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Entries from April 2006
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Question and Answer Session (18 Apr 2006 at 01:01)
Question and Answer Session
1024×683 version
Q.

"What is the haps, Tom?"
A.
"Easter and Taxes! But taxes sure are boring. Let's not talk about that. On Easter weekend we helped to prepare a lovely and alarmingly gourmet dinner replete (this usage problem is thus placed in the blog post like a hidden Easter egg for you, grammarnerd) with mojitos and microbrew, and to demonstrate our ability to be simultaneously classy and childishly base we also roasted marshmallow peeps over a Sterno on fondue forks to make S'meeps and microwaved them so that they'd explode Mr. Wizard style, encouraged or at least prophesized by the fortune-cookie message Ms. Nerd's mom sent with the Peeps, namely
HELP STAMP OUT PEEPS ABUSE
and we also dyed Easter Eggs just like old times. You have already seen some of those eggs above. If you look carefully, a few of the eggs appear toxically slick, because they were coated with a strange 10 egg-dyeing kit which still stains my hands more than a day later, despite scrubbing with the most potent solvent known to mankind (nail polish remover), so I am just going to wait until my fingers exfoliate and take that sticky shit with it, like how sharks don't use dentists or teeth-sharpeners, they just keep squeezing out new rows of teeth when their old ones get dull.

Speaking of cavities, Neal and I have just invented a new candy. It's called milk coffulate and it's just plain old milk chocolate except that where every granule of cocoa dust was once present, it is instead replaced by finely ground coffee bean. What do you think? Does this confection already exist? Often when I have a good idea it is in fact the case that it has already been invented.

Continuing in reverse chronology: On saturday it was national Really Nice Day in Pittsburgh Day, and Cortney took me on my first ever urban bike riding trip. We went downtown on the Furnace Trail and then to the South Side. I find running or bike riding around town to be really empowering much unlike driving a car, which I find really panic-inducing and crummy. I still need to build up some ass callouses or whatever the analogue of callouses are for muscles because my butt is really sore from that hard seat, but I'm looking forward to more biking as the weather gets even nicer. That night we went and saw Winterpills and Rosie Thomas at the Club Café, which was a good show as usual. When I visited the merch table to pick up a Winterpills CD the guy invited me to visit the band's myspace profile, which means that either I am too easily pegged as an internet kind of guy or myspace is even more commonplace than I have yet to become comfortable with. But now my band's myspace profile is friends with his band's myspace profile, whatever that means.

Speaking of internet entertainment systems, my internet music friend MAT64 has a new album TurboLoad out which I am rocking to right now. The last two songs are especially good. This is Commodore 64 chiptune stuff, so only listen if you like to LOAD *,8,1.

Wow, is this long enough yet or what? Speaking of long, in a bit of spare time I made an entry for the 2006 Underhanded C Contest. (I've always wanted to enter the International Obfuscated C Code Contest, but the competition there is really stiff; I figure it'd be better to get in on the ground floor with a relatively new contest.) Here the idea is to write a program that appears to be a very normal and easy to understand program but that conceals some devious behavior. In this case, you have to write a simple "benchmark" application that runs with vastly different performance on two different operating systems. (Mine runs about 130 times slower on Linux than it does on Windows.) This kind of contest is almost as fun as the IOCCC, but makes a more important point: Whereas everybody sort of already knows that one can write very obfuscated code, this contest makes it clear how easy it is to write programs that look trustworthy (even under substantial scrutiny) but that contain malice like backdoors and such. This fact is really damning against software projects like OpenBSD that attempt to build secure and robust code merely by pouring a lot of time into looking at and testing it. This kind of contest really shows that this is a losing battle if there are malicious parties involved, and highlights the usefulness of something rather more infallible like Proof Carrying Code for ensuring the saftey (or some day maybe even correctness) of code from unknown origin. Since the contest doesn't end for another few months though, I'm going to sit on my entry in case any brilliant enhancements occur to me.

Speaking of programming contests—one last thing—we have been pouring a lot of time into the ICFP contest and I think it is going to be just so damn fun this year. Pass on the word to your programmer buddies and please do take a look come July."

Category:  contests (26 comments — almost 2 years ago)   [ comment ]
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At least he could be like a slick talker (06 Apr 2006 at 17:48)
When George Bush speaks, past, present and future are one.

"When America speaks, we ought to mean what we said."

"I wish that can be done over."

Three out of four of the Bush quotes in this article have winceworthy mistakes in them. Like red ink SEE ME stuff. Are they just trying to make him look bad? How can someone be this bad at making sense?

(In other news, president authorized vice president to allow aide to leak classified information.)
(14 comments — almost 11 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Random Distance Shirts 2006 (06 Apr 2006 at 14:41)
Random Distance Shirts 2006
Realizing that the grace period of oh that lazy Tom, always saving these design projects to the last minute was wearing thin for the organizers of the Random Distance Run I finally got around to finishing the shirt designs for this year. The front design is rather different than in prior years; this is a stylistic parody of "pro-style" race shirts (inspired by this actually professional design except less competent and omitting the female runner because jeez, I spent like 3 hours just drawing the dude and wanted to fit that Hamerschlag in the background and the race will be 85% males anyway, being de facto a Computer Science event). The back side is standard fake-sponsor fare; thank you all for your ideas and I'm sorry I couldn't fit them all in!

If you want to wear this design on your body, registration is still open for the race! (Actually you can register until race day, but if you register in the next few days then you can be guaranteed a shirt of the correct size.)
Category:  drawings (8 comments — almost 11 years ago)   [ comment ]
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All decimals greater than one (04 Apr 2006 at 10:21)
The scope and candidness of TV piracy on the internet continues to impress me. Youtube is what I could only describe as a legit site (if rather myspace-chic) but is apparently perfectly happy to host blatantly copyrighted material and blast me down nostalgia lane like with this archive of MathMan segments from SquareOne TV. If you watched these all the time when you were young, you might laugh as I did at this one where Mr. Glitch plays intead of MathMan.
(8 comments — almost 6 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Pittsburgh ARTBUS! (03 Apr 2006 at 20:16)
Artbus lives! Back in November I made an illustration for a Pittsburgh project to place local artists' work in port authority buses around the city. The launch was delayed a few times but now it is really happening with dates and stuff:
  • At the end of April, thirty copies of each piece will be distributed throughout buses, where they'll be displayed for six months
  • Art guides will be available alongside printed bus schedules
  • The artbus site has all of the pieces up on it already, but maybe don't spoil it
  • From 5–9pm on April 21, a special ur artbus with all of the art and many artists will do a gallery crawl around the downtown art galleries, including the Wood Street Gallery where the artbus pieces will be displayed.
Neat! I'm definitely going on the crawl. Maybe you will be there too!
(5 comments — almost 11 years ago)   [ comment ]
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And the delicious concrete mortar shall fill their maw (03 Apr 2006 at 20:01)
This saturday our team Eating Buildings competed in Puzzlestorm 2006. It was a fun time as usual, but we got only 6th place (our worst showing ever?), and some mistakes in the puzzles and problems with the submission process made it frustrating at times. Congrats to all the teams that roundly defeated us, and thanks to the organizers for all their work!

Positive consequence of puzzle mistakes: a new word added to our in-joke lexicon, "snialar." Pronounce this to Adam or Jason or William or me in six months and I can guarantee a chuckle.
Category:  contests (1 comment — almost 11 years ago)   [ comment ]
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