Tuesday, January 29, 2013

News: IT Is Borked

  • GNU Info really has to die. Really. Actually, it already is dead, and Richard Stallman is the only person who doesn't realize it, but it's got a particular nasty ghost.

  • Objectivist C: a selfish programming language

  • I just hope they don't have any web servers...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Air Journal: Ole Virginie

I returned this week from a trip to Richmond to visit my aunt and uncle. Some highlights:

  • Now that American Airlines no longer flies out of Burbank, all my flight options to Richmond involved at least 2 connections, usually in such "how is that on the way" places like Detroit or San Francisco. Or I could fly out of LAX. I grudgingly chose the latter.
  • The TSA checkpoint at the AA terminal at LAX was (badly) retrofitted on a design that harkens back to the days when you could just get on any old plane and *then* buy your ticket. Kind of like trying to retrofit smartphone technology on a rotary phone.
  • When I left LAX, it was 72F outside. When I landed at Richmond, it was snowing.
  • I was surprised by how many birds were still hanging out in Virginia even in the winter, like this downy woodpecker:
    Downy Woodpecker
  • Saturday we drove out to a yarn store in Powhatan which my aunt swears said was open on the website. We got there at 2:30 or so. They had closed at 2, after being open all of 3 hours. Why bother to get out of bed at that point?
  • Sunday we drove out to a Thai restaurant for lunch. It was closed. The camera store where my aunt was trying to pick up prints was also closed. Do you see a recurring theme? Everything in Richmond and its environs is probably closed when you want to go there.
  • This is the type of show that makes me avoid watching Animal Planet anymore. My uncle showed me a picture from one of his and his hunter pal's motion-activated prey cams. They thought it looked squatchy because there was a lot of blurry stuff that looked like hair. I made out a hand and what looked like a jacket cuff. Also, I remembered seeing this:
  • We drove out to my grandmother's farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
    The Farm
    And speaking of rotary phones:
    The Farm
    However, even though we saw deer tracks and slightly larger tracks from what may have been a bear, no 'squatch tracks.
  • It was below freezing when I left Richmond, but warm when I got back to LAX. On the airport shuttle home, I was getting 1 bar on my cell phone at a dropoff a few blocks from USC. I had been getting 3+ bars in the middle of Blue Ridge. Go figure.
  • And the kitties were snuggly and happy to see me!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Misc: Brain Death by TV

While visiting my aunt and uncle, I was exposed to the.... indescribableness of the "reality" show on "Animal" Planet, "Finding Bigfoot."

We tuned in a few minutes early, apparently, so we got to see the last 5 minutes of "The Real Rednecks of Mississippi" "Gator Boys," which featured the "boys" wrassling a blind gator that didn't look all that huge to begin with. This is supposed to be impressive? Oh, apparently they rescued the blind gator and nursed it back to health so that, what, a redneck who eats too much saturated fat could sit on it and pry its mouth open for audiences?

Anyway, "Finding Bigfoot" features a bunch of people who apparently got dropped on their heads as infants too many times, and the token woman/scientist, credited as being a "field biologist." This episode saw the team go "squatching" in the Colorado Rockies, where "what may be" the oldest film of a 'squatch was recently made public, a bit of 8mm B&W film made in 1962 from a Boy Scout camp. Of course, since it was made 50 years ago and the camp no longer exists, they can't be certain where it was filmed, so there's no scale, and it looks to me like a big guy in a long, dark coat hopping around, but apparently I'm just a fuddy-duddy.

They then have a "town meeting" with various locals and ask if any have seen or heard any 'squatches. Note that they don't ask "what may have been a sasquatch." They don't even equivocate in their questioning the camera-happy locals. At least a dozen people raise their hands. They then proceed to "investigate" the most promising sightings, including one by a father and his teenage daughter. Apparently they had climbed up a peak to get better cell phone reception, and then they saw something "squatchy" from a distance (of course). Note that even though they had at least one cell phone (and since there was a teenage girl involved, I can't believe they didn't have two), neither one apparently tried to take pictures. Uh-huh.

Anyway, the team would "examine" the evidence and stage "recreations." There seems to be a recurring theme that the "field biologist" would generally say that the evidence was not persuasive, but one of her companions would invariably say the same evidence was sound. That field biologist has way more restraint than I would in the same situation if she's not on camera every 5 minutes calling the morons "dumbasses."

Anyway, the episode ended with the team trying to use a bunch of Girl Scouts as 'squatch "bait." Right. Because a bunch of shrieking pre-teen girls isn't going to send the thing running.

