Monday, December 21, 2009

Finnish culture...

It's not all that often that we encounter things from Finland here in Portland. So imagine my surprise when we're on our way to our weekly date-night with Tove, and our baby-sitter is gushing about this adorable and wonderful Finnish YouTube video.. She apparently have been watching it three or four times a day for the last few days (weeks?), laughing hysterically.

I'm intrigued by this notion, so I look it up, and notice that I am very late to an internet phenomenon. The thing in question is Armi & Danny's "I Want to Love You Tender", which has apparently been a big hit on youtube for several years now.

Now, people who aren't from Finland may not realize the whole depth of that video. To an outsider, it may look like some highschool musical number with particularly inept dancing. It's funny, yes, but you go on to watch keyboard cat and dramatic chipmunk.

But to somebody from Finland, the first reaction is "I recognize that tune". The second reaction is "Oh, it's them!". That's not some inept highschool musical number, that's one of the most beloved Finnish entertainers ever! Ok, so the version you hear in Finland is in Finnish, and the above is the English version - and Finns back in the seventies weren't really all that good at English. That explains some of it.

When I grew up, the Swedes had ABBA and Björn Borg. The Finns had Armi ja Danny. Really.

Now I just find myself wishing that we'd have Finnish meal-pouches with musical accompaniments. "Rudolf in a Bag" MRE's (reindeer meat with lingonberries) with Armi and Danny on BluRay.

Although I'm not sure I could take the concentrated awesomeness that is "I Want to Love You Tender" in glorious HD. Maybe it's safer in that low-quality YouTube version.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


So Tove is off learning how to judge Tae-Kwon-Do competitions, and the kids are roaming the neighborhood like jackals (or maybe they're upstairs reading a book. Who knows? I take a "hands off" approach to parenting).

So I'm stalking the kitchen looking for food, my trusted canine companion by my side. My prey hides quietly on a remote shelf, but I outsmart the cardboard packaging easily (along with the NASA-designed internal metallic pouch), and am soon ready to feast on the guts of some random Indian lentil stew.

And that's when it hits me.

A quiet rattling emanates ominously from inside the nutritionally uninteresting outer shell as I'm about to discard it. I go on high alert, and ancient instincts immediately raise my adrenaline levels. What's going on?

So I look inside, and in addition to the metallic pouch with the actual food, my meal has come with a CD full of (and I quote) "Authentic Indian Cuisine". No, wait! Underneath that it says "Indian Classical Duets".

Which brings me to today's title: "WTF?" Have I been leading an unusually sheltered life, and this is actually normal? What's next? Happy Meals that come with Beyonce CD's?

Now I'm intrigued, and considering going through our other indian ready-made meals. Was this a one-off? Or had I not just noticed before, and do all those $2.99 pre-made indian meal pouches come with these odd musical accompaniments?

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I've actually written code lately, although for some reason it's been all these stupid projects. First I needed to fix the kernel tty refcounting, then I got all OCD on the git SHA1 routines.

I don't quite know why I wasted that much time on something as trivial as SHA1 hashing, but it was kind of fun in a "let's use the compiler as a glorified assembler" kind of way. Some people seem to think that C is a real programming language, but they are sadly mistaken. It really is about writing almost-portable assembly language, and it turns out that getting good results from SHA1 really is mostly about trying to fight the compilers tendency to try to be clever.

So here is the current result of me trying to get gcc (well, arguably of it is mostly the C pre-processor, rather than the compiler proper ) to generate good assembly code. On my Nehalem machine (but not Netburst or Atom - poor fragile micro-architectures that they are), it actually seems to outperform the OpenSSL hand-written assembly language implementation.

And once I get rid of libcrypt from openssl, I get rid of two silly runtime loadable libraries that git no longer needs. And that in turn speeds up the test-suite by a couple of seconds.

Did I mention that I seem to have some OCD issues?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Parenting gold star (?)

It's summer.

Which in our family means summer camps.

Oh, the kids are happy playing together, and we usually have one or two of the neighbors kids running around too, so it's not like they tend to get bored. But Tove is a big believer in making doubly sure that they don't go stir crazy around the house, so summer camps it is.

Last week was Tae-Kwon-Do camp (Tove is also a big believer in beating up other people), and apparently it was all fine. But what do I know - I wasn't interested in sports when I was small, I'm not interested in sports now either.

