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: Happy new year, folks. I saw a lot of fireworks last night; much better than on Independence Day.

Watched a little bit of TV last night; on the news there was a cop who was bitter because his day off was cancelled due to extra terrorism-prevention security in San Francisco. He alternated between talking to the interviewer and talking to a percieved miscreant on the other side of the television set. At one point he said (paraphrased):

"If you're one of those people whose idea of fun is to commit crimes, then you should go to Carmel, because if you come here, we're gonna put you in jail."

What does he have against Carmel? We may never know.

: 2001 Not in Review (280K)

: Good morning. I'm off to work soon, after the longest vacation by far since I graduated from college. It was very refreshing.

For some reason I haven't mentioned yet that I got a banjo for Christmas! It's an antique, and my mother bought it and my uncle Jon refurbished it. My current banjo repertoire is "Oh, Susanna" and the intro to "Michigan Militia" by Moxy Fruvous.

: Also among my Christmas presents was an all-in-one paperback copy of The Lord of the Rings. I remember thinking this was a great innovation when they first started appearing, but my mother (whose mighty 1965 hardback set was the one I'd used on my previous trips through the trilogy) said that the covers would curl like crazy. How right she was; it's worse in that respect than Cryptonomicon, and I'm going through it a lot faster than I did Cryptonomicon.

Anyway, I'm about halfway through and enjoying it a lot more than last time; the movie made clear a lot of previously fuzzy scenes (like all of book III). I mantain some irrational fear that people will see me reading my movie-branded copy and take me for one whose interest in the books stems entirely from seeing the movie. I don't know why I care what these putative people think, especially since such people would probably not care that this is my fourth time through the trilogy.

: A while ago I realized that a lot of people (myself included) say "sorting" to describe what is actually hashing, eg. "I'm sorting these books into four piles on some criteria". This should annoy me, but I don't think it does.

: Cool, the Second Great Interactive Fiction Excerpt Hunt has an excerpt from Degeneracy on its list. Yes, I read the entire list looking for quotes from my games.

: Today was Crummy Cleanup day. I totally revamped my personal start page, which was about two years old and not nearly as useful as it is now that I've revamped it. I also posted a quaintly pre-terrorist-attack article I wrote in early September called Behind the Firewall, which contains reaction to and discussion of the contemperaneous closing of the Helm source code. And who knows what the morrow will bring?

Unrelatedly, there's a very funny television ad for something, in which a guy types in a password, and his password -- displayed plaintext, mind you -- is "value". Preposition-buzzword form and horrible security in the same action! Not since Clinton used the name of his dog as his password has such a bad password been broadcast on television. How did that work, by the way? He used a digital signature to sign a law which gave digital signatures the force of real signatures. It was like Marbury v. Madison all over again!

: Sumana demands to know the relevance of Marbury v. Madison to my previous entry. Marbury v. Madison was the case which employed judicial review to establish the principle of judicial review. To understand recursion, you must first understand recursion, or so the joke goes; but for someone (me) on the outside looking in, sometimes it seems that that is no joke. The idea of invoking a procedure to justify itself (whether inferring from the law the power to infer from the law, or using a new technique to sign the law that enables that technique for things like signing laws) seems illegitimate to a technical person such as myself.

: A bit more cleanup before I hit the stain: pictures from the Dmitry Freedom Party on December 19. Seth, what is the name of the lawyer speaking forth in picture 6? Kim? I don't remember.

Update: Her name is Robin. Thanks, Seth!

: Making a virtue of neccessity.

: Here is a recipe for the dish which made up the majority of my diet for my last two years of college:

Super-Carbohydrate Trader Joe's Monopoly Pasta

Ingredients:

  1. 1 bag Trader Joe's Amber Durum Wheat Cavatappi or Zini pasta (nb. apparently no longer sold)
  2. 1/4 bag Trader Joe's "Il Trio" shredded cheese
  3. 6 slices Trader Joe's Cracked Wheat Sourdough
  4. 1.5 Trader Joe's Roma tomatoes
  5. 1 tbsp Trader Joe's olive oil
  6. Trader Joe's basil (optional)

Boil water. Put pasta in water and cook. While cooking, dice tomatoes. Drain pasta and shake up with olive oil and tomatoes. As needed, put cheese on top and heat in microwave to melt cheese; also toast bread. Shake basil on top (optionally). Alternate between eating pasta on bread and eating pasta not on bread. Serves one, for about two days.


