Slept incredibly late, but, then again, we were out 'til 2:00 AM, hanging with one of Melissa's cool colleagues and her husband. We played Illuminati!, and I won, even though I wasn't trying very hard. Sorry about that....
July 4, 2003 (Fri)
Finished the new Harry Potter, which was amazingly good. I'm always a bit worried that J.K Rowling might stumble and disappoint, but I think this book really did improve on the others. Although I thought Harry was a bit of a jerk at the start, I was generally very pleased by his (finally!) getting pissed off and doing something about some of the people messing with him.
Went out to watch Claremont's fireworks. We ended up somewhere on one of the campuses—I still can't really tell them apart—where we had an okay view. Not as good a view as we could have had if we'd bought tickets, but somehow I think that asking people to buy tickets to see Independence Day fireworks is just un-American.
July 8, 2003 (Tue)
So there was this survey, and it found that most people are pretty clueless about technology. Not exactly a huge surprise, but, to be fair, some of their definitions (particularly the ones for DVR) were a bit vague.
Based on this survey, you'd think that Apple sales would be booming. How many Windows computers are as easy to set up and use as an iMac?
(Yes, I got all the questions on the survey right.)
The Boston Globe reported on an article (PDF) by Shlomo Argamon, Moshe Koppel, Jonathan Fine, and Anat Rachel Shimoni detailing their experiments in distinguishing the gender of writers based on an analysis of their writings.
A bit quoted by Ars Technica,
For example, Koppel's group found that the single biggest difference is that women are far more likely than men to use personal pronouns—“I”, “you”, “she”, “myself”, or “yourself” and the like. Men, in contrast, are more likely to use determiners—“a,” ”the,” “that,” and “these”-as well as cardinal numbers and quantifiers like “more” or “some.” As one of the papers published by Koppel's group notes, men are also more likely to use “post-head noun modification with an of phrase”—phrases like “garden of roses.”
particularly caught my eye, as these are two of the things that most annoy me when I'm editing material written by other people, and also things I try very hard to avoid in my own writing.
Via Ars, again.
July 9, 2003 (Wed)
Hmm. I either rejoined People for the American Way this morning or gave my credit card information to a really good social engineer. Let's hope the former.
I dumped PFAW because I never heard from them—I sent them money after 9/11/2001 because I thought they'd do good things, but it didn't seem like they were able to keep bucking the tide of “patriotism” driving most Americans to surrender their civil liberties and civil rights as fast as they could.
Weirdly, after I refused to rejoin, I started getting newsletters letting me know what they were up to.
Anyway, they seem to be doing good things. They're working on gathering information about the Bush administration's Supreme Court nominees that might help scupper some of the nastiest ones. We're still probably screwed, but at least they're trying.
July 15, 2003 (Tue)
Luckily the keyboard was pretty cleverly designed such that it has separate wells around each group of keys, and the keys fit in such a way that they close off the interior of the keyboard from the outside and are also trivial to pop off and replace.
Sometimes I really wonder why I get out of bed....
July 16, 2003 (Wed)
Hmmph. Apple has clearly decided not to announce those much rumored new PowerBooks at the MacWorld CreativePro Conference and Expo. So we're back to the familiar “in a couple of weeks” on those updates. It would make sense for them to get the new machines on the market before the new school year starts, which would fit right in with that “couple of weeks” timeline. On the other hand, maybe they're planning to really dump the old ones for starting/returning college kids, and introduce the new machines afterwards. Oh, well.
Meanwhile, I've seen Panther running, and it is, indeed, pretty cool. The Mail client is even approaching the point that it could tempt me away from my beloved MH. And Fast User Switching rocks.
July 21, 2003 (Mon)
Oh, no! There's a new edition of The Chicago Manual of Style!
They also now have a website, which allows you to search the book (but not see full text), and also includes lists of the major changes and new sections in the book. Many of the changes deal with the technological changes affecting the publishing industry, including the increasing dependence on electronic manuscript preparation.
The changes to other parts of the book mostly seem sensible, although they've relaxed a couple of typographic rules (possibly due to limitations of most word-processing programs and the typefaces people typically use), which is kind of sad.
A must have if you're in the biz, though, or in the biz of advising people in the biz. (Let's hope that “biz” is disallowed as an abbreviation....)
Red Hat has gone mad. I still don't have a firm grasp on all the plans and details, but they're moving their development model from a corporate, everything-done-in-house model to one a bit more like Debian GNU/Linux's.
Their main development thrust is now called the Red Hat Linux Project, and they're planning on moving the maintenance of many packages onto the shoulders of their upstream developers or third parties.
Smart in terms of keeping the distro up-to-date and expanding the number of packages that are available (which has always been a bit of a sore spot), but a potentially dangerous move in terms of overall quality. Presumably core parts of the operating system (the C libraries, kernel, and so forth) will remain in-house, while many userland apps will end up being maintained outside.
Definitely a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Without dedicated professional maintenance for all the packages, though, is it really better than Debian?
July 28, 2003 (Mon)
- A drive in a machine in one lab
- A hard drive in my home machine
- A hard drive in M's home machine
- A hard drive in one of my servers, resulting in loss of the array
- The main tape backup drive
- One of four SATA hard drives bought to set up a backup array arrived DOA
- A hard drive in another lab machine
Yeesh. Maybe things are looking up, finally, though. I got the drive in the lab machine replaced, and the server array has been cleared, reset, and is ready to go again. (Luckily that one was in a machine that hasn't actually started doing anything yet.) The dead drive is off to the seller, and the array is working with the other three drives.
If another piece of hardware dies, I might have to go postal.
July 29, 2003 (Tue)
One of my Debian GNU/Linux packages has a problem building on PowerPC. Alas, the author doesn't have access to a PowerPC machine. But I do, and I've (at least temporarily) resurrected my old computer so he can debug his code.
It came right up after I plugged everything together, which was kind of surprising. It's taking all day to download and install the nearly 1000 packages that have changed or been added since I powered it off, though. Still, I'm quite pleased, and happy to have it buzzing away behind me.