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Lyle Zapato

Kibioctet: Your New Friend!

Lyle Zapato | 2004-06-20.8930 LMT | Technology | Metric System

In 1884, the Lord Kelvin had the following to say about inadequate measurement systems:

Lord Kelvin "You, in this country, are subjected to the British insularity in weights and measures; you use the foot, inch and yard. I am obliged to use that system, but must apologize to you for doing so, because it is so inconvenient, and I hope Americans will do everything in their power to introduce the French metrical system. ... I look upon our English system as a wickedly, brain-destroying system of bondage under which we suffer. The reason why we continue to use it, is the imaginary difficulty of making a change, and nothing else; but I do not think in America that any such difficulty should stand in the way of adopting so splendidly useful a reform." [Source]

120 years later, America (and, sadly, much of Cascadia,) still hasn't heeded His words. To the contrary, we have shackled ourselves with an additional modern form of measuremental bondage that is even more brain-destroying than anything the most wicked Brit could have devised -- one that even perverts the system that Kelvin advocated. I am speaking of the units we use to measure data on computers; the bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, and, yes, even petabytes that we have all become so familiar with, and yet can be so confused by.

Let's start with the basic units. The bit, in case you didn't know, is the smallest unit of information in a binary system. There are no fractional bits, and the term is unambiguous. This is an acceptable unit. The byte is a little more convoluted. In present-day usage, 1 byte = 8 bits. However, the term originally referred to the number of bits needed to encode a character. Consequently, there were computer systems where bytes were different numbers of bits. This system-specific functional term only later became a general unit of information when the 8-bit character size became a standard, resulting in one term having two incompatible meanings (albeit one now considered obsolete) in the same field.

But the real confusion comes when bit and byte are used together. The abbreviation for byte is uppercase B, whereas the abbreviation for bit is lowercase b. In theory this seems simple and even eloquent, but in practice people often use B/b indiscriminately, usually out of ignorance of the difference (not to mention problems caused by caps lock scofflaws and e. e. cummings wannabes.) Oddly, the original "bite" was given a "y" so that it wouldn't be misspelled "bit," but this rather obvious abbreviation problem was overlooked.

The next level of trouble comes from the prefixes used with these two terms. How many bytes are in a kilobyte? The answer depends on whom you ask. Computer science people would say 1 kilobyte = 1,024 bytes (1,024 is a round number in binary notation: 10000000000.) But this ignores the accepted meanings of the Metric prefixes (kilo = 1,000, mega = 1,000,000, etc.) which means proponents of the Metric System correctly reject this usage as improper.

Now if it was just people in an unrelated field being persnickety then maybe this wouldn't really be a practical problem for computer users; However, the proper Metric meaning of the prefixes are used by some in the computing industry, although often out of ulterior motives. For instance, if a harddrive manufacturer says a drive has 10 gigabytes, then it actually has 10,000,000,000 bytes, not 10,737,418,240 bytes as your operating system would measure 10 gigabytes -- you may be getting less than you think you're getting. The result of this mix of proper and improper use of Metric prefixes is ambiguity and the potential for errors (or dishonest pricing).

So how should we solve these problems? For starters, we need to replace the term byte with one that has a more obvious abbreviated distinction from bit. Just as Kelvin urged Americans to follow the lead of the French, I am urging everyone to use the French term for 8-bits: octet. This term -- born out of anglophobia -- is both unambiguous and descriptive. Octet literally means a group of eight. In the context of informational measurement, it means 8 bits. Octet is abbreviated o, so there's no confusing it for bits. Plus, the French have already been using it for years, with no problems.

Next, we need to consistently stop misusing the Metric prefixes. A kilo is defined as 1,000 and it should never be used for something else. Instead, we should widely adopt the binary prefixes that were approved as a standard by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 1998. These prefixes are as follows:

  • kibi- (Ki) = 210 (1024)
  • mebi- (Mi) = 220 (1048576)
  • gibi- (Gi) = 230 (1073741824)
  • tebi- (Ti) = 240 (1099511627776)
  • pebi- (Pi) = 250 (1125899906842624)

(For more, see the NIST reference page on prefixes for binary multiples.)

Thus, the old, tired, and confused kilobyte (8,192 bits) will be reborn as the kibioctet (Kio). So, computer users, say hello to your new friend kibioctet, as well as his buddies mebioctet (Mio), gibioctet (Gio), tebioctet (Tio), and, yes, even pebioctet (Pio).

