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Here I am, at tumblr. It's a temporary setting for now, but please stay with me.

I cannot decide on what technology stack I should use for building my new (rebooted) techblog. It will be most likely a site generated by some static page generator (like jekyll or blacksmith), but there are various details that cannot be forgotten (should I use G-WAN or maybe build my own server for fun?, what commenting system should I use?, etc.).

I quickly abandoned my old techblog. At first I thought that Posterous will be a great place to blog, as you can read in my first post there titled: Rouse e by post, i.e. why I am here at Posterous? (Posterous is dead, but you can check archived copy). But I was wrong. Posterous cared and care only about "compelling" bells and whistles at most, not about making blogging better. That's why I created another farewell blog: The Unofficial Posterous Issues Blog (archived copy). There are only small things, you may think, but they were important for me - details do really matter.

So no more external blog-providing and comment-providing services for building my own techblog. Lamentblog, what you could call it I guess, it's a different matter, thus I don't really much care about it. Well, I can change my mind later, we'll see how it will go...


mnowotka @ Thursday, July 26, 2012 11:36 PM

  1. "what commenting system should I use?" - stay with disqus, it's cool.
  2. "I cannot decide on what technology blablabla" - use blip ;)
  3. Why in English? Polacy nie gęsi.

przemoc @ Thursday, July 26, 2012 11:51 PM

  1. In the given link I already explained why I don't want to go with disqus or similar services.
  2. Give me a break!
  3. Maybe sometimes będzie i po polsku...
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Good bye, Paul!

Once in a while I check pieces in "Incoming tracks" at SoundCloud (BTW check my boring profile: przemoc86). Yesterday I listened to Big City Lawman by Paul Lawler (paullawler at SC). Wanted to comment it and say it's nice, but then I got this popup info: "Commenting disabled, paullawler muted you." Wow, it's my first time being muted at SC. :)

Paul Lawler was the latest addition to my following list. In my introductory comment (don't remember now on which track was it) after stating that I was following him now, I've written that contrary to majority of SC users, I can voice if I don't like some tracks. In his response there was a statement that he'll ban me if I'll get too cocky, ended with a wink ;) emoticon. Shortly after I commented on some of his tracks, giving positive or negative comments depending on how I liked them. Even if I was nitpicking, it was always in a polite manner. But apparently Paul Lawler badly digests non-positive comments. Why I think so? It's not only about being muted - he deleted all of my comments on his tracks sans 2 positive ones: on Runaway Broom at 1'23" (Lovely magical piece!) and High Above at 0'33" (Another fine track of yours. I like its bright and zealously mood!).

It never ceases to amaze me how lot of people out there cannot withstand any critique, yet they are using public services/sites, i.e. being exposed to opinions of others on their own accord. You see, if you do something in front of people, be prepared that they not necessarily have to love what you do. It's an extremely important social skill as practically no one can be praised for the whole life! Well, you can always find your comfy (self-)adoration ring, but it's rather sad option, don't you think?

So yesterday I performed also my first unfollow at SC. After all our lifetime is limited, so it's better not to waste it, right?

Lesson relearned: Always stick to the rule #0 of the internet, always!

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Getting things done in LaTeX (or not)

Do you know what is LaTeX? If no, then check Wikipedia. Are you familiar with LaTeX? If no, then TeX.SX is a nice place to find answers to a lot of questions. Now, ad rem.

LaTeX is peculiar being. There are roughly 3 states regarding its (prospective) users:

  1. Cursing, because you don't know LaTeX, yet you have to use it (or your're being insistently convinced to switch from your beloved Word or LibreOffice Writer).
  2. Hating, because you're (becoming) acquainted with LaTeX and you know it's awful.
  3. Liking, because LaTeX is your friend and its awfulness doesn't bother you that much.

Thus, in short, LaTeX is awful. No, I really mean it. But it produces beautiful output, they say. And they're right, but getting really good results is far from being an effortless process.

