Ron Barry/
         Latest Entry
%20130909  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Today's topic is Syria. I think we're all accustomed to watching the US'
governing bodies operating with total disregard for public opinion at this
point, so it's hardly worth my time to address Syria. But I thought it was
worth a footnote, if for no other reason than for my own personal history of
tilting at the windmill of political irrationality.

We're going to be bombing the holy hell out of Syria, soon, unavoidably, for
two reasons. The first is, largely, to distract public attention from the most
incredible violation of public trust since before the McCarthy era. The second
is that in the global scope, we're the biggest assholes in existence.

The reason we're scared shitless of terrorists is because we've made way too
many little enemies. We thought we could bully our way across the globe, but
now that little groups of people can be a massive governmental embarrassment,
it's important to make the point to the entire planet that we will go to any
length, no matter how irrational, to stamp out any behavior we fear.

We fear nukes, so we sabotaged Iran's enrichment program. We fear airline
hijackers, so we pay high-school dropouts to be the official government
perverts in the TSA line. We are paranoid of the fact that anyone with a high
school education (well, assuming you weren't educated in the US) can build a
chemical weapon. If we don't make the price of deploying on so steep that
nobody would dare, we risk being a victim ourselves.

Syria has already done hundreds of times as much damage - with more
conventional weaponry - as occurred this last month, but it's not about the
death toll. As long as we continue to be the biggest bullies in the world -
economically, militarily, and digitally - we're going to have to live with it.
If you don't like it, maybe the two-party system isn't for you.

%20130906  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I'm going to start with a simple axiom, calling it out right from the beginning
so you, my readers, don't have to suffer the creeping feeling that I'm turning
into a tinfoil hatter. If you don't buy my foundational assumption and
supporting argument, you can quit reading early.

The axiom is this: there are no broadly-produced devices which an organization
with the NSA's funding cannot annex.

I'll pause here for the eye-rolling, but when you've focused back on your
monitor again, consider this: The US and Israel fielded a worm in 2010 that you
might have heard of. It was called Stuxnet, and is widely regarded as the most
advanced malware ever produced. It was also an ominous portent of the power of
militarized hacking.

Stuxnet implemented FOUR zero-day exploits to wend its way through its target
systems. The virality of Stuxnet was only the beginning. Its purpose was to
sabotage Uranium refining equipment, without giving operators any hint as to
what was going on. This task, too, was no small engineering feat. The fact that
the Stuxnet binary was signed using forged certificates is a masterful capstone
on one of the most brilliant pieces of software engineering in history.

Don't you wish your government were as hell-bent on doing something positive?

Now imagine those same resources being applied not to an operating system that
has seen billions of dollars of security hardening, but instead to your home
internet router, which - to be completely fair - is a product with next to zero
competitive advantage in hardening its security. No market motivation to harden
a device means that it simply isn't done. A home internet router is little more
than a toy, from the perspective of security. It is in no way going to slow
down a military-grade encroachment.

So, if we assume that a home router isn't keeping anyone out, and can be led to
hide the nasty things it has been commanded to do - like the enrichment control
hardware - then we can assume that a home network is a click away from the full
control of a military invader.

We've already seen, with Stuxnet, that commercial operating systems are the
proverbial butter to the a serious intruder's hot knife. Why would an internet
backbone router be any different? This means that any action taken online can
be completely concealed from discovery.

So what's left that the NSA can't do? Well, nothing.

Even if the encryption between you and your email provider were bullet-proof,
you would have zero assurance that your home machine isn't just a quick access
away.  The plaintext can be read at will.

I'd like to see some effort made toward creating a provably secure system that
does nothing but operate a single communications tool. Operating system
security isn't exactly my field, so I'm going to leave that desire at that.

What I can suggest is the protocol for how the communications will operate.

You can already encrypt email in a provably secure fashion with a one-time pad,
so I'm not interested in the contents of the message. The thing I want to hide
is who is sending a message to whom.

A central server acts as the repository of all communications. When you want to
send a message, you send it to the server. That message gets distributed to ALL
users of the system. Messages would have to be very short - think Twitter
lengths, here.

Because your client is downloading every message, the NSA can't tell if someone
has sent you anything. True, it's suspicious that you're participating, but
that is as much as they can get. How do we hide the fact that you're sending?
Well, your client would be required to send on a regular schedule. When you
want to send a message, you have to wait for your next turn. If you have
nothing to send when your turn comes, you are required to send random

Now the eavesdropper can't tell if you're sending or if you're just
altruistically wasting your bandwidth to add obfuscation to the system.

How does the recipient know what message is for them? He agrees with the
sender, in advance, on the format of their message: "Use this one-time-pad, and
if you decrypt a message that the plaintext begins with '0x08675309', then the
message is from me."

As long as a sender and a recipient don't give themselves away by joining and
leaving the system at similar enough times for a statistical discovery, they
would be able to communicate in relative anonymity. Even if a National Security
Letter showed up, the server operators have no more information than could
already have been gleaned by Big Brother.

The only security hole would be people who decide to run the software on
otherwise insecure systems.

%20130904  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I'll probably lose my intended audience the instant I reveal my topic, but try
to stick with me. If you're tempted to quit, just notice the discomfort and
recognize it as the natural reaction that we all have to being presented with
information we don't want to internalize.

Spelling, punctuation, and grammar matter.

This isn't a superiority thing and it's not about who's better than whom. It's
not limited to basic, effective communication, either. You've probably seen the
old "eats shoots and leaves" example. (It describes a panda bear, as opposed to
"eats, shoots and leaves," which describes a bad day at McDonald's.) There's
far more to it than writing unambiguously. It's about respecting the time your
reader is taking to consume your writing.

When you write, you enter into a sort of implied contract with your reader.
Your half of the contract is your dependence upon the idea that someone is
reading. Why would you write if no reader was ever going to come along? Even
your journal has a reader, though the reader and writer happen to be the same
person. Without a reader, writing is moot.

The other half of the contract is the reader's. They give up some small
fraction of their existence to take your thoughts into their own. If an idea is
worth your time to convey, shouldn't it carry the best impact you can give it?

Grammar, punctuation and spelling all say to the reader that you've taken your
time. You've taken your time to learn how the language works so that you
understand how to say what you mean. You also show that you've taken time to
educate yourself, which tells them that you've exposed yourself to a breadth of
ideas.  This demonstrates to the reader that your idea is the product of
broader experience. It tells them that your idea matters enough to be carefully
considered and constructed by a disciplined mind, so maybe it will be worth
their time as well.

I'm not saying that bashing out a couple half-sentences in internet-speak makes
a writer a simpleton. I am saying that he or she will be far more likely to
appear as such, destroying their credibility before they've had a chance to be
read.  If you're writing so informally, you limit your audience. Even other
writers of internet-speak, run-on sentences, 3rd-grade spelling, and lackluster
grammar will recognize that you don't see your ideas as being worth your own
time, so why should your writing be worth theirs?

I'm sure my detractors would argue that they know when it's appropriate to use
internet-speak and when they need to be formal and correct. I'm sure they
believe it to be true, but if you don't practice writing formally - or, at
least, to your best ability - you'll be as novice at it as anything else you
don't practice.  It does get noticed. I have read HUNDREDS of resumes in the
last decade and see examples of this half the time. The conclusion drawn by my
colleagues is painfully simple: if this person can't get their act together to
write a clean resume, how sloppy are they going to be on the job.

It's important. Start practicing. Write a blog that has only one reader. Hold
its quality to the same standard that you would hold a cover letter for a job
application. Write about ideas that you've been pondering for days or weeks,
not minutes. If you can't remember which witch is which or if it's its or it's,
look it up. While you're at it, look up the difference between your and you're.
It really is amazing how much difference it makes to screw up that little

You don't have to memorize the rules for when to use "effect" and "affect," but
do try to remember that Webster is a business. They receive priceless free
advertising by including controversial stupidity like redefining "literally" to
mean "figuratively," so you shouldn't rely on them as a definitive source.
%20130410  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I hate the way bash command-line completion works.  The barrier to entry is
ridiculously high for something that every basher should know, but worse than
that, it has a fundamental design flaw that you simply cannot work around.  It
assumes that you want to couple completion mechanisms to specific commands.  If
you want to do something unique for any command you may be typing, you're
either out of luck or you have a gross pile of work ahead of you.  The
completion scripts for everything you use (there are 213 scripts in my 
/etc/bash_completion.d directory) might have to be modified.

I found out about bash 'bind' only a few days ago.  I quickly abandoned the
windmill of perforce-contexted bash completion customization and put this
together.  All you have to do is hit alt-o and you will get tab-completion-like
behavior for all your open perforce files.  Note: where it says "p4_cmd=...",
you'll need to cram in your own logic to make an appropriate perforce command.

First, you'll need to put this line in your .bashrc:

    bind -x '"\eo":"expand_p4_path; source ~/tmp/expand_p4_path.tmp"'

I also have this one, which I use occasionally to see how long it takes to run:

    bind -x '"\en":"time(expand_p4_path); source ~/tmp/expand_p4_path.tmp"'

Fair warning.  I've only just begun with python.


    import os
    import re
    from subprocess import Popen, PIPE

    cwd = os.getcwd()

    def get_token_offset(tokens, point):
      token_offset = 0
      for token in tokens:
        accum += len(token)
        if point <= accum:
          return token_offset
        token_offset += 1
        accum += 1
      return -1

    def get_common_base(strings):
      if len(strings) == 0:
        return ''
      if len(strings) == 1:
        return strings[0]

      iters = []
      for s in strings:

      common_base = ''
        while True:
          current_char = next(iters[0])
          for i in iters[1:]:
            if next(i) != current_char:
              return common_base
          common_base += current_char
        return common_base

    #all of these are known to exist because p4 opened returned them:
    def depot_specs_to_file_specs(p4_cmd, depot_specs):
      if depot_specs == []:
        return []
      p4_where_cmd = p4_cmd[:]
      p4_where_cmd += depot_specs
      process = Popen(p4_where_cmd, stdout=PIPE)
      file_specs = []
      for line in process.stdout.readlines():
        line = line.strip()
        file_specs.append(line.split(' ')[2])

      return file_specs

    def opened(p4_cmd):
      p4_query = p4_cmd[:]

      opened_depot_specs = []
      re_get_depotspec = re.compile('^([^#]*)')
      process = Popen(p4_query, stdout=PIPE)
      for line in process.stdout.readlines():
        match =, line)
        if match:

      return opened_depot_specs

    p4_host = os.environ['FITHOST']
    p4_cmd = [os.environ['P4_BINARY_LOCATION'],
              '-p', 'ssl:%s:1666'%p4_host,
              '-c', os.environ['P4CLIENT'],
              '-u', 'ronb']

    #I open this early so that it is guaranteed to be empty if processing
    #terminates before generating any updates.  Otherwise, you'll end up
    #sourcing an old version of the temp file.
    tmp_file = os.environ['HOME'] + '/tmp/expand_p4_path.tmp'
    env_changes_fd = open(('%s' % tmp_file), "w")

    command_tokens = os.environ['READLINE_LINE'].split(' ')
    command_point = int(os.environ['READLINE_POINT'])
    token_offset = get_token_offset(command_tokens, command_point)
    token_to_expand = command_tokens[token_offset]

    #abspath tries to be helpful - it removes things like a trailing "/.". 
    #This is not a good thing if you have ~/.vimrc and ~/.bashrc open.
    trailing_crapola = 'LOTSOFTRAILINGCRAPOLA'
    token_filespec = os.path.abspath(token_to_expand+trailing_crapola)
    len_crapola = len(trailing_crapola)
    token_filespec = token_filespec[:-len_crapola]

    opened_depot_specs = opened(p4_cmd)

    opened_file_specs = depot_specs_to_file_specs(p4_cmd, opened_depot_specs)
    matching_opened_file_specs = []
    for ofs in opened_file_specs:
      if ofs.find(token_filespec) == 0:

    if not matching_opened_file_specs:
      env_changes_fd.write('echo No Matches')

    common_base_file_spec = get_common_base(matching_opened_file_specs)

    if common_base_file_spec == cwd + '/':
      relpath = ''
      relpath = os.path.relpath(common_base_file_spec)
      if common_base_file_spec[-1] == '/':
        relpath += '/'

    if command_tokens[token_offset] != relpath:
      command_tokens[token_offset] = relpath
      readline_line_command = 'export READLINE_LINE='+'\ '.join(command_tokens)
      env_changes_fd.write(readline_line_command + '\n')
      prefix_len = len(common_base_file_spec)
      if matching_opened_file_specs:
        for file_spec in matching_opened_file_specs:
          env_changes_fd.write('echo %s\n' % file_spec[prefix_len:])

    new_point = len(' '.join(command_tokens[:token_offset+1]))
    readline_point_command = 'export READLINE_POINT=%s' % new_point
    env_changes_fd.write(readline_point_command + '\n')
%20130219  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A Slice Of
Just posting useful tools...

I'm a Dvorak typist, as many of you know, and it has bee a wonderful change.
In the path to conversion, there were a couple surprises.  In vim, I was
clearly not typing ":wq" as much as I was executing a long-practiced script in
muscle memory.  It was a very long time before I quit typing "S,'" when I
wanted out of the editor.

Typing "ls -la" on a Dvorak keyboard is five keystrokes with the right pinkie.
This particular command was even more deeply ingrained than ":wq," but was
quickly replaced with a bash alias.  If I used a machine for more than five
minutes, you could bet on finding this in the bash startup scripts:

    alias a='ls -al'

This had been perfectly acceptable, but one thing had been slowly getting on my

    > a
    drwxrwxrwt 22 root root           4096 Feb  1 12:11 .
    drwxrwxrwt 25 root root           4096 Feb  3 13:11 ..
    drwxrwxrwt 25 root root 29827398279972 Feb  3 13:11 Gibson.garbage

    How big is the Gibson garbage file? (It aint gonna fit on a floppy.)

It can be a bit unwieldy to read that file size.  I decided to write up a
python script (one of my first) to annotate this with underlines:

    > a |
    drwxrwxrwt 22 root root           4096 Feb  1 12:11 .
    drwxrwxrwt 25 root root           4096 Feb  3 13:11 ..
    drwxrwxrwt 25 root root 29827398279972 Feb  3 13:11 Gibson.garbage

If ls is returning such numbers to you, I suspect that your filesystem has some



    import sys
    import re
    #import fileinput
    from subprocess import Popen, PIPE

    underline = {True: "\033[4m", False: "\033[0m"}

    def mark_triples(size):
      m ='(\d{1,3})(\d{3})?(\d{3})?(\d{3})?(\d{3})?(\d{3})?(\d{3})?$',
      groups = filter(None, list(m.groups()))
      toggle = len(groups) % 2 == 0
      retval = []
      for group in groups:
        toggle = not toggle
      return ''.join(retval)

    if not sys.stdout.isatty():
      ls_args = ['/bin/ls','-la'] + sys.argv[1:]
      pipe = Popen(ls_args, stdout=PIPE)
      for line in pipe.stdout:
        print line.strip()
      ls_args = ['/bin/ls','-la','--color'] + sys.argv[1:]
      pipe = Popen(ls_args, stdout=PIPE)
      for line in pipe.stdout:
        line = line.strip()
        cols = line.split(" ")
        if len(cols) < 10:
          if len(cols) > 1:
            print line
          size_col = 0
          non_empty_count = 0
          while non_empty_count != 5:
            while cols[size_col] == '':
              size_col += 1
            non_empty_count += 1
            size_col += 1
          size_col -= 1
          cols[size_col] = mark_triples(cols[size_col])
          print ' '.join(cols)

%20121031  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"It doesn't matter how you get there if you don't know where you're going."
    - Dmitri Kamamazov
%20121025  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Are You Going to Finish That... Paper?
After a drinking lunch, it was observed that productivity among the drinkers
was perceived to be higher.  I suggested that maybe we should have gone through
the entire list of available beers at the restaurant and was firmly informed
that the drunkenness sweet spot for getting work done was not likely to be in
the 6 beer range.  My response:

Well, there's only one way to find out.  We could assume that the search field
has a single maximum in the alcohol-consumed-to-productivity graph, but just to
be certain that no local maxima exists in the 6 beer range, we shouldn't rule
out thorough examination across the problem domain.

Since we are base ten creatures, I would suggest that we test the range from
zero to ten beers.  It is clearly impossible to test all of fractions on the
real number line, so it seems clear that the solution is to use a fundamental
unit of alcohol measurement - the one-ounce shot glass.  We shall refer to this
as the atomic unit of measurement for the purposes of our experiment and shall
not use any fractions thereof.  (Because of course we all know what happens when
you split the beer atom.)

This suggests that we test all one-ounce increments from 0 to 10 pints.  The
measure of productivity practically suggests itself: the authoring of the
publication.  Whilst under the influence of the experimental doseage, we write
the section of the paper on that particular level.  This suggests a natural
order to the table of contents:

  0: Wherein we endeavour to understand the fundamental relationship between
     beer and productivity.
  1: Introduction to terms of art, founding work, and state of the field.
  2: Hypothesis.
  3. I Thought YOU Were Supposed To Bring the "Lab Supplies" Today.
  4: Experimental Messh.  Experimental Messh.  MeTHODs of Experi.... Tation.
  5: zzh'Yous Gonna Finnizh That?
  6: This Page Intentionally Left Blank.  Except That Beer Stain.  That's Ron's
     Contribution For The Day.
  7: No, YOU'RE DRUNK!
  8: ZZZZZZZZzzzzz
  10: Concussions.  

* Corrections:  "Conclusions" is not spelled "Concussions."

I am confident that we can have this project in its final stages by the time our
new livers become available.

  Yours Soberly,

  Ronald S. Barry, HiC!

%20120906  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Italian Tomato Sauce
UPDATE 20130301: timer now supports dd:hh:mm:ss format
My usual beep script:


    def beep
      print "\a"

    if ARGV.length > 0
      count = ARGV[0].to_i
      count = -1

      count -= 1
      if count != -1
        sleep count/count
    rescue ZeroDivisionError => e
    end while true

And a handy timer, especially for anyone doing Pomodoro:


    import time
    import sys
    import os

    multipliers = [7,24,60,60]

    if os.environ['TERM'] == "xterm" or os.environ['TERM'] == "screen":
      status_line = True

    requested_time = sys.argv[1].split(":")
    seconds = int(requested_time.pop())
    while requested_time != []:
      seconds *= multipliers.pop()
      seconds += int(requested_time.pop())

    last_loop_time = time.time()
    end_time = last_loop_time + seconds

    def divmod(val, divisor):
      return (val/divisor, val%divisor)

    while True:
      current_time = time.time()

      elapsed = current_time - last_loop_time
      if elapsed > 3:
        #I don't have a way to trap ^S/^Q, so I'm going to assume that if
        #the loop hasn't been serviced in more than 3 seconds, it's
        #because we've been paused, and I'm going to add the difference
        #back into the timer:
        end_time += elapsed - 1

      last_loop_time = current_time

      remaining = int(end_time - current_time + 0.5)
      if remaining < 0: remaining = 0

      minutes, seconds = divmod(remaining, 60)
      hours, minutes = divmod(minutes, 60)
      days, hours = divmod(hours, 24)

      time_string = ''
      if remaining >= 86400: time_string += ("%02d:" % days)
      if remaining >= 3600:  time_string += ("%02d:" % hours)
      time_string += "%02d:%02d" % (minutes, seconds)

      if status_line: sys.stdout.write("\033]0;timer: %s\a" % time_string)

      sys.stdout.write("\r%s   \b\b\b" % time_string)

      if remaining > 0:


Generally, I use them like this:

    > timer 25:00 && beep      # countdown for 25 minutes, then start beeping.
    > timer 7:00:00:00 && beep # beep at this time next week.
%20120818  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It's been a very long time since I've written anything.  The sum total of my 
thoughts and wit have been wasted in that intellectual black hole of social
networking sites.  Facebook and Twitter have kept me away.

At the same time, I have been in contemplation.  The last two years have
been... ungood.  New job, new responsibilities, major relationship issues, took
on a house and a mortgage, and suffered the alienation of the dearest friend I
ever had.  I've moved back to single life, which is the hardest life there is
for a single father.  The clock to my big Four-Oh has less than four months
left on it.

The world seems to be hanging in a similar state.  I could point out the civil
wars, economic collapses, natural disasters, political ipecac, but I want to
set the stage for something else.

We evolved.  But the evolutionary forces that drive our psyches suffer from a
terrible relativism.  Our emotions do not pressure us to improve our situation.
If that were the case, we would be angelically responsible social beings.  
We would recognize that the selfish things we do have a negative total impact,
when integrated across the entire domain of society.  By behaving selfishly, we
set an example that encourages others to do the same.  In the end, we all are
injured.  Our evolutionary motivation stems from what we can percieve, namely,
our success relative to our immediate social context.  

We run red lights, we cheat on our taxes, slack off at work, vote for our 
religious biases, and engage our racism, sexism, and *-isms because they do the
one thing that we evolved to do: fill the psychological imperative for relative
success.  In the end, we all are worse for our relativism.  There is no factor
that drives us to be better.  There are wonderful, noble, decent people in this
world, but they are unusual in their enlightenment and I can think of no better
world to live in than the one where their example is commonplace.

The human example we now strive to be better than is artificial, our obscene
consumption of television has seen to that.  How can you perceive that you are
a successful human being, in the subconscious way that we must, if you don't
look like Vin Diesel, think like Dr. House, play like Hendrix, fight like Bruce
Lee, or....  We don't.  We can't.  It's a defeating barrage of fiction that,
too often, turns us into petty, squabbling, anti-social cheaters.  If you can't
win on the surface, you go for the superficial perception.


This entry will see a great deal of editing and revising.  But in accordance
with the rules of this blog, it has to be published half-finished.  More

%20111026  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
My boss tried to bribe me with Indian food.  (She knows me all too well.)  I'm
pretty sure she was trying to curry my favor. 

%20111007  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
To Bee, or Not To Bee.  Whether 'Tis nobler... SCREW IT!  RUN!
My trip to and from work has become a standard routine.  My body may be in
transit, but my mind is already off in its own little universe - far away from
such mundane endeavors as negotiating turnstiles and uh... remembering where the
hell I parked in the morning.

But The Fates conspired to post a giant CLOSED sign on my brain's private
universe and bring my consciousness firmly back to the concerns of the real
world.  If you don't like bugs or if you happen to have a thing about bees, you
might want to skip today's entry.

Normally, having a man appear on the sidewalk right in front of me is no more
than a cause to adjust my course a little bit.  In this case, the man that came
around the corner instantly snapped my brain back to reality (if you could call
what happened next "normal.")

He was wearing a full beekeeper's outfit.  Helmet, mask, gloves, boots,
overalls, and a sealing layer of duct tape.  He didn't pause or hesitate before
simply offering me a hand broom and asking me, "could you do me a favor and
brush off the rest of the bees?"  I could only see a couple bees, giving the
lizard bits of my brain no reason to refuse, though something at the back of my
mind was in that slow-motion Hollywood mode, screaming
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" while fully expecting something to explode.

And that's when he TURNED AROUND!

If the guy had bathed in glue and laid down on a nest of bees, his back could
not possibly have been sporting more unhappy insects.  They started at the top
of his mask and completely coated him down to his beltline.  There was not a
single visible patch of his protective gear through the mass of angry bees. 

He helpfully assured me that they wouldn't sting me.

The same voice that had been screaming NOOOO kicked in with a less-than-helpful
observation.  "You know all those times you've been in the emergency room?
It's because you do things like this for the hell of it and we both pay the
consequences later."

Shut up, brain.  Where were you when I still had enough room on the sidewalk to
get around this guy?

I honestly don't think he knew how many bees he had on him when he asked me to
help.  After several minutes of brushing I had bees on my arms, bees in my
hair, and I'm pretty sure I had one under my t-shirt for a minute.  Those bugs
were not happy with him and didn't just brush off like confetti.  As I worked,
he chatted about having just removed this gigantic swarm from someone's house
and that catching the queen meant that they'd all disperse eventually.  Despite
the fact that these little buzzers were doomed, I wasn't going to vigorously
rake them off.  My job was more of the gentle coaxing sort.  My sense of
self-preservation had finally caught up with me, but not enough to send me

In the end, the guy buzzed off and I got in my car (after checking for extra
passengers) and drove to pick up Parker.  The beekeeper was right - I didn't
get stung.  I sure wish I knew who that guy was, though.  I'm going to need to
send him my therapy bills.  =]

%20110916  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Doing the news troll for the day, I came across a debate about a number of
states who are considering mandating HPV vaccinations for 11-year-old girls.  I
nearly choked on an opposition quote: "Ninety-five percent of woment who are
infected with HPV never, ever get cervical cancer."

So sure, that seems reasonable.  Let's not vaccinate kids before their eleventh
birthday.  By the time they turn 15, they have a 10 percent chance of having
contracted the disease that has a 5% chance of giving them cervical cancer.
20 percent of girls have HPV by the age of 17.


Think about it.  Your 11-year-old girl has a 1 in 200 chace of getting cervical
cancer - 1 in 100 if you wait until she's 17 for the vaccination.  If you are
seriously incapable of processing those numbers, do the species a favor and opt

%20110818  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I'm going to come out right at the front of this one and say that I already
know what I'm going to be doing on November 6, 2012 - or rather, won't be
doing.  For the first time since I was 18, I will not be voting for a Democrat
in a U.S. Presidential election.  I was ecstatic to see Obama win, but his
election could not have been a clearer rebuke for the wars and on the vanishing
civil liberties we suffered under the Bush Administration.

Obama has done nothing about either issue.  I'm going to ignore the Homeland
Security fiasco (for once, but only after saying I was never groped in the pre-
Obama era) and get straight to the point.

Obama moved into the Oval Office and knew that if he pulled out of Iraq and
Afghanistan without hesitation, as many of his voters would have liked, he would
have had to answer for the political and humanitarian mess he would have left
behind.  Instead, he chose to wait until the moment of best political
opportunity.  Mark my words, Obama will divest us of those wars with a timing
that best suits his re-election, but delays the blowback until after the 
election is over and his second term is secured.

The President's political aspirations have cost this country immeasurably.
They have put us in a position where we have extended our debt beyond our
ability to pay - right when we most need to be borrowing.  (Governments are
supposed to pay off debts in times of surplus, and borrow in times of recession
to stabilize economies.)

This country spends about two thirds of its budget on international assholism,
between "Defense," The Central Intelligence Agency, "Homeland Security," and 
other departments.  No other country even comes close.  That cash could be doing
far better things.  Instead, it's buying a president his job for another four

Don't get me wrong, I won't be voting Republican, either.  I expect that there
will be a Republican landslide if they can actually find a candidate.  That
puppet will take the blame for not fixing Obama's mess and the cycle will
repeat four years later.

%20110627  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Fear drives markets.  It's not the only driver, but Fear is not to Bear what
Greed is to Bull.  I believe that fear is the greater of the two, which is why
major crash days are of greater magnitude than major growth days.  It is so
much easier to fear that you're going to lose your shirt than to shed your fear
and jump into an upswing while it's just getting started.

The current market situation "seems" to revolve around Greece's debt crisis.
Now, "seems" is a wonderful weasel word, and I'm guilty of using it more
liberally than I should, but in this case I am using it in a broader fashion.
Picking through my usual news sources today has produced a vast array of
stories that invoke the sense of fear of Greece's default that dominates the
markets today.  So, to the consumer of news, Greece is the hot topic of the
day.  And so, I chose to say that the market consciousness "seems" to revolve
around the topic.

Here's where I get on my soapbox.  (You knew it was coming.)  The articles I
have read explain to differing degrees that Greece affects us because of some
variation on the following explanation: "If Greece defaults, Ireland, Portugal,
and Spain will likely be next, followed by a major global market downturn due
to the crushing economic burdens this would place, by extenion, on the entire

It won't happen.  When there is this much consensus of fear, I'll bet (in other
words, I'm heavily invested in the assumption) that the ocean of fear
surrounding the potential Greek default will mean that those in power will not
risk letting it happen.  We will continue to see extensions to the time and
size of standing loans and greater oversight of Greece's economic navigation. 
But we won't see them fold because the world is afraid of what would happen if
they did.

Crazy as it sounds, the level of fear surrounding the issue is my greatest
assurance that the U.S. market is going to have a hard time of this, but it
won't be allowed to turn into a catastrophe.  Once the fear subsides, things
will start to improve again.

Welcome to the world of "Too Big to Fail," where only the little guy has to
worry about annoyances like fiscal responsibility.

%20110626  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've been thinking about replacing the font on this page with something a
little different.  If you've been keeping up with this stream for a while,
you might have seen a demo of this page that used a handwritten font instead of
one provided by your browser.  It looked pretty good, but between the time it
took for a browser to render a page and the excessive space between characters,
I gave up on it after a while and moved on to other things.

Just for the helluvit, I wrote a quick script to count the number of 
occurrences of substrings all the files that contribute to this blog.  The idea
was that I could make the breaks between characters look better if some of the
entries in the "font" were character sequences, like "th", "he", "the",
"-rbarry", "TSA", etc.  The combinations with the highest use counts would
(slowly) get "character" entries of their own.

So, the most common character combinations on this blog:

th (11210)  the (6614)  that (1541)  thing (435)  rbarry (313)  -rbarry (280)
he (9130)   and (2225)  tion (1201)  barry (313)  people (137)  through (132)
an (5619)   hat (1962)  ther (692)   would (311)  hrough (135)  mething (103)
at (4978)   tha (1732)  with (637)   about (307)  rogram (122)  because (103)
in (4754)   you (1505)  have (628)   other (267)  though (120)  program (102)

I hope this fails entirely to be of any interest to anyone at all.

  -rbarry (281)
%20110615  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
What do your arteries and a Twinkie have in common?
Twinkies are proof that God loves us...

...and would like to see us again as soon as possible.

%20110613  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I had to run a ton of speed tests on data in different byte orderings,
collecting average run times. It took forever, but it was worth it. After all,
the Endians justify the means.

%20110606  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've been a bit busy.  I'll leave the details to the clown in the narrator's

%20110516  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Bringing New Meaning to "Buck Naked"
If my pockets don't contain my Swiss Army Knive, my SpyderWrench, keys, wallet,
cash, cell phone, a memory stick and my pocket watch, I feel naked and can't
leave the house.

Of course, by the time I get all that crap into my pants, I'm naked again and
probably shouldn't leave the house.

Gift idea for this year: suspenders.

%20110413  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"...a great drummer... they are hard to find!" 
    -David Gilmour, 2007 "Barn Interview."
%20110407  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Minor, minor, minor Ruby tool.
Nothing major.  I've been wanting to get some serious political rant on, but
have been overoccupied with the rest of life.  I did want to drop in a minor
little script that just enumerates the drives that are currently active on your
windows box.

I use the cygwin ruby.  If you got it with the windows installer, you'll need
to change prefix to "" and the suffix to ":"

    require 'pathname'

    prefix = "/cygdrive/"
    suffix = ""

    if VERSION.split(/\./)[0] == "1"
        $min = "a"[0]
        $max = "z"[0]
        $min = "a".ord
        $max = "z".ord

    $min.upto $max do |i|
        drive_letter = i.chr
        if Pathname.glob(prefix + drive_letter + suffix + "/*").size > 0
            puts drive_letter
%20110314  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I feel I should make some excuse for my absence recently.  I've been spending
most of my digital free time on a project to once-and-for-all handle the
process of backing up my files to remote locations.  I started out with a
scheme for using Amazon S3 and Google Storage, but each had their drawbacks -
primarily the fact that they charge me for usage.

The organization that hosts does allow me a great deal of storage
space for free, so I figured I'd be a fool if I failed to take advantage of it,
so I'm currently hacking away feverishly at ruby code to create the monster du

I should first acknowledge that there are a bazillion and two mechanisms which
accomplish what I'm up to.  Yes, rsync is a perfectly reliable system and it
actually does everything that it claims to.  In fact, I use it on a regular
basis.  Most of my home crap is backed up via rsync to a number of offsite
locations.  There is, however, a tremendous flaw in rsync's design: it assumes
that you trust the guy that you're sending your data to.

However, I don't like the idea that just because I pay someone for storage that
they are somehow to be trusted to keep their prying eyes off its content.  To
be honest, I think that the most incriminating data I generate is publicly
available right here in this blog, (I don't keep a journal and I don't have any
photos of myself that would prevent me from running for public office or make
it difficult for me to pass a job interview,) but it's just the principle of
the thing.

I'd originally started with something that would sync my data to and from S3.
It was simple and, unlike an rsync solution, didn't require that I have the 
plaintext AND cyphertext versions of all my files on my local system.  But, it
was slow and required all syncs to push all data every time.  Yeah, there were
tweaks that removed this need, but in the end, I just wasn't happy with paying
Amazon or Google for the gig and I didn't like the fact that my filenames were
out there in plain text.

So I've been learning about AES in ruby the hard way, swearing at the fact that
Digest returns binary data at times and hex at others, re-inventing the 
initialization vector, and giving in to the idea that you can store an entire
lifetime of data in a single directory.  It's really boring crap, but sometimes
I need a project that will force me to wallow through the tiresome stuff...

Whether the project in question will make it to the public, I don't know.  I'll
probably post it here and let anyone who wants to fiddle with it suffer the 
consequences.  In the end, I'd be happy if it twisted the arms of the guys that
do rsync into adopting the same behavior.  I looked at their code and it wasn't
something I was comfortable doing.

%20110210  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Escaping The Caps Lock
I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who still uses the Caps Lock
with any frequency.  As you're probably aware, the Caps Lock is a throwback to
a day when manual typewriters' Shift Keys physically "shifted" the entire
striker rack vertically to change which part of the striking head contacted the
paper.  Each head had a default character and a 'shifted' character to reduce
the number of keys required to represent the entire character set.

The effort required to depress the Shift Key was greater than that of any other
key, but it was customary to type anything from an address on an envelope to
the title of a memo in all-capital letters.  Thus, chunking out

    WASHINGTON, D.C. 20500

...required the shifting of the striker rack four times, and that the typist
hold it down for nearly the entire block.

This is not nice to little fingers.  The "Shift Lock" was added to typewriters
to allow the typist to toggle between shifted and unshifted rack positions.
While this still required four presses of the Shift Lock Key to send your
complaint to The White House, you didn't have to hold the thing down.  The
mechanism took care of that for you.

I'm not sure when the Caps Lock made its debut, but given that there have been
computers manufactured with both (and there still are - I'm looking at you,
France) I will hazard the guess that it came with the electric typewriter.  An
electric would have been able to help you type out your address by selectively
applying the Shift Lock only to characters.  Addressing your letter to Mr.
Wilson would have required pressing the Caps Lock ("capitalization Lock") only
once.  Conveniently, that keypress would have been essentially effortless on an

Enter the modern era, sans the French.  If you're still typing any significant
portion of your missives with the use of the Caps Lock, please don't write to me
to tell me about it.

Despite the apparent fall of the function of the Caps Lock Key, we still have
them on nearly every keyboard being manufactured.  (I gather that the Google
Laptop and the One Laptop Per Child projects have both made better use of that
space.)  So let's see if we can come up with a better use for it than the one
for which it was intended.

What key gets the most frequent use of all the keys that are less-accessible to
your fingers than the Caps Lock?  Why not the Escape Key?  You probably don't
use it as frequently as I do, since I'm an insufferable vim user, but it is
still a terribly handy keyboard shortcut in just about every piece of software
out there, be it for Windows, Mac, or the Unix-like gamut.

The central machine at my desk is a PC, from which I use synergy to connect all
6-10 machines at my desk into one giant console.  It all requires one mouse and
keyboard, so it is at this machine that I'll do my remapping of the Caps Lock to
Escape.  In regedit.exe, add a "Scancode Map" key to:
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout]
...and give it the value:

All will be well and good once you've rebooted. 

(And this is where I press the Caps Lock Key to exit edit mode and return vim
to command mode.)
%20110106  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I, for one, welcome our new social gaming overlords.
Like any good prophet, I have my off days.  I should probably go back and keep
score on my hits and misses, but such activities are better left to posterity
anyway.  Come to think of it, I don't think John of Patmos'* record to date has
completely withered his credibility.

So, with that out of the way, on to the prophecy.  Today's topic is the future
of mobile gaming.  Anyone with enough cash and few enough brain cells has leapt
headfirst with millions of dollars into an industry that can't support a flow
of million dollar projects.  But I would like to share a revelation of my own:

  Social games are, in practice, inherently anti-social activities.
  Mobile games are, in practice, inherently isolating.
  People participate in flash mobs for the same reason they attend church.

Okay.  I'm laying it on a little thick, but whether you agree with my 
observations or not isn't relevant.  This is:

  Make a fucking social game that depends upon cooperation with people in your
  immediate physical vicinity to improve your performance and you'll lose the
  anti-social stigma, stop isolating your players, and provide them with the
  feeling that they're part of something greater.  Why the hell else do you
  think people show up for flash mobs?

Think about how often you see people hiding from reality on the subway as you
glide in to work.  What if their little game were telling them that they really
should introduce themselves to the guy across from them.  You know, the one
with the tie and glasses, because he can help you train your dragon faster?  The
key point is: you have to TALK TO HIM USING YOUR REAL VOICE.

All the sudden, people would be MEETING ACTUAL PEOPLE by playing your game.  We
have, as a culture, turned ourselves into little techno-troglodytes in the last
couple of decades and I, for one, am looking for an escape.  What if social
games actually made us SOCIAL again?  You'd find yourself walking into a pub to
find that it was being taken over by 50 guys that are trying to build... I
dunno.... a trebuchet?

It's frivolous, I know, but what part of gaming isn't?  The devices and the
games are here to stay.  You might as well be the one to profit from the next
huge idea, and I honestly believe that this is it.

The only thing that is important about this is that the game MUST NOT encourage
anything but the most enthusiastic cooperation.  Asking two guys on the San
Francisco subway to have their avatars fight to the death sounds like a really
good way to start something very bad in our public transit systems... and I'm
pretty sure I don't want to share a reputation with our friend, John.


* Okay, dammit, I was being too obscure.  John of Patmos was the author of
  The Book of Revelations.
%20101220  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Yes, I'm actually contemplating the construction of a box girder bridge out of
business cards.  What would I do without

%20101209  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
    "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without
    newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a
    moment to prefer the latter."  - Thomas Jefferson, to Col. Edward
    Carrington, January 16, 1787

I'm of two minds in which direction I would like to take with this essay.  On
the one hand, I'd like to chat with thinkers who take a philosophy like this

    "...though it is not clear whether the courts would consider Assange a
    journalist" - Richard A. Serrano and David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
    December 7, 2010

I think I'll reduce this train of thought to a simple request, so I can get on
to the real meat of my thinking.  I would ask my faithful reader (all of him)
to call into question any speaker who asserts that the actions of WikiLeaks are
not protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution because
of some question as to whether WikiLeaks' members are proper journalists.
Remember that the wording in the Bill of Rights prohibits "abridging the
freedom of speech, OR of the press."  They are separate freedoms.  When you
hear a discriminating factor that separates journalists from non-journalists,
just recognize that the writer or speaker is manipulating you.  Regardless of
the answer to the journalist question, the first freedom in the First Amendment
applies.  Period.

This brings me to the real core of the issue.  What need does a government have
to restrain the speech of its citizens?  Let's take the common example of
obscenity.  There are reasons why we don't allow the public performance or
depiction of graphic acts.  It is not in the public's best interest to protect
unrestricted dissemination of sexual or violent material, even if the material
itself does not depict a victim. 

Why else?

Under English law, at the beginning of the 18th century, you could go to prison
for printing, writing, or even speaking criticism of the government, regardless
of the truth of the statement.  In other words, the press was explicitly barred
from printing anything of a negative nature about the government, even if the
statements were verifiable facts.  Atheist?  Prison.  Blasphemous?  Prison.
Public statement denying the Holy Trinity?  Execution.  No shit.

The phrase, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal...." is one that no American fails to recognize.  Do you know anything of
the sentence that precedes it, though?  "a decent respect to the opinions of
mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the
separation" is how it ends.  In other words, "Dear King George; Our opinions
matter and you have failed to respect that.  Get the Hell out."

Somehow I suspect that John Hancock would have been a little less likely to go
for the over-sized Sharpie if they'd used my version, but I'm trying to make
the point that the colonies wanted to be able to make a point.  Without going
to prison for it.  

There is a second reason that government would desire to restrict free speech.
To protect the security of the republic.  Even I, an unapologetic political
nutcase, would not argue against this one.  What I will argue is that the
threat to our national security comes FROM our politics and our politicians.
We spend nearly an order of magnitude more every year on applications of war
than any other country.  THAT is why people hate us and THAT is why they would
really like to come after us.  The reason the First Amendment is there is to
make sure that citizens can get an account of how their government represents
them, and thereby hold that government accountABLE for their actions.  It is
the nascent press of the internet (think about it, the potential distribution
of this article alone is greater than the population of the planet in 1776)
that is protecting the security of the republic from itself - by holding a
mirror up to its gross malignancy.

The press blackout in the wars of the last 20 years have prevented exactly this
kind of accountability.  You are now living the result of a war without end -
or the informed consent of the voters: public apathy leading to massive debt,
crippled economy, and a government that seems to think that if it can railroad
one amendment, others (The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth) might as well be next.

%20101207  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The winner of the F*ed up judicial system of the week is....
I was a little surprised to see the news this morning that Julian Assange, of
WikiLeaks fame, had been denied bail in the UK court system.  The surprise was
not (yet) about the denial of bail, but about the fact that he'd been arrested.
Maybe I'm a day behind, but I'd not heard that he was in custody.

The representative of the Swedish authorities, Gemma Lindfield, argued that he
should be refused bail because of his "nomadic lifestyle," the spreading rumor
that he intended to seek asylum in Switzerland, his access to money, and his
status in the UK that only allowed him a short stay.  (Because we all know that
persons out on bail are frequently sent abroad when their visas expire.) 
Lindfield continued, "This is someone for whom, simply put, no conditions, even
the most stringent conditions that could be imposed, would ensure that he would
surrender to the jurisdiction of this court."

So he was denied bail.

So having absorbed the fact of his arrest, why was I also shocked to find out
that he'd been denied bail?  Because he'd voluntarily surrendered to the
authorities!  If he were committed to eluding due process, wouldn't he have -
just MAYBE - stayed out of jail in the first place?


To continue to harp on the point du jour, the United States Department of State released an announcement that the U.S. will be hosting UNESCO's 2011 World Press Freedom Day in Washington, D.C. From the press release: The theme for next year's commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals' right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age. Yes. The State Department really does think that little of your critical thinking skills. I guess that they're part of the same government that chose extensive expansion of military spending over the cost of your education, so they should know... -rbarry
%20101202  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
If you've ever done a long Greyhound run, you know why I need the booze.
I'm totally going to sue 3M for false advertising.  Their adhesive products
taste nothing at all like whisky.


In other news, today: Greyhound is now employing Tardises on their San Francisco to New York line: -rbarry
%20101130  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
He who fails to learn from history...
"The Cold War."  Many of us who grew up in the Untited States came to believe
that this was a dramatic expression for the state of East vs. West jostling
that followed World War II and persisted until the late 80's.  Through four
decades, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R jostled for superiority not only politically,
but economically.  The Cold War was, in many ways, about who could build more
weapons - conventional or nuclear - and deliver them more quickly, even if
those weapons and delivery systems were unused. 

After the end of the war in Vietnam, infantry Col. Harry Summers, U.S. Army,
who had been tapped to serve on the negotiation team for the United States
during the peace process, said to his North Vietnamese Army counterpart, Col.
Nguyen Don Tu, "You know, you never won a single battle."

Col. Tu simply replied, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."

The NVA had never expected to defeat the United States Armed Forces.  Any route
of the Americans would have been a pyrrhic victory, as the U.S. would have
simply used superior mobility, technology, and firepower to start all over on a
new front.  Vietnam was a political war.  As long as U.S. casualties mounted
and Americans kept seeing their soldiers' deaths on television every night,
support for the war would fade.  The U.S. thought they were fighting a
conventional war of mobility, technology, and firepower.  We were wrong.  The
real conflict was one of ideology and economics.

Remember Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative?  Maybe you remember
hearing its more popular name: Star Wars.  Why did the missile shield never go
up?  Because Star Wars was an economic battle without the slightest possibility
of success.  There was no defense against a ballistic missile that wasn't five
orders of magnitude more expensive to deploy than it was to defeat.  Every leap
of technological brilliance that could be expected of Star Wars could be taken
out of commission by the simplest of countermeasures.

For example: The U.S. puts a series of laser satellites in orbit.  The U.S.S.R.
responds by polishing their missiles with a mirror finish.  The U.S. responds
with much higher-power lasers, so the small amount of unreflected light would
be capable of heating the missile's surface, burning through and destroying it.
The U.S.S.R. responds by having their missiles slowly rotate as they achieve
apogee, giving the area exposed to the laser time to cool before being
re-exposed.  If all else failed, any U.S. satellite in the Star Wars program
could have been shadowed by a cheap satellite of Soviet manufacture that would
have simply kamikazed the U.S. missile killer when the U.S.S.R. decided to
launch.  This inequality of cost of security and cost of penetration goes on
and on.

We spent billions on Star Wars with no hope whatsoever of seeing a practical,
deployable result from the investment.

Despite Star Wars' irresponsible cash drain, it was the U.S.S.R. that
eventually ran out of money, ending the Cold War by forcing a sweeping reform
of their government and economics.  The U.S.S.R. incapable of sustaining the
escalation of armament.

And now we find ourselves on the losing side of the economic and political
battle lines.  According to a video statement by Osama bin Laden in October of
2004, Al Qaeda spent $500,000 on the attacks of September 11, 2001.  In his own
words, "...while America in the incident and its aftermath lost -- according to
the lowest estimates -- more than $500 billion, meaning that every dollar of al
Qaeda defeated a million dollars."  He believes that it was his movement that
destroyed The Soviet Union: "[The mujahideen] bled Russia for 10 years, until
it went bankrupt."  He made it clear that this would be their ongoing plan for
the U.S.  Even now, his organization still gets to sit back and watch as that
investment continues to pay off.

I've introduced The Cold War, Vietnam and Star Wars, all to illustrate the
point that sometimes the conflict is less about the battlefield and far more
about how hard it is for you to be there.  In the Cold War, the U.S.S.R.
couldn't keep up with the pace of Western buildup.  In Vietnam, the U.S.
couldn't pay the price of public opinion, nor could they invade North Vietnam,
and so they lost the war without ever losing on the battlefield.  Star Wars'
idiocracy is a perfect example of the importance of keeping economics in mind
in a conflict situation.

Star Wars brings me neatly to another point, though.  No matter how much you
spend on security, you can never have it.

A trillion-dollar national security program can be circumvented with a bribe
one-millionth that size, or smaller.  A secure government is an open, honest,
benevolent government.  We have security problems in the U.S. because we are
tyrants.  We are the bad guys.  It's time to start solving American problems by
looking to our own solutions, within our own borders.  You want to balance the
budget?  Stop spending 2/3 of it on killing, maiming, torturing, and spying on
the entire human race.  We could use that money for education, infrastructure,
and building a proactive, enlightened society.

The Romans believed their empire could never fail, too.

%20101123  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Removing people's civil liberties is a lot easier than installing software.

    - A co-worker who wishes to remain anonymous.
%20101117  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I finally got around to changing my facebook 'relationship status' and it took
facebook exactly one reload to start hitting me with related targeted

%20101116  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
In two hours, I'll have forgotten how I did it.
I remember the day that I finished Math 322: Differential Equations.  I walked
out of the final, liberated at last from the burden of college calculus once and
for all.  (If I'd had to take up calc to do a master's program, I would never
have gone.)  It was a bright, beautiful, clear day.  I remember it as one of
those first sunny days after a long winter, the kind that seem so much happier
than the limits of reality, only because of the contrast to the many gray months
preceding it.

For all I know, this was all in my mind, given the liberating moment of having
walked out of the most dreaded exam of my college career with a spring of
confidence in my step and a little left-brain-killing song in my heart.

After an hour or so, I happened upon one of my classmates from the class in
question.  It had been a test with few questions, so it wasn't odd for my friend
to have queried me numerically:

"So, what'd you get on number one?"

I replied, "Uh, which one was that?"

"The one on Newton's law of cooling?"


We chatted for a moment about the problem.  To this day, I still remember that
the question was a murder mystery that riffed on the O.J. Simpson Trial, which
was big news at the time.  We were supposed to determine if Apple Jack Sampson
could have been at the scene of a murder, based upon the determination of the
time of death of the victim using the ambient temperature, body temperature,
etc.  I even remember that part of his alibi was that he was known to be using
his cell phone to call a friend between - and I'm still pretty sure about this,
fifteen years later - 10:11pm and 10:18pm.  His cell phone was on the opposite
side of town when the call was made.  I even remember that he turned out Sir
Isaac Newton failed to exonerate Mr. Sampson.

So how is it that I remember all that fifteen years later, but an HOUR later, I
couldn't even remember how to do the problem, despite having all the details of
the question clear in my mind?  It's not like I'd flunked the test.  Indeed, I'd
gotten a B+ on it, securing me the best grade I received in a math class to that
point.  (I did have to go on to some non-calculus-based classes.)

We went on to question number two, an examination of the rate of growth of a
bacterial colony.  Same brain abort.  The processes I'd learned in the class
had entirely escaped my mind.  I still remembered anything that I could
visualize - a piece of paper with a test question, a blackboard with an example-
but there was nothing left regarding the processes I'd been learning in my
least favorite subject of all time.  Kudos to Dr.  Littlejohn, by the way.  He
made an insurmountable topic almost enjoyable to me.  Enough so for me to not
only pass, but to pass respectably.

So why am I ranting about why my brain doesn't work?  Car Talk has recently
been asked by a listener, how do you determine that a cylindrical tank, whose
axis of rotation is horizontal, is a quarter full just by measuring how far up
the diameter the diesel reaches.  There were some creative solutions offered up
on their website that required only physical thinking - filling the tank until
you measured half a tank with a dipstick, then adding one quarter of what you
knew the tanks held, then measuring again.  That sort of thing.  But I wanted
to solve it. is your friend.  I don't have to remember how to integrate
sqrt(1-x^2) dx, but I can ignore that and get on with the business of solving
my problem.  It was fun...

%20101112  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I can still see that Carl should have gone with the other suit.
As I re-watched a Carl Sagan segment from Cosmos (1980,) I found a small part of
it resonating with some of my own musings on color deficiency over the years. 

Your eyes have three color-sensing constructs, one for picking up photons in
the red part of the spectrum, another for green, and another for blue.  The dye
that your body generates to filter the photons entering these receptors is what
gives them their spectral signature and is a pivotal part of how you see.  If
you have normal vision, your red, green, and blue dyes match that of your peers
with great precision.  Color deficient viewers vary radically, not only from
normal viewers, but from each other.  If you were to pass white light through a
green dye, then a spectral analyzer, you'd see the same pattern for all normal
viewers.  If you did the same thing with a group of color deficient viewers,
you'd see a different pattern in each person.  Depending upon the types of
color deficiencies, you might see differing patterns in the green, red, OR blue
dyes.  You might even see a viewer whose green dye was actually red.

It's a lot of information, and I've glossed it over heavily, but I only wanted
to touch the surface to illustrate the point that color vision is an incredibly
complex topic.  With something like 4-5% of the population exhibiting some
level of color deficiency, it is simultaneously one of the most common
disabilities and one of the least understood.  This conversation has been
played out in my life more times than I can count.

Ron:     I haven't the slightest idea what color [whatever we're talking about]
         is.  I'm color deficient.
Cohort:  Really?  So what color does it look like to you?

...and I get asked that same question at least once or twice per month.  It's
not world-ending that I've never been able to answer it, but hitting this road
block so frequently has generated an insane level of frustration.

In the last decade or so, I learned to stop telling people that it looks like
many different colors - an answer that confuses the hell out of everyone - and
I instead feed them an analogy: I have my listener imagine that they are just
now learning to read.  I then ask them to imagine that every time they see a
letter, someone tells them that it is something different.  Now it's a Q, now
it's a G, then an R or a T, a Z then an N. 

For people with color deficiencies, this is an apt metaphor.  Learning colors
as a kid was impossible because I was constantly bombarded with things that
looked the same but were labeled with different names.  There is one particular
hue that has been the greatest offense to me: red LEDs, brown grass, orange
sunsets, yellow traffic lights, and green tree frogs are all the same damn
color to me.  If you pointed to a color sample of any of them and asked me what
it looks like to me, the answer is a reddish, brownish, orangish, yellowish,
greenish color.  

For the analogy to communicate this difficulty, I ask my listeners how well
they would have learned to read in this convoluted environment, and they start
to get it.  I then ask them what their answer would be if I showed them a Q, a
G, an R, T, Z or N and asked them what it looked like to them.  Usually, they
get it.

This particular thought experiment may or may not be original.  I'd like to
think that it was a new perspective on the old issue, but it is still
gratifying to hit upon someone who has thought about the same disconnect
between the physical world and the world of perception.  I had not seen this
segment since it last aired, but I had never forgotten seeing it.  I'm not going
to clue you in further.  If you watch it, you'll see the connection.


%20101105  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Routine was killing me, so I've killed routine.  It was justified self-

%20101019  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
pun * math joke = evil^2
Did you hear the one about the math club that proved that they had n+1 members
in their organization?  They recruited a new member.  Proof by induction.  QED

%20100928  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
After my car was broken into last month and I had to cancel my credit card, I
needed to update my details with AT&T, and everyone else under the sun.  All
the usual annoyances applied.

AT&T, is not, however, a usual annoyance.  They have elevated stupidity to an
art form of which they have become the master.  I have never once had an
experience with them that wasn't laughably abominable, so it is no wonder that
I have developed a Pavlovian response, bubbling from the pit of my stomach,
radiating pain to my toes and the very tips of my hair, that actually makes me
want to vomit.......... every time I am about to pick up the phone and talk to
these people.

To begin, I received a past due notice in the mail yesterday - the 28th of
September.  This is odd, considering that I updated my autopayment information
nearly four weeks ago - a date that AT&T confirmed when I spoke with them.  I
went to their website and navigated my way to their payment center.  I was
greeted with this:

  [Removed the image long ago]

The "Due Immediately" portion listed one of those numbers that only makes sense
in the context of a mobile phone bill, but it was non-zero and clearly
represented more than a month's worth of billing.  Yes, money had not been
transferred from my bank to theirs, but it was hardly for my lack of trying.

Clearly, I'd entered the right card.  You can't see it because I've blacked it
out, but it was the correct one.  Thinking that I'd mis-entered the rest of it,
I started navigating through to edit the card info.  This is when the website
suddenly decided that the credit card they had on record was my old one again.

Que the nausea.  I picked up the phone.  Not my mobile.  I'll be damned if I'm
going to subject myself to the paradoxical frustration (and yes, I chose those
words very carefully) of having AT&T drop a call when I'm online with their
"customer service."

Greeted by the silicon version of the phone robot, I started mashing 0 until I
got a carbon-based phone robot that had an only slightly worse grasp of English
than her predecessor.  Before you assume I'm making disparaging racial remarks,
I assure you - I was connected to what passes for English in the United States.

The woman explained to me that I had to go back and manually pay the last two
months of service (re-entering all the same card info again along the way)
because the process of entering AutoPay info automatically cancels AutoPay.
Bypassing this particular stupidity, I moved on tho the stupidity that an
inactive AutoPay would so clearly display an option to discontinue it as we can
all see above.  I pointed this out.

She explained that the problem is that they do AutoPay billings (for me, at
least) on the sixth of the month and that by missing that date this month, I'd
triggered something (I couldn't see her hands waving, but I could hear them)
that caused the normal billing cycle to fail.  Somehow this puts ATT into a
mode where, despite having received my new credit card information long before
they required it, I was being sent past due notices.

How I missed the sixth by entering all my information on the second, I....?
Never mind.

She pinned my bogometer and from that point forward, it was an exercise in
getting off the phone as quickly as possible.  Having attempted to point out
that entering all this info once should be sufficient and having her attempt to
justify the whole thing on technical grounds just made me further roll my eyes,
aggravating the usual throbbing ATT headache.

%20100909  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I should have deleted this one before the cut-off.
Pop culture has spawned one of my new favorite quotes, "I don't want to live on
this planet anymore."  (Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth, Futurama)

If you've been following the upcoming Koran-burning contest, you can probably
figure out for yourself why this statement is on my mind.  Pastor Terry Jones
planned the burning for this September 11 as "a protest against radical Islam."

What do I burn to protest radical Christianity.  The Bible?  That would somehow
miss the point.

Let me just put it this way:  Terry Jones, you don't get to protest radical
religious zealotism with radical religious zealotism.  If you burn anything,
please do everyone a favor - Christian, Islam, and indifferent - and volunteer
as fuel.

%20100818  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Do I have my pants hiked high enough?
Well, I'm officially a geezer.  The class of students who are entering college
this week were born in 1992 - the year after I was a freshman.

%20100716  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Yes, George, I have.
Did you ever get the feeling that the world was a Tuxedo and you were a pair of
brown shoes?  

    -George Gobel, on the Johnny Carson Show, 1969 [youtube]
%20100713  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Microproject, Macro Infrastructure
The page you're now reading - whether you got here via fingerme.cgi, latest.cgi,
or permalink.cgi - has just suffered a rewrite in preparation for some redesign
of how I manage these pages. 

Aside from some minor changes in formatting and the top-of-page header, the only
difference you should see is the addition of facebook thumbs-up doohickeys.  The
latter exists ONLY on the permanant link and 'latest' pages, quite simply
because each one triggers a little chat between your browser and facebook.  The 
time difference between loading the entire blog without vs. with facebook thumbs
is the time difference between wondering what you'll have for lunch and actually
going out to eat.  It was unacceptable.

The only reason I mention this at all comes down to the simple problem of long-
term, small-scale software engineering, which I have discussed before.  When I
went to start writing the update, I thought that I'd start with a Ruby-on-Rails
project.  So why did I write these three utilities out as a single 233-line ruby
.cgi script instead of going with such an exellent web project framework as 

Simple: Ruby-on-Rails is a swooping, soaring, gliding, rolling, majestic....

                       ...pain in the ass to manage.

The people that handle have a nasty habit of suddenly updating the
Rails configuration for the entire collection of customers all at once.  Since
Rails does not guarantee that updates will be backward-compatible, there are
two choices; I can go offline for a month like I did the last time, spending a
couple dozen hours trying to fix compatibility with the new version, or I can
'freeze' my project to the current version of Rails.  From then on, I have a
suspended animation version of Rails, forever stuck in that moment in time.  I
cannot update my libraries without risking a compatibility issue, forcing a
complete update to the current Rails, no matter how much work that would

Freezing Rails, for a small personal project isn't such a bad thing, but it
does mean that ten years from now, I'm going to be doing a rewrite if I want to
do any significant update.  So, if I'm going to run the risk of getting back
up-to-date on such a monumental system as Rails ten years from now, thanks, but
I'll stick with reinventing the wheel.

I should address an apparent contradiction between this position and that of
yet another previous essay, in which I essentially say, don't reinvent and
don't start from scratch.  The differences between the essays that justify the
opposing views are that here I'm talking about a small personal project with an
extremely long lifetime, where earlier I addressed projects that involve full-
time programmers and end-of-life on a ship date.

Why does it make a difference?  A project that will never take more than a few
hours of my life at a time has a very low threshhold before invested time is
wasted time.  If I spend a week or two getting some weird-assed .swf hack to
give me upload progress bars in a Rails app, I'm not going to remember the
nuances of that system ten years from now when I need to change it.  Ten years
from now, the odds that a google search for an issue with a ten-year-old
version of that software will not return a useful result.

Here's another way to look at it.  The time that I will invest in fingerme.cgi
over the next decade will be microscopic compared to the time that the Rails
community will invest in their system.  Rails will evolve so much faster than
my use of it that the majority of my project's maintenance would be in simply
keeping up with Rails.  If I were a group of a dozen engineers writing a game
on the Quake engine, I can be certain of a relatively stable development
platform.  Even if the engine changed during my development, it would be a
fraction of my team's overall investment of time to adjust to that change.
Given the leg-up that the third-party platform lends a large project, this is
an acceptable trade-off.  It does not scale down to the microproject.

%20100712  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Code Editing, Code Ownership
Somehow, the vim/emacs war still manages to rage on.  I was introduced to vi by
Kurt Olsen in 1991 - probably in an attempt to get me to edit my own .netrekrc
for a change.  Since then, it's been my goto editor for just about every line
of code that I've written.

Now and again, I'll find a use case that bugs the hell out of me with vim and
I'll do a bit of googling around to see if there's a solution.

Today, I finally got fed up with manually reformatting paragraphs to 80-column
widths and asked the only greater adherant to The Church of Vi that I know of, 
Glenn Mulvaney, if he had an idea.  With a push in the right direction, we
found.... gqap.  Set your cursor in the paragraph in question and type gqap in
command mode.  Nice.

Now all I need is a way to quickly turn this:
    anothenatoe unoathe nato eunaho 1
    anothenatoe unoathe nato eunaho 1
    anothenatoe unoathe nato eunaho 1
    anothenatoe unoathe nato eunaho 1
    anothenatoe unoathe nato eunaho 1
    anothenatoe unoathe nato eunaho 1
    anothenatoe unoathe nato eunaho 2
    anothenatoe unoathe nato eunaho 3
    anothenatoe unoathe nato eunaho 4
    anothenatoe unoathe nato eunaho 5
    ... previously requested.


UPDATE 20111007:
  I've been using the visual-increment vim plugin recently, and it does exactly
  what this post discusses.  You can hit ^v, select a column of numbers, and 
  hit ^a to increment or ^x to decrement!!!
%20100709  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Federalist Number 10
Don't ask me how I got here, but I'm reading the Federalist Number 10 today
(aka, The Federalist Paper #10) and remembering why I gave up on reading this
thing (The entire Paper) the first time through.

    The effect of [the delegation of government] is, on the one hand, to
    refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of
    a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest
    of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least
    likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.

    -- James Madison

Number 10 is about balancing the factionalization of citizenry in such a way as
to prevent its influence upon the republic (yes, lower case) from overbalancing
and creating an unjust situation.  It speaks in general terms, but if you read
this essay, it'll call many examples to your mind.

James Madison's statement, above, makes it clear that his view of a participant
in the republican (again, lower case) process had the best interest of the 
whole at heart.  He seriously believed that a representative would set aside
his* personal considerations for the sake of the greater good.  Number 10 talks
about how the republic must guard against a representative that "betrays the
interests" of the citizens.  He figures it happens naturally (in a large 
republic) as a result of having more "fit" individuals from which to select.

He believed that by selecting the right number of representatives, you would
get politicians who were far enough removed from local interests that they
could represent those interests dispassionately, while avoiding a total
disconnect that would encourage a representative to engage his personal
interests in his politics.

