Older blog entries for sjanes71 (starting at number 75)

Quadra      I've taken to emerge -C quadra when I need to get some work done and then emerge quadra when I feel the urge... the time it takes to compile gives me some more time to do real work. I think I've got a serious problem. :) The serious skills that these players show makes me think I'm playing the game wrong-- they must be modeling the state of the game in their head and just watching and dropping the blocks at the top.

Regular Expressions     Now have a short python fragment that figures out and scores "proper names" of a particular format found in a string. it's helping me get used to Python (which is pleasing to program in, you write something that seems plausible and then you are pleasantly suprised that it works.) The more interesting part of the project is going to involve the management of lots of different regular expressions as they are used.

Quadra     Surely, this is the Solitaire of Linux-- and it's cross platform, and you can play against other people over the network. I'd better put it away for now or I'll never get anything done. The huge high scores I've seen make me wonder if those players are really that good or if someone put a robot on the game. Watching the replay (one of the nice things about Quadra) is helpful for learning new strategy however, bot or not.

Television     What's that?

Nethack     Run away! Run away!

I'll just go back to my books and sleep for a bit-- I'm none too happy about having an hour and a half of my life wasted in traffic yesterday-- however, I did get through reading about 80 pages of Bitter Java while waiting in traffic, but it's not very much fun reading and driving at the same time.

26 Feb 2003 (updated 26 Feb 2003 at 15:20 UTC) »
Joe Celko's Trees in SQL; amars, obi, jbucata     I've personally implemented a flavor of the nested set representation and it is indeed very fast on queries for subsets and parents (the supervisors problem discussed in the other article)-- but starts to get very very slow on inserts, and especially with PostgreSQL, transaction loads start to get very large with all of the shifting of the number line as you insert into the tree. Now the pointer to the other article that includes the materialized path representation is something else to consider. I'm going to look at that regarding some of my own hierarchical libraries (which I haven't been using very often recently because of other work-demands.)

Regular Expressions     Together with XSLT, is going to create something very special for me and hopefully for everyone else as well-- something somewhat related to Alvin Toffler's Third Wave. I need to win the lottery so I can do this more "interesting" work without losing my house. Let's say for the moment, that we are not making our computers do enough of the work in the information economy and they absolutely don't have to get it 100% right all the time with semantic understanding as long as you can weight what the computer does with some kind of confidence rating. A lot of what heuristic anti-spam software does is creating technology that could be better used elsewhere. What's the best heuristic anti-spam software out there if it is not SpamAssassin? I don't think that SpamAssassin is the best antispam tool available because of how it trys to kill the spam-- I think Tagged Message Delivery Agent has the best solution-- but I do think that there is some very interesting alternative applications for the same technology.

Meetup: ww.meetup.com     What a cool site. Out of curiosity I followed a link that mentioned the "Slashdot Meetup." I haven't searched for any other meetups other than Python and Advogato and there were some meetups for Python. Advogato seems like a community that could have use for meetups. The best thing about meetups is perhaps, the thought that we don't have to have a Linux World, or PyCon, or CodeCon to bring great people together.

SyncML     Downloaded all the PDFs. I'm a glutton for reading-punishment. I've got a stack of books checked out from the library and dozens of PDF's saved for future reference.

Libraries     Don't neglect your library-- just because you can clickypointy Amazon doesn't mean that you couldn't just get it for free from the library. One of the books that I checked out that's on my "list" to read is Bitter Java and I'm already halfway through Technomanifestos.

25 Feb 2003 (updated 25 Feb 2003 at 19:19 UTC) »
Installing Netscape 4.79 (clarified)    I feel so dirty. The number of times I've been interrupted by pop-ups from the browser asking me to make it become more a part of my system is extremely annoying. I have to install it because some organizations think it's too hard to deploy a newer browser (maybe because of all the dialogs and pop-ups?). I think someone in the IT staff just isn't being honest with their organization-- you can absolutely bet they are not using Netscape 4.x on their "personal" machine. I really don't care to make web pages "compatible" with 4.x if I have to make the pages "non-standard" to acheive a certain look and feel on the 5.x browsers. This "lust" for pixel-by-pixel control over web content that everyone wants and the problems of cross-browser support should be a sign that the web isn't Intended To Be A Platform.

