Pictures of me doing aikidō

Irimi Nage Ⓒ Aikikai Zürich


There are pictures of me practicing aikidō on my dōjo’s website. On the shoulder of my dōgi, one can see the mark of my former dōjo, in Tatsunokuchi, Ishikawa.

Il y a des photos de moi en train de pratiquer l’aïkidō sur le site web de mon dōjo. Sur l’épaule de mon dōgi (dohgui) (la tenue pour pratique l’aikidō), on peut voir la marque de mon ancien dōjo, à Tatsunokuchi, Ishikawa.

Auf der web-seite meines Dōjo gibt es Photographien wo ich Aikidō treibe. Auf der Schulter meines Dōgi (das Aikidō Kleid), kann mann noch die Marke meines altes Dōjo, in Tatsunokuchi, Ishikawa, sehen.

This RAM is too fast

I have recently started doing page layouts of old RPG scena­rios. While this is much easier using a Pages and a modern laptop than say, using a Mac Classic with a 9 inch screen, I also work with much higher reso­lution images. Between Lion, Pages and Photo­shop Ele­ments, 4 GB of RAM started to feel a bit con­strained. So I decided to buy some addi­tional RAM for my 13-inch, Mid-2010 Mac­Book Pro. My favourite hardware supplier had some Mac Memory Memory Kits by Corsair with two 4 GB 204 pins SO-DIMM DDR3 1333 Mhz chips which was quite cheap. The kit did not list what machines it was compatible, but just claimed to be compatible with Apple® iMac®, Mac­Book®, Mac­Book® Pro.

Installing the memory was pretty easy, unscrew the back of the laptop and the two slots are immediately accessible. After I installed the two chips, the laptop froze, I tried swapping them, the laptop still freezes at boot, so I replaced one of the 4 GB chips with an old 2 GB chip, and the laptop boots happily and recognises the memory. So I just assume that the other chip was somehow broken and returned it. Of course, as this was a kit, I got an e-mail telling that I needed to return both chips. Inconvenient. I got the replacement chips yesterday and mounted them this morning. Same problem. Basically the machine boots with one 4 GB stick, but not two.

Most of the forum where full of people with similar problems, but no useful answer, i.e. a lot of people saying the chips were bad and to replace them, until I found this post on Tyler Milner’s blog. The core problem is that the Mid 2010 MacBook Pro can only handle 1067 Mhz memory, if either chip is a 1067 Mhz the other 1333 Mhz chip is slowed down by the memory controller. But if both are fast ones, the memory runs at 1333 Mhz, which the CPU cannot handle. I find it pretty annoying that the MacBook’s memory controller cannot handle this situation and that Corsair’s compatible memory isn’t.

Currently my laptop runs happily with 6 GB, which is not too bad. I can now either flash one of the 4 GB chips to lower its frequency, like the linked post suggests, this involves booting into Windows. The other is to find someone willing to exchange my fast chips for slower chips. The problem seems to be that it is not easy finding 4GB 1067 Mhz chips. Compatibility, just like in the good old days…

The web browser of the Playstation 3

PlayStation 3 Slim Model

This February, Sony did something unexpected: it did something smart. Included with the release notes for firmware update 4.11 is the following text

The Internet browser has been updated for improved content display.
Some websites that could not be displayed correctly, including interactive websites, are now supported, and page layouts are now displayed with better accuracy.

Playing around revealed something interesting: the web-browser is webkit based, version 531.22.8 according to the headers. Looking at the license acknowledgements, it looks like it is based on the GTK API. The browser has the same interface as the previous one, so the change is quite subtle, but CSS and Javascript supports has significantly improved, which is good because the previous browser was really bad. There are many missing features, including SVG image and video tag support, but this is a step in the right direction, and one can hope that Sony’s engineers can now iterate and add new features to the browser.
Mozilla 5.0 (Playstation 3 4.11) AppleWebKit/531.22.8 (KHTML, like Gecko)
Given the fact that Sony won’t release a new living room console for a least one year, keeping the venerable PS3 relevant sounds like a good strategy to me.

