This news article from Declan McCullagh (of Politech fame) regarding the proposed CAPPS-II system should be a ray of sunshine in your day. The Senate Commerce Committee has voted to increase the official monitoring of the passenger profiling system the Transportation Security Administration wants to create. Unfortunately they don't want to cancel it entirely but they do want to place more restrictions upon what kinds of information about passengers will be stored and for how long they'll be stored.
However, this Senate committe's report on the CAPPS-II system will remain classified - it's "for internal use only" (gotta love those words). There's talk on the Politech mailing list about something called the Air Cargo Security Act, which was introduced in 15 January 2003. I havn't read it all the way through yet as I'm sitting in a lab waiting for class to start, so my commentary on it will be necessarily brief until I get a chance to actually sit down and analyse it. Its name is pretty logical - it's aimed at cargo-carrying aircraft within the boundries of the United States. It calls for regular inspections of air freight shipping facilities, and allows for the periodic inspection of said cargo to ensure that security protocols are being followed and no one's trying to sneak something in that they shouldn't. Seems about right, no?
There is also a measure (section 44923, part 'a') for the creation of a database of organisations that ship stuff aboard passenger aircraft, which is pretty common these days. Seems all right.. Random inspections of air carrier facilities is mentioned in subpart 1.. screening of flight crews of said carrier craft... down in the very last paragraph, however (section 6, part c, paragraph 4) we have the following text:
4) SUSPENSION OF PROCEDURAL NORMS- Neither chapter 5 of title 5, United States Code, nor the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall apply to the program required by this section.
You'll want to dig this up on your own - don't take my word for it. USC title 5 chapter 5 deals with "..cooperatively study mutual problems, exchange information...", otherwise known as the public being able to look at the text of the criteria this bill calls for. The Freedom of Information Act. If this goes through there's no way that anyone outside of the US Government will be able to examine what criteria they're going by.
I'll let you think about what this could mean for a while...
Let's see... for some reason I forgot to gas up my car when I left the lab this morning for campus. By the time I found a parking space up on the hill the 'low gas' indicator had gone off. Because I'm parked on a hill I really can't be sure how much petrol is left in the tank but I hope it's enough to make it to the gas station on the outskirts of CMU. This is going to be a close one. I just hope that I've got my AAA card if I'm wrong..
I think I know how to finish my algorithms project now. I'm sitting in recitation, and after going over it for a while I think I made it too complex. In particular, the recursive algorithm I've been trying to get working is too complex. The base case is fine, but the rest of it.. ye gods.
"To iterate is human; to recurse divine."
I'm not evolved enough to be divine yet. Time to go to v3.0.
Lyssa turned me on to No Pudge brownies not too long ago.. and now I'm hooked. It's a pre-made baking mix (which ordinarily I avoid like the plague) which you mix with yogurt and bake for a while. Thirty-three minutes later... they're amazing. They're so soft you'd swear that they're not done baking, but indeed they are. I found it at the Giant Eagle just down the street with the baking goods. I'm saving the rest of the yogurt for breakfast tomorrow, maybe I'll mix it with an apple and some spice, cinnamon or clove.
After dinner tonight I headed out to try to find a copy of Aliens: Special Edition to watch for the sci-fi literature exam on Tuesday. The phrase 'special edition' ensures that it won't be available when you actually need it. I got lucky and found a copy at a tiny video store not too far away from the mall earlier tonight... after driving around for two hours hunting for a copy. Media Play doesn't have it.. Suncoast doesn't have it.. Amazon doesn't have it (I checked last night).. Best Buy doesn't have it.. Blockbuster doesn't even have it for rent.. life sucks sometimes.
Song that best describes life right now: Bon Jovi - Living On A Prayer
Boring day. 'nuff said. Discussed Aliens in sci-fi literature today. The discussion got farther off topic than normal. Everyone shouting out the names of action flicks where the hero was even a little bit 'sensitive' got really annoying. I considered throwing Jack Dante from Death Machine into the mix to stir things up but decided against it.
It was supposed to rain today? This is news...
More to come if and when something happens.
Well, a few things did happen today. I almost got stuck in an elevator on my way to formal logic class. Apparantly elevator #2 in that particular building is a little bit weird - sometimes it doesn't go in the direction you want it to and sometimes the doors don't open. These aren't good signs - the building is less than a year old! After that particular class I had to run to the bookstore to pick up an umbrella to use because I didn't have mine on me and it was raining much more strongly. I'd rather drop the $6us on one than get sick again, especially with two exams next week (sci-fi lit and formal logic)
After that I made a short side trip to the bank so I could pay my bills tonight. It turns out that the teller knew my aunt and uncle about twenty-five years ago and has been trying to find them since my grandmother's funeral in 1987. She gave me her contact information, I'm going to pass it along to them this weekend. John C. Lilly, thou art avenged.
I paid my bills earlier this evening and filled out the documents to get health insurance. I don't have any insurance because I'm too old to be on my folks' insurance plans and I'm not working right now so I don't have any coverage of my own. I'm looking about about $530.00us/month, which is a kick between wind and water but will, on the whole, suck less than being hospitalised for something and having to pay for the entire thing out of my pocket. Sometimes you've got to grit your teeth and take the shot, no pun intended.
Today opened to a bit of unscheduled excitement, a close encounter of the butt-head kind. I was on my way to class, in a bit of a hurry due to getting a late start this morning, when someone down on the Pitt campus decided to make a left at speed and almost take me out as I was crossing the road (on the green, mind you). I was a little more than halfway over, maybe three-quarters when I saw the pickup make the turn southward and accelerate. I was close enough to the truck by the time I started running for my lives that I could see that the chrome on the grille was chipped in a few places and there were dead maple leaves stuck against the radiator. By this time I'd entered that unique state of mind that I suppose precedes a messy death. As far as I can tell my conscious mind had completely shut down; there was no internal dialogue or processing of information that I can recall. My body put its head down and started pumping its limbs as hard as they could at a full sprint. Somewhere deep inside me I felt an utter calm, complete resignation to whatever might happen, be it safety or inner-city succotash.
Descartes' arguments aside I appear to be sitting in front of a terminal in the computer lab reading Slashdot and writing this update. I made it, though not without the odd blasphemy once I'd gotten onto the sidewalk, well away from the reach of speeding motor vehicles. I must admit, I was unnerved by the fact that the driver of said truck slowed down to get a good look at me. By this time my higher cognitive processes had started back up and were fully expecting him to jump out of the truck and start beating the living hell out of me. This did not come to pass, either.
Nothing like passing Death on your way to American Cultures class early in the morning, nosireebob. Gets the hearts going, let me tell you.
Oh, Death says 'hi'. She's been a bit busy of late to stop in for tea.
This just hit the Politech mailing list, and I think word needs to get out. If you'll recall a few days ago, the UK Observer published a news article about the US using some dirty tricks to get more votes for its war effort in the UN. Someone got hold a memo written by the NSA which states that information regarding how the 'middle six' countries (Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Mexico, Guina, and Pakistan) will vote, as well as information about their points of view on various war-related topics. If you'd like to read the memo for yourself you can catch it here at the Observer or my mirror of it here (done without the permission of the UK Observer or the NSA).
Well, someone was arrested over this incident. An employee of the GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) went down for leaking this memo. A 28 year old woman was arrested last week on suspicion of violating the Official Secrets Act. She is out on bail right now but undoubtedly in deep trouble.
Food for thought, cats and kitties.
Very quick entry for you, I'm kind of busy right now. Remember a few weeks ago, that little girl who died after being given a heart and lungs that not only weren't antigen-compatible, but not even compatible with her Rhesus factor (blood type)? That isn't the only time it's happened. This is about a similiar incident last summer.
I fell a lot better today. Got a decent, full night's sleep last night, which I'm actually surprised about. Woke up this morning not feeling like an organ donor. My mind's actually running decently right now. I tried coding for my project (due on Monday) last night but didn't make too much headway. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to convert an extremely large integer stored as ASCII characters into an extremely large binary value (also stored as ASCII characters) and I'm coming up short. I know that it can be done with a combination of modulus math, division, and subtraction, but the logistics of it aren't coming together for me right now. Maybe I'll take my body offline when I get home from class to think about it for a couple of hours. It's tricky but it can definitely be done. I just have to wrap my brain around it.
Why can't insulated mugs hold in heat worth a tinker's dam? I bought an alulminum one specially for class and by the time I actually got at it the coffee was nastily cold. Maybe the fact that it's 13 degrees Farenheit outside has something to do with it.
Here's a lurid thought for you.. project Echelon has been reported to have been instrumental in the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. In case the name isn't familiar (and it probably shouldn't be, because the news media doesn't really use his name), Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was one of the big guys in Al Quaida who was nicked a couple of days ago. It's said that the Echelon was used to monitor the cellular telephones (prepaid, no less) that KSM was using to communicate with with other members. Once they'd sussed the code of a particular phone they were able to triangulate his position, probably from the reception cells that the phone was interfaced with. If this article isn't jetwash then this says a lot for how difficult it is to communicate privately anymore. Once a unique identifier has been gotten for a given phone it's just a matter of time before they start moving in on it every time you use it.
Well, after clearing a few things up with the professor of my algorithms class, I've now got a good idea of what to do for my project. Thank Kibo, I don't have to translate an array of digits into a single, gigantic binary string, I get to keep doing denary (base-10) math. I've spent the past few hours figuring out what's what, and discovered that the code I'd written and discarded is the way to go. I keep lots of backups. No more Mr. Nice Coder.
The Pittsburgh Comicon is coming up at the end of April, the 25-27 to be precise. I might try to make it to both this and Tekkoshocon as well this year. "Why?" you may be asking. David Mack is going to be there again. Yes, David Mack, creator of Kabuki. Possibly my favourite comic ever. I wouldn't be going to get anything autographed, I've already got a copy of Circle of Blood autographed by him (I need to get a new copy, actually, because the binding broke), I'd be going because he's just that cool. Mack's a nice guy; if he's not up to his neck in fans he's very personable and very witty. He was fun to talk to, and I wouldn't mind repeating the experience.
I'm not sure if I feel like a zombie today or not. After finishing my research paper last night I tried staying awake, I really did. I think I went to bed around 2330 last night, much earlier than normal. I just felt drained, as if I'd tapped the last of my reserves and was hanging onto consciousness by sheer force of will. It feels kind of like depression but not. There's a bit of muzziness in there as well, some tiredness, and a lot of don't-want-to-move. I don't feel worried or obsessed with anything right now, which is really the weird thing. When I start using up my reserves of strength it's usually because I've been worrying about something too much. I havn't been, or at least I don't think that I have.
I think I got a grand total of two hours of sleep last night. I didn't drop off until 0130 or so and then I think I was out for about an hour. The rest of the night is a bunch of eyeblinks and glimpses in my memory records - up a little, out a little, some tossing and turning, and lots of phantom sensory input. Lots of pieces of past conversations, visual memories of the past few days, songs stuck in my head.. it's as if my sensory memory system decided to verify everything it'd stored over spring break.
In hindsight I may just have been dreaming very, very strongly. The quality of the state I was in very dense, almost like walking around.
I've got a weird, disconnected sort of feeling now behind my eyes and forehead (or at least this is how it feels right now) that mimics sleep deprivation but isn't quite it. I feel like I should curl up somewhere and take a nap but I know that sleep won't come if I do so. It'll just be a waste of effort. Besides, if I did sleep I'd probably miss my next class. I'm trying to figure out what might have done it but I really don't know. I didn't over-do things over break, in fact I was pretty laid back about everything, or at least I like to think so.
Not long after I'd written that last entry I decided to get a cup of coffee at the cafe' downstairs. I don't know if it was the caffeine that helped my headache or if it was not having any caffeine in my system, but it cleared up my head pretty nicely. Maybe I shouldn't have gone back to drinking coffee recreationally over spring break... after that I wandered around the city for a couple of hours to kill time. Even after studying I had time on my hands, I wish I'd brought all of those Phantom Dollars that have been piling up in my room, I could have cashed them in for something. Oh, well. Maybe later.
I'm finally back at home and tired. Maybe I'll take a nap before dinner.
This just in - if you can help it avoid the Mad Mex restaurant in the part of Pittsburgh, PA called Oakland (for readers who don't live around here but mind come to this city one day) - three of the eight people I ate dinner with there on Saturday came down with food poisoning. Don't go there.
Just great. In sweeping the spam out of my mailbox today I discovered that some spammer had decided to forge my e-mail address as the source of his waste of disk space. Fuck. Time to haul out the big guns. The point of origin was Korea, of all places.
Okay - here's the information for you, in case you'd like to preemptively take action so you don't get nailed by this as well:
drwho@leandra:~$ whois 188.8.131.52 % [whois.apnic.net node-1] % How to use this server http://www.apnic.net/db/ % Whois data copyright terms http://www.apnic.net/db/dbcopyright.html inetnum: 184.108.40.206 - 220.127.116.11 netname: KORNET descr: KOREA TELECOM descr: Network Management Center country: KR admin-c: DL248-AP tech-c: GK40-AP remarks: ****************************************** remarks: Allocated to KRNIC Member. remarks: If you would like to find assignment remarks: information in detail please refer to remarks: the KRNIC Whois Database at: remarks: http://whois.nic.or.kr/english/index.html remarks: ****************************************** mnt-by: MNT-KRNIC-AP mnt-lower: MNT-KRNIC-AP changed: email@example.com 20010924 status: ALLOCATED PORTABLE source: APNIC person: Dong-Joo Lee address: 128-9 Yeong-Dong Jongro-Ku Seoul address: Network Management Center country: KR phone: +82-2-766-1407 fax-no: +82-2-766-6008 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org nic-hdl: DL248-AP mnt-by: MAINT-NEW changed: email@example.com 20010425 source: APNIC person: Gyung-Jun Kim address: KORNET address: 128-9, Yeong-Dong, Jongro-Ku address: SEOUL address: 110-763 country: KR phone: +82-2-747-9213 fax-no: +82-2-3673-5452 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org nic-hdl: GK40-AP mnt-by: MNT-KRNIC-AP changed: email@example.com 20010906 source: APNIC inetnum: 18.104.22.168 - 22.214.171.124 netname: KORNET-XDSL-ANYANG-KR descr: ANYANG NODE descr: 445 ANYANG5DONG MANANKU ANYANGSI descr: KYONGGI descr: 430-015 country: KR admin-c: GP1968-KR tech-c: WK8128-KR remarks: This IP address space has been allocated to KRNIC. remarks: For more information, using KRNIC Whois Database remarks: whois -h whois.nic.or.kr mnt-by: MNT-KRNIC-AP remarks: This information has been partially mirrored by APNIC from remarks: KRNIC. To obtain more specific information, please use the remarks: KRNIC whois server at whois.krnic.net. changed: firstname.lastname@example.org 20030303 source: KRNIC person: GilSoon Park descr: KOREA TELECOM descr: 128-9 Youngundong Chongroku descr: SEOUL descr: 110-460 country: KR phone: +82-2-747-9213 fax-no: +82-2-766-5901 e-mail: email@example.com nic-hdl: GP1968-KR mnt-by: MNT-KRNIC-AP remarks: This information has been partially mirrored by APNIC from remarks: KRNIC. To obtain more specific information, please use the remarks: KRNIC whois server at whois.krnic.net. changed: firstname.lastname@example.org 20030303 source: KRNIC person: Won Kang descr: KOREA TELECOM descr: 128-9 Youngundong Chongroku descr: SEOUL descr: 110-460 country: KR phone: +82-2-747-9213 fax-no: +82-2-766-5901 e-mail: email@example.com nic-hdl: WK8128-KR mnt-by: MNT-KRNIC-AP remarks: This information has been partially mirrored by APNIC from remarks: KRNIC. To obtain more specific information, please use the remarks: KRNIC whois server at whois.krnic.net. changed: firstname.lastname@example.org 20030303 source: KRNIC
Since then I've interrogated KRNIC's whois server for more information and sent complaints to everyone listed as a contact, as well as the usual destinations (spam@, postmaster@, legal@, et cetera), and sadly enough the contact people's accounts are suspended. This isn't a good sign. I'm waiting for the clueless to start bombarding me with "Stop spamming me" messages because they don't know how to read SMTP headers. Fuck. Just what I wanted to deal with this week.
I just discovered something else - I forgot to activate my new debit card. It came in the mail yesterday, much earlier than usual (yay, bank). I just tried to use it to reopen a subscription, however, and was turned down... I forgot to activate it. Damn. I've got to run out today and hit an ATM to activate my card before I can use it, now.
I've found a reason to have the TV on, even if it's just for background noise: VH-1 Classic. Last night after I got home I spent the night watching videos from Gary Numan and Dead or Alive, and I just saw the video for Axel F (yes, there's a music video). I'm a happy Time Lord, I finally got to see a Gary Numan video. I've just found happiness on cable, or as close an analogue to it as possible.
Now I want to set my keyboards back up.. damn carpal tunnel syndrome, I want to jam again.
..and a fine night it was. Early last night I drove out to LARP to finish off spring break among friends and a good escapist plot. Before heading out I hit the local supermarket for supplies. Patrick had mentioned that he'd be making clam chowder, so I picked up a loaf of sunflower bread (amazing stuff, try it whenever you get the chance!), some pretzels, and a flat of rolls to go along with them. I honestly hadn't counted on other people bringing the same thing.. oh well. During the game itself I think we broke the new players... the Pittsburgh plots tend to be rough in the Lovecraftian sense. It's amazing that there aren't more characters walking around with derangements of some sort, but I digress.
Afterward we hit the local Eat and Park for dessert and decompression. That was one of the most fun times I've had in a long time.. spoke to Lu and Nicole about a lot of things, including the possibility of cosplaying at Tekkoshocon as part of the cast of X and a few other things that have been going on lately. Nicole was offered a job out west, which she accepted. I'm proud of her, I really am.. it's very hard to get employment at this particular company, and they've got a reputation for finding talent, which she's got in spades. This is the brass ring for her, and it brought joy to my hearts that she grabbed it when she had the chance. Opportunities like this don't happen very often. Patrick is getting married in the near future (gods.. everyone I know is either engaged or getting married soon), and I've been invited to the wedding. Wow... I've definitely accepted the invitation. I'll be there barring the most unusual of circumstances. Let's see... what else is going on...
Not much at all, actually. I'm chewing on the data from my research project and writing the paper up itself. I've got to make some more headway on that so I can go out tonight. I've got an invite to someone's house for the evening that I'm going to follow through on. Beyond that, what's going on today is anyone's guess.
I'm amazed at how comfortable it is outside right now - it actually broke 50.
I've got some thoughts about things that I'd like to turn into an essay at some point. Maybe I'll start working on them during break this afternoon and I'll get them refined and written up this week. I havn't decided yet.
It never fails.. a few months ago, Dataline found on clearance somewhere a few pairs of jet-black canvas carpenter paints.. I wasn't much interested in them as a style until I tried them on. They're incredibly comfortable.. or they were until I washed them. For once I followed the laundry instructions on the tag, and I've since discovered that they've shrunk ever so slightly. Not so much in the parts that were loose to begin with, but in the waist. They've lost about an inch of space. And no, I havn't gained any weight... when I first got these pants I actually weighted a few pounds more than I do now. I'm trying to stretch them right now, but I'm afraid of damaging the fasteners. Maybe I'll rig up some sort of weight apparatus tonight to pull them apart some. They don't have much breathing space anymore.
So much for reading the fine manual.
Today's shaping up to be another slow day. I'm going to be doing a bit of work on the first draft of my research paper today and I've got a standing request to shovel the driveway and front steps this afternoon. I'll probably do that in a couple of hours, if only to rest my wrists. My current gameplan is to write the introduction and an outline of the methodology that I used for my research and then start boiling the data down to draw conclusions from either this afternoon or tomorrow. I'm not in any rush, and that's actually deliberate: By taking my time and moving more slowly than normal, there's less of a chance of screwing up. I've got time, I'm going to take the best advantage of it that I can. It also gives me a chance to bring the 'writing things' parts of my mind back on line.
The Cowboy Bebop movie is coming to theatres in April. Apparently the test-showings early last year panned out for Sony and they'll be releasing it nationally. Readers in Berkeley, CA, Cambridge, MA, Minneapolis, MN, Seattle, WA, and Washington, D.C. will probably want to see it when it opens. I hope it gets a better treatment than, say, Mononoke Hime did way back when. Then again, Disney's not releasing it so it's got a better chance. The fact that CB is shown regularly on the Cartoon Network doesn't hurt, either.
It's spring break, for Kibo's sake... why in the hell is it snowing?
Early this morning, in the hinterland between dreams, I recall laying in bed listening to Dataline and my grandfather talking in the hallway. They had heated words about the buses running out here, not being able to get into work, and freezing one's ass off standing outside waiting for a bus that might not come. That's about it. The next thing I remember is my alarm going off and stumbling out of bed to get a shower. A brief detour into the living room once I'd rubbed the sleepers out of my eyes and a peek through the window showed Dataline waiting at the bus stop for the bus into town. There wasn't much I could do there so I doubled back and took a shower. A some point after that I heard the front door open and someone walk in. The roads, she said, were a sheet of ice, too slippery for a bus to make it safely. She was frozen and had given up. While I was getting dressed she called off of work.
