: Once again, it's time to drink a toast to Crazy Legs!

I have some idea of what that means, but not much.

: Mike is now (well, probably after work) testing my game. I was going to put up a teaser page for it, to tease you with (natch), but I don't have a graphic for it yet.

: I feel bold! Font-wise, that is! Ha ha ha ha--ow!

: Hey hey! Today I met Sumana Harihareswara of Crummy-readership fame! She was in the CollabNet office with her professor/advisor (?) to interview James Barry and Brian. My long-term goal is to flummox Brian by giving him a false perception of my celebrity by having people who come into the CollabNet office for some unrelated reason ask to see me. So far it's working out great. Keep it up, folks!

Sumana wears (wore) a pocket protector with the logo of a Linux company on it. 200 points!

: Helm Pagination HOWTO. Live the adventure! More exciting developer docs coming soon!

: You can now see the teaser page for the new game, although you might as well not, since there's incredibly little information on there (thus, "teaser page").

I drew that graphic all by myself (in Killustrator). I'm very proud. There's one component missing which I was unable to draw; Mike may be filling it in, or recreating the drawing from scratch, in which case the graphic on that page may change. I sort of like this one, though. It's very abstract.

Mike sent me a couple transcripts which expose about a million things I left out of the game. I'll be busy tonight, that's for sure.

: Went to yoga class today from 12 to 1. I am going to be *so* sore tomorrow. I don't feel sore now but I can feel it coming.

: Thanks to Manoj, I have a great new word: "pseudofish". Unfortunately the word describes that annoying plaque-mounted singing fish, so I am disinclined to use it.

: Mike's transcripts have turned up about 70 bugs in Degeneracy. I'll fix the easy ones tonight.

: 23 bugs fixed, 52 left. Time to sleep.

: Yup, I'm sore. Just the arms, though.

: Foaf's answer to Jake Berendes West Covina is The True Adventures of Jon Bon Jovi. Stay tuned for part 2!

: My condition has been downgraded to "incredibly sore". Aaaah!

: Line from an old Radio Shack commercial: "The IBM Aptiva has it all... and more."

: Down to 31 bugs in Degeneracy. I'll probably get another big stack of bugs from Mike tonight. I hope so, anyway.

: Competition Keen as Nation's Best Vie for Top Honors

: Wow, really neat effect in today's After Y2K (permanent link). Or maybe I'm just easily impressed.

: QOTD (from me): "Those links are not for clicking on."

: I have recieved a Fab Four postcard from my sister Rachel, who is in England. I can now recreate the classic scene from The Beginning of the End in which giant grasshoppers launch an assault on the Beatles. "'Elp, John, they're attacking me." "Defend Ringo at all costs." Actually, I can't recreate that scene, since I have no grasshoppers.

Rachel says, "Leonard -- I thought you might like this postcard. Tomorrow we are all going to Abbey Road to take pictures! Love ya! [heart] Rachel". Abbey Road? Slowly I turned! Step by step! Inch by inch!

: "We could use some help from physicists and biologists here." I'll say.

: Oh yeah, caller on talk radio this morning: "We should get smart people, not bureaucrats, and put them in charge of our energy system." The only way this can make sense is if "bureaucrats" is read as "non-smart people" instead of the more conventional reading of "people in charge of big regulated systems, eg. the energy system".

: Well, I'm a happy camper tonight, as I get word from Mike that he has figured out the premise of Degeneracy. Now I just have to figure out how to properly in-game clue the endgame puzzles, and we'll be rocking in Memphis.

I'm jumping on a bandwagon here, but it's such a cute bandwagon. Behold the StorTroopers! (which I got via foaf, in case other people try to trace ancestry through NYCB). The miracle Diesel Sweeties-esque technology that allows foaf's avatar and mine to look almost exactly alike, even though foaf and I look nothing alike! Compare and contrast Kris' old drawing of me as an anime character with long hair (note that I had long hair at the time--it wasn't artistic license on Kris' part).

: Today I get to spend the whole day testing. Yippee! <--sarcasm Like most programmers, I feel that testing beyond "this patch doesn't seem to break anything" is somehow not my responsibility, and that I should just be given bugs to fix.

: This is terrible. I'm eating some navy bean soup right now, and even though it's not spicy at all, my taste buds are informing me that it is, in fact, spicy. This constant yoga has lowered my spiciness tolerance!

: I'm trying to get everyone at CollabNet (or at least in apps-dev) to do storTroopers of themselves so we can do a big collage. Yes, I am storTrooper obsessed. So far Jason Robbins and Susan Kelly have iconified themselves.

: Be Dope from me: eVilla vs. Godzilla. "Representing the forces of a vengeful nature against which man is helpless, Monster Island-based Godzilla provides e-crushing and lizard beast destruction services for the new economy."

: Mike can get to the end of Degeneracy, (that link is for newcomers) but there are still a couple optional puzzles he needs to solve. Hopefully then will end the era of huge transcripts dumped on my head that I have to sort through, and the era of actual bug reports will begin. Of course when I've fixed all the stuff Mike has turned up, I get to give the game to many other beta testers, and the the era of huge transcripts will recommence almost immediately. But such is life.

: This CNN article is really funny because the little toolbar looks like "Click here for powerful intellect. Click here for luminescent prose." Also, I'm in a silly mood.

: storTroopers in Love. Cartoon heart courtesy Diesel Sweeties. Correct eye color courtesy the GIMP.

: From a conversation with Kevin in which I was explaining Degeneracy to him:

<kpm_home> my character's a schizophrenic?
<leonardr> no
<leonardr> he just belongs to a different time and culture from you
<kpm_home> you wouldn't cast me in the role of W., would you?
<leonardr> there's an idea
<kpm_home> there's an idea that would drive me to new states of apoplexy.
<leonardr> "You are standing outside a white house..."
<kpm_home> aahhhhh!!

: The (unintentionally) funniest banner ad I've ever seen. How do i know? Because no banner ad before that one has caused me to break out laughing. What would an optimized version of such software do? Transfer all your money directly out of your bank account in one lump sum?

My favorite banner ad is still the IBM/Linux one with the penguin and his (her?) grandmother.

: Over the past few months I've been trying to make the "header" portion of the front page smaller so that more of the weblog portion shows up on the initial screen. My primary tactic has been to cram all the little features that go in the header and make life fun into a smaller and smaller space. This time I think I may have gone too far. Let me know what you think. As if you cared about boring details like my site design.

: The band on this week's Prairie Home Companion is really rockin', man. Plus, the name of the band is Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen... a new character! They (Commander Cody and some different LPA) did a cover of "Hot Rod Lincoln", which was apparantly a hit in 1972.

: Walla walla.

: Walla walla?

: CollabNet inks development deals with Motorola, Mozilla. This is what I've been working on for the past three months, or however many it's been.

: Leonardonics bonanza! Four new entries: "alleged", "And by x, I mean y", "Lie justification footnote", and "Put it in Issuezilla". The cup of personal slang overflows!

: YES!!! Kris has blindsided me with a revival of Addicted to Vaudeville! I can only hope he goes all the way with it.

Oddly enough, I do not have a transcription of the original Addicted to Vaudeville online. It must have been in NYCBs earlier than the ones I converted to NewsBruiser format. It's just as well, actually--otherwise the punchline would be spoiled for you (assuming Kris even uses the same punchline, which is doubtful; this is probably just a one-time gag).

: Today was Celeste's first day at work. I got an email from her this morning, which was a nice surprise, but haven't heard from her since then. I hope I get to talk to her tonight.

: Celeste is working in Building 27, which was bizarrely broken into in late 1998. She says that the whole embedded division is in that building, and that she has an office with a wonderful view of the parking lot.

: Okay, I am definitely going to mail Jake's tape to him tomorrow. I have the stamps and I have his address. I will send it tomorrow. I will address the envelope and walk down to the mailbox and drop it in. Then I'll feel better about pointing to the page I made for it.

: Heads up: robotfindskitten may be due for an appearance on Memepool in the near future. I got a reference to it from the Memepool admin interface.

: Yup, there it is.

: Jake's tape is on its way. Jake's tape is here to stay. Its page will be put up when Jake receives it.

: Dispatch from Mike:

the author does not hide his OS bias well:

"The resellers -- a bunch of no-nonsense businessmen and not your typical artsy-fartsy Macintosh types -- were impressed by his candor."


Hey hey, check this out. I also got a dispatch from professional Internet personality Greg Knauss, a sob story on his failure to win (ie. to enter) the original robotfindskitten contest. It's actually an interesting story--most stories peripherally involving the 3rd Street Promenade are interesting, I've found--and I will put it in /mail pending his approval.

: Wow (from the commit message for Thom's patch to CVS): 1.3 +47042 -775 helm/cvspatches/collab-new-perms.patch

: A general plea: please do not send mail to leonardr@ucla.edu anymore. As of January 29, UCLA will stop forwarding such mail to me. Send email to leonardr@segfault.org instead.

Degeneracy testing proceeds apace. I'm getting Kevin to test it, and also Oriel D. Maxine, who enjoyed Guess the Verb! and offered to beta test "any future game [I] might write". Well, he's getting his wish... ah ha ha ha ha! I really don't know why that situation called for evil laughter.

: I forgot to mention that, now that he's served his time in the beta testing trenches, Mike has been given a cushy management job as Vice-President in charge of Pig Exposure. He'll be making sure that the pig in Degeneracy is implemented with all the lush detail that befits an object of its caliber.

: "The Limited Edition run will be reduced from 1,000 to 500 and is lowered in price to $85. This will increase the value of the Limited Edition and make it available to more Penny-Arcade enthusiasts." Guh?

: Sometimes I get extremely aggravated about really trivial things. Witness my latest Segfault story, Who are the dot.coms?.

: My email machine was unreachable for most of the day so I didn't get to talk to Celeste. Just one reason why today was not so great for me.

: Tying together several recent NYCB themes, I bring you 1998's Vaudevilla and Vaudevilla vs. Gamera. Both drawings by Kris.

: From Helm issue tracking:

There are situations where someone's semantic relationship to a project is best described by multiple roles (eg. "I'm not only the president... I'm also a client.").

BTW, Tigris issue tracking is going to go off our intranet and onto tigris.org as soon as we upgrade the software on tigris.org. Which will be soon. It better be soon.

: Is that a vintage Super Mario Bros. level floor in the background of today's Diesel Sweeties? Yes, it is!

: I think that meetings are designed to make fixing bugs seem fun. I am spending my lunchtime fixing bugs because it's so much more enjoyable than sitting in a meeting.

: Forgive my silence, but exhaustion and the revelation of a crippling architectural problem in Helm (easy but time-consuming to fix) have conspired to deprive you, the people who read this crap, of your rightful due (ie., the aforementioned crap). I will therefore take a few moments to bring you up to speed on one of the pressing issues of our time (my time): the tape I sent to Jake last week.

Jake loves the tape, while simultaneously feeling that it is "rife with personal attacks on [his] character". On the face of it, this is a perfectly reasonable position for him to take. One of my most pronounced character flaws is the tendency to see as good clean fun what the person on the receiving end of the good clean fun sees as vitriolic assaults on his or her character. However, let it be known that the only missives on that tape which were intended to rile his Jakeness were My Complaint About Jacob P. Berendes and Rain of Rain (a.k.a. Disposable Napkin Rag). My Complaint... was generated using Dada Engine-esque software and was just done to be goofy, so the only track actually intended to mock Jake (again, good clean fun) was Rain of Rain.

Nonetheless, a track with a name like Jake's Betrayal shows, in retrospect, that I did occasionally cross some line or another. In that particular case, I actually intended the song to boost Jake's street cred by presenting such a scenario as unthinkable, but the damage is done, as it is by songs that are personal attacks on myself (Mud and Alien Nature Documentary), but which have Jake applicability. I could bow out using the cop-out "C'mon, can't you take a joke?" technique, but Jake has shown himself quite capable of taking a joke, and still I feel the need to justify myself. Indeed, now that my apparant maliciousness has been revealed, I feel a bit like the confused speaker in Kris' roast skit, who, no matter how vicious he gets, never manages to elicit anything from his audience but appreciative laughter.


One of my longstanding minor obsessions has been advanced significantly this day. In particular, a question I asked over a year ago has been answered, but the method by which it was answered opened up more questions (as is always the case with obsessions). I'd go into more detail, but I promised Celeste I'd go to sleep at 10, and the old clock on the wall is rapidly approaching such a state. Tomorrow [and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps at its petty pace toward the last syllable of recorded time -ed.].

: In Russia we do programming a bit differently. You have Singleton, we have Commissar.

: The funniest Segfault story I've read in a while: The New Londoner Society Column covers linux-kernel.

: Very little time for bruising of news this week, I'm afraid. Such is life.

: Excellent! Katsuhiko Sasaki is in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah as well! His forehead seems unnaturally large, though that may just be an artifact of the widescreen conversion.

: Another lousy, tiring, depressing day.

: Leonardonics in action: IBM Wholeheartedly Embracing Linux Breaded Clams

: Be Dope was the inspiration for Segfault, and somewhere along the way was born my friendship with Be Dope editor Mike Popovic. He wrote some Segfault stories, I wrote some Be Dope stories (too lazy to find and link to them), he beta-tested Guess The Verb!, I went to his beach parties and ate his veggie burgers, etc. etc. As fate would have it, I became the author of the very last paragraph to be published on Be Dope.

But the Leonard/Mike collaboration will not end with the retirement of Be Dope. Oh no. Devoted NYCB readers (such as myself) will remember that Mike holds the lofty position of Vice-President in charge of Pig Exposure for Degeneracy, which one day I actually hope to work on. I also may be making contributions to Mike's post-Be Dope project.

I don't really know how to end this entry. I just sort of wanted to mark the passing of Be Dope. Streethouse Rock is over now.

: I added A Credit To His Demographic to my list of completed albums, fixed some typos and put up a lyrics sheet. So that's done, at least. Don't miss 100 Amazing Facts About Jake Berendes.

In David Brin's Uplift series, there is a species known as the hoon. Hoons have spiny vertebrae which break off during puberty and are replaced, sort of like baby teeth. I mention this because my vertebrae feel like they're about to become separated and break off and later be replaced. I don't know whether Wednesday yoga is alleviating this feeling or making it worse.

: My next musical project: Finish The Age of Reason, a three-part dream-spawned song cycle that I wrote on a dare. It should be fairly easy, as I have to write a mere four lines and it's done. Unfortunately, "The train from Tehachapi came in on time" will not be one of those lines.

Only one other person in the whole world will get that joke. Fortunately, she reads NYCB. Hi, mom.

: Welcome to the Kripke! There's a point I'd like to make for you... a minimal fixed point, that is! Ah hahahaha!

: My Be Dope stories: Be Assures Users: Your Ass Is Safe (1999/07/01), Be's Tim Self Deallocated in Freak Accident (2000/07/25), eVilla vs. Godzilla (2001/01/11). I was going to label them with prefixes such as "The surreal" and "The rather silly", but all three are surreal and rather silly.

: It occured to me that "The train from Tehachapi came in on time" could in fact be two of the four lines I'm missing to complete The Age of Reason, as it fits the rhythm and rhyme scheme. It would make absolutely no sense, but since when did songs have to make sense? What?!?! Damn you, George W. Bush, and your squirrely executive orders!

: This is all-out HO-scale wackiness: the Toho Light Opera Scrapbook: Sketches from the HMS Pinafore. You also get The Mikado, without cost or obligation.

: I engaged in an elaborate knapsack problem duel with Amazon today, in an attempt to get as much use out of my about-to-expire $100 gift certificate as possible without having to divert any of my own money to the patentmongering malignancy that is Amazon. Through clever addition and deletion of variously-priced P.G. Wodehouse books, I got it to around $97 and then realized that I still had to pay shipping. So they got about $15 from me for that. Oh well.

Note that I spent the entire gift certificate on books for myself. All rumors that I also bought books for someone else are misleading and ill-founded. Not to mention pernicious.

(NYCB antiquarians: I was granted the Amazon gift certificate about a year ago, for whomping on some technical tests at CollegeHire.)

: If a Web application can verify that the state I gave it does not match the ZIP code I gave it, why do I need to specify the state at all?

: Adam sent me an MP3 of him and Kris, a song called "Shakin' All Over". It's very 80s. I like it. Thanks, Adam! Kris, I'm still trying to get an interview for you at CollabNet.

: Hello. I am a hedgehog. Hedgehogs as pets are illegal in California, unfortunately, but I do have a story to tell of contraband California hedgehogs. A sister of a friend of mine picked up a pet hedgehog while living outside of California, and she once smuggled it into and back out of California inside her sweater. That is the contraband hedgehog story. I cannot name names because round these parts they have a hangin' in store for hedgehog rustlers.

: Celeste is moving from her temp housing today. She was going to call me but I thought I was going to be at home all day and it turns out I had to go to work to brainstorm with Jon Stevens. I hope she gets the message I left her on her cell phone. She got a new cell phone and I don't know if she's keeping the old service because it's the one she had in LA.

: eToys is dead. Good thing I didn't go to work there.

: From a spam mail:

  FOR ONLY $249
        **Over Night International Shipping Included**

So I shell out my $249 and I get a fifteen-foot stack of books full of email addresses in small type delivered to my door. I can then OCR the books into my spam automailer over the course of several years and then spam everyone on the list. And what better to sell them than my electronic version of the list their name is on, which I can sell multiple times for much less than $249?

: Oh, I didn't read the spam closely enough. They send it on a CD. I guess I just assumed that if they were going to be stupid about it they would go all the way.

: So last night I joined Brian, Manoj, Jason (Robbins), Elice, and professional new guy Mike Sussman at TGI Fridays. That place has the worst food I've ever tasted in my life. That's a slight exaggeration, but man. My grade school cafeteria had better food.

However, complaining about the food at TGI Fridays is not the point of this entry. The point of this entry is twofold. First, on the knapsack problem game front, I discussed the possibility with Jason. We think that a game could be developed which does for the knapsack problem what Tetris does for the bin-packing problem. Research is still continuing in this area, but consensus is that a game involving different liquids might work..

Second is a technique I came up with for expressing your wealth as a complex number so as to avoid depression when your stock options tank. Your real wealth is your actual liquid assets. Your imaginary wealth is the current potential value of your options and whatnot. Money you have locked up in stocks and bonds and the like should probably go into real wealth, but I'm not sure.

I was subjected to severe grilling for this plan as people tried to come up with situations where you would square your wealth and end up with a negative number. But I really don't think there's ever a situation where you multiply a sum of money by another sum of money. Let me know if you can come up with one.

: Hey hey! Katzdot is mentioned in this Register story!

: Excellent! Kris found pictures from the Voynich Manuscript!

: Exclamation of joy! Descriptive text leading up to link!

: "In some markets, [C]rummy has been OK." -- Steve Ballmer

: So, a couple days ago I received the fruits of my Amazon.com labors: Jeeves In The Morning, Bertie Wooster Sees It Through, Life With Jeeves, The Code Of The Woosters, Carry On Jeeves, and P.G. Wodehouse: Five Complete Novels. It turns out that I acquired Bertie Wooster Sees It Through unneccessarily, since it is reprinted in Five Complete Novels. Oh well.

The reason I held off on announcing my Wodehouse deluge is that I was waiting for Celeste to get all the Terry Pratchett books I sent her on the same gift certificate. She got those today. Hooray!

You know, if I were to go back in time to when I was awarded that gift certificate and inform my former self that half of the gift certificate would be spent on P.G. Wodehouse books and that the other half would be spent on Terry Pratchett books for my girlfriend, my former self would say "This is one of those deals where you go back in time and tell implausible stories to your former self, isn't it?" He's pretty sharp, that former self of mine.

: Manoj on Torque: "If it will autogenerate my Java code for me, that might be helpful." You have no idea, Manoj. Torque is very cool, and I am only moderately worried about the fact that Helm is only the second real application to use it.

"How's your knowledge?"
"Oh, I manage."

: What would the world be like if programmers had to deal with hecklers?

: Segfault from me: Bacon Lovers up in Arms Over Ximian Keyword Purchase

: My web of connection becomes both larger and denser with the addition of Bridget Spitznagel, author of iRogue, the roguelike game for the PalmOS with which my uncle Robert is obsessed. Bridget wrote a PalmOS port of robotfindskitten and contacted me about it. I directed her both to Robert and to the robotfindskitten folks, the latter being probably the most densely connected set of people I know since it contains Pete Peterson. I think I am headed towards a situation where everyone I know directly knows everyone else I know and there is no need for me at all.

The Palm rfk port will be merged into the main tree soon, apparantly. As I told Bridget, I don't drive rfk development anymore. In fact, I'm not even in the car.

: Why did the Dreamcast die? Because The robotfindskitten port wasn't finished in time.

: Segfault story I want to write but will never get around to it: "Napster as a Version Control System".

: Who has a PayPal account and wants to get the referal bonus when I sign up?

: I bought Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II last weekend and still haven't watched it. I'm tempted to watch it now, but I'm trying to set up Tigris on my laptop (because the lag to the dev machine at work is intolerable) and that requires my full attention.