Now, I mentioned that this was all supposed to be a balance against
factionalization.  It all hinged on the idea that at heart, a representative
wanted to do what was best for everyone.  Over time, our government has become
a tool for factions, rather than a guard against them.  Rather than the intent,
a representative federal government made up of representative state
governments, made up of.... etcetera..., our government polarized into parties.
Parties?  Factions.  Special interests?  Factions.  All exploiting the
fundamental flaws in Madison's thinking, that people would vote with informed
self-interest in mind, and that their elected officials would give a damn for
their constituency (ALL the voters in their district) more than for their
factional affiliations.

The population of the United States has grown one hundred fold since The
Federalist.  The number of states in The Union has increased by less than a
twentieth that figure.  Maybe I'm too pessimistic and we've just gone too far
in the direction of representatives having too large a constituency.  Either
way, The Federalist is making me Grinchy today.


* Yes, his.  1787, remember?
%20100708  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Dead Man, er... Running!
As we drove through Pacifica yesterday, I pointed out a hovering hawk to
Parker, who randomly stated, "If you're ever dead, and you see a buzzard, run

%20100706  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Non-Fiction on Fiction
The woman across from me on BART this morning was nearing the end of her book,
John Edward's (not John Edwards') "One Last Time; A psychic medium speaks to
those we have loved and lost."  Knowing nothing about the book or the author
except what appeared on the front cover (title, plus over-dramatic photo of the
writer) and the back cover (over-dramatic photo of the writer,) it occurred to
me that this would be just the kind of book that would make me hate to be a
book store owner.

I thought, I'd be unable to shelve this book.  Whether I put it under fiction
or non-fiction, someone is going to see it as a judgement of the content.  It
occurred to me that my store would need either a "WTF?" section or a "Really?"
section to cover such tripe.  

Two thoughts from there: book stores do have such sections; religion, occult, 
spirituality, etc.  And, I'd never be the store owner in such a situation.  I'd
never stock the thing in the first place. 

%20100701  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Limb, Limb, Limb.
I thought I'd share a little experience I've had in the purchase of a bow
recently, and detail a thing or two that an up-and-coming bow owner should know
before they set out.  As I discovered, many a detail of the process isn't even
in the fine print and you're going to be doing some digging (or, in my case,
laying out even more cash) until the dark arcana have been invoked and you're
happily shooting bulls-eyes.

I bought a Mission UX-2.  Black.  I don't have anything against hunters or
hunting and I spent years of my life wearing camo pants and jackets, but I did
not want camo.  (End of aside.)  The documentation said that the UX-2 was
adjustable from 28 to 70 pounds, so when I was asked if I wanted the 70 pound
model, I answered yes.  I should have asked for clarification on why I was being
asked what appeared to be a rhetorical question.

I'd loosed a UX-2 before, many times.  The shop had a model that was adjusted to
45 pounds and it was perfect, so when I received the new bow and managed to get
it drawn by only a gnat's wing, I was surprised.  The retailer offered to
adjust it down and I agreed, mentioning that I'd been at 45 before.

Here's the first bit where narrative gives way to substance: when I got the bow
back a few minutes later, it was at 60 pounds.  After the huge struggle to get
a 70 pound draw, I think I'd pulled a muscle and couldn't easily do 60.  The 
shock came when I was told that 60 was as low as this bow could go.

Wait a minute.  Mission advertises that this bow is adjustable from 28 to 70
pounds, but it can't be adjusted below 60?!?!?!  It turns out that to 'adjust'
outside of a ten-pound range, you have to cough up an extra $250 for replacement
limbs!!!!!  OUCH!!!!

I tried using the bow for a couple days - after my back had sufficiently
recovered, but I couldn't get more than one arrow per set, and frequently had
to take a break between sets.  I was getting one arrow out for everyone else's
twelve, and I couldn't do more than a dozen in a day.

Now, if I were hunting, maybe this wouldn't be a problem.  I am, however, a
target shooter.  I need to get an arrow off every 30-40 seconds at worst.  I bit
the bullet (not quite the right analogy for archery, but you'll have to pardon
it for now) and dropped the $250 plus tax for new limbs.  I got the 40-50 pound
set and have been quite happy at 50 pounds.  Of course, this means that I'll
likely need the 50-60 pound limbs as I develop some strength.

My friends will smirk at that last sentence, but I have - very rarely - managed
to increase my wiry frame's strength, even if I've never managed to put on the
appearance of bulk.

I do love shooting at 50 pounds, though the saga continues in that I can't hit
center without having the top pin of my sight nearly obscured by the riser.  I
have been hitting a 2" radius at 20 yards in my first day, though, so once that
issue is solved, I'm going to be rather happy.


UPDATE 20100713

Ouch.  Two days after this post, I had a little issue with my bow.  I fired off
a shot, and the bow came unstrung.  The string wrapped around my wrist as a 
hundred pounds of tension were unleashed upon it.  Black wrist for a week.
Soap opera as I dealt with every archery professional in the area.  I've since
been shooting every other day and have had no further issues.  I'm thinking
about moving up to the next set of limbs.
%20100614  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Every year, June 14 gives me yet another reason to really fucking hate it.
This year is no exception.  It's going to be a miracle if I survive the day.
%20100610  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
What if the claim were that elephants are gill-less?
On Wikipedia, any claim made in an article may be challenged by adding the 
{{citation needed}} marker to a statement.  I understand why this is necessary,
and I fully support the process.  Without it, the elephant population in Africa
might start swelling over the last few years, etc., but has it really come so
far that the statement, "Humans lack gills and do not otherwise have the
capacity to breathe underwater unaided by external devices," needs a citation?

%20100608  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Maybe his dog was thirsty?
This morning, as I was packing Parker's lunch and preparing my soul for the
daily trip through purgatory, I noticed that there was a pedestrian ambling
down the street, with one of those 'invisible dog' leashes in his hand.  After
my eyes were done rolling, I noticed I'd meen mistaken.  He was, in fact, not as
insensible as I had thought.  

He was Dowsing.

%20100510  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
When you're spending nearly two-thirds of your total budget ($0.895T/$1.415T)
on Military and Security applications, maybe it's time to think about what you
have done to piss off the rest of the world to such an extent that it becomes
necessary to spend so much on aggressive intent and the results thereof.

%20100508  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It's About Time.  Really.
Dear Professor Hawking,

Time Travel and Alternate Realities do exist.  I just saw a twenty-five-year-old
Art Garfunkel strolling through Downtown San Francisco in a Business Suit.

So much for my previous hypothesis.


%20100507  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Anyone in Texas have something to tell me?
I get cold calls from recruiters about twice a week at this point.  I try to be
polite, but they're wasting my time and theirs.  It's annoying, and I'm tired of
it.  The vast majority of the time that my phone rings with a mystery phone
number, it's one of these guys' desperate pleas for my business.  

So when the phone rang yesterday morning with a 713 area code, I ignored it.  I
was driving anyway, so I'm not going to argue with one of these morons while 
Parker is busy reading in the back seat.  I have better things to do and a
better example to set.

When I got to my voicemail, though, it turned out to be some collect call
service called Global Tel Link.  Between the language of the call and the way
it was trying to direct me to a mechanism to pay with a credit card, I
immediately thought it was a scam.  My first look at their website convinced me
of this, but they do seem to have some history online.  Whether its an
engineered history, I don't know, but I wouldn't expect a company to do a Search
Engine Optimization pass using fake web pages that made them out to have a 
customer service record that made Experian or AT&T look like something godly and

At any rate, I've received a number of callbacks from these guys claiming that I
have an incoming call from the "Marathon County Jail," though I can't take the
call.  I have to pay by credit card first.  Not the most useful system.  I would
guess that this refers to the City of Marathon in Brewster County, Texas
instead of Marathon County in Wisconsin (which, oddly enough, contains a city
named "Texas.")  Contrarily, the corrections facility in Marathon is the 
"Brewster County Jail."

Anyway, on the off chance that I actually know someone who is in Texas or 
Wisconsin and found themselves in trouble with the law, I did my usual
cyber-sleuthing, made some phone calls, and came up blank.  I'm guessing that
Global Tel Link had a glitch (engineering, or marketing, I wonder) that they'll
need to work out.

%20100506  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Won't Someone Please Think of the Chickens!
Parker's elementary school will be doing an egg drop tomorrow.  Hundreds of kids
with hundreds of contraptions, pinning all their hopes on the survival of their
own little egg as it drops off the roof of a building.  It'll be a carnival
atmosphere, I'm sure, but I can't help but think of what it would be like to be
a chicken observing the hordes of featherless, pink monsters as they hurl unborn
chicks to their fate.

%20100504  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I never did hear anything back.
It's Monday.  Someone please email me and let me know if I survive the week.
%20100430  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Thank you very much, Pandora.  Have you considered balancing the volume level
of ads against the music being played?  Paganini tends to come across my
headphones about 30 decibels lower that the idiotic "Social Living" ad.  What
you should be advertising is hearing aids: that ad'll be the last thing I ever
hear.  What better advertising could you ask for?

My ears are still ringing.

%20100422  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
One of these days, Kristine!
I noticed last night that my sister was born the day of the Apollo 13 explosion,
and I was born the last day that a man stood on the moon.

%20100421  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Total coolness: Massive Lego project with five-year-old son.  

O(Total coolness ^ 2): putting the kid to bed and continuing the Logo project
with my own father.


I'm about five knots of wind from meeting the Munchkins and crushing the life out of the Wicked Witch of the East. Of course, I'm going to waste my one opportunity to become the evil overlord of the universe: "There's no place like the Guinness Brewery. There's no place like the Guinness Brewery." -rbarry
%20100325  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Are You Sure It Wasn't Written By Them, As Well?
I had to delve back into python for a few minutes today.  The experience
reminded me of an episode of Nature about the Burmese Python on PBS recently.
They said that as a python crushes his prey, the victim's blood pressure spikes.
In the end, you're as likely to die from the blood-pressure-induced bursting
blood vessels as you are from the inability to breathe.

Python - the language - and a python - the snake - have something more than
their names in common.  Every time I use Python my blood pressure spikes
and I have trouble breathing.  How can you possibly make more errors in the
design of a language than your predecessors?

%20100302  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Lab Coat Science:
    Then we can conclude:

Business Coat Science:
        [We'll work this bit out later.]
    Then we can conclude:
        [Insert desired result here.]
%20100217  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
If you'd told me two years ago that I was going to drop Perl like a Miller
Light by now, I would have been right in thinking that you knew something that
I didn't at the time: that there was something better.

Perl Sucks.  My scripting genealogy looks something like:

  1) TRS-80 Basic
  2) Applesoft Basic
  4) Microsoft DOS Batch
  5) csh/ksh/zsh/bash  (It was all a blur.)
  6) Perl
  7) Python
  8) Ruby

Note that the backward steps were from 3 to 4, though 5 didn't beat 3, either,
and from 6 to 7.  Sorry guys, there's a lot of cool stuff it Python, but that
doesn't make up for the fact that they blew it from day 1.

Anyway, the point is that Perl was the first thing that anyone introduced me to
(or, in Perl's case, that I introduced myself to) that did text processing
worth a damn.  Perl will get the job done, but everything about it is painful
and unpleasant.

Goodbye, $|.  Farewell, shift-4.  Bite me, curlies and semicolons.

I've been rewriting scripts that I hacked out in Perl years ago - at a line
count reduction rate of something approaching 80-90 percent.

%20100126  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Ron's Law of PowerPoint Visibility
Company meetings are interesting affairs at PlayFirst.  We pack the entire crew
into a long room with a projection screen at one end, upon which we project the
company financials... in a very small font.

It was during one of these meetings that I hit upon a revelation:

For each meeting attendee, p is the position in R3 of their head, h is the
distance (height) of their eyes from the seating plane, s is the angle, in
steridians, subtended by the projection of the display screen upon a sphere 
which is centered about the viewer's head, and t is time:

                                δp   f(s)
                                -- = ---
                                δt   g(h)

Henceforth, this shall be referred to as Ron's Law of PowerPoint Visibility.

%20100106  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
1 2 3 4 5 6 7...
I'm starting to work on 7-ball juggling and I think I've discovered why there
are fewer and fewer people at each major numbers-juggling milestone.  It comes
down to practice time.  When you're learning to juggle 3 balls, a drop usually
means you are stuck holding 1-2 bags and have to pick up 1-2.  It's rare to be
stuck searching for a bag when this happens.  First of all, you're not putting
much energy into the missiles so they won't travel as far.  Second, when you
acquiesce to the fact that you've missed your catch, you can track where the
gravitational deviant has gone... as it makes a quiet roll a foot or so away.

Working with 7 means that I get off 7 throws and am lucky to be left holding 2
when I get done, requiring a search of the vicinity to locate the missing 5
bags.  They go flying in all directions, with much greater vigor, while my
attention is still directed at the ceiling, getting lost under the couch, the
desk, or my office mate's chair.  Most of my 'juggling' time is reduced to 
locating the little delinquents, then apologizing to half the office for the

%20091209  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've been mentally stewing an entry for a while, though I need some more time
for the gelatin conversion process.  In the meantime, contemplate what quantum
physics have to do with:

Blade Runner
A.E. van Vogt's "The Weapon Shop"
Total Recall

Hrm.  I read/watch too much SciFi.  The fact that the list above is all from the
same genre is irrelevant.
%20091201  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The Pachelbel Connection
If you're not familiar with Rob Paravonian's soapbox/tirade/sermon about the
Pachelbel Canon, it's time for you to get up-to-date.  I enjoy musical humor,
and I'm sure you recognized as many of the songs Rob references as I did, but
I had a Paravonian moment of my own last night as I transcribed The Rainbow
Connection.  It wasn't the expletive-ridden moment that it might have been for
Rob - more of an ah-hah, now I see what he's talking about....

The software I was using to script out the piano lines, for complicated reasons,
makes it much easier to lay down the bass cleff by setting the pedal note for an
entire block of a song first, then go back and fill in the rest of the left
hand.  Rainbow Connection is in 3 and is pedal-note-only for the first beat in
the left hand.  This left me writing out most of 80 bars by arpeggiating up the
bar's chord, then back again down as I wrote out beats 2 and 3.

I heard the Cello part of Canon in D a number of times last night.

%20091013  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Who's On First?
I found myself relating this story to a co-worker a moment ago, and was 
surprised to realize that I'd never told it here.  It was the first conversation
I had on September 11, 2001, since it was the incoming call itself that brought
me to consciousness that day. 

The phone rang.  Me, I never let the phone just ring.  I figure that if a friend
is going to call me at some insane hour, they have a damn good reason and I'm
going to pick it up.  It's probably past 9 a.m. my time, which means that more
than two hours have passed since events in New York City had begun to unfold.  I
glanced at the caller ID and answered.

"Hey, Sarah."

"Uh, Hi."

This is an unusual beginning for the two of us.  For starters, Sarah never
called at this point in time.  There was also a missing tone of depression that
I had come to expect.  She sounded far more anxious than anything else.  No 
surprise, but we now have hindsight on the context of the conversation.  I
didn't even have my eyes open yet.  Well, I found the phone, but you know what I
mean - I wasn't _awake_ awake.

"What's up," I asked.

"I'm in North Dakota."

Okay, Sarah lived in Idaho, so this was a bit odd.  Also odd to be calling me
before I'm conscious to announce this fact....

"Why are you in North Dakota?"

"Because of the World Trade Center."  Full Stop.

Now, I don't know about you, but at that point in time, it was a little hard to
imagine how a financial district on the opposite coast could teleport someone
across the breadth of two states.  I attributed this shortsightedness to lack of
sleep (I'd been at work until about 3 or 4 a.m.) and charged ahead.

"What about the World Trade Center?"

"It's not there!"

A more obvious statement I had never heard, and I said so.

"Of course it's not there!  It's in New York!"  I felt I was being very patient.
I didn't have a kid at the time, but I felt like I was having one of those 
toddler conversations.

Eventually, the tables turned and it was Sarah's turn to explain to me, in that
patient, explaining-to-a-child way that you have to talk to the sleep-deprived,
what was going on.  She'd been flying to New York that day and had been diverted
to the closest airport to where she'd been cruising at the time.  We discussed
arrangements for her travel back home and hung up.

After this, I got out of bed, showered, and drove to work, where I was shocked
to find out that the weird dream I'd thought I had had in fact occurred.  I
called Sarah back to make sure I hadn't missed anything.


%20091001  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Population Change as a Measure of Progress
Entomology and Software Engineering have a fundamental similarity: a zealotous
vigor for the discovery and identification of bugs.  However, when a software
engineer gets his bugs to reproduce, their population goes down.

%20090928  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Crawling, In Increments, Into 1996.
After a bit of fiddling today, I have made the massive technological step
forward of titling my posts.  Rah.

It may not be long before this is an actual Rails app.  Don't bet on it.  I
still like the old-school style.

%20090917  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I Left My Sanity in San Francisco
I don't think I've ever made much of a secret of the fact that I hate San
Francisco.  Try as you may to convince me that there is anything here worth all
the trouble, you're going to be wasting your breath.  I've spent 5 years working
downtown, being exposed to all the really good reasons why you should stay the
hell away from this community, and today added yet another.

I ran afoul of the local fauna.  Some asshole decided it would be fun to body-
check me in the Middle of Market Street.  I saw him coming, looking right at me,
and suddenly he swerved and slammed into me.  When I didn't go down, he tried
next to take my legs out from under me.

The whole experience is totally surreal:  Of all the things I could have guessed
would have happened next, I didn't expect to have a handful of plastic Ketchup
containers hurled at me.  Each did a Jackson Pollock across various bits of my
clothes, face, and hair, leaving me completely stunned.

I found myself wondering afterward why I didn't take him apart.  I certainly
could have, but it really took me a while to absorb the fact that I'd just been
the victim of a random act of processed tomatoes.  I'm still trying to figure
out how it went from getting jumped... to modern art.

Anyway, police showed up, saw my pocket tool and went straight after me.  It
took a minute for them to accept that I was the one who had called them.  Not
that I blame them - it's a prudent measure on their part but it was fun,
nonetheless, to find that even once the whole thing was over, It wasn't really
over.  I got to do the whole nine yards with the officers while two of them
stood back with their weapon hands at the ready.

Between work, health, scheduling issues, and this - I'm convinced that this week
is trying to kill me.

%20090915  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Life Well Ogged
    I started college at 18.  I'm 36 now.  I've been playing netrek for half my
    life now.  --rbarry
%20090910  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Sometimes a lens in just a lens.
I did a trip to the zoo with my son and one of his best friends recently, and,
true to form, split my time between kids, camera, and conversation.  These days,
I wander around with a pretty hefty chunk of glass jutting off the end of my
toy.  (There's a reason it's called a Canon.)  So I tend to get envious looks
from everyone carrying an SLR.

Here's the thing, though.  I stop, I watch the critters, I see something I want
to capture, I pull out the camera, I line up, possibly wait a while, and shoot
when I see what I want.  I'm shooting what I've already experienced - though as
you can see, the shooting is often an experience of its own.  More often than
not, I see guys (and yes, it's always guys) with SLRs who are not stopping to
see what they're shooting.  

If you don't care enough about the subject to take a moment and experience it
while it's live, why do you think you're going to give a damn about a photo
later on?  Stop and experience the shot.  It'll improve your shooting, but it'll
make it worth having the shot to begin with.


I'm still towing along a 20 megabyte, hard-drive-based mp3 player. I've never really tried to get all the media properly tagged and organized, so I've never come close to having the thing full. Well, I just organized. Between the audio books I bought when I was driving a long commute and the CDs I've acquired since March, 1991... It is full. To recap: Full. 20 Gigs. Take a deep breath and fathom: At roughly 1 Megabyte per minute, that is 20000 minutes, 333 HOURS of audio. For comparison, my first computer had just enough memory to store one second of that collection. Closing the circle in a nice, ironic loop: that computer stored all its programs as audio-encoded bits on an audio tape recorder. -rbarry UPDATE (30 seconds later.) I'm trying to decide what to play first. UPDATE (30 minutes later. (I had email to cover.)) Problem solved. Turn on shuffle and start the first song an the list and hit next. Clement Philibert Leo Delibes' Lakme - Duo Des Fleurs wins.
The internet truly is an infinite number of monkeys. What really worries me is, they occasionally leave their keyboards to do other things. -rbarry
Something has been troubling me lately: the use of quotation marks in the English language follows a set of rules that is ambiguous when used in technical writing. The American use of quotes requires that any ending punctuation in a phrase fall inside the quotes: "I'm leaving now," she said as she closed the door. While this is legal, "correct" English, it is an inaccurate citation of the speaker. In writing our language, nobody ever cares that the speaker didn't actually pause in the middle of her phrase (the comma) only to leave the rest of it unheard by the writer. She spoke a period, but we intentionally misquote her for the sake of narration. Again, nobody cares. But maybe you should. Why? In technical writing, the only mechanism available for conveying exact phrases is the quote mark. However, obeying the rules of the language leaves us with ambiguous instructions: Unless you type "disarm," without typos, the nuke will detonate. Well, do you type the comma or don't you? -rbarry
%20090831  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
No Child Left Unaddicted
I received an invite to a get-together at my son's school.  A social get-
together sort of thing.  The title on the email was "Kindergarten Coffee
Wednesday Morning."  I replied back asking if they were sure it wasn't too early
to be starting a bunch of hyper kids on caffeine.

I'm going to set a record for getting thrown out of a PTO.

%20090814  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Tom Was Exactly My Age When He Said:
"It's a sobering thought, for example, that when Mozart was my age, he had been
dead for two years."
    -Tom Lehrer
%20090730  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
They Suck Your BLOOD, Dude!
On the river trip last month, I was the center of a traveling valence shell of
mosquitoes.  It was a space that was guaranteed to contain a great many of the
parasites everywhere I went.  Fortunately, a bottle of Muskol that was probably
purchased when I was in grade school kept the things off of me indefinitely.
They wouldn't latch on, but they didn't know better than to hang out, circling,
looking for an opening which never came.

Now, the Rogue River has a fair share of bats.  If a walking probability field
of flying insects holds still, out in the open, a second field of flying fauna

I was describing this to Toni in the car the other day - how cool it was to be
surrounded by the sound of helpless mosquitoes, as well as the many sounds of
the rodent sonar.  I was telling her that you'd just catch a glimpse of a bat
in the dark now and then when Parker interjected from the back.

"I don't like bats!"

"Why not, Parker?"

In a tone of voice that was both very patient and extremely exasperated with my
ignorance of this fact, he responded, "Because they suck your BLOOD, dude!"

%20090728  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Don't Encourage The Trombonist
"Is that a key note or an opinion?"  -Stan Kenton  (?)
%20090709  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Pining for PINE
With KnowledgeBlue gone, I am swirling in the eddies of internet identity: up
until a few weeks ago, I had a shell account that allowed me to ping, open
outgoing ports without restriction, and run a shell-based mail reader that gave
me a single place to read and store my email.  Adding to that the fact that
everything was backed up for me and I consider it to have been a fair deal.

Trouble is, it was costing me upwards of $35 per month and each 5 gigs of 
storage was going to add $5 to that.

Since the switch, I have been lamenting the loss of pine, my old mail reader.
By 'old,' I mean REALLY OLD.  The PINE (PINE Is Not Elm) project started in 1989
and has seen its last stable release in the last 3 years.  If it would just
connect to my IMAP server, I'd still be using it, but there are some subtleties
of the process that have hampered the effort, so I'm stuck looking for a 
solution to at least the email centralizing issue.

%20090625  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
What a week.  What a freaking week.

I got back from the river trip to find that had gone offline.

Sorry about that.  Under Doran Barton's regime, this was a smooth and easy
process with no downtime that I was ever aware of, other than the times that the
hardware was being upgraded.  Recently, a combination snafu of my bank and meant that people weren't getting paid and I wasn't getting
the notices to that effect.  When knowledgeblue emailed me about the situation,
they contacted an address that they well knew had long ago been a massive spam
target.  Somehow, they figured that I'd still be reading it, despite my having
told them many times in the past that this was not the case.

They have since claimed that they couldn't contact me directly.  Somehow, they
must have missed the fact that my email and phone contact information are
clearly published on my home page.  They're the ones hosting the damn thing.
You'd think they might figure that my PERSONAL web site might contain PERSONAL

So anyway, after a full third of my life with a single provider (Doran's
business was bought up by knowledgeblue,) I've switched over to 
We'll see how that goes.

So in addition to being incommunicado due to the river trip, a ton of incoming
email was lost.  This was followed by the most cruel form of layoff process I
have ever endured.  I did survive the process, but it took twenty-four hours to
go from 'the company is in bad shape' to 'you do/do not still have a job.'  I
think that the longest I've ever seen that process take was under a minute.

I headed home Tuesday to a sleepless night, wondering if my company was going to
close, lay off, or drop salaries.  Wednesday night the fire alarms in my
building went off - twice.

On top of all of this, I've been transferring all of the bits,
trying to get it all running, editing the 700+ photos from the river, and trying
to figure out when I'm going to have time to get the new photo browser up.  I
_REALLY_ dislike the look of it (take a peek,) but I'm not sure what to do about
that at this point.  I'm open to suggestion.

%20090613  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
In Memory of Max Callao
I have just spent the evening watching 10-year-old videotapes of myself, Brian
Carver, Nate Packer, and Mika Marumaya fencing in tournaments in Utah - a
century ago.

Other familiar faces were there: John Daley, Mike Mercy, Matt Nikols, Clief...
whose last name I can't remember.  And Max Callao.  

I've just found out that Max passed away a while back, and in that one moment,
I somehow lost a connection with that time - that feeling that it all happened
just so recently.  Max was in his 50s when I knew him, but I dare you to find a
single human being more youthful and alive than he was.

To the family of Max and to Salle Boise, your loss is deeply - if from afar -
felt.  I was just moments ago watching video of he and I joking around on strip
and working our asses off for every inch of strip and every point made.  For me
his loss was just a moment ago and I heartwrenchingly regret not having tried
to look him up before now.

I tell stories of Max to everyone who hears about fencing from me - which is 
just about everyone.  While the rest of you are still here, I wanted to say
that everyone mentioned in this post, and Chris Oversby, Katrina Farrow, you
were all gemstone quality souls to me and there isn't one of you that I don't
think of and miss regularly.  

I remember Max telling a story of drinking too much Courvousier on a flight to
Japan.  I don't have any Cognac, but tonight I'm drinking to Max: a friend, a
teacher, blessed lunatic, and an explosion of character wrapped in a thick
application of Ben Gay.

%20090612  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Fat Pipeline, No Spigot
If I may continue to harp on a point (it hardly seems worth linking my last
post, but what the hey) it would seem that Intel has stepped up to make
Linux the first operating system to support USB 3.0.  If you're of the ilk
that compile your own operating system kernel, you can get it any time you

The point I wish to harp upon is that while Linux may now support the data
interface to get bits from your devices to your computer and back, your
devices aren't going to work with Linux anyway.  So, congratulations on the
press coverage guys, but how about having a chat with Canon and getting 
some support for my camera?  Until you get the device support, you've built
the digital equivalent of an 18-lane freeway to Coalville, Utah.


P.S.  Don't miss the comment at the bottom of the link: "No hardware ...
      but Linux supports it!"

      Linux... hardware.  Okaaaay.
%20090518  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  

Love it or hate it, there it is.  Even the most uninitiated of internet users
have probably stumbled across the name somewhere, though most are unlikely to
have any idea what on Earth it refers to.  It's been only the last few years 
that the world at large has become aware of the idea that there is something
unique about the software that their computer runs before they ask it to do
anything else.  With the growth of Apple's market share, users are slowly 
maturing in their comprehension: they have noticed the operating system.

Poor Linux.

And I mean that both as an expression of my sympathy and a description of 

You see, Linux and all the related software are developed by volunteers.  When
it comes to that, 'volunteer' is a poor word for what any developer of free
software does.  When I hear the word, I think of the pre-veterinary student at
the pet hospital who 'volunteers,' and is directed to clean cages, walk the
clients' pets (and pick up their poop,) and mop up hairballs.  He shows up and
is told what needs to be done.

A free software developer does whateverthehell he feels like working on.  Sexy
technology gets attention from these guys.  What you have to understand is that
there is a society of fame within the free software world.  If you work on the
next big project and everyone in the Linux community starts using it - people
know your name.  You get a Wikipedia page.  People pay you to talk at their
conferences.  It's the geek brand of fame.

What this has brought to the free software world is an abundance of geeks with
plenty of time on their hands, all eager to tackle the next sexy project.  Many
of these guys use Linux exclusively and cannot fathom the unwashed masses who
would resort to using Windows or Apple's OS series.  Off they go to write their
new programming language, protocol stack, or hack away at the Linux OS to
squeeze a few more points of performance out of it... without ever stopping to
really attack priorities.

With insufficient altruism in the Linux and free software world, the poop never
gets picked up.

What are the priorities of Linux and free software?  Well, the one dream I have
heard from free software developers more than any other is this:  "Free Software
will take over the world."

Bull Excrement.

Microsoft has spent billions of dollars studying how people interact with
computers.  Billions.  Most free software developers slap an ad-hoc
configuration mechanism on their software and call it done.  If you have
problems setting it up, they are likely to be caused by a situation that the
developer was unable or unwilling to test.  You're on your own.

This does not work for the home user.  It never will.  Ever.

I speak in brutish terms here because I'm an ex-Linux user myself.  Ten years
ago, my list of complaints with Linux had grown long enough that I gave up and
switched to an OS that I knew would just work.  Yes, Windows software pukes on
me from time to time, but my hours lost to fixing those issues has been trivial
compared to the time it took me to manage my Linux machines.  And, if I need a
piece of software to do something..... I know I can find it.  Linux: unlikely.

The nail in the coffin for me with Linux as a desktop system was brought back to
my mind just a few minutes ago, plain as day.  A post on (a blog
for geeks, though thoroughly tilted in a pro-free-software direction) pointed to
a writer who enumerated his chief complaints about Linux as a potential entry
into the everyday desktop world.  The issues therein have been the same since I
gave up Linux a decade ago.  In other words, Linux has made little progress in
this domain in ten years.

Despite my home use being entirely Windows, I have run a number of distributions
of Linux during these last ten years.  The best stride they have made so far,
that I can see, is that they do run a Graphical User Interface right out of the
box and many configuration options can be tweaked there.  I applaud the effort.
Unfortunately, the last time I found myself using it, I was informed that I 
would have to get beneath the covers and edit configuration files to solve my
problem.  This is not acceptable to a home user.  I'm a geek, I had a job to do,
I got dirty and edited.  As I said, this is not home-user-caliber software.

I'll close my argument here with an address to the opposition view.  The most
popular web server in the world at the time of this writing is 'apache.'  It is
a free project, in development since the mid nineties.  It has been the most
heavily-used web server in the world since 1996 and until 2006 showed no signs
of flagging popularity.  BUT apache peaked out at about 70% of the servers
online, and has dropped - in just three years - below the 50% mark.  Who is
stealing their thunder?  Microsoft.

I've dealt with apache servers before.  They're fine for simple applications,
but expert-level familiarity is required to get it to accomplish many tasks.  I
once spent two hours on a plane trying to get an apache server on my laptop to
simply serve CGI applications (a trivial task with most servers.)  My battery
died before it was working reliably.  I have since done the same task with three
other web servers.  None took me more than 5 minutes.

If apache wants to maintain its position, it needs to appeal to the new 
generation of web administrators.  It is unfriendly, unwieldy, and difficult to
debug when failures occur.  This has been an axiom of free software for too 

The free software community needs leadership that isn't afraid to set the
priorities in unpopular directions:  fix the sound system, fix the UI, fix
package management, fix X (the window manager - it's damn slow.)  Provide a 
unified front with which large corporations can negotiate so you can get first-
class drivers, and, GAMES.  Most computer users play games now.  I work in the
games industry and have no associates who do Linux games or would even consider
it.  (Ask me for the details if you're interested.)

%20090508  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Secure Hashing Made... Secure.  And Simple.
When I was working at Sun Microsystems, one of my projects involved the use of a
database of crytographic hashes of all the software Sun had ever released.  It
was an interesting enough project and quite easy to implement, really.  I sat
down one weekend, frustrated as hell with all of the red tape that was binding
my hands from the keyboard, and wrote the whole thing in Perl.

One of the crimson straps hampering my metacarpals was was the fact that the 
hashing algorithm in use - md5 - had seen recent weakening at the hands of a 
pair of brilliant Chinese PhDs.  The project to which I was assigned had been 
amassing md5 sums for years and the powers-that-be were paranoid that they (the 
cryptographic checksums) were not going to provide the security they (the 
powers-that-be) had hoped.  I was told to start looking into moving in the 
direction of other hashing algorithms.

This is where things got dicey.  Mathematically illiterate factions of the
department wanted to wait to release the project until "The Next Hashing 
Algorithm" was adopted.  You know, the one with no potential for collision.
Other members wanted to archive everything Sun ever created so we could just
release modern-algorithm checksums for everything as the new hash mechanisms
became available.  This scheme was objectionable to many because much of Sun's
old bits had been lost forever - or at least the authoritative ones had.  (Why
we were clinging to the idea of providing cryptographic hashing security on
files nobody had seen in a decade and had no hope of hashing with a new process,
I'll never understand.)  Most of all, there was objection that no new algorithm
would ever be 100% secure and the entire project essentially lay in crumbles 
under the feet of these Bible-beaters.

Assuming that the thing ever released, whatever they adopted in the end, I'm 
sure that last week's EuroCrypt news is going to rattle a few people.  Sha has 
seen another, serious collision attack.  The worst of the lot so far.

From day one of the arguments about algorithms, I was trying to press the idea
that in perpetuity, Sun keep a pristine copy of every file we released from that
day forward and provide a hash string for every one of them that is the
concatenation of every crypto hash that had seen official use over the years.

So the md5 sum of foo.txt might be:
(despite the strange string in the first 4 letters, that is a legitimate hash.)
...and your sha1 sum might be:
(and that is the same file.)
...and your sha512 sum might be:

So the secure sum would be:

For those who see the 'obvious' 'flaw' (separately quoted for good reason,) I
congratulate their awareness, but consider: every one of these checksums is 
vulnerable to attack individually, but finding a collision in one still leaves
you with a mismatch in the other hashes.

Given the difficulty of analysis, the likelihood of the combination attack ever
succeeding is extremely low and - given the time it would take to find such an
exploit - a new, trickier, more complex algorithm would have been concatenated
to the end of this list when that analysis was done.

Yes, this is the hashing algorithm I am suggesting that the cryptographic
community adopt.  Every n years (for whatever n you like) another m bits (...)
will be added to the end of the stream by a new algorithm, designed to be the
state-of-the-art in secure hashing and as different from its predecessors as

%20090429  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Yes, It Really Has Come To This
Ruby has it's moments.  Someone has to have done this before, but it was a good
way to kill five minutes.  The wording was designed to incorporate the string,
the conditional, commas, and, or, the boolean, ()s, and the exclamation points.

class HelloWorld
    def self.method_missing(id, *args)
        "#{id.to_s} #{args[0]}"

        #Note:  the following is not commented out.
        I can't let this go by - consider the full impact upon our childrens'
        lives!  If you had gone your whole life without seeing it would you
        have believed it to be true?  All of this code parses, compiles and
        executes with the ruby interpreter without complaint, warning or
        failure!  When you can invoke this:  (brace yourself)

        puts hello world

        all bets are off!
%20090427  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
> take device
> press hitchhike button
Digging around on a number of ruby-related threading posts, I came across this
chunk of example code:

    x = do
    vogon = do

%20090424  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Schrodinger's Co-Workers
In a flurry of unusual activity today (that is to say that the natures of the
activities were unusual, not that activity is unusual) I found myself in need of
the services of people from all over work - most of whom I rarely find myself 
accessing.  The blizzard of email went out and... triggered a nearly
instantaneous snowdrift of responses: Out of Office Autoresponses.

Shrugging my shoulders as I put the tasks at hand on the back burner 'till next
week, I went looking for another unusual target in my hit list for the day.

She was gone, as well.

Ambling back to my desk, I ruminated on the fact that my very need of a person
today triggers their absence.  This Heisenburgism was entertaining enough to
share with a coworker, whose cubicle I was just passing.  Making a left into the
tornado shelter (we shelter ourselves from the tornadoes of hardware and
paperwork by stashing them in his office) I declared:


"Now where've you gone off to?"

Heading back to my office, noticing that I had vaporized Drew, I shrugged again
and decided that he didn't really need to be bothered with something so
frivolous.  I closed the book on the whole affair and gave it up as a typical
Friday afternoon at the office.

And that very instant, Drew walked in.

%20090423  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've been listening to Car Talk off and on for years, but being within range of
of a Public Broadcasting station at the right hour of the week - on a regular
basis - is a bit of a challenge.  Even allowing for the fact I can stream most
radio stations to my computer doesn't cover the major challenge:  The computer
is in the living room and weekend mornings I am - uh - not.  As in, the
horizontal and unconscious version of not in the living room.  Oh - or I'm with
the offspring, who hasn't been attentive to anything for longer than 5 seconds
in his entire life.  Asking him to dedicate an hour to car repair and 
automotively-induced interpersonal relationship issue counselling would be as
futile as trying to convince me to petition for George W. Bush's third AND
fourth terms.  

Car Talk has moved into the modern age with the Podcast (TM, C, R, BYOB,) which
means that I finally get regular access.  Well.  I download it every week and
let it languish on my iPod until I've run out of anything and everything else
that I could possibly listen to.  Then I'm reduced to catching up on the

If you were following in Februrary then enjoy.  If you weren't paying
attention then you're outta luck because I'm not going to offer explanations:

UPDATE 20090518:
    I've removed the image from the main page to save on load times.  If you
    want to see it, you'll have to follow the link.


Batteries. In 1963, it was "Plastics," but now it is emphatically: batteries. How many battery dependant devices are within arms reach of you now? Wireless mouse, cell phone, camera, laptop, mp3 player, flashlight, camera flash, and that's just my usual moment-at-the-office sort of day. Batteries are expensive and they are environmental disasters of their own sort. And like so many other things in life, you have choices and compromises to make when you select your encapsulated metallic cylinders of electrical potential. Rechargeable or Alkalyne. 1.2 Volts or 1.5 Volts. Reusable or Disposable. Democrat or Republican. Some devices are harder on batteries than others. Parker's camera blows through them at the rate of a full set of 4 AAs in about 30 pictures. I swear I'm going to get him a real (rather than a 'toy') digital camera just for the battery savings. His Leapster, on the other hand, seems to turn your common AA battery into a damning counterexample to the Law of Conservation of Energy. They last for EVER. But neither device can live on 4.8 volts. Most devices that want 4 AAs arrange them in a rectangular array in exactly the same way. Parker's Leapster does this, his camera does not. It would seem to me that the best of both worlds could be achieved if someone would make a six- volt battery pack by using FIVE Nickel-Metal Hydroxide cells in a form factor that exactly matched the standard four-AA-cell configuration. Devices that require that layout could take rechargeable batteries and suck them dry in nothing flat and I'd happily throw the pack in the charger and slap another six volts in the device: rechargeable, reusable, democratic, cheap and easy. As with all the ideas that I truly love: contact me to license the idea. =] -rbarry
%20090420  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
If you haven't played^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HBraid^H^H^H^H
It's like this, ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HTime after^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H
When I bother to sit down and t^Htw^H^Hwrite something, I'm us^H^H^H^H^H^Hit's
usually because I've found myself at one of the extremes of emotion versus
resa^H^Hason.  As as ^H^H result, I either end up writing reams of garbage
about a topic which has occupied my cognitive functions for quite some time (and
frequently, has pissed me off to no end for an undue period) or I'm simply
venting about somtee^H^H^H^H^H^H ann^H annon^Hyance... e^HThere is a rare
occasions^H where I bother n^H to rant properly.

I'm a few levels into Braid so far, and I"m ^H^H^Hm ^H^H'm hger^H^H^H^Hhere to
rant properly.^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hgushingly.^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Htremendously.

Download this game.  Even if all you do is play the demo, do it.  The taste
you'll get in the free download is more that^Hn enough to convince any
intelligent player that this is a great concept.^H: you are playing a 3D
platformer... where only two of the dimensions are spatial.  Time is as much of
a medium through which you travel at will as you are accustomed to doing with
space.  At times^H^H^H^H^H^H^HThrough the course of the game, the roles of time
and space o^Hare those of dependant dimensions,^H - with one flowing as a
function of the other, and.... 

Nobody reads this crap anyway.ESC:1,$d

Braid rules.  Play it.

%20090417  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Useful vim-foo
One of the biggest annoyances of vim is the color scheme.  Come to think of it,
ls in cygwin gets into some reading difficulty where color is involved.  But I
found this beauty recently and thought I'd share.  It can go in your vimrc as
individual lines or it can be punched in at the : command prompt:

set hls
:noremap <F1> :set hls!<CR> :echo "hilight search (hls) =" &hls<CR>
set noic
:noremap <F2> :set ic!<CR> :echo "ignore case (ic) =" &ic<CR>

(The last line isn't a color issue, but it's handy and related so I'm including
it: it swaps between case sensitive and case insensitive searches.)

Make sure you enter the lines as they appear here.  <F1> and <CR> are vim's way
of letting you let in know that you want it to interpret those keys.  Clear as
mud?  Good.  I try not to be too easy to follow.

The advantage is that when you search for text and are blinded by the obnoxious
color scheme vim uses to hilight the hits, you hit F2 to turn off the colors,
then turn F2 again to turn them back on.

Minor annoyance: if you forget to turn them back on, you'll have to do so when
when you do your next search.  I'll work on that.

%20090402  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It occurs to me that there is a certain lack of wisdom inherent in the
combination of decisions; allowing my girlfriend to be my personal trainer and,
having her on my life insurance policy.
%20090318  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Why Does Recent Sci-Fi Suck?
I'm trying.  I really am.  I'm looking at netflix, I have my finger on the
button, and I see the first season of Babylon 5 right there in front of me.  I
just don't think I can go through it again.  It would be like facing the loss
all over again.  All the pain of the destroyed fifth season relived?  I'm not
sure I can do it.


P.S., Chronological order, anyone?  B5 didn't air in the order that the units
tell the story, so....
0. "In the Beginning" Movie (IFF YOU CAN HANDLE THE SPOILERS!!! See #10)
1. "The Gathering" Movie
2. Season 1
3. Season 2
4. Season 3
5. Season 4 through "The Illusion of Truth," (Episode 8?)
6. "Thirdspace" Movie
7. Season 4 through Episode 22 (full season?)
8. Season 5 through "Objects at Rest"
9. "River of Souls" Movie
10. "In the Beginning" Movie  (Not in chronological order, but SPOILERS)
11. "A Call to Arms" Movie
12. Season 5 final episode, "Sleeping in Light"
13. Crusade - if you dare.

I found myself perusing some of the dustier parts of my brain last night, pulling the tarpaulins off of the kind of junk that we all keep in the attic. It's fluff, trash, filler, and its taking up space that should be dedicated to family relics and antiques. Instead, science fiction. That's right. We're not talking The Foundation Trilogy here, either. (By way of confession, Foundation bored me to tears and I'll likely never suffer myself to pick it up again.) Move over Asimov, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Clarke. No room for the A.B.C.s here. I'm pining for Babylon 5. When I was about 12 - setting the wayback machine for 1982 here - the local station was doing Star Trek reruns. That show was a little over a dozen years out of the gate and showing a bit of age, but I'd never really seen Science Fiction television before. I liked it, I watched it, I absorbed it, I became a Trek fan. Never a Trekkie, but I enjoyed it. When The Next Generation hit the airwaves, I watched. I even watched weekly for years, but as college wore on I had to stop. The show ended and I felt a slight pang of remorse about it, but I've never put a finger on why I hated to see it go. It had a great run - 7 years or so - and I enjoyed it, but... well, it had had a great run and deserved to retire while at the top of its game. My greatest regret was that I had to watch the last episode having missed most of the preceeding two years of the show. Star Trek Generations (I promise this will get back to Babylon 5) was FIFTEEN years ago now. It makes me feel so old to want that kind of creativity in my television again. Well, invoking Generations means I should expand that to movies as well, but you know what I mean: I want my TV shows to be creative, epic, and emotional. This lands us squarely in the court of Babylon 5. I watched as closely as I could through the whole series. I felt completely betrayed by the fifth season, as Turner Network Television's 'creative' control got out of hand and destroyed the franchise, but I still love the first four seasons. And here's the main difference between Babylon 5 and any TV show I've ever kept up with... I miss it. There. I said it. I actually miss the characters. As Star-Trekkie, do-goodie as the ending was, leaving most of the characters alive, somewhere in the back of my mind it still seems that they had a life... and have died. As Babylon 5 has gone through a few jump-start attempts over the years, I've been able to pretend that it would rise from its ashes. I'm only now coming to grips with the fact that it won't. I make chainmaile, for some reason that I've never understood. It's fun to hold and to play with. It is a hobby that demmands nearly none of my attention, so over the years I've watched Babylon 5 while I worked on it. I think I may have been through the show 2 or 3 times (I tend to skip the last season) in my years of chainmailing. I did some math last night: my very last piece of maille ever - I'm quitting the hobby for personal reasons - will require a block of time from me that almost exactly matches the entire run of Babylon 5, including all 6 TV movies and the hated 5th season. It'll be a long, fond farewell to two things that have occupied me in an obsessive way for some very rough bits of the last 15 years. Now this is just getting sappy. -rbarry
%20090304  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Eye Get It!
A couple - friends of mine - were having a ribbing back-and-forth about which
should get laser eye surgery first.  Standing by watching this, I couldn't help
but to comment that this was an issue upon which they were unlikely to see eye-

%20090226  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
    This goes out to Richard Feynman,
    He was not a Simple Simon
			- Jeff Coffin, "Ah Shu Dekio"

At PlayFirst, I'm in the process of a very lengthy installation of packages on
a Mac Mini.  I'll skip the details, but the short version is that I must add
a dozen or more systems to this machine, most of which aren't entirely stable
in their installation processes yet.  Documentation is scarce - and very poor.

Part of this process involved installing the mysql gem for Mac OS.  I've marched
this trail of tears before - thrice - on the PC.  For whateverthehell reason,
you have to install a huge chunk of MySQL itself in order for the PC install to
even get underway.  From there, you're still up a crick.  You'll get to the
ocean eventually, but you'll want a couple spare patch kits.

Having been through this nightmare a couple times before, I heaved a sigh and
pulled up google.  Finding a step-by-step for the Mac was not turning a profit,
so I heaved another sigh to properly bracket the attempt and fired up a Richard
Feynman blurb about bad science I found online (maybe someone sent it to me.)

The entire article was a lengthy read and looped through paths of thought
which didn't seem to progress in a steady direction, but I got through it.  I'm
used to such meanders, being a regular reader of my own blog, so it was an 
enjoyable game of intellectual hide-and-seek.  The article eventually made the
point that before a scientist tries the new experiment, the old one must be 
repeated.  Always.  My paraphrase does it no justice, but you can read the thing
yourself if you feel the need.

The point was that Feynman spent a long time addressing his readers/listeners
about the virtue of trying the knowns before the unknowns; that there is 
integrity in open self-deprecation.  At this, I thought to myself, "Feynman
should have been a computer scientist.  He might easily have missed this 
observation in our field... debugging is nothing but the iterative process of
hypothesis, test, hypothesis, test - and usually the subject of this iteration
is our own work.  The observation would, to a computer scientist, be so
obvious as te be self-evident and unworthy of note."

Well.  Maybe it wasn't so obvious.  I did leave the article thinking that there
were nuggets in it that I could apply to my own work.  I looked at my Mac and
thought, "Maybe I'll get a clue on how to start on this if I see the error
message again."  Keep in mind, I'd seen errors a-plenty in the days I was doing
this on the PC.

> sudo gem install mysql

You're thinking it worked, aren't you?  Well, it didn't.  But at least I have 
more crap to punch into google to push this further toward completion... and
I've managed to get you to waste another 5 minutes of your life suffering at the
expense of ruby, gem, and mysql.  Welcome to the club.  =]

%20090213  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Occasionally, The Government DOES Get Something Right
The website has taken stating the obvious to global proportions:

    "Sun is shining in light region.  It is night in dark region."

%20090212  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
My record made another step toward 'perfect' status today.  The following is the
complete list of companies I have worked for to date and their current 
operational status:

Sorenson Vision: 
Their website is still up, but the most recent date on it is 1999

Evans and Sutherland: 
Still technically in operation, but would have long since been delisted except
for the recent changes to such rules.  Anyway, the business units I was engaged
with have long since been disintegrated.  I hear the CEO was escorted out by
armed guards when he came under SEC investigation.  I can only hope it is true.

Acclaim Entertainment:
Dead.  Fishy, fishy, Fisch.

Shaba Games/Activision: 
Still in operation, I gather.  In the same office where I was working back in

Midway Home Entertainment: 
Filed for bankruptcy today.  The studio I worked in shut its doors long ago.  We
did warn them that John Romero was going to be a net loss and we were painfully
correct.  I wonder if the lawsuit was ever filed.

Sun Microsystems: 
Also still in operation, but as Brian Scearce put it recently, they are pretty
much in the business of laying people off - and they're very good at it.  The
acquire and fire and that's their way.

Perpetual Entertainment: 
Dead.  Who the hell hands $20-$30 Million to a couple of morons who have already
lost ten times that figure?  Seriously, it was high comedy from day one.  If you
ever have a chance to work for the clowns who founded this disaster - run.  They
see engineering as a plugin business module that works by magic.

Stormfront Studios:
Dead.  They still owe me $$$$$$.  You probably don't want to go work for the
Lazarus version of this company either.  I prefer to think in terms of Zombies,

UPDATE 20090921
    I received my letter from the California State Franchise Tax Board last
    month, along with a number of others.  I heard shortly thereafter that
    Stormfront had been forced into liquidation as a result.  So, Stormfront is
    now entirely dead.
%20090205  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
When People... Vote Themselves Money...
Herald The End of The Republic
- Ben Franklin
The United States, a nation in crisis divided by war, racial hatred, spiraling
personal and governmental debts, growing trade imbalance, and an ever growing
dependence upon foreign oil - placing the nation's economy in the hands of OPEC,
rather than holding it as our own destiny.  And I was six years old.

If you have never read or heard Jimmy Carter's speech of July 15, 1979 [1], you
should.  If you just rolled your eyes, swallow your blind conservatism for a few
minutes and you might just learn something for once.

"We can't go on consuming forty percent more energy than we produce.  When we
import oil we are also importing inflation plus unemployment."  I have news for
you.  It's not forty percent anymore.  His talk that day wasn't just precient,
it was also deeply moral - far more so than I have heard from any politician
since.  This is why the U.S. failed to re-elect him.

There is something deeply troubling in that the party of big business is the
same party that the religious conservatives espouse.  The goals of business and
of piety are in conflict.  But it is the way it is, and I'm not going to change
any minds with what I write here today.  This entry is pointing the finger at
more than just the parties.  I'm pointing it at, well, you.

Just stop and think for a moment.  In an election year, a President asks his
people to examine their greed and decide what is best for everyone - in the 
present and for the futue.  And he was defeated in a landslide.

Everyone has heard J.F.K.'s "Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You" quote,
but who takes it seriously?  People vote greed.  People vote for the spread of
the homogenization of their own ideology.  (Think Prop 8.)  Franklin D.
Roosevelt was quite clear on this point: "The moment a mere numerical
superiority ... for their own selfish purpose or advancement, hamper or oppress
the minority ... that moment will mark the failure of our constitutional

It will be 30 years this July since Carter's speech.  He spoke of a failing
confidence in government, a growing self-indulgence, and a "growing doubt about
the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose."  I often
find myself writing blog entries and not knowing where to take them - there is
too much material to cover and so little time to cover it.  (Nobody reads these
things past the second paragraph.) 

So what am I trying to say? 

Your government is huge because you voted for the guy that made it huge.  You
voted for the guy that helped you keep your car and avoid public transit.  You
voted for the guy that built roads instead of trains.  You voted for the larger
military.  You voted for the guy that backed the US Patriot act.  You still vote
for the guy that inflates Homeland Security.  What's more, you failed to act
after the mistake was made.

You voted Carter out of office when he told you to wake up and smell the Carbon

I actually remember that election.  My mom was in the basement - wearing a
shirt with a huge, pointy collar and a green suit... I think.  On a little tiny
television, I remember some anchor droning on about something that didn't make
sense or seem important to me, but it obviously disturbed my mom.  I think she
was knitting.  Common as the night may have seemed, I wonder how many people
would go back to that day and change their vote.  It seems to me now that every
president since has been part of a single file of men who came from the 
electoral bifurcation of that day.

[1] Jimmy Carter, July 15, 1979
%20090203  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Fate, Savage and Empty
I dedicated myself to refactoring some code today, got the skeleton written, and
THE VERY INSTANT I was about to hit delete on a big block of code and start
rewriting it, I hear my shuffling iPod start in: "O Fortuna velut Luna statu
variabilis," the opening lines of Carmina Burana.

This is going to be an interesting day.

By the way, if you've ever been interested in what on earth O Fortuna is all
about:  Check out the Libretto

%20090202  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Republican 2.0

It was bad enough to see John McCain - a man I held in greater esteem than any
other Republican in the last two decades - flipflop like a landed trout during
his campaign.

Let me return to the respect point for a moment.  I would have considered 
voting for McCain in his first Presidential bid.  If you know me, you now 
understand the gravity of the situation here.

But he flipflopped.  And we're not talking about a billion for education or a
couple billion for the space program - we're into what Senator Everett Dirksen
called 'real money.'  The bailout programs that have been flying around our
government like so much material in the chimpanzee exhibit were the objects of
love of both parties.  I was shocked to see them in anything remotely
approaching agreement.  Bipartizanship when more than five bucks is on the line
is just unheard of.

McCain's flipflop was from: "No, I do not believe that the American taxpayer
should be on the hook..." to the rhetoric of "But there are literally millions
of people..."  Remember: these two quotes are gapped by less time than I am
consious for a straight run.  And I'm not talking about my grad thesis years,

Seeing a single politician cave is one thing.  No-one in their right mind denies
the kind of money that gets thrown at these guys, and it isn't surprising that
a percentage of them would take, well, a percentage.  Seeing a presidential
candidate flip - well, he probably read his contribution numbers that night and
realized that sticking to his guns on this one was going to mean sticking to
his senator's seat.  So - no surprise.

But the ENTIRE F-ING REPUBLICAN PARTY?!?!?!  These are the same guys that were
standing in one line to hand your money to billionaire CEOs who came flocking to
Washington to stand in the other line.  Where was their voice of dissent then?
If you'd told me in October that the Democrats were going to be fighting the
Republicans to give money to big business, I would have laughed in your face.
It was the only thing the two sides seemed to be agreed upon.

Governments are supposed to spend to curb recession and save to curb inflation.
Unfortunately, that means that you have to operate as close to debt-less, on
average.  I think that a $10,000,000,000,000 (count the zeroes) debt, along with
the kind of economic shrinkage we saw in the last quarter of the Bush
Presidency, is absolutely crippling.  We got here by planning from election to
election.  As long as these assholes are still more concerned about their own
jobs and their wallets than they are about the well-being of 300,000,000 human
beings, we're stuck in this mess.

This country has little left to export but military power.  If we have to 
rebuild our economy on borrowed money, make damn sure that we can see a return
on that investment.  It's your money.  Actually, if you pay US taxes, the US
debt after the Bush Presidency (I always choke on the phrase) is over $30,000.
That's not your family, that's not your houshold, that's YOU.  The slice of the
pie for the average US family (3.14 people) soars over $100,000.

No, really.  The $10 Trillion is gone.  We're talking about upping that ante by
another 10%.  Make sure it's a good one.  Make sure it is done wisely.  Don't 
hand it to CEOs who've already shown they can't be responsible.  Build.  Learn.

TEACH!  By the time the current classes graduate, over 90% of the world's PHDs
will be in Asia.   (Former Singapore ambassador to the UN and government
minister, Professor Kishore Mahbubani)
%20090123  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Do Re Me Fa.... ?
I'm suffering from a level of musical lassitude, a condition brought about by a
total emotional investment in music until I hit the age of, say, 32.  Back then
(all of 4 years ago) I was a pretty solid fan of the Clumsy Lovers, and still
really enjoyed Bela Fleck at a deep level... but I'm stretching to find the
next thing for me.

My musical interests as a kid were pretty out of whack.  I could play the 
piano and the Saxophone, but until high school it never became clear that the
point of playing was to actually sound like you knew what the hell you were
doing.  Until that point, I was still playing because it had been a requirement.

Then I discovered Miles Davis.  It turned out that the first CD I ever bought
was a random Miles selection from the shelves of Quimper Sound in Port Townsend,
Washington: Kind of Blue.  I bonded with that album and to a degree with more of
Miles' stuff.  High school continued through Dave Barduhn arrangements and The
Cound Basie Big Band, Ellington, Kenton, Goodman, etc.  (Thanks, Mark!)

College was Pink Floyd, more Jazz, Paul Simon's work of the time.  I discovered
Bela Fleck in there somewhere.

Each of these musicians kept me emotionally committed for a great span of time.
I just can't find anything that seems to fit anymore, though.  The Clumsy
Lovers and Bela Fleck continue to do good work, but other than the technical
accomplishments I see in them, I'm just not invested.

I realize that I often ramble without really saying anything.  Today is one of
those days.  I recently saw the Clumsy Lovers perform again and it was very much
a different band than the one I fell in love with at The Blues Bouquet.  Most
of the members have left and it seems clear that the ones who are left aren't 
really invested in their own music anymore, so I think my brain blew a fuse that
night that said "...then why should I care?"  I went to the show out of habit.
I've always gone when they were in town, but their last two albums have seen
little of my attention and the new one sits in my car unlistened to.

So if anyone out there knows of a band with a firm grip on the single-father-
ex-floydian-saxophonist-engineer demographic, I'd be quite interested to hear.

I did my top ten games list, but that's a different story.  I tried doing top
ten albums, but I am neither John Cusack nor Nick Hornby, so I abandoned the 
effort.  But it did give me appreciation for Rob's dilema when he attempted the
same thing in High Fidelity.

%20090121  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Spam Erradication
Bulk emailing drives me nuts - mostly because its existence hinges on a single
fault in the standard email delivery system - the Simple Mail Transfer
Protocol (SMTP.)  That fault is that you can communicate with a mail server
anywhere in the world and convince it to deliver to your intended target.  It
really is quite easy.  In college, I used to send rebuttals in my religious
debates to rabid believers... with the 'From' line showing

In Utah, I was convinced that heaven had to be a .com.  Anyway, I digress.

Anyway, one minor change to the protocol would fix the problem.  I'm not
talking about authentication or any other crypto-heavy solution - just the
simple requirement that you MUST provide a From line and the email address
listed therein MUST be capable of accepting email in order for the message to be
delivered.  It's that simple.

A bulk emailer will do anything to avoid having a valid target in the From
field because they know that they would have to handle an insane number of
bounced messages - as well as people who (and I used to do this) would send
them back the entire text of Monty Python's Holy Grail as punishment for
wasting the time of the recipients.  In other words, if sending 100,000,000
email messages meant that you had to (potentially) handle 100,000,000 queries
in return, you'd probably not be able to send spam so economically.

Your email server probably already requires that an address be provided in
the From line, but this is not sufficient.  As I said, you can use whatever
you like there.  But what if the receiving server were to periodically contact
the sending server and ask "did you really send this message?" ...until such
time as the recipient showed up to read it?

An example, using (my workstation, where I read my mail,) (where you read your email,) (my mail server,) and (your mail server.)

The servers come up trusting nobody.  You send me mail, and our servers kick
into action. contacts and hands the message off. 
Until I show up to get that mail, will try to contact,
checking to see if it is still there.  (If is consistently there, will lengthen the delay between checks.)  When I connect to to get my mail and read it, I mark your email address as 'trusted'
and my mail server will be much less rabid about validation in the future.

If a spammer sends email to me, their server has to stick around and service all
queries until I check my email.  Otherwise, it will never actually be delivered.
They cannot pretend to be someone I trust.  Why?  Because when
contacts, they will positively establish that the email was not
sent by you.  My server will simply delete the message.

If a source of email were _really_ suspicious, I could take the negotiation one
step further.  In addition to asking if s/he sent an email
message, could send one back - holding delivery of the _received_
email until the verification email message triggered a "did you send this"
query back.  =]

Clearly, there is an issue here: the server that sends the email has to remain
available.  It is an inherent part of the protocol.  If your mail server is
offline 10% of the time, then one tenth of the email it sends will be dropped
by recipients.  I feel that this is an acceptable compromise.  If your mail
server is offline 10% of the time, you have a problem with your ISP and someone
needs to do some serious, professional ass-kicking.

At first blush, there is another drawback: bandwidth.  If receiving a 1k email
address triggers many more communications with the sender to verify that the
message is valid, the data cost of that message increases dramatically.  If the
process works, however, I'd not have received hundreds of megs of junk mail in
the last 3 months.  My total useful payload of email in that time is probably 
a couple of megs at most.  If verification were to increase legitimate traffic
ten-fold, it would still cut overall traffic by double-digit percents.  It
would also mean a LOT less wasted corporate and personal time wasted reading
the crap.

%20090107  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Useful Script Night: Comify
Yet another _very_ slightly useful script... I stick these things here because
it's the only way I'll know where to find them.