And as part of their camp (presumably when they were taking a breather from trying to kill each other), they had to write a letter home about how they are thankful to their parents. Oh, those wacky Asian self-defense sports and their respect for their elders - another thing I don't seem to recall from my own childhood.

Anyway, very cute. They all seem to be well on their path of writing pleasing prose, and I see a promising career of writing Hallmark cards (and made-for-TV shows) for all of them.

Except possibly Celeste. There's a WTF moment here:
You buy me lunch, breakfast and dinner. You bought me animals to play with so I could have a lot of fun in my life.
Ok, fine so far. She's a bit hung up on the "buying" part of this whole parenting gig, but hey, she's just eight. She'll get over it, and if she doesn't, I guess she'll fit right into the culture. But then comes the kicker:
You also let me bury them instead of flushing them down the toilet.
Ooh, yeah! That's some premium parenting there. Gold stars all around! It just makes me glow with pride.

Of course, she has clearly forgotten about the fish. We did flush those.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Not-so-evil empire

I'm usually not enamoured with the customer service of big companies, and you always tend to hear all the horror stories. But I want to give a shout-out to Comcast.

Yeah, that Comcast. That same one that everybody loves to hate.

I switched from DSL to cable a couple of days ago, mainly because I had been hoping for a long time for our phone company (Qwest, who I also have had nothing but good service from) to offer faster DSL speeds. And they never did. So I decided that I should look at the alternatives.

I went for the "professional install" from Comcast, because I was pretty sure that our cable needed upgrading (it did). And since I hate renting any electronics equipment in our house, so I was off to Fry's before-hand, and I got a Comcast-approved Linksys cable modem with built-in firewall ethernet and wireless router.

Everything worked out fine, the installer was a few hours late, but he was friendly and knew what he was doing. He did say that he would have suggested going with a stand-alone modem and separate router box, but I've used Linksys routers before, so I wasn't too worried and liked the all-in-one box. I was left with some temporary cable laid in our back yard, and it's probably going to be that way for a few weeks, but all in all, a good experience.

Until later in the day, when the Linksys box rebooted.

And then it did it again. And again. Roughly once an hour or so. It came up each time, but there was a very annoying 70-second pause in my internet connection each time. I had good statistics on exactly when it happened, and how long the internet was off-line, because I'd done some silly tools to keep track of that earlier when I had had DSL line trouble (due to just bad signal and constant retraining).

In other words, it turns out that the cable installer was not just friendly and knew what he was doing, he really was right on the money. I don't know why, but that Linksys cable router is apparently total crap. And googling for it, I was clearly not the only one with the problem. It looks like you should avoid the WCG200v2 like the plague.

I asked Comcast (email support, just to see how that works) whether they can upgrade the firmware of the thing, or can do anything about it, but they answered that they can't do anything about customer equipment. Hey, fair enough. Not their fault.

So, like any self-respecting geek, I decided that I'll just buy more equipment, because let's face it, you can never have enough toys in your home. So off to Fry's I went again, and got myself a DOCSIS-3.0 motorola box and a separate Netgear router.

Not only did I decide to avoid Linksys this time, but the Netgear one made a big deal about running open-source software, and I assume the "L" at the end of the name means that the open-source in question is Linux. Sure, Linksys had a Linux router too (with a penguin!) but let's face it, they screwed up, so I'm giving the competition a go this time.

So I need to provision it (ie letting Comcast know about the new modem MAC address), so I call up Comcast. It being a Sunday afternoon, I was expecting that I'll just have to wait for Monday to get it sorted out. But no, not only is there a friendly tech who is greeting me with neither silly muzak nor waiting, but she's happy to get my all provisioned and up and running with a new cable modem in minutes (ok, so it took more than a couple of minutes, but a lot of it was literally waiting for the new cable box to boot up a few times).

And so far, the new box isn't rebooting constantly whenever there's more than a few internet connections going on. Which is just as well, since it clearly does take longer to boot than the old one. Knock wood.

So what can I say? Friendly competence all around. Good for Comcast. And a big black eye for Linksys.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


It's the 4th of July, the kids are out playing, Tove's at the mall, and I'm following my new toy as it crawls across the map of the US towards me, courtesy of UPS tracking and google maps.

This fall, we'll go for two scuba trips: in addition to our yearly week in Hawaii, Tove is treating me to a week in Belize. Because I only turn 40 once, I'm told. Little does she know that if that trip turns out successful, I'm planning on turning forty the year after too!

