Older blog entries for fatjim (starting at number 15)

I'm writing this in mozilla.. I like it a lot; but I'd like it better if it used a native widget set, rather than their own silly stuff. The html (is that right) dialogs are excellent though.

Finished writing the philosophy essay which will count for much of my final mark in that class. Thanks to everyone on gimpnet who helped out with critcism and proofreading! I've got more imaginary cookies any time you like.

Feeling better about not having time to do any work on fun projects like entity. Got to talk to slow yesterday and even if I'm not doing anything, I got to talk as though I was.

During the IRC session where I was selling my imaginary cookies for proofreading, I got into a talk with a guy in #ai on EFNet who told me that real, thinking AI had been done back in 1977 by Roger Schank in a program called SAM. He also managed to fit in some conspiracy theories about the government and universities hiding it from us. And, on top of all that, he works for Microsoft (yes, I checked this).. Wow. What a night. :)

After reading Graydon's web pages again, I've borrowed "Introduction to functional programming with Haskell" from the library. Already, near page 30, my brain is fried. Haskell (and functional languages, i suppose) are for people who know their math. I'm going to stick it out though, because I can see some of the advantages it has.. plus, "Haskell" will look good on a resume when everyone else is putting down "JavaScript". Chuckle.

So that's about it. Oh, set up MySQL and some python scripts for a database for a friend. He'd been struggling for weeks trying to get their database web-ified.. hoo boo, that guy has got to learn to stop biting off more then he can chew.. he always bullshits himself into situations like this. Oh well; it was fun getting used to MySQL and writing simple brute force python scripts.

Wrote a better CSV parser than the csv module in the vaults of parnassus. Will upload it if anyone reminds me to.

Wrote some stuff for philosophy.. I really think that anyone who is taken in by Searle's "Chinese Room" argument is a bit of a bonehead.

Updated web page a little bit.. try going to simulation and playing with the toy there. I fixed the silly permissions problem with the second story. And I've discovered a zillion bugs of the kind that don't happen when you don't code at 4am.

Once I get Python-MySQL installed under Debian, this'll all be good. (there's something wrong with the dependancies for it.. it told me that I had to remove netstd and proftpd to install python-mysql.. a bit odd)

Finally some progress on the work-for-money front. Some meaning a tiny, insignificant amount; but that amount is > 0, so I'm somewhat happy. IF we ever get moving on this, we should have a sensible, usable solution.. IF.

So. Tim 'decided not to go'... I'm wondering what the hell is going on.. I wish I knew stuff about offices and sales and shit so I didn't need to deal with him.. he's a salesman down to the soul (The only reason he's trying to get into IT is because he doesn't want to work too hard. HAHAHAHA..)

On a totally different note.. I've decided to renew my quest to get my DECserver 300 working as a terminal server to my dingy old vt220. Right now, the vt is hooked to the serial port of my box via a long chain of extension cables (ie, lots of transmission problems). I could reduce that to one single good cable, connected to the DECserver, which would be connected to the machine with a good, highspeed (!) ethernet cable..

Does anyone know about these things? As far as I understand, I need a MOP (acronym unknown) server to send it a system image, and a copy of that system image itself. Any ideas?

I'm dropping a class. It's pretty damned late in the year, but it took me this long to admit that I neither enjoyed nor had any talent for the subject.. too bad, 'cause future classes in that vein (linguistics) look exceptionally interesting. Oh well - there's always books. The only thing is, it's pretty late for dropping a class. So I get to choose between a "Withdraw/Fail" (counts as 30%) or an actualy 30-45%. (No, there's no way I'm gonna pass.)


Almost forget; the new logo is neat! Kinda feels a little out-of-place with the traditional simple-box aesthetic of advogato; but - now we have a mascot. And when people from other online communities come and say we're being overzealous, or disrespecting them (ie, slashdot), then we can point to the mouse and say, "The mascot made us do it!"

Or maybe I'm very tired.

Much last-minute-rush coding for school. I need to get a new desk - all of my bones are literally aching. Sharp pain. I'm going to bed.

Tim hasn't called yet. Bad sign?

In a bad mood. Had a though: if I don't do well in university, and become a bonafide (if not exceptional) Computer Science /researcher/ of some sort; then what I'll end up as is a code monkey.

I wouldn't mind that; except that my father looks at code monkeys as mechanincs - they were respected and well-paid when cars were new and mysterious. But now that cars are everyday items, a mechanic has a tought life, from zero to negative respect, fairly poor pay, and worst; a servile job.

I don't want my father to look at me like I went to school just to become a mechanic. I at least want to make it to the engineer's-helper stage.

So... Tommorow Tim (the business guy) is doing the presentation to the company that I did the mock up for.. last-minute hijinx of showing him how to install it and demo the features (extremely slim, just enough to show that we are able and willing to build what they need) and realizing that I had forgotten to save a few minor updates kept us until 11:30. Yowza.

I *hope* they go for it; no matter what we decide on for price, it's money I very much need. I've promised myself that I won't go take another mindless shift-job; last year's ordeal at the security monitoring place nearly left me braindead. If we don't get this contract, there's a few more options to try in the contracting vein, and after that I'll go around selling myself to whatever tech-related company will look at me (incidentally, If you want to hire me (which you don't, 'cause you don't know anything about me), just mail me.) Or maybe I'll try to get a job at the school's computing dept. ... though their budget is pretty slim right now.

I've been missing a lot of school lately; It's not keeping my interest. I seem to devour the textbooks for the first month or so of a class, then realize that i'll have to spend the next few months having it re-read to me. English class is better; the discussions are never on-topic and predicable.

