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User Journal

Journal Journal: Apple-Intel my predictions

Here are my predictions for tomorrow's Apple/Intel announcements, highest probability first:
  • Apple licences Intel to produce PPC G4 and G5 processors.
  • Intel to produce portable PowerPC processors using Pentium M technology.
  • Apple to use the new Intel manufactured G5 processors in a new line of Powerbooks announced 06/06.
  • Apple to use new Intel manufactured G5 processors in new desktop machines announced 06/06.

Highly improbable announcements, lowest probability first:

  • Apple to begin phased transition to itanium chips.
  • Apple to begin phased transition to x86 chips.
  • Apple to begin phased transition to using both G5 and x86 chips.

Journal Journal: The more is better trend in handhelds.

I wrote this based on some thoughts and comments I had after reading these two slashdot articles. Updated (25-10-2003) after reading posts in this article.

I don't need a $600 Gameboy wanna be. I don't need a crippled ipod. I don't need a video player for munchkins. I don't need a uber machine that does 6 things badly (and that I need to upgrade all together). I want something that will store and process information for me. Not media, INFORMATION. Notes, meetings, phone numbers, addresses, ideas, sketches, references, URLS, passwords (encrypted natch). For me, this information is still B&W text and graphics. I want

  • long battery life (~1 month)
  • tack sharp 320x480 B&W screen, good for outdoor, indoor and in-dark use. 640x480 with anti-aliasing might be even better but would require more power.
  • a compact size: Palm V would be ideal, but Anything upto Palm III/Handera would be great. Narrow bezel Palm V would be perfect.
  • CF or at least dual SD slots.
  • built in usb port (can be the microsize one).

I'd like

  • flash/static ram backup (so running out of batteries won't lose (illiterate cretins, please note spelling of lose) all of my data).
  • a thumb-keyboard (if it is removable or doesn't add bulk) with vim.
  • cheap I-net access (cell, WiFi, GPRS, GSM, I don't care).
  • maybe txt2speech capabilities, that would be cool.
  • The only reason to have a camera would be if it combined OCI with it. That way, I could take a picture of a sign and have it type the characters into a note, and optionally translate it if I'm in Moscow or Istambul (thanks to Dr Cool for the translation idea from this post)
  • If there were some way to swap core modules between my "carry PDA" and "work PDA", that would be cool. A work PDA would be a mini-tablet/superPDA sized PDA, perhaps a Newton size with a hi-rez screen (512x768 perhaps) that would be more useful in situations where portability isn't an issue and a large screen is possible. Thanks to ~b1t%20r0t for the idea of a "work PDA" from this post

I absolutely don't want

  • battery draining color
  • battery draining uber processors (my Mac IIsi had 20MHz and I ran Mathematica on it fer chrissake).
  • an over-sized complex to use, battery draining phone.
  • a un-ergonomic crappy lens digital camera (unless it has the OCI outlined above).
  • half-assed MP3 playback
  • half semi-assed audio recording (unless it has automatic transcription, but we ain't gonna see that for at least 5 years.)
  • half semi-demi-assed video playback.

I don't care if it's running Palm, WinCE or Linux as long as it doesn't crash more than once a month and boots up in less than 3 seconds. The closest thing is STILL the Handera 330 and it came out 2 years ago (and is now no more). I don't see progress, I see bloated, mediocre products designed with the mantra of "features good, more features better".

The new Palm T3 is actually pretty close, except for the color screen and resultant atrocious battery life. The T3 is smaller than the 330 and has a higher resolution than the 330 and a nice form-factor. Bluetooth looks to be nice also. Unfortunately, it comes with all that crappy audio/video bullshit. I'd like a Palm E with T3-like full-screen better.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Duffer == Incompetent Programmer

I recently had the displeasure of seeing some code written by a fellow employee (not a programmer), let's call him Mr. Y, who was using a combination of perl and DOS bat files to flatten a directory structure. The scripts consisted of a .bat file which ran a perl script which which generated another .bat file which was again, run by the original .bat file to do the following:
  1. Find all files in sub-directories of the current sub-directory
  2. Remove a pre-determined common text item from all of the filenames
  3. copy said files to the current directory

Note that a 3 line perl program can do this nicely, I believe Mr. Y's implementation was, needless to say, considerably longer.

