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: info@federalfundingprogram.com

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.