UPDATE 20090217: It would probably be more useful if people knew what it did.
  Anything passed to the script on stdin will have groups of digits broken up
  with commas into triplets:

  1234567890 => 1,234,567,890

UPDATE 20130322: Commas take up space and ruin formatting.  Now, underlines are
  used instead:

  1234567890 => 1234567890

  The whole thing has been rewritten in python.  You can tell it to only
  operate on a particular (whitespace-delimited) field.  Invoking "comify -f 1"

  12341234 12341234

  I've replaced "ls -la" with an alias, "a" (because "ls -al" is nearly all on
  the right pinkie on a dvorak keyboard)::

  alias a="ls -la --color | comify -f 4"

  drwx------  2 foodini foodini  1234512345 Mar 22 12:00 file 1
  drwx------  2 foodini foodini  1234512345 Mar 22 12:00 file 1

  I think this makes file sizes MUCH easier to read.


import sys
import re

underline = {True: "\033[4m", False: "\033[24m"}
field_id = None

def mark_triples(val_str):
  initial_len = len(val_str)
  toggle = (initial_len)%6 >= 3
  retval = underline[toggle]
  group_size = (initial_len)%3
  for c in val_str:
    if group_size == 0:
      toggle = not toggle
      retval += underline[toggle]
    retval += c
    group_size = (group_size + 2)%3

  return retval + underline[False]

next_is_field_id = False
for arg in sys.argv:
  if arg == '-f':
    next_is_field_id = True
  elif next_is_field_id:
    next_is_field_id = False
    field_id = int(arg)

re_fieldbreak = re.compile('\s*\S+\s*')
re_digitgroups = re.compile('\d{4,}')
for line in sys.stdin.readlines():
  line = line.strip()
  left = ''
  field = line
  right = ''
  if field_id:
    matches = re_fieldbreak(line)
    if len(matches) >= field_id:
      left = ''.join(matches[:field_id])
      field = matches[field_id]
      right = ''.join(matches[field_id+1:])

  matches = re_digitgroups.findall(field)
  for match in matches:
    marked = mark_triples(match)
    field = field.replace(match, marked)
  print left + field + right
%20090106  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Useful Script Night: Starting a Windows Explorerer Window From Cygwin
One of the most useful scripts in my cygwin arsenal (other than the one that
titles my bash windows - see below) is a quick .pl I whacked together a few
years ago and saw a happy alteration into the land of brevity earlier today:

===== win (.pl)
    $path = $#ARGV >= 0 ? $ARGV[0] : $ENV{"PWD"};
    open (IN, "/usr/bin/cygpath -wp $path|");
    $dosdir = <IN>;
    chomp $dosdir;
    $dosdir =~ s/\\/\\\\/g;   
    $syst = system "/C/ronb/bin/win.bat \"$dosdir\"";
    if ($syst)
        print "system (/C/ronb/bin/win.bat \"$dosdir\")\n";
        print "syscall returned: $syst\n";
===== win.bat
    @cd %1
    @start .
When I type:
bash> win

...I get a Windows Explorer window of the current directory.  If I say:

bash> win /C/foo/bar

...I get c:\foo\bar in an Explorer window.  By the way, I do link /C to
/cygdrive/c, /D to /cygdrive/d, etc.  Trust me, it's worth it.

%20081223  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Bring Back Mars Daily Updates
I guess the guys at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have not been seeing enough
traffic to the site where they (used to) update the status of the mars rovers on
a daily basis.  In late October, Spirit went into a serious power crisis and
they stopped updating.  Through other sources, I kept up with the news and -
just as everything was coming to a head - we went into solar conjunction.  The
beleaguered little 6-wheeler wasn't going to be able to talk to us for about
two weeks - give or take.

Spirit and Opportunity are one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of
our time, but they aren't things.  People ascribe personality to their cars,
but the Mars Rovers are the equivalent of vehicles that have clocked six to ten
million miles; they were designed for a 90 day stint and have been in near-
continuous operation for thirty times that long.

So Spirit and Opportunity are my team.  No baseball, football, soccer, 
basketball, thanks.  Just give me my Martian Chronicle Sports Page every day
and I'll be happy.  The last couple months have been hairy and I understand that
the blog isn't a high priority, but we - the armchair engineers - need it.


UPDATE 20090613
    While the updates are currently weekly, at best, they are no longer
    months behind.  Given the current situation (Spirit high-centered on a
    rock in soft soil,) I check the thing for news compulsively.  I'm still
    wishing they were doing updates daily, but I am at least happy that the
    site is seeing some activity again.
%20081218  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Never.  Ever.  Ever.  EVER Again.

Come to think of it, I hate every Hewlett Packard product I have ever owned. 
Why do I keep buying them, then?  Because they keep reviewing well on Consumer
Reports, which always figures heavily in my purchasing decisions. 

The long-toothed liability of HP products in my life is causing me to question
my loyalty to that otherwise excellent publication.

HP does manage to make it through the paces that CR puts them through, but
there is something about the everyday use of HP products that makes me want to
throttle someone.

Back to my laptop.  From day one, it annoyed the bejezus out of me.  The clips
that hold the device together (when closed) are spring-loaded so they snap into
place, but the design leaves them hanging loose when not engaged.  Every
keystroke causes them to rattle.  I feel like I'm typing on a joy buzzer.  All
the time.  Seriously.  When I use this thing, I run the dishwasher, loud music,
a DVD of random crap - just so I don't have to hear my laptop rattle like one
of Parker's baby toys.

I'm not exagerating.  It's that bad.

Next on my list for this machine.  MASSIVE heat issues.  If I try to run
anything that utilizes the 3d hardware, I have to have the laptop proped up on
a book or other spacer.  If it rests - even on a hard surface - it will
overheat in about ten minutes and do an emergency powerdown.  You don't want
that to happen when you're in the middle of a timed job interview.  I've had it
happen.  I wonder if I have the same crappy NVIDIA chip in this thing that has
caused Apple to repair so many MacBooks?

While I'm on the subject of heat - when the cooling fan kicks up to maximum,
the power drain kills the wireless hardware temporarily.  Now, let's see.  If
I'm running 3D hardware (and it's not for job selection purposes) what might I
be doing?  Playing a game online maybe?  Not the best time for the net
connection to drop, maybe?  Yeah.  It happens.  Constantly.

Still on the subject of heat: you only put this laptop on your lap if you want
your privates medium rare.

Off of heat now, I've owned it for juuuuuust longer than the warranty period -
and the battery suddenly goes from being good for 90 minutes of conservative
use to dying in 10 minutes.  If I power it down completely and unplug it from
the wall, in two days, the battery will not be enough for it to even boot up.

Don't get me started on HP printers, scanners, or monitors.  I've used them
all and God willing, never again.

"The PC - It's Personal Again" is their new motto.  Oh, yeah.  It's personal.

%20081212  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Bumping around online today produced an interesting find: an ear training

This is something I started working on quite some time ago myself and never
finished, so I was glad to see that someone else had tackled the problem.  I'll
have to see if I can run the thing on my phone.

%20081205  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Silver Orange Limerick Banjo
I've been doing a bit of random reading today, and it turns out that
while the limerick's birth seems to have been benign, it matured into
immaturity: 'clean limerick' is a contradiction in terms.

Thinking this through, I imagine groups of (Irish, and I yes - I am one)
men (I'm one of those too) hanging out in bars trading limericks.  Sooner
or later, Irish Ale being what it is and having the effect it does, these
gentle(?)men eventually start improvising limericks for the purpose of
tossing insults across the divides between tables.

This is likely to be a rowdy event in any case.  If you happen to be in
North Ireland, the man from Donegal may start:

        A fat drunk from the county of Derry...

...and it's all downhill from there.

The thing is, if you are from Limerick - the city and county - you are
essentially immune to this sort of thing.  Any fourth-beer brawls of
poetic wit in which you may find yourself engaged are dominated not by
your muse, but by your syllabic immunity: I can't think of a single
proper rhyme for Limerick. 

%20081111  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
_1 _1 _2 _3 _5 _8 _13 _21 _34 _55 _89 ...
Long, long ago, when I was still young and wore - almost without exception -
tshirts that carried strange and wonderful messages and put me in the position
(or so I have been told) of 'swimming around in...' a 'shirt too big for the
three of us.'

One of those lovely devices bore an obfuscated work of code, forever lost, which
I often wish I still had these years later.  As far as one can be considered the
author of a piece of couture, I was the author of this shirt.  Ever since its
disposal (an ex got hold of it before I could transcribe it,) I've often wished
I'd been more proactive about getting some record of the device.

Last night, I re-wrote said shirt, though I believe much of the art has gone
from this incarnation simply because this can only ever be an ersatz layout.
The original is gone forever, lost in the mists of OCD SOs.

C Your Brain:                     See Basic
int fib(n)                        10  
{                                 20  Back then, I took the time to
    if(n<2) return 1;             30  work out a 4-line version of this.
    return fib(n-1) + fib(n-2);   40

Brain Your C on Basic:
int s[999999];
int fib(int i)
    _1: int t=0; s[t++] = i; s[t++] = 0; s[t] = 0;
    _10: if (s[t-2] < 2) { s[t-2] = 1; t-=3; }
    _20: if (t < 0) return s[0];
    _30: if (s[t] == 1) goto _60;
    _40: if (s[t] == 2) goto _70;
    _50: s[t++]++; s[t++]=s[t-3]-1; s[t++]=0; s[t]=0; goto _10;
    _60: s[t-1]=s[t+1]; s[t++]++; s[t++]=s[t-3]-2; s[t++]=0; s[t]=0; goto _10;
    _70: s[t-2]=s[t-1]+s[t+1]; t-=3; goto _20;

UPDATE 20090927
  I actually found a picture of myself and Marie back in college - and the
  shirt is in the shot.  I might be able to do some photoshop work to
  recover the original.  I'll keep ya posted.  =]
%20081107  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
An MMOment To Consider
I'd like to introduce into the lexicon:

MMOment: em-em-OHM-ent (n) When connected to a Massively Multiplayer Online
(MMO) system, the actual period of time that follows a delaying statement like,
"Just a moment, I need a beer."  An MMOment can be a time interval of exactly
the time it takes to get a beer from the fridge or go to the bathroom, but it
may extend - for the gifted MMOmenteer - to the length of time it takes to run
to the supermarket after a keg and get a high colonic.

%20081027  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Care To Guess How Many Times This Blog's Software Bits Have Changed?
The fantastic element that explains the appeal of games to many developers is
neither the fire-breathing monsters nor the milky-skinned, semi-clad sirens;
it is the experience of carrying out a task from start to finish without any
change in the user requirements.

	-Thomas L. Holaday
%20081025  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
But Timmy's Up A Crick When He's Stuck Down A Well
I got myself a schitzophrenia alert dog.  Whenever I see him, I know I'm having
an episode.

%20081024  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Does ANYONE Have Positive Experiences With These Lying Sacks of Manure?
It's one of those I-really-*&(ing-hate AT&T days.  I have no idea how many 
purveyors of iPhones I asked how much difference it would make to my bill if
I switched.  I was told, unequivocally, every time, without exception, that the
only difference would be the $30 data charge per month.

I just looked at my bank account.  My bill hasn't increased by thirty bucks.  It
has doubled.  Now I'm going to have to spend an entire day on the phone with the
bastards only to be told that there's some charge that they don't have to tell
me about when I sign up.

%20081021  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A Hair-Razing Experience
As I slowly lose my hair, it is becoming more and more difficult to manage.
There was a point in my life where I had shoulderblade-length hair (where was
my camera in those days?)  Back then, I would get up - maybe pull a brush
through it, and be off to class in blissful ignorance of the days to come.

I seem to be asymptotically approaching a day when I will have but a single hair
remaining to me, but on that day I will look like some mutated bastard child of
Don King or Albert Einstein and Telly Savalas.

%20081016  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Lessons Learned About Computer Science Education
Of course, the Java buzz has been present since I was an undergraduate student,
but being in the games industry I have been so happily insulated from it that
the buzz has always maintained such a low signal-to-noise ratio in my attention
that I never really registered it.

Frankly, the only thing I ever use java for is when I write something that I
want to put on my website where the load involved in hosting the required CPU
cycles would be prohibitive, so I whack it together in Java and push it out the
door.  I think I have only one surviving project like that, and I'm here to
tell you, Sudoku puzzle creators are a pain in the ass to debug in any
language.  (As I type this, Internet Explorer has completely frozen up on me
trying to run the thing.  Firefox is fine.)

But Java enjoys a growing popularity.  I've never understood it, really, though
some of the more recent developments are really quite interesting.  But I will
say this: if Java ever does take over the world (no language ever will, but for
the sake of the next wishful thought, we'll enter the Land of Make Believe)
then I'll never have to look at another Gawd-awful line of template code again
as long as I live.

Templates are the realm of the worst code I have ever seen.  A company I used
to work for would require multiple inheritance - 10-20 typenames wide and 2-3
deep - to create a single object.  Whoever came up with that crap was never
an engineer, they were just a programmer.  And a laughable one at that.  He
developed his - for a lack of a better term - "skill" by inflicting his 
experimental contraptions upon a professional world.  He cost that company 
ten to fifty times what they paid him.

I've decided that we teach programming the wrong way around.  We hand people a
computer and have them write their own code for years on end before they ever
have to really grok - at a fundamental level - any appreciable body of code
that was written by a stranger.  We give budding engineers years to develop
their habits and foibles... then turn them loose upon the world.

It seems that the way to go would be to teach software engineering, the art of
coding, as a passive art for a while.  Learning by doing imprints syntax,
semmantics, and algorithms, but it does not teach style.  More importantly, it
does not teach one speck of how to write readable, flexible, extensible code.

A good software solution is like any invention, in that when you see it laid
out before you the idea is obvious.  Your mind skips over it and only ends up
focusing on that which requires your undivided attention to decypher.  By
letting novice coders run amok in their own little protected worlds, writing
code that only they will ever read, and failing to expose them to some serious
crap, some software bereft of thought, we set them up for failure in
professional life.

Think about it.  How many programmers do you know that fell out of the faith
after their first job?  There must be something fundamentally different between
the education they received - at great expense - and the professional life.  For
me, the largest difference was simply... I never, ever, ever, had to look at a 
large body of code, or even a small body of bad code.... until I was a 

I still see this in every junior programmer I meet.  I see it in every proud,
"self-taught" hacker I bump into.

We don't ask English majors to start writing their novel until they've read,
digested, disected, analyzed, and absorbed hundreds or thousands of authors.
It is so obvious that you wouldn't do it any other way that it would be
ludicrous for me to even suggest that authorship should come before readership,
so why on earth do we take this path with programmers?

Software is not getting smaller, it is not getting simpler, languages are not
going to minimize in any conceivable future.  The shock factor of leaving 4-7
years of personal projects and getting dumped into a 100 man-year swamp isn't
going to get any more pleasant.  If we want another generation of bit-heads,
this is a problem that must be addressed.

%20081009  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Conversing with Brian Carver about a wedding I will attend this weekend, I
mentioned that "one of the brides is pregnant."  

Now, Brian lives in - and has lived in - Utah most of his life, so his next
question was totally reasonable.  But I missed its subtlety: "Is this a Utah

I thought he was being glib about the pregnant bride - as such things are not
uncommon in Utah.  I have attended many shotgun weddings there.  I pointed out
the phrase "one of the BRIDES" again and he replied so as to make clear the fact
that the difference between a multiple-brides wedding in Utah and a multiple-
brides wedding in California is the presence or absence of a groom.

%20081006  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Long-Term, Small-Scale Software Engineering
As I work to update the photo browser to something more modern, it occurs to me
that software has reached a new stage in its evolution - that of long-term
maintenance of the personal project.  I have software that I wrote in the 90s
that still kicks around and gets my occasional glance, but I don't use it on
any sort of regular basis.  Bugs in these things are simply not a concern.

However, the photo browser has had outstanding feature requests for well, years.
I've quietly ignored a few desires of my own for a number of reasons.  First and
foremost - uploading data is a process that requires direct access to the 
system.  You have to copy the files to via a secure copy operation,
which requires a username and password.  After that, thumbnails are manually
generated by way of a script that hasn't changed since.... wow.  July of 2004.
Editing database entries to add keywords is another process, and requires a bit
of specialized knowledge.  I also have a specific request from no fewer than 
3 sources that has been rotting in the background simply because the database
mechanism I created for this project wouldn't be happy to have it shoehorned in.

I could, of course, go through and make the changes.  It would take a lot
less time than the current undertaking - a Ruby On Rails project - but the whole
process has me thinking about what happens 4 more years down the road.  If I'm 
happy with what I have, I'll ignore it.  If I'm not?

RoR is far more complex than the current solution.  The current browser simply
uses perl to process forms, hit the database, and generate html.  It couldn't be
simpler - barring the 'specific request' listed above that would touch almost
every part of the thing in ways that would most likely break lots of stuff I
don't want broken.

So why RoR?  In 4 years, I'll fill you in on the mistake.

%20080926  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Amber Alert
So why on earth would my blog be a completely featureless black page with a 
mono-spaced font, stretching on into infinity?

As is stated briefly at the top of the page, this thing got its start back in
about '97 - many years sooner, depending upon how you look at it.  The first
incarnations of this blog would have been first seen on a VT-100 terminal
emulator.  If you happened to be sitting in the Agricultural Science Computer
Lab, you might have been using an actual VT-100.  Amber screen and all.

In fact, if you go to the very first posts, some of them were rescued from
tricky little terminal control-code animations that some of us were doing to
take advantage of exactly those terminals.  I won't go into detail here, I'm
waxing nostalgic more than making any real point.

So today, I briefly switched the entire blog over to amber.  I took one look
and swapped it right back.  Maybe I'll try again later if I can find a font
that looks a little more deserving than courrier.  Until then, you only have
to suffer through it for this one post.

%20080925  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
So McCain is suspending his campaign today, stating that he has to focus on
the $700,000,000,000 payout to people who can't take the fall for their own
poor investment choices.  This means that he won't be showing up for the debate
on Friday.

No surprise.  In an actual debate, he'd have to answer for the fact that he
has consistently voted to protect exactly the practices that got us in this
mess in the first place.  [S. 256, 3/03/05] [S.2338, 12/14/07]
[S.1928, 11/21/03] [S. 2452, 12/12/07] 

Guess who has been voting against him at every opportunity.

$700,000,000,000 is roughly $10,000 for every household in the United States.
That money will end up in the pockets of the investors in those companies - 
by way of their eventual ability to sell their current stake.  This is what
GWB's trickle-down economy has gotten us:  The rich make high-stakes bets, take
home the rewards while they are profitable, and unload the losses on taxpayers
when their luck changes.


UPDATE 20081021:
	Ever see a British debate?  Hell - ya ever see the PM addressing the MPs?
	It's like a bloodbath.  Fur and blood flying in all directions.  Candidates
    are Ripe for the beating and our debate format provides such a polite
    environment that you never get to know how much fight is in the dogs.

	"Mr. Holyfield, you now have one minute in which to address Mr. Tyson's
	position on hearing loss."
%20080923  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Guess My Age
I turned 13 on Friday the 13th.  My 21st birthday was a Fibonacci date.

%20080922  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
So two retired San Franciscians sit in Golden Gate Park, admiring the scenery
and talking about their decades of BART ridership.  The first says to his
friend, "Ahhhh....."

The second turns to him and replies, "Did you say something?"



"Sorry, my batteries are dead.  You'll have to speak up."

  I usually wear industrial ear protection on BART - not earplugs, but the
  earmuffs you wear when you use power tools 8 hours per day.  For complicated
  reasons, I had to leave them at home today.  It's 11:30am and my ears are
  still ringing.  BART sustains more than 95 decibels in many tunnels,
  and I've read that it gets up above 120 in the bay tunnel and the South
  San Francisco-to-San Bruno tunnel.  If anyone owns a good dB meter, I'd like
  to verify this.

%20080919  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Is That a Fact?
The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common.  Instead of
altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their
views... which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts
that needs altering.

--Doctor Who, The Face of Evil (Tom Baker)
%20080905  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Hear Me RoR
It is not my intent to turn this into a Ruby on Rails blog (though by including
the phrase "Ruby on Rails blog" I have almost assured a major spike in Google
Goggles here,) but it has come to pass that I now walk through the valley of the
shadow of this particular beast on a daily basis, so it is at the fore of my 
brain.  (I use the word "fore" here in the golf sense: I consider Ruby on Rails
to be more of a divot in my psyche than an actual skillset.  =] )  If that last
sentence made any sense to you at all, you're one up on me.

Anyway, one of the odd things that I have found about reflective languages is
the incredible utility available from language constructs that tell you what the
hell your environment looks like.  A good debugger will often provide this, but
I use Aptana, so I'm screwed.  The point is, if you've been Rail(s)roaded, you
will like having access to: 


I usually use these in conjunction with some prettying-up:

    self.class.class_variables.join("<br />")


%20080903  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Since there seems to be little information on how to do it, I would like to
present (actually, there's nothing philanthropic about the documentation
gesture here - I just know for a fact that anywhere that I write this down will
get it lost so I'd better put it here) a solution for uploading files through
the form_for module of Ruby on Rails.

Most of the solutions I've seen are for more advanced users than I, so I'll take
this right from the beginning.

I needed to be able to upload an asset to my RoR application.  Most of my
models, views, and controllers were created using the script/generate.  So the
'asset' view that the 'script/generate scaffold' created looked something like:

<h1>New asset</h1>
<% form_for(@asset) do |f| %>
  <% f.error_messages %>

    <%= f.label :smURL %><br />
    <%= f.text_field :smURL %>


I needed two bits in the view, the first was to set up the form to do multipart
encoding.  I replace the form_for line with:

<% form_for(@asset, :html => {:multipart => true}) do |f| %>

...and the new entry for the upload browser:

      <%= f.file_field :raw_asset %>

That's it.  If you cram that into your view, you'll see the upload box.  Now, on
to the controller.  I didn't change anything at all here, but it is worth noting
that, through a convoluted mess of ruby that I'm not about to grok in this
decade, the first line of the create action,

  @asset =[:asset])

... goes looking for a method called Asset.raw_asset=.  (As a side note, I hate
trying to put technical tokens into English.  It rubs me the wrong way to follow
an = (which is, in turn, a part of the raw_asset method name) with a period.  I
also seem to have a habit of overusing parentheses.)  Anyway, the place to 
handle this is in your model.  In my case, in asset.rb:

def raw_asset=(arg)
    original_filename = arg.original_filename
    data =

    #now do whatever you like.  The name of the file on the user's machine is
    #in original_filename and the contents of the file is in data.

Seems simple enough, but googling was not as productive as one would expect for
simple a task.

%20080828  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
As I write this, I have a couple facilities guys soldering water pipe in the
ceiling just a few feet away.  My attempt to concentrate with the other power
equipment that has been running all morning has been interesting enough, but now
the situation has been elevated from a distraction of simple decibels to one of
a certain occupational curiousity.

As one gentleman stands five feet up on a ladder with a blowtorch, applying
solder to new joints of pipe, the other stands on the floor holding a garbage
can - a plastic garbage can - as close to the work as he can strectch.  In other
words, his solder catcher is about four feet from the work in question.  He is
wearing no goggles, no gloves, no bib and I'm just imagining the glob of liquid
metal that finds its way past (or through) the only safety measure he has at his
disposal.  Que the pun-related groans. 

%20080821  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Thanks For The Info
I received a message from "Google People Analytics" today - which my email
client abbreviated by lopping off the last 5 letters.

%20080816  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Just Bash My Head In
If you're actually going to try this, you're going to need to be capable of
doing some customization.  I have done everything I can to make this thing work
for every bash prompt out there, but that dream has pushed me through a dozen
or more (I'm not kidding!) iterations.  You are about to see a serious hack.  If
you find yourself thinking, "why didn't he do it this way?  It would have been
so much simpler."  It's because I did try it that way and one configuration or
another puked on it.

UPDATE 20130214:  As a rule, I don't make major content edits to blog entries
                  after they've been up for a while.  I'm making an exception
                  in this case, because the content is technical, rather than
                  political.  If you want to see the "original" text, I have
                  stashed it here.

I spend a lot of time in bash.  At first blush, it's no more than a
command-line interface, and therefore off the radar of most users who see such
things as an anachronism they'd rather forget, but I do nearly everything in
bash.  Until 2009, I read my email in a terminal, which is why I eschew
marked-up email.  I navigate directories, edit files, engage in my daily source
code checkout and delivery, search for files, search inside files, reboot
my machine, and even occasionally browse web pages from the command line.  bash
is the heart of my digital existence.

The trouble is that I tend to have a plethora ("Do you know what..." never
mind) of bash windows open at a time.  On one machine today, I had one terminal
running a web server, another fiddling with my database, a third, fourth, and
fifth editing different files, while a sixth was grinding away through my
machine trying to record the names of every file on the system.

When I do this, I end up with lots of windows in my start bar (or whatever)
named simply, "bash."  This is fine if I only have one of them, but its agony
when there are many, many more.  I have three computers, each with their own
monitor, under the simultaneous command of one keyboard/mouse pair and I still
feel the need for more.  Each of those windows has several bash terminals open,
so it is not at all unusual to have 15 instances of "bash" going at the same

When a terminal runs in a window, we refer to the title of the window as the
status line.  From within the terminal, within bash, you can control the string
that is written in this space.  Windows and OS X will quickly update the
start bar (or whatever) to associate this new string with the window, making it
easy to choose the correct bash instance, assuming that you've titled them in
ways that make them easy to distinguish.

If you echo "\[\e]0;SOME STRING HERE\a\]" in bash, the status bar takes up the
value, "SOME STRING HERE."  I started by simply setting the hostname into this
space, but when you have 6 local terminals, that's not much help.  My first
change was to have the PS1 environment variable, which is used to generate your
prompt, print the hostname and the current working directory:

  export PS1="\[\e]0;\$HOSTNAME:\$CWD\a\]\$CWD> "

This sets the status bar and prints the current working directory as the
prompt.  However, I wanted the currently-running command in there, as well.

Initially, I went down a rabbit hole of using supporting perl scripts.  It
worked, but had issues of its own.  I have now reduced the whole thing down to
a few lines that go in your .bashrc.  My total list of requirements were:

  * The command prompt, and the basic state of the status line should be:
    $CWD must be stripped down to it's last 37 (feel free to choose your own
    value) characters, and must indicate that it has been truncated by
    prepending an elipsis.
  * When a command is typed, the status line must update to include the
    currently-running command.
  * When a command completes execution, the status line must remove the
    command that was executing and revert back to its basic state.
  * The system must prevent the status line from being updated if the terminal
    doesn't support it.
  * To make it easier for me to find the previous command prompt, and to make
    it easy to visually distinguish hosts, the hostname in the command prompt
    must be colored.  (And I do set a different color on each machine.)

To have the status include the user's command, I took advantage of the bash
debug trap.  If you want to have something executed every time a user enters
a command (or an empty command) you can use the trap like this:

  trap 'echo Please do not press that button again' DEBUG

All I have to do is get the user's command from their history and echo it out
in a way that it will be sent to the status line.

There's a warning at the top of this blog post that you should read now before
you start asking stupid questions like, "Why didn't you just use the HOSTNAME
environment variable via @ENV?"  Simple:  Because that doesn't work for all the
systems I tried it on.

    #Lots of colors for you to use.  You can delete anything you're not using.


    #If you put slashes in here, make SURE they are escaped with a backslash!!!
    replace_substrings() {
        if [ $BASE == $PWD ]; then
            BASE=`echo $PWD|sed -e "s/^$CRUFT.*/$SUB/g"`
            BASE_BNW=`echo $PWD|sed -e "s/^$CRUFT.*/$SUB_BNW/g"`
            TRIM=`echo $PWD|sed -e "s/^$CRUFT\(.*\)/$BACKREF/g"`

    gen_prompt_text() {
        #echo $LAST_RETURN_VAL >> $LOGFILE
        #date >> "$LOGFILE"
        #echo >> "$LOGFILE"

        if [ $LAST_RETURN_VAL == 0 ]; then

        HOST_SHORT=`hostname | cut -f1 -d.`


        #replace_substrings takes;
        # * This is the worst bit, and I'll try to figure it out later.  You
        #   have to provide the regular expression backreference ONE BEYOND the
        #   last one you use.  If you don't use any (or you don't know what I'm
        #   talking about, use "\1".  If you use one backreference in the
        #   second argument, use "\2".  Etc.  It's used to extract the last
        #   portion of your current working directory.
        # * a regular expression match for the bit you want to chop off at the
        #   beginning
        # * the string to replace the regex with in colorized prompts. You don't
        #   have to use color.  If you don't this argument and the next will be
        #   the same.
        # * the string to replace the regex with in colorless prompts.
        replace_substrings "\1" ".home.foodini" \
                           "${ESC_LT_GREEN}~${ESC_BASE_COL}" "~"
        replace_substrings "\2" "[^\/]*)" \
                           "${ESC_LT_GREEN}{\\1}${ESC_BASE_COL} "{\\1}"

        # If none of the above clauses have matched, TRIM is all we're going to
        # display after the hostname, so clear BASE and BASE_BNW
        if [ $BASE == $PWD ]; then

        if [ ${#TRIM} -gt 37 ]; then
            #TRIM=`echo $TRIM|sed -e "s/^.*\(.\{37\}\)$/\\1/"`
            TRIM=`echo $TRIM|sed -e "s/^.*\(.\{37\}\)$/...\\1/"`


        if [ $SUPPORTS_STATUS_LINE == "true" ]; then
            export PS1="\[\e]0;$PROMPT_BNW\a\]$PROMPT_COL"
            export PS1=$PROMPT_COL

    export PROMPT_COMMAND='gen_prompt_text'

    case $TERM in
        export SUPPORTS_STATUS_LINE="true"
        export SUPPORTS_STATUS_LINE="false"

    #TODO: The trap fires a number of times in the execution of a command.
    #      How can I trim it down so the trap is turned off until the end of
    #      next prompt generation phase AND use $BASH_COMMAND instead of this
    #      ugly history | sed thing?  ($BASH_COMMAND, during the execution of
    #      gen_prompt_text is "gen_prompt_text"
    if [ $SUPPORTS_STATUS_LINE == "true" ]; then
        TRAPCMD1='if [ "$BASH_COMMAND" == "gen_prompt_text" ]; then CMD=""; '
        TRAPCMD2='else CMD=`history 1|sed -e "s/^[ ]*[0-9]*[ ]*//g"`;fi;echo '
        TRAPCMD3='-en "\e]0;$PROMPT_BNW $CMD\007"'

So now, I have a bazillion windows going and they say things like:

  castro: /home/ronb blog
  Ron-D630: /C/ronb/rails/depot script/server
  Ron-D630: /C/ronb/rails/depot mysql -u ron -p
  Ron-D630: /C/ronb/rails/depot find . > /C/ronb/
  Ron-D630: /C/ronb/rails/depot vi app/views/cart.html.erb
  Ron-D630: /C/perforce/depot/ p4 protect
  Ron-D630: /C/perforce/depot/ p4 sync -f
  Ron-D630: /C/perforce/depot/

From the start bar (or whatever) at the bottom of the screen, I can now tell
which is which at a glance.

Each one has a happily colored prompt:

  Ron-D630: /C/ronb/rails/depot mysql -u ron -p

And I even went a little over-the-top at work:

  10^100: /home/rbarry/google/>

%20080806  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
't's True
If I'm convicted of using a conjunction, will I get a shorter sentence?

%20080801  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I'm finding that the common thread for anyone who attempts to get Ruby on Rails
going on a Windows box is that the mysql lib for ruby doesn't build.  By this I
mean that descriptions of the problem are nearly everywhere.  The problem would
be almost trivial to detect at run-time, offering a perfect opportunity to tell
the user where to find a solution.

Granted, the solution varies from configuration to configuration, but it seems
that the solution has yet to be splattered across the net for the poor soul who
tries to setup [sic] MySQL on Win using gem under cygwin - and it's the cygwin
bit that seems to be the headache - is in for a long run.

I'm hoping that my current efforts will close this issue and I'll be able to 
post my solution here so the next unfortunate slob to run into it will have a
way out...

I attempted the local equivalent of:
  gem install mysql -- \
    --with-mysql-dir=/sw/bin/mysql \
    --with-mysql-include=/sw/include/mysql \
    --with-mysql-lib=/sw/lib/mysql \

...but that only got me the same errors, dumped into the mkmf.log (in 
/cygdrive/c/cygwin/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/mysql-2.7,) as well as a few new ones:
conftest.c: In function 't':
conftest.c:3: error: `mysql_query' undeclared (first use in this function)

UPDATE 20080801:
I found a blurb on blogspot that seems to attack the some problem I'm
having here.  Quoting and annotating his solution, with shell commands in bash:
  * Add devel -> make + ruby ? gcc ? subversion modules from cygwin
  * Download gems tgz install package from Ruby Gems download home
  * tar xzvf rubygems-1.0.x.tgz
  * cd rubygems-1.0.x
  * unset RUBYOPT (before installing gems, clear RUBYOPT=rubygems)
  * ruby setup.rb
  * gem install rails --include-dependencies
    (Ron Barry: the --include-dependencies is the default, I believe)
  * Download mysql source tar.gz file from MySQL download page
    (Ron Barry: the link on his page may go sour, so the way to get there is
     probably best found here.  You're after the
     link under MySQL 5.0 Communiter Server - Generally Available (GA) Release,
     where it simply says "Source."  You want the Windows Source found on the
     page this will get you to.)
  * tar xzvf mysql-5.0.45.tar.gz 
    (Ron Barry: well, extract it however you need to to get your stuff.)
  * cd mysql-5.0.45
    (Ron Barry: again, however you get there is your problem.)
  * ./configure
  * make install (or to do it faster, just make install under sub directories
    libmysql and include.)
    (Ron Barry: I needed mysql anyway, so I built the whole thing.  Trust
     this guy.  If you don't need to build MySQL in its entirety, don't.  It
     takes forever.)
  * gem install mysql
    (Ron Barry: It's this bit that was giving me so much hell before.
     and this is the important bit: it's the installer of MySQL that 
     will kill you.  You really, really, really need to do your own build of
     mysql.  If you need the GUI tools, I've no idea where you go next.  I'll
     probably update that bit later.)
  * Change the database server from localhost to in the database.yml
    of your rails app.
  * Install ImageMagick, libmagick-devel, XFree86-lib-compat, xorg-x11-devel,
    libz2-devel module from cygwin installation file
    (Ron Barry: this step is to support the RMagick gem that the original
     author needed.  I include it for completeness.)
  * gem install RMagick
  * ruby script/server. voila!
    (Ron Barry: in other words, done.)

UPDATE 20080805:
  If you've been doing the above, you're likely to be interested in the
  following tidbit:  it isn't worth using the version of mysql that you built in
  the above steps.  I've done an uninstall of mine - keeping it around only long
  enough to build the mysql gem.  I installed the windows version of the db with
  exactly the same version number and have been doing alright with it, though 
  the mysql gem will go looking for database connection info in /tmp/mysql.sock,
  instead of wherever the windows installation provides it.  Keep your eyes on
  this blog entry for the fix when I hit it.

%20080731  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
So a friend pointed me at today - a site where, based upon your
stated musical preferences, you are given their best guesses as to what you
might want to hear.

After having tried a couple different starting points, I created a 'New Station'
with 'Weird Al' Yankovic.  It started by playing an Al tune, moved to 'The
Ninjas' by the Barenaked Ladies.  Somehow, within a few more tunes, I get 
'Another Brick in The Wall, Part 2' from Pink Floyd's Echoes.  When I hit the 
'Why did you play this song' link, it says:

  Based on what you've told us so far, we're playing this track because it
  features electric rock instrumentation, repetitive melodic phrasing, extensive
  vamping, minor key tonality and an electric guitar solo.

I'm not being critical.  It was just a touch of a shock.

%20080730  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Cubed chicken, browned in the juices of a previous chicken.  Add about a half
cup of yogurt, (AGH!  My net connection is so slow, I'm about 80 chars behind
my typing - I still see a blank where yogurt should be) and about a half cup of
sweet red pepper jelly, a cup of crushied pineapple - maybe more.  Garlic and,
in my case the other evening, a dollop of curry mustard.  Simmer to a thick
consitency.  Holy cow.  This one goes on the restaurant menu.

%20080729  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  

$n = 7
$comps = 0
$sorts = 1000

def index(max)
    if max==0 then
        return 0
    if max==1 then
        return 1
    return rand(max)

def randomize(list)
    $n.times do |i|
        $n.times do |j|
            if (rand(2) == 0) then
                list[i], list[j] = list[j], list[i]

def checksort(list)
    (list.size-1).times do |i|
        $comps += 1
        if list[i] > list[i+1] then
            return false
    return true

def bogosort(list)
    loop do
        break if checksort(list)

list = []
$n.times do |i|

$sorts.times do |sort|
    puts "sort #{sort}:  " + ($comps.to_f/(sort+1).to_f).to_s

420 seconds.
%20080728  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
We are the Knights Who Say.....  "FOO!"
I know that Python was named _after_ Monty Python, but are you sure that it
wasn't written by them as well?  - Joshua Dudley, Playfirst Co-Worker
%20080725  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've decided that python, used as a manipulator of large collections of files
under DOS, is less of a scripting language and more of a sparring partner. 


(I spend about half my time getting backslashes to be handled correctly.)
%20080718  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
My apartment complex left a notice in my doorjamb recently that pointed out that
they'd not received the pet rent this month and that they needed it.

This is fine and hunkey-dorey, but there was an odd qualifier: in order to
ensure that funds clear their account before some deadline or another, that the
payment had to be in the form of cashier's check or money order and that they
would need said payment within two days.

So I had to find time to get to the bank, which meant that they received the
cashier's check barely within the 48-hour deadline.

Had they simply accepted a check, I could have written it and dropped in in the
slot at the office within minutes and they would have had their funds a day

Weird.  Though, Archstone is proving to be weird in many, many ways.

%20080715  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
At 10:30 this morning, my boss got up from his desk, went to the fridge, brought
back an alcoholic beverage, and placed it on my desk.  That's the kind of week
it's been and it's only Tuesday. 


I keep needing, in addition to, an edition that allows me to choose a date and get the same behavior. For instance, if you need a current map, rocks. If you're in need of something more intra-world-war, you're up a crick. I'm not asking for a major level of detail here - I don't need turn-by-turn directions from, say, Constantinople to Tsaritsyn (a journey whose directions should probably indicate that you're in for a LONG trip,) but even the major political borders and major cities would be nice. -rbarry
Brand-new juggling bags are about eight bucks apiece and they aren't nice and floppy like a beat-up set of mush bags are. Sitting in the train station with absolutely nothing to do and $40 in bags in my laptop case and I can't do a damn thing - simply because you can't stand far enough from the rail to prevent a bag from giving it's all for the sake of boredom. -rbarry
%20080713  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Reality.  What a Concept.
Parker's video game time is limited, but he does get some exposure.  His
favorites are Super Mario Galaxy and Boom Blox.  I went looking for him in his
room a few minutes ago and he was throwing balls at stacks of building blocks
in his room.  I asked him if he was playing Boom Blox and he replied, "Yes.
But I'm not playing it on a real T.V., I'm playing it on a pretend T.V."

%20080707  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
United, We Fall
I'll be attending a funeral in Denver in a couple of days, which meant calling
the airlines to talk to customer service reps about what the industry calls a
"Bereavement Fare."  I gather that this is supposed to be a discount for short
notice travel.

United Airlines' idea of a discount was to quote me the gross national product
of a small country.  When I explained that it was 'quite a bit' more than I had
been offered by other airlines, they told me that their special rate included
the ability to cancel or change plans at any time with no penalties.

If not a penalty, what would you call the additional three figures they were
trying to charge me?

Why do we bother teaching ethics to MBAs?

%20080706  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
0p3n 535@m3!
The first commandment of password enforcement:
	Thou shalt not disallow characters.

If there is one thing that will guarantee that someone is going to write their
password down, it's enforcing stupid rules about what they can and cannot use
for a password.  Requiring a mix of case, a mix of characters, numbers, and
symbols is fine.

The second commandment of password enforcement:

	Thou shalt not limit password length.

You're only computing a checksum anyway, right?  If I find a 34-character
password (my current one is about 14, but my record is 23) easier to remember
than the 14 characters you limit me to (you know who you are) than you are only
encouraging your users to write down their passwords or worse - tie up your 
support staff with calls about forgotten passwords.

I won't elevate this one to a commandment, but I'll share the curiosity.  I once
had a pasword rejected because the organization in question thought that 
"Sniggerfardimungus Lives in a Cream Cheese Bagel" contained an offensive
substring.  It does.  Who cares?

%20080703  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It would be REALLY nice to have a tool that ran behind bash that, upon request,
would list all the directories you've visited recently, sorting them by any
number of criteria.  I only mention this here because I don't have a better
place to write this down right now....


UPDATE 20100603:
Put all this in '' and source it in your .bashrc.
"cd --" will give you the last 10 directories visited
"cd -5" will take you to the 5th directory in the list

# do "."
# acd_func 1.0.5, 10-nov-2004
# petar marinov, http:/, this is public domain

cd_func ()
  local x2 the_new_dir adir index
  local -i cnt

  if [[ $1 ==  "--" ]]; then
    dirs -v
    return 0

  [[ -z $1 ]] && the_new_dir=$HOME

  if [[ ${the_new_dir:0:1} == '-' ]]; then
    # Extract dir N from dirs
    [[ -z $index ]] && index=1
    adir=$(dirs +$index)
    [[ -z $adir ]] && return 1

  # '~' has to be substituted by ${HOME}
  [[ ${the_new_dir:0:1} == '~' ]] && the_new_dir="${HOME}${the_new_dir:1}"

  # Now change to the new dir and add to the top of the stack
  pushd "${the_new_dir}" > /dev/null
  [[ $? -ne 0 ]] && return 1

  # Trim down everything beyond 11th entry
  popd -n +11 2>/dev/null 1>/dev/null

  # Remove any other occurence of this dir, skipping the top of the stack
  for ((cnt=1; cnt <= 10; cnt++)); do
    x2=$(dirs +${cnt} 2>/dev/null)
    [[ $? -ne 0 ]] && return 0
    [[ ${x2:0:1} == '~' ]] && x2="${HOME}${x2:1}"
    if [[ "${x2}" == "${the_new_dir}" ]]; then
      popd -n +$cnt 2>/dev/null 1>/dev/null

  return 0

alias cd=cd_func

if [[ $BASH_VERSION > "2.05a" ]]; then
  # ctrl+w shows the menu
  bind -x "\"\C-w\":cd_func -- ;"
%20080621  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
XPrize for a moon robot.  $25 mil on the line.  Put a few hundred pounds on top
of a rocket with enough stored energy to get it (and a fraction of your fuel and
vehicle) there.  Don't forget to do it cheap.  Does it strike anyone else as
dangerous to be encouraging this kind of backyard experimentation?  All it's
going to take is one idiot blowing up his neighbor's bathroom with an experiment
gone off-course to put the whole private-sector space flight thing on permanant
(federally mandated) hold.

It took the US government the better part of a decade to get from 'go' to 
Neil Armstrong.  I don't care who you are, $25Mil isn't going to get anyone to
the moon before 2012.  I'll chalk this one up to Google going after a bit of
free advertising through social irresponsibility.


This has been one of those one-thing-after-another days, so.... meh.
%20080616  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Keeping Parker entertained and stimulated on weekends isn't the easiest thing,
sometimes.  Especially over the last few months that have been a constant race
of packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking, and very literally - wading in
sewage.  Keeping him happy and out of trouble can be difficult. 

Despite the massive collection of still-packed boxes occupying nearly every inch
of space at the new apartment, I took Parker to the RoboGames over the
weekend.  I figured there'd be enough there to keep him occupied for an hour or
two, then we'd have to call it quits and go elsewhere.  Nope.  We didn't leave
until the bots stopped ripping each others' guts out.

If you ever get the chance to see this stuff in person, I highly recommend it.
There is a certain shock that you don't get when you see it on television - the
sight of a 50kg robot flying 6 meters through the air to slam into a massive
wall of lexan.  Between the sounds, the flamethrowers, the buzz-saws, the lawn-
mower blades, the exploding battery packs, and the bits of robots flying in all
directions, it's completely unlike anything else you've ever seen.  It's like a
mechanical episode of Jerry Springer.

Anyway, everyone that Parker has talked to about it since has been told about
his visit to the 'robot store' and the robots falling apart and the piece of
robot wheel that they gave him after one of the bouts.  Only he's not quite that
clear about his descriptions with it.  He left his mother and my parents going,

%20080613  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
F*cking Filters and F*cking AT&T
"Testing the fucking profanity filter..."  - seen today on website with a
presumably broken profanity filter.

AT&T is not my favorite organization. Of the half-dozen or more different accounts I've held with them, I don't think I've ever had a happy customer experience with them, and last night was no different. First, outsourced tech support. I will give a certain small level of credit to "Dominique" for her truly un-American customer support attitude. In other words, she was patient and friendly. This, however is the only benefit that an outsourced service provides for a customer. It is, unfortunately, heavily overbalanced by the horrific audio quality of the call, the abysmal echo of my own voice shooting back at me 1.0-1.5 seconds after I say something, and the unbelievable lag between question and answer. Guys, VOIP is a bad idea when you have a ping time of > .5 sec. It's not the customer service issues that had me scraping my jaw off the floor last night. I'm only going to touch on a minor fraction of the issues from the call, otherwise I wouldn't even expect a man in solitary confinement to be able to get through this entire essay. The problem started when I looked at the IP settings they gave me when my router connected. My subnet mask was (!!!!!) and my IP address and my default gateway had the same address. Now, somehow AT&T has this all rigged up so that their routing can handle the weirdness. My computer wants to send a packet and the subnet mask tells it that it must go out via the gateway, so it happily addresses a packet to the gateway with the same IP address in the Source IP field. Somehow, a response gets back to me: every attempt to communicate with the outside world gets me a DNS hit to the same machine in AT&T's network. I can't even use my own DNS because my traffic is being blocked - I can't even ping my venerable (Without fail, every time I need to now if I have a live connection, there's no place like It's where I ping when I don't trust my DNS and want to know if I'm connected.) I received no response. So I fire up a browser. I figured that if they were pulling this garbage, all would be explained through that canonical internet interface. Sure enough, I get a page telling me that 'there is something wrong with your connection' (duh) and that I would have to call a 24 hour support line. To make a long story short, in order to update the software on the AT&T modem, I had to expose my computer directly to network traffic with no firewalling in place... for about an hour. Constant failures of their servers, dependencies upon popups, an inability to load with cookies from previous sessions, and their constant insistence that they do not support any configuration except an unprotected connection directly to the untrusted network... made for an exasperating experience. I would bet that AT&T doesn't operate their own networks with the same level of obtuse ignorance that they insist that their customers do. God bless the hypocrites. For those of you who are still with me, please note that this is my second major rant about the same company - on entirely different issues and services - in less than a week. -rbarry
%20080611  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
0500 PST?  1300 UTC?  666 AT&T?
Those who know me know that I am a morning person in much the same way that I'm
likely to announce support for a Republican Presidential candidate.  So you'll
understand that I am not technically alive before 7 a.m., frequently much later,
and mornings are not the time to be annoying me.  Especially not at 5:00 am,
thank you very much, AT&T.

I use my cell phone as my alarm clock, which has provided a certain consistency
over the last few weeks of hotels and residency establishments.  My ability to 
sleep through anything at all means that I have the volume on the thing set to
the maximum level.  When it started blaring at about five minutes after five in
the morning, it took me a minute to come to terms with what the hotel clock was
trying to tell me.  I knew I hadn't mis-set the alarm, so why the hell was it
(literally) beeping an S.O.S. at me?

I hit the end button - something I can do with my eyes closed - and was out cold
within seconds.  Less than a minute later it happened again.  As I hit the end
button this time, it dawned on me that S.O.S. was the sound my phone makes when
a text message arrives.  Still groggy, the beeping started again and this time,
it brought me fully awake.  Whoever was trying to get ahold of me at five in the
morning must have a damn good reason.

It amazes me sometimes how quickly the brain can scan complete ideas.  In the
time that it took me to grab the phone from the bedside table, thoughts of my
son in an accident, of one of my east-coast friends in trouble, or other terrors
that I'm not going to share to the public - managed to claw greedily for my
limited attention.

Wide awake now, I stare in disbelief at my phone:

	"Free ATT msg: ..."
	"Free ATT msg: ..."

What was so important to AT&T that they had to destroy the next two hours of 
sleep for me and leave me pacing an empty hotel room?  They wanted to confirm
that I'd changed my address, deleted my old one, and changed my password.  In
that order.

As soon as the iPhone is available through Verizon, I'm ditching these morons.
Anyone know if you can still free the device from ATT-dedication?

%20080605  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
| maybe I'll use something... else
Back on to the Java thing again... incompatible types
found   : int
required: boolean
          if (mask | repeatOfRows)
1 error

You're going to have to take my word for it that mask and repeatOfRows are both
ints.  If you know a thing or two about Java, and especially if you come from a
C/++ background, you have seen this error so many times that you know what it
means - even if the authors of the compiler couldn't get their head around the
problem well enough to actually help you with it.

Wasn't Java supposed to be this great teaching language?  Such an assertion
would require far better reporting of errors than this.

If you don't do Java and _are_ a C/++ hound, weep for the future of anyone who
believes that this crap _is_ the future.

%20080604  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
An interesting project idea that may or may not get my attention in the near
future:  An application that simply hits a website for a list of peers, then
sends them requests for responses.  Those responses would just be the current
state of the peers.  The client would pool together all the responses to get
its own state computed.  It would then compare your state to everyone elses
and tell you whether your net connection is 'cool', 'unbelievable', 
'suckage', etc.

%20080603  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It seems that someone could make good money on a meeting defragmenter.  I have
all this wasted time between 10- and 15-minute meetings that is going into
things like - er - what you're reading now.


Ugh. Finished a can of Pepsi and grabbed a can of Coke as a chaser. Ever drink orange juice after brushing your teeth? There's a Cola War going on and my digestive system is the battleground. -rbarry
%20080602  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I Can Support That
I gave up on my Nude Conga business plan.  It was a Cohort Cavort Report Abort.

%20080530  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Playfirst, my new employer, is a bit cramped at the moment.  Seriously, my cube
is about four feet on a side.  Once you cram six textbooks, five juggling bags,
four calling birds, three computers, two monitors, and a monster-sized
Captain's Chair into the space... well, you get the idea.

But somehow I keep trying to take breather moments to advance my juggling skill.

With five bags.

Brand-new juggling bags are weighty, softish, and very round.  I have succeeded
in chucking one over into the next cube, landing one in the garbage can, and 
ricocheting one off my foot to roll into the CTO's cubicle.

I think I'm going to have to put off unicycle fencing at work for a while.


Further rantings on the stupidity of Java... There is a quote from the early days of software: As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it wasn't as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had to be discovered. I remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs. Maurice Wilkes, 1949 As I said. The EARLY days of software. The advance of technology has brought bigger and better debuggers, but in the end, we still spend the vast majority of our time incrementing our understanding of the systems we are working with. A good compiler is a major part of that. Good error messages make the removal of the trivial bugs (usually typos, usually very basic mistakes) easy to kill, and I have gotten used to having this process occupy less than a percent or two of my overall time. Back to Java, I did this today (simplified to the test program it took me to kill it): public class tmp { static public void main(String args[]) { System.out.println ("null"); } // Error pointed to this close bracket. public int getIndexAttribute(Node node, int default) { return 0; } } Note my comment. The compiler complained bitterly about the close squiggle bracket at the end of main, saying I should insert another '}' to "Complete the Class Body." The actual error is one of those minor mistakes you make in this business. All of my C and C++ compilers spot the same error, but tell me EXACTLY where the problem is. Had javac done the same thing, it would have saved me considerable time. You may ask why I spend so much time bellyaching about Java? It's not that much time compared to how much of my time Java wastes for me. -rbarry
%20080529  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I'm bleeding the edge of software while using a 4-year-old iPod to drive
20-year-old headphones to play a 50-year-old album.


From the javac man(1) page: -source release 1.3 [irrelevant] 1.4 [irrelevant] 1.5 The compiler accepts code containing generics and other language features introduced in JDK 5. This is the default. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ So why the hell is it that when I try a command-line compile of a Hello World with one extra line: private static Vector<String> foo; ...I get this: 1. ERROR in (at line 5) private static Vector<String> foo; ^^^^^^ The type Vector is not generic; it cannot be parameterized with arguments <String> I have to add the command-line option to get the DEFAULT behavior: javac -source 1.5 I'm sure that there's some environment variable or config file that is affecting this, but.... well... It isn't so much that I'd like an answer to this particular question, but rather the question: Why the ^#*( do I run into garbage like this every single time I use this idiotic language? This is why I quit using java in the first place. Of course, java's abysmal documentation style makes me wonder why any sane man would ever choose to use it, too. Lemme provide a (very unfortunately) typical example. Not exactly a useful learning resource. -rbarry
%20080528  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  

%20080527  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
So when Treebeard's folk left Middle Earth, would you say that was the Ent of an


A sad, sad moment today. I went to do a search through my blog and realized that I no longer had one large file that contained the whole thing - for the first time in 15 years or so. It's the end on an era. -rbarry
People quote shakespeare with wreckless abandon: "There is nothing good or evil but thinking makes it so..." "A rose by any other name..." etc., etc... ...without ever stopping to think that maybe he was wrong. -rbarry
%20080522  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've been using a Kinesis Ergonomic Keyboard (image) for about 9 years now. 

The, uh, same one.

It is, without a doubt, the best gaming keyboard I have ever laid my hands upon.
I can one-hand 34 buttons, without ever looking at - or moving - my hand.  My
Netrek game improved by an order of magnitude by the simple addition of this
keyboard.  What it has done for my gaming it has also done for my typing and my
day-to-day keyboard stamina.  If it weren't for one issue, which I'll get to in
a couple paragraphs, I'd recommend one to everyone with ten fingers...

I've had issues with it where the printed circuits behind the keyboard have
worked themselves loose and I had to perform surgery.  I've spilled a coke on it
and had to clean every internal bit of it with alcohol.  The default mapping
that Windows XP uses when I switch it to Dvorak (I have an older model that 
doesn't do this internally) is Just Plain Satanic, but I have a Scancode Map
squirrelled away that solves the problem.  It's so old, it uses the old AT DIN
connector, but I've strung together a DIN-to-PS2-to-USB adapter chain, and the
device ticks along just fine.

This morning, the space key (not the space BAR, but the space KEY) was stuck.
The key would depress and release normally, but the machine was hearing a 
keydown and no keyup.  I opened up the case, checked the switch, found its
cover had popped up, fixed the problem, and am again typing on my favorite
keyboard in the world. 

Geek surgery.  Problems solved.

So why is it that when I was spotted by the IT department screwdrivering my way
into my favorite device of all time, and they offered to replace it, I told them
that I'd like to try a Maltron?  Because no matter how many times I've
complained to Kinesis over the years that using calculator buttons for the
function keys makes them entirely useless to someone who uses them every minute
of every day..... my pleas have apparently fallen upon deaf ears.

In the first weeks of owning the Kinesis, it became apparent that the function
keys were going to be a major problem.  They are so close together and devoid of
any characteristics that would allow you to differentiate them by feel that you
cannot operate them by touch.  I am a 100% touch-typist.  I learned to type on a
blank keyboard.  If that weren't bad enough, over time the pressure required to
trigger them got to such a level that I now have to hold the keyboard between
my thumb and index finger and squeeze to use the escape key.  As a rabid
vim user, I fortunately have this key remapped to the caps lock, but what about
the other function keys?  My current solution to the problem is to have a
'normal' flat keyboard sitting behind my Kinesis.  When I need F7, I move my
hand up to the second board and hit it.  It's a pain in the ass. 

Companies soldier on just fine by making a great device and never changing it.
But it seems to me that making a great device and actually being willing to
improve it is worth something.  Take me for example - I'd happily buy a new
keyboard from Kinesis if they would fix this issue.  In the last decade, the
only changes to the Kinesis have been in its firmware.  The most deplorable
design flaw of the device remains uncorrected.

We'll see how the Maltron goes.  If I like the thing, I'll donate my Kinesis to
a museum.

%20080520  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A Bull Elephant?
This morning, I went to tell Toni a joke:

"What has four legs and an arm?"

To which the proper answer is, of course, "a happy Pit Bull."

Parker however, was in the middle of Dumbo and came up with an immediate
answer: an elephant.

%20080508  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
This is why I don't register key pairs with ssh servers.
The Transportation Security Administration's new Registered Traveler Program.

Absolutely brilliant.  No more waiting in line to get to your airplane, you 
simply flash your card and walk on through.  I hate the security line, and so
do you.  Why wouldn't we implement something like this?

We shouldn't implement it for the same reason that you don't let someone into
your VPN without authenticating simply because they are logging in from home.
A free pass through any security system of any sort is a free invitation to the
bad guys to walk all over you.

Here's the scenario:  John Doe is a bad guy.  He's out to get.... whatever...
through a security checkpoint.  Setting aside the fact that if he tried to do
it by going through the usual scan, his probability of success would be
something like 75 percent, we go on to how the Registered Traveler Program is
his best friend:

1) He applies for a card and is accepted.
   Duh.  He takes anything he likes on board.
2) He applies for a card and is rejected.
   He finds someone who DOES have a card and either plants materials on them
   or blackmails them into knowingly moving them.
3) He applies, is rejected, and cannot find an appropriate rube.
   He simply takes his chances on a run through security and has a 75% chance
   of success.

I should be brutal on point 1.  It's actually a gaping hole.  Homeland security
seems to assume that all 'terrorists' are idiots, but they (Homeland Security)
do manage to comprehend that The Bad Guys operate in groups.  It is probably
the only point on which I agree with the idiots (TSA, not The Bad Guys.)  But
it means that if one of them (The Bad Guys) doesn't get the card, there are
more who have a chance to apply for one.  One of them will get it.  Statistics
are on their side.  How can Homeland Security have that second word in their
name and still not know the most basic principles about applying security 

They're wasting your time, your money, and trampling your privacy.

To make it easier for our 'protectors' to execute their jobs, I offer the 
following replacement for the recently-published work, "Terrorist Recognition
Handbook:  A Practitioner's Manual for Predicting and Identifying Terrorist

   Your target will be carrying a Registered Traveler Card.

%20080501  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Those of you who aren't geeks are excused for now.  I'm going to go off on one
of my horrific rants about Microsoft, and you probably don't want to suffer
through it.

I've been playing with DirectX9.0 a bit and the very first program that I wrote
was, of course, a "Hello World."  Every frame, the words "Hello World" appear on
the screen - hundreds of times per second.  (Well, it depends upon how you
measure it, I guess.  Rerendered hundreds of time per second, redrawn to the
display about 60 times per second.)

Simple enough.  

One of my eventual applications of this work will be to get the raw RGB memory
for the back buffer, hand-render (raytrace) into it, then flip the buffer.  So
I was curious about the frame rate at which I could render the venerable line,
as it would give me a vague upper bound.  A search through the dustier corners
of my brain (I haven't done serious PC-specific programming since all my hair
was brown and still attached to my head) gave me some timers to play with, and
a simple line of code or two later I was telling DirectX to render the frame
rate for the last frame, as well as the average rate for the entire program.

My two approaches to this program were:

sprintf (displayString, "Hello World");


sprintf (displayString, "%f", frameRate);

When the first version is run, the program screams along at a very high frame
rate.  I render render each frame in a different color so I have a good idea
that it's running quite quickly, but I don't have specifics.  The second version
runs fine - for a while, but slows down until eventually a given frame is on
screen for several seconds at a time.

I'll spare you the details of the investigation, but suffice to say that this
has been a problem with the DirectX SDK for years now.  The problem is right

mFont->DrawText(...., displayString, ...);

Get this:  DrawText renders the string to a texture for caching purposes.  I
get that and I agree with it:  I don't want to be burning cycles re-rendering
the word "Score" every frame of my game.  BUT any sane caching system in the
universe assumes that resources are limited.  DrawText is not using a sane

I'm not kidding.  If I'm rendering fps as a float, each string is likely to be
different, meaning that each frame creates a new texture in the cache, but it
never reclaims unused textures.  My machine starts to crawl when the executable
hits about 1 gig and pretty much dies at 2-3.

I've heard rumors that destroying the font and recreating it (a cpu-intensive
process in its own right) will take care of the problem.  It is that which I
endeavour to suffer now....

Haven't these people ever heard of LRU?  LFU?  delete[]?


UPDATE (same day)
	Destroying and recreating the font takes about .5 - 1.0 seconds.  In
	other words, you can't do it in a real-time environment.  I'm exploring
	other options.
%20080430  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Please explain to me why it is that AcroRead needs to be using 10% of my system
CPU when its minimized.  No takers?  Well, let's just close the thing...



...and it's still taking 10% of my CPU.

I wonder how many millions of megawatts have been wasted by Adobe on this little
modicum of stupidity over the years.  Not that this is actually even in the
running for the top 10 dumbest Adobe issues, but for now it's the one that is
on my radar.

%20080402  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
And When Drinking Captain Morgan's?
Color Deficiency.  Yeah.  I got it.  A friend asked me what I see when I wear
blue-blocker sunglasses, to which I (eventually - hey I have a universe to save,
dammit) replied, "I see red people."

%20080327  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I'm good either way.  Sounds like a fun evening.
Vegan?  Really?  If it were the only option available, are you REALLY telling me
that you'd walk into the Colosseum naked, rather than with leather armor and a

%20080325  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Consider this to be a call for suggestions.

Evidently I have TWO loyal readers - or as I like to state it, my readership
has been doubling.  For those poor saps, who can't seem to figure out how to
remove me from their RSS subscriptions, I offer the following opportunity for
input in the direction is about to take.

I mentioned recently that I'd like to be able to blog on blogs.  Each blog
entry would have a full blog connected beneath it, and so on.  At any but the
top level, making entries would be a free-for-all.

Having back-burnered (I have a mental stove with a lot of burners) this idea as
being of little utility because, well, it is...  my photo pages do bring in 
quite a bit of traffic and having the ability for people to comment on photos 
would be handy.  It's trouble because I really didn't want to implement this, 
but it looks like it's going to be a necessary part of making a user-interactive
photo archiving system.

Me?  I can use any crap software I write.  Even my radiosity engine.  That's not
to say that my radiosity engine was crap, but getting input files made was like
creating a config.sys and autoexec.bat for the execution of random graphics
demos circa 1993.  It was difficult, it was inflexible, but it was the
unavoidable bed of nails on the path to a certain kind of eye-candy
enlightenment.  The point is that if you have an opinion, chime in.  It's your
life that's going to get worse should you fail to do so.  =]

%20080321  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
1, 3, 9
Holy mother of logarithms!  The recent addition of the permalinks has a few
search engines happily buzzing about, growing my logs by several k per hour.

For strange reasons which need not be noted here, I needed to find as many groups of nine as I could. For instance, a baseball team fields nine players. A cat has nine lives. A stitch in time saves nine. Nine planets, give or take a planetoid. Nine circles of hell. This is about as far as I'd gotten in the brainstorm. When brain implants become a reality, all I want is a google interface. I punched in: cat nine lives "baseball team" planets "circles of hell" There were nine hits. As this article ages, that number will, of course change. In fact, it will probably include this page before too long. -rbarry UPDATE 20080604: Sure enough, today there are 14 hits, and this page is number three.
%20080320  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
... will now forward you to the most recent
article in the mass.  It is an autoforward, so you'll have to bookmark it
manually.  I've also set up permalinks, so you can hit a single article at a 
time and bookmark the specific entry in which you're interested.

I've been mulling over the idea of allowing comments on the page - essentially
each entry would have a complete blog of its own beneath it - ad infinitum.  No
guest posters would be allowed in the zeroth level, but after that it would be
a free-for-all.  My one reader would be able to argue with himself until the
rapture.  Let the flaming commence, etc.

I have finally dragged myself, kicking and screaming, into the modern era. 
After years of using the same cgi processing code, I may actually begin using
the CGI module that ships with perl.  Years and years and years ago, a friend
handed off a code snippet that would do the work of converting the cgi data
passed to a script and turn it into an associative array.  I've never needed
more and I've never felt like writing perl in anything less C-like than I'm
already forced to, so I've stuck with my current, archaic system.

