astroaztec: (sun machete)
2013-02-04 09:44 am

Why Grandma, what strange kerning you have!

One of the modes of Jamie Zawinski's xscreensaver just displayed something incomprehensible.

puni shment

What's a puni? What's a shment?
Fairy tales, they're important teachings to remember.

The better to confound you, my dear.
astroaztec: (Default)
2012-04-26 08:56 pm

elder gods sleeping with one "eye" open

This has been there a long time.

astroaztec: (gumby)
2012-03-16 10:29 am

pi day

Little daughter took the challenge and seems to have internalized something like 120 digits of pi. When I pulled out Abramowitz and Stegun she remarked that seeing pi in there had been one of her motivators. This led me to point out the paucity of decimal digits actually provided in the old books of tables, and how rapidly a 30-year old HP calculator could outdo the books.

Then she noted that the computer grading for her language arts class this year uses the same fill-in-the-bubble scanning technology as her math class last year. I started to show her images of IBM punch card technology which had been used for multiple-choice bubbles when I was in school, and other applications of the old days of programming by punched cards. I explained that I had learned to read my name on IBM cards. Not totally impressed as she pointed out that a sliver of silicon could hold far more data, she moved on. She extracted a piece of math homework from last year which she had not understood and proceeded to work it through.
astroaztec: (should you eat that?)
2012-02-17 10:05 am

who eats coconut?

Early January the bucks still have antlers, itchy, old, fragile (or even bloody stumps), and graze with bucks. Late January and into February the antlers are gone and the bucks and does and fawns graze together. Late February the rich greens trigger the next set of antlers to start bulging and the sexes separate again.

Tuesday someone had cracked open a coconut along the trail leaving the meat lying exposed. Wednesday about a third of the meat had been neatly nibbled away. Today the shell is stripped clean.
astroaztec: (mirror)
2012-02-12 04:36 pm

word

Trelane: I don't know if I like your tone. It's most challenging. That's what you're doing, challenging me?
Spock: I object to you. I object to intellect without discipline. I object to power without constructive purpose.
Trelane: Oh, Mister Spock, you do have one saving grace after all. You're ill-mannered. The human half of you, no doubt.
-- (stardate 2126) in The Squire of Gothos
astroaztec: (Default)
2011-05-09 12:10 pm

Odin

Sure, the movie is titled Thor, and he gets the action, but as soon as the voice of Anthony Hopkins started giving the backstory in the opening narration it was obvious who was commanding the situations.

Could anyone else have done better in that role?

Now I wish to rent Beowulf to get another taste of the sagas.
astroaztec: (gumby)
2011-04-21 12:28 am

science and engineering

Little daughter's final elementary science project sits complete, awaiting the fair as the sun next sets. It's not really science per se. It's much more engineering than testing any hypothesis, unless that hypothesis is mine and the topic is her. The core of the project is an Arduino. The work involved breadboarding circuits where I made one and she saw how to make the other replicas, writing C code where I wrote the skeleton routines but she saw how to copy the existing routines and modify them, debugging where she saw that unless the code says to do something the Arduino doesn't usually do that, soldering to construct the final hardware layout. The past two days have been poster construction, documentation, review. Yeah.
astroaztec: (loose wires)
2011-04-08 01:50 pm

oh, that's why livejournal keeps failing

Our new Russian overlords really do include the Russian overlord.
astroaztec: (mostly harmless)
2011-01-06 11:55 am

some people are not programmers

and sometimes more English words are worse than fewer. That is, of course, why lj has cuts. )
Alas, for some non-programmers even an e-mail which states "no you don't have to do anything, I do" is too much if it has 4 paragraphs explaining what is and is not happening.
If you give an incredibly powerful button to someone who is not a programmer then, no matter what you say, they may just keep pressing that button over and over again. So for that button
  • make sure it checks everything it does before doing it, and doesn't do it if it was already done
  • make sure it leaves a full log of what it did and did not do
astroaztec: (Default)
2010-09-28 07:01 pm

In the shadow of Vulcan

Out the window Vulcan stands watch over Birmingham.

I flew in last night, and this morning I walked in to learn that discharge to a rehab center was to happen today. During the day a failure of technology prompted a call for intervention which brought as many as 12 med staffers into her room at the same time.

