Spring has arrived in suburbia! [Weekly Head Voices #40]

Allow me to start with two bits of good news:

  1. You have arrived at the 40th edition of the Weekly Head Voices! This blog will soon buy a black leather jacket, start riding around on a motorcycle that is far too big for it and see its therapist concerning its little “Is this all there is?” existential crisis.
  2. Spring has arrived in suburbia! Today was glorious, with zillions of little kids running around outside in the sun, and parents chatting contentedly about the barbecue potential of the coming season. See this camera-phone impression:
    Scenes of spring, straight from the hood.

    Scenes of spring, straight from the hood.

It’s been a really busy week, so let’s get started. In a surprising and innovative move, I’ll be using headings instead of bullets to indicate each new item in this week’s Weekly Head Voices!

Internet Video Conferencing

I had to organize a mini internet-video-conference, i.e. more than two people at different locations chatting with voice and video over internet. Skype you say? No sir, Skype wants more money for this functionality. I’m already paying them for Skype Access and for the odd VOIP call to a PSTN line, but I find this extra surprise inexcusable. Therefore, without any further ado, I bring you this week’s WHV Review:

  • Skype for video conferencing: SUCKS.
  • TokBox for video conferencing: RULES! I was able to set this up in 2 minutes, and it required no software besides flash-enabled browsers at all nodes. All conference participants get a link and can join immediately, without logging in. Unfortunately, TokBox is stopping their service in April, as they’ve changed their business model and are  selling their tech (OpenTok) to OEMs. After April, I will probably look at PalTalk for my free video-conferencing needs.

Powerline networking

Because one of my favourite WAB (Work Avoidance Behaviour) routines is to further optimise my home network (1 cable modem, 3 router / access points, 2 servers, 3 laptops, 1 media centre and 1 networked game console), I bought PowerlineAV adapters to bridge one of the wireless sections (pulling cables between the floors involved is a schlep). Hey, that brings us to this week’s second WHV Review:

  • Powerline / HomePlug powerline network adapters: SUCKS! Read all about it in this detailed blog post on my nerd blog.


(NERD ALERT! NERD ALERT! skip this paragraph if you’re not an uber nerd.) I’m old school, so when I say hacking, I mostly mean doing hardcore programming. I fixed a nasty and long-standing bug in the GSVideo video acquisition stack for processing and wrote about in another nerdy blog post, and then I updated my multiple-marker modification to NyARToolkit for processing to support the P3D renderer. Huh?! You should’ve skipped this paragraph!


As is undoubtedly the case with all of you, I possess quite a number of fetishes, two of which I’m going to share with you today. Don’t worry, they’re relatively safe.

I used to be one of those die-hard Norton Commander users in the DOS days. Norton Commander was what is called an Orthodox File Manager, or OFM. My OFM-fetish has been dormant for years, but has come back with a vengeance due to my rather late discovery of Far Manager. What a crazy and wonderful piece of software! (To you Loonix-fetishists: MC doesn’t even come close. Unfortunately, Far is Windows only.) Check out the special effects:

Far Manager version 2. This thing has more hot-keys than you have keys on your keyboard. It can do ANYTHING.

Far Manager version 2. This thing has more hot-keys than you have keys on your keyboard. It can do ANYTHING.

My long-time musical fetish, the brilliant Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails ring a bell?) won an Oscar for his work, together with Attacus Ross, on the Social Network soundtrack. By the way, the movie also pleasantly surprised me, and would have done so even without Reznor’s brilliant work.


My brain has served up very little backyard philosophy this week, probably because I’ve been too busy acting like a little code-monkey, so I’ll limit my philosophising to the following:

  1. Thou shalt not link facebook and twitter status updates. These are two different forms of media, and you’re possibly alienating (that’s a big word for “ticking off”) your most loyal followers, i.e. the fantastic people following you on both networks, with duplicate status messages. See it as a challenge to drive each of your social networks in a way which most suits its nature, or see it as double the opportunity to express yourself!
  2. I’ve quoted this once before on this blog, but there are new readers, and it’s good to be reminded every so often: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. — Plato.

That’s it for this week kids. Have a beautiful and springy week!