Tuesday, December 20, 2005

At supper tonight I asked what the french word for soup was, 'cause it'd come up at lunch when no one but me and some unknowing kids were around.

My mom listed 'potage', 'véloute', 'bouillabaisse', and probably one or two others1.

This being a more-German-than-French2 household, I commented that bouillabaisse is good to give people as a gift.

Of course, none of them got it, though if my brother had been paying attention, he might've. He knew what was needed to be known, anyway, even if wouldn't've connected them.

1 She didn't mention 'soupe'. Odd word, that. 'soup' is obviously of Germanic origin.

2 Language-wise. Ancestorially, I think it might be slightly more French. My dad's side was French some ways back and my mom's German probably a longer ways back.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Normally people think a dream is bad because it involve monsters hunting them down and killing their family and such, but nothing's wrong with dreams like that.

A bad dream is when you dream about perfectly normal daily routine during which you discover that you misrememebered and World AIDS Day is actually January 1, not December 1 as you'd believed. Such dreams fill you with misinformation that you have little or no reason to doubt.

Luckily this dream was easily confirmed a dream. World AIDS Day is December 1. Take that, subconscious!

(Why is 'subconscious' a noun? What idiot did that?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The mere fact of placing a copy on a shared directory in a computer where that copy can be accessed via a P2P service does not amount to distribution. Before it constitutes distribution, there must be a positive act by the owner of the shared directory, such as sending or the copies or advertising that they are available for copying.
Say...I've noticed that when I have Kazaa running and connected, I receive requests to my computer asking if I have such and such files. 'Britney Spears'. 'XXX'. All that good stuff. But when I don't have Kazaa connected, I don't receive these search queries. So...just how do the searchers know when to ask me? I mean, apparently all I've done is set up a shared directory filled with files. I didn't advertise it at all, telling anyone else on the network know I have stuff to share.
No such evidence was presented by the plaintiffs in this case. They merely presented evidence that the alleged infringers made copies available on their shared drives.
Ah, so the judge isn't saying filesharing copyrighted material on Kazaa is legal. He's just saying the CRIA (RIAA of Canada) didn't bother to mention one I-thought-obvious-but-apparently-needing-explicit-stating detail. Whoops!
(Source: PDF, HTML (The results ('CRIA wrong; ISPs of filesharers right') of the appeal of the famous 'file sharing is legal in Canada' decision.))
(Note that Bill C-60 will fix this stupid ruling and lay down the groundwork for a bunch of worse ones in its stead.)

The appeal decision also mentions the old decision that putting a copier and copyrighted material close together isn't authorising someone to violate copyright.
True. Good decision, that was. However, is he claiming that--if the downloaders copied copyrighted music--they did it without authorisation, and therefore the people sending the music isn't to blame? The file sharers didn't authorise the downloading of this music when they, I don't know, installed a p2p program, configured it to share their music, connected it to the P2P network, and knowingly permitted it to then transfer the music to other people over their connection?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

So on one forum I hang out at, a troll, in a trite-but-effective bit of trolling, recently declared himself candidate for forum president. Other people decided to run, and held an election and votes were actually cast. But it was never well organised at all, and certainly unofficial.

Then the troll declared himself winner, ignoring the non-troll election, as any idiot except all the ones on the forum knew he would.

So I explained it to them like this:

Chen Shui-Bian is president of China.

Of course, these idiots won't get it. But I think I'm very clever, and I shall preserve this bit of wit here, even though Google (blog search included) doesn't index archived posts. Even if they get zero results, they won't show old blog entries.

Yeah, that totally handles blog spam, dumbasses.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

At the ECU costume contest last year, I realised what I just had to do this time around.

the contest goes like this: We each go up onto stage, say who we are (IRL) and what we're dressed as, and walk across the stage, doing our thing. When it was my turn, I proudly stated 'My name is Luca Masters and I'm a guy wearing a cape'.

Of course, I didn't win, and I didn't expect to. I'm not claiming my constume was the best there, but the point is that it wasn't necessarily the /worst/ one their either. Take that, half-assed-costumed contest enterers!

Anyway, I absolutely must give honourable mention to one hoopy frood. He was there tonight, as well as at the /Rocky Horror Picture Show/ costume contest last week. No, he wasn't Dr. Frank-N-Furter. No, he wasn't Timmeh. He was the Black Knight, from /Monty Python and the Holy Grail/, and he should have won if not tonight, at the /Rocky Horror Picture Show/. He got my cheer. That guy rocks. I took some lame pictures of him at the RHPS, but I then lost my camera. Dang.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Some weeks ago, I was buying some oil, and the register said '$2.56'. And obviously my mind wasn't working normally because I didn't think 2^8 as I normally would.

Anyhoo, I handed her 3USD expecting 4 cents in return. It took me an hour to realise why she gave me 44 instead.

No. Wait. It was 2.54USD, 4 cents, and 46 cents. So my mind was working correctly. Except for the 'we're using base 60, right?' bit.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

(Link largely unrelated to this post. I ended a forum post about this news story with that line. What a useless headline.)

The United Arab Emirates and Iran and the lot are terrible countries. No nation should ever officially favour one religion (or race) over another. That's just immoral.

