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Then what will happen?
Thursday, September 19, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

It arrived! Things sure get here quick from Taiwan these days.

So we're pretty busy here. All those things you hear in the ads about Macs being infinitely easy to use? Har har har har har har!

Okay, so it was pretty easy to set up (only had to consult Google once, to discover that to give a WEP key in hex you simply put a dollar-sign in front of it). But the main sexy game that comes on the machine? "Deimos Rising"? Runs great from an admin user. And then when you make a non-admin account for your little boy, and he tries to run it? Har har har har har!


Pak Failure (Couldn't load a idli.)
TagID: 'gasp'
Index: 0

And trying to install "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2" from CD from the little boy's account? The dialog asking me where to install it has one pulldown list labeled "From:" (I want to install it from the CD, but that's apparently not what that label means), one unlabeled combo box whose left side seems to be an exact copy of the pulldown list and whose right side can't be clicked on, and an input field labeled "Go To:" whose function I still haven't figured out.

And no matter what I do in that dialog the program won't install. Turns out that the message box that really ought to say "You have to be an admin user to install this game" actually says "The operation could not be completed because a file was not found".

Har har har har har har!

And I downloaded and installed Opera, but durn if I can find it. Searching for "opera" in the Finder's search box seems to find it in the Applications folder, but when I open the Applications folder it isn't in there. I have the feeling that this "cbn" file is to blame, but I dunno exactly how.

I'm sure I'll grow to love it in time, but an order of magnitude better than a Windows box, it ain't.

So before the computer arrived, I'd read "10 Tips on Writing the Living Web", and written the following rant about it:

Don't use imperatives

I find the imperative really, really annoying in otherwise-valuable articles like this. My instinctive reaction to sentences like "If you are writing for the Living Web, you must write consistently. You need not write constantly, and you need not write long, but you must write often." is "bite me".

The only rule on the Living Web is "you must write whatever the hell you feel like writing, whenever the hell you feel like writing it." By giving orders to the contrary, Mark just comes off sounding snooty.

If they hadn't been phrased as imperatives liberally salted with "must"s, many of these bits of advice would have been useful. "If you want people to keep coming back to your site, it will help if you write consistently, so it won't happen very often that they come in expecting something new, and are disappointed." But it's not a "must"; if your writing is good enough, people will set page-minders on you, and will eagerly go and read when they get the change notification, even if the time interval isn't predictable.

And maybe you don't _care_ whether or not thousands of people keep coming back. How do I reconcile all these "musts" with "you are, in the end, your most important reader"?

"Never waffle, whine, or weasel." What, never? So people who are naturally whiny weasels should just stay the heck off of the Living Web, or should at least never show that side of themselves? They should leave the place to us perfect types who can always avoid doing those things?

"Understand the storyteller's art and use the technique of narrative to shape the emerging structure of your living site." And if you don't have the time or the inclination to study the storyteller's art, just shut the heck up?

"If you are writing in order to discover your mind or to try out a new stance, continue by all means -- but file the note in your desk drawer, not on your website." Utter drivel. I _like_ to read people trying out new stances and discovering their own minds. I dunno why Bernstein doesn't, but I resent him trying to forbid people from doing it.

"Disagreement is exciting." I found this article very exciting. *8)


(See also one of my very earliest rants, on roughly the same subject.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

More in the continuing series; today, the proper behavior when forcibly tugged back into the meeting after having been deeply absorbed in email on your laptop:

Adam: So we're describing it one way on this slide, and a completely other way on this other slide, and I think that's a problem.

Bob: I see what you mean. Clark, do you agree with what Adam's saying?

Clark: Oh, yeah!

Bob: So what do you think we should do about this?

Clark: Do about what?

Bob: This problem.

Clark: What problem?

Clark must not, of course, give any hint that he hasn't been listening. Ideally, his tone of voice in the last two questions should clearly imply that Bob is a total moron.

The new computer arrived in Indiana at midnight (what time zone, I wonder?), and left the "sorting center" sixteen hours later. No hint on the tracking page where it is now. The suspense continues!

- 5 for "naked helen pictures"
- 3 for "things fall apart"
- 2 for "webcam"
- 2 for "webcam hack"
- 2 for "yahoo webcam hack"
- 2 for "zamindar"
- 1 for "iris chacon"
- 1 for "mirror"
- 1 for "poll"
- 1 for "rating"

This log is in fact the first hit for "yahoo webcam hack" in Google this evening, due to a long list culled from the reflog back in August. Those hits, in turn, were probably due to the presence of those three words (not especially near each other) on the Toys page. Everything is circular.

So what is the Yahoo Webcam Hack?

Speaking of Google, I was looking for the documentation for SLIGE (a program of mine that I haven't touched in a year or three), and rather than trying to remember where on my hard drive I had it, I just typed "slige documentation" into Google, and there it was at the top of the list. I suppose this will seem utterly normal to my younger readers; still freaks me out, though...