This is the winter that just won't die. Every time it starts getting nice again and we can see the plants another blast of snow comes through and buries everything. At this rate it'll be April before the temperature breaks 50 degrees Farenheit again.
For those of you who remember reading about Delta Airlines running background checks on prospective passengers, this may interest you: BoycottDelta.com. So far, the CAPPS-II system is only in place at three airports around the United States, all of which are being kept secret at present (probably because if word got out those three airports would be empty so fast of passengers that their heads would spin). Take a look at the site and decide for yourself. As for me, I'm not going to be flying Delta anytime soon.
Props to dis.org crew for hosting that site. The respect keeps adding up.
And here's some news that I guarantee won't make it onto the television nets anytime soon - the city council of Pittsburgh, PA has voted unanimously against the war on Iraq. Pittsburgh is now one of 130 cities in the United States of America to take a stand against this vendetta. Spread the word.
It figures. I just tried posting the above link to a couple of mailing lists I'm on, and Telerama's SMTP server is screwed up again - I can't send mail from there. I hate it when that happens. It's always stuff like this.
I've just finished hacking on my fourth coding project for the afternoon. Starting from an algorithm given in the text book I've rewritten it four times now, each time refining it a little, making it a bit more understandable (the textbook we use is horrible for having understandable examples), tweaking it to do what I want it to do, and maybe even making it a bit more efficient. I havn't tried typing it in yet but so far I'm pretty proud of myself. We'll see how long that lasts once I start keying it in.
Telerama's SMTP server is up again. Whee.
Minor correction on that news article from earlier - the city of Pittsburgh opposes going to war without the sanction of the United Nations. Thanks, Emerald.
I've just fallen in love with my favourite art site, 2003/03/05
It's Mardi Gras?
Not much is going on today. I've been analysing the data collected for my research project for most of today, and I've got some coding and formal logic homework racked up for later today. Right now I'm taking a break, watching the DVD of Wargames that Dataline gave me a few weeks ago. I should also do some more reading for sci-fi literature soon but I think that can wait until after dinner.
You know what? I'm really enjoying this. No stress, no strain, no rush.. no fsck(1)ing deadlines to worry about. Downtime, pure and simple.
Well, today's been pretty productive, even though it doesn't mean any homework getting done. I really don't care at the moment. After breakfast I headed out to run a few errands. Dataline needed to get two of her wrist watches repaired so I dropped them off at a local jeweler and then wandered around for a while, killing time. I did some window shopping, went into a few stores to see what was what, wondered what happened to the music stores at the mall (they're gone, they're all gone..), then picked up her copy of The Ring that I'd put on reserve over the weekend. After that I drove back in to Giant Eagle to play my grandfather's numbers. True to form, the lottery counter was closed. My family's got their theories as to why it's closed more often than not, but I don't feel like getting into them right now. Suffice it to say that the store chain as a whole is really starting to piss us off.
I spent some time back in the magazine rack catching up, reading Adbusters and Starlog, then headed back. The counter was open so I did the deed, then headed over to the bank to cancel my debit card. They're going to kill the number first thing tomorrow so the charges I made today will go through without any trouble. I should have a replacement next week.
At Mediaplay I discovered, much to my horror, that the original pilot movie of Forever Knight, called Nick Knight unimaginatively enough, was released on DVD. I almost bought it, I really did. It's horrible; it does the series no justice at all (just like the third season). But it's still the beginning, of sorts, when the writers were trying things out. I havn't seen it in forever, pardon the pun. Maybe if I get a gift certificate or something I'll pick it up, but not right now. I've still got those DVDs Dataline gave me for my birthday sitting there, I should watch those first.
Frank Herbert fans rejoice (or cringe, depending on how much of a purist you are)! The Sci-Fi Channel will be showing its second Dune movie, The Children of Dune as a three part miniseries starting on Sunday, 16 March 2003 at 2100 EST. I'm definitely setting aside a videocassette for this one. It's supposed to combine elements of the second and third novels, Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. Frankly, I don't know how well this is going to work out, I just started reading Dune Messiah (with my luck, I'm reading them out of order - I'm going by copyright date), but I'm really interested in seeing what kind of job they did on it.
I'm watching X: Three right now. Episode seven opens with.. Satsuki. Nice way to open the day, I think... the girl whom computers adore brings a warm and fuzzy feeling to my hearts, I must admit.
I might change whom I'm cosplaying as at Tekkoshocon in a few weeks. *grin*
Well, I just got a lovely phone call. Remember back in February, when word got out that one of the big credit card transaction houses was cracked and several million credit card numbers were copied from their databases? I just got a call from my bank.. they're cancelling my card because they think it might have been one of the cards stolen. I've got to go to the bank tomorrow and requisition a new card, and then figure out where my recurring charges are so I can direct them to the new card once I get the new one. I needed a new card, anyway, but for Pete's sake... this is going to screw things up a good bit.
Aah, well. Better that then getting a bill at the end of the month two inches thick.
Security hole in Sendmail, film at eleven.
I've been doing a little studying this afternoon. After I finished watching X I watched The Boondocks Saints (which is steadily working its way up my list of favourite movies) and did some work on my research project. Then I did a bit of reading for science fiction literature. Right now I'm tracking down some handouts for my algorithms class, I'd like to get in a little work on my next project tonight. It doesn't seem too difficult, it's basically implementing a class to handle bignum computation (like multiplying extremely large numerical values). I just finished my laundry for the week; throw in a load, let it go, throw it in the dryer, let it go, rinse, repeat.
If the first thing you thought when you read that was 'cryptography', you're right. We've been discussing it in class lately. But it isn't a crypto project, it's more to profile algorithms than anything else. I'm hoping to find the handout that covers the one algorithm that doesn't appear to be in the textbook because it's specifically required for this asisgnment.
Oh, by the way.. I found out what I got on my second assignment - 100%
Such are the days when you don't have to worry about going to class, you can take your time on what you have to do, and goof off a little while doing so. If only all of life was this low-stress.
Okay, another of those weird Live Journal quizzes - "How Nintendo are you?"
I love the game Double Dragon so I don't mind the personality analysis being completely off-target.
Last night Swift Fox and Sil cancelled game night, so John, Lara, Lyssa, and I got together with some friends in Squirrel Hill to watch movies and relax. They rented some of the worst anime I've ever seen and we sat around MSTing it. If you've never heard the term before, MST (pronounced 'mist') stands for Mystery Science Theatre 3000, which was a television show based around the premise of a man being forced to watch horrible science fiction movies and keeping his sanity by heckling the movies with two friends, a pair of robots. I strongly search hitting up Google for the what and wherefore of MST3k, you won't be sorry.
Anyway, the night started off with FLCL by Gainax. There were only two episodes on the DVD, and that was quite enough. Between the reused ideas from Shin Seki Evangerion and the abuse of the two sound effects CDs that Gainax seems to have around it studios, I couldn't take a great deal of it. John and I wound up heading outside about halfway through for a cigarette. After that it just got worse. I've had hallucinations that were more coherent. And don't get me started on the.. suggestive, let us say... bumps on the head the lead character kept getting.
Everything we watched after that was just silly. They weren't nearly as bad, just laughable. I was actually entertained by that. Then there was the obligatory round or two of Dance Dance Revolution. The meme's spread out of control, of this I've no doubt. Damned lot of fun, though - I plan on getting a pad at some point so I can play it on my Playstation (as if I've got the cash for a PSX-2, even though the music for DDR Max is so much better). In the long run I plan on getting a PSX-to-USB adaptor for a DDR pad so I can play PyDDR on Leandra. I love the idea of being able to play to whatever sound files I care to throw at the Python sound libraries, like .mp3 or .mod files. Oh, and putting .mpeg files on for the backgrounds (or Xscreensaver hacks...) gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. But now I'm digressing.
Afterward we headed back to John and Lara's to crash for the night as Lyssa was supposed to leave for home around 0630 this morning. I drove her out to the terminal and saw her off safely. Afterward I headed back to the lab and caught a couple of hours of sleep. Once I had a bite to eat and took a shower I headed out to wander around the city for a while. First stop was Target to get more tennis socks; because I don't normally wear shoes while I'm at home or visiting someone, they get pretty torn up after a few months. I've been throwing the old ones out about once every two days and now I'm running a little low. That done I headed over to the mall to see what's changed in the past three months. The answer to that, incidentally, is 'not much'.
I hit Media Play first and foremost. Dataline wanted me to pick up a copy of The Ring for her but it technically hasn't been released yet, so I put a copy on reserve for her; the $10us discount made it an attractive deal. I also picked up a copy of X: Three and Boondocks Saints while I was there. While I was in town I figured that I'd get some button cells for my laser pointer. I discovered that they'd gone dead at some point in the recent past and figured 'why not?' Babbage's didn't have a whole lot of stuff. They havn't in years, actually, but now they have little more than games for the PC and the various game systems; the used stuff they have is nice but unless you've got a use for it there isn't much there. Not even collectibles anymore. Waldenbooks is much the same way right now, I hate to say it. Barnes and Noble and Borders have much better selections of just about everything. Then again they're also much larger storefronts. Electronics Boutique had marginally more stuff that was interesting. One thing that did catch my eye was the price they had on DDR pads for the PSX - $18.99us. I nearly bought one today, save for the fact that this week's the only time I'll be able to really use it for anything for a while; after that it'll have to wait until after graduation. Not only that, but you tend to get what you pay for, and a DDR pad for that kind of price doesn't make me think that it'll last very long.
After a little more wandering around I drove over to Toys-R-Us to see what was going on over there. It amazes me, the things that they have for kids now. The toys are so shiny and easy to mess around with.. they do so much.. but I can't help but wonder about what this does to the imaginations of children. By making toys with so much flexibility and so many options, does this, in some way, limit the ways in which the developing mind can work? Having a large yet fixed number of options tends to set limits on where your imagination can take you; generous limits, to be sure, but limits nonetheless. I think that they make the universe look that much smaller when you're younger, and children learn to think smaller as a result. This tendency, this restricted vision of the universe doesn't leave you as you grow up. The world looks static and simple when it really isn't. The world loses some of its wonder, some of its amazement, some of its novelty. Maybe even some of its spirit.
This article is darkly amusing, I think. After all of its bitching and threatening about chemical warfare on the part of Iraq the United States wants to start using pepper spray and CS gas to smoke out Iraqi forces. The spin of this article is interesting, they use the word 'toxic' a few times, almost to throw the idea back in the face of the United States. They do have a point, though - if the US is going to condemn chemobiological warfare on someone else's part they shouldn't be so quite so quick to consider its use on their own part. The irony tastes of bourbon.
For Kibo's sake.. it's snowing again. It's spring break!
I just had my first workout in two months. My legs are going to be sore when I get up tomorrow. It's been too long since I've done anything that strenuous. Didn't break a sweat, though - my metabolism is holding up decently, in the sense of efficiency.
Here's yet another IE 404 page parody, this one with a political twist.
Song that best describes life right now: Pet Shop Boys - Domino Dancing
This comes as no great surprise...
Yesterday was interesting, I must be honest. Once class was over I took a road trip down south to pick up Lyssa from her parents' house, where she was staying for a couple of days, and then we headed back into Pittsburgh to visit Don, a friend of mine who runs a neat little store on the outskirts of the city. After that we picked up John and drove into Oakland for dinner. For some odd reason I can never remember the name of the place, it's a tiny little Indian restaurant in the middle of the Pitt campus that's always showing rock videos from India and has a generally good atmosphere overall. I like it there. The food's relatively cheap and very filling. If they had a website I'd definitely throw a couple of links up to introduce more people to them.
After that we headed in to Swift Fox's den for game night. If you've never played Big Ideas by Cheapass Games, run down to your local game store and buy a copy. It's tiny and won't set you back too much, the name of the company is apt. The premise of the game is this: You play a venture capitalist during the height of the .com bubble. Those of you who were unfortunate enough to have worked during that time (like myself) are no doubt ready to cry or are loading your weapons at this instant. Please don't do anything rash, it isn't worth it. Anyway, the object of the game is to put together ideas of things to market from a deck of cards and then pitch them to the rest of the players in the game to try to get backing, which determines the payoff. Most of the fun of this game is pitching some pretty screwed up ideas to everyone; those with the gift of gab will be in their element.
After that we returned to John's to crash for the night. It wasn't particularly late in the evening but getting up early has a way of wiping you out when you've been on the run for a couple of days. I think I crashed around 0110 or so, I don't really remember. I remember getting up this morning shortly after 0900 and thinking "Oh, wow, I got to sleep in."
After that I returned to the Lab, got cleaned up, had breakfast, and cleaned the kitchen. Gods, it needs it... I can't stand looking at it anymore. Later today Dataline's making lasagne for dinner so I hope to get it finished by this afternoon. Right now I've got the detachable parts of the stove soaking in the sink and degreasing foam on the rest.
Being domestic feels weird sometimes.
The greeting cards I ordered for Dataline's birthday from the Total Information Awareness Cafepress shop came in. She's very amused... she already has a list of people she's sending them to.
Speaking of IAO, take a look at the Washington Times. This article has also made it to a couple of other newspapers, by the way.. American airline companies, starting with Delta Air, are going to start analysing the financial data and historical information of prospective travellers to determine how much of a threat they pose. The federal government wants to start 50-year long historical records on every passenger they think poses a threat to national security, and the same information for a smaller period of time (the duration of the trip, they say). Some people are saying that such a change to travel policy has the potential to create a class of people who are effectively blacklisted, curtailing their ability to move around indefinitely; others have already begun the chant of "papers... papers please..."
In a sense, they're both right. By not being able to move around it makes it easier to keep track of you for whatever reason - it lessens the number of discrete locations that you can access easily. Something about this scares me. I keep wondering what would happen if they started keeping records on people who travel to other places that someone thinks are distasteful, immoral, or otherwise wrong, such as the Phoenix Phyre Festival or DefCon. All it takes is one person taking offense at something about you at a certain level of control to put you in a world of hurt. Unfortunately, I know a couple of people personally who would do just this, which is why I'm writing about this particular topic. There is another article here at Fox News and background on the CAPPS II (Computer Aided Passenger Pre-Screening) system can be found here at Privacyactivism.org.
I think it's time to start yelling.
Just two more hours to go.. I'm in a lab waiting for my first recitation of the day to start (algorithms). After that is one more, the recitation for formal logic, and then I'm out of here. A few of us are going out this afternoon after classes are over to kick off spring break by going to dinner and hanging out later. For the first time in too long I'm going to join them.
I think some people need to work on their scripts... not too long ago the BSA (the Business Software Alliance) sent a cease and desist order to a mirror of the Open Office project by mistake. Apparently the programmes that chew on the data their probes collected thought that "OpenOffice.org-libs-1.0.1-9.mdk.i586.rpm" was really close to "microsoft-office-2000-disk-1.iso" and sent off an automatically generated warning. Nice going, guys.
In regard to a few of the news stories I was talking about yesterday.. a company called AquaPharm Bio-Discovery, Ltd. has discovered a number of bacteria that produce a compound which is effective in combatting the antibiotic-resistant strain of staphylococcus aureus. AquaPharm has patented the techniques necessary to cultivate the bacteria in question, and is keeping the name of the bacteria a closely guarded secret. So much for not worrying so much about it anymore; they wouldn't be cornering the market on these compounds if they did not plan on making beaucoup off of it. Looks like the medication will go to those who can afford to pay for it first and foremost.
Bless us, father, for we have Slack.
If that's not telling, I don't know what is. You got it, folks.. the Time Lord's brain has begun powering down into maintenance mode for a ten day rest. My brain's just about fried after the past couple of days and the only thing I'm interested in right now is getting some rest. Doing some reading. Maybe watching some stuff that I've been taping (by the way, how is Big Robots week on Cartoon Network? I havn't caught any of it yet). Maybe even doing some cooking.
My grandfather's birthday is today; he's 84. I can't say for sure but I think he's the oldest in my bloodline right now. It's amazing, how well life is treating him.. he's really enjoying the twilight years. Yes, his senses of sight and hearing have gone downhill, but he's healthy and staying active as best he can. I'm truly in awe of him. His mind's still sharp and he still has a sense of humour and friends. I wish more people could be as fortunate as he later in life.
I just heard about something odd happening across the United States: People in a couple of places, like Davis, CA (near the University of California at Davis) have been diagnosed with Whooping Cough. 172 cases of it. All but 12 were in same same city (Davis, CA). And there are more coming into the hospitals every day.Five children, age seven or younger, have died in Virginia in the last seven days, four in Hampton-Rhodes, one in Richmond. So far the news down there is calling it an "upper respiratory infection" of some sort. As far as anyone can tell, there was no connection between any of them. The entire eastern region of Virginia's health departments has been brought to bear on this situation.
There's also an outbreak of ebola in the Congo right now: 73 are infected, 59 are dead. And it's not over yet.
I've got to stop listening to the news.
Yesterday NASA declared the Pioneer 10 space probe at the end of its lifespan. The plutonium-powered electricity generation unit (hi, Echelon!) is no longer able to provide enough energy to drive its eight watt transmitter. Earlier this month NASA tried to contact it using their Deep Space radio transmitter network; no response was recieved. Pioneer 10 is so far away the signal it sends out is barely more distinct than the normal rain of background radiation that pulses through the universe.
The night's almost over. I didn't have a whole lot to do besides catch up a little on formal logic (three sections, trivial) and do research for my project. I also backed up a couple of gigs of data to cold storage while Leandra had some free compute cycles. And wrote a new travel CD for the car. And taught myself more about reading a map. And got in a decent conversation about religion. That's about it.
In short, tomorrow's just a formality. Catch you folks on the flip side.
Just a couple of hours to go until the first exam comes. I can't wait to get this over and done with.
As if anyone should be surprised by this - Windows XP Update transmits a list of every piece of software installed on the system to Microsoft whenever it's execcuted. A group in Germany monitored the flow of information to and from a system while running Windows XP Update and managed to decode some of the data in transit. I'm not a Windows expert by any means, but I'm guessing that the data's stored in the registry and it just picks through one of the hives and packs the information up. I wonder if it's possible to alter the registry keys so that the applications will still work but will have a different (i.e., indecent or profane) name just to see if anyone at Microsoft notices. Juvenile, yes, but maybe it would get a reaction out of Microsoft.
You know, this really pisses me off. I've been hard up for cash in the past, but you know what? I've got standards. College kids are being paid $20us per month to act as spam reflectors. They're asking for the privilege, no less. Spam's enough of a problem in this day and age, and this is just making it worse! Ye flipping gods.. that's up there with stuffing envelopes to make beer money.
Well fuck me and marry me young.
My algorithms midterm kicked my ass up one side of the CS building and down the other, and then had the temerity to switch to the other foot and start punting what was left down the road. That had to be the hardest exam I've ever taken; even the SATs were a piece of cake compared to this. Figuring the runtime of algorithms completely stumped me - the math flew out of my mind and hasn't been seen since. I took a couple of stabs at the theta() and O() values and made a half-hearted attempt at the T(N) computations, but I don't think I did them right. I'm not hopeful. I barely remember how Quicksort works; I'm kicking myself there for not having gone over it better. I regret not having taken the practise test to get a feel for how the exam was laid out.
Dammit, I hate it when I screw up this badly. I'm better than this; I don't lose. I'm supposed to know this backwards and forwards; hacking code is what I do, it defines who I am. And I screwed it up.
Looks like I've got a lot more evolving to do.
If you can say that there's a bright side, I think I did decently well on the archeology midterm. It wasn't as complex as the algorithms exam was and somehow I"m actually more familiar with the material. That doesn't make sense but that's the way things stand right now. I think it's because it was more abstract than the algorithms I've been working with. Anyway, it went pretty well. Damn my memory for not being able to mark up a sorting algorithm worth a damn yet throwing up a picture-perfect image of a map of ancient Sumer and Akkad so I could trace the details onto the test paper for that midterm. After that we watched a video on ancient China.
Went off on Dataline when I got home. I still regret doing that. Between my body going hypoglycemic (note to the public: if you ever see me Outside and I havn't eaten in better than ten hours, stay out of my way) and fucking up that exam, I wasn't in that great of a mood. I apologised later (after dinner) for yelling at her like that. At least we didn't get into a shouting match. My grandfather made chili for dinner tonight; ate it cold, I was so hungry. Good stuff, he makes a mean chili. My Pitt class ring came in today, which was the last thing I'd expected. When I put the order in they said it'd be ready between July and October, so I wasn't holding my breath. It came in today. Unfortunately, that also means that they'll be charging my account for the next four months to cover it. Gotta be careful paying the bills.
Okay, enough from me. I'm off to do my homework. Maybe I'll jack in later tonight if I've got time, though I'll probably set my alarms just in case and fall asleep on the floor.
So much material to cover, so little time... seeing as how I've got another three hundred pages of material to study for midterms tomorrow I decided to skip another day of classes so I could actually do the homework due on Thursday and then spend the rest of the time studying for exams tomorrow. There just aren't enough hours in the day. If I start pulling all-nighters I'll probably get the work done but as sleep deprivation sets in the answers will not be correct. I can't function on any less than six hours of sleep, that's my absolute minimum. So I'm doing what I can to make up for time lost by having to drive to and from campus (about two hours thirty in total), which is a sizable chunk of time.
