The boring rants of a lazy nerd

Saturday, January 31, 2004

This is just SO cool!

AppleTM QuickTimeTM browser plug-in required.


I was systematically reading through JoelOnSoftware archives and opening all his external links in new tabs. In this interesting piece about experienced programmers (you don't have to read it) there is a rather long list of all the author's many skills, which make him, in his view, a valuable (or shall we say "clueful"?) Windows developer. At the end of the list he links to an annotated version of The Major General's Song from G&S' Pirates of Penzance, that in turn links to a Xena fandom produced parody of the famous fast paced song. I would imagine it a baritone part and Xena's contralto only able to pull maybe a tenor, but then - I'm not knowledgeable in these things ("experts learn more and more about less and less until..." - possibly Edgar R. Fiedler).


I don't know if you have any theological problems with the inspirational source for this group's music, but it's a pretty nice new age sound. Can be described as a cross between Gregorian Chants, Carl Orff and Mike Oldfield. The music videos are worth a download too.

Thursday, January 29, 2004


Some of you may know about my not so well hidden love for dramatic storytelling. Well, despite that fact, try to believe me when I say I’m not exaggerating with my next statement: I am the most clueless person I know. It’s like I was born with the part of the brain missing. With all my smarts, at some things, my development level is about age 3.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

learning and teaching

I once heard or read something that could be paraphrased as: "the best way to learn something is to try and teach it", meaning if you can explain it so that another person understands, you understand it yourself. In my experience it is true - explaining a thing to another person forces one to organize one's own thoughts. Doesn't have to be a real live student, but a real response helps to gauge your success (or lack there of). Be advised: The following is programming gibberish. You have been warned. So, I was trying to further shorten my sig (currently it's 74 characters long) by changing the time when the output is done from after to before the recursive function call. This necessarily reverses the printing order, which forced me to re-calculate the numerical value of the four character string. Being a lazy coder, I have promptly written a single printf that prints the integer value of a literal string constant by casting a char pointer to an int pointer. This has lead to a surprising result. Since printing an int as a character should print the character corresponding to the numerical value of the least significant byte in the machine's character set and codepage (Latin-1 extended ASCII, in this particular case), the fourth character should've been printed, but instead it was the first that showed up in the program's stdout stream. I have pondered the representation of a 32bit int in machine memory and reached the conclusion that I have not taken endianes into account. I grudgingly admitted to myself that fancy development environments featuring advanced source code debugging have mellowed my innate geekines and used my laziness to dumb me down to script-kiddie level. Well, no more! I will figure it out even if I have to disassemble it! Especially if I have to disassemble it, because I think hexadecimal is kind of fun. Now I'll make a little observation that while writing this I'm imagining the chances of me ever getting a girlfriend plummet like stockbrokers in October '29, but back to the business at hand - I'm working on an x86, IA-32 machine which is, as many know, little endian. That means the least significant byte in a four-byte int is actually stored first in memory. In order for me to make sure my understanding of the matter is full, I've decided to explain it to someone else. Being a reclusive and an only child, my options were rather limited: a cooking father and a newspaper reading mother. I could've of course IM'd one of my few friends, who have the distinct advantage of knowing this stuff themselves, but I couldn't have been bothered at the time. So I explained memory mapping multibyte data blocks to my mom, including the borrowing of the two approach’s names from Jonathan Swift. She patiently sat through it all and got it. If you’re wondering, she has no experience with programming whatsoever. I’m very proud of her and even more thankful for having such great parents. *angelic smile, nimbus*

Friday, January 23, 2004


… is building imaginary computers I can’t afford. Building real computers I can’t afford was also fun – but then I had to let the people who could afford them but knew not what to do with them (that is because those people have spent their time making money instead of learning about computers) treat those beautiful machines badly. The trick is to build a value rig in the price/performance sweet spot – one that won’t be obsolete too soon and when its optimal time to be replaced comes, the financial investment of its purchase won’t make it too painful. It must be possible to order from reputable local merchants featuring next day next to free delivery and easy RMAs. Technical specs are preferred to brand loyalty, underdogs are supported and overclocking possibilities are speculated about with great fervor. The poor Israeli PC enthusiast’s wet dream:
PartBrandModelPrice per unit# unitsTotal price
CPUAMDAthlon 64 3000+ (socket-754, retail)142011420
K8V Deluxe
Video cardATIRadeon 9600XT 128MB113011130
RAMInfineonDDR-400 512MB4702940
Hard driveMaxtorDiamonMax Plus 9 SATA (7200rpm, 8MB) 120GB6201620
Prices are in New Israeli Shekels. Contact info of supplier withheld because I don’t work for them.

bored coders

Today I was bored at work. It's not like I didn't have any work to do - I just didn't feel like it. So I had to find a way to amuse myself. All I could think of was this: int main(int c,char**v){c
It served to amuse myself for half an hour and my boss for about two minutes, after which he told me to go back to work. I have put it in my mail signature to show I'm a proud geek. edit: shortened a bit. But I dislike asymmetry, so will be changed again. The challenge: First person who tells me what it is and what it does (extra points for "how it does what it does") gets whatever they want that I can deliver.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

My boss and I

We talked today about stuff. And I've read some of his stuff. It's the corniest thing ever, and I'm deeply embarrassed by typing it, but: my CO is my role model. He understands, because he's been there. He is there. Here. Because he's like me, just a bit older and more successful. If I manage to reach where he is now by the time I'm his age, I think I'll be satisfied. And I begin by planning to go to bed early.

