failing like never before


Enlightened Love

I've mentioned a few times in my previous posts, how much I liked Enlightenment 17, the desktop shell. Although E17 is technically still in alpha, it is surprisingly stable. Suffice to say, E17's alpha is about as stable as the final release candidate of Windows Vista. E17 has been in development for an ungodly amount of time, making the development phase for Debian seem lightning fast. But as I said, even now, E17 is still quite useable.

I had some problems with E17 a while back when I was running Ubuntu. I was using a third-party repository and one of the packages was unstable and ended up wreaking havoc with my Enlightenment installation. I eventually ended up removing all of the Enlightenment libraries and packages from my computer, and since I was too lazy to grab a stable snapshot from the Enlightenment servers and rebuild everything from source, I was left without Enlightenment for quite some time. I built E17 from source a year or so ago, back when I tried out Vector Linux, but it took a bloody long time, especially since I had to resolve all the dependencies manually.

Just a few weeks ago, I installed Debian (Lenny), having decided it was time for me get started on a more serious Linux distro. I'll write about my experiences with Debian at a later time. I decided to install E17 again, but this time, I decided to be a little more research first. In the Enlightenment user manual, there is a section on installation. The manual also provides some links to scripts that automate the installation process, which was really nice for me, because one of the reasons I like Debian is because I hate having to build everything from source and resolve dependencies. I tried using the "Easy 17" shell script to install E17, and it worked great. Easy 17 not only automates installation, but if you call the script with a "-u" argument, it will update your installation. You still have to resolve dependencies yourself, but that is to be expected.


wo da wa wa

I recently discovered a site called Viwawa, which allows users to create their own wawas (Chinese for dollies). The interface for creating the dolls is quite simply: there are "items" sitting in the side bar, and you drag and drop these items onto your doll. I believe that these kinds of "create your own character" sites have become quite common over the past one or two years, but for some reason, I found Viwawa to be quite fun.

dollie from viwawa gundam robot dollie from viwawa cartoon picture of person of ambiguous gender

And yes, lightbox effects are also present for these images.

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Throckmorton’s Sign

Sears and Zemansky's University Physics by Young and Freedman (12th edition) features some intriguing practice problems in it. Upon first glance, the problems seemed no stranger then those in my high school physics textbook (the author had a bit of a penguin fetish) but Young and Freedman's continual reference to a hypothetical cousin "Throckmorton" piqued my interest.

On page 197 of volume one of University Physics we find the following example problem:

At a family picnic you are appointed to push your obnoxious cousin Throckmorton in a swing. His weight is w ... you push Throcky...

...the second approach is far easier in this situation because Throcky...

Now, the first time I saw the name Throckmorton, I just thought that it was a funny name. But the authors keep using the name throughout the book, numerous times.

On page 495, we find the following problem on mechanical waves:

Your cousin Throckmorton is playing with the clothesline.

...write equations for the displacement as a function of time of Throckmorton's end of the clothesline...

I know that there are several more places in the previous chapters that reference "your cousin Throckmorton," but I really don't feel like scanning through several hundred pages just to find references to Throckmorton.

Eventually, I looked up the name Throckmorton, and found out that according to "Who Named It," Throckmorton's sign is "the position of the penis in relation to unilateral disease."

I can just imagine the authors of the book giggling like little school boys when they wrote these problems...


How To Cheat At Stocksquest

Not too long ago, I wrote an article about why I thought is lame. It would appear that a lot of people want to cheat at stocksquest's market simulation, so I'm going to describe in depth, a very simple way to make tons of money at stocksquest.

(Note, just reading the indented sections will give you the bare minimum you need to know to beat stocksquest.)

Stocksquest doesn't update their stock prices in real time. That is, there is a noticeable lag between the real stock prices and prices displayed on the stocksquest website. If you're using stocksquest then you're probably using Yahoo Finance to track prices, and like most stock price trackers, Yahoo Finance is behind the real time stock prices by about fifteen minutes. But stocksquest is at least thirty minutes behind the real time stock prices. Which means that you can buy stocks in stocksquest and know that they'll go up in price in a very short amount of time, because you've already seen them go up in Yahoo Finance (or whatever site you use for tracking prices).

Now, most teachers already know of this flaw in stocksquest and so they'll require that you hold a stock for a certain amount of time before selling it. The idea is, is that a volatile stock that jumps in price in the space of ten minutes probably isn't going to stay high till the next day. Thus, by enforcing a minimum holding period, the ability to "know the future" becomes useless.

But there is another way to predict the future.



I was sitting on the John, just a few minutes ago, when I heard some bloke in the shower, singing. He was rather bad and somewhat out of tune, and even though his voice reverberated across the tiled walls you could tell he kept forgetting the words. Suffice to say that I was annoyed, and so I left the bathroom at a good speed. The end result is that I still feel the call of nature.

I know that singing in the shower is a common habit (one that I do not share). But there's no reason to belt it out in a public restroom, especially when you're only slightly better then William Hung.

Really, no one wants to hear you sing.
Because you're quite bad.
So just stop.

That is all. You may now stop reading my random articles and return to your boring and pointless lives.



xiao ding dong

Xiao Ding Dong, you blue cat, you are awesome.

I have no idea why I had the sudden urge to take a picture of my Xiao Ding Dong doll, but I did. He looks very sad, this doll. But I still think he is cool; almost as cool as a blue, earless robotic cat from the future with a magic pouch. Oh wait...

I wish I had a magic pouch. If I did, I would pull out a completed and perfect C++ implementation of the Gauss-Jordan elimination for finding inverse matries.

But back here in reality, I'm sitting in my bloody hot room with no air conditioning, trying to beat a working program out of my keyboard. I promise, once I figure out a solution, that I will post the code online.


The Dream

My computer science class ended early and I got back to my room early. Having througly exhausted my mental faculties throughout the day, I decided it was time to test my physical limits. I changed my clothes and headed for the gym. It was five o' clock, you had just climbed into bed to take a nap and our other roommate was reading the news.

I ran a little less then three miles on the track. My fear of treadmills has not faltered ever since I fell on my uncle's when I was eight. I lifted weights for an hour, until my muscles burned and I felt I had no strength left. The vastness and opulence of the school gym did not fail to amaze me, but for all its greatness it could not augment my strength or stamina. The weights in my hands were laughably small compared to those borne by the hulks standing besides me.

I took a long shower, turned my computer on, plowed through my RSS feed reader. It was seven o' clock, you were still sleeping soundly and our roommate was doing his homework.


Control + s in Xterm

If you happen to be a noob like me, and are used to using a fancy graphical IDE like eclipse, NetBeans, or (God forbid) Visual Studio, then you're probably used to hitting <control>+<s> to save something (I think emacs uses "control + s" for saving too). If this is the case, then you've no doubt hit "control+s" by reflex when you wanted to save something in vim or vi. If you're using GNOME's Terminal or KDE's Konsole this shouldn't be a problem, although nothing will actually be saved.

But in xterm, "control + s" makes it so that you can no longer see terminal output. Basically, whatever you type is still processed by the shell, but you just don't see anything (I can't figure why anyone would actually want to do this). So for the uneducated, it looks like xterm has locked up and you've lost all your precious code. Fear not my friend! You can exit out of this funky mode by hitting "control + q."

In summation, if you ever hit "control + s" while using xterm, and everything appears to lock up, hit "control + q" to return to normal.