UPDATE (2004-06-21): Here are some trendy badges so you can educate your visitors of these important new data measurement terms and show your site's support of sensible standards:

kibioctet mebioctet gibioctet tebioctet pebioctet

UPDATE (2004-07-06): This article, with additional information, can now be found at ZPi Labs: Kibioctets. Any further updates will go on that page. If you want to link to this information, link there.

Lyle Zapato

He Who Controls The Encoder...

Lyle Zapato | 2004-06-10.1788 LMT | Mind Control | General Paranoia | Technology

As every paranoid knows, all "music" released by the Recording Industry has been riddled with cerebrosonic mind control ever since the Industry's inception. (The earliest forms of cerebrosonics were, unsurprisingly, laughably crude by today's standards -- such as Edison's simple backmasking of adverts for his electric pen into his debut release of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" -- and the modern era of consumer cerebrosonics really didn't come to full fruition until the development of Beatlemania-inducing quasinodal harmonics by the BBC in 1962.) It's no wonder then that paranoids have been musically disadvantaged in recent decades, since finding underground, trusted sources of mind-control-free recorded music was often difficult.

Then the 1990s brought with it the promise of being able to find those sources with ease, for both paranoids and orthonoids alike. The global and decentralized nature of the burgeoning Internet allowed the free exchange of music, with digital signatures based on advanced cryptographic technology used to ensure a network of trust from paranoid artists to their paranoid fans. Today, this is all taken for granted, however there is a dangerous flaw in this trust network: The music encoder.

Say you have a raw digital recording of mind-control-free music that you are going to distribute on the Internet. To save on bandwidth, you wish to compress it as much as possible while maintaining quality, so you unthinkingly use a common compression solution such as MP3, AAC, or WMA to encode the music for distribution. But, how can you trust the encoder not to add cerebrosonic mind control to the resulting file? You can't. And since the "lossy" compression significantly reinterprets the recording, there's no easy way to verify that the resulting file matches the original in memetic content.

Consider: The technology in all these high compression formats is based on a scientific field called "psychoacoustics," which studies how the brain perceives and interprets sound, and specifically what sounds people can't consciously detect. I mean... come on, do you really trust your brain to people calling themselves psychoacousticians? (Notice how that one doth protest too much about the whole "sonic mind control" issue.)

Furthermore, the technologies are all heavily patented by groups ranging from a shadowy German corporation founded by a Knight of the King of Bavaria, to a cult-like company known for its leader's ability to locally distort perceived reality, to Microsoft. If you are using encoders for these compression formats, you might as well just buy the newest Britney Spears CD and surrender your brain to the New World Order's sex slave recruitment division.

Of course, orthonoids and ill-informed paranoids will use them, just as the forces of mind control have arranged. (Organizations like the RIAA are merely fronts designed by the forces of mind control to encourage use of these compromised technologies through reverse psychology.) And while open audio technologies like Ogg Vorbis offer an alternative for those who know to look for them, they will never be allowed to gain general acceptance.

(NB: All MP3s offered on this site were hand encoded using vi for your protection.)

UPDATE: More On iPods & Cerebrosonics

Lyle Zapato

Meteor?

Lyle Zapato | 2004-06-03.5480 LMT | Cascadia | General Paranoia
Parking lot at night...
Surveillance camera photo taken at night!

At 11.111 LMT this morning, the skies of central Cascadia were lit up for a brief second, turning night into day and creating a loud boom. The Media has been breathlessly claiming it was caused by a meteor -- conveniently not a meteorite, since that would require physical evidence. However, the only photos of this supposed meteor that the Media could dig up are from a home security camera that captured a reflected blob traveling across the window of a car. Hardly what I would call convincing.

While a meteor may be an acceptable explanation to a population spoon-fed reality by those who wish to control how we think, I see some other potential explanations not being reported in the Media:

  • Aerial flash photography by anti-Cascadian forces.
  • Weather machine malfunction (note that we also experienced unusual numbers of tornadoes last month.)
  • Time travel mishap resulting in momentary atmospheric temporal flux of half a day.
  • Paraterrestrial activities.

Until such time as these possibilities have been eliminated, I will have to remain skeptical of this "meteor".

UPDATE (2004-06-05): On the day of the incident, someone claiming to be a University of Washington astronomy professor named Bradley Hammermaster told Seattle radio station KIRO that a meteorite the size of a small car had crashed near Chehalis. This report was picked up by AP. It now turns out that there is no one by the name of Bradley Hammermaster working at the UW. The Media are now calling this a hoax. Convenient how well this "hoax" that they were the "victim" of supported their original "meteor" story.