Monday, January 14, 2013

News: Cats Are Awesome

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Minecraft: Ahhh, Kids

Last night I got to ride back and forth to LAX with my friend's 5-year-old. Toward the end of the return trip, he started telling us (me and his mother) about how his brother (he has two, one who is named "Boney" and the other one whose name he doesn't know. He's an only child, by the way) cheats at Minecraft by buying a diamond pickaxe, and how that's cheating.

This was after he taught me a song called "Poop Your Head," which goes something like this:

Shake my booty
Shake my booty
Shake my booty
In your ass

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Whiteboard Jungle: SPECIAL Annual Reviews

Yes, it's that time of year again in my whiteboard jungle, employee reviews. The process actually starts in December when we all panic and write our self-review the day they're due, only to find out they gave us an extension. (They're using a new online app this year that will apparently let them lock us out if we haven't submitted on time.) We're also supposed to submit the peer reviews that were requested from us. I had 9 this year. 9. I'm pretty sure that, even if I know 9 people at work, I definitely do not like 9 of them. Self-review is hard for me. I was brought up not to brag about myself, besides which I thought my awesomeness was self-evident! Um, right. Anyway, I decided this whole process would be so much simpler if they would adopt the Fallout SPECIAL stats system, which runs on a scale of 1-10. Then my self-review would end up looking something like this:

  • Strength - N/A Only relevant when I need to kick someone's ass for being, well, an ass. Unfortunately, the person whose ass needs kicking always seems to be in a different office location, rendering this moot.
  • Perception - 9. Unfortunately, a high score here feels like a curse, because it means I seem to notice brokenness that either eluded other people or that they were better at ignoring. Sadly, the person who finds the brokenness often seems to end up being the person who gets the "privilege" of fixing it.
  • Endurance - 3. The st00p1d has worn me down.
  • Charisma - 10! Of course!
  • Intelligence - 9. Of course, I still work here, so I'm probably overstating.
  • Agility - 6. This would be higher, except I often seem to end up getting hit in the face by the brokenness.
  • Luck - 0. (I mentioned that this was on the scale of 1-10, right?)

Now we have to wait 2 months for the results. My boss asked what he could do to keep us from worrying about it. I suggested BevMo gift cards.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

News: Ethernet Vines in the Whiteboard Jungle

  • If the people in that office walk anything like the people in my business complex drive, they're going to need a stop sign... and a traffic camera... and a crossing guard...

  • These should be standard issue for network engineers....
  • ... especially if their network cabling looks like this:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Knittin' Crap: Mission Wrap-Up

As I reported earlier, this Starfleet Fiber Arts Corps tour of duty included 4 missions each month, plus 6 missions (3 each for the Tactical and Command divisions) spanning all three months that entail looking into why we spent the previous tour stuck on a rock in the middle of BF nowhere.

I managed to finish all 12 of the month-long missions, plus 5 of the 6 longer term missions.