LaTeX advocates (me included) will incessantly talk how LaTeX is better than WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors. The crux of their screeds is usually one: LaTeX allows you to focus solely on the content, making your writing work more efficient. Allow me to tell you something, what I see sometimes as a LaTeX taboo. This supposedly the biggest asset is mostly a lie, benevolent and inspiring, but still a lie. We believe in these words, though!

LaTeX learning curve is quite steep (especially when compared to WYSIWYG editors). Even writing the simplest document requires you to grasp lots of basics. Once you're there, you have to write a more complex document, so you must learn much more. After a few or dozens of such documents, you feel that you're becoming familiar with LaTeX. Yet magically, practically every document you write needs learning new things, packages, options, workarounds... Time goes by and after 5 years you ask yourself: what you know about LaTeX? After another 5 years the answer is the same: apparently not much.

Be aware of one crucial thing. The more you are devoted to LaTeX, the more it devours you. It's no longer about the content only. Well, it never was. You're taking part in an endless fiddle to make your every paper better than the previous one, to make every page more beautiful than the last ones, to spend another bunch of hours to fix or improve something that your average readers (presumably 99%) surely won't even notice (just like you, year ago), and the rest maybe will, but only subconsciously at best. Typography is about aesthetics and beauty. It is all about perfectionism.

The bottom line is that LaTeX turns you into an awful person, and only friends will be able to bear with you then.


You don't believe me? Fine, prove me wrong! :)


Continwm @ Saturday, July 28, 2012 8:49 PM

It really depends. If LaTeX is only a tool for you to publish papers (for which you can use journal templates, such as REVTeX for Physical Reviews) and to write notes for yourself (article class suffices), you really don't need to go beyond the simple example TeX files found on the web. But if you have interests beyond the contents, into the uncharted water of endless customizations, then yes, LaTeX turns you into an awful person.

Hugh Myers @ Saturday, July 28, 2012 9:30 PM

I must admit to being a bad person---perhaps even a very bad person as I've programmed in both LaTeX and TeX. No fun if you can't get your hands dirty :)

Soli @ Sunday, July 29, 2012 1:12 PM

So I guess CSS is bad too, as is anything concerned with non-wysiwyg styling...

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announcements is down for some time

Recently all stuff had to be migrated (DNS change may not propagated across the world yet, though). But as you can see, and a few other subdomains work fine, so what's wrong with the wiki?

It was built using dokuwiki with bunch of plugins. It was old version and not properly upgraded as the time went (only a few times). Dokuwiki is not bad per se, but it uses retarded PHP. PHP is utter abomination. Now I have access only to moderately recent PHP 5.4.x and surprise, the old code no longer fully works. I could possibly spent some time to fix it, but it would be total waste of my time. I cannot care less, thus you get this new shiny 503 there. Don't worry, it's only a temporary state. Actually I care a bit, so the content is not really lost and will be available in one way or another in the future (even to the extent that most old links will redirect you to the proper new addresses).

Sorry for the inconvenience!


Szabolcs Novaczki @ Wednesday, September 12, 2012 7:58 AM


You had an article on the wiki describing a way to mount fixed size vdi images on linux with pure shell commands. Actually among all the stuff found on the web yours the one that really works for me at least. Some time ago i saved the content on my PC but after a migration it was lost. Now i need your expertize again and wanted to ask if you could send me that article somehow.


przemoc @ Wednesday, September 12, 2012 2:31 PM

Even 48 hours haven't passed yet and this. :-)
I'm glad that you found my simple guide useful, but nowadays vdfuse should work rather flawlessly, I guess (haven't used it, though, at least recently and I'm not sure whether I used it ever at all).

If you still want to go the manual way, I've temporarily uploaded the linux tips page for you (and set redirect from the wiki for others):

Szabolcs Novaczki @ Friday, September 21, 2012 10:37 AM

Thanks! I have not heard about vdfuse before. I will give it a try now!

