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January 2004 Archives

January 2, 2004

Pay-per-view extravaganza

Yesterday, I was quite unmotivated to do anything, so while channel surfing, I ran across some DirectTV ads for some pay-per-view movies that I've been meaning to see. So what did I do? I Tivo-ed them all, of course! *Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life:* Hmm. Definitely not nearly as good as the first movie. Lots of action, yeah, but the first movie had more depth, and so I kinda expected it in the second. Additionally, there were a large number of really glaring errors and inconsistencies in the movie (and not your typical "suspension of disbelief" kinds of errors). So it was somewhat of a downer. I'll have to give it a sympathy rating. *Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines:* Also a downer of a movie, but it was supposed to be that way -- it's the rise of the machines, after all. The humans are _supposed_ to get their asses kicked (similar to the upcoming Star Wars movie). But it also lacked the depth that T1 and T2 had. I'll have to give it 6.5 minutes. *The Santa Claus 2:* Mock me if you will, but it's a cute movie and I enjoed the first one. I think my favorite line from the first one was while Tim Allen was riding in the sleigh with his son down a suburban street parallel to a car; Tim looks over at the driver and yells, "So if I follow this road, it'll take me down to the 405, right?" Or something along those lines. This move was obvious much more of an "upper" movie than the other two, and there was a bunch of adult humor and geniunely made me laugh. So I'll give it 12.5 minutes.

So when you go trolling with Christmas cards among old friends whom you haven't seen/heard from in a long long time, you sometimes get a hit. :-) John T. e-mailed me the other day; turns out that he's got a whole new job now and he and his wife just had a baby within the last month or so (I'm assuming it's a boy -- the picture shows a baby in blue clothes!). Kudos John and Wendy!

Chock full of notes

I'm so glad that I have my own domain. Whenever I buy something from an online store -- even the big-name stores like Amazon, Best Buy, etc. -- I _always_ give a _something.spam@mydomain.com_ kind of e-mail address, and set the _something.spam_ address to forward on to my real address. Over the holidays, I did a whole bunch of online shopping, and therefore made a bunch of new addresses this way. Today, I got a mail from JCPenny.com (even though I'm quite sure that I opted out of any promotional material that they offered when I bought my neice's Christmas gift). But that's not a problem -- there's an unsubscribe link, and a Big Store like JC Penny should honor it. So I went to the unsubscribe link and guess what the result message is?
Thank you! You have been unsubscribed from our Email list. Please allow us up to 4 weeks to remove your Email from our lists.
*WOW.* I can understand a multi-week delay in handling traditional paper kinds of confirmations. But 4 weeks to get off an e-mail list? One that I didn't even want to be on in the first place? What exactly is the source of delay here? This truly amazes me. Thanks, JC Penny, I'll be taking my business elsewhere...

January 3, 2004

To NTP or not to NTP

So here's an odd thing. I mentioned a few journal items ago that I wanted to get a watch that automatically sets its time via the radio signal from Ft. Collins, CO. With the Gramma Cash(TM), I bought myself the "Casio Atomic Shock Tough Solar watch":http://www.casio.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=products.detail&Product=GW300A%2D1V that fills this requirement. Other than the fact that it relies on light to recharge its batteries, I think it's cool. It definitely sets it time every day -- I can see that it almost always has a high "time signal strength" level. It's a little bigger than my old watch (height-wise), but I'm adjusting. We'll see how it goes. I was bored tonight, and on a whim, I compared the watch's time to the digital clock on my Verizon cell phone. My cell phone doesn't have a seconds display, but hypothetically, they should change the minutes value at more-or-less exactly the same time (as far as the eye can tell, anyway). Shockingly enough -- they don't. My cell phone changes the minutes value almost a full second before my watch. This is really weird -- both should hypothetically be within milliseconds of "real time" because both are frequently synchronized with a central source (the watch supposedly re-syncs at least 4 times a day). I suppose there can be multiple sources of error here: * simple lack of precision (i.e., precision granularity on the order of, say, tens or hundreds of milliseconds) on either device * the cell phone time is sufficiently far down from a true NTP source that it is actually hundreds of milliseconds off * the cell phone only synchronizes once in a long time, and when I saw it noticably different than the way, it had just drifted a lot * the martians are pissed off about us sending annoying probes to their planet and have decided to retalliate by skewing all of our clocks by infinitessimal ammounts, thereby raising the Earth's Geek Ire Level * propagation of the radio signal from Colorado to my location I'm guessing that the last one (radio propagation) is probably the most likely -- the cell phone syncs to a local tower, and the signal distance isn't nearly as far. The watch has no concept of its distance from the signal source, and I'm guessing that there's no negotiation (a la NTP) for it to be able to calculate its time-to-travel from the source. Hence, I'm guessing that if I was in the immediate vicinity of Ft. Collins, Colorado, the time on my watch and my cell phone would be virtually identical. It's still odd, though. :-)

NTP take too

Hmm. A "quick google calculator search":http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=1164.13+miles+%2F+speed+of+sound&btnG=Google+Search shows that my last theory can't be right -- using the speed of sound (at sea level), it takes over 1.5 hours for the radio signal to get from Ft. Collins to Louisville, KY (and yes, 1164.13 miles is a mapquest distance, so this assumes that the signal is taking I-25 out of Ft. Collins towards Louisville and hits no traffic -- but it's more or less a straight line, so it's a Good Enough(TM) distance to use). However, I have no idea what frequency the Ft. Collins station is broadcasting. For example, (although I'm sure it's not) if it was in the light frequency range, "google shows that the signal would get from Ft. Collins to Louisville in about 6.2 milliseconds.":http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=lang_en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=1164.13+miles+%2F+speed+of+light&btnG=Google+Search So it's probably somewhere in between the two (which sounds reasonable) -- I could check what frequncies typical radio stations transmit at (it has to be somewhere in that order of magnitude, and FM signals are obviously much faster than the speed of sound). But I'm tired and finding that I don't care too much any more. I just wanted to post some links to google's calculator. :-)

January 11, 2004

Wise words

When your emacs buffer is labeled "Makefile.am<74>", it is time to go home.