What I find interesting is that many HTML5 additions designed for mobile phones are actually very relevant for a gaming console. Consider the following:

The PS3 is typically connected to a TV or a big screen, and has hardware support for playing back H264 content.
Input forms
By default, the PS3 uses a soft-keyboard, so having specialised keyboards for numbers, e-mail addresses, and ranges would make it much more usable.
Most PS3 come with Dualshock controllers which can produce vibrations.

Media Capture
The PS3 can be equipped with a webcam and a microphone.
The PS3 has respectable Open GL ES rendering capacities

I suspect the main issue is going to be RAM, the PS3 is now six years old, and has only 256 MB or RAM, but smartphones those days don’t have much more. I will be interesting to see if Sony updates the browser and at which pace, but at least it is now in a situation where progress is possible.

Html 5 Spring cleaning

HTML5 Logo by World Wide Web Consortium

I have done some spring cleaning on this blog, mostly simplifying stuff by using two nice html5 features: video and ruby. The first fixes a long standing mess in html, the lack of of standard way of putting video clips into web pages. There was a large debate about the codec to use, with Microsoft and Apple pushing for h264, Google pushing for WebM, and Firefox pushing for the OGG format. The dust has not settled on this issue, most video on this site are in h264 format simply because this is the format my mobile phone produced, and the format most mobile phones can render. While the current solution is not perfect, before I had to use a combination of embed and object tags, which was much worse.

I took advantage of the cleanup to fix a few links that were still pointing to the old site’s address, in one case there were still links to the address, from seven years ago. I also have been playing around with microdata those days, so I added the relevant meta-data to the video, I doubt this will have much of an impact, but I like the idea of embedding meta-data into the html, microdata is not a part of html5, by the way.


The ruby tags are more specialised, and bear no relationship with the ruby programming language. The tag is surprisingly old: it was first suggested in 1996, and implemented as an extension by Internet Explorer 5, the fact that it took 15 years to standardise that tag is quite depressing. Ruby tags allows the writer to add phonetic annotations to some html text. The classical use-case is adding furigana to japanese kanji, but it can basically be used for any kind of annotation, like for instance IPA phonetics. There are basically three tags: ruby which acts as a container, rt which contains the annotation, and rp which wraps the fallback code when ruby is not supported, that tag typically contains parenthesises. The source for the text in the box will look like this: <ruby>Zürich<rp>(</rp><rt>ˈtsyːrɪç</rt><rp>)</rp></ruby>

I have not back-converted all my existing content, the css tricks work, and it would be a lot of work, but I will use the standard tags from now-on.

Blog theme in Commodore 64 palette

Commodore 64 Palette

Blog theme in Commodore 64 palette

Pixel art and 8 bit graphics are all the rage those days, so while I clearly remember the block graphics, the colours in my memory were less saturated. The fact that I was using a crappy monitor is probably one explanation. After looking around on the web, I found a very informative page by Philip TimmermannPepto that explains how the Vic II chip was producing colours and his resulting palette is quite dark, and seem somehow to match my memory better. As I wanted to play around with that palette, I wrote a quick python script that reads a CSV file and outputs a Photoshop Palette. I found the explanations on the ACO file format on this page.

Vic II colours
black white
red cyan
purple green
blue yellow
orange brown
light red dark grey
grey light green
light blue light grey

Interestingly, the resulting colour palette seems quite close to the hues of the theme I’m currently using on this blog (a modified version of japan-style), is there some influence at play? You can see a fragment of the banner image rendered using the Vic II’s palette in the top right part of the page. The size of the image corresponds to the full screen on a Commodore 64 in multi-colour mode: 200 × 160 pixels. The actual palette is in the table on the right (the font comes from ).

Beer and Wine


One japanese tradition that I rather like is that in the restaurant, one does not pour oneself alcohol, instead, this is the responsibility of the person in front of you, or on your side. This seems to be a good system to prevent people from drinking alone. What I learnt yesterday is that there are two verbs for the act of serving one another: 酌み交わすkumikawasu and 次ぎ合うtsugiau. The difference between those two is simple: the first is for sake, the second for beer. Important distinction.

