Thursday, December 30, 2004

I wish I did, but I don't have anything to add beyond what's already been said about the earthquake/tsunami disaster other than to reiterate that it's a good time to consider donating to aid groups such as World Relief.

In other news, Alaska Airline's main competitor now has a website. Go visit SkyHigh Airlines. Be sure to read their inflight magazine, Good Intentions; this month's headlines include "Introducing Bench Seating" and "Personal Space: Get Over It." They also have a new partner, Noah's Livestock Transfer.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


I'm tired of trying to work with the R&D teams in India, especially when they become abusive because they can't understand what I'm writing. The 12 hour time difference does not help. A problem which should take two hours to solve ends up taking a week or more.

I can't seem to get into the holiday mood, either. I think work has a lot to do with this. A lot of people are leaving -- not for vacation, but permanently. Office supplies are dwindling -- coffee, paper towels, soap -- and we're startion to ration. I was going out and buying some of this stuff out of my own pocket, until I realized that this just allows our VP to continue to ignore the situation. No decorations anywhere, no group holiday lunch, not even a "happy holidays" e-mail from the VP.

I also just heard from our IT guy that he got yelled at because we freed up some disk space yesterday. See, IT charges us according to how much storage space we use; by freeing up some space, we decreased a revenue opportunity for them. WTF?

Magical résumé, work your stuff!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Is it alarming that I'm bored enough at Cadence to consider going back to grad school?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Designated Hitter as Moral Hazard [NYT, registration required]
In a paper presented at the Joint Mathematics Meeting in January, Bradbury, the economist, and Drinen, the mathematician, noted that the rate of hit batsmen is 15 percent higher in the American League than in the National. [...] After they controlled for pitcher quality, batter quality, game situation and other factors that also contribute to hit batters, they found that the designated-hitter rule itself "increases the likelihood that any batter will be hit during a plate appearance between 11 and 17 percent."

Friday, December 3, 2004

Holy crap, part 7493

IBM is getting out of the PC business. [NYT] [AP] [TheReg]

This annoys me, as I'm typing this on an IBM ThinkPad next to my IBM NetVista at work. While IBM's products have neither been on the bleeding edge of performance nor cheap, they've been quite reliable and well engineered (IMHO). "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM."

Monday, November 29, 2004

Don't entertain me. Inspire me.

Thanksgiving was fun; Tam's family came up here, so there were nine people and two cats in my house. It sometimes felt a bit crowded, but, hey, what can you do? And it was always good to see my niece and nephew.

Unfortunately, it appears that the virii inhabiting our bodies used this as a chance to find new hosts. Tam stayed home sick today, and I didn't get in to work until 12:30. Ah, well... nothing important is going on at work, anyway, which says more about the state of things at work than my sickness.

My car was also a bit sick -- it had a hard time turning over this morning. Sounds like the battery is going (which doesn't surprise me -- it's due for a battery change methinks). I just hope it has enough juice to get me home or to an NTB store.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Nah. The US isn't an overly litigious society. From The Register:
A New York woman who ran up debts of $951,000 on her Amex account is sueing the company for $2m for allowing her to hammer the plastic, Newsday reports.

Antoinette Millard, 40, says American Express should have realised she was mentally incompetent when she opened the sky's-the-limit Centurion account. Her court filing states that American Express "knew or should have known that [Millard] was acting impulsively and and irrationally at the time she entered into contract". She cites anorexia, depression, panic attacks and "head tumors" as contributory factors to her mental incompetence.

American Express has obtained a court order freezing $951,000 in assets belonging to the former vice president at the Brown Brothers Harriman investment bank. To add to Millard's woes, she is currently on $100,000 bail awaiting trial on grand larceny charges after attempting to relieve an insurance company of $262,000 for jewellery she claims was stolen, but allegedly sold. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years' jail.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

For those of you going from, to, or through Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, the tolls might be waived on the Turnpike tomorrow due to a pending strike.

If the strike lasts beyond tomorrow, fares will be a flat $2 regardless of distance traveled. It's normally ~$19 from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Complete the following sentences.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Answering a recruiting query...

I got a query from a recruiter with some large, random semiconductor company, and found the following question rather amusing:

7. Do you have legal authorization to work for any employer in the
United States without any restrictions at all? If yes, please explain.

My reply: (and, yes, I actually sent this):

I'm sure the IRS, FBI, and other TLAs might not be happy if I started
working for La Cosa Nostra or other mafia groups, drug lords, terrorists,
etc. So those are out. Otherwise, I'm a native US citizen, never been
arrested, never even been audited... heck, the only tickets I've gotten are
for parking violations at Carnegie Mellon. Hm. Maybe my life is too

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I'm not a vegetarian...

... and I don't even play one on TV, but this is just gross.

That's 1,640 calories and 100 g of fat, kids.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

And back to Pittsburgh again.

I couldn't get a direct flight back, so I connected in Denver. Aside from getting up at 3:30 am to catch the 6:00 flight and sitting next to someone who was built like a linebacker from Denver to Pittsburgh, it was a good flight. Denver splits the trip into nice halves, and it's an easy airport to get around; contrast with Chicago/O'Hare, which is 75% of the way to Pittsburgh (so you have an annoying puddle jumper-ish flight to deal with), has terminals spaced halfway to Milwaukee, and tends to cause luggage delays.

Spent most of yesterday hanging with my cousin, Jane, in Monterey. (If you're stalking me now, well, Hi Jane!) I hadn't been there since I was a kid (fourth grade?). Very nice area. Very expensive area. Not as far from SJ as I thought it was (though I was still feeling sleepy on the drive back... even though it was only 10:30). I also found out some curious family secrets I hadn't known before.

Saw The Incredibles with some college friends on Friday night. Excellent movie. I highly recommend it.

The conference/forum -- which was the main purpose for this trip -- was Thursday, but was mostly unremarkable. There were two good presentations, about three fair ones, and the rest were kind of a waste of time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Annnnnd... I return to San Jose with a vengeance. Or at least a yearning -- a now-fulfilled yearning -- for In-N-Out.

Monday, November 8, 2004

Oh, this is sad.

Cadence gives you an award when you reach various service milestones. I don't have any, coming from an acquisition, but my prior time counts for ~4 years of service; I should receive one next year.

Anyway, this story isn't about me, but our sysadmin, Bill Schrier. Bill just reached the 3 year service milestone and received an extra vacation day and a plaque in the mail. Yeah, managers can't be bothered to hand it out at a meeting or anything. That's anticlimatic.

What makes it sad is that the plaque recognizes "Venkat Schrier for three years of outstanding service."

Yeah. They couldn't be bothered to get his name right.

Maybe Venkat is the guy they're going to outsource his job to? :-P

I'm fine

Thanks for the well-wishes. :-) It's just office politics. Short story: I answered a number of random questions for coworkers in Tempe last week without knowing why they were asking these questions. They edited my responses down, removed any sort of context, spun up story about how myself and another guy here allowed IP (intellectual property) to escape the company, and submitted it to our director. It has no basis in reality, so we're safe, but now I have to deal with the aftermath.

Thanks for the knife in the back, assholes.

Anyhow, here's a very Dilbert moment at work. Take one news story about a 12-year old Arkansas girl who won a $10,000 savings bond by blowing a 16 inch bubble at the Double Bubble National Bubble Blowing Contest. Take one bag of Double Bubble gum left over from Halloween. Take three coworkers on a slow Monday at work. Hilarity ensues.

I did manage to blow a 10" bubble. I'll have to work my way up from there...

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Arlen Specter

Ah, I'm so glad we (Penna.) reelected Arlen Specter to the Senate. Powerful guy who is also very level headed... and likely to be the head of the Judiciary committee overseeing the appointment of 3-4 Supreme Court justices in the near future.

Excerpts from an AP wire story:
The Republican expected to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee next year bluntly warned newly re-elected President Bush on Wednesday against putting forth Supreme Court nominees who would seek to overturn abortion rights or are otherwise too conservative to win confirmation.

"The president is well aware of what happened, when a number of his nominees were sent up, with the filibuster," Specter added, referring to Senate Democrats' success over the past four years in blocking the confirmation of many of Bush's conservative judicial picks. "... And I would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations which I am mentioning."

