Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Your youtube four meme

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

So I don’t think I’ve ever posted a meme on here, but this one from Christopher Blizzard is kinda cool.

  1. Open your fancy Firefox 3 browser.
  2. 2. Click on the awesomebar and type in ‘youtube’.
  3. 3. Post the first four videos that come up.

Here are mine.




Math and Haiku

Monday, November 20th, 2006

A book about haiku I’m reading for school says that haiku is different from other forms of written art because while other forms have to be read through, and the experience is gradually built up, haiku is short enough that it can be experienced instantaneously. It does take a few moments to read it, but where with an eight or even four line poem you get one half and then the next, with a haiku you read the entire thing, then the seeing it comes all at once.

I realized today that math gives you both the gradual, drawn out experience of a longer poem or novel and the instant experience of a haiku at once. A proof may take a while to go through, building up step by step, but when you’re left with, say, aⁿ + bⁿ ≠ cⁿ, you have that same instantaneous understanding as with a haiku.

Math is so beautiful.

Thank you, OED

Monday, November 13th, 2006

So today I was looking through my firefox search bar’s history, and along with things like “how to raise your iq by eating gifted children” (it’s a book apparently) and “fraught with all manner of spiky-haired cute things” (no results, this page will be the first), I found ‘quercivorous nepheliad’.

And of course, I immediately recognized what I was doing when I searched for that: “Hey, it’s a googlewhack! I wonder if it still works.”

So I tried it, and it almost worked, except the passage it was written in had been quoted a bunch of times. But I also noticed that google suggested “quercivorus” instead of “quercivorous”.

Obvious choice of action, test it out and see which one gets more search results. Which I do, and see quercivorus gets 500 results, and quercivorous gets 15300. And wow! My blog is at the top of the results for quercivorous! That’s awesome! But wait… these look like mostly just word lists… the results for quercivorus looked a lot more scholarly… yeah, they do. And oh… 15100ish of the 15300 are all one site.

GAAH. I misspelled my own favorite word, and it’s at the top of google’s results for it to boot.

So I went and edited my post. Made a note about my misspelling it, and corrected the spelling for the future, in hopes of google putting me back high in the rankings for the right spelling.

But just before submitting, I thought to myself “I wish I had my OED, so I could check what it says.” Of course, I don’t, because no one brings their OED to college with them, at least, not anyone studying computer science.

But maybe the library has one. So I walk over there, and yes, it does! And then I look it up… And it says I was right all along! It really is spelled quercivorous! Yes!

A bit more research shows that there are 4 species (probably of insect) named Something quercivorus. Removing those, there are practically no results. I cancel the edit to my old post and write this one.

The moral of the story: The OED may not know everything. But in its niche, it’s smarter than even google.

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

The soda machine here lights up and makes noise when you walk by it.

I don’t like being marketed to.

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

I keep rediscovering that when I take a walk, I’d rather have dirt and grass under my feet than pavement.

Software Freedom Day

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Today was Software Freedom Day, and while I certainly could have done more to publicize it, I did take it to heart for myself and my computer.

Today I finally uninstalled the last bit of proprietary software I was using, Flash, and am compiling gnash to replace it. This will certainly be a bit of a drop in functionality—there’s a long list of things unimplemented—but it’s worth it to finally have my computer clean. Macromedia/Adobe hadn’t released any version of flash for linux since 7 anyway, so I was already starting to get locked out of sites. I just hope my game site doesn’t accidentally detect it as me cheating—I’ll probably be the first person ever to use it on their site. :P

(I also got rid of a few old (unused) java plugins that were lying around. I still have some games installed that I can’t see the source for; I treat those as media, the same as music, and while I don’t listen to music from companies I don’t like (read: any RIAA member), I don’t restrict myself to only openly licensed music if the money’s going somewhere decent. Feel free to try to convince me that I’m wrong (or right) about that.)

One week of college

Monday, August 28th, 2006

I’m now at college. I’m at Vermont Technical College, in Randolph Center, Vermont. So far it’s gone pretty well, with some complaints but not many.

My courses are Java 1, Calculus 2, English, History of IT, ECT Orientation, and Computer Networking. Java is all right; I’d rather be taking C, but I’ll get to that next semester; most of it so far is familiar, but that’s 4 classes’ worth and I expect there to be new stuff later on. Calc 2 I’m retaking, as I haven’t taken any organized math in three years; it should be, and has been, very easy. English is not actually English, it’s Pseudo-Philosophy From the Context of Literature, like nearly all “English” classes are; it bores me to tears, but so far I’ve actually done all the work. History of IT is very fun; having spent my life around computers I know > 1/2 of it anyway (so far closer to 90%, actually), but the teacher is very good and it’s nice to rehear some of it. ECT Orientation is a once-a-week, one hour thing, which is boring, stupid, useless, and required; there is no work, no tests, you merely have to show up and listen to people talk at you for an hour; perhaps I’ll bring textbooks and do some reading then. Computer Networking looks to be fun, like Java and History of IT; I’ve known everything in it so far, but I expect it to get new soon too.