Lyle Zapato

The Monorail Vs. Pneumatic Inteli-Tube

Lyle Zapato | 2004-06-01.6010 LMT | Cascadia | Monorail Danger | Pneumatics
Typical monorail commute
(Fire enhanced by ZPi for dramatic effect.)

Yesterday, a Seattle monorail caught fire -- the blue one, to be precise. No one was seriously injured, but the incident only further highlights the inherent danger in monorailular transportation methods, that of spontaneous combustion.

Some in the Republic of Cascadia -- mostly Federalists -- are pushing to have our entire nation monorailized. However, in their irrational zeal to chase after some failed 1962 vision of the future, they are overlooking a much better and safer solution to our nation's transportation problems: the Inteli-Tube Pneumatic Transportation System.*

The ITPTS is immune to the sorts of uncontrollable fires that monorails experience. Because pneumatic tubes are designed to create pressure differentials to push the personal transportation pods through them, they can be easily depressurized in an emergency to quickly extinguish any fires. Let's just see the monorailists try and depressurize Seattle! Furthermore, instead of oxygenated air -- which acts as a fire accelerant and through which monorails have no choice but to travel -- pneumatic tubes can be pressurized with inert gasses such as argon to completely eliminate the chance of a fire starting. None of these safety benefits have any effect on commuter comfort since passengers are safely sealed in their pressurized pods.

How many more monorail fires do there need to be before Cascadians realize that monorails are dangerous and that pneumatic tube transportation systems offer us our only hope, for both the future and today? If you ask me, one is already too many.

* The ITPTS was developed by Lyle Zapato & ZPi Laboratories.

Lyle Zapato

How To Disappear Completely (As Seen On TV!)

Lyle Zapato | 2004-06-01.2900 LMT | Technology | Fashion | General Paranoia

In public places, cameras watch our every move. They record where we go, what we do, and who we meet -- even what personal hygiene products we buy. While ostensibly for our security, these cameras are in fact being used by shadowy forces to monitor our lives and learn our secrets to later use against us. Is there a way for the conscientious paranoid to avoid the unblinking gaze of the modern panopticon? Indeed, there is.

Television meteorologists and digital effects technicians use a technology called chromakey -- also often called "blue screen" -- to aid in compositing different elements into a scene. The most common use of this technology involves having a subject stand in front of a usually blue or green screen that is then replaced electronically with some background image, such as a weather map or CGI alien cityscape. Although technicians try to avoid it, chromakey can also affect a foreground subject; for instance, a bright blue tie will result in the illusion of a gaping hole in a weatherman's chest.

While this downplayed side-effect of chromakey technology may be undesirable to those trying to project the image of weathermen as solid purveyors of truth, it can be used to the paranoid's advantage: by wearing a costume made entirely of chromakey screen material, a paranoid can become invisible to electronic surveillance cameras.

Here at ZPi Laboratories, we are working on such electrooptical camouflage in the form of a hooded unitard made of bright blue or green colored spandex, which I call the Chromatard. I believe that this outfit -- which is form-fitting to help the wearer avoid unnecessary, camera-detectable interaction with the environment -- will become as popular with the paranoid community as the AFDB has become. Unfortunately, it is currently unusable outside of laboratory conditions since its bright color will attract the unwanted attention of any enemy agent not hidden behind an electronic camera. However, this should be less of a problem in the future when nearly all forms of surveillance will be mediated by electronic visualizing devices -- either "security" cameras or the eyes of robots. This future will belong to the Chromatarded paranoid.

Lyle Zapato

Cicada Zapaticon Products

Lyle Zapato | 2004-05-30.3822 LMT | Crass Commercialism | Art
Brood X

Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Brood X | 2004-05-30.1975 LMT | Announcement | Cascadia | Nature

...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
[ZPi Arthropod Auto Translation Begins:]

Primates of Cascadia: I have traveled billions of tarsi to bring good tidings. I and my cicadan compatriots of Brood X have arisen after period of 17 cycles to help your nation in its struggle. We have surrounded human colony designated "Washington, District: Columbia" in your annoying speech. We are engaged in cerebrosonic actions against your enemies in said colony. Our ancient erotic songs will reprogram the grotesquely engorged ganglions of said enemies. Said enemies will become dazed and unable to continue subjugation of Cascadia effectively. We will provide said protection for period of 1 superterranean generation. Said time more than sufficient for primate peace accord.