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project a-ko

“I’ll Stand By You” by The [nomen omen] Pretenders

I'll Stand by You is The Pretenders' song (listen on YT), recorded in 1994. Quoting Wikipedia (as of 2012-11-25):

Written by Chrissie Hynde in collaboration with the songwriting team of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg (who used the melody from Johann Sebastian Bach's Minuet for Lovers[citation needed]), it was the Pretenders' most recent significant hit single,[citation needed] and their last successful single in North America.

What is "Minuet for Lovers"?

Attempt to google it brings mostly copies of the wikipedia article. I don't know what Bach's "Minuet for Lovers" is for sure, but I think it meant to be BWV Ahn. 114 (listen on YT), i.e. Minuet in G Major (which isn't really done by Bach, the world's cruelty...). So how "for Lovers" part was coined? I suspect it to be after The Toys - "Lover's concerto" (listen on YT), which based on the same piece, but much more faithfully. It doesn't look like a well-known nick title, so it may be simply a wikipedian's "contribution", net effect of someone's creativity excess.

While there are similarities between mentioned Minuet's melody and the song, you can find them much more apparent when comparing the song to some other track, i.e. "Dance Away" (listen on YT). This track, sung by Annie Livingston and composed by Joey Carbone and Richie Zito, was written for Project A-ko anime movie. In 1986, 8 years before The [nomen omen] Pretenders.

Sure, BWV Ahn. 114, which is attributed to Christian Petzold, is in public domain, but "Dance Away" is not. And to me it's rather clear that the latter was a direct inspiration for The Pretenders. Yet IANAL, so I don't know whether it could be proved in the court. Reference seen in Wikipedia about using Minuet in G major's melody lacks citation, so it can be there thanks only to a good ear of some wikipedian. I don't know whether Billy Steinberg stated that he used Petzold's composition as a basis or not either. But I think that using a motif from anime song was quite likely considered safe, because who the heck would notice reusing melody from some Japanese animated flick?

Was he aware of "Dance Away" similarity to the minuet? If yes, then when his awareness showed up? These are interesting question, but most likely they'll be left unanswered.

Of course, I can be wrong. He could just intuitively rework the minuet in a similar fashion as can be heard in "Dance Away", without listening to Carbone & Rito's piece in the first place. Who knows? But if you want to hear the resemblance even more, then listen to "Morning Light Type C" (e.g. on Grooveshark), i.e. the track from Project A-ko OST (almost whole OST is available on Grooveshark) where the motif in a slowed down version is present.

If you'd like to find more strangely similar songs visit Sounds Just Like site. I also recommend watching nice Everything Is a Remix series done by Kirby Ferguson, especially part 1 (watch on vimeo), as it's dedicated to the music.

Lastly it's worth to add that Project A-ko anime being a parody is actually a strong remix itself. Such movie couldn't be created nowadays in Japan, I guess, but it's a topic for another post, maybe here in English, or maybe at in Polish.

EDIT 2012-12-02 (to expand the view):

In most countries it's 70 years after author's death when the work passes into public domain. There is a list of countries' copyright length on Wikipedia. Christian Petzold died in 1733, so it's much more than enough by now.

What's most likely wrong in the case of The Pretenders and what my gut feeling is telling me, is that Steinberg used Carbone & Rito's motif directly in his work. This Minuet in G major is well-known, yet most people wouldn't notice the similarity to it in "Dance Away" or "Morning Light Type C" for instance, because it wasn't used as-is. Actually I'm not even certain that their motif is similar to Minuet's one on purpose, because it maybe only came out as such, maybe they subconsciously used same sound progression. But even if they based it on Minuet mindfully, it was used partially, changed and rearranged. Depending on how much of basis work can be found in yours, it can be called derivative work if it is substantial quantity, but it also has to be substantially changed to be copyrightable (according to US Copyright Office Circular 14: Derivative Works, it varies between countries). I'm not sure whether Carbone & Rito "put" enough of Minuet in their composition to call it derivative work (I guess not, but I'm not an expert in this matter and IANAL), but I'm pretty sure their work is copyrightable.

