failing like never before


A little About Me

Every personal blog has an "about me" section, except mine, and I don't know why I never wrote one. Who am I? Its a tough question to answer. My roommates had to answer it in their homework for their leadership class, and I believe it took them a few pages to answer throughly.

I'm not going to answer that question now, because I really do have to do homework. But I do want to throw in something. A few years ago, I had to take a sort of personality test at work, and my results are listed below. I think its rather amusing really to see just how messed up I am. If I recall correctly, everyone else had fairly modest values in the 40-60 ranges in most categories, and only I was this messed up.

According to this graph, I am demanding, yet amiable, very precise and cautious, but most definitely not a people person.

DISC graphDominance
* Demanding
* Driving
* Ambitious
* Forceful
* Determined
* Aggressive
* Decisive

* Inspiring
* People Oriented
* Likes Recognition
* Expressive/Emotional
* Enthusiastic
* Optimistic
* Approachable

* Relaxed
* Amiable
* Patient & relaxed
* Loyal
* Good Listener
* Team Player
* Consistent

* Evasive
* Cautious
* Conventional
* Exacting
* Diplomatic
* Accurate
* Open-minded

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About Me

If you've ever gone to an event, like a first club meeting or first dorm dinner, where everyone is new and just starting to get to know each other, then you've probably had to do a lot of introductions. As an engineer, the efficiency (or rather of lack of efficiency) really bothers me. Why do I have to introduce myself to thirty different people in the space of one hour and make the same boring and useless small-talk every single time? Why couldn't the people organizing said event hand out placards we could wear around our necks? And then we could write our introduction on these signs, in a style similar to social networking sites like Facebook or Myspace.

"My name is first_name last_name. I am a year_in_school year and I am majoring in major_name. I am from home_town and I went to high_school_name. I like hobbies. etc.

Just think how much easier that would make our lives! While people tend be fairly complicated organisms, thus making it difficult to sum up their entire personality and background on one placard, the signs are not meant to completely describe a person, rather only to remove the need for useless introductions. Should someone find the persona described on a placard interesting, they can quickly and easily establish a conversation with that other person. The initial awkward introductions are avoided, allowing people to skip straight to the actual interesting conversations, and people that have nothing in common are not forced into awkward conversation in order to realize their dissimilarities.

Its such a beautiful solution to a non-existent problem, that I wonder why no one has ever tried to implement it before.


Hot Hot Preshot

The summers here in southern California can be quite hot, and although it runs hotter where I originally hail from we also have air conditioning where I come from. I have a Pentium 4 Prescott, clocked at 3GHZ and the Prescott runs amazingly hot. Right now, its about 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside and my Prescott CPU is idling at 132 Fahrenheit (about 58 Celsius). Mind you, this is the idling temperature, under full load it gets much, much hotter. I compiled Xara Xtreme from source on Thursday night, and my CPU's core temperature climbed to 158 Fahrenheit (about 70 Celsius).

I have an Antec computer case with a fan-less Radeon x800 xl and a fairly nice Antec power supply with a fan that only turns on only when it starts to get hot. It was my original intention when building my desktop to have it run as quiet as possible, but that was of course a dream. Ever since I built my computer I have added three additional fans, a 80 mm fan in the front, another 80 mm fan on the side, and a little fan in the PCI slot below the graphics card, in addition to the huge 120 mm fan that can with my case and the stock CPU fan. It is still not enough.

The Pentium 4 Prescott has always been well known for putting out tons of heat, although according to Wikipedia the Prescott gives skewed temperature readings.

Upon release, many reviewers mistakenly concluded that the Prescott generated approximately 40% more heat clock-for-clock than the Northwood, and almost every review of it was negative, earning it the sobriquet PresHot. In reality, the core temperature sensor of the Prescott gives higher readings than the Northwood core temperature sensor, meaning that the increase in heat generated for CPU work done is believed to be around the 10% range.

Nonetheless, in this heat I have been forced to minimize my computer usage and run fewer applications.

I think thats about it; there really wasn't a point in this post.

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Things of Note

Things of particular noteworthy significance that occurred today:

  • I shaved for the first time in about three weeks. Another monumental point, is that I now have to buy some new razorblades for the first time in my life; all the rest of the blades that I have ever used were free samples.
  • I threw a racquetball against my door for about twenty minutes while listening to my roommate watch The Office. There is no one alive who can procrastinate as I can.
  • I ate my last granola bar; I am now bereft of snacks so my need to go shopping is now even greater.