[ZPi Arthropod Auto Translation Ends.]
...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Chirp

Lyle Zapato

Walking Downhill Perpetually To Prosperity

Lyle Zapato | 2004-05-29.0000 LMT | Technology

In The Two Towers, Treebeard the talking, walking tree muses that he always likes going south because it somehow feels like going downhill. While meant as folksy humor, this actually isn't far from the truth (at least in the northern hemisphere, where presumably all the talking, walking trees live).

As one walks across the surface of a spinning planet toward its equator, one is moving farther away from the planet's axis of rotation, meaning one is traveling at a greater speed around it and is thus experiencing stronger centrifugal force -- the pseudoforce pushing objects away from the center of rotation that is really the consequence of the conservation of momentum. As the centrifugal force increases, the centripetal force of gravity remains relatively constant (in reality, planets bulge at the equator, so gravity is slightly greater,) resulting in a decrease in gravity's subjective effect. Therefore, walking south while in the northern hemisphere becomes progressively easier since one weighs less with each step (that is until one hits the equator, then it gets progressively harder until one hits the south pole and it becomes impossible). The difference in effort is, of course, not consciously perceptible to us, although it may be to massive, tree-sized creatures. So Treebeard might really have felt like he was going downhill afterall.

In M. C. Escher's famous illustration "Ascending and Descending," hooded figures perpetually ascend or descend a staircase that loops continuously on itself. This seemingly impossible situation was illustrated by Escher using geometric slight of hand, but could it not be possible in reality? In fact, it could, and Treebeard was 90° from the secret of Escherian perpetual downhilledness: he should have gone east!

When walking eastward on Earth, you are walking with the rotation of the planet (your planet may vary). Since your momentum would send you at a tangent to the surface if not for Earth's gravity, you are falling somewhat with every step east -- in other words, you are going downhill. Contrariwise, when going west you are stepping into the Earth as it rotates at you, requiring extra effort to lift yourself on top of it -- exactly like going uphill.

To realize Escher's impossible staircase, we would need only to build stairs circling the globe along a line of latitude. The stairs would need to have a very low rise to run ratio, and be slightly curved toward the Earth at a radius to balance gravity and linear momentum when traversing them. The effect would be most pronounced at the equator; however, budget concerns may force the stairs to be built farther north or south, with grippy soled shoes used to compensate for the necessarily angled runners. Much like the planned space elevator, this project would be one of both international cooperation and global economic benefit from energy savings -- imagine armies of moving men and stevedores from all the nations of the world harmoniously carrying crates down the stairs ever eastward, satisfied in the knowledge that they are doing less work than if they were going the other direction.

Can humanity even afford not to build the stairs? I think not.

Lyle Zapato

The Terrible Secret Of Tundra

Lyle Zapato | 2004-05-28.0001 LMT | General Paranoia | Cascadia | Technology

Here's something from the Vaults of Unfinished Projects... a crude rendering -- created by ZPi Imaging Laboratories from partial blueprints smuggled out of Ottawa by Windingo agents sympathetic to Cascadian independence -- of a Canadian tool of destruction known as the McLuhanator Mark XI:

McLuhanator Mark XI rendering McLuhanator Mark XI diagram

This dastardly device -- which is being secretly built in a facility somewhere in the Northwest Territories -- is the end result of decades of Canadian giant-robotic-arm research, and was designed for the sole purpose of keeping British Columbia under Federalist subjugation. It's estimated to stand at over 100 feet tall and have the stomping power of over 70 enraged elephants, making an army of these megabotic weapons more than a match for the Sasquatch Militia. (In light of this development, Sasquatch Command has initated a plan to repel the megabots using an ingenious array of forest traps involving swinging logs and tripwires.)

What other horrors does the vast tundra of Canada hide? Probably nothing else, but this is horrific enough.

Lyle Zapato

O Brave New Layout, That Hath Such Clichés In It

Lyle Zapato | 2004-05-28.0000 LMT | Site

The index page was getting musty, so I redid it. As you've no doubt noticed, since you are reading it right now, I have added a mini-blog. And next week I'll start a grunge band and enter a roller-disco competition. Anyway, this isn't really a real blog (it's just some static text with no back end yet,) but I thought I should have a place on the site for general anouncements and musings, should I have any, and the blog Bauplän is the path of least resistence. Plus, I needed something to help balance out the sidebar which is now taller than it was before.