That's it for the diary. Very little hacking done, sadly.

Changed my relation with the Entity project record here on advogato because I'm really not contributing anything right now. I'd like to, but everytime I think of something neat to do, there's a million school and work related things to do.. (or else I go out and spend time with Joanna, which I enjoy even more then I enjoy bashing out code!)

Did some more work on the mock-up. Realized two things:

  1. This mock-up is going to become the finished software, so I'd better not get too loose with the silly hacks.
  2. Delphi sucks a lot less than I felt it did yesterday.
The reasons for delphi sucking less are also twofold (binary thinker, can't help it):

  1. Pascal has a very fun syntax. I *love* its blocks, and any language which has a "with" construct deserves recognition. Borland's extensions to the official language are both efficient and aethetically pleasing.. not an easy thing to do when you are adding the amount of stuff to it that they added.
  2. Delphi's "Data Aware" Components. At first, I thought this was a silly buzzword. But after getting this little mockup working smoothly with a real database inside of two days, I've changed my opinion to the opposite pole. (or maybe to the equator..hmm..)

I'm actually considering (when I get some free time) implementing a similar data-awareness framework in python (or C, using GOB?).. hmmm. Perhaps this would make a nice Entity hack...

On another note, I've been burned by Windows again. It crashed before I could save a (to me) wonderful drawing in Painter. I *NEED* to make gimp do at least the following tools from it:

  • Sable brush.
  • Oil Paint.
  • Oil Pastel.
  • Canvas texture.
  • Canvas lighting.
  • Color variability.
  • Canvas rotation-while-working.

Thats a large list of stuff, and I'll be lucky if I manage to even crack gimp's layers of code and get to understanding how it works. But .. sure would be fun!

Radagast and Radph seem to have understood the whole "tribes" thing from my entry of the 25th far better than I do. I'm gonna stop thinking my own thoughts and just read the writings of the intelligent people.

Did some work on a mock-up program for a presentation to a client. Did it in Delphi. Learned that Delphi sucks major, major ass..

Delphi seems to be something managers would want to buy for the programmers under them.. It's hype- and buzzword-approved, and on the surface seems to make the coder's life easier. This illusion is helped by the (large) books which describe how simple it really is (without bothering to mention that it took the author X years of sustained learning to be able to make it look that easy.)

At the end of the day, I'd rather have to code stuff myself - even the boring stuff - than have to fight with the way crazy-ass RAD tools want to do it. Does anyone else feel this way?

I'm definitely not going to do this project using Delphi; even if I get enough aquainted with it's ontology to use it, I can't stand it's editor (Emacs has ruined me for accepting other environments :P).

I've decided that I should switch to Python (something I already know far better) and use a cross-platform GUI library so that I can develop on my own Debian system. wxWindows gets good reviews; is this a good solution?

On the more personal side, I missed two full days of university. They got eaten up in the attempt to put myself on a regular sleep schedule after being in vampire mode during the break this past week. I'm a moron for missing so many classes.

I also had a weird fight with Joanna. We disagreed on some stupid issue, then for some reason decided a good response would be to not speak to eachother for the next half hour. All this while sitting right next to each other. I almost took a bus home with my spirits in a very muddy mood, but (thankfully!) good sense came back to both of us and we managed to make up. Phew!

hmm. Web hacking is one quarter fun (thinking up entertaining diversions) and eight quarters annoying (figuring out how that latest error snuck past your error-detection-and-html-ification routines AGAIN)..


what was wrong with BBSs, where all I had to do was write ANSI codes?

oh well

it's 8 am, and i've been piddling all night. so, bedtime.

this has been another boring, wasteful diary entry from . . . . .

................ fatjim

Hmmm. No further action yet on the steel company contract. I don't like that.

Also, I wanted a harmonica today; but my good one broke and I think I lost my cheap one. So I'll have to buy a new one now..

I think that the trust-metric 'incident' serves to show us once more that large tight-knit communities don't scale. In fact, because few of us get the chance to meet each other in person, online communities scale even more poorly than ones where every one is physically present.

I'm reminded of a set of books by Daniel Quinn (called "The Story of B", and "Ishmael" I think). He talks about a lot of things in them, but one thing he does mention is the way societies scale.

Basically, the gist of his idea was that by wanting a single, large community/society, we're putting all our eggs in one basket. It doesn't fit every one and every thing. And if the tack chosen by the single large community has flaws, then the whole community self-destructs.

I think that's an interesting comment on any large group of people; from societies to companies to groups of friends; to web-communities. The problem faced by Slashdot and now Advogato is that they view the community as monolithic, a single block of voices. This can lead people to dislike (or hate) others for not sharing their ideas - it makes the group look bad. So the group splinters and becomes bitter and resentful (take a look at north american society.. every one is bitter and many think the solution is forced conformity)

So; large communities don't work well. But small ones do! Quinn mentions Tribes, so I'll use that word here. Don't think of it as "primitives", just as "small, fairly tight-knit groups." We already have tribes; for example, everyone working on a small project has a sort of tribe composed of the other hackers obsessed with it.

Thinking of "Tribes" rather than "THE Free Software movement" or "THE open source community" relieves a lot of the stress; like minds can join together and share ideas. In a small group, the unwritten rules are far better known; there is less misunderstanding.

Hmm. Oh well, it's something to think about.

Look! I'm changing the past! Retroactive editing is a silly idea. That's what preview buttons are for, people!

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