Later on, someone asked me what I thought of his code, I said it was truly astounding. The person then asked "Oh, is it because Y is a perl hacker?". No, he's more of a perl duffer. Merriam-Webster defines duffer as "an incompetent, ineffectual, or clumsy person; especially : a mediocre golfer". I think this meshes perfectly with the intended meaning: the opposite of a hacker. A quick perusal through to Hacker Dictionary finds no equivalent term.

So, let's add another word to the hacker lexicon: Duffer meaning an incompetent programmer or the opposite of hacker (in the skills dimension only).

User Journal

Journal Journal: What I want from my manager

Here's a quote from a post I made. I want to keep it around so I'm copying it here.

In work, I want three things from my manager:

  1. Give me interesting, challenging work.
  2. Give me honest feedback on how I'm doing.
  3. Keep people (including my boss) from interfering with me and my work.

In return I do the following:

  1. Do the work expected of me to the best of my ability.
  2. Keep the boss informed as to what I'm doing and how it's going.
  3. Give him honest feedback on him and my work.

I've given this mini-spiel at every interview I've had with whomever would be my immediate supervisor and I can get a good feel for what kind of company it is by their reaction.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Some thoughts on why I buy 10 times more DVD's than CD's 3

Let me preface this by saying that I have never downloaded illegal music from the internet and I don't have any plans to. I have DSL at home and on evenings, I can get 3xT1 lines at work so bandwidth isn't an issue.

Looking at my amazon orders over the last year, I see that I've ordered about 10 times more DVD's than CD's. Why? Because I feel that I get much more value for the dollar. In fact, I often buy impulse DVD's but almost never buy impulse CD's. I thought about this some and I think my preferences are completely rational from an informational standpoint.

For me at least, my entertainment budget goes to video games, movies, CD's and DVD's. For the sake of simplicity let's just consider the last two, since that's where the largest portions of my entertainment monies go (80%). From my point of view, the two categories (CD's and DVD's) are both purchased for entertainment purposes, and as such are replaceable with each other.

Now, I can buy the re-recorded soundtrack for Koyaanisqatsi for $14.99 at amazon. For just two dollars more, I can get the whole freaking movie. Lets think about this from just a pure informational standpoint.

DVD's (even single DVD's) often have 4-8 gigabytes of compressed data, while CD's have (depending on how you do the compression, let's say a completely lossless compression of 40% or so) at best 450MB of data.

So, when I buy a DVD, I get 5000 MB of information for $20 dollars (and often much more data in the case of multiple DVD releases or pay much less in the case of discount DVD's), or around 250MB/$. When I buy a CD, I pay $15 bucks for 450MB of data (which actually compresses pretty well down to 150MB or so using 192kbps lame) or 30MB/$. Now if you take into account the stuff I'm not particularly interested in seeing/hearing (the extras on the DVD or around 50% and the 8 filler crap songs out of 10 on the CD or 80%), I'm getting 125MB per dollar spent on a DVD and I'm getting 6MB per dollar on a CD. If you include the fact that I can compress my CD down (imperceptibly to me) to one third that size I'm only getting 2MB per dollar spent on a CD.

So, on average I get 125MB of entertainment information per dollar spent on DVD's vs 2MB of entertainment information per dollar spent on CD's or about 60 times more entertainment data for each dollar.

User Journal

Journal Journal: My thought for today

I would rather have a president intent on fucking his intern, than a president intent on fucking the constitution.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Another Gun Rights Rant 1

This was written in response to a NYTimes Op-Ed piece titled "A Faulty Rethinking of the 2nd Amendment".


In "A Faulty Rethinking of the 2nd Amendment", Prof. Rakove, puts forth three counter-arguments to those who argue that the Second Amendment applies to all people. I would like to comment on these three counter-arguments.