Mathmatics     I've been reading whenever I can from http://planetmath.org/, which has become one of my reference bookmarks.

Python      This could probably use some casting or perhaps use of the Number classes, but I'm not sure that I like how IMDB calculates their ranks anymore after playing with the formula.

def weighted_rank(v,R,m,C):
   """From http://us.imdb.com/top_250_films :
The formula for calculating the top 250 films gives a true Bayesian estimate:
 weighted rank (WR) = (v / (v+m)) * R + (m / (v+m)) * C
 where:
  R = average for the movie (mean) = (Rating)
  v = number of votes for the movie = (votes)
  m = minimum votes required to be listed in the top 250 (currently 1250)
  C = the mean vote across the whole report (currently 6.9)
"""
   return (v / ( v + m ) ) * R +  ( m / ( v + m )  ) * C;

I played with this shortly after reading a little bit about the Advogato diary ranking system, hence also the interest in the PlanetMath site to understand Eigenvectors. At the moment I don't understand them well enough to compare to the IMDB estimate of rank.

New Mouse, New Harddrive     Upgraded the 10GB drive to a 60GB drive-- the process of migrating my Gentoo installation was pretty simple, the actions and command lines roughly as follows (and adding in a step where I forgot that /dev was it's own filesystem and ignored by tar, please realize that these are approximate command lines not intended to be used by anyone, only for ideas for migration.)
  1. install new drive as a slave, mkdir /mnt2
  2. create partitions, mount root drive under /mnt2 and /mnt2/boot
  3. tar -clSpf /boot - | (cd /mnt2/boot; tar -xpvf - )
  4. tar -clSpf / - | (cd /mnt2; tar -xpvf - )
  5. cp -Rpv /dev /mnt2/dev
  6. Make a Grub boot floppy, disconnect original drive and make the new slaved drive the master.
  7. Boot the floppy, use GRUB to install a boot loader
  8. reboot the new hard drive.
This should work pretty well. In this process I also converted from XFS to ext3 to see if that would help with concurrent disk-access latency. It took about 50 minutes to copy 9GB of data. This Western Digital drive is 10x quieter also. A bonus. I might start doing this every six-months or so for whatever $100 drive is on the market, and I'll never run out of disk space again. :)

The new mouse is a Logitech cordless optical. I accidentally bought a Logitech cordless "ball" mouse-- I thought Logitech had stopped making these dinosaurs. The only big issue I needed to do was turn down the accelleration factor to 1x from 4x. It seems that the Microsoft Intellimouse was rather "slow" or very high resolution or whatever. The biggest issue with that mouse however grew to its unreliability (mouse freezing during normal use.) Once you've had optical, you'll never buy a ball-mouse again. If only I could get a keyboard that is as worth as the optical mouse, something with real click.

Leo     Started playing with this outlining literate programming editor. I don't know how much I'll be using the tangle/weave in the future, but I really do like the outline editor itself-- better than Microsoft's outline mode in Word because there are keyboard shortcut equivalents for moving nodes around the hierarchy. It's written in Python and does not feel the slightest bit sluggish.

21 Feb 2003 (updated 21 Feb 2003 at 16:46 UTC) »
Search for Turbo Tax Alternatives     Thanks to the copy-protection issues of Turbo Tax, I'm looking for an alternative-- there was a site that I saw someone recommend that has free software to download-- you pay only for the electronic filing, which seems pretty fair to me. However, I can't remember the name of the site anymore so I've indirectly screwed myself. I will be sure to drop Turbo Tax a note detailing why I didn't use their product this year--I've used it two years in a row, the first time someone gave me an extra disc that Intuit mailed them, the second time I bought it-- in both cases I paid Intuit the electronic filing fee. I wouldn't think that everyone out there who "copied" their software wouldn't also pay for electronic filing so I don't understand why Intuit thinks they're losing so much money. Well, they lost $29.95+$19.95 from me when they introduced the risk of wiping out my bootloader. There are many other better ways of reducing lossage with software than trying to write some secret data-- I would have preferred even an activation style of protection ala Microsoft than some background process tying up resources watching a block on a disk drive somewhere. I wonder if it's http://www.taxact.com that I was thinking of. Now it looks like a free-download-- and you can even get a CD-ROM for free-- giving you the option to pay $10 for a desktop-calculator program called 10-key is the way to make your money selling a calculator along with a program that was designed to reduce the use of calculators. :) The other item of opportunity is a desktop assistant which is another $10. I wonder how much money they're making from people who think "Hey, they're giving this away, I should send them something." $5.95 is a little steep for shipping a CD-ROM, but I'll go with it because I don't feel like downloading it and burning my own CD. I'm lazy. But I like the model-- I'll burn copies of it and give it to all of my friends who usually use Turbo Tax. When you rain on everyone's parade, watch out for people with free weather control devices. However, if I start getting weird postal spam addressed to Simon Pataxactrick Janes, you'll hear it here first.

