Older blog entries for Phoon (starting at number 92)

30 Sep 2001 (updated 30 Sep 2001 at 07:03 UTC) »

music to soothe the soul

There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship for everyone
Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all...
(Robert Sherman and Richard Sherman, "It's a Small World")

I apologize to those of you who will fight for hours to get the music out of your heads...

I finally found a copy of The Eye of the World. I've been tempted to read the others in the series, but I wanted to read them in order.
I can't believe that I'm burnt out... I thought you had to actually be doing something to burn out.

The checkin kiosk project is... well, it can be best described as 'stillborn'. I can't find a reasonable way to do it without knowing at least a little bit about how the database info is stored, and that's apparently secret. This also means that I can't figure out how to make it general, which means that it won't really serve any purpose to anyone other than the school I'm at.

Anyway, I've found a better project to start: a replacement for the "Food Processor" program I mentioned earlier. Maybe I'm in over my head, though... the kiosk was something whipped up by some guy at the school I attend... Food Processor is a commercial, supported application.

It doesn't really look that complex... obtaining the food info would be the hard part... and the hairiest, legally. Once that's available, the rest looks simple. Maybe I should provide it to owners of Food Processor, since they already have the food databases.

a o hell
I hate AOL. I hate AOL. I hate AOL. And I don't even use it.

I hate AOL for making these people who can only use AOL think that they're internet geniuses, even when they can't figure out the basics. I hate AOL for making my life miserable when they call me and bitch at me because I 'broke their computer' when AOL kicks them off every five minutes. I hate AOL because it really should have an IQ requirement for joining. Never mind... AOL would have maybe five subscribers if they did that.


Sleep cycles have been strange again... stay up until 5 AM, sleep until 2 PM, stay up until 3 AM, sleep until noon...

I wish I could just do one or two all-nighters and be done with it, but no, either my neighbors or my school decide to monopolize my afternoons. For example, today I took two of my friends to the mall... I had to go to Sears anyway to pick up a wrench Dad needed to replace the motor mounts in his car.

At least I managed to get Quake 2 set up on one friend's machine so we can deathmatch. He royally sucks at FPSes, by the way... I should let him be the server so he'll stand half a chance, given my crappy connection.

Mis amigos y yo fuimos al restaurante del Rey de Hamburguesa esta tarde. Cuando estamos alla, hablé con una amiga de mi primera clase de español. Nos charlábamos hasta llegamos al cajero.
(My friends and I went to Burger King this afternoon. When we were there, I spoke with a friend from my first spanish class. We chatted until we arrived at the cashier.)

"parallel lines meet at infinity!" / Euclid repeatedly, heatedly urged / but then he died and so reached that vicinity / wherein he found that the damned things diverged

27 Sep 2001 (updated 27 Sep 2001 at 18:54 UTC) »


New wars for old... new wars for old....

Look at you, soldier boy now
With that big gun in your little hand
As you patrol this foreign land
Hear the mine that clicks beneath your feet
(heyheyheyheyhey, oh)

Now do you see the light
Fading while your world is crumbling
(Out on patrol!)
And all you can do is sit and stare
What revelation have you now
What culmination to your speck of life
Your moment in time
(The Offspring, "Out On Patrol")

I have bad news and worse news.

Bad news: I have a problem with my jaw, known as a TMJ disorder. Recently it became fairly painful.

Worse news: My dental insurance specifically excludes TMJ disorders from coverage.

In other words, "No check for you, clicky!"

food processor
I just had the misfortune of having to deal with "Esha Food Processor". It's a nutrition analysis program with a horrid interface and an out-of-date food database. Not to mention its braindead design choices.

For example, it only allows saving to three places: a preprogrammed location on the C: drive, or on A: or B:. And when you save to floppy, it takes over the floppy, dumping everything into the root of the drive. There's no reason they can't let the user decide where to place the info.... I would have preferred to place it onto my Zip disk, instead of having to go out and buy a floppy.

I'm probably going to try to write a clone for that, too... hopefully it'll advance more rapidly than my still-unnamed checkin kiosk program.

Two tests back recently: 97 in Spanish and 96 in Wellness Concepts. Not too shabby.

Calculus is still a bitch, though.

I'm going to need an oil change in... about... 2000 miles ago. Yeowch.

I can actually notice a difference in how the car feels when the oil is old... along with the corresponding drop in gas mileage. Plus I'm getting a noticeable wheel hop at about 60 mph... which means I need to have the tires balanced. Oh, joy.

love bugs
They're back... little annoying flying pieces of crap that fly into any orifice and eat away paint when splattered against a car. I'd say they rank about #3 on the list of Florida's annoyances, after hurricanes and before tourists. (#1 is New Yorkers, by the way.)

