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Empiric

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Finally an update [11 Jun 2004|11:51am]
Can't believe it's been 8 months since I last updated this. Amazing how fast time can seem to go by.

In the wider picture, I've been exploring my areas of metaphysical interest, as well as early theology... Origen of Alexandria being a particularly favored reference point.

Shorter-term and more pragmatically, today I'll hopefully be picking up my car. A neglected ticket has turned into an horrific bureaucratic miasma (somehow I like the sound of that phrase...), and, hopefully, today that will all be behind me, minus a major waste of my money, my time, and the taxpayers' money.
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Adventures in late-night food [24 Oct 2003|02:03am]
There's a Perkins just down the road from here, and it makes a very convenient place to eat, especially with my odd schedule of late. At 11 PM, they had put up the chairs in most of the restaurant, leaving a rather small section which was pretty crowded for the hour. Sitting in the booth next to me was a guy in high-school, along with two rather... rambunctious girls. After a while, the guy surprisingly struck up a conversation with me, and we chatted a fair bit, about his alcoholism and recovery, and mostly music. As he was mostly into rock music, much of the conversation revolved around that, and apparently the bands I'm familiar with from way back are still listened to... Van Halen, Dio, Black Sabbath... one of the girls apparently was enthralled with Guns 'n' Roses, mentioned during one of her stints on the floor. Apparently, now, though, these bands are referred to as "gothic rock". Somehow, having the bands I listened to when his age being referred to as "gothic" seemed a little unnervingly presumptuous...
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Open Encryption [16 Sep 2003|12:17am]
http://jeff.zoplionah.com/scramble.php
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neorune.com web site updated [12 Sep 2003|05:49pm]
All the biz stuff that's fit to print, here.
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Arguing with Slashdot [01 Sep 2003|08:57pm]
It's theorized that someday we'll have computers which have the ability to utilize quantum mechanics effects, such as superposition, to be able to create algorithms that can test for all possible solutions to a problem simultaneously.

I've found that posting a controversial position to Slashdot is a little like this. I posted a comment arguing that the problems at NASA may be unsolvable, in that this agency doesn't have the advantages or drivers that a competitive corporate environment brings (here).

In a very short time, I had 22 rebuttals to my original comment, and 16 rebuttals to the 12 followup comments I made to various of these. It quickly becomes impossible to keep up with the number and speed of arguments presented, when one is basically arguing against the best responses of the likely several-thousand readers of the moment.

It seems like a whole new plane of debate. Humbling in a way, but instructive. One could live for years never running into a hole in one's viewpoint that might be revealed in an hour there. Interesting.
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New Yahoo group [25 Aug 2003|02:16am]
Since the subject is of increasing interest to me, I've gone ahead and created a new Yahoo group.

The "mission statement":
The TrothWork group is for discussion of how the mythos, ethos, and aesthetic of the ancient Norse people may be applied toward the improvement of the individual and society.

To join, send an empty e-mail to: trothwork-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
Or go to the web page at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/trothwork/

Hopefully others out there would share my interest in this. I'd enjoy good discussion on it.
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hit counter, starting now [23 Aug 2003|09:29pm]

web counter
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Troth [18 Aug 2003|05:54am]
Lately, I've been thinking about an old Norse word, and the concepts behind it.

"Troth".

It's a word that doesn't have an exact English equivalent... Webster's offers "Belief; faith; fidelity; truth; verity; veracity" as approximate synonyms.

In a sense, it seems to be the opposite of hypocrisy. It conjures up thoughts of integrity, community, and stick-with-it-ness, and I wonder if our society of constant competition for our moment-to-moment attention, the anonymity of the crowd, and the pursuit of the immediate gratification of a consumer, is leading us away from this notable, ancient concept.

Already, the word is almost lost, remaining only as the root word of "betrothal", but perhaps even that term, and its meaning, will soon be lost.

