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Amelia's blog posts


So, the Redwings won the Stanley Cup!

Also, I might possibly have an opportunity to have a job working for Valentine Robotics, probably with their Scorpion Vision products. Which will be FSCKING WICKED SWEET!

Or, if that falls through, I also applied for a position with the Best Buy Geek Squad. I know, tech support...but it may carry an employee discount, and it will pay money. I mean, at this point, I've pretty much exhausted all possibilities for robotics, computer service, computer design, IT, prostitution, networking, security, and computer infrastructure in the Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Sterling Heights, Pontiac, and Troy areas, by electronic means, by phone, and on foot. Grr... stupid "trying-to-get-a-summer-job-in-an-area-where-you-weren't-living-back-in-December-when-all-the-local-kids-applied-for-the-jobs-you-want"...

Also, the fact that, due to the recession, adults are competing with us college kids for the minimum-wage jobs that used to be our sole domain...


OK, I think I'm done ranting, for now.

So, we found two houses that we kind of like. One is a 1400-1500 sq. ft. house (our current one is 1051), with a basement of equal size. The difficulty with it is that it smells. Badly. Of cats. There's one corner of the living room which is roped off by the EPA as a toxic waste area. Seriously. Actually, not, but it'll need new carpet. And paint. Walls are dirty and peeling in places. But, it's a pretty nice house and it is priced well within our range, so we put an offer on it, though there's another bidder already...

The other house is priced considerably higher, but still within our range. It is very well laid out, though it's smaller than the other one, and the basement is only a half basement with a crawl space for the other half. Also, all the windows will need replacement, as the wood is rotting out and water appears to be getting in. And, the house has wood shingled outside walls, so we'll likely want to get that redone with vinyl or aluminum siding. And, to top it off, during the storm(s) this area saw last weekend (Monday morning or so, actually), the basement filled with water, though it has two (2) sump pumps on independent circuits. Weird, and the realtor doesn't know why that happened.

House shopping is so fun...especially considering that, had this move happened just four years later, we could have gotten some nice lake property for $100,000, due to not having to worry about my brother's schooling. As it is, we have to think about the high school the houses are in the district of, because we missed school choice back in March (?) and so, we're kinda stuck right now...

On the other side of the lake, things are being packed up such that we can show the house. It (might) be on the market as soon as yesterday, depending on how long it takes the Delphi relocation company (SIRVA) to sign their own damned papers.

In other news, I have been pointed to two amazing groups. One is Within Temptation, a Dutch group. The other is Nightwish, hailing from Finland. Sadly, their music is not for sale on this side of the Atlantic (oh, and I tried, quite hard, actually), and so I had to um, "acquire" it from (ahem) "other sources". I have compensated the group, however, through an online donation system, so... I feel better about it.

The two groups fall into, I guess, the symphonic-Gothic-rock genre, kind of like Evanescence, and Within Temptation's lead singer actually sometimes sounds like Amy Lee.

I'm in the middle of re-reading His Dark Materials, the trilogy the first of which is The Golden Compass, which you may remember as having been a pretty damned good movie maybe six months ago or so. I had read the trilogy, oh, back in middle school. I am thoroughly enjoying them again.

Oh, and, I finally heard back from Brittany! She's spending the summer in Japan, though she was kind of vague as to why. I surmised it was something to do with a study-abroad program.


June 5 2008, 21:32:37

I'm all for java bashing when it is warranted, but I don't see anything wrong with learning java first... I also don't see how it isn't an industry standard language, lots of places use java.

June 6 2008, 04:04:14

Industry defined as the industry I'm going to be working in, that being robotic control systems. That's primarily done in C, C++, or a scripting language, like Python.

June 6 2008, 04:14:20

While C is definitely the dominant language, java is not uncommon there. Although it won't be like any java you have ever seen :)

June 6 2008, 15:34:50

Well, OK, this is true. I've worked with Lego robotics in Java on a few occasions, but my point was that Java is considerably rarer in the robotics industry than C/C++, Delphi, and scripting languages. Thus, it doesn't really suit my purposes to have been given four years of experience in it, and very little experience in one of the others.

June 9 2008, 11:25:24

They actually teach C before Java in Malaysian universities... or at least, I was supposed to take it in that order. What with schedules and all, I wound up inverting it and taking Java before C. My boyfriend did C first, though. It's not a terribly tough language. xDDD You could probably self learn.

Also, I have nearly every album Nightwish has ever released up until about last year. (My most recent is the Black Halo.) You could just have asked. xD Try Kamelot as well.

June 9 2008, 18:24:34

Oh? I suppose I should have asked, but they're such a rare group here in the States I didn't even think about it.

I have a little C from my time working with FIRST and all, but it would have been nicer to have a more concrete foundation in C before trying to get a job based on a non-academic knowledge of it...