Israel, of course, doesn't count. That's different. Because those poor souls were oppressed by Hitler. Hitler didn't mind Muslims though. He thought they were just as good as Christians.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I have a leather-bound, 1928 annotated edition of Dickens' /A Christmas Carol/. 'With marginal notes for salesmen'. From the intro:

The Greatest Sale Ever Made
To a salesman, "A Christmas Carol" is especially interesting, because it is the story of a sale. It is the most fascinating story of a sale ever. Only Dickens could have shaped fine-spun strategy used by Marley's Ghost to sell the idea of a Merry Christmas to "hard boiled," cynical old Scrooge. The sale in itself was an achievement, but what makes it especially noteworthy is that in getting Scrooge to see Christmas as he saw it, Marley's Ghost has sold the same idea merry Christmas to millions of readers throughout the English speaking world. ...
Annotations include Scrooge was Not Exactly What You Would Call an "Easy" Man to Sell--He was Too "Cagey". And Playing on the Harp Was the Vogue Then--But Now a Really Artistic Salesman Plays His Tune on the Prospect's Cash Register.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Primetime did an (extremely biased) episode on a couple of young Neo-Nazis. And very poorly done. It's bad when the Neo-Nazis sound more educated than the national reporters. 'Oh, you're just teaching your own kids your own political views! Shocking!' Well, duh! I'm sure normal kids never pick up political beliefs from their kids. Oh, and I especially like how peaceful neo-Nazi protesters were attacked by rioters, so Neo-Nazis are /clearly/ dangerous.

They talk about people refusing white-only Katrina aid, but how about doing something about moronic reporters arguing for our side? Reminds me of the SNL skit where Saddam publically supported...Kerry? Bush? Clinton? McCain? Anyway, yes. Please, 60 Minutes, you're not helping the anti-racism cause..

Of course, it's quite normal for /Primetime/. I once watched part of a pornography thingy they (or /60 Minutes/?) did. The reporter v. pornographers was like Britney Spears v. Stephen Hawking.

/Primetime/ is the prig's /Jerry Springer/.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Because I recentlyish got a Kodak digital camera and have been receiving their newsletter, they sent me an online survey about it and their newsletter.

Some tips for their survey writers:
* Don't mix multiple choice answers. 'I like taking photos and REALLY like editing my pictures' is not true. You need either two distinct questions or include the entire Cartesian product for answers about photo /taking/ and photo /eiditing/ options.
* Same thing for sharing photos and editing phots.
* If the question says '(Enter whole dollar amount. Please enter 0 if none. You do not need to type in the "$" sign.)', it shouldn't prohibit you from entering numbers under 25.
* Don't assume I've read the newsletter and have opinions about it. Yes, I /think/ I've been receiving it, but I certainly didn't /read/ it. But I will happily check the 'Too many images' box.
* Don't make me answer every question. You want random choices for questions that are completely irrelevant, or for me to give you nothing at all?

Monday, October 17, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

Nearing that time of year again. Several of my friends have been planning for a month or two already. I started something like this many years ago, and was thinking it could make an interesting NanoWriM, but I doubt I'll do it that way. But, you know, when you're short on words for the day, throwing in a H2G2-esque article from time to time could be appealing. Coherence will not be something I demand of my story.

Graham (who alerted me to NaNoWriMo with his blog entry last year) is talking about how much harder it may be for him this time, since he succeded last year. For me, that's no problem. It can't really go much worse.
2004-11-01: Five hours of sleep the night before. Too tired to write much that evening. Why did they have ot make it start the day after Halloween? I wrote under 800 words.
2004-11-02: I wrote under 400 words, as I recall. I just /had/ to go watch the election results come in instead.
2004-11-03: Four more years. Too depressed to write.
2004-11-04: Four more years. Too depressed to write.
2004-11-05: Four more years. Too depressed to write.
2004-11-06: Four more years. Too depressed to write.
2004-11-07: Four more years. Too depressed to write.
2004-11-08: Four more years. Too depressed to write.

I wrote a tad more around the twelfth, or so, but by that time it was obviously a failed endeavour. This year, maybe I'll just go ahead and forget all about quality as I had planned. Writing poorly is not the easiest thing for me.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Thursday, a homeless guy was talking to me (or foodless, anyway) and he asked where I was from. I told him I was from Chocowinity, NC (this was in neighboring Washington, NC) and he didn't believe me. Apparently the way I speak is too proper. 'You must be British or something'.

Now, I don't have the southern accent of everyone else in the area, but I'm certainly not British. Of course, this guy had trouble understanding anything I said for some reason.

Anyway, if I wear a blue shirt today and a red shirt tomorrow, no one thinks 'He switched from medical to operations! That's weird.' It's perfectly normal. But if I switch to a Cockney accent for a day, people will think I'm totally bizarre (and annoying). People are stupid that way.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

BBC Headline: 'EU vets agree bird flu measures'

BCC decides ban prepositions. People seen singing and dancing the streets. English teachers give.

Monday, October 10, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

I have a system.

It used to be that my shirts were piled in a big...pile. And each morning, I'd grab one and put it on. I'd grab one of my favourites. I'd end up wearing four or five shirts in a single week, with little variance from week to week. I had about twenty-thirty shirts, but the lame ones were kept at the bottom of the pile so I didn't have to sort through them.

But, my brother then gave me some of his shirts that he didn't wear.

So I made a useful system: two piles of shirts. I'd take the one on the top of the first pile, wear it, and when I got shirts back from the laundry, I'd put it on the second pile. Once the firt pile was gone, I'd flip the second pile back onto where it was and start over. Thst way, I wore each shirt once. Wouldn't wear the same shirt more than once over the course of a month.

But! Now because some shirts are quite lame and some are fab and such, and the first pile spreads out so much, I will pick and choose a bit, and occationally I'll completely skip the worst few.

These are my short-sleeved button shirts. The thing I wear 300+ days of the year. My long-sleeved button shirts are in my dresser.

My shirts

Saturday, October 08, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

Earlier this year, the city of Washington, NC decided to improve their drainage system.

