A & T!
Just before I forget, congratulations are in order for Lady C, Vixen and me, but more importantly to their brother A and his girlfriend T who gave birth to a baby boy today! Yes, you can call me Uncle Sigg3.
Happy Birthday [untitled] !
I've been dusting off my vast historical knowledge in order to rightly name the child, still untitled or it, if you want to be personal. I think my late reading of Prussian kings can be of great help, especially if they allow descriptive names; such as "the wise" or "the crooknosed" granted that he sports such characteristics, of course. "The gifted" is vague enough to fit anything. Use "the plump" if you want to have something that fits the baby right now. Or "the pink", perhaps.
Preferably, you should call the kid something you like. Not as in "something you like" but as instantiated by something you like. Take Guiness for instance. I think it's a great name. Just consider: "Here, have a Guinness, Guinness!" Got a nice ring to it. And it's not going to get your kid into any trouble either, like Marijuana or Doobie most certainly will. Just a tip. Cheers!
German Exams: 2 down 1 to go!
I've done it! The two worst class room exams this year have been idled through and delivered. The first one, Tysk 1101, was 9 o'clock Monday, and I had looked up all the nearby cafés around campus to find out when they opened in order to secure a cup of coffee. I found a good spot staring into the backs of the American Lit section, with my back against the rest of the library. Then I started farting.
Around an hour into the four hour ordeal I couldn't take it anymore and asked to have someone follow me to the restroom. I don't know how they do it in other countries, but in Norway you are allowed to take breaks and walk outside, as long as an exam warden follows every step you take -- sometimes even checking the WC stalls.
And if you ever notice a lack of retired people in your immediate vicinity, you can bet there's an exam going on somewhere. The very temporary (4 hour) positions are mostly filled with retired people. Solemn, long-nosed men and knitting grandmothers. But I digress!
I had remained calm during the morning, which is important in order to rightly comprehend the tasks in front of you. If you panic, you'll certainly overlook something important (such as a negation at the end of the sentence -- always funny). But you can be too calm as well.
I was like: Remain calm. Just be calm.
'I am calm' I thought. 'Caaaaallmmm.. Soo veryyy caaaaaalmmmmzzzz... zzz.. zzz.. zzz-*! naCHTUNG!' One of the retired wardens walked over and slapped my across the face. "Shush!" People who lived through the war knows how to use violence for peaceful purposes. If you're good, they'll reward you with candy.
We got a text about Martin Luther (the Reformist, not the King) and how they had done archeological excavations in what has been established as his childhood home. The point of the article was two-fold; 1) his father was very rich -- contrary to popular beliefs in Germany, and 2) they may have found the Toilet on which his Turmerlebnis unfold itself.. don't ask. I really enjoyed the read, and answered the comprehension questions, in Norwegian, as best I could.
"DO NOT WRITE A NOVEL", the lady had said at the last session of the course.
That's exactly what I did. I even wrote in my own Norwegian interpretation of the questions I then answered, totaling some 8 pages! What's worse is that I completely lost track of time, so that after the 4 reading comprehension tasks I still had some 8-10 tasks of very time consuming grammatical analysis to do!
Needless to say, I just barely made it in time. Then I headed home, knowing I had to read for the next exam, Tysk 1100, which was today. German Syntax 1.
Let me just add in here that all of the courses I take this fall have a recommended prior education of High School German, sporting at least a C. I didn't have German in High School at all. Zippo. Zilch. I had French. It's Latin based, not even Germanic. But I mostly played Quake II: CTF II instead.
In order to stay on a positive note, let's just say I have been setup for quite a lot of Eureka! moments this fall.. Especially since the first exam ended, and I have learned how many errors I did, which could have easily been avoided. I went from being satisfied to questioning my very academic existence in a few pages.
But I can't give up either. With a little luck my classmates, of which many come straight from High School, panicked and really screwed up. If the statistics work in my favour, I can still avoid having to do it over again. If not, then I'll just have to do it. The bar for a Master in Philosophy's set to C, but I'd like it to linger around B if I can. Right now, I feel that I'll need a lot of luck to avoid an E!
Enough of the alphabet soup!
The exam today didn't start until half past two in the afternoon, so I had plenty of time to not be nervous. As usual, I remained calm. Almost too calm. In fact, I overslept, and didn't get to read through the pages I had planned to, and instead barely made it to the library just before the exam started with only 5 minutes to spare!
This reminds me of gym classes in my childhood when we were counting our pulse strokes after anaerobic training, and they could't find my pulse because I was so calm. For the rest of the year I just wrote 'In a coma' in the report book to skip gym class, and the Physed teacher couldn't argue against the science. The following year, alas, he had changed batteries in the pulse-meters.. but I digress.
Today we had German Syntax and despite my calm prior to the exam, I was rather stressed out when we finally started. Who knows what sort of misunderstandings I have conjured up along the way?
First we had to recognize 5 Genitive cases in a text about electric cars' success in Norway. I have been so focused on the Accusative and Dative cases (direct and indirect objects, mainly) in my German training, so it was really hard to turn my brain around to notice ownership- or description-like appositions. But I managed to find all 5! At least that's what I think..
I actually nailed the last one on account of Mark Twain's «Wegen des Regens» below. Talk about basing my education on happy happenstance!