Mechagodzilla is really the coolest Godzilla monster ever, apart from the G man himself. He's the poster boy for government waste. "Gentlemen, once again an immense kaiju threatens our shores. The only solution is to build a full-scale replica of Godzilla out of dully-gleaming, plastic-like metal."

OK, my huge download of the tarball of RPMS containing the Tigris runtime environment is done. Back at it.

: Karl Fogel of Subversion fame has combined the Industry Buzzword Generator with the Elizabethian Insult Generator to come up with The Elizabethian Buzzword Generator! Now that's organised churlish dynamic motley-minded leverage!

Oh yeah, he also wrote the CVS book, which will hopefully tell me how to do a time-based diff, and which is the thing I was actually looking for on his site.

: Today I'm going skiing with my uncle. Since I have never been skiing before, I will probably not get much skiing done today, what with the lesson I'm sure I'll have to take and all. Oh well.

: Sumana has brought up an excellent point which completely invalidates the methodology of the current poll.

I note that all the possible values in your crummy.com poll are >1. What if one night in Bangkok makes 10, 100, or 1000 MEN humble?

Sumana gets 100 points, and the poll is restarted accordionly.

: By the way, consensus on the old (invalid) poll was that 104.76 nights in Bangkok make a proud man humble. If I discard the two outliers, that goes way down to 5.26 nights in Bangkok.

: Adam and Kim are engaged!

: Sub Accident Forces Godzilla Off TV. I prefer the interpretation of that headline which goes like this:

Newsreader: We now go to Godzilla in our Monster Island studios.
[Cut to Godzilla.]
[Meanwhile, on the sub...]
Mate: We're headed straight for that transcontinental television feed!
Captain: Arr, Godzilla, I'll best ye yet!

: Jason Robbins and Kevin Maples graduated from the same high school in the same year. How about that?

: Even if this tiny patch were the only patch I'd committed today, today would have been a productive day. That's how useful (in the stop-hitting-yourself-with-a-hammer sense) that patch is. The truth is, I committed lots of other patches today, so my productivity today is so great that it cancels out the fact that Brian has seemingly spent all day finding "all your base are belong to us" graphics to paste into IRC.

: Oh yeah, don't forget yesterday's opus, The Helm Peer Port And You.

: Allow me to apologize in advance for this Segfault story.

: This history of the BBC brings me one step closer to zeroing in on the broadcast dates of the "My Word!" tapes I made when I lived in LA. BTW, if you live in LA (or wherever else they broadcast "My Word!") and you are willing to make "My Word!" tapes and send them to me, I will give you money. The same goes for MST3K tapes.

: QOTD: "Having not followed this discussion, I will jump in with my inflammatory opinion."

: New Crummy article: Reddish Purple vs. Bluish Purple. From the "pedantically pointing things out for no real reason" department.

: Wow! Celeste just told me there was an earthquake up in Washington. Fortunately she's okay.

: Lately it seems that I can't go to sleep unless I implement some crazy idea or another. Two nights ago it was the purple election map. Last night I wrote an entirely new IF game for a competition. Since the competition deadline is April 15, however, Degeneracy will almost certainly be released before you see this new game.

The weird thing is that there's a third crazy idea in my head (one of many) which very simply connects the purple election map with the IF game. If this keeps happening it will be very frightening. But cool.

Kevin just got a spam which claims "This CD sells on Ebay for $21.95."

: You'd need a really big cup of coffee with this donut. Also, it's not a donut.

: I did not implement any crazy idea last night. Instead, I slept. But here is a crazy idea which I've had for years but which I probably will never implement since it's pretty obvious it won't work.

The idea is to implement Tetris but to change the way it gets harder over time. Instead of the blocks dropping faster, the shapes of the blocks get more complex. You'd start with regular Tetris and then move to 5-block Tetris, 6-block Tetris, etc. Probably at around 7-block Tetris you would get very angry at the person who wrote the game.

: Segfault: Banner Ads Now Themselves Have Banner Ads

: I don't know why the kids today need their "Napster" and their "Britney Spears" when they could just sit and listen to Last Transmission From Starbase XY003 all day. That link is to a rock opera, half the work of Pete Peterson, which rocks the rock opera world like an opera of some sort. Or a cookie or something. Did I pull a quote from the web page? No? Then I will:

Were they trying to send us a message, encoded in tune? Were the absurd lyrics encrypted messages sent to warn Star Command? Were they just delirious? Were they just a couple of down-home boys who couldn't resist a good tune and a microphone?

The combination of 70s pop culture and science fiction is so seamless that you almost forget that the science fiction is just more 70s pop culture. In fact, that's probably why it works so well.

: Mike points out that it is "a banner day for banner ad bashing". Unrelatedly, he also says:

it dawned on me that instead of fighting against the stupid things i hate about the internet, i should embrace and profit from them.

Be afraid.

: Last Transmission From Starbase XY003 inspired me to such an extent that I actually got off my butt and finished The Age of Reason. I did use the "train from Tehachapi" line, even though my mother informed me that I actually misquoted it. I sent her some hush money. The rest of you, enjoy this cautionary tale. Time travel is not a toy!

: My cornbread mix says it contains "no chemicals at all". Amazingly, I am able to derive sustenance from it despite its total lack of carbohydrates, fats, or sugars.

: I was going to complain that Honey Nut Cheerios does not actually have any nuts in it, but then I looked at the ingredient list and there are crushed almonds in it, so I cannot in good faith complain. I've never tasted the almonds, though.

: I forgot to mention that I got the latest issue of Jake's Interview with a Frankenstein. There is a feature on the menangalan, in which Celeste is given special thanks. I think the best way to get on Jake's good side is to introduce him to some undead creature of which he was previously unaware. It's tough to do, though, because really, when you think "undead monster", you think "Jake Berendes".

: Correction: that should have been "monsters".

: A couple years back, I said that the Lone Gunmen from the X-Files should have their own show. Well, Fox called my bluff. As of tonight, they do have their own show. I'm considering actually watching it, even though it will probably suck. No, I can't be pleased, but thanks for asking.

: I got zero work done on Degeneracy this weekend. I got quite a bit of work done on the LoTechComp game, though. I know my priorities are inverted (I promised Degeneracy this month, the LoTechGame deadline isn't until tax day), but Degeneracy is a drag to work on. I need to just knuckle down and finish it so I will be free of its deadly curse.

The new game is really fun, almost in the same way robotfindskitten is fun. In fact, in a certain, well-defined sense it is MORE FUN than robotfindskitten. Blasphemy? Perhaps. I can't give you the name because if I give you the name then you know exactly what it is; let's call it "The Djinn Game" (doh) for now.

But check it out: I originally wrote it using the default Inform library. It was about 40K. Since almost none of the Inform library functionality was being used in the game, I wrote my own parser loop, taking it down to 7K (including a skeleton narrative). Since then I've added about 3K of text. I can and hope to add arbitrary quantities of text, which is what takes it into the robotfindskitten vein. Before entering the game into the contest I also need to work out a better theoretical underpinning for the game to make it more consistently challenging.

: If nothing else, The Lone Gunmen show takes place in the correct universe, the comedy universe, in which characters can get into funny situations without having to spend a week in the hospital and/or a month in court due to a misguided attempt by the authors of their situations to keep things realistic. So many alleged "comedies" are given the quotation mark treatment by me because, while they claim to be funny, they do not take place in a funny universe. So that's one thing The Lone Gunmen has going for it. The other is the Lone Gunmen themselves, who are almost always funny.

My dilemma here is severalfold; in a bizarre sense, and in common with who knows how many others, I consider the Lone Gunmen show to have been my idea. It's implemented pretty much the way I would have done it (except my version would have taken place in a universe with encryption software), and it airs a year and a bit after I had the idea; about the time I'd think it would take to turn an idea into a television series. And yet, now that it's on the screen, I really can't see where it can go, other than a retelling as farce of X-Files, which is a good idea but which is bound to get tiresome after a while.

Also, any mental commitment I might make to watch TLG next week and see how it comes out is a) likely to be forgotten, since four times out of five I forget to watch TV when I mean to, and b) the exact same mental promise I made for Star Trek: Voyager, and we all know how that turned out.

Mike just sent me a bunch of code for the pig from Degeneracy (not to be confused with the girl from Ipanema). He's been doing more work on that game than I am.

: Mike is also coming up with new and funny ideas, whereas I merely tell an uncaring audience what I think of television programs I saw last night. His latest business venture is NearDeath, Inc. The only way I can do the concept justice is to reprint in its entirety the brochure excerpt he sent me (yes, the excerpt in its entirety) :

NearDeath, Inc.

Is your loved one listless? Stuck in a dead-end job or relationship? Wasting their life away? Gripped by the terrible forces of inertia? Unable to focus on what's really important in life?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, and if all the talking, pleading and counseling you've tried so far has failed, NearDeath, Inc. can help you help themselves.

Studies have shown that when faced with Death, 97% of all people suddenly realize the value of Life. Those who then somehow cheat Death go on to lead changed, productive and inspiring lives. Unfortunately, the majority of people who face Death do not escape its grasp, and their moment of divine revelation is sadly short-lived.

Now, NearDeath, Inc. offers all the changes a close call with death can bring, with no danger of actual death. Our team of specialists will design and execute an experience tailored to your needs - from erroneous lab results to falling pianos, to dramatic multi-vehicle collisions and explosions.

We also have on staff a team of expert hypnotists - so you can design a near death experience of your own and never remember doing so!

Sometimes, the only thing that can change a life is the spectre of death. Call today.

: Argh! Dada Pokey is broken!

: I fixed it.

: Today is Celeste's and my first anniversary! Yay!!


From the odd-ways-of-segueing-the-case-study-into-the-article department:

Only about 5,000 people are currently using Gabber, but that's not what makes Missig's work interesting. Instead, it's the place he's chosen for his programming. Gabber is just one of roughly 16,000 software projects hosted by SourceForge.

Yes, having 5000 users for your project is less interesting than hosting it on Sourceforge.

: "Linux is a great operating system, but it was impossible to use unless you had a hat with a propeller on it." Interim solution: give out hats.

: There's probably not going to be anything posted to NYCB for a while.

: I still feel awful, but not posting to NYCB does not make me feel less awful, so I might as well make a few notes.

One thing that's big is the coverage of Reddish Purple vs. Bluish Purple, the chart which is interesting because it is not interesting. Mike posted it to Plastic, from whence it was picked up by Andrew Sullivan, who apparently writes for the New York Times, and then by the folks who started me on it, Salon. I'm just hitting the big players here; there's also MetaFilter and many other places linking to it. The upshot of all this is that Crummy got over half as many hits today as did Segfault (Crummy usually gets about 5% of the hits that Segfault gets; it didn't hurt that Segfault gets relatively few hits over the weekend). In addition, I was on the receiving end of a Katzian outpouring of mail: four whole messages, including more accolades from Greg Knauss. Never let it be said that it doesn't pay to get aggravated about really trivial things. So long as you do something with it, rather than just being aggravated and not doing anything.

While everyone in the world was hitting my site today, I was working on Degeneracy. My state-of-the-art issue tracking system (a text file) says I fixed 23 bugs today, not counting the huge rewrites I made to the text I wrote early on in development (before I'd gotten into the game's idiom, as it were). Now that I'm done with those rewrites, I feel a lot better about a March release. Plus, I've only got 24 more bugs to fix, though more are probably hiding in the two latest transcripts from Mike. Another pointless statistic: so far, I have logged and fixed about 300 Degeneracy bugs.

Also, today I found the ancient (hand-hacked HTML) NYCB archives, adding fuel to the eternal question of whether or not I should convert them into NewsBruiser format. Pro: I would get to claim that my weblog archives go back to 1997. Con: Someone might actually look at them. The internal debate rages on, with the various factions manifesting themselves as small costumed versions of me, which flutter around in the vicinity of my shoulders.

Tomorrow I might write a code-generation script for the djinn game so that it's easy to add text. Tomorrow I will definitely be going to the mall, in hopes of drowning my sorrows in consumer goods and services. Also, I need a haircut.

: I brought the NYCB archives back to December 1997, which is the earliest point at which there is something recognizable as NYCB. There is a sort of proto-NYCB throughought 1996 and 1997 in the "What's new" page for Crummy (then an attempt at a pure humor site like you get with the Modern Humorist nowadays), but that is definitely not going back up on the Web. I'm emberassed enough to show you what I was writing in 1998, though I am glad that I can link to Addicted to Vaudeville in its proper context (cf. Kris, who actually did something with it).

: Why, if you want your website to make money, you should run it by yourself and from your bedroom (with case study): here.

: Yesterday I got my usual trip-to-the-mall haul; lunch at Olive Garden, some books, a Godzilla video (Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster). I also got a tape with all the Hitchhiker's Guide TV episodes; I saw the first three on the Sci-Fi Channel many years ago but fell asleep before it finished. If I had my way, there would be a Supreme Court decision corresponding to every Godzilla movie: Godzilla v. Mechagodzilla, Godzilla v. King Ghidorah, etc. "The court finds in favor of... Godzilla!"

My big literary find yesterday was The Pope's Rhinoceros by Lawrence Norfolk. Pro: use of the Albrecht Durer rhinoceros woodcut on the cover, sixteenth-century setting. Con: previous authorship by this writer of another historical novel with the same sort of title (Lempriere's Dictionary), comparison to Umberto Eco on the back blurb. I must admit that the Eco comparison is what got me off the fence and got me to buy the book, but it also makes me wary of the contents. It seems to me that only bad things can come of being the sort of writer who is compared to Umberto Eco, but who is not actually Umberto Eco.

I also bought a Dover Introduction to Topology, because it was cheap and I feel I don't know enough (ie. anything) about topology. Dover books have a way of making me feel intellectually inferior; this may be part of their charm. The Dover books are the good twin of the For Dummies series.

: Lovely headline: Fakegifts.com duo plead guilty to selling fake gifts.

: Argh. Time keeps slipping away. Today is Rachel's birthday and I didn't send her the card I got her or get her any present. Sunday at the mall I considered getting her an animatronic Tigger doll I found in a toy store, but then I tried it out and it was really creepy, so I decided not to.

: I added the online journals of Greg Knauss (with whom I am now personally acquainted) and Sumana Harihareswara (who I now realize has an online journal) to the ever-growing Crummy journal/weblog taskbar (patent pending). Back to writing for the secret Crummy feature...

: I made a big "to do" list of all the people and organizations I have to call to get information and tax forms and whatnot, but it had no effect on me other than to make me feel guilty about not making the calls. Usually a list will make me work to check things off the list, but not this time. Hopefully tomorrow.

I tried to buy a computer today, but once again the people who should by rights rejoyce that I want to give them a large amount of money, did not do so. My debit card wouldn't clear (is there a purchase amount beyond which you cannot use a debit card?) so I had to send them a check. So *eventually* I will have a new computer. It will probably take a couple weeks even though the folks who will eventually provide it are right here in San Francisco.

Supposedly, I have $1500 of student loans I was supposed to start paying off in January. I'd like to pay them off and get it over with, but I haven't heard from the people who are supposed to be collecting the money. I'm worried that rather than trying to contact me, they have chosen the more expedient route of silently tarnishing my credit record. So I have to hunt them down. I don't even remember who financed the loan, which makes it difficult to pay it. As usual, URSA is no help at all.

: My mother tells me that she's been getting calls from the loan people, and gave me the number to call, so that's squared away. Well, not entirely since I still have to call them and pay the loan, but the difficult part of finding a way to contact them is accomplished.

: Hi, I'm still awake. I was going through the NYCB archives and I just realized that a graphic I linked to about a year ago was probably one of my subconscious inspirations for Degeneracy. Remove the baby from that picture and you've got something very close to my mental picture of Degeneracy. I was going to suggest you also remove the yarmulke, but it can stay.

: Writing scripts for database migration is a pain. But it's you, the old-version-using consumer, who benefits.

: Life imitates NYCB.

: This New Scientist article is an intruiging mix of novel ideas (the probability that a randomly chosen program is decidable, a halting problem for a counterfactual Turing machine which can solve the regular halting problem) and complete crap reporting. As far as I can tell, it's treating riffs on the Incompleteness Theorem as though they were more disturbing than the Incompleteness Theorem itself. And there is nothing more disturbing than the Incompleteness Theorem, jaded though we are in this modern age to the full scope of its terror.

: Tenative woohoo! The order for my computer has been accepted and I should get the computer proper by Tuesday! Dan has looked over the manifest and approves of the goods.

: At long last, I have scripts which will convert the hokey old database for Tigris Classic (the ancient [Chinese] version of Tigris running on tigris.org) into the shiny new database for Tigris 1.0. I've been working, at home and here at work, for the past 18 hours (not 18 hours on this one thing). It feels good to be done, or close enough to done that the remaining things can only be done by co-workers. It's also a good feeling to see tigris.org running on Tigris 1.0 in my sandbox (we're going to upgrade the real tigris.org soon, though not as soon as I would like). I'm not even tired, though that will probably happen once I get home.

Happy Saturday. I have to check in tomorrow (later today) to make sure our test run goes okay (we're upgrading an internal site), but I don't plan on doing a whole lot. I hope I can get rid of those twenty-odd (twenty odd) Degeneracy bugs this weekend.

: Bah! I have Lock and DoorLock<-Lock classes in Degeneracy, but I get warnings about Lock not being used when I instantiate only DoorLock objects. Fortunately a non-DoorLock lock is in the cards for as soon as I get DoorLock to work.

You can tell I'm running out of things to do to a game when I start implementing the locks on doors as separate objects. I'm only doing this because Mike saw fit to try "put key in lock" instead of the standard "lock door" and I pledged that I would, within reason, make every command typed by a beta tester do the Right Thing.

: 3.01 cheers for Kris, who, after many travails, has landed a CAD programming job at Dassault, the French CAD company with the bizarre website. "I don't think I could have imagined a better job," says he.

: Oops, it was my fault. DoorLock wasn't actually extending Lock.

: I have been officially sidetracked. I'm working on a new Web toy which will go into /features. Hopefully it will only take a few hours.

: It's ready, but I need a graphic for it. I'm waiting on Mike.

: Mike isn't around, so I went ahead and did a clumsy graphic of my own. Hopefully I can get him to do a better one later. Anyway, here's the new toy: The McSweenifier! It formats any piece of text in the distinctive style of the noted journal of puffery and parody, McSweeney's.

The original reason I did the McSweenifier was that I was trying to properly format this fake McSweeney's story, and I realized that it would be more rewarding to write a program to do the formatting than to mess with it myself. And here we are.

: Cam, thank you for linking to the McSweenifier so that I can pretend that people who come here from your site are going there and not to the Transformers evolution debate you linked to the day before.

: Thanks to Mike for (at long last...I had to wait, what, two days?) the new McSweenifier graphic. The beehive was my idea, but Mike's masterful rendition of it was all his own. Well, it was ripped off from clip art, but if I say that then I'm not properly showing my gratitude towards Mike.

The power went out at work today, so I couldn't really get any work done. Fortunately I'd already gotten quite a bit of work done, having started work at 5 and accomplished in a few hours what I thought was going to take me two days. I'm not very good at estimating how long it will take me to complete a task, obviously. I went home when the power came back on, in hopes of working from home, but the power there must have gone off again, because I can't reach any of the dev machines.

: I neglected to mention that I got an address to send a check to such that the balance of my student loans ($1538 and change) will be erased. Yay! The check will be sent off tomorrow.

: Pluto: still an alien disco ball?

: Plasticfied again, courtesy of Mike (again). Mike acts like a shell corporation I hide behind, or something, but he actually does these things of his own free will! Amazing!

: I won my first game of Illuminati tonight (that is to say, I played my third game of Illuminati, and for the first time I won). The secret, as always, was the Orbital Mind Control Lasers. [Insert unconvincing segue here.] So today was not that bad a day.

: I have been pressed into service, where "service" is defined as "appearing at CrackMonkey Night tomorrow". Josh Lucas will be there, as will Elise, but Elise is the one who pressed me into service in the first place, so she'll be of little comfort.

: I'm not sure why this was originally classified as "science", but I'm glad it was because otherwise I never would have seen it: Preparing oneself for tea with the Queen. Actual quote: "[T]he Queen is never off duty." Made-up quote inspired by actual quote: "The city has a thousand stories. I'm the Queen of England. I carry a badge."

: I'm uncertain as to whether or not I should have used the royal "we" in my made-up quote. Is that still done?

: Scott James Remnant, who somehow manages to be both mad dog and Englishman, writes:

"I'm The Queen of England. I carry a Corgi."

This is funnier than my joke, but it requires my joke as a baseline, so I don't feel bad.

Jake, for you I will throw in a bonus reference to "I saw Lon Chaney Jr. walking with the Queen."

: So you have a mass market product to sell. Why not get a huge mass of data showing everything the mass market is interested in and then ignore all those data in favor of the data for a tiny group of people who are somehow cooler?

: Mike sent this to me with the subject: "Grocery store sells food - news at 11":

"We are very excited that a leading chain like A&P has taken on the line. The national rollout and enthusiastic acceptance of `The Wizard of Oz' marshmallows continues to be most positive."

It's almost three years old. How did he find that? The world may never know.

