Unexceptional Machine

Hmmmm, it’s been almost 2 months now. Guess I’m due.

I wrote this a month ago.

Clare left, and it was sad. Then I went up to Dad’s house for Sarah’s baby shower, and realized that $Distance_To_Dad == ($Distance_To_Clare)/3 so I called and switched with someone (who ended up calling in sick…) to get another day off, and Clare and I met in beautiful (I guess…) Paso Robles and spent the night. We went out to dinner, watched a The Shawshank Redemption, and just enjoyed holding each other for a while. In the morning we got up, went to brunch at Denny’s, talked for a while longer, and drove back home. At this point I should say that Clare is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, and I haven’t been this happy in a long, long, long time, if ever. I dunno, life is just really up right now, and I think that she has more to do with it than she realizes. And she’s pretty. The baby shower itself was good fun, too… it was nice seeing dad again.

Speaking of Dad, he’s working on this new p2p program, written in Visual Basic. It’s pretty nifty for sharing files directly with another person (more than one in the future) and he’s constantly working on it. If you wanna mess with it, I’ve been given permission to pass it around, so long as it doesn’t get passed further than that. It’s been pretty cool, he calls me a few times a week and he bounces ideas off me, and I give him some. We work out how to get certain functions and ideas to work together. It’s fun working on a program with someone, even if it’s not necesarily my project.

speaking of programming, school (since, you know, it seems all I ever do for school this semester is code) is going good… omfgwtfbbq. There’s apparently vibrating condoms. Sorry, listening to loveline. Where was I? Oh yeah. Programming.

End previously written entry

Programming is pretty cool… At least, C++ is. I really like the way my C++ class is taught. It falls perfectly between just teaching theory and praticalality. Tony teaches us everything, even semi-obscure concepts because we’ll probably see them in the industry, but tells us why they aren’t usually good ideas. Our assignments are usually extremely practical (Use a linked list to write a program that reads and formats input from a file, and then present this data as an inventory management program, where the use can add, search or delete from the list. Next assignment, do the same thing, but use Classes. Beautiful.) Anyway, it’s a great way to teach. I’ve run into a couple snags – The class is taught on WindowsXP using MSVisual Studio. This was new to me, the only thing I’d ever done with Visual Studio is VisualBasic development, and C++ is nothing like VB. The only C++ development I’ve ever done was on the Linux commandline, using a good old text editor and GCC. Well, one of the snags I ran into is this… In the lab, they have Visual Studio 6.0 (circa 1998) and VS “.Net” (circa 2002?). I have VS6 at home, so I decided I’d just do my labs in that. At that point, it looked like the class was going to be taught specifically around VS (which bummed me out, but thankfully turned out to not be the case). Well, like any piece of MS software, it decided to go against the standards and include a few good solid bugs. One of which my program was suffering from. I struggled with this code for about a week before I asked Tony and he pointed that out. We tried the code in VS.Net and it worked. Well, I don’t have .Net at home, and I can’t keep using VS6 for my projects if its buggy, so…. I switched back to using make, vi/kate, and g++ on Linux. Works just fine for me *shrug*.

My other (online, blackboard) programming class is not quite so cool… Not quite so cool at all. Windows API Programming with C. Hardcover textbook that’s almost 1500 pages. Ugh. “Hello World” is almost 100 lines of code, some of it downright unintelligible. “Oh well”, I figured, “I guess I’ll learn something.” Ha. Haha. Chris, remember taking Visual Studio with Bajic? It’s that retarded. Except this guy barely speaks English. These assignments are dumb… not at all practical like my C++ class. These are more like, “Here’s a 200 line project copied directly from the book, figure out how to change the icon, the mouse cursor, and the background”. Except like I said, poor english. So maybe more like: “I have provide assignment3 for you, you needs must change n. icon file n. mouse n. bground color to black.” (…who uses “n” as a bullet point?) It’s terrible, but I’ve gotten A’s on everything so far with the exception of an assignment that was due on the same day as another assignment – his blackboard announcements are difficult to understand, at best. For a while I was even more greatly angered because, obviously, I’d have to be *in* Windows to write and test code for Windows, right? Ahhh… but then I found sweet, sweet VMWare. It’s a nifty piece of software that emulates PC architecture, runs on Windows and Linux and you can install other PC operating systems on it… I installed Win2k on it, and the VisualStudio and I can do all my development in Windows without having to reboot, its great. It’s saved my sanity, I’m sure.