June 10 2008, 06:38:30

One of my friends is a die hard fan. He decided to send me through my failing Internet connection all their albums.


Wow. It has been a really long time since I posted here...too much stuff going on, I guess.

So, I finished out my first year of college with a pretty decent GPA, which will improve when I retake Diff. Eq. The year was awesome, and I just finished personally thanking a number of my teachers from high school for allowing it to be thus.

My family is moving from Milwaukee, WI, to Rochester, MI, on account of the Delphi Corporation being a bunch of jerks, consolidating 85 plants nationwide to a grand total of...4. Yeah... Not so good. So, we're moving to MI.

There was a fairly major security issue with all Debian-based OS', including Debian Etch and Sid, as well as every version of Ubuntu from 7.04 to the latest beta, called Ibex (will be released in October, so version no. is 8.10). The breach was in the open-source implementation of SSL, called OpenSSL, which is responsible for SSH keys, as well as web encryption. It appears that the pseudo-random number generator in the implementation had an issue with it in that, instead of generating one of several billion keys for a particular use (well more than enough to foil most brute-force attempts), the PRNG actually only produced about 100,000 unique keys (a small enough sample that an ordinary computer could brute-force the key in a reasonable period of time). However, the implementation has been fixed, but that necessitated regenerating all of my keys and re-sharing them between the computers I regularly use. This process is actually a rather difficult one, as I have no less than eleven unique machines in my personal list of machines, most of which I have established password-less SSH links between. This means I have about 70 unique links to establish, which takes a while as not all the machines have the same tools on them to permit the rapid creation of links.

Dark and Mary got married a while ago in HI. I wish them both the best.

I'm trying to get a job this summer somewhere here in Automation Alley, as I'm broke and need experience in the field to have any chance of getting a job after school.


May 20 2008, 18:49:11

Well the problem is that one of your parents works for Delphi :P

May 20 2008, 18:49:46

Oh and if you'll be in town for June 6th, you can come to a 2600 meeting. I know plenty of people who drive in from up that way if you need a lift.

More Happy

Last night, went over to the CSLC and celebrated the AWESOME that was our Eng. Fund. presentation by getting a coupla pizzas and watching a kinda funny movie called How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Oh, there were some interesting parts to the evening as well...a bottle of sparkling grape juice turned up to toast the going-away of one of Ben's roommates, I paid the guy for pizza with a crapton of change, I had an Esther on my lap for a while while we watched the movie (there were a shortage of seats in the room).

All in all, one of the more fun nights I've had for a while here.

Which reminds me, I still owe the general hall a coupla bucks for the pizza.

The LUG is getting a new UPS! I'm pretty sure we're getiting this one, with an extra battery module, so we can run for around 35-40 minutes, which is far longer than we need to be able to run to survive the gap between main power and generator power.

Some sad news:
Because WECN still has not updated the Linux boxen (still using Red Hat Enterprise $really_old_version) in Superior, I add yet one more item to the list of THINGS THAT DON'T WORK:
The Enigmail GPG plugin for Thunderbird

This goes along with such things as the newest Firefox (or any newer than, currently at, looking at 3.0 soon), the newest Thunderbird (or any newer than, currently at, the newest OO.o (or any newer than 1.1.5, currently at 2.4.0, looking at 3.0 soon), Flash, the newest Pidgin (or any newer than 1.5.0, currently at 2.4.1), the newest kernel (or any newer than 2.6.9, currently at 2.6.25), and a host of others.

Thus, I cannot send signed emails from Thunderbird on this computer.
However, the GPG plugin for Firefox works, apparently, so I can use the web interface for Gmail and be OK.


So, I got off the phone this morning with Delphi, feeling amazing. The guy I was talking to left me with the impression that he'd be looking diligently for a project for me, because he really wants me to work for Delphi.

I got word that our Object-Oriented Design project is pretty much completed, which has been kind of a pain in the posterior padding for the past few weeks.

I finished the presentation my Engineering Fundamentals team is giving on our semester-long Supermileage Vehicle design project tomorrow evening.

I downloaded (and read) the past seven books in the archive of Misfile, an awesome webcomic.

I stood up for a few things that have really been pissing me off the last few months, and I hope things are going to change as a result.

The latest chapter of Tales of MU (Warning: contains a fair amount of NSFW content) came out just about the time I was starting to get bored, and it was a good one.

I love sunflower seeds.

I heard back from Brittany. [2022 edit] hi, it is me from the future. This was a really...weird...time in my life and I was super creepy around Brittany and...yeah. I was dumb and horny and should have known better.[/edit]

There has been a steady stream of people in and out of my room this evening. People are good, especially with a very absentee roommate.

My Engineering Fundamentals class is canceled tomorrow morning, so I could sleep in until around 11:00... options==happy

All in all, this has been a pretty damned good day.