Another popular recipe 'round my place:

Very Cheap Three-Bean-And-One-Grain Salad

Ingredients:

  1. 1 can kidney beans
  2. 1 can garbanzo beans
  3. 1 can green beans
  4. 1 can corn kernels
  5. 1/4 cup red vinegar
  6. 1/4 cup olive oil
  7. Dill to taste

Drain all canned items and put into big bowl. Use blender to blend vinegar and olive oil into makeshift vinaigrette. Pour makeshift vinaigrette onto hill of beans. Add dill and shake well. Serves one, for about a day and a half.

: Wow, what a deal! Crummy Cleanup day continues with cleanup of the pix directory. Many sets of pictures from 2000 and 2001, previously accessible only through hacking URLs or accessing NYCB archives, are now linked properly with descriptions. I also put up a few more pictures, such as this one of me finishing my coursework at UCLA. I've got more pictures to put up, so stay tuned, if you like that sort of thing.

: I'm having a gay old time, in the strict Flintstonian sense, with my new startpage. I'm rearranging and adding things like mad. It's the most computer-related fun I've had in a while.

: Ambiguity Watch:

Authorities may increase the reward money to $2 million for the person who mailed anthrax to various government and media outlets.

: Yesterday I went to Dr. Warren, the oral surgeon, for my appointment appointment. I watched a video on the horrible things that might happen as a side effect of wisdom tooth removal (fortunately none of them seem appropriate since my wisdom teeth do not border on the various nerves that could be damaged). I filled out consent forms and made my actual surgery appointment for February 1.

: You too can recreate the thrill of owning my illustrated directory of dinosaurs with the Natural History Museum's Dino Directory! It's even British! It doesn't cover non-dinosaur organisms at all, though.

: A couple test entries are coming up; Josh Lucas sent me some code to make NewsBruiser notify the weblogs.com aggregator when a new entry is added to a notebook. I properly productized it and am now in the testing stage.

: Test

: That worked; this should actually do the update.

: Woohoo! Now I have to doc it and do a new NB release. I wish I had a CVS tree here.

: OK, the official NewsBruiser 1.0 release is out! Enjoy it. I know I will.

Oh, I just noticed this on the weblogs.com site:

Welcome to the meeting place for blogging excellence on the Internet. Any weblog can participate.

That's a strange definition of 'excellence'.

: When the sun sets, Crummy Cleanup Day becomes Leonard's Hard Drive Cleanup Night, and as I clean I'm finding all sorts of interesting old stuff. For instance, I found (at long last) the original Nerth Pork robotfindskitten submission. I also found the sample transcript which was the first manifestation of Guess the Verb!. GTV trivia: the original verbs on the wheel were DEFOLIATE, EQUIP, PARTITION, FORGET ABOUT, REFUND, MISALIGN, and UNDO.

: More archive stuff, from a story fragment I wrote instead of working on my Wittgenstein paper back in 2000:

[G.E.] Moore was also a great traveller. In his visits to foreign lands he was often mistaken for someone from the moon. He never understood why this kept happening to him. (Little did he know that he was taking part in thought experiments created by the German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.)

: I uploaded a mess o' pictures, Andy. Pictures from the Sequim trip: July 3, 4, 5 and 6 2000; Thanksgiving 2001; Bakersfield trip 2001; Sumana stand-up at Blake's; several loose CollabNet photos; a few others here and there.

: Nethack quiz: when would you get the following message?

You hear a clank.

: Sumana says:

You would hear "you hear a clank" when you have inadvertently stepped into a game of Girl Genius.

: At long last, I finally have an interactive fiction idea that I actually know what to do with, and that I care enough about to actually write the corresponding game. Expect the game in six to eight months.

: I am having the most amazing Nethack game ever. I found a wand of wishing with two charges in a shop, and with it got a silver dragon scale mail which I used in conjunction with a ring of polymorph to rob other shops (including a ring shop). Now I'm diluting useless potions and so far I've unleashed 3 (!) water demons in quick succession, all of which have been greatful and given me wishes. My chances of that happening are less than one in ten million.

Ah, I just unleased an unfriendly water demon, which probably ends my stream of luck.

: Susan Kelley mocks CNN space reporting thusly: "Scienticians Take Picture of Shiny Thing"

: Aha!

: Argh. I thought air travel was supposed to be cheap, what with nobody flying and the government bailouts and all. Yet it's costing me $450 to go to Texas and back for my cousin's wedding. And I still have over 20 unmarried cousins! They'll bankrupt me! I'll have to mortgage Marvin Gardens and sell all my houses on the orange properties!

: QoS: The Banner Ad

: A while back I watched Lagaan with Sumana and she said "This movie has everything Indians like in a movie. Song and dance numbers, hating the British and loving them at the same time, and cricket." There's an hour of cricket in that movie, preceded by an hour of cricket practice!