As always, I disclaim innocence, but I'll remember this term the next time I'm tempted to sit in front of the TV and flip channels, and the next time I meet someone...
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Dream log [18 Aug 2003|05:36am]
I hardly ever remember my dreams, maybe one every couple of months, so when I actually do remember one, it's... logworthy.

There's a recurrent theme in the ones I do remember--I'm in school/university, and I've skipped my classes a bunch of times, and I'm there trying to remember where and when my classes are held, so I can get there for final exams and hopefully pull out a passing grade.

This one followed the standard theme, but with a few twists. In a funky amalgam with some kind of First-Person-Shooter game, I'm being pursued by a bunch of people who are trying to kill me. Fortunately, I find a switch to open a glass panel, and grab an automatic weapon, and a long clip for it, made entirely from wood. I return fire to my assailants, dispatching them with what appears to be "bullets" of high-velocity sawdust. From there, I climb into the area behind the panel, finding a trap door which leads down into a basement. Somehow, I know it's Rob's basement. Fully stocked with all sorts of miscellaneous items on long, wide shelves, I wander around for a while, and see another pursuer heading down the stairs toward me...

And then I wake up.
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A slashdot comment of mine, reposted here because it's fun to remember [16 Aug 2003|12:35am]
There's an example from back in the 80's that still probably serves as a good engineering reference for people working on hardware/software driver issues.

In those days of yore (only in the computer industry can one refer to something 20 years ago as "yore"...) there was the Commodore 64. It retains it's place as a pioneering home computer in that it offered very good (for the time) graphics and sound capability in an inexpensive unit. But then came its bastard son...

The 1541 floppy disk drive. It became the storage option for a home user once they became infuriated enough with the capabilites of cassette-tape backup to pony up for storage on a real medium. Unfortunately, the 1541 was slow. Unbelievably slow. Slow enough to think, just maybe, there were little dwarven people in your serial interface cable running your bits back and forth by hand.

Now, a very unique attribute of the 1541 drive was that it had its own 6502 processor and firmware. Plausibly, having in effect a "disk-drive-coprocessor" would accelerate your data transfer. It did not. Not remotely. Running through a disassembly of the 6502 firmware revealed endless, meandering code to provide what would appear, on the surface, to be a pretty straightforward piece of functionality: send data bits over the data pin and handshake it over the handshake signal pin.

As the market forces of installed base and demand for faster speed imposed themselves, solutions to the 1541 speed problem were found by third party companies. Software was released which performed such functions as loading from disk and backing up floppies as speeds that were many, many times faster than the 1541's base hardware and firmware could offer.

The top of this particular speed-enhancement heap was a nice strategy involving utilizing both the Commodore 64's and the 1541's processors, and the serial connection, optimally. Literally optimally. Assembly routines were written to run on the 64 and the 1541 side to exactly synchronize the sending and receiving of bits on a clock-cycle by clock-cycle basis. Taking advantage of the fact both 6502's were running at 1 Mhz, the 1541's code would start blasting the data across the serial line to the corresponding 64 code, which would pull it off the serial bus within a 3-clock-cycle window (you could not write the two routines to be any more in sync than a couple 6502 instructions). This method used no handshaking whatsoever for large blocks of data being sent from the drive to the computer, and so, in an added speed coup, the handshaking line was also used for data, doubling the effective speed.

The 1541 still seems pertinent as an example of a computer function that one would probably think would best be done primarily on a software level (running on the Commodore 64), but was engineered instead to utilize a more-hardware approach (on the 1541), only to be rescued by better software to utilize the hardware (on both).

There's probably still a few design lessons from the "ancient" 1541, for both the hardware and the software guys.
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Odin quote [07 Aug 2003|02:29am]
For these things give thanks at nightfall:
The day gone, a guttered torch,
A sword tested, the troth of a maid,
Ice crossed, ale drunk.
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My job doesn't seem so bad, after all [06 Aug 2003|03:58pm]
http://medlem.spray.se/lsmteam/error404.html

(thanks Rob!)
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Sunday [03 Aug 2003|11:33pm]
Logging in after a couple drinks of 99-Blackberries, and may as well update.