: Here are pictures I took yesterday. The first pictures are of my new boss, Steve Zwaska, showing Daniel Rall and myself the high-powered rocket parts he had in the back of his vehicle. The last two are horribly overexposed and were taken later, at the aforedreaded CrackMonkey night. Nick Moffitt is playing the Degeneracy beta in the second-to-last picture, though you'd never know it.

I also put up some older pictures from last month, when my uncle took me skiing, just because they were there. ("there" == "my home directory")

: I am a soapdish.

: The Degeneracy pig is annoying. Degeneracy is annoying. I'm so glad I can (hopefully) finish it tomorrow. Then you, the general public, can be annoyed by it.

: I withdraw my complaint about the pig. It is not annoying. I just don't know how to use the stuff Inform gives me.

: In my never-ending quest for more ways of wasting time, I have found Bob: Space Guy!. A classy, fast-paced ncurses shoot-em-up for which the winning strategy is, unfortunately, all too apparent (I, not known for my arcade prowess, beat all twelve waves on my third try). However, the mere fact that I'm judging it on its merits as a game, rather than as a programming exercise, means that it's far superior to robotfindskitten II, my own foray into the genre.

: I have yet to blind Nick Moffitt with science, but I have managed to annoy him with Degeneracy. His experience today gave the lie to my assumption that you would be unable to win without figuring out the game. Apparently my puzzles are too well clued. Who'd have thought?

I have an idea as to how to plant the neccessary seed in the player's mind, but it's going to have to go into the second release candidate tomorrow.

: From this Infoworld article:

The technology, dubbed Visual Net, works much like a paper-based map in that users click on a region, such as Literature, and that leads them to a map containing more options within the category.

That is to say, the technology works absolutely nothing like a paper-based map.

: Cedric sent me an enormous Degeneracy transcript which, at 136K, is only slightly smaller than the Degeneracy Z-code binary itself. He found two huge bugs, both of which I may or may not have now fixed, and about 35 minor bugs, 28 of which I have fixed. I probably won't release it tomorrow, but hopefully sometime this week.

: By the way, if for some odd reason you like this recent NYCB stretch, where all I do is talk about the status of software I'm writing, take a look at mid-May 2000, when I was writing a compiler for my compiler class.

: Any given KayBee's Toys in San Francisco still contains one dozen goo-vomiting Jabba the Hutt dolls. They've been marked down to $3. I can't understand why nobody is buying them. I bought another one today; you can't have too many puking Jabbas! They make great gifts, and if I can't give it to anyone, I can keep Jabba encased in the carbonite that is his plastic case, and eBay it for big bucks when today's preteens are nostalgic twentysomethings.

: "Steel Hose Reels are the choice of pros". Who exactly are the relevant pros here?

: More tidbits from the junk mail catalog I got: "Don't deface your yard with a permanent basketball goal." Yeah, basketball goals are such eyesores.

: Headline I've been unable to think of a way to make into a story appropriate for Segfault:

Electromechanical Singing Fish Inexplicably Sings "Let Me Die!"

: Yesterday I got two Young Ones tapes, the Red Zone Cuba MST3K, and Destroy All Monsters!, the Godzilla epic which apparently has more gigantic monsters per capita than any other film ever made. I am fully cogniscent that even this blizzard of rubber-suited destruction will not make me happy, and this (further) depresses me somewhat. Rather than not being made happy by cheesy 1960s Godzilla movies, I would prefer to not be made happy by large amounts of money and the ownership of small tropical islands.

I have amassed great wealth and power, yet I still am unhappy. Why?

I have watched Godzilla whomp on Rodan and the ankylosaur-like Anguirus, yet I still am unhappy. Why?

You see the difference?

: I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Koopa Troopas and Octoroks. Here's a song I wrote about three years ago that I've been playing to myself a lot lately: Frog/Antifrog. It was supposed to go on AYAO?, and it still may if I ever resume work on AYAO?.

Tonight I'm going to implement the results of the Degeneracy usability roundtable, held by Nick and myself. Hopefully tonight's release candidate will be the last.

: Degeneracy RC4 is now in the inboxes of its beta testers. It looks good enough that I will tenatively set the release date to March 30. I need time to write the web page and the Usenet announcement and whatnot. And so to bed...

: Woohoo! My new eyeballs computer is in! It looks disconcerteningly like my old computer. But it's got a CD burner, a much bigger hard drive, more RAM, and now I've got a big honking monitor.* I don't know how I'm going to fit the monitor into my car to take it home, or how it's going to fit on my desk once I get it home.

*Monitor may not honk.

: Writing this from my new computer (cf.)

Ed won tonight's Illuminati game, though Elise almost won in her debut appearance. The Discordians are the ones to beat, I tell ya. Also, the good thing about playing the Servants of Cthulhu is that you can keep the cards for the groups you destroy and pretend each one is one of Cthulhu's tentacles, and wave them around at other players while talking about Cthulhu's imminent return. This is the only good thing about playing the Servants of Cthulhu.

Going to sleep now.


Oh yeah. New BogoMIPS rating: 2011.96.

This keyboard has a bunch of "Internet" buttons, but according to keydump, only one of them actually sends a key signal. I wonder how I can take advantage of this button technology.

I'm going to take this opportunity to finally move onto archival media the Da Warren archives and all the other ancient crap I keep lugging around from computer to computer. First step: get some blank CDs.

: Did ancient astronauts file issue #3355?

: Doh. I parked my car last night thinking it was Thursday night, but in actuality it was Wednesday night and this morning I got a parking citation because I was on Thursday morning's street-cleaning side of the street. Fortunately, it's only a $30 fine.

Excellent. Now if only I could put this information to work.

: From the message accompanying the fifth Degeneracy release candidate: "We should have no more confusion about how to operate the hourglass." That's almost certainly the version that's going out tomorrow. I fixed everything I'm going to fix, and I just need to make some minor changes to the bibliography.

And now... it's sleepin' time!

: Webcomic I enjoy: Narbonic. Today's (guest-authored) strip is the evil parallel-universe version of Jake Berendes West Covina.

: "Over the years he was often confronted with unimaginative administrations that lacked imagination." But how were they on imagination?

: Here's last night's Illuminati game (which I won, making me the reigning champion at a whopping 2 wins).

Wrapping up Degeneracy. Hopefully I'll be able to release it tonight. If not, there's always tomorrow.

: Degeneracy goes online in half an hour.

: Degeneracy. Read it and weep.

: Google's acquiration of Deja means that I can't post my Degeneracy announcement to rec.games.int-fiction. If someone more Usenet-savvy than myself would deign to get in contact with me about posting the announcement on my behalf, I would be eternally grateful towards them.

: Kris is going to post my announcement to r.a.if. Eventually. If he does it tomorrow, then Mike's wish of an April 1st release will be met, sort of.

: My referer logs show that Kris has, in fact, posted my Degeneracy announcement. Thanks a lot, Kris!

This is pathetic. I can't say "thanks a lot" without it looking sarcastic. I'm not being sarcastic, obviously.

: The Browser Greetings program is now on hiatus. There are too many browsers these days and all of them claim to be Mozilla and hide their true identity in fine print, regular expression-wise; to give them the full Browser Greetings experience will require a rearchitecture. Also, my Linux kernel version number detection doesn't work for 2.4, and it's easier to take down the CGI than to try to understand Perl code I wrote three years ago.

: Also re Degeneracy, Kris gave me much more credit than I deserve in his last mail:

I played Degeneracy last night for a few hours and had to stop when it was late enough that I was trying hard to figure out the deeper mystery and started thinking "what if Leonard put in something so insidious, some terrifying Lovecraftian truth about entropy and religion that I won't be able to sleep once I figure it out?" (Things generally boil down to that for me.)

Unfortunately, my game is wholly lacking in terrifying Lovecraftian truths which will prevent you from sleeping and turn you into a white-haired, ghostly shell of your former self who flails furiously and helplessly at unseen enemies, eyes paralyzed with terror, uttering a single, unpronouncable word over and over again. Maybe in the next version.

: I have decided that The Lone Gunmen wants to be The Big Lebowski. I'm undecided as to whether or not this is a worthy goal.

: Doh. Inform sure doesn't make it easy to distribute the source for your games. There's no clear statement as to whether or not you're allowed to distribute modified versions of the library. I was going to distribute library diffs, but it turns out that I wrote Degeneracy with an ancient version of the library and I can't find a pristine version of it anywhere. The latter problem is my fault, but it's excaberated by the Inform licensing madness.

: No rest for the wicked. I just wrote the Python script which generates some important Inform code for the IF game I'm entering in LoTechComp, so now it can be extended by just adding to text files. I'm sending out copies to the usual suspects; let me know if you want to help me add text, robotfindskitten style. The knowledge and skills of history/mythology buffs and AD&D geeks (I still can't bring myself to go back to calling it "D&D") are especially valuable.

My generated code is less space-efficient than my original hand-hacked version; the game is now a whopping 13K (as opposed to the previous 11K).

: Apparantly, we have gone onto Nowhere Daylight Time and nobody told me about it. I first suspected when I noticed my clock was an hour late yesterday. I only noticed this because at 5 I thought it was 4 and I missed my chance to listen to a radio show which the promo makes seem like a pale American imitation of My Word!. Who decides when this time micromanagement happens? Need it happen in this day and age?

ObSegfault: DST Bug causes Widespread Panic. "In this reporter's opinion, what Los Angeles needs is more freaky chicks with big hair and guns, who ride around on motorcycles and dispense vigilante justice."

: Jason on issue tracking: "I have always backed the bug cut plan. Some say it gives too much to the top 1% buggiest developers. But I say, everyone who makes bugs, deserves relief."

: So it turns out I was using the 6/10 Inform library for Degeneracy, so I made some diffs and packaged up the source code. Here's the April link to Degeneracy. I should add a third navbar up at the top that I change when I add a new deliverable to the site. Note: the presence of the word "deliverable" in this entry signifies irony.

I'm uncertain as to the value of releasing the source code to and bug list for a work of IF immediately after releasing the work itself. Of course, those who want spoilers at any cost can always disassemble the .z5 file. IF is sort of a special case in programming, and even in game programming, since it's so story-driven and artsy. I don't think I could develop an IF story publicly. I mean, I could do it. Psychologically I would adjust. But it wouldn't feel right, and I don't think it would be as good as it would be if I was able to sit on my vision for the game and not tell anyone about it until I was ready.

That said, I think the basic game structure of Guess the Verb! could have been done a lot better, and that a design session with someone else early on could have made it a much better game. (See upcoming GTV! post-mortem.)

Speaking of which, I really like the developer-written game post-mortems at Gama Sutra, even though I've never played one of the dissected games. I wish that post-mortems could be done for more types of software, but games are 1) relatively unimportant, obviating the need for compulsive litigators to sue because a developer mentioned publicly that a product actually has a defect; 2) a category where, eventually, you can actually claim to be done, rather than just having attained a certain version number.

Back to IF: a whopping *two* bugs were found in the djinn game. I am amazed and flabbergasted, and both bugs have been fixed. It's true that there is always one more bug...

: This is the police! We have you surrounded! Stand down from the funk!

: "A Hit! A Very Palpable Hit!" -- Adam Thornton on Degeneracy

Also, I have coined a phrase: "constructive carping". I'm not sure of the precise definition, but it's sort of the Dan Helfman school of software design.

: Seth Schoen: "A robot may not injure a kitten, or through inaction..."

: Man, that game of Illuminati took a long time. I think it's now well-established that four is the optimal number of players.

: Degeneracy has started a flamewar on rec.games.int-fiction. Unfortunately, it's not the flamewar a Molotov cocktail-throwing author like myself hopes his games to ignite, with rival factions slandering and praising my game. The proximate cause of the flamewar seems to have been a mistaken belief on one person's part that the game did not actually exist (despite its easy downloadability) because of the proximity of its release date to April 1. At least I have a wonderful new pull quote:

"[B]oy was that wacky." -- Emily Short

: Confusing Headline Watch: Napster Downloads Rocket.

: My mother is coming up for the weekend. I am frantically cleaning my room. It's like I'm back in high school.

: Actually, I guess it's more like my first year in college.

: I used to get a lot of Japanese spam. Now my spam source has moved westward and I am getting Chinese spam.

: Speaking of which, I'm thinking of a game in which players compete to get the best response to the junk mailings they send out. It wouldn't be done with actual junk mail, of course, due to ethical conerns and mailing costs.

: It's easy to shop at Bath and Body Works because there's a little shelf that says "Men" and you can just pick stuff off of there and it's all pretty interchangable.

Actually, I can see how this might not work if you were a woman.

: First, Greg came up with Advertising Slogans Targeted at the Lovecraftian Elder Gods. By these dark pitches were sinister forces awakened, and ere long did tentacles reach out to adopt and to crush mankind's only weapon. How else to explain the fact that Kevin Maples is getting eldritch spam?

Reclufteg Ftalabesp Trastrar Echrort
Bedradric Nfatusorm Rcytchep Achrons

Actual subject lines from actual spam, folks. Of course, it's just the usual make-money-fast crap.

: Gads! Now I am getting the dread spam!

Why wait another SECOND when RIGHT NOW your finite, temporal body could be wracked with MONEY!?*

Thanks, Kris.

: Kevin: "Oddly, Bedradric Nfatusorm Rcytchep Achrons ends with 'Please, serious inquiries only.'"

: Life sort of imitates Segfault.

: Just what I need right now: How to Build A Fort That Girls Will Visit.

: Fully half of the "Tonight's Episode" things I've put on Crummy recently are the doing of Jason Robbins. His artistic facilities seem especially well suited to the Quinn Martin episode title, though it's only occasionally that he comes up with the non sequitur or self-contradictory kind I like.

I'm keeping track of the titles so that once I have a hundred or so I can cycle them the way I cycle the quotes. So far I only have 21.

: This is really cool. Daniel and myself are testing a new infrastructure we wrote that helps you write your app to deploy across multiple JVMs. We've got some classes that let you broadcast data structures across JVMs, and some classes that let you have a cross-JVM singleton. It'll go into Turbine eventually so that everyone can use it.

: The old picture of me in self is over two years old, so today I changed it to a picture taken today by Mike Sussman. Actual Business 2.0 cover! It's ungrammatical, but that's the New Economy for you.

: Seth Schoen's latest diary entry quotes Degeneracy. It also has a summary of the Richard Dawkins speech I was too lazy to go and see, and which allows me link to it without making it look like I'm compulsively linking to anyone who mentions my game.

: Crouching Robot, Hidden Kitten

: The (appalling) theme song from the Marx Brothers movie Horse Feathers is titled "Everyone Says I Love You". This confused me to no end until I heard it sung. It should really be called "Everyone Says 'I Love You'". Punctuation makes the difference.

The one redeeming feature of the song is that Zeppo sings it at the beginning of the movie and gets it over with, and then at intervals later on the other three brothers perform travesties upon it. Groucho:

Everyone says "I love you"
But just what they say it for I never knew
It's just inviting trouble for the poor sucker who
Says "I love you"

Then the musical phrase that leads into the next stanza sounds like the "Your way, right away" riff in those old (though postdating Horse Feathers) Burger King commercials.

: Susan Kelly was asked yesterday whether vegans were allowed to eat snot. She said "If someone gave it to me of their own free will, then yes, I would eat it." Would, mind you.

Susan meets all the requirements for me to link to her journal on the navbar, but for some reason I've been resisting it. It used to be because her journal was completely illegible, but now only half of it is completely illegible.

: I just realized that there are ancient [Chinese] NYCB entries in which I talk about trivial things that, in hindsight, were indirect triggers of major events in my life. The third entry for 1999-07-12 seems like the best example.

: Well, that was more fun than I've had in quite a while. I spent last evening with Sumana and Kevin and Kevin's friends, and then this morning with Sumana and her friend Dan. A sample of the comedy gems that came out of this meeting of the minds:

Pictures from Kevin's camera coming soon to a theater near you.

: Memo to myself: do the dumb things I gotta do. Touch the puppet head. Fix the interpeter-specific bugs in the djinn game and submit it before midnight tomorrow night.

: Bugs fixed. Djinn game submitted. I just realized that I did a really stupid thing, generating code when i should have had static code and a generated data structure. Fixing now.

: Memo to myself #2: I have an appointment on Friday at 10:00 to get my car's oil changed.

I would just like to point out that in Bakersfield, you do not need an appointment to get your car's oil changed.

: I'm off to Berkeley to behold the mechanics of comedy.

: Comedy last night. Which, presumably, means tragedy today. More later; I just found out I have to be at a meeting in an hour.

: Argh!

: When you hit control-C in bc, it says "(interrupt) use quit to exit." Why not just roll with the punches and exit?

: Banner ad seen on Kris' message board. It advertises its own absence.

: I got my car's oil changed. Not mentioned on the invoice was the fact that, for my convenience, somebody had smoked a big ol' stogie inside my car while performing the twelve-point maintenance checkup.

: I recently discovered that Games Magazine, beloved of my youth, has resumed publication. They even still have the "spot the fake ad" feature, although it's not very difficult because it's the only ad in the entire dang magazine!

: Finally done with The Pope's Rhinoceros. Not so much a novel as a number of set pieces which are tied together at the last minute and in the last fifty pages. But what a tying together. If the whole book were as spectacular and farcical as the ending, it would be as breaded clams for my endorsement mill. But as it is, I am left uneasy about telling other people to slog through these same 600 pages in search of the nuggets of brilliance. I feel like someone might feel after playing Degeneracy for the first time. Is that really all there is?

Also, it is interesting to note that the only place the word "rhinoceros" appears in that book is in the title. Presumably this is for reasons of historical accuracy.

: Kevin made me do this.

: Funny Banner Ad Watch is now a NYCB feature, supplementing Funny Headline Watch. Today's entry:

Type mismatch: Could not cast "Technical Paper" to type "RTOS"

: Thanks to a brainstorming session with Sumana on Saturday, I can give you a new "Tonight's Episode" on Crummy every weekday for the next two weeks. Assuming I remember to change it. I should probably write a tool to reduce the workload involved in changing tonight's episode.

Also on Saturday I articulated my idea for the football mascot of a deconstruction-heavy university: The Fighting Other.

: I was wondering when this was going to happen.

: There is an anime-inspired comic convention whereby nervous comic strip characters produce enormous drops of sweat in the vicinity of their heads. I wrote to Kris telling him I thought it would be a good idea to do a comic in which this was exploited as a water source. His reply:

A similar convention is taking place, where many innocent, virginal gawky male anime characters are exposed to girls hitting on them, winking at them, etc., and the gallons of blood rocketing out of their noses are collected and sent to the Red Cross.

I think he misunderstood my usage of the word "convention", but still, what a snappy comeback!

: If you thought the GPL was sappy, take a look at The OAL.

: Dan and I wrote a whole clustering architecture and a mess of other scalability things for JXTA, and none of it got used. I'd complain, but it turns out that I am not entirely blameless in this matter.

: I backported the beautiful caching (its actual, technical name), so I can now, in good conscience, complain. Argh!

: It's a foggy night here in San Francisco, not my hometown. It's the sort of night that makes this city look like the future noir deathtrap that it is. A "Live the good life on the offworld colonies!" night.

You may have noticed that I am not particularily fond of San Francisco. I've decided that I don't really like L.A. either, so moving back to L.A. is not the answer. What is?

It's so foggy and gloomy tonight... How foggy and gloomy is it? It's so foggy and gloomy that I'm posting deep, searching questions about my life to my weblog.

: I don't really want to go to sleep, so I'll explain the beautiful caching a little bit. Helm has an access control list which grabs a bunch of information from the database when you log in. Whenever you do something that requires a permission check, your ACL runs a little algorithm to see if any of your roles give you the required permission. Displaying your start page, for instance, requires over a hundred permission checks, so this piece of code gets run a lot.

What the beautiful caching does is it stores the results of previous permission checks so that the next time that same permission is checked, it doesn't have to run the algorithm again. The cost of running the algorithm has been reduced to the cost of a hash table lookup. Anything that invalidates the beautiful cache also invalidates your ACL, so you don't need to worry about invalidation. It is, in a word, beautiful.

Permission checking used to cause over half of the user-visible delay on Tigris sites, just because it was such a common action. The beautiful caching (in association with other types of caching) basically reduces this to zero; as Jody said, "At last, free checking." Unfortunately, I neglected to backport beautiful caching to the 1.0 branch, so JXTA doesn't have it right now. But it probably will soon.

Next time: Clustering, RMI, and You

: If I put a song or particular recording of one under the OAL, what effect does that have on derivative works which were created when it was under my own Generic Unspecified Copyright License With Liberal Usage Terms? (eg. Kris' Asia Carrera cover, millions of songs of Jake's) Probably none. I can't be expected to have my actions restricted by arbitrary people who created derivative works that I don't know about, and the creator of a derivative work can't be expected to relicense their work after the fact just because I did it with the original work.

This is all purely hypothetical. I don't think I want to use the OAL. A copyleft license for music doesn't sound right. Perhaps my long proximity to BSD advocates has affected my judgement.

: Dog food! DNS may or may not have propagated to your area.

: It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog. It'd been a hard day's night; I should be sleeping like a log. But I had to get up to move my car out of the driveway.

: Strings of Leonardonics references in Checkerboard Nightmare recently. How many can you spot?