I’ve got lots more to tell (I mean, it *has* been 2 months…) but it’s almost 2:30 in the morning, so stories of my adventures in Berkeley, and all the other fun stuff I’ve found online lately will simply have to wait til tomorrow.

“Sometimes lies are more dependable than the truth.” – Ender, Ender’s Game

Hare Daemon
Your HARE DAEMON represents your passive,
kindhearted, and honorable nature. Though you
are occasionally shy with new people, friends
admire your unshakable tranquility, even in the
face of chaos.

What Animal Would Your Daemon Settle As?
brought to you by Quizilla

stupid cat.

I’ve been on an organizing spree the past couple days. Did all my laundry, and 3 loads of towels – I had no idea we had that many towels, but apparently we do. Anyway, I decided that that wasn’t good enough. So then I started looking around and what exactly was cluttering my room. Turns out I had no less than 6 PC’s and 3 monitors in my room, doing absolutely nothing but bowing the middle of my desk. Some of these computers I haven’t run anything on in years, some are even older. I’ve got my first PC, still, for example. It’s a 25 MHz i386SX with 4 Megs of RAM, a 1X (actually, it might be a 2X, I’m not sure) CD-ROM, and a monster 200 Meg HardDrive.

Anyway. Long story short, I’ve thrown away 3 full computers that were junk for various reasons, and a 19″ Monitor that wouldn’t turn on for anything. And 6 CD drives. And I haven’t even bothered checking the floppy drives – I’m sure most of them don’t work. So now I’m consolidating. I’ve got an Athlon 700 that’s destined to be a Server (web, email, file, irc, ftp, SVN, am I forgetting something?), methinks. And a K6-300MHz that’ll be a router/fallback server to the Athlon. I’m still contemplating keeping the 386, mostly for nostalgic reasons.

Tired…. Cat chewed on the end of an IDE ribbon cable rendering it useless.

next one will be less rantish, I promise

Stupid teachers are teh dumbzor.

Last night was my first Networking Fundamentals class (note, not to be confused with my Cisco Networking classes, like the one I took last semester and its follow up, that I was going to take this semester). Anyway. The teacher is retarded. The class is “mostly taught using BlackBoard” [agh, cringe]. So we go in, and whats our first project? Installing Windows 2003 Server. “Hmmm,” I say, with the smallest possible detectable amount of interest “I guess I’ve never done that before”. Well, as it turns out, I still haven’t. With our Win2k3 install CD’s came a floppy disk [sigh]. Upon inserting this CD and floppy, the CD begins the windows install, and the floppy answers every single question that the installer asks, except for the serial key. So it was push the discs in, and wait for 40 minutes (!) with nothing to do while Windows installed itself getting all its input from the floppy. Wooo. Meanwhile the teacher walked around and helped people who couldn’t figure out how to reboot, who were trying to insert the floppy disk upside down, etc. All stuff I’d forgive in an “Entry to computers” class (of which there is one), but this isn’t that class…. or at least it shouldn’t be.

So after wasting an hour of my life, we get the computers running, and he tells us to put in some basic networking info, IP addresses, gateways and the like. Some people are struggling… I’m helping my partner while downloading gAIM and FireFox. Meanwhile, the teacher is giving a lecture with mistakes in it, “A MAC address is a unique 12 digit Hexidecimal [0-9 and A-F, where A = 10, etc] number. Don’t ask me how they can say it’s unique, cuz I don’t know.” Well, they’re said to be unique because its such a large number, and they aren’t just randomly assigned. Hardware vendors each have a few digits assigned to them, and those are always the first 6 digits. So that IBM’s network cards may have a MAC that starts with 00-0F-45-XX-XX-XX. And they’re free to fill in the X’s however they like. So this does give some order, and shows that MAC’s aren’t completely randomly assigned. But if IBM starts to get lazy (or just figure its not worth their trouble, they might assign the same XX-XX-XX twice. It’s not likely, but it’s certainly happened before and it can cause problems.