It didn't work.

Van in flooded parking lot

The flooding seemed worse than when Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999, but maybe that's because we didn't go into town until the next day. Our yard was flooded more this time.

Friday, October 07, 2005

At Philosophy Club last night, Adam pointed out that he could make a machine that says 'Ow, that hurts!' when you punch it. So I threw this thing together. Dr. Murphy an d Dr. Vebber seemed to think it was amusing.

Anyhoo, this is similar to a basic computer program I bring up whenever idiots start talking about plants and vegetarianism. 'Oh, eating meat isn't worse than eating plants, 'cause plants an feel pain too!' Bullshit. Animals have a centre of subjectivity. Plants don't. Plants feel pain in the same sense that this button feels pain: it reacts negatively to certain stimuli. Most philosophies and certainly common sense insist that there's a morally relevant difference between animals and Javascript programs. Yet there's no basis for the claim that there's a relevant difference between a plant and the button. You can bullshit all you'd like about plants sensing whether you're a murderer or not, but _plants_ _have_ _no_ _mentation_. Animals do.

Once again, science defeats bad philosophy. The good philosophers know this.

Friday, September 30, 2005

From the pilot:
'I hate psychology; it's a soft science' -- Temperance Brennen, an anthropologist.

It's a good thing I don't write screenplays. The characters would seem totally unrealistic because they wouldn't say stupid things like that.

Friday, September 23, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

Playing music on Windows XP? Hah! For a while, I was thinking I'd have to find some nice Ogg and MP3 libraries and write my own player. That was my plan.

Windows Media Player sucks in more ways than I can enumerate. Renamed a file? Crash! Moved a file? Crash! It's (plug-in'd) support for OggVorbis sucked. It all sucks. Everything about it sucks.
Winamp's Ogg plugin didn't work. I don't know why. WinAmp isn't what I want anyway.
Ashampoo was better, but had some serious annoyances, the slowness of it when trying to go through a 1 500 song directory tree being a major one.

Finally, however, I found a player for Windows that doesn't suck: yPlay.
At first, I was estatic because I could just do 'yplay --exit filename' and it would work like the UNIX 'play' command, but then I discovered I may not even need to. I'm undecided as to whether I'll even bother writing a Perl interface. Maybe I'll just use this thing. It's that good. Lightweight (No, I do not want to watch meaningless colours fly around to the music. I want to hear the music, and I want quick, easy playlists.)

I still may write the Perl interface so I can simply tag each song with flags and use that instead of playlists, but I'm not sure if it's worth it. That's what I really want. I don't know why n one offers that. I guess everybody sucks.

But yPlay is nice. Very nice. The randomising thing is more the way I think randomising generally should be (randomlise the list and then play through it, rather than jumping around randomly, letting the same song play over and over again), though the ability to rate music and have ++ed things played more could be nice. But that's not terribly useful. What's ++ at one time may be -- another time. That's why tags are good. Playlists will suffice, though.

I like yPlay.

(Having barely used it.)

UPDATE (before I've even posted this): When I move files, the only way I saw to refresh the song listing was to change the music folder and then change it back. Though I didn't try restarting.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

September 12, 2001. I'm in line to give blood1, and the people in front of me are talking. I get slighly involved, but not much. Anyway, at some point, what's-his-name asks Jessica her name, and she says she's alrady told him. She refuses to tell him her name 'cause he should already know it. A few days later, I see her in Brewster and ask her, and she tells me.

Some days later again, I see her outside Brewster, so I go up to her and say 'hey, what's your name?' 'Jessica'. 'Okay. This time I'll remember!' And I walk off.

A few minutes later, it occurred to me that the reason this person looked at me so oddly was that she may not have been the same person. I'm really not sure. She looked similar, but she didn't have a mohawk or anything nice and recognisable like that.

And worse, I've been calling her 'Jessica'in this post, but I really don't know. I've forgotten her name again. D'oh!

1 For six hours. they told me it would only be three, and so I ended up missing class for the first time ever.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

Searchiong for 'mythical twins' gave normal results and then results for a suggested alternative search: Screenshot.

I've never seen that before on Google. If done well, it could be useful. Probably will be a small improvement, ast any rate. Probably more use for people without the good sense to refine their search themselves.

And, of course, I already had thought of Gemini. I want others. *refines search*

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Challenged to come up with something good that George W. Bush has done as US president, my somewhat Liberal but more than a little Libertarian brother came up with medical malpractice award caps.

When Libertarian names price fixing as the best thing the Republican president has done, you know the world's all screwed up.

Liberals reduce the size of the government and end deficit spending, conservatives increase the size of the government and increase spending more than ever. And add price fixing to their agenda. I want a country where the parties pick their sides and stick with it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

Normally I try to avoid MLP, but this fanfic is the best evAR. I muchly enjoyed Naked Quidditch Match, but this tops it, methinks.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tripod (which, as I'm sure you know, sucks) gives us free (beer) people a CGI-BIN (with the ability to run our own scripts, of course). Now, CGI sucks, and lack of a relational database sucks, but I'm sure there's delicious stuff to be done with this.

I'm considering doing a toy virtual pet site mock-up, just because, well, I can. I've done a bit of it thus far, but it's untested ('cause I can't test it on my laptop), and doing everything with files is lame.

I also started working on a multi-player mod of the JS text adventure game I started some time ago, but again, untested.