Times change, though.  I'm looking at replacing the photo browser on my website.
Really, that means that I'm replacing the entire website - there's hardly
anything in here other than the blog and the photos.  The reason the photo
browser forces me to update is the need to allow friends and family to upload
photos.  I nearly fell back to a .procmail solution - and if you know what I'm
talking about, you know why was preferable.

I'm a dinosaur.  It's time to start updating some skills.

%20080319  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
In the last couple of days, I've smashed together some changes to the ol' blog
style.  The priority was, as it has always been, to preserve the vt-100 look of
the thing, but I did want to make it possible to view a single post at a time,
partly just to add a bit of google-bait, but partly because the large mega-file
version of it will hit the half-megabyte point within the next month or two.
Every hit was costing my service provider bandwidth which was no longer easy to

I keep swearing that I'm going to plunk in something that allows user comments
and dialog, but the idea that won't stay out of my head is the bastard child
of Frankenstein, a Swiss Army Knife, and Bill Gates evil twin.  Trust me when I
say it would be very weird - and a low priority.

My current priority set:
* Replace the photo browser in its entirety.  This is going to be a mess on
  too many levels because the highest priority there is simply to make it 
  possible for account holders to upload photos.  In 1996, I was an HTML God.
  In 2008, I can still do plenty of cool cgi-side html generation, but I'm in
  no position to take the time to bring in much in the way of new tech.
* The hand-written blog font.  My first pass is here.  The individual letters
  need less surrounding white space.  Other than that, it is a good start.  
  The script is capable of using letters, words, or entire phrases - for the
  sake of compression.  The 500k blog file expanded to many megs of html with
  the demo font.
* Many projects that have died in the last few years.  My enthusiasm has waned
  and my time has disappeared.  Instead, I waste time on Eve Online.  Pink Floyd
  warned me about this.
%20080313  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Come on, Southwest, I'm ready to retire, already!
There've been some discussions lately, from slashdot to NPR, about this idea
floating around about boarding airplanes more efficiently.  The basics, as I
understand it, is to order everyone up by seat assignment and have all the 
window seat passengers board first.  The guys at the back of the plane are the
first in line, etc., so that when the door opens, a huge line of people get to
their seats at the same time.  Then you do the middle passengers, then the

Dumb.  People sit together in the same row, and if you've ever flown with 
children - especially multiple children, you know that splitting up families
would be catastrophic.  I won't go into the "proof by example," but off the top
of my head, I can come up with several cases where making a special case out of
a row of passengers would make the whole thing a mess.

If you're going to line up everyone in a militant order - such that every seat
comes with a specific place in line, do the following (assuming a 50-row plane
with 3 seats on each side of the aisle, lettered (window)ABC(aisle)DEF(window):)

50A 50F 50B 50E 50C 50D
...then move up a few rows...
45A 45F 45B 45E 45C 45D
5A 5F 5B 5E 5C 5D

The idea is that you want to have enough room between rows so that when the
aisle is packed with people putting their stuff away, the people at the back of
the line just happen to be boarding to the rows at the front of the plane.
When you get done with row 5, start one row farther forward and do it again:

49A ...
44A ...
4A ...

And yes, you'll be paying me if you board your passengers this way, regardless
of how many rows you skip at a time or how many aisles or decks you adapt it 


%20080311  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I'm falling behind again - a month with no updates.

Certain types of meetings at Stormfront, while absolutely critical and usually
productive from beginning to end, do have the tendencies of a gas - they expand
to fill any container in which they are placed.  When one critical person has
something else to do... that's when the meeting will probably end.

So Reed Knight was being asked for a decision on a major problem and after 
giving a tentative decision asked, "Can I sleep on it after this meeting?" which Geoff Jones replied, "Why wait?  You can probably sleep on it 
DURING this meeting!"

%20080209  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Carreer Limiting Move
Yesterday was, unexpectedly, an emotional day.  Toni and I took Parker to the
zoo for our first visit since just days before the widely-publicized attack on
three zoo patrons.  The last time we were there, the Big Cats were getting their
Christmas presents: large paper-wrapped boxes containing great big chunks of
meat.  The boxes had been placed up on platforms in the indoor cages, to which
each cat in turn would make a single, fluid, pulse of a jump... and tear the
box to shreds.

Parker was talking about the "Tiger Who Jumped Up," and her big present, for
weeks afterward.

It seems that every time conversation about the incident comes up, someone
hazards a statement about whether the men involved 'deserved' what happened to
them, always along the lines that of COURSE they didn't, but they were
obviously way out of line.  I think I'm going to seriously risk a very
politically incorrect essay today.

It needed to happen.

Tigers have been living in that enclosure for decades.  Doubtless, they've been
hassled by zoo visitors on a regular basis.  However, whatever this particular
trio did while in the park after closing time, while nobody was around to keep
them in propriety, was more than these animals had ever suffered.  It has been
shown that given sufficient motivation, the cats could get out, but they had
never gotten out before.  Therefore, they had never had sufficient motivation to
do so, and we can safely conclude that this group of men provided a more severe
abuse to the tiger than she had ever received at the zoo.

That's saying a lot.  The facts that the men involved were drunk, high, and
stubbornly uncooperative with the police supports the conclusion that they knew
that they were way out of line.

This kind of behavior is unacceptable.  I refuse to refer to the incident as an
attack because I can't help but see it as an animal's only path of self-defense.

I say that this needed to happen because the casual attitude taken by many in
our society, toward animals, needs some examination in our society.  If anyone
'deserved' this kind of result - and even I can't go that far - but if anyone
did, it was the threesome in question.  If it had to happen, providence made its
best choice.

Tatiana the Tiger had attacked (and this time I use the word correctly) a keeper
the year before.  I can't help but think that the keeper became careless.  Tati
was a wild animal and needed to be treated as such without exception.  I do feel
for the keeper because we all get lax from time to time, but there is a major
difference between a momentary lapse of attention and the cruel and torturous
assault carried out by a pack of drunks.  Tati didn't deserve what happened to

So you can see where I stood as I walked into Member Services at the Zoo at
closing time.

It was hard enough just getting through the front door.  Much of the memorial
material zoo visitors had left behind was up in the office, some of which I
recognized from the newspaper.  I was blinking furiously, Toni was sniffing and
asked to be excused.  Struggling to control my voice I asked to adopt an animal.

Earlier in the day, I'd talked about adopting a Tiger, but I'm not sure Parker
had grasped any part of that conversation.  Still, his normal shyness was
completely absent when the associate asked him what kind of animal he wanted. 
He belted out, "A TIGER!" and I nearly lost it.


UPDATE: 20080311
    Apologies in advance.  It's 3am and I've been doing emergency plumbing for
    the last hour....

    I try not to edit any post after it goes in here.  Well, to be honest, I'll
    usually revise and edit a post for a few days, but I have kept a strict
    policy of no content alteration after a week.  It seems contrary to the
    idea of journaling, logging, whatever you want to call it.  However, this
    evening, I've been thinking about how this particular entry will reflect
    upon me in the coming years as family - Parker especially - friends, and
    potential employers stumble across it.  I told myself that "Just This Once"
    I could justify it.

    Eventually, I made only the most basic grammatical changes and tried to be 
    clearer where I thought I'd originally been foggy, but in the end I left
    the statement that I felt this "needed to happen."  If the punishment that
    Karma-or-whatever-you-want-to-call-it dealt out to the three men in question
    could be spread among all those who deserve some retribution for their 
    actions, then the result would be fair.  Well, that's my opinion.  But
    statistics have their own sort of fair: you play the game, you roll the
    dice, and you win or you lose.

    If these three guys had, say, been caught by a zoo employee and been
    convicted of some crime, there would have been almost no attention given to
    the entire event.  I think that the media attention that this has brought to
    bear on animal cruelty is a good thing... and I also hope that somewhere,
    someone has given second thought to similar behavior, even if not for the
    obvious ethical reasons, but for simple thoughts of self-preservation.
    That's where I see the only real silver lining here.

    -rbarry   Hopefully going to get some sleep.  As long as I don't dream of
              dripping faucets.

UPDATE: 20101022
    I did edit a couple unclear sentences.  The clarification, I believe, makes
    the content of the letter even stronger.
%20080204  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A Visit from Col. Flagg
A friend of mine from way back went to work for the government and was going
through the usual gauntlet of security interviews.  Now, there's a small group
of people whom I've told to use me as a reference at any time.  This friend is
one of them.

Unfortunately, I didn't find out that this friend had referred The Feds to me
until the phone call:  "Hello, this is Ron."  Keep in mind that this was a LONG
time ago and everything is a paraphrase.  The gist should be about right...

"Hello, am I a addressing Ron Barry?"

"This is he."

"This is Agent John Doe of The Federal Bureau of Investigation.  I'm currently
conducting background interviews about a Mr. __________ __.  Do you know Mr.
___ _____?"

Now my first thought was that my friend had run seriously afoul of the law,
which seemed totally ludicrous.  The thought of associating myself with someone
under the Federal microscope didn't seem so bright, but honesty being the
better part of self-destruction, I soldiered on.

"Uh.  Yes." which the agent responded that my friend was obtaining security clearance
and I'd been listed as a reference.  It took me a few minutes to catch back up
with the conversation.

The discussion turned to setting up a meeting, and that eventual conversation
led to some entertaining moments.  (When asked if my friend was involved in any
organizations which might be interested in subverting the Federal Government, I
replied that he was a member of the NRA.)  Yes, FBI agents have a sense of
humor, though I think this guy's actual thought might have been, "how soon can
I get the hell out of San Francisco?"


Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it. - Brin W. Kernighan, Knight of the Symbol Table
%20080129  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Yarrgh, Matey!  Climbing the cliffs of a Puerto Rican volcano used to boil me
blood and shiver me timbers, but now it dulls me hook and aches me peg leg, so
I'm afraid I'll have to give up bein' a pirate of the carabiner!

-rbarry  (who else?)
%20080115  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Neurons and Newton's
Why do we use the term "raving lunatic" when they are, in fact, usually ranting?


Remember - a little inertia can go a long way. -rbarry
%20080114  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Software Architecture Failing the Reuse Test
I know plenty of software architects who are going to take one look at the
title of this essay and scoff.  Who can blame them?  Software has come a long
way since punched tape, but I'm still going to make the assertion that one of
the most critical components of the entire process of creating large software
systems has failed horribly.


Unfortunately, the software industry is proving its inability to grow.  We love
new tech, new toys, and new ideas, but the industry is reaching middle age - 
we also love our habits and our routines.  Need a user interface for that 
system you're putting together?  Write one.  That's the way we are.

Trouble is, this is an absolute violation of the fundamental engineering 
principal of reuse.  Don't tell me you're going to reuse it in your next n
projects and that it therefore qualifies as reusable, because you're going to
couple it to the software system you're currently writing and that will be the
only system which will ever be capable using it.

It isn't reusable when it is no more than an extension of a bigger system.  

I think it would be helpful to bring in an example - what I consider to be the
canonical example of the issue:  How many 3D vector libraries do you think
exist in active distribution at this very moment?  Thousands.  I would bet
that every games company has their own, every animation software house, every 
audio processing, simulations, in-car navigation, cartography, and modelling
shop has its own.

This is bullshit.  Even the open source community, an affiliation of zealots
(using the word in a positive sense, here,) can't get it together to make a 
vector class that will allow you to use their many packages together,
seamlessly.  Take the best of the open source graphics, physics, and audio
packages in the world, and your life will be miserable just because you have to
get these things to speak the same vector language.

This is what I call a failure of architecture.  If the most fundamental unit of
a 3D denizen's life cannot encourage the software community to cooperate in a
communist fashion, then I see this industry continuing in its current, hopeless
thrashing through reinvention after reinvention.  The real travesty is that this
disaster is shrugged off over and over as being normal - as though it's the way
things are, and therefore... the way it will always be.

It seems to me that open source's greatest victory isn't going to be domination
of the desktop market.... well, I don't think that'll ever happen, but if it
did, it would be even less spectacular than if it became standard practice for
every individual, organization, and corporation to go to OSS for every
fundamental building block of their software which lies outside of the direct
scope of the business in which they compete.  This means games companies would
use an OSS engine which they would modularize to produce their competing IP,
effects, Artificial Intelligences, and interfaces.  Sims companies would have
a single source of modular physics that they would extend to provide the 
particular features which are their marketing bullet points.  These modular
systems would, in turn, be constructs based upon smaller and more fundamental
systems - eventually including our venerable vector class.  You get the idea.

We're wasting a lot of time here, people.  We are drowning ourselves in
repeating and rewriting history, so to speak.  In a rare link (for me) to
popular culture, I'll ask you if you've seen the movie "A Beautiful Mind."  If
you have, you might remember the scene in the bar where the main character
observes that multiple entities can actually deadlock in a worst-case situation
if they each try to strive for that which is best for themselves, but can
achieve a better result - for everyone involved - if they cooperate toward a

The state is called Nash Equilibrium, and it is the topic which John Nash, the
main character (with John C. Harsanyi and Reinhard Selten) earned the 1994 Nobel
Prize in Economics.

When I discuss these ideas with other engineers, we inevitably reach the same -
very strong - counterargument: that there is no standard which would satisfy
everyone's needs.  This is absolutely true.  No implementation is going to
provide the total flexibility as a custom roll.  My assertion is that the cost
of those inflexibilities is less than the cost of rolling your own solution.
How long does it take to roll a complete 3D math lib, complete with matrix
methods and native code for every platform you target?  Once you've done it,
how often does it change?  The only time I touch my vector math code is to add
new methods to it, and with a large public implementation, I get that for free.

Now, the vector class is a bit of a special case here.  The definition of 3D
math and its operations don't change over time, while the requirements of a 
software product do.  If you are changing the requirements of your systems,
as long as those systems are the features with which you compete in the market,
you're getting the best benefit for the cost of implementation.

However, if an off-the-shelf system will get you there - at least for a while -
and let you work on your core business from the very beginning, you are wasting
precious resources rolling your own custom solutions.  More often than not, a
"good enough" solution will get your business running and from that point on,
you'll not have time to replace the foundations because you'll be too busy 
making the points upon which you compete better.  If that means making the
vector class run faster, great!  Do it!  Go with my blessing, but make the
enhancements available for reuse.

%20080108  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A neighbor donated about ten pounds of dog fur - that's not a typo - to the
cause last year, giving my mother a bit of a hairy problem: how to make it into
yarn.  Short story: her blue-dyed Samoyed-hair yarn took first place at the
Anacortes County Fair this year.

I now live with a quarter-dozen felines.  I was thinking of collecting the
residue and seeing if she could make me some cat3 cable.   (geek joke)
%20080105  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
F*ckle Username Policy
Created a account: "Sniggerfardimungus" and can't post.  The
username has been automatically blocked because: it is a blatant violation
of [the] username policy - it is obviously profane.

Using the word 'obviously' when you're auto-screening substrings is a little
iffy.  I wonder if a lover of Japanese mushrooms would have a problem with

%20080104  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Well, we had a 4.5 earthquake here a while ago that lasted about 10 seconds. 
Compared to the wind today, it was just a little bump.  We're getting 60mph
gusts around here and the building faces 2 miles of uninterrupted space. 
%20071222  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I can't listen to that much Wagner. I start getting the urge to conquer Poland.
- Woody Allen

I can't stand Woody Allen, but I guess everyone has their off days.  In his case
an off day would be the day that I was actually entertained by something he
said.  -rbarry
%20071212  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Parker and I left the BART station for his preschool this morning and just as 
we were approaching the bus stop - it left.

I said, "well, kiddo, it looks like we're going to walk to school."

Somewhere, Parker has learned about explitives.


So in the last 18 months, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have all released their 'new' consoles. I would like to take this opportunity to observe which is selling the best. The Nintendo Wii. Why? I've been saying it since the 90s, people: Gameplay is King. Look at Wii Sports. THE TENNIS PLAYERS HAVE NO LEGS!!! THE BOWLERS HAVE NO ARMS!!! If you make a great game, nobody gives a crap how it looks. If you make a flashy, high-tech game which plays like crap and costs $400+$60 to get into, the world will beat a path to the nearest collection agency to close your sorry backside down. I could spew off 3-4 pages - EASY - on where Sony blew it on this one, but left as an exercise for the reader is probably best at this point. At this point, I'll call this generation: Wii wins on profits worldwide, with the XBox taking a respectable chunk. Sony will be lucky to break even. Why? You have to sell early. With the XBox a year ahead, they had to do something to get consoles in homes. There's a domino effect from there: low early sales mean developers look askance at you and don't want to jump in to develop for your device. That means that at no point during your lifetime do you have titles - they're all being released for the console that had the sell-through numbers. From about 18 months in, it's all downhill. Could they have made it work? Yes. But that box would have had to hit shelves at the same price as the XBox, or unnoticably close to it. Releasing without a response to the XBox Live from THE PREVIOUS GENERATION was... I... There... I sputter at the stupidity. I've got to stop. Seriously. I could go on forever. I would say that Sony is astronomically obtuse when it comes to taking care of developers, but that title actually belongs to Nintendo. Again, if I go down that road (Sony's or Nintendo's abuse of developers through neglect) we'll be here all night, and it's already 1:42 am. Nintendo at least can get away with it - they have all the original IP it takes to keep themselves alive forever. In 2095 they'll be selling yet another gamecube clone but with 2 GIGS of main mem and two whole processors. And it will sell 40 million copies of "Zelda, Chronicles of an Aging Guy in a Green Hat." So I ask you, dear reader, why the hell do you keep reading this crap? -rbarry
So I'm sitting with Parker this evening as things are winding down, watching him play Mario, and I tell him, "Okay, kiddo, last one. The next time you get eaten, it's bedtime." Parker's a couple months past three, so telling him to do something many times - especially if he doesn't want to - is par(ker) for the course. This meant that I was a bit surprised when, after Mario met an untimely end at the hands (actually, they seem to be limbless) of a snow monster of some sort, he calmly turned off the GBA and stood up. I looked at him and said, "Parker, I'm very proud of you. It's a sign that you really are becoming a big boy that you can both remember that it's bedtime and be helpful about it when the time comes. You're becoming a grown-up." He responds to this by grabbing my cheeks, flapping them back and forth, and cooing, "BLAAAGH!!! BLAAAGH!!! BLAAAGH!!!" They grow up so fast. *sniff* -rbarry
%20071204  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Entomology or, Getting Into Game QA and Getting Back Out Again
How to Write Good Bug Reports:  A Guide for Video Game Testers.  Or, So You Got
The Testing Job, How Do You Turn it Into a Development Position?

A bug is a liability.  Let's face it, the games industry of the 80s is dead and
if you can't define your company's each and every activity in terms of dollars,
then your company is probably going to be following the path of Acclaim.  If a
bug is a liability, then everyone in the company should look at it as a process
in which their job is to minimize the cost of that liability.

Identifying a bug is only the first part of your job.  In fact, I would assert
that it is the least fraction of the importance of the work that you do.  It is
only when the bug report finds its way into the hands of the person who is going
to fix it that your work finds merit.

The following report has merit in all the categories that count to me, an

  Title: Can't kill the Kobold in Level 3.

  Reproduction Steps:
  1) Load a Level 3 savegame.
  2) Go North two rooms and head West through the door with the broken hinge.
  3) Standing to the left will be a Kobold carrying a bunny rabbit.
  4) Beat on him.
  5) Observe that when he dies, he simply gets back up and hits you with the
     bunny rabbit.
  *  Repro rate: 5/5

  Relevant issues:
  * I've discovered that the only Kobold which has this issue is the one with
    the bunny.
  * The Kobolds in level 4 who carry bunnies die normally.
  * The issue only occurs if you load a game, not if you progress through from
    the beginning.  (repro rate: 5/5 with loaded game, 0/2 playthrough.)

  (Apparently) Irrelevant issues:
  * There is a back way into this area.  Using it doesn't seem to affect the
  * My choice of weapon did not change the outcome.
  * If I kill other enemies first, the bug still occurs.

The above report carries a wealth of information for the developer who must
track down and fix the issue.  First, the odds are that the engineer in question
has never played the section of the game you're referring to.  You play the
whole game, all day, every day... or at least you have, so it may be difficult
to imagine that the guy who wrote the code isn't intimately familiar with it.

He isn't.

The time it takes you to write up steps that get him there are 5 minutes of
your time that save him probably far more.  Think of the cost of that 5 minutes
you spend in company dollars, and the potential cost of 15-20 minutes of the
developer's time.  Those are the terms in which your value to the company will
be measured.

The example report next shows that you did your homework to identify the least
set of critical issues to reproduce the problem.  It means the difference 
between an engineer (or a designer, or whoever) having to go and discover these
things for themselves, and having the possibility of immediately recognizing
what the actual issue is.  In many cases, a well-written bug tells me exactly
what the problem is before I go to look at my code.  Guess how much cash that
saves our employer.

The 'Irrelevant' issues section is the collection of things that you tried in
attempting to establish the critical contributing issues which didn't work.  For
example, you might think, "we had a bug where the player's choice of weapon made
it impossible to kill some enemies."  Well, you really need to check that out.
It tells the engineer right off the bat that it's not a duplicate of the
previous bug and he doesn't have to waste time going through the game and 
setting the breakpoints to prove it.  Just take good notes as you test and be
clear on what did and didn't contribute to the issue.

Also present is the repro rate:  How many times were you able to get the bug
given the 'minimum' set of repro steps?  How often did the bug fail to occur
with different playthrough paths?  Note that it may take a long damn time to
put all this together, but there's nothing that says that you only may work on
one repro at a time, is there?  You can be doing playthrough for multiple bugs
at a time.  Just be sure to make note of the details in each bug.  DON'T skimp
on this bit.  Nothing will annoy a developer more than seeing 5/5 on a bug
that they can't reproduce.  You might as well tell them directly that you
didn't engage your due diligence.

Now that the major features have been called out, I'd like to take a page from
my personal history of bug fixing:

  Title: Kobolds don't die.

  Whenever I kill a Kobold, he stands up.

The first thing a developer is going to do is send this back to you, assuming
that they don't just retire it altogether.  I could analyze the crap out of this
one, but having seen the 'good' example, you probably shudder at how poor this
'bad' example is.  Assuming that the developer believes you, how long is it
going to take them to reproduce the problem - especially in light of the fact
that they may not even know where the bunny-wielding Kobold in Level 3 is?  If
you wrote this bug, you just cost the company more than you make in several

Don't do it.

Getting to the point where you can ferret out the relevant issues takes practice
and experience.  You won't be doing a great job overnight, but you'll get there.
Keep at it.  It's worth it.

My title promised some help on turning a testing job into something bigger.
I'll level with you here.  It doesn't happen often.  Games companies don't 
frequently move testers up the rungs, but it does happen.  I work with several 
level designers now who have done exactly that.  How did it happen?  They
had a good interface with the people who'd be fixing the bugs they found.  

If I find that a tester is consistently writing great bugs, I know that guy's
name.  But if a tester is consistently writing bad bugs, well... I know his
name too.  If you want to be moved into the industry, you want to be the guy I 
go to find to say, "Damn that was a nice catch!"  Because if we start hurting
for level designers guess which testers are going to be the first to be given
the opportunity if that route is taken?

That's right.  Be that guy.  (Or gal.)

It really is about cost.  Take the time to do it right and you save the company
money.  Rush through it because you have a million things to check today, and
you may get a million bugs checked, but you were still a net loss that day.

%20071128  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Apologies In Advance
For the eve-online players, the first commandment of eve:

Thou shalt not Covetor thy neighbor's asteroid.
%20071107  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Pixar.  This is not a hit-or-miss organization.  I will not name what is, in 
my opinion, the worst of the Pixar films, but even if I did, it is still an
order of magnitude better than anything Disney Proper has done in the last half

How does any organization manage to put out Faberge time after time after time
when its parent organization - or for that matter, its entire industry - is
plopping out Cadburys?

I bought Ratatouille on release day - yesterday.  Having seen it twice in the
theater, I was happy to let the audio run while I hacked up game code.  In the
evening, I watched it in earnest again, then let it run again in the background.
I've just done it again.

What is it about Pixar that 4 of the last 5 of their movies easily trump the
rest of the industry for the last decade?

Entertainment is a tough industry.  It is very easy to get sick of your product.
Enthusiasm in a perpetual ebb tide for most (as Perpetual was a permanant ebb
tide of everything.  Sorry - personal joke.)  

It's been pointed out to me that Pixar is still rehashing tried-and-true themes.
Ratatouille is Cyrano de Bergerac, Bugs' Life is Seven Samurai, etc.  But this
is no Roxanne or Magnificent Seven (though both were fantastic in their own 
ways.)  There's something about the presentation that makes the entire thing

Did you _really_ feel for Cyrano after 20 years when Roxanne finally realized
the truth?  What about for C.D. Blake?  Not really?  Remmy?  If you're anything
like me, there _was_ a tad of a twinge there.  I don't think that it's the
technology that is bringing Pixar rampaging into the number one slot of movie
production houses.  The technology isn't puting the shine on an old number.

I've never worked anywhere where there was a true love for the product being
developed.  Interest, yes.  Intellectual stimulation, yes.  Vehement hatred,
and my second Perpetual reference of the day, hell yeah.

I would love to love my product.  It's been too long since I've done graphics,
or my resume would be at Pixar tomorrow because you can really sense the chasmic
depth of their embrace of their work.  I'm already counting the days 'till

%20071026  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The Unwashed F/a-es
So the press is running around at work at the moment - Nickelodeon wants to do
a piece on our game and its development.

This is not my first press zoo.

At Perpetual, there was a 'Self-Guided Tour' for the press who'd shown up to
the Games Development Conference.  Essentially, areas of the office were
labeled as art, design, test, etc., and the guests were able to question any-
one in those areas as to how they did their work and what they did for the 
project.  The areas where the minor minions worked were roped off, making the
access to personnel a fairly selective thing, but there were a couple dozen
employees on display.

The entire engineering staff were off limits.

In previous similar events, the attention paid to engineers has been equally
dismissive.  Nickelodeon has been no different, though I did get the attention
of a lighting man just long enough to let him make a wiring tangle out of my
office space and trip over my controllers.  =]

There is an argument that engineering is a process that nobody understands, so
it's better to talk to designers, testers, audio, artists, animators.... because
what they do can be grokked by the average schmo.  I'll not insult your
intelligence by pretending that this is an objective piece and get right to the
point: try doing design, test, audio, art, animation.... without the engineering
to back it up.  Yet a department so critical to the process of producing a game
receives absolutely no public recognition for its efforts.

Another way to put it is that engineering is a process which nobody understands
because it's almost entirely evicted from eyeball time.

You want kids to stay in school?  Keep up with their math?  Think with 
constructive self-criticism?  Self-organize?  Work well with others?  Game
engineers should be your mascots.

Really - I wasn't going anywhere with this.  It sounds a lot more like a rant
that it was intended.  I'm mid-level here, so even if they were grilling geeks,
I'd be uninvolved.
%20071022  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
So I gave an old Hammond to my local hospital as part of their annual charity
drive.  The IRS denied the deduction, however.  It seems they don't give you
a break for organ donation.  -rbarry

Carpe Dig'em - Sieze the Sugar Smacks -rbarry
%20071018  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Reading through the Lesser Gnu Public License today gave me a bit of a giggle -
the doc refers to the "GNU/Linux operating system" as "the whole GNU operating
system['s] variant."  It sure IS dark where Richard Stallman has his head at
the moment.  In the whole GNU-vs-Linux thing, I'm about as uninvolved and 
apathetic as one can be, yet even I have long since become convinced that
Stallman is off his rocker.

I can already hear the arguments of many a Debian user, carefully pressing
their own perception of truth in the matter, but the logic aside for the 
moment, it was carefully worded by RMS himself as yet another (very low-
caliber) shot in his eternal tilt at the Linus windmill.

I actually liked the guy until I got stuck spending a few hours with him.
%20071017  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Okay, there was a flurry of activity there, then silence.  Sorry about that.
The blog is undergoing a bit of a change.  Live in fear, mortals.  -rbarry
%20071009  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Gaming the System
When you're making software, you test your code before you check it in.  If 
you don't, may the Archangel Gabriel laugh in your face.  I gather his database
is more reliable than whateverthehell project you're currently thwarting.  As
though I'd known it all along but had never given it any grey-matter CPU time,
it dawned upon me how often bugs make it into software because the underlying
systems change - not the feature itself.

For instance, you check in changes to a game level design, dropping the ceiling
by a dozen centimeters.  You test it, it works.  Sometime down the road, changes
to the camera are checked in, but they are not checked against the whole system,
only enough of it to be economical.  There's enough testing to minimize possible
damage, in other words.  If the new camera can't handle the new, lower ceiling
and ends up outside the room, well, that's software.

Software bugs are little islands of entropy in very large systems which live
in attempted violation of the second law of thermodynamics.  Entropy is the
reward for entropy in a software system.  The more you change - especially at
the lower levels, the more you will find yourself doing fixes... which brings
on more entropy.

Okay, so how to solve the problem?  Obviously, minimize change.  

It seems like an absurd argument.  To get from an empty project to a complete
one, you have to implement features - you have to make changes.  This is very
true, but you don't go out and rewrite everything from scratch, do you?  I've
probably used printf more often than any other function, but I've NEVER
implemented it.

Get as much of your software out-of-the-box as you possibly can.  If I hear one
more developer say that they can build X cheaper than buying it, I'm going to
have to hurt them.  You are only going to use X once in your software - they
get to sell it many times.  They get to amortize the cost across many customers,
which means that you get it cheaper than it would be to develop it.

But you don't need all those features?  How much of it do you need?  Ten
percent?  Fine, can you really build ten percent of that product and get it
tested to the level that they did for the cost of buying it?  You think so?
Are you keeping in mind that it takes more than 10% of the effort to develop
10% of the features? 

Then how about this:  Can you deliver it on day one of your project, in a state
that will not change time and again through the life of your development?  No,
you can't.  You will develop something that falls short of your design, in
more time, with more bugs, and those parts of your system - you know, the ones
that MAKE YOU MONEY - will suffer as a result of that entropy and your lack of

If you are in the games industry - get a third party engine.  If you're in 
data services, get a database system.  Rolling a website?  You're going to be
heavily reliant upon apache, perl, ruby, sql, etc.  You wouldn't think of 
writing your own C++ compiler for a single project, so why on earth would you
write your own physics, rendering, particle systems, animation, shaders, AI,
design tools, audio system, memory manager?

Yeah, you might want to do some of these things.  But choose what your project
is supposed to be FIRST, then start making it.  Only tinker with the foundation
when you find something totally unacceptable.  Game design is the talent of
getting the most out of the resources you have available.  Work within your
restrictions and play to your strengths and you're going to make the best game
you have the potential to produce.  Waste your time writing an animation 
system that makes you look the same as everybody else and you WILL fail

%20071002  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Curry My Favor
They fed us at work today.  Indian.  Food Coma.  Can't form....  nouns...

I was just contemplating the curry.  Worland Wyoming (duh,) Port Townsend
Washington, and Logan, Utah had no Indian food.  On my honeymoon, I (well, we)
ate at an Indian place in Victoria and a lifelong love affair began - with

Hey, I'm divorced.  She's a good friend now, but I still see a lot more of the
chef at Little Delhi than I see of her.

But I still wonder how on earth the greatest cuisine in the universe managed to
be outdone by McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and KFC for the attention of the American

Oh yeah.  Right.  _American_

PS.  Yes, the best in the universe.  If there's food on mu Arae, are you
prepared to bet that it's human-consumable?  Well, less likely to kill you than
a Big Mac?

%20070928  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A lone ant returns from a long journey - an unsuccessful picnic-locating trek -
to find his entire colony dead, save the last gasping member of his ancestral

"The humans!  They lay out poison traps!  We all ate from the cruel bounty
and.... and..."  And he died.

Now, despite his regular expeditions to track down the picnics which had been 
such a regular staple of his colony, an ant is not a creature which survives
well on his own.  This particular ant was no exception, so he left in search of

After many days of travel, he comes upon a pair of rats.  "The Humans have
really gone out of their way this time," said the first.  "I was getting sick
of eating garbage."  He started to sniff at his meal.

The second rat nodded in agreement, "It was very nice of them to leave it here
for us, too.  I'm getting too old for the walk out to the trash bins."

The ant, smelling the metaphorical rat, broke into the conversation.  "DON'T
TOUCH THAT," he screamed, though his voice was all but inaudible to the rodents,

The rats paused for a moment, then the second rat mumbled under his breath about
the size of an ant's brain, scooped a pebble from the cheese-shaped box, ate it.

And died.

The first rat was both shocked and impressed.  "How did you know that the food
was tainted," he asked.

"I have a history with humans."

The rat asked the ant to return to his home with him, in the hopes of spreading
the word to the rest of his bucktoothed relatives about the dangers of poison

Just as the second rat had, the rest of the rats took no notice.  Slowly, the
colony grew sick and many started to die.  In increasing desperation, the first
rat and the ant tried everything to call attention to the cause; drama, musical
theater, tragedy, irony, sarchasm, but finally began to turn things around when
they discovered the ant's knack for comedy.

Soon, they were a huge hit - the rat playing the straight - er - man to the
comic ant.  Working situations about the dangers of poison traps into their
routine slowly, but surely, turned the attitudes about the rats until the great
day of victory when every rat in the colony had shed their poison-induced
illnesses and sworn off the tantalizing boxes of rodent fast-food.

The moral of the story?  When you're sick, never underestimate the importance of
a good De-Con Jest-Ant.

Okay, Toni gets up before 6am on Thursdays ("I never could get the hang of 
Thursdays") and drags me out of bed at about the same time.  Between being in
the grips of the latest disease to make its rounds of parker's pre-school and
the sleep deprivation, this is what my brain does at 5:45 am.

%20070927  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Today is Halo 3 Aftermath Day.  Well, for those of us who don't go to GameStop
at midnight on the release date, spend all night playing, and call in sick the
following day - it's Halo 3 Aftermath Day.  A little tired, a little hung over
(Keith and I both opened the last beers of the evening.  Doh.)  But mostly in
the ranks of the survivors, I encubmer you with my first impressions.

My first, first impression is the price point.  $60 is a number for an
unknown game on the shelf which forbids its purchase.  It is also a number
which will become a factor in deciding whether (not when) to buy a current-gen
console.  Keith and I have borrowed one, and will continue to do so.

When Halo 1 first came out, there was a great deal of complaint about the fact
that you spent much of your time going from one place to another - then the
rest of your time going back again through exactly the same spaces.  For
Bungie (Halo's creators,) this works well.  If you have to walk through a room
twice, you get twice the gameplay for the nearly the same production effort.
Further gains for Bungie were made by making large sections of the game out of
modular rooms, again providing more content, but making some sections of the
game feel repetitive.

Halo 2 shed some of the guilt of its predecessor.  I have to admit that I spent
far, far fewer hours on 2 than Combat Evolved (Halo 1,) but my vague
recollection is that much less time was spent going through the same areas over
and over.  To me, this seems like the natural way to set up a game.  Let players
get their repeat experience from repeating the game.  I have no idea how many
times I played CE, but after completing some sections once, I never did them
again - simply to avoid doing the same cloned rooms over and over.

In other words, the replay value of the game was diminished by the cut-and-paste
style of parts the level design.  

Halo 3, to abuse the ring metaphor, hearkens its beginnings.  In the first
few minutes of play, how many times do you see Ops, the Hangar, etc?  Much of
the environment consists of a collection of generic objects strewn about to
provide cover for players and enemies, losing any sense of passing through the
environment.  When two rooms look identical, the sense of progression through
the game suffers, even if they really are different places.  This impression is
substantially reinforced when you end up going back to exactly the same place in
space for the nth time and have no idea how many more times you're going
to be forced to visit.

Consistent lighting, environment textures repeated ad nauseum, the lack of 
unique landmarks, and the requirement that a player enter a room many times 
from many angles are a modus operandi which inherently disorients the player.
Most of the time, the only way I knew I'd just walked through the right door
was because the game would helpfully inform me that it had just autosaved.

Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying the game.  The CPU restrictions which plagued
Bungie in the first two installments, gone in the XBox360, have given them the
necessary resources to do much of the Artificial Intelligence work they were
unable to deliver on the original XBox.  Enemies behave more dynamically, 
though certainly still like dumb drones, but it still delivers a more enjoyable

So while I am enjoying the game, I am disappointed by the apparent concentration
on the features the XBox360 could deliver while providing level design that 
one might expect out of the days before 3D Hardware.

If you think this post was an over-extended rant, don't get me started on the
color-deficient gamer issues Halo 3 suffers.

%20070921  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It is amazingly cruel, somehow.  I went into Eve-Online hibernation about 12
weeks ago to train up for a Chimera - the Eve equivalent of a small aircraft
carrier.  The motivation was twofold; I was tired of the time it took to run
the high-level missions I was doing in a Battleship, and I desperately needed
to find a way to spend some of the cash I've been making in that game.

After about 6 weeks of training up my character, only days away from having
the required skills and already making bids on ships, I was confronted with the
toppling truth that capitol ships cannot be used in Level 4 missions.

Well, one option remained: a serious battleship.  Like I said, I had cash to 
burn and a need for a tank with some major firepower.  So, (and this is where
I will revert into unashamed eve-speak - it's not necessary to understand it
all,) I did this:
Caldari Navy Raven (renamed to "Never More")
* 7x 'Malkuth' Cruise Missile Launcher
* Faction NOS
* Faction Shield Hardeners
* Faction Shield Booster
* T2 Ballistic Control

Short version: about 3 Billion ISK spent.

...which is where we come to the cruel bit: My training for the last module to
fit on this behemoth will finish at about the time I expect to get home on
Tuesday night - the date of release of Halo 3.  I guess it's a good excuse to
put off the XBox360 purchase for a while and get some serious player advance
done in Eve.

%20070920  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A bit of an unusual move for me:  I may make this entry sticky.  I keep telling
people that such-and-such is in my top 5 games of all time - but I never do 
manage to iron out what exactly that list is.  This will be subject to change
and whim.  Stuff may get bumped by current fad, but hey.  The only constant in
the universe is change.

* Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy (Infocom) - A permanant #1 in this list.  ?
* Netrek (Open Source) - Nearly flunked me out of several colleg years.
* The Curse of Monkey Island (LucasArts) - What were they THINKING going 3D?
* Tetris - Original GameBoy (Nintendo?) - 
* Addams Family Pinball (Midway) - Only pinball game ever to drain my wallet.
* Bubble Bobble (Taito) - Non-platformer side-scroller - simple, but addictive.
* Halo - XBox (Bungie) - FPS should NOT require an entire keyboard.
* Cyberball (Atari) - A 2-on-2 game cost $6 in 1989.  Ouch.
* Battle Balls (Seibu Kaihatsu) - A sub-genre I've considered resurrecting.
* Super Sprint (Atari) - Uninterrupted high-score holder for 2 years.
* Pikmin (Nintendo) - Beautiful, polished, revolutionary, brilliant.
* Guitar Hero (Red Octane) - Special controllers continue to push the industry.

UPDATE (20100510)
* Braid (Number None) - 2D platformer plus time manipulation.
* Armadillo Run (Peter Stock) - Rube Goldberg meets Animal Care and Control.


Can I patent the idea of painting or otherwise displaying - company logos, building names, names of complexes, street names, and other important bits of geographical information - flat? I'm sick of looking at google maps and trying to work out which building is Toys R Us, etc. Especially with how unpredictable the address location of any mapping software is. So. If ya wanna do it. Pay me. -rbarry
%20070919  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Belay that colon-nerp wash what passes fer a smiley, lads.  Today we be
lookin' fer somethin' with a bit more o' the sea in it's blood!

:{    ARGH!  I be feeling a bit seasick!
:{>~  ARGH!  I seem to have chucked me grog into me black beard!
,{    ARGH!  I told ye kids ye'd put someone's eye out with that BB gun!
;)    ARGH!  Me optometrist done supplied me with a lovely eye patch!
;)?   ARGH!  I got a new hook to go with me eye patch!
,[!   ARGH!  Whoever stole me eye patch'll taste the steel of me cutlass!

The be yer only warning!  Bring hither the goofyness or taste cold
exclamation point.


Ahoy mateys! It be Talk Like a Pirate Day!!! E'n the weather be knowin' an takin' part o' the festivities! Po'rf'l trade winds be whipp'n' the West'rn port o' San Francisco som'n fierce. To top off the mood o' the day, I had meself a wee parlay wit' me hand specialist, Dr. Gordon Brody - a fair soul if ever there be. The ship's surgeon informs me I'll likely be needin' the touch of his cutlass. Witless as I was this morning, I didn't think to ask if he could install a hook! ARRRR! -rbarry
%20070915  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
What's the longest you've ever been on hold?  That's what having a napping
toddler is like.  You can't go anywhere and you have no idea how long the
stretch to which you've committed yourself shall be.

Today was major.  Four hours.  Finally iTuned Van Morrison's Moondance.  I've
not heard much of anything of that band, but it's a good blues tune...


The camera doesn't lie. That's Photoshop's job. -rbarry
%20070914  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I don't think this qualifies as a Geek Challenge(TM), due to the likelyhood
of there actually being a solution, so for an un-scored un-trademarked un-
capitalized geek challenge...

You've just replicated a line in vi a bunch of times to look like this:
foo[0] = ...;
foo[0] = ...;
foo[0] = ...;
foo[0] = ...;

What is the fewest number of required kestrokes to turn the zeroes into a 
sequence?  Assume any number of lines.  After all, I occasionally end up doing
10-20 lines of data entry like this.

If you're interested in the last (albeit, also weak) Geek Challenge, it's
a wee bit down


So far we've had politics, random tech babbling, jokes, more politics, a brief tangle with financial investment strategies - which I hope to pick up again soon - and a myriad of other subjects in here. In the interest of being completely fair my constituency (a total of two semi-regular readers of whom I'm aware,) I tend to avoid deep technical issues. To be Completely Fair, however, now I chime in on an issue that is sweeping the Linux world as I type: the Completely Fair Scheduler and its ancestry. Ingo Molinar has fallen under the gunsights of a number of scheduler authors, who shall remain nameless, for his alleged hijacking of their ideas and their code. Several of these lamenters, though one in particular, have made the lambasting of Molinar something of a crusade. I find it greatly entertaining that this debate finds any fertile ground whatsoever in the Linux world. Let's assume for the moment that Molinar was unashamedly plagiaristic in his work - that a huge percentage of the CFS code came from other digits than his own. If that were the case, I would still congratulate him on his continuing in the footsteps of the Linux pioneers. I'll draw back from the word plagiarism here, but to say that Linus Torvalds drew heavily upon previous open source projects, like Minux and Gnu, in the creation of Linux.... would be a whopping understatement. This is only the first of many such adoptions in Linux, and Molinar's won't be the last. -rbarry
%20070913  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I just realized that I've not done a geek challenge in AGES.  I'll have my 
people get right on it.


I had intended to publish a prophetic piece about Google, though my usual vigor has failed to condense as it did yesterday. Maybe that's the point of prophecy - the lassitude helps you adopt that flat, gravelly voice so common to seers. For reference, see Harry Potter 5, Hitchhikers' 5, and Imbuggly Ferret and the Thirsty Widleshauz. Anyway, brilliant bit about the coming micro-humbling of Google deleted. You didn't want to read it any more than I wanted to write it... -rbarry
%20070912  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Reading through the logs for this page, I found someone who came here
searching for:
  What does "The only winner of The War of 1812 was Tchaikovsky" mean?


Someone turned my rant up to 11 this morning... It seems simple to me. Let everyone who supports the war, support the war. I'll write off my contribution so far as a loss and I'll never speak against any of the mind-numbing drivel coming out of Washington ever again. As long as I don't have to continue to pay for it. 600 Billion spent in Iraq. That cash could have been much better spent at home, and Halliburton could still have escaped the country with their pile of it. -rbarry
The NSF (The National Science Foundation) has been seduced by the Dark Side. The Dark Side has many facets - and stupidity is one of them. I'm going to skip right over the privacy issues here. I suspect that as a privately-funded organization, they are almost as immune to such ethical considerations as our own government. Too, I'll ignore how tired I am of seeing a new web crawler come into existence every time I think I finally have a handle on the level of traffic I'm paying for out of The NSF is going to add one more, I gather. Into the bin also, the idea that the cost incurred here could easily serve a more noble cause.... like actual science. And straight on to the Dark Side of stupidity. Bin Laden. Alive. Yes? NOBODY IS AS STUPID AS THE VAST MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SEEM TO BELIEVE TERRORISTS TO BE!!! The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is as guilty of this as anyone, so they'll serve as my example. The TSA actually believes that by making you carry all your liquids in up to a quart of 3.5 ounce containers, that they will prevent someone determined to carry a liquid explosive from doing so. For some reason TSA actually believe that of all the people out there who have it in for the US, not one of them will be bright enough to realize that it is possible to divide up their quart of product into a number of 3.5 ounce containers. These are the people who are wasting your money pretending to protect you. Anyone whom the TSA assumes to be beneath their level, intellectually, should consider it the gravest of insults. "Get to the point," you say? Hey, I have to keep my readership down somehow, but I shall appease you nonetheless: Please. Assume that the people you're after are bright. Everyone. Starting right now. Let this decree go forth: That no one shall be allowed to say, or to spend money saying, that they are fighting terrorism unless they have assumed their quarry to be more intelligent than the average teenager. Many teens I know are capable of: 1) Setting up a computer and a net connection. 2) Setting up and running a website. 3) Encrypting all traffic to and from that website. 4) Encrypting all storage on that website. 5) Generating good passwords. 6) Hacking a WEP key. (This means that even if you have an encrypted wireless access point at your home, someone else can still use it. It's not hard.) 7) Using 1-6 to make the NSFs new expenditure no more useful than the 600 BILLION that the US has already sunk/committed to the war in Iraq. PS - 600 Billion dollars is $2,000 per man, woman, and child in the US. If George had asked you to write the check for yourself and your family, would you have done it? -rbarry
%20070911  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I Wonder Whatever Happened to James
If Microsoft could sense my hostility, I'd be dead by now.  - James Stewart
%20070910  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Well, as the sticky header says, I've created a version of the 'blog' that
only gives the first few articles.  I looked at the usage stats for my site
in the last 30 days and it came to nearly 30 gigs, so I'm trynig to cut back.
I learned my lesson about a year ago when a video I had in here was linked by
some sort of Korean slashdotting organization.  The bill that month was
respectable, to say the least.  


If there's one thing that I've learned from reading up on crypto, it's that Alice and Bob seriously need to be getting more face time. -rbarry
%20070822  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I think I was the victim of the most devious campaign call - ever - a couple
days ago.

It began while I was sitting at my desk, trying to grapple with software which
would be best left ungrappled.  My cellphone - my Federal 
Do-Not-Call-Registered cellphone - rings.  The caller ID reads 999-999-999.

I have no idea why I answer these things.  I guess I've had enough experience
with legitimate businesses and organizations, who have blocked or garbled caller
IDs for valid privacy reasons, to be willing to sacrifice 15 seconds of my life
in these situations.

Me:  "Hello, this is Ron."  When the ID is blocked, it's not a personal call,
so I answer in a businesslike fashion.  If you ever called me while I was in
college, you'll have to take it on faith that I am actually capable of picking
up the phone in this manner.

We all recognize the grey noise, characteristic of a phone call that begins
with being connected to a sensor rather than a person, but for some reason
we soldier on:  "Hello, this is Ron."

The woman that hits the other end of the line comes on, sounding like a reject
from the Baywatch cast.  This woman has absolutely no history with the Blarney

"Yeah, hi."  Long pause.


"Who is this?"

"Ron Barry.  To whom am I speaking?"

"Is Ron home?"

"This IS Ron and this is my cell phone."

"Yeah."  Pause.  "I'm, um, calling for Gavin Newsom.  You'll be voting for Mr.
Newsom for Mayor, right?"

I suspect that there are a number of reactions when the caller gets to this
point; guarded affirmation, disgruntled disagreement, or even a "Not now that
I've received THIS call."  I hope the most common is the one I chose, which
was to simply hang up.

Immediately after doing so, I realized how perfectly this call had been
engineered - from the moment the phone rang - to annoy the living shit out of
the recipient.  Caller ID that screams schemes, the our-time-is-more-valuable-
than-yours arrogance of providing to the telephone equivalent of a dead line,
the total moron on the other end of the line who 1) I don't believe was acting
as far as the sub-par IQ is concerned, and 2) was as forcing repetition of
everything in a perfect way to grate on my nerves.

I don't have much of an opinion for or against Newsom.  My politics on this
are too complicated to get into here, so you'll have to trust that I'm as
personally invested in the SF Mayoral campaign as most New Yorkers when I say
that there is a far greater chance, in my mind, that this call came from one of
Newsom's opponents rather than from Newsom's campaign itself.

I say a greater chance and leave it at that.  Certainly, the remise position
exists, but it would generate so few votes as to render the effort worthless.

%20070802  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
So I'm sitting at the computer, trying to get my brain around the disaster that
Hewlett Packard has made out of it, getting along to a bit before midnight
when Parker comes toddling in.

He asks if he can sleep in my room and I tell him that Daddy isn't sleeping
yet, but that I'd be happy to cuddle him for as long as he likes.  He comes
over for a hug and a snuggle, very, very drowsy.  A couple completely
incoherent questions come out, then he gets up and walks to the door of my
room.  He turns around and I ask him if I can do anything and, still confused
and trying to cover for his incoherence he rubs an eye, smiles, and says, "I'm
just being silly, Daddy."

Then he walks to his room, pulls the door most of the way shut, crawls into his
tent, and goes back to sleep.


The Jack Thompson Dictionary: Sociopath: One who is crazy because he plays games. Psychopath: One who plays games because he is crazy. -rbarry
%20070713  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
So when they awarded Marcel Marceau his place in the French Legion of Honor,
did they skip the acceptance speech?  

%20070709  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
This may be the world's most infrequently read blog, but I feel that it is
time for me to take the soapbox on an issue which has literally been bothering
me for my entire life.  It's not women, though I'm sure when I get around to 
writing that entry, my readership will quintuple overnight.  I'd like to be
able to say that the problem is one of ignorance, because ignorance is
generally forgivable in that education provides both the cure and gives one the
awareness of one's past transgressions.  The problem is simple apathy.

We all suffer from apathy at some level.  Hell, you could hardly live in this
world if you didn't have a filter between your physical senses and your 
emotional responses.  It's what keeps most Americans from going totally insane
at the fact that they now live in a military state.

But.  Popping the political digression off the stack for later abuse, I will
now unveil the heart of the matter.

Color deficiency.

There goes my readership.  Half of my audience, accustomed to the
get-it-over-in-three-paragraphs world that our information-flooded senses
desire, just checked out - operating, no doubt, on the happy deadweight of
apathy that surrounds this particular issue.

Fifteen percent of men are color deficient.  No big deal, right?  They still
live normal lives, participate in sports, yadda yadda yadda.  Bull.  It is
exactly the attitude that being color deficient isn't a disability that
makes it a disability.

I work in the entertainment industry, where color is the currency of the realm.
You would think that in such an educated, informed environment, it would
be easy to stand up and announce that screwing up the color in a game loses you
nearly 15% of your audience.  I've tried it.  If there's one thing you can be
sure about, it's that professional artists are nearly 100% normal-visioned.
Too too many in my professional history have placed their personal aesthetic
above such petty notions as producing an accessible product.

So we get games like Homeland - which turned out to be a $50 bookend for me.
We get an XBox controller with an A and B button, which are differentiated on
screen by their red and green colors.  Don't get me started on the number of
items (including the Game Boy Advance) that warn you that the battery is dying
by turning a bright green light into a bright red light.

I've been 'consoled' on this issue by people who tell me that at least it's not
life-changing.  I was passed over for a full-ride scholarship on the grounds
that I could not pass a flight physical.  When Utah changed its street lights
to a color indistinguishable from a red traffic light, I had to retrain my
driving habits because, except for my Wife's quick thinking, we both would have
been killed one night when I nearly ran a red light at 60MPH simply because I
didn't even know that the stop light was there.

So here it is.  I'm happy to quit screaming about this issue.  I'd be delighted.
The trouble is, it is up to you to make this work.  I don't care what you do
for a living.  Whether you design XBox controllers (in which case, you're going
to hell anyway,) do art for simulators, or write parking tickets... all I ask
is that you take this seriously.  It's very little effort to make a lot of lives
a whole lot easier.

If I've personally referred you to this entry, I promise that I'm not trying to
give you a hint.  It's just good to have the occasional post actually get read.

Oh, and - that photoshop plugin doesn't actually show you what I see.
%20070521  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"Naturally, I disagreed -- partially because I am a naturally disagreeable
person.  Any idiot can make friends -- but can you make some really serious
enemies?"  Howard Anderson, Network World, 05/10/07
%20070518  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Still a Very Good Engineering Reason
I did it that way for very good engineering design reasons, though mainly
because I was being lazy.  

%20070405  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Crayons.  In the office supplies cabinet.  Awesome.

%20070307  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Austinus > tip for the men in eve: NEVER..... i repeat NEVER  answer a girl
asking why you like eve with "Because it only ignores me for an hour a day"
%20070222  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
What's the difference between a methodologist and a terrorist?  You can
negotiate with a terrorist.  - Ivar Jacobson
%20070215  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Okay, I had thought that this was so obvious that everyone would have caught
on, but a conversation I overheard recently makes it pretty clear that people
actually need things like this explained to them.

Allstate Auto Insurance has been running a pair of commercials recently to
advertise two features of their new insurance plans: accident forgiveness and
rebates for accident-free driving.  You get in an accident, and it doesn't 
affect your rates.  Figure it out - what the hell is the difference between
having your rates go up and not getting the rebate?  Notice that they don't
advertise the two features in the same commercial?  I guess they (rightfully,
it seems) expected most people to miss this if they didn't have it handed to
them within their 30-second attention span window.


%20070205  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Okay, so I ask our receptionist why so many clean-cut gentlemen with suits,
ties, and carry-on rollerbags have been piling into the office this morning.

They're here from MTV.  MTV reps.  In suits.  Why is there a sudden stabbing
pain just behind my eyes?

%20070119  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.  Brew a
better beer and the world will beat a path to your bathroom.  

%20061207  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Wells Fargo is a source of a great deal of useless mail for me.  There are a
couple of mutual funds that I really like, each purchase of which generates
a new mailing of the company's prospectus to me.  In addition, I get a flood
of fund updates, statements, offers, and now, notifications of a new privacy

Now, WF isn't so bright about how they generate this torrent.  Any notice that
says that they have changed how they go about something results in my receipt
of at least 3 copies of that notice - each individually mailed.

Now they seem to have started addressing my mail thusly:

Wells Fargo Bank <Account Type>
Ronald S Barry

...where <Account Type> describes the type of account that generated that 
instance of snail mail spam.  I noticed this just this afternoon - on the three
copies of their new privacy policy which arrived today.  Anyone who glanced
at my mail would know who I bank with, how many accounts I have, and the types
of those accounts.  Very private.
%20061108  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
As I'm writing this, my optimisim is slowly gaining some spark of life.  If
Montana and Virginia go as they are now, the Republicans will have lost both
congressional majorities.  I reserve the right to two avenues of consternation:
that the Governator won.  Professional wrestlers and rappers shouldn't act, and
neither should bodybuilders act nor actors become politicians.  Didn't this
country learn anything from the Regan years?  

Second Avenue?  I'm waiting to see if Diebold's card gets played to preserve
a Republican dominance when it _really_ counts: 2008.

America, you're not as dumb as I've been taking you for recently.  I may have
to revise some of my investment strategies.
%20061107  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"Hi, welcome to your polling place.  Would you like to use a Diebold Election
Fraudulator this morning?" 

%20061030  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It seems fairly clear to me that computers are not the unemotional, relentless
minions to our will that we believe them to be.  That isn't to say that they
experience fear - quite the opposite.  They have some emotion that is totally
opposite to fear that compels them to continue to piss me off whenever I need
to threaten them with physical violence. 

%20061003  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Considering the recent issues in Iraq with US Army enlisted personell -
everything from mistreatment of P.O.W.s to rape and murder of civilians - I
have certain misgivings about the new minimum recruitment standards being

"We're looking for high school graduates with no more than one felony on their

Maybe instead of slipping the criminal record, they could have started taking
dropouts?  I mean, they ARE looking for people dumb enough to voluntarily jump
into the infantry.  It seems that taking dropouts before the social rejects
would be preferable. 

%20060928  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've been playing a bit more Guitar Hero recently, and I've been watching
other peoples' attempts at some tunes on  This has led me to
one of those high-tech/low-tech observations.  With all the crap we have
lying around these days, nobody seems to own (or at least, know how to hook
up) a VCR!!!  People point a video camera at their screen and use it to 
record their attempts - resulting in a crappy image.  If they only used a
VCR, they could capture the video directly and have a clean video.  


%20060915  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Hey, if I could stick my tongue up my own nostril, I'd probably do it all the
time. - Ken Johnson

Hear the one about the rooster and the steer? It's a real cock and bull story. -rbarry
%20060908  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
How does a chimpanzee get dressed in the morning?
He probably has the Secret Service help him.  

%20060905  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I was caught attempting to abscond with a $5000 foot stool.  I was charged with
Grand Theft Ottoman. 

%20060829  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've been working on the same annoying problem at work for about 5 weeks.  It's
driving me insane, not because I can't solve the problem, but because the
system simply won't let me.  Every avenue of exploration has exposed a major
limitation of the system (at least, to me) and left me backpeddling.  Upon
venting this to an officemate, the conversation went something like this:

Abdul: So how are you going to approach the problem now?
Ron:   Heavy drinking.
Abdul: Heavy drinking?
Ron:   Yes.
Abdul: That's not going to solve the problem.
Ron:   Maybe not for the rest of you!
%20060817  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor today declared the Terrorist Surveilance
Program (TSP) "[a violation of] the separation of powers doctrine, the 
Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United
States Constitution, the FISA and Title III."

She went on to say that "the president of the United States ... has
undisputedly violated the Fourth [amendment] in failing to procure judicial

The Justice Department has announced that they will appeal the decision and 
the order to permanant enjoin from directly or indirectly utilizing the TSP in
any way.

The Justice Department has issued the following statement:  "In the ongoing 
conflict with al Qaeda and its allies, the president has the primary duty under
the Constitution to protect the American People.  The Constitution gives the
president the full authority necessary to carry out that solemn dety, and we
believe the program is lawful and protects civil liberties."

Ignoring the fact for the moment that I don't believe at all that anyone at 
the Justice Department both understands what civil liberties are _and_ believes
that the TSP doesn't violate them, I'll get right to the point of hypocracy:
They are standing on the power granted to the president BY THE CONSTITUTION,
the same document that Bush referred to as "just a goddamn piece of paper."
That same document EXPLICITLY grants us the freedom from the actions taken by
the executive branch.  There are no clauses which grant the president the
exceptions he is claiming.  The prioriy of freedom and rights are therefore 
left no grey area.  The TSP is EXACTLY the kind of program the signers of the
Constitution had in mind when they BANNED them.

The JUSTICE DEPARTMENT doesn't even understand this?  Did any of these guys go
to law school, or are they all Bush's appointed cronies?
%20060816  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
You may have gephydrophobia, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.


P.S. The treatment center will be opening up on Treasure Island next week.
%20060815  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"You do not secure the liberty of our country and value of our democracy
by undermining them.  That's the road to hell."  - Lord Phillips of Sudbury
%20060814  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
This morning, as Parker ate a frozen orange juice popsicle, I jokingly told him
to "eat his popscicles."  "No daddy," he exclaimed, "ONE popscicle!"  -rbarry
%20060807  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"The weather people came and stole my water heater!"  - John Moldover
%20060803  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
General John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed
Services Committee today that the top priority in the Iraq war is to secure the
capital [of Iraq].

WHAT?!?!  How ******* long do you need?  It's been YEARS!  What have you been
doing with the HUNDRED BILLION dollars we handed you to do this?  Why are we
tolerating this level of incompetence in our leadership?

Since 9/11, the state of Texas alone has seen more traffic fatalities as a 
result of drunk driving than we lost in that entire attack, and our government
spending on DUI prevention increases in levels of roughly .1% (yes that's one
one-THOUSANDTH) what we have put into the war.  (See the "Traffic Safety Law
Enforcement Campaign Act.")

Think about it.  Your odds as a US citizen of dying in the last 10 years of
a drunk-driving accident (at over 16,000/year) are about 1 in 2000.  The
figure for being a victim of terrorism in the same time period is 1 in 80,000.
Can anyone at all give me any reasonable explanation why this sham is tolerated?

%20060731  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It's a new experience for me - working on a Massive Multiplayer Online
Role-Playing Game (MMORPG).  One of the oddest bits never quite ocurred
to me before as an effect of this kind of work.

You see, our game world is HUGE.  Mondo.  Massive (hence, the name of the
genre.)  It's Damn Big.  Most of us have developed our haunting habits:
I began working here and was immediately shown how to find [area name
deleted] and where the useful bits of content were, and ever since, I've
stayed within a kilometer or so of that location.

Now, when you walk around downtown, you see buildings that weren't there
a year ago.  Rarely, a building that was there a month ago has gone, but
you don't generally see, say, an entire population center drop into place
literally overnight.  Over the course of the weekend, one of my little
country hangouts where I liked to test [stuff that I'm working on] turned
into a metropolis.  When I left, trees and hills.  When I returned, I was
standing in a fountain of a town square.  It's like a GW Bush dream come

%20060728  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I once had a graduate professor who claimed that you could hand half the
professors in the world their own dissertation, written using a different
notation, and they wouldn't recognize the work - though of course, they'd
think it was BRILLIANT!

So in the vein of 'Notation is Everything,' in honor of Doctor Egbert:
Name a system involving three dimensions of time-related variables, which
we note with a common, recognizable-to-the-everyday-person method.

In other words - it's a method of scoring out three different functions
of time.
%20060727  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Sculpin Oppressor
There's always time to oppress some sculpins. - Brian Carver
%20060726  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I was once at a very good party in Salt Lake.  Didn't know anyone there
except Eric Jenson, who was off smoking with some friends.  Anyway, I
seemed to be hitting it off rather well with a very nice, young, short,
attractive lady.  Having a great conversation.

Now, you have to imagine the flow of thoughts that went through my brain
as this happened.  As I said, I was doing rather well with a woman for the
first time in... ?, and beginning to think that I had been in the wrong
places for quite some time and that I should spend more time at good
parties.  When all of the sudden, another nice young lady walks by.  
Very attractive, equally short, (I'm big on short, so to speak,) very 
sexy, and I suddenly wonder if the girl I was talking to (who couldn't 
have missed the sudden shift in my gaze and my sudden loss of cool) was 
about to write me off as a bad job.

