The boring rants of a lazy nerd

Monday, May 31, 2004

HP fandom - new (Book 5) ships

I mean the ones that include the new characters from the Order (Any Prof. Toad ships out there?). Especially FifteenYO!Harry/Tonks. It's illegal, and immoral, but it works. It will never happen in canon, but I think it's IC, or at least can be made IC, in ways that H/H for example can't. Am I hallucinating? Edit: I'm not alone. The HMS Honks (for Harry/Tonks) has a LiveJournal community.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

HP fandom/Web Tech - Unscheduled Chackmated downtime

What you get at Checkmated's Updates page: Error in query: SELECT DISTINCT storyid FROM stories WHERE updated > 1085739099 AND updated %lt; 1085825499 ORDER BY updated DESC. Can't open file: 'stories.MYI'. (errno: 145) I hope their mySQL database is just locked, and not trashed completely. And that they have backups. *cross fingers* Edit: contacted the person on their staff listed as web admin. Email addy wasn't as easy to find as should be for mission critical service personnel. Hell, our people carry a beeper on weekends... Final Edit: It was fixed. No indication on the site that anything was ever amiss. Never got a reply.

HP fandom - reccs

IIRC, I've read the first two chapters on, but have since completely forgotten about this fic. Had the FFDB existed already, I would've found it as something Kokopelli beta'd, but alas - no such luck. Anyway, Aibhinn's "Heal the Pain" ROX. Too bad the site itself is as bad as was; I hoped the next generation of H/G Queens would strive for more.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Cool - Quieter computer fans

A BYU professor (hear that, Emily?) and his students have built a moderatly successful active noise reduction system for computer fans. Link via /..

HP fandom - young heroes in love

This is an opportune moment to again mention my fixation with the possibility of a Harry Potter/Dune crossover. The scene just outside the hospital ward where Harry recuperates after the final battle in R.J. Anderson's “Endings and Beginnings” had immediately sprang the following paragraphs of Dune to my mind (though it has taken me quite a while to find the passage in the text):

Paul remembered he had rushed out to find Chani standing beneath the yellow globes of the corridor, clad in a brilliant blue wraparound robe with hood thrown back, a flush of exertion on her elfin features. She had been sheathing her crysknife. A huddled group had been hurrying away down the corridor with a burden.

And Paul remembered telling himself: You always know when they’re carrying a body.

Chani’s water rings, worn openly in sietch on a cord around her neck, tinkled as she turned toward him.

‘Chani, what is this?’ he asked.

‘I dispatched one who came to challenge you in single combat, Usul.’

You killed him?’

‘Yes. But perhaps I should've left him for Harah.’

(And Paul recalled how the faces of the people around them had showed appreciation for these words. Even Harah had laughed.)

‘But he came to challenge me!’

‘You trained me yourself in the weirding way, Usul.’

‘Certainly! But you shouldn't –’

‘I was born in the desert, Usul. I know how to use a crysknife.’

He suppressed his anger, tried to talk reasonably. ‘This may all be true, Chani, but –’

‘I am no longer a child hunting scorpions in the sietch by the light of a handglobe, Usul. I do not play games.’

Paul glared at her, caught by the odd ferocity beneath her casual attitude.

‘He was not worthy, Usul,’ Chani said. ‘I’d not disturb your meditations with the likes of him.’ She moved closer, looking at him out of the corners of her eyes, dropping her voice so that only he might hear. ‘And, beloved, when it’s learned that a challenger may face me and be brought to shameful death by Muad’Dib’s woman, there’ll be fewer challengers.’

