trochee: (Default)
Apropos of my post earlier this week regarding the opportunities for moral reflection in videogames: WorldChanging's Regine DeBatty posts a summary of subversive videogames -- they subvert both the politics and form of videogames.
The main public for these games is neither teenagers nor kids, but adults. Moreover, the rules of these games are not the ones you would encounter in a commercial games: the aim is not to attract as many game addicts during as much time as possible; to captivate with an aesthetics as realist as possible or with the most original design; to attain as much identification to the hero as possible; to be the most competitive on the market; to satisfy the ego of the teenager that still lurks in each of us by killing what moves on the screen... the aim is not to win. The aim is to subvert and parody preconceived ethics and aesthetics; to generate reflection.
Worth a read.
trochee: (angry)
more evidence that Big Dubya is Watching You. [via a locked post by a friend].

Hope that Google can beat this subpoena.
trochee: (Default)
well, not so lazy -- I've done a fair amount of googling, but there is much linux power and knowledge among my F-list.

I'm toying with CAD programs for Linux, partially to avoid other work and partially because I'm curious, and I'm looking to move into a new apartment. It would be pretty neat to be able to lay out the floor plan and have a digital model of it. (useful, maybe not. but neat!)

any suggestions? Inkscape seems too low-level -- extremely powerful, but not an architecture tool. QCaD seems promising, but I haven't tried it out (it also may be headed to closed-source). Am I missing any other major contenders?
trochee: (Default)
Chandler finally goes live to the public.

I may try this out.
trochee: (Default)
I've been less than thrilled with Sunbird, the Mozilla-suite calendaring program.

It works okay, but it doesn't seem to be robustly supported. (In November 05, they released 0.3 alpha, after nearly a year of silence.)

The key features I'm looking for are:

  1. the ability to sync against webDAV calendars, such as the one at iCal Exchange, which I currently use. It's not enough to pull them down, it has to be able to push local edits up too.
  2. The ability to subscribe to multiple calendars -- I keep separate calendarfiles for my lab, my classes, and my personal time. But I'd like to look at them all in the same place.
Sunbird currently does both these critical pieces, yet I'd like to get away from it.

Any recommendations?

Update: looks like the Mozilla Calendar extension to Firefox manages to avoid the biggest Sunbird problems -- namely, that it isn't packaged for Debian or Ubuntu. And I can get Firefox to work just about everywhere.

trochee: (pedant)
Bill Poser points out an absurdly wrong use of Mathematica, when Perl (or egrep) would really be a much more appropriate choice.
trochee: (pedant)
I don't use Windows, but reliable sources suggest that the recent vulnerability in XP is very serious. Please, patch your systems.
trochee: (resolute)
A followup post on installing ubuntu on this laptop:

Install gotcha (and workaround)
getting ubuntu onto the disk turned out to be a challenge. I have no bootable CD-ROM drive -- the CD-ROM drive I do have is a USB device that doesn't mount on boot, so I spent a long time trying to copy the CD onto the hard disk and convince it to boot from there. But [livejournal.com profile] _dkg_ suggested that I install the laptop HD into a desktop system (with a bootable CD-ROM), install Ubuntu there, and then swap it back into the laptop -- apparently most of the hardware detection now happens at boot time, not at install time. Pretty neat.

And it worked. But the X (video) configuration was all shot to heck. But in the process of doing this, I realized that the install process installed the base system from the CD, then copied the remaining packages to the HD, kicked out the CD, and rebooted before installing X etcetera. So I threw the HD back into the desktop, wiped the disk again and reinstalled, but killed the reboot. I pulled the HD and put it back in the laptop, and then booted. The auto-install proceeded just fine, and correctly discovered all the hardware on the laptop.

Update management
Other Debian-based system users may be familiar with sources.list, the way to instruct the system to find updates. I find Ubuntu's Gnome-based update-management software to be really easy to use and understand. It took me about 30 seconds to remove the CD repository and include the web sources for security package upgrades, and then another ten minutes to download and install the packages. (why doesn't it automatically include the security packages? possibly because I installed without a network connection available.)

