Improve the World by Complaining

I've bought recently lots of cheap trinkets from mainly Chinese eBay sellers. In about 1-3 cases out of 10 there is something objectively wrong with the item or it doesn't fit the description, so I send a reclamation and typically get my money back.

"Well, what do you expect?" I expect to get what I pay for. What it says on the tin. "Why waste your time?" Firstly, I have time, and secondly, I enjoy it. The small act of calling bullshit and taking a few dollars worth of stuff from a seller who wants to spread the gospel of "bullshitting is fine, caveat emptor" makes the world a tiny bit better place. If I'm scammed, it's not only my right but my responsibility to all who might follow me to do something about it.

[edit: The rest of the post details the process of buying specifically a fake 64GB thumb drive. This is a waste of time: although the drives have 16GB of working memory, it stops working after a while. If you want to do it anyway to waste the time and money of the sellers, hats of to you of course.]

If you don't want to buy anything specific and still want to better the world by complaining, here's my tip: USB thumb drives . A small step by step guide:


Latin Declension and Pronouns

The meat of the chart is the topmost table with an overview of the different declensions and their genders. In English and Finnish. As with the conjugations, I've tried to make it clear and concise enough to be printed in BW on an A4 paper.


Latin Conjugation

I went recently to a Latin course, and made myself a concise reference of Latin conjugation. Doesn't include imperatives, infinitives, participles, or gerunds. Available in English, Latin, and Finnish. I've added highlighting on some of the points that might be easy to forget. Please report if you find any mistakes.


Vanhassa suomessa vara parempi

[Alternative ways of writing Finnish.]

Suomen salonkikelpoistaminen oli kaiken kaikkiaan oikein onnistunut projekti, kiitos vaan kaikillle fennomaaneille haudoissaan. Joitakin pikku yksityiskohtia kuitenkin korjaisin, jos voisin.


Managing Expectations

If you send a reclamation about subpar stuff from China, you'll likely get back generic copypasta. These guys have taken it a step further, and printed it on the packaging. I guess you can reconstruct the most typical complaint from this, being something like "the picture quality is shit, you're a bunch of amateurs"..? Or maybe it's just Chinglish. Maybe.

Now, the camera met my expectations quite well, even exceeded them (it worked out of the box, after all, and cost $7), so I have no "overexpectation in my mind", which makes the statement on the box a damned lie. Where's my overexpectation?! You just can't win, I guess.


Faking Font Faces in XeTeX

I wanted to use Linux Biolinum, specifically a bold italic face, in XeTeX. Unfortunately it only has faces for bold and italic, not both. So this is how you fake it:



A rechargeable lamp, built from 4 USB components. A lamp, a switch, a 2-cell power bank (with salvaged cells), a wall plug , 2 cables, 2 hairbands.  Pretty inconvenient, but I like the modularity and color scheme.

(Interesting how USB became the standard for delivering DC power. Good riddance, proprietary power plugs. I fear the day they implement DRM in USB power delivery, and you can't charge your phone without special Company X iElectricity® ($99.99).)

Nuggets of Finnish

"Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo"? "James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher"? Finnish won't be left second on the noble fields of grammatical ambiguity and trickery. Here are a few examples with interlinear glosses for those who want to know what's going on. Obviously not for people who think that overanalyzing sucks the fun out of anything... Quite the contrary, right?!



A while ago I ordered a bunch of laser cut stuff from Ponoko (see previous post for one), among them 1:24 scale miniature furniture. I finally finished assembling the most complicated one, a mirror chiffonier. Here's a short writeup.


Edge-Lit Display

I had some clear acrylic laser-cut into 10 number plates, stuck some LEDs to them, taped with copper tape, and voilà.



I watched a bunch of videos about bookbinding and decided to make a book. It's a bit time consuming but quite simple, you only require paper, cardboard, string, and cloth.



 Having scribbled different types of rotational artificial gravity configurations and having started watching Voyager, an inspiration to model spacecraft hit me.


Comic Textures in Blender

I've played a bit with faking comic rasters/hatching and line art in Blender. There are numerous ways to implement this, and here's one.


Hyperbolic Crocheting

You've seen these. Very easy to make, try it! This thing is about 8 rows of single crochet (UK double crochet), with two stitches per loop, ie. doubling the stitches each row.



For the longest time I've had a pack of Sculpey (polymer clay) but no inspiration to actually do anything with it. The subject should be something simple, and simple and clean-cut not only in form, but as a character. I started doing Ayumu "Osaka" Kasuga from Azumanga Daioh, but it got nowhere. Then came the ponies, and Fluttershy the ridiculously sweet pony emerged as a suitable subject.



  Marimos (毬藻, Aegagropila linnaei) are about as simple a plant you can have. They are a species of algae found in lakes in Iceland and Japan, among other places. You can buy them from pet shops as Moss Balls (beware of 'fakes', ie. balls of moss) and are content with occasional change of water.



Mosses are cool. Very low key, humble, yet infinitely varied and subtly colourful.


What to do when you're bored and on a shoestring budget? Get a shoestring, and experience countless hours of FUN and EXCITEMENT!


Aquarium Light

I found myself in need of an aquarium light. Commercial lights were unsatisfactory or expensive, and I have the time, so I decided to make one myself. If anyone is interested in replicating this, here are the instructions:


Constructed Scripts

I love the idea of constructed languages, but unfortunately I suck at grammar, so my creations have never gone beyond sketches. Only field of conlanging that comes naturally, are the scripts. Not even usable scripts, just scripts without any sound nor meaning assigned to them. Here are some samples.


Nuggets of Culture

I'm always haunted by the feeling that things are going on in the world that I know nothing of. Whole fields of experience that have brilliant people pouring their lives into them, and I'm missing them just because the knowledge of their existence hasn't hit me. Partly because of cultural barriers, partly because of narrow field of social interaction...

Anyway, here's a small, growing list of some possibly hidden nuggets for people with the same itch. The kind of things I would have wanted to be told about if I didn't know about them.

Tuna Cheese Sandwich

Here's something for cold winter days. About 5 minutes in preparation.


The Mannequin

I've made a few geometric squickles on Shapeways, but this has been by far my most ambitious and time consuming project.

Here's some pictures and a short tutorial for anyone interested in the basic workflow I used in Blender.

Dice & Diamond Lattice

Last year I sent a few projects to Ponoko to be laser cut from transparent acrylic. Here's some impressions on the process and the results.


Inspired by some other bloggers , to force myself to do something, and to remind myself that I've done something, here's a blog. I'll be writing short write-ups on my past, and possible future projects. This will not be the only post, but possibly 50% of all posts. We'll see.