Anyway. In preparation of all this, my new toy is a dive computer, and it should arrive in a few days. I always just rent all my gear, and as a result on some dives I then end up following the dive master like a dog on a leash because I don't carry my own computer. The divers who know what they are doing always like feeling like everybody keeps track of their own nitrogen levels.

But I will be leashed no more. Paraphrasing Braveheart: "They may paint my butt blue, but they'll never take our Freedom". Or something like that. I never actually saw the movie.

Of course, the trips are months away, and in the meantime I'll just have to amuse myself by taking long baths with my toy. Once it arrives. I may be turning 40, but that doesn't mean I can't act like a little child. I may not live the dream, but I can dream the life.

Am also considering taking a Nitrox course. Just because. Because that way I'll have more buttons I can press, and modes I can set, on my new toy. Anybody got suggestions on places that do that around Portland?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Outwitting the fashion police

This is a public service announcement for all geeks.

Are you tired of people pointing out that you shouldn't use socks and sandals? I know, it really annoyed me too. It's like they are trying to take away your geek card.

But there's a solution.

For a year now, I've been avoiding the fashion police by instead of "sandals" wearing "shoes with holes in their sides". I've got these Keen's that look enough like shoes that nobody ever bats an eye at you wearing them with socks (Ok, by "nobody", I mean my wife, but that's all that matters, right?).

The problem is that it looks like the fashion police may be starting to figure it out. The model I have seems to be no longer in production, and now all the new ones I find are pretty obviously sandals (toes and/or heel showing).

So when I wear out my current ones, I'm going to be in trouble again. Damn.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happiness is a warm SCM

I'll have to post this while I'm still happy, because the merge window for Linux 2.6.31 opened a day ago (well, somewhat more, but I don't take patches immediately after doing a release), and so far it's been such a nice thing that I thought I'd better post while in a good mood. Before somebody sends me the merge request from hell.

So why am I in a good mood?

My real "work" is not really writing code any more, and hasn't been for a long time. No, I worry most about the whole "flow of patches", and the way development happens, rather than so much about any individual piece of code I maintain. And the last few release cycles have had a couple of really hard-to-merge issues - not because the code was necessarily bad, but because of how it was then presented to me as a fairly messy history.

And so far, the 2.6.31 merge window is going swimmingly. The x86 tree, which has gone through a yo-yo of different development models with (different) problems, seems to have gotten to that "good place" where it seems to be working.

Part of the problem is that 'git' is such a flexible tool that you can use it in various modes, and mix things up freely. The whole distributed nature means that there's no gatekeeper, you can do whatever you want. And the flexibility and power is good, but it does mean that it's also easy to make a mess of it - the old UNIX philosophy of giving people rope, and letting them hang themselves with it if they want to.

So it takes time for people (me included) to learn the rules that work. And it seems people are learning. And that feels really good.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yet more reading

Somebody in the comments wondered how I have time to read so much.. Part of it is simply that reading is my only real hobby (scuba? Sure - one week a year. Reading? 51 weeks a year). So I literally spend my time either in front of my computer or reading - and I don't waste it on commuting.

Another part obviously ends up being that I'm just a fast reader. Oh, I know people who read faster, but if it's some easily read sci-fi or fantasy, I'll read at a pace of 100-150 pages per hour, and you simply cannot distract me while I'm reading. Try to talk to me, and I won't hear a word.

So most books I finish in a single sitting, and weekends I might read two books in a day. The more sciency books I read take longer, but that may explain why I probably average about three books per week, and sometimes do many more - especially during the later parts of the merge window when things aren't as hectic on the kernel front.

Anyway, the haul over the last couple of weeks has been mostly random stuff (Fire Upon the Deep by Vernon Vinge, Golden Torc by Simon Green, Turn Coat by Jim Butcher, The Laurentine Spy by Emily Gee). Don't ask me what the common thread is, because there is none. Some were randomly picked up from the book store in desperation over not having anything at all to read, others were things I'd read the authors before. I enjoyed them all, in different ways.

On the non-fluff front, I read Phantoms int he Brain by V.S. Ramachandran, based on a recommendation in the comments of the last reading post. I have to say, it is a better book than The Brain that Changes Itself (the one that triggered the recommendation), but at the same time I was also a bit disappointed with it.