Went for a drive earlier, down to Rochester. Important to get away from the computer and explore the Real World now and then. Stress is getting to me a little as well, getting out is beneficial in that regard.

Went through a town called Oronoco on the way, unfortunately, with a population of 800 people, apparently one restaurant and a small park, it didn't quite live up to what one might expect from listening to Enya's Oronoco Flow. I wonder what Oronoco she was referring to in the song...

An attractive waitress that works at the IHOP I visit fairly frequently stopped by my table to chat (she was not my waitress during this visit), talking about how I hadn't been in lately, and how maybe next time she'd be my waitress... an interesting if ambiguous conversation. Being generally socially-challenged, I could use some kind of BeingHitOn detection device... I'm not sure if that was the case or not. I suppose time will tell.
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Neat [31 Jul 2003|04:19pm]
Linus Torvalds and Eben Moglen (legal counsel for the Free Software Foundation) are now making the same arguments (including the same choices of analogies) against SCO's Linux-extortion initiative as I was making on Slashdot three weeks ago.

Not that I'm claiming to be the inspirator, but synchronicity is kinda neat to experience.

Hopefully, efficient communication backed by common-sense will prevail, and SCO will suffer a quick, merciless corporate death.

---

Slashdot, July 9: Part 1 - Part 2

ZDNet, July 31: Open-source luminaries spurn SCO
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Adventures in moderation [30 Jul 2003|02:56am]
Lately, I've been spending quite a bit of time on Slashdot and Everything2.

I've been on the internet for a long time, and USENET newsgroups had always been the best source of quality information that I had found. The quality of the information for the "lurker" and quick response time to posted questions had always been quite good. Lately, though, I've come to appreciate the value that "moderation" systems can have on an open-posting forum. In brief, when a posting happens, people graced with the ability to moderate review the post and assign a rating or upvote/downvote to it. The users can then filter what postings they read based on this rating, or on more selective sites, the rating determines whether the posting stays on the system at all.

Whenever I'm browsing Slashdot, I'm consistently surprised by how many useful/interesting postings I'm presented with when browsing with a "filter" level of 5. Obviously I'm not alone in liking this site, as Slashdot is semi-notorious for the "Slashdot Effect", in which sites that are referred to in a headline posting tend to go down or be overwhelmed with requests due to the sheer number of people coming in from Slashdot.

Most people know what Slashdot is; on a more unique level, there's Everything2. This site is like a cross between a universal knowledgebase and an adventure game; people post "writeups" to it, on the topics of, well, everything. Well-received postings increase one's XP (eXperience Points), and after gaining so many points, the user reaches another level, in which they have more capabilities in what they can do on the site, such as voting themselves. This system is quite effective at eliciting the users' best efforts in writing--I've found an amazing amount of interesting postings/articles there. Though the site can tend to be a bit elitist, one could say the people who've put a great deal of time and effort into this fine site deserve to be.

(My stuff on Slashdot. My stuff on Everything2.)
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Late night [30 Jul 2003|02:17am]
Slept for a few hours, and now I'm up a 2 AM, and probably up for the duration.

Might as well try to get in more coding tonight. I'm currently working on a VB/SQL project, though I've been doing mostly web development (ASP, HTML, Javascript, and miscellaneous languages) for the last few years. Not bad to get more experience with VB, but unfortunately the code I've inherited on this project is a massively overengineered, convoluted mess. Very frustrating having to go through hundreds of lines of the previous coder's VB to do things I could do in a few lines, and a few minutes, of ASP code. Ah well, as they say, there's good experience, and there's bad experience, but it's all experience. On the more fun side of this contract, I got a little 802.11b wireless network going for this client, with a decent fractional-T1 internet connection (yes, they are a start-up). The Linksys wireless router is working well now, for a while there was a frustrating phenomenon where FTP transfers would just suddenly hang. Thought it might be the router configuration, or some issue upstream with our ISP, but as it turns out, the firmware the router shipped with had a known issue with flaky FTP transfers. Upgraded the firmware, and now it's right as rain.