Surely there's something trivial and amusing to do?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

Intended more seriously than my previous games, this is a Javascript-based Text Adventure Game. It's still alpha (my stuff never leaves alpha; I'm too lazy), but fairly functional. It can't yet compete with Hamlet: The Text Adventure (Or Robin Johnson's 'The NONDESCRIPT Text Adventure Engine for Javascript', which Hamlet uses), but it's a nice start for no more than a couple hours work. Most of the time was probably spent writing the example game.

I was writing a Perl-based engine last year, but it got lost when my hard disk died.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

I friend mentioned how he'd like to make a text-based GTO game:

I have this odd urge to make a text-based RPG version of Grand Theft Auto. Something like this:

Your Ubercar 3500X is on Fubar Road facing east. The corner of Crime Street is twenty-five ahead on the right. There are three pedestriants directly to your left.
> turn into crime street
Your Ubercar 3500X is on Crime Street facing south. There is an EvenBetterCar 9000N in the parking lot to your left.
> steal evenbettercar 9000N
You stole the EvenBetterCar 9000N. It is facing Crime Street facing South.
> drive south
You drive 50 feet south. There are ten pedestriants in the area, six on your left and four on your right. A police car is chasing you.
> bump police car
You bump into the police car. It takes 2% damage; your EvenBettarCar 9000N's armor keeps your damage to 0%.
> drive south
You drive 50 feet south. Two police men get out of their police car and approach your car.
> run police men ove
You run one of the police men over, but fail to hit the other. He advances toward your car and forces you out. You've been arrseted.

It would be mostly for parody, but with more-or-less complete game play.

Then again, the name Grand Text Auto is apparently taken. Maybe I won't do it.
(Posted by Leif K-Brooks).

This inspired me to make a little Javascript racing game. Future versions may include:
* Other people driving.
* More gruesome deaths (your engine can overheat, but currently that's no problem)
* Better controls (this really should be command-line based. :-)
* Better gameplay (turning all the time is boring. It needs more.)
* More!

But for now, here's the alpha.

Initially, it was going to be much simpler, which is what was so amusing about it. This was my original idea:
* You could accellerate.
* You could decellerate.
* If you went fast enough, you'd win.
No skill involved. No reason not to accellerate as much as possible. Just keep typing 'go faster'. Truly, that would have been fantastic. But then I had to get fancy.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I'm not the ambassador to Chad. You are.

You need to learn French if you don't already know it well. They speak French in Chad. Or maybe they just write it. It's pronounced completely differently from how it's spelled anyway.

You have to wear green always. Green underwear, green shoes, and green hats. Yes. Never fewer than eight hats on your head at a time. It could be worse: my brother has to wear a green cape.

Bring the bug spray. Chad is occationally plagued by locusts.

Don't be old. Only 2.8% of the population is over the age of 65. I think maybe they eat the old, weak people.

Read the news papers: all public service announcements are outsourced to Germany, but you'll be speaking French. Or writing French. If you want to learn when the unscheduled natural disasters will be occuring, you'll need to study the papers. They're written in French, because Chadians speak French. Or maybe they just write it. Newspapers are written anyhoo.

Get a lot of sleep. Chad is in the southern hemisphere, so it's day there when it's night in England, and the Sun never sets on England. Perpetual darkness means you may as well just sleep all the time. I should be sleeping right now. But instead I'm posting a bunch of poppycock about your new job.

Your salary will be paid in the official Chadian currency: XAF. It's X-rated, so you can only use it to buy booze and porn. I recommend the booze. Porn can be found for free online.

A few years back, there were five times more mobile phones than 'normal' phones. don't bring your own: just steal one. You'll have diplomatic immunity.

Lose weight. One of the primary industries is meatpacking. You don't want them packing you.

Don't wear jewelry near the military personel. Chad spends about 0.03% as much money on military as the US does. The soldiers may be seeking alternative sources of revenue. Luckily, the government couldn't afford to buy them real guns.

(Chadians hate curious people.)

I wrote this on the blackboard before intro CS once. Well, I was less concise:

Christmas = Halloween
dec 25 = oct 31
The professor read it out loud, said 'okay' and then erased it.

He now teaches IT.

Yeah, the teacher who'd capitalise the first letter in 'if', 'while', 'for', &c. when doing C++ on tests.

June 25...June is named for Juno who married Jupiter who is joviual=happy. You're happy at Christmas. Christmas is Dec 25. Dec 25 = Oct 31.

Today is Halloween. Dress up as the KISS army, go out in public that way, get photos of you eating in a fancy restaurant, put them online, and post a comment. Win my respect.

Of course, the entire month is Halloween. So do it for the next few days. Yesindeedy.

An old node from E2. Posslby E as well, though I don't believe so.

I forget all the details. My memory seems to be comflating it with Saige's 'one third of all pregnancies end in miscarriage' pro-choice commentary. I replied with '[THEWeirdo] is [third] after [General Wesc|me] and [Tem42] but he isn't dead, [more's the pity.]' It now resides in my Node Heaven, being the lowest-reputationed writeup at a dishonourable -13.

On a more interesting note, perhaps, Saige has the coolectly coloured hair I've seen for some time.

Friday, June 03, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

I finally put up my Charlie Bone Encylopedia. It needs much work. For starters, I want to provide ASCII-art family trees. That, however, would require more programming-thought than I'm ready to give it.

Seems like it shouldn't be terribly difficult, and doing it by hand sucks. I also need it to generate the full relationship list, as I don't want to have to add links between all the kids and their parents, when the parents are known only as Mr./Mrs. [kid's last name].

I'm so lazy.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

IQ: 128 96 146 142

Every once in a while, I get bored, and take an IQ test. The 128 is from a shareware program when I was 12-14. ~96 was around 2000, ~146 was 2004 (I was interupted and simply randomed the last question wrong, no doubt lowering my score tremendously), and the 142 is from today (Tickle.com).

