Older blog entries for pulp (starting at number 7)

URL Repair

Didel, that's www.sinfest.net, not sinfest.com. Tsk tsk. :)

school

It's 2 a.m. and I'm still up, probably will be until sometime about 3 this coming afternoon, and it's for bullcrap that I have no interest in. I resent being compelled to slog away at out-of-major projects just to prove that I'm capable of diverse disciplines. I'd much rather be hacking away at some openGL (new toy, but no time to play with it because of all my other stuff) than wrestling with buggy and feature-bloated GIS software. WPI's IQP program may sound good on paper, but everyone I've talked to has hated their IQP (Interactive Qualifying Project).

And I'm sick. Dammit.

school -- hacking

Other, less arduous and spirit sucking project is just getting started; some friends and I are going to create a (hopefully) platform independent (gl and glut based, perhaps gtk for toolkit) VRML parser, viewer and modeler. Funny, since everyone seems to have decided that VRML is dead, but we're doing it anyway. Should be interesting and educational, at least.

job

Don't have one anymore, at least not for a few months. School ought to be a bit more sane now, though I'll be mourning my paycheck for a while.

politics

Hesitent to get involved with this, but maj's recent comment struck a chord.

I can't speak for San Francisco, so I'll grant the unlikely possibility that it is an utterly different world down there, but the majority of the homeless in Portland, Oregon are not their by virtue of "lifestyle choices." I'm not clear exactly what choices maj was talking about, but growing up poor, having lousy education options, and having no available housing options is not a willful act.

A few years ago, several hundred otherwise Respectable Citizens got kicked out of their low-income housing in the downtown area because a hotel developer bought up the two blocks housing said apartments. These people have to deal with the fact that they cannot afford housing *anywhere* in the city. Boom, Homeless. If some small portion of them can magically spawn higher-paying careers, great, but the rest are screwed until some other option comes along (especially since it can be very difficult to keep your job when you don't have anywhere to sleep or keep/clean your clothes). They can't even camp out in tents because the police break up the camp sites, regardless of circumstance and the behavior of the campers.

A lot of those kids on the street with the nice jackets are holding onto the jackets as solace for the fact they had to leave home or get raped/the shit kicked out of them by abusive parents.

We do have food kitchens, shelters, free missions for junkies trying to get clean; there are some options available to people, if the people know how to get at them and can beat the rush. The capacity of these programs is, however, significantly lower than the supply of people without homes, places to sleep and means to purchase food.

I will not try to make the argument that our homeless are worse off than the poverty crowd in third world nations. I honestly haven't done any responsible research into conditions in other countries, but I'm willing to believe that things can get worse than sleeping on benches and bumming change for a Snickers bar. The reason I can speak up about the homeless is that I've actually spent time with them, had genuine human contact (aside from "yeah, here, have a dollar") with a lot of them. Anyone who tries to argue that the homeless tend to be so by choice are either misinformed or looking at the world from a very strange angle.

Being homeless is pretty terrible; it eats away at otherwise normal, healthy people. Vices usually come after homelessness, because, aside from the emotionally crushing circumstances of having no place to go back to at night, there isn't anything to do. We're talking about extreme boredom, an incredibly dull cycle of long, empty days. This, too, eats at a person. Most people do not have the drive and self-motivation of an Ayn Rand character, so being in the dumps isn't something they can casually claw out of.

Think what you like about all this; I take it a bit personally, so I'm sure this has been a bit ranty. maj's comments aren't utterly out of line, but the only refer to a minority share of the homeless. Try spending a week eating out of and sleeping next to a dumpster if you're really having trouble concieving of how bad homelessness can be.

Desperate itch to code something interesting.

Been taking Graphics at WPI; enjoying the hell out of it, and having a really good time coding for the first time in a long while.

I just might get around to hacking together a 3D openGL interface for Nethack. No Diablo-esque graphics or anything; I'm thinking more of a beautifully lit, rotatable and zoomable matrix of extruded fixed-width text characters. Seems more in the spirit of the game than a collection of crude models, and it'll be an easy starting point. Future ideas (that is, post-future future) include doing nice simple animated models for much of the architecture, handling elevation (pits, levitation, water), perhaps some basic models for armor and weapon types, maybe even dog and cat models.