The people and food both average to mediocre, but have enough high enough above that average that I’m okay, the rooms are all right. The internet connection is faster but more restrictive than I’m used to (no bittorrent, even for legal things, and although I’m used to external ping being blocked, now I can’t even ping computers on the network). Other than that, everything’s about normal

Because they’re taking my rights, that’s why.

Thursday, August 3rd, 2006

If you ever buy me a CD, please first make sure it is not released by a member of the RIAA. Thank you.

I’m happy to report that although approximately 1/3 of my CD collection is RIAA-affiliated, not a single one of those was bought by me. In terms of how much I actually listen to them, it’s more like 1/10, soon to drop farther as I finish putting the rest of the independent CDs on my computer.

Back to the 1.8 branch, part 2?

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

I’m considering switching back to the 1.8 branch again. There’s a giant memory leak on trunk that it seems only I can see (yes, I’ve tried safe mode) that I’m having trouble narrowing down. Cairo is still incredibly slow on Linux. The tab scrolling thing that just landed is incredibly stupid, in my at least partly-qualified opinion, and interrupts my workflow a lot.

And to add to all that, ever since going to a music festival for 4 days and not using a computer at all, I’ve stopped really wanting to spend so much time on it in the first place, and I just want it to do what I want.

So yeah, I might switch back, to take some of the hassle away. That would also mean I’d file fewer bug reports…

A Truck Driver’s Gear Change at the All-State Music Festival

Sunday, May 14th, 2006

Yesterday I went to the Vermont All-State Music Festival, which is where the best highschool musicians in the state all get together and play songs. I watched the Band, the Orchestra, and the Choir, which is everyone who was performing that day (Jazz Band was Friday).

The location wasn’t all that great. It was a high school gym that was rather small to begin with, and when you take out stage space, a lot of people had to fit into a very small area. The floor was filled with chairs, and the bleachers (one side, plus second floor, plus small on the other side) were full, and they weren’t even facing the right way. There was a very tight bottleneck to get in and out. There were only two bathrooms, both rather small, and both always full of performers changing (at least between performances) since the small stage meant only one group could be out at a time and the others couldn’t stay in their seats to listen.

Perhaps I’m just comparing that to last year, though, which is the only other one I’ve been to. My town hosted that one, and it was held in various nice places around the town with the band, orchestra, and choir held in a hockey rink that randomly happened, by the word of one of the conductors who had conducted there, to have as good acoustics as Carnagie Hall. (As well as, of course, a lot more room, which is good since we’re in the middle of the state and so drew a lot more people.)

I sat, as last year, in the very front center. This was good seating, except that the people next to me were being consistently loud enough to distract me. Turning program pages, digital cameras that go “click” (seriously, people! Turn it off at a concert!), even talking. Even more annoyingly, it was a friend’s parents who were doing that. I talked to them between band and orchestra, though, and they stopped.

Throughout the entirety of the orchestra, I had to pee. (Not my fault, see lack of bathrooms above.)

Band and orchestra were on one ticket, choir was on another (since some parents, apparently, only want to see the one their kid’s in…). I left my coat on the chair, and went out to go to the bathroom and talk to people. The doors were still closed when I came back, and the line was huge, so I managed to sneak my way into the middle (no moral problem for me, since I already have my seat, it’s not like I’m getting a better one by cutting). And I waited until they opened the doors, and went back to my seat… and it was taken. Apparently, it had suddenly become a reserved seat between band and choir. Way to not inform me ahead of time. And by that point there weren’t any good ones left, so I went up to the balcony to sit with some friends.

Now, music.

Last year, the band was very good, the orchestra was good and the choir was amazing. The choir was so good I had to restrain myself from giving a standing ovation after the third song out of six, and said to myself “The last song better be at least that good, or I’ll be mad”–and then the last one proceeded to be even better.

This year the band was excellent (my enjoyment of it was not, see talking people above, but I’m correcting for that), the orchestra was excellent (again, my enjoyment was not, see had to pee above), and then the choir.

The first two songs were very good. The acoustics of the room and where I was sitting made some of the notes in the first song rather interesting, and there was some snickering nearby that for the first third of the song the lyrics were only “Love” repeated over and over, but it was still good and those both went away in the second song. Then the third song, following last year, was again amazing. I didn’t quite have trouble not standing like last year, but if it had been the last song I certainly would have. The fourth song was a Vietnamese folk song. Unfortunately for me, although I’m not all that experienced with asian culture I have heard just enough music to hear where the words should have been tonal but weren’t (which was, of course, basically every word). Other than that, though, it was still well sung.

