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Journal: I got myself a slide rule 2

Journal by Surazal

I felt extraordinarily guilty about not knowing how to use a slide rule. I'm old enough to know that they were used quite frequently in the application of building bridges, skyscrapers, and even sending men into orbit above the earth for the first couple of times (hell, a slide rule went with the Apollo moon mission, though from what I read no one seems to remember if it were used at all or not).

I'm *not* old enough to have used one though. My education was "do things by pen and paper". Practically, I used a calcualtor, and when I learned to program, a computer. I skipped the whole slide rule thing, and it bothered me since.

I learned to use one recently. Out of boredom. After a few beers. No really.

Well okay, I've pretty much known for several years that the addition of the logorithms of two numbers is equal to the logorithm of the number one would have got from multiplying the original two numbers to begin with. The sentence I just typed is more than mere mathematics; it allowed the construction of a device that propelled the human race into the 20th century.

Mutliply two 3 digit numbers on a slide rule. In your head, this sort of thing is a little tricky. It requires pen and paper, plain and simple. The slide rule was great in the fact it allowed mathematicians to multiply three digit numbers to products with three digits of accuracy. And in math, that's literally the best you can get.

No, this wasn't a limitation of the slide rule (though you could always manufacture something 10 times as big to get that extra digit of accuracy, but hey the things were already 12 inches long... you do the math :). I was a limitation to rounding error. No computer can solve rounding error. No, I mean it. If your data has three digits of accuracy, your answer has three digits of accuracy. Whether you use a slide rule or a Cray supercomputer, it doesn't matter. Deal with it.

Of course, I'll stick to computer programs, scripts, and so on to do what I need to do.

But DAMN that slide rule is fun. :^)

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Journal: Aurthur C. Clarke...

Journal by Surazal

I think it was A.C. Clarke who said that, for a primitive culture, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistiguishable from magic. For advanced societies these days, suffiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.

Well that is what you would think when people confront the mystical magical beast known as the computer. Even technically-oriented people fall into the trap of thinking that it should all work like magic, and those people would be more than happy to cast the pox on anyone who would tell them otherwise.

Take I/O. Seems like a simple concept to Unix folks, right. I/O is the heart of Unix, and without it, Unix could not even exist (well, no operating system would be able to exist without I/O, but I think Unix makes a point of making that fact explicitly known to any administrator who happens to be using Unix to get their job done).

When I/O breaks, all hell breaks loose. It doesn't matter what operating system you run. It could be a software bug. It could be a flaky storage device. It could be the earth's magnetic field (no shit!).

But.. it's all supposed to work like magic. And when the magic don't happen, the tech guy gets called in, and the first thing he says is "This disk drive is over 10 years old! Buy a new one for the love of god!" But *no one* wants to hear that. We want a REAL guru, obviously you're lying to us. We want magic to happen!

I've heard it all before, and I'll keep hearing it. For some reason I've got this masochistic streak in me that allows me to say "I love my job" fairly consistently. But sometimes ya gotta wonder...

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Journal: http://surazal.nerp.net/

Journal by Surazal

Yay, my web page is getting going now.

When I get back to work, I had better be prepared o the following conversation:

coworker: So, how was your vacation?
me: Fine, I got my web page updated finally.
coworker: You did WHAT!? You frikking loser!

Unfortunately, this is the kind of conversation I have to have every day at work. It appears that the reality exists that I am a geek among geeks. Few seem to appreciate my work on an HTML document these days. ;)

User Journal

Journal: About Security

Journal by Surazal

Somehow or another the subject of security gets my blood boiled, at work or at home. This is probably because I've been burned securty-wise before and I'll get burned again, no doubt.

Sometimes, I wonder to myself, what would happen if I had a chance to sit on Larry King Live to talk about computer security issues. My question to Larry would be "Larry, when was the last time you changed your password?" And if he didn't come up with a satisfactory answer, I'd probably make him change his password, right there, live on CNN. AND I would make sure he used non-alphanumeric characters in the danged thing.

Well, no not really. I've been guilty (and am still guilty) of bad password management. Every once in a while I try to go through and audit my accounts to make sure I don't have anything out there left dangling for the next script kiddie to come across and snag. But password security is tough to maintain, and I can't help but wonder if there is a better way since passwords (out there in the real world) aren't a very effective tool against computer-related break-ins.

Even for an educated geek like myself.

User Journal

Journal: mmm pizza

Journal by Surazal

let's see... 15 minutes worth of work for a pizza? or two hours of waiting for beef stew? me? i chose the pizza.

this entry was written in all lowercase because i'm eating pizza. mmmm

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Journal: To be funny or to be political, that is the question

Journal by Surazal

Recently, I've decided to become a bit more active in online discussions. Not just here, per se. I go on gaming discussion boards (for instance, go to the official Masters of Orion III discussion boards... there's a few unimportant comments in there by me).

I've been writing humor articles lately. I haven't published them at all since I've been kinda busy with, well, a job and life and all and everything. Also, seems like I've been getting a bug up my ass to post regular kinda-run-of-the-mill stuff too. Like I tend to spout off my mouth quite a bit, just like your average red-blooded american. :)

So, the conundrum I face is, ok, do I be serious or be funny? One or the other, which is it?

Tonight I had an epiphany: Nothing worth laughing at is worth taking seriously.

Thta's my huge earth-shaking thought for the night. That's it, folks!

No seriously that's it. Go to bed, fer crying out loud.

User Journal

Journal: hm, nice to be back

Journal by Surazal

Well, I reclaimed my slashdot account. Woo! I found that my first in a long time comment posted to an article concerning Congressmen fighting against OSS got moderated up to +5. Man, if this keeps up, I'll start feeling like a karma whore again.

It doesn't look like there was too much damage to the reputation of the "surazal" account on Slashdot as the result of it getting hacked. I fixed the password to something unrecognizable (before it was an easily guessed password... my bad!) and set my signature file to alert any readers of old comments posted over a 6-month period that any comments written by this account between October and April were not mine. Actually, I did not post anything in past year until a few days ago. Somehow, the l33t h4XX0r that got my account (I don't know who unfortunately), wasn't a complete asshat... a couple of comments got moderated down, but only a couple. Good thing hackers in general aren't really the intelligibly literate type. I knew a few in real life; I was not impressed. "Script kiddies" remains my favorite term for describing them. I don't care if that hacker is 45 years old. You're still a script kiddie. Get used to it, twerp. :)

Besides, I like my account ID.. who else can clain that they have a Slashdot account number of 729? I think new users have to live with a six-digit number nowadays. :) Gotta have some sort of geek-ish bragging rights, right? Hooyeah!

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen

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