But we both laughed, commented on how nice the second woman's nipple rings
were, that the party seemed to be taking a fundamental turn, and continued
our conversation. 


Looking through my logs today, I found that someone had come to this page from a URL which was FIFTEEN HUNDERED characters long. They'd practically typed in the entire description of how to cheat at some game or another into a google search.... and wound up here. Weird. Hey. I didn't promise that it would be a barrel full of laughs EVERY day when you show up to read this thing. -rbarry
%20060724  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I'm seeing a number of attempts in my logs by people who are trying to get 
at the passwords on this system by requesting ../../../../../etc/password,
or whatever number of back-directories they feel are necessary.

It's pretty clear what's going on - they want a list of valid usernames at
this address so they can start spamming those users.

So this week's geek challenge, (you knew it was coming,) is to come up 
with something truly evil to send back to these people when they attempt
to connect.  I'm thinking that a valid-looking etc/passwd would be a good
start, but the winner will be the one who comes up with the ultimate in
justice for people who engage in these activities.

It just dawned on me that every one of these attempts is a violation of
the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (and many other statutes, I'm sure.)
There has to be some fun to be had there...


Within a physical 6-inch radius I have: 1) my cell phone 2) my email account open 3) my email open 4) the perpetual IRC channel 5) my ICQ account. If I ever hear anyone complain that I'm difficult to get ahold of again, I'm going to SHOW them how easy it is to get ahold of someone! =] -rbarry
Deja Voodoo: I think I've felt this stabbing pain before. -rbarry
%20060711  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A friend was making the happiest of announcements today, and postscripted
with a petition for baby names and contributions to the diaper fund.  

I told him that I can provide a couple hundred diapers, and that if he names
the boy "Ronald Scott," they'll even be clean. 


The only trouble with the World Cup.... is that it's Soccer. -Steve Clinard
%20060707  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've been looking forward to the release of Guitar Hero II with...

AGH!  I had to abandon in mid-post and now I can't remember what I
was going to say!

I don't envy the designers and engineers of said game their job of
creating a completely new genre: the cooperative multiplayer rythm
game.  Damn, I can't wait.

Red Octane: Pink Floyd is a gold mine.  Some B.B. King, maybe.  Hell,
sneak in some Bela Fleck and Victor Wooten - you are doing bass, right?
Some of the Fleck/Wooten projects would be fun.  It may not be Banjo
Hero, but have you _heard_ UFO Tofu or Live Art/Amazing Grace?

While I'm at it, George Thorogood, Move it on Over has a good lead/
rythm/bass tune.  You ARE planning on supporting a multitap, aren't

</psychotic rambling>

%20060706  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
As the bugs pile up in my inbox (4 new ones today) I considered filing a 
high-priority bug to everyone else in the engineering and design staff
which read "assign no bugs to Ron for a week."  But then I realized that
they'd all get marked as duplicates of each other and the last one would
be assigned back to me.  

%20060704  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Why is the 4th weekend always the first weekend in July?  

%20060630  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"The Constitution is just a goddamn piece of paper." - G.W. Bush.  Nov, 2005
%20060616  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Build at your own risk.

1. Large garbage can.
2. Insert large airbag assembly.  Trail ignition wires out small hole in can.
3. Fill can with pingpong balls.
4. Cover can with tissue wrapping paper and tape along edge.
5. Aim.
6. Add 12 volts.
7. Despite how hilarious the whole thing was, realize how stupid you were
   to fire it off near anyone.

%20060603  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Having kids is somewhat like taking a stroll through a college biology
department.  And licking all the petrie dishes.

I've been enjoying all the benefits, the last few days, of life at 104

%20060530  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Meditation == Contemplating one's navel.
Given extended periods of time to contemplate one's navel, one is only going
to discover one thing:  Belly-button lint.
If the purpose of meditation is enlightenment and belly-button
contemplation is going to turn up a near infinite supply of lint, then
lint must be enlightenment.

I'm on my way to the laundromat.  I'm going to make a killing in the
second-hand enlightenment (soon to be trademarked "Enlintenment") market.

Meditate with me upon this.


update:  Brian Carver tells me his Enlintenment(tm) is always blue.

It has been described as the holy grail of computer science: software which is capable of recognizing and 'understanding' natural language. I must disagree. Software capable of explaining to me what the hell I signed when I bought my house would be a good start, but I'm feeling like a real software mountain to climb: This week's Geek Challenge is simple: 1) To earn basic points, create a piece of software that is able to explain in plain terms, it's own End User Licensing Agreement (EULA). 2) To earn advanced points, create a piece of software that is capable of explaining in plain terms, any Microsoft EULA. 3) To earn full points, create a piece of software that can explain in plain terms, why the hell software still comes with a EULA, considering that they never seem to hold up in court. -rbarry
%20060526  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Advertising bugs the crap out of me.  So much so that I tend to avoid 
products whose advertising annoys me in any way - and trust me, it's quite
easy to annoy me in 30 seconds.

But last night, as I was 25 seconds into yet another annoyance, it suddenly
dawned upon me that the beer commercial I was suffering through (for a nasty
light beer, I'm sure) had planted in my mind the desire, the urge, nay, had
branded upon my very soul: the need for a beer.

As I walked to the fridge, it occurred to me that the last beer in the fridge
was no more.  It had ended its long life on this planet as many beers do.
Consumed.  Hopelessly, I rummaged through the fridge and spotted a minor 
miracle.  A Guinness, unresigned to its eventual fate, was cowering shamefully
behind a pickle jar.  It's probably the most surprising thing that has
occurred to me in the last month.

I put Mr. Guinness out of his misery.  The world was a doubly-happier place.

%20060522  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've been thinking of arranging the Mario Brothers (or Mario Bros., take your 
pick) theme music for saxophone and violin because 1) no such duet music seems
to exist anywhere - probably for a very good reason and 2) because it seems
that through the ages, my best friends have been violin players and the only
time I've ever played with any of them was at commencement ceremonies - from
a far distant part of the orchestra.

Anyway, add it to the stack of things I really need to get to sometime in my
life, though it's been given a higher priority than most because I have struck
(no pun intended) upon Awesome Band Name Number Two (where ABNNO was Sculpin
Oppressor).  "Sax and Violins."  

%20060517  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
My office is a bit entertaining to reach.  It's on the fifth floor.  The
elevators are risky.  At best.  The stairs are a loop of about 20-30
meters per floor.  So:

Mr. Kamen, you may ask, when you invented the Segway Personal
Transporter, did you in fact consider the issue of how one
gets to the fifth floor of 149 New Montgomery Street?


Well, between the elevators that _might_ get you _close_ to
the floor you selected (assuming that you are out of the
elevator in the same hour in which you entered) and the stairs
which are a combination of stairwell and marathon, Mr. Kamen
seems to have left us denizens of 149 in the lurch.

Until now.  Dean Kamen.  I salute you.  Somebody please leave
the window near my office open 24/7:

Man Slinger

    Thank you,

%20060516  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"If there's one thing I've learned from Resident Evil, it's that you should
never enter a zombie-infested area without a lighter.  I'm not going into
the SBC building without a shotgun and a lighter." - Yu Ping Hu

What can I say about Flagship Studios? I guess it's this: If you are facing the prospect of taking an old employer to court, you have to be able to pay for it. In order to pay for it, you have to have a job. Having a job means being at your desk and not tying up all your time in court. So despite having a lawyer ready to go to court ON CONTINGENCY over the rather questionable behavior of this company, I had to drop it and move on. But it warms my heart to see reviewers dropping them firmly on the top 10 bad titles at #8: Hellgate: London, PC Nothing says "We have no original ideas" more than leaving your old company to form a new company, and then making the exact same game you made back at your old company. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Flagship Studios! This game is just about as similar to Diablo 2 as you can get without being sued. Granted, it's fully 3D now, but you still fight demons from Hell, and you still do the same damn thing over, and over, and over again. Randomly generated dungeons, millions of mouse clicks, and 5 points to allocate every time you level. Fantastic.
...until you can't.

%20060504  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"I wish I wasn't [so rich].  There is nothing good that comes out of that."
- Bill Gates

World's richest man he may be, but he's never going to be in the running for
the world's brightest.  It would seem that he could very easily make himself
not-so-rich AND do a lot of good at the same time.  And I'd like to help.

Bill, if your sub-zero IQ is keeping you from being able to figure this out,
please feel free to contact me any time, day or night.  I can grant you this 
wish by helping you help some very worthy causes. (I hate Richard Stallman, so
the Free Software Foundation will not be among them.)

May I propose:
$10 Billion to form an Overexploited Software Engineers' Union.  

I'll have to think about this one.  You personally gave the limit to the Bush
campaign.  Maybe $10 Million per war veteran to pay for their physical and
psychological bills in the decades to come?

This is a good one.  I reserve the right to edit this one well past the 1 week

%20060502  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"Being misinterpreted out of context is what separates us from the animals."
- John Spurling
%20060428  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Note to self:
Need to document Parker/Bus thing and the creditcard door lock....
It seems that somebody out there isn't so much of a fan of the 
default courier font that most browsers use for preformatted text.  
I've been getting the occasional complaint for quite some time about
it, but it seems like such a violation to take a blog which started
as a simple plan.txt file on a VAX (yes, an actual Digital Electronics
VAX 11/780) and turn it into something so modern.

At one point, I was at the bid sale at USU and they had that vax on
sale for $25.  Of course, I would have had to unplug my stove to feed
it 220 volts, but I could _still_ have my plan on an 11/780... and 
40 2800baud modems and a whole gigabyte of disk space!

Anyway, maybe it's that time.  I'm going to have to think about it.
I am using up about 3-5% of my allowable bandwidth on my website
just serving out this one file....  Break it up a bit and switch to
something a little more modern.  Maybe even allow (*gasp!*) comments.

Kicking and screaming....  Kicking and screaming....


UPDATE: 20080319
    This post used to be in the standard browser font.  For reasons of my
    current formatting preferences, I've removed the browser's permission to do
    as it likes with the thing - it breaks the layout of the entire page.
%20060427  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"Microsoft is now talking about the digital nervous system... I guess I would
be nervous if my system was built on their technology, too." - Scott McNealy

HOW TO DEFEAT THE ENCRYPTION ON ANY AUDIO FORMAT AT ALL (And Why I Found It To Be a Good Idea) ------------------------------------------------------- You buy music? Me too. Trouble is, the people who publish it are pulling in far more cash from it than the artists who actually created it... and they're spending that money doing something very stupid: trying to keep you from copying it. Let me be clear on this: I'm not advocating your 'right' to copy music, only asserting that they (RIAA, etc.) are wasting cash that should be going to artists doing something completely, patheticly, impossibly pointless. Way back in the day when Napster was big, I ran out to buy the latest album from my favorite band the very day it released. I had my own system which allowed me to listen to my CDs at home, at my office, or at school, just by MP3-ing them all and dropping them on a network only I could access. I had assumed that I was going to be doing the same thing with the new CDs so I could listen to them while slogging away on a programming project later that day. It turned out that the CDs (multi-CD album) had all sorts of nasty crap on them to keep you from doing exactly what I was doing. The publisher was assuming that I was ripping them to distribute them. I wasn't, but the fact that they made an operation that, regardless of what lobbists were/are bought to change the legality of the issue, was perfectly ethical - pissed me off to no end. When I arrived home that evening, I went to stage two. This is the bit for which you are probably reading this article: I hooked up the digital output on a CD player to the input on a computer - and simply recorded the audio in real time, compressed them with my favorite codec... ...and then had an idea. Essentially, there was a nice solution here which would get you around any copy protection scheme. Even if I were forced to use the analog output from the stereo, I could still get a perfectly acceptable result... but the publisher of the album in question had assumed that I was up to no good, so I humored them. I dropped the whole thing on Napster and called it a day. My point, dear friends? If you're keeping up with the news, you are either infuriated by how much power these people wield over our lawmakers, or you're completely brain dead. Don't vote for the politicians they buy (Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Graham (R-SC), for example), and stick to the radio. If they have so much cash that they can waste it on their current activities, they don't need any more of yours. I'm certainly listening to a LOT more public radio these days. By the way, HDTV is similarly signal-interrupt vulnerable, but that's a story for a different day. -rbarry
%20060426  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
If you feel the need to identify and catalog all of your obsessive behaviors,
do you have Meta-Obsessive Compulsive Syndrome?  How would it be diagnosed
that I even think about these things?  


Robert Downey Junior will be starring in a modernized adaptation of Moby Dick. Downey, of course, will be playing the lead character, Captain Rehab. -rbarry
%20060424  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Sun Microsystems, we stand in awe.  Your Schwartz in definately bigger than
ours.  But do you know how to use it?  (Mel Brooks jokes, commence!)

Walking to the drug store, I noticed a guy with a small, grey bird sitting on a bench by the sidewalk. On my way back, the pair had been replaced by an extremely amorous couple. I elbowed Marilyn and grinned, "Cockatiel, Cop a Feel." -rbarry
%20060421  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Alien Robot Fleet.  Some Assembly Required.  (They come in pieces.) -rbarry

20100407 UPDATE:
I should have said "Lego alien robot fleets.  They come in pieces."
%20060418  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"I'm the decider, and I decide what's best."  - G.W. Bush.

Note the distinction between, "I decide what I think is best," and "I decide
what's best."  Worst of all, I think he actually believes it.
%20060416  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Couple great quotes from the radio this afternoon:
"Keep the Devil interested, but waiting."
"No ounce of prevention can kill you like the cure." 
...both from "Dave's True Story"  (
%20060411  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I was just reading a blurb in the paper about Cheetah the Chimp - star of all
the Tarzan movies of the 30s and 40s.  It said that he's Guinnessed as the
oldest chimp on record, at 74, and that chimps in captivity usually live to
around 60.

This got me to thinking: whenever you read about the life expectancies of
animals, you get a couple estimates; "in the wild" and "in captivity."  This
begs the question, when you say I have a life expectancy of 80 years, is that
in the wild or in captivity and which one am I?  -rbarry
%20060406  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I had an idea for the ultimate juggling act: It is quite possible to solve
a 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube one-handed.  I'm not that ambitious, but I was thinking
about juggling a 2x2x2 and two balls... solving the cube in the process.

A 2x2x2 turns out to be quite difficult simply to manipulate one-handed.

%20060405  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Hrm.... someone just hit the website having searched for the "Mad About Ron
Porno Movie!!!!!"  


I would like to propose the ultimate Lego Mindstorms challenge: Build a robot that, when placed in a room full of random lego parts - including all those that went into its own construction - can construct a perfect copy of itself from those parts, including dumping its own program to the new robot. For extra points, it should be able to locate the boxes it needs in any toy store or warehouse, and complete the process. For extra extra points, make it evil. -rbarry
%20060403  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've had so many people express an interest in my color deficiencies, and
found myself trying to explain the technical side of it with a lot of
hand-waving and statistical language that I figure it's time to just store
a link to the best presentation on the topic I've seen so far:

Please note when you read it that once a photo has been made on film or
taken digitally, there is no way to simulate the process of trichromatic
color deficiency.  Dichromatic, yes.  If I can find a source of some
very specific camera filters, I'll be able to do the former... eventually.


UPDATE 20080803:
  The problem with trying to simulate what a color deficient person sees when
  starting with a photograph is that you are already too late:  For a photon
  of an ambiguous frequency, the camera has already captured it and lumped it
  in with all the other photons that a normal-sighted person would see in the
  same way.  For me, for example, if a photon in the 'aqua-marine' part of 
  the spectrum hits a camera sensor, it will contribute some blue and some
  green, but the photoshop filter has no way of knowing whether this color was
  the result of a single frequency band or one of an infinite number of bands
  that could result in the same color.

  The photoshop filters that attempt to show what a color deficient viewer would
  see in this situation will invariably appear to be some hue or another to me.
  Trouble is - that part of the spectrum is totally grey to me, in real life,
  anyway.  In a photo, that section of the rainbow can be anything from grey to

%20060328  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Woo hoo!  I set a new personal record - TEN TERABYTES of core files!!!
%20060320  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Well, at lunch we were discussing sushi - specifically, horse sushi/sashimi.

When one participant mentioned that he'd politely declined an offer of just
such a beast while in Japan, I commended him for not putting a gift horse in
the mouth. -rbarry

It's been a fun week. Add to everything else that the neighbors' retaining wall dropped a ton (I'm not speaking figuratively here) of concrete into our backyard last week...
%20060315  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Search engines must be getting better - I get far fewer hits here than I
was 6 months ago.  I wonder if the sheer size of the page is giving them
a hint....  I am over a quarter megabyte and just now hitting 50000 words
in 851 entries.

Let me define stress for you: * Having an 18-month-old. Parker's fantastic, but he has moments of good as well as toddler evil. * Wedding plans. * Quitting a job to start a new one. * Starting a new job. * Getting canned with no explanation after 6 days. Soul-searching as a result of this one is no good for the self-esteem, regardless of the reason. * Filing a lawsuit against employer for above mentioned issue. * Trying to sell a car - especially when you're leasing it from Chase Auto Financing. Never do business with these morons. This is the second time I've been screwed in the four-figure range by these people. * Spending literally 10 hours on the phone in the last 2 weeks to take care of Chase and buyer. * Getting above-mentioned car in an accident ON THE WAY TO HAND IT OFF TO THE BUYER!!! * Dealing with auto insurance company. I can't figure out why I've had a screaming headache for the last three days. Funny how no dose of ibuprofen has any effect at all. Which wise man uttered "Beware the Ides of March?"
%20060310  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Hrm... I wonder if I could have sued Exabyte back-in-the-day for false
advertising: "This damn floppy only holds 320 KILOBYTES!!!  Less than a
trillionth as much as advertised on the box!!!" - rbarry
%20060308  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Do the Platonic Solids ever get together, just to snuggle?  - rbarry
%20060306  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Sorry, everyone - time for another rant about how much windows sucks.

I run a chunk of software on my desk at work called synergy, which allows me
to plug a monitor into my win box and my linux box and share a keyboard and a
mouse between them.  The hardware is plugged into the windows machine and it is
the responsibility of that box to forward mouse and keyboard events to linux
whenever my mouse leaves the windows field and enters that of the linux box.

Anyway, any time I start the project I'm working on - or for that matter, try
to get Microsoft Visual Studio to do anything at all - the mouse is jammed in
windows space.  I can't move it over to the linux machine until some cycles 
free up.  So of course, I go into the task manager to set the priority on
synergy to realtime so it can't starve anymore... and find that it already is.

In other words, Microsoft's real-time service can be starved by a low priority

%20060303  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
%20060222  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
True story:

The IT guy for my office came in to deliver replacement memory for my
new machine - the old had been overheating and taking my machine down
from time to time - and a new lasermouse to replace the $3 hockey puck
that was passing for a pointing device on my box at the time.

As he left, he apologized for all the issues with my machine - that it
sucks to show up for a new job and have equipment problems from the 
get-go.  I told him that it was alright - that the best laid plans of
mice and mem often go awry.
%20060221  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
'Want a Write-Up?' - Ford Prefect, at The Pink Dog Bar
I recently found myself discussing with a bartender/bar owner the 
possibility of creating a website for him.  A friend and I said we'd
be happy to tackle the job.  When it came to discussing payment, we
said that his company's microbrew would be fine compensation.

He threatened to throw us out for using the four-letter-words "free

%20060213  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Well, it's official - I've handed in my notice at Sun Microsystems.
There's something to be said for an industry in which the 1 year, 11
months, and 2.5 weeks is my personal record for staying at the same
company.  Numerous layoffs have seen to that quite efficiently - that
and John Romero.

Now, I can't say anything about _why_ John Romero left Midway, though
I've been fortunate to be filled in on those details, but I can
speculate... which I have already done.  To summarize my previous

JR left Midway to "Pursue other opportunities..."  Um.  He left 
with no other jobs available and I can tell you the man has none of
his Id money left.  He can't live without work.  It was quite clear
that he was shown the door.

Gee, why would Midway let such a considerate, gender-sensitive,
mature person leave?  Hrm.  Let me think.  How many female artists
were in the employ of Midway when he left?  Maybe we can work this
out for ourselves...

%20060201  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A friend of mine is scheduled for what he calls the Big Snip in a couple
of weeks.  After telling me about a dream about the event involving
Scotch Tape, of all things, and a rather inept surgeon, I told him that
I'd be happy to call his doctor and ask to make sure that his equpment
is sterile before my friend's is.  =] 

%20060107  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Upon noticing that I was wearing only socks around the office, a coworker
asked me to explain.  I said that it would appear as though I needed
to be rebooted.  

%20051110  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Month-and-a-half since the last entry.  I'm WAY behind here.

After reading yet another diatribe on the 'fact' that open source is going
to take over the world and will eventually become the only software model
in existence, I feel I must rebut.

I've been working at Sun Microsystems for quite some time and have been a
part of the movement to open Solaris.  One is bound to observe that a great
number of people are being PAID to work on solaris.

I might go so far as to posit that the vast majority of people who currently
write open source software make their real living making software somewhere
that pays them to make 'closed' software.  Does it not follow that if these
establishments, one-by-one, are dominated out of existence by open source,
that the same individuals who make OSS will become jobless, or at least in
rampant oversupply in the employment market?

The inevitable conclusion of such a trend would be that many people would no
longer see a future in Comp Sci and spend their lives - and their education
funds - doing other things.  But you would be a hacker no matter what?  Right.
I started twiddling bits on a TRS-80 when I was eight.  I sold my first game
when I was 14.  I've been through enough bleeding-edge pure-research and 
absolute-latest-tech development projects to keep my brain reeling till I
die... and I have to tell you that if there hadn't been a sound financial
future in this when I hit college.... I would have done something else.

Now I don't deny that there are plenty of socialists in software.  I had the
unfortunate experience once of having to spend an entire day with Richard
Stallman.  I managed to go from idolizing the man to refusing to utter the
word GNU for a year in that day.  But these people are still getting paid
by somebody.  Your service department isn't going to bring in cash forever.
As the net becomes more and more organized, don't you find that your tech
support for every device/package/toaster/pet you own is a search engine?

People with brains and very expensive educations write software.  Deal with
it.  You're going to have to pay for the stuff one way or another.  Even if
you insist on using nothing but open source, one could make the argument that
all the stuff you _can't_ do with it* (don't kid yourself.  Why do you think
I suffer through having two windows boxes at home?) is part of the price you

* I use windows for:
1) You have two debuggers in this world that are worth a damn: Metrowerks
   and Visual Studio.  Only one of these is supported by the free software
   packages I use to develop my games.  (Micro$oft's)
2) Video.  Ignoring the fact that Quicktime - and all the available content
   it provides - is only available as a player under win and mac, I do video
   editing.  'nuff said.
3) The Gimp.  Sucks.  Ass.  You can scream all you like that it is as much
   a powertool as Photoshop, but that doesn't make it true.  It's interface
   is designed by people who thought they were being radical, but they were
   in fact being morons.  Did I mention that it doesn't load the proprietary
   formats that my hardware dumps data in?  Photoshop does.
4) Games.  I have to give transgaming a real pat on the back.  They are 
   utterly f-ing brilliant.  But that doesn't get you the latest ATI drivers
   under your brand of UNIX.  Besides, transgaming is strictly linux.  What
   about BSD/Solaris? 
5) Hardware support.  Like everyone else, I have a camera, an mp3 player,
   a wireless hub, and other useful tidbits that I use regularly.  Funny how
   there are no wireless drivers for the brand-new laptop I borrowed from
   work and tried running linux on.  Those .exes that came with my camera
   don't work under free software...  etc.
6) This bears repeating:  Debugging under linux is a pain in the ass.  Most
   of the hackers I know still debug with printfs.

wc -l /usr/src/project5/*.c
Segmentation Fault (core dumped)

shit.  Good bugger-f-ing luck if you are using gdb.

%20050919  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Avast there!  Swab the decks and vaccinate for Parvo!
Today being International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I believe that a very
important public service announcement is due: You can't say Chihuahua in pirate.
I mean, can you imagine Robert Newton busting out with "ARRRR! Do I ken a 
Chihuahua that aint fit to swab a deck?"

Marilyn tells me that the subtext of this diatribe is that Chihuahuas aren't 
very manly dogs to own.

Anyone wanna trade two Chihuahuas for a Labrador?

IMAGE DELETED  (maddie and josie chasing on the beach)

    -rbarry (on
%20050827  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Wouldn't it be wonderful to think that G.W. Bush was capable of transcending
his background and becoming a person who could understand broader and more 
fundamental issues of human contact... ?
- Roger Waters - Interviews From the Dark Side of the Moon DVD
%20050824  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A little dvorak for ya-all
From an ergonomic perspective, there is very good reason to get away from the
old qwerty layout. Having been out of work for 4 months as a result of Carpal
Tunnel and Tenosinovitis issues, I can attest that there are very good medical
reasons to abandon qwerty, as well. Most people are familiar with the old story
that the qwerty keyboard was designed to minimize key jamming on the old
typebar-style keyboards - that common key pairs in the language were
intentionally split as far as possible on the keyboard. Makes sense, right?

Unfortunately, 120+ years later, we're all still using the same layout. Our
computers are more than capable of keeping up with our typing no matter how fast
we go about it. Yet the odds that you touch-type qwerty (if you can touch-type
at all) on your computer are well above 90%. Doesn't make sense to me.

There are four common complaints issued when I tell someone they should consider

    "I look at my hands as I type. If I switch keymaps, I won't know where
     anything is."

    *sigh* You've not really learned to type qwerty yet. You are a PRIME
    CANDIDATE for switching. If nothing else, typing on a keyboard where
    everything is mislabeled will teach you not to look at your hands. When I
    switched, I had a IBM Model M keyboard, which had removable keycaps. I
    simply took them all off and left them off. Looking at a blank keyboard is
    useless - you learn to stop doing it.

    "I'd have to learn to type all over again."

    Yes, but NO. Your body and mind have already done the hardest part of
    learning to type: learning the mechanics. Yes, learning where to find 'w' on
    the keyboard was a large part of that, but when you switch keyboard layouts,
    it's amazing how much of that training is portable. You get to keep all the
    benefits of having learned the mechanics of typing - learning a new layout
    takes a week or two. When I switched, I was 90+ words per minute on qwerty.
    Six weeks later, I was around 65 on dvorak and improving steadily.

    "I'm a programmer. I'm all over the keyboard anyway, so the dvorak
    improvements will have minimal effect."

    This issue I won't really address here. Programmers need a new interface
    with their machines. ESPECIALLY those of us who are stuck in vi/emacs-land
    doing our hacking.

    "Whenever I switch computers, I have to figure out how to switch the

    Granted, Windows doesn't make this easy. It wasn't so bad with 2000 or
    95/98, but for some reason they have decided that XP keyboard layouts
    belong in accessibility options. You have to tell XP "I have trouble using
    a keyboard" to configure it.

    Well, I couldn't care less about XP. I'm stuck using it for video publishing
    (are you listening, Steve?), hacking (yes, I use MS Studio as an IDE), and
    games. BUT, if you're using X, I think I can help. 

xmodmap is a tool for diddling your keyboard configurations. I'm sure you can
read the man page as well as I, so I'll leave out the details. You can create a
keymap that will take your keyboard's keycodes and assign them to the
appropriate values, but switching keyboards means that many of those keycodes
change. Making your keymap portable is easy: get your current configuration from
xmodmap, replace the key entries with their analogues, and feed it back to
xmodmap as input. This script will work - with some obvious modifications - to
swap left-hand, right-hand, dvorak, qwerty, alphabetical (WHY?), or any other
keymap you like: 


#I don't usually perl like this, but I wanted this to be
#easily configurable by non-programmers.

#This perl script exists in my bin directory as 'asdf' and I have a
#link from 'aoeu' to asdf.  Any time I want to switch configurations,
#I type the 4 home row keys under the left hand, and it calls the
#appropriate script.  Enjoy.

open (IN, "/usr/X/bin/xmakemap |");
open (OUT, ">/tmp/xmodmap.tmp");

#d2q: dvorak to qwerty mappings
@d2q{"bracketleft"} =   "minus           underscore";
@d2q{"bracketright"} =  "equal           plus";
@d2q{"backslash"} =     "backslash       bar";
@d2q{"grave"} =         "grave           asciitilde";

@d2q{"apostrophe"} =    "q               Q";
@d2q{"comma"} =         "w               W";
@d2q{"period"} =        "e               E";
@d2q{"p"} = @d2q{"P"} = "r               R";
@d2q{"y"} = @d2q{"Y"} = "t               T";
@d2q{"f"} = @d2q{"F"} = "y               Y";
@d2q{"g"} = @d2q{"G"} = "u               U";
@d2q{"c"} = @d2q{"C"} = "i               I";
@d2q{"r"} = @d2q{"R"} = "o               O";
@d2q{"l"} = @d2q{"L"} = "p               P";
@d2q{"slash"} =         "bracketleft     braceleft";
@d2q{"equal"} =         "bracketright    braceright";

@d2q{"a"} = @d2q{"A"} = "a               A";
@d2q{"o"} = @d2q{"O"} = "s               S";
@d2q{"e"} = @d2q{"E"} = "d               D";
@d2q{"u"} = @d2q{"U"} = "f               F";
@d2q{"i"} = @d2q{"I"} = "g               G";
@d2q{"d"} = @d2q{"D"} = "h               H";
@d2q{"h"} = @d2q{"H"} = "j               J";
@d2q{"t"} = @d2q{"T"} = "k               K";
@d2q{"n"} = @d2q{"N"} = "l               L";
@d2q{"s"} = @d2q{"S"} = "semicolon       colon";
@d2q{"minus"} =         "apostrophe      quotedbl";

@d2q{"semicolon"} =     "z               Z";
@d2q{"q"} = @d2q{"Q"} = "x               X";
@d2q{"j"} = @d2q{"J"} = "c               C";
@d2q{"k"} = @d2q{"K"} = "v               V";
@d2q{"x"} = @d2q{"X"} = "b               B";
@d2q{"b"} = @d2q{"B"} = "n               N";
@d2q{"m"} = @d2q{"M"} = "m               M";
@d2q{"w"} = @d2q{"W"} = "comma           less";
@d2q{"v"} = @d2q{"V"} = "period          greater";
@d2q{"z"} = @d2q{"Z"} = "slash           question";

#q2d: qwerty to dvorak mappings
@q2d{"minus"} =         "bracketleft     braceleft";
@q2d{"equal"} =         "bracketright    braceright";
@q2d{"backslash"} =     "backslash       bar";
@q2d{"grave"} =         "grave           asciitilde";

@q2d{"q"} = @q2d{"Q"} = "apostrophe      quotedbl";
@q2d{"w"} = @q2d{"W"} = "comma           less";
@q2d{"e"} = @q2d{"E"} = "period          greater";
@q2d{"r"} = @q2d{"R"} = "p               P";
@q2d{"t"} = @q2d{"T"} = "y               Y";
@q2d{"y"} = @q2d{"Y"} = "f               F";
@q2d{"u"} = @q2d{"U"} = "g               G";
@q2d{"i"} = @q2d{"I"} = "c               C";
@q2d{"o"} = @q2d{"O"} = "r               R";
@q2d{"p"} = @q2d{"P"} = "l               L";
@q2d{"bracketleft"} =   "slash           question";
@q2d{"bracketright"} =  "equal           plus";

@q2d{"a"} = @q2d{"A"} = "a               A";
@q2d{"s"} = @q2d{"S"} = "o               O";
@q2d{"d"} = @q2d{"D"} = "e               E";
@q2d{"f"} = @q2d{"F"} = "u               U";
@q2d{"g"} = @q2d{"G"} = "i               I";
@q2d{"h"} = @q2d{"H"} = "d               D";
@q2d{"j"} = @q2d{"J"} = "h               H";
@q2d{"k"} = @q2d{"K"} = "t               T";
@q2d{"l"} = @q2d{"L"} = "n               N";
@q2d{"semicolon"} =     "s               S";
@q2d{"apostrophe"} =    "minus           underscore";

@q2d{"z"} = @q2d{"Z"} = "semicolon       colon";
@q2d{"x"} = @q2d{"X"} = "q               Q";
@q2d{"c"} = @q2d{"C"} = "j               J";
@q2d{"v"} = @q2d{"V"} = "k               K";
@q2d{"b"} = @q2d{"B"} = "x               X";
@q2d{"n"} = @q2d{"N"} = "b               B";
@q2d{"m"} = @q2d{"M"} = "m               M";
@q2d{"comma"} =         "w               W";
@q2d{"period"} =        "v               V";
@q2d{"slash"} =         "z               Z";

if ($0 =~ /asdf/) {
        while () {
                if (/^keycode\s*(\S*)\s*=\s*(\S*)/) {
                        if (@q2d{$2}) {
                                print OUT "keycode $1 = @q2d{$2}\n";
                        } else {
                                print OUT;
elsif ($0 =~ /aoeu/) {
        while () {
                if (/^keycode\s*(\S*)\s*=\s*(\S*)/) {
                        if (@d2q{$2}) {
                                print OUT "keycode $1 = @d2q{$2}\n";
                        } else {
                                print OUT;
} else {
        exit (1);
close (IN);
close (OUT);

system "xmodmap /tmp/xmodmap.tmp";

    -rbarry (on
%20050818  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I can't stand it anymore.  I keep going through my logs and seeing all the
goofy shit that gets people to this web page and it just floors me.  Most
of my readers aren't privy to all the details of what happens when you go
to a web page - among other things, your browser is nice enough to send
the server you access the web page that contained the link that you clicked
to go to the new page.  Make sense?  In other words, when you did a google
search for "mary-kate and ashley porn" and got this page, your browser
tells my web server that the page you came in from was (and this is an
oversimplified example)

This information ends up in a log on my system and I have no end of fun
reading through the stuff that people actually search for:

So without further ado, the Search of the Day (I'll come up with a fun
acronym later) is:
> ( is the periodic table symbol for the element that slays
> the cybermen?
That would be Gold.  Au.


> ( mary kate olsen technically still a virgin?
I'm not going to touch that one.  And I know what you're thinking.

> ( the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, what was the scariest
> and most dangerous place in the universe and where is it located?

That would be the Frogstar, World B, the most totally evil place in the 
universe.  (Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Chapter 8.)  It pays
to have electronic copies of these things.  =]

> ( frogs turing compatible?
Don Knuth (the computability and algorithms man Himself) once provided
an abstract to a conference on this topic as a joke.  Maybe he didn't
want to spill the beans on his actual topic.  Anyway.  As far as I know,
nobody has managed to reliably flip a bit on any size frog array and
therefore it would be highly unlikely that they would be turing compatible.

%20050817  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Some time ago, I finally sat down and gritted my teeth: I was going to get
through the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Infocom Game if it was the last
thing I did.

I received my first copy of this abomination when I was in 7th grade - that's
1985 or 1986-ish.  I never finished, despite ages of effort.  I know people
that made it through by working as a team with others, but I was alone - 
stranded in a hell of Douglas Adams' devising.

The game cheats.  It lies to you.  It makes fun of you.  And try as you may -
read all of the books if you like - this is the hardest blasted game of all
time.  Getting through Pikmin in 18 days was easy.  Doom on nightmare mode?
Done.  HHGTTG took me until I finally caved in as an adult and swore that my
epitath would not be something to the effect of having been beaten by a game.

For those of you who simply want to see how it ends, there is salvation.  I
put together a rough doc that will get you through the whole thing.  It's not
a hintbook.  It is the definitive solution - line by line.  You'll see the
game go by, but you won't appreciate it.  So.  For those of you without
Infinite Patience: you have what you need.


Utah is an interesting place in some respects. When it comes to conservative causes, it is reactionary in the extreme - and to the extreme right. The issue of gay marriage comes up and Utah is ready to start the Rainbow Inquisition. The idea pops into someone's head that the church and state separation can be neatly avoided by renaming creationism 'intelligent design' (for who would argue with teaching something 'intelligent' in the schools?) ....and Utah is stepping up to the plate to get started - and buy the first new school textbooks the state has seen since the last time they re-wrote history. (Don't get me started on this latter (Latter?) topic - I spent more than a decade there.) So when a friend of mine sent me a very well-written article, penned by a professor of Biology at Brigham Young University encouraging the deflation of intelligent design (, or see below) I replied with the following, republished here because I love a soapbox: > Rather, we seek spiritual truth through our personal devotions and > secular truth through the scientific method. We urge the Utah > Legislature to do the same. To paraphrase in a manner in which the general public is more likely to meme: "Religion is the study of Who created the universe. Science is the study of how it was accomplished." In short, there is no intersection. I suspect that intelligent design will have to hit the supreme courts - and it would get ugly there no matter what. If it is rejected, the Court would eventually have to rule on whether evolution should also be a verboten topic. If the Court decided to allow intelligent design, there'd be a major uproar: 1) Parents (myself included) would yank their kids from the public school system. 2) Taxpayers (myself included) would be in a twist over their money going to support a religiously jaded education system. Given the options facing the decision-making bodies in the US today, a student of the future might find himself in one of two extreme situations: 1) I believe in God and am required to study evolution. Is it possible for me to assume the notion (for the moment) that this is how God accomplished the task and that the school system is asserting nothing more (or less.) 2) I firmly believe that god (note the careful choice of capitals) does not exist as a creator. I therefore cannot accept any guise of creationism and therefore requiring me to study intelligent design is a fundamental undermining of my First Amendment rights. Now it has been stated that the First Amendment specifically protects religion and not non-religion. This attempt to turn the Bill of Rights into a club for use by those who would impose their beliefs upon their neighbors (you know, those people that you're supposed to love, respect and forgive) are no better than the Church of England's treatment of certain waterlogged, penguin-impersonating, turkey eaters of our past. Or at least, that's what they taught me in the same schools they're now trying to lumber with intelligent design. rOn (Original article from the Salt Lake Tribune, copied here because they don't keep articles around for very long.) Creationists' anti-evolution assertions are just plain wrong Stephen Nelson Over the past few months, the possible introduction of legislation to mandate teaching intelligent design (a camouflaged form of creationism) in Utah public schools has spawned considerable debate within the pages of The Salt Lake Tribune. Of particular concern to us are three anti-evolution creationist "myths" that have all been raised recently in The Tribune. Although a newspaper may not be the proper place for detailed scientific discussion, some clarification is appropriate as belief in these assertions may affect legislation and public policy. l The first claim is that there are no transitional forms in the fossil record. This is patently untrue; there are many examples, but the creationists repeat the statement as if the retelling will change reality. We offer just a few examples: Mammals, it is clear, evolved on land. But one branch, the whales, subsequently evolved to a marine existence. Evolution predicted, and subsequent research has found, ancestral (fossil) whales progressively adapted to the ocean. Similarly, hominids (apparent ancestors of humans) now comprise a sequence of some 20 recognized species. Indeed, Dr. Kurt Wise, a creationist with sufficient background to speak knowledgeably on the matter, has repeatedly insisted that his fellow creationists must stop their dissembling on the matter of transitional fossils, and specifically points to whale and hominid fossils as being transitional both in form and in time, and with which creationists must honestly come to grips. Further examples of transitional fossils can be found in any paleontology text, including horses, elephants, birds, etc., not to mention plants and invertebrates. Given the special set of circumstances required for the preservation of fossils, the record of transitional forms is quite striking. This issue should be laid to rest. l The second myth is that methods of dating rocks and minerals are unreliable, or produce different ages for the same rock. The latter, in fact, is true at times. A classic case is the granite of Little Cottonwood Canyon. We know of four techniques that have been applied to two different minerals in the rock (it is sometimes possible to apply more than one technique to a single mineral). Each technique records the time at which the rock cooled below a critical temperature. The oldest age, 30.5 million years, records the time elapsed since the granite solidified from a molten state at a temperature of about 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit. The other ages of 10 million, 5 million and 3 million years record the time at which the rock cooled through 400 degrees, 200 degrees, and 150 degrees due to uplift along the Wasatch Fault. In other words, it would have been entirely unreasonable for all four methods to yield the same age. The fact is that when properly applied and understood, modern techniques for dating rocks are very reliable. l The third, and in some ways most distressing, myth is the assertion that the second law of thermodynamics disproves evolution. This rests on the notion that "disorder" is increasing, whereas evolution postulates increasing order in life over time. Thermodynamics is a difficult topic to explain in a few sentences. Open-system, not closed-system, thermodynamics must be considered since the Earth constantly derives energy from the sun. And in open systems, energy transfer can and does drive greater complexity: For example, the creation of snowflakes. There, standard physical and chemical laws inexorably create myriad symmetrical forms and complex patterns. Similarly, physical and chemical laws produce mutations, most bad but some good, which produce new biochemical pathways in living organisms, and which, when acted upon by natural selection and other forces, have evidently produced the many forms of life. Evolution does not violate thermodynamics; it is the product of thermodynamics. For the interested reader, scientifically sound information on these and other issues raised by creationists can be found at the National Center for Science Education Web site at To the non-believer, creationist objections are likely to sound inherently absurd. However, as scientists who hold deep and profound personal beliefs in God, we offer a few final observations. Since there is overwhelming evidence for the evolution of life and the antiquity of Earth, we find it very unlikely that God would set about to deceive us. Although each believer may seek to understand the purpose of creation, we believe it is unwise for any individual to claim to know the mind of God concerning the mechanics of creation. We agree with Apostle James Talmage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who, commenting wisely on the interface between science and religion, said, "We do not show reverence for the scriptures when we misapply them through faulty interpretation." Rather, we seek spiritual truth through our personal devotions and secular truth through the scientific method. We urge the Utah Legislature to do the same. --- Stephen Nelson and Bart Kowallis teach in the Department of Geology at Brigham Young University.
%20050808  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I had the rather disconcerting experience today of reaching for my mouse and
getting a handful of stapler.  For a split second I was imagining some sort
of weird alien ergonomic device.  It's the simple things that will bring your
train of thought barreling off the tracks and into the ravine.

%20050314  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Okay, I've had doctors tell me to avoid phlebotomy colleges, nurses tell me not
to go to certain parts of Romania, and med students refer to me as a Big
(er, pulsating) Red Bull's-Eye.

But until today, it has never been so clear as when I soiled a doctor's tie.

I have veins.  Big ones.  I could rent them out for use by your local fire

%20050307  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
How to tell that your bank (Wells Fargo) is sending you way too much mail:

Wells Fargo Investing sends me mail to confirm any transaction on my accounts -
one envelope for every transaction on every account.  So when I make my 
IRA/ESA/TIRA contributions for the year and purchase my usual mutual funds (see
below) I receive an envelope for every account... all on the same day.

Just to keep things interesting, they also send me mail when my funds pay
dividends... like today when I received an envelope telling me that I'd
received a $.27 dividend - that's not an error, that's 27 cents - and they
sent me two pages of paper in an envelope crammed with ads.  Postage?  27 cents.

%20050304  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The punishment for use of rlogin/telnet on this network shall be terminal.

%20050228  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A musing on time travel.

The argument has been made that if time travel were possible, we would have
seen time tourists by now.  People hanging about at the tsunami high water
mark taking full-motion holography, recording the 2000 inauguration with their
pinkie rings, and generally converging on other natural disasters to mull
about and oggle.

It would seem that the universe's very presence would be sufficient argument
that (reverse) time travel will never be achieved.  Were it to happen, you'd 
eventually get to a point where the population of the universe had no universe
left in which to live - either due to the big crunch or heat death - and would
pick a time in their past in which to resettle.

Their progeny would repeat the process, and so on.  Eventually, their combined
mass in any time would cause the universe to collapse in upon itself.

Maybe it will work out such that you have to replace an equal mass to your own
if you move to another time.... 

%20050203  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Kip Thorne's Gravitation Book, at 1215 pages, isn't just a book ABOUT gravity. 
It's also a rather weighty demonstration.  -rbarry

When I owned this thing, I remember it being not only the biggest, but also the
densest (mass, in addition to material to comprehend) book I'd ever owned.
There existed no sane method for reading the thing without experiencing great
%20050112  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
And since I managed a limerick with Orange as the primary rhyme, I thought I'd
tackle Silver:

A man from the City of Silver
Had laid out his lunch on a salver.
His food did not sate,
So he swallowed the plate
quite whole, taking no time to savour.

(I'm still working on it.)
%20050111  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Science is a wonderful thing - if one doesn't have to earn a living at it.
- Albert Einstein

At least if you're a _Republican_ asshole, you'll never be without a peer group. -rbarry
%20050104  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A man from the County of Orange
Had trouble all day with a door-hinge.
He screamed in dismay
Till his voice went astray
And he had to go suck on a lozenge.


Limerick. By committee: There once was a man from Atlantis Who found he had ants in his pantis. His plans were thus laid: His banjo he played For the dancing ant-eating mantis. -rbarry/bcarver
%20041222  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Zombie Cream Stout?

Had a bit of trouble naming this one, so it takes some explanation.  The
original recipe comes from San Francisco Brewcraft, though the final form
is an improvisation.  The SFB recipe was handwritten and almost completely
illegible:  Qeeucli was eventually deciphered to Munich, Boilee to Barley.
However, we hit a snag with Kcesaflie...

None of the homebrew stores online list anything that seemed close enough
to decode this cryptograin, so Brian (Scearce) resorted to running an agrep
(approximate grep) through /usr/dict/words for a match...  We saw "kestrel,"
"chevalier," and "vouchsafe," but nothing relating to grain.

We even hit upon cerebellum...  We weren't convinced that a half-pound of 
brains were quite right for brewing, but it led to the inevitable zombie
jokes...  BTW, ZCS has a nice creamy head on it.

I gave up and called the store.  Carafa.

%20041209  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I don't follow these things very carefully, so I can't say with certainty that
a star wars tv show is in the works.  If it were, my only question would be 
why it took lucas so long to get to that medium.  Anyway, in case it is
happening and a title has not been agreed upon yet, I'd like to submit the
catchy:  "The Reruns of the Jedi." 

%20041116  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Don Marquis said, "A sequel is an admission that you've been reduced to
immitating yourself." 

It was announced today that Disney is setting up shop in Glendale to start
production on "Toy Story 3."  They've been reduced to immitating someone
they had to hire in lieu of doing good work themselves.

CNN link
If you've not been following the developments in this area, Disney and Pixar have had a cooperative agreement for the production of 6 movies. After Toy Story 2 came out, Disney pointed out (with logic that only seems to make sense if you are a lawyer working for Disney or Michael Eisner - it's an exercise for the reader to determine which has the longer horns and redder skin - that TS2 wasn't a movie, but a SEQUEL, according to their contracts. This left Pixar in the unenviable position of having made a movie - sorry, Mike, a SEQUEL - for Disney for free. So for the sake of a quick buck, Disney bent Pixar over the back of a chair and ruined a very productive arrangement. I've not missed opening night of a Pixar film yet, though I've not seen a Disney film since they turned sour when I was a kid. Short version: I'll happily ignore TS3 when it comes out.
%20041110  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
If you own a German Shepherd, a Doberman, a Rottweiler, or even a Chihuahua -
and your house gets robbed - you can expect the dog to raise the alarm.  The
only way you'll ever get an alarm out of a Labrador is if you tie a bell to
his tail.  - rbarry
%20041108  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
We have an even more ambiguous election this time around than last.  *sigh*

All I can say is, is anyone surprised that Halliburton stock shot up (beat the
dow margin by 3x) the day after the election?
%20041028  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Dateline, Broward County, Florida.  Broward was Gore's biggest landfall during
the 2000 election - a greater majority of Democratic voters turned out there
than any other county in the state.  Today it was announced that 58,000 ballots
already cast.... have gone missing from Broward.

CNN isn't covering this.  I had to go to The BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation.

To prove that he took the issue of global warming seriously, Marburger[1] shamelessly cited a study that President Bush had commissioned from the National Academy of Sciences. The administration had asked the NAS[2] to find "weaknesses" in climate science studies to justify their efforts to derail an international global warming treaty.[3] When the commissioned report instead confirmed human-induced climate change and mentioned fossil fuels as a major culprit the EPA decided to replace the findings in its Report on the Environment with a discredited study funded by the American Petroleum Institute.[4] [1] Dr. John Marburger III - George W. Bush's science advisor. [2] National Academy of Sciences. [3] "Moving Target on Policy Battlefield," Washington Post, May 2, 2002 ( [4] "Report by EPA Leaves out Data on Climate Change," New York Times, June 19, 2003
%20041026  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Why is it that, almost without exception, people searching for porn online
can't spell?  I get a half-dozen hits a day or more on this page - most of
which are people who are searching for free porn.  Most common spelling
mistakes?  'there' instead of 'their,'  'mashine,' 'mary-kay' instead of
%20041019  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Banking/Investing/Customer Care...
I am not a fan of Wells Fargo. Just laying it on the line. I pay $7/mo or so for
billpay and I heave a sigh of contempt every time I do it. When I tell people
(actually, I tend to rant and carry on) how much I hate doing business with WF,
the obvious question always surfaces: "Why do you continue to do business with

Simple: WellsTrade. Wells FARGO and I do very little business. I dread having to
call them or god forbid I should have to go in to a branch to get something
fixed, but WellsTRADE almost makes up for the headache. I call them with
questions or changes almost monthly... and I have never spent so much as one
minute on hold. Never.

Let me repeat that: WellsTrade has never put me on hold. I dial their number and
they have the strangest device on the other end of the line. It's not a silicon-
based device like so many switchboards are, but carbon based. It operates at a
mean temperature of roughly 36 Centegrade and has a very sophisticated voice
recognition and synth module. I don't even have to press 1 for English.

I need to know how my Traditional IRA will affect my taxes? Boom. Phone call
over in 3 minutes. Need the last 9 pages of that ESA application refaxed? 2
minutes. Wonder about that 30 dollar fee I received snail mail about? 2 minutes
- "Ah, we sent you a cancellation on that bill yesterday. It should be in
today's mail. Your accounts don't fall into our fee schedules."

When AT&T Broadband and AT&T Cable kept getting into a contest to see who could
frustrate me more (Broadband would connect my cable and the TV company, knowing
that I shouldn't have TV simply pulled the plug) by keeping me in internet
service for 3 out of every 30 days, I spent man-days on the phone - most of it
with listening to whatever Whitney Houston song was most likely to get me to
hang up. Side note: do you think they keep track of what music makes what
customers the least likely to wait for an associate? Have you ever thought to
yourself, "Gee, I hope nobody picks up before this song is over?"

When the same AT&T combatants remanded my (paid) accounts to collections
agencies, I spent a year-and-a-half getting that fixed (they withdrew.) All of
this mess because the people on the other end of the lines either were computers
or were trained to behave like them. I commend WellsTrade for a job well-done.
For anyone listening, I suspect that between the fact that they get the job done
well and quickly, and that they keep customers, their customer service is far
'cheaper' than the digital nightmare we all steeplechase day after day.

-rbarry (on
%20041014  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Doctor, are you SURE I don't have hypochondria? -rbarry
%20041007  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Still working on band names:
    "Still Got Our Day Jobs."

I swear I'm going to make a regular feature of the searches that get people to this page. The most recent ones that really caught my eye were: * Mary-Kate XXX * idiot's guide to sound waves * 10-digit prime numbers in e - someone trying to solve the google labs puzzle, I gather. I was VERY disappointed that there were only two stages to the thing. When they have 10 or so, then I'll apply, acting on the assumption that they've filtered out the riff-raff. =] -rbarry
%20041004  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Two recent announcements from Microsoft have me up in arms.  First, they're
going to offer an anti-spyware product.  I'm not even sure where to begin on
this one.  How about requiring that every executing program be visible to the
user in some way or another, like... say... the process management window?
When I suspect that something is running on my computer that shouldn't be (my
disk is grinding away when I'm not doing anything) that's the first thing I
start.  Without fail, the offending process notices that PM is starting and
zonks out...  and I'm stuck reinstalling my computer.

How about simply creating a PM that works as it should?  That would be a nice

Simply put, it's Microsoft's damn fault that spyware exists.  Maybe they
should fix their OS instead of putting out a piece of software that is nothing
more than marketing drivel.  If MS has an anti-spyware product, spyware _must_
be the fault of those nasty black-hats, right?

Second, Ballmer stating that the battle against viruses is a never-ending
battle.  Ah, shit.  Where do I begin with this one?

Set the wayback machine for 1995.  Ron is working in the computer labs, where
students ask a myriad of questions, but there is definately a top ten list.
On that list are such gems as "can I get a virus via email?" ...and, at the
DEC/Ultrix lab, "is there a virus scanner in here?"

The answer to the first question was a resounding no.  We usually got a private
giggle out of the question.  I mean, email is a device for propegating text.
How do you get a binary from your source, to your inbox (on a unix box,) to
your local machine via a nice ASCII-filter?  You couldn't.  Leave it to
microsoft to invent a away to do so.  It's called Outlook.  For God's sake,
don't use it.

As far as DEC/Ultrix is concerned, my airing it regards a greater concern:

        Viruses are a Microsoft-World problem.  Full Stop.

In my time as a Unix user, I've seen ONE Linux virus and it depended heavily
upon the version of Linux you were running.  You could only get the virus
from someone else running exactly the same version.  In other words, the thing
was nothing more than an intellectual curiosity.  I say that I've only "seen"
one unix virus before, but to be more accurate, I've only _heard_ of one.  The
thing never propegated beyond a few dozen computers.

The reason viruses don't show up in unix is somewhat technical, but it boils
down to core priorities.  Unix separates the user from the machine and then
allows the user at the important bits of the machine once it is determined that 
such an action is allowed.  Microsoft assumes that the user owns the machine 
and can do whateverthehell he wants with it, so when something nasty finds 
its way onboard, it can play havoc.  Unix, no privileges, no havoc.  MS - the 
world is the Black Hat's paradise.

You may think that I'm just MS-bashing here, but I'm being very realistic.
Security has never been a priority at Microsoft.  How could it be?  You can't
market security to someone that believes that there's nothing on their
computer worth securing - even if they do pay their bills, access their credit
cards and bank, and work at home on that machine.  Until (insert name of very
large, very unlucky company here) really gets burned and the world starts
holding individuals accountable for their online/email stupidity, Microsoft
doesn't have to spend a cent on security.  They'll just keep treating it as
they have - in the press.
%20040922  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It occurred to me today that the S.C. Johnson quote:

    A successful [software] tool is one that was used to do something
    undreamed of by its author.

would classify bugs and security holes as _contributors_ to the success
of a tool, thereby neatly explaining the success of Microsoft.

%20040920  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The normal make a living - the deranged make history. - Titus.
%20040917  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
From the RFC #2795, on the design of the Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite:

   All IMPS protocols must utilize the following packet structure.

   |Version | Seq  # | Protocol # | Reserved  | Size  |
   |         Source        |      Destination         |
   |           Data                        | Padding  |

   Version, Sequence Number, Protocol Number, and Reserved fields
   are 32 bit unsigned integers.  For IMPS version 1.0, the Version must
   be 1.  Reserved must be 0 and will always be 0 in future uses.  It is
   included because every other protocol specification includes a
   "future use" reserved field which never, ever changes and is
   therefore a waste of bandwidth and memory. [6] [7] [8].
%20040908  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"You really should try the Samoyed Brittle.  It's quite tasty." - rbarry
%20040907  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Would someone mind explaining to me why the Selective Service System (SSS, not
to be confused with, but similar in some respects to the SS) is ramping up for
full activation?  Every one of 20,000 draft positions (boards and appeals) must
be ready by June 15, 2005.

Who's our next war with, George?  

By the way, you'll now have to get a "pre-clearance" to go to Canada - a
precaution against draft-dodgers.

It certainly would make the Mary-Kate and Ashley games a bit more interesting
if they got drafted.
%20040906  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It's 3am and I have just gotten back from the hospital and finished all my
chores for the day.  I'll be getting marilyn in about 6 hours.  So much for
a good night's rest tonight.
%20040831  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
For those of you who have suffered through my plan day after day after day, 
today is when it really pays off for you:  

At 2:50 this morning marilyn was poking me awake.  Not surprising - she has
the alarm on her side of the bed and I never hear it, so I asked her to make
sure she poked me awake a bit earlier than usual this morning.  Tuesdays are
staff meeting days.

It was dark outside and the light in the room was on... and marilyn was working
on a glass of wine!?!?!?!?!?  Hello, Leo G. Carrol.

"My water broke an hour ago."

I guess I'll be missing my staff meeting.
%20040830  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I hope one day to clone another Dick Cheney.  Then I won't have to do anything.
GW Bush.
%20040826  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
...and since, by the end of the week, I'll have 15 gallons of beer brewing in
my building (some is shared with the neighbors):

"Mr. Rumson, do you believe that everything that comes out of the earth should
be made into Liquor?"

"Whenever possible." - Paint Your Wagon, (AKA The Outlaw Josey Wails)
%20040825  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Insurance == Statistics.  This should make sense.
I want to build an optically transparent bowling ball with a video camera
mounted inside with a gyroscopic stabilizer to keep it level and aimed in
the direction of the pins.  I have no idea why.  -rbarry

State Farm Insurance has been my insurance carrier for the entire time I've been driving - the better part of two decades. At times, I've had to call them to tell them that I was changing my policy and they've always been good about making changes retroactively. Today, I called them to cancel my renters' policy - the title on our house required that we have a year of insurance through the title company's cohorts. "No problem," I thought. I thought. Well, I think I thought. There is something about working every day with things that don't make sense that seems to give the brain a chance explain to itself the complete nonsense of what it's doing. I tried a half-dozen times to explain to the agent that if I was cancelling a policy, my rate should go down. Over and over I was told that this was not the case because I'd be losing my "multi-line discount." Since I had a number of policies with them, they gave me a bit of a break. The break turned out to be twice what I 'paid' for renters' coverage. I should have asked how many policies I needed to add to my insurance to get to the point where they were paying me every month. Here's where it gets weird. Remember what I said about retroactive adjustment of coverage? If the change to my policy had been made - and made retroactively - I would have had to PAY THEM FOR THE LAST 13 DAYS OF TIME WHERE I WANTED THEM TO NOT COVER ME FOR SOMETHING AGAINST WHICH I HAD NOT CLAIMED!!! State Farm? It's been an interesting two decades. -rbarry (on
%20040820  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A friend and I (HI BRIAN) have had some interesting conversations about the
possibility of writing an adaptation of Sun Tsu's "Art of War" in the netrek

As you can imagine, there are some things that transfer rather well to a Star-
Trek-iverse Mini-Massive Multiplayer Simulation (STiMMMS.)  Energy,
Maneuvering, the Skillful Attack.  We're having a bit of trouble with it 
where the horses come in, though.

Another first today: html formatting in the (gulp) blog.
The Four Word Film Review has become something of an idle sport for my officemate, Brian Scearce and me. While discussing recent submissions (his, mine) we started discussing an old sci-fi flick called The Terminal Man. I'll spare you the gory details, but a dude has a device implanted in the main character's skull to predict seizures and zap him when they're on their way. It drove him nuts. Bad Sci-fi at it's best. Just as I finish this conversation, I turn to my machine and give my password to the screenlock. In front of me is yesterday's edition of I hit reload.... and stare blankly at a screen displaying a description of a device that does exactly the same thing. I'll let you all know how the microphone search goes.
%20040812  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Only CNN can bring you the phrase "simian work ethic."
%20040810  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A little PSA for you:

You're walking down the street and behold - an unopened candy bar.  Do you,
a) Pick it up and eat it?
b) Pick it up and give it to a friend to eat?
c) Ignore it - the problem will go away by itself?

The correct answer is:
d) Treat it as though it were an explosive device and call in the FBI?

Setting aside the political commentary about my dislike of the FBI and 
Homeland Insecurity, I have a point to make about how so many of you are
treating your computers.

Someone sends you an email message with an attachment.  Do you open the
attachment?  NO!  FOR CHRISSAKE, STOP DOING IT!  How often has anyone EVER
sent you email that you didn't expect in some sense?  Your children send
you pictures of your grandchildren?  Great.  If the filenames make sense,
by all means, open them up.

However, when the email comes and has no message body that says, "LOOK!
It's Junior's first explosive embolism!  Isn't he CUTE?" should
suspect that something is up.  Even opening an IMAGE can be a security
problem. (

Just delete it.

When you open these attachments, you're not only eating the candy bar,
but you're taking a chunk to your friends, co-workers, employers, and
anyone else you might have had an email correspondence with in the last
umpteen ages, jumping on their shoulders, yanking back their throats,
and shoving it down their gullets.  Enjoy the imagery?  Neither do I,
but neither do I enjoy getting these things.  I'm pessimistic enough
about the intelligence of the average individual.  The problems with
email worms would GO AWAY if everyone would just use some common sense
and realize that their computer is somewhat frail.  It does whatever 
you tell it to, even if you tell it to stick an untrusted .exe to it's 
head and pull the int.

This message also applies to the literally hundreds of thousands of 
people who have downloaded the "increase your doom3 performance by
40%" binaries.  What the hell are you thinking?  You trust a guy on
a soapbox to be able to optimize your game more than you trust ID to put
out a product that's had every CPU cycle carefully squeezed (squozen?)
out of it?

Worms and Spam are two problems that simply go away if people are bright
enough not to respond to the social engineering contained within.  I'm
going to petition the SS (Office of Fatherland Security) to start
a "witless protection agency," where anyone who forwards viruses or
actually buys viagra online will have an agent sitting at their computer
whenever they use it telling them that taking melaphoxinine will not help
them choose lottery numbers.
%20040805  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful - and so are we," said George W.
Bush to a high-level meeting of Pentagon officials.

"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people -
and neither do we." 

I believe it.  FUD is the only thing that will keep him in office.

I'm not sure I'd trust a kit called "Mr. Beer" to put out a good product. After all, I've known an awful lot of Mr. Smiths in my time, but I'd not trust a single one of them to shoe my horse. - rbarry
We were unable to access the page you requested. Our server july be busy. Please wait a few seconds, then try again. - error message received from's website today.... repeatedly...
%20040802  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I got a divorce... and an exeat from her family. -rbarry

You know those obstacle courses they have dogs run through? I built one for my wife... Brian Scearce
%20040728  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
At Sun, I get regular reports about security issues of all kinds.  Viruses,
vulnerabilities, social engineering.  And Encryption.  Much of it is offsite
information and some of it comes from news sources rather than technical
people, like this gem from

A basic measure of an encryption algorithm's strength is the length of the
key used to scramble messages. Each additional bit increases the number of 
possible combinations by a factor of 10. For a 56-bit key, someone would 
have to correctly guess each of 10 possible numerals for all 56 bits in 
the key to break it. 

As Brian Scearce has suggested, you might want to concentrate on the zeroes
and ones for a while before proceeding on to the twos, threes, and so on.
%20040727  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"...and the software version of that, which I will get for you as soon as
I go to the bathroom, ..."  Brian Scearce  (Re: Settlers of Catan, though
possibly core dumps.)
%20040726  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Today marks a sad, sad day.  It is the first time I have referred to my 
.plan as a blog.  Ew.

