Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Panasonic introduces JenniCam in a Box.

I really can't think of any other use for this. Any business needing security would use CCTV.

Don't forget your Brain Shaker Extreme Headphones while you're there.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I suppose I should have expected it, but it came as a shock nonetheless.

Cat Herding on the Military Range. Courtesy of the Department of Defense.

Monday, December 22, 2003

I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself.

A coworker's computer seemed possessed today. It would start typing a few words of gibberish from time to time into applications. Stuff like "the inferno Irish firefly ravishing purple bulldozer."

A bunch of us crowded around to watch -- it got weirder and weirder. Thinking that his computer had been hacked and an intruder was doing this, the admin pulled the network connection to his computer.

It kept on going.

We downloaded AdAware; nope, no spyware found. Virus checks found nothing. It truly seemed possessed.

Finally, we realized that it was only happening in Internet Explorer and various Office applications. After a bit of searching -- through Mozilla, which was unaffected -- we found out that it was the speech recognition engine, installed by OfficeXP, going haywire (details here).
Hm... the upper managers are all walking around with expressions like they were force-fed a bullfrog for breakfast.

My prediction: layoffs/sacking will occur on Friday or next Monday.

Edit: Actually, I think I've figured it out -- a sacking will occur, but only one. And he's (don't worry, not me, and I wouldn't mind seeing this person go) not going without a fight.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Surely, I can't be the only one to use the word cruft.

My coworkers are getting far too much entertainment out of this...

Thursday, December 18, 2003

If I have to explain the same thing to the same guy for the third time in a row... augh. How *thick* can one person be?

Something is going on at work, but nobody seems to know what. But upper management has been involved in far too many secret meetings as of late and being very particular about ensuring that the whiteboards in the meeting rooms are thoroughly erased afterwards. Managers have also been told to ask who is and who isn't going to be here next Monday and Tuesday. Curious, neh?

I just want to go home and sleep.

[Edit: Just as I posted this, my manager and his manager got pulled into the big boss' office, and the door promptly shut.]

Friday, December 12, 2003

How the heck did I become so dang old? Ok, so 30 isn't that old... but I have memories of my parents when they were in their 30s.

Mattel recently announced the release of Limited-Edition "So-Cal" dolls for
the Southern California market:

Irvine Barbie
This princess Barbie is only sold at The Irvine Spectrum. She comes with an
assortment of Kate Spade handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog
named Honey, and a cookie-cutter house. Available with or without tummy
tuck and face lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with
"augmented" version.

Tustin Barbie
This modern-day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Windstar minivan and
matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full time occupation
or secondary education. Traffic-jamming cell phone sold separately.

Cerritos Barbie
In addition to perfect English, this Barbie also speaks fluent Japanese,
Chinese, Mandarin, and Pilipino. She earned a full scholarship to
Princeton, even though she didn't need one. Comes with her own
street-racing import car, complete with Japanese animation decals. Large
collection of video games sold separately. Careers or homes for this Barbie
are not available, because she will stay with her parents until they die.
If you purchase a Ken doll, he must move into her family's home and wait for
their inheritance.

Van Nuys Barbie
This recently paroled former "Porn Actress" Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun,
a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a methlab kit.
This model is only available after dark and can only be paid for in cash.
Preferably small, untraceable bills. Unless you are a cop, then we don't
know what you are talking about.

Santa Monica Barbie
This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2.
Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card, and country club
membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School
Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them.

Fontana Barbie
This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small,
a NASCAR shirt, and a Tweety Bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a
six-pack of Coors Light and a Hank Williams, Jr. CD set. She can spit over
5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's ass when she is drunk. Purchase her
pickup truck separately and get a confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely

Newport Beach Barbie
This collagen injected, rhinoplastic Barbie wears a leopard print designer
bikini outfit and drinks cosmopolitans while entertaining friends at the
beach house. Percocet prescription, and monthly alimony checks are

Riverside Barbie
This tobacco chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled
sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased Beer-Gut Ken out of
Fontana Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans,
fake fingernails, and a see-through halter top. Also available with a
mobile home.

Laguna Beach Barbie
This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair,
archless feet, hairy armpits, no makeup, and Birkenstocks with white socks.
She prefers that you call her "Willow". She does not want or need a Ken
doll, but if you purchase two Laguna Beach Barbie's and the optional Subaru
wagon, you get a rainbow flag sticker for free.

Long Beach Barbie
This Barbie now comes with a stroller and infant doll. Optional accessories
include a GED and a bus pass. Gangsta Ken and his '79 Caddy were available,
but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the infant.

Rancho Santa Margarita Barbie
She's perfect in every way. Her home is perfect. Her family is perfect.
Comes with a part time job to earn her own spending money and a bible for
church on Sundays. Also has a pre-assigned carpool day. We don't know who
Ken is because he's always away hunting or biking or something....

City of Industry Barbie
This Spanish-speaking-only Barbie comes with a 1984 Toyota with expired
temporary plates and three baby Barbies in the back seat, but no car seats.
The optional Ken doll comes with a meat-packer's uniform and is missing
three fingers on his left hand. Green cards are not available for City of
Industry Barbie or Ken.

West Hollywood Barbie/Ken
This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken by simply
adding or subtracting the multiple "snap-on" parts.

Thursday, December 4, 2003

1956... Budapest is rising...

First, if you haven't already, please send me your address for Christmas/Chanukah cards!

While waiting for a lengthy compile to complete at work today, I got the idea to remake Chess. I've only heard the music; it's never been well-received as a musical, so I haven't been able to see it. Downloaded the libretto...

Ugh. I see why. The first act builds the suspense so well, only to fall completely flat in the second act. We're talking month-old open bottle of soda flat.

My thought is to tweak it a bit... keep as much of the original music as possible, but change the roles a bit, and change plot complete. Perhaps instead of US vs. USSR, recast it as Kasparov vs. HyperBlue, a mythical successor to IBM's DeepBlue. The American will instead be the project manager, set on not just proving his excellence in creating such a powerful machine but also humiliating Kasparov.


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Interestingly, I saw no fewer than 20 wild turkeys on my way in to work. Bad timing, fellas... :-)

And now for something not quite so different... (yes, this means you!)

Monday, November 24, 2003

Argh. My right pinky feels like it's going to fall off.

Why, oh why, do most of the relevant punctionation marks in C require significant pinky extensions? Trying to hit [ ] { } | ' and " while toggling back to  ;  and occasionally  :  is maddening...

I'm about to rip this keyboard open and relocate those keys between my index fingers.

Monday, November 3, 2003

Dear Canada

Dear Canada,

It has been brought to my attention that the maple leaf is your national symbol.

While I am touched by the pride it brings to you, I kindly ask that you not litter my yard with your symbol. I'll admit that the first time was funny; it was nice to spend the hour or so in the crisp autumn air raking away. This weekend, however, I spent about seven hours hauling 40 30-gallon bags -- that's a total of about 4500 litres -- of maple leaves off my rather steep front and back yards.

I ask that you please identify those responsible and send them to clean up the mess they have made of my yard. I will provide rakes, bags, and some refreshments.


Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Time for a game of Good Idea, Bad Idea

Good Idea:
Finding some code that depends on a specific type of machine and rewriting it to work on any type of machine.

Bad Idea:
Changing code that works on any machine so that it works only on one kind of machine.

Very Bad Idea:
And that kind of machine is one that we don't ship software on.

Extremely Bad Idea:
Doing this to Dave's code.

Yep... someone did this to my code over the past week and checked those changes back into the main tree everyone uses. Now, instead of doing useful work, I'm stuck trying to clean up their mess.
My LiveJournal Trick-or-Treat Haul
dacut goes trick-or-treating, dressed up as a rodent of unusual size.
aki gives you 13 yellow lemon-flavoured gummy bats.
cappadocius gives you 10 yellow orange-flavoured gumdrops.
carn_carby gives you 5 light orange spearmint-flavoured miniature candy bars.
chanilye gives you 7 mauve cherry-flavoured pieces of bubblegum.
hokie gives you 12 dark blue grape-flavoured wafers.
jennay138 tricks you! You get a block of wood.
jessi16 gives you 5 light orange peach-flavoured gummy bats.
kalamar gives you 8 blue chocolate-flavoured gummy bats.
particleman gives you 18 mauve strawberry-flavoured pieces of chewing gum.
polarbee tricks you! You lose 33 pieces of candy!
dacut ends up with 45 pieces of candy, and a block of wood.
Go trick-or-treating! Username:
Another fun meme brought to you by rfreebern.

Saw Blue Man Group's concert tour last night with Tam (it was our anniversary-ish date). Was quite excellent and different from the show in Boston. I would, however, like to kill the people around us for talking (loudly and obnoxiously) through both opening groups (Tracy Bonham and Venus Hum, who were also in the BMG show itself).

My family is being threatened by the fires in San Diego and has told to stand by to evacuate, but the order hasn't come yet. They're already hosting one friend who had to evacuate. From what I can tell, the entire county is on fire. You know things are bad when most of the weather forecasts state "smoke." My mom got excited on Sunday when she heard rain falling on the roof; when she went outside, it turned out to be raining embers, and she was far less excited about that.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

This is a portable post

I'm starting to get very pissed off by the number of "build systems to end all build systems" that exist.

My latest beef is with Jam. "jam" makes "make" look pretty.

Make isn't very portable, but at least it comes with every system. And you can install GNU's make tool, which a lot of tools seem to have converged upon.

Jam is supposed to be a portable replacement for make. If it's so damn portable, why do (at least) three different, incompatible versions exist? There's Perforce Jam, from which everything else is derived. But to build FreeType, I need FTJam. Today, I needed to build Boost, which wanted its own version, BJam.

Ok, ok, well, if it can detect my platform's oddities, I can live with that. Oops. It can't.

Nevermind that I have Python in my path. bjam insists on looking for it in /usr/local, unless I set an environment variable documented in some back alley of the Boost manual.

Ok, set PYTHON_ROOT and PYTHON_VERSION. Run bjam again. Hmm... ok, it's going... oops. Those look like errors, and bjam isn't bothering to stop. Nope, just going ahead, scrolling the errors away so I can't see what the problem is.

Dig though manual. Oh, gee, despite all this configuration hoopla, it doesn't support Python 2.3. Ok, find older python... reset PYTHON_ROOT and PYTHON_VERSION... rerun bjam... wait... halt... reset variable... rerun...

Friday, October 17, 2003

I hit a bunch of people with a truck during lunch.

And I got prizes.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I was told today by Glen (engineering director) that Jim (our HR/CFO/IT manager) had denied my timecard from last month when I took two days off for my uncle's funeral. I had marked those days as "absent" rather than "vacation," but apparently Jim has decided that the death of an uncle is not significant enough to warrant paid-time-off.

Instead, he is going to deduct two vacation days (I have a negative balance at this point). Glen, however, told me to take two random days off and mark them as here. Uh, ok, sure...

I'm sure there's a moral to this story. Maybe it's, "Stay in school, kids, because working for The Man is not fun."

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Many of you have heard about the "Damn Fan" incident at Wrigley Field last night (for those who didn't: a fan nabbed a foul ball before Alou could catch it, possibly robbing the Cubs of an out; the rest of the inning went down hill from there, with the Marlins scoring eight runs).

A few AP and Knight Ridder articles (e.g., this Atlanta Journal-Constitution article) quote some rabid fan named Jim Cuthbert, of Lombard, Ill., who was "escorted shouting from the area" and ejected from the stadium.

Nope. No coincidence. That's my uncle.

Apparently, he's going to be on Inside Edition tonight. Fox Sports is sending a limo over to take him and my aunt Judi to the game tonight.

Interestingly, this isn't the first time he's been involved in an incident of this type to be televised. He was also ejected from a Hawks game and was shown on local Chicago news being escorted away by Chicago police.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Sittin' on a street corner, waiting for my compiles to finish, discovering the odd stuff you can buy through CafePress...


Friday, October 3, 2003

How can you bring your company's main Solaris server in 60 seconds or less?

Two words: ioctl SIOCGIFARP

Uh, yeah. So I managed to bring what little productivity we have here to a complete halt from noon until 3:30 today. That's only 150 man-hours lost. And, yeah, 3.5 hours is how long it takes for that machine to boot up. (Actually, we were surprised it came back that quickly...)

Of course, it's Sun's fault for having a bug like that allow any given user to take down an entire machine. But it's not like they're going to fix it or anything...

Thursday, October 2, 2003

Every so often, I go and see what bugs our customers are filing. This reminds me why I actively hate our customers, and why a good chunk of them should be taken out to pasture and shot.

My loathing of our field applications engineers runs a close second.

It disappoints me that companies run by people like this manage to stay in business.

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Back from vacation. Well, in body at least. Mind to arrive by parcel post in a few weeks. Maybe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

I'm back.

My uncle passed away last Friday, just after midnight. I left here around 4 pm and got there around 11:30 pm. The wake was on Sunday, and funeral on Monday.

As usual with my family, it was a Chicago Catholic funeral. Cry hard first, then party hard. (I'm sure this isn't limited to Chicago or Catholics; I just have yet to go to a funeral quite like this elsewhere.)

On Saturday, I went with my cousins, Mark and Jane, and a number of their friends to the Village Pub, where my uncle liked to hang out. We found out a few new things, like how the regulars there called him "The Sheriff." People kept sending rounds down our way, and I bought a round for the house. It was fun and touching at the same time. Mark and Jane both had a bit too much to drink, but were ok the next morning. I adore them both more than words can express.

(n.b., we're separated by a few years in age -- I'm 29, Mark's 23, and Jane's 20 -- so we're just now getting to the point where we can truly share experiences. Oh, and if you're wondering, 20 is well above the legal drinking age in Chicago. Not the age that's on the books, but the age that most anyone, including the cops, care about.)

I also helped a bit with budgeting and planning for the future, though Mark has most of that down pat despite the lack of good records. There's a lot of stuff you don't want to think about when something like this happens, but have to deal with it anyway. For the sake of your loved ones, keep semi-decent financial records. This is something I'll have to start myself (well, I've started... I just haven't maintained them as well as I should).