Frank Herbert's Dune, ISBN 0-450-01184-4, p. 439-440

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Personal - sigh

I'm talking out of my ass here, but hey – this is about me and I'm the editor of this publishing and after all the blog is a Narcissistic shrine, the expression of my ego. The past weekend I was guarding a military base. The weather was nice, the food was decent, there was an abundance of girls (sadly not very interested in conversation, at least not with me) and I had a rather good paperback for the time between shifts. The shifts themselves reminded me of the expression “watching paint dry”, but they weren't too long. I don't write much about my job, and that's not about to change, but here's a bit to bridge the knowledge gap: my immediate supervisor, I'll call him R, is a bit hyper active (wrong term, I forgot the right one, but it's close – when he sits for too long he has to jump up and move around) and he has taken to expend his energies in Salsa dancing. He's a bit goofy, even childish at times, doing silly thinks and pulling stupid pranks, but he gets away with it through sheer charisma – often he gets the people around to participate in the silliness. He's smart, dark, short but fit and he has in recent years cultivated his culinary and back rubbing skills. I remember a time, a few months back, a bunch of us in the office were discussing the merits of healthy recreational activities (as opposed to sitting in front of one's computer all day and night) and he has mentioned being a Salsa instructor. He was chatting up our then new secretary (a tall, pretty, decently bright girl who is genuinely nice. She later got bored of her job and went to officer's training), showing her a few moves. Our not so bright new IT person was questioning the manliness of dancing as opposed to more macho pastimes like sports and hiking. While he was talking, R was rotating the secretary (who was obviously enjoying herself), a mischievous smile upon his face. In recent months, R and a girl from the office, M, have been spending a lot of time together. What we know for a fact is they frequently go dancing at some party and she spends the night at his place because it's too late for her to go home. Both vehemently deny that anything else besides the dancing is going on, but as E noted, they would deny everything either way. During the weekend, they and another girl they've met dancing have visited me briefly at my post. I had a notebook lying around with some FFDB related sketching. I dismissed it as some boring computer stuff and we laughed about me being too geeky to not think about computers for an entire weekend. The girl they've brought told me how, inebriated, she nicked R's cellphone and phoned E, at 4AM, leaving a lewd message on his answering machine. From this I gathered they didn't sleep much the previous night. Logistics lead me to presume she has spent the night early morning at R's. I'm pretty sure he has only one bed at his place. When they were pulling out of the driveway R knocked down one of the plastic “barricades” and made a joke about righting it by knocking it down from the opposite end. I made a completely lame and geeky pun. As they were pulling out and gaining speed I faintly heard a female voice say “what a nerd”. Mood: Resignation Music: Green Day – Good Guys Finish Last

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Personal - I've got mail!

Look at this: From: "aca99da" <aca99da@somewhere> To: <wastedfairy@somewhere>, <weirdos2001@somewhere>, <wendelin@somewhere>, <wheeler3@somewhere>, <white_panther1987@somewhere>, <wildseed@somewhere>, <windychan@somewhere>, <withnailand_i@somewhere>, <wolf550e@somewhere>, <worldguy@somewhere>, <wurrm@somewhere>, <www.foxmon3@somewhere>, <wykay@somewhere>, <xada@somewhere>, <xanatokimi@somewhere>, <Xanthisad@somewhere>, <xgardella@somewhere>, <xmen_magneto@somewhere>, <XnonnieoX@somewhere>, <Xwikedx@somewhere> Cc: <aca99da@somewhere> Subject: HARRY POTTER CONNECTION MESSAGE BOARDS ANNOUNCEMENT Date: Sun, 16 May 2004 00:00:58 +0100 Content-Type: text/plain;charset="us-ascii" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit As you may have noticed, the Harry Potter Connection message boards on which you were registered are no longer active, after the company hosting the boards,, took the decision to withdraw this line of business. Replacement boards have been created and can be accessed at These boards are much more modern than the old boards that were becoming outdated and they provide an excellent place to discuss all things related to Harry Potter. I look forward to seeing you on the boards in the near future. lupin66/Dave Head Moderator of Harry Potter Connection Message Boards This is reproduced here in the unlikely event someone who's interested didn't get one herself. All I can say is: it was nice while it lasted, I've met some really great people and I'm grateful for that, but it was a long time ago, I'm a different person now, there are constraints on my time I did not have while at school, and anyway blogging is more fun.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

FFDB - Analysis


Rationale, Requirements, Specifications

  1. Introduction

    This document attempts to describe the Fan Fiction DataBase system (from here on “FFDB”), its purpose and features; the problems the system tries to address and the solutions it proposes. It will describe the system more as a service for its intended audience/user base than as a work of software engineering.

