Older blog entries for Johnath (starting at number 9)

28 Nov 2000 (updated 1 Dec 2000 at 05:47 UTC) »

2 weeks left in school this semester, and at least one thing due every single day. Splendid. But it's keeping my brain working, so I can't complain - that is after all what I'm paying tuition for.

IBM called today and wanted me to tour the lab and meet the department heads who are interested in hiring me. But on a friday when I have an assignment to submit and a test to write, and they wanted me there for the whole day. I told them no-can-do and that this week and next were pretty full. The HR person said,

"Okay, well I'll talk to the department heads and see if they want to meet with you much later, or just go ahead without meeting you."

I wonder what that means. Amy tells me that it probably means "go ahead and offer you the job without meeting you" and not "go ahead and pass you by for someone who will bother to show up." She's probably right, but I'll still feel better if/when offers start rolling in.

Of course, for offers to start rolling in, my cable would have to hold out long enough for me to pick up email. Given last weekend's 48 hours of 0 connectivity, we'll see. Anyone know how long sendmail will keep trying johnath.com before it decides that I'm dead, and returns the message undeliverable?

I'll soon be in the market for a digicam. What with christmas and new years coming up, and what with a trip to Jamaica (!) on the reading week horizon, it'd be a good thing to have. Anyone have recommendations or warnings?

Today's Psychology Tip: Don't believe anything Margaret Boden tells you about creativity. She's nutty.

24 Nov 2000 (updated 24 Nov 2000 at 05:13 UTC) »

Nothing from IBM. But then, they have an email address for me @johnath.com which is attached to my currently recalcitrant cablemodem. Ah well - they can always just call me.

Today my gf of about 6 years went to a BNL (Barenaked Ladies) concert and won... a trip to Jamaica. (!!!) We think we'll go Reading week, but maybe wait till school's over. All expenses paid. Nice. I must buy a laptop.

I need Neal Stephenson's email address. Does anyone have it? Today I read a paper by Arjun Appadurai - probably the coolest anthropologist ever. His writing sounds like something right out of Snow Crash - and if Stephenson hasn't already read this guy, he really should. Neal, are you out there?

Jamaica. Woo!

PS - Amy. My girlfriend's name is Amy. She mentioned the other day that I never mention her in my diaries. Today she won me (us!) a trip to Jamaica. Her name is Amy. :)

Wednesday. And no early tutorial, so I got to sleep in. Which is good because I've been waking up early entirely too often the past few weeks.

Phone interview with IBM went pretty well I think,

[IBM] So have you been talking to a lot of other companies?
[Me] Well, not really, in truth, I'm kind of waiting to see whether I get a good offer from IBM. If I got something good, something competitive, from the Toronto Lab, I don't know if I'd need to look elsewhere.
[IBM - chuckling] Well I can pretty much guarantee you'll be receiving some offers from the Lab.

So that's probably positive.

More crazy people talking to themselves, and they're getting louder. I walked for three city blocks today behind a man raving in some English-French-Something(Maybe Gaelic?) pidgin language all his own. He was quite emphatic on several points. Quite an orator I'm sure, if he weren't loony as a toon. And later a woman followed me for about a block complaining, it seems, about the rampant corruption of my police escort (I do not, to the best of my knowledge, have a police escort to speak of, let alone a corrupt one).

This month's Dr. Dobbs looks good. The article on porting applications from solaris to linux taught me how the kernel stores executing process information, which made me remember an old program I had meant to write, that would allow you to hijack a process - re-direct it's stdin/stdout/stderr to your terminal. This looks like it might be difficult, but useful, so we'll see.

Lots of Scheme hacking this week for Knowledge Representation. I love Scheme.

21 Nov 2000 (updated 21 Nov 2000 at 02:22 UTC) »

Got email today from a senior development manager for DB2 at IBM's Toronto Lab. He wants a phone interview asap, it seems. We agreed on tomorrow at 8:30am - again with the early, early interviews. What's with this company?

Had lunch with President & CEO of Lucent Canada today. There were about 6 of us at the lunch, but only 3 or 4 of us said much. It was cool, talked to her for about 2 hours about the kind of stuff you talk about when introduced to the CEO of a tech company I guess - the tech boom, whether it will collapse, the expectations of new grads, etc. I would have dropped off a resume, but it wasn't really that kind of conversation, and besides, I don't have the kind of hardware and DSP background they'd really be looking for. It also wouldn't have felt appropriate, like it would have sullied our meeting to remind everyone that she stood in a 'potential-employer' relation to all of us.