I also slept, ate, did homework, studied, and worked on a project for one of my classes. Once again, I did not go to church because of the obscene amounts of work that I had to do.

And that about sums up the amazing adventures of my day.


The Monkey

There's this site called mturk that is run by Amazon, and allows for companies to pay people to do really stupid things that are easy for a person to do, but nigh on impossible for a computer to do. Mturk, is short for Mechanical Turk, like the old chess playing machine the Turk. The original Turk, was a machine that existed a few hundred years ago and was supposedly able to play chess quite well. Eventually, people discovered the secret behind the Turk: a guy sitting inside the machine moving the pieces around.

Now Amazon's mturk is essentially like the original Turk, only mturk can do pretty much everything, not just play chess. Suppose you're a large company and you have some recordings of meetings that you want transcribed. A computer has a lot of trouble doing this kind of stuff, but a person can do it fairly easily with time. All you do, is take your audio recordings for transcription to the mturk machine and in a day or so you get your completed transcriptions. Amazon's mturk machine is a group of random people who get paid tiny amounts of money to perform relatively simple tasks that a computer would find pretty much impossible. Anyone can sign up and get paid to be a part of Amazon's giant machine. Just like the original Turk, mturk appears to the end user as just a machine (of course, this time everyone know that the machine really isn't a machine, and thats part of the magic), but inside are people doing the actual work.

As I said, mturk can do pretty much anything. If you go to mturk, you'll find requests for not just audio transcriptions, but also surveys, image tagging and categorization, movie and book reviews, links to white papers, and even some really weird ones. Like one I found a few days ago that asked for an original drawing of a monkey. I got paid two cents for my drawing which took close to 2 minutes to do.

And here is my monkey.

monkey drawing



I had a pretty bad dream recently, which is of particular note primarily because I never remember my dreams, and secondly because it was a pretty lame nightmare.

I dreamt that someone had hacked into my server and erased my entire database, whereupon I woke up with my heart pounding fast in my chest. I got out of squeaky metal bunk-bed turned my monitor on, reassured myself that my blog was still whole and complete, backed up my entire MySQL database onto my hard drive, and climbed back into bed. The next morning, I woke up unsure of if I had dreamed up the entire experience; that is, if I had dreamed that I had had a bad dream and instantly dashed to my computer.

I don't even understand why I was so stressed out about losing my blog articles, after all I already do periodic backups. Even then, its not as though anyone actually reads my blog so losing a few bad blog articles could hardly be considered a big lose.

But anyhoo, there it is. My worst nightmare since I was six and dreamt that my cousin was a monster that was going to eat me. Its really quite depressing.

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Fglrx Driver Issues

My greatest regret is that I ever bought an ATI graphics card. Back when I was young, carefree, and ignorant of the Linux way, I built my first computer. At the time, an ATI Radeon X800xl seemed liked a solid graphics card; decent performance at a decent price. But a few months after I assembled my computer, I learned about Linux and decided to try it out. I got a a Mandriva CD from a friend, and tried to install it on my spare partition. The installation itself went perfectly fine but when I tried to start X, I found it wouldn't start because of my ATI graphics card. I ended up blundering around a bit and trying to install ATI's proprietary fglrx drivers, to no avail. Eventually, I ended up dumping Mandriva and trying out Fedora Core because I had been told that Fedora had better hardware support.

Fedora ended up working right out of the box for me, and I even managed to get Beryl running after a while. Over the past few years, I've tried out quite a few different Linux distros. Most have been able to get my graphics card configured for me and the rest I've been able to fix with a little tweaking. The Linux Vesa drivers are nowhere near as good as ATI's fglrx drivers, which is why I've always just used fglrx whenever possible.

About a month ago I installed Debian Lenny on my computer. Debian, unlike Ubuntu or Fedora, requires a stronger knowledge of Linux since it doesn't auto-configure everything for the user. So I was pretty much expecting to get an error the first time I tried to start X, and of course I did. As soon as I got the error, I fetched the fglrx driver from ATI/AMD's site and installed it. After that everything seemed to be working fine. Until I tried to open a virtual console and everything went black.