His first counter-argument concerning the definition of "militia" as not being composed of all armed males is quite correct, but is not supported by the actual text of the amendment. It is true that the meaning of militia is defined in the first article of the constitution. However, the amendment does not read "the right of the MILITIA to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed", but "the PEOPLE".

His second refutation, centered around the claim that "the people" does not mean "all persons" due to the fact that "the people" who vote are determined by the state, as specifically stipulated by the constitution, is a wonder of selective reading. We also see the phrase "the people" in the first, fourth, ninth and tenth amendments. Surely he doesn't believe that the meaning of the "the people" in the first amendment should only apply to those people determined by state law? Jim Crow, segregation and "un-American activity" laws followed just such an interpretation. As an aside, is he arguing for the right of all people who vote to keep and bear arms?

In his third counter argument he claims that the deletion of the definition of militia as "composed of the body of the people", reduces the broadness of the amdendment. With the addition of this definition, the amendment would then read: "A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The addition of the phrase does not alter the meaning of the latter half of the amendment.

Although there are many writings by our forefathers concerning the definition of militia, there are also many writings (some by the same persons) upholding the individual's right to bear arms. The forefathers meant the same group of people when they wrote "the people" in the Second Amendment as when they wrote "the people" in the other amendments composing the Bill of Rights.



User Journal

Journal Journal: What freedom is about

Here's a letter I wrote to Nicholas Kristof, one of the newer editorial writers at the NYTimes, after he wrote an editorial stating that Yemen, where practically everybody who travelled carried an assault rifle for protection from bandits, was NRA "heaven". He also stated that all people who dislike gun registration laws should move to Yemen since you could own any weapon you wanted.

Dear Mr. Kristof:

Let me salute your willingness to get even *more* email than before. I hope my letter is one of the ones which makes a strong argument. Feel free to respond through any of the means I provide below. However, I would like to ask that you don't disseminate my phone number.

I am a liberal in terms of social policy: I believe the government has no right deciding what I should be able to read, write, watch or do in the privacy of my own home. I support gay marriage and the right of a women to have an abortion. I am also a gun owner and enjoy the shooting sports.

Your statement "And if you're so bothered by gun registration, and so convinced that guns don't kill people, then consider moving to a nice mud-brick home here in Suq al-Talh. With you and everybody else carrying around an assault rifle, with armor-piercing rounds in your bandolier, with a couple of grenades in your pockets, you'll really feel safe. You'll love the freedom!" I find offensive and facile: you equate the freedom sought by gun owners with lawlessness. A classic strawman argument; surely you can do better than that!

I have no objection to gun registration (all of my guns are registered in accordance with all state and federal laws). I do not object to law and order. If you are trying to argue that the N.R.A. is against law and order, one could argue that the A.C.L.U. is against child abuse laws.

As an intelligent man, you are aware that true freedom is a balancing act between unrestrained freedom and respect for other peoples freedom in the form of law and order. "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins", to quote the great Justice Holmes. Yemen is one area where people have less freedom because of the lack of respect for others rights and a lack of enforcement of that respect. Lots of bloody noses in Yemen. America has always been a place where respect for others rights was held in the highest regard. In last century, some of the exceptions to this respect have been in the areas of alchohol, abortion and guns. All of these attempts criminalized objects or acts which do not affect other citizens or their rights.

So, how are your rights enhanced by preventing my from purchasing a target pistol (Hammerli 602) [enkidu: Actually, this is not true, the Hammerli is exempt from some CA gun laws due to an Olympic pistol exemption. A correct example would be a Thompson/Center Arms single shot Contender pistol, a target pistol used in NRA sanctioned silhouette shooting, but banned by the CA DOJ.] not approved by the CA DOJ? Granted, you may feel safer. But I could also claim that I feel safer if you didn't have a book on building bombs in your house. Or that I would feel safer if you didn't have that sports car in your garage ('cause my kids like to play in the street). Frankly, I'd feel much much better if you didn't have that Scotch in your cupboard and the sports car in your garage. Laws which restrict others rights with no urgent social neccessity have been repeatedly struck down by the Supreme Court. And rightly so. The Bill of Rights exists to protect the freedoms and rights of the few against the will of the many.