I really need to update Leonardonics.

: JXTA is potentially useful even if it is stipulated that Napster-style P2P is a stupid idea. Problems like clustering and failover are basically problems of how to coordinate peers.

Just pointing that out.

Disclaimer: I know nothing about JXTA, except that their site doesn't use my scalability improvements, but I brought this up in a meeting and Dan didn't object.

: This is amazing! How can so many galaxies be so evenly spaced?

When The UNIX Philosophy Goes Too Far: First In A Series:

AiToi map browser allows you to browse Mexico City, Guadalajara, or Monterrey [sic]...

: Adam always has the correct turn of phrase: "That's a worse bummer than 100 companies laying you off!"

Tonight's Episode: Murder At Random: I wrote a CGI to manage the ever-growing and slowly-shrinking list of Tonight's Episodes. I can specify a particular one for the next day, or failing that one will be chosen at random. It'll be easy to set up an archive script, should I ever feel so inclined. Plus, Tonight's Episode is now syndicated, though I'm uncertain whether or not "here, use this string" is a valid syndication format.

: I've decided it might be a good idea to keep track of layman's explanations of the First and Second Incompleteness Theorems. Here's a start. It seems like a textbook example of needless duplication of information, though as far as I know the relevant textbook has yet to be written.

: Segfault is, allegedly, TechTV's Geek Site of the Day. I don't know who TechTV is, but it seems legitimate.

<jr> joshua: bug jon about scarab
<jr> ha ha 'bug' ha

: Also, Jason's five-step plan for business success:

  1. Get funding.
  2. Buy furniture.
  3. Go broke.
  4. Sell furniture.
  5. Cha-ching!

: The deli in Brisbane has gone all upscale. You can't get a sandwich but has some weird spread all over it. Argh. However, I have not actually eaten my sandwich yet (can't eat before yoga), so it might be good.

Yoga is simultaneously better and worse when you're feeling low, as I am today. Feeling mighty low.

: Hey hey hey. Fat Algorithm.

: I wear many hats at CollabNet, but my primary duty is that of Director of Festivities. As you can see, I take my job very seriously.

That's just one of many fabulous pictures wrenched from my camera and plunked down into /pix/2001/collab/. The DoF picture is now the /self picture, as well.

: Yesterday I filled up the last page of the big lab notebook I started shortly after starting at CollabNet. I'm now on my second such notebook, and every page in it so far contains some brilliant idea. Case in point.

: I have a volume of Polybius which I was given by my great-aunt. I have a whole lot of books I got from her that she was going to throw out. I mention this book at the expense of the others because this particular book gives every indication of being almost 250 years old.

The date on the frontspiece is 1761. It claims to be the second edition, volume 1 of 2. The translator is one Mr. Hampton, and the translation is mentioned in Boswell's Life of Johnson, and by Johnson himself in his Life of Milton (there, unfortunately, the chain ends). It has the ses that look like fs. It has a weird fold-out map the likes of which I have never seen. It is an old book.

I harbor no misconceptions about the book being valuable. It is not in good shape. The front cover has come off and the back cover appears to have suffered some smoke damage. The pages are stained and many were at one point very wet. It's worth maybe $50 at most. There's not even much point in me reading it, since it would be easier to read the same text on the laptop, which does not have the ses that look like fs. It really has nothing to recommend it other than the fact that it is older than the United States of America.

What do I do with this book? I have no use for it; its decaying binding makes it useless even for show. But I can't very well get rid of it. What do we do with the book, in general, when there are things exactly like books except for the fact that one of them contains everything ever written?

I don't know how to end this entry, so I'll use the "I don't know how to end this entry" cop-out.

: Behold the robotfindskitten link in NTK!

: Previously avaliable only in an expensive human skin edition, the Necronomicon has now been published in paperback!

: The Knapsack Problem has been released. As I suspected it would, it finished dead last in LOTECHCOMP. I hope you enjoy it anyway. Get Release 2 from my page; it plays (almost) exactly the same, but the code is much nicer, and I'll feel better about you playing it.

: Segfault: Open Source Advocate Has Yet To Rebut Craig Mundie

: I've long felt that Mickey Kaus, political pundit and Slate columnist, should have his own fan club. It would be called the Mickey Kaus Club.

: The McSweenifier has been mentioned in FoE! Log, apparantly the canonical source for all your Dave Eggers-related gossip. Why is my age worth mentioning in a link to the McSweenifier? I don't know.

: Stupid banner ad question: "Is your domain name taken?" That's like asking "Is this seat taken?" when there's someone in the seat! They meant to ask "Is your domain name that you haven't registered taken?", but until you register, it's not yours. There is no natural right to domain names.

: Speaking in a purely general sense, nothing livens up one's day like a picture of Campbell Chiang impersonating a giant, anthropomorphic pineapple.

: In the interests of full disclosure, I should indicate that, due to a youthful indescretion, I also have a giant anthropomorphic pineapple picture.

: This code isn't slow, it's "differently optimized"!

: This weekend I had the good fortune to be introduced to the [music of the] Canadian band Moxy Früvous. Sumana said "Moxy Früvous is to They Might Be Giants as They Might Be Giants is to the mainstream," and she is correct. The only band that makes you ask the question: "are they slyly hiding references to Jerry Bruckheimer movies in their songs, or is it coincidence?"

: I'd thought it was easy to get back up to speed after a long weekend, but my calculations neglected to take into account a long weekend during which I had a whole lot of fun, such as this previous weekend. I'm back on track now, though, I think.

: One of the best things about using Torque to generate your object model is that when you do a make, it prints out enthusiastic status messages:

[echo] +------------------------------------------+
[echo] |                                          |
[echo] | Generating Peer-based Object Model for   |
[echo] | YOUR Turbine project! Woo hoo!           |
[echo] |                                          |
[echo] +------------------------------------------+

: I have two really good ideas for the 2001 Interactive Fiction competition, but both of them require a lot of planning and programming work, so I probably wouldn't get either done in time. Hm.

: Yesterday I picked up some A&E dramatizations of P.G. Wodehouse stories. Not only are they quite enjoyable, but Jeeves and Wooster are played by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, who played Lords Snot and Monty in the Young Ones episode Bambi.

: robotfindskitten: the Web version!

: Everyone knows that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; but what is the least sincere form of flattery? This question is probably not as interesting as the other one.

: Also, everyone knows about cold fusion, but we neglect an even more promising energy source: kung fusion!

: There is a series of television and billboard ads featuring a large, bipedal crocodile who, in a political-cartoon turn of events, is clearly labelled "BIG TOBACCO". The ads would have you believe that this metaphorical crocodile is evil. But he doesn't look evil. He looks cute. He looks like Pogo's friend Albert. My suggestion: perhaps a Claymation alligator would look more evil than a pencil-drawing one. Or papier-maché.

: Read! Kris' amazing account of ELO bliss!

: Does anyone know of any P.G. Wodehouse fan fiction? And by "fan fiction" I mean "non-sexual fan fiction".

That reminds me: big Leonardonics update coming as soon as I write up all the entries.

: Life imitates Segfault.

: New song, two years in the writing: Shoes Don't Fit Blues. It's a doozy. Title may change.

: There's nothing quite as jolting as reading a news article and suddenly seeing your name.

Require, Select, Indicate: The machine which hosts crummy.com and segfault.org was taken down by VA following the Sourceforge crack, and who knows when they'll be done scanning it for vulnerabilities and put it back up. So I'm back in the low-rent editthispage district.

Tried to get BeOS 5 working on my new computer yesterday. The readme file said to put the BeOS image in a /beos directory off the root of any ext2 partition, but the boot disk was not aware of this arrangement and wanted to boot off the CD. I could try burning a CD and booting off of that. I just may do that.

None of this would be neccessary if there were a 3dSound equivalent for Linux, but I've given up hope for such a thing unless I write it myself. The sad truth is that average person who makes music using Linux makes a very different kind of music from the kind I make.

Also: after a long absence, I have returned to Terry Pratchett by picking up Equal Rites. Unfortunately, it's not nearly as fun as it used to be. :(

Bushism of the Indefinite Time Period: I was going to wonder why Slate hadn't put up a Bushism of the day for quite a while, but today they did put one up. It was pretty weak, though; part of it looks like W was trying to make a joke. Update: Actually, it's a pretty good Bushism. There are a couple subtle touches I'd missed the first time.

If anyone dasses to risk me fisks: Bad news: burning of BeOS CD was a near-total failure, not total only because I'm fairly sure I did manage to get bits onto the CD-R, something I'd never done before.

Good news: ecasound does almost exactly what I want. The thing that's missing is a GUI that lets me drag waveforms around. Doing it through the command line is a matter of trial and error, but it's not cumbersome and it has the advantage of actually working. It's the only program since 3dSound which passed the first benchmark to which I hold all alleged multitrack recorders, the assembling of disparate .WAV files into my sonic masterpiece Theme And Fantasia On "Popeye The Sailor Man". In addition, I was also able to play and record simultaneously, something I could never get to work on BeOS. Keep your eye on ecasound, folks. It's a winner.

There's a QT module for ecasound but I don't think it's going to do what I want it to do. However, ecasound has surprised me once before.

Four huge frogs sitting on concrete spools:

Kris brings you photos from the Vanessa/John wedding. I feel as though I should know John, but I don't.

My co-workers are flattering me to the turbine-dev mailing list.

Before it vanishes into the mists of time, look at Monday's brilliant Zippy the Pinhead. Mr. The Toad is my favorite Zippy character.

Halfhearted James Bond movie titles:

Ineffective Illuminati Tactics: First In A Series

I'm going to filibuster!

Software-related ramblings: I now have commit privileges to Turbine. Flattery got me somewhere. Load testing on the Tigris 1.0.6 release candidate indicates huge improvements. 1.0.6 is going to be, to my mind, the first version of Tigris suitable for hosting really large sites; computing power will henceforth be used to handle requests instead of to keep the Helm components in sync. My and Dan's clustering architecture also gives huge scalability improvements, but that's not going to be in a release until 1.1.

: Yesterday Rachel, my youngest sister, graduated from Bakersfield High School. Three quarks for her! She joins such illustrious BHS alumni as Andy Schile and my other sister, Susanna.

I'm experimenting with not putting titles on my news items. I'm not used to it, ergo it is bad. Cogito, ergo keyboard, as I said to Ed yesterday. Or Sumana's motto: Cogito, ergo Sumana.

Deniable plausibility:

Remotely Plausible Dialogue From One of the Later Marx Brothers Movies

No, that's a necklace. I assume you know what a necklace is? CHICO
Shore! I read-a Necklace Shrugged!

Remotely Plausible Excerpt From A Really Bad Historical Romance Their lovemaking raged like the Battle of Hastings would, three hundred and sixty-one years later.

I pluck them from the shore: Two things from the old (mid-1997) Crummy which I'm going to put back up once the current Crummy returns from the dead: Grunion Time, my pre-Jake Berendes West Covina foray into magical realism; also, the Mad Magazine-esque Kris/Leonard spoof Disaster Movies We Wouldn't Like to See. In fact, due to extreme boredom I've posted Grunion Time here on C:TBS. It's not great literature, but at least it makes no sense.

Joke: I saw Douglas Hofstadter's resume today. It had no references; only self-references.

Taking solace in bad poetry: Four Things I remember the first time I saw you,
the last,
and two years in between.

Segfault update: Not much to update. I'm calling and emailing people (person) at VA trying to get a status report, but nothing yet. I'm hoping I can at least get the Segfault and Crummy data so as to be able to host such sites on my own nickel (a much bigger nickel now than it was when Scott and I started Segfault). It would really suck if I lost 2.5 years of Segfault stories and three years of my weblog (I know, I should have been keeping backups and not trusting VA to keep backups for me). I'm sure it will work out eventually. Unrelatedly: last night I dreamed that instead of purchasing one car after graduation from college, I had purchased five. As Jeeves would say, the mind boggles. Why the hell would I do that? One of the cars was apparantly really nice and it was the one I drove all the time, which brings up the question: why didn't I just buy that one? I demand that my dreams make more sense!

No, Mister Bond, I expect you to miss your flight!: Seth Schoen weighs in with more halfhearted Bond movie titles:

And one new one from me: Try Not To Say Never Again. I wanted to put For Your Eyes in the original crop, but Kevin Maples voted me down.

Von Boyage: Sumana leaves for St. Petersburg at 4 PM (Washington time, I assume). I feel as though I should be standing right off the tarmac, waving a tiny flag as her group departs. In other news: Bugzilla asks you to log in using "a legitimate e-mail address" (my italics). You know it's because people complained about not being able to log in with email addresses that were totally bogus and not the ones they had gotten accounts with.

Nothing cleans like dirt:

President Bush told NATO allies the time had come to banish the last vestiges of the Cold War by developing a security framework based on ballistic missile defenses.

Your skin will crawl!*: My mother has the terrifying story of The Mummy!

Update: She sent me several more war stories, so that section is greatly expanded. *Skin may not actually crawl.

There Ain't No Justice: I came up with a great idea for a LRU cache which was capable of resizing itself solely based on frequency of requests, but consensus is that I shouldn't bother and that the cache I have now is smart enough, even though it requires a human to figure out coefficients for a given site. And now, sour grapes: my idea was probably prone to feedback loops that would have made it unworkable, anyway. This entry is so much less interesting than the previous one that it's not even funny.

Woo Frickin Hoo: Crummy is back. Go there.

: Back on the air. As usual, take a peek at crummy.editthispage.com for hot backup site action, including halfhearted Bond movie titles, bad poetry, and true tales of home improvement terror (which tales will be copied onto this site).

I am seriously going to back up all this stuff onto my computer at home.

: A while ago, Sumana came up with the Tonight's Episode "Eenie Meenie Minie Murder". But last night Manoj, lord of the TiVo, informed me that that was the actual title of a That's My Bush! episode. So it can't really be used. Dude, where's my Tonight's Episode? Dude, that's my Bush! <- horrifying glimpse into the world of "Dude, where's my x?" Leonardonics.

: FHW: Darwin Hits Back. Ow, my back!

Actually, the reason humans are so subsceptible to back pain is that we're poorly adapted to bipedality. So... that didn't make it any funnier.

: When you get an appointment for the California DMV, you might think that the appointment gets you is service at the time of the appointment, but you'd be wrong. What it gets you is you get to get a ticket and wait for the ticket ID to be called, at which point you get service; ie. you have an appointment to make an appointment. As far as I can tell the only thing an appointment gets you is it allows you to get the ticket without standing in line.

: Tomorrow I'm going to the Fresno area to celebrate the 30th wedding anniversary of my aunt Pat and uncle Alan at some sort of huge party.

Tomorrow is the zeroth wedding anniversary of my coworker and friend Daniel Rall, and his fiancée whose name I don't know how to spell.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the end of my college education.

: I moved my mother's horror story here. Now with an all-new initial chapter!

: Also, I now have a full local backup of Crummy. Did you know that there there are about 550 megabytes of content served from the crummy.com webspace? 450 of those megabytes are MP3s hosted in /music/. Another 50 is pictures in /pix/. Everything else takes up another 50.

: I was dead-set against seeing the Tomb Raider movie, but then I heard about the breathtaking scene in which the Illuminati pay five megabucks to make a privileged attack against New York, and Lara Croft can only save the day by playing her Interference special card. Now that's excitement!

: New poll, courtesy of a conversation I had with Manoj the other day.

: I spent all this morning and most of the afternoon getting rid of the redundant HELM_DOMAIN table. And now I'm exhausted. But that annoying table is *gone*.

: Laundry Day Statistics

I have forty T-shirts. Of these, eighteen are folded the way I like.

: Moved Grunion Time over to crummy.com.

: Ever since I first read it, I've felt remiss that there was no NYCB link to Dogma 2001: A Challenge to Game Designers. Well, now there is one. Because that was it. Doh, you read right past it!

: It's like some weird parallel universe ZDNet where they actually talk about technical things.

: Yesterday in yoga I discovered a new muscle in my hamstrings. This is very good because my hamstrings are really tight, even after six months of yoga.

Sorry I don't have anything more interesting to write about. I could write about my Illuminati triumphs yesterday and Tuesday, but yesterday's triumph was quite hollow.

: It's Lisp! It's SET! It's both!

: Excellent ("very accurate and fair"), good ("mostly positive") review of Degeneracy over at SPAG.

: Oh, and, in the same issue, there's (a second) review of Guess The Verb!, this one by Degeneracy victim Cedric Knight.

: FHW: Professor who lied to give up course. Man, the things some people will do to get out of doing work.

: Today's random thought: The Money Store, an organization which I was never really sure what they did, once had (and may still have) as their pitchman former Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer. My question is, what did this guy do to get kicked out of the Hall of Fame?

: Inspired by the Degeneracy review, I finally finished the fixed bug list for Degeneracy. Contains all 300+ bugs fixed since version .31. Wrapup still forthcoming.

: Degeneracy postmortem is now finished and up. I'm really struggling to get an idea for another game that I'll be able to finish for the IF competition; I may not enter this year.

: I've been Open Directoried! I don't know who did it, but whoever did it mistook the transient (and now changed) pun in the <title> tag for the permanent title of the site.

: Reading a lot. I've decided that no book should remain in my stack of books for over a year, and some books are approaching that age. Actually I have some books I haven't finished reading for many years, but for some reason those don't count because they're not in the stack.

: One of the books I read yesterday was David Brin's The Practice Effect. I would have been happy with the first half of the book. But no, he had to go and write the whole thing. I say bah to the rule that the ending of a sci-fi book must contain some staggering revelation. Some people just do things differently. David Brin, of all people, knows this, but he had to put in the staggering revelation to satisfy convention (or possibly to make the book longer).

: On Saturday I saw a Jackie Chan action figure! I considered getting it. But I already have three action figures in use (two Jabbas and a Morn), and several more in a box somewhere in my mother's garage. Action figures are the textbook case of things you don't need that clutter up your life. Unless you have a whole bunch of them and you can make them fight.

: New (old) music: To Barbecue A Span Of Time. MP3 possible later tonight, but probably not.

: No TBaSoT MP3 tonight. I need a damned metronome so I can stay on the doubly-damned beat.

Also, I forgot to put up the quote on the Degeneracy postmortem. It's up now.

: Enterprise solutions with McSweenifier technology!

: I told Steve Zwaska about my impending birthday. He said, "I was 22 once, but only for about twelve months. Then I got sick of it and moved on."

: It has been alleged that the song To Barbecue A Span Of Time pertains in some way to a physical barbecue I recently attended. This is prima facie false, since I wrote the song in 1999 and 2000, mostly as something to sing to myself while walking back to my apartment from the UCLA campus. It took a while.

: "Seeking a deeper understanding, Chatterbox phoned Hofstadter". I like your crust!

: Bakersfield Californian, June 26, 2001

Jessie Mae Clark Services: Thurs., June 28, Noon Graveside services will be conducted by Arvin Funeral Home at the South Kern Cemetery District at noon on Thursday, June 27, 2001 for Jessie Mae Clark, age 90. Pastor John Lopez of Meridian Community Church will officiate.

Born Feb. 3, 1911 in Mena, Arkansas. Mrs. Clark passed away June 25, 2001 in Bakersfield. She was known affectionately as Grandma Jessie to many. Grandma Jessie touched many lives through volunteer work for her church and her kind spirit. Grandma Jessie could often be found working in her garden, sewing dolls, blankets and pillows to be taken to villages in Mexico. Grandma Jessie was an avid quilter and made as many as 50 quilts a year for her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Mrs. Clark is survived by her son, Dalton and wife Rosalie Richardson of Bakersfield; granddaughter, Patricia and husband Alan Dyer of Madera; grandsons, Donald and wife Joanie Richardson, Garry Richardson, Larry and wife Kathy Richardson, all of Bakersfield; granddaughter-in-law, Frances Richardson of Bakersfield; great grandchildren, Shannon and husband Shaun St. Arnaud, Brian and wife Tina Richardson, Leonard Richardson, Susanna Richardson, Kevin Richardson, Rachel Richardson, Kyle Richardson, Eric Richardson and Brett Richardson; great great granddaughter, Sydney Richardson. She was preceded in death by her husband, Walter Clark, grandson, Roy Richardson and granddaughter-in-law, Helen Richardson.

The Richardson Family would like to thank the staff at Parkview Julian Convalescent Home for their loving care of Grandma Jessie.

Arvin Funeral Home, Arvin.

: 'Ethics challenge' softens hacker con. Next year DefCon will probably have a curfew.

: Work today smelled like the UCLA engineering library. An intensely dry smell that made you question whether the smell was actually there or if there was something wrong with your sinuses. There may well be something wrong with my sinuses, because it's always the same smell.

I feel weird posting entries after the one about the death of my great-grandmother.

: Umberto Eco has a new novel out, entitled Baudolino, but it has yet to be be translated into English.

: Computational semiotics is not what I would like a field called "computational semiotics" to be, but I've decided that I can't complain since it's by strict analogy with "computational math". Oh well.

: My mother sent me pictures to go along with her home improvement travail article. I should probably put them up, but I'm too lazy.

: Laziness notwithstanding, some pictures are up.