    This document pertains to Version 1 of the system. Newer versions are expected to be made available, possibly with companion documents, at wherever you've acquired the copy you're reading now. Its companion (or rather, sequel) "FFDB - design" should be counseled with when it seems too vague.

    This is an amateurish work of one inexperienced man – all inaccuracies, outright falsehoods and Bad Ideas are his fault, for which he asks your forgiveness. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. He proclaims his hope that this document might not be a dull read.

    1. Definitions, acronyms, and abbreviations

      n. An ardent devotee; an enthusiast. [Short for fanatic.]1
      n. All the fans of a sport, an activity, or a famous person.1
      Short for "fan fiction".
      fan fiction
      Original fiction by fans of a show, movie, books or video game. The fiction involves characters and the location of the show from which the person is a fan. Fans write fan fiction for a variety of reasons. One of the most popular reasons is to explore themes and ideas that will not or cannot be explored on the show, movie, book or video game.2
      Fan fiction is never written for profit, only for the enjoyment of fellow fans. Copyright on the characters (and anything else borrowed) is owned by the originator.
      You may wish to see here for some history.
      Harry Potter
      Harry Potter
      The main character of J.K. Rowling's extremely popular (at the turn of the 20th century) children's books bearing his name.
    2. Purpose of the system

      The HP fandom is very large (at the time of writing, Google returned over 6M matches) and the amount of fanfic it produces is very large as well ( has over 120K stories). One of the reasons for its popularity is its addictiveness. When in crave for more fic, if the user still retains some semblance of taste and preference as to what she'll* consume next, the need to find fic according to certain characteristics arises. Usually the quest is either restricted to a few archive sites featuring similar stories (grouped together by one or two of these characteristics) or a friend's (or other's whose taste the user trusts) recommendations. This unnecessarily limits the user's choice and sometimes forces to read many stories' descriptions, author's notes and even a chapter or two to determine whether they're the right kind of fic – a laborious, time-consuming process.

      I envision3 an all-encompassing metadata-rich library index that can list links to stories according to various multiple cross-sections allowing the user to focus her search to a very specific (preferably short) list of options, using as accurate as possible objective and subjective (usefully balanced) characteristics, suitable to all of fandom, from a G-rated alternate-point-of-view on Hermione's kiss in book 4 to a written-on-a-dare should-be-made-illegal fic no one would host*.

  2. Bibliography

    Although this document is intended to be read online, it is the author's hope it someday becomes worthy of committing to paper, thus making all manner of clickable things unusable. To amend this grieve usability flaw that inhibits the peer-review process, a formal bibliography has been compiled (in this version – by hand, allowing some mistakes and omissions to crop up due to human error).

    1. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. Accessed through
    2. Writers University dictionary, available at
    3. A blog by the author, asking whether there's any interest in such a project, available at:
    4. bib4

    A list of referenced and/or related publications.

  3. Appendixes

    1. Author's Notes

      1. Although I have no demographic data to back this statement, the fandom is so biased in favor of the fairer sex that it makes sense to use the female form of pronouns for generics.
      2. I had no particular fics in mind when writing this.
      3. I stubbornly wish to maintain the notion of anonymity and privacy the use of pennames grants those who choose to fool themselves, though I know better.
      4. note4
    2. Document Revision History

      Issue / RevisionDateChanges
      1.0 Draft A2004-04-05Original Version - beginning
      1.0 Draft B2004-05-07 - 2004-05-15Analysis and Design identified and separated
    3. About the Author

      Wolf* is a slightly maladjusted software developer currently in the service of the IDF. Born 1984 in Leningrad, USSR (former and current St. Petersburg, Russia), emigrated to Israel with his family 1991. Have been programming his family's PC since 1995, obsessing about Harry Potter since 2000 and coding for change (and keeping his country safe) since 2003. Photo and source code available upon request.

