August 22, 2002
true slug

I laughed and laughed when I read this promotional piece for True in a Nutshell...

Then I called Anne into the room, and laughed some more.

Anne smiled politely.

Posted by esinclai at 10:28 PM
Recommended Training

This week, the local Perl Mongers group brought Damian Conway to speak and to do some training. I was fortunate enough to be able to get my workplace to spring to send some of us to training (Data Munging for myself, OO Perl for some of my more technically evolved co-workers).

And Damian did his Extreme Perl talk during the monthly meeting, which covers the selfGOL entry into the Obfuscated Perl contest. This entry plays the game of life, prints itself out, advertises itself and virally replicates itself to other code, all in under 1K and with no control statements.

If you get a chance to catch either of these options (the more serious training, or the more brain-confounding talk), do so. Damian's an entertaining speaker, and his talks further provide great chunks of knowledge.

Posted by esinclai at 05:54 AM
When the Rain Comes...

...they run and hide their heads

At least, that's what I wanted to do this morning, briefly.

See, every morning for the last several months now, with some exceptions, I've been getting up a bit early to do some reading (usually in the more technology or theory related works (so this week and last it's been Programming Perl). This morning, when I got up, I heard the sound of a heavy rain. When I got up, it had that steady tone that means I'd heard the rain through the night in my sleep, where it'd worked its way into my consciousness ever so slightly.

Every heavy rain now, I feel a bit nervous. See, when the developers built out the condos we reside in, they skimped on a few things. Fixtures weren't the most expensive. It sems like one of our drains in the basement doesn't have a trap. And, notable for this case, the drainage in our back "yard" (read, cement pad - I think Anne has discussed this as we've worked to beautify the place) leaves a lot to be desired. The drain is something like 3 inches in diameter with a cheesy grate on it that gets clogged up with leaves and junk (but no longer pigeon waste, since our resident bird feeder has moved on). And so the back pad floods. Easily. Just about every time. The only solution is to clear out this drain as best you can, and open up the storm drain (a heavy steel lid preventing you from doing so easily, of course).

So there I was, freshly showered, out there in my bathrobe trying to get this open in the rain. But this wasn't just a nice rain-shower. While I was out there, it was a real cloudburst. The kinds of rain that I associate with flooded streets in Bloomington where the storm sewers back up and Indiana Avenue becomes a wading pool for students, faculty and (in my case) faculty brats.

And this time, not only the drain on the pad needed opening, A secondary drain, which is down by the basement doors, needed to be opened up to let the several inches of floodwater go down so our basements wouldn't get flooded.

Naturally, I got totally soaked in the 5am darkness doing all this. Soaked THROUGH, but nicely hydrated for the rest of the day....

That task done, the rain added insult to injury by rediscovering a leak from what we think is our upstairs neighbor's window sill into our window frame, dripping slightly into our house. No real damage that I could see, but we'll have to see what happens.

And, naturally, 20 minutes later, after having dried off and started getting the coffee made, the rain had reduced to a quieter shower.

Posted by esinclai at 05:47 AM
August 15, 2002
Free Software Quiz

I'm heartened by how much made sense in the Free Software licensing quiz, disheartened by the things I did not know.

*sigh*. Just goes to remind me that licenses are both simple and elusive things...

Posted by esinclai at 08:57 PM
Culture Jamming writ Obvious

In the previous entry I mentioned culture jamming. Of course, I should mention its sibling, spoofitry.

Posted by esinclai at 06:54 AM
Language is a Gene

In today's New York Times, there's a piece summarising a report available from Nature (registration required - full text based on subscription), reporting on the genetic identification and evolutionary timing of a gene associated with language ability.

This is keen for a fist's worth of reasons, I think. First of all, I wasn't aware (and I don't have the same ties to all the genticists etc. that I once did, so this may not be a surprise) of the work done to date on this gene. But to timestamp it in the evolutionary tree is even neater (the timing is suggested to be just after the split of hominids from the chimpanzee lines).