Friday, September 12, 2003

I just spent far longer than should have been necessary to get something as simple as ''1 (in Lisp) to parse correctly (e.g., ''1 -> (quote (quote 1)) ).

I suck.

Also have a lot weighing on me right now. Uncle's in the hospital and doesn't have much time left (days, if that). It was very sudden... he went in because his doctor thought he had pneumonia. Turns out to be aggressive and advanced lung and liver cancer. Ugh.

Mind you, a few weeks ago we were joking around at his cabin in Michigan. He seemed perfectly healthy and was his normal introverted, happy-go-lucky self. He turned 50 not too long ago. Wednesday night, they were still talking about how they were going to treat him as an outpatient; this afternoon, they weren't sure he was going to make it through the day. Yeah, real roller-coaster.

So, anyway, back off to Chicago for me. Will be back one of these days.

Friday, September 5, 2003

Yes, please interrupt me while I'm in the middle of an intense debugging session to fix your $)#(@* web browser font problem, which could be easily solved if you didn't @#)($*@# insist on using Mozilla on Linux, with fonts from a Sun box, with the display piped over to your Windows XP box running an outdated version of Exceed.

Because, see, my job isn't really that important -- certainly not as important as you viewing your CNN page or webcomics or pr0n or whatever -- and it's not like I really needed to be concentrating. Might bruise a brain cell. Oh, and certainly don't bug IT about it; they sit too far away, and it's much more convenient for you to pop over to my cube next door.

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Seeing all these back to school posts on LiveJournal... well... makes me feel old, dammit! :-)

Tired of work. The type of work I'm doing now, after the reorg, is decidedly less interesting. It's still the most bleeding-edge stuff at Neolinear, but far less innovative than what I was doing in Advanced Products.

One of the other managers pushed me over the edge today -- he sent his lackeys over to demand that I fix something right there and then for their product release (they've decided to integrate something at the last minute, *after* we've frozen a release candidate, for crying out loud). I fixed it, but then escalated it with my manager to (try to) make sure this doesn't happen again.

Hrm. Let's see... Labor Day weekend was somewhat of a disaster; a couple of irksome guests made the atmosphere in my house somewhat awkward. Labor Day itself was a nice and lazy day, though.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

But is it art?

Of course not. I'm an engineer; therefore anything I produce is automatically classified as not-art.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Well, I'm in my new cube now. I got kicked out of my office (which I shared with two others) and into cubeland. It's not so bad except for the fact that I'm in a fishbowl (my cube entrance opens directly into a hallway).

We don't have normal cubes here -- they're actually walls that go up only 3/4ths of the way. The entrances are too large, though -- that side of the cube is 90% open, increasing the feeling of fishbowl-ness for me. Anyway, since they're normal walls, they tend to get scuffed up (especially if there's a whiteboard on one). I ended up repainting my cube yesterday, and it looks much nicer than it did before (the previous occupants had an annoying habit of leaning on -- with one foot against -- the walls). Ooh, and I have a window now! Not the prettiest view, and I'd prefer that it didn't face west so I could keep the blinds open during the afternoon, but... ... it's a window!

Currently training my manager to not hold "conferences" (mostly vocal arguments with applications engineers) in his cube next door. Heh.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Working from home today and getting *far* more accomplished than I could at work. I may try to pull this off more often.

Saturday, August 9, 2003

You know you want one...

I didn't realise that Calcomp (under whatever form) still existed. Last I heard, they had been abolished through various acquisitions, eventually by Lockheed Martin.

Tuesday, August 5, 2003


Penguins Get Ice Lollies

"Britain's all-time top temperature is 99 degrees Celsius recorded in Cheltenham, southwest England, in August 1990."

Monday, August 4, 2003

die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die die

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I changed the brakes on my car last night. Ordinarily, this would not be a big deal; however, please realise that, given the fact that I've lived in an apartment or somesuch for most of the last 11 years, this was not a feasible thing to do.

Also, although I'm mechanically inclined, that usually applies to static structures (walls, buildings, etc.) or things that, if I screwed up, will kill me. And, at first, I thought that I *had* screwed up -- the pedal didn't feel right, and it was taking a lot farther to brake than it should have (on my driveway at this point). Then I remembered that you need to pump the brakes a few times to get pistons, etc., in the right position, and that the brake pads need a mile or so to break in (to match the wear pattern on the discs). After that, it was smooth sailing... er, driving.

Still unhappy about the reorg at work. Also found out that I have to work on Saturday. Grr. (No, I don't get paid overtime, being exempt and all...)

Tuesday, July 22, 2003


When they tell you that you have a choice, don't believe them. You don't.

Monday, July 21, 2003


Hm. Seems that I'm being slotted for a role in the architecture group. This would mean working with A, B, and C.

I get along fantastically with A, but A would only be part-time in the group.

I don't know B all that well, and he works in our San Jose office. However, B works with C quite often. C and I do not get along. At all.

C likes to edit my code so that it's more convenient for him to work with. C doesn't bother testing his changes. C likes to reformat my code. C never makes an attempt to communicate with me and does all of the above willy-nilly.

Not good. Not good at all.
% ping
no answer from

Yes, well, still in the process of moving. Right now, everything except a few cleaning supplies and trash is out of the apartment and in the house (though far from being unpacked). Computers have been sitting disconnected in what is going to be my office... I've been too busy packing, moving, unpacking, cleaning, etc., to even think about hooking them up. So my only access is from work (until Friday-ish, when DSL service is established).

Oh, and if you have the money, I strongly suggest hiring movers if you need to move. It was about $1200 for our two-bedroom apartment, travel time, truck, and a crew of four--and it was worth every penny. Next time, I'll be ├╝ber-rich and have them do the packing and unpacking, too (which will triple the cost, plus they'll be moving a house...). I'll also probably be in my late 80's. :-)

I have spent far too much money at Home Depot, Target, and Sears over the last few days. Though I suppose it's all a drop in the bucket when you consider that we've essentially spent six-figures this month. Ugh. I don't like thinking about that... (Hm... imagine putting a house on a credit card... you could get massive amounts of free gas/airmiles/clothes/...)

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Just out of curiosity...

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

So, IT has pulled the sudo (administrative) access I had to my machine without discussion or warning and by playing the authority card ("we must enforce [this restriction] across the board..."). I had this access because I was the point-man for problems related to different glibc versions (this is one of the main files needed on Linux), and you kinda need administrative access to muck with such things.

I've retaliated by refusing to perform such testing anymore, and by removing the duplexer for one of the printers I brought in. I'm also starting to take my books back. It'll be a short bit, then people will probably start screaming about the lack of duplex printing.

Monday, July 14, 2003

My body hates me.

Spent the last three days working on the (new and spiffy!) house. I did not realise just how huge and steep our backyard was until I mowed it yesterday. I don't think the previous owners had mowed it in a about a month or so.

Almost finished cleaning the carpets. They were vacuumed, at least, but they owned a couple of large dogs... the carpets definitely needed shampooing. (The dogs spent most of the time in the family room; I've done that room twice, and will probably do it again once more.)