With at least three Supreme Court justices rumored to be eyeing retirement, including ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Specter, 74, would have broad authority to reshape the nation's highest court. He would have wide latitude to schedule hearings, call for votes and make the process as easy or as hard as he wants.

While Specter is a loyal Republican - Bush endorsed him in a tight Pennsylvania GOP primary - he routinely crosses party lines to pass legislation and counts a Democrat, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, as one of his closest friends.

A self-proclaimed moderate, he helped kill President Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court and of Jeff Sessions to a federal judgeship. Specter called both nominees too extreme on civil rights issues. Sessions later became a Republican senator from Alabama and now sits on the Judiciary Committee with Specter.
Ok, I know that some people have claimed that they want to leave the country if Bush was reelected, but isn't this a bit extreme?

Naked man jumps into wheel well of Australia-bound flight at LAX

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Nous sommes désolés que notre president soit un idiot.
Nous n'avons pas vote pour lui.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

More election musings...

Lots of distractions today. Every time I try to edit a bit more code, someone comes by with either a question on unrelated code or random comment about the election. I don't think much work will get done here today, by myself or anyone else.

Ah, well.

Part of me feels like ranting, "If Bush wins, I'm moving to {Canada,France,Europe,AnywhereButHere}." But I know that I won't actually move. Regardless of the outcome of the election, the United States will still be the best place on earth for conducting scientific research and engineering, hands down, in both our universities and in industry.

But we're riding the coattails of the investments during the space race and cold war. If we continue down this path, we will -- in 15-25 years -- find ourselves behind India and Japan, and possibly China. Less likely is Europe, for they need to get their house in order.

In other news, Matt (coworker) and I tried the new $3.99 pizza lunch buffet place today (Cici's). The catch is that the $3.99 doesn't include a drink; add in tax, and it's $5.65. Still cheap as far as eating out goes, but not cheap if you consider that a large pizza is about $8 (and sodas from the canteen are 40¢). The food wasn't anything to write home about, but wasn't bad, either.

We were debating whether it was a chain or not. Neither of us had heard of it, and the place didn't quite look polished enough to be a chain, but they did have custom-printed pizza boxes. A quick google reveals that, yes, it is a chain. A very large chain, though mostly in the south. This seems to be one of their few locations north of the Mason-Dixon line.
Got in late this morning to nurse a sick wife and cast my ballot. 'tis all good, though. I don't mind missing a bit of work that I don't care for. Any notion of "work ethic" was lost when they screwed me over, repeatedly, this past summer.

As points out, we have the old lever machines which look like they're from, and probably are from, the 1940s. I do worry whether they're actually doing anything on the backend, whether the old mechanical "chunk chunk click click click" counters are doing their thing.

Since I've been able to vote, I've been a registered Republican. Today, though, I pulled so many Democratic levers -- in fact, the only Republican levers were for Melissa Hart (House) and Arlen Specter (Senate). I find it alarming and sad that the party of Lincoln has strayed so far from his legend [*].

I do think that we need an electronic voting platform, but one that is open and can be subject to scrutiny by both voting/security experts and armchair forensicologists. I'm vaguely thinking of spearheading a technical effort on this front... hmm...

[*] I say "legend" rather than "ideals" because we have idealized the man and gloss over some rough spots: in a modern context, for example, he would be considered racist, and his handling of generals during the Civil War was not the best. But we do need to read his achievements in the correct historical context. So I don't have a problem with the elementary school textbooks that distill him as the hero who stood up to slavery and kept the nation together; we do need heros to look up to. Nonetheless, I would hope that anyone who has graduated from high school in the U.S. would realise that history is not as black-and-white as we'd like it to be. (Not the case, I know, but I can hope...)

Friday, October 29, 2004

Look down, and see the beggars at your feet.
Look down, and show some mercy if you can.
Look down, and see the sweepings of the street.
Look down, look down, upon your fellow man!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Bleh. So now Thunderchuck has decided that all incoming messages will be delivered to my Junk folder (and none of it will be marked as Junk mail). Oh, and this is with junk mail controls disabled.

Honestly, people. E-mail should not be this hard! It's only been a solved problem since 1970 or so.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Not being at Cadence's San Jose site means that we can't talk to anyone in HR in person. To address this (in as pitiful way as possible :-P), Cadence sends our HR rep to us for a couple days once every year or so.

I had a one-on-one meeting with her today regarding my situation. It went something like this:
Her: Hm. Sucks to be you.
It's about what I expected, really.



And, no, it's not a rehash of Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Mozilla Thunderbird, the mail program I use, decided this morning that "Get messages" really means "Download them off the server and vaporize them."

No, not put them in the trash folder. Nor did it mark them as junk (I know that at least one was not junk). DELETED FOREVER. VAPORIZED. INTO THE ETHER.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

All men are created equal

All votes are not.

I calculated the relative "worth" of a presidential vote in each state by taking into account the number of polls taken in each state and the number of electoral votes for that state. (Exact formula: W = (P/Pavg)^2 * (E/Eavg), where W = worth, P = # polls, E = # electoral votes.) This presumes that the swing states are polled more frequently (generally true, except for California).

If the average vote is worth $1, then a vote in the top five states are worth: Florida, $43.95; Pennsylvania, $41.07; Ohio, $31.31; Michigan, $22.61; Minnesota, $10.12.

The bottom five: Nebraska, $0.0030; Idaho, $0.0024; Alaska, D.C, and Wyoming, $0.0018.

Data courtesy

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


We now have two cats! Mostly back, but with white paws. Pictures coming shortly.

They're not officially named, but we've been calling them B.C. and Robin. See, the previous owner thought it would be cute to call them "Batman" and "Robin." Robin was ok... but Batman was definitely out. Somehow, though, I got on this mind track of Batman => Batcat => B.C.

We don't like what B.C. stands for in that context, but somehow the name B.C. is ok.

I suspect the names will stick.

Monday, October 18, 2004

How common are dacut's interests
computers (266008)
harry potter (126790)
sleep (74482)
australia (11842)
classical music (25623)
dorks (11802)
german (10798)
japan (40926)
japanese (18146)
linux (13523)
musicals (38098)
mythology (42952)
naps (10189)
pirates (38111)
programming (17681)
scotland (13160)
shakespeare (30453)
tea (37189)
bach (6367)
bluegrass (3761)
cirque du soleil (3304)
computer science (3004)
fireplaces (1684)
honda (2591)
irc (6280)
kangaroos (1691)
logic (5619)
macbeth (1537)
maps (3469)
melbourne (1762)
miyazaki (1823)
mozart (9277)
new zealand (5988)
nickel creek (2103)
nihongo (1036)
ninja (1994)
python (1201)
research (3369)
san diego (5620)
sydney (1759)
the princess bride (9999)
watership down (1210)
algorithms (548)
anachronism (180)
auckland (285)
blue mountains (29)
brisbane (564)
cad (270)
caltech (100)
canberra (162)
christchurch (139)
colin powell (121)
computer languages (38)
copland (267)
cymbeline (38)
duality (515)
earl grey (716)
electrical engineering (506)
finesse (40)
flicking (36)
fourier transforms (24)
full metal challenge (19)
group theory (100)
junkyard wars (407)
kawasaki (271)
lisp (399)
mathematica (55)
maxwell's equations (14)
much ado about nothing (655)
new south wales (86)
okinawa (395)
padres (151)
postscript (34)
prince edward island (270)
reverse engineering (224)
rf (45)
robert llewellyn (23)
scheme (245)
scones (545)
scrapheap challenge (52)
semiconductors (61)
state department (28)
throwing rocks (184)
wellington (467)
carver mead (3)
cathy rogers (9)
cult of dork (6)
digikey (2)
jenolan caves (1)
remote procedure calls (1)
unusual languages (2)
wombeyan (1)
wombeyan caves (1)

Enter username:

InterestRank was bought to you by _imran_ and

How is it that none -- none! -- of you on my friends list have Cathy Rogers as an interest? This is simply inexcusable! In - ex - cus - a - ble!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

My VP (i.e., my boss' boss' boss) has reneged on his agreement to transfer a requisition to another VP. So I'm in limbo again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Strange phonecall...