Surprisingly (to me), emacs was not installed by default, but that was easily remedied with the more sophisticated synaptic package-manager -- and could have been done through the "start menu" anyway!

switching to gnome; music management
Because it was the default window manager, I decided to switch to Gnome, and I've been quite happy with it. As a benefit, Ubuntu provides the excellent rhythmbox music manager, which I much prefer to XMMS right now -- the ability to browse by genre alone is quite easy.

By default, Ubuntu does not provide decoders that are legally entangled. After some internet research, I discovered the excellent Ubuntu wiki page on restricted formats that allows you to very easily enable all the decoders to handle .mp3, .mov, m4a, .wmv files. The instructions here are clear, simple, and easy to follow; unusual, in my experience, for Linux video instructions. Like [livejournal.com profile] evan_tech, I am amazed at how it all holds together.

firefox version hunting
As yet, I only have one gripe. I'm eager to install the latest version of Firefox, but I would much rather do it through the package management. Apparently this isn't ready for the stable version (Breezy Badger) yet, though it's getting there for the next one (Dapper Drake, scheduled for April). I shouldn't complain -- it'll be ready real soon.

summary
What a cool system! My whole laptop feels new!

victory!

Dec. 23rd, 2005 08:37 pm
trochee: (resolute)
I just spent the last hour and a half backing up my laptop, or at least all the files *I* think are critical.

I'm going to try to wipe it and reinstall, this time with ubuntu. But I want to put the image on the hard disk before it gets any more complicated.
trochee: (resolute)
I've just joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Can't figure out why I didn't before.

Read their Deep Links and miniLinks updates, and join them, especially if you're sitting on some extra cash -- they're a valuable force for protecting the digital rights of everyday people. Their outrage at the latest Diebold scandal is right on the money.

Also they're going to send me a cool hat.
trochee: (sharp)
Not frustrated with the overall trajectory -- that's actually pretty interesting -- but the details of getting things done in a cross-continent, cross-platform collaboration are making me, well, cross. (Advisor in Germany, work I'm doing depends on Windows research software developed in Manhattan, target language is Chinese).

I wish it wasn't Windows. I wish it was supported. I wish it was documented. I wish that the interface wasn't a pop-up point-and-click (if I can't script it, it's irritating!). I wish I had the source (then it would probably not be Windows for long). I wish the system was robust to obvious user mistakes, instead of crashing with illegal memory accesses.

I wish it didn't crash when I ran it (or at least, that the crashes I get were reproducible in Manhattan). I wish the director of the New York group was actively working on fixing these problems. I wish I was doing research with my own software right now.
trochee: (wholeness)
Suppose [hypothetically] I just received an email with the subject line "This is not an interesting email".

Would I read it?
trochee: (resolute)
no this is not a meme. But I haven't updated in a while, and besides, I wanted to show some LJ solidarity in the face of anti-LJ snarkiness. (Actually, I think those two cartoons are double-sarcastic, which cancels it all out again. But I digress.)
  • I got back from the conference on Monday and was completely beat. Met lots of nice people, including gangs of grad students from OGI, MIT and UMass Amherst, who were all very well represented.
  • I was invited to join the AARP yesterday. I find it hard to imagine I'm really eligible. And they're bastards anyway.
  • I am one of the vice presidents of our graduate student organization this year. This means I have to get to arrange speakers for the Friday colloquia and then stand up and welcome them.
  • It looks like I may be researching work on transliteration and language-of-origin identification for Chinese-to-English MT this quarter.
  • the new comp-ling master's students got very upset at one of the faculty today because they don't know what their internships will look like. I understand their frustration. My internship wasn't much fun, either. Their panic was no fun to watch though and I'm not sure it's useful or productive for them to pick on the faculty.
  • [livejournal.com profile] imtboo made me dinner. On the way there, I got to go to the comic book store, and talk to my brother on the telephone. [livejournal.com profile] imtboo and I are sitting around the dining room table together on laptops. She is [re]writing her play.
Life feels good.

day 2

Oct. 7th, 2005 04:49 pm
trochee: (Default)
talk went pretty well yesterday. I'd stuck around for 45 minutes, waiting to see if Advisor was interested in chatting with me after my talk, but nothing happened, so I felt like I should find people to go have dinner with, since these conferences are all about networking.

