Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Learning Hebrew's finally paying off

When Kaplan titles one of his posts Why WC2MB needs a CP, chaver sheli!, I actually know what's going on. Nice.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another reason not to use ReiserFS

Hans Reiser, 44, bowed his head in court as the jury found him guilty of a crime that carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Nina Reiser disappeared more than a year ago after dropping off the couple's children at Hans Reiser's home. Her body has never been found.

Reiser, known in programming circles as creator of the ReiserFS computer file system, testified for several days in the six-month trial, often giving rambling answers and getting scolded by the judge for arguing with the prosecutor.


Monday, April 28, 2008


Apparently native bees are having a rough time. Remember that we're called to care for the Earth - give 'em something to eat!

Growers are also planting long strips of native plants, like lupine, poppies and goldenrod, to feed the native bees and help them flourish.

Gardeners can do the same thing, in backyards and terraces.

“You need to have continuous blooming, especially in early spring and late fall,” Mr. Seidler said. “Plant natives with a mix of flower shapes to accommodate a variety of pollinators.”

I'm on something of a gardening kick, so I may actually take my own advice.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Quote of the Day

This makes me smile.

Dr. Kaminski and her colleagues Vladimir M. Sloutsky and Andrew F. Heckler
did something relatively rare in education research: they performed a
randomized, controlled experiment.



I just spent an hour and a half taking a Microsoft course entitled "Office Live for Developers", some required training for a program I'm enrolled in with them. When I completed the test and went to my training page, it had somehow given me a score of 100% for a course "Office Live for Small Business Specialists". Interesting. I tried to go into the test again and submit it again, at which point it was marked as completed with a score of 0%. Nice.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Churning code

Why can't Big Blue be like Hewlett-Packard, which has driven its HP 3000 customers crazy by trying for years to kill off their minicomputers? HP stopped selling the machine in 2003 and has attempted to drive a stake through its heart ever since. Sure, those users have managed to pressure HP into extending some level of support until the end of 2010. But they're living under a death sentence, and they know it.

Like IBM, those users don't get it. We in IT have a blueprint, a road map, a grand plan. It's based on best practices, industry standards and everything else that will make the IT department look slick, smart and visionary — especially in the eyes of IT industry deep-thinkers.

Keeping legacy applications alive just because they're crucial to the business? Keeping legacy minicomputers going just because that's the only way to run those legacy apps? What kind of IT best practice is that?

Sometimes I think the crazy to get off of 'old' languages is a combination of two things - a desire not to have to learn new things and a desire to have a job. Certainly there may be many advantages to rewriting something written in assembler or (shudder) RPG in a snazzy new language. If you have a critical business system written in unstructured BASIC, by all means dump it. But, as Joel is fond of pointing out, code doesn't rust. In general, it gets better with time. If it doesn't, you can fix it. No need to start from scratch.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Greeting cards

Glad to see someone else shares my dislike for the things


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Communion on the tounge

Apr. 22, 2008 ( - The American magazine Catholic Response has published an English translation of a provocative article, originally published in the official Vatican newspaper, calling for an end to the practice of receiving Communion in the hand.

The article by Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, originally printed in L'Osservatore Romano, examines the historical record of Catholic practice, concluding that the early Church quickly developed the practice in which lay people Communion on the tongue while kneeling. Only ordained ministers were allowed to touch the consecrated Host with their hands.

I agree with the article that receiving Communion on the tounge is an ancient custom with a solid foundation. Nor have I read the article. However, I am worried that the argument is something along the lines of old=good. Let us not forget that for many years frequent reception of Communion was discouraged (for some value of discouraged), and not until recent times was daily communication for the laity encouraged (I think).


Monday, April 21, 2008

The Woman at the Well

Yesterday's reading in the Byzantine-suspicious church I attended was the little bit about the Samaritan woman at the well. The priest brought up the interesting point that it was Joseph's well, a fact that I had never noticed before. It brings up a whole interesting angle about anger and forgiveness - quite fascinating.

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B16's message to the Jews about Passover

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Saturday, April 19, 2008


I found a link to this most addictive game somewhere. It's sort of a multiplayer game, but the other players are you.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Overweight? Might not be your fault. No really

Americans have been getting fatter for years, and with the increase in waistlines has come a surplus of conventional wisdom. If we could just return to traditional diets, if we just walk for 20 minutes a day, exercise gurus and government officials maintain, America’s excess pounds would slowly but surely melt away.

Scientists are less sanguine. Many of the so-called facts about obesity, they say, amount to speculation or oversimplification of the medical evidence. Diet and exercise do matter, they now know, but these environmental influences alone do not determine an individual’s weight. Body composition also is dictated by DNA and monitored by the brain. Bypassing these physical systems is not just a matter of willpower.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ever wanted to build a media player in Excel?

Of course you have! I have often yearned to implement not only critical financial systems but also entertainment software in Excel.