"What was that article on robotic planes I saw last week. I guess I'll have to Google for it. "Hrm.... Google's down. I'll have to put that on hold for a minute. I guess I'll look up 'omoshiroi,' since I can't remember what it means... "Hrm.... Google's down. I'll have to put that on hold for a minute. I guess I'll look up the SQL Inner Join... "Hrm.... Google's down. This seems strangely familiar. Maybe I'll see if there's any news about the problem... "Hrm.... Google's down.... Maybe I'll update my blog." Dude... I'm getting Google withdrawl shakes. GWS? Goorawkes? By the end of the day, I'm sure the world will have a technical term for it. a la Nightfall (AGH!!! I couldn't remember the author - Asimov, I was fairly sure- but I started reaching for the browser to Google for it,) maybe the sudden plunge of our civilization into Google-less darkness will be the fall into madness that ends our civilization. =]
%20040721  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
England and America are two countries separated by a common language.
- George Bernard Shaw

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. - George Bernard Shaw
When Rudolph Nureyev was to appear on the Muppet Show, he turned up about ten minutes late, disturbing Sam the Eagle to no end. There was a major traffic jam slowing his progress to the Show, though on his motorcycle Nureyev was able to weave his way up to the source of the problem; a herd of caribou were picketing the theater. They were claiming that many of the Muppets did not have their Actors' Guild memberships. Nureyev told the police there that he'd have a word with the disgruntled cervids and approached. The police watched with interest as a great debate ensued, impressed by Nureyev's total composure and control of the situation. After a few moments, there appeared to be some agreement. The caribou dispersed and Nureyev entered the Theater only a few minutes late. One of the officers expressed his surprise at the result to his partner, who simply shrugged and replied, "Foregone conclusion. After all, Rudolf Nureyev knows Reindeer." -rbarry
%20040720  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Not that I agree with him, and there is a certain hubris in the sentence
in addition to the word's actual presence, but its worth a quote:

This chapter, more than any other in this book, is about Laziness, 
Impatience, and Hubris -- because this chapter is about good software
design.  - Chapter 5, Programming Perl - Wall, Christiansen & Schwartz
%20040719  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
What's the name of the bacteria that causes dental tartar?  It's right on the
tip of my tongue.  - rbarry
%20040716  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Just because security and convenience are mutually exclusive doesn't mean that
insecurity and inconvenience are - ask your microsoft rep. - rbarry
%20040714  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
In the neverending search for a band name, I submit to you:

    "Everything in B-flat"

I've generally avoided posting log information here. There's still a part of me that admonishes that there's evil afoot wherever one publishes private information - a throwback to the days when one would spend hours absorbed in alt.flames, aghast at anyone who dared to publish email sent, in private, to them. However, I find the reasons that people end up at this page increasingly entertaining. A quick look at my logs can quickly tell you what search engines are good and which are bad, simply because the good engines don't send people here. I've often considered concatenating /usr/share/dict/words (every word in the English Language) to the end of this file just as a flytrap for people who are still naive enough to use the msn search engine. Anyway, as I was attempting to convey, today's entertainment is provided by those poor souls who have found this page while looking for something ENTIRELY different: ( directions to the Federal Prison in Lorren, Pennsylvania ( stats on successful young marriages ( Cocaine math stumped Grade 11 ( advertizing agency wants cats, kittens ( amphi high school grade records ( Charlotte Ross in "Nude Awakening" ( budweiser finger exercise manchine [sic] ( fast lisa performing chewing stockholder Now I'm not favoring google here. It's not as though they are giving me hits that I"m not reporting. I'm heavily editing others in this list - msn? My god I see a lot of crap from them. (See "yougoslavia virgins," below.) The simple fact is that google is only giving me people that are clearly looking for something in this page. ("The story of Mel," for example.)
They didn't want it good, they wanted it Wednesday. -- Robert Heinlein. I'll withhold my comments about working at Acclaim Entertainment for now.
%20040713  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Taken VERBATIM from  Minor typo, but you have to wonder.

Your feelings of conspiracy, etc., are classic signs of schizophrenia, most
assuredly not caused from hitting your head, but rather from the LSD, since
LDS has been shown to lead to psychotic disorders.

State Farm Insurance has been my insurance carrier for the entire time I've been driving - the better part of two decades. At times, I've had to call them to tell them that I was changing my policy and they've always been good about making changes retroactively. Today, I called them to cancel my renters' policy - the title on our house required that we have a year of insurance through the title company's cohorts. "No problem," I thought. I thought. Well, I think I thought. There is something about working every day with things that don't make sense that seems to give the brain a chance explain to itself the complete nonsense of what it's doing. I tried a half-dozen times to explain to the agent that if I was canceling a policy, my rate should go down. Over and over I was told that this was not the case because I'd be losing my "multi-line discount." Since I had a number of policies with them, they gave me a bit of a break. The break turned out to be twice what I 'paid' for renters' coverage. I should have asked how many policies I needed to add to my insurance to get to the point where they were paying me every month. Here's where it gets weird. Remember what I said about retroactive adjustment of coverage? If the change to my policy had been made - and made retroactively - I would have had to PAY THEM FOR THE LAST 13 DAYS OF TIME WHERE I WANTED THEM TO NOT COVER ME FOR SOMETHING AGAINST WHICH I HAD NOT CLAIMED!!! State Farm? It's been an interesting two decades.
%20040701  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
If Helen of Troy was the beauty that launched a thousand ships, is a millihelen
the beauty required to launch a single ship?  How many microhelens does it take
to send off a single sailor?
%20040623  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Okay, there's plenty to get excited about in mathematics, but I consider
a whole volume on the history of zero to be much ado about nothing. -rbarry
%20040621  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
...there is a huge difference between disliking somebody -- maybe even 
disliking them a lot -- and actually shooting them, strangling them, dragging 
them through the fields and setting their house on fire. It was a difference 
which kept the vast majority of the population alive from day to day.
- Douglas Adams, DGHDA

I've discovered something of a secret formula for productivity at work. To put it in context, I tend to have a hard time getting started on anything. Once I'm fully engulfed by a project, I'm there. It's that period of time where the issue is dangling on a hook and I have to decide if I like the look of the barb. Once I'm started, I'm easily distracted - even by simple boredom. The formula? * Make sure that you are in the middle of something when you leave at night. This guarantees that you aren't trying to bootstrap first thing in the morning. * Take notes on where the hell you were when you knocked off for the evening. There's nothing worse than rubbing the sand out of your eyes while trying to figure out why this doesn't work: sed ' /[:,]root,/b /[:,]root$/b s/:1:\([^:][^:]*\)$/:1:root,\1/; s/:1:$/:1:root/; ' $dest > /tmp/g.$$ && (Keep in mind, I know zilch about sed.) * There's a reason why they give Ridlin, a STIMULANT, to ADD children. If your mind refuses to attack something - rather than lugubriously prodding it with a dead snake - you won't stay on the ball. Our brains evolved for a greater degree of multi-tasking than our careers demmand. A little caffeine goes a long way. One a day is sufficient.
%20040616  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
When your urologist asks you how it's going... he means it.  - rbarry
%20040615  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
How to read Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams:
* Run (walk, crawl, sprint, mosey, amble, toddle, limp, soldier forth) to the 
nearest (or farthest - maybe you need the exercise) bookstore (not library, the
economy needs your help) and locate a copy of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective
Agency, the book whose title fits on a line of text about as well as the book
itself fits into a beer bottle.
* Purchase said book, hereafter known as DGHDA, tbwtfoalotaawatbifiabb, or
DGHDA for short.
* When you get DGHDA, aka the book whose damn abbreviation must be typed mostly
on one finger if you use a sensible keyboard layout, (that's the interesting 
thing about using dvorak - words are great for typing, but the random layout of 
qwerty makes acronyms easy while on dvorak they tend to reduce your index 
fingers to mush) take it home and put it down.
* Go back to the bookstore.  This is a test for all of you who start building a
model before actually reading all the directions: you forgot your copy of the
Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.  A Samuel Taylor Coleridge biography might be
nice as well.
* Read the Rhyme.
* If you've gotten this far, you either study the model instructions first or
you received the same high-school-english selective lobotomy I did.  Rhyme is
not a gripping read.
* If you picked up the biography you could read it, but I'd like a few
survivors here.  Please use it to shim your chair or heat your home, though not
at the same time - they say a maimed plaintif is a legal gold mine.
* Read DGHDA.  It won't make any more sense than it would have before, but now
you have a chance of understanding why the author put us through that last bit.

Actually, I'm reading it again now for the first time in yearsandyearsandyears.
I'd read Rhyme and knew a bit about Samuel Taylor Coleridge and it still
weirded me out.

PS - as of 20040625, I had fully re-read both.  I still don't get Dirk's visit.
I realized today that I missed my calling in life.  Looking at my notes for
the day it occurred to me that I should take them to the local pharmacy and 
see what I've written myself a prescription for. -rbarry

The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe. Unfortunately this Electric Monk had developed a fault, and had started to believe all kinds of things, more or less at random. It was even beginning to believe things they'd have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City. -Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
%20040601  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
If you don't understand the term "Turing Complete," please don't try to
convince me that HTML is a programming language. - rbarry
%20040527  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The word of the day is somnolant.  If I were conscious, I might be able to
explain.  Funny, the words one encounters when re-re-re-re-reading Adams.
Even funnier; how many times I've been willing to skip looking up words that
I'd n-1 times before I'd been willing to skip. - rbarry

The Hingefreel people of Arkintoofle Minor did try to build spaceships that were powered by bad news but they didn't work particularly well and were so extremely unwelcome whenever they arrived anywhere that there wasn't really any point in being there. -- from the opening paragraphs of "Mostly Harmless," by Douglas Adams.
%20040526  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The word of the day is lassitude.  If I had the energy, I might be able to
%20040525  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
This really belongs in May of 2002, but I felt that it was a good idea to get
it archived in case USU blows away the only copy of it out there.  There's
always the hope that someone from this era will contact me...


I can't express my sadness at seeing the Club shut down. It had been a long, 
hard road to keep it operational at times. Without the help and companionship 
of a number of people over the years I would never have been willing to put so 
much blood, sweat and tears into it.

Brian Carver and Nate Packer - you're both certifiable and damned if I'd take 
you any other way. I can clearly remember my first meetings with the both of 
you, and I can say without reservation that my first impressions of you turned 
out to be absolutely true.

Mika, you were a latecommer to this batch of psychotics, but you fit right 
in. =] This was a real crate of loonies you jumped in with, and I've been glad 
from day one to have you. I wish you the best in everything you do.

I'd like to add my thanks to two other people. Nate and I remember 
Chris Oversby, though nobody of the current 'generation' would. His 
determination to make this work rubbed off on me in a major way. He started 
this Club with two dry weapons and a couple masks. Everything we walk away from 
this experience with is attributable to this wonderful man.

Secondly, I'd like to thank Katrina Farrow. You meant more to me than I ever 
let on. Your spirit and character have been greatly missed. I hope you found 
everything you were looking for and more.

When I left Logan, I didn't really feel like I'd left anything behind. Most of 
the people I'd been through school with were gone, and Brian and Nate weren't 
going to be long before I expected to see them in Salt Lake. The school itself 
was a collection of mixed experiences and some disappointments. The moment I 
really felt that the life I had and the person I'd been had really ended, was 
when I unloaded the gear I had to bring back to Salt Lake from my car. That 
bloody box and all the electrical problems we'd had with it... the reels that 
I've re-wired more times than I can count... floor cords that were an unending 
nightmare... A flood of time and memories came back. Most of what I remember 
comes from the people...

Everyone that put up with my teaching and all the friends I made in that club - 
you have been a wonderful part of my life. Thank you so much for those moments. 
I'll treasure them forever...

%20040524  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A letter to the editor I bashed out on Feb 17.  Funny that none of the usual
slew of papers would take it:

Between George W. Bush's hints, in his State of the Union Address, that he 
wanted to amend the Constitution to forbid gay marriage and the recent 
developments in San Francisco, one can hardly miss the rising tensions
surrouding gay unions in this country at the moment.  The President's approach 
is the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman - a
statement that I believe entirely cheapens the idea of a marriage down to the
level of sex.  Though I am heterosexual, I find this presumption to be grossly

The advocates of gay marriage argue for a definition based on love, dedication,
and commitment.  These ideas should not be so foreign to Mr. Bush.  He has been
a Methodist since his marriage in November, 1977.  The Methodist vows ask,
"wilt thou have this woman/man to be thy wife/husband?"  And, "Wilt you love
him/her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others ... so long as
ye both shall live?"

Love.  Dedication.  Commitment.  These are the ideals so important to Mr. 
Bush's Christian faith that they are part of his holy bond.  I have attended
weddings where the term "to cleave unto" explicitly laid down in the vows that
sex was a part of what it is to be married, but this is not George's marriage.
He wants to define marriage in his own image.  He seems to be ignoring the
fact that this land was first colonized by people fleeing from the tyrany of
crusidic Christianity.  He's perfectly happy to be bringing centuries-old
persecution, left behind by those settlers, to this land that he called "A
Land of Freedom and Opportunity Unequaled" on July 4, 2001.

He wishes to become the opressor.
%20040519  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I swear I'm going to write a book using the weird subject lines that show up in
my inbox.  Today's contestants are:

    fitful protoplast decretory     - Explain that one.
%20040514  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Dear George,

I'd like to thank you for rescuing the United States from what little
dignity it had left after the first two years of your presidency.

You may not take responsibility for what has happened to the world impression
of our nation as a result of _your_ war, but I hold you personally responsible.

Fortunately, as a result of the disaster you've made of the economy, we can
neither earn the wage we could before nor is our dollar worth anywhere near
what it was on foreign markets when you took office, so I have little ability
to leave the states as I would like to do on a normal vacation.  I say 
fortunately because there is no longer a nation left upon this earth in which 
I cannot go without gaining the open rebuke of the citizenry - where I would 
not assume a foreign accent to avoid being identified with you and your 
personal agenda.

So your father was a failure in Iraq.  American voters booted him after one
term because they realized that he was a failure in many things.  You didn't
have to go opening old wounds to try to clear the Bush name.  You've made me,
for the first time in my life, ashamed to be an American. 

Though I'll always be a patriot.

        -- Ron Barry  
%20040513  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"...voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of
the leaders.  That is easy.  All you have to do is tell them they are being
attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the
country to danger.  It works the same way in any country."
- Hermann Goring
%20040430  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Like dogs and muggers, transistors can sense fear. - Norman Yarvin

I've no idea why I never posted this here. I wrote it up for alt.rodents.pets.rats a couple years ago now: It's been a long time since I had rats, but thought it might be fun to share my experience of a multi-species (feline/rodent) household: I was doing some volunteering for a local animal shelter - taking in ferals and socializing them - when I got a call from the organizer. She had just gotten a pregnant, 9-month-old cat and didn't want the kittens born at the shelter - they'd grow up wild. So I cleared space for a mamma and a week later had a batch of kittens. As the kittens grew, they would sit in front of the rat cage like a 3-year-old glued to a Disney movie. The mother cat showed no interest, so I carefully started introducing everyone. The mamma cat sniffed at the rat and walked off. Over the weeks, the rat had run of the household: pic1 pic2 (Notice that in the second pic, the rat is eating from the catfood bowl, hidden from view.) The cats were very interested, but never got any farther than touching at her with a paw. After a few months, the kittens were adopted out, but I kept the mamma (now called Mamma) and the runt (Mowgli.) The rat was by now accustomed to having the run of the house while the cats followed at a respectable distance. One day, watching TV, I caught out of the corner of my eye the rat skittering into the kitchen followed closely by two cats. I thought nothing of it until several seconds later when I heard the most awful, high-pitched scream coming from the room. On my feet and across the room, I rounded the corner to the kitchen expecting to find that my favorite rat was no more. I would NEVER have guessed what I actually saw: a ten-pound cat, standing on her hind legs in the corner of the kitchen, trying desperately to put distance between her and the rat - about a foot away and also on her hind legs. Difference was.... THE RAT HAD A HUGE TUFT OF CAT HAIR IN HER MOUTH!!! Near as I can figure, the rat finally had enough of months of being a curiousity and put the cat in her place when prodded. After that day, I could always tell when the rat was on her way into the room... both cats would stand up, hiss, and dart out. rOn
%20040423  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"In short, without this exclusive franchise called the Windows API, we would
have been dead a long time ago." - Microsoft Senior Vice President Bob Muglia
%20040419  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
With the recent discovery on Mars of a fingerprint match of several meteorites
already found on earth, everyone is enjoying a time of speculation regarding
the cross-seeding of life from one planet to the other.  The religious right
is echoing the same rhetoric they have since Galilleo's heretic days and the
"maybes" are popping up all over the sci and sci-fi cultures.

It seems to make a certain level of sense to test the idea.  Pocket anything
from an amino acid to a bacterium in a Ni-Fe chamber, strap it to the space
station for a year, then drop it.  When it lands, pick it up and see if 
anything might be coaxed back to life.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Actually, I've become a glib believer in the notion that anything the
Catholics revile as sacreligious must be true.  =]

%20040415  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Doing a quick "ego search" as part of a test of, I found an opportunity
to marvel at the ambiguity in the English Language.  I found:

Eighty-second Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists.

By the time they're done with the title, their time is almost up.
Fear the ducky!
%20040412  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Micro$oft's new business plan:

Abuse IP you don't own, infringe patents, steal ideas... settle out of court
for pennies on the dollar of what you made in the process.
%20040408  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Re-Defeat George W. Bush!

Hell, VOTE for Bush.  Look at what happened when he LOST!
"Maybe death is just nature's way of saying 'Try again'" -- The Tick

Who was it that said that ironies come in twos?
Actually, I'm just making that shit up - none of my entries have any sort of lead-in and therefore make for boring reading. Of COURSE it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm a terrible writer anyway.... =] Where was I going with this? Must not have been important.
%20040406  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
When you send me junk mail, you might want to be more careful about the
subject lines generated by your mail multiplexor.  For instance, this morning
I did a grep ^Subject garbage, and found an ad whose title was "gaudy."  Okay,
not great advertising, but not great entertainment either.

I decided that contestant number 207 is going to be my band name:

                    SCULPIN OPPRESSOR

I'm still trying to figure out what a brouhaha berlitz is.
%20040311  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
After many hours of programming work, we were able to estimate that 
Kansas's flatness is approximately 0.9997. That degree of flatness 
might be described, mathematically, as "damn flat."

Going over the org chart - and where a certain new employee fell in the chain, the employee joked, "so I have to be promoted 6 times to be the CEO." His boss (one promotion up, BTW) replied, "...and get at least 6 lobotomies."
%20040305  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The only constant in the universe is change... 99 times out of 100.
You know there is something wrong with campaign finance when the Democratic
Party _hopes_ to raise $105 Million over the course of their campaign and the
Republican Party has ALREADY (look at today's date, people) raised $155 M.

%20040226  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The risks of putting too much [of your 401k] into [your employer's] company
stock are ... otherwise known as "Drinking the company Kool-Aid." - Liz Puliam
Weston, columnist for msn money.
%20040220  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Well, Bush's support is not holding as well as he'd like.  Sections of NASA who
aren't so happy with the reorganization of cash have made sure that Hubble is
in the news every day, San Francisco, among others, aren't exactly falling over
for The Lame Duck's Constitutional ban on freedom hinted at in the State of the
Union.  His attempts to unload responsibility for the WoMD issue in Iraq onto
the intelligence community by ordering his own personal investigation hasn't
gone over so well.  The Nazi's SS has been grabbing some less-than-glorious
news recently, as well.

This means he's _really_ got his back against the wall Re: garding the
Re: 'lection.  Following Utah's example, voting districts are being
manipulated in preparation for the upcoming election: states supporting Bush in
the last election have seen an additional 2% electoral vote count while those
who did not.... a 2% REDUCTION.  The increases and reductions do not
statistically match population (of voting age) changes.  I'm counting on some
serious economic (and other) diddling before too long.  If Bush succeeds,
investors can make their money over the next 9 months.  Otherwise, double-
benefit:  You have more time to invest and the market recovery will finish its
work in December AND we get rid of George W. Orwell.   

As far as that illustrious (illaudable, illegitimate, illiberal) president -
win or lose (or lose or win,) I'm staying pat...
%20040130  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
McDonald's mascot holds the official title of "Chief Happiness Officer."
%20040128  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've been invited to the nudists' ball, but I haven't a thing to wear! - rbarry

I mentioned last week that I expected continued rape of natural resources as a method of boosting Bush's economic woes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding logging in California - four fold. Why? "To reduce the risk of wildfires." Bullshit.
%20040127  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
So the Queen of England is knighting Bill Gates.  I didn't think it was 
customary to knight the dragon. - rbarry
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. - Nietzsche

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you. - Nietzsche
One repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil. And why do you not want to pluck at my wreath?...You say you believe in Zarathustra? But what matters Zarathustra? You are my believers but what matter all believers? You had not yet sought yourselves: and you found me. Thus do all believers; therefore all faith amounts to so little. Now I bid you lose me and find yourselves; and only when you have all denied me will I return to you... - Nietzsche
%20040124  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The ECB (European Central Bank) in considering dropping their lending rates
in the face of the Dollar's current weakness.  After the announcement, the
dollar climbed by about the same margin as the US market fell.

I'm thinking that the strength of the US market is more tied to the fact that
with the Dollar sinking so low, not only exports are increasing, but the
investment in US markets in speculation that the trend will continue, but
foreign purchase of US stocks, bonds, and funds is on the rise as well.  I 
have some doubts here in the fact that market growth over the last year only
shows about a 30% improvement.  In that same time, I see about a 17% increase
of the Euro against the Dollar.  If US market growth were a combination of
increasing faith in US economic indicators AND the plummetting value of the
dollar and its effect upon rate of foreign investment, I'd expect a greater
increase in the indecies. 

There's another flip side even to that - a 30% growth in a year is going to
lean many investors to profit-taking.  Just as there are phenomena of gestalt
thinking as markets drop that can limit - or amplify - loss, there are some
that prevent growth.  If investors believe that the market will average %11
over the long term, chances are it will continue to do so far a long time.  By
the same token, if investors believe that 30% is too good to be believed, that
is where growth will cap out.

So.  (I love that sentence.)  My current outlook:  I'll stay the course as long
as the trend of the dollar continues.  After that, I have to find a way to have
my $$$ out of US markets in preparation for the correction.  I still hold the
belief that this will be after the election.
%20040123  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't
cross the street to vote in a national election. - Bill Vaughan

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject. - Winston Chruchill
A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular. - Adlai Stevenson
Creating a computer language in which it is possible to write in English is pure folly. I've known very few computer scientists who can write in English.
A long memory is the most subversive idea in America.
A lot of people I know believe in positive thinking, and so do I. I believe that everything positively stinks. - Lew Col
A man said to the Universe: "Sir, I exist!" "However," replied the Universe, "the fact has not created in me a sense of obligation." - Stephen Crane
A mexican newspaper reports that bored Royal Air Force pilots stationed on the Falkland Islands have devised what they consider a marvelous new game. Noting that the local penguins are fascinated by airplanes, the pilots search out a beach where the birds are gathered and fly slowly along it at the water's edge. Perhaps ten thousand penguins turn their heads in unison watching the planes go by, and when the pilots turn around and fly back, the birds turn their heads in the opposite direction, like spectators at a slow-motion tennis match. Then, the paper reports, "The pilots fly out to sea and directly to the penguin colony and overfly it. Heads go up, up, up, and ten thousand penguins fall over gently onto their backs." - Audubon Society Magazine.
A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms. - George Wald
A person is just about as big as the things that make them angry. - Anonymous (Attribution update on 20090217)
A raccoon tangled with a 23,000 volt line today. The results blacked out 1400 homes and, of course, one raccoon. - Steel City News
A tautology is a thing which is tautological.
All syllogisms have three parts, therefore this is not a syllogism.
All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers - each one owes infinitely more to the human race than to the particular country in which he was born. - Francois Fenelon
There is so much sand in Northern Africa that if it were spread out it would completely cover the Sahara Desert.
An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. - James Michener, "Space"
The most effective way to deal with predators is to taste terrible.
%20040122  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
One of the first questions many people ask me when I tell them that I'm working
with John Romero is, what's he really like?  (HELP ME!)  His reputation seems
to preceede him (Please, he's driving me crazy,) everywhere he goes and 
people are curious about whether or not it can be that bad.  (No, seriously, if
I have to hear about how "cool" Apple II assembly code is one more time... for
the love of God, just drop an Apple ][GS on my head!)  It's been a very
productive, enjoyable, professional experience.

  - Non-verbatim quote from a powerpoint/speech. - a propeganda engine for the US patriot act - not only makes the claim that their goal is the preservation of life and liberty, but they have the ironic gall to include a privacy statement.
%20040121  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The Great Reversal.

For those to whom life makes sense only when their ends are up, I present
the same plan you all know and love... with what you've not read yet at the
top.  For those of you who read things in chronological order (including me,)
I guess we're screwed.

I just realized that cascading dates are now screwed.  I'll have to go back
and fix it.
%20040119  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Only George W Bush can say that the enemies of freedom are being rounded up.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. - Thomas Jefferson Just remember that he didn't mean the governing body watching you, but the other way around.
Well, I promised more on what I think Bush is doing. I doubt he'd go full despot, though it's certainly not out of the question. It would require that every American feel like they have something to lose - and keep their mouths shut and their heads down to keep it. This is the double-benefit for him with pushing the economy. After years of everyone worrying about their jobs and having money problems, if he can get to the point where jobs are relatively secure and social security (not that that term is not capitalized) is stable, he may achieve exactly that. %$ (Market posting) Our president is currently consolidating power. He has learned much from his granddaddy Prescott Bush and his financing of the Nazis in the 30s through the Union Banking Company. If you need any convincing of what he's up to, there are dozens of resources on the net that make it very clear that 1) The Bush family has learned from history, 2) Americans, thanks to a very poor education system, have not, and 3) Doomed to Repeat. Nuff Said. Bush is using the same rhetoric Hitler did, down to nearly exact quotes, to whip up support for his policies of stepping on constitutional rights. Associated Press has been told not to cover protests for the same reasons Hitler's cronies put the kibosh on demonstration coverage in the 30s. Bush has one major obstacle to overcome: the 2004 election. I don't think he can pull together everything he needs to to get where he's going (more on that later) in 11 months. He needs that election. He'll do anything to win it, and that means making every American voter happier. He'll do a tax cut. He'll continue raping the environment for every dollar. He'll make sure the dollar continues to drop against foreign currencies to keep foreigners buying US products - despite what that does to the economy in the long run. He'll continue to own the supreme court (7 of the 9 are Republican appointees) to keep controversial issues put off until after the elections. In short, these things are VERY good for an economy in the short run. So. (*wink*) I'm very heavily leveraged to the S&P 500. When the 500 go up 1%, I go up 1.5%. This puts me up about 45% last year. Value funds have also been good - nearly double since 01/03. I will continue these positions, barring a worrying undertone in the CNN Factor, until the election. If Bush loses, I'll probably switch back to bear market funds (BEARX is my fave.) If he wins, I'll be switching to something Canadian.... like my citizenship.
This page was started as a place for me to stash humor. That simple. No real thought went into it - I simply published anything I found funny enough to archive. Looking back to the beginning of the file, I find that there is much there I would not include today. It has become as much a repository for anything that makes me think as much as humor, though I see only a very fine line between the two ideas. After all, what is humor but another way for our minds to explore relationships between ideas? Think about it. How often do you find something truely funny with no double-meaning, no reflection upon our world, no exaggeration of reality? So. I've evolved this page to a history of some sort, albeit only through the reflections, made by those statements I choose to publish, upon my thoughts. Earlier today, I made the claim that my investing strategy is largely based upon betting against the intelligence of Americans as a whole. I've done pretty well at it. I do not invest in individual stocks, bonds, what-have-you, because the details of how a particular business operates has a great influence (if this isn't obvious to you, go away. I'll keep betting on your behaviors as time goes by) on the stock or bond in question. Individual companies, no matter how Microsoft, IBM, Qualcomm, (each named for its own reason) it may be, has less effect on the market as a whole than zeitgeist. I bet on what I call the CNN Factor. Any issue that can maintain CNNs attention for an extended period gets my attention - often only in terms of how it will likely affect the average schmo's pursestrings. There are other factors as well, but for the most part, that's the way I play it. Invest in market indices and hope for the best (or the worst, as gestalt intelligence goes.) I've had a few people ask me about this philosophy. Enough interrogations have led me to the thought: publish my decisions as I make them and let them stand on their own. If I'm right, anyone who is interested (all 3 of you who read this page) can learn from it. If I'm wrong, I'll learn from having it all documented. So. (Great word with which to start a paragraph. Wonderful sentence, too.) In the spirit of posting moments of profound glibness, I'll start posting these odd thoughts, as well... Look for posts starting with %$, rather than the usual.
The best memorial I can conceive for 2000-2004, other than the sudden and painful demise of Ralph Nader for his part, would be a 100% democratic turnout in Florida this November. This assumes of course that no invented state of emergency prevents the election. - rbarry
I see great conceit in the manufacture of audio books. Unabridged, most cannot be acquired for less than double the cost of the book itself - a fact attributed to the great effort of READING a book. - rbarry
...a church steeple with a lightening rod on top shows a lack of confidence. - Doug McLeod
The advantage of a classical education is that it enables you to despise the wealth which it prevents you from achieving. - Russel Green
I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone. - Edith Cavell, last words, Oct 12, 1915
A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier. - H. L. Mencken
No one in this world, so far as I know ... has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. - H. L. Mencken Speaking of fundamental assumptions, this is my primary method of determining market behavior.
%20040114  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law...that the
average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own
devices or his own thoughts.  - H. L. Mencken

I find that this stands true today even more in the sense that it is the
fundamental assumption motivating a politician's greed and lust for power
(among other things) that the average citizen is little more than a sound-
bite processing voting engine.
%20040112  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Hitler used the 1933 burning of the Reichstag (Parliament) building by a 
deranged Dutchman to declare a "war on terrorism," establish his
legitimacy as a leader (even though he hadn't won a majority in the
previous election). 

"You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," he
proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by
national media.  "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is
the beginning."  He used the occasion - "a sign from God," he called it - to
declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people,
he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation
for their "evil" deeds in their religion. 

Two weeks later, the first prison for terrorists was built in Oranianberg,
holding the first suspected allies of the infamous terrorist. In a national
outburst of patriotism, the nation's flag was everywhere, even printed in
newspapers suitable for display. 

Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now-popular leader
had pushed through legislation, in the name of combating terrorism and
fighting the philosophy he said spawned it, that suspended constitutional
guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus. Police could now
intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected terrorists could be imprisoned
without specific charges and without access to their lawyers; police could
sneak into people's homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism. 

To get his patriotic "Decree on the Protection of People and State" passed
over the objections of concerned legislators and civil libertarians, he
agreed to put a 4-year sunset provision on it: if the national emergency
provoked by the terrorist attack on the Reichstag building was over by then,
the freedoms and rights would be returned to the people, and the police
agencies would be re-restrained. 

Within the first months after that terrorist attack, at the suggestion of a
political advisor, he brought a formerly obscure word into common usage.
Instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as
The Fatherland. As hoped, people's hearts swelled with pride, and the
beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sewn. Our land was _the_
homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands. 

Within a year of the terrorist attack, Hitler's advisors determined that the
various local police and federal agencies around the nation were lacking the
clear communication and overall coordinated administration necessary to deal
with the terrorist threat facing the nation, including those citizens who
were of Middle Eastern ancestry and thus probably terrorist sympathizers. He
proposed a single new national agency to protect the security of the
Fatherland, consolidating the actions of dozens of previously independent
police, border, and investigative agencies under a single powerful leader. 

Most Americans remember his Office of Fatherland Security, known as the
Reichssicherheitshauptamt and Schutzstaffel, simply by its most famous
agency's initials: the SS. 

And, perhaps most important, he invited his supporters in industry into the
halls of government to help build his new detention camps, his new military,
and his new empire which was to herald a thousand years of peace. Industry
and government worked hand-in-glove, in a new type of pseudo-democracy first
proposed by Mussolini and sustained by war.
%20040108  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Well, for my birthday, 2003, Dubya signed a new law (note that this is the
same day that the news was too occupied by the capture of Saddam Hussein to 
cover violations of civil liberties) that allows the FBI to sieze the records
pertaining to an individual from any "financial institution."  To keep the
uncomfortably restrictive nature of the definition of "financial institution"
from being too inconvenient to constitution-railroading, section 374 of the
new Orwell Law expands it to include jewelry stores, casinos, insurance
companies, travel agencies, real estate agents, stockbrokers, the Postal
Service, and car dealerships.

No court order is required and they do not have to show just cause.


That wasn't a joke, people.
%20040106  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in
front of him.   When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very
large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf

He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into
the jar.  He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open
areas between golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.
Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full.  The students responded with a
unanimous "yes."

The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and
poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty
space between the sand.  The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to
recognize that this jar represents your life.  The golf balls are the
important things--your family, your children, your health, your
friends, your favorite passions--things that if everything else was
lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

"The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your
house, your car.

The sand is everything else--the small stuff.

"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no
room for the pebbles or the golf balls.  The same goes for life.  If
you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never
have room for the things that are important to you.  Pay attention to
the things that are critical to your happiness.  Play with your
children.  Take time to get medical checkups.  Take your partner out
to dinner.  Play another 18.  There will always be time to clean the
house, and fix the disposal.

"Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter.
Set your  priorities.  The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer

The professor smiled.  "I'm glad you asked.  It just goes to show you
that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a
couple of beers."
(ca., november 2003)

OAKLAND, (CA) -- Oakland Raiders football practice was delayed nearly two hours today after a player reported finding an unknown white powdery substance on the practice field. Head coach Bill Callahan immediately suspended practice and called the police and federal investigators. After a complete analysis, FBI forensic experts determined that the white substance unknown to players was the GOAL LINE. Practice resumed after special agents decided the team was unlikely to encounter the substance again. Pat Goodman Denver Broncos Fan
The U.S. Government really cares about their soldiers in Iraq. Why, for the soldiers' Thanksgiving dinner, they even flew in a turkey all the way from Texas. (Think about it.)
One Saturday morning a fisherman gets up early, dresses quietly, gets his lunch made, puts on his long johns, grabs the dog and goes to the garage to hook up his boat to the truck and head down to his favorite fishing area. Coming out of his garage, he is pounded by a torrential downpour of rain. It's freezing, there is snow mixed in with the rain, and a hard wind is blowing with 50 mph. gusts. He retreats back into the garage and, in disgust, returns to the house and turns the TV on to the weather channel. He finds it's going to be bad weather all day long, so he puts his boat back in the garage, quietly undresses, and slips back into bed. There he cuddles up to his wife's back, now with a different kind of anticipation, and whispers: "The weather out there is terrible!" To which she sleepily replies: "Can you believe my stupid husband is out fishing in that shit?!"
Today on the way to work I thought I saw a headline that read "Beer Recall." It was actually "Beef Recall," and the story explained the discovery of mad cow disease in the United States. Mad cow disease is a condition that causes wasting away of the brain, leading to dementia, loss of coordination, and death. Now, will somebody explain to me why they're _not_ recalling beer?
%20040104  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
On my flight back from San Francisco, there were a pair of young Marines, 
ostensibly on their way to Iraq, discussing what they had done with their
summers.  One of them talked about his trip to Fort Lauderdale and the other
mentioned that he'd taken a road trip to Alaska, to which the first Marine
asked, "How'd you do that?  Is there a bridge or something now?"

Yeah.  It's called Canada. - rbarry
%20031218  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Cannot run out of time.  There is infinite time.  You are finite, Zathras is
finite.  This.  Is wrong tool.  - Zathras, Babylon 5
%20031216  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
You know, if I spend a little time _really_working_ on a resume and cover
letter, I actually look like I should be employed.
%20031206  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
We do these things not to escape from life, but to prevent life from 
escaping us.

If a person is choking on an ice cube, don't panic. Simply pour a jug of boiling water down their throat and presto! The blockage is almost instantly removed.
Avoid parking tickets by leaving your windshield wipers turned to fast wipe whenever you leave your car parked illegally.
During a visit to America, Winston Churchill was invited to a buffet luncheon at which cold fried chicken was served. Returning for a second helping, he asked politely, "May I have some breast?" "Mr. Churchill," replied the hostess, "in this country we ask for white meat or dark meat." Churchill apologized profusely. The following morning, the lady received a magnificent orchid from her guest of honor. The accompanying card read: "I would be most obliged if you would pin this on your white meat."
A sociologist, a psychologist, and an engineer were discussing the consequences and implications of a married man's having a mistress. The sociologist's opinion was that it is absolutely and categorically unforgivable for a married man to forfeit the bond of matrimony, and engage in such lowly and lustful pursuits. The psychologist's opinion was that although morally reprehensible, if a man MUST have a mistress to achieve his full potential as a human being, then -- well -- he may go ahead and choose to have a mistress, as long as he is considerate enough to keep this secret from his wife. The engineer then interjected: "I also believe that, if necessary, a married man is entitled to a mistress. However, I do not see why the affair should be concealed from the wife. On the contrary, if the affair is out in the open, then on Friday evenings he may tell his wife that he is going to see his mistress, tell his mistress that he is going to be with his wife, then go to his office and get some work done!"
A man took his wife deer hunting for the first time. After he'd given her some basic instructions, they agreed to separate and rendezvous later. Before he left, he warned her if she should fell a deer to be wary of hunters who might beat her to the carcass and claim the kill. If that happened, he told her, she should fire her gun three times into the air and he would come to her aid. Shortly after they separated, he heard a single shot, followed quickly by the agreed upon signal. Running to the scene, he found his wife standing in a small clearing with a very nervous man staring down her gun barrel. "He claims this is his," she said, obviously very upset. "She can keep it, she can keep it!" the wide-eyed man replied. "I just want to get my saddle back!"
A bad marriage is like a horse with a broken leg, you can shoot the horse, but it don't fix the leg.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are not a Taxidermy display.
The so-called "desktop metaphor" of today's workstations is instead an "airplane-seat" metaphor. Anyone who has shuffled a lap full of papers while seated between two portly passengers will recognize the difference -- one can see only a very few things at once. - Fred Brooks, Jr.
"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde
A sequel is an admission that you've been reduced to imitating yourself. - Don Marquis
%20031205  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
At an international breweries convention, four CEOs go out to lunch.  The
Anheuser-Busch Executive orders a Budweiser, the Coors Brewing Company
Exec orders a Coors, the Man from Miller - an MGD.  When the waiter comes
to the CEO from the Guinness Brewing Company, he orders a Ginger Ale. 
Laughing, the three question the fourth about his choice.  He answers,
"Well, I figured that if you're not drinking beer, I won't either."
%20031124  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The best way of predicting the future is to invent it. - Alan Kay

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then give up. There's no use in being a damn fool about it. - WC Fields
Optimist: Glass is half-full. Pessimist: Glass is half-empty. Engineer: Glass is too big.
I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals. I'm a vegitarian because I hate plants. - A. Whitney Brown
If you think something small can't make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room.
Nothing in the world is friendlier than a wet dog.
The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided. - Casey Stengal
The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is because they have a common enemy.
A friend bails you out of jail. A best friend is in the next cell saying "Damn that was fun!"
He who sleeps in the buff is in for a nude awakening.
Remember the last time an ethnic Austrian took power on behalf of a rightist party by taking advantage of an economic meltdown?
[A]s you know, these are open forums. You're able to come and listen to what I have to say. - GWBush, Oct 28, 2003 The Ambassador and the general were briefing me on the - the vast majority of Iraquis want to live in a peaceful, free world. And we will find these people and we will bring them to justice. - GWB, 10/27/2003 See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction. GWB, 10/3/2003 I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves. - GWB, 9/21/2003 That's the nature of democracy. Sometimes pure politics enters into the rhetoric. - GWB, 8/8/2003
%20031119  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
God, if I were defending a castle, I'd want my art department building the
front door.

- Peter Jackson, Director of the Lord of the Ring movie trilogy, in reference
to the fact that his setpiece door, intended to be taken down during filming by
the real battering ram they'd built, held up against all the Uruk-hai actors'
attempts to take it down.
%20031106  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The moon is moving away at a tiny, although measurable
distance from the earth every year.  Do the math and you
will clearly see that 65 million years ago it was orbiting
the earth at a distance of about 25 feet from the earth's
surface.  This would explain the death of the dinosaurs.
 Well, the tallest ones, anyway.
%20031030  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
To: (Scott Whyte) 
Subject: Re: backbone routers' priority settings for ICMP & UDP 
From: Dave Siegel  
Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 12:15:13 -0700 (MST) 
In-Reply-To:  from Scott Whyte at "Feb 3, 98 02:55:13 pm" 

> Marc, I'd have to agree, ICMP is more for flow control than congestion
> control. A source quench is to [keep] a fast machine from overrunning a slow
> machine, not preventing all flows from going through one link. 
> One (weak) metaphor is that traffic lights at an intersection are for flow
> control, while the traffic lights to get onto the freeway (common here in
> California) are for congestion control... 

Extremely weak metaphore, since a source quench indicates there weren't
enough buffers available to send your packets.

Now, if the freeway was full, and cars started dropping out of the space/time
continuum, that'd be more like a source quench.  ;-)  The freeway would call
your wife at home and say "sorry, but your husband didn't make it to work
because the freeways were too full."  If wife runs correct a correct
TCP implementation, she would know to initiate "slow start" and would 
send out her husbands at a slower rate until she gets a feel for how
bad the traffic is.
%20031006  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Microsoft interview of old:
"Why are manholes round?"
The manholes on the M$ campus are square.
%20030810  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
What-chew talkin' 'bout, governor?  People wonder why I've lost whatever faith
I might have had in the governing process.  First we have a man who presses a
recall petition campaign because it's the only way he'll ever be allowed on
the California ballot as a Republican.  Can you say conflict of interest?  Now
we have GARY COLEMAN RUNNING IN THE ELECTION.  That's right.  You loved him as
the 10-year-old arms merchant in The Curse of Monkey Island, now you can help
put him in a position to do _real_ harm...

Date: 14 Feb 90 17:16:16 GMT
From: bnrgate!bnr-fos!bmers58!  (Peter Bain)
Subject: Imperial measurements

There is a story about a software contractor who was hired to write
code to calculate range tables for the US Navy.  They used feet for
altitude and statute miles for range.  "No! We're the Navy.  Use
NAUTICAL miles!" the Navy said.  So the contractor changed the code to
use nautical miles for the range.  And negative fathoms for the altitude.
%20030715  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Just as one never confuses a bureaucracy with a meritocracy, do not mistake
our government for a democracy. - rbarry
%20030617  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Childbirth - a midwife crisis.
%20030530  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Duct tape is like the Force.  It has a light side and a dark side and it
holds the universe together. - Carl Zwanzig

Each Friday night I drove my wife to the train station so she could go visit her sister who was ill. Ten minutes later, MY sister arrived by train so that she could manage our house over the weekend while my wife was gone. On Sundays this procedure worked in reverse with my sister departing by train ten minutes before my wife arrived. One evening after my sister left and while I awaited my wife's arrival, a porter sauntered over. "Mister," he said, "you sure have some system going! But one of these days you're goin' to get caught!" - unknown author
An Irishman moves into a tiny village in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his ebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table alone. An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more. This happens yet again. The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering about the "Man Who Orders Three Beers." Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers?" "Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies, "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond." The bartender and the whole town was pleased with this answer, and soon the "Man Who Orders Three Beers" became a local celebrity and source of pride to the village, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink. Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening; he orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers. The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know - the two beers and all......" The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, "You'll be happy to hear that me two brothers are alive and well. It's just that I, meself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."
%20030522  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It might look like I'm doing nothing, but at the cellular level, I'm really
quite busy.  - Anon.
%20030317  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"We are not dealing with peaceful men." - G.W. Bush, RE: Iraq
"We are not dealing as peaceful men." - G.W. Bush, corrected.
%20030311  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armor
to lead all his customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly
ignores the fact that it was he who by peddling second-hand, second-rate
technology, led them all into it in the first place."

--Douglas Adams
Author, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
%20030307  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
There is a theory which states  that  if  ever  anyone  discovers
exactly  what  the  Universe  is  for and why it is here, it will
instantly disappear  and  be  replaced  by  something  even  more
bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another  theory  which  states  that  this  has  already
- from the first few pages of Restaurant at the End of the Universe forwards to an actual law firm specializing in "internet and URL law..." Some lawyers (like politicians) inspire jokes, others just _are_. -rbarry
What do you call 25 skydiving lawyers? Skeet. - Click and Clack. (cartalk)
%20030303  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A committee is a cul de sac to which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.
- John A. Lincoln 
%20030227  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  

 This was allegedly posted very briefly on the McDonnell Douglas 
 Website by an employee there who obviously has a sense of humor. The 
 company, of course, does not have a sense of humor, and made the web 
 department take it down immediately (for once, the 'IMPORTANT' note at 
 the end is worth a read too....)


 Thank you for purchasing a McDonnell Douglas military aircraft. In 
 order to protect your new investment, please take a moment to fill out 
 the warranty registration card below. Answering the survey questions 
 is not required, but the information will help us to develop new 
 products that best meet your needs and desires.

 1. Title

 [_] Mr.
 [_] Mrs.
 [_] Ms.
 [_] Miss
 [_] Lt.
 [_] Gen.
 [_] Comrade
 [_] Classified
 [_] Other

 First Name: ............................................
 Initial: ........
 Last Name:..............................................
 Password: .............................. (max. 8 char)
 Code Name:..............................................
 Latitude-Longitude-Altitude: ......................

 2. Which model of aircraft did you purchase?

 [_] F-14 Tomcat
 [_] F-15 Eagle
 [_] F-16 Falcon
 [_] F-117A Stealth
 [_] Classified

 3. Date of purchase (Year/Month/Day):

 4. Serial Number: ........................................

 5. Please indicate where this product was purchased:

 [_] Received as gift / aid package
 [_] Catalogue / showroom
 [_] Independent arms broker
 [_] Mail order
 [_] Discount store
 [_] Government surplus
 [_] Classified

 6. Please indicate how you became aware of the McDonnell Douglas 
 product you have just purchased:

 [_] Heard loud noise, looked up
 [_] Store display
 [_] Espionage
 [_] Recommended by friend / relative / ally
 [_] Political lobbying by manufacturer
 [_] Was attacked by one

 7. Please indicate the three (3) factors that most influenced your 
 decision to purchase this McDonnell Douglas product:

 [_] Style / appearance
 [_] Speed / maneuverability
 [_] Price / value
 [_] Comfort / convenience
 [_] Kickback / bribe
 [_] Recommended by salesperson
 [_] McDonnell Douglas reputation
 [_] Advanced Weapons Systems
 [_] Backroom politics
 [_] Negative experience opposing one in combat

 8. Please indicate the location(s) where this product will be used:

 [_] North America

 [_] Iraq
 [_] Iraq
 [_] Aircraft carrier
 [_] Iraq
 [_] Europe
 [_] Iraq
 [_] Middle East (not Iraq)
 [_] Iraq
 [_] Africa
 [_] Iraq
 [_] Asia / Far East
 [_] Iraq
 [_] Misc. Third World countries
 [_] Iraq
 [_] Classified
 [_] Iraq

 9. Please indicate the products that you currently own or intend to 
 purchase in the near future:

 [_] Color TV
 [_] VCR
 [_] ICBM
 [_] Killer Satellite
 [_] Satellite Killer
 [_] CD Player
 [_] Air-to-Air Missile
 [_] Space Shuttle
 [_] Home Computer
 [_] Nuclear Weapon

 10. How would you describe yourself or your organization? (Indicate 
 all that apply:)

 [_] Communist / Socialist
 [_] Terrorist
 [_] Crazed
 [_] Neutral
 [_] Democratic
 [_] Dictatorship
 [_] Corrupt
 [_] Primitive / Tribal

 11. How did you pay for your McDonnell Douglas product?

 [_] Deficit spending
 [_] Cash
 [_] Suitcases of cocaine
 [_] Oil revenues
 [_] Personal check
 [_] Credit card
 [_] Ransom money
 [_] Traveler's check

 12. Your occupation:

 [_] Homemaker
 [_] Sales / marketing
 [_] Revolutionary
 [_] Clerical
 [_] Mercenary
 [_] Tyrant
 [_] Middle management
 [_] Eccentric billionaire
 [_] Defense Minister / General
 [_] Retired
 [_] Student

 13. To help us better understand our customers, please indicate the 
 interests and activities in which you and your spouse enjoy 
 participating on a regular basis:

 [_] Golf
 [_] Boating / sailing
 [_] Sabotage
 [_] Running / jogging
 [_] Propaganda / misinformation
 [_] Destabilization / overthrow
 [_] Default on loans
 [_] Gardening
 [_] Crafts
 [_] Black market / smuggling
 [_] Collectibles / collections
 [_] Watching sports on TV
 [_] Wines
 [_] Interrogation / torture
 [_] Household pets
 [_] Crushing rebellions
 [_] Espionage / reconnaissance
 [_] Fashion clothing
 [_] Border disputes
 [_] Mutually Assured Destruction

 Thank you for taking the time to fill out this questionnaire. Your 
 answers will be used in market studies that will help McDonnell 
 Douglas serve you better in the future - as well as allowing you to 
 receive mailings and special offers from other companies, governments, 
 extremist groups, and mysterious consortia. As a bonus for responding 
 to this survey, you will be registered to win a brand new F-117A in 
 our Desert Thunder Sweepstakes!

 Comments or suggestions about our fighter planes? Please write to: 
 McDONNELL DOUGLAS CORPORATION, Marketing Department, Military 
 Aerospace Division

 This email is intended for the use of the individual addressee(s) 
 named above and may contain information that is confidential 
 privileged or unsuitable for overly sensitive persons with low 
 self-esteem, no sense of humor, or irrational religious beliefs. If 
 you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or 
 copying of this email is not authorized (either explicitly or 
 implicitly) and constitutes an irritating social faux pas.

 Unless the word absquatulation has been used in its correct context 
 somewhere other than in this warning, it does not have any legal or 
 grammatical use and may be ignored. No animals were harmed in the 
 transmission of this email, although the crazy dog next door is living 
 on borrowed time, let me tell you.

 Those of you with an overwhelming fear of the unknown will be 
 gratified to learn that there is no hidden message revealed by reading 
 this warning backwards, so just ignore that Alert Notice from 
 Microsoft. However, by pouring a complete circle of salt around 
 yourself and your computer you can ensure that no harm befalls you and 
 your pets.

 If you have received this email in error, please add some nutmeg and 
 egg whites, whisk and place in a warm oven for 40 minutes.

 Sure, you can TRUST the Gov't. Ask any Indian.
%20030226  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A Sad Passing

What with all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the
moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person
which almost went unnoticed last week.  Larry La Prise, the man who
wrote "The Hokey Pokey" died peacefully at age 93. The most traumatic
part for his family was getting him into the coffin.

They put his left leg in... and then the trouble started.
%20030213  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
C programmers think memory management is too important to be left to the
computer.  Lisp programmers think memory management is too important to be left
to the user.
-Ellis & Stroustrup's The Annotated C++ Reference Manual
%20030204  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Developing for the xbox is a frustrating process:  Change a line of code,
compile your system (takes about 30 sec) let it copy to your devkit (another 30
sec gone) let game load (10-15 sec) look at how your code behaves, interrupt
execution of game and wait 2 minutes for visual studio to unlock.  Note the
number of times in a day you have about 3 minutes to kill.

So, this is revision 3 of the prime number generator.  After trying it with the
STL (total piece of shit on windows - the vector container isn't specialized to
use a single bit per bool, so to compute all primes less than or equal to n, you
need n*8 bytes of memory.  You DON'T do this with virtual memory.)  I re-wrote
using a bit field today.

If for no other reason than with the STL, 15 minutes only produced the whole
collection of 1..29-bit primes, where the following code gave me all of the
0..32 bit primes in less than 10 minutes, despite the addition of an extra
210 Billion calls to GetTickCount and 210 Billion more compares.  If
you're interested in the result, I have the first 1000000 results in a text
file here:

(removed.  Too big to be worth storing.  Ask and ye shall receive.)

If you need the first 203,280,222 prime numbers, give me a buzz.

If you want to _store_ values, you might want to just write out the 
bit field rather than using my ascii output code - I only included it
for ease of use.  BTW - I've computed all the 10-digit prime numbers in
less than half an hour - including IO time.

Who's to say I'm crazy?

#define getBit(b,p) (*((p)+(b>>6))&((0x8000000000000000ULL)>>((b)&0x3fULL)))
#define setBit(b,p) (*((p)+(b>>6))|=((0x8000000000000000ULL)>>((b)&0x3fULL)))
typedef unsigned long long int u64;

u64 next;
void alarm_handler(int sig) {
        printf ("%10llu\n", next);
        alarm (10);
FILE *getOutputHandle() {
        static int filenum=0;
        char filename[80]; 
        FILE *file;
        sprintf (filename, "%04d", filenum++);
        strcat (filename, ".primes");
        file = fopen (filename, "w"); 
        if (!file) {
                /*this should be more graceful*/
                fprintf (stderr, "cannot open %s\n", filename);
                exit (0);

        return file;
int main( int argc, char *argv[] ) {
    u64 size;
    u64 *seive;
    u64 i, j, floor = 1;
    FILE *file;
    int filenum, filesize;
    char filename[80];
    if( argc != 2 ) {
        fprintf( stderr, "Usage: %s LAST_INT_TO_CHECK\n", argv[0]);
        exit( 1 );
    size = atoll(argv[1]);
    printf ("last int: %llu\n", size);
    seive = ( u64* ) malloc( (size>>3) + 1);
    memset( seive, 0, (unsigned int)((size>>3)+1));
    file = getOutputHandle();

    alarm (10); 
    sigset (SIGALRM, alarm_handler);
    filesize += fprintf (file, "2\n");
    for (next=3; next<=size; next+=2) {
        if (!getBit (i, seive)) {
            filesize += fprintf (file, "%llu\n", next);
            if (filesize > 2000000000) {
                fclose (file);
                file = getOutputHandle();
            for (j=i; j<=size>>1; j+=next)
                setBit (j, seive);
    fclose (file);

    return( 0 );
%20030203  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
When my plan (the file you are currently reading) is accessed, I log a couple
stats: the time, day, the browser used, the operating system being used, and 
the URL from whence the viewer was referred.  This logging only started a few
months ago, but the log itself provides our newest entry.  About a dozen people
have come here from altavista, searching for words that, simply due to the size
and topical diversity of this page, have been drawn here.  The things they were
searching for makes it pretty clear that this page disappoints a number of it's

* wild tangent naked characters
* "perpetual motion" "santa sleigh" roof "how to make"

...and my personal favorite:
* yugoslavia virgins

Yesterday: when you could neatly tuck the documents - a looseleaf binder - under an arm and it took a forklift to move the computer.
Conway's Law: In any organization, there is one person who knows what is going on. That person must be fired.
They have computers, and they may have other weapons of mass destruction. - Janet Reno
No computer has ever been designed that is ever aware of what it's doing; but most of the time, we aren't either. - Marvin Minsky
%20030130  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A human being is a computer's way of making another computer.  Yes, we are
their sex organs. - Solomon Short

Engineers hate risk. They try to eliminate it whenever they can. This is understandable, given that when an engineer makes one little mistake, the media will treat it like it's a big deal or something. Examples of bad press for engineers: * Hindenberg * Challenger * Hubble * Apollo 13 * Titanic * Ford Pinto * Corvair The risk/reward calculation for engineers looks something like this: Risk: Public humiliation and the death of thousands of innocent people. Reward: A certificate of appreciation in a handsome plastic frame. Being practical people, engineers evaluate this balance of risks and rewards and decide that risk is not a good thing. The best way to avoid risk is by advising that any activity is technically impossible for reasons that are far too complicated to explain.
Now, the speed limit on the Golden Gate Bridge is supposedly 45, right? Well, flow of traffic is usually more like 55, prompting the occasionally-seen bumper sticker that says, "Drive Forty-Five on the Golden Gate Bridge." The last one I saw was a double-size bumper sticker, taking up half the rear bumper of the car that, as I drove my usual 50.... well, 55. Alright 60, shot past me at well over the speed I was driving. Hrm. - rbarry
%20030115  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Popular Science tends to carry some... apocryphal... statements.  In response to
a cover touting the trimaran future of the navy; "Yeah, and if you believe that,
I've got a bridge to sell ya."
%20030106  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Government A to Government B:
"If I owe you a million dollars, I'm in trouble.  If I owe you a trillion
dollars, you're in trouble."

Hearing about a dinosaur alive in the rain forests of South America, a professor launches a scientific expedition. After several weeks he stumbles upon a little man wearing a loincloth, standing near a 300-foot-long dead dinosaur. The scientist can't believe his eyes. "Did you kill this dinosaur?" he asks. "Yep," replies the rain-forest native. "But it's so big and you're so small! How did you kill it?" "With my club," the primitive fellow answered. "How big is your club?" "Well, there are about 100 of us."
Q: How many elephants can you fit in a Volkswagen? A: Four Q: How can you tell if there's an elephant in your fridge? A: There's a footprint in the butter. Q: How can you tell if there are two elephants in your fridge? A: There are two footprints in the butter. Q: How can you tell if there are three elephants in your fridge? A: You can't close the door. Q: How can you tell if there are four elephants in your fridge? A: There's a Volkswagen parked out front.
%20030103  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
From my .sig, circa '97:
Ardipithecus ramidus, Australopithecus anamensis, Australopithecus afarensis,
Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus aethiopicus, Australopithecus
robustus, Australopithecus boisei, EPEE FENCER, Homo habilis, Homo erectus,
Homo sapiens, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, Homo sapiens sapiens.
         - rbarry
%20021218  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
There once was a lady named Bright
Whose speed was much faster than light
She set out one day
In a relative way
And returned home the previous night
%20021026  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
News isn't news anymore, it's entertainment.  It's fiction based in part on
current events.

An article today on CNN discussed the possible causes of the Soyuz-U that blew
up in launch on the 15th.  The LAST LINE of the article was a quote from the
Chief of the Russian Space Agency: 
    All possible explanations for the explosion are being considered "from a
    manufacturing defect to malicious intent."

This earned the article the title: Russia rocket mishap might be sabotage.
%20021010  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Photographers' creed:  Shoot 'em all - let your editor sort 'em out. - rbarry
%20021008  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Dear United States of America, post-9/11:
Keep up the good work.  George Orwell would be proud.
%20020904  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"I might sell my soul to the government or even sell it to satan, but I don't
think I would stoop so low as to sell it to M$ (microsoft)." - rjr
%20020827  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Okay, this one joins the elite of the my plan because figuring out the answer
damn near killed me:

willywutang is hanging out on a heavily forested island that's really narrow:
it's a narrow strip of land that's ten miles long. let's label one end of the
strip A, and the other end B. a fire has started at A, and the fire is moving
toward B at the rate of 1 mph. at the same time, there's a 2 mph wind blowing
in the direction from A toward B. what can willywu do to save himself from
burning to death?! assume that willywu can't swim and there are no boats,
jetcopters, teleportation devices, etc.. (if he does nothing, willywu will be
toast after at most 10 hours, since 10 miles / 1 mph = 10 hours)

The tricky bit is that there is a solution, as a friend of mine with a Natural 
Resources degree pointed out to me but THERE IS ANOTHER SOLUTION - the one that
I had more fun with.
%20020814  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
It's not whether you're right or wrong that's important, but how much money you
make when you're right and how much you lose when you're wrong. - George Soros
%20020813  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Though apparently the original purpose of bagpipes was to scare the crap out of
the enemy in battle. ("Aiiie! We're being attacked by Catholic schoolgirls, and
you should SEE what they're doing to those poor cats!")-Ehursh-
%20020812  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
You can't make this stuff up.  From an August 12 Associated Press:

Hoping to push back the frontiers of advertising, a British marketing firm said
Monday it would pay nearly $800 each to five people for the right to transform
them into human billboards for a fantasy superhero. 
Acclaim UK is seeking applicants who will legally change their names for one
year to promote the latest installment of its video game series about Turok, a
time-traveling American Indian who slays bionically enhanced dinosaurs. 

The Institute of Science in Marketing, a business group supporting the effort,
expects its so-called Identity Marketing technique will catch on as the next big
thing for companies eager to reach consumers dulled to conventional advertising.

This is the same company that has some idiot out "in line" for a copy of Turok
%20020806  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"Before beginning any home-plumbing pepair, make sure you possess the proper
tools for the job.  Check the following list of handy expletives, and see that
you know how to use them."  - Calvin and Hobbes.
%20020802  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and
those who don't.

If all the world's a stage, where is the audience sitting?
Do penguins have knees?
A friend is one who still thinks you're a good egg - even though you're slightly cracked.
A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
A parent is one who carries pictures where money used to be.
Dog at flea circus steals the show.
What color does an asphyxiating smurf turn?
My wife will buy anything marked down. Last year she bought an escalator.
%20020730  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Said of the Clumsy Lovers by the Inlander - Spokane, WA:
"The music ... with incredible fiddle playing ... is firmly rooted in the
musical tradition of dancing like your life depends on it."  

Isn't it wonderful to have a Commander in Chief that is so loved and trusted by his constituency? Every time Dubya shows up on the tele to reassure "His Fellow Americans" that the market has seen its worst... it takes another hundred-point dive. Somehow I'd bet his personal assets aren't heavily stock invested at the moment.
Okay, even I have been reluctant to start encrypting every communication I make, but this has gotten out of hand. On July 15, 2002, the US House of (Mis)Representatives voted 385 to 3 (THAT'S NOT A TYPO!!! 99 TO 1 PERCENT!!!) to, among other things "...expand[s] police ability to conduct Internet or telephone eavesdroppnig WITHOUT FIRST OBTAINING A COURT ORDER." (emphasis added.) This is a clear violation of due process (4th amend.,) people. As an example of the complete lack of intellectual responsibility of the persons involved in passing this bill: "Until we secure our cyber infrastructure, a few keystrokes and an Internet connection is all one needs to disable the economy and endanger lives. A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb." - Lamar Smith, R-Texas What is this guy smoking? Has he any idea of what he's actually talking about? I'd bet he has both an internet connection and a keyboard but no clue where to begin if he wanted to get started on what he's implying here. How about this: if you have security problems with the US' systems, fix them. legal wrangling isn't going to protect you from anything.
%20020708  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Who disturbs my meditation as a 3c509 disturbs the stillness of the INT pin?
%20020624  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Hokie - I've been C++ing for years now, but have steadfastly avoided the STL
for the most part - and have recently been reminded of WHY I always preached
that C++ was of the devil.  When you really start viciously molesting template
code, God help you because your compiler error messages sure won't.