Then we had some verbs that had to be located and shown in the Infinitive, as well as a translation of a text from Norwegian to German, also about electric cars, sporting a lot of Modus Conjunctive (indirect speech).
As usual, my non-existing vocabulary made this pretty hard. But I at least delivered something that meant something going in the same general direction as it was supposed to be. It really bothers me that I know historical words such as Sword, Horse carriage and the like, but not Airport or Pollution.
I see now that I missed on the latter. I didn't know what pollution was, so I just used a German sounding of the Norwegian 'forurensning', that is, die Verureinung. The correct word is die Verunreinigung. Bad luck.
The last task, however, was complete hell.
As I wrote about earlier, our German Syntax professor is quite the geek, and he had stated that he "wanted to make things interesting". So today as the final task we were given a foul text written by some Norwegian girl living in Germany, who could not for the life of her form a German sentence. She wrote Norwegian in German, had bad punctuation, and sometimes just blurted out nonsensical statements. The task read: "In the (genuine) text below, there is one type of mistake that is occurring more often than (all) the others. What type of word are we talking about and what kind of error(s)? Could we give this/these type of error/s a nickname?"
I have no idea what kind of statistics the professor is going for here, but he's setting himself up for a lot of misunderstandings and -- let's not trivialize people's feelings -- angry retorts.
I based my comprehension of the task that he used the word -flexion, which rules out verbs (conjugation), and focused on the Flexive (plural endings) of Adjectives and Nouns, but I have no idea whether this is right or not. Time will tell. In the meantime, I can only look forward to learning more German, so that I more easily can identify all the errors I put on record as of 6:30 pm today. Cheers!
Friday, December 2nd 2011
To the Possibly Gay Guy at the Gym: Fuck Off
Having spent most of the day in bed and learning German verbs at the library, I decided to work out a little at the local gym. As you probably didn't know, I try to go to the gym for about an hour 3 times a week in order to stay in shape. I have to, because my life style would otherwise render me a Fat Bastard in very little time. In fact, one could argue that it already has. But I would beg to differ!
The gym that I go to is fully automatic and therefore -- and most importantly -- the cheapest. I don't want to pay a fortune to work out. After all, I'm doing the one doing all the work, right? Cheap also means that the clientele is varied, both in origin and numbers, and unfortunately though entertainingly a lot of people have no clue as to how to train efficiently, healthily and even safely. I've seen Thai kids literally harm each other because they don't know any better.. but anyway.
There's this annoying guy from East/Central Europe, I gather, who always jump onto the elliptic machines when I'm there. And then he starts just running like a fucking maniac.. and it annoys the shit outta me.
Okay okay, let me tell you how this works.
The Elliptic machines are like a bike that you stand on and that you have to move with your hands and feet. They are motion-powered, so after you step on it the screen lights up and you can choose your work-out method. This is where everyone else seems to totally ignore the technology and just try to act normal.
I'm the IT guy, however, so I work out that there's a RESISTANCE setting 1-10, that I put to 4, and a count-down timer that I set to 20 minutes. There are all sorts of resistance-variation programs going all the way from 1 to 10 to 1 again over the course of 15 minutes, but I usually stay on the manual straight pain as the doctor prescribed. The immovable handles in steel measures your pulse if you hold both hands there for a little while. I usually do 10 minutes forward, 2 minutes reverse (which is really exhausting), and 8 minutes forward without breaks with a pulse of 140-175.
While I'm doing this, the other guy is just running along so fast that you can hear that the machine is being slowly but thoroughly worn-out. Why? The grown man's running as fast as he can with no resistance.
But that's not all.
While I'm taking it slow and steady, pushing but saving energy and watching television, he keeps looking over at me with this stupid fucking grin on his face. He doesn't say anything, but he's all like: "Hey, look at me! I'm fucking owning this work-out thing. My health is 100%! And you? Sorry dude, you're shit. Give it up, man, give it up!" .. For the entire 20 minutes. Every time I go there!
Sometimes you just want to hit'em over the head like people did way back when. Remember that? *Bom* Okay, I did a mistake, I won't do it again. Done.
Lady C suggested that he's what the venerable Karl Pilkington would call 'a little gay feller'. I'm not sure about that. Maybe you have to be homosexual to work out in Post-Soviet Russia, I dunno, but just in case that is the case I'm completely ignoring everyone else around me. I understand that they may be allowed to exist in order to foot the bill for the gym, but that's about it. You don't look at people, never talk to them, and you don't make a fucking pass. You're at the gym!
I mean. Seriously.
I can understand that people would like a piece of this little cupcake; especially when I'm running on the treadmill, all red-faced, panting and farting, and sweating so hard that my man tits are lactating.. I'm like your regular male model!
But how in fucking Hamburg is running on the elliptic machines at full speed and with no resistance whatsoever supposed to impress a fucking sex machine such as myself?!
No, I think Lady C is wrong, it can't be gayness. I think he's just an asshole, regardless of sexual preference. And it all boils down to evolution. This guy's had his chance, he didn't make it into the genepool, and now he's just waiting for the gymnastic apparatus to end his life of misery. As it will the day that he slips, and his body is caught in the cold steel of the Elliptic machines, and torn to pieces.. Anyway.. A man can dream.