Blondely Legal

The little daughter watched the first half of "Legally Blonde" at a friend's house the other day, and last night she wanted to rent it and have us watch the whole thing. It's a terribly uplifting moral tale, demonstrating that even people who are young, attractive, wealthy, and intelligent can overcome these obstacles and succeed (reminded me of the Princess Diaries in some ways). And teaching along the way that any man who knows about fashions in women's shoes must be gay, and gay men never have affairs with women. A font of relevant modern information.

Which isn't to say it didn't have some funny bits.

It's also made me curious (yet again) about the whole Law thing. I wonder if there's anywhere (around here, or on line) that I could take some interesting law courses. Pace has a law school, pretty well regarded I think. Maybe I could audit something. In my copious free time! I wonder if they do that.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Okay, now the real parts of my computer have shipped! Unfortunately, last time FedEx saw it, it was somewhere in Taiwan. Will it arrive in time for my birthday? Tune in next time for the next exciting installment...

So let's be extremely geeky today. (Usually I don't do this, but that's a pretty good reason to do something, all by itself.)

On our Java question the other day, a reader writes:

"Hey, do you know the answer to this? 'Cause I don't."
"He misspelled 'quandary'."
"Yeah, I know. But do you know the answer to the Java thing?"
"Well, he could use 'get instance'...No, wait, that's not what he's trying to do. Hmmm...I don't think it can be done without using reflection. But bear in mind that's not an expert opinion; it's just off the top of my head."

Yeah, that's about where I got to also. It certainly (almost certainly) could be done using reflection, but reflection is pretty High Wizardry, and I haven't played with it enough to be willing to use it in a normal program (as opposed to a "playing around with reflection" program, one of which I ought to write).

Another reader:

From the way your entry is written, it sounds like you can solve the problem if the word "static" is deleted. I'd be curious how you can manage this; I don't see how to do it (with or without "static") without using Class.getClass () and the .getMethod () or .getMethods () methods of Class Class.

Without static it's pretty simple (and simply pretty), as long as you know that your class implements a particular interface (something that I do know, and that I should have mentioned in the original question). As in:

void exerciseDog(String dogClassName) {
  Dog newDog = (Dog)Class.forName(className).newInstance();

So as long as the string you're passed is the name of a class that implements Dog (and Dog is an interface with methods attachCollar() and walk() and so on), you can invoke the methods given the class name. (Exception handling left as an exercise to the reader.) So for instance:

String ourDogClassName = p.getProperty("dogClass","Poodle"); exerciseDog(ourDogClassName);

But that won't work for static methods, because interfaces can't have static methods. It also only works if the class has a parameterless constructor, because that's what newInstance() invokes; but the interface can't require that the class have such a constructor, because interfaces can't contain constructors. (So you just have to hope that the guy who wrote Poodle.java read the JavaDoc for the Dog interface carefully enough.)

The fact that Java interfaces can't contain static classes or constructors is one (are two) of the more annoying things about Java. (I know these limitations can be explained in terms of the way Java implements interfaces, but the explanations aren't IMHO justifications.)

The fact that Java classes and interfaces aren't first-class objects at all... Well, I should just find the time to learn SmallTalk.

"Mystical Sheep #2"

So what besides this should I plan to download the instant the iBook arrives?

Software Choice vs. Sincere Choice. Getcher scorecards here, can't tell the players without a scorecard. Wanna buy a scorecard, mac?

I remember when I was a kid we were at some fun hippy concert or other, and the guy on the stage (was it Pete Seeger? was it raining?) told this joke. What do you call people who use the Rhythm Method? Parents!

This apparently also applies to some people who use (or at least advocate) abstinence. (Story first seen on Daze Reader somewhere, I think.)

(Note that the "joke at a concert" memory above may have been entirely fabricated out of spare parts by my brain, while I wasn't looking. Memory is a fascinating thing. Is time in fact just an illusion of memory? Would that explain everything?)

Monday, September 16, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Part of the new computer has come! Sadly it's not a really interesting part. Meanwhile, the Apple online store still lists it simply as not shipped, and calling 1-800-MY-APPLE gets me a chirpy little message that everyone's busy right now, and my estimated wait time to find out when my order might perhaps ship is "twenty; one! minutes.".

What century is this, anyway? Not only are there no flying cars, but I can't reach electronically out into the world and find out every fact that might possibly have any impact on myself or my acquisition activities. Hmph!

Alarmed passers-by called police and said they had seen a man trying to have sex with a traffic cone.

Somehow that "trying to" is especially poignant.


I AM SENATOR  AKAKA USI,the Chief Accountant of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Headpuaters in Lagos , Nigeria. I reliably  got your reason to  doubt your  honesty and  credibility  hence I make  this  proposal  to you.

ELLEN FEISS FAN CLUB: beep beep beep.

In other headlines: First ever smiley found, preserved for posterity.

From Daze Reader, and no doubt widely slashdotted, it seems that Private Media Group, a porn distributor in some furrin country, is offering to buy the Napster brand (i.e. the name and the URL). What a twisted Web we weave, eh?

