noideadog: (natural dancer)
Last week I wrote a lot of C++, a lot of python, more HTML than I'd planned to, a few long command lines of bash and awk and sed, some of whatever wiki markup language is called (WikiWords?), and a bunch of configs in a bunch of other wacky config languages. I started on a CSS change too, but abruptly realised what I was doing and got out just in time. Man, CSS can send you down a rabbit hole and suddenly you've lost a week to UI poisoning. I reverted the change and pretended I hadn't even looked at it. A narrow escape.

I technically wrote some Haskell as well, if you count looking at xmonad configs and making tiny changes and being annoyed at enigmatic errors and so on. Ok, I wrote, like, a line of Haskell, slowly. You know how you can take some code and poke at it a bit and edit bits and pieces and after a while, even if you don't really know the language, you can sort of get some stuff to work and learn a ton in the process? Random permutation and swearing can get you a lot of the way in some languages. Not Haskell.

As a result of this realisation, I've spent the last few mornings in front of my lightbox immersed in the delightfully named Learn You A Haskell For Great Good! tutorial. Frankly, I'd prefer if it stopped assuring me that I'm a "gentleman who demands excellence", or a "smart chap", or whatever, but otherwise it seems like a decent introduction to the language. Anyone else played with Haskell much? What's a good next step after Learn You A Haskell? My final project here is an xmonad layout that arranges xterms in four columns.
noideadog: (Default)
If you're a computer person, powers of two are very important. Regular people may celebrate at 18, 21 and 30, but nerds know that 16, 32 and 64 are nicer round numbers. If you care, but don't know, here's a quick explanation why:

When we write numbers in decimal, we count in powers of ten. Remember in school when the teacher would write, say, 6402 up on the board, and tell you that it's made up of 6 thousands, 4 hundreds, 0 tens and 2 units? Binary works the same way, except that, instead of powers of ten (1, 10, 100, 1000, etc), you work with powers of two (1, 2, 4, 8, etc). So, the number 26 is made up of 1 sixteen, 1 eight, 0 fours, 1 two and zero ones. You could write that as 11010.

Powers of two are great because, just like one hundred, one thousand, ten thousand and so on in decimal, they make nice round numbers. Look at the number eight: one 8, zero 4s, zero 2s and zero 1s. 8 is 1000. Lovely. All of the powers of two are nice like that. Sixteen is two to the power of four (which we'd write 2^4 and say "two-to-the-four"), or 10000.

2^5 (32) is 100000. 2^6 (64) is 1000000. 2^7 (128) is 10000000. 1 and 7 zeroes. Neat, huh?

I wrote pretty much this entire blog post, apart from this self-referential bit here, around a year ago. I was a few weeks away from turning 32, and I was thinking then, as I am now, about how I would probably get one more power of two birthday. Sixty four! And I was thinking about how I hoped I'll still be an internerd when I'm 64, and I was imagining that maybe livejournal would still exist off in a corner of the internet, and I'd still be on there even though everyone else had moved on to whatever the new hotness was. (It'd be a lot like now, basically.) Would I still be writing about random nonsense when I was 64? Would there be microblogging? Would Joel and I still geek on technology?

I thought it seemed fairly likely.

Anyway, that led to this thing below. I liked the idea way more than the implementation, so I put it away in the hopes that a better version would come write itself in my brain. It didn't really, but that's ok. I'm going to stop being a power of two in a couple of weeks, and so I dedicate to Joel the lamest thing anyone will read today.

When I'm two to the six (with apologies to Lennon and McCartney)

When I get older, grey in my hair
Many years from now (ahem)
Will you still be texting me when you're away
Love you, sleep well, missed you today
If I'm not home when my calendar says,
Will you check my GPS fix?
Will you still read the RSS feed
For my blog, when I'm 2^6?

(You'll be older too! And if we still have Civ4, I'll still play with you.)

I could be handy, send you the news
When your sites are down.
You'll hack on compilers by the fireside
Sunday morning, sitting inside
doing the crossword. (We'll still cheat a bit.)
How nerds get their kicks
But will you still need me, will you still read my
blog when I'm 2^6?