An earlier event seems to have slipped past the American media. Surprise, surprise. I'll see if you can find it in this article... the police forces of Auckland, New Zealand are on heightened alert after intercepting letters destined for the United States and British embassies which contained crystals of cyanide. Members of the post office staff noted a white powder coming from an envelope and called the police; it's a good thing they did, too. Ironically, the letter enclosed said in part that escalation of the crisis in Iraq could trigger more terrorist acts around the world.
And the incident that escaped notice earlier? In January of 2002 the US Embassy in Auckland was sent a letter containing enough cyanide paste to kill twenty people shortly before the New Zealand Open. Tiger Woods fans will no doubt be interested in finding this out....
In other news today (so far, it's only 1007 EST) explosions damaged the Spanish embassy and Columbian consulate buildings in Caracas, Venezuela. Leaflets from what appears to be a previously unknown political party were found at the scene of each blast, taking credit.
It's not even safe to say something stupid anymore. More on this one later, I promise...
..okay. Break time. On 13 February 2003 Andrew O'Connor, public defender of the state of New Mexico was arrested around 2100 MST in the library of St. John's College while he sat at a public terminal. United States Secret Service agents questioned him at the Santa Fe, NM police station. O'Connor stands accused of making threatening remarks about George W. Bush in "a chat room", which could be anything from Yahoo Chat to IRC (the distinction is made because a number of portal sites and IRC networks have agreed to keep the Secret Service up to date in regard to what people are talking about across their lines of communication). O'Connor was quoted as saying that Bush was "out of control."
Food for thought.
Today started off on a bang-up note, let me tell you. It's been snowing since I got out of bed this morning and, as far as I know, hasn't stopped yet. A water main break around 0600 today shot the water pressure to hell so taking a shower wasn't nearly as comfy and awakening an experience as it usually is. I brought up a two-gallon jerry of water from the lab for my grandfather just in case, but by the time I left it was back to normal, so I suppose that they got it patched in time. All the water running down the street, however, and sub-zero temperatures probably left the roads in a sorry state. Dataline called shortly after 0700 to warn me, and suggested an alternate route. It was slightly funny, the most dangerous road in my neighborhood being the safest and fastest decision for once. Life throws you those sorts of curveballs now and then.
After I got onto the highway the snow kicked up another notch, which reduced visibility to two car lengths at most and killed traction. Just geting onto the highway I skidded sideways and almost wrapped my car around a tree on the corner. I got the car back under control and straightened out but damn, that's not what I enjoy doing that early. Or at all, for that matter. I might be a Cronenburg fan but I have no desire to reenact one of his movies, thank you very much. Traffic started to mount as people slowed down to compensate for the lack of traction and visibility, which lead to a major traffic jam around the Mae West bend, at the bottom of my hill. This, however, paled in comparison to the seven mile long lockup on route 28 north. I sat stuck in traffic for a little over an hour (somewhere around 10.6 tracks on Joyride by Roxette), barely inching forward every couple of minutes. Briefly, I entertained the notion that Pitt might decide to cancel classes, which would neatly have taken care of my midterm problem (American Cultures midterm, 0900 EST, be there or be a laterally truncated rectangle) but that sort of thing only happens in the cartoons. I placed a quick call to Dataline's cell and had her send the professor an e-mail for me (mental note: figure out who I have to strap to a surgical table and work over with a box of paper clips and a bottle of tabasco sauce to get a modem cable for my cellphone) while I sat and did very little. You can only read so many CD insert booklets before your patience wears thin, even though the members of Roxette are definitely not hard on the eyes.
It was 0845 by the time I finally got onto an open stretch of roadway heading in the general direction of the Pitt campus. I hit the student union around 0905, parking up on the mountain by 0915, and then hiked back down to go to class. It never fails: For a one-hour exam, you are guaranteed to get there halfway through. For a one-hour essay exam, you are guaranteed to get ther slightly beyond halfway through. Thankfully the professor wasn't asking for more than a paragraph or two, which I can write in a reasonably legible manner. I also don't appear to have been the only one late as he came in at some point and said that everyone but the ones who came in late could stay later to have a fighting chance of finishing the exam. Gods bless him for that, I'd have had a stroke then and there without that reassurance. He was very understanding about that, something I'd not expected at all.
I've made it through a chapter and a half of archeology so far and I'm going through my e-mail at one of the labs right now. We'll see how things go later this afternoon.
I finally managed to get through my e-mail at Telerama. There was a single message that kept making the IMAP server barf. Once I figured out which one it was I deleted it without opening it and all was well. To everyone who was waiting for a response, I'm sorry.
It's finally done snowing, at least for today. Driving home was pretty easy, no snags or anything lik that. Damned cold outside, though. I'm really not looking forward to below-freezing temperatures all week. It's funny, in a way; in the Old Farmer's Almanac it said that we were in for a rough winter, starting after the New Year. I didn't believe them. Shows what I know.
Last night I had some free time so I started working on a new technique. If everything goes the way I think it will I'll have the bugs worked out and I'll write up a document to put in the library.
Speaking of bugs... in algorithms class today there were many unhappy faces. Consensus seems to be that all but two people couldn't get the project to work, and the deadline was tonight. I handed in what I had earlier this evening just so I wouldn't forget. It's not worth fighting with it anymore. I get the feeling that the professor's going to be rethinking this project.
"Anyone can get it done inside of five hours" my datajack.
Two days and counting until the end of midterms. Cross your fingers, boys and grrls. I promise that I won't vent much more. Everyone knows what it's like, everyone copes differently. This is how I do it. I just hope that I'm not too annoying about it.
I spent pretty much all of yesterday studying for midterms. I don't think they'll be particularly difficult, it's just the volume of information that will be covered by the exams. The readings being tested for American Cultures class span between 200 and 250 pages in total, plus notes taken on them and class notes. That's a lot of data to digest; even breaking it down into chunks of information, it still takes a good deal of time to work through it. The information is densely packed (as many research papers are) so sorting through it takes the lion's share of the time. I havn't had time to work on my project yet this weekend (even though it's due Monday night; frankly I really don't care much about it, it isn't worth nearly as much as the midterm is, and some points are better than none at all), maybe tonight if I get through the material in time.
Or maybe I'll just finish the last few requirements on the spec and hand that in. Again, cost/benefit analysis.
It's snowing again, just like it was last Sunday.. I don't know exactly when it started but it shows no signs of stopping. So much for our forty degree heat wave.
Have you ever been in a position where you thought that you knew what you were doing and where you were going, and then something happens which makes you slam on the brakes and start re-thinking things? That's where I am right now. I had plans set up for the near future, after graduation, that I thought would finally be the right thing to do: Where to go, what to do, what might be needed, the whole nine yards. Now information has come into my possession which I've slowly been working my way through, confirming things, uncovering other stuff, and generally finding a knot of Gordian proportions. It's a scary feeling, racing along for days at a time and then suddenly stopping just a couple of feet from the side of a mountain, so to speak. Now I don't know what to do. On one hand, I still have faith in human nature and the ability of people to change.. but on the other hand every time I've listened to that faith in human nature it's gotten me screwed, blued, and tattooed, to steal a phrase.
I could keep moving forawrd with my plan and possibly wind up in what could be the worst situation of my life, far away from home and without any way of calling for help.. or I could terminate my current plan as it stands right now and switch over to my backup plan, but that, in all probability, would mean losing someone I care very deeply about, both as a friend and as someone for whom I keep a place in my hearts, possibly screwing them over, and definitely causing a scene that I really don't want to wind up in during the semester, when I've got more important things to take care of.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm afraid of hurting someone, and I'm afraid of the mess it'll cause in life right now. I don't know what to do. A lot of it's because this person has stood by me in a lot of situations - we've listened to each other laugh and cry; we've bailed each other out; this person drove me to the hospital once or twice. It's just one little glitch that gets me... but it's a glitch that could easily splatter me across the pavement, so to speak. I don't know what to do.
Right now I'm worried about school; if I'm going to screw my life up by trying to do the right thing, I'd much rather wait until after school is over. Maybe that's selfish; if it is so be it.
Last night I spent the evening with John, Lara, and Lyssa. We spent the evening sitting around talking and watching Boondocks Saints. I think I'm going to buy that movie when I get a chance - it's definitely a must-have for the collection (whenever I get a chance to actually sit down and watch television again). I must admit that was one of the best nights I've had in a long time, sitting with good people watching a good movie and goofing around. I miss nights like that.
Telerama's mail server is screwed up - I can get in to delete the several hundred articles of spam that pile up every day but I can't send anything to anyone without the server hanging up. Moreover, I can't even send an e-mail to the staff that there's something wrong...
At this point in time, my programming project's almost finished. I just wish I knew how to make it work all the way. I'm pretty thoroughly stumped now - in theory it should be working fine, in practise it just isn't making any sense. I think my problem has to do with how I read more characters into the buffer from the text file, but I've been playing around with it for days and no luck. I'll probably give it one more crack after I get home tomorrow and then I'll pack it in and get back to studying. Dammit.
There's enough to do today that I don't really want to be in class. I'm going to skip my next recitation and only go to the one for algorithms, because I've got a project due on Monday night. I'm not all that interested in the one for formal logic, mostly because I've got a decent grasp on what's going on, but also because the homework due for this week is from chapter nine of the textbook, but she just started covering chapter twelve. She's in just a bit of a hurry, which I find highly annoying, to say nothing of confusing. I actually get more out of the book than I do out of her class for this reason. She's doesn't synch the classes with the syllabus.
At least I'll be able to ask a couple of questions about why my project's screwing up the way it is. I sat down last night and stepped through the entire thing with GDB to see where it was messing up. It wasn't going wrong where I thought it was, that's for sure. At this point I'm now very confused. Time to ask for help.
I just found out that Lyssa's going to be in Pittsburgh this weekend. Too cool. Travel safely, Bard.
Recitation is going to start soon. I'll write more later, probably after I study but before LARP.
It's amazing how much trouble such a simple algorithm as the Boyer-Moore algorithm can cause.. between the extremely terse version of it given in our textbook and people who are probably frustrated beyond all limits by this project and want to remove certain requirements of the project, probably just to get it done (I won't lie, I've considered it myself), it's amazing. It's been said that the best things in life you have to fight for, I suppose this falls into the same catagory. I think I'm going to shut up now, before I say something else I'll regret (while sitting in the recitation in question, no less).
The rain was lovely last night.. unfortunately it left behind a fine glaze of ice covering every solid surface. My driveway's a solid sheet of ice; I'm still trying to figure out why my car didn't freeze to the pavement. Not that I'm complaining about that, just about almost falling down at least twice. Driving isn't much better right now, either. Trying to take turns or even slow down carefully was not fun this morning. I can onl hope that the sun, having risen higher in the sky, has melted off a decent amount of the glaze. If this isn't so, walking up the hill to my car is going to require some special equipment. I'm not looking forward to it.
Oh, this is cute. This reminds me a lot of those health and safety pamphlets the American Red Cross used to give out in school with the bubble-headed people and the blocky text that looks like a child wrote it with a felt-tip pen.
Today in sci-fi literature we watched a couple of scenes from Barbarella. *twitch* *twitch*
Where in the hell does she find these flicks?! I like bad movies, or at least I thought I did.... Barbarella is so bad I couldn't even laugh at it. Don't even get me started on the null-grav striptease during the opening credits... if we have to read the Gor novels as part of the curriculum, I'm dropping the class.
Okay. I think I've got that out of my system now.
United States operatives arrested Sami Al-Arain, a professor at the University of South Florida on unspecified charges. Professor Al-Arain was a noted proponent of the formation of a Palestinian state. The exact set of charges he was picked up under are currently sealed but they are expected to be released later today. If they get around to it, I should think. Right now the college has him on paid leave while they work out the paperwork to terminate his tenure. Professor Al-Arain denies any connection with terrorist activities and contacts and says that he does not support terrorism. He is currently a citizen of the United States of America. Expect this to change.
Getting back up to speed in class today wasn't that difficult... it was starting to study for the three midterms next week that's getting me. And a programming project due on top of that. Oh, and research, too. Joy. It's doable, it'll just take some juggling.
We're watching Ellen's little ones Friday night because she's probably going to be taking care of Jason, the LARP's storyteller, Friday night. That means staying at the Lab, I can't just run off and have fun while they're babysitting, it isn't right. So much for blowing off steam this week; I'm going to be joy to live with for the next couple of days.
Discovered this morning that going out for dinner three nights in a row, while a fun change of pace, results in a couple of pairs of pants that are tight in the wrong ways. I'm looking at it this way - nature gave me a bit more meat on my bones as a birthday gift to better handle the snow. I just like to have a bit more control than that.
In auditing my webserver log files I keep finding people who are linking to images in my photo album directly, I think as icons for their Live Journals, judging by the "Referred-by" lines in the HTTP requests themselves. I don't have a problem with that, I'm actually kind of flattered, but why mine? What's so special about them? What's so interesting about them? And why in the hell can't I find the references on the pages that they're being linked from?! This is going to drive me batty... Does LJ delete old links from archived text or something? Gods.... I hate not knowing what's going on!
If anyone who's doing this happens to read this particular entry, I'm not angry with you. Feel free to do so, I don't mind.. but drop me a line to let me know. Please?
This morning after getting up I looked out the window. My road's still not plowed. Last night I checked the Pitt website, which said that they were on a normal schedule. Then I watched the news and saw that the Pittsburgh Public Schools were all closed.. they're mostly within spitting distance from the Pitt campus. It was, at this point, that I decided not to try to go to class today. I'm going to stay home and hack on my programming project. It's not worth the hassle.
It looks like the snowstorm is good for more than just doing homework and watching movies... a credit card charge processing company was cracked and 2.2 million card numbers were compromised. Visa and Mastercard are having kittens over this, and have notified an unspecified number of banks around the country. Citizen's Bank has reported freezing 8,800 credit card transactions on suspicion of being fraudulent in nature. Great, just one more thing to worry about.
I just happened to turn on Cartoon Network, and A Pup Named Scooby Doo is on. This is wild stuff... reminds me a lot of Scooby Doo if the animators of the old Charlie Brown cartoons worked on Scooby Doo. The Scooby kids dance the same way the Peanuts kids did; what that's doing in an adventure series for the little ones, I have no idea. Most of the voices are the same, which is kind of neat. There are sight gags in the backgrounds, like signs that say "Cartoon visual cliche' this way -->". Unfortunately I just missed the copyright date on the episode so I don't know when they were made. But it's pretty neat. I just thought I'd share that.
What the hell?! All next week, between 1600 and 1700 on Cartoon Network, they'll be showing cartoons and anime from the 'giant robot' genre.. I recognised only two of the shows - Robotech (maybe they'll show the third generation for a change!) and... Shin Seki Evangerion. Yep. Eva, in all its mind-bending goodness. I'm waiting for the parents groups to start freaking out over the symbols in Eva. This is going to be fun.
I'm watching a tape of an episode of Cowboy Bebop right now, "Bohemian Rhapsody". I don't want to give it away if you've never seen it but it reminds me so much of the way Gibson described the space station Zion Cluster in Neuromancer it isn't funny. There's no gravity, plants growing everywhere, hippies and rastas lounging around, graffiti covers the walls.. the only thing that I havn't seen yet is graffiti burned with laser cutters on the outside of the hull. I think I'm going to watch this again.
Greetings from the winter wonderland. The state's declared a state of emergency - the major roadways are badly blocked, so they're calling out everyone they can for assistance. The malls are closed until noon, and most businesses in the area have told people to stay home and enjoy the day off. The University of Pittsburgh is closed, too - classes are cancelled. I've decided to take advantage of today to work on my research study to make some progress for once.
Penn State and Carnegie-Mellon University have called classes today as well. Let the lunch tray sledding begin.
It never fails. I finally have a solid day to do research for my study and the number of users idle on the system I am studying right now is... 81%?! I picked the wrong topic to study.
Maybe I should spend the day coding instead.
Duquesne is closed today, too.
My grandfather just paid two kids from the neighborhood to shovel our driveway and steps. Best $20us spent in a long time.
Today's the twenty-fifth anniversary of the dial-up Bulletin Board System. Yay, dialup!
Last night went extremely well.. 'lex, Taja, and I got together at Kenshin's doss for dinner last night. We got Chinese takeout from a local restaurant and spent the night sitting in the living room watching hockey and munching. I keep forgetting the effect the Great Wall's food has on me, I've been tasting General T'sao's chicken periodically for the past day or so. Not fun. It's good food but once I've eaten it that's it, I don't appreciate it stopping by time and again to say hello. After that we played a little Trivial Persuit, the last twenty years' edition. Just goes to show how culturally cut off I am, it was my worst game ever. Finished up with no pie pieces and I think one correct answer at all. Mental note: Watch more television (like that'll happen). After that we picked up Joy and headed out to a local nightclub. Last night was the first time I'd been out dancing in at least two years, perhaps a bit more.
The first thing that caught my attention about the place was the fact that there were four separate rooms, nicely insulated against sound, playing four genres of music: Latin (!), dance and pop, trance, and a mixture of trance, traditional techno, and pop. Each had its own particular group of people in attendence, and the four separate bars kept the patrons happy. Good HVAC in the place, too, so you didn't break a sweat just by standing around. There were also lots of corners and walls to put your back to if you just wanted to spend time people watching. The one thing I have to admit that bothered me was the mirrors that lined some of the hallways. They make for a nice appearance but they also make it very difficult to navigate. They mess with your depth perception just enough that if you're not careful you might run flat into one of them (which I almost did on two occasions).
I didn't give the trance room a try though I wish I had. The Latin room was nice to stand around and watch in but it's really not my thing. The techno room had a lot of open space on the dance floor but I'm not sure about the crowd; there's something there that put me off. The mixed genre room had my attention all night. Good beats and lots of room to move around.
I still find it ironic that the clerks at the oxygen bar were chain smoking all night, never mind the fire hazard.
After that we retired to Eat and Park for a cup of coffee and an appetizer combo plate. All in all, I have to say that it was a good night. I hope we can do it again some time.
It's snowing again, and showing no signs of stopping. It started early this morning, around 0300 EST, while I was picking up my car. The temperature fell swiftly from there, hitting the mid-twenties by 0315 EST and as far as I know it hasn't changed appreciably since then. Everything's covered with at least two inches and it's still coming down. The snow plows go through every thirty to forty-five minutes to scrape the roadway but by the time they make another pass down the road the blacktop's completely covered up again. The newscasts are predicting anywhere between six inches and two feet, they don't know and they won't hazard a guess. Looks like I might not be going to class tomorrow if this keeps up, I"m not about to risk life and limb for classes that don't have an attendence policy. It almost makes me wish that I was able to go out and play in it right now. I havn't been sledding since.. let me see... I was about nineteen, and a bunch of us went lunchtray sledding at CMU. That's the last time I was playing in the snow.
I'm getting old, everyone.
I'm also snowed in. It's been snowing all day today without a break and shows no sign of stopping. Dataline and I just did a spot check around the Lab and it's not looking good. In the back the snow drifts are up to the bottom of the window of the back door; the snow's piled up around the base of the garage door as well but not nearly as high because my car's parked in the driveway. We havn't tried the front door because we can't see the steps. My biomechanical butt's staying indoors tomorrow; Dataline's going to stay local and watch her DVDs tomorrow.
Wow... I'm 25 today. Yep, a quarter-century.
Also, happy birthday Dataline, who was born on this day as well. John C. Lilly, thou art avenged!
Yesterday afternoon I decided that I'd enjoy this weekend. I won't grind myself into dust trying to get everything done. Trying to do that just put me on the workbench with the flu. I got a little work done yesterday, then went out for dinner with Lowmagnet to the India Garden. The India Garden is a small Indian restaurant near the Pitt campus which has simply amazing food. He'd never really had Indian before (what I had made for a gather once notwithstanding) so this was a new experience for him. He loved it. I hope I can get him back to that restaurant again, there's so much more to try.
Afterward we returned to the Lab and hung out. Didn't do much of anything, and enjoyed every minute of it. Stress can go right to hell right now. Had a drink or two, watched TV, shot the bull with the family. Not much, but very worth while.
I got one of my birthday gifts last night - a copy of Staroffice v6.0. Yep, bought off the shelf, documentation and everything. It comes with a Win32 version, a Linux version, and two Solaris versions (one for SPARC, one for x86). I can't wait to install it and give it a try. Thanks, Dataline!
Later today I'll be heading out for adventure. Gods only know what'll happen but it'll be interesting just the same.
The interesting bits start... I just took yet another of those Live Journal quizzes, "Which LotR character are you?"...
How eerily appropriate.
Dataline and I exchanged gifts this afternoon. I bought her a pair of DVDs, The Best of the Twilight Zone volumes one and two, a book called What If?, which is a book of speculative historical fiction and Psycho II and III on videocassette. She loves history so the book is right up her alley, and she's a longtime fan of Anthony Hopkins. She plans on spending tomorrow watching television all day; I can't say I blame her. Enjoy, Dataline.