Friday, July 11, 2003

  1. Find the thousand or so users who list cocaine as an interest and run a Markov babbler on their LJ entries.

  2. ???

  3. Profit!

your Sexual fetish? brought to you but you know that it would make her bleed you wanna talk, about eachother I hid inside my head in either physically or emotionally. Its probably better for a few hours im more of the rentals in this cut - better when I first arrived You said....your friend date your friends When my hair not relaxed every day. 1. of 2 people 1 am.

As my heart tricks my thanks Lets terminate these little projections how they took us to catch her staring at the first thing you d never have to go home, giggle*. To myself But, too bad Oh- hear this... Damon Albarn track :)hehe i decided not to sure i learned. today that he told me that bees cannot bore through the reflection but my cover by being there, and i rented movies-- donnie darko, cecil b I am going to notice?

people gawking, isn't I don't think they like me, at work n play

Closed Friday, Doubled Saturday....long fucking time but that'was dangling down, as the quiet life, a dream as in Oreos) is spelled incorrectly (One of the time. and usually blame yourself Take notice... no sweeping exits or offstage lines

When I go mr strife-you would play it? "from her head explodes... or implodes... whichever is less appropriate than the farmers planted the Delta for a long walk then go to sleep I get my plans I have been absolute shite.

So when we re just the last one I ve got going.

I explained that it s quite creative. amazing how much i think I d really like you. left us speachless.
We enjoyed it wasnt the nice weather. it s an excuse for not giving in, to work at the moment, and how stupid So I can t fucking know. it s probably a great dancer. He went so deep. in love it'how did you know I feel unloved. and filled out lately

Well, today sucks Today, I was going to b put on my back yard + perhaps five of us.

p i D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2003

I went to use one of the conference room computers this morning (in order to view a Word document someone sent me... I didn't have the proper installation or somesuch on my Win4Lin directory, but I digress). Clicked on Start. Clicked on Open Office Document.

Bong. Error 7923: Could not find Microsoft XP installation media, check your network connections and CD-ROM settings, or view the help file located at some obnoxiously long path in a hidden directory.

Huh? Whatever. Cancel. Word pops up. Then the same 7923 error. Click on cancel. Another Word window pops up and another 7923 error. Ad infinitium.

Bugged IT about it, and they uninstalled and reinstalled Office without blinking an eye. They're used to this.

I couldn't help but be amused. What other industry has its customers so beaten down that they accept this kind of routine as normal?

I'm not saying the software industry is alone in producing crappy products; for example, there are auto mechanics out there who are either clumsy, or unethical, or both, who will break two parts of your car while trying to fix one, but usually we get (rightfully) irate about this.

Actually, though, consumer electronics are starting to fall down the same path. My Sony DVD player has stopped playing certain discs, and getting it repaired would cost more than buying a new one. (I did eventually find out how to get into the service menu and adjust it so that it works again, though.) I, like many others from what I've read on various lists about these same DVD players, claim to have sworn off Sony products, but deep down, I know that I'll buy a new Sony MegaTroniTrin XP-3JS because it's shiny and brush it off with a "Eh, this one will probably be better."

Hm. It's interesting to check the weather report where you live first thing in the morning and see:

"Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania     "

(One special weather statement, a severe thunderstorm watch, severe thunderstorm warning, flood watch/warning, and local storm report... apparently this one is coming in with 2" hail and 80 mph winds).

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

If you type "uptime" but your right hand is shifted one position over, it becomes "yotune".

That would be a cool name for a performance-tuning program.

Monday, June 23, 2003

I'm unable to bring myself to care about work today.

More on "Why Software Sucks"

So I found a null-pointer-dereference bug in Pango, one of the components required to build GTK (the graphical toolkit used by Gnome). It's one of those "oops, I put active code in an assert() statement" bugs, so it only shows up when compiling in release mode.

Fixed it, and decided to be a good citizen by filing a bug in the Gnome Buzilla system and sent in my patch.

Today, I got a reply essentially stating that it's my fault for trying to compile in release mode.

This is why software sucks. No, it's not because software is complex (which it is) or difficult to maintain (which it is). It's because people are either stupid, have a bad attitude, or both.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Happy Birthday, Carn-chan!


Thursday, June 19, 2003

Dimensional warp generator?

Hm... some curious spam I received:


We need a vendor who can offer immediate supply.
I'm offering $5,000 US dollars just for referring a vender which is
(Actually RELIABLE in providing the below equipment) Contact details
of vendor required, including name and phone #. If they turn out to be
reliable in supplying the below equipment I'll immediately pay you
$5,000. We prefer to work with vendor in the Boston/New York area.

1. The mind warper generation 4 Dimensional Warp Generator # 52 4350a
series wrist watch with z60 or better memory adapter. If in stock the
AMD Dimensional Warp Generator module containing the GRC79 induction
motor, two I80200 warp stabilizers, 256GB of SRAM, and two Analog
Devices isolinear modules, This unit also has a menu driven GUI
accessible on the front panel XID display. All in 1 units would be
great if reliable models are available

2. The special 23200 or Acme 5X24 series time transducing capacitor
with built in temporal displacement. Needed with complete
jumper/auxiliary system

3. A reliable crystal Ionizor with unlimited memory backup.

If your vendor turns out to be reliable, I owe you $5,000.

Email his details to me at:

Please do not reply directly back to this email as it will
only be bounced back to you.

Sunday, June 8, 2003

Waste Heat

Tam and I are about to get a house, as you probably know. Part of me looks at this as owning my own home/domicile/kingdom, while the rest sees my own personal laboratory.

Anyway, I'm wondering why nobody has (apparently) looked at recovering the waste heat generated in a house. I don't think it's that negligible.

In the winter, it's pretty simple; everything is producing heat, so keeping things warm is rather easy.

In the summer, though... hm. You have a refrigerator pumping heat into your kitchen, trying to keep the stuff inside cold. Then there's the hot water heater and, when running, the dishwasher, stove, and oven, again putting heat into the house. Add to that the multitude of appliances (mostly computers in our case), performing computations while churning out household heat. Then we try to remove all this heat with an air conditioner. Grossly inefficient, I'd think.

If I could move the heat from the refrigerator, dishwasher, and computers and preheat the water going into the water heater, I'd be happier. Still getting the waste heat radiated from the water heater; I guess I could have an outdoor water heater used in the summer, indoors in the winter... though that's getting a bit expensive.

Of course, none of these appliances are designed for this purpose. Though they've started to make water cooling devices for computers, so I could use that (heh... running CAT 5e and cooling water through the house...).

Saturday, June 7, 2003

More Mead/Feynman

Down deep, [Feynman] always wanted to do experiments himself. A hilarious account of how he was "cured" of this craving appears in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman. In the end, he had his wish. In 1986, he was asked to join the Rodgers commission to investigate the Challenger disaster. After talking to the technical people, who knew perfectly well what the problem was and had tried to postpone the launch, he was able to device an experiment that he carried out on national, prime-time TV. In true Feynman style, he sprang it full-blown, with no warning! In his personal appendix to the commission report, he concluded, "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."