Amber++. Kate++.
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Now I really want my Commodore 64 luggable back [27 Jul 2003|11:24pm]
http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/07/26/2215243&mode=thread&tid=98&tid=99
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Saturday morning [26 Jul 2003|11:20am]
Back from a nice breakfast at the Old Country Buffet, and time for an update.

Sister Jen left me a voicemail last night announcing that she and Tom have a wedding date of September 19'th. I'll congratulate her here, and when I call her this afternoon. Congrats, Jen! And, you too, Tom... I'm sure your future together will be great.

Need to call cousin Cherie as well... been a while since I caught up on things with her.

And, while I'm mentioning family members, congrats also to cousin Melissa on graduating high school... sorry I couldn't make it back to Michigan for the event.

My Sony Vaio laptop has mysteriously died. Had the thing plugged in and was turning it around to look to see if it had an ethernet connection, and apparently pulled the cord out. Now, it does nothing. No battery or power LED lights, nothing happens when I hit the power, nothing. I know my way around the digital aspects of computer hardware, but this problem looks decidedly analog. Have to take it in to Best Buy later as I stop by work; I think the thing is still under extended warranty. Although I have another laptop, a Compaq 3000 (2.4 Ghz, 60GB HD, nice big screen), this is still frustrating because I'd just installled the latest Slackware Linux to it. Nice distribution, didn't have to configure anything to have it boot up and jump right into X and KDE on demand. KDE is definitely getting close to Windows in terms of visual quality and usability (probably better visually, actually), and having a large set of applications and games included (for free...) is definitely nice. Much cooler screen saver collection, as well. :) MySql and PHP are now included as well, along with the usual set of development tools and applications. All in all, a fun, useful, educational toy that I'm looking to get back on-line ASAP.

Speaking of toys, the Nintendo Gameboy Advance SP is another item I couldn't resist picking up. A conveniently small, fold-up size (about the size of a pack of, ahem, cigarettes), a much improved LCD screen with backlighting (frontlighting?), and an impressive 18 hours of playtime between charges of its lithium-ion battery pack, and compatibility with the whole library of Advance games makes this a very nice unit for $99. It's got that characteristic that Japanese technology occasionally achieves, of being extremely well-done in every respect, in a we-have-no-natural-resources-so-this-better-be-great way. A few rounds of Mortal Kombat is a great way to kill some time in those lulls during the day, waiting for the waitress to bring your food and such. This will definitely be with me on my next plane trip, which will probably be Michigan, or possibly Mazatlan, since I hear the guys from that-software-consultancy are going again this year, wintertime.

I'm glad to see Rob is updating now, good to be able to catch up with him and his family activities via the web... now if I can just get Jen to do the same... and maybe Bill, a high-school friend from way back that I'm glad to be chatting again with via Yahoo Instant Messenger. Good people, all.
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A not-surviving-at-e2-gets-reposted-here entry [13 Jul 2003|10:20pm]
death ray

Also a plausible [hypothesis] for what is emanating from the gigantic [eye-in-a-pyramid] depicted on the original official [logo] of [DARPA]'s new branch, the [Information Awareness Office]. In this case, the death ray is perhaps depicted as [vaporizing] the continents of [Europe] and [Africa].

Helpfully, the logo includes the latin phrase "[Scientia Est Potentia]"... [Knowledge is Power].

Due to widepread negative feedback, the logo has been changed by the [IAO]. The original form is preserved, at the time of this writing, here:
http://reason.com/0210/artifact.shtml
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Dilbert feed [09 Jul 2003|02:57am]
Okay, friends, I now have a Dilbert feed on my "friends page". If a couple more of you would actually post, I'll remove it in favor of more relevant content.
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