After listening to "Morning Light Type C" play now "I'll Stand By You". Most people notice similarity, because the motif in the latter sounds like copied directly from the first. Well, it's not like the whole track is copied, I never said that and it's definitely not. But unless Pretenders stated explicitly that it was at least a partial tribute to Project A-ko or Carbone & Rito's work (I am not aware of such thing), then I find the act of reusing the motif barely changed at all inappropriate and morally wrong, irregardless of the fact whether the amount of reuse warrants filing copyright abuse or not.

As I said before, there is a slight chance that Steinberg just "reinvented" Carbone & Rito's changes and rearranges himself, i.e. without hearing their works, but I find it quite unlikely. So what do you think?

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Be succinct

Living is, to a great extent, about communicating (without it we wouldn't make good couples and preserve the species). And communication requires, to a great degree, speaking or writing words representing succinct form of our thoughts (otherwise we could easily hate talking to each other). All we have to do is remember that simple observation (and live according to it).

You can see something and you can watch something. You can hear something and you can listen to something. Almost everything you do, you can do in a more engaged fashion too. Speaking or writing is not an exception, you already know it. Commitment is important, because it helps us doing our jobs better, i.e. faster, better and more thoroughly. It requires increased focus, though, straining our mind or body more - unless you're genius, that is simply inevitable.

But there is some kind of pleasure coming from accomplishing tasks, even simple ones, and it's also greater if we were more engaged into them. Others can often feel our commitment. It's easier to grasp in speech than in writing, but you almost always know it's there when it's really there. We like such commitment of our interlocutors, because it shows they're not indifferent, they do care about the stuff.

The question is whether they care enough. If you attended university in the past you most likely met following kinds of lecturers:

  1. Lecturer that shouldn't be lecturer at all - speaks about things she or he doesn't understand and in a way it's even less comprehensible for the audience.
  2. Lecturer that has so broad knowledge and is so much into the topic that can easily lost hours speaking about petty details.
  3. Lecturer that has moderate knowledge, enough to explain most of the things and these explanations are often brief, but not always correct.
  4. Lecturer that has broad knowledge, yet she or he is able to share it paying high attention to clarity and brevity of the lecture.

Can you relate? Last kind I mentioned is definitely the best one, but such lecturers are rare, such rare that you remember them for a long time and you have deep respect for them. (Well, at least I have and I doubt I'll ever forget about them.) Why we like to listen to them? Because they are engaged in the subject and they are engaged in sharing their knowledge, thus they want to do it right. They do care enough. They are succinct and they make their lectures succinct.

What it means to be succinct? Well-known paraphrase of Einstein's words, i.e. "making things as simple as possible, but not simpler" hits the mark. Outcome of your work should be always complete yet comprehensible by targeted audience. Content of your work should be correct, concise and avoiding unimportant details, while its form should be minimal, free of unnecessary distractions and actually improving content clarity as much as possible. Think about it. You can really apply this approach to many activities you do in your life.

I'm sorry. I think I am not yet succinct and what I write or what I speak is rarely succinct either. Being aware of that is half of the success and I'm working on the other half. Although I am not an expert, I believe I can share a few good points about succinctly conveying verbal or written messages formed from our thoughts and ideas. Most tips can be obvious. Why? Everyone has sort of life-long expertise in that matter as we communicate everyday. Despite this, many of us still often fail in doing it right. I refer particularly to this prevailing feeling that we could do a better job at last speaking, writing, whatever we did. Not imaginary conditional concerns (if I knew the subject better...), but a real thing, feeling coming from the depths of our hearts. You can fight against it only proactively.

So how can one be succinct? I'll try to guide you in some of my upcoming posts. Don't hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments earlier, hopefully succinctly.

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Be open for critique

Continuous evaluation is inherent part of our social lives. We could be flawless, but we're not most of the time and the same we can tell about what we do. Thus critique is a natural thing in all societies. Being criticized gives you a great opportunity to get to know a different viewpoint, learn something and become better. Do not ever waste it!