Let me clarify that... not all New Yorkers are annoying... only some of them. The ones that I gripe about are those that learn bad habits (especially driving habits) in NY, and bring them down here, where life is slower. It seems that every time I get the finger it's from someone with NY plates.

Not too much... mostly dealing with the e-mail database I maintain for the PCC International Circle. I've had to re-learn some stuff in Perl, plus libpq (C) and DBI::Pg (Perl).

murphy was an optimist

23 Sep 2001 (updated 23 Sep 2001 at 06:53 UTC) »

and now on a mellower note

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test and don't ask why
It's not a question but a lesson learned in time
It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right
I hope you had the time of your life
(Green Day, "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)")

My prayers still go out to those who are still dealing with the aftermath of this "absolute God damned nightmare", as the guys from Penny Arcade so nicely called it.

Went to Disney World today. Understandably, the crowds were minimal; the national fear of flying, combined with the usual back-to-school slowdown, means practically no lines. You know it's a slow day when Test Track is a walk-on ride.
Got my Calculus test back... I made an 83. Not great, but better than I thought I did.

I've been re-elected Webmaster of the PCC International Circle. It was unanimous... because there was no one else masochistic enough for the job. (I'm kidding, it's not bad...) My current duty is to compile a list of email addresses for as many members as possible. This is because part of my job is to send out email reminders for any events we may hold.

This just means a lot of typing. A lot of typing. I have probably a hundred applications in front of me, each with at least one email address. No, I can't OCR them... honestly, I have trouble reading some of them... and I doubt the computer would do any better.

giFT is pretty sweet. However, I can't seem to get MP3s that don't sound like absolute crap, because the guys responsible haven't told the daemon to report certain MP3-specific meta-data. Otherwise, it's infinitely better than anything I've seen so far. Nice job, guys.
I'm a CipherKnight. Are you?
winblows mierda piler
I got a broken AVI from giFT the other day. One player in Linux (can't remember which) said it was a MPEG4, but that the format was unsupported. I tried another Linux player (an old version of Xine), and it said it couldn't play the file. So, I rebooted to Winblows, and tried using Windows Media Player 6.4 to play the file. It listed it as having an unsupported codec. Hearing this, I decided to upgrade to version 7.1. Wrong idea.

7.1 takes about three times longer to start up as does 6.4 and has a godawful interface. True, it supports "skins", but that only works in Compact view, which requires a small window to remain on screen, in addition to the actual player window; closing the window kills the player, and the Normal view isn't skinnable. And if I'm not mistaken, it won't uninstall without a reinstall of the OS. (Please tell me if I'm mistaken.)

I also managed to upgrade Xine to a broken version. All this for a file that turned out to be heavily corrupted.


"Blinky, you leadfoot, if you moved any slower you'd be going backwards!" -- General Knowledge, Cranium Command (Wonders of Life, Epcot, Walt Disney World)

18 Sep 2001 (updated 19 Sep 2001 at 17:27 UTC) »
Night/Morning. (3 AM EDT, 18 Sep 2001)

musical interludes

I try to find a way to make
All our little joys relate
Without that ever-present hate
But now I know that it's too late, and

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please...
(Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman, "Suicide is Painless" [M*A*S*H Theme])
calculus and other classes
I bombed the calculus test. An example:

Determine the derivative dy/dx for r=5 cos(theta).

I know how to do this... you turn it into a parametric equation with x=r cos(theta) and y=r sin(theta). From there, it's easy.

But I forgot the first step.

Haré un examen en mi clase de español pronto. Ojala que haga bien.

Jordi: Estoy tomando la tercera clase de español este semestre. No hablo fluidamente, pero estoy aprendiendo. Gracias por su ayuda.

first person shooters
I wish I could find a good "hunt down Osama bin Laden and give him a fatal case of lead poisoning" mod for one of the myriad first person shooters out there.

I'd particularly like to see one for Soldier of Fortune... blowing off body parts is so... satisfying.

Oh well, I guess I just need to go shoot some bad guys who look vaguely like Al Qaeda members... (virtually, of course). At least I'm sure that the people I shoot will be terrorists... if not Al Qaeda, then another (fictional) terrorist group.

pledge of allegiance
jfleck: Here's how the Pledge originally read:

"I pledge allegiance to my flag and the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisble, with liberty and justice for all."