In exchange, she gave me two DVDs, Wargames and Videodrome: The Director's Cut, both in widescreen format. They're two of my favourite movies of all time. What cyb doesn't remember their heart pounding the first time they saw Wargames, seriously now? How many people got their first computers that Yule? She also gave me, and this caught me quite by surprise, a pair of black silk pyjamas with a matching robe. They're beautiful - shiny black silk, a belt... they feel like clouds. It's too cold to wear them right now but they're classy as all get out. I plan on sleeping in them once it gets warm enough. That's probably the classiest thing I've ever gotten. Thank you so much!
Dataline and my grandfather loved the cake I baked. It's a pineapple cake:
Mix together two cups of flour, two cups of granulated sugar, and two teaspoons of baking powder. Add two eggs, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple, including the juice. It'll be a very thin batter. Mix well. Then pour into a greased 13x9 inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for thirty minutes. Serve with whipped cream.
Programmers will definitely want to read this article on Freshmeat - command line options for GCC to generate the most efficient code, in particular which ones to use to do the best job. Someone spent a lot of time figuring out the right switches to use and when. Give it a read.
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. To my regular readers I hope that you have a good day, if not in the company of a lover or two than with the closest of friends one can hope for.
The transation of that Commodore One article can be read here.
I wish I had more to write about right now but I really don't. Nothing's happened so far today. Classes have been uneventful. Afterward I'm going to drop off some library books and then head back to hack on my algorithms project a little and do some research for my study. I started last night and made a considerable amount of headway (a single interview is a considerable amount of headway when you havn't started yet). I'm actually enjoying the time freed up since I got caught up. Now it's just a matter of not wasting it.
Something really cool happened to me on my way to class today. I was at a stop light down by the police station when a women pulled up next to me and motioned to roll my window down. "What's coding?" she called from her car.
I have an EFF bumper sticker on my car, "Coding is not a crime", by the way.
"Oh.. programming." I yelled back.
"That's really cool! Thank you!" she responded, and when the light turned green she drove off.
That gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Someone thought to ask what coding was. Maybe she thought about why some people think it's a dangerous activity on her way to work that day, and perhaps well after she got to her destination. I hope she got there safely. To whoever you are.. thank you. You made my day.
It's just a few minutes before my formal logic midterm starts. I don't know how this one's going to go. I hope and pray that all the time spent studying will pay off.
We finished watching Sexmission in science fiction literature today. It's over... that was the most painful movie I've ever watched. Even more trying than Crash. Even more trying than Johnny Mnemonic. Even more trying than Spy Hard. I suppose that it builds character. The nightmares should be over in a couple of weeks, at the rate everything's going right now. I'm a full three weeks ahead on my readings in American Cultures now, so I've got myself some time to do research for my project in that class. The time I usually spend doing the readings I can now do observing. Because I can't use a custom client (like Trebuchet or PuTTY) in the labs because they're technically game clients, I'll probably wind up bringing Kabuki with me to class now. There are WAPs all over campus, I'll jump off of one of the publically accessible ones. This also frees up a lot of time in the evenings to do the next assignment for algorithms. Whee.
Planning life around homework. I hate my life.
The latest article about Jeri Ellsworth and the Commodore One has been scanned and posted here. Please not that this article is in German. I don't know if there's a translation yet.
There is a translation now, it's in the archives of the Commodore One mailing list.
And this is really cute. I want one.
Printing with Mozilla is working now - I set the environment variable $MOZ_PRINTER_NAME to the name of the print queue I just set up (aps1) and it printed in full colour (and didn't print the background of the test pages) with no trouble. I also set the environment variable $PRINTER to 'aps1' so I wouldn't have to keep rolling new sets of args to the lpr utility to print things out. Then I logged out and logged back in and tested them. Staroffice prints, too!
And this is just too much... Total Information Awareness swag???
Personally, I want the large mug. It's got a very officey feel to it.
Okay. I can't keep this in anymore.
The Terrorists(tm) have won.
The whole point of terrorism is to make people live in fear and change the way in which they live as a result. The United States of American has done this. We now live in a country where your car can be searched at the whim of airport security (which started happening just this day at the Pittsburgh International Airport), where you can be strip-searched at the whim of security (G-, what happened to you today was a travesty, both here and in North Carolina), where you can be arrested if they think you're helping Terrorists(tm) and held without bail, access to legal representation, or even anywhere someone can find you. The American public is being told to stock up on food and water and to be ready to seal off their houses with plastic drop cloths and duct tape because we could be attacked at any time. I spoke to a friend who lives in Washington, DC today and she says that the military there is ready to rock and roll at the drop of a hat. I havn't seen it for myself, so take this with a hefty dose of sodium chloride, but she also says that there are antiaircraft missile batteries installed and primed. If anyone has pictures of this please let me know, I'd love to take a look for myself (unfortunately, T-, not having seen this myself I can't say it's true, even though we go back a few years). I was watching the news tonight and a number of people were interviewed around my hometown. What these people said truly frightened me - they don't mind being searched, they'd open their houses and financial records for scrutiny, they have no problems with surveillance...
The Terrorists(tm) have won. I give up.
As for the AA missiles down in DC... they've been confirmed (thanks, N-). And F-16 flyovers every once in a while. *sigh*
Today's my marathon day.. twelve hours straight of classes, though I've got the odd break between morning and afternoon that takes up a lot of time. It's enough that I can study to catch up on everything I can't do at night but not so much to be worth driving home for a bite to eat. It's easier to just bring everything with me and find a quiet place for a couple of hours. Today's been a banner day for coffee abuse, first spilling it down my shirt while packing lunch this morning, then dribbling it repeatedly down the front of my sweater while studying. The one day I wear white... the fashion gods have made their decrees known.
At some point last night, I don't know exactly when, the power went out for a brief period. I woke up to three offline systems in the Lab, the audio rig on my home entertainment system is messed up again (not that it's a high priority or anything, I barely have time to use it anyway), and I'm willing to bet that my VCR is messed up as well, which means reprogramming it for the cable box. Damn. Anyway, I worked my way through the cluster, rebooting Crash, Burn,and Lain one by one. Everyone's up and running again, e-mail's going through per usual, the whole nine yards.
I knew I should have bought one of those big-ass UPSes from Moai before I left.
Figuring out when to do what is going to erase the last of my sanity soon. The amount of background work necessary for some of my classes is getting to the point where I've got to skip assignments that are due just to have time to do the work for classes whose homework I skipped last time to get something else done. I really don't know what to do right now. It's confusing enough that the librarian gave me the wrong article on reserve in the library today and I didn't even realise it. There went that hour.
What did I get myself into?
Getting harder to get up in the morning anymore.. so much going on I can't get to sleep easily right now. At least my brain's online by the time I get out of the shower. We're watching a horrible movie in sci-fi literature right now, a Polish flick called Sexmission. I won't post a link to a page about it because it's so bad I'm having trouble watching it. This movie was made in 1984, which is ironic because having to sit in a darkened classroom and view this movie is very much like Winston's experience with the cage of rats locked over his head. I think I had more fun the last time I was at the dentist's office.
I have to write a response paper on something for sci-fi literature, too, come to think about it. It's due on Thursday; I can do it this afternoon when I get home from class and then forget about it.
Studying for my formal logic midterm isn't too bad, it's doing the problem sets so I can force my brain to get better at the logical patterns that's taking up so much time. I have to be careful, how much time I budget for this. Oh, and somewhere in all of this I have to find time to get to the library to take my books back and take out another for American Cultures. And do my research. I hate my lives.
I feel vindicated. A couple of weeks ago on the Commodore One mailing list I asked a question about the largest possible IDE hard drive usable with the C=1 and recieved a few negative comments about not needing any more than 500 megabytes for a decent amount of software and data, even though I have a 13GB drive in mind for the unit. A few people posted with comments to the effect of "good lucking finding a 500MB hard drive anymore, the smallest you can easily find is 60GB without a struggle." Said posters swiftly fell silent.
You know, the US being on "orange alert" really pisses me off. Day after day they tell us to "be vigilant" against terror.. we're under attack from all sides, all we have to do is blink and we'll die in the crossfire.
Vigilant for what? All it's doing is making people paranoid and panicky. Mandatory smallpox vaccine in the emergency medical treatment field and the reports of allergic reactions and deaths from the test runs of the latest batches... hunting for bioweapons overseas.. the frankly lousy security of the airports in the nation (the Pittsburgh International Airport was penetrated just a few days ago, though by a tiger team and not a criminal; solution: (I'm not kidding) Have the guards face the other direction so they can watch people coming in and not leaving). Kibo on a fucking pogo stick, people.
Every few weeks the news media talks about another "clear and present danger to national security" that they're watching out for. That's nice. What exactly are you watching for? Gunboats just off of the shorelines of the US? Alleged tapes that we'll never get to hear for ourselves? Footsoldiers from Canada ala Michael Moore? More hijacked planes crashing into tall buildings (by the way, guys.. the plans you've drawn up for the replacements for the towers that are even bigger? Take a hint - it wasn't a good idea last time, either. Look what happened.)? Dogs and cats living together in peace (meow)? What, exactly, has you on orange alert? It's seeming more and more to me like you're just crying wolf to get people's attention... and while that's happening other things are sneaking through, like the sequel to the USA PATRIOT act (mirrored here, originally from here) which further attacks the civil rights of citizens of the United States of America. Making secret arrests legal; revoking the citizenship of anyone who is a member of or is thought to assist terrorist organisations (as defined by John Ashcroft, of course); completely unchecked surveillance; I'm not going to go on because reading this document sickens me.
The more you do this, the less I trust you. More and more this feels like a magician distracting the audience with one hand while substituting a card in the deck for one concealed in his palm with the other.
Okay, rant over. I'm done proving I'm not Dennis Miller.
So I decided to give configuring a printer under Linux a try. When I rebuilt Leandra I installed apsfilter v7.2.2-3 from Debian package and I managed to get USB active though this is actually the first time I've ever tried to use it. I jacked Dataline's BJC-2100 printer into Leandra using the USB cable and hit up Linuxprinting.org for stats on the BJC-2100. Oddly enough I found an excellent set of records on the BJC-2100 (verbosely written so search engines pick it up). I changed to the /usr/share/apsfilter directory and ran the SETUP script (./SETUP) to configure apsfilter. Right now I'm printing out a full colour test page under Debian Linux v3.0. Gentle readers, this rocks all known sheep. This is the first time I've ever gotten printing working under Linux, and I've been working on it for better than eight years. The beast is dead. No more having to jump over to Dataline's deck to print stuff out. Next up: Staroffice.
Staroffice is being a bastard, it's PostScript or nothing. It will probably only output things in Postscript. That means that I'll have to set up a print queue that'll take PostScript and translate it into the printer's native format. From what I've picked up today it shouldn't be too hard but I don't have time right now. At least I was able to configure The Gimp to print with no trouble as well - it used the same print queue as well. Mozilla's being difficult as well. I think I screwed up by not setting an environment variable someplace. Oh, well. Everything in due time.
I finally dug up Graeme's new address Outside; FTD's sending her a little something as I write this, hopefully in time for Valentine's Day. Again, time will tell (especially with all the snow and ice lately).
Yay, more snow. By the time I dragged my body out of bed this morning there was another inch on the ground, my car was nicely camoflauged outside against the driveway (also snow covered and, as I discovered later, concealing several large sheets of ice that my boots kept finding), and the roads hadn't been plowed yet. Thankfully that was fixed by the time I got out of the shower and tracked down clothes. Bills are paid off and sent out, so that's one less thing to worry about. Dataline and I picked through the proofs of my senior pictures last night and each of us decided on a picture to have printed up. I get the feeling that she's got one or two others that she wants to have made into wallet-sized ones privately but that's her progative. Can I help it that I like the serious pictures more than the ones with the smile?
Anyway.. first class went well, started catching up on reading for various classes, just killing time and letting my brain run down a bit before algorithms starts. I've been thinking about writing a bit about some mental exploration techniques that I've been playing around with but I'd like to get the ideas straight in my head first and maybe do a rough draft or two first. I'll muse more about it later.
And I've about run out of things to write about at present, so I'll probably pick this up after dinner.
Dataline didn't have an easy time of it coming home tonight. The big hill on the fringe of the neighborhood turned into a sheet of ice not long after the snow started falling in earnest. It started coming down while I was driving home, around 1700 EST, but it froze solid around 1800 EST. The bus watched two cars slide out of control down the hill and bounce off of a guard rail and decided not to try to make it. The salt crews hadn't been out, nor the road plows. Understandably angry at this development, a few cellphone calls produced the police for the wrecks at the bottom of the hill and a salt truck for the rest of the roadway. After all was said and done she didn't get home until 1845 EST or so. Not a few unkind words were said about the people who tried to take the hill at speed (in the middle of a heavy snowfall, no less), as well as those who didn't realise that if a public transportation bus wasn't going to attempt it, they shouldn't either, no matter how careful they tried to be. Observation produces useful information, folks... remember that.
Last night I had one of the most vivid and disturbing dreams of my life.
I was a student researcher in a secret medical facility of some kind somewhere. By nosing around inside an office by accident one night I had discovered a set of photo slides, about four inches square, protected by metal frames and stored in a Rolodex-like contraption of some sort. I don't think I ever took a close look at what was actually on those slides but I 'knew' that they were evidence of something hideous and frightening. I took them and put them in the office of someone I trusted, knowing that they'd find the slides, look at them, and shut the entire operation down; I did this anonymously, to protect my own skin.
The man heading up the research project in question thought that another of the students had done it after the slides' theft and review had been discovered by him and strapped him into a chair of some kind at a steel table which was more like a small isolation box: It was an air-tight glass or plastic isolation unit with an airtight gasket around a hole, through which the young man's arm had been inserted. After being strapped down all of the air was evacuated from the box, and the resulting vacuum and blood retention began damaging the tissues of his arm.
In one of those jump cuts that dreams seem to have, it was a day or two later, definitely after the span of a night, and the student was unconscious, perhaps dead, still at the table. He had't spoken as far as I knew - how could he? He didn't know anything; he'd been busted mistakenly for me. They cut his arm open to survey the tissue damage - all of the blood was pooled in his hand and fingers, which were hideously distended and purple from all of the clotted blood. Everything else of his arm was shrunken and withered, presumably from hypoxia. Oddly enough I remember thinking to myself quite clearly, "massive tissue damage from prolonged hypoxia" in my dream. The musculature was almost gone as his arm was dissected, and what remained of the circulatory system there was two large blood vessels, collapsed into little more than something resembling cut rigatoni and with the occasional blood clot. Kind of nasty.
At this point I began to panic in my dream. I knew that I'd be next, they'd start working their way through all of the students to figure out who'd blown the whistle. I vaguely remember waking up in the same panic last night, I don't know exactly when.
Welcome back to the Net, Mr. Mitnick... you HAVE been away too long!
It's been a weird weekend. Dataline went to the theatre last night and injured herself falling on an icy sidewalk. The staff hadn't scraped the concrete, leaving a layer of ice, which she (and, I'm told, a few other people) took fairly nasty spills on. Her left shoulder and back are in a considerable amount of pain right now. I'm doing what I can but until the inflammation goes down not much will work. Dammit.
Earlier today I was starting to get panicky about the amount of work I had to get done today, but after a cup of tea and actually flipping through the textbooks I've found that it really isn't all that much. I can grease most of this stuff, no problem. Writing the response paper for Thursday might be tricky but it'll be doable if I do it on Wednesday afternoon when I return to the Lab.
I still can't get in contact with Graeme. I'd like to send her something for Valentine's day but I havn't been able to get in touch with her so I could ask her what her current address is (she moved a couple of months ago). Graeme, if you're reading this I havn't forgotten, I don't know where to reach you. Phone home!
Feeling a hell of a lot better today. Another good night's sleep cleared me right up. The DayQuil was merely a formality this morning, I really didn't need a dose but better safe than sorry. Dataline helped me finish the charts for my algorithms project. I know next to nothing about office packages of any sort, I rarely use them for anything more than typing papers. It really galls me to slam into things that I should know a reasonable amount about but don't. I spend much of my time up to my neck in programming, you'd think that I'd know how to use Excel or StarCalc - not true. This is a rather poor analogy, but it's kind of like asking a Photoshop expert to repartition a hard drive; they might know how to do it, they might not. It depends on how much experience they have. Looks like I might have to spend some time with a book over spring break or something to get up to speed, assuming that I don't wind up learning everything as I go along.
I'm not a dog; I hate dogpaddling to keep my head above water, so to speak. I'd rather make solid, real progress, and not just keep up so I don't get run over. Gods... even working on call wasn't like this. At least I knew where I was, and if I needed to I could take time off and not be any worse off for it. Work is much easier than school.
I wound up not going to class today. My body's wiped out - the cold's in full swing and everything I've got has been concentrated on my immune system to evict this illness. Late last night I decided that I was more worried about getting better than I was about going to class, so I turned in at my usual time and slept a solid ten hours, something I've not done since before the semester started. On the whole I feel much better - sleep deprivation isn't making everything feel ten times worse. It's just the cold bothering me now, and I can handle that. I'm studying for my formal logic midterm a chapter at a time and I might spend some time hacking on my algorithms project this afternoon. I'm not in a rush to get anything done; even if I was it probably wouldn't happen. Today I've shifted into low gear and I plan on staying that way for a while now.
I had to go to the bank today to pay the last of my tuition for this semester. Ouch. At least my education's paid off now; I just have to get back on my feet so I can complete it. I also picked up some more apple cinnamon tea at the supermarket along with a good supply of tabbooli. They finally had it back in stock.
This is a lovely thought.. George Bush ordered guidelines and strategies for net.warfare drawn up last July. Basically, he wanted rules put together which would govern the penetration and disruption of enemy networks as an offensive tactic. Lovely. Turning the Net into a battlefield... can't he leave well enough the hell alone?
Stop and think about this people: Water distribution systems.. electricity generation plants.. cellular telephone nets.. television and radio broadcasts.. are the controlling computers of any of these things hooked up to the Net? I strongly doubt it. I honestly doubt it's possible to find a computer on the Net that controls the floodgates of a dam or anything like that. You know why? Becuase there's no reason for the risk. By putting such a critical system on the Net it invites attack, and as far as I know no one, no one is dumb enough to take a risk that could mean millions of lives in case it were attacked or compromised somehow. This isn't TekWar, nor is it Sneakers. Systems that control such things are isolated due to the risks involved. If Bush wants his boys to crack these systems to wreak havoc with them he'd damned well better understand the collateral damage that could be caused, and his systems crackers had better be well versed in black ops, because for them to get to these systems they'll probably have to break into the buildings that house these systems, because they probably won't be accessible any other way.
I can see the merits, tactically speaking, of cutting off a country's net.access but at best it'll prevent e-mail and web traffic... and you know how cranky people get when their POPservers aren't up or their porn isn't coming in... the up side means less spam for the rest of us, though.
Maybe it's just the NyQuil talking.
And apparently I'm not the only one enjoying the decongestants right now... see anything amiss here?
Archeology term paper handed in. Science fiction literature midterm done. Getting physically ill because I've blown the last of my reserves on getting stuff done this week. Yesterday afternoon I started running down. Even caffeine wasn't keeping me going, which is a bad sign. Then the nose started running along with trouble breathing.
Just great. Either it's another cold or the flu. 'lex thinks that I caught it at the Imbolc gather and that my immune system wasn't able to hold it off any more. I'm inclined to agree with him.
I handed in my formal logic homework last night before it was finished. I didn't have the time to finish it nor the concentration. Better a few points than none at all. My algorithms project is done and debugged, I just have to analyse the results, work up a spreadsheet, and write a conclusion. That'll take a day or so - no problem.
I'm planning on staying home Friday night. I really don't feel up to doing anything right now, I'm feeling sick and I don't want to give it to anyone else if I can at all help it. I just want to stay home and catch up on my sleep. Maybe watch some of the stuff I've been taping late at night. Anything but leaving the lab to do stuff right now.
Homework can wait until Saturday. My brain's frying.
On a lark I decided to take the which anime stereotype are you? quiz at The Otaku. Not surprisingly, I'm...
What Anime Stereotype Are You?
I picked up my car earlier this evening. The damage wasn't as bad as I thought it would be - $509us in total. Because my family's been customers of that particular dealer since they opened (about thirty years ago, if I recall correctly) I lucked out and got a 10% loyalty discount, which saved my six. The bill's still pretty steep but it isn't a bad as it could have been. There were leaks all through the cooling system, so they had to replace a good bit of it. They also re-did the hood and the headlight, which were damaged some time ago and never fixed. The car's winterised now, too.
I've decided that I'm not going to class tomorrow. I'm just barely running right now (praise the gods for Dayquil) and I'd like to make those most of that possible, so I'm going to stay at the lab and work at my own pace for a change and not running around like a hydra with a firefly up one of its noses. If I miss a day of class it's no big deal; I get better that much sooner. If I don't I might get sicker and be a complete wreck for the formal logic midterm exam next week instead of only a partial wreck. Give me the partial wreck any day, it's more of a chance.
Chills just set in. The central heating's running full blast and I've got six machines running down here and I'm still shivering. This isn't good.