(Every winter we can rent a villa in the Caribbean. (Or anywhere there's sun).
Drink-ing lots of rum.
This bit barely tries to scan but I
bet that we'll have fun. (Hurray!))

Write up a blog post, send out a tweet
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely your location and mood
New York City! Everything's good!
Update your status, say that you're mine
Long as we're alive
I'll always need you, just like I need you
When I'm 2^5

(Thanks to [ profile] nonhae for singing this song and teaching me these lyrics when I was 2^4.)
noideadog: (Default)
I'm going to the LOPSA PICC conference tomorrow, and am doing the last minute things you do before going to a conference, like booking a hotel room and finding out what city the hotel is in and how to get there. I was very entertained by their special note to people coming from NYC:

"A special note for people from New York City and Philly!

Don’t be afraid. It’s just New Jersey!
We know you don’t love New Jersey. But we promise that except for a 3-block walk from the train station to the hotel, you can stay indoors the entire time and pretend you are still in the city. We promise! (There are some amazing restaurants within 1 block of the hotel. It’s a shame that the registration fee includes all meals.)"

Nice work, folks :-) It's extra funny for me because I mailed my team this evening saying that I wouldn't be here tomorrow because I would be "in frickin' Jersey". (Sorry, Jersey). Though apparently it starts at 5pm, so I'll be in th office for a while after all. I should maybe pay more (any?) attention to things.

Is anyone I know going to this thing? Will I have to talk to strangers?
noideadog: (monkey!)
This weekend I: went to Nerd Nite, learned about the sex lives of bugs and spiders, ate half an easter egg, bought a barbecue, assembled patio furniture, sat in the sun with people I like, spent way too much money at the MOCCA festival, met Kate Beaton and Ryan North and R Stevens and a bunch of other comic writers I admire (and was totally not an inarticulate fangirl and you can't prove anything), drank really delicious wine, grilled clams for the first time ever and holy crap they were delicious, ran a couple of miles including the lovely Brooklyn Promenade (way to feel like a New Yorker, you betcha), watched Planet of the Dead (meh) and the Waters of Mars (scary but about 20 minutes too long), and was very happy about the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket opening again for the summer. Local milk, eggs, flowers, fish, sausages and vegetables until November. Hurray!
noideadog: (Default)
This time on Nerd Nite:

why quantum mechanics doesn't mean we are omg all one
the [lack of] evidence for alien abductions
the sexual behaviour of insects (and discerning spiders).

The last one I was at:

the Enigma machine
a sociological analysis of Wolverine over the decades
what we learn from New York census data.

I <3 Nerd Nite
noideadog: (Default)
Every time someone says "So simple your mom can use it" or "Yeah, your mom won't be using that system", I feel motivated to go have kids just so some day someone will say that to them and they can be like "No, my mom's a badass techie. Fuck you.". It seems like a lot of effort just to prove a point though.
noideadog: (Default)

And a test from pixelpipe.

That's Joel, waiting for our house to boot.

In summary, both Pixelpipe and Moby are kind of crap. They're both a bit flaky to set up, they both have rubbish configurability, and it's annoying that neither of them have bothered with the automatic text correction (capitalisation/punctuation/turning "im" into "I'm") that most android apps do. However, they do seem to post pictures to livejournal, so I'll keep them both and see which is least annoying over time. Testing ends.
noideadog: (meerkat)
At Shannon Airport one time the US Immigration guy ordered me to tell a lie. "'Unix systems administrator' isn't a profession', he said, and actually he was pretty irritated with me for wasting his time. "Next time, write down the real title, not whatever job titles your company uses.". And he crossed it out and wrote "Software engineer" in big letters. For "Goggle", incidentally. I wasn't stupid enough to disagree, so I just let them do their fingerprinting and phrenology and went on my way. I've put down "Software engineer" since then, even though it's just not true. My job title is "Site Reliability Engineer" and sometimes that does mean writing code, but my profession is "Sysadmin". Honestly, it is a different thing. Whatever.