Long time ago I noticed that lot of people cannot endure critique at all. And it surprises me every time I see it happening. Well, not every kind of criticism is worth your time and consideration. Internet for instance is full of jerks that routinely spit useless cursing comments everywhere. Most kind of criticism you can simply filter out - if you know that it brings nothing to table, there is no point in bothering yourself at all about it. What you should particularly pay attention for is so called constructive criticism. You should love it!

Constructive criticism is the best thing you can get as a feedback and you should be always glad of receiving it, even if it has a bit sarcastic or cynical sound (remember, no one is flawless). The simple truth is that there are always people smarter, more experienced, etc. than you, so if they take their time to show or explain to you how wrong you are regarding something, or how you could do something better or more correctly, then do not ever look down on them. Embrace all their remarks, even if they are harsh or maybe even more then. It doesn't mean you have to necessarily agree with such critique in every detail, but at least carefully analyse it. After all, there is always a place for some kind of dialog, which can be invaluable experience (if your critic is willing to take part in a discussion, it's not always the case).

So what's the core problem of people regarding critique? It's not a fear of critique per se, it's rather inability to mentally deal with it. By it I mean any kind of critique, and especially constructive one (because it often hits the weak points of our works). Too gentle upbringing enforced in many countries (you cannot even smack your child for doing bad things and so on) may be part of this spreading narrow and dangerous "delicate mindset". Many communities (you can find them on internet a lot) disallow comments not resembling praises. I don't like that kind of attitude. Do we have to be silent or say/write "awesome", "cool" or "great" in every second sentence of the feedback, but we cannot say something is wrong, bad, lacking or incomplete as it may harm the speaker/writer/designer/illustrator/programmer/mate/friend/anyone? It's ridiculous and the sooner you understand it, the better life you will live.

Being criticized by others is the usual way of evolution and progress, as we all want to become better (or at least: most of us). Be open for critique, but also be open to criticize others as long as you can describe or explain their mistakes or glitches and hopefully show how it could be done better. I truly believe that honesty brings much less harm than lack thereof. Crucial advices to take critique upfront are:

  • don't be full of yourself (no matter how good your environment thinks you are or how good you really are at something),
  • acknowledge your imperfection (and its obvious consequences),
  • expand your self-distance (the more the better),

(Frankly speaking you should be well aware of all that by now and these advices shouldn't be necessary. Yet, strangely the self-distance concept, while common in Poland for instance, is apparently less and less practiced (or even known or understood) the more you move in the west direction. Some jokes and flirtation here, can be seen as sexual harassment in USA. Some snide remarks here can be seen as extremely rude in USA. Talking and laughing about your own flaws is a first test of self-distance - give it a try, but do not limit such discussions to friends only.)

My last advice is (ok, I just rephrased what I already wrote into one simple motto):

  • don't be easily offended, yet eagerly look for and learn from constructive critique!

Finally I have to add that I don't like the term "thick-skinned", because it may suggest that it's something special or maybe even unnatural (human skin is usually not thick, right?). Being insensitive to the criticism (not taking critique emotionally or personally; it doesn't mean being indifferent about it) is in fact one of the most important rules of successful interacting with others.

Duty Calls

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google reader

Are there any on-line feed readers preserving old and already read posts (like Google Reader used to be)?

As many tumblr users, I was using Google Reader. I won't say it was an extensive use, as my feed reading activities declined in recent years, but G's decision about taking down GR was quite unexpected. Back then I used Google Takeout to retrieve my GR subscription data ("eg. lists of people that you follow, items you have starred, notes you have created, etc."). Next step was doing a quick research over available alternatives.