Bitstream Vera     The serif fonts are growing on me, I force Mozilla to use my fonts instead of whatever the page designer used. The issue is I'm using a 1600x1200 desktop and I need to force the font sizes up to a point where I can read anything. If I could get Mozilla to do the same for the Menus/Tabs/Bookmark buttons that would be great.

Disk Space Crunch     I've been limping by on 10GB. Such a sad thing to say. This weekend I'll probably pick up a 60GB or 80GB, whatever the size du-jour is for < $90.

A+ Certification     Have the book now, it's ridiculous that I would need to get one, but getting it is going to enable some future opportunities. I have the study materials for CCNA and CCNP as well, but never the time to do it.

Microsoft®
The High Performance Software
     Looking at this advertisment from UNIX/WORLD November 1985 and noticed that the Microsoft logo at that time had the AT&T deathstar motif for the middle-o. I didn't know that Microsoft had ever made a Fortran, Cobol, or Pascal compiler but this ad says they did.

The XENIX® market is taking off. To keep up you've got to convert your MS-DOS® software to run on the new, faster 80286 machines. Quickly. Efficiently.

Nobody makes porting software to the XENIX environment as easy as Microsoft; you simply recompile the original source code.

Our full-featured XENIX languages use commands and syntax identical to their MS-DOS siblings. So you don't have to rewrite your program to move it.

Whether your applications are written in Microsoft versions of Pascal, BASIC, COBOL of Fortran, we have the solution to your transportation problems. For the name of your nearest Microsoft dealer call (800) ...-..... In Washington State, Alaska, Hawaii and Canada call (206) ...-.....

Today it is a little weird to see Microsoft say "port it to something that isn't Windows! yeah!"

Come to think of it, I think a fantastic use of distributed networks would perhaps to make a PDF library of dead-tree periodicals.

11:41am: Still Screwing around with Fonts     Solved my fonts problem when I figured out that the X server wasn't loading the "freetype" module. Now Open Office and KDE see the Bitstream Vera fonts but Konsole still won't let me choose Bitstream Vers Sans Mono.

Bitstream Vera Fonts     Giving the BETA's a try. I'm not a big font-geek but th sans fonts look pretty good. I'm not sure that I like the Serif font. But it'll probably grow on me. They look really good enlarged. My version of XEmacs doesn't offer me any of them as an option. Grumble. Open Office's instructions to use spadmin don't help me enough to get Open Office to be aware of them.

PHP     4.3.1. Blargh. I need to find another scripting platform for websites-- or stop doing web development. Whine. Must install Apache/mod_python soon before I lose it.

Cooking     Made some kind of mega-multi-bean chili tonight using my crock-pot. I've got two more meals out of it to come. It was a lot of food. Stuffed.

Development     It's been so cold in my basement that I finally got around to moving my development "home" into an unused bedroom all the way upstairs. The cats come to visit me more often, I guess they thought it was too cold also.

Peter Chung     has a new project being played on television, called Reign: The Conqueror. I stumbled on it tonight and put in a season pass on TiVo. Will have to read more about it later. It definitely still has all the style from the Aeon Flux series. Swords. Lots and lots of swords. As always, I have to chuckle at TiVo's categorization of the show as a "children's" show while I watch someone almost bisected along the long axis by a giant outdoor flywheel-blade-device.

