December 31, 2007

Macworld 2008 - Party On!

One of these years I will make the westerly pilgrimage to the Mecca of Mac - Macworld Expo. Unfortunately I always have school - this year the spring semester actually begins the same week. Bah! One of these years though...
This is the time of year when every tech enthusiast holds their breath just to see what will be face of computing in the coming year (and I am certainly not talking CES or E3 here, people). Oh, for those of you who are even slightly interested, in the last year Apple's stock has gone up more than $100. That's what I'm talking about! And the above video actually won a contest on the Your Mac Life podcast for a Platinum Pass to the expo.
Find more videos like this on Macworld Conference and Expo

December 27, 2007


So the USPS is part of the US government. Therefore I'm proposing that postage stamps should be acceptable legal tender in the USA. And given the nature of stamps, you could lick then and put them on pieces of paper. This would create bills of both odd value (i.e. the $2.34 dollar bill) and artistic. Personally, I'd get a kick out of mailing the IRS thousands of those 2 cent stamps when I came time for the annual government leeching. 

Username Guidelines

I am writing up these guidelines because I am fairly disturbed at the state of username etiquette on the WWW today...

1) The best usernames are real words or names.
2) Good usernames are like real words or names (i.e. hacker, license plate abbreviations).
3) Decent usernames contain significant numbers (i.e. a house number).
4) Horrible, awful, rotten, smelly-to-the-read usernames contain random numbers (i.e. numbers for the sake of creating an unused username).
Those are the guidelines - but you should treat them like rules!


Thanks to all those who gifted me for Christmas (the subset of people who ever liked me and who I haven't overly offended grows slimmer yearly). I got so great stuff, and even herbs and spices which I asked for so last minute!

December 16, 2007

The Infinity Intelligence Concept of Game Programming

I was helping someone code a Battleship computer game, and I came up with this:
The Infinity Intelligence Concept of Game Programming
When programming a game, one should design to allow both the player (RI) and computer player (AI) to be both infinitely intelligent and infinitely unintelligent. For example, the programmer should assume that both RI and AI are too stupid to know to place pieces on the board. Thus protections should be put in place to deny them the ability to place pieces off of the board. On the other hand, the programmer should also assume that the RI is a perfect players of the game. Thus the AI should be programmed, and allowed, to play as excellently as possible, so that they will be evenly matched. 
There is certainly room for expansion, but these basic guidelines should be adhered to.

Stocking Stuffers

If you still need something to get Chris you should think about getting him some basic herbs and spices. He just made pasta for the first time, and was very disappointed on how bland it was. He would love some oregano, garlic powder, and more!

December 12, 2007

Fun Finance & "Want" Existentialism

I really enjoy playing with money (that which I have), and this yields to some excellent diversification. I have a savings account, a checking account, a brokerage account (with various holdings), 2 CDs, an IRA (which is itself composed of many things), a PayPal account (which I turned into a money market fund), and various plastic. My latest fun is a blossoming refurb iPod resell-ship. 
I've found I really enjoy working this - the problems especially. Streamlining inventory workflows, dealing with the oddities of customers and suppliers. It is so much fun. I had to call up Apple because they shipped me the wrong thing. I wasn't even angry (a little annoyed, but not much). I was enjoying doing. Walking around my room, waiving gesturing wildly as I try to explain the situation to an sales rep - it's great.
Oh, and that Apple error has left me with a free Orange iPod Shuffle.
Now on to the existential.
So lately I've been toying with this theory: Everything one ever does is what one wants. That's not to say one does everything they want, just that every choice to every decision ever made has been the most desired choice. Even in the classic case of gun-to-the-head, the choice made between follow orders and live or disobey and die has been the choice most wanted. Think about it.

December 11, 2007


Do you ever wake up, or look at something, and suddenly you have a flashback? This morning I woke up and reminisced on the horrors of Power Pete (aka Mighty Mike). David will remember what I'm talking about.
And today I noticed one of my socks had grey stains on it. And It totally took me back to my tree, and Giant (F*ing) Panda Mountain.
Well, that's my journal-esque entry for today.
In other news, the CMU printing website now cites my work!

December 8, 2007

Semester Over (Almost)

So my first semester is done, with lectures at least - I've still got to take finals. Today is also Friday - which means I got 12+ hours of sleep Wednesday night, so that I can stay up till Friday morn doing homework. So Fridays are bad days.
I do crazy things without sleep - how 'bout you. Like today I ate a mini Reese's peanut butter cup - with the paper wrapper still on... Mmmmm
Today also marks the 3rd local water main break this fall. The one that took out all of Pittsburgh, then another one near our biggest dorn, and then today's - which caused a river right through the CMU campus

December 6, 2007


When Mac OS X Leopard came around it broke the software used ( by Pharos) to print to the CMU public printers. So Brandon Sherman and I developed a workaround (actually it was three workarounds, one in CUPS, one in UNIX, and one in the standard GUI). The steps to the GUI workaround, and a program I developed to automate these steps, were subsequently published to my website.
I then emailed CMU Computing Services to let them know of our work. For a month I received no substantial reply, so when I updated my program with additional features, I emailed them again. This is the email I got back:

Thank you for the information. Your prior solution was noted and passed on for consideration. However, because it involved a custom application that Cluster Services does not control, there are security concerns. A method not requiring a custom app would be preferred.

We have followed up with Pharos and have been informed that they had a working version for the beta but when the full release came out, this broke their code. They are working on a fix.

William Richter
Cluster Services Technical Coordinator
Cyert Hall, Carnegie Mellon University
Considering Pharos has had more than a month to fix their bugs, I'm pretty sure they should be considered unreliable anyway. I also didn't like the implication about my ethics, for although I can understand I certain amount of distrust (as I was later told is the case), I am a student who has put work into helping his peers, not an evil script kiddie.
But what really got my goat was that CMU Computer Services, as of today, posted a set of Leopard print setup instructions almost identical to our own! Check it out for yourself. Ours is at and their's is at No citation at all (though hopefully they'll fix it by the time you read it)! If I did that on a paper I'd be in serious trouble, so I'm taking no prisoners.
Writing this, I have just gotten out of talking with Mr. Righter, who claims he didn't put up the webpage, but he is going to pass my contact info on to someone who can talk to me. ARRRRG!

December 5, 2007

Picture Overload

It's been snowing for the last three days!
Every once and a while my phone runs out of space from all the pictures on it. Today is one of those days.
So here it seems CMU really does love us - They're getting the UC pool tables fixed up. No more banking off of invisible humps! And there's also this pic of one of my neighbors enjoying a phone conversation - upside-down. Plus a weird contraption that's been sitting in Wean Hall for a while.
Oh, news! Usually I don't like to laud my own accomplishments, but I'm in great mood cause I aced, as in got 100%, on my Principles of Computation term paper. It was about the history of codes and ciphers. I titled it "We Didn't Start to Cipher: There's always been coding since the world's been turning.".
And congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Smith - who have decided to stick with it!