Well, I got my paper for archeology finished around 0030 this morning. Special thanks to Lyssa for helping me proofread and edit my paper - I owe you one. After that I jacked out and collapsed, partially from stress and partially from mental exhaustion. Either I've been coding so long that my skill at describing things objectively has all but vanished, or I've been writing fiction so long that I've forgotten how to depict facts in a straightforward manner. No matter how you cut it it was a rough one. It's printed out and ready to hand in, however, and that's what matters. I didn't get much else done last night, though, so I'm going to start hacking on my algorithms project once I get these updates written.
Because my car's in the shop I had to borrow Dataline's wheels to make it to campus this morning. I'm sorry to say that she drives a jellybean for a car - it's got the internal capacity of a matchbox but the acceleration of a ferret on crystal meth. If you tap the acccelerator the car will go from zero to fifty-five in a little under two seconds - I'm not exactly sure because I was frankly too busy trying to bring the vehicle back under control before I wrapped it around a tree or something. It takes off like someone's gored it in the ass with a rapier, I'm not kidding. This still doesn't account for how I got in a good ten minutes later than usual this morning, though...
My research prospectus was accepted by my American Cultures professor. I don't have to hand in any more revisions and I can start on my research now... once I find he time to do so, at any rate. Unfortunately, since I was working on my paper last night I got nothing else done... including the programmes for algorithms due Monday night. Oh, and did I mention that Dataline called me not too long ago with a heads-up about my car? The intake hoses on the cooling system are bad, so they were leaking coolant, which explains why the reservoir was dry. I got my car in 166 miles before the warranty was up (I'm hard on my vehicles) so the repairs will be free. I don't know how much the other procedures I'd asked for will be, such as an oil change, winterisation, filter checks, et al... I do know, however, that the damaged headlight will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $500us to replace.
Yep, $500. When I heard this I practically shouted, which resulted in a neat echo effect in the Cathedral. I can get by with only one kidney.. I think I can part with a heart, too, but trying to explain how I'm still walking around after losing one could prove problematic... check my eBay auction page soon.
Due to a power failure this morning the Lab's arm of the Network has been offline. I've just brought the children back on line, one by one, and Leandra is active once more. I'm studying right now, so I'll write what's been going on after dinner.
Okay. Time to breathe for a bit.
This morning after taking a shower I stood in the bathroom washing up, doing basic maintenance.. and the power started flickering off and on until it went out entirely around 0715 EST. What a way to start the day. I somehow managed to finish up in the dark and packed lunch. The temperature was around 40 degrees Farenheit this morning so I wasn't too worried about leaving my grandfather while I was at class though I did offer to stay at home in case I'd be needed for some reason. He declined. Thankfully nothing happened while I was out. However, the children were not pleased at all - there's only one UPS in the entire Lab and it's got a five minute runtime. Leandra's got dibs on it, so to rest went down pretty hard when the power finally failed.
The only thing worse than having to get dressed in the dark is having to manually trip power switches in the dark so the computers won't try to reboot every time the power flickers. One thing I need to purchase in the near future is a decently-sized UPS, something with a sixty minute runtime if possible. Whenever I start selling internal organs to raise the funds, I suppose...
It was unreasonably warm driving in this morning so I didn't think to wear anything heavier than a jacket. By 1200 EST that had proven to be a mistake. The temperature had fallen to freezing and it started snowing. My leather jacket and scarf held up reasonably well but my body was still feeling the wind cutting past it. Thankfully a local coffee shoppe and a computer lab had room to spend some comfortable time in. I was amazed at how helpful my formal logic professor was in class today. I was asking a classmate for help with one of the homework problems (I still don't really understand proving conditional statements) and she walked over and offered her input as well. What's more, she went over it again in class as part of the review for the midterm, and she even started over completely to do so, which really blew me out the door. She really wanted to make sure that everyone understood how they were supposed to work and what techniques to use when.
A helpful math teacher - that's a first in all of my body's twenty-four years.
I dropped my car off at the mechanic's earlier tonight along with a laundry list of stuff to either have looked at or fixed. I found out that they do some body work as well so I've asked them to look at my car's headlights as well because the mounts are damaged so the beams won't stay in alignment. Right now I'm trying to catch up on stuff before I start working on my term paper, that's taking full priority right now (seeing as how it's due tomorrow night).
I'm kind of proud of myself right now... this is the download page for the game Freedroid, which is a clone of the old C-64 game Paradroid (go back through the archived entries of my memory log to hear about my obsession with the game, there are some links to net.shrines in there as well). If you look closely you'll see a file called "freedroid_0.8.4-1_i386.deb". I made it and contributed it to the project. The maintainers asked me to continue to maintain Freedroid and Freedroid RPG .deb packages for the project.
I've got this neat feeling inside now. I contributed to an open source project and it was accepted. Now I know how it feels.
Now I just need the time to do the Debian package of Freedroid RPG v1.0...
Welcome to yet another fun-filled week of stress, strain, worry, and carpal tunnel syndrome. The usual routine has held so far today - first class, turned in latest revision of the research prospectus, lunch, and to the library to study. I finished the readings for the current unit in American Cultures class, which we'll be discussing until the middle of next week. This frees up a lot of time during the day which I plan on using to catch up on coding so I can start the research for my project in the evenings. This seems like it'll work out decently well. I'm also reading for algorithms during the day to free up time at night. The only major time sinks I have right now are the paper due on Wednesday night (which I'll be done with by tomorrow at the very latest) and Formal Logic homework, which is a real pain in the ass.
I had a night's sleep last night (please note lack of adjective) so my brain should be rested enough to give it another go this evening. We'll see what happens.
Still no commentary about the Columbia accident; there probably won't be any, either. I don't have the CPU time to devote to reading the news reports and scientific analyses from NASA, let alone to writing about it.
Lyssa sent this to me this morning: Desiderata.
Max Ehrmann wrote that back in 1927.
It's terribly easy to forget about things outside of that which you're saddled with in everyday life. When you get up in the morning and go to work, and spend all day inside staring at a monitor it's easy to forget that there's something standing beyond those four walls. Driving to work before the sun's even up every morning doesn't do much for exposing you to new things. And when you drive home well after sunset so you can collapse into bed after a long day, it similiarly doesn't do much for you. The same thing goes for being in school all day: Walking between buildings doesn't count when you're surrounded by cars and trucks and exhaust and and and...
You know, I really love cities. I love the buildings and the sounds and the sights from high places, but I never get a chance to just wander around for the hell of it. I never get to walk through the park and listen to the birds, or to go to the museum to see the exhibits. There's an installation called Panopticon out here near campus; it's been here since Yule. And I havn't had a chance to go and see it yet, even though I can walk over to it. I miss having the time to do things on a lark and enjoy life for once. I feel like I'm starting to lose my connections to things.
It's very lonely here. I'm surrounded by people in the lab sitting at all of the workstations, yet no one's talking to one another. The only sounds are the rustling of papers and plastic copy bags, and the occasional sound of someone taking a coat off or putting a coat on to leave. That's it. Maybe the air exchanger adds soemthing to it, but that's about it.
Morpheus preserve me, what am I becoming?
After a lot of soul searching, private consultation, and proofreading, I decided to put the essay and photo essay that I did of my altar on line. It's probably of limited appeal and it's actually my first time writing something of this sort, so you'll have to bear with me if it sounds stilted or unsure in places.
The Imbolc rite last night was a lot of fun.. Andrea wrote and organised it. If I had to guess I'd say that about twenty people were there in the course of the night. Things got off to a late start due to having to move furniture around in the living room to make room for everyone; once things got underway Andrea's writing talent really showed itself. I honestly don't know how long it took, I was't cognizant of the passage of time around me. I was too wrapped up in what was going on.
After the circle was broken the feast began.. and what a feast it was. 'lex made two pots of chicken alfredo (excellent stuff), I brought s'mores mateirals and a dinner casserole (which went over well), someone else brought baba ganooj and flatbread, cherry cake... you name it. Everyone just sort of sat around talking and eating. At some point the bar opened in the basement and white russians made their rounds. I'll be honest, I could have done without the little ones yelling so loudly. I don't like shrill noises and after an hour or so I had a headache that just wouldn't quit. I doin't remember exactly when I wasn't able to put up with it anymore, it started getting to me. I'm also all for people blowing off steam; it keeps your stress levels down. But some of the things that people were voicing their opinions and complaints about really got to me. I try to go places so that I can get away from stuff like that, and after the third or fourth set of complaints about foo I got tired of that, too.
I like 'lex, Andrea, and TJ a great deal, and of the folks that I know who were there (the party was split down the middle of people I've met before and new faces) I like a good many of them... but I hate getting stuck in the middle of stuff like that. I don't like it, and I really don't need it right now.
As it is, I got home somewhen around 0430 this morning and slept until 1100 or therabouts. Sadie woke me up a few times by jumping on my bed, but I really don't know, I was too tired and not about to let myself come back on line if it wasn't necessary. I hadn't planned on staying out that late, in fact I tried to leave around 0100 so I could actually get a full night's rest for a change but that didn't happen for various reasons. So I'm still running on a few hours of sleep and I've got a load of stuff to get done before tomorrow.. and that's saying nothing about the paper due on Wednesday or a midterm for science fiction literature on Thursday.
Sometimes I hate my life.
And someone else hates eBay vultures trying to capitalise on the Space Shuttle Columbia incident.
Today's turned out to be a real dog's breakfast. Sadie was taken home by her owner today so the house is at least quiet. Ziggy came out a few hours ago and sniffed around. She's adjusting to not having the dog around again, and nicely at that. I've been working on this and that all day today, doing some reading, working on my papers, trying to make a dent in my formal logic homework. The problems are ramping up in difficulty now; I spent a good two hours working on the first half of the problem set and only solved two of the problems. Rather than bash my head against it for longer than I had to I called it a day and had dinner. I took a brief break to run to the store to stock up for the week, only to find that the local supermarket doesn't bother restocking after the rush Sunday afternoons. They're pretty well stripped bare of anything I usually get. On the whole it was a waste of a trip. I've got enough stuff to last for a while but it's the principle of the thing. More and more that place pisses me off.
But that's not the half of it. Tonight the logic gates inside my head that store the meaning of what I thought was a suprious error light closed and I realised that it wasn't the oil light going on in error, it was the low coolant lamp letting me know that the reservoir was empty. I pulled back in and tried to open the tank and the stopper broke off inside the tank. After cursing a bit I ran into the house for my flashlight (I'm wearing workout pants right now so I don't have my flashlight-and-multitool holster on) and got Dataline for help. We took turns prying the broken stopper out of the reservoir but Dataline cut herself on my knife. We managed to get the bleeding stopped with my bandana and then finished the job with a screwdriver. The reservoir was, technically speaking, dry as a bone. That is to say, the huge block of ice taking up three quarters of the tank technically means it's full but the coolant that didn't freeze has been used up, probably boiled off.
I've been driving around with no coolant for over a week.
Well fuck me and marry me young.
Guess who's going to be on the phone tomorrow between classes lining up an emergency trip to the mechanic? Yep, the Time Lord. The inventor of the cellular telephone with speed dial capability deserves to get off the wheel after (s)he dies this time around as a reward.
So I topped off the open space in the coolant tank with antifreeze and made it to the store and back again without any trouble. That is, once more, too bloody close a call for my tastes.
Song that best describes life right now: Missing Persons - What Are Words For?
This morning I woke up feeling an odd combination of exhausted and relaxed, if you can believe that. Exhausted due to the fact that I didn't fall asleep until 0300 or therabouts, relaxed because I did nothing at all last night related to school. I dreamed like nobody's business last night; my brain was processing a great deal even during downtime. I must batch process or something. Unfortunately, Sadie was not one of my dreams this morning, she was still in the living room and underfoot in the kitchen. It took a while for everything to click once I walked into the living room... and heard that the Space Shuttle had been destroyed on reentry. Instant shock. Meatloaf. What?
I don't have much time to write right now because I'm studying before I leave for the Imbolc gather tonight but I will say that it blew me out the door, so to speak. I really don't know what to say right now, it hasn't sunk in yet. Maybe later I'll have enough CPU time in my brain freed up to say something, but not right now.
Well, it's been another week and so far things are sailing smoothly. I've got to do another revision of my research prospectus for Monday, v3.0 was still too complex, the professor says. He seems to enjoy quoting Babel a great deal, as well - "Your language becomes clear and strong not when you can no longer add but when you can no longer take away." Unfortunately, there are now four sentences to each paragraph and there are no words with more than two syllables anywhere in the document. At this point I have no idea what he wants. If I simplify it any more it'll be meaningless at best, the speech parents use with their offspring at worst. If I cut anything else out of it it there will no longer even be any paragraphs in the document. At this point I don't know what to do.
A team in New Zealand discovered a man dying of pulmonary thrombosis after spending better than eighteen hours every day at this deck. Sounds like he was either an admin or tech support, where working more than twelve hours every day is the norm. For those of us in those respective fields this does much to give us a cheerful outlook on life, no?
After I got home from class today I brought Kabuki upstairs to spend some quality time with her, in the mode of writing my paper for archeology class. I've got about half of it done now, which isn't bad. At the same time I was baking cookies for that gift. I sampled the cookies sealed on the counter - palatable but not suitable for giving as gifts, they were simply too dry. I pitched them this afternoon and baked a special batch. I hope they don't suck.. really, I do. Baking and studying are two things that I have trouble doing, mostly because I have to get up and move around periodically.
To be perfectly honest my brain's fried tonight. Between hacking code and writing and taking notes on half the topics in the Pitt library I need a break. Because I could justify it as slack I finished reading The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem for science fiction literature tonight. I don't know why, I just felt like it. Finished reading a few slim books tonight, in fact, and made it through half of the latest issue of Game Informer. I've basically put my brain into cold shutdown tonight. It's been a long week.
Once again, day to day life is made difficult by none other than Sadie. Dataline's boss is going out of town for the weekend so we've got the dog for the weekend. She's already made herself at home. I warned Ziggy earlier this afternoon, she's been in hiding ever since. I get the feeling that she's going to be hiding out for at least a week.
On the whole today's much better than the past few days have been.. it's not bone-chillingly cold outside right now, classes are going well (albeit a little hectic), and no major problems have come up. I've got at least one midterm next week but that's in science fiction literature, so I'm not all that worried about it. As long as I go over my notes at least once I think I'm fine. It's sci-fi, which I tend to have an eidetic recall of. I've been trying for years to recode this otherwise useless talent to work with advanced mathematics, but so far it hasn't worked. *sheepish grin*
I spent a good amount of time hacking on my next project for algorithms, a simulation, last night. I've got just about all of the framework for the simulation runs laid out, once I finish a few more lines of code I'll be able to start writing the functions that are being tested themselves. Given that they pretty much gave us the code to do this it shouldn't be too hard - I'm anticipating more time debugging than actually writing the code. We'll see how things go after class this afternoon. One of the books I want to use for my research came in at the library, I'm going to swing up there to get it and then pick up some stuff for Imbolc this weekend when I get out of class.
I just found out that a friend of mine, Sunday, is on the workbench for an indefinite period of time. First she managed to cut herself pretty badly (it sounds like) on a meat-cutting device of some sort (as a mutual friend put it). Then she wound up in the hospital for a laparoscopy, which is where the abdominal cavity is pumped full of carbon dioxide and microsurgical instruments are inserted through tiny incisions. The surgeons removed a cyst and a mass of scar tissue. Drake says that she's doing fine but she's laid up until her body absorbs the carbon dioxide gas and the tissues return to their normal state (they were stretched pretty far, after all). I don't envy her at all. Sunday, we're all pulling for you out here. Get well soon, Sunday.
Earlier tonight Dataline and I were talking after dinner. She asked me what I was doing my research project on, and I told her (text-based virtual realities). For some reason, and unfortunately she does this on occasion, she took it as her cue to go off on a twenty minute tangent about an episode of The New Twilight Zone that she saw last night that dealt with VR. Nice, but a) it's completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand and b) it would have been nice to at least finish the thought I was trying to express at the time. For Kibo's sake... she means well, she tries to relate, but either I'm a poor conversationalist or she's too fast on the draw when it comes to talking. I havn't figured out which it is yet.
Damned annoying, actually. I hate getting my legs cut out from under me like that.
Early: For reasons I can't go into right now I'm not going to my morning class today. I still had to get up at my usual time, though, which on the whole I'd have preferred not to do, but necessity cannot often be ignored. I do what I must. So I'm taking the opportunity to read my e-mail early and catch up on the day's news, and then I'm going to pick up with the research I'm doing for my archeology paper until the NMI (non-maskable interrupt) arrives. On the whole I'm rather pleased with myself last night - finished my formal logic homework, laid out the design for my next algorithms assignment, made significant headway into a book for my research, another book came in at the library (I'm going to have to pick that up soon, probably tomorrow afternoon).. very productive.
The power went out this morning around 0430 EST. Dataline was jolted out of bed along with Ziggy, they ran around the house trying to figure out what had happened. In my pre-shower daze this morning she told me that she had heard an extremely loud and persistent crashing or slamming sound outside but wasn't able to localise the source of it. There aren't any footprints or tracks near the house outside; the streets were still white with snow so it was not a snow plow or garbage truck - no tracks could be seen at that time. She knew it wasn't her imagination or a dream because Ziggy was running around as well. I vaguely remember waking up around that time and hearing something that could have fit such a description but I can't say for sure. I'll ask the neighbors later today to see what else I can dig up.
Oh, this is rich.. someone from an IP address in China (just so the spam bots can hit this guy, his e-mail address is email@example.com) just sent me spam of all things, accusing me of being a spammer. What's more, the spam was sent to my junkmail account, the headers are obviously forged (the message came from IP address 126.96.36.199 but the SMTP handshake began with 'HELO localhost.com', and to top it all off it was sent using QuickSender v1.05, which is a bulk mailer, ICQ messenger, and SMS communicator. I think a little percussive psychology is in order here.. where's my LART??
Well, the Raelians are at it again. They claim that the first viable human clone, Baby Eve, is alive and well.. and living in Israel right now. An interesting place to hide the biggest celebrity since Elvis Presley, don't you agree?
Frankly, I've about given up on the Raelian's stories. They refuse to put the DNA where the lab is, so to speak, so their claims can be verified. I'm sorry, guys... no proof, no props. You've used this line one too many times to dodge medical testing (though the threat of being sued in the United States is a damned good reason to lay low, I'll grant you that).
I'm really feeling my age right now. On the Commodore One mailing list I just mentioned wanting to use an old 13GB hard drive with a C=1 system (which I'm saving up for right now) and someone just told me that it'll store about 74,350 1541-formatted floppy disks. Ye flipping gods.. I could back up my floppy disk collection several hundred times over to that drive. And I think I will, actually. I'd like to have all of the disk images on line, as well as room to put my source code, assembler, maybe a C compiler... better too much room than too little, no?
Welcome to yet another record of another relatively uninteresting day. We discussed H.G.Wells' The Time Machine in sci-fi literature this morning. Lots of good discussion on the book (still can't believe I forgot the name of the terranean race, the Eloi, though). Discussion seemed to be split between the Eloi/Morlocks as the aristocracy and working class of Victorian England (with some Marx thrown in for good measure) and Darwinian evolution. It's plain to see that the Eloi were so attenuated that they were little more than drones.. an evolutionary dead end. The Morlocks weren't much better to tell the truth, they'd returned to the animalistic side of their predecessors' nature in the millennia removed from the Time Traveller's (I love how sci-fi of the time treats people as types; better yet types as proper names). In the end I don't think that either race was viable in the long run - they'd become evolutionary dead ends. In the context of the story I can only hope that the others from Earth of that far removed time had gone on to better pastures and times that wouldn't have lead to their obsolescence. I never found out who said this, but they were right: "The meek shall inherit the Earth; the rest of us will go to the stars."
They were so right. I think that the human race would do well to reread this story in the near future and think about it for a while. Assuming, of course, that we don't annihilate ourselves. I've heard in a second hand manner from a friend of mine (both are friends of mine, actually, I just havn't had time to talk to the first friend lately) that the US is seriously considering nuclear tactics against North Korea once they finish with Iraq.
Lovely. Just when I was starting to get used to normal background radiation. Guys, what in the hell are you thinking?
And from thinking to drinking... may I present The George W. Bush State of the Union Address(tm) drinking game.
Don't ask me why but Judy brought over another faux-Ziggy for my grandfather. By faux-Ziggy I mean a stuffie kitty that looks exactly like my cat, Ziggy. It's mostly black with a white belly and paws and white whiskers. The major cosmetic difference is that Ziggy's face isn't completely white, only her nose is; the stuffie's got an all-white face. Oh, and this one is battery operated: It moves its head and tail, it meows, it responds to petting and scritching, and it'll even hiss at you. Just like Ziggy, only marginally more predictably. Ziggy's not happy about this duplicate of her in the house. Right now she's ignoring it completely and she's not very pleased with us because it's still here (it's upstairs); I expect she'll go after it before the night's over and swat the thing across the room.
Ziggy's really not taking this well; hell, I don't blame her. There are three duplicates of Ziggy around the house now, two of them stuffies and this new one. I'm surprised that she's not having an identity crisis.
