Content from 2009-02

Redlinernotes Reborn
posted on 2009-02-27 23:29:33
I can't believe it's only been 8 days since I posted last.  Life has been moving at an insane speed but I've been really happy.  A lot of things are just sort of coming together lately and I have to say it's a pretty pleasant change of pace. Dad's on the mend. We don't have the cancer beat but it's certainly at bay for a little while. He'll likely never be out of the woods completely. Schoolwork is going pretty well. I haven't been working absolutely as hard as I can but I have low A's or high B's in all my courses. I planned out my course schedule for the next few semesters and figured out that I'll graduate in December of 2010. That's with 4 course summer sessions. It's longer than I'd like but nothing from Oglethorpe carries anywhere. Plus CS is my second time switching majors so I was practically starting over. *sigh* Still, I have a plan and that's pretty nice. I also did taxes this week and found out I'll get a $1500 rebate.

You also may notice that redlinernotes.com is going significantly faster of late. I finally manned up and began paying for "real hosting". There are a number of benefits, not least of which are freeing up my home connection from requiring a Static IP. Moreover, the upload speed and latency are much, much better at the hosting facility. It's a Virtual Private Server running ArchLinux which I purchased through Linode. It's $20 a month and so far I couldn't be happier with it. I may do web development on it in Haskell, Scheme or Lisp at some point but that's down the road a bit.

Not everything is roses though. I got hosed on my berrics predictions. Of course, I blame Steve Berra. Marc and Steve were supposed to have a nice game of skate but then Steve caught something awful that looks like chicken pox. Instead of putting the round off further, Steve MC'd and pitted Marc against Johnny Layton who failed to make his first round appearance. Marc was definitely having an off day. He missed like 4 tricks before beginning to hit his stride and it was too little, too late.  If I recall Marc missed a regular 360 flip and a nollie flip. It was painful to watch. Anyway, my whole bracket is F-ed.

I'm having a Street Fighter IV tournament tonight. I've been spending a lot of time working on my game this week. For some reason I get really competitive about fighting games but only fighting games. I don't think SF4 has the mass appeal or the elegance of Smash Bros though. I'll probably try to write more on that later and I should acknowledge I have a strong bias that I'm trying to compensate for from years of Smash Bros play. So far I've settled on Fei Long as my main character and I'm planning to spend some time getting decent with Gouken as my secondary. The tournament should be fun, at any rate.

Other than that, I'm having trouble thinking of what else has been going on. The one bug in Linux that's been bugging me is fixed upstream so the next ALSA release will make me pretty damn happy. I'm increasingly enamored with Haskell. I'm slowly beginning to work my way through Real World Haskell and plan to spend a good bit more time on it over spring break (March 8th-14th if you were wondering). It's the only language I've seen that seems like it can handle issues of parallelism and concurrency more or less today. I'm definitely keeping a close eye on it.
The Generic Quick Post
posted on 2009-02-19 21:20:53
I didn't even realize I hadn't posted in over a week. I just got through the first big "crunch period" in school and did pretty well. This weekend will be relaxation and unwinding to a pretty large extent. So what's happened besides the school stuff?

I got Street Fighter IV. I am planning on throwing a tournament...details forthcoming. I already think I prefer my Smash Bros tournaments.
I'm enjoying Fleet Foxes and also The Stills and Vampire Weekend at moment. Mmm, mmm, music.
ArchLinux finally put out a new release for the first time in a while. They're also going to try to drop releases with each Kernel release from now on which would be pretty damn cool. A distro that releases 4 times a year? Watch out. Not that most of us Archers don't just install and roll along...
This is my jam and beautifully and entertainingly explains what I'm trying to say about parallel programming and the future. It also advocates haskell a bit which is nice.
This just generally talks smack about for loops which is not a bad thing. I'm so sick of for loops. I'm not going to get into my snobbery right here. Just know that the fact that I ought to learn C for the future so I can deal with the past is a little frustrating at times.
Finally, I'm 3 for 3 on my berrics predictions and with any luck I'll be 4 for 4 this weekend when Marc Johnson finally fights Steve Berra.
Touching down
posted on 2009-02-10 23:39:13
Things have been fairly ridiculous for the last 10 days. I won't go into details because they concern some other people that might not want them discussed. That said, things have been fairly ridiculous and I've had a hard time focusing on doing schoolwork or anything else. I'm trying not to get overwhelmed by everything. I feel like I can't keep up with school and personal pursuits but that's far from the truth and I'm slowly trying to get my head together. That means it's time for something uplifting though and I've haven't posted any Milosz in a while so here we go.