I've never particuarly liked IQ tests, but maybe taking a bunch at different times and taking the inter-quartile mean would be semi-accurate. If it really matters though, have yourself evaluated in multiple areas by an expert.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

So, today I decided to walk to the Food Bank for a change. Normally I drive, but today I figured walking'd be cool.

It took two hours. I think it's probably six to eight miles. Not terribly far, really, but by the time I got there, my feet hurt a bit. Then I got to carry heavy boxes of food around for an hour or so. Luckily, my dad picked me up, so I didn't have to walk back during midday.

Along the way, I took a few decent photos. One building was condemned, prohibiting human occupancy:

Condmned building in Grimsland. Broken windows and no roof.

Maybe if they added a roof?

Friday, May 27, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

The Beaufort County board. Whee!

The county commissioner, Hood Richardson is known for his infantile behavior, but from time to time he stops with the tantrums long enough to make a few racist remarks.

Recently, the DSS has wanted to add more employees, and Richardson commented, 'One manager is worth 10 000 coolies out there with wicker baskets'.

Apparently, this didn't raise moral among the 'coolies' at DSS. So nine days later, at the May 26 meeting, he had some more to say:

First of all, no one should believe everything they see printed in the newspaper in the context that it's put in. Spin, spin, spin. Secondly, I made those comments as part of a discussion where Social Services was asking for more and more employees to some into the agency at the bottom of the ladder. I was just trying to point out that they should combine some of these low-wage jobs and request more skilled employees.
It's management skills that get the work done. Thus, my comment, and I'll repeat it: One intellect, one good manager, is worth 10 000 coolies. And that's not a disparaging statement. In no way is that a disparaging statement.
I've also heard that last year Richardson made an issue of one of his opponents in the election being married to a Muslim, but I have no quotes of that.

Of course, he's hardly alone. Last year, Chairman Tetterton referred to the two black commissioners as the minority boys, and commissioner Cochran commented 'Wouldn't it be easy to be black?' when one of the 'minority boys' missed a meeting.

I love Eastern North Carolina.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

From the web page of a Computer Science professor/lecturer at ECU:

1. Into the text box, type the numberof the Computer Science Course on which you are commenting or the word HOME to comment on this web site. (Use mouse to move cursor into this text box and click mouse. Edit by positioning cursor with mouse or arrow keys and then deleting or inserting type.)
Good thing she provides instructions in typing into the input field. That's complicated stuff for intro level CS majors.
NOTE: Because of the "Anonymous" feature of this means of communication, I will NOT be able to respond to you.
You have to wonder, when people put these things in quotation marks.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

Long, long ago my brother and I started collecting bottle caps. Eventually, he stopped (and gave me some of his), but I've never gotten over it. At this point, I kind of wish someone would give me a few bucks and take them away, or take them for free, or something. I'm sure there's an art student at ECU who'd like them. Maybe I should post a flier.

Luca Masters's Bottle Cap Collection
Roughly 11 000 Bottle Caps

Nowadays. the collection grows primarily thanks to my dad drinking gallons of Diet Dr. Peppet, but during the Pepsi+iTunes promotion this year, I went through recycle bins and trashcans at ECU daily, and all in all managed top win over 100 free songs without drinking a single bottle of soda. Which isn't to say they were all winners.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

This blackboard sits in the Solaris half of the ECU Computer Science computer lab. On the left, you see the statistics from one of Dr. Gopal's tests. An average of 54.15% really is not abnormal for one of his tests. The first test always kills the fools. In CS2610, the average on the first test was 46.something and in discrete math it was 47.something. One of my favourite professors, Dr. Gopal.

The ECU Computer Science Lab Blackboard
This board is actually quite boring compared to what it used to say. It included instructions on how to edit your source file on UNIX ('type "emacs filename"') and instructions for logging in ('choose "Gnome"' [CDE was the only other option, and for a while it was freezing. Now it just sucks.]).

Monday, May 23, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

I got a digital camera on Friday, so with any luck, I'll take lots of useful Creative Commons pictures. At any rate, I have a number to post here, but I'll probably just post a few each day for a bit. Updates here tend to come in spurts, and I'd kind of like to spread it out some. For today, it's a quick book tour of my house, skipping most rooms because I'm lazy.

Here's the room where I spend most of my time. Refered to as either the Computer Room or the Library. Rough estimate is ~6 000 books contained herein. Around 320 feet shelves--some of them doubled up--and books stacked in front of them. Boxes of books are used astables.

You can't really see it well, but here's the primary bookwall. Eight bookcases on this side:

On the other side, a chimney, computers, and two doors consume much of the space ,but we have two bookcases.

Here's the right-side of the first photo from another angle. Sadly, some ugly oaf got in the way.

Of course, that room's entirely full, so we've had to stack boxes eight feet height just outside the door.

Then, of course, we have shelves in just about every other room in the house. Here are the four corners of Duncan's room: 1, 2, 3, 4. Note that some of the stuff is my dad's/storage, as Duncan's currently in Cape Verde.
Here's my room. I have few books. :-(

Of coruse, my brother used to work for a used bookstore, but when the bookstore switched warehouses, they had us take most of the books.

Over a hundred cubic feet of books.

Most have been since shunted off to the local libraries over the years, but we still have a few:
Some are in the double shed:
Some are in a barn stall (originally, the stall was completely full, as was half the main corrodor)
The rest are in the barn loft.

Computers v. 10 000 books

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Fun little stuff.