I found The Old Reader to be a promising one solution. (Apparently there were lots of importers, so I was queued as &;1000th one, which meant I have to wait a few days before all my feeds would be accessible within TOR.) I didn't see any old posts in my feeds subscribed previously in GR for many years, so I was unhappy about it (you know, some sites ceased to exist already), but I assumed nothing can be done here, because G obviously wouldn't allow downloading easily all the old posts from feeds. And to be honest, most of them weren't worth of archiving, but most doesn't mean all. Some time later I noticed that TOR improved keyboard-driven UX, so I was finally able to use handy shortcuts like Shift-A (mark all items as read in current feed/group). Lately they finally added API. I thought I'll stay with TOR for now, but today after logging in I saw:

You have not used The Old Reader for a while, so we kept only fresh posts for you

What? Is this some kind of twisted courtesy? Putting sarcasm aside, it's my fault for not investigating TOR enough. I understand well that storage isn't free and GR pampered us a bit with its (almost) never ending history in feeds, but it's such important feature that I took it for granted. TOR KB has a page about it, which I'll quote here just in case:

How many posts per feed do you store?

You may only see several dozen posts when you subscribe to a new feed because RSS feeds only contain the most recent posts. However, new posts will be fetched as they get published, and The Old Reader will store up to several hundred posts per feed for any active user. If you don't access The Old Reader for a while, your account will be marked as inactive, and we will only keep the last 10 entries of each feed for you.

Shared, commented, or liked posts are currently stored forever.

"Up to several hundred posts" is quite vague term, and definitely not enough for long-running sites that publish new stuff often. Second problem is being "active user". There are weeks when I am so busy that I check only in tram on my way to or from the work, thus I may be "inactve" (from feed reading viewpoint) even for a month. This makes TOR unsuitable for me after all and this is unfortunate, because I started to like TOR.

I noticed that in comparisons of feed readers (almost?) no one is looking at how long the old posts are available, that's why I'm asking tumblr community and all readers of this post:

Are there any free on-line feed readers, similar to GR, committed to preserve old and already read posts, no matter how actively I read them? Supporting keyboard-driven navigation (with GR-like shortcuts, hopefully) and mobile apps (Android at least) would be nice. Another bonus point would be possibility of exporting historical feed data.


A few days ago I learned about unofficial GR API via article (sorry, it's not available for free yet and there are too many tumblr users out there, so using the so called "Free Link" wouldn't be acceptable IMHO). But it's no longer available. There is also "a collection of tools to help with the Google Reader shutdown" called Reader Is Dead, with extremely useful reader_archive, but well, it's not longer useful. If I only knew about it before the shutdown...

Thankfully Archive Teamretrieved historical feed data from GR using its API, so not everything is lost. Over 8TB of data converted to WARC files (specification of ISO 28500:2009, free final draft, "Everything about the WARC format and the tools that support it."), in tarred+gzipped form can be downloaded.

My 0th rule of the internet: You have to constantly backup it!


przemoc @ Saturday, February 1, 2014 4:22 PM

As a late update I can add that I'm using InoReader in the end, but it's not free of problems. I often see: "You have not logged for more than 2 weeks. Some of your feeds might have stopped updating temporarily." for instance.

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Another change of look

The previous theme called “Royal Ribbon” was replaced with “Royal Cameleon”.

Old one became “unsupported” by tumblr (no longer available to be chosen from theme browser) for quite some time and it was killing the browser whenever you visited the page due to some faulty javascripts interacting with Disqus (which must have changed some of its APIs, because everything was working fine in the past). I’m lazy recently, so instead of trying to fix it, I simply went with other theme, i.e. “supported” one. At least it’s still royal…

EDIT (2014-11-11): “Royal Cameleon” was terrible after all. So terrible that I wasn’t able to create any new post during these 9 months. ;) Hopefully slightly customized Lightweight will do the job better.

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przemoc commented Jan 13, 2024

Backup of my old stuff posted ~10 years ago at / There is little value in them, but the older I get, the more I hate when things vanish irretrievably on the internet, so that's why I made this gist, as I'm going to remove those texts at their current locations.

Pretenders / Project A-ko post is possibly the most interesting one here, but most links are possibly dead by now. But I can tell you that old "Everything is a Remix Part 1" movie linked there can be found at:

I learned that there were actually more recent editions of "Everything is a Remix" series that can be found at:
I liked the old one, so I will have to watch recent one too.

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