## Questions, problems and projects

Sun, 2007-12-16 18:15

Here are some questions, problems and projects that I'm working on. I should have links to blog appropriate entries as I write them (when I have things to say about things on this page). If you have any thoughts, or helpful suggestions, please leave a comment or, you can always email me.

• Web stuff/drupal/this website
• I have to figure out how to get this site to stop saying "Continue reading..." when there is no more to read!...I fixed this by commenting out the chunk of code in node.tpl.php that prints the link.
• Making (physical) stuff
• Bicycle wheels - I should be building some (or maybe just one) of these. I've got a quite good truing stand, so there is really nothing stopping me. Only thing is, I don't really need any wheels at the moment. But maybe if I had one of those generator hubs...
• Electronic stuff
• I've got this kit from Paia for a headphone distribution amplifer which I should be building any day now.
• The House (always things to do around the house)
• More rewiring: the bathroom (and add a fan), living room, dining room, kitchen
• Replace windows: bedroom, "office", living room, dining room, kitchen
• Fix ground under trash barrels: make a concrete platform?
• Figure out that condensation problem near the front door
• Add some outlets in the garage
• Replace our old oil-burning furnace with a heat pump?
• Mathematics
• General
• What two variable functions are representable via a nomogram? Is there a reasonably efficient algorithm for generating a nomorgram for a given function (and, say, intervals of the input variables)? I've been intrigued with nomograms since I was a kid, but have never done anything formally with them. With digital technology, they have, of course, fallen out of popularity, but they are still interesting to me.
• Calculus/analysis
• For what real functions f do there exist a, b such that int_a^b f(x) \, dx = (b-a)^2 ? That is, for what functions does there exist an "average rectangle" which is a square?
• Geometry
• Into how many congruent pieces can an equilateral triangle be dissected? It's easy to see that n = 2k and n = 2k3 are possible. So, what about five?
• Number theory
• An efficient way to generate (arbitrarily?) large weird numbers?
• What is the simplest way to prove that perfect numbers have zero density? I can think of a number of proofs, but none is very simple.
• Music/sound
• Csound
• Use the mpulse opcode to generate noise from integer sequences.
• Make filters for fuzz/distortion (in particular something akin to the quadrafuzz). Here is a simple quadrafuzz.
• A decent vocoder/"robot voice": doable with "analog" filters, or is fft stuff needed? Solved. And the answer is no, you don't need fft stuff.
• Spectral inverter: high frequencies to low and vice versa. I've done this with SoundHack, but I'd like to redo it with Csound and do more experiments.
• Csound is supposedly capable to live sound processing. I should try that out.
• Political/social
• Marxism is very anti-religion; indeed, the "materialist" basis is quite contrary to all spirituality. This makes the selling of Marxism to many people difficult: not only is Marxism an opposing political/economic concept, it also requires people to get rid of their religion, too. This seems quite a challenge. I expect that greater change toward non-capitalism might be possible with a non-Marxism socialist philosophy. The anarchists in Spain were rather successful: what was their connection with religion (i.e., were Catholics more or less attracted to the movement)?
• Physiology/brains/chemicals
• What little experience I have with hallucinogens (years ago) suggests to me that much research ought to be done on them. Certainly pharmacologists could come up with interesting hallucinogens that have fewer side effects than those currently quasi-available. This might be a good paper to read.
• Other things
• Is is really possible to start a fire with a pair of glasses? I've done it with a magnifying glass, but it doesn't seem that spectacle lenses are generally strong enough. They do it Lord of the Flies, with Piggy's glasses, but I don't believe it would work. I'll have to try it.

## Mr. Cassavetes and Mr. Pasolini

Thu, 2007-09-13 12:12

Two more films seen by directors on this list.

I watched A Child is Waiting by Cassavetes. It was very, very good. Curiously, it makes me feel especially the universal weakness of the human race - how fun!

Last night I watched Mamma Roma (bad, bad wikipedia article!). Quite a good film, Anna Magnani does a great job. Surprisingly abrupt ending.

Here are the directors left:

• Tarkovsky
• Visconti
• von Stroheim
• Mankiewicz
• Marker
• Dovzhenko
• Flaherty
• Rocha

I've got a Mankiewicz on Tivo, a Dovzhenko on VHS(!) from the library on the coffee table, and holds on a Tarkovsky, a Marker, and a Visconti. The list will soon be even shorter...