I recently wrote (yet another) Brainfuck interpreter, this time in Javascript. Last night, I wrote a Javascript implementation of Conway's Game of Life (not uploaded yet; it's on the laptop), which I plan on extending in numerous fun ways. (Why just alive/dead? Why not a million different shades for a million different lifestrengths? And I've long been planning a massively multiplayer version.)

I may do a Markovian chain generator as well. And I recently started a toy programming language interpreter, but I've done very little and it needs a nearly-complete reworking.

Javascript can be fun.

As for Perl, I've done very little recently, largely due to having no good machine to do it on. I may get around to reimplementing my text adventure game again, but I'd really like to make it use mySQL or something, which would require getting that running on one of my machines, and a fair bit of actual software engineering, rather than my normal slapdash scripting. I'd also like to mess about with some AI-like stuff. Maybe take Marko and give it better pattern recognition.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Condoleeza Rice recently stated that America can defend itself against missile attacks from North Korea.


Maybe she got confused from all this 'Star Wars: Episode III' hype.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

They had this large LCD representation of a processor. The registers were labeled 1, 2, 3, 4. . . .there was no 0.

When you told it '1+4=' it stored '1' in register 1, '+' in register 2, '4' in register 3, and '=' in register 4.

It's similar to the above link for this post. Great fun.

Pressing the 2 key alerts the microprocessor and signals the Prefetch Unit to ask the computer's main memory for a specific instruction on the new data since there is nothing about it in the Instruction Cache.
Ther user presses the the '2' key so the computer looks up the number 2 in memory?

And check out the technical glossary at the end:
An acronym for disk operating system. The term DOS can refer to any operating system, but it is most often used as a shorthand for MS-DOS (Microsoft disk operating system). Originally developed by Microsoft for IBM, MS–DOS was the standard operating system for IBM-compatible personal computers. It can apply to any /disk/ operating system. MS-DOS was not developed by Microsoft, for the most part.

1024 megabytes. Literally meaning one billion bytes. Abbreviated GB, Gbyte or G-byte.
Gibibyte != gigabyte.
Internet IP address
A unique number identifying each host machine on the Internet network. Also called the IP address or TCP/IP address. A numeric address such as that the domain name server translates into a domain name
Internet Internet Protocol addresses, also called Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol Protoccol. The domain server translates from IP to domain.

To find one's way around on the World Wide Web by following hypertext links from document to document, and from computer to computer.
I have a friend who used to (~seventh grade) think that 'ambiguous' was computer term (from DOS), not a real word. I guess Intel has people thinking the same of 'navigate.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

The 1913 edition of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary has this to say about 'Sufficience':

Suf*fi"cience (?), n.

And this on 'Sufficiently':
Suf*fi"cient*ly, adv.

To a sufficient degree; to a degree that answers the purpose, or gives content; enough; as, we are sufficiently supplied with food; a man sufficiently qualified for the discharge of his official duties.
Last I checked, nouns and adjectives were rarely synonyms.

Friday, March 04, 2005

That was a fun test.

I figured I'd do quite poorly. Graduate-level Cryptography with one of the tougher professors. Yes, it was a Gopal test: a test that makes you think. I love those.

I studied more than usual, but considerably less than I should've. And the test half-killed me. I'd guess that I got a C. Or maybe a B, since he grades on a fifteen-point scale.

So I did poorly. But that's alright. I sat in that classroom with a bunch of graduate students and not one left before five+ minutes after the end of class. He finally kicked the last three of us out about twenty minutes after the class was supposed to end. And you could tell nobody was happily dotting their final 'i' and turning in their test with a cheerful 'I'm done!' No, it was clearly an 'I give up. I just don't know the answer to this question'. Nobody was on top of that test.

That was a fun test.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Last semester I found what is I suppose is a plastic toy walkie-talkie in the street. It's just soft, hollow grey plastic. It's not in good shape. You know how it's a front half and a back half, like, and it's splitting some. Especially the antenna, half of which is missing.

It's nice though. I've been carrying it around in my pocket ever since. A number of times I've let people borrow my cellphone.

One kid's trash is another's instrument of comedic genius.

Monday, February 14, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

I'm sitting in the computer lab in Austin listening to the Science and Technology Building's fire alarm

The SciTech building several buildings away. See buildings six and sixteen on the map? And I'm on the far side of Austin (well, left side of the lower branch of the T). Granted, one window is open, but jeez. All this probably because someone (Hark! It stopped! Took about fifteen minutes) microwaved their popcorn for too long. (Hark! I started again. But just for a second.)

You know, if administrators everywhere got clever, they'd ban microwave popcorn from their buildings. Consequent: microwave popcorn makers figure out a way to make popcorn that won't burn when over-microwaved, or at least burns in a non-smoky manner. People rejoice!

Friday, February 04, 2005

I went to the ECU 'Mardi Gras' celebration last night. At one point, the DJ commented 'We're celebrating Mardi Gras ECU-style!' Yeah: on Thursday. They do this every year. Always on Thursday.

Totally ECU. In addition to this bit of silliness, every semester they'll officially designate a Monday to be a Wednesday or a Tuesday to be a Monday or something like that so that all the classes will have the same number of meetings.

Anyhoo, before that, I went to the Philosophy Club, which was surprisingly interesting. Dr. Wall presented on State v. Guido and one other case. He'd done the case I can't name before, but it was better this time. Bigger crowd, for one.
In the nameless case, some guy killed his grandfather in order to get his inheritance. (Being only fifteen, he was merely sent to juvie.) Later, his sisters sued to prevent him from getting the inheritance. However, at the time the statue specified the certain conditions under which a will is invalid, and murder was not among them. Should he get the money?
(The correct answer, of course, is yes.)
The majority opinion says 'no' and provided several reasons:
* Original intent of the law: surely the legislators would've listed murder if it'd occurred to them.
* Undue influence. (this 'argument' may be strengthened by the fact that the kid murdered his grandfather partly because he thought he was going to be written out of the will soon.)
* Intent of the testator: the grandfather wouldn't have wanted the kid to get the money if he'd known the kid was going to murder him.