Finally back at the lab. Class was long, as usual for today. I made a pretty big dent in the stuff that has to get done this week - ordered my class ring and put a down payment on it (it's a siladium hybrid band, halfway between a man's ring and a woman's ring.. it actually looks proportionate to my hand), did a sizable number of readings for American Cultures this week, and did my informal in American Cultures on my research project. As I wasn't allowed to use any of the usual vocabulary ("link", "icon", "code", et al) I had a hell of a time trying to get my point across. Lots of blank stares from the class. Unfortunately, this isn't unusual for one of my projects.... at least I'm par for the course right now.
I'll probably start on the research later this week. At least I don't have to start coding just yet on project two.
Today was another cold one, no lie. Between warming up the car and scraping frozen snow off of the windows (unfortunately, not the driver's side one.. whoops) I think I lost the sensation in both hands in record time (though it might have been due to all the typing, I don't yet know). I'm shopping for more pairs of bicycle racing pants to keep warm. No good prices yet but I'm hopeful.
This'll be a classic soon. The Politechbot mailing list just featured a parody of the Nigerian scam spam starring George Bush Jr.
I found yet another of those neat little quizzes on Lyssa's Live Journal, What ultimate beautiful woman are you? Well, I'm waiting for my food to digest so I gave it a shot..
Which Ultimate Beautiful Woman are You?
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Somehow, this surprises me little Eeh...
I actually feel pretty good today. For once I got a good night's rest and my brain's up, running, and actually running with some efficiency right now. I'll be handing in my programming project tonight one way or another - the problem's in my search algorithm, of this I'm certain. It's returning too much instead of too little, something that shouldn't be difficult to fix. I have to rewrite my research prospectus a little too, that won't be too bad either. Mostly it's reading for Archeology and my Formal Logic homework that have me worried, those take a lot of time to do. I'll probably tackle Formal Logic this afternoon because that actually has written homework due this week.
Okay, enough about school. It's snowing yet-a-frigging-gain and the roads are white. Of course I've got to head out and stock up today on supplies, so driving's going to be fun. I guess I'll pack a bunch of CDs and relax in the car for a while. Whee.
Oh, gods.. this is too tempting. The administrative interface for the .mil top level domain is completely unprotected. Anyone can log right into the authoritative DNS controls and set up, delete, and generally screw around with .mil network names. I have to admit, it's tempting... very tempting... virtadpt.mil and nerv.mil sound like fun. But doesn't the USA PATRIOT Act make this a terroristic act? Call me crazy but I don't relish the idea of being tried for treason because I decided to create a .mil domain for myself.
Damned common sense. Out, out I say!
Tell you what - if anyone would like to take a look you can find the administrative interface in question here: http://www.nic.mil/cgi-bin/domain. I'm NOT responsible for what anyone does with this, I just got the link from a Slashdot post (the first interesting one in gods know how long).
Well, I just FTP'd my project into the CS department's server. It doesn't work perfectly, in fact it works less than 30% of perfectly, but something that sort of works is better than nothing at all. I beat the deadline by 20 minutes, I think. Not too long after that I checked my e-mail and saw that Amazon had sent me one of their periodic discount e-mail flyers... for 30% off of a book called How Not to Program in C++: 111 Broken Programs and 3 Working Ones, or "Why Does 2+2=5986?" by Steve Qualline. Thanks a whole bloody lot, guys.. from the bottom of my colon, I salute your timeliness.
Hail Eris. All hail Discordia.
I'm going to bed.
Kibo on a crutch, my brain hurts.
After staying up until 0300 this morning to hack on my project, I've decided that the architecture the TA (teaching assistant) gave us is is utter cruft. After sleeping on it (though not nearly long enough) I've decided to rip out the changes he mentioned and put my own code back in. No more fun and games.
I've spent pretty much the entire day today working on my archeology reading for the week coming up. It's only half done, I copied that article from the library early, so it's not a total waste save of time that I could've better spent doing something else. I've also started going over the data for the paper for that class even though it's due the first week of February. I'm taking a short break before I start hacking on my project while a few articles print out on Dataline's deck for said report.
Around 1800 EST tonight I decided that I was going to take a rest, so I headed up out of the lab and finished off the pizza that Dataline started for lunch while she was taking the holiday decorations down upstairs. I also threw together a quick salad for the heck of it, mostly to use up the half a green pepper sitting in the fridge. Reheated pizza is pretty good with garlic powder (thanks, Lyssa) and I threw some of the leftover pepperoni on for good measure. It doesn't take much.
I'm planning on knocking off around 2200 tonight just so I don't freak out. At times like this I'm more inclined to keep going until my brain fries and I have a breakdown of one sort or another, which I really don't like subjecting people to if I can at all help it. If I have a nervous breakdown I can't get anything done, plus there's the time spent trying to get back on my feet... not worth it, no matter how you cut it. The professor gets my code before the deadline whether it works or not, right now I really don't care.
Part of budgetting time is deciding what you're going to take your lumps for when you have to drop something to make room for something else just as important. I hate to say it but it's only pragmatic.
Not too long ago I got to talk to Graeme. She's doing well right now, hanging in there just as I am at this point in time. Astute readers might have heard about a car fire in a hospital parking lot in Philadelphia not too long ago. No, it wasn't Graeme's car that went up but unfortunately her vehicle was very close to the one that did... needless to say her wheels are down for the count. She's searching for a new car - if anyone knows of one in the Philadelphia area please let me know and I'll pass word along to her. Thank the gods she's all right - she was inside and at work at the time the fire started.
When it rains it pours... but it can't rain all the time.
Sorry this is so late, everyone. I've had a rough day. I found out in American Cultures class today that my research prospectus was accepted. I just have to write a final draft for the professor, and I can start my research immediately. Whee! I suppose that I should tell everyone, because you'll probably get an e-mail from me sooner or later - the topic I'm researching is why some people who frequent text-based forums (like MOOs, MUDs, and various instant messaging services) feel the need to put so much detail (realistic or not) into the descriptions and their actions. There are some folks In Here who act almost indistinguishably from real life (myself included, I must confess). My question is this: "Why?"
I'll be interviewing people in various systems and services about whether or not they do this, and their reasons for doing so or not doing so. I'll also ask if I can follow you around In Here for a time to observe how you interact with others and what such detail brings to interaction. Your identity or pseudnonymous identity will be kept confidential unless you state otherwise, in which case any quotes I'm allowed to use (because the professor hasn't decided if direct quotes are permissible yet) will be attributed to you. Otherwise you'll be referred to by something suitably opaque, such as Greek or Hebrew characters.
After that I had lunch and went to the rest of my classes and then went off to study for a while. I've got a bunch of readings due for next week so I got a jump-start on them. Around 1300 EST my brain started winding down.. I hadn't had a cup of coffee since Thursday, so I walked across campus (fifteen degrees Farenheit, much warmer today, thank the gods) to hit an ATM, then walked back to the coffee shop for a double cup of coffee and back to the library to get more work in. After pounding down another eight or nine pages of research paper (which is quite a bit of data if you've never read an anthropological paper before) I went to have my senior mugshot^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hpicture taken. I must say, sometimes I don't mind looking like a guy.. I can pull it off quite convincingly if I've got a mind to though I don't ordinarily like to do so. It's not me.
Anyway, after that was more studying in the library. I got back to the Lab somewhen around 1830 EST, had dinner (there's never enough burrito on the plate, I'm sorry), then headed out to get a few books on C++ to finish my project up for Algorithms. I know that I should be taking it easy tonight and letting my brain recharge but I'm on a bit of a schedule right now and I want to do things right. I found two books, a programmer's reference of C and C++ which is going to come in handy (it's a full lexicon of ANSI C and ANSI C++) and the book C++ For C Programmers by Ira Pohl. The latter book assumes that you know C already and teaches you what C++ concepts correspond to C concepts.. it's like a translation handbook. I've been reading it and it seems pretty helpful, I'm going to start hacking on my code later tonight with it in my lap to see what happens. I'm confident that I'll get this figured out very soon.
Oh, and for the hell of it I had ice cream tonight when I got home. Yep, ice cream. Nice and cold and creamy and sweet and.... *sigh*
I relax when I can. Ice cream relaxes me. I'm inside so I really don't care how cold it is outside.
This is one of the funnier 404 pages I've ever seen. Wait for it to load, it'll take a while but it's worth it. Trust me.
Now this is weird... a family on vacation in Concepcion, Chile found this little bugger while wandering around the countryside. So the story goes, a child picked it up while messing around in the bushes. Allegedly it was alive though not in much shape to do much for about eight days. It's pretty dessicated now as the included images show. It looks to me a lot like it was a baby bird judging by the size and shape of the head, though the way it's holding its limbs reminds me of a kitten or maybe a lizard of some sort. There are some other shots on the page of people picking it up and moving it around in their hands. You can see the profile quite clearly as well as how the forelimbs are held postmortem. Right now the jury's still out on what it is/was. Lots of people are talking about having DNA testing done but no one's done anything about it to the best of my knowledge.
One of the Damned, as Charles Hoy Fort would say.
And may I have a "Holy imploding Kibo!" from the audience, brothers and sisters? Yep, it's colder than the inside of an Alcor cryopreservation tank outside (well, not really, but let me rant). Dragging my biomechanical butt out of bed this morning I was greeted with 2.8 degrees Farenheit on the thermometer's display in the kitchen and the news broadcast said it was around 12 below zero if you factored in the wind chill factor. Three shirts, two pairs of pants, a sweater, and a vest later I was ready to venture out into the cold. I left the engine and the AC to warm up the interior of the car while I scraped ice crystals from the windows.. unfortunately the inside of the car didn't actually warm up until I was on the Pitt campus, a good half hour away. As if that weren't enough the extremely low temperatures caused a water main break at the bottom of my hill, which reduced traffic to a single lane of a four-lane highway. Unfun. At least they got it fixed by the time I returned to the Lab.
Donuts were brought into science fiction literature class this morning.. yep, that made up for running around aimlessly on Tuesday. Thanks. *grin*
I passed on the job fair today. It was too cold to dress professionally (somehow three shirts just doesn't look too professional) and I had more important stuff to do (like study for class on Friday). Oh, well.
Well, so far nothing overly interesting or unusual's happened today. Early class went well - handed in the latest revision of my research prospectus. Hopefully this one'll get the green light and I'll be able to start my research. I returned to the Lab for a while so I could get some lunch and catch up on the news before heading back for the rest of the day (a good six hours of classes, give or take transit time). I wound up rewriting one of the modules of my algorithms project last night from scratch. The code's a lot cleaner and doesn't leave nearly as many redundancies in the data structure as v1.0 did. I think talking to Lyssa's really helped with this - Lyssa's very interested in learning to code and the questions she's been asking me about programming languages are jumpstarting the code writing parts of my mind. I wish I had more processing time right now to actually say some things useful for programming... in the process she's become a very good friend of mine, as close as anyone at home (you know who you are). She's got an irreverent perspective on life that I've come to both enjoy and find refreshing in a world of "grades are life, upgrade your deck or die".
The Megatokyo graphic novel has been relased. You can buy it for $9.99us at Think Geek now.
Ladytron's coming to the States! On 16 February 2003 (the day after my birthday) they'll be playing at the Trocadero in Philadelphia! Road trip!
I've been thinking about something lately.
I read the journals of a lot of my friends on the Net and in a great many of them I see people talking about doing stuff, going out with their friends, stuff like that. In my own memory logs I very rarely write about things like that. Partially, it's because I don't really have the time to go out and have a good time, and some of my friends are in a similiar position right now because they're in school just as I am. But the times I do I rarely write about it... it's because I've got a few conflicting groups of friends. I move in many different sorts of circles, both on the Net and outside of it and not everyone gets along.. unfortunately I always wind up stuck in the middle. It caused a lot of trouble early last year and it took a long time to extricate myself from the mess, and I never want to be in such a position ever again. Unfortunately, this means that many of the neat things that happen never get shared with anyone, which is really a shame.
I havn't decided what to do yet. I could keep on doing what I'm doing, or I could decide that I'm going to do what I want to do and talk about the neat stuff. The more I think about it, and I've been rolling it around in my head for a while now, I'm going to go with the latter decision. This won't mean much until I actually have time to do neat stuff again, though.
Getting to my first class was unusually amusing this morning. Last week my sci-fi literature professor mentioned that class would be held in a different room today. I made the twenty minute hike to the building (which is clear on the other side of campus, on the other side of the medical school) and saw a sign on the door of our usual classroom, which directed the reader to the diametric opposite side of campus. I shrugged, expecting something along those lines (since I hadn't gotten an advisory e-mail about the switch, even by 0730 EST, which is around when I left this morning), and hiked back across campus to the appointed room.. which had a class in full swing. Okay, no big deal, I was a half-hour early for class anyway. Just to be safe I went into an office nearby and had someone call the literature department to see if the switch was still on...
Class is starting. Hold that thought.
...it was. So I hung out there for a while longer; eventually a few other people in the class walked over. A few said that the other door to the classroom in question had a sign posted on it as well, re-directing students to the other building.. another hike. One young woman called the department and found out that the class' location had been switched back to the original room due to a scheduling foul-up so we all headed back into the sub-zero temperatures to the other hall. When we got to our usual classroom we found that.. surprise, surprise class had been relocated yet again. One room down.
At least we got our road work in today.
We watched La Jatte (The Jetty) in class today. Excellent film; I hadn't expected to enjoy it quite so much but for an art film it was excellent. We've been discussing time travel in class lately so we also read a few short stories, among them All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein. I strongly suggest finding a copy of it and reading it, everyone, it's a real mindfuck. I won't give the story away but the basic premise of the story is that it's recursive in nature. Dr. DiBartolomeo was amused when I showed her my pendant, a small silver oroborous... "As it was so shall it ever be."
After lunch I headed out to get coffee and start reading The Time Machine by H.G.Wells for the same class. Another excellent story.
And now I'm back at the Lab catching up on the news and my e-mail before dinner. I'll be studying for most of the night, and shaking the bugs out of my project for Algorithms class (due Sunday, of course).
Lawrence Eng, administrator of Thought Expoeriments Lain (probably the preeminent Serial Experiments Lain website on the Net) is holding a fan art context to commemorate the five year anniversary of the release of SEL as well as the series' appearance on TechTV's Anime Unleashed programming block. Finally, something that doesn't suck in said programming block... anyway, the context started 2003/01/20 (yesterday) and will run until 2003/03/01. The grand prize is a production cel from the series of Lain Herself, the second place prize is a cel of Iwakura Mika, Lain's sister. There are other neat prizes, to... if you can draw you might want to think about entering. I know I've got a couple of sketches that I'd like to enter....
I've just hit on something neat. In my programming induced altered state of consciousness I've found a neat combination. I'm listening to Lucifer by E Nomine and I just looked at my backgdrop, which is a closeup of the eyes of Aya Brea (from Parasite Eve), and it gave me chills. Cool. In case you're curious you can see the image here. Try it.
Geez.. first I find out that Pookapet's engaged (has been since 19 December 2002) and now Forge is as well.
I know that the Belief-o-matic link makes its rounds every couple of months but I'm putting it up here anyway. During a break from studying I decided to see how I scored on the list. As it turns out I scored 100%'s in both the Neopagan and Universalist Unitarian categories. At the very bottom of the list were, in order Eastern Orthodox (14%), Roman Catholicism (14%) (sorry, mom), and the Jehova's Witnesses (11%). I hadn't expected to get a pair of 100%s. What I think is interesting is how much overlap there is between the various paths that are out there. Vocabulary naturally differs from faith to faith and religion to religion but a lot of the same basic principles can be found within each. People spend more time crabbing about the differences then they do talking about the similiarities. Go figure.
Okay, back to studying. Up next: Formal logic.
..and done. Now the only thing I've got left to do is code.
That was an interesting stretch... I just came in from shovelling the walk outside and generally policing the area. Not much is going on right now, I'm just killing time before dinner. Then I'm either going to shake the last bugs out of my project or I'm going to head out with some of the guys to go climbing. Dataline called, she's on her way back in and should arrive somewhen around midnight tonight if all goes well. You've got to love productive days. Maybe now I'll get around to answering all the e-mails that're piling up.
I just got a nasty surprise. A couple of minutes ago I heard what sounded like the detonation of a medium-sized firecracker someone upstairs. That's not normal, even for my digs. Then Ziggy, my cat and Labmate ran downstairs and started running around like mad, presumably trying to get my attention. I jacked out and followed her upstairs, whereupon she started pawing at the door leading to the patio out back. I flipped on the floods and stepped outside and much to my surprise found that a good portion of the floor was covered with thin brown streamers of foamy looking stuff and what used to be a can of Coke.
After New Year's I put the remains of the soda outside to stay cold and forgot about them. Well, it's now 18 degrees Farenheit Outside (much lower if you count the windchill factor) and a can of Coke exploded. The water in the soda turned to ice and the caramel, sugar, and everything else in there stayed more or less liquid. I think the carbon dioxide had been leeching out of solution for a while judging by the bulges on the bottom of the can (the once concave bottom of the can is now a perfect hemisphere) and how neatly the seam between what was once the top of the can and the side of the can parted. I've got most of it wiped up now but there's still some stuff soaked into the carpet. That's going to have to wait for the spring thaw so I can take the carpet cleaner to it.
As if that wasn't enough the force of the detonation threw the can across the patio, so there's a nice spray of semifrozen soda trailing across the patio. What a mess.
I've been up to my six in homework this weekend so I havn't been able to write anything. So far I'm drowning in archeology and I've got code to write. I'm going to pick up on Formal Logic later today after giving my brain a chance to rest (I'm still learning how to write proofs). Stay tuned.
I'm coming up for air.. been studying almost nonstop since Saturday morning or therabouts. Four chapters in Archeology for Wednesday night, totalling somewhere around 175 pages (I'll do the math when I give a damn); two chapters and change in Formal Logic plus pratctise questions kicked my ass most of this afternoon. The fact that I've got to take notes and work through the examples to remember what's going on takes up a lot of the time. There are two proofs left to do but I've stopped working on them for the time being because I need to let my mind process what it's downloaded so far. There's also code to write for my algorithms class so I've decided to knock off on everything else for the rest of the night and hack on that.
Please forgive the reference but now I know how Johnny felt in the movie version of Johnny Mnemonic - there's so much information in my mind right now my head's starting to hurt. I don't need to be on the workbench with a migrane right now (almost was last night thanks to the sweet and sour chicken from Sam's Club I decided to try; whomever invented MSG needs to be beaten with the MS-DOS interrupt reference). Lowmagnet and Lyssa Heartsong helped me get past that one (thanks a million guys). Lyssa's been keeping my mind held together over the past few days while I've been trying to work on my programming project. She's easily one of the most interesting and witty people I've ever had the pleasure of talking to, either voice or via an instant messaging medium of some sort. If anything, talking to her's kept my mind focused on what needs to be focused upon by distracting the panicky bits that like to blow up and throw me into panic. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, one keystroke at a time. That's what debuggers are for.
Song that best describes life right now: Inkubus Sukkubus - Belladonna and Aconite
Late last night a glass of the good Captain's wares helped me get to sleep. I couldn't crank the priority down inside my head on everything going on right now. Mind you, I didn't get completely flattened or anything like that, but sitting in the dark sipping a glass of spiced rum is a good way to put everything into perspective.
I finally had the chance to see what happened with that big protest march in Washington DC yesterday. As much as I love hearing that people actually care about what's going on in the country right now and they want to change it marching on Washington just isn't going to do anything except give the cops overtime. Those in power aren't going to be moved by thirty thousand people gathered in downtown Washington, DC because they don't like the war in Iraq. They're going to keep doing whatever they feel like doing and nothing's going to stop them. Yes, there are now verifiably thirty thousand-plus people who are opposed to the war effort. But their opinions don't matter; neither do mine on the war effort, don't think I've got any pull anyplace or have inside information incidentally. Those in power have made up their minds and they're going to run with it.
If you want to get their attention, get the attention of their chequebooks.
Speaking of attention, my stomach's getting my attention. Dinnertime.
I made some serious headway on my first programming project last night. I've got everything written, now I just have to start debugging the methods on the objects. Goddess willing I should have everything up and running by Monday, assuming that I don't get snowed under by all the readings that I'm late on (my last textbook came in yesterday.. oh, well).
I've a conference lined up with my American Cultures professor later today; my research prospectus was rejected again. Then again, he rejected all of them in the class. He's got a serious jones for accuracy of some sort, the nature of which none of us have quite divined yet. This is going to be a rough one, I think. I just hope that he accepts it before the midterm because we're supposed to have the first draft done and handed in before then; time is necessary for research and if it can't be started before long there's going to be a rush on gathering the necessary information.
Hrm. Hrm, and hrm again.
Class just started. More later.