Went out with friends from the old summer workshop (now three summers ago!) for dinner, and got into an awkward situation when Advisor called and wanted to take me out to dinner.

I miss Seattle, and [livejournal.com profile] imtboo. Vancouver is lovely, but I wish you were here with me, Boo.

Nevertheless, I'm doing well here; I feel like I understand a lot of what's here and I'm learning a lot from those that I don't get right away. I'll be glad when it's all done though.

[I must remember to tell a story about Advisor and Internship Leader. Don't have time now.]

back in it

Oct. 4th, 2005 07:21 pm
trochee: (resolute)
Crunch time; I leave for Vancouver tomorrow and must get stuff to Advisor and others today.

have some additional numbers to run (almost done) and revisions to my talk. When they're done, I am going home to pack. I need to be in early tomorrow if possible.

At least I find that I do not hate it. I was dreading getting back into some aspects of this work, but once I get my fingers dirty a little I remember that there are indeed some aspects that I find satisfying. Even in this godforsaken corpus. (jeez, a little lovecraftian note there.)

in other news... did you know that F score can be translated into 2s/(g+p)? I didn't. I worked that out today.
trochee: (Default)
why does EVALB not compile? When I change the obvious things, I get warnings, but the resulting executable simply does the wrong thing -- with no error.

Furthermore the makefile has -Wall but then the code itself has stuff that generates warnings all over it -- like void main instead of int main.

Could this be an effect of the latest gcc? I'm using 3.4.2 but I imagine the code hasn't been looked at since 2.96. :(

[update: fixed; the compiling problems were real but also PEBKAC: once I got it to compile, I was invoking it wrong.]
trochee: (sneaky)
They've taken away my Internets. Yes, I can still see LJ through the dumb web-proxy, but my supply-closet access to the internet was discovered by some zealously paranoid network person and removed. Now I can't check email except at the hotel. Great.

*shakes fists in minor impotent whinging at the sky*

I think I'll probably be able to get it fixed -- I can't transfer anything from my lab computers to this office without it -- but the people whom I should ask are all out of the office all day. Ah well.
trochee: (Default)
my laptop is my only link to outside internet right now, whether I am at the hotel (free wifi, but no terminals) or the office (wacky security constraints that allow me to connect, iff I take my laptop into the supply closet).

So you can imagine my panic when the power supply refused to light up. No charge to the laptop means my internet time for the next two weeks is constrained to (1) what I can get to through the webproxy at work (no email, whatsoever) and (2) the battery life of the laptop (very short!).

But I thought about it, and drove down to the impressive Fry's, and looked at replacing the power adaptor. The one option was a generic for $80, and I had the presence of mind to ask a guy there to open one up and see if it had an adaptor for this laptop (it didn't). While I plugged in the thing to show him what wasn't working, it of course decided to charge. I joked with him that I was reluctant to unplug it (true) and I might stay there all night while it charged (false).

But then it occurred to me that maybe it was the AC cord. I went over to the cables and bitty parts department (they don't call it that, but they should, shouldn't they?) and asked around. "Oh, you want the figure-8?" said the guy.

"uh," I said, gracefully. I'm smooth like that.

Then I saw what he meant: the cable from the wall to the heavy little box has a connector that looks like a figure 8 -- if you were going to stick the cable in your eye. Eye-insertion not being my usual mode of cable-observation, that didn't spring to mind. But indeed, he led me straight to a $1.99 black cable that --color notwithstanding-- looked an awful lot like the cheap-ass white cable that trails from the adaptor to the wall. For that price, I bought it on the spot and left.