Laws make it illegal for me to shoot my neighbor. Laws make it illegal for me to drink a bottle for Scotch and drive my car on public roads. Laws make it illegal for me to use a bulldozer to raze my neighborhood without permission. Laws make illegal my shouting fire in a crowded theatre. Laws make illegal my throwing a molotov cocktail at someone's house. However, laws don't and shouldn't prevent my owning gasoline, a bottle and a handkerchief. Laws don't muzzle me when I'm in a theatre for fear I may falsely yell "FIRE". Laws don't restrict me from owning both Scotch and a sports car, or even buying scotch while driving a sports car. Laws don't restrict me from owning bulldozers and driving them around on my property (provided the noise doesn't disturb the neighbors of course). Laws should not restrict me (provided I have committed no felony or am not mentally disabled) from owning firearms which I use in a safe manner in areas allowed by law.

I object to the increasing criminalization of the simple ownership of objects and not the acts of using them in ways which infringe upon the rights of others. Laws should not make criminals of people who respect other peoples' rights and freedoms.

Yes, guns are dangerous. So is dynamite. So are baseball bats. So are bows and arrows. So are fast cars. So is propane. So is fertilizer. So are planes. So are knives. So are swords. So is gasoline. So is alchohol.

Once we start down the slippery path of deciding which objects for individual use are too dangerous for individuals to simply own, we start down the dangerous path of criminalizing people who have not, have not planned to, and have no intention of committing any crimes.

There are other more constitutional arguments with which I will not bore you, not that they hold any less validity. There are also arguments centered around the right to self-defense and the preservation of one's existence. I feel that all of these are secondary to one of the most fundamental tenets of freedom, for which America and it's constitution stand: the right to be let alone. Leave me alone. I have committed no crime. I have never conspired to commit a crime. Why are you trying to criminalize me simply because of the company I keep and the objects I own?

I leave you with one more quote from the great justice: "To have doubted one's first principles is the mark of a civilized man."


Software Engineer and Independent Voter


Journal Journal: Computers I have owned...

Sitting here at my latest computer and bored, I decided to make my first Slashdot journal entry, and make it about the computers I have personally owned. By own, I mean those for which I had both the equivalent of root on the box and I had leav to commit acts both natural and unnatural upon them, even if I didn't own them in a fiscal sense.

Beginnings (1981-1987)

Commodore Vic 20 'Vicky' (1981-198?)

  • CPU: 6502 (1.01MHz)
  • RAM: 3.5KB
  • Graphics: 176x184, 8 text colors, 16 bg colors
  • Storage: audio tape drive.

I had this when I was around 12. I think my dad got it from the U.S. during a trip. I did some graphics programming on it, but mostly I played games. I copied some programs out and later, when we got a miniature pen plotter that wroteon 3 in strips of paper, I drew lots of cool pictures on it (mainly kaleidascope style designs). There was no true graphics to speak of, it was connected to a small old tv set via an RF tuner. I guess the computing power of the computer was on par with that of the NES.

Being in Korea, there weren't any computer shops to speak of, and the ones that did exist didn't carry any Commodore stuff. Most of it was knock off "Kapple" stuff. I do remember getting Commodore computer magazines (God knows how) and drooling with envy over the Commodore 64. 64KB of memory! Incredible. About the time it started to get old and rank, I was reading in Newsweek about the release of the Mac in Cupertino. Eventually, we got a *real* computer but not a Mac...

IBM XT 'The IBM' (1985-1987)

  • CPU: 8088 (4.77Mhz)
  • RAM: 640KB
  • Graphics: 640x480 8bit greenscale
  • Storage: 10MB HD, 5.25" FD

This was, my first truly useful computer. I wrote most (if not all) of my high school papers on it. (In WordStar if I recall correctly). Naturally I had some games, but I think the one I played the most was one called "Jet" which was the only one that really ran because of the strange Hercules graphics card on it. No that's not entirely correct, I must have spent many man-months/years playing "Sun Tzu's Ancient Art of War" The original. I don't know if I programmed on it outside of DOS scripts and such.