Division My report
Command A: Craft something that will make you seem less intimidating to the villagers and thus aid you in your interviews. Craft something to make yourself appear friendlier or perhaps comical (who can be intimidated by someone who looks ridiculous?). Craft something to make it easier for the villagers to communicate with you; a way to leave messages without having to talk to you face to face. Craft a toy for the children so you can make the interview more like a game. I decided to play on any tradition of hospitality the natives may have by pre-emptively bringing a lovely hostess gift, this floral arrangement:
Command B: Record your observations of the planet by crafting something unusual. It can be an item with an unexpected use of color, texture, or pattern or something that is unusual for your personality. If you normally knit clothing, try a home item. If you usually crochet, give knitting or sewing a try. If you normally craft accessories, try your hand at a larger garment (sweater, skirt, etc). I decided to utilize a service cat for further exploration and data gathering. I created a hooded garment which would gather readings for telemetry and protect the cat. However, said service cat decided the horizontal stripes on the garment were not slimming, and barely had tried it on long enough for me to snap a holo-photo.
Cat in the Hood(ie)
Hoodie Sans Cat
ETA: Service cat finally agreed to try on the device again, but only as long as he could sit in my lap (his primary function, other than trying to trip me and break my neck) and I kept scratching his head. Clearly, this situation is not ideal for investigating the anomalies…
Cat in the Hood
Mr Snuggees
Command C: Craft something that will help you overcome their security and free the prisoners. Knit a weapon that will disarm, distract or subdue the warriors, crochet something that will disable the force field, craft something that will allow you to rescue the prisoners by stealth or cunning without the alerting warriors to your plans. Oops...
Tactical A: Craft something to warn others of the danger of the energy dampening field – something yellow, red or shiny to serve as a warning beacon, a lace perimeter net to prevent ships from entering the energy dampening field, a map of the precise location of the planet for Starfleet database, or something that sends a warning message to ships nearby. This large arrangement of menacing space flowers will serve to deter any errant ships. The flowers pose no threat to ships themselves but appear to wave off nearby moving objects because of their sensitivity to disturbances in the surrounding field of plasma. Also, the “L”, is, of course, the galactic warning symbol, even though it was never adopted on Earth.
Tactical B: Craft something demonstrating your research. Research the Ravelry pattern recommendation feature to find a pattern to try (the if you liked this pattern, you might like that one feature) or search the queue or favorites of one of your shipmates. Craft something using the pattern you found there (include a link to the original pattern or the crew member’s queue where you it). Bonus points if you make the item as a gift. I found this design plan for a Ten Stitch Blanket in Pandalark’s queue and adapted it as a multi-modal diffraction grating to capture different metrics of the surrounding radiation.
10-Stitch Cat Blanket
After I collected copious data for analysis, I gifted the grating, actually made of a soft fiber, to my cat:
Spoon + Blankie
Tactical C: “Dismantle” a project that isn’t working and rework the project into something that you like. You may rip the entire project and start over or just frog part of a project to correct a mistake, correct the fit or to change a design element that you just don’t like. You may also completely rip finished ugh projects so the yarn can be reclaimed. I had somehow managed to complete the entire back piece of this special engineering shield before realizing my gauge had been completely off and that the cable fiber I had selected would not produce the required dimensions, or in fact dimensions suitable for any humanoid I know who is no longer required to sit in a car shuttle booster seat. (I cannot explain how I got so far before noticing the size discrepancy, except to say that I may have been exposed to some perception-altering radiation whose effects lasted several months.) I began to reclaim the cable fiber, then got distracted. That was, oh, at least 3 Earth years ago. Here is the state I left it in:
Yarn reconditioning
I have now reclaimed the fiber, skeined it:
Yarn reconditioning
washed and dried:
Yarn reconditioning
and wound to prepare for re-use:
Yarn reconditioning

Cat Hoodie pattern by Kristin Roach
Ten-Stitch Blanket pattern by Frankie Brown

Knittin' Crap: December Missions

Division My report
Diplomatic: Craft something “fancy” to wear to such an event (evening gloves, a shawl to go with evening dress, jewelry, a Klingon sash) or craft a festive decoration for one of these celebrations. I have engineered these decorative flowers, to be pinned in my short hair, to diplomatic functions. Not only are they attractive, they also function to prevent electronic eavesdropping of any conversations I may have.
Oooh shiny
Engineering: Help the Chief test the replicators. Craft more than one of the same item, craft several similar items to be donated to charity or given as gifts, or craft more than one random item to indicate that the replicator still is not working properly in that area. (Must craft a minimum of 2 items for this mission.) To test the replicator’s ability to make accurate reproductions of edible organic matter, I replicated a pea pod. The one on the left is the original, and the one on the right is the copy. I opened the replicated pod to ensure that the peas were fully formed, and they were.
Medical: It’s a tribble snag ’em-bag ‘em-and-tag ‘em. Craft something to capture the tribbles, to contain them, or to control their growth by inoculating them. Craft a net, a special cage or trap, or a device for inoculating large numbers of tribbles simultaneously. Use your imagination and show us your Starfleet ingenuity. This modified grenade releases a mild general anesthetic that will render tribbles unconscious (not to mention unable to breed) for several hours, during with time they can be more easily collected.
Whiteboard Jungle Warfare
Science: To complete the requirements for class, you must demonstrate your powers of observation. Observe an object and attempt to recreate it. Try to recreate something from a movie, museum, et cetera. Capture the color of a sunset or a stormy day. Recreate an everyday item from an unusual material. I sought to render 3-D likenesses of two NCC-1701 Enterprise era personnel. First I chose Lt. Sulu. I decided for the second portrait to memorialize one of the unsung members of that crew, an Operations-division ensign, except even after researching the crewmember, I totally forgot his name and what he looked like…
Star Trek III: The Search for More Fingers

Peas in a Pod pattern by Hansi Singh
Grenade pattern by Alison Hogg