I just got off the phone with John Cooley.

Now, I doubt that his name will ring a bell with anyone reading my journal, but he's fairly well-known in the electronic design automation (EDA -- CAD software for making chips) industry. He runs the DeepChip website and the Electronic Synopsys Users Group (ESNUG) newsletter. The latter is a monthly-or-so e-mail sent with selected letters and stories submitted to him; despite the name, it has expanded to encompass all of EDA rather than just Synopsys.

The letters in ESNUG are written by all sorts of people -- marketing droids, R&D grunts, the end users in the trenches, and sometimes an exec or analyst thrown in for good measure. The content ranges from marketing spin from EDA vendors to candid stories from the users. EDA marketing droids squeal with glee when they get positive spin in ESNUG, and recoil when the news is less than pleasing.

Anyway, I wrote him a fairly non-controversial update, mentioning the availability of a new open-source code management tool called Subversion which might be of interest to some of the readers. In a postscript, I mentioned that I enjoyed his recent presentation at the Cadence Usergroup meeting (entitled "Cadence: The good, the bad, and the ugly"), though one of my coworkers was disappointed because it was a well-balanced report rather than full of fireworks about all the crappy things about Cadence. (According to my coworker, "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.")

He apparently got a big kick out of this. The next thing I knew, he was on the phone, asking me about how others inside of Cadence felt, and wanted to know more about how the old Neolinear folks were doing.

It was a bit weird, because he is The Press, and only marketing spin droids are supposed to interface with The Press. But he wasn't really interviewing me or anything; just trying to get a feel for how things are inside of the beast-- er, Cadence. It's a bit like Wolf Blitzer giving George Bush a call to just shoot the breeze, but on a much smaller scale.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Lesson learned today: Never, ever, enter "*" in the "project filter" field of the Cadence timecard system. It will sit there for a good 5-10 minutes, and then fill the project list with stuff like:

I-CS0007-02-33z  SALES: Travel, international, Atlantic
I-CS0007-02-45a SALES: Scratch left buttcheck, upper distal quadrant
I-CS0007-02-45b SALES: Scratch left buttcheck, upper medial quadrant
I-CS0007-02-45c SALES: Scratch left buttcheck, lower distal quadrant
I-CS0007-02-45d SALES: Scratch left buttcheck, lower medial quadrant
I-CS0007-02-46a SALES: Scratch right buttcheck, upper distal quadrant

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Last week, I changed the motherboard on my computer to get USB 2.0 support (it was cheaper than buying a separate USB 2.0 card -- go figure) and fix some other annoying issues (I had a voltage regulator fall off; resoldering it fixed it, but it was flaky). Unfortunately, the sound card on it would buzz -- loudly -- every time I moved the mouse. Not surprising, given that the mouse connector was next to the audio out connector, and motherboard designers are not audiophiles and under constant pressure to eke out every fraction of a cent in the cost of making these things.

So, yesterday I purchased and installed a new sound card. The E-MU 0404 looked interesting -- external connectors (gets the signals away from the noisy interior), definitely in the "prosumer" line (it's meant for home studios). And it was cheap enough -- $99 -- that I decided to spring for it.

It is amazing. It's unbelievably quiet when no sounds are being made (with most cards, you get at least faint "ocean" white noise). And playing music on it, after living with crappy sound cards for years now, is like listening to a CD if all you've heard are tapes. And this is on the same old speakers I have.

Very happy. Amongst the best $100 I've spent.

Friday, October 8, 2004

More doodles

As I wait for a return e-mail...

Oh, and I have "Infectious Substance" and "Spontaneously Combustible" hanging outside my cube now.

I think "Dangerous When Wet" would be an excellent name for a swim team.


Thursday, October 7, 2004

To the original writers of this code...

Dammit, what the hell were you thinking when you wrote this crap? "Hmm, I need this bit of functionality. Oh, here's some code which does that. I'll copy and paste it into my code."

Have you people heard of functions? You know, those reusable bits of code they taught you on the first day of CS 1? Hell, we're not even talking about "advanced" concepts such as recursion, which is covered in the fifth lecture.

Oh, look. You wrote your own sort loop. It runs in O(n4) time. You know, there's this nifty algorithm called bubble sort which runs in O(n2) time. I think it's lecture seven.

No, I don't want to be reminded that they pay you to write this stuff.

By the way -- and I know this comes as a shock -- there's a mechanism which allows you to put arbitrary text into your source code which is ignored by the compiler/interpreter. They're called comments. Yes, I know it sounds a bit weird -- why would anyone want to put arbitrary stuff into their code that is ignored by the computer? Well, see, it doesn't have to be completely random. You could, say, describe what it is you're trying to compute. Maybe mention that there's an obscure side-effect you're relying upon in some call. The type of stuff that might help others reading your code understand what it's supposed to do.

Next week, we'll talk a bit about indentation -- yes, something else which is ignored by the computer but helps others trace out where your spaghetti loops start and end.
I just got spam from a company advertising 30% off my first order of custom peptide synthesis.

They point out that they offer peptide modifications: phosphopeptides, biotinylated peptides, dye-labeled pepties, cyclic peptides, and many more. Free consultation on peptide design. Alternatively, I can have 20% off my first order on amino acids, building blocks, synthesis resins and reagents. And, yes, they offer Wang Resins.

I find this all very strange. Much like the first time I saw chip design software (which can cost upwards of $100k/license/year) being advertised on a billboard.

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Woohoo! Caltech physicist David Politzer won the Nobel Prize in Physics! It's shared with MIT's Frank Wilczek and UCSB's David Gross.

From this year's makeup of Nobel winners, it appears that it helps to be named David and be bald. :-)

It's actually quite fun to be on the campus when someone wins the Nobel. I remember when it was announced that Rudy Marcus won the Nobel for Chemistry in 1992. Nate Lewis, Ch 1a prof., scrapped his normal lecture for a lecture on Rudy and his work. Lots of celebrations. General buzz. Everyone seems a bit happier.

[Fixed links -- thanks Carn!]

Monday, October 4, 2004

For those who have not seen it, SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X-Prize this morning.

This, to me, is huge. When I first heard of the X-Prize, I thought there was only an outside chance that it would be claimed by 2010. I figured that the chances of commercial space travel were remote in my lifetime; now, Sir Richard Branson has expanded his Virgin empire to include Virgin Galactic, already signing up passengers for flights in 2007.


Personally, I'd like now to see follow-on prizes for the first commercial craft to do a full orbit in space and an orbit around the moon.

I just realised...

I made it through September this year without anyone dying on me. This is a marked improvement from the previous two years.
My internal clock has been off ever since I took that forsaken red-eye flight last Sunday/Monday. Going to work not long after the sun rises (~ 8 am) and getting home just before it sets (~ 7 pm) does not help. This has the effect of making me constantly sleepy, and what sleep I do get is neither long nor restful. Fortunately, I was able to spend a few hours yesterday doing yardwork in the sun; this seems to have reset things, as I got in to work early-ish yet feel awake.

In between my naps on Friday/Saturday, I managed to reassemble my computer. It needed a storage upgrade; it went from 40 GB to 250 GB (in a RAID-1 array -- I'm paranoid about disk crashes these days). I also used that opportunity to change the motherboard (it was cheaper than buying a USB 2.0 card -- go figure) and stuffed the whole shebang into a new case. Much shinier.

However, around the same time, my DSL modem decided to go kaputt. I put in a trouble ticket with Nauticom, my service provider, on Saturday morning; they claim to have 24/7 service. I called back last night; the tech told me that the DSL people hadn't even looked at it yet. Grr. This annoys me, because I had hoped to get a bit of work out of the way this weekend (and I didn't want to tail over to the office, 45 minutes away). This has angered me enough that I've started the process of switching over to the evil Comcast cable modem service which is cheaper and much faster: $50 and 4 Mbps vs. $60 and 512 kbps.