Sunday, January 18, 2004


There is an Israeli website (in Hebrew) that hosts non-professional original art (prose, poetry, drawings, music), for free. Desktop publishing for the masses - a kin to and blogspot. It's fairly big and well known. I personally know a few people who have some stuff published there. Today at work we got talking about the local version of the SATs and I was surprised to find out me and my boss share the same (rather low) score. We both got our immigrant butts kicked at native language skills (though I got it worse - the final score is the same because his almost perfect math didn't match my perfect English. Be aware that I wouldn't be any good on an English for native speakers test whereas math is universal). He said his Hebrew has considerably improved since he began writing. So now I'm off to read my boss' poetry. How weird is that? *knows this blog is not anywhere near anonymous and is actually riddled with personally identifiable info*

Friday, January 16, 2004

Looking for a short story

"Statistician's Day" by James (Benjamin) Blish (1921-1975), written 1970. Been published in: I do not actually wish to buy an anthology - I wanted just a single OCR'd story, but apparently it's not one of his most well known works (those would be the Star Trek novels), so nobody has bothered to scan it. I know of this story from a Soviet anthology printed in 1980 by a popular science journal that used to publish translated science fiction. My parents both had a large collection of them, some of which we still have, collecting dust. I immediately found it online in Russian, but I had no luck with the original. Any help would be much appreciated.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Alias 3x11

Have finally watched it. I disagree with RJA - poor Vaughn!


Thank RJA for the laughs, folks. I might not be much of a biblical scholar, but I get it. I still think the Old Testament is an edited work of literature rather than the Words Of God, but I agree much of the research is probably as accurate as the linked analysis of Professor Tolkien's work.

The civilian victim...

News item for context. ... was my mom's step-cousin (if that's the correct term for one's stepfather's nephew). I didn't know Gleb that well, but he was a good guy and a patriot - served three years in Lebanon. He was working as a civilian in the army, on the border crossing - checking IDs, looking for anything suspicious, etc. Probably didn't have enough time to do anything about a 22 year-old mother of two who decided she wants to be a martyr. 29 year old reserve paratrooper sergeant first class, comp-sci grad working his last week as "shift manager" at the border-crossing - he has recently found a desk job in the difficult economy. He left two parents, a sister and a completely heartbroken fiancé. RIP.

Social Devices

Betan Earrings. I don't know why it's taken humanity so long to invent them, or why they are not in widespread use now, but by God, those things are a requirement for a functioning society. Promote the use of Betan Earrings!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004


I believe the answer to my question is "yes". Have recognized plot elements and quotes from Zelazny's Amber books in Cassandra Claire's Draco Trilogy. Both series are about a Slytherin who has suddenly discovered a conscience. How interesting.

Dark Angel vs. Alias

Have not yet watched Full Disclosure. Am slightly miffed about it. Have watched me some season 1 Dark Angel. Have noticed much resemblance between two aforementioned shows. A resemblance begging for a comparison. Or a shootout (Max doesn't use guns so would definitely lose, though Sydney's not genetically enhanced...) ;-) Jessica is prettier than Jennifer. But, that alone does not make a show — just look at Bay Watch. I think Jennifer is much more of an actress than Jessica who, to me, seems to be a model: stand this way, stand that way, smile, more cleavage please, yes... now bend over, shake your rear, perfect, cut, paste action scenes on blue screen background and sell like hot cakes. Also, all the support actors (male interest, family & friends (obligatory African-American best friend included. Have you noticed how all WASP heroines have this sidekick?), tech-support, villains, etc.) in Alias are better, as is the plot. I don't like apocalyptic Sci-Fi anyway! In conclusion: Boss likes it 'coz it's about a hot babe on a bike (he's a bike guy). It is not a better show. Though it does make superior, albeit distracting, desktop wallpapers. :-)

Sunday, January 04, 2004


Have seen Pirates of The Caribbean. It wasn't bad, but I don't get what all the fuss is about. The chick has a most foolish "bad-boy" fetish and the young dependable officer is predictably too dull for her. But the good lad is not at fault for his stiff upper-class upbringing! And that pirate-with-a-golden-heart of hers - what a joke! Also, the entire fairytale/occult thing was unnecessary - nautical history is chock full of enough bone-chilling true stories for ten feature films. I wonder: Are the British colonial government & military around the time of the West India Colonies' revolt the good guys or the bad guys?

Saturday, January 03, 2004


Many weeks ago, I have ordered two books for my mom to read. One was Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game and Speaker For The Dead in a single volume and the other Lois McMaster Bujold's Diplomatic Immunity. When they arrived I've put them on my mother's bedside table. I've noticed the two volumes are the same thickness, despite one contains two novels, but I've attributed it to DI being on the long side of Bujold's novels. Today I've decided to see whether the translation has improved so I picked up the book. Imagine my surprise when I've found it contains Winterfair Gifts and a number of short stories! w00t!

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