It's census time of decade here, and we've been randomly chosen to record information about ourselves for future people to judge, including "Describe clearly this person's chief job activity or business last week. What kind of work was this person doing?" and "What were this person's most important activities or duties?".

(As a side note, I'm fascinated by how rubbish these questions are. The sample responses for "What kind of work was this person doing?" are 'registered nurse', 'personnel manager,' 'secretary', or 'accountant': nouns where it's clearly an adjective that's required. What kind of work? Technical work, or clerical work, or physical work, or social work, surely? Nurse work? Accountant work? That's just wrong.)

I was about to write down "software engineer", but you know what, sysadmins are real people too. Nerdy people, sure, with odd habits and maybe a tendency to continue talking long after you've stopped listening, but real people nonetheless. I wrote down "Unix systems administrator." I'm expecting a chastising phone call.
noideadog: (brain)
I love how sometimes I can be stuck on some coding problem, then go get coffee and not think about it for fifteen minutes, and then as soon as I sit down again I know exactly how to solve it. Isn't the brain just marvellous?
noideadog: (they might be giants)
My internal battery had just one bar left, so I nearly didn't go to TMBG this evening. My wastenothing upbringing won out though -- I couldn't not use the ticket -- so, after a good hour of faffing about at home, I dragged myself over to the Poisson Rouge for the second half of the gig. Aw, they're so great. One of the nicest things about going to TMBG here is that pretty much everyone in the room is a big nerdy fan, and when they sing something like "The best thing about New York City is you and me", everyone has these enormous happy grins. I really love that. I was so wrecked when I arrived, and then I was yelling Damn! Good! Times! with everyone else, and then my brain-battery was fully recharged. I'm glad I went.

On a similar glad-I-went theme, yesterday I went to the gym, which is a thing I never, ever do, and actually I enjoyed it a lot. The only other time I went to a gym before, whoever I went with was into treadmills and those stair-step things, and it was just pain and hard work and horrible jarring impacts. Going with Diane showed me that it's possible for the gym to be fun, because she likes things like elliptical machines and bikes where it's actually kind of exhilarating to try to go fast. It was like running down a hill. It was pretty cool.

Last night was also about champagne and quesadillas at Diane's house and having, I swear, an earnest half hour conversation about poo, which is something I've missed from living with [ profile] mr_wombat.

Today, Diane and Kristen and I did wedding dress reconnaissance, and I discovered that it's easily possible to spend $10k on a wedding dress if you want to. (Luckily, it's also easily possible not to. But some people really do.)

What else? I finished Stanford's intro-to-java and started learning C++ (which was the point of learning java, to soften the beating that C++ would deliver). So far it feels a bit similar to stabbing myself in the eye. Everyone says it gets worse once you know it, so that's nice.

And, look, the Big G next big thing is finally announced. I think this is neat:
noideadog: (school)
CS106A, lecture 26: the teacher starts by explaining what command line arguments are and why java supports passing them in. His main reason is "java was kind of derived from C, and, back in the days of C, people used these things called command lines, where you typed various pieces of information that the program would need to use, like its name, and maybe a datafile it would operate on."

It had never occurred to me that people might not know about command lines any more. This future is a funny place.
noideadog: (monkey!)
This one time at work, I wrote "Call Tanya" on a whiteboard, and pointed a video-conferencing unit at it, and dialled it from another video conferencing unit in someone's office, and moved that to the desk of the person who I wanted to see the message. That's a pretty inefficient way to send a message.

Here's another:
(You have to look beyond the blank screen)
noideadog: (monkey!)
Gosh, terminal 5 of JFK is quite a pleasant place to be. The subway was fast; the airtrain was fast; the lines were so short that if I hadn't had to take my boots off, I could have passed through security without breaking stride. I love that JetBlue divide their security gates into "I am transporting children, liquids or an untravelled brain", "I am neither efficient nor inefficient" and "I am such an airport badass that I probably can remove my boots without breaking stride". (This isn't quite their phrasing).

There's even a food court with healthy options. I am eating pasta that tastes not merely not of ass, but actively good. It's a new airport experience. 5pm flights with JetBlue are my new preferred method of crossing this continent.