Let's consider these arguments:

The original intent of the law

(Specifically either a) they wouldn't have wanted the kid to get the money or b) they wanted it interpreted against a background of justice, to handle any screwups they made.

These both seem semi-reasonable, but if you interpret enough 'original intent' into the law, no one but the judges after the fact can know what is and isn't illegal. It's somewhat post ex facto. That's uncool. Still, a decent view, perhaps.

Undue influence
If I force your hand as you write the will, that invalidates it. But I contend that killing you is different. Consider a will that says (being freely written) 'Luca gets my estate, even if he murders me'. It seems obvious to me that this is a valid will and should be followed (even if they've updated the statute to say murder makes it invalid). Yet if I force you to write in your will 'Luca gets my estate even if he forced me to write this', that clearly isn't a valid will. These things are quite distinct, and it's not clear that they should both fall under the 'undue influence' basis for invalidating the will.

Intent of the testator
Suppose you leave me 100 000USD and I blow it all in Vegas. Maybe you wouldn't have left me the money if you'd known I'd do that, but that doesn't warrant the courts denying me the money. If you don't include the clause '...but you can't blow it all in Vegas', then sure. Same if you say '...unless he murders me'.

But that case isn't my point with this post. I wanted to comment on State v. Guido.
Some guy had the habit of abusing his wife. She ran away, but he caught her and told her he'd kill her if she tries running away again.
One day, she gets his run, and is going to kill herself, but opts not to. Then on the way to put the gun away, she sees her husband sleeping on the couch, and decides to shoot him. She does and he dies.
Because he was asleep, she was unable to get by on a self-defense claim, so she went for neurosis, or something similar. Extreme anxiety, basically.
Anyway, it's obvious to me (not being put in the actual situation) that the optimal solution would be to keep the gun and run away again (theft?), and if he catches her, then shoot him (preferably in the leg or somewhere most likely non-fatal). This brought up the suggestion of poking the sleeping husband and then when he jumps up to beat her, shoot him, arising to a very nice term: Premeditated self-defense.
Should premeditated self-defense be a crime?

(Lack of posts followed by a pathetic ramble. Oh well.)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Apparently, I'm WRONG and I'm a GROTESQUELY UGLY FREAK1.

Dr. Ceruti ('Greek and Latin for English Vocabulary Building professor) today started complaining about people using the word 'utilise'. 'Never use "utilise" when you can use "use", and you can always use "use"'. He says it's the same as 'irregardless' (except it's not a double negative; just pompous). He supports the idea of never using a long word when a diminutive one will suffice.

In my post yesterday, I argued essentially that no two words are complete synonyms2, so no word is universally replaceable. And I'll maintain that position. 'Utilise' has a place in English, and not only in sardonism3. However, I seem unable to come up with a perfect example at the moment, so instead I'll fallaciously attack what Dr. Ceruti had us do in class.

For the homework, we were to take the listed Latin words, find the stems, and come up with an English word that comes from them. Then he wanted us to say what they meant strictly going by the root and suffix type (noun, adjective, verb, &c.). e.g., 'annual' means simply 'having the quality or characteristics of a year'.
But the nouns! For nouns to prevent us from adding all the extra information the English word now holds, he'd correct people with 'just say "bigness"', or 'just say "sharpness"'. Fine, sure. 'malice' is 'badness' and 'acrity' is 'sharpness', but then he corrected a girl's definition of 'novice' to simply be 'newness'. Now, maybe I'm nuts4, but I consider 'newness' an abstract quality, not a physical thing, whereas a 'novice' is a physical thing.4.5 These suffixes make a difference. Obviously he was trying to keep it really simple and keep us to the stems-and-type-of-speech thing, but what's so big and scary about 'a thing that is new'? He did something similar with '-age' (He'd mentioned 'roughage' earlier, and when against another stem he said we could just make 'Xage' and it was the same as 'Xness'. Wrong.5)

'There are no rules in language', he says. You can take a stem and put on whatever ending you want, and that's fine. I'll agree entirely with that, but the suffix adds a lot more than just 'this is a noun'. '-ness' adds 'this is an abstract quality'. '-ice' adds...well, the book says it adds 'an abstract state or quality' and that '-ness' (Greek) adds 'a state or quality. But a novice is typically a physical thing. I know that much.

Knowing the etymology is a good way to recognise the gist of a word, but there's ever so much more to learn.

1 I've been using this line for years. It's a good line. Nothing to do with what I'm talking about though.
2 I didn't put it quite so strongly, but I think that's probably the case.
3 'Sardonism' isn't in any dictionary I can find, but I think 'sardonicism' is there simply because people weren't thinking when they tried to nounise 'sardonic'. Here, Dr. Ceruti would probably support me.
4 I am, but I'm right.
4.5 (Inserted late; it's easier than renumbering number five) Actually, maybe the quantitativeness of it is what's important. I'd think about that some, but I'm afraid I'd have to rewrite this ramble, I don't don't feel like doing that at the moment.
5 Actually, while 'roughage' is a physical thing, 'homage' isn't, so maybe 'age' is fine. But what this demonstrates is that prefixes+root+suffixes don't determine the entire meaning. The roughage of Bob's personality' is different from the roughness of Bob's personality. Heck, as he's pointed out, 'money' comes from 'warning' simply due to a Gaulish attack and some noisy geese.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

Dictionaries give definitions of words. That's bad. Probably worse than dictionaries are 'Word of the Day' things.