I would decide whether to repeat the "under God" part depending on where I was at the time. At Boy Scout meetings (I made it up to Star Scout before turning 18), I'd repeat it. In school, I wouldn't, on those occasions when I said the rest. No one noticed, of course... in the administrators' eyes, we were happy little sheep.

A couple of times, I actually started singing the Soviet national anthem... I love the rise it got out of people. I wasn't sure exactly what it meant; I just memorized the syllables. (Before I did it, I found a translation, to make sure I wasn't singing "kill all the Americans" or something... but I didn't remember it word-for-word.)

3d graphing
In calculus, we're beginning to do things in 3 dimensions. This means we have to draw in 3 dimensions. And I can barely draw in two dimensions.

From now on I have to bring a ruler, pencil, and unlined paper to calculus class. Yay.

Well, all US flags are supposed to be flying at half-staff. I wonder, though... that means all other flags must be flown at half-staff as well, right? If not, those flags would be flying higher than the US flag, which is against the flag code...
I've been way off of my diet again. Time to really knuckle down. (Yeah, right.)

who ate my nuggets?

17 Sep 2001 (updated 17 Sep 2001 at 07:56 UTC) »
Night/Morning. (3 AM EDT, 17 Sep 2001)

history through music

The blind men shout, "Let the creatures out,
We'll show the unbelievers"
The napalm screams of human flames
Of a prime time Belsen feast, yeah
As the reasons for the carnage
Cut their meat and lick the gravy,
We oil the jaws of the war machine
And feed it with our babies...
(Iron Maiden, "2 Minutes to Midnight")
As far as "jingoism" goes, remember that not all patriotism is jingoism. I know that the US doesn't exactly have a lily-white history, but I think it's important to rally behind the flag. I also think it's important to "hit back so hard as to make teeth rattle around the world".

Fred Reed makes perfect sense in that article. The terrorists won for the same reason we lost in Vietnam: we're helpless if we can't figure out what to hit. Granted, when we do find a target, we utterly obliterate it, but until we find it, we're dead in the water.

I do disagree on one point. I think we should find out who is responsible, and not just fabricate evidence. However, if what the US Government says is true, we should turn Afghanistan into a US colony, and quick.

BTW, compiler, I realize that this situation isn't exactly the same as that which existed during the Vietnam conflict. The problem of identifying the enemy, however, still exists. Viet Cong members looked (look?) exactly the same as the peaceful population of Vietnam. Al Qaeda members look exactly the same as the peaceful population of Afghanistan.

This is why the US military must be careful to hit the correct targets; but once they're sure, they should turn the Al Qaeda camps into smoking craters.

cd-r smell
As I opened my CD-R spindle today, I noticed a strange, acrid smell coming from the case. In addition, the edges of each CD had what looked like dripped plastic, although I can't tell if it was there since the CDs were manufactured, or if they were recent.

I've placed the CDs in cases and put them in a shaded location, to prevent any future damage. I don't remember any direct sunlight hitting them, though... my room has only one window, and it has a blanket covering it. And I doubt temperatures in my room could rise high enough to damage CDs.

Es dificil recordarse las palabras en español por muchas cosas. Uso las palabras de inglés, pero no es correcto. Necesitaré recordarse una palabra en inglés y en español por cosa...

Estamos aprendiendo el futuro y el subjuntivo. El futuro no será un dolor de cabeza, pero el subjuntivo es más dificil.

May I remind everyone of CipherSaber, intended for exactly this kind of suppression.. async has already posted the algorithm (RC4); all that is needed is the specifics of the file format and any programmer with rudimentary skills can whip up a CipherSaber in a day, or less. I did, in C, in about an hour, plus ten minutes to debug. It's all on the web; if push comes to shove the information could be passed by word of mouth.

They can never eliminate encryption; it's just math. What's next, banning trigonometry, because it could let you calculate the proper angle to launch a missile?

the scenery is here, wish you were beautiful

16 Sep 2001 (updated 16 Sep 2001 at 07:53 UTC) »
Night/Morning. (2 AM, 16 Sep 2001)

those who cannot remember the past...

I've been preparing for the upcoming war by listening to songs from other wars...

One, two, three, what are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn
The next stop is Vietnam
Five, six, seven, open up the Pearly Gates
Ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee, we're all gonna die
(Country Joe and the Fish, "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag")

I just realized... you could replace all of the references to "Vietnam" and "Viet Cong" in that song with the modern equivalents, "Afghanistan" and "Al Qaeda"... and it would be perfectly true... even though it'd sound stupid. Just shows to prove what George Santayana said: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Why can no one remember Vietnam, and the hellacious ass-kicking we recieved?