Bonus points if you can modify the example so that there's a waveform chart.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Turnabout is fair play

SmartWater is a liquid with a unique identifier linked to a particular owner. "The idea is for me to paint this stuff on my valuables as proof of ownership," I wrote when I first learned about the idea. "I think a better idea would be for me to paint it on your valuables, and then call the police."

Lesson of the day: you need to think like a crook to design a secure system.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Forcing art

Mark Shea finds an interesting little case developing in New Mexico where a husband and wife team decided that they didn't want to photograph a homosexual wedding ceremony, and a court ordered them to photograph it. Which, as he notes:

If a photographer is *compelled* to create photographic works of art celebrating gay "marriage", then it follows that the State can compel me to write sonnets and essays celebrating the same thing

Sure, one might argue that this sort of thing is covered under nondiscrimination in public accommodations or something like that. But wedding photographs are not a public accomodation. Sure, if you have a public corporation you might argue that corporate persons can not act based on the views of their management. But it's a bit insane to argue that people, as individuals, must take on any bit of business that comes their way.

Let's take this a step further. I have, as one of my goals, to write a few books, one of them on the history of a few programming language of note. Assuming I accomplish this goal (long shot) I'd be an author. Heck, if I'm any good I might even hire myself out to one of the technology publishing houses and write what they tell me to.

Let's say that a member of the Black Panthers (not to pick on them but I need an example) comes to me and asks me to publish a book on, say, how the use of C in programming is oppressive to various minorities who are only taught Visual Basic in inner city schools. I refuse, because I think it's bull. He then hits me with a civil rights suit (refusing to serve on the basis of race). Then I'm screwed.

Far-fetched? Maybe. Same sort of situation? I think so.

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Monday, April 14, 2008


While doing some programming in C, I came across the function "gets", to get a string from the user. Sadly, it came with a nice warning about how it should never be used because it doesn't check for buffer length. What a nice standard.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Strange purchases

Today I unexpectedly found myself at a coin and stamp show. After perusing a junk bin or two, I decided to purchase some truly odd stuff.

I found:

A five Israeli lira (lirot?) piece. And I thought they were on the shekel.

A Japanese peso. Even weirder. Turns out it's occupation currency, which is what I guessed.

I also purchased a Phillipene 10 cent bill. And I payed two dollars for it.


Friday, April 11, 2008

There's a Strong Bad game!

I'm way behind on the computer gaming scene.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Achewood on British computing

Don't you want to buy a Shrovis-Bishopthorpe? My next server will be one.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ben Stein on evolution

With his new feature documentary, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" (opening in theaters April 18), Ben Stein - actor, economist, presidential speechwriter and all around really smart guy - squares off with some of the world's most prominent anti-theist elites as he gets to the heart of the question, "Who are we, and how did we get here?"

Looks like fun.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Status Quo

Vatican, Apr. 4, 2008 ( - The Vatican has issued a statement emphasizing that a revised version of the traditional Good Friday prayer for Jews should not be seen as a change in Catholic teaching regarding the role of the Jewish people.

The 4-paragraph Vatican statement, issued by the Secretariat of State on April 4, responds to protests raised by some Jewish leaders after Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) released a new version of the prayer for the Good Friday liturgy in the 1962 Roman Missal. While eliminating a reference to the "blindness" of Jews, the Latin-language text retained a prayer for their conversion.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

A spec or a DNA sequence?

The warts of OOXML.

This is a running criticism I have of Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML). It has been narrowly crafted to accommodate a single vendor's applications. Its extreme length (over 6,000 pages) stems from it having detailed every wart of MS Office in an inextensible, inflexible manner. This is not a specification; this is a DNA sequence.

. . .

Here are some other examples of where the OOXML “Standard” has bloated its specification with features that no one but Microsoft will be able to interpret:


Lonely priests

Here's a thought: Why not have all priests in parishes live communally or semi-monastically? Such an approach would mean that each priest would pray and live with their brothers in Christ.

The rectory would have a superior such a bishop. Priests would continue to maintain as many parishes as possible. However they would share responsibilities and pray and eat in common. Many priests are overloaded and alone without any relief. They become disillusioned, sometimes bitter, exhausted and sick either emotionally and/or physically. [...]


Friday, April 04, 2008

Department of bad ideas: Computer Movie

I just had an idea for a movie about the IBM System i. We'd set it in a data center and have a bunch of guys from the Free Software Foundation launching an assault to have a cluster of System i boxes replaced with GNU machines.

What would we call it?

What else? 400!

Wow that was really bad, but I thought of it at work and had to post. If anyone wants to put together a script, contact me.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

A blast from the Mozilla past


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Need to have the bible cross referenced twelve ways when reading?

Luckily for you, I found the tool to do it. Download the Vulgate plugin for added scriptual goodness, as well as ten or twelve Hebrew texts, and maybe French for good measure.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mugabe - tired old man?

An interesting piece from a man who has interviewed Mugabe before and after his rise to power in Zimbabwe.


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