I just got home from campus by way of the bank and a quick stop off to check the oil in my car - a blinking warning light just after leaving the parking lot was in all probability a transient, little more than a glitch, probably due to starting a cold engine that'd been pointing downhill for five hours. The meeting with my American Cultures professor was hellish. He's a great guy, don't get me wrong.. I spent quite a while just talking to him. But when it comes to writing and clarity of thought he's as strict as the character of Mentor from E.E. Smith's Lensmen series. His 'suggestions' are actually requirements, I had to confirm this with him verbally. He's a subtle man but a little too subtle - his mind works in different directions from a cyb's. While our basic tendency is to complexify things as needed to take into account the nuances of a problem his is to simplify things. As it turns out I completely screwed up my research prospectus, it'll have to be completely rewritten from scratch according to his guidelines. Dammit.
At least I keep multiple revisions around for just such an occasion.
Another message from Jens Schoenfeld just came across the CommodoreOne mailing list - the pre-production board arrived on Wednesday and her preliminary tests have all been passed. She says that only a few minor changes will have to be made to the board's layout before they can start producing them. She's designing the full-scale testing procedure right now. Picture of the board can be found here.
Ye gods, what a day. Class was more or less a breeze today, I was able to make it through with no trouble. I wound up dropping $10us to photocopy the first two readings for my archeology class in the library - I don't even know how many pages there are to them. I re-read the first one and finished it earlier tonight. I'm saving the second and the book reading for tomorrow afternoon so I can hack on my project tonight. Last night I wrote the code to insert data into the data structure; it took me three or four tries to get all the ideas down on paper and laid out so I could key them in afterward. Laying in bed I figured out the search and retrieve algorithm in my head and dashed down to the Lab to scratch it onto a sheet of paper in case I would have forgotten it as my brain garbage-collected last night; it wasn't lost, though. I think the act of writing it down moved it into my long-term memory.
I really should be coding it right now but I'm catching up on other stuff that I need to do, like paying my bills, writing a deposit slip for an eBay payment (the last package will go out on Saturday, if you're reading this; you know who you are), and packing up said items. I wanted to get stuff written down because I hadn't had time to update this logfile yet today. After class I headed out to the local used bookstore to pick up something that I'd been meaning to get for a while - someone dropped off used copies of two older Mage: The Ascension sourcebooks, the tradition books for the Virtual Adepts and the Sons of Ether, which are so long out of print it isn't even funny. $10us isn't bad; on top of that I found a pristine copy of Built For Speed by The Stray Cats on vinyl for $2us. Bonus! They're going to have to wait to be perused, though. After that I returned to the Lab only to find that there was a massive natural gas outage in my area and Dataline was worried about our grandfather, because the building has natural gas-powered central heating. Service hadn't been disrupted, thank the gods, so he was fine.
And this catches everything up.
This is the most snow I've seen in literally years - there's been snow on the ground for a week straight, which hasn't happened since I was in elementary school. There was a major blizzard in the northern US - New York and Michigan have been hit pretty hard, I hear, and we're getting the fringes of it. It's kind of nice though temperatures in the mid-teens start to wear on you after a while. My duster's not cutting it anymore, I dug out my parka this morning. I'm thinking about digging my tights out to wear under my jeans as well, but I don't think it's cold enough to warrant that just yet. I came home for a bit this afternoon to have lunch because I'll be in class until 2100 or so tonight; it's too much like work to bring both lunch and dinner with me so I had one at the Lab and I'm bringing the other with me. The last thing I need is for my exterior to go hypoglycemic in the middle of a three hour class. Foul moods aside, I probably wouldn't be able to drive home that way, either. Not good. Besides, I've got code to write.
Here's a new one for you: Which cephlapod are you? I discovered that I'm a cuttlefish - I like bouncing around but don't get in anyone's way. This is actually very accurate (when you can actually find me).
Sorry I don't have more to write right now, between studying and trying to hack code most of my compute cycles are taken up, so I don't have many to spare for stuff like this. I'll continue to post short updates until I have a chance to take a breath.
Damn, it's cold outside... when I left the Lab this morning it was about 17 degrees Farenheit and showing no signs of warming up any. I figured that I'd let the car warm up while I scraped what little ice there was off of the windows and threw my bills in the mailbox (I forgot to do that yesterday), then took off. Traffic was easy to navigate, relatively speaking. I made it in with time to spare and then made the hike down the hill to Sci-Fi in what I think was record time. Afterward I had a good conversation about the movie Pi with the professor; she'd never heard of it but was curious about it. Someone who'se never seen Pi... I didn't think they'd existed. She's borrowing it from someone else in class to watch this weekend, I think she's going to have her mind blown.
This is going to be fun. *grin*
Seele tells me that there's a Pittsburgh goth-meet coming up soon. I'm out of that one - too much homework to do (and I've got to start hacking code for my Algorithms Implementation class). Oh, well.
I've got to bail, I have to get to my next class. Catch everyone later.
Week two kicked off this morning. My prospectus for my American Culture research project was rejected - a sentence ran over onto a second page. One page, two paragraphs, no more no less. The professor's a stickler for detail the likes of which I've not dealt with since high school. I'm going to go back through and see what else I can rip out - maybe I'll be able to save something for a surprise in the paper itself later in the semester. Other than that it's really not a big deal, they're technically not due until Wednesday anyway.
I keep forgetting to turn off my Gnutella client before I leave in the morning - my link back to the Network is so horribly lagged I can type an entire sentence and read an article on Slashdot before it shows up in the xterm. Minor oversight, that.
Speaking of oversights, here is an article written by Kevin Poulson about the US government asking for comments on the sentencing of computer intrusion cases. Some think that the penalties for cracking systems are too light, which is what makes website defacement such an attractive thing to do by the younger set. Others think that the penalties are too harsh - the USA PATRIOT Act makes cracking an offense considered as serious as treason in the USA. Frankly, I don't know yet where I stand on this. On one hand, I've worked as a system and network admin and I've had to analyze and clean up compromised systems as part of my job. It's no fun; it's like trying to operate on a puppy with no anesthesia. The management team is running around yelling because it's usually a production box that's been hit; the sysadmins are panicking because they forgot to secure a box and they're afraid that their butts are on the line (usually, they're right); the net.admins are running around yelling because their carefully written firewalling rules didn't do the job/a service they had to open a port for was compromised/they're not allowed to install a firewall for whatever stupid reason (I've actually encountered this one once); the developers are just wondering when they can get back to work... in short, while it pays well I really don't like doing it.
I'm inclined to write that it would have to depend on the nature of the intrusion - if it was just a script kiddie screwing around with a new toy and changing the index.htm page of someone's webserver then I don't think that he/she should wind up in federal court. I do think that they should be punished somehow, just not as a terrorist. But if they did something like snarf a few thousand credit card numbers or wipe out an entire telco switch then all bets are off - that's directly messing with the lives of people, and I can think of a few scenarios where they could be life-threatening (for example, someone's credit history that's been trashed through identity theft loses his/her insurance and winds up in the hospital; that credit card could make the difference between being treated and flatlining on a gurney in the hallway somewhere).
I tend to think along the lines of 'maximum trouble' - consider the worst case scenario and plan around that; the rest'll be a cakewalk by comparison. It's saved my butt a few times so I stand by it.
This is rich.. SCO, the Santa Cruz Operation is talking about collecting a one-time fee of $96us to "protect their systems from SCO-enforced patent issues", whatever that means. In return, they say, they would get the free right to run SCO Unix applications on Linux systems; SCO Linux users would get a free System-5 license.
My first thought when I read that article was "What the hell are they talking about??"... after rereading it I think I know what they're talking about. There is a subsystem in the Linux kernel called the binary compatibility subsystem; this code allows applications written for other true Unices to run on a Linux system transparently. If memory serves there's a BC module for SCO Unix in there somewhere. It wouldn't surprise me if that's what they were talking about there. It's no secret that SCO is in the red right now - they're in financial difficulty right now and they could refill their coffers with a stunt like this. Time will tell.
Earlier today I recieved more junk mail from one of those 'decrease your college loan debt' places. Folks, before you do anything, read your student loan promissory notes very carefully - most of them will tell you when you have to start repaying your loans and how much you'll pay a month (or at least mine do). This junk mail says that they can reduce my student loan payments to a minimum of $112us per month.. which is an utter lie. I know this because I looked at my promissory note and it says "$40us per month" on it. Federally subsidized loans are very, very easy to pay back if you can get them; up until recently I did. Granted, I'm paying three times that every month just to get the loans paid off but this leads me to wonder - if you hook up with one of these outfits and pay through them, what do they do with the excess (over your minimum payment)? I suspect that they only send in the minimum and skim off the rest for their coffers but I really don't know for sure.
Three guesses what's been going on today and the first two don't count. If you guessed studying, studying, and nothing else, then you get a cookie. I've got just about everything done for tomorrow, and in a few cases for the next couple of days. I plan on hacking on my first Algorithms project tonight to see how much C++ I can remember (because while I rather like Java I'm not fluent enough in the language to really get anything done without a lot of hand holding). Besides, I can use C calls in it, which I am very familiar with. If it'll get things done in time..
That's about it - that's all that's happened thus far today.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a document called Unintended Consequences, which is a cogent discussion of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, how it's been abused since its inception four years ago, and the aftershocks of those abuses. The 2600 lawsuit; HP suing SNOsoft for finding security holes in the Tru-64 OS that they hadn't bothered to release patches for; numerous researchers and research teams being threatened into not releasing their work.. it's all there. It is written in plain language, I strongly suggest giving it a read to get an idea of what's been going on lately.
Welcome viewers from microsoft.com! Sorry, but I'm not a member of the OTO. You'll want to find a camp closer to you.
A couple of days ago Dataline got one of those self-adhesive heat generating packs to put on her back, which was sore after doing more laundry than she really should have. The basic idea behind them is that you snap the pack and then put it on whatever muscles are sore and a chemical reaction starts generating heat to loosen them up. She discovered something this morning - those packs get hot enough to burn. Much to her dismay she found a second degree burn about the size of an American nickel on her spine. The blister broke and needless to say she's not a happy camper right now. I've been treating it with neosporin and I think it should close with little trouble but burns where the epidermis tears are extremely painful. Word to the wise, folks - be careful if you use them, and check your skin after you take it off to make sure that you didn't do the same thing.
Well, the day's over and I still havn't done much of anything but study and get a workout. I suppose it was a productive day.
My first batch of eBay sales just went out this morning. I drove an armload of boxes down to the postoffice and one by one got everything weighed, stamped, and shipped out. I'm proud of myself, in a way - I did something right for once. I'm fulfilling someone's need for something, be it materialistic or out of a situation of some sort. The next batch of stuff should go out sometime next week, probably on Monday.
After that I did some food shopping for the family. The stores are completely out of hot sausage. Dataline says that there were a few recipes for hot sausage shown on the Jerome Bettis show, which might explain the sudden run... it isn't like they don't have taste, I've got to admit.
Okay, so I don't have a life anymore (not that I did before, anyway..) I've just spent the afternoon reading three research papers and three chapters for my algorithms class. Lots of neat information, to be sure, but I'm wondering when in the hell I'm going to have time to actually do the programming assignment. I can do my readings during the day, that shouldn't be too difficult but research for american cultures requires being out and about, which takes time. I'm going to have to think about this a little bit more. As if this was any saving grace I plan on knocking off later this evening, probably after I finish my formal logic homework. It shouldn't take all that long, at least I don't think it will. If there's nothing good on the Cartoon Network tonight I'm probably goof around playing video games or something. If anyone wants to drop by feel free to do so after 2100 EST.
For some odd reason tonight we had a couch picnic for dinner. Dataline made hot sausage in the crock pot and potato salad (a surprise) and threw a pizza in the oven. I feel oddly refreshed right now... like that one little thing was enough to keep me grounded and ready to rock. I guess it doesn't take much to make one feel better, just reconnecting with the little things in life.
I feel a heck of a lot better now that I've made a dent in everything. Formal logic's out of the way for the weekend, that's a major load off my back. Now I can concentrate on the stuff that takes longer.
As for now, I'm sick and tired of talking about school-stuff. I'm kicking back with a hot cup of coffee and the Cartoon Network (which has completely killed its Saturday nights - no more Yu Yu Hakusho or Inu Yasha, so as far as I'm concerned they're wasting my mental bandwidth. Sorry, guys. You killed ReBoot (season four, no less!), this was strikes two and three. Looks like the question of decompression and amusement is an open one. Maybe I'll pour a glass of wine or two and read some fanfics or something; I need to shut my brain off for a while.
It's 1730 EST and I just got home from campus a couple of minutes ago. After classes were over instead of going home and kicking around aimlessly I decided to stay after all and study. There's a lot of reading to be done for American Cultures class next week so I sat down for a couple of hours and inhaled everything I could, even took notes. Surprisingly it was a very enjoyable experience. I think it was because this is a subject that I'm actually interested in and I enjoy studying it. The time just flew by... it's fascinating stuff. I even read about half of the papers for the same class that we're supposed to at least browse before submitting the proposals for our own papers. The report someone wrote about the restrictions inherent in the Orthodox Judaic path was fascinating, it was an FAQ and a half. Great stuff.
Okay, enough gushing about what I did today, or at least the school stuff. Because of that not a heck of a lot has had a chance to happen yet. That might change tonight, it might not. Right now about the only thing I have lined up is working on Dataline's deck again (she wants the two 40GB drives installed so she can actually use half of her peripherals.. why Windows 2000 wants drivers that take up 30 and 40 megabytes (you think I'm kidding... her CD-RW drive alone installed 42 megabytes of drivers alone, I checked). So I've got to back her data up, probably to Leandra, burn it to CD-R disks and then switch out her current drives (2.5 gigabytes and 13 gigabytes, respectively) for the pair of 40 gigabyte disks. Then a full rebuild, reinstall, and restoration of her data. Fun. Time to cue up SLAY radio..
Morpheus preserve me.... my brain's going to blow.
Okay. Here's the situation. Follow along if you can, for my mind is going in six different directions at once but the essential 'me' is caught in the middle being drawn and quartered. I'm trying to do way too much all at once right now. I'm trying to rework Dataline's deck and back up the data on its drives, calculate shipping costs and send out invoices for six different eBay auctions, catch up on my e-mail, find all the software Dataline needs, and on top of all of that I've got a subprocess listening (vaguely) to Pi which is playing on the home entertainment system. The music of Pi isn't helping, either - it's very fast, twitchy, and altogether good for jazzing you up. I'm trying to keep track of everything going on but I can't - my mind can't handle this much input! Did I mention how much coffee I've been drinking tonight? I need to stop!! Dammit....
I'm going to drop a few tasks right bloody now. The data's done and I had to shut the movie off or I'm going to go into a migrane from sensory overload. This was not one of my better ideas. E-mail can wait, I didn't find anything critical in it. I can't ship some stuff out until payments come in, so that's a few tasks out of the queue. Okay, now I think everything is managable.
Song that best describes life right now: The Sun Is A Mass of Incandescent Gas by They Might Be Giants.
I just got back from class a couple of minutes ago... everything went swimmingly. Science fiction class was a blast, we finished watching Forbidden Planet this morning and then started discussing it, though time constraints kept us from making too much headway. A shame, too - things were starting to get interesting. After grabbing lunch I headed to the library to start on the required reading for American Cultures class. I've got to admit, it's the best way I've spent an afternoon in a long time. I'm seriously considering not going home after class tomorrow but hanging around to finish everything off just because I have the time.
By the time I got back to the Lab this afternoon a couple of packages were waiting for me - textbooks. First and foremost, the book/software package needed for Formal Logic is here, and much more rapidly than I'd anticipated. Now I can actually do the homework. The other one is also needed for Formal Logic though not this early in the semester; the other is for my Algorithms class. Now that I've got everything ordered I can relax for a while and get into a routine. I'm enjoying a cup of tea and going through my e-mail before I start in on what has to be done.
Update from Jens Schoenfeld on the CommodoreOne discussion mailing list. Mass production C=1 units won't be available until February 2004, she projects. Oh, well.. so much for playing with the FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) chips (FPGAs are chips that are programmed for specific tasks, such as signal analysis or graphics computations using specialised software whenever they're are powered up, unlike standard processor chips the functionality of which are hardwired in place - they're single purpose units) on board the C=1. I'd love to try my hand at writing the code for a graphics accelerator and then having the OS upload the code into the chip... a universal data cruncher.
Yahoo's done it again - there's another webtracker in place for its users unless you register out of it. The URL to opt-out of this monitoring is http://privacy.yahoo.com/privacy/us/pixels/details.html. Be careful NOT to hit the button because it'll cancel the opt-out (nice one), hit the link to continue.
Song that best describes life right now: Fascination by Alphaville.
Still getting used to things... I did a good chuck of my Formal Logic homework tonight and took a load of notes and finished the first book on my reading list for Science Fiction Literature. I didn't expect it to go so well... I keep waiting for the other shoe to fall, which'll mean surrendering anything approximating free time for the forseeable future. It hasn't happened yet but that doesn't mean that it won't. This is a weird feeling - what's supposed to happen next? Beats me.
I've come to the conclusion that, on a low level, I hate ambiguity. I need to know what's going on and how it relates to everything around it so I can then figure out why it's happening. I like knowing when it's supposed to happen so I know what to do; more to the point, so I know where I stand in relation to other events in the recent past and local future. This is like standing on the top of a telephone pole: I'm there but everything around me isn't. What direction do I go in? Should I wait? Should I figure out where to go next? Should I just wait there until I lose my balance and fall (meaning that external events have pushed me in somem definite direction)? I don't know. That's usually what I do. It's not the best solution but at least it produces results.
It's inelegant. Yuck.
So I called up traffic court this morning and gave 'em hell.
No, that's not quite right. I called up traffic court this morning and waited on hold for about twenty minutes and then had a very good conversation with a clerk who I'd wager is up to her eyeballs in paperwork and people calling to complain right now. In a nutshell, because I was in traffic court so close to the end of the year somebody fell asleep at the keyboard and left two sets of records for me in their database - one that says that the verdict was 'not guilty' and that the refund was to be paid out, and the original one from before the court date which was never updated, so it tripped an alarm that told them to print out a notice. Because my fine is being refunded they've already updated their records to reflect that I don't have some sum of money paid to them, so that's what did it. Their system thinks that I didn't pay my fine and I didn't show up in court so it's yelling for my ass on a silver platter. Unfortunately, most computer systems aren't bright enough to continue searching the database for a second, nearly identical record with a later timestamp. The clerk says she fixed the glitch and it'll go to the state capital with the next update, probably tonight I'm guessing; I'm supposed to ignore the summons.
We'll see how this turns out...
In the world news today.. soldiers being shipped to Iraq are worried about side effects from the vaccinations they're routinely given. Following the research done on Gulf War Syndrome (in particular, those who came down with it who were never shipped to the Gulf the last time around) many in the armed forces are worried about the anthrax vaccine in particular, which has been shown to have adverse effects in some people under laboratory conditions - the reaction rate is up around 30%, so says the article. The parachute regiment of the British forces is already starting to report adverse reactions among those given this vaccine.
And this story just came down the wire from Politechbot - Faramarz Farahani, a Canadian citizen of Iraqi descent who was working in California as a software engineer reported to the INS offices at the advice of his lawyer to clear up his paperwork. He'd missed the termination date of his visa by two days - must have been a deadline. Anyway, the INS threw him into a San Diego, CA jail for five days. The original article can be read here at the Globe and Mail, I strongly suggest taking a look at it. The INS screwed up royally on this one; they weren't prepared for the sheer number of people who showed up to renew their visas and register, they didn't have a plan in place, and they were badly understaffed (not unusual during the holiday season, I've noticed).
In case you're wondering why my entries havn't been as detailed or as coherent as they usually are it's because I'm spending more time in class and doing homework than I am thinking about what to write about and how to go about writign it. That'll probably change on the weekends when I get sleep but I'm trying to adapt to six hours a night or so which allows for class, travel time, and doing homework and stuff like that.
Okay, I think I've got my head pulled back together. After class tonight I started running down again; my hold started unravelling once more. After a cup of coffee and a chance to think I took the time to get my ducks in a row and figure out what has to be done when in the immediate future. For some weird reason I always feel better once I know what has to be done. For a Discordian I've got this thing about organisation.. weird.
So now that I've got things figured out I know how much time I have to get things done. Now life's happy. That and I got to talk to Graeme tonight. I caught her just after she got home from work earlier this evening... she's doing fine but tired. Jess (a close friend of hers) is out of the hospital but on oxygen right now. I don't know how Jess' wedding is going to fare as a result of that, but I think things'll work out, I just don't know how. Wedding logistics are beyond me, by and large. Graeme says she's going to call this weekend - I don't have anything on the docket so far so I think we won't have to play telephone tag this time.
Song that best describes life right now: Sounds Like A Melody by Alphaville
Second day of classes, second set of classes. Getting up early helped a lot - I got to campus with plenty of time to spare, regardless of getting stuck in rush hour traffic. Etna's the bottleneck of the entire city, of this I am certain. Nowhere else have I seen traffic back up for over a mile simply because the lanes narrow slightly at the Mae West Bend. The fact that it's a blind curve and that sometimes people park on that bend don't help but I've never seen anyone do the latter during rush hour, not if they value the use of their vehicle for much longer. Anyway, even the hike to the building (once again, clear on the other side of campus, on the other side of the hospital, in fact) wasn't too bad. Then again it wasn't snowing so the sidewalks were pretty clear, and easy to navigate for a change.
