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Entries from February 2004
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Blood on the tracks (28 Feb 2004 at 11:02)
Today I played guitar hard enough that my finger exploded blood all over the strings. I only tell you this because that is pretty fucken hardcore.
(9 comments)   [ comment ]
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$13.86 (26 Feb 2004 at 01:48)
Holy crap! I actually got my checque from the RIAA et al. for $13.86 as part of the antitrust settlement. I was just thinking about that recently and how I was expecting that it would just never come. Somehow I don't think it makes up for my 400+ CDs though...
(4 comments)   [ comment ]
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Bill Gates Lecture, etc. (25 Feb 2004 at 12:24)
Attn: Bill Gates is BORING. Summary of talk ("Solving the toughest problems of computer science"): Blah blah Moore's law, blah blah lip service to major areas of CS research at CMU, blah blah needlessly 3D computer interfaces demo that doesn't work right.

During the question and answer session though, he did have an amusing rejoinder: Some nerd from the KGB asks Bill, "Will you accept this gift of linux?" (waving a CDR, presumably loaded up with some hip distroz). Bill responds sharply, "I don't know, what's it worth?"

If you've ever been by my office you know that there's a loud hum from the HVAC turbines in the ceiling that can be heard all through the hallways and nearby offices. Today I succeeded, by accident, in filling my water bottle so that it just resonated with that tone. The amount of vibration I could feel from the bottle and the volume of the sound at the bottle's mouth was actually pretty surprising. But I get surprised by really boring stuff like how Bill Gates is boring and how my students don't know how to prove stuff. Grading sucks.
(5 comments)   [ comment ]
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Vote No-der (23 Feb 2004 at 15:05)
Although I enocuraged you to Vote for Nader back in 2000, I have to say that I've learned my lesson, now. I didn't think we could have a president as bad as this.

Listen, with our crazy voting system, you have to game it: your best vote is not always for your favorite candidate. That's a little sad because (a) people are not always rational, (b) voting strategy is harder work than just picking your favorite candidate and (c) Nader is running again this year.

But maybe this suicide run is part of his grand genius plan for election reform. If he spoils the election for the democrats again, perhaps they will be hurt enough to push for some modernized (and mathematically non-gameable) voting system. (Check out electionmethods.org for some arguments for the Condorcet system ("automatic runoff") and even simpler Approval system.) Under either, citizens could vote their conscience and not worry that "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush."

(Of course a vote for Nader is not actually a vote for Bush, it's more like a vote for nobody, or else half a vote for Bush. When you vote for Bush instead of Bush's major opponent, you raise the difference between them by two votes, not one.)

In the meantime, I will be voting with strategy. Let's just hope that some good comes of this!

By the way, it is still true that non-voters are the majority.
(7 comments)   [ comment ]
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Rover Silence Explained (22 Feb 2004 at 10:01)
Remember when the Mars rover Spirit went incommunicado for several days after landing? Apparently that was because of the FAT* file system's limitation on the number of directory entries. It astounds me the level of software errors these guys make, given how much money is invested in the development..

* (guess)
(4 comments)   [ comment ]
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The Religious Movements Page (12 Feb 2004 at 09:39)
Next time someone tells you he's a Tenrikyoist or Swedenborgianist or Raelian (or some other religion or crazy cult) you can finally find out what that means in one convenient location.
(8 comments)   [ comment ]
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Puzzlestorm! (07 Feb 2004 at 19:57)
We placed #4 by points in Puzzlestorm 2004. There were some kinda screwed up puzzles that we tore our hair out over for a while ("Scarborough Fair" by Paul Simon??? "ya rule"?) and some dumb mistakes that cost us points ("islbnd"?), but we had a great time as usual. There were some real exciting moments (Egypt!), and just like last year we tied for the most first solutions of any team.

It would really suck not to know how to program. A lot of good SML was written. Next year, we will have even more software...
Category:  contests (6 comments)   [ comment ]
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News of the Tom (05 Feb 2004 at 10:24)
Recent happenings: LICS paper is in. Somehow, right before I was about to make the final version to submit, BibTex got screwed up on all of the CS machines and was formatting all the accents to the side of the accented letters! I had a bit of a panic but fortunately the andrew linux machines still work.

I finally beat the last unfinished levels of Mario Kart: Double Dash (every cup, every speed+mirror, all cup tour). Man, that game is a lot easier than F-Zero GX.

Adam wants to port Escape to the NES for his Nintendo Game Making Class (can you believe we have such things? It's a student-taught course.) I think this is a great idea, and I'm gonna help.

Speaking of Adam: Puzzlestorm will be this Saturday. Team Octobotronic Massive X will make sure to not get cheated this year! The X-Boxes will be ours!

Speaking of X-Box, Bill Gates is coming to visit CMU soon. I guess he's like, why don't they love me? Oh, maybe because you never built us a new CS building, hint.

Even though the paper is in, I'm still hard at work on a technical report and then the next iteration of our calculus (which is going to be quite cool!). Advisor Karl jokes, "You can sleep now," to which Advisor Bob adds, "But no eating!"
(10 comments)   [ comment ]
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10-24 old buddy (02 Feb 2004 at 18:25)
Of course, the moment that I finish whittling the paper down to preciesly 10 pages, I receive notification that the deadline is extended by 24 hours. Well, I am definitely playing hockey!
(3 comments)   [ comment ]
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Sympathize (02 Feb 2004 at 17:26)
Now enduring painful process: reducing 10.5 page paper to 10.0 pages after spending 2.5 hours reducing 11 page paper to 10.5 page paper.

On the plus side, it looks as though I'll be done in time to play hockey tonight. Seriously, done ten hours early is like a new world record for me!!
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