I wonder if the websphere guys at IBM will get back to me. I was all getting myself psyched about Java again when the DB2 group calls. :)

It would be so very cool if ZKS responded to my application. Such a thoroughly cool company. I would take a job sweeping their floors.

PS - For those who might notice - I am now certified apprentice level. It took 21 certs, but I got there damnit. :) Thanks everyone. Now to earn 'Journeyer'...

Certification Update: The Gods of Advogato maintain their vigil - 20 certs and counting, still not an apprentice. :) I'm really not bitching, believe it or not, I actually think it's really neat to watch the complex behaviours that emerge from simple systems like the trust metric network flow calculators. Hrm, I guess maybe I'm bitching a little, but I'm trying to be good natured about it. :)

Next monday I'm having lunch with the President and CEO of Lucent Technologies Canada. That sounds really cool, but I don't know what to make of it - I was invited because she's a graduate from my university, and I'm a 'high acheiving student', but she's not really giving a talk or anything so, we'll see what happens. Too bad they aren't more into software.

Still nothing from IBM.

Lately I've noticed a sharp increase in the number of people I see talking to themselves. What's with that? Maybe the colder weather is inhibiting their seratonin reuptake.

Today on the walk home I figured out that if someone tells you that they have two coins, a regular one, and a double headed one, and that they chose one at random and flipped it 5 times and they all came up heads, then there's only a 2.9% chance that they chose the regular coin. I think I need less sleep.

14 Nov 2000 (updated 14 Nov 2000 at 07:49 UTC) »

I have now accepted that the Gods of Advogato (GoA) have used their trust metric and network flow mathematics to cleverly conceal their true purpose - which is that I alone must never be permitted to leave the Observer level. Like all paranoid delusions, this one has the handy side effect of making me feel important, since it would imply that the GoA are in some small way aware of my existence.

Told Dad about the interviews and tests and general we-think-you-might-be-useful sentiment from IBM yesterday, he seemed as excited as I was about it, maybe more. It would be pretty cool to work for Big Blue right outta undergrad, but everything's still very up in the air.

The psychology professor I work for has offered me $80k to work for his company writing the software to run his eye-tracking system. It's a pretty neat system, and I've worked with it as a user for 6 years, but I don't know if it could hold my interest as long as the myriad possibilities at IBM, or even just at the Toronto Lab, for which I interviewed. On the other hand, $80k out of undergrad is nothing at which to sneer, so we'll see.

No stress there though - I'm caught between a pillow and a soft place, to mangle a metaphor -- I'd be happy either way. Which reminds me - why are so many of these diary entries so bleak? I mean, I don't think it's naive to point out that most of the people maintaining diaries here are the people shaping the Net, arguably the single biggest revolution of the human experience since at least the printing press or radio, maybe the biggest ever. Everywhere I look there's fascinating information being produced at an explosive rate. Over-stimulated I can see, but bored I find difficult to understand.

Maybe I've just been reading too much Wired. :)

PS - I also feel it essential to note, for those of you that can appreciate such sentiment, that Description Logics, non-Monotonic Logics, Default Logics and Circumscription Logics can all collectively go suck a cow. Thank you.

Hehe, okay, the following people clearly rock, since they saw my plea, and cert'd me on the spot: lilo, ian, deekayen, gbowland, chromatic, lerdsuwa. Thanks much guys (and gals?) :) And yet I remain an Observer, perhaps it's time to begin sharpening the manure caked stick. :)

I just read lilo's post about openprojects getting DoS'd and I gotta say, I feel for you and the crap you're going through, and totally agree with your stance on the issue. This is a 12 year old who needs to figure out that he is not g0d - if it helps, I've got a stick you can borrow. :) I know there's some controversy about using these diaries as a chat line but to those who dislike it, hey, I'd post to the story if I were allowed. :) Alright, I'll leave the dead horse alone for a while.