Une tradition japonaise que je trouve plutôt sympathique c’est qu’au restaurant, on ne se sert jamais de vin ou de bière soi-même, c’est la responsabilité de la personne en face ou à côté. Cela me semble être un bon système pour empêcher qu’une personne boive seule. Ce que j’ai appris avec intérêt c’est qu’il y a deux verbes pour décrire l’acte de servir de l’alcool à l’autre : 酌み交わすkumikawasu et 次ぎ合うtsugiau. La différence entre les deux est simple : le premier verbe est utilisé pour le saké, le second pour la bière. Distinction importante.

Le Kanji d’aujourd’hui :Today’s Kanji:
Kanji Kun ON Kun ON Kun ON Signification Note Structure Henshall
く.みku.mi シャクSHAKU Bar service, serving, hostComptoire, service, hôte The left part is the sake radical ⾣.
The right part is ladle 勺.La partie gauche set le radical de saké ⾣.
La partie droite est une louche 勺.
かわ.す コー Mix, mingle, associationMélange, association 115
つぎtsugi JI Next, order, sequenceSuivant, ordre, sequence. The left part is ice ⼎ (historically it was two 二).
The right part is lack 欠.La partie gauche set le radical de glace ⼎ (historiquement il s’agissait de deux 二).
La partie droite est le manque 欠.
あ.うa.u ゴー Fit, suit, joinAdaption, joindre Le lower part is mouth radical 口.La partie inférieure set le radical de bouche 口. 121
Thias の blog » Blog Archive » Unison on Synology DS211

Verified Author Blog Entries

Those days I have been playing around with semantic tags an annotations on my blog. One interesting thing is the ability to associate my blog’s content with myself. What is the point? I write this blog in my own name, but there are multiple Matthias Wiesmann (or should I say Wiesmänner) on the web, and they do quite different things, like biological food, or get married to girls called Nadine or manage Hostels in Vietnam. Those tags associate my Google+ identity to the my blog, and things are show accordingly on the web:

Thias の blog » Blog Archive » Unison on Synology DS211

I doubt my online reputation is sufficient to influence the behaviour of people searching the internet, beyond my circle of friends, but I find the idea interesting nonetheless.
I suspect that if you have a more important reputation in a given domain, making that association explicit can help people who trust you find your content.

Proverbes japonaisJapanese Proverbs

Comme exercice, ma prof de japonais m’a donné quelques proverbes japonais basé sur des nombres à tirer au clair.As an exercice, ma teatcher asked me to look-up some number based japanese proverbs.

日本語 Traduction Signification
一を聞いて十を知る Une chose dite, dix comprises.One thing said, ten understood Il comprend rapidement.He’s quick on the uptake
二の足を Il piétine des deux pieds.Trampling on two feets Il n’arrive pas à se décider, il hésiteHe’s hesitating, procrastinating.
青二才あおにさい Bleu, deux ansBlue, two years Un bleu, un nouveauGreenhorn
石の上にも三年 Sur la pierre, trois année.On thé stone, three years. Il faut être patient.
Cent fois sur le metier, remettez votre ouvrage.One must be patient.
三日坊主みっかぼず Bonze de trois jours.Bonze of three days Quelqu’un qui commence beaucoup de choses, mais ne les termine pas.Somebody who starts things, but does not finish them.
四苦八苦しくはっく Quatre amers, Huit amersFour bitter, eight bitter Avoir beaucoup d’ennuisLots of trouble.
五里霧中ごりむちゅう Au milieu de cinq lieues (ri) de brouillardIn the middle of eight leagues of fog. Être complètement perdu.Completely lost.
六十の手習てなら L’apprentissage de la main de soixanteThe learning of the hand of sixty. Il n’est jamais trop tard pour apprendre.You can always learn.
七転八倒しちてんはっとう Sept rotations, huit chutes.Seven rotations, eight falls. Souffrir à l’agonieBeing in agony.
八方美人はっぽうびじん Une beauté, huit directionsOne beauty, eight directions l’ami de tout le mondeEverybody’s friend, nobody’s friend.
八つ当たり touche en huitHit in eight Passer sa colère sur autruiTo spill out anger.
九死きゅうし一生いしょう neuf morts, une vie reçueNine deaths, one life granted. échapper de justesse à la mortA narrow escape from death
十人十色じゅうにんといろ dix personnes, dix couleursTen people, ten colours. À chacun see goûts.To each his tastes.
五十歩百歩ごじゅぽうひやっぽ Soixante pas, cent pasSixty feet, hundred feet. Deux options se valent.Both options are similar.