There are plenty of ersatz Hawaiian shirts out there - fine for a backyard luau, we suppose, but impractical and faintly ridiculous under real tropical conditions. We present the genuine article.

None of this can change the fact that they want $60 for a Hawaiian shirt.

: Just got back from Berkeley, where I'd been to meet with Lia. We watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail at Shattuck Theatre. I recommend it. There were a couple scenes that hadn't been remastered and were kind of grainy, and a couple scenes started without audio, but the latter was probably a projection booth glitch.

: I'm wondering, in my idle moments, whether or not the translation of Eco's Baudolino will keep the title Baudolino, or whether there's some English equivalent of that word. It doesn't seem to have a literal translation, and I can't find any references to the word which are not references to the book.

This page says it's a person's name and also says English translation by the end of the year.

: Me to Jake:

Have you seen (pictures of) that installation piece with the wax effigy of the Pope having been hit by a meteorite? There's some broken glass on the ground nearby and I can only conclude that the meteorite hit the Pope and then, in an unrelated event, some glass broke, because the meteorite sure as hell didn't come in from that direction.

Jake to me:

after much searching (everyone links to the picture on the christies page, which is no longer) i finally found a picture and made the conclusion that the meteroite came in through the roof, and the shaking caused a nearby skylight to break.

I think Jake has lost it here, because, had the meteorite come through the roof, it would have brought some roof material with it, yet all we see is the glass. I'm starting to think that the meteorite was pitched as a beanball from within the gallery, and that His Holiness should take a base.

: Kevin always gets much more interesting spam than I do. He sent me this one with the note "At first I thought this was spam from Stack."

This is only funny to about five people, but fortunately most of those five read this weblog. The reference is to Michael Stack, a senior software developer at CollabNet who lives the very life of Riley, and who famously calls everyone "boss".

I accidentally deleted a "stack" directory on my laptop this weekend because I thought it was a CVS checkout of stack's famous intranet homepage, but it wasn't. Oh well.

: Just one week until my birthday!

: On days like today when I don't shower until noon and my hair is greasy and my skin is greasy and I'm still wearing the horribly mismatched T-shirt and pajama bottoms in which I slept, I think to myself, This is what the 70s were like..

: She regaled you with tales of her new house; now, my mother weighs in (literally (literally)) on the meteorite controversy.

: Amazing new addition to Crummy coming soon (probably tonight).

: Here's the new addition I was alluding to earlier: Jabberwocky, my mother's brand new weblog! No longer will her voice on the Web be mediated through me!

In addition to putting up some old travelogues of my mother's, I moved Home Improvement Horrors over to Jabberwocky, where it belongs. That article is by far the most sustainable source of hits for this site (though for some reason, one of Jeremey Bruce's MP3s was downloaded 550 times today), outdrawing even the homepage.

I am slowly expanding the NewsBruiser installed base. I need more relatives.

: I just finished rereading A Canticle For Leibowitz, which I'd read in fifth grade, but I'm not sure how much of it I read in fifth grade. I vividly remember some scenes from Fiat Homo, and the passage written in second person at the beginning of Fiat Lux (the first time I'd ever encountered second person, apart from text adventures). The rest of the book was completely unknown to me while I was rereading it. I don't remember the third section at all, and I now know that I'd been conflating the aforementioned second person passage with a completely different passage in a completely different science fiction book I'd also read in middle school (I don't know which book, or when), which described using stream-of-consciousness the bizarre psychological effects of hyperspatial travel.

Tangentially, Peter Hodgson has sent me a brief sci-fi opus of his own design, requesting that I vet it for accuracy as regards computers. I'm planning to allow him considerable artistic license on the weighty issues, but nitpick on little things, like the fact that you don't need a virus scanner for your Linux box. More details may be forthcoming if he consents to publication.

: I bought a book for Kris the other day, and it's in an envelope, but I haven't mailed the envelope yet.

This is Envelope Watch: Day One!

: I had a note here talking about the new version of NewsBruiser I'm working on. Fittingly, it was accidentally mangled by the new version of NewsBruiser I'm working on.

: Went outside last night to look at fireworks. I saw exactly one firework (green) due to the fog, although I heard about a million fireworks. The exact opposite of my dictum that fireworks be seen and not heard.

: Kris' mighty guitar puts my pathetic guitar to shame. I can only take solace in the fact that, unlike Kris, I actually know how to play the guitar. But with a guitar like that, and dedication like Kris's, that state of affairs can't obtain for much longer.

: So. Yesterday I redid the NewsBruiser infrastructure, getting rid of stuff that wasn't being used, and I also got the list and add CGIs working. This evening I'm going to be working on view and possibly even search (woohoo).

: For Christmas I gave Susanna a gift certificate to Target, her favorite store. Today in the mail I got a thank-you note she sent me, listing all the things she got with the gift certificate over the course of 17 trips to Target. Definitely the best thank-you note I've ever received.

NewsBruiser 1.0 is coming along quite nicely. The view cgi with its cool navigation header is working great.


<josht> Hey, the donut penguin came by! left some in the kitchen..
<josht> and boy, talk about a fat penguin!! waddle waddle waddle

: Envelope Watch: Day Four!

I mailed the envelope.

: I won a game of Illuminati with lousy cards, and lost one with really good cards. C'est la Via Appia.

: I have decided that, however much the problem of printing date navigation bars for various levels of date navigation (eg. by year, month, day, etc) may look like a problem easily solvable by one uber-abstraction, it's not. The problem is that "by year" means something different when you're viewing a whole year of entries at once (eg. "show me the next year") than it does when you're viewing a month's worth of entries at once (eg. "show me this month in the next year"). The fact that I was also trying to have the same abstraction handle both "next" and "previous" didn't help.

That said, I have now a set of abstractions which should work, once I finish writing them.

: I miss strong typing.

: This entry is stored in the file nycb/2001/7/7-3 (because it's my fourth entry today). The problem with this scheme is that sorting the filenames, which Python can do relatively quickly, doesn't sort the entries. I've changed it in new NewsBruiser to be nycb/2001/07/07-3, but that still won't sort properly if there are more than ten entries in any given day (which has happened for NYCB eight times in the past three years). I have a custom sort which will sort that properly, but even optimized it's 20 times slower than a straight filename sort. I'm going to leave it at that for now, but would it make more sense to violate the zero-one-infinity rule and make it nycb/2001/07/07-03? Then I could use the filename sort, but if for some reason a notbook got more than 100 entries in a day, it would break.

: Da-da-da-da-da-dada! Newsbruiser Search! The code is ugly, but I'll revisit it after I do the editor.

: It's all over but the shouting. The new NewsBruiser can do almost everything the old version can, and more (if that makes sense). It's 1000 more lines of code, but it feels like less. Tomorrow I'll be putting the finishing touches on it, and hopefully writing the docs as well.

: Oops, it's only 400 more lines of code. My mistake.

Going to sleep now before I start making more serious mistakes.

: Gads! Actual critical analysis of Degneracy!

: The only new NewsBruiser functionality I have still to write is the "this day in history" SSI script. Apart from that it's just testing, code cleanup, and doc writing.

: Well, as you can see, I've written the "this day in history" script, though I'm not sure where on the page it should go.

Also, I just noticed that the Degeneracy literary analysis page plays a funny Degeneracy-esque trick on you. Try it!

: Just some more documentation and code cleanup to go. You can look at the NewsBruiser web page, even though none of the links work. I need a snappy slogan for the web page. I've been thinking up riffs on "hard-hitting news" but so far they're all pretty clumsy.

: Thanks to all those who wished me a happy birthday today. I am in fact having a happy birthday, since I had some time to get rid of a lot of cruft that had built up in Helm.

: Also, tomorrow is my first year anniversary at CollabNet, whereupon my stock options become (partially) vested.

: So, Josh and Elise took me to an Italian restaurant for my birthday (Emmy's, which Elise recently mentioned in her weblog). It was pretty good, albeit the service was slow. Also unfortunate is the splitting headache I developed this afternoon. However, let me speak of happier things, viz. the two things I got in the mail today. I will be opening them now, live, on the Web.

The first is a card from Susanna. It has a cartoon of Piglet of Winnie the Pooh fame sliding down a wooden slide, and it says:

Whee! You're 3 22!

Very touching, you'll agree.

The second is a package from my mother, which cost *exactly* as much to send to me as it cost me to mail the Envelope Watch envelope (the exciting (no lie) and knee-slapping (still no lie) conclusion to Envelope Watch coming tomorrow, so stay tuned). I open it and find... a book! Not just any book. The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction, Eighth Series, published in 1957.

Today's Fiction -- Tomorrow's Facts

LIFE Magazine says there are more than TWO MILLION science fiction fans in this country. From all corners of the nation comes the resounding proof that science fiction has established itself as an exciting and imaginative NEW FORM OF LITERATURE that is attracting literally tens of thousands of new readers every year!

Not a bad haul for my birthday, especially considering I get free food from other people from work for the rest of the week at least.

I'm going to try and sleep off this headache now. Most people would have a headache waking up the day after their birthday, but not I. Hopefully not I, anyway.

: So, obviously I didn't sleep as much as I might have. What's worse, in my fitful dreams I was writing Python code for what seemed like hours. I don't know what it was for, but there was a lot of string manipulation involved.

Apart from my headache and fever, I feel pretty good; I'm not tired or anything.

: Envelope Watch: The Conclusion

The envelope I sent to Kris contained the purported Arabic Necronomicon I found in Berkeley. Last night, Kris sent me this cryptic (but not cryptonomic) message.

My dear colleague Dr. Richardson,

The package you posted last week has arrived at my study in good condition. The script is disturbingly clear, given the date of the medium. (Perhaps Drs. Charles, Dexter, &c. from the records department would be interested in the ancient preservation technique that must have been used on the original manuscripts!)

Even my brother -- whom I believe you met at the linguistics department conference last August, if you recall -- has had difficulty even beginning the translation, though he has come across several words and phrases at random scattered about the pages. He spoke to me rather excitedly this morning about a late night in the study with the Al-Azif, having found a section where the word "al-ab-so-urikyya," or "immortality," occurs no less than thirty-three times. He strongly believes this chapter details a recipe for immortality, though I remain pragmatic. He seems to spend an inordinate amount of time in the study, now... even at the expense of his classes. I feel sorry for his students; a passion for work fuels new discoveries, but I fear their teacher is a bit too devoted to the material.

Well, I must be finishing up now. Work continues and I'll let you know what comes of it, if anything. My sincere thanks to you and your department for donating this fascinating text to our archives.

Fond wishes,
Dr. Kristofer Straub.
Miskatonic University
June 9th, 1927.

P.S. Aaagh, I emptied my revolver into it and yet it keeps coming, don't know how long I can hold out, must write these words of warning, that damned book, I welcome oblivion, yadda yadda yadda.

: As long as I'm cleaning out the Necronomicon bin, allow me to point you to this fake picture done by Pete Peterson II.

: I'm switching between writing my performance self-evaluation and reading A Field Study of the Software Design Process For Large Systems, which we're going to be studying tomorrow evening. Actual quote from disgruntled customer representative quoted in the report:

They didn't have enough people who understood warfare to assess what a war actually meant. When we say we're going to use this system to ... search areas ... [they] thought you do it with a fixed geometric method. Whereas I had to explain you don't... it's always relative to the kind of force you are protecting. Suddenly, that becomes a whole different problem.

I'm glad our clients don't file bug reports like that.

: Got tickets to Utah last night. I'll be there from the night of the 18th to the morning of the 23rd. The occasion is the 80th birthday of my great-aunt Lejeune, which will apparantly be quite the bash. I am signed up to bring tortillas and paper plates.

: NewsBruiser release will be delayed due to sickness. I've got it on the run, but I've still got 5-10 hours of work to do on it; more if I want to do the XML format entries and config in 1.0.

Example of my delirium: I was playing Nethack and interpreting the foibles of the random number generator as the surrealism of a sentient being, eg. "Why was that jackal carrying around eggs?"

: The NewsBruiser system is now exactly 1812 lines of code. I've cleaned up all the classes (except for one hack which I haven't yet figured out how to get rid of), so there's just the documentation to do.


"Math documents, for example, should run through a math compiler that not only verified that the documents can run but that they are true..."


: My coworker Stephane is part of IBM's Linux campaign. This is a sweet deal for IBM; it doesn't sound like they paid her anything.

: Leonardonics bonanza! Includes "x, gix", "The X Council", and many more.

: NewsBruiser 1.0 is good enough that I've started using it on the live site. All the crummy.com weblogs are now running on 1.0. I'll be tarring it up now so that the masses can download it.

: It's up. 21K compressed, 140K uncompressed. It comes with documentation.

: In celebration of the NewsBruiser release (candidate), I totally redid the devel page, limiting the scope to programs that somebody else might actually find useful or interesting; adding the McSweenifier, eCow, and Helm to the list; adding dates to everything; and rewriting many of the program descriptions.

: I wrote the technical document, so all the docs I was planning to write, I've written. I've made some changes but they're too minor to go into a release candidate. I'm waiting for Josh's experiences getting NewsBruiser set up and using it before I call it done.

: Leonardonics mini-bonanza! Includes "Dude, Where's My X?" and "Tonight's Episode". That should do it for a while.

: Where do I go for an online store which is like Amazon, yet which is not evil like Amazon?

: Also, what are the chances of obtaining a DVD player which, once I purchase it, becomes my faithful servant and does not mantain secret sympathies with the people who make the DVDs? (eg. by playing the region coding switcheroo on me or disabling my fast-forward button at inopportune moments) If I were going to buy a DVD player, should I buy now before said sympathies in new units become stronger?

: I saw Don Hopkins' pie menu stuff years ago and I thought at the time that it was a good idea which would never be implemented anywhere people would use it. But I'd forgotten about the game as introducer of new UI concepts, and it turns out that Hopkins was paid to implement pie menus for The Sims. Way to go! I am serious in my felicitations; I for one know that if I'd spent fifteen years pushing some new concept and finally gotten it into something as popular as The Sims, I'd be real happy.

Don also has a Stanislaus Lem page.

: Lovely. Kris gets to use his comic to get greater exposure for jokes which, while they are years old, were never heard by anyone but himself and myself.

: I was really cranky last night and I took it out on my friends, which I should not have done. I'm sorry.

That makes it sound like I hit someone, which I did not do. Can't one apologize for little social infractions without arousing suspicion?

: False Advertising: A Case Study

The front cover of my videocassette of Jackie Chan's The Young Master shows Jackie in jeans and a tank top. The video capture on the back shows Jackie in some sort of mechanic getup with the Mitsubishi logo on it, in front of what appears to be a fireworks stand. He's standing next to a Mediterranean-looking guy in slacks and a partially unbuttoned dress shirt.

The box cover copy says, in part, "While trying to help a friend avoid a life of crime, Jackie repeatedly runs into villians and police, all of whom want him out of their business."

Nowhere does the box cover copy mention that The Young Master is set entirely in imperial China, with no time travel excursions of any kind and therefore no Mitsubishi logos, fireworks stands, or Mediterranean-looking guys in slacks and unbuttoned dress shirts. In fact, I dare say that the video capture is from an entirely different movie.

I cannot imagine why the designers of the box cover felt the need to cover up this rather fundamental fact about The Young Master, especially since it is probably five times better than the firework stand movie. Whatever the motive, though, the crime is clear: false advertising. And murder. No, just kidding.

: Song lyric for which I will probably never find a song:

Two thousand miles in her seven league boots

: I'm packed for Utah, though I have yet to choose books to bring along. I'm working on the biography of Franklin my mother got me for Christmas, which is okay though so far it is mainly retreading ground already covered in Franklin's autobiography (though what did I expect, I guess). So that, and a couple paperbacks.

I packed shorts and no cold-weather clothes (I really, really dislike checking bags and doing the baggage claim dance, so even for long trips I try to pack only enough to carry on the plane) because the weather forecast said the temperature would range from the 60s to the mid-90s. I am suspicious of this because all my memories of Utah involve intense cold. However, I'm fairly sure that this is because I've only ever been before in the winter. Also, I have a mental image of Utah as being made up entirely of mountainous crags, which is prima facie untrue as that would leave no place for the Great Salt Lake.

: I thought my camera was broken, but it's not. I almost wish it were broken, since that would give me an excuse to buy a new one. The zoom is broken and the battery case needs to be taped into place, but so long as it can still take pictures and transfer them onto my computer (1436 so far), I feel I must stick with it.

: So, the result of my camera cleaning-out: Manoj at the IHOP, Kevin as you've never seen him before (smiling, clean-shaven, and wearing a T-shirt), and a bunch of pictures from Pat and Alan's wedding anniversary.

: I signed up for a chair massage from 4:00 to 4:15. I think the massage is actually of me, and that a chair is merely somehow involved. It better be of me, since I'm not paying $15 just to help some chair relax. Or am I?

My neck and back are still sort of sore from my recent illness, and I'm hoping that the massage will help. I feel odd buying massage on the open market, as up until now I have merely availed myself of friends for such things.

: Chair massage was pretty good. Now it's back to cleaning up BaseHelmServlet until Kevin's ready to take me to the airport.

: Back of the book blurb for Signal To Noise:

...and hostile takeovers are just as common across light years as they are across boardroom tables.

I actually think they would be slightly less common.

Signal To Noise looks like the mainstream American SF version of His Master's Voice.

: This may be the last NYCB entry for a while. I don't know what the computer situation is in Utah.

: I'm in Utah, staying with Susanna at the moment. I'm writing this from a BYU computer lab. My mother will allegedly be here later today.

I had my picture taken with a large plexiglass dinosaur replica.

Unrelatedly (oddly enough): "It says DINOSAUR, not PICTURE OF DINOSAUR." -- Me to Susanna

: robotfindskitten: the Java applet!

: Also, another McSweenifier case study.

: The mad scientists of the Utah area have concocted a syrup called "fry sauce" which consists of blended ketchup and mayonnaise. A bottle of it was placed on our table in the restaurant at which we ate. Susanna says that she creates it for the denizens of her cafeteria. She says that if a Utahn runs out of fry sauce he or she does not know how to make more (though I have yet to verify this). She says that there is branded fry sauce sold in the supermarkets (ditto, but more believable).

Don't they know that when you do anything distinctive involving mayonnaise it makes your state a laughingstock? My advice to states and their inhabitants: stay far, far away from mayonnaise.

: Back from Utah. At work. Trying to figure out how this web browser thing works.

: Correction (to this entry); the actual rank achieved by my great-aunt Lejeune during her service in the Army Air Corps was that of lieutenant.

: By the way, I was right about the nature of Signal To Noise, though conceivably wrong about the relative frequency of hostile takeovers.

: I heard someone breathing. They were really close. I turned around. No one. I turned back around. The breathing resumed.

It turned out I was the one who was breathing.

: Out-of-context IRC quote:

<leonardr> what if dogs walked on their hind legs and wore funny hats?
<jrobbins> that would simplify and make things more consistent

: Utah pictures are up; do to a freak of camera weirdness the first five pictures are actually the last five pictures I took. My recommendations: fry sauce, the funniest inadvertent math joke ever, not the funniest, but one of the funniest advertent physics jokes ever, preposition-buzzword form in the wild, Susanna the 1988 BYU Homecoming Queen. I need to learn not to make stupid faces in pictures. They never turn out very funny.

Also of historical interest is this picture which, as Susanna mentioned, I used to find my way back to her house. It's actually very simple. Since the picture was taken at about 9 in the morning, I'm obviously facing south. I also know that I'm facing towards Susanna's house, so to find her house later all I have to do is find south and go there.

: Books I read on my vacation: The First American (finished it), Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (I think there should be a book called Damn, You're A Jerk, Mr. Feynman! (even though I really like Feynman, it would be funny)), The Boilerplate Rhino (not very good, but did expose the extent of the artistic license taken by Norfolk in The Pope's Rhinoceros), most of Signal To Noise, and two others which will remain secret for now, because they are gifts for someone else.

A good illustration between the difference between intellectual property and real property is that if I buy someone some candy as a gift and then suffer a lapse of willpower and eat the candy myself, there's no more gift. But if I buy someone a book as a gift and then read it myself, I can still use it as a gift (assuming the recipient won't mind that the book has already been read, which is certainly not the case in this instance).

: In a reverse of the usual pattern, the lacklusterness of Signal To Noise was lessened by a decent ending, decent enough that I might even read the sequel. One funny thing is that the copyright page at the front contains copyright notices for excerpts from several books... including Signal To Noise itself! I couldn't figure this out until I finished the book and found a little advertising supplement in the back with excerpts from other books from the same publisher, including a reprint of the beginning of Signal To Noise. They put the same advertising supplement in all their books, even in a book which is featured in the advertising supplement.

: Things I Compulsively Do To Be Funny Even Though They Are Not At All Funny
Second In A Series

When someone grows a goatee who did not previously wear a goatee, I allege that they are actually the 'evil' version of themselves, as per the Star Trek episode Mirror, Mirror.

: In Utah I played three games of Illuminati with Susanna, but none with my mother or any members of my non-immediate family due to time constraints.

: Jake informs me that he and his friends sang Susie's Mother's Tamales as a round on the way home from a party. I experimented with it, and while I didn't actually record myself and try to sing on top of it (my usual decision procedure for roundness), it looks like that song does indeed make a good round.