You can't win a war if you can't tell who the enemy is.

Calculus test Monday. I'm woefully unprepared, but I think I have a general grasp on the material. I just need to reread the chapter and remember a few key formulas.

Spanish test Thursday. Espero que sacaré una buena nota.

Well, it's well on its way to normality. About half of the broadcast stations have stopped covering the tragedy 24/7 and have begun to show 'normal' programming.

It's strange.. I haven't written any code, which depresses me, which makes me less likely to write code, which depresses me more, which makes me less likely to write code... and so on... Maybe I should just force myself to write... something.

I'm terrified of what could happen on Monday morning. I saw reports from foreign markets that Disney stock is down 20%. If that happens here, my dad could lose his job...

That scares me more than threats of war. A depression would be... depressing. (/me defenestrates himself.)

love America or give it back

15 Sep 2001 (updated 16 Sep 2001 at 04:08 UTC) »

God bless the usa

I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I gladly stand up next to you
And defend her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt, I love this land
God Bless the USA
(Lee Greenwood, "God Bless the USA")
striving for normality
I apologize in advance for what I'm about to say; if it offends you, I'm sorry.

I'm sick and tired of hearing about the attack. I take that back; I'm sick of hearing about it non-stop. In my not-so-humble opinion, it's about time to stop broadcasting news 24/7 and begin to introduce the normal television lineup again.

It's not that I don't want to hear about what happened, but when you've heard about how rescue workers are writing their names on their bodies for the twentieth time, you know the subject's been covered well enough.

I know some of you will cry, "What if something happens?" The stations could continue their constant news-ticker that runs along the bottom of the screen, and if anything major happens, they can always interrupt with a special report.

My problem is, this news is draining me emotionally. Usually, when that happens, I turn on the TV and watch some mindless entertainment... but now, they've taken that from me.

Anyway, that's just my opinion.

Update: Most stations are beginning to reintroduce their standard programming lineup. Not all, but most.

an as-yet-unnamed project
No coding done. I'm still trying to figure out how to begin.
For some reason, it didn't compile right. I'm not sure why. I'll try the 0.9.4 binary build.

One of my professors upgraded to Netscape 6.1 on her Win95 machine the other day. I can barely tell the difference between the two browsers; whatever changes they made, it couldn't have been much.

I barely bother to comb it anymore; nothing I do seems to keep it in line. I think it'll look good when it's long, but right now, it looks like crap.

I'm trying to grow a goatee too. It's not going so well. My hair just doesn't grow fast enough. Besides, if I go in for a job interview, I'll shave it off and get a haircut.

fake ids
Well, it's not a "fake ID"... but I got dinged for using a printout of the barcode on my real ID instead of digging it out of my wallet. They honestly didn't believe that the barcode was simply the social security number, in Codabar, with start code A and stop code B. I had to show them that when I typed "a078051120b" (not my real SSN, and not valid, either) into Barcode Mill it produced the same barcode.

So far, no disciplinary action has been taken, and I doubt it will. Besides, what can they get me for? I'm using my own barcode, and if anyone had asked, I could have presented my ID anyway.

None so far... Monday I'll follow up on the two at the school.

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." -- Albert Einstein


still there are no words for this

re: esr
In regard to the "ESR doesn't speak for me!" craze: ESR does speak for me. While I found the article slightly disturbing, I found more fault with his timing than with his message.
I've decided against "Yack" as a name. It's just too close to yacc for my comfort, down to the "yet another" part. (BTW, "yack" stood for "Yet Another Checkin Kiosk", in case you didn't decipher it yourself.)

So, I'm looking for a better name. Suggestions are welcome.

In other news, chances aren't good that I'll be able to get the information I need to finish the project. However, what I can do is to create some sort of stub, say get_user_info(), that the school can replace with whatever they currently use. Same with log_checkin(). I don't know why this hasn't hit me before...

Compiling goes a lot faster when you don't have to swap.

o/~ and i won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me o/~


(I apologize for the long, non open source related entry. I think you all understand why, though.)

day that will live in infamy

They don't call 'em "terrorists" for nothing. I felt true terror today for the first time in... well, for the first time that I remember. And I'm in Florida, nowhere near New York or Washington, DC.

The moment that stands out in my mind is when I was watching the reports of the damage to the first tower, and saw the second plane hit. My thoughts instantly changed from "what an unfortunate accident" to "holy shit, they're attacking us".

That's when I realized we aren't as invulnerable as we think we are. That's also when I realized nothing would really be the same.