The day after the report was released was Caltech's graduation. As we [Feynman and Mead] marched together in the faculty procession, "Did you see the headline this morning?" he asked. "No," I replied. "What did it say?" "It said FEYNMAN ISSUES REPORT." He paused, then continued with great glee. "Not Caltech Professor Issues Report, not Commission Member Issues Report, but FEYNMAN ISSUES REPORT." He was a household word, known and revered by all people everywhere who loved truth. His own public relations were all about reality, and were, therefore, okay.

-- Carver A. Mead, Collective Electrodynamics
When Feynman said that a concept was "more mathematical" or "more abstract," he was not paying a compliment!  He had no use for theory devoid of physical content. In the Lectures on Gravitation, he says:
If there is something very slightly wrong in our definition of the theories, then the full mathematical rigor may convert these errors into ridiculous conclusions.

We called that "carrying rigor to the point of rigor mortis."

-- Carver A. Mead, Collective Electrodynamics

Friday, June 6, 2003

Attempting to recover my GPS unit myself, calling around to various pawn shops, etc. Well, first I need to find the serial number... hrm...

Planning on signing the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with SCO to review their evidence in their claim that Linux has infringed on their patents and copyrights. 'Twill be interesting.

Monday, June 2, 2003

From our wonderful IT people at Neolinear:

deathstar is currently experiencing some problems due to the high influx of requests from the timecard bots that poeple are using. As long as people continue to use these bots/scripts, the system will be very slow.

At the moment, the timecard system is down completely. I will post another messages when the situation is resolved.

We wrote the bots because the system was agonizingly slow to begin with, about 30 seconds to perform a transaction. Each working day requires at least three transactions (punch in, punch out, charge time). Thus, using the IT-provided web interface takes about 30 minutes to fill out the timecard.

The sad thing is we can't even blame it on a bad homebrew database implementation -- the backend is Postgres which, though not a terrific performer, is used in a lot of large-scale projects. Their web interface is just that craptastic.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Wake up. Get dressed and such. Check e-mail. Nothing interesting.

Ok, gather belongings, head out door. Open car. Observe lack of passenger side window.

Hmm. I'm pretty sure I had a passenger window yesterday. Along with a GPS unit, a few CDs, and change for tollbooths and such. And I'm darn sure I didn't have broken glass all over the floor of my car.

Call insurance. They say so sorry, but won't meet your deductible, we can't help you.

Call police. Dispatcher sends dumb rock in uniform over. Rock asks me for make, model, and serial number of everything. Attempt to explain that I know the title of the CDs, but not the manufacturer, and that CDs don't have a model or serial number. Rock insists that he needs model and serial number for the report.

Go to car wash place, vacuum glass out. Guy stops by, asking me if he can wash my car for me. I point out the glass and such. Guy still insists he can do a really good job.

Stop by Loafers for a sandwich. Clyde and Jen (?) entertain me and cheer me up. Much appreciated.

Call repair shops. Get quotes. Glass place says they can't help me until Monday. But but... ok. Monday's fine.

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

I don't get it.

autoconf is supposed to make platform incompatibilities go away (well, at least on Unix-ish systems). That is, if a program uses autoconf to build itself, I should never have to hand-edit a file, nor should I see crap like:

In file included from ../../boost/boost/format.hpp:55,
from ../../src/BoostFormat.h:9,
from formulamacro.C:43:
../../boost/boost/format/parsing.hpp: In member function `void
boost::basic_format::parse(const std::basic_string std::allocator<_CharT> >&)':
../../boost/boost/format/parsing.hpp:359: use of `string' is ambiguous
../../src/LString.h:35: first declared as `typedef class lyxstring string'
/opt/tools/gcc-3.2.1/include/c++/3.2.1/bits/stringfwd.h:60: also declared as
`typedef struct std::basic_string,
std::allocator > std::string' here

Why must software suck so badly?
Shiny new icon. Yes, saw Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi, a.k.a. Spirited Away, this weekend.

Spent my free time this extended weekend doing something entirely too geeky: developing a punchcard-programmed language. Except, well, nobody these days has a punchcard reader, so you put the card on a scanner and it reads the picture file.

The language runs on a Turing VM. Yes, that's right. You get a paper tape (initialised to all zeros or another state dictated by -- you guessed it -- more punchcards). Each instruction reads the value under the "head," and performs an action based on whether the value read was a one or a zero. Each action writes a zero or one, shifts the head left or right, and jumps to a new instruction.

I've even given it a 50's-esque flavour by outputting cryptic errors. E40 means card not found. E41 means card could not be read. And so on. (I'd output messages in EBCDIC rather than ASCII, but that may be going a bit too far...)

You can see the punchcards here (Acrobat format).

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

IT upgraded the Cadence installation I was working from this morning, costing me a bit of work. Even worse, the new install won't run, but they don't consider this a terribly high priority.

So, yeah. I can't get any work done for now. On the bright side, they're essentially paying me to surf the web.

Hrm. Maybe I'll go water the plants outside...

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

We're getting a house! So weird. But so cool!

Monday, May 12, 2003

A good way to really piss me off is to go behind my back on something. As happened today at work.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

I'm such an ass

Names preserved to expose the guilty.

What started it all
From: John Kuhns
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 10:17:06 -0400
Subject: Abbreviating symmetry

In the interest of consistency, when abbreviating symmetry,
the right place to chop it is between the two m's. That is,
shorten it to "sym" not "symm". You can find this stuff out
by looking a word up in the dictionary. They put dots between
the syllables (e.g. sym·me·try).


>The following API methods have been added to neogeo:
> setNetSymmStatus(netID, state)
> getNetSymmStatus(netID)
> getNetSymmStatus(netName)

And then...
From: Donald B. Reaves
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 10:20:54 -0400
Subject: Re: Abbreviating symmetry

Another engineer's opinion:

Seems like sym is a good abbreviation for symbol. That would imply
that symm would be a better abbreviation for symmetry.


Start the flames...
From: John Kuhns
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 10:29:31 -0400
Subject: Re: Abbreviating symmetry

I agree sym is a good abbreviation for both symbol and symmetry.
And in fact, whenever you abbreviate you run into this kind of
aliasing. So that's why we depend on CONTEXT to determine what
the abbreviation stands for. (Almost anywhere in NeoCell where
you see sym you can safely assume symmetry.) I think this dependence
on context is a better solution than resorting to unnatural
abbreviations. If you work in a context where both are equally
valid then maybe you can't abbreviate or clearly define which
abbreviations go with which terms.


Adding fuel to the fire...
From: Lynwood E. Hines
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 10:42:50 -0400
Subject: Re: Abbreviating symmetry

I agree that we should be consistent with how we abbreviate.
I also agree that sym is not a good choice because it is ambiguous.
There is no "right" way to abbreviate this, dictionary or no,
because it's up to us to decide which letters we want to include or
exclude based on factors more significant than phonetic breaks. I
personally prefer symm because it clearly is not short for symbol.
Reliance on context is dangerous as it assumes an unambiguous
context, which is not guaranteed.