A good thing, too, because when I got back to the hotel, the AC adaptor still wouldn't light up. I crossed my fingers and replaced that component, considering alternatives (solder, tearing open the little white adaptor box and crossing wires by hand, removing the hard disk from the laptop to rescue files). It lit up immediately and brighter than before.

Laptop rescued, for a grand total of $2.15.
trochee: (Default)
After my talk today, I started to investigate the login situation more closely.

My situation is this: I can log in to the Linux box on my desk, but I have only user access and only on that machine. While other data is cross-mounted on this machine, I cannot use the web for very much: gmail and other main mail sites are blocked, and all ports except for http are blocked as well. Thus I cannot even ssh to machines at the lab in the PNW.

To make matters worse, I cannot even get a DNS for those pages. That's right: `ping www.google.com` does not work from my desk, and not because ping packets are swallowed -- though they apparently are. It's because "unknown host google.com".

And if that wasn't enough, the workstation is running RH 8.0, which is a seriously stale distribution. It runs Mozilla 1.0.1, and I can't even install my own Firefox -- the library of glibc is out of date.

Apparently there is a wireless network with better access, but my wireless card doesn't see it. It may be because the network is WPA encrypted, but I don't know if that should matter. My card's been acting weird, so I don't know for sure that's what the problem is.

I went to Fry's -- an impressive store, really -- and bought a D-link wireless USB adapter. But I can't get it recognized. Perhaps a project for later.
trochee: (Default)
I woke up on my own, with absolutely no idea where I was. Then I realized that (1) I wasn't at home and (2) I'd woken up rested. I jumped, because it could only mean one thing -- I slept through the alarm. Indeed, I had. It was 9:45a, and I started work today.

I threw on some clothes and hurried out the back to my car, grabbing my notebook on the way. I'm pretty good with directions, but I realized that the first direction that I had written down yesterday said "East", and the sun was behind me. Accordingly, I was fairly sure I was going the wrong way. But then I remembered the map in my head, and realized that I had probably written East when I meant West. Nevertheless, I started worrying. I pulled over in a gas station, and asked the guy "is this the right way to [street]?"
He gave me a blank look for a minute, and said "uh, is [street] in Palo Alto?"
"Yeah," I said, not 100% sure.
"Palo Alto is that way," he said, with a huge wild swing of arm in the direction I had indicated.
"Thanks," I said, and fled back to my car. It occurred to me that I don't have my phone -- I must have left it in the hotel -- and that makes me nervous too, because if I get lost, I can't call for help.
"I can ask at another gas station if I need to," I say to myself. Being tired and alone makes me talk to myself.

Despite my worry, I find the building with no additional trouble. I reach the front door in an anonymous, faceless hallway, with a phone sitting outside. A little card stands next to the phone with a directory of the people behind the door.

I dial one after another of the numbers, and get voicemail after voicemail. I am staring at a completely white door, in a completely white wall, with no frame around the door, so the wall -- except for the seam around the door -- is completely smooth in a Kubrickian-future sort of way. I feel a little like Alice, actually. I experience a moment of vertigo when I find my own name on the card. I contemplate dialing the number, for a minute, just for the existential thrill of it, and because it's something I would do in a Zork-like game when confronted with a situation like this, just to see what little fortune-cookie the game author has included. I decide to not be playful with people I don't know yet, and keep looking down the list.

I find the name of my boss while I'm here, and I call him. After several rings, he answers and comes to find me at the door. He shows me my desk, and gives me my login sheet and points me at the computer. But I can't log in. The password they've given me is wrong, or something. Already late, I don't want to make a stink. My boss says he's going to Stanford and he'll be back for lunch. I still can't log in. I work on my slides on my laptop, and start writing livejournal.

I get bored and start going to find the system admin people. I get a local login, but I am not authenticated properly. I don't have any DNS outside of the company's computers, and by the time I figure out that this is the problem, the acting sysadmin who's been helping me has slipped away for lunch.

I work on slides for my talk, and go to lunch with my new boss and two of the permanent staffers. I give my talk after we get back, and though it goes overlong, most of them seem interested.
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