: Got My First XML-RPC Call (TM) working today. Kevin and I are digging a tunnel from opposite directions and when we meet, Issuezilla will get its permission information from Helm instead of Helm having to constantly be synchronizing its information with Issuezilla. We're going to do something similar with CVS as well. I sincerely hope that the days of having six implementations of the permission checking algorithm in five different languages are over; all we should have after this are the two (optimized in different ways) Java implementations.

Also, Seth sent word that robotfindskitten will be making an appearance in the LNX-BBC bootable business card image. They'll let any sort of junk into that distro, apparantly. It's worse than Debian.

: Two things.

: "Make the call, and the permission check is free!"

: So, woohoo, Kevin is making Issuezilla use Helm's permission server, and today I finished rewriting the CVS permission checker to use it. I got rid of about 200 lines of Perl; the value to society is enormous!

I choked on my water a while ago. Jeff said "Are you okay? Do you need a beer?" Jeff, I can't even handle my water.

: So, Steve was the only other inhabitant of my performance review, but apart from that it went according to plan.

: Downloading pictures from last night as I type this. After they go up, it's off to Berkeley. What a jet-setting lifestyle I lead.

: Here you go. My favorites are the "Free Dmitry" ones (1 2) There are many other great ones, however. Also of note is the fact that, after four years, I finally got the Nerth Pork t-shirt which was my prize for winning the robotfindskitten contest.

Ok, that's it for now. I'm off.


Cops don't like my profile
'Cause Mix-A-Lot kicks much style

Those are some petty, petty cops.

: "The user would not have to decide which license they are using it under until (if) they are taken to court." Talk about late binding!

: "We need to elevate bugs to the state of gossip so that news of their fixing will spread more quickly."

: On Sunday I bought a little Lego set ("Com-Link Cruiser"). Some of the translations of the name of the set make certain assumptions not present in the English name: "Nave de Rastreo Lunar".

I attempted with almost complete success to reverse-engineer it by building it without looking at the instructions. Then I took it apart and built this really asymmetrical thing. Then I took that apart and built a vehicle designed to operate either right side up or upside-down. My whole Lego design sensibility is radically different from what it used to be; I used to be all about symmetry. This is also the first Lego thing I've ever built where it's okay to have the underside of the bricks facing up. I must admit that the stuff I did as a kid looked a lot nicer, but that's probably just because I had more than 58 pieces to work with.

Somewhere along the line, Lego's space sets stopped being spaceships and manned planetside vehicles, and became the terrestrial appendages of some space agency. I guess they don't want to cannibalize sales from their Star Wars line. Also, need I even point out the deleterious effect of giving a unique face to every single Lego person in every single set?

: Brian has to autograph 80 copies of Open Sources for use as survey prizes. "I'm doing the part I can't outsource, which is to sign my own name."

: Congratulations to the Popovics on the birth of their daughter Zoe!

: I haven't driven my car for several weeks and during that time it had become incredibly filthy, I know not how. So this morning I had to wash it. I was hoping the rain would wash it for me, but the rain only made it dirtier.

: Kris says:

Tonight's Episode kills me. When I saw "They Murdered The Evidence," I died laughing. Damn, I feel like the Crypt Keeper.

: Two things before I retire: rave for Guess The Verb! over at this weblog.

Also, an idea for an Illuminati special card that's so good we might actually draw it up: the Those Meddling Kids card. Playable any time it would cause someone to shake their fist and exclaim "I woulda gotten away with it, too, if it hadn'ta been for Those Meddling Kids!"

: I can't help but think there might be some other explanation.

: There appears to be not a single fan site dedicated to Doob-doob, the vain, stupid, but lovable crocodile from the Amar Chitra Katha series of comic books. How long can this deplorable state of affairs obtain?

: The San Francisco housing projects are the only places to live in San Francisco where there is adequate vegetation around the housing units.

: I can't get through to gogol so I can't check my email. Oh well.

The reason I'm up so late is that I went to a game night with Elise and two of her friends. We played Seafarers of Catan, twice, and I lost horribly but it was fun.

I'm going to stay up a bit longer to watch Tonight's Episode change, and then turn in. It's an exciting life I lead, no doubt.

: Went to Kevin's weekly Friday party and spent the night. Heading back to SF now.

Sumana comes back from Russia very late on the seventh and I'll be meeting her at the airport. That's the highlight of my social calendar for the week.

: Last night, as an alternative to Burning Man, Manoj suggested Lightly Toasted Man.

: Elise is having her birthday party tonight but I'm not going because I need to catch up on sleep. However this should not be construed as me not wishing Elise a happy birthday. This birthday party is also the birthday party of various other people, including Robey Pointer.

: While snooping through Daniel Hsu's bookmarks I found this useful set of tips for CS graduates going to work in the Silicon Valley area. I reccommend it to those who fit that criteria or similar criteria.

: Kevin on tigris.org project names, actual and proposed: "We need to take away Jason's book of Sumerian mythology."

: Oh. Yesterday morning, riding the BART, was a man made up as Charlie Chaplin's tramp. Presumably he had some good reason for doing that, but it was still pretty creepy.

: I was doing some cleaning yesterday and I haven't been able to get the smell of bleach out of my hands. It's like Macbeth in reverse.

: Can anyone tell me what's behind this link? Crummy got a hit (but only one) with that as referer today, and I don't care enough to sign up with the site to see what it says there, if indeed it says anything.

: I talked with Sumana over the phone and she came up with two choice bits. The first is "Dude, Where's Car 54?". The second is dialogue from a hypothetical P.G. Wodehouse slash fanfic.

"Oh, dash it all, Jeeves, take me! Take me now!"
"I have already done so, sir."

: I'm back from meeting Sumana at the airport. Hooray! I'm tired, so I'll retire now. It's a bit of a joke, you see.

Okay, that was bad. I really do need to sleep.

: I made up a new chord progression and tune to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and it's very catchy, but let's face it, there's really no market for new tunes to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".

: While in Russia, Sumana got me a bootleg copy of Dude, Where's My Car?, horribly dubbed into Russian (some guy reading the script in a monotone dubbed onto the soundtrack). It alleged "Real DVD quality" but it was a regular CD, and it alleged "MPEG 4 Video" but it was actually a very small (in screen size) AVI. We watched it by continuously pushing the key that jumped it forward 20 seconds, and got through it in about 5 minutes. I was surprised to see that it actually had some good sight gags.

mplayer, which we used to view the AVI, is a really neat program. It lets you use Windows media codecs on Linux. Of course the relevant portions of mplayer are not free software (nor are the codecs), but when you're watching bootleg copies of Dude, Where's My Car?, there's really no moral high ground.

The Russian word for "dude" is the first two syllables of "Chewbacca". I find this hilarious.

: So, all this week I've been working on Tigris architecture, which is a lot of fun. My magnum opus is the Helm Component Integration Guide, which talks about how to write software to integrate with Helm and to integrate existing software into Helm. Today I wrote a proposal for cross-component search which I'm pretty proud of, even though I was largely standing on the shoulders of Michael Stack.

: Behold the abominations that are The Porkchesters! (more, if you can stand it)

: I just typed "Otherwise, the nothing happens."

: Ah, here's your implementation of the original Mahjongg.

: I am reading London: The Novel, which I got from my mother's book pile. It is teaching me that I should be wary of Anything: The Novel. The author commits many of the literary offenses popularized by Fennimore Cooper.

: I'm pleased to have come up with the name "Representation Without Taxation" for the Helm/Issuezilla XML-RPC integration scheme.

: More component integration madness with the advent of the Event Propagation Architecture doc and the Search Plugin Architecture doc.

: I'm off to the CollabNet picnic at Ardenwood Historical Farms, where I assume they grow history.

: During my afternoon nap I dreamed a sitcom in which the family whose sitcom it was kept changing ethnicities (and therefore actors). As far as premises for sitcoms go, this is actually above average, but my dream can't take credit for it because it's a special case of an idea I've had for a while. It got me thinking about an adversarial card game centered around an episode of a sitcom, in which some players are working to disrupt the sitcom by causing problems for the characters, and other players are working to resolve those problems before the end of the half-hour. As usual, however, I don't know how to design adversarial card games (all I know is that there would be a "Very Special Episode" card), and mere ideas for them are a dime a dozen. My idea is worth $0.008333...

The picnic was great, though I can't help but think it would have been better if we'd made it a potluck in some quiet place rather than sharing an inferior catered event with hundreds of other people (note, however, that it was still great). Sumana came with and got her face painted with "Free Dmitry". We played badminton with Jason Brittain and his wife. Pictures are on the other computer and I am lazy, so you probably won't see them until tomorrow. Wait, you know what I just realized? The flyer claimed there would be corn on the cob at the picnic, but there was no corn and no cob. I knew I was missing something!

I have some other ideas, mostly for non-interactive fiction, the authorship of which is a skill I have yet to master. I waffle and rewrite endlessly and am never satisfied with the result. The security guard encounter in Jake Berendes West Covina makes me wince. I need practice.

: I think Seth should do some sort of beer commercial: "After a hard day of freeing Dmitry, I like to relax with a nice, frosty brew." Sumana says Seth would never do such a commercial. It could be changed to be some sort of nonalcoholic beverage, but that's just not working-class enough.

I wrote about four kilobytes of text for a story called "Blue". It's almost a Lem story, but it's based on a mental image of mine that dates from high school, my pre-Lem days.

Wow, ADOM 1.0 is out! It was out days ago! And I'm too tired to play it!

Today's final note: Mike Popovic has once again found gainful employment, and has set up a NewsBruiser site for his baby daughter which I hope to be able to link to soon.

: Actually I've already linked to Mike's Zoe site.

: Lo and behold, picnic pictures are up.

: The bug in The Knapsack Problem has been eating at me for months, so today I decided to pull it down and see what the problem was. The bug has now been fixed, and now I can sleep at night. Unfortunately, it's morning.

: There is a new version of Katzdot out, but I didn't bother to upgrade because it actually reduces functionality (by removing "Fail" from the list of things that Flamers, Troubled Teens, The MPAA, or any of the other Jon Katz Illuminati cards might or might not be able to do). Don't ask me why.

: The Cautious Mad Scientist: First In A Series


: The Cautious Mad Scientist: Second In A Series


: "I'm campaigning for the nine-bit byte."

: Joe Mahoney Presents The Cautious Mad Scientist: Third In A Series:

There was a high statistical probability of success, discounting the external influence of those meddling kids!

: Segfault: Gates Claims Netscape Never Used Safeword

: Today I got a utility class I wrote for dealing with Java streams into the Jakarta Commons project. For some reason I'm very shy about committing things to Jakarta, and it's difficult for me to think of the other Turbine/Jakarta developers as peers, even though I work with three of them. Every bit of my code that gets into the project helps me to overcome this misconception.

: Today I am invited to another game night with Elise and her friends.

I am going to be working on another story in parallel with Blue. However it is taking a while to get started because it's a constrained writing exercise and I have to figure out the right constraint.


<SteveZ> While fiddling with a new recipe for a sigularity (using
         an infinite quanitiy of Hormel Chili, some chopped up spam
         and an infinitely large pinch of Mrs Grass's No-Salt
         Seasoning Mix this time) 
<SteveZ> I put it into the (infinitely large) press, Squeezed it
         infinitely small and it warp time and space so badly that
         there is now an infinitely deep, funnel shaped hole in my
         bath tub and it won't hold water any more.
<SteveZ> That sux because I really enjoy long hot baths.
<SteveZ> I tried stuffing towels into the hole to close it off but
         they just got sucked down towards the singularity :(
<SteveZ> The only upside I can see is that I no longer have to
         worry about the 1-35-gallon-container limitation on our
         garbage pickup service

: Geek-targeted banner ad: "Hyper-caffeinated mints, made with real sugar!"

: Again I lost both games of Seafarers of Catan (though I did much better than last time). However, I did win the warm-up game of Kill Dr. Lucky (It's a game! It's a bizarre sexual euphemism! It's both!), and earlier today I beat Manoj and Dan in an all-too-easy game of Illuminati (I kept turning over good cards and they kept rolling 11s).

For the past week and a half I have had a craving for strawberry shortcake.

: Oh yeah: I spent most of the day implementing the Helm event propagation mechanism, and it works great for simple cases. It is so easy to add in hooks it's not even funny (not that it would be funny if it were harder). I'm very proud of my little event propagation mechanism.

: Pedantic Lessons Tangentially Related To DRM: First In A Series

Data can not "erase itself". Only software can erase data.

: I found and fixed a (very minor) bug in Spread! The context was that Helm singleton elections were never finishing and suffering from other irregularities as to who was allowed to vote, which led to many Florida jokes being made by people who were not me.

: After playing a few games of ADOM 1.0, I can say that its main new feature is a Knapsack Problem-like assignment of prefixes and suffixes to previously ordinary weapons and armor.

: Oh! My event propagation mechanism will be making it (in very primitive form) into Tigris 1.2, because there was an even more primitive event propagation mechanism called Plugins, which Jason wrote and which my mechanism obsoletes. We present... My Mechanism!

: You're leading the Digital LifestyleTM, and then you need to make a shopping list and there's no damn paper in the house.

: If you come to my house you can have all the strawberry shortcake you want (unless you want more than I have). I made a bunch. In fact, I made too much.

: Raph Levien helped me get my advogato password back, so after an delay of over a year, I've finally updated my advogato page. In my absence, my advogato certification was upgraded to Journeyer due to the efforts of coworkers who had not forgotten their advogato passwords.

: Raph mentioned in his email to me that he'd enjoyed Guess The Verb!, which inspired me to read through the source code again. There's a lot of stuff I'd forgotten about, including the fact that the cashier in the UCLA scenario and the bridge troll in the cave scenario have a long-distance relationship going.

: Sumana asks, "What Would Jeeves Do?"

: Yesterday was a shopping bonanza! I got new shoes and a new phone to replace my dilapidated old shoes and unusable old phone. I also got a bathmat for the immediate exterior of the shower so I no longer have to pretend that towels are as good as bathmats.

: Mike on his new game testing job:

it's actually a lot like an old 1950s factory job. everyone must show up at 9am. work is assigned. everyone must take lunch from 1-2pm. two 15 minutes breaks (11am & 4pm). turn in your game disk and hours log at 6pm. all that is missing is a Flinstones-esque factory whistle.

: My new shoes are about two pounds lighter than my old pair; apparantly nowadays they can make shoes which incorporate no steel at all! I ran to catch a light on my way to the BART and I ran a lot faster than in my other shoes.

: One "jihad baydoun" just sent me my first Arabic spam. I've now gotten spam in Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and probably Russian and Spanish (though I can't think of any specific examples). Collect them all! I'm still waiting for the Esperanto and Latin spam.

: The fire alarm went off in our building (a false alarm), so we all trooped downstairs and outside, where I saw none other than Fortune columnist Stewart Alsop, who was apparantly visiting one of the companies in the building.

: I got an Esperanto (?) spam from Kris, but I'm still waiting for the Latin spam.

: Thanks to Kris (Esperanto) and Seth (Latin) for their respective spams!


A lot of people at collab ask "What does Ops do?", "What do I need to do in order to get 'X' done for my project?", "What is the Ops process for 'Y'" and "Why did Elise try and bite me?"

--Robert Benefield, director of Ops

: Wednesday and yesterday I wrote a Helm component called HappyAlligator which is sort of the 'Hello World' of Helm components. It has a bunch of alligators which are informed of Helm events. Additions (of projects, users, etc.) make them happy, and deletions make them unhappy. Thanks to Mike for drawing the alligator pictures for me. I will put up a screenshot sometime when I'm done abstracting stuff out of HappyAlligator.

: Quote from last night's party: "[Claude] Shannon said it, I believe it, that settles it."


She was mean, obscene, and squeaky clean
About the size of a lima bean
Her steely eye had a manaical gleam
The Android Assassin From Vega XV

That's my new song.

: I was thinking of Steven Wolfram earlier today (Steven Wolfram is one of my 1000 minor obsessions), and later today from a variety of sources I've found a new interview with him. And I was reminded of what Michael Shermer said in his interview that I read today, that doing something brilliant buys you attention capital which you can spend later on in getting people to listen to your crazy idea and evaluating whether or not it's actually crazy.

: I think tonight I will catch up on email. I owe email to a bunch of people.

: Banner ads like this are much more effective when the hosting page thinks they're the regular banner ad size. Also, why is that a warning?

: I had hoped to get digital representations of A Credit To His Demographic tonight, but unfortunately my tape player is not a credit to its demographic at all. It plays everything very loudly and with much distortion. I'll need to go to Radio Shack and find something to connect my little portable tape player to the computer.

Man, the solo for Peanut Butter And KY Jelly is cool.

: I took care of my most pressing email needs, but many emails went unwritten last night. Oh well.

: I'm eating very good zucchini bread, which Elise's friends gave to me the last time I went to a game night. Zucchini bread was the classic example of something I would never, ever eat when I was younger. I think I might try carrot cake again, too. I used to always feel ripped off at a party or something when the cake turned out to be a carrot cake, but I might enjoy it now.

: Wow, a Segfault story was published on ZDNet China.

: Seth has tempted me with a copy of the BBC that has robotfindskitten on it if I show up at LinuxWorld, but I have more pressing matters to attend to.

: The Cautious Mad Scientist: Fourth In A Series


: This is the first diagram I've ever seen that makes Pluto look big.


And in the best possible way, too -- not by federal antitrust lawyers, but a bespectacled geek from Finland.

Why is Finland optimal?


Jeff: You don't eat shrimp, right?
Susan: Nope.
Jeff: How about... beef?
Susan: Not usually, no.

: So... I don't have words enough or time right now, so let me just point to lucas's writings on a subject which greatly affects me: the proprietarization of Helm, a project (Helm, not its proprietarization) I've been working on for over a year.

I'll be publishing more on this topic later. In the meantime, if you care (which is unlikely), I've put up a mirror of the CVS trees as they were yesterday.

: Apparantly I missed my old friend Joe Barr at LinuxWorld. I knew there was some reason I wanted to go. Well, hopefully next time.

: I changed NewsBruiser to get rid of the sudden ceasing of entries at the start of a new month, which always struck me as a little abrupt, seeing as how my life does not change significantly just because it's a new month. It will now always display at least the ten most recent entries. It was that or arrange my life so that every month ended in a cliffhanger which was resolved on the first of the next month. Will Leonard's hastily committed patch break the build? Tune in next time and find out!

: Via Seth, I must point out "an extremely worthwhile explanation of the difference between the use of cryptography for privacy (confidentiality) and the use of cryptography for copy protection." It's exactly the sort of snarky thing I wish I could write (and, notwithstanding that wish, occasionally do write).

: Funny Names For Things: First In A Series

A lingierie store targeted to geeks could be called "Victoria's Private Key".

Also, an open source clone of the Windows solitaire game could be called FreeFreeCell.

: Sumana and I came up with a workable partial mapping from Sesame Street to Lord of the Rings: Big Bird as Gandalf, Cookie Monster as Gollum, Oscar and Slimy as Saruman and Wormtongue, and of course the Count as Sauron. "One! One Ring to rule them all! Ah ah ah!" [thunderclap]

: Wowsers! Doc Searls (who must be in some sense the plural of philosopher of consciousness John Searle) points to a fascinating editorial on venture capitalists, the group whom engineers as a whole regard with that particular brand of contempt in which Marxism holds capitalists in general. It was better than Cats. I'm going to read it again and again.

I just commited a tiny bug fix to the Apache XML-RPC server. I have little bits of code in about 5 different projects now.

: Today I started a new component called Picayune (Bloom County reference) to hold Helm's news item functionality. Earlier I'd finished all the component UI integration framework (at least, all the integration that was neccessary to completely separate the document component from Helm instead of halfway separating it the way Jason did; more may be neccessary for other components). So now I can start moving code for creating software artifacts out of Helm and into components, where such code belongs.

: Sumana told me that the VC article I linked to was posted on Slashdot previously. I said "I need to start reading Slashdot just so I know what not to post to NYCB."

: People complain about the price of gas. Not my gas! Come on down to Boyle's Gas Farm! We've got all types of gas! Gas at all temperatures! Gas at all pressures! People ask me: how do I make money with such low prices? I tell them: VOLUME!

: I have that peculiar form of headache which makes me think that at some point I inadvertently held my breath for a really long time and that as a result part of my brain is now deprived of oxygen.

: Thanks to Seth, I have a bunch of the bootable business cards with robotfindskitten on them. While I was playing it I found, as an NKI, a Nethack message I'd never seen before ("For a moment, you feel something in your hands, but it disappears!"). After much deliberation I correctly identified the source of that message, which is below (rot13ed in case you want to figure it out yourself).

Lbh trg gung zrffntr vs lbh znxr n jvfu gung'f vzcbffvoyr (sbe na negvsnpg nyernql trarengrq) be gbb nzovgvbhf (sbe n cyhf rvtug terl qentba fpnyr znvy).

But the point of this entry is to thank Seth for the bounty of BBCs he gave me, and to celebrate my newfound having been published on a Linux distribution's CD.