Speaking of dead horses though, it would be splendid if @home thought my neighbourhood fit for internet access again sometime soon. To their credit, they've refunded most of my last month's payment now because of the constant service death, but it would be ever so much nicer if they just waved a dead chicken over the offending router or what-have-you and made things good again. I notice that when I do get my connect back, people start downloading beep again, which makes me think that maybe some people here have seen my diary entries and decided to check it out, but been unable to grab it because my modem was having a stroke at the time - I host johnath.com off my @home connect - but don't give up, if you think beep'd be useful, keep trying and I will come back - and if you can stomach the .rpm version instead of a tarball - check my freshmeat page, the rpm is mirrored off-site.

Still no word from IBM, I guess there's no reason I should expect to hear from them yet, but I still want to know how everything went.

My students today asked me where I got my thinkgeek 'you are dumb' tshirt, which gave me an opening to introduce them to the whole andover gamut: /., freshmeat, and thinkgeek. I was conflicted about whether to tell them about this place. I think it's kind of a diamond in the rough, and you find it when you're ready. Maybe I've just been reading to much Tolkein.

I feel so strange admitting this - but I've never read Lord of the Rings - in fact, until last weekend, I'd never read any Tolkein. Never.

So I'm fixing that now - I read The Hobbit last weekend, and I'm most of the way through book 2 of the Lord of the Rings. While I was reading chapter 3 of book 2 ('The Council of Elrond') I came across a really good line - good enough that I grabbed a pencil and defaced my book for the first time by underlining it. Tell me this doesn't sum up the free software community:

Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.
Okay, maybe it's not quite accurate to apply that to the FS community, since we'd like to think we have some of the Great Minds hanging around too - but I mean, the coolest thing about the Net is the empowerment - the idea that little people can do big things with global impact.

I still prefer other genres to fantasy - never have been a big fan, and would generally take a Neal Stephenson book over even a Tolkein, but I appreciate the incredible development that's gone into the world he creates, and that's enough to keep me enjoying it.

On a seperate note, what does a guy have to do around here to get certified? :) I mean, I know, I've read the docs on certification, I understand the process, but eesh - all I want is the ability to post guys - how many apprentice certs does it take? Makes me wanna go up to those 'New Members' who are instant Masters and beat them with a manure caked stick. I probably won't though. That's not very friendly.

This has been IBM week. Got email from them Monday night saying they wanted to interview me 9am wednesday morning. I said it then, and I say it now - what kind of company wakes its geeks at 9am? Or really, at 7am, to make 9am meetings?

The interview was fine and Jimmy Lo, my interviewer, seems like a cool guy. Here's something interesting though, something I didn't really expect - in an 80 minute interview, easily 50% of the time was spent covering my Java knowledge. Java. I mean, don't get me wrong, I really like Java, it was actually my first language, and I still TA courses in it - but I'm interviewing for the IBM Toronto Lab - the people that make DB2. Of course, I found out that the DB2 people, as expected, use C -- it's the websphere people that use Java, and it does make some sense there, especially given java's native crypto, network, and security support. Still surprised me, but made for an excellent story to tell my Intro to Programming students. :)

Then they told me that they wanted me to come in, at 9 again, on friday, to write an aptitude test. It was like I was enlisting or something - do all big companies put you through 70 minute IQ tests? And what kind of aptitude am I supposed to have at 9am on a friday?

Okay, so I just watched as 5 people grabbed beep in like, 2 minutes. This happens every couple weeks for no reason I can discern, I guess someone is just pasting the url into an IRC chat, and then it spreads around.

What I still can't get over though, is the response to this little program. All it does it beep, but I've gotten email from everywhere, thanking me for it, and firing off patches to do everything from tune guitars to play morse code. It's corny, I know, but it gives me a real sense of how well this community works together. What did surprise me was that I haven't gotten a single flame, and that some people have taken an inordinate amount of time just to make it a little better. Golly gee whiz, guys, I'm impressed.

Seriously though, there's a certain trend especially over at /. to bitch and moan about the destruction of The Community. I used to wonder about that, and about what I missed by being born 5 years too late. But response to this little 4k app has turned that around for me totally.

Okay, that concludes my over-optimistic and patently over-innocent rant for the day. But hey, grab it if you think it might be useful - whenever someone mails me about it, I try to end with "and by all means, spread it around, I'd like nothing more than to someday be working on a computer and find it already installed."

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