Why? All the chapters on different disorders were absolutely fascinating, but then the last chapter just stood out as a big disappointment. It seems that any time that people start discussing "qualia" and guessing about what consciousness is, otherwise sane and coherent people end up being just confused and crazy (example: Roger Penrose). Ramachandran avoids the outright crazy, but chapter 12 ended up being a big disappointment to an otherwise engrossing book for me. But even that disappointing chapter had interesting content in it.

So, highly recommended, despite the small nagging feeling that the last chapter really could have been so much better. Most of the book is about the fascinating ways the brain fails at what it's supposed to do, and what it teaches us about how people really function.

The other non-fluff book was Bart Ehrman's "Jesus Interrupted", a kind of follow-up to the earlier Misquoting Jesus that I read some time ago. Bible study is actually fairly interesting, although in many ways I always thought the Old Testament was way more interesting. Ehrman, of course, concentrates pretty much exclusively on just the New Testament, with just passing mention of OT issues as they relate to NT issues. The book was also the inspiration for the current kernel naming ("Man-Eating Seals of Antiquity"), since it fit perfectly with my pattern of nonsensical animal-related naming scheme.

Recommended. Not nearly as engrossing as Phantoms, but an interesting read none-the-less.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial day BBQ

I've always liked the demotivational posters from a lot more than those inane motivational ones. And this one obviously hits close to home.

So what do our neighbors bring with them when we invite them for a BBQ? Yup.

Do my friends know me or what? Of course, my favourite is probably the one that says something like "The point of your life may be just to act as a warning to others", but that one doesn't have penguins.

The downside to actually finally having the physical thing, of course, is that I'm not much for hanging things up. So it will probably end up propped up in my office somewhere, adding to the general messiness.

Monday, May 11, 2009

More reading..

So in between testing -rc5 on all the machines I can find (and in the process being a total PITA when I find just configuration idiocies and a random "my wireless doesn't work - oh, wait, yes it does"), I've been reading more.

And yes, I finished off the Soldier Son trilogy. And yes, Nevare was fat and stupid and whiny, up until the last chapter. Oh well. Not unexpected.

On the positive front, there's "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry A Coyne.

I'm not quite sure who this book is for (the people denying evolution certainly don't have enough braincells or background to read it), but I suspect that if you're sitting on the fence, and want to educate yourself, but have been talking too much to people who tell you that evolution can't be true because [ insert some odd reason here] then this might be the book for you.

It's a pretty good read, with a lot of examples from different areas. It made me think that I'll be really happy to give this book to the kids when they are ready for it, which is probably not for a few years, but still..

Currently reading "The Brain that Changes Itself" by Norman Doidge. I have no idea where that book came from, but Tove claims I bought it. So it must be so. I clearly buy too many books, and some of them get forgotten and then found again. It's like a mild case of Alzheimer's - every day is a new adventure.

Anyway, I got sidetracked there a bit: the book started out like some crazy persons rant against the "establishment", and I was sure I could not possibly have bought it, and Tove had decided that it was time to get me to read some odd new-age literature. But once you get past the preface, and get over the point where Norman claims that brain plasticity is somehow a radical new thing, the book actually is quite interesting.

Ok, so I'm only about two-thirds through, and parts of it really do seem to be a bit too overly excited and over-hyped (and read as a commercial for some of the things mentioned), but I've been enjoying it. I suspect there are much more balanced accounts out there, but with the caveat that you should probably read this book with a healthy dose of critical thinking, it's been a good read.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Reading: Evil Genes

.. by Barbara Oakley.

I have to say that I was a bit disappointed in the lack of any actual science (it starts out much more promising than it then ends up being).

But that disappointment is balanced by the fact that it was actually a fun read, mostly because you end up trying to match some of the traits being discussed to yourself, your crazy relatives, your psychotic co-workers etc.

So I'd say that it ended up having not a lot about genes, and a lot of armchair psychology of people Barbara never actually met (apart from her sister). But I'll still have to give it a thumbs up just for being entertaining.

The merge window is calming down, so I've been reading other things too, but they've been eminently forgettable. I'm now steeling myself to begin "Renegade's Magic", the third installment of Robin Hobb's Soldier Son trilogy. The two first ones were big disappointments, and I had already decided that I'm not even going to bother finishing the trilogy, but I guess I can't.

Here's to hoping Nevare turns out to be less of a fat whining idiot in the third book. But I'm not really holding my breath.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Peeve of the day

Ok, so I have lots of pet peeves, and if I wanted to blog them all I'd have no time for anything else (and a lot more blog posts than the occasional one), but this one struck me the other day.