En route to school, I listened to reports on the radio. When I heard that the towers had collapsed, I cried. I admit it.

I had one class today before the school got shut down. In class, I could almost forget the carnage and the panic; they were merely a horrifying work of fiction.

Just before I got to class, a question hit me: what will this do to our economy? I know it sounds cold to be worried about 'mere' dollars when there are people dying, but during the Depression in the 1930s, many people were dying because of a lack of 'mere dollars'.

I fear it could happen again.

Everybody seems to compare this to Pearl Harbor. There is one major difference, though; at Pearl Harbor we knew who our enemies were. Now, even though we think we know who did this, we don't know where he is, or what he's doing.

I mean, if we can put a cruise missle through a keyhole from hundreds of miles away, why can't we find this son of a bitch and bring him to justice?

I've been spending some time reading the Bible again. We don't know; this could be a single, isolated event, or it could be the beginning of the end.

Nuclear war has been my fear since the start of this whole tragedy. They attack us, we attack them, they attack us more, we step up the firepower, then someone pulls out the nukes.

How do you stop someone like this? The terrorist knows he is going to die anyway, so threats of death don't work. I guess I just don't know.

I'm afraid to go to sleep, afraid that if I don't wake up, the people I love won't know it. When I say "I love you" at the end of a phone call, I mean it, but do they know that I mean it, or do they think that I'm just repeating the phrase? Am I just repeating the phrase?

We are at war, with an enemy we cannot see and cannot fight. I'm going to go to bed and pray that my loved ones and I don't become collateral damage.

My prayers are with those who died today, and those who love them.

No witty comment today. Only sadness and fear.



There. It's named. Sort of.

After hours (ok, minutes) of careful consideration, I chose "Yack" for the name of the checkin kiosk system I'm writing. (yes, yes, it's yet another "yet another"...)

It wasn't long before someone reminded me about yacc, though... so I'll probably change it soon. It fits, though... working with the old one makes me want to yack.

As I found out, the current checkin system is just an Access frontend. I found this out by going to the Documents menu (they didn't disable the taskbar, just auto-hid it).

Tomorrow, I'll get in touch with the guy in charge to see if he'll provide me with the info I need to finish Yack. I doubt it, though.. people are really secretive around here.

Another problem I've encountered is how to create a looping series of dialogs with GTK. My current idea is simply to put the initial dialog creation and gtk_main() into a for(;;) loop... but that seems awfully inelegant. Any ideas?

Also, how would I recieve keystrokes without having to have a text entry box visible? The barcode scanner my school uses simply acts as though the digits had been typed, and the current system, with the text box, is ugly.

Originally, I had grand, sweeping ideas for Yack. You know, the kind where it's the only system people ever use, because it's so expandable and configurable. Then I realized just how hard it would be to code that.

Now I'm just going to make an app that does what this school needs and leave it at that. If anyone else wants to modify it, go ahead, once I'm done.

social life
None at present.

Currently, "getting out" means going to Wal-Mart with my ten-year-old friend. (I'm 19. The closest people to my age that live near me are either <10 or >30. I associate better with the ten-year-olds. Don't ask why, I don't know.)

I asked the girl I've been tutoring out to a movie, but she's always busy. She works evenings during the week, and studies and goes to church on the weekends. No time there for anything else, apparently.

I'm tempted to buy a seasonal pass to Disney World, so I won't have to use up Dad's gate pass admissions. Currently I go about once every two months, but that's mostly because I don't want to waste tickets. With a seasonal pass, I could go daily if I wanted to, except for the block-out dates, and Dad's tickets work almost all of that time (except for New Year's Eve).

war and peace and long entries
I know I write long entries. I've been writing long entries for a while now. No one's ever complained to me about them. If you don't like them, let me know, OK?

I don't see why mirwin would need to have an alternate account, though. It's not like there are any per-account restrictions (that I know of)...

Tried installing the Mozilla 0.9.3 packages from Debian Sid. However, Mozilla wouldn't start. Now, I'm going to get the source (while on my school's connection) and compile it at home.
Got 256 more megabytes of RAM the other day. Now I'm up to 384 MB... the old Mozilla was orders of magnitude faster than before... but how could I have been memory-starved with 128 MB?

Also bought Soldier of Fortune. (Windows version, sorry.) That is one hell of a game... I don't know why I didn't get it earlier.

The computer lab staff don't care what I do, as long as it's all run from the Zip drive and not installed to the hard drive, and not against their published rules (ssh isn't). At least that's what they're claiming. And it's also subject to change depending on their whims.

i love this fucking school and this school loves fucking me

83 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!