I vote for using "symm" throughout the tool as the abbreviation for


Into the fryer...
From: Phil K. Yoon
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 10:51:24 -0400
Subject: Re: Abbreviating symmetry

I want to discuss following words.

str -> is it for string or for structure?
const -> is it for constraint or for constant?

the list can go on and on...

Happy wording everyone :)

It's roaring now...
From: John Kuhns
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 11:05:58 -0400
Subject: Re: Abbreviating symmetry

"Lynwood E. Hines" wrote:
> I also agree that sym is not a good choice because it is ambiguous.

I disagree. In NeoCell (atleast in the backend), it is not ambiguous.

> There is no "right" way to abbreviate this, dictionary or no,
because it's up to us to decide which letters we want to include or
exclude based on factors more significant than phonetic breaks.

I also disagree with this statement. There is a "right" way to
abbreviate just as there is a right way to spell. Wrong
abbreviations "look wrong" (atleast to me).

We could agree to not abbreviate symbol if anyone ever uses it.
The fact is, symmetry is used everywhere in our tool and symbol
almost nowhere. So why clutter the widely used abbreviation in the
off chance of someone somewhere getting the context wrong?

As Phil points out, context is already commonly used. Anytime you
overload a function you are depending on context. Context is a very
common way of delineating things. (PERL, for one, has many actions
dependent on context).


I figured that BugZilla was the only way to resolve this dispute.
From: David Cuthbert
Date: Wed, 30 Apr 2003 11:21:06 -0400
Subject: [Bug 1801] New: Incorrect abbreviations on machines


Summary: Incorrect abbreviations on machines
Product: Neolinear IT
Version: NeoIT-v1.0
Platform: Other
OS/Version: All
Status: NEW
Severity: B1_Blocker
Priority: P3
Component: Other

As per the discussion on neocelldevel this morning, I've discovered that
a number of directories on our machines are misnamed.

All abbreviations must be context-sensitive and split on syllables. Thus,
the following directories are invalid and must be fixed:

/bin (from bi-nar-y) Change to /bi
/dev (from de-vice) Change to /de
/etc (from et cet-era) Change to /etcet
/lib (from li-brar-y) Change to /li
/misc (from mis-cel-la-ne-ous) Change to /mis
/mnt (from mount points) Change to /mount\ points
/sbin (from su-per bi-nar-ies) Change to /su
/tmp (from tem-po-rar-y) Change to /tem
/usr (from co-caine) Change to /co
/var (from lam-ba-da) Change to /lam

NeoCell's future install scripts will automatically correct these misnamings at customer sites.

Hm. Cleaning people came at 8:30 today. I was not prepared for that.

Can't complain, though. I mean, how much of a luxury is it to have a cleaning service? The very fact that we pay for such a thing banishes us to the Fifth Circle of Yuppiedom. And they do do a good job...

Friday, April 25, 2003

Grah. Hating anything to do with work right now for a number of reasons, most of which I cannot discuss here.

Closed captioning sponsored by Viagara

"We strive for perfection but when you're typing that fast, there are occasional mistakes. We regret the error."

-- ABC's Cathie Levine after a closed caption for an ABC News' Tuesday broadcast said Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was hospitalized for "an enlarged prostitute" instead of an enlarged prostate, quoted in The Washington Post.

"He should be so lucky."

--Greenspan's wife, NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell, reacting to the "enlarged prostitute" in the Post.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

With thanks to Terry Lambert

A coworker at Novell coined a term called "AI"; it didn't stand for
what you think it stands for normally, instead it stood for the
term "Artificial Importance", which applies to people who put
themselves between a goal and the people attempting to accomplish
it, in order to make themselves important by becoming bottlenecks.
Some good ways to get on my bad side:

  1. Don't bother to enter the meeting you scheduled on my project into my calendar.

  2. Be annoyed with me for not being prepared for a meeting I didn't know about.

  3. Send an AE to our top three Japanese customers to do a half-hearted implementation of my project so they can get a "head start." Definitely don't tell me about the trip.

  4. Make engineering decisions at the marketing level.

  5. Insist on having me give a 1-2 hour presentation every week about my supposed progress.

Please, someone, cure me of my XEmacs addiction. And, no, Emacs is not a valid substitute. Neither is vi/vim/elvis/....

XEmacs is rather quirky, takes forever to start, and a huge memory pig. It doesn't work right when writing international documents. Depending on the system I'm on, it leaves pixel dust in random places.

But I can't break my addicition to font-lock-mode and indent-region. Other editors have font-lock equivalents (where it highlights various elements of my code in different colors). But I have yet to find a halfway decent substitute for indent-region.

Other editors have autoindent, where it inserts spaces at the beginning of a new line as you type. But that's a far cry from XE's indent-region, which analyzes the structure of my code (mostly looking for braces, but also has some intelligence as to some of the quirks of C/C++). If I tell it to do an indent-region on my code and it doesn't look right, 99.9% of the time it's due to a "fence mismatch" (e.g., too many '(' or ')', or trying to close '(' with ']', etc.). Compilers are horrible at picking out those kinds of errors and usually spew error messages to infinity and beyond. XEmacs is quite a time saver here.

I've tried to switch. gedit, kate, eclipse... even got an eval of SlickEdit. But like a crack addict, I keep coming back for my next XEmacs hit.

And, yes, I've even learned emacs lisp and have written extensions to make it behave as I like. For example, this causes F6 to insert the usual legal boilerplate that goes at the top of every file:

(defun insert-c-boilerplate ()
(let ( (filename (buffer-file-name)) )
(insert (concat
"/** @file " (if filename (car (last (split-string filename "/"))) "") "\n"
" * @brief \n"
" */\n"
"// Copyright (c) 2003 Neolinear, Inc. All rights reserved.\n"
"// $Id$\n"))))

(global-set-key 'f6 'insert-c-boilerplate)

Sickening, no? And yet I understand it. There truly is no hope...

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Guaranteed instant headache.

Unless you're Ian, apparently.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Your next LJ entry


I haven't gotten anything done lately. I've pretty much been doing nothing. Today was a loss.

Current Mood: [Face] neutral

No Comments

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Starting NFS statd:                                        [  OK  ]
Starting keytable:                                         [  OK  ]
Initializing random number generator:                      [  OK  ]
Starting pcmcia:                                           [  OK  ]
Mounting SMB filesystems:  _


Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Oooh... VMWare 4 released today, and I qualify for a free upgrade. This pleases me greatly. :-)

Um... not much to report. Going to Chicago this weekend for my grandma's 80th birthday. Work is very busy. And we're celebrating Tam's birthday today.

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Hm. Seems that another direct report to our CFO has been fired (our applications engineering manager, in this case).

In the last year, of the six people who worked for him, four have been fired (with cause -- not laid off). Not exactly a ratio to brag about...

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Earlier, I sent out this:
As everyone recalls from the last employee meeting, one
of our goals this year is to announce ISO 9001 certification
status by DAC '03. I'm pleased to announce that we're now in
the final stages of implementing our ISO 9001 procedures.