The Lean College Years (1987-1992)

During my colledge years, I didn't have a computer of my own, but I did make liberal use of the many Macs scatterred around the Carnegie Mellon campus. At almost all times, one of my many roommates had a computer (for two years I lived in a 6 bedroom house with 10 guys), usually a Mac. The games I really enjoyed playing were "Strategic Conquest", "Pirates!", but the one that sticks out in my mind is "Armor Alley". We went to many a computer cluster and played 2 on 2 across the digital plain.

Grad School and Beyond (1992-1997)

Mac IIsi (1992-1997)

  • CPU: 68030 20MHz
  • RAM: 17MB
  • Graphics: 640x480 16bit
  • Storage: 40MB HD, 3.5MB FD

After going to graduate school at Stanford (having met in the meantime, my future wife "Eunyoung Chung" at a concert of hers during a visit to Korea), I realized I needed a PC. I invested $3000 dollars in a new MacIIsi with color monitor (shunning the more economical B&W monitor). I upgraded the IIsi to 17MB via 4 4MB 32pin SIMMs. The main program I used on this computer were terminal apps and Andrew Welch's fabulous Maelstrom. It ran Wolfram's Mathematica like a champ, and I finished many a homework on it. Most of my work, however, was done with a Word 5.1 (or was it 4?) and Excel.

I later upgraded it to a 66MHz 601 PowerPC via Daystar's excellent accelerator, an external SCSI CD player (2x I think) and a SCSI zip drive. But, the IIsi having a fundamentally slow bus, as the years went by, I felt more and more crippled.

The Multi-platform Years (1997-)

PowerMac 7200/75 (1997-1999)

  • CPU: PowerPC 601 (75MHz)
  • RAM: 36MB
  • Graphics: 1024x768 24bit
  • Storage: 500MB, 100MB zip, 3.5MB FD

This computer, I scrounged from work where they were transitioning from Macs to PC's. There seemed to be alot of that going on around this time. This computer served me very well attached to my various peripherals. Mathematica still ran on it, and I upgraded it through Mac System 8.1. But, in many ways, it didn't have the grace of the IIsi. Apple seemed to have lost it's way. Later, I augmented it with another computer, Hugin (also scrounged from work).

PowerBook 520c 'Hugin' (1997-1998)

  • CPU: 68LC040 (25MHz)
  • RAM: 12MB
  • Graphics: 800x600 8bit greyscale
  • 160MB HD, 3.5" FD

Named after Odin's raven Hugin (I thought appropriate since the code name from 520 series was "BlackBird"). I only used it for a short time since about a year after I got it, I got another cast off laptop 'sleipnir', and Hugin's display light failed, crippling the computer. I did manage to rescue the contents of the disk by downloading to Zip disks. Still, it ran well and was a pretty nice computer, small and elegant.

HP Vx 'Odin' (1997-1999)

  • CPU: PentiumPro (200MHz)
  • RAM: 32MB
  • Graphics: 1024x768 16bit
  • Storage: 200MB HD, 3.5" FD

This was the first desktop I put Linux on. RedHat 5.2. Setting up the graphics cards and networking was a great bother but very educational. Linux 2.0 ran like a champ and I had uptimes of 9 months and more. And very fast to boot. I compiled many a program on it and wrote many a script on Odin. I also used it as a Poscript printer server for my 7200. I also tinkered with lilo enough to multi-boot with Win95, although I don't think I ever booted into Windows after I got things running.