First class today was my Science Fiction Literature class. I think I'm going to like this one, the professor's got three stories by William Gibson on the syllabus. I asked her why she didn't have Neuromancer on there and she said that she had to take it off - it blew too many minds.I think I like her. This is going to be a fun class. I think I can get most of the reading list at Half Price Books, so that's where I'm headed after class today before I hit the gym.
Right now I'm jacked into one of the iMacs in a lab catching up on my e-mail and writing this entry while waiting for Formal Logic class to start. Now that I've actually taken the prerequisite for this course I think I've got a fighting chance of making it through this time. I had to drop Formal Logic a year ago because it left me in the dust; time to see if what I've learned in the intevening semesters.
Jon Johansen, author of DeCSS, which is an algorithm that decrypts the data stored on DVDs so that the contents may be played back, has been found not guilty of DVD piracy by a Norwegian court. I just heard word on the Cryptography mailing list, I'll probably throw some links up later.
Congratulations, Jon! Keep on hacking!
Uh-oh... Tom Reilly, Attorney General of the state of Massachusetts in the United States of America has subpoenaed the access logs of one of the largest cryptography and privacy sites on the Net, Cryptome (note: slashdotted as of 1738 EST 7 January 2003 - here's my copy, mirrored from Cryptome). John Young has until 16 January 2003 to produce the server logs "in connection with a criminal investigation" (emphasis mine, taken from the subpoena itself). Cryptome's based out of New York City but Young's being summoned to Cambridge. I find that a little odd... Massachusetts v. "John Doe"? They can do that?
John Young doesn't know, geographically speaking, where the server that hosts his site is located - he buys hosting service from NTT/Verio. I'd wager that he doesn't know where the mirror sites are geographically located, either. And if that wasn't enough he torches the server logs to protect the privacy of his readers.
I wish I could say that things were going better lately but they're not. What I thought was the refund of my fine from the traffic court turned out to be a notice that they're yanking my driver's license the first week of February because they think I didn't show up in court. I did show up. I've got the paperwork to prove it. I'm going to start burning up the phone lines tomorrow when I get back from class to straighten this fucked up mess out, you can bet the last bit in your program counter on that.
I think I pissed somebody off a while ago.... wish I knew who. Life's not right at the moment.
Right now I'm in between classes. Getting up this morning wasn't difficult at all, the alarm went off and I came back on line with little difficulty. For reasons I don't fully understand right now (I think it's because it came from reason) I was outside at midnight today scraping the ice off of my car so I wouldn't have to waste time doing so today - as it turns out I only had to brush my car off as it snowed another two inches or so last night. Not a big deal but enough to make roads treacherous. Between that and rush hour traffic this morning I got to campus later than I'd planned on and walked into my first class a good ten minutes late. As a consequence I'm not entirely sure of what's going on right now... something about a paper due at the end of the term and we've got to pick a topic and write up a prospectus of research for it by next week but I don't have any fine details. I might wind up getting up an extra fifteen minutes early to give myself enough time to hike down from the hill behind campus (where my parking pass is for) to get to the geographic opposite side of campus (where class is). It isn't as if I don't hurry, either, I do the best I can.
Right now I'm back at the lab catching up before I have to shovel the walkway off (damn), hit the bank (double damn - tuition due), and drive out to class.
I just heard on the Commodore One mailing list - Jens Schoenfeld says that the development of the Commodore One is over and the production data has been sent to the manufacturer. However, there is no set date for mass production to begin. You might say that the C=1 has just started its beta testing phase. Jens' message states that these will be preproduction boards for hardcore developers only. Unfortunately, I have neither the money to afford such a board nor the time to start hacking on one if I did.
I've been home from class for a while, my last class was Implementation of Algorithms. The class is taught in either Java or C++, it figures. I don't know enough Java and I despise C++. I just ordered the textbook from Amazon, it should be here before the end of the week if all goes well. Driving home was less than fun, the roads are pretty bad right now. I wound up sliding all the way down the hill going home. While a reasonably fast means of travelling it's not fun to be riding inside a three-tonne vehicle while trying to keep control of it. Thank the gods that my brakes worked perfectly.
Tell 'em what time it is, Penn!
I've just created my first debian package for Freedroid v0.8.4 from source code. This is in no way an official Debian package, I just did it so I could compile my own stuff and not have to worry about package management breaking if I screwed up somehow. I plan on doing another package tonight and I'll write up everything I did and post it. The Debian Package Maintainer's Guide is nice but a bit verbose. Something a bit slimmer would be useful to people, I think.
Oh, this is classic.
Well, today's the last day of rest before the Spring semester starts. I just finished getting my ducks in a row for classes coming up - the binders are filled and ready to go, the notebooks are labelled and standing by, the pens and pencils have been found and organised, and I've got a few dozen highlighters to take to my textbooks. My schedule's been copied into my travel journal (as a rule I don't carry Satsuki with me unless I have need of computing power on the road) and I've got a map of Pitt sitting in my satchel. I'm trying to travel as lightly as I can this semester so I don't burn out any essential joints in between classes. That and I'm really sick of carrying that huge courier's bag with me (which I also used to carry stuff for work because I was on call). Tomorrow's the first day.
You've no doubt heard about the Raelians' (a sect based out of Canada) claims that they've cloned the first human. This supposed clone was born in December of 2002 - at first they'd offered to have the DNA of the mother and suppsed clone tested by an independent (because they have their own research company, Clonaid, rdvancing the state of the art, or at least claiming to) genetics lab but just a few days ago they suddenly backpedalled. The reasoning behind having the DNA compared is simple: If the DNA of the mother and the DNA of the child are identical, then logically the child is a duplicate of the mother save that it would be many years younger. The fact that the Raelians suddenly changed their minds makes me suspicious. They're now claiming that a lesbian Dutch couple is carrying another supposed clone to term. I'm not sure that I buy this either. Cloning is all well and good, and I know that it's technically a young science but to believe these guys I've got to see the DNA workup. It's easy to say that someone's infant is a clone, at least up until a certain point - babies have a lot in common with one another and because they change a lot at first (like their hair colour) it would be difficult to say at a glance if it were a 'normal' baby or a clone. DNA's the only way to be certain.
I havn't linked any news articles because it's all over the news - if you go to any major site like Yahoo or Google News you can't click your mouse without hitting an article about this.
I'm still trying to sort out how I feel about this. On one hand, advancing the state of the art in anything I'm all for. Breaking new ground and making your discoveries known are Good Things for the entire world. Genetic engineering and biology are no different. Perfecting the science of cloning has the potential to save thousands, if not millions of lives every year as well as improving the quality of life for probably just as many people. I'm all for that as well, don't get me wrong. I am, however, opposed to cloning for the purpose of reproduction. I've probably mentioned at least once in the past that I'm a member of the Church of Euthanasia. I am opposed to reproduction of any sort, at least for the foreseeable future. First of all the planet is overcrowded - the land can barely support the 6.2 billion (estimated as of 20030101) people who live on it as it is. Crops can be grown, to be sure, but the land can only grow so much food before it must lay fallow for a time so the supplies of nitrogen and organic material can regenerate. During this time the land can't be used for anything and there's only a limited amount of usable farmland in the world. The biggest problem is that of distributing food to those who need it.
Personally I think that one way of buying some time for the planet as a whole is to curb the rate at which the population is growing. China, for example, mandates only one child per married couple; any more children are killed shortly after birth and abortion is common. This is a draconian way of going about it. I've got no problem with abortion. But I am against murder, because it takes away the right of a person to choose of their own free will, and thus finding their True Will. I prefer to lead by example, so I've sworn that I will not reproduce for as long as possible. I accept the possibility that things may change in the future and I'll adapt as best I can but for now I've taken myself out of the gene pool. I also have certain religious reservations against siring children but I'll get into those later, they're a pretty major digression. At any rate, cloning people is a form of reproduction, which increases the population, and as such I stand opposed to it.
Okay, now that I've alienated most of the people on the Net...
You can tell it's football season - Dataline's been yelling all through the game today. I can hear her all the way down in the Lab screaming, cursing, and (right now) clapping wildly. Ye gods....
Oh, this is amusing: "Hey, Bryce! Call up your god and tell Her that we need six points! Remember, God is a Steelers fan!"
That was Dataline calling down to the Lab - she's really into this game.
You know, that's kind of tempting, actually.... I wonder if Eris follows football...
The Steelers won today, Dataline says. Whee.
Here's an article that explains why MSIE either runs faster than a ferret on methedrine or crawls like a slug on a nod. In a nutshell MSIE tries a nonstandard means of creating a TCP connection: It sends an HTTP request, and if it doesn't get a response or it gets an RST (reset) packet from the server, only then does it try to build a true TCP connection: SYN -> ACK/SYN -> ACK w/ HTTP request. This completely ignores RFC 793, which is the specification for the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). Without this spec there wouldn't be a Net as we know it.
And now for something completely different - greetings to readers from af.mil!
What a restful night's sleep.. once I hit the pillow my brain powered down and the rest was just a chase scene, as Stephenson wrote. I actually feel pretty good this afternoon (note that I was up at 1100).
Earlier this afternoon I put up the curtain rod and curtains across Dataline's closet to hide the fact that there aren't any doors on it. Getting the brackets for the curtain rod put in was no trick at all, the hardest part was moving a small sewing machine out of the way so that I could set the screws on the leftmost holder. Due to a slight dip in the upper shelf the middle bracket is slightly out of position but at least it keeps the bar from popping off of the closet's frame entirely. The curtain rod itself is a very classy looking faux wrought iron appliance that fits the decor nicely. We fought a bit about how to set the curtains up but we eventually compromised and I set the rings and the curtains into place in relatively short order. It looks pretty decent if I do say so myself.. not bad for an amateur handyman.
For an encore I put Crash's casing back together and made sure he'd come back up (he did, no problem) and then took a can of compressed air to von Neumann's internals. He came back up with no problems as well, I just decided to take advantage of the downtime.
As for what else I've got planned for today I really don't know yet. I was hoping to do some more work on a piece that I started writing last night and scan some of the photographs that Dataline found while she was cleaning up yesterday (she thinks that I should put some older images on line for everyone to look at; I'm not so sure). I know that I've got to defrost my car (the ice storm last night froze the doors shut) and I've been asked to do a little food shopping for the family - not a problem there. Beyond that I don't really have anything planned. Maybe I'll finally learn how to make Debian packages tonight, I don't know.
Oh, yeah.. there's that school thing that I need to start getting ready for. My bad.
Here's a little humour to brighten up your day: Humour hidden in the Linux kernel source code. There's some pretty amusing stuff in there, like the Sun Microsystems Happymeal code. More profanity than one would expect in code (but about as much as you'd hear in a coder farm someplace just before a deadline), too.
In case anyone is curious about one of the comments on Slashdot about ASCII art in the Linux kernel source tree (in file arch/sparc64/kernel/traps.c) if you look for the function die_if_kernel() there is a call to printk() with the comment "Amuse the user." which displays an ASCII rendition of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy mascot.
The mysterm man who offered a $200,000us prize to whomever can get Linux up and running on the Microsoft Xbox is revealed... it turned out to be one Michael Robertson, CEO of Lindows.com. Somehow I can see Microsoft cracking the whip on its legal department to sue this guy into the ground, probably under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
In other news, Bush has declared that a day of reckoning is coming for Saddam Hussein. Right now there are 64,000 US troops in Iraq and another 25,000 are being shipped out in the coming weeks. I love how this is turning out - UN weapons inspectors didn't find anything incriminating and yet North Korea can throw out the inspectors with the equivelent of shouting "And sod off the lot of you!" and the US doesn't even lift an eyebrow... I don't know what the Rock's cooking but I do know that whatever Bush has in the stewpot smells like fried tantalum capacitors.
As for what's been going on today.. not much. Dataline's cleaning and reorganizing her room right now. She's got the shelves hung and is sifting through her stuff to figure out what she needs, what she wants, and what she can get rid of right now. I'm going to install a new SCSI controller and drives in Crash this afternoon so I can clean up his file system (and actually install the NetBSD ports collection) so I can upgrade his systemware soon. I'm going to rebuild Dataline's deck tonight as a surprise, nobody tell her. She's clicking along at a good pace, I don't want to get in her way right now... later tonight I think she's going to need help, though, so I'm working to get everything cleaned off, so to speak, for then.
After a lot of sweating and straining I managed to get the four SCSI hard drives laying around the Lab installed in Crash along with an Adaptec 1520A card. It wasn't difficult per se, it's just time consuming to take Crash apart just to get to the drive cage, which must be removed so drives can be added or removed. That requires removing something like twenty-two screws, scattered across four assemblies. He's a cramped system, no lie. Once the drives were all installed and the card seated I did a test boot to make sure Crash would come up. He does.. up to a point. True to his name the boot process gets as far as the "Waiting 2 seconds for the SCSI devices to settle..." message and then hangs. Dammit. Time to go back to the original kernel and see where I went wrong. Maybe I missed a kernel configuration option somewhere.
After a total of seven hours of screwing around with the SCSI array in Crash I gave up. Every time I'd work out one bug (like having the SCSI card set to the wrong IRQ or a jumper that fell off of one of the drives) another one would pop up. Reboot after reboot went by as I tried to figure out why Crash was hanging just after probing the second SCSI hard drive. Eventually I guessed that the second drive was bad and disconnected it. The new second drive (third in the chain) became the new sticking point. So I swapped the second in and the third out.. same thing. Then I realised that the third drive in the chain was rapidly becoming too hot to touch with bare skin.. not a good sign, even for a SCSI drive. They're supposed to heat up but not that might, right?
So I decided to leave just two drives in the drive rack so there would be some airflow between them (at this point the drive rack was completely full). In removing the front of Crash's case I broke the power switch. Dammit. A quick poke with the hemostats jammed what was left of the switch into the 'on' position more or less permanantly.
Then I tried to remove the SCSI ribbon from the drives so I could pull the drive cage free... the bottommost connector pulled clean off of the ribbon and remained jammed in the drive's connector. Then the connector attached to the second drive did the same thing. And then the connector attached to the card itself tore loose.
Many bad words were said.
At this point I gave up entirely. Either I could get a few more hard drives crammed into Crash (so I could actually compile some software for once) or I could save my sanity and give up. I gave up. The drives are piled up in one corner of my lab for disposal; what is left of the SCSI ribbon is awaiting incorporation into my war jacket. The card is back in its packaging; I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet.
At this point Lowmagnet arrived at the Lab and we decided to head out to Borders to get out of the house for a while. Seven hours hacking on the same problem with no solution is reason enough to brave icy roads for a couple of hours. We kicked around for a while, looking at the new books, reading magazines, bitching about the music selection (not all bad, my friend - they had the new Ladytron album, Light and Magic), drinking coffee... decompression. I picked up the sixth Lensmen novel, Children of the Lens while I was there. Four down, two to go. It isn't as if I don't have enough to read right now... I picked up a cafe latte' for Dataline while we were out. She was quite grateful for it after working on her room all day today.
And now I'm back at the Lab watching anime on TechTV. I'm not entirely sure what's showing right now but that'll be solved once the credits roll.
One thing, though.. this is the worst English dubbing I've heard in years.
Crest of the Stars, that's it.
This is bad.... come on, show something decent, TechTV! You're killing me!
Have you ever wondered how entropy can set in en masse before?
The longer I live in the building I have my Lab in the less I can ignore this phenomenon. Furniture falls apart on a regular basis - the average half life of the average chair or bench is a little less than a single year. The antiques seem to age a bit more rapidly than they otherwise would as well. I just noticed this today hunting down a hammer so Dataline could hang a new set of shelves in her room - the tools in the workshop, even though they're carefully hung and neatly stored are showing signs of blackening or rusting (sometimes both). This might be due to the fact that they're not used often but I can't say for certain. The furniture's worn and beginning to fall apart upstairs as well. The fabric covering my grandfather's chair is wearing thin in places and Ziggy's claws are have taken their toll on the sides and front in the relatively short period of time the chair's been in the house. The makeup bench in Dataline's bedroom is already losing a leg and she's none too pleased with this development; her chambers are already full to bursting with stuff. Not useless stuff, either; day-to-day stuff. I've told her on occasion that she could use my own bedroom if she chose and I would relocate fully into the Lab but she's repeatedly declined.
My own bedroom's in a sorry state as well. I spend very little time there relatively speaking (as I only sleep five to seven hours per night; less during the semester) so I'm not very concerned with its state as long as it can be used for repose every night but I do have a distinct lack of space for clothing and other essentials. I've done what I can (including purging over half of my wardrobe in mid-2002) but to no avail. I'm hoping to divest myself of a good deal of equipment in the near future via eBay in the hope of freeing up some room but I need to get my biomechanical butt in gear first of all.
As for the foodstuff situation.. there's so much food in the house we honestly do not have enough room for it. Dataline and I plan on cleaning the fridge and freezer tonight after dinner to open up at least a little bit of room for other things. I seriously doubt that we'll be making any more pierogies in the near future and she says that the containers of pierogi filling are beginnign to go bad. Dammit. So much for making those custom batches for everyone else....
If anyone wants some of the leftover food from New Years drop me a line and I'll bring some out to you. Maybe I'll bring some to the next Mage LARP if the opportunity presents itself. Assuming that I go, that is. I might not be in good enough shape to travel by then (still have that cold).
We'll come up with a solution. I've no idea what kind of solution but I'm shooting for the forseeable future..
This is going too far.
So I finally broke down and wrote up a page of my eBay auctions. I'll try to keep it as updated as I can, I tend to list stuff in bursts whenever I have time. Right now I'm selling off a lot of my CCG stuff, in particular Ani-Mayhem and The Crow. They're practically in mint condition (mostly because I've never used them; I couldn't find anyone who was interested in playing around here). If you're interested bounce on over and take a look.
Music that best describes life right now: blueboxing.mod by Razor 1911.
Happy New Year, everyone.
Last night I had the privilege to attend what I think was the most successful party in many, many months.. thank you one and all for attending. I started cooking around 1600 yesterday afternoon, making general t'sao's chicken to bring, along with fried tofu (an experimental dish that I'd never made before but wanted to try). On an earlier run to the store with Dataline I'd picked up a dish of miniature egg rolls (which turned out decently in the oven but still aren't as good as fried rolls). I keep forgetting how long it takes to make good Chinese food - about two and one half hours to make enough for six people (about three pounds of chicken). By the end of the party there was less than a plate of chicken left so it didn't go to waste but the tofu, while tasty, was only picked at by people. You win some, you lose some.
Ellen brought a stack of her vegetarian pizzas as well as a selectin of poundcake that was to die for. Lowmagnet saved the day by bringing a 44-pound back of ice to chill the soda that had been sitting around all of our houses for far too long.. the recycling barrel was overflowing by the time everything wrapped for the night. Genetik brought his PS2 and a pair of Dance Dance Revolution pads that have been repaired so many times it isn't even funny. We spent most of the evening dancing and trying to get decent scores on the game while Genetik stomped all of us with his mastery. It's amazing how little it really takes to build up coordination of any sort, it's just the time necessary for the body to program its reflex arc for the actions... I'm seriously considering getting a DDR pad of my own for the heck of it. Exercise isn't a bad thing and I can't always justify the time to lift weights, but you can always justify the time to slack by playing games.. *grin*
DDR was a hit. Good call, bro.
The evening was by and large spent sampling good food and from the extensive collection of wines. The local vinyards have amazing stocks if you only take the time to get to know what they have and at least sample everything.
By now I'm rambling almost incoherently, not because I'm hung over or still drink (I'm neither), but because my body feels like it's been run through a grinder. First of all, I think my New Year's resolution is going to quit smoking entirely. Every time I start up on cloves again I start getting sick; not queasy-sick but "Hi, I'm your immune system and I can't stand these things; enjoy the flu for a couple of days" sick. I knew something was wrong while cooking yesterday because my sinuses started to feel scratchy and I was breaking into a sweat easily (which shouldn't happen unless one is actually doing physical work), and as the night progressed it degenerated into feeling like someone had taken a test-tube brush to my throat and sinus cavities. By 0430 EST the fatigue, headache, and loss of coherence had set in and my memory stores starts developing holes at that point. I think we played Trivial Persuit for a while but I can't be certain; somehow I helped Ellen and Jason set up space to crash but for the lives of me I can't remember how.
I think I crashed around 0500 EST this morning. I remember getting up somewhen around 1130 EST to see Ellen and Jason off and then I went back to bed and slept on and off until 1530, when I finally realised that I had to get up and do something so I wouldn't sleep entirely through today. So I took a shower with the fan off to steam the place up and got cleaned up. I think I'm going to start watching myself at parties, too.. I hate gaining weight around the holidays. But you knew that so I'm going to skip over that annoyance and move on. Right now I'm lazing around the Lab in sweats and my H2k2 t-shirt because I really don't feel like getting dressed any more than this and I don't want to watch Hawaii with my folks (it's on Turner Classic Television right now). Movies about missionaries don't do it for me.
I'm catching up on the news, reading my e-mail, and generally doing nothing constructive at all.
Here's an article that everyone should read.. life in the trenches as a sysadmin.