November 29, 2006

quote of the moment

“I don’t want to brag, but the bandwidth at the office is sufficient to download our lord and savior Jesus Christ.”

-Jerry Holkins, from here.

November 26, 2006

got wood

During my last week at home this summer, my dad and I built a coffee table from plans in one of the woodworking books he had lying on the coffee table (eerie). Though it took much longer than I expected, I am more than pleased with the results.

The legs and sides are made from birch, the top is tile on top of 3/4″ MDF. The end result is a sturdy piece of furniture which handily keeps refreshments and remotes several feet off the floor while weighing only slightly more than a Yugo.

beer table


Note to self: In a Socratic discussion, if at any point you utter the phrase “Are you high, or just plain retarded?”, you’ve lost.

November 20, 2006

preach it

“I have previously told the story of a respected elder statesman of the Zoology Department at Oxford when I was an undergraduate. For years he had passionately believed, and taught, that the Golgi Apparatus (a microscopic feature of the interior of cells) was not real: an artifact, an illusion. Every Monday afternoon it was the custom for the whole department to listen to a research talk by a visiting lecturer. One Monday, the visitor was an American cell biologist who presented completely convincing evidence that the Golgi Apparatus was real. At the end of the lecture, the old man strode to the front of the hall, shook the American by the hand and said–with passion–“My dear fellow, I wish to thank you. I have been wrong these fifteen years.” We clapped our hands red. No fundamentalist would ever say that. In practice, not all scientists would. But all scientists pay lip service to it as an ideal–unlike, say, politicians who would probably condemn it as flip-flopping.”

Richard Dawkins explains the difference between science and fundamentalism.

November 18, 2006

advice i agree with but don’t follow

“Every 5 minutes you spend writing code in a new language is more useful than 5 hours reading blog posts about how great the language is.”
– From here.

memoization 4 lyfe

I entered a programming competition teamed with uber-coder Thomas Norrie and robot/computer science powerhouse Shawn Tice. Having secured excellent teammates with with to hitch my metaphorical wagon, I felt that victory was imminent.

Until Sandbagging McSanderson Brian Muramatsu showed up.

Despite saying that he and his single teammate were “just there for fun”, “would probably leave after getting their first problem”, and “would most likely just play solitaire the entire time”, 4/5 of the way through the contest we found that they not only hadn’t left after completing their first problem, but they were our only competition, both of us having three problems complete and hurriedly working on a fourth.

Through creative placement of a laxative in Muramatsu’s coke and staying the hell out of Thomas and Shawn’s way, we were able to get our 4th and winning problem completed with only 3 minutes left in the competition.

With the $250 prize winnings it seems Christmas has come early.

November 15, 2006

also like a hot dog

“The Bible’s like the constitution, you can find whatever you want in there.”
– Dr. Evans, professor of Footinmouthology

November 13, 2006

quote of the moment

In an article about the use of fear in political campaigns, CSM’s Jeffrey Shaffer gave this out-of-left-field example:

“A memorable example occurs in the 1951 science- fiction classic “The Day The Earth Stood Still.” Halfway through the movie, the alien Klaatu (Michael Rennie) escapes from government custody, begins mingling among the local population, and is alarmed by the growing climate of antialien hysteria.

Soon he joins a crowd gathered around his flying saucer. A reporter, eagerly so- liciting worried comments from the onlookers, extends a microphone toward Klaatu and says, “I suppose you’re just as scared as the rest of us.” Trying to change the mood, Klaatu replies, “I am fearful, when I see people substituting fear for reason….” The newsman, dismayed that Klaatu is digressing into a boring monologue, cuts him off with a quick “Thank you!” and moves on to someone else.”