    4. Acknowledgements

      I want to thank my parents for bringing me to this world, raising me and tolerating me through my teens. I'm trying to grow up as fast as I can.

      My dear friend Z. for introducing me to Ms. Rowling's magical world, and my CO E. who is kind and understanding, more than I deserve.

Web Tech/Software Freedom - on Movable Type 3.0

Mark Pilgrim said it all. When I move to a hosted environment (the recent improvements to Blogger, courtesy Google, have postponed the move, indefinitely) I won't be using MT, even if it'll be free for my needs.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Personal - Soundtrack

I think I've blogged about moving to a different office. I sit in a room provided by the client - three of us, a civilian analyst and a girl from the client's side. She's the person in the general staff in charge with finding and getting people whose work can be interrupted to do unusual and/or unexpected jobs - say an honor guard for a state visit reception requires a couple dozen good looking guys in dress uniform. She finds out both flight school cadets and navy officer's school cadets are busy, so she gets some elite intel. course to fill in. My two team mates and our analyst are often out so I'm frequently alone with her. She's a nice girl, with only one major problem: she can't stop talking. That's why her department had her moved into that room - "let the coders suffer, we have work to do". Of all the people to ever sit there, I suffer the least and actually get along quite well with her. She's been talking about missing her boyfriend (whom I gather she sees only on weekends) and filling blanks in my musical education (Green Day). I've brought some CDs I had lying around home (Enya, Mike Oldfield and Enigma). She asked to borrow the Enigma CD for the weekend. It's titled "Love Sensuality Devotion". Why do I think she's right now shagging her boyfriend silly with that exact CD in the background? And no, I’m not jealous of the boyfriend.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Personal - Interesting

This strongly reminds me of “known plaintext attack”, but I'll bite. I know you couldn't care less, but here what a “known plaintext attack” is: suppose Alice corresponds with Bob over a secure channel. Eve (the evildoer is female. That's a very old axiom — even 3,000 years ago, men knew that girls are evil.) wants to eavesdrop, but can't break the cryptography in reasonable time. She tells Bob something that involves a certain word or expression that is very hard to rephrase, that she thinks he'll tell Alice about. Then, she can bet that word or expression is included in Bob's next transmission to Alice. Trying to decipher the message by guessing which part of it is the known expression and seeing if a key successfully decrypts it is order of magnitude easier than deciphering it with no known data. This is my CO discussing his job.

Current Affairs - 59 years ago

Friday, May 07, 2004

Personal - todo

1. Sanitize blog (I don't like censure, but I value security and privacy more). 2. Edit and publish permanent FFDB Rationale, Requirements and Specifications item. 3. Write and post Kill Bill review. I've found myself in a bind recently, regarding something I wanted to blog about. The situation has been best expressed by Jamie Zawinski. And all verbiage on this place is available in Google's cache, no need to subpoena anything or even access this page. This irks me.

HP fandom - good fics

Recommended here, Kokopelli's "The Letters of Summer" is one of the best fics I've read in a long time. SQ Professor's Bookshelf level writing, verbal SAT score improving vocabulary, multi-stage dedicated editing, and it's H/G. I implore you to read it, unless you're wary of WiPs (this one's not in any danger of being abandoned, knock-on-wood).

Monday, May 03, 2004

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Personal - constants within the human experience

"Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers." - Socrates (470?-399 BCE) Generation roles and the subjective nature of memory challenge some of our observations. I think today's youth are intolerable and much worse than we've been their age, but I also know that's what has been said about us, and our parents and so on, and it's impossible that this degradation has been going on with each generation for thousands of years, or the species wouldn't have survived. So maybe there's hope.


