Monday, March 17, 2008

Value of a dollar?

If you are paid in or have bank accounts valued in U.S. dollars, the news that Bear Stearns was sold for $2 per share -- in a deal backed with $30 billion [edit: I originally mistyped "million" here] of your tax dollars -- should be extremely worrying.

This means that Bear Stearns is valued at $236 million. Last Monday, when it was trading at $70/share, it was valued at $8.26 billion. In the span of a week, $8 billion dollars effectively vanished into thin air -- in other words, investors overvalued BSC by 3500%.

If we were talking about Moe's Junkyard and Hot Dog Stand and other places with shoddy or non-existent accounting, nobody would care. But we're talking about a bank, whose finances were tracked by other banks.

This is like going to the ATM, withdrawing $20, and then trying to buy lunch -- only to find you can't afford it because there's only 57¢ in your wallet. Or going to the gas station and finding that the price of gas has risen from $3.50/gallon to $122.50/gallon. All stuff which is supposed to be unthinkable.

Yet it's here. And I'm worried.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mirroring blog entries from Blogger to LiveJournal

I've gotten a few questions on how I'm using Blogger while having posts mirrored to LiveJournal. The magic is a little Python script I wrote, which I've sanitized (that is, I got rid of my hard-coded and tossed up here.

It's not for the faint of heart in its current form. You'll need:

  • A Unix-ish computer. MacOS X is probably sufficient, but I don't have a Mac to test it on. Sorry, porting this to Windows is just too much effort.
  • Python 2.5.
  • The GData API for Python.

You'll probably want to install it as a cron job. My crontab runs this every 15 minutes:

# m h  dom mon dow   command
*/15 * * * * /home/dacut/bin/

Why would you want to do this? In my case, I'm getting weary of the goings-on with the suits over in LJ land, but still have a bunch of folks who read the version over there. I guess we got settled in before LJ became the platform for emo tweens. Heh, live and learn.

Anyway, I'm not saying that others should move to a new blogging platform. This just gives you the option to move without having to cut ties with your existing social circle. Could you imagine what real life would be like if decisions like this dictated your social circle? "Bob, Linda, Jake: It's been great hanging out with you guys, and I'm going to miss you. But I'm changing mobile phone companies, and the new one doesn't take phone calls from you. Sorry."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Oracle Poetry

It's interesting what you can stumble across when you turn stones over while walking along a path. Or, in my case, when you snoop on network traffic. Worry not; I was doing this for a good cause: to track down a problem with the Oracle database driver.

Everybody follows
Speedy bits exchange
Stars await to gl@ow"
The preceding key is copyrighted by Oracle Corporation.
Dupl@ication of this key is not allowed without permission
from Oracl1e Corporation. Copyright 2003 Oracle Corporation.

It looks like this is a creative way of making sure nobody else writes their own software for talking to Oracle databases -- to do that, you would have to copy the poem, which is a violation of Oracle's copyrights.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Either I'm losing my edge....

... or the jargon beast has eaten the Eclipse folks and changed their website.

Granted, I'm only develop in Java because it's the langue du jour in software circles today and am not overly enamored of it (or its fanboys), but I do have a reasonably deep understanding of the lingo. But I can't make heads or tails of the Eclipse Equinox mission statement:

From a code point of view, Equinox is an implementation of the OSGi R4 core framework specification, a set of bundles that implement various optional OSGi services and other infrastructure for running OSGi-based systems.

More generally, the goal of the Equinox project is to be a first class OSGi community and foster the vision of Eclipse as a landscape of bundles. As part of this, it is responsible for developing and delivering the OSGi framework implementation used for all of Eclipse. In addition. the project is open to:

  • Implementation of all aspects of the OSGi specification (including the MEG and VEG work)
  • Investigation and research related to future versions of OSGi specifications and related runtime issues
  • Development of non-standard infrastructure deemed to be essential to the running and management of OSGi-based systems
  • Implementation of key framework services and extensions needed for running Eclipse (e.g., the Eclipse Adaptor, Extension registry) and deemed generally useful to people using OSGi
As a peer of the Platform, JDT and PDE projects, the Equinox OSGi code is managed by the Eclipse PMC and ships with the Eclipse project major releases. The various other bundles developed here may ship independently and on different schedules.

On the other hand, I think I'd be more worried if I did understand this...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

February is over...

And that means the February Fitness Challenge is done. Which is good, because my body desperately needs a day off.

I'm rather pleased with how I did. I swam 121,000 yards (68¾ miles/110 kilometers), beating my goal of 100,000 yards.

In pictorial form: