jmelesky is currently certified at Apprentice level.

Name: john melesky
Member since: 2000-07-24 18:33:46
Last Login: 2011-10-06 02:29:16

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Homepage: http://phaedrusdeinus.org/

Notes: NB The following description is ten years old, and untended since that time:

I am one of the nameless many who has contributed little/no sourcecode, but much in the way of advice and user support. I've been involved with HTML::Mason and FreeBSD in such minor capacities recently.

The tragedy of my life is that i disdain Perl, and yet rely on it for my livelihood. *sigh*

AI is my primary non-work interest, specifically coaxing computers into generating something vaguely recognizable as music. I've used a number of languages towards this end, but mostly Scheme, and most recently (and with much coolness) Python.

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Earlier today, a coworker asked me to give him some help because he was no longer able to commit to the cvs repository. Didn't have permission or somesuch.

I check several things on our repository server. Yep, he's part of that group, yep, that project has the right ownership and right permissions, yep, the partition hasn't randomly filled up.

So i sit down in front of his terminal, and he mentions casually that he's been toying around with ksh. Huh?

Given that, i check to see if the alias he was trying to use even existed. It didn't.

"Yeah, and a bit with tcsch, too."

This was met with a full-on eyebrow raising.

So i logged him out of his current shell. And was dropped into another one.

Then i did it again. This time i received the prompt "[\U][\w]:", which was darkly amusing.

Again. I get a "%". Cute.

Again. Again. Again, cycling through a couple permutations of the prompt, and again. Until i had finally managed to get back to his original login shell.

I counted up and realized he had nested over ten shells deep away from his original login. I looked askance in his general direction.

He grinned, a bit embarassed, and waved me away, thanking me and offering assurance that he wouldn't run off into shell-land like that again.

Which wasn't really what i wanted, but hey.





Ten nested shells!

Grraaah. Such is the price of ethicality, or something.

See, there's a good chance i'm about to lose my job. Specifically, there's a good chance i'm about to lose my job over something stupid, over my stubbornness and their stubbornness and the lack of compromise.

I'd been working here for some five months when i realized that i didn't remember filling out a List of Prior Inventions. So i checked with HR to see if i had signed an NDA or confidentiality agreement or whatever. Turns out i hadn't, so they handed me one and told me to look it over, sign it, and return it.

I actually read it. And it was absurdly broad, laying claim to all intellectual property that i create during my time of employment. So i pointed it out, pointed out why it was wrong, and made some suggestions to remedy.

In return, they informed me that they weren't going to change it.

Of course, it really isn't that big a deal, since, legally, they wouldn't be able to successfully lay claim to something which wouldn't also be covered by a more appropriately narrow agreement. But legal atmospheres change, and many of these sorts of disagreements don't make it to actual legal action anyhow, and i'm beginning to feel leaned on by their attempts to get me to sign, and it's all just a big, nasty headache.

And, it goes without saying, the whole thing is a good deal more complicated than i'm presenting it. It's just frustrating to hear people tell me "Yeah, you're absolutely in the right on this one, but sign it anyway because we're not going to change it."

Bleah.

sphair : I think you're talking about gumption, not inspiration. Inspiration is great for realizing the solution to a problem. Gumption is needed to actually implement that solution.

On that note, if i may be so bold to dispense some advice, i would recommend forgetting about it for a bit. When i find that i'm slacking off at work and avoiding my computer at home, i try to take a step back and relax. Then i find something that's completely unrelated to what i should be working on, and let myself get into it. It's good for releasing tension, and lets you be productive on something, which can help you go back to being productive on whatever you were supposed to be doing in the first place.

In fact, i end up doing alot of my fun stuff that way, as a decompressor before hitting the stuff people are expecting from me. Stream of the Web came into existence that way. Give it a shot.

And good luck. :)

raph : The boys at Berlin are definitely dealing with the sort of resolution problems you're worried about. All things drawn to the screen are defined in terms of actual size, not virtual size (inches vs. pixels).

For those of you who don't know, Berlin is endeavouring to be a windowing system that can replace X. Whether or not you think this is a good idea, you should check it out (and possibly even offer to help).

aigeek: Probabilistic grammars are equivalent to Markov chains when the grammar is the trivial case, which is where i am at the moment. ;-)

Seriously, though, my opinion is still that there are plenty of other people in the world writing music generators that are based on Markov-ing and probabilistic grammars (which i generally consider the logical next step), who've been doing it longer and better than i. What i'm working towards involves more on the structural level, more play with themes and motifs, which i'm not convinced work well with those tools. And, besides, i'd much rather make it up as i go along (i came up with all of the ideas behind this project independently so far. only after i had been fiddling for a while did someone point out the similarity between what i was doing and Markov chaining.).

It's certainly the case that doing something from scratch can lead you to reproducing other peoples' work, which is generally considered inefficient, redundant, and bad. On the other hand, knowing a given solution to a problem can often limit your thinking about that problem to ways in which the solution is applicable (give a person a hammer, and everything starts looking like a nail. give someone hash tables native in a language, and they'll use them everywhere -- even when a tree or queue might be more appropriate.). I wanted to go into this project with as few preconceptions as possible. If i reproduced work, so be it. If not, then maybe i'd have stumbled on a novel, useful technique.

Of course, if this were a systems project or something similarly complicated and mission-critical, i'd definitely be grabbing as much outside info as possible. But it's an AI project, so i can do as i please...

That said, probabilistic grammars are something that interest me (in their natural language applications, as opposed to musical). Can you recommend any books on the topic?

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