I've taken to compiling my code with g++ and VC++ just because I have a
better chance of getting an intelligible error message now and again from at
least one of them.

%20020603  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
There's a very fine line between a hobby and mental illness. - Dave Barry
%20020529  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
When we finally get Carbon nanotube processors, it's going to bring a whole new
meaning to the concept of C programming.  

For the REAL geeks:
Would C++ require a radioactive processor?  What's the MTF of a processor whose
junctions are made of a material with a 5715 year half-life?

%20020517  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
...'s a scary thing.  Because you realize that the first purpose of alcohol is
to make English your second goddamn language.
...the second purpose of alcohol is to make your brain an etch-a-sketch.
- Robin Williams
%20020516  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
After a minor argument (a "Slight Case" for insult) with Yet Another SCA
gentleman, I felt it necessary to find a modernized version of rules of
dueling.  I struck gold at ,
where a member of Columbia Basin College has taken the time to establish a set
of rapier/pistol/short sword/sabre/katana dueling rules.  The reproduction is
quite faithful - to the point that it clearly spells out in which cases the
death of a primary is required...

Reading through this document, sitting at a computer in a modern age, I still
managed to get lost in the slightly victorian language and organization...
until the section on the Presiding Officer:

"The fair and impartial word and hand of God upon the field [is the Presiding
Officer.]  The Presiding officer will see that the matter at hand and its terms
of honor are satisfied in a fashion suitable for the gentry.  The Presiding
Officer and Officer Seconds shall at all times be suitably armed to enforce the
rules and punish those who act in a manner beneath the dignity af the Event and
their Station.

    "* Suitable armament is either an Uzi or sawed-off shotgun."

Ah, the good old days.

I did manage to lay to rest, for myself anyway, the issue that was at hand -
the duellists' code upon which this text is based states, (Rule 42) Unless
previously stipulated, neither of the combatants shall be allowed to turn off
the sword of his adversary with the left hand; should a combatant persist in 
thus using his left hand, the seconds of his adversary may insist that the hand

Man, I thought a red card was bad.  Can you imagine fencing with a hand cuffed
to a belt loop?

I was recently reminded of an interesting idea I had a number of years ago for finally resolving once and for all any Holy War whatsoever. Flip a coin. Think about it for a minute. - rbarry
%20020515  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
There are several good protections against temptation, but the most popular is
cowardice. - Mark Twain on Utah Legislative Practice
%20020411  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The SEC accused Xerox of accelerating revenue recognition by more than $3
BILLION and boosting pretax earnings by $1.5 BILLION over four years.  The
copier has agreed to pay $10 million to settle the civil fraud complaint.

Is that supposed to be a punitive sum?  Is it supposed to keep them (or
anyone else) from doing it again?  Does anyone actually believe that the
SEC is trying to prevent this type of behavior?  By allowing fines ORDERS
of MAGNITUDE less than the profits made, they explicitly encourage it.
%20020402  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The New Jersey State Gambling Commission (or whatever NJ calls them) recently
issued a decree that no licenced establishment may have any dealings (no pun
intended) with Andersen Accounting, Inc.  I wonder if that includes moratorium
on betting on the future of Anderson or their clients?  - rbarry
%20020319  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
If there were a god of profanity, could you take his name in vain?  - rbarry

Precinct toilet stolen. Police have nothing to go on.
%20020313  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Stupidity is not a handicap.  Park somewhere else!
%20020310  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Shouldn't there be legislation against exorcising demons?  After all, posession
IS nine-tenths of the law.

%20020305  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Have you EVER seen a banner ad that said - "You've won something if this panel
is flashing..." that wasn't flashing?
%20020226  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Man convicted of multiple RS-232 murders.  Citizens relieved to have serial
killer behind bars.  (If you don't get it, don't worry about it.)

Legislation postpones sex abuse, sodomy. - Headline from Herald Journal, Logan, Utah.
%20020222  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Ron, you've found your muse... and she has a five-o-clock shadow and male
pattern baldness. - Eric Jensen
%20020201  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Being truly evil requires every bit as much attention to detail as being 
truly good... and an island fortress...  -Ian Lewis
%20020120  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Working at an entertainment company isn't all fun and games - sometimes it's
just games.  -  Jay Kint

Yeah, but have you ever tried dipping a whole chicken in sweet and sour sauce? -Derek Kusiak
I've seen a chicken get nekked. - Josh Markiewicz
%20020109  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
See Ron, you should just start taking a lot of Estrogen... it would sure make
it a lot easier to work with you. - Randy Jones

111,111,111^2 = 12345678987654321
The Greek national anthem has 158 verses. Noone in Greece has memorized them all.
typewriter - longest (qwerty) single-row (TOP ROW!!!) word. instantiations - longest (dvorak) single-row (home row) word. alfalfa - longest (qwerty) home-row word. upkeep, opaque - longest (dvorak) words that must be typed with one hand. stewardesses - longest (qwerty) word that must be typed with one hand. -rbarry
Lethologica - the state of not being able to remember the word you want.
Donald Duck comics were banned in Finland because he doesn't wear pants.
Dueling in Paraguay is legal as long as both parties are registered blood donors.
%20020107  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
An ant always falls over on its right side when intoxicated.

When asked at a local bar if what I was drinking was alcoholic, I replied that I did not know - I try not to get involved in the personal lives of the things I drink. -rbarry
%20020102  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
'cause I got a pretty big frickin' nose. - Randy Jones
%20011213  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Any time I'm feeling puzzled, I think to myself - I'm feeling Randy. - Jay Kint
%20011119  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I've got an anvil in the oven.  - Gonzo the Great.
%20011115  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Ron, you're a better looking woman than I am. - Randy Jones.

I only pay my girlfriend $500 per month. It's a good deal! - Randy Jones.
%20011113  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Yesterday, they had a mushroom motif.  - Tyson Jensen, Acclaim

I'd do Miss Piggy. -Randy Jones, Acclaim
%20011112  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
(effeminately) Ooooh!  My Boolean expressions are exposed. - Jay Kint, Acclaim
%20011109  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Some people might say that I'm a pretty shallow guy, but a shallow guy with a
great ass. - Cat, Red Dwarf

Date: Sat, 12 Jan 1991 13:21:23 PST From: Subject: Ah, yes. Canada To: On the subject of interesting signs. My family lives in Montreal, where French-speakers outnumber English-speakers. A construction team apparently was working on changing this situation while blasting near the Montreal General Hospital five years ago. By law, signs relating to personal safety must be in French, and you are allowed to put English writing on the sign if you really feel you must. A sign explaining the signals for blasting read: (paraphrased, but the numbers are as they were there) Explosion will come thirty seconds after the long blast of the horn. L'explosion suiverai deux minutes apres la longue coup du sirene. (Explosion will come two minutes after the long blast of the horn.)
%20010814  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
    It so happened that the Newfoundland agricultural ministry,
anxious to have something to administer, decided to set up some
chicken farms. They decided to give away free starter chickens.
    Well, the first day this old farmer came in and ordered 10,000
chickens. "Great!!!", the minister's secretary exclaimed, "Give th' bye
as many as he wants". So the farmer went home with 10,000 chickens.
    But a week later, the farmer was back with an order for 20,000
chickens. "He must have a really big operation, this is great!! Fill the
order", the secretary ordered. The farmer went home with his 20,000.
    It wasn't long again, though, that the farmer was back for
30,000 chickens, the biggest order the government had seen. Of course,
it was filled, and the farmer got his 30,000 chickens.
    After all this, the secretary decided to go and see this fantastic
chicken farm, and to show some other bigwigs the effectiveness of his
department at getting the Newfies off fishing boats and onto the land.
So, they got a government car and drove to the address they had for the
old bye's farm. But when they got there, all they could see was dry
old fields and a run-down empty barn, and, of course, the old farmer.
    "Where in hell are all the chickens we sent you? Thought
you had a real spread going here", the secretary blustered.
    "Well ya' know", the farmer drawled, "Those chicks was the
dumbest things. I've been growing things before, y'know, but I guess
I'd never see any to beat them. I planted 30,000 of the little suckers,
but not one came up!!"

"My homie, homie, homie made of foamy, foamy, foamy!" - Rizzo the Rat to Clifford the Blue Guy with Dreadlocks.
%20010801  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
The STL's [C++ Standard Template Library] flexibility, however, has a price,
chief of which is that it is not self-explanatory.  - Nicolai M. Josuttis, The
C++ Standard Library
%20010717  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
A novice went into the master's cubicle and saw a new computer sitting upon the
master's desk.

"What is that computer?" asked the novice.

The master placed his hand upon the small box that was connected to the
computer by a wire.  " Behold," said the master, "This device controls what we
see on the screen."

The novice looked closely at the screen, but all he saw were meaningless

"The screen simulates a desk," explained the master, "For example, here on the
screen is a filing cabinet and a trash repository.  Here also is a typewriter
and a calculator."

"This is a wonderful invention," whispered the novice in awe.

"It is not as wonderful as it seems," said the master.  He took the novice by
the shoulders and made him stand several feet back.  "Can you see the two
desks?" asked the master.

The novice nodded.  "One is on the floor, the other is on the screen," he

"Just so.  Now, is there something missing on one of the two desks?"

The novice pondered for a moment.  "One of the desks does not have a computer
on it," he said.

The master shook his head.  "Neither of the desks has a computer on it."

A bloke was about to bring his new girlfriend home, so he warned his parrot not to say any offensive remarks; the parrot had a tendency to verbally abuse anyone who came into the house. The next night the guy walked in with his new girlfriend, and the parrot instantly began to insult her: "Who's a fat cow, then? Who's been hit by a truck, then?" The next day the infuriated man decided to shove the parrot in the freezer to teach it a lesson. About two minutes later the parrot calls out, "Im sorry. Im really sorry. Im really, really sorry." The man feels a bit guilty and decides to let the parrot back out. For the next couple of months he doesn't hear so much as a squeak out of the parrot. He can't believe how successful his freezer trick turned out to be. But finally one night the parrot got up enough courage to talk again. "Excuse me, please," the parrot said very cautiously, "but what exactly did the chicken do?"
On reaching his plane seat a man is surprised to see a parrot strapped in next to him. He asks the stewardess for a coffee where upon the parrot squawks "and get me a whisky you cow!" The stewardess, flustered, brings back a whisky for the parrot and forgets the coffee. When this omission is pointed out to her the parrot drains its glass and bawls "and get me another whisky you bitch". Quite upset, the girl comes back shaking with another whisky but still no coffee. Unaccustomed to such slackness the man tries the parrot's approach "I've asked you twice for a coffee, go and get it now or I'll kick your ass". Next moment both he and the parrot have been wrenched up and thrown out of the emergency exit by two burly stewards. Plunging downwards the parrot turns to him and says "for someone who can't fly you're a ballsy bastard!"
%20010716  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I have gotten so accustomed to flying that I don't even notice the safety
lecture, et. al., but maybe I should be paying closer attention:

Overheard after landing: "Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope
you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a

"This aircraft is equipped with a video surveillance system that monitors the
cabin during taxiing. Any passengers not remaining in their seats until the
aircraft comes to a full and complete stop at the gate will be strip-searched
as they leave the aircraft."

From a Southwest Airlines employee.... "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight XXX to
YYY. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull
tight. It works just like every other seatbelt, and if you don't know how to
operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised. In the event
of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling.
Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small
child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you
are traveling with two small children, decide now which one you love more. "

"Your seat cushions can be used for flotation, and in the event of an emergency
water landing, please take them with our compliments."

And from the pilot during his welcome message: "We are pleased to have some of
the best flight attendants in the industry... Unfortunately none of them are on
this flight..."

Another flight Attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you
to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship
into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first
officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them
a "Thanks for flying XYZ airline." He said that in light of his bad landing, he
had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would
have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for this little
old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sonny, mind if I ask you a question?"
"Why no Ma'am," said the pilot, "What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we
land or were we shot down?"      
%20010713  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Something I've been meaning to do for quite a while, but am short on costumes
and equipment:

For a longer scene, this could start with some sort of mood-setting leadin. 
The first samurai in bloody combats/duels and the second quietly meditating. 
They both start a journey that somehow needs to convey that they are travelling
with the express pourpose of their meeting.

Shot 1:
Music and picture fade in slowly.  The picture focuses upon the face of a
determined japanese warrior.  Hold for several seconds.

Shot 2:
The camera centers upon a second warrior, calm and serene.  Hold there for
several seconds.

Shot 3..3+n:
Camera goes back and forth between the warriors.  Each time, warrior 1 appears
more taut while in each cut, warrior 2 appears nearer to terminal relaxation.

Shot n+4:
Shot rests on warrior 1 long enough to convince the viewer that any second
he'll have an explosive embolism.  The camera shows a brief silouhetted profile
of the warriors, with a small tree between them.

Shot n+5:  (from the profile or face-on I haven't decided)
Suddenly warrior 1 draws his sword, screams "BONSAI!!!" and takes a vicious
swipe with his weapon.

Shot n+6:
Back to profile, we see both warriors in silhouette.  Warrior 2 begins to
kneel, slowly - the impression to the audience being that he has been mortally
wounded.  After a pause, he reaches out and touches the tree, causing the
top to fall off leaving a stumped flattop.  He dejectedly picks up the fallen
section of tree, stands, lets it drop, and both warriors pass each other at
center and exit at opposite sides of the screen.  Fade to black.

    I have no idea how these things occur to me in the middle of the night.


From "A Unicycle Trip Across the USA", : I'd like to share a story about my unicycle ride across the United States. A trip that both changed my life and gave me big calluses on my butt.
"Direct3D is a low-level 3-D API that is ideal for developers who need to port games and other high-performance multimedia applications to the Windows operating system." - DirectX 8.0 SDK If they wanted an "ideal" method for porting 3-D applications to Windows, they would have implemented GL so as to be consistent with existing standards of the time.
From the New Unicyclists FAQ: General Questions: Q: Why do unicycles have only one wheel? A: Ahem...
%20010627  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
Note: Sometimes a story comes along that needs no polishing or enhancement to
make it better. This is one of those. It is a real letter submitted to the IRS
the midst of 1995's weird and bizarre denial of dependents, exemptions and

The letter speaks for itself.

Dear Sirs:

I am responding to your letter denying the deduction for two of the three
dependents I claimed on my 1994 Federal Tax return.  Thank you. I have
questioned whether or not these are my children for years.  They are evil and
expensive.  It's only fair that, since they are minors and no longer my
responsibility, the government should know something about them and what to
expect over the next year.  Please do not try to reassign them to me next year
and reinstate the deduction. They are yours!

The oldest, Kristen, is now 17.  She is brilliant.  Ask her!  I suggest you put
her to work in your office where she can answer people's questions about their
returns.  While she has no formal training, it has not seemed to hamper her
mastery of any subject you can name.  Taxes should be a breeze. Next year she
is going to college.  I think it's wonderful that you will now be responsible
for that little expense.  While you mull that over, keep in mind that she has a
truck.  It doesn't run at the moment, so you have the choice of appropriating
some Department of Defense funds to fix the vehicle, or getting up early to
drive her to school.

Kristen also has a boyfriend.  Oh joy!  While she possesses all of the wisdom
of the universe, her alleged mother and I have felt it best to occasionally
remind her of the virtues of abstinence, or in the face of overwhelming
passion, safe sex.  This is always uncomfortable, and I am quite relieved you
will be handling this in the future.  May I suggest that you reinstate Dr.
Jocelyn Elders who had a rather good handle on the problem.

Patrick is 14.  I've had my suspicions about this one.  His eyes are a little
closer together than those of normal people.  He may be a tax examiner himself
one day, if he is not incarcerated first.  In February, I was awakened at three
in the morning by a police officer who was bringing Pat home.  He and his
friends were TP'ing houses.  In the future, would you like him delivered to the
local IRS office, or to Ogden, UT?

Kids at 14 will do almost anything on a dare.  His hair is purple. Permanent
dye, temporary dye, what's the big deal?  Learn to deal with it. You'll have
plenty of time, as he is sitting out a few days of school after instigating a
food fight in the cafeteria.  I'll take care of filing your phone number with
the vice-principal.  Oh yes, he and all of his friends have raging hormones. 
This is the house of testosterone and it will be much more peaceful when he
lives in your home.  DO NOT leave him or his friends unsupervised with girls,
explosives, inflammables, inflatables, vehicles, or telephones.  (They find
telephones a source of unimaginable amusement. Be sure to lock out the 900 and
976 numbers!)

Heather is an alien.  She slid through a time warp and appeared as if by magic
one year.  I'm sure this one is yours.  She is 10 going on 21. She came from a
bad trip in the sixties.  She wears tie-dyed clothes, beads, sandals, and hair
that looks like Tiny Tim's.  Fortunately you will be raising my taxes to help
offset the pinch of her remedial reading courses. "Hooked On Phonics" is
expensive, so the schools dropped it.  But here's the good news!  You can buy
it yourself for half the amount of the deduction that you are denying me!  It's
quite obvious that we were terrible parents (ask the other two).  She cannot
speak English.  Most people under twenty understand the curious patois she
fashioned out of valley girls/boys in the hood/ reggae/ yuppie/ political
doublespeak.  The school sends her to a speech pathologist who has her roll her
"R's".  It added a refreshing Mexican/Irish touch to her voice.  She wears hats
backwards, baggy pants, and wants one of her ears pierced four more times. 
There is a fascination with tattoos that worries me, but am sure that you can
handle it.  Bring a truck when you come to get her, she sort of "nests" in her
room and I think that it would be easier to move the entire thing than find out
what it is really made of.

You denied two of the three exemptions, so it is only fair that you get to pick
which two you will take.  I prefer that you take the youngest two. I will still
go bankrupt with Kristen's college, but then I am free!  If you take the two
oldest, then I still have time for counseling before Heather becomes a
teenager.  If you take the two girls, then I won't feel so bad about putting
Patrick in a military academy.  Please let me know of your decision as soon as
possible, as I have already increased the withholding on my W-4 to cover the
$395 in additional tax and made a down payment on an airplane.

Yours truly, Bob.

(Note: The IRS allowed the deductions and reinstated his refund)

Note the all-positive phrasing on this sentence from We've also changed our pricing on some books, CDs, DVDs, and videos: for some products prices have stayed the same, for some products prices are lower, and for some products we've REDUCED OUR DISCOUNTS. (Emphasis added.) Personally, I've never been an amazon fan since their insistence on sueing over moronic patent issues but what can you do? Our patent office is even farther off in left field than amazon's legal department.
I just installed a skylight. My upstairs neighbor is furious.
%20010625  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I played a blank tape at full blast - the mime next door went nuts - called in
imaginary police.

Did you hear about the terrorist that hijacked a 747 full of lawyers? He threatened to release one every hour until his demands were met.
How many lawyers does it take to roof a house? Depends on how thin you slice them.
What's the difference between a tick and a lawyer? A tick eventually stops draining you.
What do you call a lawyer gone bad? Senator.
Beethoven to fellow composer: I liked your opera. I think I will set it to music.
How is a drum solo like a sneeze? You can tell it's coming, but you can't do anything about it.
A man goes to an exotic tropical island for a vacation. As the boat nears the island, he notices the constant sound of drumming coming from the island. As he gets off the boat, he asks the first native he sees how long the drumming will go on. The native casts about nervously and says, "Very bad when the drumming stops." At the end of the day, the drumming is still going on and is starting to get on his nerves. So, he asks another native when the drumming will stop. The native looks as if he's just been reminded of something very unpleasant. "Very bad when the drumming stops," he says, and hurries off. After a couple of days with little sleep, our traveller is finally fed up, grabs the nearest native, slams him up against a tree, and shouts, "What happens when the drumming stops?!" "Bass solo."
A drummer, tired from being ridiculed by his peers, decided to learn how to play some "real" musical instruments. He went to a music store, walked in, approached the store clerk, and said, "I'll take that red trumpet over there and that accordion." The store clerk looked at him a bit funny, and replied "OK, you can have the fire extinguisher but the radiator's got to stay."
What do you call a drummer who just broke up with his girlfriend? Homeless.
What'd the drummer get on his theory exam? Drool.
An orchestra was rehearsing a contemporary symphony in which there was a particularly difficult jazz trumpet riff. However, none of the trumpet players could play it. One trumpet player suggests they hire in a jazz trumpeter. The conductor screams, "NO, NO, NO!! Jazz musicians are irresponsible, can't play in tune, and are not real musicians!!" Finally, they talk him into it. The next night at 7:57 (for an 8:00 rehearsal) the jazz musician shows up carrying his trumpet in a paper bag. The conductor decides to wait until after to yell at him. But the jazz-man plays the riff perfectly the first time. The conductor tries to thank him after rehearsal, but the cat is gone. The next couple of rehearsals go pretty much the same way, with the cat actually playing the entire first trumpet part - perfectly. Finally, the conductor grabs him after rehearsal and says, "You know, at first I didn't want to hire you because I thought jazz musicians were irresponsible and couldn't play in tune, but I must say you have changed my mind. Thank you." The jazz-man says, "Well, cat, I figure it's the least I could do since I can't make the gig."
How do you get a conductor out of a tree? Cut the rope.
Did you hear about the guitarist who locked his keys in his car? He couldn't get his drummer out.
Gentleman: One who can play the bagpipes and doesn't.
How can you tell that the stage is level? Drool comes out of both sides of the trombonists' mouths.
Why are violins smaller than violas? They're not, really. It's just that violinists' heads are bigger.
What has three legs and its ass on top? A drum stool.
What do you do with a bad conductor? Stand next to him in a thunderstorm.
Two drummers walked by a bar. Hey... it could happen.
The difference between a French Horn and a '57 Chevy? You can tune the Chevy.
A player in an orchestra forgot the time of their next performance, so he rang the conductors office and asked to speak to the conductor. He was told that he had passed away earlier. He hung up, considered this for a few minutes, then rang again. He got the same reply. After the fifteenth time, he got the reply, "Look, he's dead! Why the hell do you keep ringing us?." Replied the musician, "I just like to hear you say it."
From alt.atheism: Let's say you're a photographer out getting still photos for a news service, travelling alone, looking for particularly poignant scenes. If you were to stumble across George W. Bush struggling to keep from being swept away in a raging river and you had a choice of rescuing him or getting the Pulitzer prize-winning photograph of the death of a President ... what aperture setting would you use? Best answer posted so far: I'd ask him if he wants to be saved by God or by an atheist. If he chooses me, I'd ask him if he wants to ignore the climate or adopt a CO2-lowering policy. If he chooses the former, I'd say fight the climate now, in the form of this raging river swelled up by a hurricane; and choose a wide-angle aperture.
%20010614  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
I believe that marriage is the headstone of American soceity. - Frank Burns,