: Tomorrow is Unix 1 billion second day! (qv.) Seth is hosting a celebratory dinner, which I may or may not attend due to my mother and sister being in town.

: So we've *finally* tagged the 1.2 release. It always seems like the head of the tree, which I work on is great and clean, and the branch, which I have to visit to backport bug fixes, is ugly and old. This is just a reflection of the fact that the code is always improving, because as 1.2 approached tagging I became acutely aware of all the things that are still wrong with it (not nearly as many as last time, though) and that I'm going to have to be backporting fixes for for forever (how about that alliteration!).

: Oh. The other day Seth was telling Sumana and myself about a Shakespearean programming language (which has apparently had a run on Slashdot). My joke was, "But then it turns out that your program was actually written by Bacon."

: Rachel and I were in the supermarket yesterday and couldn't help noticing the World Weekly News, which blared from its front page: "PRESIDENT BUSH CLONED!... & an imposter is in the White House, insiders say!" Note that these are actually two unrelated stories.

: Went with Sumana yesterday to Golden Gate Park so as to celebrate the 1 billionth second. We were looking for Seth, but by the time we got there (after a harrowing ride in a bus with a driver who seemed about to go on a killing spree at any moment) the only relevant people present were EFF people packing up from the Share-InTM, and Seth was not among them. Nobody knew where Seth had gone, so we celebrated the 1 billionth second by walking around a bit and looking in a bookstore. Seth's side of the story.

: Some have complained that Crummy's "Tonight's Episode" feature is a bit lowbrow, and not up to the same educated standards as the rest of the site. So to rectify this situation, this week is a special Modern Fiction week of Tonight's Episode. We start off with Michael Chabon's The Amazing Murders Of Kavalier And Clay.

: I went to work only to learn that I should go home because of our proximity to SFO. Craig very graciously gave me a ride home. What a mess.

: Everyone I know in New York is all right. I don't know anyone who would be in DC. I feel the way I used to feel when I was a kid thinking about nuclear war, a magnified version of what I felt when the horror was far away or kept in check by a balance of power.

As a rare concession to good taste, Tonight's Episode has been put on hiatus. I follow Kris' example on this.


I've rolled up my sleeves and gone to work. I've been writing a tool configuration architecture all this week and the work has given me the "working with my hands" feeling. It's the feeling that makes me wish I could do carpentry so that I could experience it with the same intensity but more viscerally and more often.

Also this week I have been helping Frederic Faure with a NewsBruiser setup, and he sent me a note of sympathy yesterday which made me feel less shaken.

One of the things I hear from abroad is that Americans now have firsthand experience of a thing that goes on in many countries all the time. It's true, and maybe now we will have more incentive to address the causes. However, I am not optimistic. This past week has not done much for my misanthropy.

Google searches that hit this page:
Wednesday 12
Today 13

: Multiple Meaning Headline Watch: WTC wreckage guards buried treasure of COMEX gold

: I'm getting the same story submitted to Segfault over and over again. Different people are writing the story, but it's the same story. You can probably derive the story from first principles, which is good since I'm not going to publish it.

: Sumana has alerted me to a brewing and unsolvable problem in computer science: the off-by-zero error.

: Also: you hear about exclusive OR, but you don't hear about really exclusive OR, where you have to be a WASP and wear a tie to get a truth value.

: I started reading my biography of William Lloyd Garrison, mainly because I'm in a mood to tackle weighty issues but also because I've been wondering recently whether anyone ever used a Fifth Amendment "just compensation" argument against the abolition of slavery.

Well, it took me about a minute with Google to answer that in the affirmative, so I'm back to my primary reason for reading the biography.

: Leonard's Minor Obsession Watch: Guns, Germs, and Steel-type biogeographical economics.

I should enumerate my minor obsessions so that 1) I'll finally have an order-of-magnitude estimate as to how many there are, and 2) I'll be able to refer to them by number.

: Kris is bitter, and I don't blame him.

: Today I attended meetings and hacked on Lucene, the Java search API which always makes me think of the "obscure polearms" section of the old Unearthed Arcana AD&D book, which contained a weapon called the lucerne hammer.

Lucene is great. I wrote a proposal for cross-component search for Helm, blithely assuming that there was only one rational way to design a search engine; then panicked when I discovered that all the open source search engines were basically single-purpose scripts designed to crawl a web site and index the Web content; then looked at Lucene and rejoyced at its flexibility. It's designed as if implementing my ideas on the one rational way to design a search engine. How could I not love a piece of software that caters to my prejudices to such an extent?

It's also pretty fast at indexing, especially the way I plan to split up the indexes.

: Sumana and I came up with a little song for the cross-component search:

One search to search them all
One search to array them
One search to rank them all
And on the page display them

: Yeeeeeah!

: "People make the fundamental attribution error 'cause they're stupid."

: Yesterday I went to a taping of West Coast Live with Sumana. I saw Douglas Coupland and Garrison Keillor (I even spoke briefly with Keillor)! Plus, Sumana's Audience True StoryTM was read on the air!

Unrelatedly, I've always felt that the comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For should have been called Dykes For Whom To Watch Out.

: Kevin asks the very perceptive question, "How do charms work?"

: I've found that I have a lot more fun playing FreeCiv if I don't have any AI players to worry about. The selling point of FreeCiv for me has always been that you can build cities and connect them with roads. Sometimes I think I might be happier playing a different game.

Down again: Oh well.

I made up an Onion headline in my sleep this morning: Good-Natured Readers Charm Cynical Onion With Offbeat Letters. Sumana tells me they don't have a letters-to-the-editor section, though.

Next: The Even Newer Economy

The Even Newer Economy: Sometimes I try to get a mental picture of the economy, and of course I fail because it's too huge. But in general it goes something like [sunlight, natural resources, goods, information, labor] ==> [goods, services, information]. Now, I have this subterranean fear that the entire world economy actually does nothing but move things around, which is obviously bogus for the entire economy but which I think can be true for huge subsets of the economy, like the banner ad companies who stayed afloat selling banner ads to other companies whose only source of revenue was banner ads on their sites.

I was therefore disturbed by my discovery of a new toy known as Rokenbok, which is sort of Lego but not, and which has exactly this sort of economy. The pieces are much larger and more complex than Lego pieces (even the newer decadent Lego pieces which should properly be made of three or four small pieces or not exist at all), and all the sets have an industrial or construction theme: RC Tower Crane, Construction World, Piston Plant, Motorized Conveyer, etc. There are remote-controlled vehicles which you manipulate through Nintendo-like controllers. If you buy enough sets you can have this huge industrial plant/construction site setup with monorails and vehicles buzzing around.

The Rokenbok economy is based on the circulation of small plastic balls. The balls come in red and blue, and the blue ones are slightly smaller: this provides the raison d'etre for the Action Sorter and Conveyor. A few sets also contain small plastic barrels, but these are of only passing interest since they probably only contain more balls.

My mind boggles as to why the little plastic Rokenbok people would create so much infrastructure and devote so much labor to the sole purpose of sorting little balls and moving them around. The plastic balls are not any kind of storehouse of value, they're not valuable in and of themselves, and they're certainly not neccessary on a construction site.

I also don't see how driving the vehicles around could be fun for any length of time. Rokenbok takes the construction metaphor from Lego, but despite all the apparatus there's no construction (whereas with Lego there is a lot of construction even though you are the extent of the apparatus). It's not even cool the way Rube Goldberg devices which carry things around endlessly (like the penguin stair climbers sold in airport gift shops) are cool, because one of the big selling points is your constant supervision of the process through your waldos, the vehicles.

Maybe I just don't like the way they suggest you set up the sets. But it really seems like the vehicles are where the action is, and I don't understand the action.

Dialogue Cut From The Big Lebowski:

Is this your toe, Larry?

Walter, we know it's not his toe!

Is this your toe, Larry?

Walter, it's not his fucking toe! It has fucking nail polish on it!

Happy Jam Day: I went to Seth's birthday party which is probably the best party I've ever attended. Among other things, I met Don Marti, and told to Seth Sumana's joke about Steven Jay Gould wanting people to say "Gould/Evolution". Sumana and I gave Seth a new Richard Dawkins shirt and a set of Selfish Socks.

Seth has the best library in the world; it's better than huge libraries which contain millions of books, in the sense that almost every book in it is a book I would want to borrow. I borrowed Kernighan and Pike's Effective Programming Practices, which I wanted to read but couldn't afford when it first came out. I suspect that by now I've learned everything in the book the hard way, but hopefully not.

: Crummy is back up (as usual, check out the backup site for many interesting entries) and I've reinstated Tonight's Episode. Modern Fiction week may continue this whole week or it may be truncated when I run out of modern fiction Tonight's Episode titles.

: Yesterday in FreeCiv I made it to Alpha Centauri in 1756; my best time yet.

: The IF Competition 2001 games are out! I can't help but notice one name in particular missing from the list of entrants; still, one can't be everywhere. I have a couple IF ideas right now but nothing to which I'm willing to devote 3 months of my life.

: I put up some pictures from our trip to West Coast Live, including Sumana getting her copy of Lake Wobegon Days autographed and then trying to break the Aquaphone she had taken home.

: Sumana related the news to me that today is Groucho Marx's birthday. "Get out the barn so I can have a hoedown," she says. Those two things are not related.

: I'm afraid that Ask Jeeves is not very useful.

: D'jever notice how Linux decides that your hard drives have reached their maximum mount count and have to be fscked just when you most need to use your computer immediately? You've heard of the principle of least authority; well, this is the principle of least convenience.

: You've all seen The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation, but how about the Powerpoint Presentation on the Mount?



: People are buzzing about a possible standards fork due to the W3C's counterrevolutionary harboring of patentmongers among their standards-makers. My question is, who cares about the W3C anymore? What standards have they come up with lately? As far as I know, for the past two years it's just been old standards farts arguing over XML namespaces.

: Chocolate-covered wasabi-covered peanuts: "Hey! You got your chocolate in my wasabi!" "You got your wasabi in my chocolate!"

: "If we wanted it to be overt, we would have discussed it." -- Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

: My mother recieved the copy of Lake Wobegon, Summer 1956 which I purchased for her and had autographed a while back when I went to see Garrison Keillor on West Coast Live. I also sent a book to Jake but he hasn't gotten it yet since he's off on a tour of some sort.

: Word Replacement Headline Watch (thanks to Sumana): Bush Swears In Anti-Terror Chief would be more interesting if it were "Bush Swears At Anti-Terror Chief".

: My digital camera has finally shut its little LCD down forever. First the battery case started falling out, but I taped it shut, first with Scotch tape and then with duct tape. Then the zoom broke, so I started taking pictures that had a lot more in them than I would have strictly liked, but I stuck with it. Now it won't even turn on. So I now think of buying a new one.

: Mike Pilato: "This status mail is a touch late, but, following the lead of my namesake, I wash my hands of this matter."

: A couple weeks ago while I was watching Enterprise, there was this horrible cheesy ad for some coalition of biotech companies. It had children describing what biotech means to them, or some such. Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, but surely just before you resort to patriotism, you put children in your ads and see if that works.

I'm not a big fan of biotech companies, mainly due to their love of what amounts to software patents (in a realm, natch, in which the relevant information actually does want to be free, or at least widely copied). But when it comes to biotech as a concept, I am one of its biggest fans who doesn't work for a biotech company or on a farm (which is a sort of applied biotech company).

Which leaves me with a dilemma; I can find no real political way to express my dissatisfaction with genome patents without signing onto a general anti-biotech platform which, whether it leans politically left or right, regards it as unethical to change a genome through means of genetic engineering (though not through selective breeding, for the pragmatic reason that anything anyone eats is the end result of thousands of years of that). This is not always the stated policy of such political groups, but it's always the subtext, and I don't want to support that subtext. It's as though one could only mark one's opposition to software patents by joining a society that claimed that it was unethical to modify software.

I'm probably wrong and there's some like-minded group of technocrat hippies like myself who have formed a pro-biotech anti-genome-patent coalition. If so, I'll probably hear about it soon. I just hope it's not a front group for something.

: Confusing Hypothetical Watch:

To most of us the inner workings of a computer are a complete mystery, but imagine if they were smaller than a grain of sand?

Huh? How would that make it easier?

: I got more spam (in English) from Jihad Baydoun, and just before that I got some Turkish spam. I wonder if there's any sort of futures market for spam from different regions.

: When I was a kid there were little plastic dinosaurs which you bought and with them you engaged in dinosaur play. Nowadays there are plastic dinosaurs but now they're animatronic Jurassic Park III branded dinosaurs (they have JP tattoos on them) and they come with flesh wounds. Their ribs are sticking out! Apparently if two Jurassic Park III branded dinosaurs see each other they will immediately start fighting, and the flesh wounds are to lend credence to the fighting.

I'm not saying that dinosaurs didn't do their share of fighting when I was a kid. I just don't think it's a good idea to build it into the toy at such a visceral level.

: Oh, also there was a dinosaur (Spinosaurus or something; a species I'd never heard of) which said on its box "Biting action!". But all the text was also on the box in French and Spanish, so it also said, "Il mord!". I found this very funny.

argv: Man, VA is being flaky with their hosting of the Crummy/Segfault machine. I'd look for somewhere else to host, but I'm afraid to even touch the Segfault code for fear it will collapse.

I've discovered a form like preposition-buzzword form, though it's not something I use myself. It's organism-artifact form and it's used in the titles of books and articles and the like. What better name than one which combines the organicness of an organism and the humanness of a (possibly cultural) artifact? eg.

The Quark and the Jaguar fits if you are also a fan of Constructing Quarks. The Alphabet and the Goddess (artifact and mythical organism) and The Professor and the Madman (two organisms described in terms of their cultural labels) are borderline cases.

So don't delay! Name your next work after an organism and an artifact today!

Anthrax meta-joke: Oh, on Friday I went with Sumana to see the Fresh Robots, and one of the Robots (Mike) made an anthrax joke in his stand-up act, and then noted: "Comedy's a rule of three. If only three people die, it's funny."

: Woohoo, maybe this time we'll stay up. View the backup site for two entries on bioterrorism humor and Organism-Artifact form.

: I bought an "illustrated directory of dinosaurs" a while ago, and last night I was looking at it. It seems to have been a book that you buy to give to someone else, but I bought it for myself. Ha! There are a lot more species of dinosaurs now than I remember there being. The book has lots of great pictures of dinosaurs sort of lumbering after their prey (lizards or dragonflies or mammals) with their arms stretched out. It also has "more than 70,000 words of description and evolutionary details." It was published in the UK, which is why they can mention evolution on the back of the book.

: My FreeCiv Alpha Centauri record is now 1702.

: I'm taking Friday off and going down to Bakersfield to spend time with my mother and sisters. It has been a long time since I took a vacation of any sort.

: FHW: Bin Laden may be planning to run. He's sort of a one-issue candidate.

: I just came to the realization that one of my catchphrases is "I've tested this and it works." An ill-favored catchphrase, sir, but mine own.

: I'm having a good time in Bakersfield. I totally ripped up my old jeans digging ditches for my mother, so I need to go to Goodwill today and get some new old jeans.

: I think I'm just going to let the current Tonight's Episodes run out and then discontinue it. It will take about a month for the Strategic Tonight's Episode Reserves to run dry.

: Spent the day doing yardwork and reading. I'm reading a book on the dons of Oxford and Cambridge, called, rather unoriginally, The Dons. At the ice cream parlor I met Brian Leary, whom I hadn't seen since grade school and who now works at the ice cream parlor. He makes the ice cream.

: Today I'm meeting with Dave Griffith. He has a project involving unix Frotz which I may or may not take part in. I don't know why I capitalized "unix Frotz" the way I did.

: Joe sent me Estonian spam. Thanks, Joe!

Kevin has also been vigilant in sending me funny spam, but it's all in English, of a sort.

: Damn, this is funny. And I haven't even read the original. Maybe imagining what the original is like is part of what makes it so funny.

: Argh!

: I was going to complain that the Falwell-Robertson-bin Laden quiz is bogus, because it's impossible for the average person on the street (like me) to distinguish between Falwell's rantings and Robertson's, but my objection has been anticipated and the barrier removed.

: Last night I went with Sumana (but not Seth) to a comedy night in Berkeley. The headliner disturbingly resembled a cross between President Eisenhower and Premier Kruschev. He was both sides of the Cold War! I kept thinking, "Is he threatening to bury me? Where are the jokes about the military-industrial complex?"

: You would think that internationalization and localization would be opposed goals, but no, they're aligned.

: Here's my new joke: "Bush is doing such a good job handling the terrorism crisis that I think he stands a chance of actually being elected president."

: Hotmail message footers still invite people to get their FREE download of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Doesn't everyone who is ever going to have a copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer already have a copy of Microsoft Internet Explorer?

Correction: it's MSN Explorer, which is presumably something else.

: Perusing some Linux Today talkbacks today, I was reminded of the "Tar Pit From Hell" theory of discussion boards which I expounded to my co-workers many months ago. It is basically the following: when you add a public discussion forum to your site you are placing your site on a big slab of plexiglass which floats around on the Tar Pit From Hell. As long as no one actually uses the discussion forum, you are safe. But the more people pile on to use the discussion forum, the deeper your site sinks into the Tar Pit From Hell. There are various measures you can take to slow your descent into the Tar Pit From Hell, but none of them deal with the fundamental problem, which is the fact that your site is sinking into a damn tar pit.

As you can tell, the Tar Pit From Hell theory is one of those cockamamie theories which survives only because its name is fun to say.

: Here is a great article defining the annoying thing people sometimes do when you're debating them to try and put their propositions beyond the terms of debate. The paper terms it "logical rudeness" and makes a convincing case that it's not possible to just issue a blanket prohibition on the tactic.

I screwed up my computer so I had to go into work (where I am now) to get a Linux CD. I booted up a BBC but couldn't find any of my hard drives. They're probably there, though.

: I'm back, and hard at work, for suitable definitions of "hard" and "at work". My fancy-schmancy Intellimouse works now, and the scroller works! Woohoo! Unfortunately my camera does not work. I hope it's just because I haven't been able to compile USB support into gphoto.

: Earlier, I realized that the author of the logical rudeness paper did us all a great service; the phenomenon now has a name, which means that you can confront people with it (assuming they are rational, which does not generally have a high correlation with logical rudeness). You can say "Do you realize that you are engaging in logical rudeness? Do you really want to be that sort of person?" and sort of try to shame them into arguing the 'correct' way, or show that their rudeness is of a self-defeating type.

: Yup, Tar Pit From Hell.

: Hey hey. Sumana has a new Weblog up, running NewsBruiser no less! It's called Cogito, Ergo Sumana. NewsBruiser (and a fast server) has made her much more prolific.

: Another day in the code mines, as Joe Barr used to say.

: "You're the golem who's also a Lotto ticket!" -- Sumana

: Niche Free Software Application Of The Week: TinyCobol!

: Kevin forwarded me some porn spam he got which begins:

Free smut daily does not send unsolicited emails. Only people that have expressed their will to receive Free smut daily shall be sent our email newsletters.

"There are many ways to opt in, my friend," says Kevin cryptically.

: Kevin: "If only they'd threaten the bridges more often, I'd get to work a lot faster."

: So, last night Sumana and I watched The Man Who Wasn't There, which was a lot of fun, if I may use the word "fun" to describe film noir.

: Galeon is a great piece of software! But as far as I can tell it doesn't support basic HTTP auth, much less HTTPS.

: As I've probably mentioned previously, I have many ideas for pieces of interactive fiction, but none of them are ideas I'm willing to spend months working on. However, I did have an idea for one exceptionally fiendish puzzle, which I decided to implement and foist upon Mike. But while implementing it (mostly last night) I kept coming up with ways to make it even more fiendish which involved the creation of other puzzles. So I have a few puzzles now, and more stuff to keep me busy by implementing, and hopefully I'll be able to tie it in with one of my game ideas. So, the lesson is: don't mope around wondering what to do. Do something, and the ideas will come.

: I spent some time today writing reviews for the new review feature I'm planning on doing for Crummy. I'd like to do at least a review every week. Hopefully sometime this coming week I'll get everything set up. I'd like there to be some source of regular content on this site besides the weblog.

: I also spent some time working on the game. The parts of the fiendish puzzle are almost completely implemented; then it's on to the fiendish related puzzles.

: For some reason, CollabNet has been mentioned in a lot of news articles in the past few days. Maybe it's the ROI benefits and low TCO of our enterprise software development suite, or whatever it is they're calling my stuff.

: Someone hit my site searching for "Collabnet weakness". They've found me out! Google knows all!


Well the band got killed
So I started a solo career
And I won all the awards
And I drank all the beer

--Beck, "Satan Gave Me A Taco"

: Only yesterday did I realize that the Gnome footprint is a stylized G.

: I've been hearing a lot of good things about my software (a lot of it is written by others, but I still think of it as "my software") recently, which makes me feel good. Some of it is even coming from people who don't know me and don't know I wrote it!

Unrelatedly: a while ago I discovered that there are two levels on which I want things; the level on which I actually want things, and the level on which I say I want things just to make a point. The conflation of these two levels can cause much cognitive dissonance in the unprepared, so I've been trying to be wary of saying I want things when I don't really want them.