: My trips to the densist are hardly worth mentioning anymore. Boring boring boring (which is really the best that a trip to the dentist can be). I have two more trips to fill cavities, with the horrible wisdom tooth extraction occuring between. Then my mouth will be all patched up and ready for the braces.

: Wait a minute! Captain Planet and the Planeteers was supposed to have one Planeteer from every continent, but they didn't have anyone from Australia! They should have treated Europe and Asia as the same continent, and added an Australian aborigine. I don't know what they should have done about Antarctica.

: I finished Lord of the Rings last night. I think I finally understand all of what happens; why Aragorn made that stupid march to the Morannon and so on.

Interestingly enough, Nethack orcs think lembas wafers are delicious. Most likely this is the result of an oversight.

: The CollabNet Apps-Dev slogan was ratified today:

!! >> IZ

[Aka "Put it in Issuezilla".]

Not all is well, however; I discovered last night that what I thought to be a complete dump of the Segfault database is actually only a dump of the story metainformation and the (pre-shutdown-of-comment-system) comments. I don't currently have copies of any of the Segfault stories. So much for me being complacent about VA dragging its heels on letting me into the old Segfault box. I can rewrite the code if I have to but there's no way I can recover all those stories without access to the box.

: Scott suggested using the Wayback Machine to retrieve Segfault stories; he also mentioned that he's been lobbying VA about once a week to Free The Segfault N, as it were. Sumana suggested using the Wayback Machine's cache of searches by author to get particular stories (such as my own). There's no way I'm going to get an appreciable number of stories from the Wayback Machine, though; it's just too slow and there are too many stories. Though I could make it a cooperative venture and put up a site with one-month slices of Segfault's history still to be recovered, if people are interested.

Also from Sumana, the second entry in the Virtue Is Its Own Reward bin (the first): "Protect a loved one and save!"

: If, like me, you make the latest from political cartoonist Paul Conrad a must-read each day, you'll like my approximation of his style.

: Let's talk about the online comic Penny Arcade, bay-bee. The untutored Philistine might think it merely another cartoon which coasts along on references to electronic games, but said Philistine would be wrong! (Mostly!) It coasts along on the quality of its writing, which is top-notch. This is evidenced by the fact that Penny Arcade is one of my favorite online comics, even though I care not a whit for the sorts of game discussed in the strip. (This is not a rare phenomenon, by the way; I religiously read Slate's Tuesday Morning Quarterback even though I hate football and will attempt to weasel my way out of any conversation involving it.)

I bring this up because Monday's comic on carrot cake was especially good--not just by itself, but in conjunction with the gonzo adventure essay that accompanies it. That's the great part--you get a comic and an essay! If that's not value, I don't know what is.

: I'm at Kevin's house waiting for the time to come when he takes me to the airport and I depart for Houston. I really dread going through airport security because I hate long lines. However, I have assorted books to enjoy in the interims.

: Well, I'm off. In omen-of-doom news, my flight arrives in Houston at 9:11 PM local time.

: Whee, I'm in San Antonio. I went to a Boy Scout court of honor at which my cousin David was made an Eagle Scout. Tomorrow I'm going back to Houston to see the Schiles. Apart from Kristin's wedding, not much has happened.

Texans take their irony restaurants seriously. There is a restaurant actually called "Eat at Joes". There's also a fake '50s diner which has fake '50s graffiti on the front windows.

Gee, I wish it were ten o'clock: I'm long back from Texas and Crummy is, once again, down. I've been writing NYCB entries about Texas and I figure I might as well put them here while I wait and then repost them on the main site. So stay tuned.

In The Ballad of Michigan J. I have some fun naming space aliens (Zcat and Grep) after Unix utilities. It turns out I'm not the only one to do this sort of thing; witness The Saga of Argc and Argv.

The undead hordes of Texas are upon you:

One thing that happened to me in Texas was that my uncle Robert showed me Diablo II. Whee! It's quite fun, and I got up to level 11 without much trouble (then I went back to San Francisco; that's not where trouble abruptly started). I went away thinking there was a Linux version of Diablo II and I could continue to play it, but I couldn't find any evidence of such a beast. Oh well. I'll just have to do productive things with my time.

Now, a famous article compares Diablo II to Nethack ("But what about the Amulet of Yendor?"). On the other hand, Diablo II's mechanical similarities to Angband have so far passed largely unnoticed. Until now!

Our secret weapon in the war against terrorism: This kid is perilously cute.