November 11, 2006

jaw droppin’

TextMate is quite the hot text editor. The most interesting feature is the ability to define macros with placeholders which can be tabbed between, a good (but long) demo of TextMate’s features can be seen here. My justification for resisting TextMate’s wily ways is four-fold:

  1. It’s Mac OS X only.
  2. It’s closed source
  3. It costs money.
  4. It doesn’t have a command line version.

I was excited to discover a text editor with similar functionality for Linux called Scribes, which is open source and free of cost. It too has a good (and much shorter) demo. My only remaining complaint is that it doesn’t have a command line version, which I might be able to forgive in return for intense macro goodness.

Now what would really be nice is if my current text editor of choice already had this functionality and I am simply unaware of it.

November 10, 2006

my heart will go on

Judging by this, the creator of xkcd and I have similar views concerning myspace.

November 9, 2006


Do go into computer science if:

  • you love math (I don’t mean you did well at it in HS, I mean you enjoyed it and would learn more on your own)
  • you have programmed and found it fun and interesting (not you tried it and thought it was easy, or did pretty good in some course)
  • you are a strong problem solver

The above slashdot comment got me thinking. I don’t know about you, but when I graduated from high school, my interests were:

  1. Watching sports.
  2. Boobs.

And quite honestly I wasn’t that into sports at the time. Unless a high paying career in the breast inspection field opened up, limiting my prospects to my interests would have rendered me useless to society and foreshadowed a bleak financial future. And trust me, the breast inspection field has some of the lowest turnover of any industry.

By exposing myself to CS I came to enjoy math, discovered that programming can be satisfying, and have improved my problem solving skills measurably. Even among those who came into a Computer Science program with the prerequisites suggested above, few understand what completing a CS degree entails. It’s common for students to become disenchanted with a Computer Science when they realize we don’t create 3D first person shooters as part of the standard CS curriculum.

As CPLUG pres. and a 100th year senior in CS, I find myself talking to freshman who have no idea what’s going to happen to them over the next 5 years they’re in school, and who will most likely become distraught when they find out. They probably still think they’re going to graduate in 4 years, silly bastards.

November 8, 2006

sleight of hand

Shawnymous: Why are you up so late?
Shawnymous: Do you have a project due?
Shawnymous: Are you learning more emacs legerdemain?
Shawnymous: By the way, I’m trademarking that last bit: “emacs legerdemain.”
Shawnymous: I’m *almost* inspired to write a book.
Shawnymous: I just have to learn emacs and find the time to write a book.
Shawnymous: But god dammit if that title wouldn’t sell.
Shawnymous: You’re either immobilized with laughter or not there.
Shawnymous: Probably the former.
Shawnymous: Take your time. Drink some water. Keep Hydrated.

November 4, 2006

but alt slept with her…

Since I began working at Apple, I’m often called upon to support newly converted Mac OS X users, especially those coming from the Linux side. The following is a discussion I had with one of my professors about the entirely excellent Adium instant messaging client:

On another note, how does one tell Adium to send on something other than Enter or Return? Is it possible?

Me: go Adium->Preferences->General
Me: then uncheck Send on Enter and Send on Return
Me: then Apple+Enter will send

DrAnon: Cute.
DrAnon: Where does it say anything about Apple+Enter?

Me: I believe this requires mind reading

DrAnon: And what’s wrong with control?
DrAnon: My thumb is not used to so much work.

Me: Control called Steve Jobs’ mother a whore in ’81

DrAnon: Control’s temper strikes again.

he’s #1!!

Scott Adams’ blog is amazing, much more so than his comic would lead you to believe. It’s witty enough that I could probably post a quote from it every day and never have it get old, which would make providing content for this blog extraordinarily easy, but would put me in a bit of a rut. So I’ve decided to leave you with one last quote from Scott Adams about his annual poll on our Weaseliest Cultural figures, then he shall never be heard from again:

“The funniest part of this poll every year is not who wins, but who doesn’t. For example, it’s no big surprise that President Bush took top honors for Weaseliest Politician, given his name recognition and the unpopular war in Iraq. The funny part is that Kim Jong-il only placed sixth. “

November 1, 2006

from the mouths of vermin

“I worry that all of my wisdom is derived from bad analogies.”
– Quoth Ratbert

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