: I got spam offering ONE MILLION (presumably valid, and not randomly generated) Email Addresses for JUST $1. "Can you make one cent from each of theses names? If you can you have a profit of over $2,000,000.00". If I can make once cent from each name, how come the person who's selling me the names values them at 1/10000 of a cent each?

: Multiple Meaning Headline Watch: Fed. judge blocks Ashcroft's suicide directive.

: Franklin's first draft: "There will be sleep enough in the bed."

: Argh. The machine that hosts Segfault was compromised and the website was defaced for about two hours. Argh.

The Story So Far: So. A few days ago, someone took advantage of the ancient Chinese sshd installed on the machine that hosts Segfault and Crummy (not to mention Scott's site) to deface the Segfault main page. I un-defaced Segfault and tried to get in contact with the VA folks. The VA guy who I'd talked to in the past (David Ford) turns out no longer to be at VA; he's been laid off, as has anyone else who might have concievably been in charge of that machine. So we were basically screwed as far as went fixing the problem. Fortunately, David knew the root password to the machine; he gave Scott and myself accounts on a machine he hosts, and agreed to host our sites in the short term. The next day, the Segfault machine was off the net. I don't know if VA took it off or if someone exploited the same sshd vulnerability and typed 'halt". I have a full backup of Crummy and an up-to-date dump of the Segfault database. I don't have the Segfault source code, and Scott didn't get Netsplit backed up in time. So Crummy can go back up pretty soon, but Segfault is down until we get the code back or write new code; and Netsplit is down unless Scott gets his content back.

Glasses glasses glasses glasses glasses: This evening I picked up my glasses. I can definitely notice the difference when looking at a computer screen, not so much when not looking at a computer screen. I had glasses when I was very young, but I stopped wearing them around grade six because I looked like a nerd. Looking like a nerd is no longer a real liability for me, and these glasses are more stylish than the big round ones I had back then (not that I know anything about such things). Two funny glasses stories, from the early years when my family lived in LA.

  1. I successfully evaded getting glasses several times by memorizing the eye chart so that I could read off the letters with my good eye closed. Eventually my mother or the optometrist caught on to this scheme.
  2. Between our house and the optometrist's office was a seafood restaurant the entrance canopy of which was shaped like a whale with its mouth wide open; the sort of silly restaurant design you see in "Only in LA" collections. The time Susanna got her glasses, on her trip home wearing them she was very startled and exclaimed "The whale has an eye!" She'd never seen the whale's eyes before.

The turtle's back, and someone's got to pay!: Sumana pointed to this Socialist-with-a-capital-S web site (actually she pointed to this analysis of the Harry Potter books on that website) which has a very nice domain name which is probably the coolest Biblical reference ever ("The voice of the turtle is heard in our land", Song of Songs 2:12). Unfortunately, it's actually cooler than it deserves to be, because the turtle mentioned in the verse is not really a turtle but a turtle dove.

If you've read The Annotated Alice, you may recall that some clergyman or other thought blasphemous the beginning of the "'Tis the voice of the lobster" poem, due to the presence in the Song of Songs of the voice of the ever-lovin' turtle.

Anyway, the review, and another review which it mentions, does a great deal to prove my point (which I will now retroactively make) that people never tire of seeing their favorite or least favorite political agendas reflected in the trivial details of Big Epic Stories.

One more thing: the Mormon edition of the Bible has, at the beginning of each chapter, a summary of a few sentences' length. The summaries for the Song (not regarded by Mormons as canonical, but included anyway) are pretty funny. "Their song of love and affection continues." "They still sing of love." "Their song of love continues." Yeah, that's pretty much it.

The world reacts: My co-workers have decided that my new glasses and haircut make me look like an up-and-coming college professor. &lt;kmaples> should we get him a tweed jacket?
&lt;kmaples> with elbow patches?
&lt;stack> giggle.
&lt;stack> whats his specialty?
&lt;kmaples> that's a good q ...
&lt;stack> critical theory for sure.... he's some kind of pomo-head. Loves derrida and baudrillard, Deleuze and Guattari
&lt;kmaples> foucault
&lt;stack> Soon as he starts talking, we glaze over.
&lt;kmaples> something w/ russian lit, too
&lt;stack> Yeah for sure. Speaks french...
&lt;kmaples> something something false information theory
&lt;stack> yeah. claude shannon, the internet and structuralism.
&lt;kmaples> author of such works as 'Tissue: a critical analysis of the social import of phelgm in the 19th century'
&lt;stack> And "Poop: Paris pavements and canine restraint: 1992-1993 1/2".
&lt;kmaples> ooohh ... that's about to become a hotbed of controversy again, too
&lt;stack> Yes... his work is the reference for that whole new area of study: Hence the young professorship.
&lt;kmaples> I can see deep explorations into the relationships between the scatologocial and the social animal
&lt;stack> All of the academy is talking about him.
&lt;kmaples> 'that leonardr - he really knows his shit!'

I shot the albatross: Yesterday's Doggone Funny is doggone Lovecraftian:

Jack Cornelison of Mission Viejo, CA, had a Lhasa Apso named Kudjo and a cockatiel named Sassy. The bird learned how to imitate the dog's bark. When the dog was sleeping on his favorite pillow, the bird would walk behind him and bark. The dog would chase the bird and the bird would fly and bark... endlessly.

I think I am going to have a nightmare on this subject tonight. The bird, its huge bloodshot eyes, the eternal voyage around and around the house, barking... barking... barking...

Driving, driving, driving: A Thanksgiving weekend has been planned for me which involves a lot of driving, of which I am not fond. I was prepared for the traditional trip to my aunt's house in Merced, but it turns out that I'm also going to have to drive from Merced to Bakersfield, and then home from Bakersfield. Oh well. I have it better than Susanna, who has to drive from Utah. Apart from the driving, I anticipate an enjoyable Thanksgiving. And the drive to Bakersfield will not be so bad if I can convince one of my family members to be with me in the car. The food: it's always the same things, and it's always great. I like this. It's like an assertion of culinary competence on the part of my family.

You may end your turn early!: Sumana very kindly gave me a copy of the most recent GAMES magazine, of which I am a big fan. I am a particularly big fan of this particular issue of GAMES, because it's their end-of-year edition and has little reviews of a buncha buncha physical games.

I find these reviews very enjoyable; I had always known, in an academic sense, that there were games beyond the basic Scrabble/Monopoly/AD&D/Axis and Allies sort of game that everyone has, but until fairly recently I had always associated such games with one-off gimmickiness rather than, say, fun. This was because I'd always encountered such games at secondhand stores and yard sales, where dull games go to die. So even though I now know about and even own games outside of the basic set, I still really enjoy reading about new games.

These particular reviews are slightly annoying because the review always ends with some lame joke on the name or subject matter of the game. Also, the game reviewers get more excited about certain game features than I think is healthy. The review for a German game called Die Nuene Entdecker (The New Discoverers) says "You may end your turn early!" and that's the only sentence in the review to be punctuated with an exclamation mark. Somehow I don't think that's the most exciting thing about Die Nuene Entdecker.

I never thought I'd see this sentence:

This clip of singing orcs... does little to convey the evil land of Mordor.

By popular demand: Food I ate today:

Back-to-normal distribution: Susanna and I played a lot of Illuminati over the weekend. In two consecutive games I saw two special wins I'd never seen before; Susanna won as the Servants of Cthulu by destroying eight groups, and I won as the Network by acquiring 25 points of transferable power.

The drive home was very easy and non-crowded, except for a fifteen-mile stretch of the 152 highway which took me three hours to get through. Argh.

Gas in Bakersfield was as low as 93 cents a gallon. Thanks, Russia! In San Francisco it's $1.65, which is much lower than the $2.00+ it was this summer but still disproportionately higher than in Bakersfield.

The crummy.com domain is serving pages again (I moved onto another server (thanks, David!), but it's not really set up properly and the CGIs don't work yet. I'm hoping to spend some time on that in the near future.

You suddenly yearn for your distant homeland: Woohoo! Robotfindskitten is in Debian!

: Test.

: I'm back in the saddle, though I'm technically cheating since the index file you see here is a PHP file and not an .shtml file.

Tonight I attend a dinner party. Whee!

: Now that I'm looking at PHP again, for the first time in years, I'm surprised that you can actually separate logic and presentation if you really want to. I remember this being a cardinal failure of the Segfault code, and I remember blaming PHP itself for it. More likely I just lacked the discipline, and PHP doesn't enforce it.

: Only 4 more Tonight's Episodes left in the once-huge pile. After they're all used, I'll probably put up an archive page or something.

: Starting at 3:30 I will be undergoing an unknown but non-zero amount of dental pain. It's the first of many such excursions to come. Wish me luck.

: I'm back from my root canal. There was hardly any pain at all, though I did feel some trepidation watching clouds of tooth dust emerge from my mouth. I feel fine, and I have painkillers to take when the Novocaine wears off.

While undergoing the dentistry I thought of an anecdote told me by Prof. Hsu, with whom I had two philosophy classes at UCLA. The subject was sense-impressions and incorrigibility, and Hsu talked about how once, while under the drill, he had complained of pain. His dentist had denied that he [Hsu] could possibly be in any pain; his brain (said the dentist) was just translating the vibrations of the drill into pain.

Oh: my tooth had roots of 27 millimeters in length, which is apparently so long that the normal dentistry equipment can't handle it. I feel strangely proud about this; I've always known that my teeth were mutants (I had three upper right front teeth), and this is another example.

: Publisher's Clearinghouse meets the post-9/11 cliche:


: Thanks to David Ford, Crummy's config is back to normal and I've gotten rid of all the hacks I put in last weekend. Whee!

: Excellent. Tomorrow the final Tonight's Episode will run, and it's exactly the one I was hoping it would be; one of my all-time favorites.

: I'm surprised that this Onion story didn't have a section about how the guy and his buddies pass around URLs for Onion stories.

: Are there any science fiction stories which deal with the effects of relativistic time dilation on, eg., contract law? I'm thinking of writing one.

: Went to The Mall today to get a blender gasket to replace the gasket I broke earlier this week. While I was there I redeemed some Suncoast play money for a copy of Jackie Chan's Legend of Drunken Master.

I joined Suncoast's laughably-named 'Replay Club' about a year ago when I bought a bunch of MST3K videotapes from them. I was spending enough in that one transaction that it was a net gain for me to pay my way into their club and take advantage of the discount you got from club membership. Every so often thereafter I recieved a lavishly produced magazine/promotional rag from them which I would promptly throw away. You hear about targeted marketing, and then you actually give a company a chance to learn all sorts of detailed information about your viewing preferences, and instead of the MST3K Martial Arts Godzilla Stomp Newsletter you get damn Saving Private Ryan in the mail every month.

The discount you get from club membership comes out to 5%, but it's not 5% at the register. Instead, you accumulate points. One point is worth one cent, and every time you accumulate 10,000 points (having spent $100) you recieve $5 in funny money in the mail. It's the same racket as gift certificates; they're banking that you won't redeem the funny money and that if you do, you'll buy other stuff on top of the value of the funny money.

This knowledge bore heavily upon me. If I didn't redeem my $15 in funny money for a video costing $15, Suncoast would effectively have $15 of my money. What's more, the terrorists would have won. Powerful as these incentives were, I had to steel myself to set foot in Suncoast, because shopping there (or at Sam Goody or any other store owned by the same company) is a huge pain. The cashiers are under directions to, before ringing up your purchase, subject you to a seemingly never-ending sales pitch. It's like willingly walking into a telemarketing call. Now that my Replay account has expired, two more steps have been added to the sales pitch, so it's a good thing I no longer have any reason to go there.

At great personal risk, I have reverse-engineered the sales pitch and present it below. This does not include all the "Are you sure? [Y/N]" steps.

The weird thing is, the guy in line in front of me actually responded positively to some aspects of the pitch! I guess I shouldn't be surprised, because Suncoast would discontinue the pitch if it didn't occasionally bear fruit, but it was odd to see someone who actually wanted to see the list of new and upcoming releases.

Though my membership is expired, Suncoast is still sending me the Saving Private Ryan Monthly advertising supplements. Said supplements now have cover covers begging me to renew my membership and continue the cycle of dependency. I'm sort of interested as to how long they can keep this up. The marginal cost of sending out one more supplement is nil, but it's not inconceivable that at some point pure shame will get them to give up rather than try to coax a renewal of a membership that lapsed 10 years ago.

: In a dream last night I thought of a funny joke: a musical piece called "Sonata for Shut Piano". You just drum your fingers in a rhythm on the folding piano cover.

: Hey, check out the boffo new feature! Kris and I have started a new joint weblog called Counterpoint/Countercounterpoint, in which we talk about politics. Come if only for the great logo Kris drew.

I feel as though I should explain here that Kris and I have been friends since college; we didn't meet randomly over the net and decide to do a site together. Don't believe me? See for yourself.

: [NB. Argh!]

: Here's an InfoWorld article which basically copies our recent press release. My favorite parts are the paragraphs which describe software I wrote:

With the new version, administrators now have finer control over granting specific permissions to users and developers, along with the ability to create customized roles to address other individual developers on a joint project.

Those in charge of a project can expose developers to specific levels of functionality within a given project, which company officials believe contribute to the environment's overall ease of use, company officials said.

Earlier there's a funny paragraph that ends not "company officials said" but "officials said", making it look like the FBI is involved. If we don't decrease time to market, the terrorists will have won!

: Oops, I entered that item about Infoworld twice.

: We were recently defragmented; layoffs left big swaths of empty desks in our office, so it was decided to move everyone into one side of the building. All the engineers are sort of in one place now, which is nice, and I have a cube right by the window, which is also nice. I don't have a whole lot to say about this because my workplace is not radically different. I have less desk space in absolute terms (since before there was a big swatch of neutral zone between myself and Kevin) but it feels like more (since it's all now indisputably mine). I could go on and on about easy access to the window for brooding purposes, but it would bore you.

: Today on Counterpoint/Countercounterpoint:

That was the first thing I thought when I saw Ashcroft and Ridge, that they look like two halves of the cigarette-smoking man.

: I have impacted bottom wisdom teeth. They need to be removed. I think the scope of the problem is fairly well-defined--I understand it without any special knowledge of dentistry. I have a full set of head X-rays and mouth photographs which I will allow relevant professionals to peruse at leisure. Today I called the specialist who will be extracting my wisdom teeth. I had to make an appointment to have my mouth looked at (in about 3 weeks) before I can get an appointment to have my teeth taken out. Not that I want to deny the specialist a good look at my actual mouth, but is it to much to expect that the oral examination might be a mere preliminary to the actual operation and not something that requires a separate trip and a separate appointment? I don't behave like this in my work and if I was in serious medical trouble my doctor wouldn't either. Is it just beuracracy? Is the first appointment a triage appointment? I don't understand.

: Yesterday, with Sumana, I watched The Great Muppet Caper and the first part of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai ("Something Happens", mocked by Sumana and her sister as "Something Something Happens"). We noticed various characteristic Muppet behaviors such as the Muppet Panic and the Muppet Walk (and the one I just realized, the Muppet Moment of Inner Turmoil That's Actually a Hand Rearrangement). Kuch Kuch was also a lot of fun. The first half of that movie is a two-hour flashback, a two-hour flashback, so it's like they made a movie and then its sequel!

: For some reason I've been posting a lot of duplicate entries recently. I don't know if it's me error (the self-diagnosis of user error) or a bug in NewsBruiser which is treating edits as adds. I suspect the former.


Oh, and don't try to send these [constructor and destructor] messages to the class Class; creating and destroying classes is called "programming", and it's far too late when the game is already being played.

--Inform Designers Manual, Volume 4

This is funny, but it also makes me want to demand that this functionality work just so I can try some sort of weird metaprogramming thing in a work of IF.

I just realized that one of the reasons I like IF is that it lets me make jokes in the form of software.

: Wow, that I did not expect. I went to the dentist expecting some planing and fillings, as well as a crown for my root canaled tooth, and I ended up getting four teeth extracted instead. It took about 20 minutes. That was a couple hours ago, and I think the pain is starting, but I have medicine for that.

: "Question .Xauthority." -- Jason Robbins

: Dmitry is now free! This marks the first time the rallying cry "Free X!" has ever been even marginally successful in freeing X!

: I got spam that said "Unbeatable holiday specials!". I thought it said "Unbearable holiday specials!"

: Sumana and I made chocolate chip cookies yesterday, but we used the wrong kind of flour and the cookies, though they look very tasty, do not taste very tasty. I'm hoping people at work disagree and eat them up so that I don't have to throw them away.

: Joe Barr rips into the MPlayer project, which is a great piece of software but apparently has a personality problem. Joe, himself no stranger to personality, lays down the smack like so:

[MPlayer lead developer Arpad] Gereoffy and the other developers have more attitude than the law allows. At least the law in this county, and I'm the sheriff.

: Last night I asked Kris what species the Checkerboard Nightmare is. Is he human? Some extropian almost-human species? His reply:

The distinction is very slight. Chex is a cartoon character, and somehow, even though he looks much the same, Lyle is a normal person. The major defining factor is Chex's absence of a (visible) nose. The distinction is better drawn through their behavior/knowledge, where Chex has a much more intuitive grasp that this is a comic strip, whereas Lyle generally doesn't concern himself with it and rather operates within its confines.

: Not to brag, but last night I won at Illuminati again--playing as the Church of the SubGenius, no less! I am the Illuminati champion of CollabNet! AH HA HA HA HA!

: There are certain song lyrics which are so vague that they contain no information other than a genre identification; you can use them when you can't remember the real lyrics of a song in the lyric's genre. "Baby, I'll be holding on" is one of them. Recently I discovered that "Jordan keep on rolling" is another.

This isn't really going anywhere; I just wanted to point that out.

: Tonight I attend the celebration in honor of the freeing of Dmitry. After all, if Dmitry is free, why not me?

: Back from the Dmitry party. I had a great time. There was birthday cake (thanks to Dmitry's birthday the day before)! There was Dmitry! There was Seth! Seth and I discussed slogans (the current best unused one: Don Marti's "Keep your Management off my Digital Rights"). A currently in-use one is "Reading is a right, not a feature", which I mantain should be "Reading is a feature, not a bug". Also we spoke of programming, law, interactive fiction, and the like.

: Here's a Wired article on the party, which quotes Seth. At one point there were three reporters and a camera crew from TechTV, all talking (listening, I guess) to Seth.

: I'm back from seeing LOTR. It was great! Saruman's scenes were actually interesting! The Gondor stuff was very nearly interesting! The elves were limpid as always, but you know elves. The Moria sequence was fabulous. The CGI monsters of type Large and above moved in the lumbering slithering manner typical of such monsters; in twenty years that lumber will look as bad as stop-motion does today.

: I didn't mention (but I will now) that I saw FOTR with about 30 of my co-workers, on CollabNet's dime. I hope that's how I see the rest of the trilogy.

It must be post-something, because it sucks: I'm in Bakersfield and having fun. Yesterday I went down to LA and saw the old gang (the old gang may contain any or all of Adam, Kris, Kurtis, Kim, and Melissa (not technically a member of the old gang since I'd never met her before)) again. Hail, hail, the gang was all there. Sumana came with and we had a great time. Tomorrow is Christmas and I look forward to the usual madness.

Among our many holiday traditions is the tradition of Susanna and Rachel of claiming that we have a tradition of allowing Susanna and Rachel to open one of their presents on Christmas Eve. My mother always says no. It's traditions like these which make the holidays special. How could it be otherwise?

: Reprinted from the backup site:

Monday, December 24, 2001

It must be post-something, because it sucks 12/24/01; 10:22:19 PM

I'm in Bakersfield and having fun. Yesterday I went down to LA and saw the old gang (the old gang may contain any or all of Adam, Kris, Kurtis, Kim, and Melissa (not technically a member of the old gang since I'd never met her before)) again. Hail, hail, the gang was all there. Sumana came with and we had a great time. Tomorrow is Christmas and I look forward to the usual madness.

Among our many holiday traditions is the tradition of Susanna and Rachel of claiming that we have a tradition of allowing Susanna and Rachel to open one of their presents on Christmas Eve. My mother always says no. It's traditions like these which make the holidays special. How could it be otherwise?

: So, I'm back. Susanna is staying with me and I'm taking her to the airport tomorrow whereupon she goes off to Romania. Today I'm taking her shopping; hopefully only to the grocery store, as I don't feel like driving much more today.

I got lots of great presents, which I will elucidate when I am less tired and less sick. Also, great pictures in a bit.

: As promised, here are pictures, and they are great.

: The greatest author of our age, Adam Kaplan, has graced us with a brutal parody of Clifford Pickover, Constanze the Philosopher.

: Okay, I'm off to drive Susanna to the airport. Too much waking up early and driving recently. Bon voyage, Susanna!

: Kris has funny altered versions of some of my Christmas pictures.

: I'm back. I just saw that Susanna left her Romanian-English dictionary here. I hope that was intentional (she left some other stuff as well because it wouldn't fit in her allotted suitcases); I fear it was not.

: Happy New Year's Eve!



Unless otherwise noted, all content licensed by Leonard Richardson
under a Creative Commons License.