Earth Again by Czeslaw Milosz, excerpted from Unattainable Earth pg. 8
They are incomprehensible, the things of this earth.
The lure of waters. The lure of fruits.
Lure of the two breasts and long hair of a maiden.
In rouge, in vermillion, in that color of ponds
Found only in the Green Lakes near Wilno.
And ungraspable multitudes swarm, come together
In the crinkles of tree bark, in the telescope's eye,
For an endless wedding,
For the kindling of the eyes, for a sweet dance
In the elements of the air, sea, earth and subterranean caves,
So that for a short moment there is no death
And time does not unreel like a skein of yarn
Thrown into an abyss.

PS: My bracket predictions have been correct for the berrics two out of two times thus far. Post some brackets people!
Fumbling through February
posted on 2009-02-05 02:18:44
Some days (or nights) you just feel like an idiot. There's no rhyme or reason and there's just no stopping it. I suspect that it's a result of wanting to do so many things and being unable to cover it all. The last week or so has flown by. Everything seems to be moving very quickly. I've done alright on some of my new year's resolutions but others have fallen behind. Clearly, I'm blogging enough and I've been exercising and/or skateboarding fairly frequently. I haven't extracted samples from my music library since around the second week of school though and I haven't made any progress on HTDP or really any code.

Moreover, I'd like to participate in the Summer of Code if at all possible and really want to work my way all the way through Real World Haskell and The C Programming Language in the near future. The latter things will have to wait for academics and essentials. I just hate not being able to do it all. I think I have the time, I'm just not dedicated enough. I'm not sure.

That said, things have been going pretty well in 2009. Even better than 2008 which was mostly good to me aside from some work troubles and restlessness towards the end. Things with Teresa are outstanding, I'm at least partly enjoying school, I'm dealing with financial aid and I've got friends and hobbies on the weekend. I'm doing well in my classes and need to get back to that for now. There's work left to do.

Aside from work there are two interesting things in the next two days. Tomorrow, a Killzone 2 demo is launching on the European PSN. It should prove interesting as a technology showcase. I remember reading a cool paper about it but I can't remember where I found it. Aha. Google found it for me but be warned it's a PDF. So here's a quick primer on the Deferred Rendering techniques they used if you're interested

Alien Workshop is releasing Mind Field on Friday and I'm quite looking forward to seeing that. They've got a hell of a team these days and Heath Kirchart has the ender. I always liked Kirchart. While we're on a skateboarding note I should mention "The Berrics". The Berrics is a combination of the first names of Steve Berra and Eric Koston, close friends and prominent pro skaters who co-own this private skatepark. They've decided to hold a rather far-ranging Game of Skate and I might as well get in on the action and post my foolish bracket before things get further along:

Marc Johnson will beat Berra, sorry Steve. I saw footy that showed Erik Ellington beat Jimmy Cao which wraps up the second round. For the quarterfinals, Benny Fairfax will take out Erik Ellington, Marc Johnson will take out Billy Marks, Mike Mo Capaldi will take out Mike Carroll and in an upset PJ Ladd will take out Eric Koston. For the semis, Marc Johnson will take out Mike Mo (this is actually probably an upset) and Benny Fairfax will take out PJ Ladd (this is definitely an upset). Finally Marc Johnson will take the crown.

Okay. Enough of this whiny nonsense. Back to work. *sigh*
Normal Thoughts, Nerd Thoughts
posted on 2009-02-01 00:18:46
I'm going to try to keep this short. Top 5 things that have been stuck in my head the last 2 days.

1: Actually, 1 hasn't been stuck in my head it's a few interesting news bits from this morning. One being an interesting interview and look at Middle East policy with Obama, the other being Jessica Alba calling out Bill O'Reilly on WWII neutrality. I normally wouldn't post the latter sort of junk but I found it pretty funny for one reason or another.

2: Amon Tobin is awesome. Literally, awesome. My favorite two albums of his are Supermodified and Permutation but I can't choose between those two. Seriously though, just listen to Nightlife off of Permutation or Slowly off of Supermodified. Listen to those for me. Please. Tell me they're not masterfully composed or beautiful. It's all sample-based. He's staggering.

3: I'm going to be moving by the end of may. I need to save up for a down payment on an apartment (with Teresa) somewhere nearby and public transit accessible. I may also change internet service providers. If I do that, does it make sense to buy hosting from someone (I'd definitely choose a Linode 360 in Atlanta at $20/month)? I'd still keep a server at home for, uh..."file transfer operations", media serving and SSH access or some such. I just don't want to have to run redlinernotes.com off of it for bandwidth and downtime reasons.

**Computer Nerd warning: I think what follows may be the most concise explanation of what really interests me in Computer Science that I've written, namely item 5. Item 4 is prerequisites, sort of. If you want to understand some of the reasons I'm into computing and the questions that interest me you could do worse than read what follows. Note that I think Computer Science is generally one of the most interesting fields that exists because it lets you study anything: Games, AI (Psychology/Philosophy/Ontology/Nature of intelligence), Theory of Computation (Mathematical Foundations of Logic), User Interface Design/HCI (Psychology/Aesthetics/Usability), Programming Languages (Linguistics). etc...but what follows are my personal reasons, not general ones.**

4: I posted this reddit thread yesterday but the topics debated are so interesting to me I'm going to post it again. Consequently, I've spent this morning peeking at things like this, and a lot of the work Jonathan Shapiro has been doing over the last few years, particularly BitC and Coyotos. I came into programming last year excited about my understanding that to support the trend towards parallelism we had to rework something significant on at least one of the following levels {Computer Architecture, Operating Systems, Programming Languages}.

I also understood that the field had a lot of lovely innovations which (debatably) never conquered the mainstream such as Lisp, Unix on one side, Plan 9 on the other, RISC architectures, etc. One always has to struggle with Worse is Better. Note that I did say debatably, Lisp/Scheme increasingly influence recent languages, Unix is slowly working towards the consumer market through OS X and Linux and has always been strong in Industry, Plan 9...well...[pdf warning]Rob Pike has some interesting words[\pdf], and Intel's x86 chips apparently hardware translate the CISC ISA down to some sort of RISC-like micro-ops.

The point is the solutions which were elegant or "technologically superior" did not tend to be the ones favored by the market for various reasons. Note that I am not saying we all should be using Lisp Machines. These technologies were beaten in the market for good reasons but that doesn't mean they were a direction we shouldn't pursue. Consequently, I am beginning to understand that because the foundations of this industry which has taken over the world since 1970 are in many ways fundamentally unsound that we should harbor a desire to eventually rework those foundations. Namely by the insertion of abstractions to aid the modern programmer in issues of parallelism and secure and reliable code.

5: I guess the question that really gets me is, "Where should all this abstraction be?". That is, what are the right layers in which to have the abstractions we settle upon? I think a number of things suggest that the Computer Architecture and Operating System layers are not the correct ones and that the abstractions should wind up in our Programming Languages. Backwards compatibility and the price-performance competition with existing industry being the principle obstacles to Architecture and Operating Systems. Of course, once you've figured out where the abstraction should be you have to move on to "How do we create these abstractions and put them in their place?" or the question of implementation which is for all intents and purposes much harder. This has taken way too long to write and I'm pretty spent at the moment. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to flesh out these ideas later.

**/end nerdery**

PS: It's begun. Mike Miller was right. I'm doomed to be a Computer Historian...

This blog covers 2015, Books, Butler, C, Dad, Discrete Math, Displays, Education, Erlang, Essay, Gaming, Gapingvoid, HTDP, Hardware, IP Law, LISP, Lecture, Lessig, Linkpost, Linux, Lists, MPAA, Milosz, Music, Neruda, Open Source, Operating Systems, Personal, Pics, Poetry, Programming, Programming Languages, Project Euler, Quotes, Reddit, SICP, Self-Learning, Uncategorized, Webcomic, XKCD, Xmas, \"Real World\", adulthood, apple, careers, coleslaw, consumption, creation, fqa, games, goals, heroes, injustice, linux, lisp, math, melee, metapost, milosz, personal, poetry, programming, ragequit, recreation, rip, strangeloop, work

View content from 2015-05, 2015-03, 2015-02, 2015-01, 2014-11, 2014-09, 2014-07, 2014-05, 2014-01, 2013-10, 2013-09, 2013-07, 2013-06, 2013-05, 2013-04, 2013-03, 2013-01, 2012-12, 2012-10, 2012-09, 2012-08, 2012-06, 2012-05, 2012-04, 2012-03, 2012-01, 2011-10, 2011-09, 2011-08, 2011-07, 2011-06, 2011-05, 2011-04, 2011-02, 2011-01, 2010-11, 2010-10, 2010-09, 2010-08, 2010-07, 2010-05, 2010-04, 2010-03, 2010-02, 2010-01, 2009-12, 2009-11, 2009-10, 2009-09, 2009-08, 2009-07, 2009-06, 2009-05, 2009-04, 2009-03, 2009-02, 2009-01, 2008-12, 2008-11, 2008-10, 2008-09, 2008-08, 2008-07, 2008-06, 2008-05, 2008-04, 2008-03, 2008-02, 2008-01, 2007-12, 2007-11, 2007-10, 2007-09, 2007-08, 2007-07, 2007-06, 2007-05


Unless otherwise credited all material Creative Commons License by Brit Butler