The saddest music in the world

Yesterday I watched The saddest music in the world, a strange movie directed by Guy Maddin after an original screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro. During the great depression, a beer baroness of Winnipeg launches the competition of the saddest music in the world. Groups from all around the world compete for the huge cash price: $25’000. As the story unfurls, we realise that the baroness and some of the participants have a tragic common history.

The movie tries to reproduce the surrealistic tone of the times: the depression era Winnipeg is a fantastic city of darkness, graveyards and misery, the movie is rendered in black and white, with light bleeding out of the frame, the house of the father who competes for Canada is both a surrealistic maze and a marvellous workshop. The music contest, done in a fighting style which reminded me of video games is pure genius.

I really liked the story and the set design, but found the quality of the actual movie very irregular. While the general visual style is that of an old black and white movie, the grain of the movie is not stable: some shots seem to be taken from archive images, while other have a finer grain, finally some parts are in saturated colour. If this was meant to be a narrative device, it failed for me, as it broke the immersion. The grainy black and white style reminded me at some times of Dead Man, where it actually helps immersion in the fantastic world.

I had the impression the film texture, and the tint of the black and white movie changed with the characters. Narcissa, played by Maria de Medeiros is rendered in bluish, blurred style that fits well with the general tone of the movie, the beer baroness, played by Isabella Rossellini on the other hand is rendered in finer grained, more realistic style. This gave me impression that she was basically in a different movie. I was also not completely convinced by her acting, which is a shame because her character is central to the story.

The pace of the movie is a bit irregular, I found the middle of the movie a bit slow as it dwells a bit on the characters, I think it could have been quickened. The end is dramatic, as one could have expected, but a bit to predictable for me. Still I found the movie to be full of wonderful ideas, with some really gorgeous visual parts, and quite funny quotes like “No, I’m not an American. I’m a nymphomaniac” and “Sadness is just happiness turned on its ass”. In summary, an interesting movie which would have benefitted of a tighter realisation to concentrate its fantasy.

Starbase Orion

Starbase Orion Screen Capture

As I stayed home this week-end, I spend some time playing a small game on my iPhone: . This game is relatively direct adaptation of the venerable Master of Orion II game to iOS. The names of the various races and technologies have been changed and a few things have not made the jump, but the game reproduces the gameplay of the old game well and is a fun game, and definitely worth the price if you like the original game.

For comparison, here the main things from Master of Orion II that are missing:

  • Diplomatic exchanges, in Starbase Orion only espionage and sabotage are possible.
  • The Antares planet, and the Antarian raids
  • Tactical combat
  • Some of the race options and some of the more cliché races like the Elerians did not make the cut
  • Some weird technologies, like the gyro-destabilizer

Generally the game is more centred on multi-player games, something which was a technical challenge 15 years ago, but is the main appeal of such games nowadays.
Given the large time gap between the two games, it is interesting to compare the specifications of the minimal machine they need to run.

Master of Orion II Starbase Orion
US Price $5.99 $7.99
Release Year 1996 2011
OS MS-Dos iOS 5
Cpu/Frequency x86/100 MHz ARM Cortex/600 MHz
Minimum RAM 8 MB 256 MB
Disk space 75 MB 54 MB
Screen Resolution 640 × 480 / 8 bits 480 × 320 / 24 bits
Sound chip 22 KHz 44 KHz

This shows that a two year old smart phone has specs that are generally comparable to a PC from 15 years ago. Interestingly, some technological shortcuts from the PC area were avoided, 22 Hz quality sound, palette graphics, no GPU. Systems have way more RAM nowadays and more processing power (GPU + CPU), on the other hand stable storage is much more precious on phones, so the requirement has decreased. Finally, the prices in the table are for buying both games today, so the 15 years old version is only two dollars cheaper than the new software (but this includes two versions of the game). When it was released, Master of Orion II was way more expensive, the economic landscape has completely changed.