I'm off to LISA, the sysadminniest of the nerd conferences, and I'm really looking forward to it. While there, I will be manning the corporate booth a little, attending tech talks a lot, catching up with faraway cool people as much as I can, and almost certainly being a fangirl most of all :-)
noideadog: (coffee)
At the office. Phil and Sam want to go for burgers. They're waiting for Tanya to finish up work. Tanya is almost finished.. almost finished.. really, nearly there.. Sam yells "NON MASKABLE INTERRUPT!". Tanya walks away from her screen. They all go for burgers. (Non-nerds, this is pretty funny, trust me.)
noideadog: (meerkat)
Today's lesson: If you ever get a hankering to write some code to organise your iTunes directory, do remember to turn off "Keep iTunes Folder Organised" first. Otherwise you will confuse the hell out of yourself when directories reject the names you've bestowed upon them and sneakily change back. That is all.

$ osascript -e tell application "iTunes" to stop "trying to help"

is not the command, but it should be.

Also, if it's 2am and you've been drinking, add extra comments.
noideadog: (meerkat)
This was a stressful week at work. There wasn't that much extra going on really, but I was busy and on call and everything that passed seemed to be on a mission to distract me from important things by being just a bit more important and also louder. It was such a joy this evening to stop reacting to things for a few hours and write some code. Not urgent code either, just nice slow relaxed meditative code that doesn't matter.

I like code. I'm not the best programmer of all time, but I get by, and I love looking at vim screens of syntax highlighted neatness. It's an unpopular choice, but I much prefer perl for looking at. If I write really clean, beautiful code, I'll always go back and look at it again, and admire its flow and its smoothness. I suppose it's a linguistic thing. It's easy to write lazy tktspk sentences, dropping apostrophes and punctuating randomly and caring not at all that some other person will need to read the mess you've left behind you. And yet all of that can exist in the same world as beautiful poetry, and powerful technical manuals, and the droll character who writes the definitions in MacOS's Dictionary. Perl's like that. People always insult it for being so punctuation-heavy, but that feels right to me. I love that nouns and verbs all know what they are. It's lovely. When I have a house of my own, I'm going to print out syntax-highlighted perl on clean white paper and hang it in my hall. Boy, people will wonder what the hell is wrong with me.

Shell's good too, I think, though most shell is just a hodge-podge of barely connected thoughts. Lonesomepolecat on here writes gorgeous shell, so robust that you can nearly see the edges around it holding it together. You could drop that shell off a house and it would hit the ground hard and survive. Good shell feels square to me, a solid shape, attractive in its bauhaus dependability. Good shell is like a well built garden shed. You bang your hand on the top of it and it doesn't move an inch and it feels great. You stand there beside it with a big grin all "I made this thing and it will do the thing I made it to do, and it won't fall down, even in a storm". I love that.

I don't know about python yet. Everyone I know seems to have converted to the one true church of pythonic fervour, but python code looks unfinished to me, shaky and unstable. It feels like words are hanging there, unpunctuated, unformed, only sure what they are because of where they're currently sitting. You move a python statement one space to the left or right and it has no idea who it is any more. It puts me on edge. I can get behind the forced indentation even, since the whole left hand side is smooth and clean and stable, but the right hand side just hangs there, all loose jagged bits of statement, waiting for a passer-by to snag a garment and leave a trail of wool. I suppose I'm thrown by the lack of semicolons. As I said, I like punctuation. I like form. To me, python looks like it's going to snap in half if you lean on it at the wrong angle. Because of how it looks, I find it hard to trust it. It's awfully powerful and I respect it a great deal, but I guess I just don't know it yet. I expect that it has an intrinsic beauty that will some day show itself.

And this is reminding me oddly of the start of Season of Mists, because now I want to say "And then there is C." and contentedly leave it at that.

This wasn't meant to be a post about code. Funny where your brain will go.
noideadog: (monkey!)
"Yet another email almost sent with escape-w-q at the end of it. I'm considering changing my name to William Quaker"
- [ profile] tiarnan_lj copes with a graphical mail client


noideadog: (Default)

February 2014

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