Monday, March 31, 2003

The newstand (where I bought the Old Spice) is now giving away free "God Bless America" and "United We Stand" bumper stickers.

Another interesting thing about that newstand. It is located right next to an ATM. After using the ATM, I always go in there to buy something really cheap with a $20 bill so I'll end up with a lot of $1 bills for the vending machines on my floor. I could just ask him for change, but I figure if I'm going to take up his time I may as well buy some breath mints or beef jerky or something. I suspect I am not the only person who uses the newstand that way. In any case, he must know what's going on because without asking he routinely gives me more ones than would normally be called for. Like if I buy $1 worth of stuff, he'll actually give me a ten and 9 ones.

He's frequently seen reading a book, in Chinese, the binding and size of which make it look like a bible. I don't know whether its actually a Chinese bible, or just some book that looks like a bible.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Friday, March 28, 2003

A couple of hours ago I had all four wisdom teeth extracted. I remember thinking, "I bet this hurts, but I just can't feel it". I think the novocaine is starting wear off now.

Does anybody participate in the forums at for any reason other than to plug products or services? This discussion about entity beans and their alternatives, is little more than a bunch of ads for various O/R mapping products.

While looking at this, I noticed that Mozilla 1.3 on Windows XP displays the control characters using the old graphics characters that IBM stuffed into the control character slots of ASCII. I am not able to reproduce this either with MSIE or with Mozilla 1.2.1 on Win2K, so I suspect a lot of people are missing out on it. This is literally what it looked like to me on my WinXP machine last night:

write(1,"values of ♫B☼ will give rise to dom!\n",37);

I got the Unicode values for these characters from here. All these happy little music notes and shining suns really give an ironic edge to that whole "will give rise to doom" thing.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Wow. A search for "will give rise to dom" turns up the actual offending source code. And just like Ritchie said, the source file contains literal control characters, not the octal codes like the example on his webpage.

I tried to copy the real line of code here, but Blogger couldn't handle it.

This whole Unix Tree thing looks like a really great service to the community.

Oh, and the stereo too.

Uh-oh. My 14-month-old just figured out that she's tall enough to turn the TV on and off. And she appears to really enjoy doing it, too.

A little while ago at work I decided that I needed to put on some deodorant. I ran down to the newstand in the lobby of my office complex, and the only kind they had was Old Spice Classic Original Scent. This is the first time I've ever used this deodorant. I did use the free samples of aftershave that they used to give out to male dorm residents, but I think those must've been the "fresh" scent, not the original, because they didn't smell like this. Geez, do I smell like my grandpa! I always thought that he smelled like that because of his denture glue or something, but now I know it was the Old Spice. My wife is really going to hate this..

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

I don't usually go in for web sites about TV shows (unless the show in question is The Simpsons), but TV Tome is ridiculously complete. They appear to have the cast and episode lists (and often episode summaries) for every obscure short-lived show from the 80's and 90's. I mean, Tales of the Gold Monkey for cryin out loud!

I ran into this while searching for stuff about Seinfeld, after seeing The Package in syndication. Brilliant.

Looking over this huge list of shows, I realize what a small percentage of TV shows are actually worth watching or even reading about.

I don't know if the site's code is just buggy, or they didn't test it with Mozilla, or what, but occasionally you see some JavaScript code instead of the banner ads. Too bad for the advertizers.

When Is Software Ready? Ship It Anyway! by Victor Stone (via kmfms)

How did this article get into MSDN? Its very mild by the MS-bashing standards of Linux geeks, but coming from MSDN its pretty surprising. And MS apparently means for it to be there, as its about 4 years old and they haven't said "oops" and deleted from the website yet.

Monday, March 24, 2003

This past weekend we were eating out and over at another table I heard a guy make some kind of a crack about how "the difference between Iraq and Iran is just one letter on the keyboard".

Then I heard this little kid say somehing like "No, Dad, they're a lot more than one letter apart. Q is way up there in the corner, and N is way down there next to the space bar..."

What's the world coming to when 9-year-olds have the QWERTY layout memorized in their heads?

Friday, March 21, 2003

David Gilmour has a knack for always playing exactly the note that the listener
expects him to play. I probably sound like I'm saying "his playing
is predictable", but I mean it in a good way.

Its like those studies where they morph together images of thousands of faces
to produce an "average" face that is actually more beautiful than any real
person, not "average" or "ordinary" looking in the usual sense of the words.

Compare the Jargon file entries for "canonical" and "vanilla":

Gilmour's playing is canonical, not vanilla.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Stories here and here are reporting that we're already bombing Iraq, even as they still talk about "impending war" and the approaching "deadline for war". Sounds more like the war is already started.

I would assume that if anything else was going on, Fox would pre-empt "American Idol" to talk about it..

I don't usually say much about war or politics, either here or in email or on usenet. But I don't think this would be a real weblog if I didn't say something now.