I have no good way of explaining what the heck I'm talking about, but one example I've come across is 'appease'. Some silly person I know learned the word not by seeing it in use a thousand times, but by coming across it once and asking for/looking up the definition.
Now she uses the word. Based on the definition.

Like most words, 'appease' has connotations and tendencies of usage that a dictionary cannot capture with a simple definition and a single example sentence. So I'll be reading something written by aforementioned friend and suddenly I'll be verbally slapped in the face by the word 'appease' being used in a manner that just grates the mind.

Now, I'm all for words being used in unusual ways, but only if they fit. Being the belegwain ned Amar, the first example that comes to my mind is Legolas commenting 'Unless my eyes are cheated...' That's not the typical usage of 'cheated', but it perfectly suits the context.

The next time you're wondering what a word means, rather than pulling out a dictionary, try reading through a few hundred examples (better search terms welcome). Sure it might take you a couple hours for each new word, but it's well worth it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

ECU had a blood drive today. It occurred to me while walking back to the lab afterward that it's ever-so-slightly amusing that they tell you 'no smoking for at least half an hour' after giving blood. Because smoking shortly after giving blood can be detrimental to your health, you see. e.e

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Back in my automata class, the professor would follow the textbook pretty closely. The book had nice example DFAs (chapter 1) where you were asked what they recognised and expected to get it slightly wrong .Then you'd be corrected and get closer until eventually getting the answer. The professor did this just the same, and led us through this very nice progression quite well. But there was a problem: me.
I would read the book before class and so I would know exactly what the DFA actually did as soon as he drew it on the board. After a few minutes, I realised I was completely screwing up his lectures by answering his questions with the correct answers rather than the intended answers. I stopped reading the book, and I learned to recognise when he wanted an incorrect answers and not answer in such cases. He taught in a similar manner in other courses as well, so I've had many occasions where I didn't know the correct answer, having not read the book and only being marginally super-brilliant.

Anyhoo, today he asked us when a matrix will have an inverse, and we all sat around in silence. (We consisting primarily of graduate students). I gave the Gaussian elimination answer of reducibility to Row Echelon form, but what he wanted was of course that the determinant was non-zero. Even after throwing out the word 'determinant' for us, we couldn't provide him with an answer. So he told us the answer, and then pointed out that this was not the right answer (we were under modullo 26) and gave us the correct answer (the determinant is not an invertible element).

Then he asked us, 'and we know that an element is invertible iff...?' Again, silence. 'This is the only major theorem we've proved so far'. Someone got it after a moment, but I think because they looked through their notes.

I think I may start reading the book. This way I'll at know the desired answers (and the correct ones). This way, we won't have awkward silences during class. And if I ever need a letter of recommendation, being an undergrad and still seemingly the smartest person in a graduate course may help elicit one. Gopal's the professor I most respect, so he's the one I'd actually care about a letter of recommendation from (though employers may prefer Dr. Tabrizi [software engineering guy] or Dr. Collins [formerly the co-op person who dealt with students getting jobs].)

Monday, January 10, 2005

I was in macroecon today, and the professor was going over trivial stuff (what is economics, &c.), and taking a long time to write each definition on the board, so I decided it would be a good time to practise using Tengwar. Normally, I write in (mostly) English, 'cause my Tengwar is so slow (and I'm slow at reading it), but I figured this stuff was slow and unimportant enough that it wouldn't matter. And I was dreadfully bored.
Later, as the professor took attendance at the end of class, the girl next to me inquired as to what language I'd been writing in. 'Tengwar. Elvish, basically'. 'What?' 'Elvish. From Tolkein. Middle-earth'. 'What's that?' 'You know: Lord of the Rings'.
She doesn't get it. Apparently, she's never even /heard/ of The Lord of the Rings.

That shocks me. Really, it does. I mean, maybe if the PJ films hadn't come out, I could understand not knowing the books (sad, I know), but these days everyone knows about LotR.

It reminded me of a discussion I once had with my astronomy professor. During environmental biology in Fall 2001, there'd been a multiple-choice question 'Which of these is not a subatomic particle? a) Proton, b) Neutron, c) Klingon, d) Electron'. It was commenting to my astronomy professor about how it was silly 'cause even if a student somehow didn't know the subatomic particles, everyone knows what a Klingon is. Dr. Bier disagreed. He said his wife probably wouldn't know had she not married him, and that most people probably don't know. I simply didn't buy his hypothesis. How could you not know what a Klingon is?

Some years later, I related this story on an online forum and asked if anyone didn't know what a Klingon was.

A good number of them didn't.

Let it be known that my guesses about what normal people know or don't know are rarely accurate. Not just regarding my silly cultish fandoms, but about science, and language, and most everything else. Homeschooling didn't make me an unsociable person, perhaps, but it did make me profoundly ignorant of what constitutes the standard intellectual corpus.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

(Potentially relevant link)

Were we to create an instance of the ninth gluon, would containment be destroyed, thus colouring the Universe, and allowing strong nuclear force to supplant electromagnetic force as the dominant force in the Universe, and in turn destroying all life in the Universe? (Just curious. . .)

And if it would, should we try anyway? I mean, it would probably suck for us to all die, but imagine the coolness factor.

Of course, maybe it wouldn't do any of this. Such a result would not be wholly unprecendented.

(I'm dreadfully uninformed about most physics.)