The 1996 Aesthetic: I Want My Banner Ad To Look Like A Web Form But It Never Occured To Me To Actually Create The HTML Mockup I Want And Take A Screenshot Of It So I Ended Up Doing A Half-Assed Job Of It In Visual Basic: First In A Series.

: Woohoo! We're back in style. As always, check out the backup site for stuff soon to be reposted here.

:

In The Ballad of Michigan J. I have some fun naming space aliens (Zcat and Grep) after Unix utilities. It turns out I'm not the only one to do this sort of thing; witness The Saga of Argc and Argv.

:

One thing that happened to me in Texas was that my uncle Robert showed me Diablo II. Whee! It's quite fun, and I got up to level 11 without much trouble (then I went back to San Francisco; that's not where trouble abruptly started). I went away thinking there was a Linux version of Diablo II and I could continue to play it, but I couldn't find any evidence of such a beast. Oh well. I'll just have to do productive things with my time.

Now, a famous article compares Diablo II to Nethack ("But what about the Amulet of Yendor?"). On the other hand, Diablo II's mechanical similarities to Angband have so far passed largely unnoticed. Until now!

In one of the bizarre twists that marks my life, Robert used to play the Palm game iRogue a lot. The author of iRogue, Bridget Spitznagel, also ported robotfindskitten to the Palm.

: This kid is perilously cute.

: I Wanted My Banner Ad To Look Like A Web Form But It Never Occured To Me To Actually Create The HTML Mockup I Want And Take A Screenshot Of It So I Ended Up Doing A Half-Assed Job Of It In Visual Basic: First In A Series.

: One of the projects I engaged in over the weekend was to properly arrange and name the tracks of My Dinner with Andre Nguyen and What do you call those Pork Things?, the two crup albums hosted on this site here (cf.). Previously available only as unnamed blobs of unordered tracks, now shiny and recognizable. I highly recommend (just off the top of my head) Dodge Reliant, Robotfindskitten (completely unassociated with robotfindskitten), Cap'n Ron, and Fiestaware.

Note that a couple tracks from Andre Nguyen, including the fabulous "6660 Minutes", are missing.

: Ambiguous Headline Watch: Danger pets warning

AHW is the new, much better title for the previous Crummy feature Multiple Meaning Headline Watch, which is itself a side project of Funny Headline Watch (more), a wholly owned subsidiary of Crummy Headline WatchCo (NYSE: HEAD), a figment of my fevered, headline-obsessed imagination.

: So, what else did I do in Texas, you ask? Well, in San Antonio I played RISK with my cousins and my uncle Robert. I did this the last time I was in San Antonio, with much the same people, though I did better this time (I died last, fighting to the bitter end with my valiant Australasian troops). It was pretty cool the way we did it; among the many games on Robert's laptop is a RISK game, so we ran it, hooked up his laptop to the huge TV in my aunt's living room, and took turns at the mouse. This was a lot of fun because it had the feel of a real situation room like you see in movies (except for the big dice on the screen). The game also moved a lot faster than it would have on the board. I can't say I think much of the game interface, though.

: Let me introduce to you the one and only Snowblind (né "Sled or Die"), which as far as I know is the only robotfindskittenlike game (to coin a phrase) to not actually be robotfindskitten. Much like the relationship between Rogue and Diablo II in that I can't actually play Snowblind (it requires some fancy-schmancy graphics card that I don't have), but the brochure looks nice.

The name is intended to conjure images of hopelessly wandering through a barren, desolate wasteland full of strange objects and beings, much like the experience of trying to find useful information on OpenGL API extensions.

Caution: the download is huge and the authors probably never intended anyone else to see the game.

Also, some new rfk fan art.

: C'mon! I'll take you all on! I've been practicing!

: Got the last of my cavities filled today. Tomorrow is the big one; the removal of the impacted wisdom teeth. Aiee!

I'm communicating with Andy semi-regularly nowadays. It's great!

: Yesterday was a bit of a red-letter day for Michael Stack and myself. That was when we flipped the switch on the search system used in SourceCast. We used to use a horrible system based on Swish-E which could only index and search HTML content. The new system is of our own design, uses Lucene, and can index and search just about anything (it uses plug-ins) and integrate the results based on user permissions.

It's certainly one of the coolest pieces of software I've ever written, though I'm not sure how to quantify that. It can't be the coolest piece of software I've ever written, because it's a strict subset of the SourceCast component integration architecture, which is also very cool. It may be that it's the coolest software design I've ever come up with. I'm probably deluding myself into thinking that I could write a paper on its design and actually have something new to add to the field of computer science, but it's that sort of feeling.

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