In Memoriam. 22 December 2006.

Listening to: n/a
Reading: n/a
Watching: n/a

D I O S A . G U Z M A N . R O D R I G U E Z
1 9 4 7 – 2 0 0 6

My mother was born on the first day of Spring, and passed away at the onset of Winter. She was 59. The turn of the times will remind me of you forever. I love you. Requiescat in pace. -JL

Succumbed to temptation. 19 October 2006.

Listening to: Depeche Mode, “Precious”, from the album Playing the Angel.
Reading: various things
Watching: nothing in particular.

Well, the inevitable has come to pass: I have succumbed to temptation and got a new Mac. Actually, I spent several days trying to come up with a convincing excuse to buy a MacPro workstation, but since I couldn’t find the moral “spark” to justify the toll (not even to myself), and not liking the iMac concept, I settled down to a Mac Mini instead. It is the top of the Mini branch. Compare to my mid-tower PC, its ultracompact design looks like an overall improvement. True, there’s almost nothing upgradable inside of it (except for RAM, and even that is hard to do, as I have read), but for what I’ll be doing with it and considering that I’ll probably get another machine in the next 18 months (if I’m still counting days by then), it is enough. Now, the search for the best freeware fractal generator for the Mac is on. Don’t forget to visit the Software section to find out which ones are already on the run.- JL

Inheritance. 17 September 2006.

Listening to: Rachid Taha, “Malhereux Toujours ”, from the album Diwan.
Watching: ads.

I always wanted a Mac, not because it’s better than any Windows PC (or so the claim), but because it runs a different operating system: MacOS. I confess I’m an OS freak: I’m the one who has a working copy of Win 98 SE, BeOS, Debian Linux, Mandriva, and SuSE Linux 9.1 running in a single machine, and another one with WinXP and Ubuntu Linux, and yet another one with Win 98 and PCLinuxOS. For what purpose? I don’t know; to test them all, and to use them as the mood demands??? I even regret not having a computer old enough to run Win 3.x (I’m keeping the original setup diskettes just in case), and another not-so-old to intall FreeBSD. Until a couple of weeks ago I had an ancient laptop with Win95, but the LCD screen broke out, and so it died. Having a fourth computer running MacOS is simply a pleasure.

So far, I have resisted temptation, and have refrained from buying a Mac to add to the “collection”. But two days ago, a friend of mine decided it was time to get rid of an old iMac she recently replaced by one of those flat and good-looking Intel based models many are “killing” for.

—Do you know anyone who could use it?—, she asked me.
—(What did I hear?) Eh, hum, uh?—, I went mute.
—It’s an old Mac, so I don’t think there’s much use to it now—, she went on.
—Well…—, was my only remark.
—Just take it, recycle it, or do whatever you want with it; it’s just occupying some space, and as such it’s pretty useless anyway —, she finished.
—Ok, I’ll see what I can do.

The truth is it’s quite old indeed, being a G3 running MacOS 9.1, but it still works pretty fine. The only two things missing were a keyboard and a mouse. Though it’s showing no hardware problems, which is good, it was relatively hard to find a compatible keyboard and mouse (meaning I had to look through several shelves before finding them) in a well sorted computer store. That, more than anything else, is a sign of “old age” . A quick Internet search proved likewise in terms of software, since there’s nothing new for it anymore (except for iCap). There’s even a version of Mozilla Firefox for Win98, but there’s none for MacOS 9. But there are some old fractal generators I haven’t tested yet, and there’s where the egg-like thing comes in handy. So in the coming days, I’ll be finally adding Mac compatible generators to the software list. Isn’t that good news?- JL

Orbit Traps. 20 August 2006.

Listening to: The Stone Roses, “I Wanna Be Adored”, from the album The Stone Roses.
Reading: Orbit Trap (see below)
Watching: Ultraviolet (2006).

There’s a new blog on the block: Orbit Trap. Created by Terry Wright (the Cruel Animal from Rooms with a View) and Tim Hodkinson (the Ambaka guy from the Fractal Beanstalk), it reunites a diverse group of fractal artists and programmers from all over the Internet to discuss every topic imaginable about fractals and whatever else they have in mind. The list of contributors includes yours truly among them, though I haven’t had the chance to write some words yet (“Hurry up, you… !”). I invite all of you to check it out and join in the discussions. We’ll be trying to have some fun. – JL

Mother Earth and Microsoft. 28 July 2006.

Listening to: Voltaire, “Ex Lover’s Lover”, from the album Devil’s Bris.
Reading: mail
Watching: Yesterday (2004), dir. Darrell Roodt.

“Sweet” sixteen days ago, during a peaceful and quiet morning, a thunderous sound cut through the melodic fall of moisty raindrops. Instantly, the telephone lines went dead, several TV sets were fried, a fridge stop howling, and two computers froze up. One of them was mine, of course, since I usually work on it during the morning or late at night. Though it continued OK for several hours after the incident, eventually it stop functioning altogether. As it turned out the motherboard got damaged by the electrostatic discharge, so I had to buy another one to recover my temporarily locked stuff.

After doing the “transplant”, it was time to test if everything went the right way (I have never built a computer before, so it was an adventurous endeavor with a dual purpose). I turned the computer on, entered the BIOS setup, did the necessary tweaking, and continued the startup process. Once it got to the users part (I’m talking about the WinXP machine), and pick up my username, it said that in order to log on I must validate my WinXP copy first (or something like that). That was new, and I wasn’t expecting it. “This is my WinXP copy, you beach” (substitute that word for the correct one), I voiced out loud.