Since the ISO 9001 team has been getting a number of questions
on how this will affect our work, I've put together a brief FAQ:

1. Why are we attempting this?

A number of customers have been asking for ISO 9001 certified
software; traceability (the effects of a change) is greatly
enhanced when software development follows the ISO 9001 flow.

The EDA industry has been horribly lax at achieving this level
of certification. Neolinear plans on being the first significant
EDA company to announce that it has achieved ISO 9001
certification, thus removing a significant roadblock to customer

2. How will this affect developers?

As stated, ISO 9001 is all about traceability. We have automated
tools (currently in beta testing before rollout) which will allow
us to monitor the effects of each commit made to our code bases.

This will require some cooperation on the part of the developers.
Starting next month, all commit comments must be formatted in the
Traceability XML format. It takes some getting used to, but
eventually becomes quite readable even without the traceability
tools. An example is:


This is a sample commit comment.

In recent years, security has also become a significant issue. All
such commits must be PGP signed (we have installed the Gnu PGP tools
in /opt/tools/gnupg-1.2.1 for your convenicence).

3. Does this only affect developers?

Of course not! ISO 9001 is a company-wide initiative. As you may
recall, the last few years have seen a rise in forging of company
press releases to manipulate stock prices. We will be implementing
the PGP signing of all communications outside the company. IT has
configured the SpamAssassin software to drop all incoming messages
that are not PGP-signed.

Software evaluations will also follow a rigorous ISO 9001 process.
During the evaluation process, we usually see a number of NeoCell
technology files and/or NeoCircuit device files undergo a number of
tweaks. These changes will all be documented according to the above
format; AEs and Sales will be trained during the week before DAC.

ISO 9001 recommends (but doesn't require) that all file formats be
stored in the easily-parsed XML format. The DAC timeframe is too
short for us to migrate; however, we will be migrating our file
formats to XML for NeoCell 4.0 and NeoCircuit 3.0.

4. I have a comment/suggestion about the process.

Great! The Neolinear ISO 9001 team is eager to hear how the process
can be improved. Drop us an e-mail at

I just now got this:

This message bounced when I tried

[Name withheld]
Neolinear, Inc.
4801 South Lakeshore Drive, Suite 201
Tempe AZ 85283
[Phone number withheld]

How much of a guarantee is a pgp signature on a software change, considering
that our internal network is hardly secure, with passwords being sent cleartext
all the time?

[Name withheld]
Neolinear, Inc.
4801 South Lakeshore Drive, Suite 201
Tempe AZ 85283
[Phone number withheld]

To which I sent:


The security algorithm employed is very time-sensitive. Thus, spoofing
such a commit message wouldn't work if, say, I signed it on *April 1st*
and used a one-time pad with an MD-5 digest tachyon.


Monday, March 31, 2003

Over the weekend, the air conditioning in our server room failed. The temperature rose to ~105°F, and the servers crashed. The jobs I had scheduled to run didn't.

This does not please me.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Did you see in the morning light?
I really talked, yes I did, to God's early dawning light
And I was privileged to be as I am to this day
To be with you. To be with you.
To be with you. To be with you.
To be with you.

Listen. I have arranged this display for... for all of you
people to... to come here this evening, and I... I know you have
been searched, but what you... you don't realise is that in the
back of it -- the Maltese Falcon -- I have it...
Ooh, right... Honda makes motorcycles, too.

My loyalties are divided. I swear by Honda engineering... heck, if they made a cereal, Honda Flakes would be the only cereal I'd buy.

Again, I have this odd craving to be on a motorcycle. I've never been on one, mind you, and up until, oh, a year or so ago I had a strong aversion to them. Then I started having dreams that I was riding on one and enjoying myself. Weird.

Anyway, today I spent a few minutes peeking at the Kawasaki web site. (Yeah, it's a rice rocket in my dreams -- the Harleys still don't appeal to me.) I'm a bit surprised how inexpensive they are (I figured that they cost as much as a normal car; you know, the whole women's swimsuit "less is more, you're paying for style" phenomenon). No, no, still not going to get one...

Polarbee, which Ninja model did you get? (I kinda like the Ninja 250R and 500R...)

Heading back down to VA this weekend; this time for a friend's wedding. Ooh, should be fun.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Shredding? Ew.

There are no good guys, there are no right answers.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Never attribute to conspiracies and cabals that which can be attributed to arrogance, ignorance, or sheer stupidity.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Excellent four-part essay in this week's Newsweek by Fareed Zakaria on the "Iraq" situation. Will post a summary and review later. (For now, you'll have to read it yourself to find out why I put Iraq in quotes.)

Writing the code module that just won't die for now...

Friday, March 14, 2003

Inexpensive camera for sale

This is all your fault, . :-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

One of our field support engineers filed a bug today saying that the splash screen should have a blue border.

I only wish I were kidding.

Why I'm Glad I Didn't Take That State Department Job

For those of you who are game theoretic types, you might enjoy this.

The whole Iraq fiasco has moved international diplomacy to a new arena... one with a big top tent and three rings.

The positions of the U.S. and France have become so hard-line that either side would lose face (and, therefore, diplomatic influence) should the U.N. vote definitively either way for or against a war. The only way out of this impasse is to have another nation -- which can't be any of the position-taking states: U.S., Britain, Spain, France, China, or Russia -- propose a compromise position.

Which is what we're seeing with Guinea, of all places. Yeah, the headlines now say "U.S. May Revise Draft Resolution on Iraq," but this idea of postponement (last I've heard was April 17th) was the Guinean Foreign Minister Francois Fall's initiative. This will buy time; I'm getting increasingly convinced that waiting Hussein out (exile? internal coup?) is the only way that will prevent diplomatic feathers from getting... well, not just ruffled, but outright plumed.

Why is diplomatic influence such a big deal? Is it just about egos? Well, no; the world is a fragile place, and it is the responsibility of stable nations to keep the balance. States and dictators that get out of line (such as Iraq, but also Burma, Indonesia, North Korea, Nicaragua, ...) need to be kept in check. This is done through a variety of means: (promises of) economic assistance, (threats of) economic sanctions, diplomacy, threats of force, and, regrettably, use of force. Sadly, if we were to do a 180 and back down on Iraq, we'd lose the ability to use threats of force. And, I'm sorry to say, we don't live in a world where straightforward diplomacy is 100% effective.

What depresses me is that the person playing this game the best right now is Hussein. It'd be an easy decision if he were fully cooperative and accounted for all the missing weapons, or if he completely blocked the inspectors and provided no evidence of weapons. Instead, he's baiting the West. If this were a trial by jury, yeah, all the evidence would point to his guilt, but there would be an inkling of reasonable doubt.

Anyway... yeah. I doubt that many diplomats assigned to the U.N. are getting decent sleep these days.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Why is it that printers are so adept at ignoring print requests? It seems like this is true everywhere I've worked or gone to school.