I sit in Mom's hospital room. I will spend the night beside her. After most of a month without eating she can now eat. During that month her body's response to the return of the cancer prompted many interventions, and two major surgeries. She is weak, her body is healing slowly, and treating one aspect often triggers imbalance in others. Regaining strength means a lot of hard work walking a tightrope only to face more chemo.

Walking in to hope and then having a faux crisis is a good thing, for we have talked through many of the details that might have been left unspoken until later.

Vulcan stands watch from afar, unconcerned. I'm right with her.
astroaztec: (bless you)
2010-09-04 08:58 pm

the cake is a lie

where is the Amulet of Yendor?
astroaztec: (Default)
2010-09-02 10:56 am

identity enables authority

Big Faraway Observatory notes that travel to their site consumes many resources, so they allow remote operation of their facility over the internet. Remote site engineers and Big Faraway admins find recurring security concerns in the scheme used to authenticate remote users. Big Faraway admins have limited resources and are not prone to address the concerns. Remote site overseer wants to improve the security.

Big Faraway Observatory has an operable scheme for managing the identity of principal investigators, but no scheme for managing the identity of collaborators. I note that the overall structure of the problem is basically the same as blogger identities with friends lists; that is, there are principal investigators who are awarded telescope time, and they have teams of collaborators who may participate in (or even perform) the observations. I point out means by which authentication information could be automatically transferred to the principal investigators, but they would have to disseminate that authentication to delegated collaborators. Whereas some astronomers know what is meant by handling cryptographic authentication tokens, most do not.

I note one snip from the second paragraph of section 3 of the Internet Draft for OAuth 2.0 which has recently been required for Twitter clients:
the authorization server MUST first verify the identity of the end-user.
In order to solve the problem somebody is going to have to manage identities, and delegation of authority to other identities. It doesn't make sense for that to be done by anyone other than Big Faraway Observatory. I assert to Remote site overseer that we can't solve the problem.
astroaztec: (mostly harmless)
2010-08-14 11:13 am

Silent Running

I mentioned the horse chestnut trees in Harvey West Park. The leaves were not just brown, they're falling off. As I walked past them a song came to me, Joan Baez singing from 40 years ago, from the rings of Saturn:
Tell them it's not too late,
cultivate -- one by one.
Tell them to harvest and rejoice in the sun.
The weather has not been normal this year, just ask Pakistan, or Russia. Santa Cruz has been lucky to see the sun for 4 hours a day, and even then the sea breeze doesn't allow heating.

The horse chestnut trees have decided that it is autumn. Before the blossoms had fallen away to reveal the nuts starting to grow, they've decided that summer did not happen.
astroaztec: (Default)
2010-08-10 09:56 pm

Sweet Dreams are Made of This

Inception

What a ride! This is the stuff that lay under the original pilot for Star Trek, but Inception has 4 levels of recursion with interrelated wild and crazy action.

I was sure they must have used some vomit comet for the free fall scenes, and I'm stunned to read that they were done just like Kubrick's 2001. It's worth every minute of the 2.5 hours.
astroaztec: (Default)
2010-07-26 11:13 am

the evening sky into August

Look to the west on any evening opportunity during the next two to three weeks.

Mercury is nearing greatest elongation, but it is already close. In the mean time Venus is rushing along toward Mars and Saturn.

Mars will pass Saturn at the end of July, but within the first week of August Venus will rush up to be with them both, while Mercury still hangs about as high as it can.
astroaztec: (Default)
2010-07-26 10:56 am

horse chestnuts

The horse chestnut trees in Harvey West park bloomed late this year. The blossom structures have not yet fallen off, but that's not their most striking feature. Their leaves are turning brown. They stand out among the other trees looking pale and sickly.
astroaztec: (Default)
2010-06-11 10:45 pm

the other kind of leak

Buzz buzz goes the blogosphere.

Tweets about wikileaks.
Daniel Ellsberg is reputed to suppose Assange might be assassinated.
Federal government is reputed to be seeking contact with Assange.

But no hard sources, no names, just rumor and supposition.

And the drama, there isn't really any.
This is not a situation which can be resolved by force or threats.
Intervention is a lose lose scenario.

If Assange has anything the feds are perfectly aware that he probably has several deadman switches set up to make the release.

I know I would.