Other things like saying that “your computer’s hostname isn’t important, its just like a nickname” were just dead wrong. You can’t have two computers on the same network with the same hostname, one of them won’t be able to connect. And one of the questions these floppies answered for us was the hostname, so everyone’s was the same, and he couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working.

I decided to leave early after I got a 34/35 on my “blackboard pre-test to see how much you know coming into the class”. The question I got wrong was: “Which of the following uses light to transmit data.” “A. Coax, B. Copper wire, C. Fiber Optic, D. RJ-45” I answered C, Fiber Optic and got it wrong. I was then told the correct answer was Fiber Optic.

In other, and much happier, news, I’m flying up to Berkeley on Oct 13 til the 17th to spend time with Clare. Cuz she’s awesome.

Chris: “send me the gay hobbit one”

Blackboard is the fscking devil. I feel this needs to be said at least once per semester. Blessed are you that need never cast your gaze before it’s unholy visage.

Seriously. BB is a crutch for lazy teachers who want to have some kind of online presence, but can’t figure out how to work (or figure out how to ask a friend to work) a webpage design program. They’re not really as complicated as they might sound… they’re sort of like glorified word processors.

Rant aside, classes are looking to be good so far this semester. My history teacher, Chris Johnson, is a very funny guy. He says he checks ratemyprofessor.com on occasion and that last semester for the first time ever, he got a sad face. He went on to make a long, dramatic, self-deprecating speech about how he always wondered if he was “inadequate”, but thankfully now, he knew for sure that he was in fact “woefully inadequate”. And that as of this semester he will strive to do better, he’s going to be reaching to achieve the level of simply “inadequate”, perhaps eventually attaining the title of “adquate” or maybe even someday “mediocre”. And the way he said it with such a hopeful glint in his eye, you just couldn’t help but smile. You just have to see this guy to appreciate him… he started the class saying “Ok, I have three funny things to tell you before we begin” (which ended up taking 20 minutes to tell) “The first is, and you probably didn’t need to know this, that I just had a colonoscopy the other day, and let me tell you, talk about uncomfortable. And the really weird thing is that they have this camera hooked up to a TV so that you can watch the inside of your colon or whatever I guess, and oddly enough, this sort of distracts you from the whole idea because it’s so strange in itself”. He then went on to talk about finding out that he’s on the NoFly List (great articles, btw) and how he had to prove that he’s not a terrorist.

Add in some comments about how Americans don’t pay as much attention to politics as they should, a couple stories about his “anti-militaristic, anti-establishment” boy scout troop that went streaking, skinny dipping, was his first experience with marijuana and the cause of him drinking kerosene from a bleach bottle… well, you can see why I like the guy. Oh yeah. He also tried to make the main book (the 70 something dollar one) reccommended a few semesters back, but got yelled at by the History Department, the Administration, and the Bookstore who all told him that he both *had* to have a required textbook and that he *had* to integrate it into the class. Well, he thinks that textbooks are a good aid to learning, but that most text-books aren’t the best source of information, and are too expensive for most college students besides, so he decided that the way he would integrate the book would be to put up 3 worksheets on his website. Each worksheet is from a different chapter of the book, and has 10 questions such as: “What ship sank in May 1915? Who sank it?” and instructions that to the effect of “just write the answers (you don’t need complete sentences) on a separate piece of paper. If you need to borrow a friend’s answers, *cough* I mean textbook to do so, I’ve got no problem with that. This is all just busywork that Administration makes me do. You don’t need to worry that you’re not going to learn in this class, but you also shouldn’t worry that you’re going to have to memorize a $70 textbook to do so.” Essentially saying, yes, the textbook is required, but if you feel like answering the worksheets in the next week or two, you can still take your book back for a full refund at the bookstore…

I approve. My Cisco class on the other hand is looking grim. It’s right after my C++ class at Palomar:San Marcos, and its a 20 minute drive normally, but I’ll be headed there during rush hour. It’s a self-paced class where attendance is mandatory (huh?). And the teacher seems to like Blackboard…

why aren’t I in charge?