Further, a side remark that ties this gene (or lack therof) back to issues in a particular genetic cluster in language use and acquisition ties back to Andy Clark's work in Being There, about the inter-relationship of knowledge in the mind and knowledge in the world (to paraphrase broadly). From the Times piece "...principal defect seems to lie in a lack of fine control over the muscles of the throat and mouth, needed for rapid speech. But in tests they find written answers as hard as verbal ones, suggesting that the defective gene causes conceptual problems as well as ones of muscular control." This may be the reading, but it may also be that the mind and body are co-linked in the use of language and thought.

Interesting stuff for a Thursday morning....

And interesting stuff from a Wednesday afternoon was this piece on Artificial Vision from the current Wired. It's so out there, it sounds like a bit of culture jamming, but it has enough "stuff" to support a belief in its veracity...

Posted by esinclai at 06:42 AM
August 13, 2002
Shrinkwrap and Deadtree

Pursuant to yesterday's posting of Lessig's talk (and some minorly related matters), I ran across this opinion piece by Ed Foster in Infoworld, regarding, of all things, ShrinkWrap licenses for books and other printed media.

When is too far, in fact, too far?

Coming later: responses to Mr Whybark's comments in yesterday's piece.

Posted by esinclai at 08:12 AM
August 12, 2002

Leonard Lin (of random($foo) has done a great job of putting together a number of recordings from OSCon. But today he (and daypop will attest) outdid himself, linking together the presentation and audio of the keynote on copyright, open source and social responsibility given by Lawrence Lessig.

I've mirrored (removed - bandwidth!) a copy for use by those I know, hoping to defray some of the load from Leonard (though I believe he's got a redirect to Creative Commons available now).

It's a great speech, inspiring enough to push me over to make my small (and long intended) donation to EFF a reality. it's 31 minutes, about 9MB download, and a good use of your time - you'll learn and think, honest.

Posted by esinclai at 10:13 PM
August 11, 2002
AIM and Six Degrees of Sep

I keep running across these visualisation applications for collaborative networks (links between livejournal users, cross links between weblogs, the recent weblog genealogy project. Tonight it's GradeAIM, a project by a couple of guys at UIUC to divine the six degrees of seperation between uploaded members of AIM buddy lists.

Unfortunately, the GradeAIM Site is refusing connections at this time. Nonetheless, from the blurry image, it looks like an interesting idea.

note: originally found cited at Vacuum

Posted by esinclai at 10:29 PM
August 09, 2002
Voting 'Irregularities'

Boy, I thought the elections of 2000 seemed a bit wonky. I guess I just hadn't recognised the scope of the problem. I mean, as a moderate, I feel we can talk to Trent Lott, Dick Armey, Hastert et al. and make some headway.... But this? I'm just not sure.....

obviously, copyright the New York Times

Posted by esinclai at 06:35 AM
August 08, 2002
Andy Lester Redux

A few days (well, weeks) ago I mentioned that Andy Lester had resurfaced in my line of vision. I just this week finally twigged (been reading Rael Dornfest's log, the language wore off on me...) to the fact that Andy has a journal at Very keen, geekily delicious.

Posted by esinclai at 09:45 PM

Anne and I periodically collect typographical errors we see on signs and other places. It's the English major in us (or maybe a cruel streak). See Anne's Dressings sign, for example.

Unfortunately, we haven't seen this one. But oy.

Posted by esinclai at 09:39 PM
Worlds Collide!

So I'm picking up my dry-cleaning today from our local establishment, and as it happens, I pick up the Reader as well. Well, what am I faced with, to my surprise, but the masthead below:

Yes folks, that's Dale Lawrence, of the Gizmos and of the Vulgar Boatmen. He's made a nice side-career to his songwriter-excellence as a writer - a book about travelling the byways of Indiana for High School basketball, for example.

And what is he writing about, but MashUps, or Bootlegs, or whatever the media wants to call them, including a citation of our friend Mark "ECC" Gunderson. Those wacky combination songs that can lead to praise or litigation (and in some cases both in proportion).

Too much of a small world, to be certain.

Posted by esinclai at 06:55 PM