The primary reasons for using Nauticom in the first place were that we weren't sure we were going to have cable (when we moved, I was looking into a satellite dish), Comcast does not have a good reputation with their cable data service, and Nauticom's tech support was supposed to be phenomenal. Since then, we found that our house isn't suited for satellite, Comcast has taken many strides to improve their service (at least, they've been eliminating spam emanating from their network), and, well, obviously Nauticom hasn't been terribly responsive. Perhaps a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, but both Tamara and I were not able to get bits of work done as a result of this; it's not just a "wah, wah, I can't check my e-mail for two whole days!" thing (though, admittedly, there's a bit of that).

Actually, I did manage to rig my cell phone to connect my computer through Verizon's data packet service. It's surprisingly fast (230 kbps -- much faster than anything one can get through a standard modem). It also eats into my minutes very quickly.

Ok, back to coffee and coding.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Non-scientific poll

Just trying to get an update on a vital issue in this election year:

Friday, September 24, 2004

For a second, I thought that Keenspot had taken to advertising pr0n in their banners. [I wouldn't advise clicking on that at work, btw.] Ends up that it's not pr0n, but I think it's a tad risque considering that kids might peruse Keenspot (and that appeared on It's Walky!, not something more adult-oriented).

Work update: lots of stuff has happened, partially a result of me getting the conference award and raising my visibility within Cadence. Maybe? I'm not entirely sure. Anyway, to sum up: I had wanted to transfer to another group (CAT) within Cadence after the acquisition because what they do meshes very well with my interests. Problem was that this is outside of the Neolinear CEO-cum-Cadence VP's (Tom's) fiefdom, and he's very leery of losing headcount. (Never mind that I would still be working in the Pittsburgh office, interacting with people from his groups, and essentially enabling free--at least, to him--resources from CAT to work on various integration problems. That would make too much sense, see...)

This was communicated to me (by my acrimonious manager, Rodney; the food chain is Tom > Glen > Rodney > me) as an ultimatum: "You will work on what we tell you to work on, or you can go find another job." Given this limited set of choices, I chose the latter.

Last week, Glen (who happened to be in San Jose at the same time as me) stepped in and started making some waves. He essentially pointed out to Tom that he's going to lose me either way; by allowing me to transfer to CAT, though, I can still do useful stuff for him.

Yesterday, the approval for the transfer was issued. Yay!

So, it looks like I'll be staying with Cadence after all. I'll be working for Iain, who is fairly laid back and will be pleased to have me on his team. He also has a very thick Scottish accent, so teleconferencing will be interesting. :-)

Anyway, today I'm off to Calif. again, but this time to San Diego for a wedding. I'll be back on Monday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Holy crap.

My paper & presentation won an MVP award for my section at the ICU conference.

I got an iPod mini.

Still kind of surprised about the whole thing...

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Is it a bad sign when you've signed so many NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) that you can't remember who you can tell what to and to what it applies?

NDAs are the civilian equivalent of classified information. For the most part, it's all public knowledge; you're just trying to keep others from finding it and tying it all together easily.

Why is the Fry's in Palo Alto look so crappy, both inside and out? It's like the ghetto Fry's. But how the hell can something be ghetto in Palo Alto? East Palo Alto, sure. Oakland, definitely. But Palo Alto? A few blocks from Stanford?

The expressway system here fascinates me. They're like quasi-freeways, usually divided, but with stop lights every few miles or so. I'm undecided on whether they're a good or bad thing -- I don't think I could make such a decision unless I commuted on them daily and/or lived near one.

I especially am intrigued as to how "Montague Expressway" got its name.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Conference started today (well, pre-conference seminars). Very enjoyable, despite having to haul my butt down to Santa Clara from SF at 7am. As usual, it was completely foggy in SF but bright and sunny in Silicon Valley. I'll have to do the same tomorrow, but in normal rush-hour traffic. Oy...

Spoke with someone from IBM's Essex Junction, VT site. Turns out she's actually the moderator for the session my paper is in. And she also oversees their chip design software kits, which we need a few bugs fixed in for our stuff. Heh; and my coworkers told me I'd never get IBM to fix these bugs! But, ah... IBM is a shell of its former self. So sad. Reminder to self: need to drive by the Cottle Rd site (where I interned years ago) so see how they've replaced the IBM logos with Hitachi.

As predicted, US Airways declared bankruptcy today, the second time in as many years. However, despite previous threats, they have agreed to keep flying and honor existing tickets. So I'm not as stranded here as I had thought. Drat-- er, I mean, phew. :-)

Hm... so the conference runs from 8am to 7pm tomorrow; I'm meeting with some folks for an interview/negotiations/dinner at 7:30pm. Ah, it'll be a long day. Better hit the sack.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Just had to remark on some observations at the Pittsburgh airport...

Lots of empty spaces in the AirMall, including (most annoyingly) the space that my bank, National City, used to occupy. Now I must shell out a zillion dollars in surcharges to use the PNC ATM. Grah.

It's almost dead here. There was *zero* line at the security checkpoint, on a Friday evening. While not usual in recent memory, this place used to be constantly packed when I first got to Pittsburgh.

A number of eateries are now sporting "Effective immediately, we will no longer accept US Airways vouchers." Ouch.

So I'm flying out to SFO today, and I'm supposed to return next Thursday. Given that my flights are on US Airways, I may very well be quasi-stranded out there if they file for bankruptcy this weekend and stop flying (as their management has been hinting). Doh!
They're just now saying that the recently revealed National Guard records on Bush might be forgeries.

That was my initial reaction upon seeing the documents (which was disappointing to me from a political standpoint, but I'm playing armchair forensic scientist here, not spin doctor). While they look fine for, say, anything produced in the 90's onward, the typesetting is all wrong for something supposedly written in the 70's. The key bit is that it uses a proportional-spaced font. This is impossible to produce on a 70's era typewriter or teletype.

Also, since when does a military squadron have a PO box?

Here are pictures of the document and what I think it should look like:

Thursday, September 9, 2004

The joy I share with you today is .

Also, as a bit of a compromise (inspired, in part, by my manager's apology for his ranting outburst at me last week), I agreed to stay on at Cadence for a few extra weeks to help wrap up a project. In the meantime, however, I am permitted to search for new and better jobs.

I like to think of it as being paid to look for another job.

Sunday, September 5, 2004

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated

I haven't updated recently because there hasn't been very much to say. Yeah, work still sucks. Whine whine whine. I'm sure you don't want to hear it, as I am sick of hearing myself thinking it. As for your next retort, yes, I am doing something about it, but I must be patient. At this point, I cannot afford to make hasty moves.

I was thinking about lightning today, as we've had a lot of storms recently. I came across the following map from NASA showing the frequency of lightning strikes worldwide. Sharing this because it's a well done map and the page itself is worth a good five-minute read.

Above: Data from space-based optical sensors reveal the uneven distribution of worldwide lightning strikes. Units: flashes/km2/yr. Image credit: NSSTC Lightning Team.

Good luck to all those starting school, either as students or teachers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

This is beyond insane.

Thursday is our normal group meeting, where we'll decide how to proceed on a certain task (I'll call it "Project X"; the technical details are long and mind-numbing, and I'll spare you -- this time).

The Product Engineer (PE) wants to get some customer input on this before we make our decision. So he's having a teleconference with said customer Wednesday night (said customer is in Japan; it'll be their Thursday morning).

The PE wants to get some slides to them before he has this meeting so the customer can mull the idea over. PE sends me e-mail at 6:30 (my time; PE is in Arizona) on Friday to have me send him slides that he can send to the customer. Of course, I've already left for the day and don't see it until Monday.

Monday morning. Fire (well, broken A/C) in the server room, authentication server is out of commission in the morning, taking down all of the workstations in the building. Only people with Cadence-issued laptops -- managers and above -- can check e-mail. In the afternoon, my manager (who was CC'ed on this e-mail) tells me about the need for slides.

Monday afternoon. Slides, random bugs that have suddently become urgent, etc., start sapping my time. PE starts pestering me (by phone, which I refuse to answer, and then by e-mail) about slides (which require me to take a zillion screen captures and edit them to show how I think it should look).

Tuesday morning. Finish slides, send them to PE (and my manager). PE promptly starts ignoring them.

