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August 2003 Archives

August 4, 2003

Speculation on the origins of so-called "breakfast cereals"

* Gretchen F. came over for dinner last week. * COL Daraius P. and I went to the Zussman MOUT at Ft. Knox with my unit over the weekend for some paintball training in an urban environment. Hot, sweaty, frustrating at times, but overall fun (and I have the paintball welts to prove it). * IMAP/SSL connectivity today is *sucking* (but other network connectivity seems to be unaffected). I wonder if there's some kind of IMAP/SSL bottleneck somewhere... * "Typepad":http://www.typepad.com/ is opening up tonight. I'm still debating moving to a hosted blog platform. Might be worth it. I'll probably sign up for a free 30 day trial and give it a whirl to see what it can do (my self-hosted MT blog is on *really* old / slow hardware, and it makes it kinda paintful to write entries). * I change the whole CSS style of my blog to make Mark S. shut the hell up. Oh yeah, I didn't like the old style, anyway.

August 5, 2003

It's alive!

One of the most recent Slashdot t-shirt contest entries features someone that looks exactly like Perk:

My first typepad entry

How exciting -- my first Typepad blog entry.

I'm checking this out to see if I want to move my blog from a self-hosted MoveableType server to here. Do I want to pay? We'll see. :-)

August 6, 2003

Somewhat successful...

I sorta successfully imported a whole schload of old jjc entries.

But then I discovered that typepad doesn't [yet] support the SmartyPants or Textile MT plugins, so the formatting on all of my recent entries was incorrect. So I ended up deleting all the entries and have filed a help ticket with the good Typepad people.

We'll see what happens!


I received an "all new" AOL 8.0 CD in the mail today.

AOL just released version 9.0. How could 8.0 be "all new"?

Next question: Marketing department -- yes or no?

My laptop is emitting strange beeping noises from inside. This concerns me.

August 7, 2003

A few fries short of a Happy Meal

Some random quickies (shocking, I know):

  • Gas is a whole lot more expensive in Bloomington than elsewhere (even compared to I-65 in IN, or Louisville). Some days, it's $.20 (or higher) more in Bloomington.
  • Duck... duck... duck... duck... duck... grey duck...
  • I'm down to 2 Diet Cokes a day. Yay for me!
  • I'm doing a few Army AT days (active duty, for lack of a longer explanation). I was heading home from work, and went to the dry cleaners to pick up some uniforms. The woman started asking me about Army stuff (if I was at Ft. Knox, etc.). She even asked me, "Do you guys have dress-down days?" "Um, no." :-)
  • It's been a while since I've seen a movie in a theater. My movie quotient is very low. Mmm. Should fix this.

August 14, 2003

I don't want to brag or anything, but I waited tables at the '76 Olympics

I'm serving some of my 2-weeks-a-year Reserve duty.

My academic career is just about entirely on hold for the 1.5 weeks while I'm doing this. It's hard to swap back and forth between the two (I learned that at Huachuca).

I'm training a whole bunch of our subordinate units on how to use E-mail signatures and encryption (DoD-sponsored PKI program). It's kinda neat. The training goes through this Saturday; soldiers from our units all over the four state area are coming in for my training (KY, TN, AL, MS).

Last night, I went out for a beer after the training with some of the guys from one of our TN units at a local bar/restaurant. Since we had come straight from the training, we were still in uniform. While we were eating, a lady came up to us at our table and thanked us profusely for serving our country. We chatted with her for a few minutes about the current global situation and whatnot. That's always nice -- I can honestly say that we soldiers appreciate that greatly.

And just to reiterate -- the feeling is recriprocal. Check out this story:


Massive blackouts in the Northeast this afternoon -- from New York City to Detroit. Wow.

There's talk among several ND grad students and ex-ND-grad students of hosting our own server somewhere. Hmm. We'll see where this leads -- could be interesting.

Saw Monsoon Wedding -- it wasn't what I thought it would be at all. It wasn't bad, but since it really wasn't what I was expecting, I can't really give it a good rating. It'll have to be zero minutes (sympathy).

The United States Postal Service continues to amaze me. I've had at least one prior journal entry about how amazing the USPS is, but this one takes the cake. Two days ago, Tracy got an envelope from the USPS Claims Center. She opened it and was utterly amazed to find a piece of internal GE mail inside. That is, it was addressed to Tracy at her internal GE building designation (no zip code, just a building and office number). Apparently, someone at work dropped it in the "external mail" slot instead of the "internal mail" slot.

But yet somehow the USPS figured out who it was for, looked up our zip code and address, and mailed it on to us -- free of charge.

That is simply amazing. In a society of "it's not my fault", someone had the initiative, time, energy, and desire to do the Right Thing to ensure that Tracy got her mail.

The USPS rocks.

