Older blog entries for Acapnotic (starting at number 25)

Hmm. With the arrival of Max we may have to whip up an alternate storyline to cover for Advogato...

Finished Fermat's Enigma. Most of the book I knew, from class discussions, the Nova special, etc. But there were many interesting historical tidbits along the way. Here's one I wasn't aware of:

In the years after the war Turing had been under surveillance from British Intelligence, who were aware that we has a practicing homosexual. They were concerned that the man who knew more about Britain's security codes than anyone else was vulnerable to blackmail and decided to monitor his every move. Turing had largely come to terms with being constantly shadowed, but in 1952 he was arrested for violation of British homosexuality statutes. This humiliation made life intolerable for Turing [...]

The inquest, on 10 June 1954, established that it was suicide.

Started The Existential Pleasures of Engineering (Samuel C. Florman, 1976). While reading the preface, realization struck: "I am an engineer." That was important to hear because "I am" statements are rather hard to come by in the midst of identity crises. Although upon further examination, that may be more precisely stated as "I have long held the assumption that I am an engineer," as I don't know if I can qualatatively demonstrate my engineer-being.

and perhaps it's just because my last sleep cycle was from 6 AM - 12 AM, but this one is going in the cookie file:

"I'm often convinced that my brain has a mind of its own and some sort of long-standing grudge against me."
-- Deb Richardson, 4/24/2000

Much tidying of Adaptive Contrast Enhancement. Most notably, the PDB interface actually works, so I can tell people who want to add goofy things to the code to go away and write scripts instead. Thought that made it worthwhile putting out a new release (v0.5.1)...

Updated README and NEWS and the like. Updated registry.gimp.org. Uploaded to SourceForge. Updated page on SourceForge. Changed old page to point to SourceForge. Am I forgetting anything?

Also added the libgimp manual to Plug-ins@SourceForge. GIMP 1.2pre is out now, you know (1.1.20). This means that it's getting to be time for me to actually overhaul "Writing a GIMP Plug-In".

Blerg. Eat kitty.


Had a dream the other night that I was on a shuttle to the moon with my friends from middle school. The pilot was some new woman, and those of us in the passenger compartment kept sliding up and down, bumping our heads on the ceiling and then feet hitting the floor. Eventually I fell out of the passenger compartment, and went to the people at the desk in order to get back in. They told me that they were sorry but the flight was full, and that they could get me a pass for the next one.

"No," I told them, "you don't understand. I don't need a pass for the next flight, I was on that one. I fell out. I just want to get back on."

They didn't grok.

"So I'm on Earth, and the shuttle is out there?" I asked, gesturing vaugely at the sky. They nodded. "Ok, whatever," I said, and walked off.

The airport on the moon has many vendors along its corridors, most of whom sell books. There are also security stations that make things disappear. Perhaps an art gallery as well, but the focus was definately on the books.

Better get back before it's time to leave...

</me casts a wary eye over Deb's "balanced lifestyle" plans>

This could be dangerous. If she manages to pull this off... the others might start getting ideas. If the secret gets out that someone can go from IRC twenty hours a day to eating good food and doing things they love for the sake of having fun... Well, who knows what might happen? If the terminally-terminal-dependant start leading "balanced lives", what will be my excuse for remaining here in the recesses of my cave?

Fortunately, like many of the terminal-dependant folks, I'm the intelligent type, and I've known (intellectually) that this was possible for a long time. And since knowledge and action are largely, if not completely, disparate things in my universe, this latest bit of information may not be capable of provoking any action at all. In which case I can safely continue not having fun, and neither cracking a book nor putting pen to a page any more than once a month or so.

Long live security!

Ok, that's the second time in three days I've heard the phrase "make new friends and influence people." Am I missing a reference?

Attempting to follow Deb's advice re: book reading. Currently working on [BUG: the "cite" tag should be accepted] Fermat's Enigma which I started for school last semester but, like most other things that term, never finished. QotD:

Later her colleague Edmund Landau was asked whether Emmy Noether was indeed a great woman mathematician, to which he replied: "I can testify that she is a great mathematician, but that she is a woman, I cannot swear."

Hmm. I seem to be purple now. I'd feel more at ease if I knew why that was, but it remains a mystery for the time being.

Played a bit more with CritLink the other day. Intriguing, but kinda slow... so it might help to set up more servers. But it requires a certain critical mass of users to work well, I think. So you either figure out how to build a mesh of the things and share link/comment info between them, the answer to which is non-obvious, or you set them up around existing communities (e.g. Advogato). CritLink's aims seem to be very complementary to a news-discussion site, and if you routed the site's CritLink though a cache (e.g. squid), you could greatly reduce the penalizing bandwith effect of being "slashdotted".

After playing with CritLink, I had to go and find out what backlinks there are to my pages. In the process, I found a number of links to where my pages used to be two years ago...

Discovered a bad sector on one of my disks. It's on the DOS 6.2 partition, so it didn't get much noticed for a long while. Booted DOS to run WD's "dlgdiag" on it (when will disk vendors start open-sourcing their diagnostics?), it said it found "one or more errors" but couldn't repair them. I checked-- the warrantee for WDC drives is 3 years, and dlgdiag said the drive's build date was 20-MAR-97. Hah-hah, very funny. It also seems that neither reiserfs nor LVM have provisions for skipping over bad blocks like mkswap and mke2fs do, which will limit the number of interesting things I can do with the drive. Bummer.