Tuesday afternoon. My manager wants to have a meeting between me, him, and PE to discuss what I've proposed in the slides to make sure we understand the resources required. In addition, he wants to have a meeting before this before we call the PE. Meanwhile, PE continues to ignore slides. Work on critical bugs that I've been putting off for the slides, to the annoyance of the bug people.

For those keeping score:
Meeting: Thurday, decide to commit to project X
Pre-meeting: Wednesday night, get customer feedback for meeting.
Pre-pre-meeting: Wednesday afternoon, decide what we can present to customer.
Pre-pre-pre-meeting: Wednesday morning, decide what we can discuss with PE.

And you wonder why Cadence stock is at $12, off a high of $40?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

From an IM chat:
kangadac: I had to pick Tamara up from the UPMC hospital where she was getting some diagnostic tests done.
kangadac: Next door, in the convocation center, a Hilary Duff concert was getting underway.
kangadac: I have never been so freaked by 8 year old girls before.
scaryr: heh heh heh...
kangadac: If I had leaned out my window and yelled "Hilary sucks!", I would not be typing this right now.
kangadac: Instead, my car would be dismantled and what remains of my body would be dragged through the streets of Oakland.

In other news, I have an idea for what could be a really interesting paper, but I would need an AMD Opteron system with at least 8 GB of memory. For the less geeky amongst you, this equates to "really dang expensive." And not bloody likely.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

On the Cadence intraweb main site, there's a column named "Executive Corner" with supposedly witty articles from Cadence execs, along with a picture that changes every time you load the page. It's about the most dominant thing on the page, which kind of affirms the executive personality cult that pervades this company.

I've decided that you, my dear readers, have been deprived of a great opportunity to join this cult. Therefore, I present to you:

The Cadence Executive Personality Cult!


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Paper status: done and submitted.


Um, hm. Now I just need to do all the stuff I originally had a week to do before tomorrow's group meeting. Doh!

Monday, July 19, 2004

IT 01506958 Ticket Submitted re: Problem FAC Plumbing

Hrm. I only wish we were kidding about this.

Paper at four pages, and I'm not even a third done. Uh oh. I may have to use my superpowers to shrink some figures to subatomic sizes.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Stupid Mathematica Tricks

Finally. What I've been struggling with for weeks. Now I just have to finish the paper... due Thursday.

Ever wanted a USB drive that floats in your bathtub?

Friday, July 16, 2004

My cubicle is now devoid of almost all personal effects and property (mostly books in the latter regard).

No, I haven't quit Cadence yet. However, cleaning out my desk and cube was strangely cathartic. It's like the breaking of a bond, a personal attachment, to something that has been dragging me down for the last three months. It also sends a message: I'm annoyed as hell and I won't take it anymore.

Yes, though, I have made up my mind to leave Cadence on the first seaworthy ship out of here. I have one very interesting lead, TJWCBDY (The Job Which Cannot Be Discussed Yet -- I've verbally agreed to keep this confidential for now, and NDAs will be signed soon), which will hopefully pan out.

The other nice thing about having an empty cube is that Cadence has a policy where, if you resign your job to work for a competitor, your badge is taken and you are escorted from the building *immediately*. Security will box up your personal effects and allow you to pick them up at a later date. Of course, I don't know how this applies to the former Neolinear office -- we don't have badges or security (yet). But I'm not taking any chances.

I considered making this friends-only, but upon reflection... you know, it really doesn't matter. Anyone with half a brain here knows I'm not happy. If the sterile cube doesn't reinforce this message, nothing will.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Sometimes 'E' does mean "Empty"

Just got back from a visit to my extended family's cabins up in Three Rivers, MI (just south of Kalamazoo for the geomichigraphically inclined). Got to see my cousin Jane, in town from Monterey, CA, right now; she says she'll return to Chicago in a year -- heh, we'll see if that actually happens.

My body is still recovering from the beating administered by my uncle Jim. I did a double session of tubing while he was driving the boat, see. He has a favorite spot on the lake which we've named Dead Man's Curve; sure enough, I fell off once on that. He also has a number of tricks he pulls; I was on the receiving end of both "The Slack" and "The Drunken Uncle." Much fun, much mosquito bites, much food, much muscle soreness, and again much fun.

On the way back, though, I ran into some trouble. My car (2000 Honda CR-V) has a 15.3 gallon tank and gets an EPA rated highway mileage of 25 mpg; I regularly see 27 mpg on long trips. For those keeping score, this is a range of 380-415 miles; mentally, I make this 350 to give myself a nice margin of error. I always set my trip odometer to zero after topping off my tank so I know where I'm at.

Normally (city driving), my "low fuel" idiot light starts flickering around 290 miles and stays solid around 310. Today, it came on at 305, right as I crossed from Ohio into Pennsylvania, but it stayed solid. Hmm, that's unusual, I thought. I was going to get gas after I exited the turnpike in ~30 miles, but figured I should stop at the next service plaza just to be safe.

I never made it.

A couple minutes after it came on, my car started sputtering while going up a hill. Uhoh. I pulled off to the side, collected my thoughts, and decided (on my very loving and patient wife's suggestion) to go as slowly as possible in the highest gear. This worked for a few more minutes. Then, on the last hill about a mile from the service plaza, it died. (45 minutes, five road flares, and a call to the Turnpike folks + AAA later, I was back on my way, thankfully.)

It lasted only 324 miles and got an astonisingly low 21 mpg. Grrrr. Obviously, time for a serious tune-up.

I need to add that, upon the engine dying and while waiting for the AAA truck to come, Tamara calmly pulled out a book and assured me that everything would be ok. Ah, I love my wife.

Friday, July 2, 2004

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned this scheme (which makes me livid): Bush campaign asks Southern Baptists to provide church rosters.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Thank god for off-shoring. Well, sorta. Nobody in the U.S. would bother with my shell problem. After a few hours, someone in India picked it up and randomly decided to fix it. Unfortunately, it still takes a day before it propagates to all the machines out there.

Now, if I could just get them to unclog our print queue... :-)

Stolen from :
We think we know each other through our blogs, when really there's little that we know about each other sometimes. I want you to ask me something you think you should know about me. Something that should be obvious, but you have no idea about. Then post this in your LJ and find out what people don't know about you.
My shell -- the program which allows me to enter commands on the Unix systems here -- was set to /bin/tcsh when they converted us to the Cadence network. tcsh is a nice program, a vast improvement on csh. Unfortunately, it doesn't exist or is located elsewhere on most of the Cadence systems. Attempting to log in produces a "No shell!" message and (as a security precaution) I am automatically logged out.

I've filed a helpdesk ticket to have them change /bin/tcsh in my account to /bin/csh. I just got the estimated completion date: July 5th. Yes, five days to delete a single 't'.

Who knows how long this would have taken had I asked them to insert a character or, worse, a capital letter.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Parents came and went. Spent a lot of time working in the garden, which was good. Enjoyed their visit greatly. Introduced them to Loafers, which they loved. My mom took two loaves of the blueberry pineapple with her today.

Next weekend is Pip & Dan and company (Pip = Tamara's sister), and I think Anthony (= Tamara's brother). Then up to Michigan the following weekend, a weekend off, and then a wedding.

In the meantime, everything at work is borked. IT decided to do the transition over to Cadence's network a day early, prompting the NeoCell team to build their hotfix release early, which means that my fixes didn't get picked up and various people are going to be extremely angry. Gerf. [*]

In other news, my transfer to the CAT group is held up in politics. My fate will be decided in a battle of two VPs. Surprise, surprise.

[*] Wonderful word I learned from expressing a vulgar form of disdain in a polite manner (think "sh*t"). I fully intend to incorporate this into my everyday vocabulary.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Initial impressions of Gmail

And thanks to for the invite. :-)

Wow. It's fast. I'm used to web mail being quite sluggish -- click, wait. read, click, wait. It's somehow faster than both webmail and IMAP at work. This probably says more about our mail server than Gmail...

I like the conversation feature, but I'm waiting to bestow praise on it until I see how well it handles a large number of messages in between. Mozilla can also do a conversational (threaded) view, but it's annoying to do that to your inbox (with all the non-threaded messages). Also, I've only used it to email other Gmail users so far.