August 17, 2003

A green-ish shade of red

I think that all right-thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that ordinary decent people are fed up in this country with being sick and tired. I'm certainly not. But I'm sick and tired of being told that I am.
- Monty Python

I agree 100%.

I write today to mourn the loss of my watch band. It broke today while I was reaching for something and the end of it got caught on the edge of the counter, and snapped off. We all looked on in shock as it fell to the floor, bounced a few times, and came to a sickening, heart-wrenching, thudding stop.

I don't think that any of us -- at that moment -- realized exactly what it meant: the loss of a long-held, deeply-felt friendship. Indeed, every single day that wrist band was felt against my lower arm/wrist. Every day. For years. I've know people and other animals less time than I've known this wrist band. How do you replace a loss like this?

Sure, you can simply go to the mall and buy a new one, but is it the same? Just because it's the same color/brand/model, is it the same?

All problems are solved in slightly less than half an hour

Random movie reviews:

  • Head of State: Ehh. It had its funny moments, but wasn't as funny as I was expecting it. Hence, I was a little underwhelmed. It wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't good. I give it 1.82 minutes (roughly one minute and 49 seconds).
  • Phone Booth: A decent movie. Good suspense mixed with guilt empathy. I enjoyed it. But it seems that all movies are going for "the big twist at the end" these days. So much so that they're becoming predictable. Although this was a decent movie, it fit into the cookie-cutter Hollywood movie plot line these days. 6.38 minutes.

I went rollerblading today. This is not so unusal in itself -- I go rollerblading not unfrequently. Indeed, it's not unknown to have nothing to not discuss about not going blading never, or at least not very often. Ya know?

A short history of my blading experience:

  • I received blades for Christmas back in my college sophmore year. No one bladed on campus except one weird guy that everyone called "Jesus".
  • I wore them exactly once -- Easter break, in Chicago, when I visited my Aunt and Uncle. I made the mistake of wearing them while walking their German Shephard along the streets of Chicago. Yeah, that was a good idea.
  • When I took them off, the buckle broke. Doh! :-(
  • I got a new pair some point later. I don't remember when, but I think it was in Senior year. I started blading more frequently at some point later. I wasn't very good. Gretchen F. taught me the basics.
  • I didn't blade very much because I wasn't very good (see prior point). During grad school, Cara L finally taught me how to do the crossover skate, and I finally started blading a lot.
  • I ended up blading all the time, frequently blading to and from work. I ended up being a decent 'blader, and I even worked on form periodically. I spent many, many hours blading around campus. Good times!

I still blade not infrequently (see above). As I just mentioned in a recent entry, Tracy got me new wheels and bearings for an anniversary present. Yummy!

Anyway, I was blading through my subdivision and I passed some kid on a bike going the other way. He yelled "pop a wheelie!" right before he passed me. Without thinking -- and, in retrospect, this really was not a good idea without a helmet and a full set of protective pads -- I did. I rocked back on the back wheels and impulsively hung a right and popped up over the curb, catching a little air in the process. My landing was surprisingly good (read: I kept rolling without falling, or even wobbling significantly).

All in all, it rocked. I did a few more stupid moves (mostly working on form, actually, experimenting what I could do and what latent abilities I have picked up over the years without realizing it before it finally dawned on me that I was being extrememly stupid -- the only protective gear I had on was wrist guards. Duh!

So anyway, I cut that out and bladed home. But that was fun as hell; I'll have to go get some real protective gear and experiment some more. Fun!

August 19, 2003

There's no "I" in fruit / Yes there is / It's a little one; it doesn't matter


  • My car turned 100,000 yesterday.
  • The project owner accepted my patch to the Gaim encryption package yesterday. Now it's easier to configure/compile/install. Woo hoo -- score one for the good guys!
  • I've accepted an offer to write a weekly column in a forthcoming Cluster magazine. Should be interesting! I do enjoy writing, both creative and technical, so let's hope it stays "fun" while I'm doing it.
  • The word "wkjsstrvbbq" has no vowels in it.

August 21, 2003

There is only one unit of measurement

bcheck just simply rocks.

After beating my head against a wall for 2 days looking for a memory bug in LAM/MPI using valgrind (a memory-checking debugger for Linux), bcheck found the error within about test 3 runs on Solaris.

Don't get me wrong -- valgrind rocks as well. valgrind is a fabulous tool and I'm extremely glad that its available (many thanks Julian!). But bcheck somehow provides more detailed information than valgrind provides.

...actually, I guess that's not entirely true. I was sitting here thinking about it while writing this entry and I figured out why valgrind didn't tell me the same information that bcheck did. Here's the scoop:

In this case, the problem was both a read from unallocated and a duplicate free within LAM's myrinet network device. bcheck reported these problems, but valgrind did not. Why?

It all comes back to Myrinet -- arrgh! On Linux systems, LAM/MPI has to use its own memory allocator (a derrivation of the venerable ptmalloc) to be able to catch calls to sbrk() such that memory returned to the OS is guaranteed to be unpinned before it is returned. Hence, valgrind is probably not intercepting these calls because it doesn't know that it's the "real" free(), sbrk(), etc.