High quality blogging today! I have these two URLs sitting around in my "to log" file for no obvious reason: Google Quiz, and Google Dance. Google continues to be a window into an alternate universe where the Bubble never burst.

Speaking of which, here's Paul Ford's interesting tech-SF: August 2009: How Google beat Amazon and Ebay to the Semantic Web. You think?

Various readers were alternately inspired or driven mad by the constant beeping:

What is the sound of one beep ending?
roadrunner with ocd
... is due to your calendar being broken.
planic constructions
The sound of dolphins leaking secure info from msft, the constant beeping is
Half a liver!
Have a liver!
captain hook goes techno
how do i do a log entry?
shows you are alive
Bake a pie, whether at a gala or using the French alphabet. Crunch!
Blurbing Stan's con.
Listen to "The Pop Singer's Fear of the Pollen Count." It's brill.

And slightly more extendedly:

Stephen Wolfram turned out to be the result of a 1d cellular automaton, with the initial conditions of constant beeping.

The first computer I owned was a weird off-brand (and I was pretty computer illiterate, too). Of course its manual helpfully told me a lot of stuff I didn't need to know and nothing that I did need, as manuals are wont to do. It went into great detail about the alarm. "Your computer has an alarm. You can set it to wake you up, or to remind you of important appointments." It went on at length about the usefulness of an alarm on one's computer. However, nowhere did the manual mention how, once it had sounded, to turn the alarm OFF. Consequently I never did dare set that alarm for anything.

beeap - http://www.druganswer.com/vietnamese/index.html. more beeping, of course, is the campuchean.

Divide up the text. Ignore the constant beeping, the insistent flicker of the light. They have messages for you, but you are busy. Busy. You will bring words to the chaos. You will increase numbers geometrically. You will be their weakness. The cretin has become the creator. You cannot be stopped. You cannot tell the story. You cannot stop. Tell the story. Tell them. They will not believe. Stop them. They will not stop. Do not doubt. Do not question.

Is it possible for the beeps to be so closely spaced that they are not beeps at all but a steady stream of sound or is a steady stream of sound actually beeps but so closely spaced that it sounds like one continuous sound?

All very deep and memorable. Just what is a planic construction?

Friday, September 13, 2002  permanent URL for this entry


Here are a couple more Top Tips for Small Meetings that I left off of yesterday's list:

  • While it's well known that small meetings offer fewer opportunities for distracting side-conversations and annoying cross-talk, it's important to note that when those things do occur in a small meeting, they can be much more effective at preventing progress! When three people in a twenty-person meeting start talking about football over in the corner, it's unlikely that anyone else will notice; but if three people in a six-person meeting do that, it means that half the group is off in SportsLand and ignoring the topic at hand.
  • This technique takes some guts, but when properly executed can completely disrupt a small meeting: have one of the members of the group make (or take) a telephone call in the middle of the meeting, preferably using a telephone that is in the center of the table. If the person also has a good loud telephone voice, it will be completely impossible for anyone else in the room to finish a thought, much less actually make forward progress. While this method sounds too rude and blatant for anyone to actually execute, your faithful reporter witnessed it just the other day, carried off in truly masterful fashion. The rest of the group eventually became so dispirited that they scattered to the bathroom, the coffee cart, and so on. And as they left the room scowling, the person on the phone covered the receiver with his hand for a moment, and called out with a smile, "Was it something I said?". It was awesome.

From Rebecca, the extremely educational fetish map (speaking of free panties).

Also from Rebecca, possible third moon found around Earth. Did you know there was a second one? That was my Interesting Thing for the kids this evening.

We (mostly M, actually) closed up the Big Tub of Water today. Fall must be on the way.

From Memepool, some subversive propaganda posters. Patriotism means No Questions!

Also from Memepool, our Motto o' the Day: "Great deuses! As the space is bashful that, in this universe, we occupy."

The Google weblog (a weblog about, not by, Google), leads us to the very cool Google Oracle, which not only knows how many planets there are, but also what you like to eat.

The also very cool Lawrence Lessig has a blog, in which he talks about the neat and worthy stuff he's doing, including the Free the Mouse project (see also Eldred.cc).

Speaking of Mickey Mouse, why does Microsoft Word consider "The hardware on which it runs may fail." to be a sentence fragment? And why (as Ian has noted before) doesn't the Apple online store order-status page give you any clue when the things in your order are likely to ship? (The USB light and the two games that I ordered have shipped, but the computer itself hasn't; it'd be nice to know if it's more likely to be tomorrow, or next month.)

The Eatonweb Portal seems to have grown all sorts of features since I looked at it last, including BlogTree-like family trees (for all I know Eatonweb thought of it first), and even reviews. I've signed up over there, but I'm not sure how many different sites I'm willing to enter (and maintain?) CEOLN's status and history into.

Geek Quandry: So if I have the name of a Java class in a string, how do I call a static method of that class (preferably without resorting to reflection)? Is it possible? (Since I couldn't figure out how to do it, I switched to a slightly different pattern that didn't require it; but I'm still curious...)


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