—You can do it the Internet way or the telephone way— it said. I tried the Internet way, but since the new drivers weren’t installed yet, it didn’t work.
—Use the phone, then, and give the customers representative the following numbers— it told me. It was a long sequence of nine groups of six numbers each which I’d have to repeat over the phone to another computer (the new era representative). I did as “instructed” but in the end, the flocking (substitute once more) computer hung me down without validating my Win XP.
—That isn’t a valid sequence anymore, bye— was the only reply I got. “What the hell!?!?!”

Have you been treated like a thief by a circuitry box before? Have you been taken by a criminal by Microsoft for paying the mischievous lord of the Redmond Empire for something that is never yours? Are you aware that under the MS law you’re no longer innocent until proven guilty, but just the opposite? That once you load Windows on YOUR computer for the first time you’re giving its soul (and everything else) to the MS reign?

I did that same process over five times without success. Then, I decided to try a reinstall using the Restore option as a last resort. But surprise!!! Once it finished the Validate your copy of Win XP before logging in greeted me bitterly, while a new feature appeared: I noticed a button offering the option to generate a new validation sequence ID. I clicked on it, got my new number, and call MS again. I gave the ID to the Blade Runner lady over the phone, and this last time it didn’t know what to do. I was transferred to a human representative with an Argentinian accent, who finally gave me what I needed. In about three minutes everything was over, and I had my computer working as it used to. End of the story.

Wouldn’t have this story been shorter if I were connected with a human being on my first try?- JL

What’s porn got to do with it? 01 July 2006.

Listening to: La Oreja de Van Gogh, “Dulce locura”, from the album Guapa.
Reading: Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World.
Watching: 予言 (jp: Yogen, en: Premonition).

Do you perceive something “provocative” when you look at the pictures shown in these pages? Is there something that arouse your “senses”, anything beyond the obvious? If not, then can you explain to me why some porn-related sites are redirecting their visitors to fractovia? What’s going on? Yes, you’re reading it right. A couple of days ago I noticed there were several unrecognizable urls among the list of new referrers for that day. As usual, I tracked them down (I regularly do so to learn from where my visitors are coming), and to my surprise, there were some freaking <censored> <censored> <censored> with the biggest <censored> you can imagine in the forefront. And I said to myself: “What the <censored>? Are those… ambitious… pleasurizers fractal-bound?” In what position —I mean angle— should the Mandelbrot silhouette must be oriented in order to become a temptation (from the artistic point of view, of course)? Never mind the answer to that question. – JL

Out-of-the-art. 18 June 2006.

Listening to: Meredith Bragg & The Terminals, “My Only Enemy ”, from the album Vol. 1.
Reading: Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World.
Watching: interference.

It’s very nice when you use a state-of-the-art generator to do a fractal picture. The results are usually spontaneously beautiful and lavishly fascinating. If you have the skills, you will get the best out of it in a short while. Yet, it is also nice to work with “out-of-the-art” stuff sometimes just for the fun of it, for the challenge, because you like it. I’m usually doing it because of that. And even though those generators aren’t capable of immediately stunning results, they do produce interesting forms. Like this one, for example: you can say it is elementary, plain, and lacking an “attitude” (by today standards), yet it has a certain something that I simply love. There’s a saying that warns: “The simplest things in life are often the most profound” (more or less). Maybe it’s unnatural to apply that to fractal images —since they are complex by their very nature—, but I want to think so. – JL

NOTE: read the emphasis in selected words at your own risk.

Doom’s Day 2006. 9 June 2006.

Listening to: Noir Desir, “Le Vent Nous Portera”, from the album Des Visages des Figures.
Reading: Nicholas Ostler, Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World.
Watching: Aeon Flux.

The world should have ended three days ago, according to the latest conspiracy theory on the subject. On 6/6/06, besides the premiere of The Omen remake (oh, please, not again!), a huge rock from outer space should have hit the Earth, and we should have been all dead by now —or on our way to the land of the dead. That story was born from the recent approach of dying comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (with a name like that, we should have feared it indeed). But once again, nothing happened. I just though: Well, let’s wait Extintion in front of the computer, doing a couple of nice fractals (just to make it sweet and painless, you know). Three days later (and with some 37 pictures in the list), it seems Doom just missed us… again. Yet, I don’t think we should say: “And they lived happily ever after”. -JL

Deleting the past. 24 May 2006.

Listening to: Sneakster, “Sweet Melody”, from Pseudo Nouveau.
Reading: this and that.
Watching: Miracle Mile.

Well, I’m back! Where have I been? I’ve been at home, deleting the past. Believe me, that’s what I’ve been doing. At least some part of it. No, not erasing. Deleting. I’ve been deleting a lot of files I’ve accumulated over the years, most of them very good ones: music, pictures… etc. I started by reviewing them before hitting the DELETE key, but after several minutes, I thought I’d rather reformat the HD and start anew. Now I’ve realized I got rid of some files I should have kept (maybe some of them I would never find again), but what the hell. Sometimes it’s better that way, and not keep moving forever on a loop. Loops can be satisfying —especially when they consist of the good things—, but sometimes they degenerate into vicious circles, which eventually cause more harm (in some manner) than good. Even the worst: stop progress altogether. I prefer to look at it this way: Now I have 500 GB to fill up once again. -JL

Where have I been? 10 April 2006.

Listening to: Depeche Mode, “Nothing’s Impossible”, from the album Playing the Angel.
Reading: this and that.
Watching: The Brothers Grimm.

I had something to say, but I forgot it. I’ll let you know when I get back to it. -JL