So. I was thinking of building a static database editor (a thingy that helps manage the non-dynamic or at least less-dynamic parts of the site, like characters, ships, that sort of thing) and I've immediately encountered problems:
  1. Characters. Should all characters that appear in canon be listed? Or only those that are actually used as main characters in a listed fic, and so the list of characters grows with the list of fics? While you're thinking about it, consider original characters – should they be listed as individuals or grouped together under “OFC”? Having individual items for them makes fic descriptions more expressive, but also makes a thing like “Snape/OFC” harder to make, and that is after all very close to the system's requirements. So, how do we treat Ms' Moody, Loomis, Green (remember her?) and all their friends?
  2. Genres. Since I'm basing the thing in part on IMDB, I've looked at their page. What they're doing with this metadata is inspiring. But, what are the genres of Harry Potter fan fiction? Are they the same as for general fiction? Which are...?
I really need to hear what you have to say.

HP fandom - clever twist on pairings

Go, read, review. It's short and funny.

Personal - sociobiology

"Maybe we brought too many leaders," Maya said.

"Too many chiefs?" said John.
Frank shook his head. "That's not it."
"No? There are a lot of stars on board."
"The urge to excel and the urge to lead aren't the same. Sometimes I think they may be opposites."

"The shrinks saw the problem," Frank went on, "it was obvious enough even for them. They used the Harvard solution."
"The Harvard solution," John repeated, savoring the phrase.
"Long ago Harvard's administrators noticed that if they accepted only straight A high school students, and then gave out the whole range of grades to freshmen, a distressing number of them were getting unhappy at their Ds and Fs and messing up the Yard by blowing their brains out on it."
"Couldn't have that," John said.

"The trick to avoiding this unpleasantness, they found, was to accept a certain percentage of students who were used to getting mediocre grades, but had distinguished themselves in some other way — "
"Like having the nerve to apply to Harvard with mediocre grades?" " — used to the bottom of the grade curve, and happy just to be at Harvard at all."

"We don't have any mediocrities on this ship," John said. Frank looked dubious. "We do have a lot of smart scientists with no interest in running things. Many of them consider it boring. Administration, you know. They're glad to hand it over to people like us."
"Beta males," John said, mocking Frank and his interest in sociobiology. "Brilliant sheep."

Kim Stanley Robinson - Red Mars

I remember 7th grade (first year in gifted program). Didn't blow my brains out on the yard, but I did cry. Not because of my dropping GPA, but the whole jungle atmosphere of the first few months (before the new hierarchy was formed, the cliques established, the outcasts identified, etc.) was tough on my unrealistic expectations of being accepted in the company of equals (turns out homogenous communities don't exists, a single ambitious person ruins them, but I didn't know that at eleven and a half). I dealt by growing thicker skin and developing my introversion into a full fledged reclusiveness (which lead to my spending an inordinate amount of time in front of a computer, which influenced my career choice).

I've seen it happen again in my advanced training - people who were used to being the best cracked under pressure. I was too busy (the sheer strain of complying with discipline took a toll on me the weight of which I did not completely realize under it was lifted and I virtually lifted off the ground) to do anything beyond just noticing (today I'm sorry for not doing informal interviews and taking notes), but after seeing it again I've thought of the similarities and suggested a theory explaining why a statistically improbable number of people from the same class get into the very exclusive military R&D training (site only in Hebrew, title quote is Daniel 1, 4): they are from various gifted children programs and have already dealt once with not being the smartest kids in the world. There probably are many kids from other schools who could've done very well in the program who are not chosen because of the high risk of them cracking if forced to deal with suddenly discovering they are not the smartest kids they know during basic training, which would be a shame.

Anyway, that's how I explain four of them being from my own class. I really should ask them about this “Harvard solution”, especially because while programmers' training is intended to produce professional workers and only a handful of administrators (i.e. commissioned officers), their program lists command qualities as a primary requirement (and includes combat officer’s training), so they shouldn't have any "brilliant sheep" making the situation a bit different.

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