1 GB is certainly a lot of space, but it's not "endless." My mail spool easily goes over that when I'm collaborating on a paper -- sending bloated Word documents back and forth... ugh. Maybe Google will fix this by writing a Word replacement? :-)

Unless Google has patents for this stuff in the pipe -- which I wouldn't be surprised -- I expect Thunderbird and other mail programs to adopt some of these features.

Gmail is not quite a Notes or Outlook replacement, though. As much as I hated Notes, it had some nice features (sending calendar invites, etc.).
Hrm. Getting up early is overrated. Fortunately, the Brits have been up for 4+ hours already, so I can view their news sites.

I didn't feel so great last night, so I took a nap -- from 9:00 to 4:00. Oops.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Passport lost. Much overturning of items in both home and work offices. Much fretting. Much looking up on State Department web sites about how much and how long it would take to replace.

Passport found. It was in a laptop bag I never use anymore.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Ooh, another graduation to celebrate. Go congratulate ('s sister) on her graduation!

Talked with Iain yesterday, the guy in charge of the group (CAT) I want to transfer to. This might actually happen... ah, so good!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Everyone! Go congratulate on her graduation today!
Insomnia. Check.

I don't know if it's this whole work situation or what. My mind just won't stop tonight. Down in the family room now, typing this, then a few rounds of Text Twist. Hopefully that'll solve it.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Apparently, John Kerry likes to ride his bike in my neighborhood. A bit surprising, since Teresa Heinz Kerry's house is over in Fox Chapel, about 15 miles away.

I imagine that, if he is elected, we may have road closures at random times.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

In addition to Washington being served ice cream in 1789, Walter Hunt selling the rights for the safety pin for $400 in 1825, and Charles Osborne starting an 11 month bout of hiccups in 1922, MyWay's This Day In History featurette also has the following amusing item:

1920   The U.S. Post Office Department ruled that children may not be sent by parcel post.

I finished the first stage of wiring in my house (involving all the rooms which had computers). My house is now fully networked in wired and wireless fashion. I also attached a Prismiq box to the TV. It's an interesting toy for playing videos, music, photos, getting the latest in select news, etc., but has some quirks.

Work is... not going well. It sounds like I'm not going to be able to transfer to the core architecture and technology (CAT) group; instead, I'm in charge of a project with no resources and impossible and inflexible deadlines, and will be the sister project of someone who loves bureaucracy and red tape. Ugh. I've expressed my serious concerns about this, to no avail. I've been given until Wednesday to accept or decline this project, with the latter likely meaning declining continued employment at Cadence.

In the meantime, I'll be calling the folks at CAT (in San Jose) to see where things stand, and seeing if Network Appliance down the street has anything interesting. At any rate, I'm not pleased with the way Cadence is treating us.

Relaxing weekend, though. I've been watching the squirrels and birds come by. Yesterday, I went to a coworker's house for a graduation party (his daughter graduated from high school). Spring is nice in Pennsylvania.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Happiness is having animal crackers.

Thursday, June 3, 2004

Hm. My username appears to trigger a bug in that stalker meme (which also generates horrendous HTML):

dacut's LJ stalker is !
is stalking you because another friend of yours told them you liked them. They are also deluded!

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Logged ~800 miles over the holiday weekend. Tam and I went down to Roanoke (actually, Radford) Va. for Tam's cousin's wedding. It's pretty there, nice, but definitely the South. Not the Deep South, mind, but I was y'all'ed more times than I can remember.

The WVa/Va line on I-77 is inside a tunnel. They do have a small, almost unnoticeable marker in the tunnel (presumably to prevent accidents from people trying to read a large "Welcome to [W]Va!" sign). I thought that was rather curious. (It's our own redneck version of the Chunnel!)

As backwards as WVa is, at least their turnpike system is on EZPass. Ohio chose a completely incompatible system (ReadyToll), usable only on the Ohio Turnpike. Sheesh.

In other news, Cadence has decided to reneg on its agreements to the former Neolinear employees with regard to our stock options. We were supposed to receive a payment for our stock options on Friday's paycheck. For most people, this is $1000-$2000 (before taxes).

Nobody received this payment.

Queries to the Mergers & Acquisitions people were forwarded to someone in Legal, who basically said too bad, we'll pay them when we feel like paying them (verbatim: "the payment schedule for all former Neolinear optionees is in the process of being completed and signed off by the various departments involved"). It sounds like we will have to sue to get these payments.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Heh... I'm bad, sometimes.


I am happy to report that your father is alive and well. In fact, he is located
in Marin County, California (US), where he is creating bad prequels to the
original Star Wars trilogy.

Sorry, can't help your sister. Try the U.S. Department of State.

Rocky. wrote:

> Dear,
> I have a proposal to make, that might be of interest to you. I am in possession
> of a large sum of money in(US$38,000,000.00) Thirty Eight Million USDollars).
> The money was inherited from my late father Chief George LUCAS who was the
> Chairman of the Sierra Leone Gold Mining Corporation during the Sierra Leonian
> War when Major Johnny Paul Koromah was the country's president.
> The money is of no criminal origin as it was largely realized from black
> market sale of alluvial gold dust during the war.The money has been lodged
> with a BANK here in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). I now want to
> move this money abroad and invest it in profitable ventures, as the time
> is now ripe for such move.
> 1.Firstly to assist me to transfer this money into your account to any stable
> country abroad.
> 2. To assist me invest the money in profitable ventures in your country
> or any other suitable country where you have good connections.
> 3. To help re-locate me and my small sister to the suggested country.
> 4. To manage the money in a profitable manner preferably a joint venture
> deal with your company.
> For your assistance you will get 20% of the total amount.Upon your request,I
> will give you further details of the plans and tell you more about my self
> but you must treat as highly confidential for my security.
> Sincere regards,
Ho boy. Remember the quality training I had a couple days ago?

Well, I brought some of my concerns to the instructor (specifically, how our goals encourage us to ship whatever we have by a certain date rather than shipping quality software). At the time, he admitted that this was a problem they are trying to address throughout my division but it would require a change in culture, so don't expect anything soon.

Apparently, he didn't just let this lie. He passed these concerns on to higher-ups; since he's a VP, this allegedly made its way up to an EVP's and/or CTO's offices, which is now asking for answers from the CIC general manager and the old Neolinear CEO (who's now a Cadence VP).

Heh. Lovely hornet's nest I've stirred. Actually, I'm enjoying it; finally, someone is listening.

(Acronyms: VP = vice president; EVP = executive vice president; CTO = chief technical officer; CIC = custom integrated circuits, my division within Cadence; CEO = chief executive officer)

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Sign spotted on a local Mexican restaurant (Mad Mex for any Pgh folk):

"Teqla maks u a grat spelr."
I now have a certificate -- printed on plain 8.5"x11" paper -- which states: "This certifies that David Cuthbert has successfully completed Quality Awareness at Cadence on Tuesday, May 25, 2004."

This basically meant that I listened to three hours worth of Powerpoint slides motivating the need to write quality software. No specifics, mind you -- just that Quality is Good.

How incredibly... cheesy. At least they used the color laser to print the certificate.

I'm presenting an award at a local high school this evening (for Caltech). I actually enjoy doing this particular school (Mt. Lebanon HS). The administrators there invest a lot of effort getting their kids into top-notch schools, the guidance counselors not only know them by name but their individual strengths and weaknesses, etc. By comparison, I loathe having to do the Pittsburgh schools; it's clear that they don't have a clue as to who I am, what Caltech is, or even who their own students are.

As you can probably guess, the former is a rich suburban district, whereas the latter is in the city proper. Ironically, the pay for administrators tends to be better in the city (though the teachers are not as well paid; correlation?). The difference in attitudes is drastic.
As I mentioned to ...

Cool conversation-piece computer case, or freaky and perverted obsession? You decide!

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Hm, productive-ish weekend.

I finally got the conduit in place and started pulling CAT-5 cables so that the house will be properly wired for networking (instead of running ethernet underneath doorjams and the like). I also put up the rack in the basement; this is going to serve as my media hub. Drilling into cinder block is not fun, even with the proper tools.