I was at the optometrist with Patricia, who is near-sighted like me. Or rather - not like me, since I've had lasik, and since she's more nearsighted than I ever was. She's blind as a bat without glasses or contacts, in other words.

Also like me, she's allergic to pollen. She gets itchy, watery eyes. So at the optometrist, when they ask about whether she's had problems with her eyes, the allergies come up. And what do you know, they have eye-drops for that.

Ok, not surprising. But what I do find surprising is the kind of eye-drops they have. This is a doctor's office, you'd expect them to be professional. But their eye-drops are homeopathic, and the doctor talks them up as not having any harsh medication in them. Well, duh! They're saline solution.

So I sit there quietly, and don't call him out for being a quack, because real doctors do actually prescribe placebos, and maybe he does know better. And there's also no question that plain saline solution isn't a fine thing to use when your eyes are itchy.

So afterwards, I spend some time afterwards talking to Patricia about placebos and homeopathy and quackery, in my never-ending hope that my kids won't grow up to be morons. But it's been a few days, and quite frankly, it still disturbs me. I've not had any other issues with that optometrist, but I'm seriously wondering if this is worth switching eye doctors over.

Do I want somebody who sells snake-oil (ok, so he gave a free sample, and no way would I have paid for it anyway) looking at my kids eyes? Even if it's harmless and even beneficial?

I'd much rather have seen free samples of "sterile saline solution". And oh yes, please feel free to make a big deal out of the "sterile" part, and feel free to talk about how it is "all natural" and free of Tetrahydrozoline or other chemicals.

But this piece-of-crap saline solution talked about the magical homeopathic "active ingredients" (non-existent and bogus), and while it did list the "inactive ingredients" (ie water and sodium chloride - aka "saline solution"), it was basically a huge advert for teaching people bad science and paying extra for it.

And I'm not crazy. I'm not going to make my own saline solution to save money. I'll happily pay extra for "sterile". I'll pay extra for nice prepared droppers in tiny sizes, even if it means you pay actual money for just tiny amounts of water with some table salt in it (no iodine - get the "kosher" salt if you want to make your own, and use distilled water). I'll happily pay for the convenience of having somebody else prepare saline solution of the proper strength and in a convenient package.

And the funny thing is, I don't mind it when I see the same thing at the checkout counter in the organic grocery store I prefer to go to. I go there because quite frankly, the average meat department in something like a Safeway or Albertsons leaves a lot to be desired. And hey, it's an organic store, so I kind of expect it to then cater to the ignorant and the crack-pots too.

But at the doctors' office?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New logo

So 2.6.29 isn't quite out yet, but I've merged the new Tuz logo, so now my laptop boots up with two of these guys showing. See an earlier post about the plush version of this that I got while in Hobart for LCA 2009.

Also see the Save The Tasmanian Devil site for details about the devils plight.

All told, I think the kernel came out looking better than Bdale.

SSD followup

I wrote a couple of months ago how the Intel SSD's were the only ones on the market that seemed to be worth buying - all the cheaper ones were unusable due to having horrible random write performance, which is something you notice really quickly in real life as nasty pauses.

Sadly, almost none of the reviews seemed to ever catch on to that, as they were all looking at the (totally irrelevant) throughput numbers that basically don't matter in any real-life situation. Everybody just quoted the nice big marketing numbers, because finding the numbers that matter more to actual human perception (notably: average and maximum latency) was so much harder, and most disk benchmarks are crap and don't even give those numbers.

Which is why I was so happy to see this review at AnandTech. Half the numbers quoted are still the worthless ones (I guess you can't avoid quoting the industry standard benchmarks, even when they are horribly bad), but much of the actual discussion is about how unusable a drive is when it has maximum latencies in the hundreds of milliseconds.

Looks like people are catching on. And as the reviewers are catching on, so are the manufacturers. I still see too many reviews that gush over throughput numbers, but here's one that got it right, and apparently got a manufacturer to actually understand. Good job.

(And I still love my Intel SSD's , but Anand is certainly correct in pointing out that they aren't cheap. And it looks like "cheap" will no longer necessarily mean "sucks so bad that they are unusable" in the upcoming drives. Hallelujah)

Thursday, February 26, 2009


It's getting later in the release cycle, so I'm spending more time in my "wait for people to complain" mode, allowing me to read more.