Toshiba Tecra 520CDT 'Sleipnir' (1997-2000)

  • CPU: Pentium MMX (166MHz)
  • RAM: 32MB
  • Graphics: 800x600 24bit color
  • Storage: 2GB HD, 10x CD-ROM, 3.5" FD

This was my workhorse computer for many years. It provided great performance under RedHat 5.2, especially once I recompiled the kernel to be leaner and switched to using the AfterStep window manager. I used it to browse the web using my ricochet (may it rest in peace) network connection. Unfortunately, towards the end of it's tenure, Sleipnir could no longer maintain a charge in its batteries. It would report 3 hours of battery life after a full charge and then promptly shutdown 20 minutes later because it ran out of power.

Palm Pilot Personal 'Munin' (1997-1999)

  • CPU: Dragonball (16MHz)
  • RAM: 512KB
  • Graphics: 160x160 1bit
  • Storage: 512KB

Some people may not consider them computers, but hey, this is my list so I'll add what I want. Munin was my main handheld for two years. Munin was the other of Odin's Ravens, and the name means 'Memory'. I thought it very appropriate for my backup memory device. I later replaced it with a PalmIII.

Gateway Solo 9100 'Sleipnir2' (1999-2000)

  • CPU: Pentium MMX (266MHz)
  • RAM: 196MB (woohoo!)
  • Graphics: 1024x768 24bit
  • Storage: 4GB HD, CDROM, FD

This was an awesome kickass machine (and at 8 pounds plus could be used to bash a car window in case of emergency). I installed Mandrake 7.0 on it and had considerable trouble setting up XFree86 and sound (lots of trouble with the sound). Once I had it set up and running, it ran great. It had/has a bright big display. It was one of the few laptops (then and now) which allowed you to have both CDROM and floppy drive in at the same time. I did have some strange errors with sleeping and the harddrive, but an obscure apm option in the apm-scripts cleared this up. Running Mandrake, I did lots of development and research on Sleipnir2 (Once I find a good name, I stick with it). Like Sleipnir I, it's battery continued to deteriorate and in the end, I only was getting around 2 hours of uptime from two batteries. Unfortunately, it really wasn't mine, and I turned it in to upgrade to a lighter/faster laptop, named Sleipnir3.

Palm III 'Munin2' (1999- 2001)

  • CPU: Dragonball (16MHz)
  • RAM: 2MB
  • Graphics: 160x160 1bit
  • Storage: 2MB

Munin II was my main handheld up until recently. The case creaked alot and I had lots of intermittent digitizer problems. I don't think the PalmIII's were engineered as well as the Palm Personal/Professionals were. I did get a Palm Keyboard for it and it proved to be useful.

PowerMac G4/450 AGP 'G4' (1999-)

  • CPU: G4 (450MHz)
  • RAM: 704MB
  • Graphics: 1280x1024 24bit
  • Storage: 60GB, DVD-ROM

This is my current desktop. I'm running MacOSX and couldn't be happier. When palm was running short on releasing the desktop software, I compiled the pilot-xfer package and was able to backup and install software on my computer. It started out as a 350, but I picked up a 450 processor board for about $100 bucks a couple of years ago.

Dell Latitude CPx 'Sleipnir3' (2001-)

  • CPU: Pentium III (650MHz)
  • RAM: 256MB (wheee)
  • Graphics: 1024x768 24bit.
  • Storage: 6GB, CDROM, FD

This is my current workhorse, with two batteries I can get close to 6 hours of uptime. Installing Linux 7.1 was a snap and it compilies our current work code base in about 80% of the time of a 1.2GHz Pentium III. It is lighter than Sleipnir the 2nd and has a better screen. I really like the easy modularity of the batteries and cdroms. I'm even considering adding a DVD-Rom drive (around $100).

Handera 330 'Munin3' (2001-)

  • CPU: DragonBall-VZ 33MHz
  • RAM: 8MB
  • Graphics: 320x240 4bit
  • Storage: 8MB, 128MB CompactFlash

Munin the Third was a birthday present from my wife of 7 years (I chose of course). With the great (I mean GREAT) QVGA screen and backlight, compact flash expandability and sound recording capability. I think it's the best Palm clone out there. Highly highly recommended.

Hope this brings back some memories for people.

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