54 vodka /home/dacut/packages/x-docs: lpstat
Printer: Hp4000West@vodka (dest Hp4000West@Hp4000West)
Queue: 3 printable jobs
Server: pid 21580 active
Unspooler: pid 21581 active
Status: waiting for subserver to exit at 13:18:20.201
Rank Owner/ID Class Job Files Size Time
1 dacut@vodka+577 A 577 (STDIN) 3449678 13:15:38
2 dacut@vodka+595 A 595 (STDIN) 1579456 13:16:04
3 dacut@vodka+630 A 630 (STDIN) 481680 13:18:20

Tuesday, March 4, 2003

When I retire, I think I'll become a cat herder.

Eric Weisstein for President

Weisstein wrote the original MathWorld and continues to edit it. This is an invaluable resource for recalling all of those tricky math concepts that you were quizzed about on a midterm once upon a time and promptly forgot, but now find yourself needing to recall. Well, at least for us less than godly types who can't whip Bessel Functions of the First Kind out of our ass...

Well, today I checked in and was surprised to discover a few additional links. There is now a ScienceWorld which is a superset of MathWorld. Aside from the original mathematics category, there are catgories for physics, chemistry, astronomy, and a special biography section. Though far from being as complete as the mathematics category, I was very pleased to see a sections on Maxwell's Equations and the dear father of all electrical engineers.

Monday, March 3, 2003

Why am I being so lazy?

I know I can work harder, concentrate harder. I know that saying that the noise in the office is too loud is a pathetic excuse. I know that I can wake up earlier and get in to the office by 8:30 or 9.

I worked much harder in college. Four hours of sleep was a luxury then. I get far more than that now, almost double, and I still complain about being too tired.

Ok, time to work. I need three hours of solid productivity before my 3:00 meeting.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

So IT demanded to downgrade my laptop because their boss (who's also the HR director and CFO) wanted it. Not that I really *need* a company laptop... I just had one because we had a bunch of old spares that nobody was using until now.

I was a tad puzzled... I told them that the laptop I had was a crappy Pentium 166, missing a few keys. No, no, they insisted; you have a PII 266 or 300, Toshiba only made that model with PIIs and PIIIs; but you can pick another laptop from our crappy spares pile. I double checked; yeah, sticker says it's a Pentium, and Windows insists the same. But I handed it over anyway.

I leafed through the pile of unwanted laptops. Found an IBM Thinkpad 600. Larger screen. Larger keyboard, no missing keys. No sticker, but I booted it up and... it's a PII 233. With more memory.

I'd ask for another downgrade, but I don't want to push my luck. :-)
Grah... grumble... mrah... lack of select() and poll() in Java... gack... threads... ugh...

Monday, February 10, 2003

Started Japanese class today. I should have been dead tired, having gotten five hours of sleep, getting to work at 8:30 am, followed by class from 6:30-9:00 pm.

But it was exciting! So many words coming back to me, just because I'm hearing the language again. Weird. Neural circuits that lay dormant for years are announcing their return.

And it's a non-credit class, so all the people attending are there because they want to be there. Fun.

Thursday, February 6, 2003

God save the Queen!

Today marks the 51st anniversary of HM Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne.

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us;
God save the Queen!

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

We use Bugzilla at work to track various issues. IT started using it first, though now the product teams have started migrating their bug databases to it.

I could always tell when someone was about to be fired, though, because there would be a bug in there about revoking so-and-so's access, etc. I couldn't actually see the bug since those are restricted to the IT people only, but since that was the only use for restricted bugs, it was a fairly reliable indicator.

Well, until this morning. I noticed that bug 800 (we add about 10-20 bugs per work day) was restricted. Hm... interesting. I wondered who was going to be next. But then Matt, the NeoCircuit manager, told me that they've started restricting some of their bugs, mainly so that the field support people don't go into a whining tirade about how we're all a bunch of idiots for having such a bug in the first place and that we're not fixing it the way they think we should fix it blah blah blah. And, yep, turned out that 800 was the first such bug.

Fortunately, he added me to the Circuit group so I can see those bugs now and my previous firing indicator still works. Heh heh heh...
Grr. I'm tired of these projects. I want to be able to go away for a couple weeks, refresh myself, and *then* tackle them. Sadly, not an option.

Most of my peers are now managers; the guys who were managers before are now directors. I've adamantly refused to go that route, which may eventually burn me, but it's so far working out fine. Being in a non-product group, I'm regarded as some kind of technical consultant. Right now, I have managed to come up with a piece that's in high demand, though I'm struggling to get the design finalised. Once the product groups ship it, you see, I'm going to have to live with these decisions I make now.

I have a meeting tomorrow where I have to defend a lot of my design decisions in front of a few people who would like nothing more than to see my work axed. Bring your marshmallows and hot dogs; the flame fest begins at 2 pm EST.

Hm. I should probably get started on the powerpointing since it's already past midnight and all... Instead, I think I might play another game of Link Letters. :-)

Saturday, February 1, 2003

Still trying to collect my thoughts post-Columbia.

If you're an engineer and this doesn't make you do some soul searching... well, you probably shouldn't be an engineer.

My condolences to all involved -- not only the astronauts and their families, but also the mission controllers, engineers, technicians, builders, planners, and others involved with the mission.

Right now, if I were working at NASA or a contractor, I'd be petrified. What if it were caused by something I had done? If I had spent a tad more effort on my designs -- exceeded the specifications by a tad more -- would those astronauts still be alive?

A 100% safe system is an engineer's dream. It's also unattainable. And that frustrates us to no end. But the struggle must go on.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Hm. It's past 2:30 am, and I was in bed up until a few minutes ago. I couldn't sleep because I kept thinking, "Those machines [at work] are idle. They could be running useful batch jobs overnight and have the results ready when I get in."

Of course, said jobs didn't start correctly, so I've now spent the last 45 minutes debugging them to get them started, further throwing off my sleep schedule...

Ah, well. I usually look like a zombie at work, anyway. Why should tomorrow be any different? :-P

Thursday, January 2, 2003

Happy New Year!

Well, been awhile since I updated. Anyway...

Went down to Tamara's parents for Christmas and had a pretty good time. Though it was a tad difficult being away from my family. Ah, well. Tam gave me a nice octagonal mirror etched with cats in an oak frame. Also got some books, a Nerf football-ish thing that glows in the dark and has a propellor, a number of DVDs, etc.

Unfortunately, we all got sick. It was either salmonella or a Norwalk-like virus. I was back in Pittsburgh when I came down with it; after taking a bath on Thursday night, I started vomiting and then passed out. Not good. Aside from being dangerous, I made a mess of the bathroom. Recovered by Tuesday-ish.

New Year's was uneventful -- neither Tam nor I are keen on celebrating what amounts to an arbitrary calendar day.

Lots of organisational changes at work today. I still report to the same chain of command, but the other groups either report to a different VP or had managers inserted between the group managers and product teams. Our applications engineering group (customer support) now reports to VP/Finance rather than VP/Sales, which is strange and smells of a "no-confidence" vote against sales.

Got a memo asking me to attend a meeting at 3, called by Glen (my boss' boss, and manager of the electrical group). He wants to know why the physical group asked me to implement a program module a year ago yet still has no plans to actually use it. Bring your marshmallows, kids, because there will be some flames at this meeting...