Spent the evening bug-hunting. Spent a lot of time in "How did this code ever run?" mode -- still not sure of that in some places. Observed I should keep a closer eye on what other people check in to CVS, at least one of the smaller bugs I can confidantly say was Not My Fault. But other people have fixed many a bug for me, so I'm not complaining.

Turns out all hell can break loose in incredibly subtle ways if you do something like guint8 *foo=g_new(bar_t,baz); foo[-1] = quux; This is why people use languages with run-time array bounds checking instead of C. Took me positively forever to find, since the effects did't show up until long after... and when they did, it took odd forms like a gdk_beep() in the stacktrace (seth checked, and nothing even remotely GIMPish uses gdk_beep). efence with PROTECT_BELOW is what finally caught it.

Perl is playing tricks on me. if ($foo) {BLOCK} and if (not $foo) {BLOCK} both result in evaluating BLOCK, but the values BLOCK prints out are different. <whimper>

And on that delusional note, here's a bit of geek folk rock rap, inspired by the chatter...

Everything's been going down-hill since slash-dot,
Things have been lookin' down since they made that link,
Everything's been going down-hill since slash-dot,
Too many folks just writing what they think.

It's a delicate issue, what can you say,
I've posted this here for your response today.
But when it comes down to it,
  I don't care what you think,
'Cuz you're all just lusers and your opinions all stink.
(I'm tooting my horn so you'll click my link.)


That's all very interesting, they say you might be right,
but as for me, I'm not going with-out a fight.
and I've got a special quality which your post lacks,
because for me, all my opinions are facts

...(and stuff)...

and I went to school for years,
  to practice this skill I got,
I can say what I think,
  without any thought!

Remember kids: Don't be like Acap, sleep before you post!

<Yawn> Reading the fallout from Poul's "Romeo" article got tiresome by the time the scrollbar hit 50%, but I feel inclinced to voice my two bits just the same.

It is my understanding that the ultimate effect of the trust metric is to prevent abuse of Advogato's discussion forum. Since Advogato's topic is open source software, it does make some sense to use someone's status in the software community as a rough gauge of their cluefullness, their potential to contribute to the site, and since this is usually a group effort, their people skills as well. But if someone, no matter how skilled technially, starts abusing the site, they've abused their trust here.

Ok, I'm bored with this topic now. Just remember "sometimes the clothes do not make the man," or something...
(Now where's my Advogato t-shirt?)

In actual software-related news... Martin Weber sent in a patch for Adaptive Contrast Enhancement the other day which he describes as a sort of "sunshine filter". I haven't decided yet if it belongs in or not, but it is in CVS for the time being, so run it in "color contrast" mode and let me know if you can get it to make pretty things or not.

I also spent some time debating with the alumni of the alpha Xi physics club (hmm... no link... that's an issue...) about the recent changes in goldfish crackers, our staple sustinance. Personally, I think the things are free to grin all they want to, just so long as they stay cheesy, but "flavor blasting" is overkill.

Well, I'm off to order my new Johnathon swimsuit calender and his Special Edition of the Matrix DVD...

Now here's a curious thing: We're all posting replies to an article that never appeared. Which is actually a very exciting thing to see on a community site, a conversation just materialize among the diaries on its own. But it's going to be awfully difficult to browse...

So here's my story of school. I went to a high school where I didn't get challenged much, didn't have much fun, only had a few good teachers, didn't do much work but walked all over the test scores. Without really thinking about it ("ok, did grade 12, where's 13?"), I enrolled myself in some little haughty-taughty midwestern college.

I blew through the first semester, the first year science classes at a liberal arts school being a bit light agaisnt my AP science background. But by the time the second semester rolled around it was clear that though the educational environment at college sucked significantly less than public high school, it wasn't perfect, and to a large extent I was still in my habit of not-doing schoolwork. My two best friends from first semester also had issues with the school and split right then. One, my poet friend with the badass tetris skills, went to an even smaller school in Vermont, and the other, a musican/sci-fi writer/MUSH addict, got her dad to drive her home and proceeded to drop off the face of the planet.

I decided to stick it out for a while longer. Second semester I made some new friends and failed a math class for the first time in my life. By the time summer rolled around, I was ready to ask a shrink why I was having such troubles getting along with school. After all, I do honestly enjoy learning, in those times when I actually manage to sit down and work on something. So why are those times so few and far between?

Summer ends and I go back to college for one more try, but I make sure I keep enough boxes in my dorm room so that I can move out if I need to. Things start to look a little wishy-washy, but the optimist says there may be hope yet. I come back from fall break with a story about what it's like to be in a collision on the New Jersey Turnpike, and that's about when I started sleeping through my 1:30 PM math class. (Some of my earlier Advogato diaries are from just before bedtime at 8 AM or so.) I spend the rest of the semester giving what support I can to my friends who are staying on, and file an application for a "personal leave of absence".

Several tough good-byes, a one-way trip out of Ohio, and a third of a year later brings us up to present day. Unemployed, directionless, unable to remember the last time I finished anything, and watching almost as much crappy TV as Kelly is.

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