Sometimes I wonder about people.

For example, there’s this organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). ICANN is a corporation in charge of deciding what gets to be a Top Level Domain and isn’t.

Now forgive me if I’m telling you, dear reader, what you already know, but a basic Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) consists of three or more words, separated by periods – a host (usually a server), a domain, and a TLD. www.sdsu.edu, www.example.com, mail.palomar.edu, etc. Back when the Internet was young and more or less exclusive to the US, there were only a few (six, actually) TLD’s:

  • .net
  • .com
  • .gov
  • .edu
  • .mil
  • .org

TLD’s were supervised by a government office called IANA. And in order to buy a domain name, say bobthecowboy.com, you’d have to follow the guidelines for said TLD, commerce sites for .com, non-commercial organizations or individuals for .org, ISP’s for .net, etc. Then it was decided that These lowly 6 TLD’s were not enough (and that there was money to be made here…)! In 1998, this responsibility was handed off to ICANN, who has opened up all of the original 6 to anyone (with the exception of .mil and .gov) and since approved such useful TLD’s as:

  • .pro (for professionals […])
  • .aero (for people and companies dealing with … aviation…)
  • .coop (“cooperative-type organizations or a wholly owned subsidiary” – whatever that means… I guess its for Communes)
  • .info (for “informative websites”)
  • .museum (for, well… yeah.)
  • .biz (for businesses… but mostly just spam and porn sites)
  • .name (for individuals)

Of these TLD’s, anyone can apply for and get a Domain name for .biz, .name, .info, .coop with nothing but a name, a credit card, and some easily faked contact information. This essentially makes them worthless for what they were originally intended for (organizing internet addresses by content or purpose or allowing businesses with similar names to have the same domain name, with a different TLD) but has the happy side effect of costing people more money.

Afterall, (for example) Microsoft is hardly going to let some porn site buy the Microsoft.biz domain name. So there’s some money from every business that doesn’t want its name used in association with porn or something even worse. Imagine if some guy bought Microsoft.biz, and set it up to look just like a real Microsoft website, and took credit card information from people who thought they were buying software.

So now we come to the point. ICANN wants to setup the .xxx TLD. I’m sure I don’t have to explain what this would be for, but needless to say the conservatives (not just republicans!) are up in arms over it. The Bush administration has requested that this be held off and the idea re-examined due to overwhelming concerns that “pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our homes, libraries and society with pornography through the .xxx domain.” ICANN is a corporation with international members making its decisions, and even though they are non-profit, that doesn’t mean that its board members aren’t salaried. Leasing these TLD’s to other companies to sell makes them plenty of money. Of the newer TLD’s only 3 of them were leased to companies who run any kind of verification to see if you’re running a website with the TLD’s goals in mind. The others (including the older .net, .com, and .org) have lost much of their value.

So on the one hand, the US government is screaming censorship (what exactly constitutes .xxx? Would a nude picture of myself be porn? the sculpture of “David”?) while the ICANN is seeing dollar signs. Meanwhile, very few people seem to be making the real argument, namely “Why the hell would we even have a .xxx TLD to begin with, let alone all these other retarded ones? Porn sites can still register on whichever TLD they want, and legitimate businesses will still have to register with the new TLD just to keep scammers and the like from tricking their users/customers.”

So yeah, sometimes I wonder about people.

There’s no emoticon for…

Doing some work on the new homepage… with the lull in last weekends gaming, it sorta gives me an excuse to work on programming for something other than DiceBot.

I don’t much feel like postng though – Clare leaves in about a week, and school starts a week from today

“For thousands of years, people thought the moon was made of cheese.
But then we went there and found out it was made of rock.
We haven’t been back since.

Behold the power of Cheese.