The fifth song was religious. I can’t stand songs with religious lyrics.

It’s not that I hate religion in general. I don’t, except when it specifically gets in my way and I think “my life would be so much easier if religion didn’t exist”*. For the most part, I go on letting it be other people’s problem, and even acknowledge that it can sometimes be beneficial to those people. But religious music really grates on my nerves. Not because I think it’s an attempt to “convert” me–it’s usually not, and when it is it’s usually not as good and easily laughed at. The reason it gets on my nerves so much is that I just can’t enjoy it the same way. With music whose words I agree with (e.g. “peace is good”) or that aren’t relevant to me (“I love” + girl_name) I can really get caught up in it. I can close out all my other thoughts and go along with it, let my feelings soar when the music does and fall back along with it. Just like when I’m reading, or dreaming, my mind can be totally in that world. With religious music, I just can’t do that, because I just can’t feel the same way it does. Or, more accurately, I won’t feel the same way it does.

This is not a problem with music whose lyrics I can’t understand, like if they’re in another language. For me they might as well be lyricless; the expression I get from them is purely musical. One of my favorite songs, in fact, is Baba Yetu from the Civilization 4 soundtrack. It happens to be “The Lord’s Prayer” in Swahili, but I don’t understand Swahili, so the lyrics can’t affect me and I just hear the amazing music. **

But this song, of course, was in English. And while it was sung very well, I couldn’t enjoy it. When the singers started clapping, I didn’t clap along with them. When it was over, I clapped, but as an acknowledgement that they’d sung well, not because I liked it.

And then the sixth song came. And it was also religious. And I was dismayed.

And it was amazing musically. Just like last year, they’d saved the best for last, and it was more than deserving of being called best and sung to match. And it wasn’t even religious all the way through! It was obviously not intended to be so, and just what the composer considered normal. But every time I started getting caught, something would be said and I would come crashing out. And so I sat there and moped, and wished it could have been better for me.

And then, at the end of the song, a song which had been musically amazing, there was a Truck Driver’s Gear Change.

And at that point, I found that to be the funniest thing ever. And as everyone else clapped along and listened, I laughed. And laughed, and laughed, and laughed. And luckily there was quite a lot of noise from the clapping, because even though I covered my mouth I wasn’t exactly quiet, and I drew a few stares from nearby. And then, as I laughed, I found that the lyrics were drowned out in my mind by the sheer hilarity of the situation, and I could finally hear just the music, and I could finally enjoy it.

* Technically it’s not religion getting in my way, it’s people getting in my way motivated by religion, or it’s a person’s adherence to religion getting in my way when I’m trying to get them to see something from a non-religious viewpoint.

** One of the worst things to happen to me is to have a song that I really enjoy, that I think could even be one of my favorites, and then to find out what the lyrics I hadn’t understood are and not like them. That’s happened at least once that’s sitting in my memory, with Avondale (traditional, performed by Lissa Schneckenburger).

Work

Saturday, September 10th, 2005

work n.

Anything that you do that you would prefer to have already done.

(“Have” being a verb, not “have already done” being the past perfect of “do”.)

P.S.: What’s the proper way to mark this entry up?

More computer experiences, or Why I haven’t checked my email in over a week

Friday, February 4th, 2005

I’m mostly offline right now; my computer doesn’t currently have a GUI, and that makes it hard to run most of the programs I use, so the only time I can get online is at school or the library. Lynx is nice for downloading programs you need, but it gets pretty annoying trying to actually browse the web with it. As for email, I much prefer Thunderbird over the webmail interfaces I can use.

The reason for this is pretty simple: Gnome and kdm (the login manager) both broke at the same time, and I wanted to try building my own system (as opposed to using a distro) anyway as a learining experience, so it was the perfect time. Then spent a while figuring things out, decided I’d have to use a minimal install of some distro because it was just a little too much work otherwise, and spent quite a while compiling X partway through seven times because I didn’t read the list of things it depends on. After that (after it hit something I was having trouble figuring out, namely that something was in a directory it didn’t expect), I was talking to my dad and he suggested Slackware and told me about it, and I thought I’d like it. So now I’m waiting for some Slackware CDs (I’m not sure my CD burner works, or how to use it if it does, so he’s going to burn them for me), and then it’ll probably be a few days until I’m back online for real.

So if you’ve sent me any mail or anything, sorry. I’ll get to it. I also notice there’s another last call for comments from WHATWG, and I’ve probably missed a bunch of stuff there.

I should have posted this sooner…