This doesn't happen on Solaris because Solaris has a bug deep within its kernel such that gm can't atomicly allocate-and-pin memory, and therefore LAM/MPI doesn't need to replace malloc/free/etc. (that's the short version, omitting all the juicy details). Hence, bcheck is able to see/report on the "true" malloc/free, but valgrind isn't.

So Valgrind rocks! Bcheck rocks! Memory-checking debuggers are life!

August 22, 2003

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Funny tcsh trick:

shell% cd non-existant-directory/..

always works without error.

August 23, 2003

A weasel is a noble animal

When I turned on mycomputer monitor this morning, I was greeted with no less than 47 popup windows from gaim telling me that it had too many files open.

Speaking of which, all of us gaim'ers may lose MSN connectivity on 15 Oct. We'll see what happens...

An old friend just turned a brand new Xbox into a standalone Linux PIII machine for a grand total $217 (software fixes only -- no need to crack the case on the Xbox). Yummy!

My cell phone is dying. The microphone cuts in and out, but the headset works fine. So I'm gonna go to the Verizon store and see if they can fix it.

On a related note, Tracy just bought be a Tungsten T2 bluetooth PDA. So maybe I have to get a bluetooth phone so that they can talk to each other. Hmmm...

I really have nothing interesting to say today. :-)

August 24, 2003

You went Colonial on his ass!

Went to see le Divorce with Tracy this evening.


30 feet. Not a guy flick, and totally not what I was expecting. Lots of smarmy French people, which never puts one in a good mood.

I took my dying cell phone to the Verizon store today, explained what was happening, and they replaced it -- free of charge. Amazing. I wasn't expecting that at all.

They even had a little machine that downloaded my addressbook from my old phone and uploaded it to the new phone so that I didn't have to re-program everything. That was quite convenient. Amusingly enough, there was at least one data error in the transfer -- "Brian B" was loaded on the new phone as "Br$an B". Hopefully it didn't screw up any of the phone numbers!

Tracy pointer out to me today that the street signs on either end of our street have different capitolization.

Huh. I never made the connection.

I did an interim / beta release of XMPI today so that it could compile with LAM/MPI 7.0 and 6.5.9. It turned out to be a bigger job than I thought -- I had to update all the GNU auto tool usage (use more up-to-date constructs, remove a bunch of now-useless kruft, etc.), stamp in the IU copyright everywhere, and fix a bunch of bit-rot issues. But now XMPI 2.2.3b7 has escaped to the world.

It's not perfect; I noticed some minor error conditions while I was testing. But hopefully we'll have someone work on it this semester. Who knows -- perhaps we can even ditch Motif and re-write the GUI!

August 26, 2003

I was being Shelly Winters from the Posidion Adventure

While driving home from the OSCAR developer's meeting, I actually reached a new record for voice memos on my phone: 31.

Actually, my phone maxed out at 30 and I had to call and leave myself a voice mail to get the last one in there. :-)

The OSCAR meeting was good: we have a smaller, sleeker, more elegant, and generally mo' better architecture for OSCAR 4.0. It solves a lot of problems that we have been grappling with for months.

The highlight of the meeting was the BBQ and bonfire at Neil's place -- watching Neil run over to Brian's car with a hose to water it down so that the sparks/ash from the fire didn't start an additional S2003-flavored side-bonfire. Classic.

Some quotes:

  • I'm running for governor in California.
  • I'd be honored to lose to Gary Coleman!
  • This is the best OSCAR meeting ever!!

Tracy got me a Tungsten T2 Palm Pilot for my birthday. After careful consideration, I decided that it was just too much, and I returned it (it supports Bluetooth, and not only do I not own any other Bluetooth devices, it seems like the industry is pretty ambivilaent on Bluetooth -- I think it's just too new). So I got a Sony Clie J33 instead (also runs Palm OS -- just not on Palm hardware).

So far, I love this thing. I've had an m100 for years and it worked just fine, but this is definitely an improvement. It has color, way better resolution (320x320) so all the fonts, icons, and images are way sharper. The processor is also significantly faster than the m100, which is nice (no more delays when looking at an appointment, etc.).

I also managed to get MS Outlook all setup to talk to the IU Exchange server through vmware, and have all the synchronization work. Yay me.

Got new Clie. Has rockin' resolution (320x320) -- fonts, icons, and images are way better than my m100.

August 28, 2003

Spammed by Microsoft

Neat -- I just got IM spammed by Microsoft:


Considering that I'm running gaim under Linux, that's a pretty amusing/interesting automated message. :-)

I don't know whether I'll be able to connect after 15 Oct, but that's a whole different story...

About August 2003

This page contains all entries posted to JeffJournal in August 2003. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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