And happily, I found Lois McMaster Bujold. I don't think I've read anything by her before, but picked up The Curse of Chalion and The Hallowed Hunt and read them very happily over the last couple of days.

Now I guess I'll have to go out and buy some more books by her to see if I was just lucky, or whether she just is consistently good.

And judging by reviews on Amazon, it wasn't just me being lucky in the two I picked up.

Monday, February 23, 2009



No, not that book, the other one: Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life's Origins by Robert Hazen.

Usually, I tend to read about genetics or similar (that is, when I read anything serious to begin with, which tends to be less than 10% of the time). This one is obviously related, but about the processes that came before it all began. And it also gives more of a look into the issues faced by somebody trying to do experiments in the area.

Me likee. It's a pretty easy read, and I liked the mix of talking about the theories and talking about the life of a scientist and the not-always-so-successful experiments.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

25 things about me

1. I get bored really easily

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Getting older...

Tove was cleaning out some random stuff, and came upon this Japanese model that I had bought years ago and never built up. So she told me to build it (with the perhaps implied threat that if I didn't, she'd throw it out).

So I did. That's an Aerobase 1:160 scale model of a Fokker Dr 1 in photo-etched metal. And a US quarter, just for scale. It came as this flat-packed thin sheet of copper, and building it involved bending and connecting all these really tiny pieces of thin brass.

Building that thing, I remembered how much I like model building (which was why I had bought it in the first place, of course), but even more than that, I noticed how my eyes really can't focus close enough to see the small details. Fitting it all together involves threading infinitesimally small pieces of metal through barely larger holes in same.

I'm getting old.

And yes, it looks a bit rickety, and I clearly also lack the manual dexterity required to not bend thin copper a bit out of shape while building it. But maybe it's just an extra-realistic scale model of a Fokker that had had a few crash-landings?

Saturday, January 31, 2009


This may be a shock to everybody, but I have to admit that I'm not generally a huge fan of most Microsoft software ("No, really, Linus? Tell us more!").

But I may have to admit that I was wrong.

No, I'm not talking about Windows 7. I'm talking about Songsmith, which is clearly a true work of genius. Yes, yes, the commercials are painfully cheesy, but when used right the end result is undeniably art.

The thing that convinced me was hearing Billy Idol's "White Wedding" as re-interpreted through Songsmith. Nobody will ever convince me that that isn't just impossibly brilliant. Sheer genius on just an incredible scale. I'm getting carpal tunnel syndrome from just clicking "Replay" over and over again.

Thank you, azz100c.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Now that's cute

Ok, so that's a plush Linux Tasmanian devil.

It's sitting in a bathtub, because my innate instinct for great photography (Ansel Adams has got nothing on me) made me think that "Hey, I'm in a hotel room in Hobart - and it's exactly like I was in a fancy photography studio if I just put the dang thing into the bath tub".

Very fetching. I think I really "captured" it. Whoever had the idea of dressing up a plush tasmanian devil as the Linux penguin deserves some kind of medal. And the beak only slightly makes me think "snoopy doing his vulture impersonation". Otherwise it's a dead-on penguin.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Odd hardware

I'm totally not very sentimental about technology - the good old days really weren't very good at all, and I'm solidly in the "good riddance" camp when it comes to old computers and peripherals. I'll take the newest/smallest/fastest thing over those clunky machines of yesteryear.

As a result, when somebody sends me an email saying that the Sinclair QL turned 25 years old yesterday, and that I should mention it on my blog, I just went "hmm". Because while I had one and loved it, I have to say that I was so much happier with the PC I ended up replacing it with, and decided that I'll never use an odd-ball machine ever again.

(A promise I then broke several times, since I ended up playing with both alpha and PowerPC in my efforts to make sure that Linux wasn't too PC-centric. Oh well. Each time I ended up re-promising myself never to do that, and each experience just convinced me more that hardware that isn't mass market tends to not be worth it in the long run. But it can certainly be fun and interesting and a teaching experience).

But the email from Urs König (aka cowo) did end up festering in my mind and brought back fond memories. So here we are, twenty five years and one day later, and I'm writing a shout-out to the QL anyway. It was odd, and it was flaky to the point of being the only machine I had to do hardware surgery on to make stable and useful, but I guess I was at an impressionable age. And while I don't think there were many QL's that ever made it outside Britain, it was an interesting machine for its time.

Here's to odd hardware.