Soapbox time: The MPAA is off their collective rockers. How the hell does South Park: the Movie manage to rate an R when Orgasmo, a movie by the same people and nowhere near as lewd or offensive, gets an NC17? When I saw it, I would have thought that except for the crude humor it would have been a PG-13. -rbarry
Strobe lights - giving reality the illusion of a really poor frame rate. -Tyson Jensen
Red meat isn't bad for you. Now, blue-green meat, that's REALLY bad for you. -Tommy Smothers
What if the earth is being watched by little alien observers who have become so bored with their jobs that they have nothing better to do than run the seti@home client on their machines? -rbarry
It is very difficult to look at the possibility of lesbian sheep because if you are a female sheep, what you do to solicit sex is to stand still. Maybe there is a female sheep out there really wanting another female, but there's just no way for us to know it. -- Anne Perkins, in her study of sexuality in sheep.
In Cupertino, California, it is illegal to count backwards audibly in hexadecimal. UPDATE 20090610: I have double-checked this one. Cupertino has their municipal codes online. Feel free to utter "FEDCBA9876543210" in Cupertino.
Rhode Island state Sen. Dominick J. Ruggerio was arrested and charged in September (early 90s) with shoplifting condoms.
January 13, 1991 Jeremy Lynch, a photography student at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, claimed in November that Lake Ontario is so polluted with mercury and iron that he has been able to develop photographs using lake water captured around factories without adding any chemicals. A Toronto pollution control official said he did not dispute Lynch's claim.
"Cold Fusion, the greatest intellectual blunder of the 20th century." "What about Microsoft?" "I said _intellectual_"
IBM and DEC decided to have a boat race, on the Thames, following the famous Oxford vs Cambridge course. Both teams practiced hard, and came the big day, they were as ready as they could be. IBM won by a mile. Afterwards, the DEC team were very downhearted, and a decision was made that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found, so a working party was set up to investigate and report. Well, they had everybody on the working party, Sales, Systems Engineering, Marketing, Customer Education, Field Service, the whole lot, and after 3 months they came up with the answer, and the working party co-ordinator gave his summary presentation. "The problem was", he said, "that IBM had 8 people rowing and 1 steering, whereas we had 1 person rowing and 8 steering." The working party was then asked to go away and come up with a plan to prevent a recurrence the following year, for DEC's pride had been damaged, and another defeat was not wanted. Two months later, the working party had worked out a plan, and the coordinator gave his (customarily brief) summary -- "The guy rowing has just *got* to work harder!"
Long, but well worth reading: Date: 5 Jan 91 11:15:02 GMT From: (Jim Kasprzak) Subject: Adirondack fishin' tale One day in the village of Lake George, Murray Campbell, the local conservation officer, stops by Frieda's Diner for a cup of coffee. In the parking lot he spies old Walter Shaw's pickup truck, so he parks next to it, him and Walt being friends from way back. On his way past the truck, he can't help noticing that there in the back of Walt's truck, all lined up nose to tail, are thirty-three big old lake trout. Now, that's a pretty good day's fishing around Lake George; it's also against the law, since the legal limit is three per person. Well, folks up in the north country never were much for doing things in a hurry, so Murray walks into the diner, says hello to Frieda, sees Walt sitting at a stool by the counter, and goes over and sits next to him. Murray takes off his conservation officer hat, orders a cup of coffee, and proceeds to start talking to Walt about the weather, family, what have you. Soon enough the talk turns to fishing, as it's likely to do in those parts, and Murray clears his throat and says, "Y'know, Walt, I couldn't help but notice those thirty-three trout out there in the back of your truck. Now you know as well as I do that the legal limit is three, so unless you can do a pretty good job of explaining, I'm gonna have to write you up for a violation." "Explainin'?" says Walt, indingnantly. "Why, I'll do ya better than that. You come out fishin' with me tomorrow and I'll show you how when I fish, I can't possibly come back with any _less_ than thirty trout!" "Now, that'd be a neat trick, Walt," replies Murray. "You convince me that you can't catch less than thirty trout, and I'll let you off." So the next morning Murray gets up bright and early, goes down to the docks to where Walter Shaw keeps his boat, and the two of them set off towards the middle of the lake. Walt takes them out to the good ninety-foot flats just past Dome Island and stops the boat dead in the water, just as pretty as you please. Then he stoops down by the side of the boat, sticks a finger in the water, draws it out and gives it a sniff. "Yep, looks good," he says, then puts his hand in the water again, scoops up a little bit of it, gives it a taste, and proclaims, "Okay, this is the spot all right." Murray, meanwhile, is just sitting back watching all this rigamarole and wondering what on Earth Walt could be up to. Well, next thing you know, Walt opens up a box sitting next to his seat, pulls out a half-stick of dynamite, lights the fuse with his Zippo lighter, and tosses it in the water. BOOM! A huge fountain of water shoots up into the air, drenches Walt and Murray, and a couple of seconds later there's fish floating up to the surface, dozens of them, left and right. And Walt's right there with his net flipping them into the boat one by one. Murray is flabbergasted. "Walt!" he says when his friend finally gets done loading up the boat with fish. "What do you think you're doing!? Now not only do I have to write you up a fish and game violation, I'm gonna have to report you for using explosives without a permit!" Walt doesn't say a word; he just reaches down into the box, pulls out another half-stick of dynamite, lights the fuse and sticks it in Murray's hand. He grins at Murray, and says, "So, you wanna talk, or you wanna fish?"
From: acs-grf@alembic.ACS.COM Newsgroups: alt.personals Subject: relationship wanted Date: 2 Jan 91 08:15:17 GMT SWM seeks SWF for destructive, adolescent relationship based upon mutual objectification and possession, visual and tactile pleasure derivable from definable objective models of sexuality and romance, and implicit disregard for personal identity. Interests include abstract mathematics and philosophy with a particular interest in meta-ethical theory.
Blacksburg, Va. -- Sheriff's deputies rushed in with guns drawn in response to a series of 911 calls but found they had been summoned by a tomato. A Montgomery County dispatcher had traced the calls to the home of Linda and Danny Hurst. The Hursts were not home, so police figured someone might have broken in. Danny Hurst later found an overripe tomato in a hanging basket, dripping tomato juice onto a telephone- answering machine below. Police think the juice from the distressed tomato shorted out the machine's dialing system, causing it to call the emergency line. "It just burst," said a deputy. "Then it called us. I guess it needed help ... or needed cleaning up." December 30th, 1990 _Parade_ magazine (from UPI) % 20010501 The "Multiple Personality" legal defense is ruled to be constitutional by the Supreme Court, in a 137-76 vote.
Did you know Mozart died penniless? In fact, he seems to have been Baroque all his life. - rbarry
I guess this is the week I earn my pay. - John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) , during the Cuban missile crisis
I like the word 'indolence'. It makes my laziness seem classy. - Bern Williams
I refused to attend his funeral. But I wrote a very nice letter explaining that I approved of it. - Mark Twain (1835-1910)
I strive to be brief, and I become obscure. - Horace
I think it would be a good idea. - Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) , when asked what he thought of Western civilization
I'd rather bathe lepers than be interviewed by the press. - Mother Teresa
I was so ugly when I was born; the doctor slapped my mother. - Henny Youngman
Disk Full - Press F1 to belch.
It's not hard to meet expenses, they're everywhere.
If I want your opinion, I'll ask you to fill out the necessary forms.
If things get any worse, I'll have to ask you to stop helping me.
If at first you DO succeed, try not to look astonished!
Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.
I'm out of bed and dressed, what more do you want?
Lead me not into temptation, I can find it myself.
Sex on television can't hurt you unless you fall off.
Auntie Em, Hate you; Hate Kansas; Taking the dog. --Dorothy.
A bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory.
Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.
History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other alternatives. - Abba Eban (1915- )
Having a family is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain. - Martin Mull
I am a creationist; I refuse to believe that I could have evolved from humans.
I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific. - Lily Tomlin
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo Galilei
I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure -- that is all that agnosticism means. - Clarence Darrow , Scopes trial, in 1925.
I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. - Will Rogers (1879-1935)
I don't even know what street Canada is on. - Al Capone (1899-1947)
I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse. - Isaac Asimov
Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names. - John F. Kennedy
Extra-marital sex is as overrated as pre-marital sex. And marital sex, come to think of it. - Simon Gray
Drawing on my fine command of language, I said nothing. - Anonymous
Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted. - Fred Allen (1894-1956)
Football incorporates the two worst elements of American society: violence punctuated by committee meetings. - George F. Will , journalist, political commentator, 1994
Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. - George Burns
Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company. - Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Communication with an engineer is only slightly more difficult than communication with the dead. - Lorren 'Rus' Stiles, Sr.
As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to dispense it. - Dick Cavett
Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it. - Andre Gide
Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused. - Anonymous
Despite the high cost of living it remains a popular item. - Anonymous
Only those who attempt the absurd...will achieve the impossible. I think... I think it's in my basement...Let me go upstairs and check. - Escher
Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism. -Carl Gustav Jung
Justice is incidental to law and order. - J. Edgar Hoover
When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap. -Cynthia Heimel , "Lower Manhattan Survival Tactics" in Village Voice
Never moon a werewolf. - Mike Binder
Never judge a book by its movie. - J. W. Eagan
Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history. - George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
For best results: wash in cold water separately, hang dry and iron with warm iron. For not so good results: drag behind car through puddles, blow-dry on roofrack. - Laundry instructions on a shirt made by HEET (Korea)
All right everyone, line up alphabetically according to your height. - Casey Stengel
A signature always reveals a man's character - and sometimes even his name. - Evan Esar
A cement mixer collided with a prison van on the Kingston Pass. Motorists are asked to be on the lookout for 16 hardened criminals. - Ronnie Corbett
If thy enemy wrong thee, buy each of his children a drum. - Chinese Proverb
Any time four New Yorkers get into a cab without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place. - Johnny Carson
I was brought up to respect my elders and now I don't have to respect anybody. - George Burns.
If you live to be 100, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age. - George Burns.
What goes up must come down. Ask any system administrator.
Don't take life too seriously - none of us get out alive anyway.
Enjoy life. There's plenty of time to be dead.
Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick once and you suck forever.
I was sitting in the hottub at my gym after working out and wondering why the swimming pool area was covered by an extensive sprinkler system. - rbarry
To hell with a barrel full of monkeys. How about "more fun than a cat and a laser pointer."
Well, everyone, it's time to start reading Terms of Use statements. Check out what Microsoft has slipped into one of theirs (from License to Microsoft By posting messages, uploading files, inputting data, submitting any feedback or suggestions, or engaging in any other form of communication with or through the Passport Web Site, you warrant and represent that you own or otherwise control the rights necessary to do so and you are granting Microsoft and its affiliated companies permission to: 1. Use, modify, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, publish, sublicense, create derivative works from, transfer, or sell any such communication. 2. Sublicense to third parties the unrestricted right to exercise any of the foregoing rights granted with respect to the communication. 3. Publish your name in connection with any such communication. The foregoing grants shall include the right to exploit any proprietary rights in such communication, including but not limited to rights under copyright, trademark, service mark or patent laws under any relevant jurisdiction. No compensation will be paid with respect to Microsoft's use of the materials contained within such communication. Microsoft is under no obligation to post or use any materials you may provide and may remove such materials at any time in Microsoft's sole discretion.
Microsoft's No. 1 product is Windows, which now comes automatically installed on every computer in the world and many kitchen appliances. Technically, Windows is an "operating system," which means that it supplies your computer with the basic commands that it needs to suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, stop operating. --Dave Barry
If the cops arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?
Instead of talking to your plants, if you yelled at them would they still grow? Only to be troubled and insecure?
The primary purpose of the DATA statement is to give names to constants; instead of referring to pi as 3.141592653589793 at every appearance, the variable PI can be given that value with a DATA statement and used instead of the longer form of the constant. This also simplifies modifying the program, should the value of pi change. --Fortran for Xerox manual.
Does your employer have to provide separate sanitary facilities if you work in the sewer? - rbarry
Windows 2000 login screen: Control-Alt-Del helps keep your password secure.
I called the janitor the other day to see what he could do about my dingy linoleum floor. He said he would have been happy to loan me a polisher, but that he hadn't the slightest idea what he had done with it. I told him not to worry about it - that as a programmer it wasn't the first time I had experienced a buffer allocation failure due to a memory error. - rbarry
The docs I got when I started my new job included some paperwork I had to sign regarding what is considered prohibited use of the system. Among the entries was "Illegal or unethical activities that could adversely affect [the company]." It doesn't mention anything about illegal or unethical activities that positively affect the company. =] - rbarry
Okay - if a prune is a _dried_plum_, what exactly is prune _juice?!? - rbarry
Hearing a disturbance, The master programmer went into the novice's cubicle. "Curse these personal computers!" cried the novice in anger, "To make them do anything I must use three or even four editing programs. Sometimes I get so confused that I erase entire files. This is truly intolerable!" The master programmer stared at the novice. "And what would you do to remedy this state of affairs?" he asked. The novice thought for a moment. "I will design a new editing program," he said, "a program that will replace all these others." Suddenly the master struck the novice on the side of his head. It was not a heavy blow, but the novice was nonetheless surprised. "What did you do that for?" exclaimed the novice. "I have no wish to learn another editing program," said the master. And suddenly the novice was enlightened. -The Zen of Programming - Geoffrey James.
a = x [true for some a's and x's] a+a = a+x [add a to both sides] 2a = a+x [a+a = 2a] 2a-2x = a+x-2x [subtract 2x from both sides] 2(a-x) = a+x-2x [2a-2x = 2(a-x)] 2(a-x) = a-x [x-2x = -x] 2 = 1 [divide both sides by a-x]
Some people are going to hate me but; (and there is a simple explanation.) There was once a barber. Some say that he lived in Seville. Wherever he lived, all of the men in this town either shaved themselves or were shaved by the barber. And the barber only shaved the men who did not shave themselves.
Please do not feed the hackers. Their diet has been carefully selected by trained vending machine operators to keep them sedentary at their desks 24 hours a day. rbarry
You don't need a sword to send your foes into a stupor - just be yourself. - The voodoo lady.
Guybrush: Are you sure there's nothing I can do to get you to navigate my ship to Lucre Island? I. Cheese: I'm open to pursuasion. What did you have in mind? Guybrush: I was kind of hoping you'd cave in due to my incessant nagging. I. Cheese: Kid, I've been married for 30 years. Guybrush: So? I. Cheese: So if there's one thing I'm immune to, it's high-pitched incessant nagging.
A man placed some flowers on the grave of his dearly departed mother and started back toward his car when his attention was diverted to another man kneeling at a grave. The man seemed to be praying with profound intensity and kept repeating, "Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die? Why did you have to die?" The first man approached him and said, "Sir, I don't wish to interfere with your private grief, but this demonstration of pain is more than I've ever seen before. For whom do you mourn so deeply? A child? A parent?" The mourner took a moment to collect himself, then replied..."My wife's first husband."
AUSTIN, TX (Dec. 13) - Attorneys for Texas Governor George W. Bush filed suit in federal court today, seeking to prevent Santa Claus from making his list and then checking it twice. The complaint seeks an immediate injunction against the beloved Christmas icon, asking the court to effectively ban his traditional practice of checking the list of good boys and girls one additional time before packing his sleigh. The suit, filed in the Federal District Court of Austin, Texas, asks a federal judge to "hereby order Mr. Claus to cease and desist all repetitive and duplicative list-checking activity, and certify the original list as submitted, without amendment, alteration, deletion, or other unnecessary modification." "There are no standards for deciding who is naughty, and who is nice. It's totally arbitrary and capricious. How many more times does he need to check? This checking, checking, and re-checking over and over again must stop now," said former Secretary James Baker. [snip]
Why don't personal lubricants come with a satisfaction gaurantee? - rbarry
"My pants are already plenty controversial. I don't need to add crackpot pseudoscience to the mix." - Guybrush Threepwood
Sometimes, when it's quiet, I can still hear the monkeys. - Guybrush Threepwood
A billion here, a billion there -- pretty soon it adds up to real money. - Senator Everett Dirksen (Republican.)
Why does my UPS have an ON/OFF switch?
The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation.
it occurred to me a while ago that Unix is much like the U.S. Government: A long time ago, a few brilliant men created a system that empowered its users, gave them freedom, and provided a few essential services. Now it is old, slow, easily corrupted, overly restrictive, too large and confusing for anyone to understand, plagued with inconsistencies, and run by men who only care about money. --
In headlines today, the dreaded killfile virus spread across the country adding '' to people's Usenet kill files everywhere. The programmer of the virus still remains anonymous, but has been nominated several times for a Nobel peace prize. -- Mark Atkinson
Consultant's Creed: If you think *I'm* expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.
I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, commenting on the X Window System
Digital is to analog as steps are to ramps.
Computers save time the way kudzu prevents soil erosion. -- Al Castanoli
Brilliance is typically the act of an individual, but incredible stupidity can usually be traced to an organization. -- Jon Bentley
A logician trying to explain logic to a programmer is like a cat trying to explain to a fish what it's like to get wet.
A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history -- with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila. -- Mitch Ratcliffe
Proof Techniques 1) Proof by referral to non-existent authorities 2) Reduction ad nauseam 3) Proof by assignment 4) Method of least astonishment 5) Proof by handwaving 6) Proof by intimidation 7) Method of deferral until later in the course 8) Proof by reduction to a sequence of unrelated lemmas 9) Method of convergent irrelevancies
From /usr/include/netinet/ip.h: u_int16_t frag_off; (Taken out of context, of course.)
The box said "requires Windows 95 or better"... so I installed linux.
And which parallel universe did you crawl out of?
I'd love to help you out. Which way did you come in?
How depressing... Nobody's after my job.
Blessed are the geeks, for they shall internet the earth.
A few of the Logan crowd, in the death throes of the annual fall cold season, decided to start a band with a whole new gurgling sound. They are calling it the Violent Phlems. -Brian Carver.
Okay, so all the rice flour came off the deep fried tofu. I'll call my new recipe "hage-dashi tofu." Somebody's gotta get it....
The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned. (Bruce Ediger,, in comp.os.linux.misc, on X interfaces.)
There are no threads in a.b.p.erotica, so there's no gain in using a threaded news reader. (Unknown source)
"I would rather spend 10 hours reading someone else's source code than 10 minutes listening to Musak waiting for technical support which isn't." (By Dr. Greg Wettstein, Roger Maris Cancer Center)
When the Apple IIc was introduced, the informative copy led off with a couple of asterisked sentences: It weighs less than 8 pounds.* And costs less than $1,300.** In tiny type were these "fuller explanations": * Don't asterisks make you suspicious as all get out? Well, all this means is that the IIc alone weights 7.5 pounds. The power pack, monitor, an extra disk drive, a printer and several bricks will make the IIc weigh more. Our lawyers were concerned that you might not be able to figure this out for yourself. ** The FTC is concerned about price fixing. You can pay more if you really want to. Or less. -- Forbes
"We invented a new protocol and called it Kermit, after Kermit the Frog, star of "The Muppet Show." [3] [3] Why? Mostly because there was a Muppets calendar on the wall when we were trying to think of a name, and Kermit is a pleasant, unassuming sort of character. But since we weren't sure whether it was OK to name our protocol after this popular television and movie star, we pretended that KERMIT was an acronym; unfortunately, we could never find a good set of words to go with the letters, as readers of some of our early source code can attest. Later, while looking through a name book for his forthcoming baby, Bill Catchings noticed that "Kermit" was a Celtic word for "free", which is what all Kermit programs should be, and words to this effect replaced the strained acronyms in our source code (Bill's baby turned out to be a girl, so he had to name her Becky instead). When BYTE Magazine was preparing our 1984 Kermit article for publication, they suggested we contact Henson Associates Inc. for permission to say that we did indeed name the protocol after Kermit the Frog. Permission was kindly granted, and now the real story can be told. I resisted the temptation, however, to call the present work "Kermit the Book." -- Frank da Cruz, "Kermit - A File Transfer Protocol"
Unfortunately, most programmers like to play with new toys. I have many friends who, immediately upon buying a snakebite kit, would be tempted to throw the first person they see to the ground, tie the tourniquet on him, slash him with the knife, and apply suction to the wound. -- Jon Bentley
To err is human, to forgive, beyond the scope of the Operating System.
There are two ways of constructing a software design. One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies and the other is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. -- C.A.R. Hoare
The salesman and the system analyst took off to spend a weekend in the forest, hunting bear. They'd rented a cabin, and, when they got there, took their backpacks off and put them inside. At which point the salesman turned to his friend, and said, "You unpack while I go and find us a bear." Puzzled, the analyst finished unpacking and then went and sat down on the porch. Soon he could hear rustling noises in the forest. The noises got nearer -- and louder -- and suddenly there was the salesman, running like hell across the clearing toward the cabin, pursued by one of the largest and most ferocious grizzly bears the analyst had ever seen. "Open the door!", screamed the salesman. The analyst whipped open the door, and the salesman ran to the door, suddenly stopped, and stepped aside. The bear, unable to stop, continued through the door and into the cabin. The salesman slammed the door closed and grinned at his friend. "Got him!", he exclaimed, "now, you skin this one and I'll go rustle us up another!"
The proof that IBM didn't invent the car is that it has a steering wheel and an accelerator instead of spurs and ropes, to be compatible with a horse. -- Jac Goudsmit
The only difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is that the car salesman knows he's lying.
The number of UNIX installations has grown to 10, with more expected. -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June 1972
The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from. -- Andrew S. Tanenbaum
Si vous pouves lire ceci, Sie vermutlich wurden nicht erzogen en los Estados Unidos.
Little Endian Bytes
*********************************************************** The galaxy has been conquered by the Romulans: The Romulans: 2b||!2b (R6) with 36 planets and 180 armies. rehab (R1) with 5 planets and 78 armies. guest (R2) with 2 planets and 8 armies. Mayo (R4) with 0 planets and 47 armies. ***********************************************************
The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.
The computer industry is journalists in their 20's standing in awe of entrepreneurs in their 30's who are hiring salesmen in their 40's and 50's and paying them in the 60's and 70's to bring their marketing into the 80's. -- Marty Winston
"The algorithm to do that is extremely nasty. You might want to mug someone with it." -- M. Devine, Computer Science 340
That's the thing about people who think they hate computers. What they really hate is lousy programmers. -- Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle in "Oath of Fealty"
"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.
Stop! Whoever crosseth the bridge of Death, must answer first these questions three, ere the other side he see! "What is your name?" "Sir Brian of Bell." "What is your quest?" "I seek the Holy Grail." "What are four lowercase letters that are not legal flag arguments to the Berkeley UNIX version of `ls'?" "I, er.... AIIIEEEEEE!"
Some people claim that the UNIX learning curve is steep, but at least you only have to climb it once.
Software suppliers are trying to make their software packages more "user-friendly". ... Their best approach, so far, has been to take all the old brochures, and stamp the words, "user-friendly" on the cover. -- Bill Gates, Microsoft, Inc. [Pot. Kettle. Black.]
Simulations are like miniskirts, they show a lot and hide the essentials. -- Hubert Kirrman
SEMINAR ANNOUNCEMENT Title: Are Frogs Turing Compatible? Speaker: Don "The Lion" Knuth ABSTRACT Several researchers at the University of Louisiana have been studying the computing power of various amphibians, frogs in particular. The problem of frog computability has become a critical issue that ranges across all areas of computer science. It has been shown that anything computable by an amphi- bian community in a fixed-size pond is computable by a frog in the same-size pond -- that is to say, frogs are Pond-space complete. We will show that there is a log-space, polywog-time reduction from any Turing machine program to a frog. We will suggest these represent a proper subset of frog-computable functions. This is not just a let's-see-how-far-those-frogs-can-jump seminar. This is only for hardcore amphibian-computation people and their colleagues. Refreshments will be served. Music will be played.
Scotty: Captain, we din' can reference it! Kirk: Analysis, Mr. Spock? Spock: Captain, it doesn't appear in the symbol table. Kirk: Then it's of external origin? Spock: Affirmative. Kirk: Mr. Sulu, go to pass two. Sulu: Aye aye, sir, going to pass two.
Real programmers don't bring brown-bag lunches. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche.
Real programmers disdain structured programming. Structured programming is for compulsive neurotics who were prematurely toilet- trained. They wear neckties and carefully line up pencils on otherwise clear desks.
Real computer scientists only write specs for languages that might run on future hardware. Nobody trusts them to write specs for anything homo sapiens will ever be able to fit on a single planet.
Prof: So the American government went to IBM to come up with a data encryption standard and they came up with ... Student: NTFS.
Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth
A picture is worth about 4k - 8k on an alpha. - rbarry
One of the questions that comes up all the time is: How enthusiastic is our support for UNIX? Unix was written on our machines and for our machines many years ago. Today, much of UNIX being done is done on our machines. Ten percent of our VAXs are going for UNIX use. UNIX is a simple language, easy to understand, easy to get started with. It's great for students, great for somewhat casual users, and it's great for interchanging programs between different machines. And so, because of its popularity in these markets, we support it. We have good UNIX on VAX and good UNIX on PDP-11s. It is our belief, however, that serious professional users will run out of things they can do with UNIX. They'll want a real system and will end up doing VMS when they get to be serious about programming. With UNIX, if you're looking for something, you can easily and quickly check that small manual and find out that it's not there. With VMS, no matter what you look for -- it's literally a five-foot shelf of documentation -- if you look long enough it's there. That's the difference -- the beauty of UNIX is it's simple; and the beauty of VMS is that it's all there. -- Ken Olsen, president of DEC, DECWORLD Vol. 8 No. 5, 1984 [It's been argued that the beauty of UNIX is the same as the beauty of Ken Olsen's brain. Ed.]
One of the most overlooked advantages to computers is... If they do foul up, there's no law against whacking them around a little. -- Joe Martin
One day a student came to Moon and said, "I understand how to make a better garbage collector. We must keep a reference count of the pointers to each cons." Moon patiently told the student the following story -- "One day a student came to Moon and said, "I understand how to make a better garbage collector..."
"One Architecture, One OS" also translates as "One Egg, One Basket".
No, I'm not interested in developing a powerful brain. All I'm after is just a mediocre brain, something like the president of American Telephone and Telegraph Company. -- Alan Turing on the possibilities of a thinking machine, 1943.
Never try to explain computers to a layman. It's easier to explain sex to a virgin. -- Robert Heinlein (Note, however, that virgins tend to know a lot about computers.)
n = ((n >> 1) & 0x55555555) | ((n << 1) & 0xaaaaaaaa); n = ((n >> 2) & 0x33333333) | ((n << 2) & 0xcccccccc); n = ((n >> 4) & 0x0f0f0f0f) | ((n << 4) & 0xf0f0f0f0); n = ((n >> 8) & 0x00ff00ff) | ((n << 8) & 0xff00ff00); n = ((n >> 16) & 0x0000ffff) | ((n << 16) & 0xffff0000);
Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun
Making files is easy under the UNIX operating system. Therefore, users tend to create numerous files using large amounts of file space. It has been said that the only standard thing about all UNIX systems is the message-of-the-day telling users to clean up their files. -- System V.2 administrator's guide
It took 300 years to build and by the time it was 10% built, everyone knew it would be a total disaster. But by then the investment was so big they felt compelled to go on. Since its completion, it has cost a fortune to maintain and is still in danger of collapsing. There are at present no plans to replace it, since it was never really needed in the first place. I expect every installation has its own pet software which is analogous to the above. -- K.E. Iverson, on the Leaning Tower of Pisa
It is against the grain of modern education to teach children to program. What fun is there in making plans, acquiring discipline in organizing thoughts, devoting attention to detail, and learning to be self-critical? -- Alan Perlis
It appears that after his death, Albert Einstein found himself working as the doorkeeper at the Pearly Gates. One slow day, he found that he had time to chat with the new entrants. To the first one he asked, "What's your IQ?" The new arrival replied, "190". They discussed Einstein's theory of relativity for hours. When the second new arrival came, Einstein once again inquired as to the newcomer's IQ. The answer this time came "120". To which Einstein replied, "Tell me, how did the Cubs do this year?" and they proceeded to talk for half an hour or so. To the final arrival, Einstein once again posed the question, "What's your IQ?". Upon receiving the answer "70", Einstein smiled and replied, "Got a minute to tell me about VMS 4.0?"
... in three to eight years we will have a machine with the general intelligence of an average human being ... The machine will begin to educate itself with fantastic speed. In a few months it will be at genius level and a few months after that its powers will be incalculable ... -- Marvin Minsky, LIFE Magazine, November 20, 1970
Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining. -- Jeff Raskin
If the designers of X-window built cars, there would be no fewer than five steering wheels hidden about the cockpit, none of which followed the same prinicples -- but you'd be able to shift gears with your car stereo. Useful feature, that. -- From the programming notebooks of a heretic, 1990.
It has been said that physicists stand on one another's shoulders. If this is the case, then programmers stand on one another's toes, and software engineers dig each other's graves. -- Unknown
I'm sure that VMS is completely documented, I just haven't found the right manual yet. I've been working my way through the manuals in the document library and I'm half way through the second cabinet, (3 shelves to go), so I should find what I'm looking for by mid May. I hope I can remember what it was by the time I find it. I had this idea for a new horror film, "VMS Manuals from Hell" or maybe "The Paper Chase : IBM vs. DEC". It's based on Hitchcock's "The Birds", except that it's centered around a programmer who is attacked by a swarm of binder pages with an index number and the single line "This page intentionally left blank." -- Alex Crain
I went to my first computer conference at the New York Hilton about 20 years ago. When somebody there predicted the market for microprocessors would eventually be in the millions, someone else said, "Where are they all going to go? It's not like you need a computer in every doorknob!" Years later, I went back to the same hotel. I noticed the room keys had been replaced by electronic cards you slide into slots in the doors. There was a computer in every doorknob. -- Danny Hillis
/* Halley */ (Halley's comment.)
Hacker's Guide To Cooking: 2 pkg. cream cheese (the mushy white stuff in silver wrappings that doesn't really come from Philadelphia after all; anyway, about 16 oz.) 1 tsp. vanilla extract (which is more alcohol than vanilla and pretty strong so this part you *GOTTA* measure) 1/4 cup sugar (but honey works fine too) 8 oz. Cool Whip (the fluffy stuff devoid of nutritional value that you can squirt all over your friends and lick off...) "Blend all together until creamy with no lumps." This is where you get to join(1) all the raw data in a big buffer and then filter it through merge(1m) with the -thick option, I mean, it starts out ultra lumpy and icky looking and you have to work hard to mix it. Try an electric beater if you have a cat(1) that can climb wall(1s) to lick it off the ceiling(3m). "Pour into a graham cracker crust..." Aha, the BUGS section at last. You just happened to have a GCC sitting around under /etc/food, right? If not, don't panic(8), merely crumble a rand(3m) handful of innocent GCs into a suitable tempfile and mix in some melted butter. "...and refrigerate for an hour." Leave the recipe's stdout in a fridge for 3.6E6 milliseconds while you work on cleaning up stderr, and by time out your cheesecake will be ready for stdin.
Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction -- from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to one instruction which doesn't work.
Einstein argued that there must be simplified explanations of nature, because God is not capricious or arbitrary. No such faith comforts the software engineer. -- Fred Brooks
Computer Science is the only discipline in which we view adding a new wing to a building as being maintenance. -- Jim Horning
Coding is easy; All you do is sit staring at a terminal until the drops of blood form on your forehead.
Web designers are people who carefully separate the wheat from the chaff, and then carefully print the chaff.
Unix - reach out and grep someone.
Behind every great computer is a skinny little geek.
Programmers are playwrights and all computers are lousy actors.
A successful [software] tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author. - S. C. Johnson
A program should be light and agile, its subroutines connected like a string of pearls. The spirit and intent of the program should be retained throughout. There should be neither too little nor too much, neither needless loops nor useless variables, neither lack of structure nor overwhelming rigidity. A program should follow the 'Law of Least Astonishment'. What is this law? It is simply that the program should always respond to the user in the way that astonishes him least. A program, no matter how complex, should act as a single unit. The prograam should be directed by the logic within rather than by outware appearances. If the program fails in these requirements, it will be in a state of disorder and confusion. The only way to correct this is to rewrite the program. -Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"
A novice of the temple once approached the Chief Priest with a question. "Master, does Emacs have the Buddha nature?" the novice asked. The Chief Priest had been in the temple for many years and could be relied upon to know these things. He thought for several minutes before replying. "I don't see why not. It's got bloody well everything else." With that, the Chief Priest went to lunch. The novice suddenly achieved enlightenment, several years later.
A language that doesn't have everything is actually easier to program in than some that do. - Dennis M. Ritche.
A computer is an old testament god - with a lot of rules and no mercy. -Joseph Campbell
I got me a job last month workin' at the city zoo. My job was to feed them polar bears, but they told me I was fired today. I don't know what their problem is. Them bears seemed to like them penguins way better than smelly buckets of dead fish.
From the "Linux Kernel Module Programming Guide:" So, you want to write a kernel module. You know C, you've written a number of normal programs to run as processes, and now you want to get to where the real action is, to where a single wild pointer can wipe out your file system and a core dump means a reboot.
Please keep your hands off the secretary's reproducing equipment.
From /usr/include/linux/kdev_t.h: Admissible operations on an object of type kdev_t: - passing it along - comparing it for equality with another such object - storing it in ROOT_DEV, inode->i_dev, inode->i_rdev, sb->s_dev, bh->b_dev, req->rq_dev, de->dc_dev, tty->device - using its bit pattern as argument in a hash function - finding its major and minor - complaining about it ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
What I want to know is how the fool and his money got together in the first place.
Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam umnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam. (I have a catapult. Give me your money or I shall fling an enormous rock at your head.)
Arachibutyrophobia: The fear of having peanut butter stick to the roof of your mouth.
Last night I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky and I thought to myself, "Where the hell is the ceiling?"
Someday we'll look back on all this and plow into the back of a parked car.
When my kleptomania gets bad, I take something for it.
If I have to work for an idiot, it might as well be me.
Enter any 11-digit prime number to continue.
Bad or missing mouse driver. Spank the cat [Y/N]?
Air conditioned environment. Do NOT open windows.
At Evans and Sutherland, an application for the process of submitting, receiving, and closing out Change Requests (CR) is generally disliked by the engineers for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that it takes forever to get it to properly send a request through. The Ap has gained a reputation as the C.R. Ap. -rbarry
In case you've not seen Battlefield Earth yet, I decided to include the comments made by 69 reviewers recently at the movie review site '' What makes this so amazingly hilarious is that these people seem to have saved up their lives' pain specifically to make these statements: "So overwrought, overacted and overwhelmingly inept that it must be seen to be believed." -- Edward Johnson-Ott, NUVO NEWSWEEKLY "Battlefield Earth is long and tedious." -- Steve Rhodes, INTERNET REVIEWS "It's bombastic, chaotic, plodding, visually dreary and patchily written by first-timer Corey Mandell and JD Shapiro, who's too unimportant to rate mention in the press kit." -- Lawrence Toppman, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER "Even if you were to classify it as a guilty pleasure, it would be the kind of sullying guilt that makes people leap from heights." -- Shawn Levy, THE OREGONIAN "Battlefield Earth is dumb." -- Tom Maurstad, DALLAS MORNING NEWS "This Battlefield's girth is all flab, a bombastic concoction of miscued camp and underachieving action." -- E! ONLINE "Buy a ticket for this mess, and you'll be sorry. Battlefield Earth is a shrill, hollow and unintelligible movie with no redeeming value whatsoever aside from watching John Travolta ham it up as an evil alien who looks like a Rastafarian Michelin Man" -- Glenn Whipp, LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS "Overlong, not very well-written." -- Luke Y. Thompson, NEW TIMES LOS ANGELES "Wooden acting, sappy melodrama and illogical plot lines." -- Philip Booth, ORLANDO WEEKLY "As it gets more loudly ludicrous, with destruction coming in vast waves, you don't think 'piece of cake' but 'piece of (oops).'" -- David Elliott, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE "Laughably bad." -- SCREEN IT! "There is no reason for this sci-fi movie not to be rooted in some notion." -- Enrique Fernandez, SUN-SENTINEL "Sitting through the summer's first monolithic monstrosity, Battlefield Earth, was one of the most painfully excruciating experiences of my life." -- Joe Baltake, SACRAMENTO BEE "The only people this film could recruit are members of the rock band Kiss, who, with their high-heeled boots and face paint, might figure they've got a spot if this alien thing ever really came down." -- Keith Simanton, SEATTLE TIMES "You don't watch it -- you survive it." -- Steven Rosen, DENVER POST "I hated this movie, and I had a great time doing it." -- Rob Blackwelder, SPLICED ONLINE "Battlefield Earth falls short of even being a guilty pleasure." -- Sarah Kendzior, 11TH HOUR "This third-rate B-movie is predictable and silly in the extreme." -- Jonathan Lewis, THE REEL SITE "Battlefield Earth is rife with plot loopholes." -- T.S. McBride, MOVIERANT "Battlefield Earth is the same movie we've all seen before." -- Charlie Craine, HIP ONLINE "Kevin Costner should send a thank-you note to the producers of Battlefield Earth because they have single-handedly eclipsed the memories of Waterworld and The Postman for post-apocalyptic bombast." -- Roger Friedman, FOXNEWS "The film is a disjointed mumble of special effects, pretentious acting, a cacophonous soundtrack and dialogue unworthy of even the cheesiest B-movie of yesteryear." -- Michael Elliott, CROSSWALK.COM "It will no doubt take a place of honor in the proud pantheon of 'What Were They Thinking?' cinema, right alongside The Postman and Howard the Duck." -- Scott Von Doviak, CULTUREVULTURE.NET "Average story. Awful score. Awful sound effects. Awful editing. Awful sound. Average visual effects. Godawful scenery chewing acting. If ever a movie was meant to be shown at midnight, it is this one." -- Chuck Schwartz, CRANKY CRITIC "Don't see this movie." -- J. Rentilly, TNT'S ROUGH CUT "It's probably obvious by now that Battlefield Earth is far from cerebral or anything even remotely serious." -- Marc Fortier, REEL.COM "Battlefield Earth has the feel of a movie made by a precocious 8-year-old with access to too many leftover costumes from Clan of the Cave Bear and Star Trek: The Next Generation." -- Arne Johnson, CITYSEARCH >"A noisy, chaotic, sloppily edited and embarrassingly banal and derivative saga." -- Susan Stark, DETROIT NEWS "This is florid science fiction, low-brow but energetic, complete with cheesy thrills." -- Louis B. Parks, HOUSTON CHRONICLE "The narrative is unclear beyond this one fact: Apes control the planet and humans are their slaves. Oops. Wrong movie -- but not by much." -- Duane Dudek, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL "The words 'so bad it's good' strain to make themselves heard through the film's coarse bluster and grimy din." -- Gene Seymour, NEWSDAY "Now that it's finally on the screen, we discover that the science-fiction epic Travolta considered a Holy Grail is silly junk." -- Jack Garner, ROCHESTER CHRONICLE "While the ending at least puts a little action into the proceedings, the film's pacing is all off and never gets the audience involved in the plot, and Christian's weird, tilted camera angles don't add much of anything to the experience." -- SCREEN IT! "The plot depends on the most ludicrous decisions and senseless actions ever made by a thinking race." -- Sean Axmaker, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER "While the look is cool -- like a tinted B&W film, all washes of green, blue, amber and red -- the story's broad strokes are painfully cliche'd and its details make no sense at all." -- Maitland McDonagh, TV GUIDE "If filmmaking has ever been less thrilling and more disengaging, I'd like to see it." -- Wesley Morris, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER "Battlefield Earth is as relentlessly grim as it is artless, and Elia Cmiral's bombastic score also makes it painful to listen to." -- Peter Howell, TORONTO STAR "Bad science-fiction has a new name, and it is Battlefield Earth, the early frontrunner for this year's worst movie." -- Jeff Vice, DESERET NEWS "In Battlefield Earth, it`s all flash for no reason." -- Steve Biodrowski, FANDOM "Okay folks, we've got a winner for worst film of the year, and the year isn't even half over yet." -- Eric Lurio, GREENWICH VILLAGE GAZETTE "Battlefield Earth simply asks too much and delivers too little." -- Matt Crenson, ASSOCIATED PRESS "Mish-mosh of dank dialogue and predictable plot." -- BEATBOXBETTY "The characters are so deliciously absurd." -- CINEMASENSE "Battlefield Earth should be shown only at maximum-security prisons when a prisoner is tossed in solitary for bad behavior." -- Max Messier, FILMCRITIC.COM "Battlefield Earth is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It's not merely bad; it's unpleasant in a hostile way." -- Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES "It's generic sci-fi right down to the last detail." -- Robert Horton, FILM.COM "Deeply dumb, depressingly derivative and just plain nonsense." -- Andy Seiler, USA TODAY "If you're the kind of sci-fi fanatic who has to see every new futuristic action movie no matter how crummy it is then of course you'll check out Battlefield Earth regardless of how many cheap jokes critics crack at its expense." -- Andrew O'Hehir, SALON "The movie plays like an uglier, Earth-bound Star Wars, interrupted by frequent Psychlo temper tantrums." -- Michael Wilmington, CHICAGO TRIBUNE "Battlefield Earth is just a lumbering, poorly photographed piece of derivative sci-fi drivel, full of grunting extras scampering around in animal pelts and more dank, trash-strewn sets than I ever care to see again." -- Owen Gleiberman, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY "Battlefield Earth begins as retro pulp and ends up, figuratively speaking, as tons of wet cardboard." -- Jay Carr, BOSTON GLOBE "In the post-apocalyptic adventure genre, Battlefield Earth makes Waterworld look like a masterpiece." -- Robin Rauzi, LOS ANGELES TIMES "And after about 20 minutes of this amateurish picture, extinction doesn't seem like such a bad idea." -- Elvis Mitchell, NEW YORK TIMES "A truly dire and silly rehash of Planet of the Apes." -- Lou Lumenick, NEW YORK POST "Battlefield Earth saves its scariest moment for the end: a virtual guarantee that there will be a sequel." -- Desson Howe, WASHINGTON POST "What this movie lacks in simple logic, it makes up for in its apparent unintentional campy humor." -- Paul Clinton, CNN "The dialogue is inane, the acting wooden." -- Ted Gideonse, NEWSWEEK "Younger, less discriminating viewers (5-year-old boys) will eat it up." -- Cody Clark, MR. SHOWBIZ "How did this stinkbomb get made?" -- Sean Means, FILM.COM "This movie could not be stupider." -- Eric D. Snider, THE DAILY HERALD "It's so unbelievably and egregiously bad, you have to wonder if they really meant for it to turn out this way." -- Widgett, NEEDCOFFEE.COM "Big-budget, little-intelligence entertainment." -- Lisa Andrews, POPCORN "At about the one hour mark, a portion of the audience split the scene and I don't blame them. They were fed-up with being taken for complete and utter morons." -- John Powell, JAM! SHOWBIZ "I'm really surprised with all the writing talent available in this town, that no one said 'Hey, this is just a bad script.'" -- Ross Anthony, HOLLYWOOD REPORT CARD "This movie reminded me of a couple of things which you may find telling: Judge Dredd and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers." -- Bob Amaden ======= Now, despite the 65 above reviewers above who were gnawing off their own limbs to survive, there were 4 positive... or should I say 'positive' statements: ======= "Despite starting off like a bad Star Trek episode, this film eventually graduates to a higher level." -- Berge Garabedian, JOBLO'S MOVIE EMPORIUM "This movie is what summer is all about." -- 'Arrow in the Head', JOBLO'S MOVIE EMPORIUM "Well, while there are problems with the movie, I have to give it an overall thumbs-up. Not way up though." -- Mervius, FANTASTICA DAILY "Is it worth seeing once? Sure." -- Bob Graham, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
For the geeks: [root@winnebagel root]# (bg)& Think about it though... it makes more sense to run bg in the background than in the foreground. Which of course brings me to: [root@winnebagel root]# (fg)& Yes, I know that they are routines inherent in the shell. Don't take all the fun out of it.
My life is like a porno movie... without the sex.
I drink to make other people interesting. George Jean Nathan
All bigots who are prepared to die for their cause, please signify by doing so now.
Life may have no meaning - or even worse - it may have a meaning of which I disapprove.
"We must continue to execute as well as we have in the plan" - Jim Oyler, CEO, Evans and Sutherland
Utah, your waters are blue as the sky, Your deserts are boundless, your mountains are high, But Utah, oh Utah, you four-letter word, Your customs and laws are completely absurd. Your standards are double, your pleasures are few. There aren't very many things left you can do. You can still feed the seagulls in Liberty Park, Provided, of course, that you leave before dark. Armed robbers are many, and rapists abound, While cops are all shutting the cinemas down- For skin flicks are hellish, and porno obscene -- Your streets are unsafe, but your morals are clean. From Capitol Hill to the Fashion Place Mall, Your smoggy skies hang like a funeral pall. And Kennecott Copper is taking a bow-- If Jesus returned, He would suffocate now. Your Liquor Commission is going too far-- "Hard liquor must never be sold in a bar," So "private clubs" flourish, and visitors sigh: Mini-bottles are what they'll remember you by. I feel for the girls down on Second South Street, They're having a hassle just making ends meet, It's tough to sell something, or so I hear say, When the BYU girls just give it away. Your motorists are all completely insane. They drive like the devil, come sleet, snow, or rain. Their eyes are dilated, they froth at the mouth, As they charge through the traffic on 21st South. Oh Utah, your birth-rate is four times the norm. Planned Parenthood clinics are objects of scorn. You sponsor young marriages, shotgun or planned, Till the rate of divorce is highest in the land. The Church tells the state "Women ought to stay home, So fight Equal Rights, which allow them to roam." The LDS women rejoice in their fate, All others are better off out of the state. At the top of the temple in downtown Salt Lake The angel Moroni stands through his long wake. Beware of the time when his trumpet will blow, For then seagull droppings will shower below. At the time that old Brigham said "This is the place," And founded the city on this desert space, He christened it Zion, the land of the Saints. They might call it Zion, but heaven it ain't. Utah, my masters is coming up fast, My five years in exile are over at last. So goodby, oh Utah, you four-letter-word, From distant Seattle I'll flip you the bird. - Anonymous... modified to fit my condition
HOW TO LEAVE THE PLANET 1. Phone NASA. Their number is (713)483-3111. Explain that it's very important that you get away as soon as possible. 2. If they do not cooperate, phone any friends that you may have at the White House - (202) 456-1414 - to have a word on your behalf put in with the guys at NASA. 3. If you don't have any friends in the White House, phone the Kremlin - ask the overseas operator for 0107-095-295-9051. They don't have any friends in Washington, either (at least, none to speak of), but they do seem to have a little influence, so you might as well try. 4. If that also fails, phone the Pope for guidance. His new telephone number is 011-39-6-6982, and I gather his switchboard is infallible. 5. If all else fails, flag down a passing flying saucer and explain that it is vitally important that you get away before your phone bill arrives. - The More Than Complete Hitchhikers' Guide to The Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Well, a Scottsman clad in kilt left a bar one evening fair, And one could tell by how he walked that he'd drunk more than his share. He fumbled 'round until he could no longer keep his feet, Then he stumbled off into the grass to sleep beside the street. Ring-ding diddle-liddle-I-dee-O Ring-di-diddley-I-O Then he stumbled off into the grass to sleep beside the street. About that time two young and lovely girls just happened by. One says to the other with a twinkle in her eye, "See yon sleeping Scottsman, so strong and handsome built, I wonder if it's true what they don't wear beneath the kilt." Ring-ding diddle-liddle-I-dee-O Ring-di-diddley-I-O I wonder if it's true what they don't wear beneath the kilt. They crept up on that sleeping Scottsman quiet as can be, Then lifted up his kilt about an inch so they could see. And there, behold, for them to view, beneath his Scottish skirt, Was nothing more than God had graced him with upon his birth. Ring-ding diddle-liddle-I-dee-O Ring-di-diddley-I-O Was nothing more than God had graced him with upon his birth. They marveled for a moment, then one said, "We must be gone. Let's leave a present for our friend before we move along." As a gift they left a blue silk ribbon tied into a bow Around the bonnie star the Scott's kilt did lift and show. Ring-ding diddle-liddle-I-dee-O Ring-di-diddley-I-O Around the bonnie star the Scott's kilt did lift and show. The Scottsman woke to nature's call, and stumbled towards a tree. Behind the bush, he lifts his kilt, and gawks at what he sees. And in a startled voice he says to what's before his eyes, Oh, lad I don't know where you been, but I see you won first prize. Ring-ding diddle-liddle-I-dee-O Ring-di-diddley-I-O Oh, lad I don't know where you been, but I see you won first prize.
GEORGE BUSH STATUE COMMITTEE 1040 BUFFOON ST. LITTLE ROCK, AR 72205 Dear friend, I have the distinguished honor of being on the committee for raising five million dollars for placing a statue of George Bush in the Hall of Fame in Washington D.C. This committee was in a quandery as to where to place the statue. It was not wise to place it beside the statue of George Washington, who never told a lie, nor beside Jesse Jackson, who never told the truth, since George Bush could never tell the difference. We finally decided to place it beside Christopher Columbus, the greatest Republican of all. He left Spain not knowing where he was going, never did know where he was, and returned not knowing where he had been, and did it all on borrowed money. Over five thousand years ago, Moses said to the children of Israel, "Pick up your shovels, mount your asses and camels, and I will lead you to the Promised Land." Richard Nixon said, "lay down your shovels, sit on your asses, and light a Camel. This is the Promised Land." Now George Bush has stolen your shovels, kicked your asses, raised the tax on Camels, and mortgaged the Promised Land. If you are one of the fortunate few people who has anything left after paying taxes, we expect a generous contribution to our worthwhile project. Respectfully, GEORGE BUSH STATUE COMMITTEE
0,1,3,5,7,9,15,17,21,27,31,33,45,51,63,65,73,85,93,99,...? (When you give up:
Beginning of a chess game. What are the 21 moves white can open with?
Why Jesus is a Democrat One day at the Republican National Headquarters, a man walked in. Good morning. I would like to join the Republican party. Dandy. I have an application right here. What is your name? Jesus of Nazareth. What is your address? I do not have a permanent address. I live in a commune with twelve other men. We live in the wilderness. What is your occupation. I am a rabbi. I live off the donations of my flock. So, you're jewish? That's correct. Do any of the men you live with have a real job? No, but there is a woman who spends a lot of time with us who has a job. Good. What does she do for a living? She is a prostitute. Let me get this straight. You're Jewish. You don't have a home. You don't have a job except that of itinerant preacher. You live in a commune with twelve other men, none of whom work either. Your only sources of income are welfare and money from a prostitute? Is all that correct? Yes, it is. We, in the Republican Party, are trying to present an image of stability. We are trying to promote family values, whateverthehell that means. We don't like men who live with other men. We are against prostitutes. We seem to be against everything that you stand for. I'm sorry pal, but your life style does not lend itself to the image we, in the Republican Party, wish to present. Try the Democrats across the way.
"Noone would describe [customer company name deleted] as our friends. They are our customers. Customers are not our friends." - Jim Oyler, CEO of Evans and Sutherland.
A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says, "why the long face?"
A Buddhist approaches a hot dog stand and asks the owner to make him one with everything.
Via con queso.
It wasn't merely that their left hand didn't always know what their right hand was doing, so to speak; quite often their right hand had a pretty hazy notion as well. - Mostly Harmless, Douglas Adams, Chapter 14
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in a moment of reasoned lucidity which is almost unique among its current tally of five million, nine hundred and seventy-five thousand, five hundred and nine pages, says of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation product that "it is very easy to be blinded to the essential uselessness of them by the sense of achievement you get from getting them to work at all. "In other words - and this is the rock solid principle on which the whole of the Corporation's Galaxy-wide success is founded - their fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws."
Devil's Dictionary time: Absurdity: A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion. Academe: An ancient school where moralitf and philosophy were taught. Academy: A modern school where football is taught. Accord: Harmony. Accordion: An instrument in harmony with the sentiments of an assassin. Accountability: The mother of caution. Affianced: Fitted with an ankle-ring for the ball-and-chain. Alliance: In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each others' pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third. Alone: In bad company. Aphorism: Predigested wisdom. Apothecary: The physician's accomplice, undertaker's benefactor and grave worm's provider. Armor: The kind of clothing worn by a man whose tailor is a blacksmith. Barrack: A house in which soldiers enjoy a portion of that of which it is their business to deprive others. Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. Fiddle: An instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horse's tail on the entrails of a cat. Genealogy: An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own. Gravitation: The tendency of all bodies to approach one another with a strength proportion to the quantity of matter they contain -- the quantity of matter they contain being ascertained by the strength of their tendency to approach one another. This is a lovely ane edifying illustration of how science, having made A the proof of B, makes B the proof of A. Hand: A singular instrument worn at the end of the human hand and commonly thrust into sonebody's pocket. Hearse: Death's baby-carriage. Heathen: A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something that he can see and feel. Hypocrite: One who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises. Kilt: A costume sometimes worn by Scotchmen in America and Americans in Scotland. Lawyer: One skilled in the circumvention of law. Nectar: A drint served at banquets of the Olympian deities. The secret of its preparation is lost, but the modern Kentuckians besieve that they come pretty near to a knowledge of its chief ingredient. Neighbor: One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves, and does all he knows how to make us disobedient. Nonsense: The objections that are urged against this exellent dictionary. Nose: ... There's a man with a Nose, And wherever he goes The people run from him and shout: "No cotton have we For our ears if so be He blow that interminous snout!" So the lawyers applied For injunction. "Denied," Said the Judge: "the defendant prefixion, Whate'er it portend, Appears to transcend The bounds of this court's jurisdiction." Arpad Singiny Oath: In law, a solemn appeal to the Deity, made binding upon the conscience by a penalty for perjury. Ocean: A body of water occupying two-thirds of a world made for man -- who has no gills. Opportunity: A favorable opportunity for grasping a disappointment. Ostrich: [...] The absence of a good working pair of wings is no defect, for, as has been ingeniously pointed out, the ostrich does not fly. Saint: A dead sinner, revised and edited. Scriptures: The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.
Normally, I don't condone email forwarding of any kind, but this was at least mildly interesting. 1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator? Correct answer: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, close the door. (This question tests whether or not you are doing simple things in a complicated way.) 2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator? Incorrect answer: Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, close the door. Correct answer: Open the refrigerator, remove the giraffe, put in the elephant, and close the door. This question tests your foresight. 3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend except one. Which animal does not attend? Correct answer: The elephant. He is in the refrigerator! This question tests if you are capable of comprehensive thinking. 4. You wish to cross a river known to be infested with crocodiles. How do you get across? Correct answer: Simply swim across. The crocodiles are at the meeting. This question tests your reasoning ability.
"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools." -- 1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work. From: John Beaderstadt Date: 1999/04/13 "Correction: It is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vaccuum. The 'Times' regrets the error." NY times, July 1969.
I know that this defies the law of gravity, but you see, I never studied law. - Buggs Bunny
Angels on a Pin A Modern Parable by Alexander Callandra Saturday Review, Dec 21, 1968. Some time ago I received a call from a colleague who asked if I would be the referee on the grading of an examination question. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed he should receive a perfect score and would if the system were not set up against the student: The instructor and the student agreed to submit this to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected. I went to my colleague's office and read the examination question: "Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer." The student had answered: "Take a barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower the barometer to the street and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building." I pointed out that the student really had a strong case for full credit since he had answered the question completely and correctly. On the other hand, if full credit was given, it could well contribute to a high grade for the student in his physics course. A high grade is supposed to certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this. I suggested that the student have another try at answering the question I was not surprised that my colleague agreed, but I was surprised that the student did. I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said no. He had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on. In the next minute he dashed off his answer which read: "Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop that barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then using the formula d = .5*a*t^2, calculate the height of the building. At this point I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded, and I gave the student almost full credit. In leaving my colleague's office, I recalled that the student had said he had many other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were. "Oh yes," said the student. "There are a great many ways of getting the height of a tall building with a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer and the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building and by the use of a simple proportion, determine the height of the building." "Fine," I asked. "And the others?" "Yes," said the student. "There is a very basic measurement method that you will like. In this method you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units. A very direct method." "Of course, if you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of `g' at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference of the two values of `g' the height of the building can be calculated." Finally, he concluded, there are many other ways of solving the problem. "Probably the best," he said, "is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent's door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: "Mr. Superintendent, here I have a fine barometer. If you tell me the height of this building, I will give you this barometer." At this point I asked the student if he really did know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think, using the "scientific method," and to explore the deep inner logic of the subject in a pedantic way, as is often done in the new mathematics, rather than teaching him the structure of the subject. With this in mind, he decided to revive scholasticism as an academic lark to challenge the Sputnik-panicked classrooms of America. The article is by Alexander Calandra and appeared first in "The Saturday Review" (December 21, 1968, p 60). It is also in the collection "More Random Walks in Science" by R.L.Weber, The Institute of Physics, 1982.
A neutron walks into a bar. "I'd like a beer" he says. The bartender promptly serves up a beer. "How much will that be?" asks the neutron. "For you?" replies the bartender, "no charge"
A physics professor at a state university in Michigan was famous for his animated lectures. He was short and thin with wild white hair and an excited expression. In lecture he would through himself from the top of desks and throw frisbees to students in the back row to illustrate various principles. One day in class he was spinning on an office chair holding weights in each hand when he lost his balance and tumbled into the first row. He apologized to his class for going off on a tangent. From: "Profusions of Puns, Gaggles of Groaners"
Seen on a billboard by an Illinois freeway recently: "What part of 'Thou Shalt Not' didn't you understand?" - God
Overheard at Evans and Sutherland: "If I had a month to spend either making sure all the features on the chip work or to spend documenting how it works, I'll fix the chip every time." The problem; how the hell does one use the damn thing if it supposedly works, but nobody knows how?!?!?!
In response to everyone who has been asking ("You're doing WHAT!?!?!?") why I have become dvorak-obsessed: % The options are optional. - Red Hat Linux 6.1 Reference Guide.
The reuse of some object-oriented code has caused tactical headaches for Australia's armed forces. As virtual reality simulators assume larger roles in helicopter combat training, programmers have gone to great lengths to increase the realism of their scenarios, including detailed landscapes and - in the case of the Northern Territory's Operation Phoenix- herds of kangaroos (since disturbed animals might well give away a helicopter's position). The head of the Defense Science & Technology Organization's Land Operations/Simulation division reportedly instructed developers to model the local marsupials' movements and reactions to helicopters. Being efficient programmers, they just re-appropriated some code originally used to model infantry detachment reactions under the same stimuli, changed the mapped icon from a soldier to a kangaroo, and increased the figures' speed of movement. The newly modified software was demonstrated to a visiting team of Americans. The hotshot Aussie pilots "buzzed" the virtual kangaroos in low flight during the simulation. The kangaroos scattered, as predicted, and the visiting Americans nodded appreciatively... then did a double-take as the kangaroos reappeared from behind a hill and launched a barrage of Stinger missiles at the hapless helicopter. (Apparently the programmers had forgotten to remove that part of the infantry coding.) The lesson? Objects are defined with certain attributes, and any new object defined in terms of an old one inherits all the attributes. The embarrassed programmers had learned to be careful when reusing object-oriented code, and the Yanks left with a newfound respect for Australian wildlife. Simulator supervisors report that pilots from that point onward have strictly avoided kangaroos, just as they were meant to. From: Grisogono, Anne-Marie Sent: Monday, July 12, 1999 5:26:05 PM To: LOD All Subject: official reply to virtual kangaroo emyth Auto forwarded by a Rule Hi everyone Apparently this e-myth has been rebounding to some of you, so here is the official reply. Please feel free to send on to any of your correspondents. . . and apologies to anyone who has been inconvenienced by it. This story has gone around the globe a few times I reckon. It's been discussed in Parliament, reported on in the press, and keeps being forwarded to me from all corners. Anyway, here below is the answer I send anyone who asks about it. Now I know how e-myths arise and evolve! [probably a forwarded message follows] It's probably too late to recall and correct the story (it's already been forwarded to me by several different sources) but since you ask, here is the kernel of truth in it: I related this story as part of a talk on Simulation for Defence, at the Australian Science Festival on May 6th in Canberra. The Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter mission simulators built by the Synthetic Environments Research Facility in Land Operations Division of DSTO, do indeed fly in a fairly high fidelity environment which is a 4000 sq km piece of real outback Australia around Katherine, built from elevation data, overlaid with aerial photographs and with 2.5 million realistic 3d trees placed in the terrain in those areas where the photographs indicated real trees actually exist. For a bit of extra fun (and not for any strategic reason like kangaroos betraying your cover!) our programmers decided to put in a bit of animated wildlife. Since ModSAF [That's Modular Semi-Automated Forces--units controlled by the computer using game-quality AI--Brian] is our simulation tool, these were modelled on ModSAF's Stinger detachments so that the associated detection model could be used to determine when a helo approached, and the behavior invoked by such contact was set to 'retreat'. Replace the visual model of the Stinger detachment in your stealth viewer with a visual model of a kangaroo (or buffalo...) and you have wildlife that moves away when approached. It is true that the first time this was tried in the lab, we discovered that we had forgotten to remove the weapons and the 'fire' behavior. It is NOT true that this happened in front of a bunch of visitors (American or any other flavour). We don't normally try things for the first time in front of an audience! What I didnt relate in the talk is that since we were not at that stage interested in weapons, we had not set any weapon or projectile types, so what the kangaroos fired at us was in fact the default object for the simulation, which happened to be large multicoloured beachballs. I ususally conclude the story by reassuring the audience that we have now disarmed the kangaroos and it is again safe to fly in Australia. well, now you know.... - Anne-Marie Dr Anne-Marie Grisogono Head, Simulation Land Operations
As a computer, I find your faith in technology amusing.
And god said, "Let there be cats," and was ignored.
Try to do everything in chronological order; it's less confusing that way.
Does an irradiated cat have eighteen half-lives?
A naked man fears no pickpocket.
A conscience does not prevent sin. It only prevents you from enjoying it.
Two psychics walk into a bar. One says, "same for me."
100,000 lemmings can't be wrong.
Zen T-Shirt: Enlightenment Available - Enquire Within.
Yeah, I love cats too...want to trade recipes?
Yea, right, when...oink, flap, oink, flap...well I'll be...
Would I ask you a rhetorical question?
Work harder! Millions of people on welfare depend on you!
Will Rogers never met a lawyer.
Why isn't "phonetically" spelled that way?
Why is there only one Monopolies Commission?
Why experiment on animals with so many lawyers out there?
When your IQ hits 28, sell!
When you're in it up to your ears, keep your mouth shut.
When their numbers dwindled from 50 to 8, the dwarfs began to suspect "Hungry".
Is there a synonym for thesaurus?
What was wrong with the ham before it was cured?
What goes up has probably been doused with petrol.
What has four legs and an arm? A happy pitbull.
What goes around usually gets dizzy and falls over.
What color is a chameleon on a mirror?
I gave up water polo - I drowned too many horses.
Walk softly and carry a megawatt laser.
Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Exploration Team 1995-1955.
Tuna just doesn't taste the same without the dolphin.
Tolkein is hobbit-forming.
Toad: Illegally parked frog.
To get the point, rub a porcupine backwards.
To err is human. To moo bovine.
Legalize dope for sea birds. Leave no tern unstoned!
This week's Psychic Meeting has been canceled due to unforeseen problems.
umop apisdn
This is what I do for fun. Can you imagine my job?
They can't fire me, slaves have to be sold.
The world isn't really any worse, it's just that the news coverage is so much better.
The whole world is about three drinks behind.
The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat.
The secrecy of my job prevents me from knowing what I do.
The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.
The penalty for bigamy is having two mothers-in-law.
The only winner of the War of 1812 was Tchaikovsky.
The only time I open my mouth is to change feet.
The only difference between a rut and a grave is the dimensions.
The leading cause of death for lawyers is ambulances in reverse.
The hangman let us down.
The cost of feathers has risen; down is up.
The buck doesn't even slow down here.
Tell me again how lucky I am to work here (I keep forgetting).
Ted Kennedy for Lifeguard.
Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.
Taco Bell is not the Mexican National Telephone Company.
Brockian Ultra Cricket, Rule 6: The winning team shall be the first team that wins.
From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, according to LTUAE: There is an art, it says, or rather a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, it suggests, and try it. The first part is easy. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt. That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard. Clearly, it's the second point, the missing, which presents the difficulties. One problem is that you have to miss the ground accidentally. It's no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you won't. You have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else when you're halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it's going to hurt if you fail to miss it. It is notoriously difficult to prise your attention away from these three things during the split second you have at your disposal. Hence most people's failure, and their eventual disillusionment with this exhilarating and spectacular sport. If, however, you are lucky enough to have your attention momentarily distracted at the crucial moment by, say, a gorgeous pair of legs (tentacles, pseudopodia, according to phyllum and/or personal inclination) or a bomb going off in your vicinity, or by suddenly spotting an extremely rare species of beetle crawling along a nearby twig, then in your astonishment you will miss the ground completely and remain bobbing just a few inches above it in what might seem to be a slightly foolish manner. This is a moment for superb and delicate concentration. Bob and float, float and bob. Ignore all considerations of your own weight and simply let yourself waft higher. Do not listen to what anybody says to you at this point because they are unlikely to say anything helpful. They are most likely to say something along the lines of, "Good God, you can't possibly be flying!" It is vitally important not to believe them or they will suddenly be right. Waft higher and higher. Try a few swoops, gentle ones at first, then drift above the treetops breathing regularly. Do not wave at anybody. When you have done this a few times you will find the moment of distraction rapidly becomes easier and easier to achieve. You will then learn all sorts of things about how to control your flight, your speed, your manoeuvrability, and the trick usually lies in not thinking too hard about whatever you want to do, but just allowing it to happen as if it was going to anyway. You will also learn how to land properly, which is something you will almost certainly cock up, and cock up badly, on your first attempt. There are private flying clubs you can join which help you achieve the all-important moment of distraction. They hire people with surprising bodies or opinions to leap out from behind bushes and exhibit and/or explain them at the crucial moments. Few genuine hitch-hikers will be able to afford to join these clubs, but some may be able to get temporary employment at them.
Trillian did a little research in the ship's copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It had some advice to offer on drunkenness. "Go to it," it said, "and good luck." - Life, the Universe and Everything, Douglass Adams
The Pharmacist gave me an expectorant and I coughed up forty-five dollars. - Frank & Ernest
I've done no coke since 1974. - G.W. Bush, Jr. 1999 in response to questions about a site that keeps track of news and information that isn't exactly the sort of thing Bush's campaign manager wants floating around. If it is 'a garbage site' (, it is so because GWBush Jr provided the garbage for them to post. "My drug use was about average for children and young adults of my social class and upbringing, and yes, that included cocaine as well as several other drugs." - G.W. Bush in a Newsweek interview, published 11/15/98. Now if he didn't have the backbone to stand up to higher principals then, what business does he have running the drug war now? We're supposed to be telling kids not to cave into peer pressure and look at the role model we've given them. I can just see me with my kids 20 years from now: "Keep it up, stoner-boy. Don't come crying to me when you're the President of the United States!"
There ought to be limits to freedom. - G.W. Bush, Jr. 1999
1999 Official USFA Rules, Chapter 3, t.11: the field of play should have an even surface. It should give neither advantage nor disadvantage to either of the two fencers concerned, especially as regards light. ...maybe two people on the planet know why this is here. -rbarry
From yahoo daily news, 12/3/99: CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA's trip to fix the Hubble Space Telescope has been delayed two days so workers can complete wiring checks aboard space shuttle Discovery. The new launch is scheduled for Dec. 11, at 12:13 a.m. The date should stand if no new problems pop up, NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham said Thursday. Besides damaged wiring, workers have had to contend with a leaky hydraulic system and an engine with a broken drill bit embedded in it. Because of all the wiring trouble encountered this year, technicians are taking extra time to inspect electrical cables as they close out Discovery's engine compartment. So far, they have found only minor damage and are applying tape to strengthen any flawed wires, Buckingham said. [endquote] Now, I've seen this sort of thing in engineering departments before, but I didn't think we were supposed to be taking those practices to work. =]
From 12/3/99 wired news: The Mormon church isn't taking any chances around 31 December. It's grounded its 60,000 missionaries from flying during the week surrounding New Year's Eve, the Associated Press reported. All church employees, professors at Brigham Young University, have been ordered to avoid airplanes during that time.
So if the president of the mormon church draws a salary, does that make him a propheteer? - rbarry
Failure isn't an option... it comes bundled with our software.
Whatever doesn't kill me... only delays the inevitable.
Seen in reference to the Infocom HHGTTG game: "What can I do in the dark?"
Which famous Dr. Who arch-nemesis' battle cry was "Exterminate! Exterminate!"? A> The Master B> The Cybermen C> The Daleks D> The BBC Archives (Ouch. Not very nice.)
Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may be in Utah.
If a cow laughed, would milk come out her nose?
Do you need a silencer if you are going to shoot a mime?
Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?
You know you're a grad student when you start explaining to children that you're in 21st grade. - rbarry
All that glitters has a high refractive index.
Do Not Attempt to Traverse a Chasm in Two Leaps.
If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
Recursive, adj.; see Recursive
Okay, this is an old one. (references to meese and regan???!!!) Still, it's an old-time classic: $ rm meese-ethics rm: meese-ethics nonexistent $ ar m God ar: God does not exist $ "How would you rate Reagan's incompetence? Unmatched ". $ [Where is Jimmy Hoffa? Missing ]. $ ^How did the sex change^ operation go? Modifier failed. $ If I had a ( for every $ Congress spent, what would I have? Too many ('s. $ make love Make: Don't know how to make love. Stop. $ sleep with me bad character $ got a light? No match. $ man: why did you get a divorce? man:: Too many arguments. $ ^What is saccharine? Bad substitute. $ %blow %blow: No such job. $ \(- (-: Command not found. $ sh $ PATH=pretending! /usr/ucb/which sense no sense in pretending! $ drink < bottle; opener bottle: cannot open opener: not found $ mkdir matter; cat > matter matter: cannot create
There was a knock on the door. It was the man from Microsoft. "Not you again," I said. "Sorry," he said, a little sheepishly. "I guess you know why I'm here." Indeed I did. Microsoft's $300 million campaign to promote the Windows 95 operating system was meant to be universally effective, to convince every human being on the planet that Windows 95 was an essential, some would say integral, part of living. Problem was, not everyone had bought it. Specifically, I hadn't. I was the Last Human Being Without Windows 95. And now this little man from Microsoft was at my door, and he wouldn't take no for an answer. "No," I said. "You know I can't take that," he said, pulling out a copy of Windows 95 from a briefcase. "Come on. Just one copy. That's all we ask." "Not interested," I said. "Look, isn't there someone else you can go bother for a while? There's got to be someone else on the planet who doesn't have a copy." "Well, no," the Microsoft man said. "You're the only one." "You can't be serious. Not everyone on the planet has a computer," I said. "And certainly, not everyone has a PC! Some people own Macintoshes, which run their own operating system. And some people who have PCs run OS/2, though I hear that's just a rumor. In short, there are some people who just have no USE for Windows 95." The Microsoft man look perplexed. "I'm missing your point," he said. "Use!" I screamed. "Use! Use! Use! Why BUY it, if you can't USE it?" "Well, I don't know anything about this 'use' thing you're going on about," the Microsoft man said. "All I know is that according to our records, everyone else on the planet has a copy." "People without computers?" "Got 'em." "Amazonian Indians?" "We had to get some malaria shots to go in, but yes." "The Amish." "Check." "Oh, come on," I said. "They don't even wear BUTTONS. How did you get them to buy a computer operating system?" "We told them there were actually 95 very small windows in the box," the Microsoft man admitted. "We sort of lied. Which means we are all going to Hell, every single employee of Microsoft." He was somber for a minute, but then perked right up. "But that's not the point!" he said. "The point is, EVERYONE has a copy. Except you." "So what?" I said. "If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you expect me to do it, too?" "If we spent $300 million advertising it? Absolutely." "No." "Oh, back to that again," the Microsoft man said. "Hey. I'll tell you what. I'll GIVE you a copy. For free. Just take it and install it on your computer." He waved the box in front of me. "No," I said again. "No offense, pal, but I don't NEED it. And frankly, your whole advertising blitz has sort of offended me. I mean, it's a computer operating system. Great. Fine. Swell. Whatever. But you guys are advertising it like it creates world peace or something." "It did." "Pardon?" "World peace. It was part of the original design. Really. One button access. Click on it, poof, end to strife and hunger. Simple." "So what happened?" "Well, you know," he said. "It took up a lot of space on the hard drive. We had to decide between it or the Microsoft Network. Anyway, we couldn't figure out how to make a profit off of world peace." "Go away," I said. "I can't," he said. "I'll be killed if I fail." "You have got to be kidding," I said. "Look," the Microsoft man said, "We sold this to the Amish. The Amish! Right now, they're opening the boxes and figuring out they've been had. We'll be pitchforked if we ever step into Western Pennsylvania again. But we did it. So to have YOU holding out, well, it's embarrassing. It's embarrassing to the company. It's embarrassing to the product. It's embarrassing to Bill." "Bill Gates does not care about me," I said. "He's watching right now," the Microsoft man said. "Borrowed one of those military spy satellites just for the purpose. It's also got one of those high-powered lasers. You close that door on me, zap, I'm a pile of grey ash." "He wouldn't do that," I said. "He might hit that copy of Windows 95 by accident." "Oh, Bill's gotten pretty good with that laser," the Microsoft man said nervously. "Okay. I wasn't supposed to do this, but you leave me no choice. If you take this copy of Windows 95, we will reward you handsomely. In fact, we'll give you your own Caribbean island! How does Montserrat sound?" "Terrible. There's an active volcano there." "It's only a small one," the Microsoft man said. "Look," I said, "even if you DID convince me to take that copy of Windows 95, what would you do then? You'd have totally saturated the market. That would be it. No new worlds to conquer. What would you do then?" The Microsoft man held up another box and gave it to me. "'Windows 95....For Pets'?!?!?" "There's a LOT of domestic animals out there," he said. I shut the door quickly. There was a surprised yelp, the sound of a laser, and then nothing.
The engineer thinks of his equations as an approximation to reality. The physicist thinks reality is an approximation to his equations. The mathematician doesn't care.
Minuet in oil on canvas.
Photographic memory. Lens cap on.
The four ages of man: when you believe in Santa Claus when you don't believe in Santa Claus when you are Santa Claus when you look like Santa Claus
Very funny, scotty. Now beam down my clothes.
The gene pool could use a little chlorine.
I seem to remember seeing all of these in Popular Science years ago, though I could be wrong. It was one of those trendy science-for-idiots magazines sometime around '93. A couple are good. A couple suck. I include them all for completeness. 4th RUNNER-UP (Subject: Probability Theory): If an infinite number of rednecks riding in an infinite number of pickup trucks fire an infinite number of shotgun rounds at an infinite number of highway signs, they will eventually produce all the world's great literary works in Braille. 3rd RUNNER-UP (Subject: Bio-Mechanics): Why Yawning Is Contagious: You yawn to equalize the pressure on your eardrums. This pressure change outside your eardrums unbalances other people's ear pressures, so they then yawn to even it out. 2nd RUNNER-UP (Subject: Symbolic Logic): Communist China is technologically underdeveloped because they have no alphabet and therefore cannot use acronyms to communicate technical ideas at a faster rate. 1st RUNNER-UP (Subject: Newtonian Mechanics): The earth may spin faster on its axis due to deforestation. Just as a figure skater's rate of spin increases when the arms are brought in close to the body, the cutting of tall trees may cause our planet to spin dangerously fast. ** HONORABLE MENTION (Subject: Linguistics): The quantity of consonants in the English language is constant. If omitted in one place, they turn up in another. When a Bostonian "pahks his cah," the lost R's migrate southwest, causing a Texan to warsh" his car and invest in "erl" wells. GRAND PRIZE WINNER (Subject: Perpetual Motion): When a cat is dropped, it always lands on its feet, and when toast is dropped, it always lands buttered side down. It was proposed to strap giant slabs of hot buttered toast to the back of a hundred tethered cats; the two opposing forces will cause the cats to hover, spinning inches above the ground. Using the giant buttered toast-cat array, a high-speed monorail could easily link New York with Chicago.
Too many freaks, not enough circuses.
Can I trade this job for what's behind door #2?
Suburbia: where they tear out the trees, then name streets after them.
Better living through denial.
Allow me to introduce myselves.
If one synchronized swimmer drowns, what do the rest of them do?
How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges didn't grow in it?
Do fish get cramps after eating?
As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it wasn't as easy to get programs right as we had thought. Debugging had to be discovered. I can remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs. -- Wilkes, Maurice
REAL PROGRAMMERS don't comment their code. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to understand. -- Unknown
PROGRAM - n. A magic spell cast over a computer allowing it to turn one's input into error messages. v. tr.- To engage in a pastime similar to banging one's head against a wall, but with fewer opportunities for reward. -- Unknown
I know your little 4th grade teacher said there are not stupid questions. She was wrong. This is Usenet. -- Unknown
I'd love to change the world, but they won't give me the source code! -- Unknown
Do not meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer. -- Unknown
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup. - Harvard Lampoon's "Bored of the Rings"
Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. - Tolkien
Do not meddle in the affairs of Unix, for it is subtle and quick to core dump. -- Unknown
ACHTUNG!!! Das machine is nicht fur gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und corkenpoppen mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fur gewerken by das dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseeren keepen hands in das pockets. Relaxen und vatch das blinkenlights!!! -- Unknown
We're thinking about upgrading from SunOS 4.1.1 to SunOS 3.5. -- Henry Spencer
Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea-- massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it. -- Gene Spafford
Real Programmers never work from 9 to 5. If any real programmer is around at 9 a.m., it's because they were up all night. -- Some Computer Geek
Programming is like sex, one mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life. -- Michael Sinz [Commodore-Amiga Inc.]
In computer science, we stand on each other's feet. -- Brian K. Reid
Be warned that being an expert is more than understanding how a system is supposed to work. Expertise is gained by investigating why a system doesn't work. -- Brian Redman
Hardware : The parts of a computer system that can be kicked. -- Jeff Pesis
If you sat a monkey down in front of a keyboard, the first thing typed would be a UNIX command. -- Bill Lye
Counting in octal is just like counting in decimal--if you don't use your thumbs. -- Tom Lehrer
Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature. -- Rich Kulawiec
I must've seen it in a USENET posting; that's sort of like hearsay evidence from Richard Nixon... -- Blair Houghton
Come to think of it, there are already a million monkeys on a million typewriters, and Usenet is NOTHING like Shakespeare. -- Blair Houghton
There is always a big future in computer maintenance. -- Deteriorata (excerpted from)
If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside. -- Robert X. Cringely
Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning. -- Rich Cook
Beware of programmers who carry screwdrivers. -- Leonard Brandwein
But let your communication be Yea, yea; nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. -- Matthew 5:37
If you put a billion monkeys in front of a billion typewriters typing at random, they would reproduce the entire collected works of Usenet in about...five minutes. -- Anonymous
There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence. -- Jeremy S. Anderson
Some are just slips of the tongue Grandmother of eight makes hole in one Deaf mute gets new hearing in killing Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers House passes gas tax onto senate Stiff opposition expected to casketless funeral plan Two convicts evade noose, jury hung William Kelly was fed secretary Milk drinkers are turning to powder Safety experts say school bus passengers should be belted Quarter of a million Chinese live on water Farmer bill dies in house Iraqi head seeks arms Some become unintentionally suggestive Queen Mary having bottom scraped Is there a ring of debris around Uranus? Prostitutes appeal to Pope Panda mating fails - veterinarian takes over NJ judge to rule on nude beach Child's stool great for use in garden Dr. Ruth to talk about sex with newspaper editors Soviet virgin lands short of goal again Organ festival ends in smashing climax Grammar often botches other headlines Eye drops off shelf Squad helps dog bite victim Dealers will hear car talk at noon Enraged cow injures farmer with ax Lawmen from Mexico barbecue guests Miners refuse to work after death Two Soviet ships collide - one dies Two sisters reunite after eighteen years at checkout counter Once in a while, a botched headline takes on a meaning opposite from the one intended: Never withhold herpes from loved one Nicaragua sets goal to wipe out literacy Drunk drivers paid $1,000 in 1984 Autos killing 110 a day, let's resolve to do better Sometimes newspaper editors state the obvious If strike isn't settled quickly it may last a while War dims hope for peace Smokers are productive, but death cuts efficiency Cold wave linked to temperatures Child's death ruins couple's holiday Blind woman gets new kidney from dad she hasn't seen in years Man is fatally slain Something went wrong in jet crash, experts say Death causes loneliness, feeling of isolation ...and one on Wired News 24.01.2000: Greenspan (Federal Reserve Chairman) to get four more years.
A few from the flight crews: Problem: "Left inside main tire almost needs replacement." Solution: "Almost replaced left inside main tire." Problem: "Test flight OK, except autoland very rough." Solution: "Autoland not installed on this aircraft." Problem: "#2 Propeller seeping prop fluid." Solution 1: "#2 Propeller seepage normal." Solution 2: "#1,#3, and #4 propellers lack normal seepage." Problem: "The autopilot doesn't." Solution: "IT DOES NOW." Problem: "Something loose in cockpit." Solution: "Something tightened in cockpit." Problem: "Evidence of hydraulic leak on right main landing gear." Solution: "Evidence removed." Problem: "Number three engine missing." Solution: "Engine found on right wing after brief search." Problem: "DME volume unbelievably loud." Solution: "Volume set to more believable level." Problem: Dead bugs on windshield. Solution: Live bugs on order. Problem: Autopilot in altitude hold mode produces a 200 fpm descent. Solution: Cannot reproduce problem on ground. Problem: IFF inoperative. Solution: IFF inoperative in OFF mode. Problem: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick. Solution: That's what they're there for.
...and several taken from the O'Reilly & Associates Practical C++ Programming book: >"Profanity is the language that all programmers speak." - Anon. >"There is no programming language, no matter how structured, that will prevent programmers from writing bad programs." - L. Flon >"If carpenters made buildings the way programmers make programs, the first woodpecker to come along would destroy all of civilization." - Anon >"To be or not to be, that is the question." - Shakespeare on Boolean Algebra. "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." - Popular Mechanics, 1949.
"A man can never truely be a man without due respect for women and womanhood." "Boys SUCK!" - pair of quotes seen on a refrigerator whiteboard in a BYU womens' apartment recently. The place loves it's hypocrites, eh?
"You mean to tell me that there is a chance I'll get a major nuclear explosion all over this suit? 'Cause I'm telling you right now that stuff does not dry clean." - Cat, Red Dwarf
"The point is, you see," said Ford, "that there is no point in driving yourself mad trying to stop yourself going mad. You might just as well give in and save your sanity for later." - LTU&E - Douglas Adams
It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress. - Mark Twain
The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet. - Mark Twain
"I have no special regard for Satan; but I can at least claim that I have no prejudice against him. It may even be that I lean a little his way, on account of his not having a fair show. All religions issue bibles against him, and say the most injurious things about him, but we never hear his side. We have none but evidence for the prosecution and yet we have rendered the verdict. To my mind, this is irregular. It is un-English. It is un-American; it is French. Without this precedent Dreyfus could not have been condemned. As soon as I can get at the facts I will undertake his rehabilitation myself if I can find an unpolitic publisher. It is a thing we ought to be willing to do for anyone who is under a cloud. We may not pay him reverance, for that would be indiscreet, but we can at least respect his talents. A person who has for untold centuries maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of four-fifths of the human race, and political head of the whole of it, must be granted the possession of executive abilities of the loftiest order. In his large presence the other popes and politicians shrink to midgets for the microscope. I would like to see him. I would rather see him and shake him by the tail than any member of the European concert." [Mark Twain - "Concerning the Jews" essay]
We despise all reverences and all the objects of reverence which are outside the pale of our own list of sacred things. And yet, with strange inconsistency, we are shocked when other people despise and defile the things which are holy to us. - Mark Twain
These people's God has shown them by a million acts that he respects none of the Bible's statues. He breaks every one of them himself - adultery and all. - Mark Twain
A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows. - Mark Twain
If Christ were here today, there is one thing he would not be -- a Christian. - Mark Twain
Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me? - Groucho
She got her good looks from her father - he's a plastic surgeon. - Groucho
Military justice is to justice what military music is to music. - Groucho
I've had a perfectly wonderful evening - but this wasn't it. - Groucho
I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception. - Groucho
Room Service? Send up a larger room. - Groucho
Remember men, we're fighting for this woman's honour; which is probably more than she ever did. - Groucho
One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know. - Groucho
I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury. - Groucho Marx
I'd horse-whip you if I had a horse. - Groucho Marx
I added 2 printfs to a project, started it compiling. 20 minutes later I'm still playing go, blasting floyd and goofing off on the net. This is what professionals get paid the big bucks for. (Evans and Sutherland)
Got yet another unsolicited XXX ad in the mail today. I found it odd that when I told the sender to go do something that he probably has pictures of, that he had the gall to call _me_ rude. =]
Fast, good, cheap. Choose any two. Try to cheat the curve and you not only inevitably fail, but you sacrifice intelligibility. Maybe that is why this joint hasn't got shit's worth of documentation on anything - no manuals, no comments, no design documentation more recent than 1996. (Evans and Sutherland)
If you ever want to see just how weak gravity is, push someone off a building. It takes them 8 seconds to reach terminal velocity under the force of gravity, but only a millisecond for electromagnetic forces between them and the ground to bring them to a complete stop again.
I'm sorry, you have reached an imaginary number. Please rotate your phone by ninety degrees and try again.
In reference to the announcement of a breakthrough that will likely allow the synthesis of a bacterium within the next 5 years, Dr. Helen Watt, a philosopher and Bio-ethicist working for the Catholic Church said "In itself, it's an interesting piece of scientific research. But it depends on your motivation. If you are trying to prove the non-existence of God that's one thing, but if you are just carrying out an experiment that is quite another."
It's always darkest just before it goes pitch black. -
The purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others. -
And one for Bob: "He stepped out onto the street, where a passing eagle swooped out of the sky at him, nearly forcing him into the path of a cyclist, who cursed and swore at him from the moral high ground that cyclists alone seem able to inhabit." - last paragraph, chapter 10, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, Douglas Adams
"Before we check all this code into the source server, you need to go through and remove all these comments." - I'm not kidding. A fellow developer said this to me a while ago. (Evans and Sutherland)
Tonight's lecture is on the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, which is not to be confused with breakup of the former Czechoslovakia which was really nasty... because as you know and as I know, everybody hates it when you ask for separate Czechs.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Patience. How long's that going to take?
What has ten wheels, an on-board bathroom and is filled with cream cheese? A Winnebagel.
Someone gave me a fake $20. I wanted to send it to the FBI, but you're not supposed to mail cash. I deposited the $20 and sent the FBI a check. - RBarry
A little digital folklore to brighten your day; The Story of Mel, a Real Programmer: Maybe they do now, in this decadent era of Lite beer, hand calculators, and "user-friendly" software but back in the Good Old Days, when the term "software" sounded funny and Real Computers were made out of drums and vacuum tubes, Real Programmers wrote in machine code. Not FORTRAN. Not RATFOR. Not, even, assembly language. Machine Code. Raw, unadorned, inscrutable hexadecimal numbers. Directly. Lest a whole new generation of programmers grow up in ignorance of this glorious past, I feel duty-bound to describe, as best I can through the generation gap, how a Real Programmer wrote code. I'll call him Mel, because that was his name. I first met Mel when I went to work for Royal McBee Computer Corp., a now-defunct subsidiary of the typewriter company. The firm manufactured the LGP-30, a small, cheap (by the standards of the day) drum-memory computer, and had just started to manufacture the RPC-4000, a much-improved, bigger, better, faster --- drum-memory computer. Cores cost too much, and weren't here to stay, anyway. (That's why you haven't heard of the company, or the computer.) I had been hired to write a FORTRAN compiler for this new marvel and Mel was my guide to its wonders. Mel didn't approve of compilers. "If a program can't rewrite its own code", he asked, "what good is it?" Mel had written, in hexadecimal, the most popular computer program the company owned. It ran on the LGP-30 and played blackjack with potential customers at computer shows. Its effect was always dramatic. The LGP-30 booth was packed at every show, and the IBM salesmen stood around talking to each other. Whether or not this actually sold computers was a question we never discussed. Mel's job was to re-write the blackjack program for the RPC-4000. (Port? What does that mean?) The new computer had a one-plus-one addressing scheme, in which each machine instruction, in addition to the operation code and the address of the needed operand, had a second address that indicated where, on the revolving drum, the next instruction was located. In modern parlance, every single instruction was followed by a GO TO! Put *that* in Pascal's pipe and smoke it. Mel loved the RPC-4000 because he could optimize his code: that is, locate instructions on the drum so that just as one finished its job, the next would be just arriving at the "read head" and available for immediate execution. There was a program to do that job, an "optimizing assembler", but Mel refused to use it. "You never know where it's going to put things", he explained, "so you'd have to use separate constants". It was a long time before I understood that remark. Since Mel knew the numerical value of every operation code, and assigned his own drum addresses, every instruction he wrote could also be considered a numerical constant. He could pick up an earlier "add" instruction, say, and multiply by it, if it had the right numeric value. His code was not easy for someone else to modify. I compared Mel's hand-optimized programs with the same code massaged by the optimizing assembler program, and Mel's always ran faster. That was because the "top-down" method of program design hadn't been invented yet, and Mel wouldn't have used it anyway. He wrote the innermost parts of his program loops first, so they would get first choice of the optimum address locations on the drum. The optimizing assembler wasn't smart enough to do it that way. Mel never wrote time-delay loops, either, even when the balky Flexowriter required a delay between output characters to work right. He just located instructions on the drum so each successive one was just *past* the read head when it was needed; the drum had to execute another complete revolution to find the next instruction. He coined an unforgettable term for this procedure. Although "optimum" is an absolute term, like "unique", it became common verbal practice to make it relative: "not quite optimum" or "less optimum" or "not very optimum". Mel called the maximum time-delay locations the "most pessimum". After he finished the blackjack program and got it to run ("Even the initializer is optimized", he said proudly), he got a Change Request from the sales department. The program used an elegant (optimized) random number generator to shuffle the "cards" and deal from the "deck", and some of the salesmen felt it was too fair, since sometimes the customers lost. They wanted Mel to modify the program so, at the setting of a sense switch on the console, they could change the odds and let the customer win. Mel balked. He felt this was patently dishonest, which it was, and that it impinged on his personal integrity as a programmer, which it did, so he refused to do it. The Head Salesman talked to Mel, as did the Big Boss and, at the boss's urging, a few Fellow Programmers. Mel finally gave in and wrote the code, but he got the test backwards, and, when the sense switch was turned on, the program would cheat, winning every time. Mel was delighted with this, claiming his subconscious was uncontrollably ethical, and adamantly refused to fix it. After Mel had left the company for greener pa$ture$, the Big Boss asked me to look at the code and see if I could find the test and reverse it. Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to look. Tracking Mel's code was a real adventure. I have often felt that programming is an art form, whose real value can only be appreciated by another versed in the same arcane art; there are lovely gems and brilliant coups hidden from human view and admiration, sometimes forever, by the very nature of the process. You can learn a lot about an individual just by reading through his code, even in hexadecimal. Mel was, I think, an unsung genius. Perhaps my greatest shock came when I found an innocent loop that had no test in it. No test. *None*. Common sense said it had to be a closed loop, where the program would circle, forever, endlessly. Program control passed right through it, however, and safely out the other side. It took me two weeks to figure it out. The RPC-4000 computer had a really modern facility called an index register. It allowed the programmer to write a program loop that used an indexed instruction inside; each time through, the number in the index register was added to the address of that instruction, so it would refer to the next datum in a series. He had only to increment the index register each time through. Mel never used it. Instead, he would pull the instruction into a machine register, add one to its address, and store it back. He would then execute the modified instruction right from the register. The loop was written so this additional execution time was taken into account --- just as this instruction finished, the next one was right under the drum's read head, ready to go. But the loop had no test in it. The vital clue came when I noticed the index register bit, the bit that lay between the address and the operation code in the instruction word, was turned on --- yet Mel never used the index register, leaving it zero all the time. When the light went on it nearly blinded me. He had located the data he was working on near the top of memory --- the largest locations the instructions could address --- so, after the last datum was handled, incrementing the instruction address would make it overflow. The carry would add one to the operation code, changing it to the next one in the instruction set: a jump instruction. Sure enough, the next program instruction was in address location zero, and the program went happily on its way. I haven't kept in touch with Mel, so I don't know if he ever gave in to the flood of change that has washed over programming techniques since those long-gone days. I like to think he didn't. In any event, I was impressed enough that I quit looking for the offending test, telling the Big Boss I couldn't find it. He didn't seem surprised. When I left the company, the blackjack program would still cheat if you turned on the right sense switch, and I think that's how it should be. I didn't feel comfortable hacking up the code of a Real Programmer.
I've got to get to bed earlier: User Personal Name Job Subsys Terminal Console Location OPERATOR Operator 23E0579B *DCL* ASP1$OPA0 The VMS Console 23A1FE82 *DCL* BARNEY$TTB0 234364EC *DCL* GRUMPY$OPA0 The VMS Console 23254353 *DCL* SLEEPY$OPA0 The VMS Console 22826BBE *DCL* 422:21.OPA0 The VMS Console SL3NF Barry Ronald Scott 22834D9D FINGER .NTY2100slc101.modem.xmiss
%19990911  permanant link  facebook 'like' version  
"Damn!  Just missed!" - God, 12:43pm August 11, 1999

>ask hitchhiker's guide about galactic security agency Suddenly, agents of the Galactic Security Agency pop in using Sub-Etha belts, rough you up a bit, tell you there's no such thing as the Galactic Security Agency and never to consult the Hitchhiker's Guide about the Galactic Security Agency again; then they leave.
The following are the footnotes from the best game ever, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (Did you know that a new HHGTTG movie and game are going to release this time next year?) 1) In case anyone is interested, this quotation is from a letter written by John Keats, and thus he becomes the first major 19th Century British poet to feature in a computer game. 2) Bob Dylan, 1969. 3) A meaningless coincidence. 4) The first single they recorded on their own Apple label, and one of their most successful songs ever. 5) Peacefully for a Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal that is. Now and then it snorts or rolls over, and the walls shake a bit. 6) That was just an example. 7) It's not a very good gun, is it? 8) It's not a very good legend, is it? 9) Unfortunately, you couldn't hear a word of it, because sound doesn't travel in a vacuum. 10) I guess it isn't all that dangerous a place after all. 11) Isn't it fun reading through all the footnotes? 12) This is the famous recursive footnote (Footnote 12). 13) It's not a very good autopilot, is it? 14) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is also the name of a terrific work of interactive fiction by Douglas Adams and S. Eric Meretzky. But then again you must already know that, since you bought one. 15) It's not a very good banner, is it? 16) There is no Footnote 16.
The penalty for laughing in a courtroom is six months in jail; if it were not for this penalty, the jury would never hear the evidence. - H L Mencken
"...he just popped up out of nowhere like a large drinks bill." - Zaphod Beeblebrox, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Radio Series
PCP (Pretty Crappy Protection) One-time-pad public key follows... =]
Remember, the reason the sun never sets on the English Empire is because God doesn't trust the British in the dark. =] - George Bernhard Shaw
This plan printed on 100% re-usable phosphorscents.
A computer scientist is a mechanism for turning coffee into applications.
The generation of random numbers is too important to be left to chance. - Robert R. Coveyou.
What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy? - Ursula K. LeGuin
Mad, adj: Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence. - Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"
Sometimes it's useful to know how large your zero is.
Nature abhors second order differential equations.
Philosophy is a game with objectives and no rules. Mathematics is a game with rules and no objectives.
Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do. - James Harvey Robinson
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones. - Bertrand Russel, "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish"
Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? It is because we are not the person involved. - Mark Twain
Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain't that a big enough majority in any town? - Mark Twain - Huckelberry Finn
The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind. - H. L. Mencken
Of all the strange 'crimes' that human beings have legislated out of nothing, 'blasphemy' is the most amazing, with 'obscenity' and 'indecent exposure' fighting it out for second and third place. - Robert Heinlein - Time Enough for Love.
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, \ That struts and frets his hour upon the stage \ And then is heard no more. It is a tale \ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, \ Signifying nothing. - The Scottish Play - aV sV?
Into every life a little rain must fall, but I think someone's mistaken me for Noah. - Allison Raul.
You can't ask where to find the self-help section. -rbarry
I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.
I cheated on a metaphysics exam... I read the mind of the guy next to me.
It's been lovely, but I must scream now.
I don't suffer from lunacy, I enjoy every minute of it.
I went to a general store. They wouldn't let me buy anything specific. - Steven Wright?
I don't blame our government. If I had $600,000,000,000 per year, I'd be irresponsible, too.
I replaced my headlights with strobes... now it looks like I'm the only one moving.
I don't have a solution, but I admire the problem.
Try to look unimportant... they may be low on ammunition.
Push to test... release to detonate...
Cabin fever, it's ravaged all aboard \ This once proud vessel has become a floating psycho ward \ We were sailing, sailing, heading who-knows-where \ And now though we're all here - we're not all there.... Muppet Treasure Island.
Who's the joker who put the 's' in 'lisp'?
If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?
Is it really necessary to nail down coffin lids?
'Anagram' has no anagrams.
Would a million Shakespeares write like a monkey?
What exactly is a self-help _group_?
What would a chair look like if your knees bent the other way?
What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
'monosyllabic' - 5 syllables.
Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?
How do they get the teflon to stick to the _pan_?
If a parsley farmer fails to pay his taxes, can the IRS garnish his wages?
How do you know when it's time to tune your bagpipes?
What do you ship styrofoam in?
Can you be a closet claustrophobic?
What happens if you yell "MOVIE" in a crowded firehouse?
When is the graveyard shift if you work at a cemetery?
If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to see, do you think the other trees make fun of it?
"In space, no one can hear you 'cha-cha-cha.'" - Confidence, Red Dwarf "Confidence and Paranoia."
Tofu - the other white meat substitute.
Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
I before E except after C - we live in a weird society.
Spotted on the back of a t-shirt worn by LAPD Bomb Squad: If you see me running, try to keep up.
Protect your right to arm bears.
For Sale: Parachute. Only used once, never opened, small stain.
How can a cemetery raise it's fees and blame it on the cost of living?
99 percent of the lawyers give the rest a bad name.
If you try to line up all the cars in the world end-to-end - some idiot would try to pass them.
Anyone who believes in psychokinesis, raise my hand.
Corduroy pillows - they're making headlines.
Energizer Bunny arrested - charged with battery.
Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?
If you freeze to death and end up in hell...wouldn't you be really comfortable some point along the way?
To YOU I'm an atheist. To God, I'm the Loyal Opposition.
Freedom *OF* religion includes freedom *FROM* religion.
A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar, the bartender says, "What is this, some kind of joke?"
I am ready to meet my maker. Whether or not my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. - Winston Churchill
Make God laugh - plan for the future.
Atheism: a non-prophet organization.
I don't care WHO you are, you're not walking on the water while I'm fishing.
One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice president, and that word is "to be prepared." - Danny Quayle
I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change. - Danny Quayle
The future will be better tomorrow. - Danny Quayle
It isn't pollution that's harming the environment, it's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it. - Danny Quayle
Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly and for the same reason.
A fool and his money are soon in office.
The word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. - George Carlin
A lecture is a process where information is passed from the notebook of the lecturer to the notebook of the student without necessarily passing through the minds of either.
Grad School: It's not just a job, it's an indenture.
These opinions are mine, not those of Utah State University. It is the opinion of Utah State University that I should be writing my thesis.
Today's Computer Science lecture will be conducted entirely through the medium of interpretive dance.
On the Triplette Competition Arms catalog page, in reference to the fact that they practically have to pay you to take France Lames blades off their hands: "France-lames blades are guaranteed to attract magnets until the heat-death of the universe. They are specifically not warranted for any other use. All France Lames sales are final."
Never attribute to malice what can as easily be attributed to incompetence. - Napolean Bonaparte.
Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum - garbage in, garbage out.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to Evolutionary Computation. I'm not kidding. It exists.
"I'd like to talk for a moment about schitzophrenia. NO YOU WON'T! SHUT UP, LET HIM TALK!" - Robin Williams
Cats aren't clean, they're just covered with cat spit. - John S. Nichols.
Unless you are the lead sled dog, the view never changes.
I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult. - Rita Rudner.
Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.
There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.
I love the 'shooshing' sound deadlines make as they go by.
Deja Moo: the feeling that you've heard this bull before.
I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was going to blame it on you.
Dear IRS, Please cancel my subscription.
By doing just a little every day, I can gradually let the task completely overwhelm me. - Ashleigh Brilliant.
Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.
Doing the impossible means only that the boss will add it to your regular duties.
The beatings will continue until morale improves. (also: The meetings shall continue until morale improves.)
"Don't run. I want you to use your _feet_." - from my fencing instructor the other day.
Was god flunking a 100-level ethics class when he created the universe?
Honk if you love peace and quiet.
If you're close enough to read this, I'm close enough to slam on my brakes and sue you.
I didn't fight my way to the top of the food chain to become a vegitarian.
Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant? I'm halfway through my fishburger and I realize, I could be eating a slow learner. - Lynda Montgomery
There won't be anything we won't say to people to try and convince them that our way is the way to go. - Bill Gates
Never look at the trombones, it only encourages them. - Richard Strauss.
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx.
I'm trying to figure out why kamikaze pilots wore helmets. - Dave Edison
You don't need a parachute to skydive... you only need it to skydive twice.
Politics: From the greek _poly_, meaning many, and the word tick - meaning small, blood-sucking insect.
Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of backup tapes hurtling down the freeway - Andrew S. Tanenbaum
You always find things in the last place you look because once you've found them, you stop looking.
Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
Eat right, stay fit, die anyway.
Mouse has moved. Restart NT now?
For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to buy from Microsoft. - alt.os.linux.caldera
Unix _is_ user friendly - it's just picky about its friends.
Nature abhors a vacuum. Well, that explains my cat.
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain. And as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. - Einstein.
If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.
Protons have mass!?! I didn't even know they were catholic.
Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati - When all else fails, play dead.
Semper Ubi Sub Ubi - Always wear underwear. (Wow, literal xlation, eh?)
DEC might have thought a little harder about their name, Digital Electronics Corporation. I saw a reference on "Digital Fortran" the other day and the natural thought was "as opposed to what, analog fortran?
Will any of us survive the onset of W2K?
A kibble of kittens, a gaggle of geese, a litter of puppies... a palpation of internists a fibrillation of cardiologists a rash of dermatologists a void of urologists a movement of gastroloenterologists a shot of pediatricians a hive of allergists a joint of osteopaths an arch of podiatrists a colony of bacteriologists a tray of dieticians a gross of pathologists a sting of acupuncturists a draw of phlebotomists a glow of radiologists a phlegm of otolaryngologists an epidemic of virologists a wail of obstetricians