Unfortunately, I don't think I'm happy with the way the basement looks; the cables are too droopy. I think I'm going to need to get some cable trays (which are not cheap... ).

Also got a bird feeder and rigged up a system that will -- hopefully -- keep the squirrels at bay. I have been feeding them corn, though, much to Tamara's shagrin.

Discovered that my attic ventilation fan had completely died; it was about 110° up there, which explains why the upstairs rooms were so much warmer. I stuck a spare (industrial strength!) fan up there for now, which seems to have helped immensely.

I'm about to give up on using Linux as a desktop. X Windows is too sluggish and unreliable. The same programs (Firefox, Thunderbird) are much zippier on Windows and don't crash my desktop. I'll need to get an X emulator in place to let me run Cadence, etc., though. (And, yeah, I've tried cygwin's X server... didn't like it.)

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Grr. Well, they haven't quite fleshed out the org chart, but my group has definitely been eliminated (as I expected). Heh, that's the second time that's happened to me in nine months. Of the three that are in my group: one guy in my group will be in charge of a product; one will probably be responsible for integration of that product; I'm in limbo.

Not sure which direction I'll go. I could end up in CAT (Core Architecture and Technology), but that's mostly in San Jose -- not sure if they'd let me stay here. I could get the ol' pink slip. I might just roam around doing random stuff, but that's not terribly likely.

Joke from Dilbert:
PHB: "Knock knock."
Employee: "Who's there?"
PHB: "Not you anymore!"
Just for fun.

You did know there were rabbits making mochi (rice cakes) on the moon, right?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Hm. Apparently, we are being reorganised tomorrow, if the rumour factory is up to its usual accuracy.

I'm guessing there's a 35% chance I won't be on the new org chart. I should be worried, but I'm honestly not. I'll spend some time seeing family and friends, doing chores around the house, etc., and move on to another job in a month or so. It'll actually be a nice break.

I'm just at the point where I've come to realise that I'll never actually reach the carrot being dangled in front of me.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Mm, just got back from a weekend in San Francisco. 'Twas nice to see friends again, even if only for a short time.

Unfortunately, I had an e-mail waiting for me back here which began:
You probably have decided it is not worth your time to communicate; that
would sadden me.

Do not presume to know my intentions based on my failure to respond to your e-mail within some arbitrary bounds you have set. I hate it when people do this. Does it not occur to them I might not read my e-mail every hour or even day, especially when I am away and don't have ready access to a computer?

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Wow. I have apparently made it into the 87% tax bracket. At least according to the check (I presumably will get) for the stock I surrendered from this whole being acquired thing.

Yes, that's right. Of the $X I had in Neolinear stock, I am receiving 13% of it. Everyone else here is in a similar situation. A few people -- mostly those here less than a year -- ended up *owing* money on their stock. And, no, nobody here is pleased about this news.

(Most of the money is being withheld in various escrows, actually; governmental taxes were about 35%. However, I am pessimistic about seeing anything from the escrow funds.)

On the bright side, there are no golden handcuffs anymore.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Hm. Apparently, we have a new CEO. Not that I think anything will change in the near future. We'll still have quarterly layoffs, etc. Such, I guess, is life.

On the drive in this morning, I was thinking how much fun it might be to design freeways and bridges and such. I should be a civil engineer. Actually, I'd start with fixing all the badly done signs in Pennsylvania. A lot of them are misleading (mostly in relation to lane arrows; they will sometimes indicate that you must be in a certain lane when, in fact, any lane is fine). Maryland is much better (to the point of being anal) in this regard.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Leveraged again!

I've been leveraged again!

This policy decision has been agreed to by the executive staff in order
to better leverage our resources and manage our expenses. Thanks for
your cooperation.

All I need now is a "best-in-class" or "synergy" and "paradigm" and I'll have a bingo!
If you want engineers (or, probably, any non-sales/marketing[*] folks) to pay attention to an e-mail or other announcement, do not use the following words or variants thereof:
  • synergy
  • leverage
  • paradigm
  • proactive
  • empower

Heck, just read The Buzzword Bingo Book.

E-Mail from finance: "These are big numbers, however, they can be achieved if we stay focused and maximize our leverage via the Cadence sales channel."

[*] Actually, these folks want to be known as Marcomm, for "Marketing and Communications." I doubt that any engineer uses it. We usually use terms like "marketing droids."

Sunday, May 9, 2004

had a handwriting meme that he was starting (or trying to start). Anyway, I only recently got a monitor hooked back up to the computer with the scanner... so here goes:

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

So pathetic it's amusing

Heh... yesterday, I was pleased to find that I didn't have too many e-mail messages waiting from vacation (at least after our spam catchers got through with my inbox). Just minor administratia, nothing earth-shattering.

Today, I found out -- by word of mouth, because apparently I'm not approved on some random product mailing list -- that management has decided to axe the development being done on the next version of one of our products (let's call it Q, because I can't name it here). They've decided to rip out the changes being done for 4.0 and, instead, incrementally patch in minor features to 3.3.

I'm not disappointed -- heck, I had argued for this months ago when it was clear that development was way off track. It's just amusing that I only found out through an accidental conversation.

Anyway... yard is looking good! Well, the front yard at least. I put fertilizer down before I went on vacation, and the lawn is amazingly green. Some of our bulbs are coming up, too. I'll try to take pictures tomorrow.

I need to work on the back yard. It's... yucky. The grass isn't doing so well and there are bare patches here and there. I'll be ordering some supplies in the near future.

Monday, May 3, 2004

I found out today that the post office won't insure documents beyond $25k. However, they will happily charge you for any declared value beyond that. If you declare something at $100k, that works out to ~$94 in postage. On the other hand, if you declare it at $25k, it's only $31.

For $94, it had better be delivered in a briefcase chained to the postal worker's arm. But that's definitely not the case -- the service/insurance level is the same either way. This makes no sense.

Then again, it's the post office, so it's not supposed to make sense. And, yes, I did the sensible thing and only declared it at $25k.
Woohoo! Now I just have to write the thing. :-)

This email confirms that the abstract you submitted for ICU 2004 has been ACCEPTED! I will be in contact with you over the next couple of weeks with further details including timelines, templates, etc.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know, and we look forward to seeing you in September at the conference.

Back from San Diego. Eaugh, it's cold here! I've gone from ~100° to ~40° weather. My body is confused.

Not much else to report. I mostly hung out with my parents, helped out around the house, etc. I did get to see a couple friends on Friday and Saturday (Cindy and Carrie, respectively).

sent me a card while I was gone! And a Caltech felt pennant! Thanks, Carn!

I don't want to go back to work tomorrow. It's beyond post-vacation lack-of-motivation; more of a dread of the stupidity I got away from. Ah, well. I still have to show up to get paid, I guess.

Monday, April 26, 2004

I am definitely a San Diegan.

I've been back for three days now, and I'm much more relaxed. The sun has been nice and bright. A bit warm -- today it was 100°F, but I still find that much more tolerable than 85°F in Pittsburgh thanks to the lack of humidity here.

The wedding was nice. I got to see a lot of people whom I only get to see every few years or so and usually not at the same time. Also ran into someone I hadn't seen since 6th or 7th grade (!). That's ~18 years for those keeping score...

Yesterday I took Tamara to the airport (our vacation times don't quite overlap, so she had to get back to work today) and then wandered down to San Ysidro to explore the border a bit. Didn't actually cross, though; to really see anything in Mexico you need to get away from the border, farther than one can go on foot alone. Taking a car into Mexico is not a trivial matter (I would have had to buy Mexican insurance and, since I was in my parents' somewhat flashy SUV, I decided this wasn't a good idea). I explored Border Field State Park [official site, random visitor's site] a bit; it's nicknamed "California's Ugliest State Park." Actually, I couldn't get into the park itself because the road is closed. So you'll have to be satisfied with the pictures others took.

Then I drove up the Silver Strand to Coronado and across the Coronado Bay Bridge because (a) I had never gone up the Silver Strand, (b) I wanted to go across the Coronado Bridge, and (c) there's no toll going from Coronado to San Diego.

