memes

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I Finally Subscribed To PewDiePie

I have finally gone to the channel of the most successful YouTube personality and clicked "subscribe". I probably won't watch any of his videos but I wanted to do my part to keep him in the lead as 2019 starts. The story is that Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, got 5 million subscribers by 2013 — more than any other YouTube channel — and managed to hold onto that record for another five years. Today, it looks like his reign is about to end with the Indian media conglomerate T-series acquiring subscribers at a much faster rate. A live counter that I've started watching currently has PewDiePie at 79 million and T-series at 78 million.

This is roughly the same number of people who have ever bought a Nirvana album. The world of difference in perception is what piqued my interest when I first heard about PewDiePie. For an artist who becomes famous with the help of a record label, there is a massive gradient between the two extremes of "I'm a fan who buys albums" and "I've never heard of them". As such, I would expect almost everyone in Canada or the US to have some idea of what Nirvana is. Conversely, I've had plenty of people tell me that they've never heard of PewDiePie. 79 million people is enough to fill a country and a large one at that. But outside this community of loyal fans, any chance of a lasting impression has to compete with the trope of an entertainer chatting into his webcam everyday. PewDiePie is a reminder of the isolation that the Internet can bring and the surprise that can be felt upon learning how many people don't think what you thought "most people" think.

Rescuing GNU Talkfilters

Arch Linux recently produced a list of packages that cannot be built from source because of broken URLs. I had received messages like this before, and usually they simply indicate that the website for a package has changed. This happened a lot, for example, in 2016 when Google Code was shut down and replaced with a raw archive of project snapshots. So I expected that I would only have to do a little bit of searching when the notification came for GNU Talkfilters.

Instead, I could not find any up-to-date sites hosting the source. Every post about it still pointed to the old site with links that lead to 404 errors. It started to look like talkfilters had disappeared from the web. This is unacceptable for any free software project, especially one that ostensibly bears the "GNU" distinction. Because I had compiled the program on my own machine years ago, I was lucky enough to still have a copy of the source lying around. I promptly uploaded it to this very site and updated the Arch package accordingly. As a result, the crisis has been averted and free software users with nothing better to do are still free to apply chat filtering rules like this:

$ echo "Welcome friends, to a new home for GNU talkfilters!" | pirate
Welcome crew, t' a new home fer GNU talkfilters! Shiver me timbers!

2014 Cheekiness

Last year, I had two occassions to spend too much of the department's money within the same month. I would guess that the month was either March or April because I had just started playing 2048. And the 2048 craze happened after the Winter Olympics but before the World Cup. On that note I should pause to say that 2014 was a great year especially for a Canadian. I already can't wait until 2018.

A 2048 board showing the 4096 tile.

Anyway, the fun happened with prospective grad students who were considering UBC physics. During a visit like this, the department pays for a group of grad students to take the visitor out for lunch. With two of these emails that appeared, my reply was in the first batch.

Mispronunciation

Happy leap-day to anyone reading this! How often does a leap-year occur? It is not once every 4 years anymore. It is more like 97 times every 400 years! Adding a day once every 4 years would be correct if the year was 365.25 days long. This is what the Julian calendar did. But then it was discovered that a year is more like 365.2425 days which led to the Gregorian calendar. I like the story of how this was implemented. Centuries of not accounting for this difference caused a 10 day discrepancy between the night sky of 4 October 1582 and the night sky of 4 October in the year that the Julian calendar started. Therefore Pope Gregory XII pronounced that the next day would be 15 October 1582 making the month have 21 days.

The system now is to add an extra day to years that are divisible by 400 and to years that are divisible by 4 but not 100. This means that while the year 2000 was a leap-year, the year 2100 will not be. My prediction is that at least a few printed calendars will be incorrect in the year 2100.

Anyway, what I actually want to talk about is a series of Pronunciation Manual videos on YouTube. The channel parodies instructional language videos by telling you the worst possible way to pronounce something. The meme started in April 2011, I think as a way to take advantage of video monetization. It is stupid simple to make a PronunciationManual video. Each one is 8 seconds long and just consists of a printed word with a voice over.

Yo Dawg, I Heard You Like Guns...

Awhile ago, my friend showed me Pimp My Gun. This site has a Flash driven app that lets you assemble the weapon of your dreams. It is basically a drawing program that has a library of hundreds of firearm components. There is so much room for customization. I tried it out and came up with the following guns:

So we sent a gun salesman to your mother's house, so you can nag mum to buy a magnum!

Jungle camouflaged AUG

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