Once the shooting starts (and it may have already started by the time you read this), the anti-war folks may as well go home and start working on your signs and slogans for the next big crisis. If protesting didn't do anything to prevent the war (and it didn't), then it sure isn't going to end the war or bring our troops home one day sooner. In the event that the war goes badly (however you define that), no "I told you so!" smart-assed-ness will accomplish anything except to make you look like pseudo-traitors who enjoy seeing the U.S. fail in every way possible.

On the other side, making a spectacle of pouring French wine down the drain and boycotting the Dixie Chicks doesn't accomplish anything except to make the people doing these things look like a bunch of ignorant medieval peasants burning some hated person in effigy. In the event that the war goes well (however you define that), no "I told you so!" smart-assed-ness will accomplish anything except to make you look like bloodthirsty hooligans who enjoy watching your military smash and destroy other countries as if it were all some kind of spectator sport.

If the Iraqis surrender quickly, this could be a short and relatively bloodless war. If they put up a fight, it may or may not be short, but it will certainly not be bloodless. I don't know which of these is going to happen. I do know that the war itself is out of my hands and its out of yours, too. What is still very much in our hands is how we behave towards each other during and after.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

More edlin: this page actually lets you download a copy of the edlin from DOS 6.0 that was edited with a hex editor so that you could run it on Win95. So maybe I was wrong when I said that all Windoses have edlin.. I only know for sure about NT, 2K, and XP. Of course they might have done it just for the fun of it, even if Win95 already had edlin.

The page appears to be from 1997, so I don't think this is a joke:
This page looks the best in Netscape 3.x. If you are not using Netscape, you are missing out, big time, not just on this web page, but on many others, too. Download Netscape today!

Contrary to popular belief, the guitar tuning (low to high) B E A D F-sharp B is good for other things besides those big thick walls of chords heard in modern-day metal music. Try it with a clean tone or mild distortion, and drenched in echo. Rapidly pick on that big B string near the bridge for the fattest, rumbliest Dick Dale surf sound you ever heard. Try some blues leads and you'll find that its almost impossible to play a note without bending it, resulting in some very slippery soloing.

My friend Will Richardson showed me this tuning in 1993, way before I knew about any popular bands using it. I think Will invented it independently, mostly for economic reasons: strings tuned that slack don't tend to break very often!

Friday, March 14, 2003

For reasons that I can't really expain (probably related to chocolate deprivation), I got a hankering for a native win32, long-filename-handling, able-to-be-gracefully-shutdown-by-the-windows-task-manager version of edlin. As you may know, all versions of Windows still ship with edlin, but it is a 16-bit DOS program. This means that under NT, 2K, and XP it runs inside the virtual DOS machine and has all the usual problems associated with such applications.

Yes, I am aware that win32 ports of "ed" and "ex" exist. I even already have them on my work PC. But when I want edlin, I want edlin. When I'm in the mood to use a line editor, which is an inherently nostalgic experience, I want to feel nostalgia for MS-DOS circa 1989, not Unix.

I found myself thinking "if only edlin were open-source, I could just compile it with a win32 C compiler". (Ignoring the fact that the real edlin is probably in 8086 assembly, not C)

Fortunately, the good folks at the Freedos project have not only produced a clone of edlin called edline, but they have gone out of their way to make it portable to operating systems other than DOS. Kudos! All I had to do was compile it with mingw, and boom!

Now I just wish all the freedos stuff was that portable. Having native a win32 version of DEBUG that could handle the disassembly and debugging of other native win32 applications would be fun. Yes, I know that there are lots of graphical debuggers for win32, and ports of gdb and stuff like that, but I want my pseudo-DOS programs! And don't even get me started on QBASIC and EDIT.

Obviously porting these kinds of things would be more work than edlin. A line editor is probably one of the most easily portable applications that could be written. Its literally nothing but stdio.h and malloc. (Grandpa Simpson voice: I'm an old man. I hate everything but Malloc).

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Well, I've been a full week without caffeine! I actually don't miss the coffee or the cokes that much. What I really crave is chocolate. Since my wife pointed out that the average candy bar contains 30 milligrams of caffeine, I've been avoiding chocolate as well as the usual liquid forms of caffeine. Boy, do I miss it. In a vain attempt to satisfy the same sweet tooth that could normally be satisfied by chocolate, I find myself consuming an larger-than-normal amount of non-chocolate sweets. I'm going to get fat before this is over.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

In Building Communities with Software, Joel starts with a lament about the lack of real-life community among programmers, but rapidly segues into an explanation of why he thinks his own forum system is better than Usenet or Slashdot. I really don't participate in Joel's forums enough to comment, but they are pretty basic. No registration system. No branching (you can only add comments to the end of a conversation, not reply to comments in the middle). No mod points. Quoting in replies is strongly discouraged. All of these are part of the design of the system, not missing features.

Today is my last day of caffeine. I am giving up the stuff for Lent. I have been preparing by cutting out coffee for the past week. Starting tomorrow I'm going to give up tea and caffeinated sodas too.