I also bought random computer equipment that my dad wanted/needed, including a scanner/printer combo and a home firewall box. The fact that the firewall box is also a wireless access point, allowing me to type this from my laptop, was, of course, completely incidental.

Did some gardening today, mostly watering plants and the like. No real plans for tomorrow or the rest of the week, but, hey, I didn't come here to make plans.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Oh, dear. The machines are starting to attack...

Trapped boy rescued from superloo [BBC]

A young boy had to be freed by the Fire Service after becoming trapped inside an automated public lavatory in Devon, it has emerged.

The boy, thought be 10 or 12, became stuck inside the so-called superloo in Plymouth's Central Park on Saturday.

In a statement, the owner of the facility, JC DeCaux, said it do not know why the door failed to operate.

The firm said children aged 10 or under should not use the kiosks unaccompanied as they are weight sensitive.

A member of the public heard cries from help from inside the toilet kiosk which is situated in Plymouth's Central Park.

The fire service was called and the door to the facility was forced open.

The boy was said to be quite distressed but otherwise well.

JC DeCaux said without the full details of the incident it was impossible to be sure of exactly what happened.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Our file server apparently came back around 6:00 pm (after I had already left work).

However, I am now missing all my data that was on that server (a few GB), and IT says it wasn't backed up. Most of it is stuff I can recreate (downloads of free software and recompiles) but getting all of this stuff back together the way it was before is going to take weeks.

I give up. This just isn't worth it. This is sheer stupidity.

I'm going to go work on new stuff, though still within Cadence, that has nothing to do with the shitpile that is the former Neolinear.

Down *again*?!

So... I'm posting this from links. Which is actually fairly navigable, especially compare to lynx.

But why am I posting from links as opposed to Mozilla, you ask? Well, see, when I got in, I went to my (open) Mozilla mail window, clicked on "Get Mail"... and watched the whole thing come crashing down. Hm. Annoying, but, hey, Moz does crash every so often.

I click on the icon to launch Mozilla... nothing happens.

Ok, that's a bit odd. Go to a shell to kill off any errant Mozilla processes... it dies.

Then my desktop starts disintegrating... window fragments all over the place, stuff disappearing... like something out of a bad sci-fi movie. Eventually, I find myself logged out.

The cause of all this? Oh, well, see... our IT folks had our applications file server set up in such a way that it didn't provide notifications when a drive went down. Apparently, one drive had died who-knows-how-long-ago, and a second died this morning, taking the entire server with it.

Ah, yes. So we now have ~60 people sitting idle, doing stuff like posting to their LiveJournal, while the ~1.5 TB raid array gets rebuilt.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Wow. I don't think I've been this bitter since Tech. Even a cup of strong, black coffee is comparatively sweet. I could donate enough for two liver transplants and still have plenty left over.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Hm. I seem to be prolific with the papers as of late. They're not going to prestigious journals, though; at least they are refereed. Ah, well.

Oddly, it's easier to submit a paper at Cadence than it was at Neolinear. At Cadence, I just need my manager's signoff. At Neolinear, I needed all the managers in the food chain up through and including the CEO plus the CTO to signoff.

The abstract I just submitted is titled Integrating Mathematica with OpenAccess for Advanced Circuit Analysis, for the International Cadence Usergroup conference in September. Yeah, not exactly light bedtime reading. :-)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

In the span of a couple hours, I've gone from having a lot of interesting stuff on my plate to having almost no job responsibilities. Amazing. :-(

Why they don't just lay me off... I'm not sure. Hrm... perhaps that will happen during the round of layoffs for this quarter. Still, it would be cheaper to get rid of me before the acquisition completes. Ah, well; it's not exactly in my interest to point this out...

I started looking for other jobs within Cadence, but it's hard to tell what departments will still exist. Most of the jobs are in India and China, anyway.
Ah, Shirles (a friend from Caltech who's always smiling and full of energy and is one of those folks who brightens any room she walks into) just pointed me to the Nokia N-Gage QD gamedeck/phone/electronic device with a multiple-personality disorder. She was responsible for usability engineering on it... it all looks quite the cool! Makes me curious to fiddle with it when it comes out.

Monday, April 12, 2004

I have a great idea. Let's forget anything we know about the process of debugging software and just focus on the end result: making Dave's life miserable.

It's too easy to just debug using the latest build. Instead, let's start a session and leave it running for a few days. Then, while the program is still running, let's uninstall parts of it, overwrite some of the internal libraries and configuration files from a newer build (because newer is better, right?), and, hell, why not run an electromagnet around the hard drive a few times for good measure.

Then, when the whole thing comes crashing down, file a bug against Dave, point him to a core file which he doesn't have read permission on, and claim that his software is lousy.

Yeah, this Monday is shaping up real well...

Sunday, April 11, 2004

I just realised... I haven't the foggiest what my new job title means. I'm a "Member of the Consulting Staff." Umm... ooookay.

Does this mean I can show up, uninvited, to various meetings, tell people stuff they already know, and then charge them unseemly amounts of money? "The fundamental problem in your department is a failure to economize on leveraging your synergies across all platforms. That'll be $500,000."

Not that that wouldn't be cool. At least the money part. But somehow I'm doubting that's what I'll actually get to do.

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Monday, April 5, 2004

Lots of changes at work today. Huge changes. Unfortunately, I cannot post them here (yet).

However, I can say that:
  • I still have a job.
  • I will not have to relocate.
  • The amount of money resulting from this is more than what I had feared, but not as much as I had hoped.
  • The golden handcuffs have been taken off...
  • ... and replaced by golden leg irons. :-P

Still trying to figure out what this all means. Also trying to slog though the hundreds of pages of legal documents that have been thrown my way.

One casualty: Kanga Design Automation will be put on hold indefinitely. Maybe some other time.

Thursday, April 1, 2004

American Science & Surplus is going to be my undoing.

[Edit: deleted, sorry. Can't reveal this anymore.]

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Another system failure

Apparently, New York City's 911 system was down for a few hours [NY Times] on Friday night. The cause? Apparently, an engineer changing phone numbers for a bank accidentally changed the phone number for the dispatch center instead (the numbers were similar). Oops.

A similar thing happened to Pittsburgh a few years ago. The cause there? They added an overlay area code (which, ironically, has never been used) to the 412/724 area codes. FCC rules state that, when this happens, the affected area has to switch to ten digit dialing (where you always have to dial the area code, even if you are calling to the same area code). Nobody reprogrammed the 911 system to use the ten digit system; when they shut off the seven digit system, it could no longer relay the calls.

Both failures were caused by changed to systems outside of the scope of the basic 911 system. This illustrates why it's hard to make good systems (especially software systems): the interdependencies cause failures to propagate rapidly.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

If only we could make this work at the federal level...

Brace yourself. I've found a government that (gasp!) works!

For whatever archaic reasons, Pennsylvania does not collect income taxes for municipalities, i.e., the 3% I pay to the Commonwealth stays at the Commonwealth level. This means that most Pennsylvania residents end up filing at least three separate tax returns: federal, state, and local.

Now, Tamara and I moved from Pittsburgh to McCandless last year, which complicates things a bit. Between us, there are five returns: federal, state, Pittsburgh, and one each for McCandless (which does not have a married-filing-jointly status). Pittsburgh, though, loves to be annoying; to get off their tax list, you have to take a form to your local tax collector, who has to certify that you're a resident in their municipality and that you've paid $X in taxes, blah blah blah.

Furthermore, Tamara's W-2 forms were strangely incorrect with regard to her salary while in Pittsburgh vs. McCandless.

Anyway, I brought all of this to the town hall today to see what they could make of it. First, everyone there was friendly and helpful. That's just weird to begin with. Second, they have their crap together. The lady who certified the form for Pittsburgh was able to look everything up and signed it on the spot -- no waiting!

Finally, they took our McCandless forms and proceeded to check them for me while I was there! They pointed out that I used the wrong figure for one spot and redid the calculations for me! It ended up not making a difference in the end, but they took the time to explain why they wanted the different number (state vs. Social Security wages).