## a photo with a statue

Mon, 2007-09-10 21:54

I visited Vancouver over the weekend for the first time, with Jenni and my parents. It was a quick trip, just got a first sense of the city. Not a bad town, it seems to me.

I often take a lot of pictures when I visit cities, and throw almost all of them away. I'm often impressed by "urban photography", and always hope that I'll get something good. This photo is the best of this trip. I like the double elbow, and the looks on the two faces are just great. (Click the image for a bigger version.)

## no more "not verified"!

Mon, 2007-09-10 11:43

So, comments on this blog are either from me, or from "anonymous" users: I don't see any point to requiring (or allowing) users to create user accounts and "log in" here. It's just talking.

Anyway, the default practice with drupal seems to be to append "(not verified)" to every user's name in comments. This looks crappy, especially since the user can't fix this, and, in fact, I can't fix it: there is no way to "verify" a user, whatever that means.

So I looked around on the web, and found a nice little piece of code to add to the template.php file in the blog's theme's folder. It worked immediately - no problemo.

Interestingly, I found the code here, on Matt Farina's site, which is dedicated to "tech, faith, and life". How curious.

## Fassbinder

Wed, 2007-09-05 23:16

In my continuing project to see a film by every director on this list, I watched Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul tonight. It was fantastic. Amazing cinematography of simple settings, great acting, very human story. I loved it.

I also watched Hsiao-Hsien Hou's Cafe Lumiere, which was terribly empty. It had some nice city shots, but nothing else to recommend it.

I saw Kiarostami's A Taste of Cherry. A very simple film, good acting, but I wish it was just a little less minimal, and a touch of humor (even the slightest touch) would have helped.

I watched Max Ophul's Lola Montes, too. Just terrible, though I thought at first that the circus scenes were really going to make the movie work for me.

So, I've got 10 directors left:

• Tarkovsky
• Visconti
• Cassavetes
• Pasolini
• von Stroheim
• Mankiewicz
• Marker
• Dovzhenko
• Flaherty
• Rocha

## The end of Beethoven

Tue, 2007-09-04 23:29

I always enjoy the last minute or so of Beethoven symphonies, so I made this piece: it's the last minute of Beethoven's 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th symphonies, all played at the same time, ending simultaneously. I recommend headphones, or a subwoofer.

## Rome, Open City

Sat, 2007-09-01 00:09

I watched Rome, Open City by director Roberto Rossellini tonight. I thought it was very powerful, and sad, another reminder of mankind's cruelty: hooray!

I watched it as part of a little project I've set for myself to see at least one movie by all 100 top directors at the
They Shoot Picture's Don't They? site. When I started this project, I had 25 director's films to see; with Rossellini out of the way, I've got 14 left:

• Tarkovsky
• Ophuls
• Visconti
• Cassavetes
• Kiarostami
• Fassbinder
• Pasolini
• von Stroheim
• Mankiewicz
• Marker
• Hsiao-Hsien Hou
• Dovzhenko
• Flaherty
• Rocha

I've been putting holds on DVDs at the library - it's been very effective, and a nice way to spend part of my summer.

## it begins

Thu, 2007-08-30 16:43

So, I'm starting a blog.

The natural question is, "Why?"

Well, one excuse is to try out Drupal. It's an open source, content management system, and I am using it to run this blog. I want to learn a bit about Drupal, as I am, supposedly, going to be setting up the Freedom Socialist Party's new website using Drupal. Their site currently, www.socialism.com, is perhaps the oldest still functioning site on the web, and it is way overdue for a redesign. However, the redesign has been taking forever (over a year now, I think); I was expecting to spend this summer building the new site, but I haven't even started, so who knows when this will happen.

In the meantime, I'll learn a few things more about Drupal by messing around here. The appearance of the blog may change drastically as I mess with the style sheets and such, just for fun.

I see the primary feature of a blog, as opposed to just a website, is the ability to include comments, so please feel free to leave some. Note that previewing of comments is wonky at the moment, due to some color issues. Pay it no mind.

cheers,

Matt