Iraq     situation is sad. At least the Doomsday Clock is still at 7 minutes. The moment another event happens state-side will probably set the dogs of war loose in Iraq which is probably just exactly what Osama wants. So much pain because of religious fanaticism.

Vera     Still waiting for the release of those fonts-- I think that those together with SVG could be the beginnings of great things in GUI's.

Internet Explorer     Just heard that someone's product cycle isn't working out too well because of bugs in IE6. Saying "just use" IE5.5 isn't going over too well considering how Microsoft isn't supporting it anymore. Over and over again, I feel more that everyone is trying to do too much GUI work with browsers in that search for the ideal situation of having a downloadable application without needing to download software. Maybe it can be done with XUL and Mozilla, but my gut feeling is that in the end you'll always want fine-grained pixel-by-pixel control over your UI and you're only going to get that with a downloaded application or a networked-graphics protocol. Or... you can switch to vector graphics.

Net Trend?     Waiting for some money so I can get some gas to actually drive anywhere. Mortgages suck. The dot-com bubble sucks too. "You're out of order! The whole world's outta order!" Actually, that has nothing to do with the net trend that I just noticed-- seems like there's a kind of convention starting up in comp.lang.python to "in-band moderation" postings with a reply including text similar to:

+1 from me.

A short paragraph why.

How long will it be before someone uses Python to parse the messages and present a portal of highly-rated messages? :)

LibRSVG and rsvg     What a sweet sweet little tool. I can seriously imagine a graphics-intense and picky web site using it to custom render (caching commonly used ones of course) images for a user's browser. Googling gives me the gimp2sodi HOWTO and makes me curious enough to give it a try. rsvg's application combined with some macho XML/XSLT could be the basis of some really nice web-reports-- perhaps even a way to secure paid reports (send a PNG of your document, stegano-in a serial number to discourage theft).

Oatmeal and Molasses     Attempting a new breakfast trend-- the molasses to add some iron to my diet, perhaps to keep up some energy.

Enfilade Theory     This one I'm going to have to re-read several times because of all the new terminology used.

World Rally Championship     Thank Torvalds for TiVo. It's never played prime-time or at any time that's convenient on the SPEED channel. I kind of wish that Americans knew more about this kind of racing instead of NASCAR... but then, I think that NASCAR is probably doing a lot of advertising to get us jazzed about it. Another big part of the problem is that none of the rallys ever seem to be run in America. That also probably hurts the sport's visibilty. If every country has it's distinctive geography and the WRC trys to highlight driving conditions, they could do something similar in America. Might also be a victim of it's type-- we're all into "going to a venue, paying for tickets, getting drunk and showing boobies to the cameras" and a rally isn't held in a stadium or track. Yes, I know that's a gross redneck generalization of NASCAR but that's what I think of when I think NASCAR. :)

Microsoft Warns Of Open - Source Pricing Threat     Microsoft Warns Of Open - Source Pricing Threat Information Week - 8 hours ago Company says in SEC filing it may have to cut its software prices because of increased popularity of open-source offerings. -- Google News. Looks like Microsoft is finally getting a taste of it's own medicine, after decades of "giving away" things like Outlook (hurting Qualcomm's Eudora and other ($) e-mail applications) and Internet Explorer (killing the older Netscape and making life hard for Opera and other ($) browsers) now they must consider cutting prices against the open source community, which of course is mostly giving it away for free in their spare time. Ever get the feeling that decades of anti-Microsoft sentiment are starting to take their toll? Or is it more a case of innovate or die? What do you think was the last real innovation that Microsoft had? I was going to say the integrated "office" application suite, but then I caught myself and remembered that really, it's better to follow the UNIX-way with small, single-task components-- of which we've all gotten farther away from it seems.

Speaking of office application suites, does anyone know how to turn off that really annoying "Open Office" splashscreen pacifier that attempts to conceal the fact that OO takes a really long time to start up? I don't mind that it does that, what I do mind that it's configured to Always Be On Top and there are no window decorations to move it out of the way while I'm waiting for it to start up, basically interrupting everything I'm doing. This is a Bad Thing.

Algorithms and Storage Research     Linear quadtree indexing of spatial data. My that's elegant.

Back to the grindstone.

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