January 12, 2004

We don't know where Hayes played last year, but we're sure it was a fine club.

It amuses me that at least half of the comments posted to my blog are about the title of the post, which frequently has nothing to do with the content of my post.

January 18, 2004

I just want to make sure I understand; I'm not complaining -- I like typing in these function prototypes over and over and over...

I just returned from a 2 week design meeting for the next generation of LAM/MPI (which mostly explains my lack of entries during that time -- JJC policy of not mentioning travel until it's over). It's gonna be great!

I have come to appreciate my radio/atomic clock watch, and I'm going to keep it. Toys = cool. Or, more specifically, in new LAM/MPI coding style: cool == Toys.

January 19, 2004

It's clean. It's cold. Now that's what I call high quality H2O.

I've been running Mandrake on my desktop and laptop for years. It's been good to me. I've even send money to them. Several months ago, I upgraded my laptop from Mandrake 9.0 to 9.1. I did it against my better judgement -- i.e., I upgraded, I didn't re-install. But it seemed to go smoothly (I think there's even a journal item about it). But the other day, I just installed MDK 9.1 on a fresh system and noticed that there were some things on that new system that were not on my laptop. Hmm. So I figured I might as well upgrade my laptop to MDK 9.2 (the latest that's available these days). So I did. Again, I did the "upgrade" instead of the "install." Yeah, that turned out to be a bad idea. Bunches of things didn't work after I rebooted. So I re-installed 9.2 over the whole thing, and things are much better. I had to do a little mojo to get things the way I liked them: * To get the Macromedia flash player working, I had to do the following: cd /usr/lib ln -s libstdc++.so.5.0.5 libstdc++-libc6.2-2.so.3 because that player plugin seems to require that .so, but it isn't included in any of the MDK RPM's anymore (I'm guessing it's old). * Need an executable named "mozilla", because a lot of stuff is keyed off it: cd /usr/local/bin ln -s firebird mozilla Then life is good.

Saw _The In-Laws_ yesterday. Eh. It had some funny moments, but wasn't otherwise ok. 3.5 minutes.

January 20, 2004

GNU ddd 3.3.8: missing files

A random technical note for myself (and possible others -- google?) in the future... GNU ddd (data display debugger) v3.3.8 is missing some files in its distribution tarball. I tried for quite a while to get it to compile, and finally gave up and posted to the bug-ddd@gnu.org list. I actually got a helpful response in a few hours: bq. Yes, some files are missing in the latest release. It is fixed in the CVS repository. Quick workaround for the moment: get the missing files in gcc 3.3.x in "gcc/include". Excellent!

January 23, 2004

You wake up at Sea-Tac.

I guess it was a matter of time. I'm sitting here in an airport, and I hitched to a T-mobile hotspot so that I could connect to the net. Specifically, I forgot to "cvs up" in a directory before I left my home, and I'm going to be nowhere near network access while I'm traveling, so this was somewhat of a problem. :-\ Hence, I connected up here at the airport (I also had to get the hotel information from my home computer... but that's a different story). [groan] The gate attendant for my flight just announced a delay. But then he said (I'm not kidding): "But I do have some good news; I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance -- I switched to Geiko."

January 28, 2004

It's just that I lost my position as the team's water distribution engineer.

I'm very pleased with the performance of my new MDK 9.2 installation of my desktop. The filesystem is *noticably* faster -- I think MDK 9.2 included a newer version of Resierfs (my /home was formatted as Reiserfs, and I didn't re-do it when I re-installed, so I think it got automatically upgraded). My machine performs much more like the 2.4 GHz machine that it is now. :-)

Yeah baby -- got a bill from Notre Dame today. Raising the total cost of my Ph.D. to $200. [sigh] This is actually quite a saga -- see "this journal entry":http://jeff.squyres.com/journal/archives/000441.php for the synopsis. The end result is that I actually have to pay my own tuition (which is an anthema for science/engineering grad students). Oh well. I guess I can't say that my Ph.D. was "free" anymore.

Public service announcement

I learned today that there is another CSE grad student at Notre Dame who is currently deployed in the Navy. Best wishes to him and his family.

January 30, 2004

Basically, a snake don't have parts. But if I had to call it anything, I would say it's his knee.

"Gaim's":http://gaim.sf.net/ Yahoo! instant messenger plugin is broken. Very annoying. I've had to download the actual Yahoo! IM client and run that alonside Gaim so that I can sit on my normal IM networks (Y!, AOL, MSN).

I got multiple invitations to join "Orkut":http://www.orkut.com/, which seems kinda neat. So I invited a bunch of other friends to join. They still haven't gotten the invitation e-mails yet; I'm guessing that Orkut is snowed in under the massive influx of new members.

About January 2004

This page contains all entries posted to JeffJournal in January 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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