Don't know if Nethack fans on average would consider this horrifying or wonderful. Kinda hoping for both.

Work:

(Background: first real coding job, doing perl stuff for a dot com; no prior practical experience jumping into someone else's large pile of code, and its been intimidating as hell for a while. I've been here a month now and until this last week I haven't even really been hacking on the Big Project I was ostensibly hired to help with. Weird politics, etc; spent the last several weeks getting to know the various systems (pile of Linux boxes with a couple NT machines running the Tango drek that our site still relies on (to top which off, Tango is being sold by Pervasive, the company responsible for it, which means we're just that much more fucked)) and coding up a couple varyingly convoluted newsfeed parser/poster perl scripts to stock our database with a less-reliable version of information that folks who care will go to the original site for anyway. So, daunting or not, it's rather a relief to be diving into this big old project.)

So I've been squashing bugs this week. In the process, I seem to have cracked through the ethereal layer of grok that was erstwhile making me feel like I didn't know anything about Perl or programming or logic. Big relief.

So now, if things are as the seem, our users will (a) actually get visual notification if their messages' mail headers claim them to be, respectively, "Highest" priority. Does anyone use this? At all? I grew up on the Net relatively ignorant to header contents (just learned the nitty-gritty on USENET headers last week on a whim; x-no-archive makes a lot of sense), so maybe I just never thought about it, but I don't think I've ever gotten a "priority" mail in my life.

Also, when a user deletes a folder, they will no longer have all of their mail in their main inbox deleted from the server.

That last issue is, as far as I understand it, *still* an issue in the original product on which we're hacking. Need to check this out, let them know.

I suppose that when/if this product ever gets around to not sucking, I might post the URL or something. But dammit, it's utterly commercial and blah, so maybe not. Kinda hard to be too proud of something that you manage to convert from bloated, inconsistently written pile of crap that doesn't work to s/n't//.

Commute:

Hell on earth. I go from Worcester (MA) to Providence (RI) and back, 3 days a week (telecommuting teus and thurs to save my sanity). Shouldn't be a problem, it's only a 45 minute drive, an hour with traffice, right?

But, well, I don't have a car. I'm dead broke and trying to pay for my senior year of college, starting in about three weeks, so buying one is out. Satan hasn't been returning my calls, so that angle won't work either.

But hey, no car? No problem. Public transit is the answer. Take a bus/train/vanpool to and from work, it's that simple, right?

But, well, there aren't any direct public tranportation solutions between Worcester and Providence, at least not that I've found in a month of looking (someone, please prove me wrong...).

So what do I do? I get up in the morning (5:30), walk a brisk mile to the train station, catch the 6:12 MBTA train to South Station in Boston, get on a 7:30 Bonanza Bus to Providence (no MBTA trains go into Providence from Boston between 7:00 and noon), catch a RIPTA bus to workplace, get to work about 9:00.

Going home is about the same, except no Bonanza because there is a 5:55 MBTA from Providence to South Station. Leave work at 5:30, get home about 9:00.

Whole thing (monthly MBTA zone 9 pass, 2 Bonanza 10-Passes, Providence RIPTA bus fare) costs me close to $300 a month, too. Gas would be less, and we've got parking at work so I wouldn't be paying for that. Gar. Of course, work in insurance (21, male, no drivers ed) and I'm probably breaking out ahead as is.

I think it's 45 miles between Worcester and Providence. In three hours, that's 15 miles an hour. If I was in good shape, I could bike that. Arg.

Hacking:

I wish. Any suggestions?

Other:

Don't have time/energy for other right now. Gar.

Relief. I think I'll hush up for a while now.

Addendum: ambivalence persists.

Contemplating my own memetic role in the possible (and in the case of success, wholly unfortunate) dilution of Advogato's signal-to-noise ratio. Not really expecting to contribute immediately to the good stuff this site contains and discusses, but there is always hope.

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