Time is an interesting thing. There's less than a week left of school (excluding finals, but they don't count as school anyway), and most of the big projects are done, and the little homework seems to be disappearing quickly as there's a shortage of time to grade it in. Thus, on one hand, time is flying by. On the other, the next version of Ubuntu is coming out in three days, and I decided a few weeks ago that I wouldn't bother to fix the numerous things that were broken on my laptop's install, instead electing to just do a full, clean install (maybe with an encrypted hard drive this time...). On the gripping hand, I sent a reply to Brittany's email, and there hasn't been a reply back I'm not sure what that does to time, but, well...whatever. [2022 edit] hi, it is me from the future. This was a really...weird...time in my life and I was super creepy around Brittany and...yeah. I was dumb and horny and should have known better.[/edit]

The project I'm working on has unfortunately gone slightly over budget, but not by much and there are only a few, cheap components yet to get. And no, it is not a EEE encased in a hamster ball, as a couple people have suggested. (Although, if you built it with actual omni wheels instead of the mecanums he has there, and turned them 90d to their drawn position, and put the webcam inside the ball, it'd be a really kind of cool project...but I've spent too much money recently for me to justify starting another project.)

Phone interview with Delphi tomorrow! /me is a little nervous, but confident.

Sunflower seeds are tasty. Very much so. Especially when you get the large bags of them from Jim's for very little money.

Saw Cloverfield on Saturday. I have to say, it was amazing, but I should not have eaten beforehand...and I wasn't the only one feeling queasy, though I'm pretty sure the guy puking in the median of US41 was drunk...

Lovely weather we've been having here, and it looks to only get better.

Been playing around with PGP (specifically, GnuPG) paired with the Thunderbird extension Enigmail to digitally sign my outgoing emails and attachments. Not only does this make it simpler for others to confirm that the messages they receive in my name are from me, it also allows me to confirm that signed messages are from who they are signed by. This system also allows me to receive encrypted emails, provided that the sender has PGP software and my key. My public key has been uploaded to hkp:// (not a link your browser can parse, but any PGP software will be able to use it to authenticate signatures).

PGP is fun, in that it's based on trust. If you get a signed email from someone, it will display that the email is signed and the key has been found in the database your software looks in (provided the key has been uploaded somewhere). However, it will also mention that the key is currently UNTRUSTED, meaning that, though that message is signed, you have not personally confirmed the identity of the sender, and thus the software does not trust the sender. Thus, you have to sign the person's key, telling your software that you trust that the owner of the key is the person sending the email. You do this by contacting the person, usually via a different medium than the one protected by PGP, and asking for their key's fingerprint. If the fingerprint matches that of the key on the email, you sign the key and future messages signed with that key will show up as TRUSTED. This approach works well, and offers fairly decent insurance that the person you get email from is the person stated in the message headers.

The fingerprint of my key is 9121 F498 B96B C113 BB55 5EE5 0D56 E47A ACAA 3075, if you have PGP software and wish to sign my key.


April 22 2008, 03:04:16

Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (GNU/Linux)



Yes, I'm saying it. It broke 70F today! And, forecasted for the rest of the week is sunny and warm as well. And, I'm still under budget on my project, but the most expensive component is yet to be found, so I'm still keeping it under wraps. And, perhaps most importantly, I received a message from Brittany! It looks promising...but I respect the privacy she asked for, and so I will not be posting it here.

[2022 edit] hi, it is me from the future. This was a really...weird...time in my life and I was super creepy around Brittany and...yeah. I was dumb and horny and should have known better.[/edit]


April 17 2008, 02:20:16


So, I'm daring to say might finally be spring in Houghton. It's currently hovering around 60-70F, bright sun, and a nice, stiff breeze. Biked over to Jim's to pick up some sunflower seeds and plastic bags, as well as to drop off the winter's stash of cans and bottles, which came out to enough to pay for the other two items.

Realized after getting back on my bike exactly what spring in Houghton means--mud. Mud everywhere. Most of it in a highly non-viscous form such that can be eagerly sprayed everywhere by one's bicycle tires. So, I continued my little jaunt on to Downwind Sports and picked up a couple of fenders for my bike and installed them there. Much dryer ride home, but the rear fender kept hitting the rear wheel due to suspension.

Spent another half hour or so adjusting that for clearance, filling the tires, and looking sadly at the filth distributed normally across my bike, realized I didn't have time to clean it or maintain the chain/dérailleurs, and came back inside to wait out the remaining time on a couple eBay items I'm looking at for a new project. If I can get the components for under $250, I'm gonna do it, but the project will remain secret until that point.

Emailed Brittany finally, as I had finally bashed out an email that didn't sound creepy or stalkerish a day after writing it. Time, I've found, helps you not sound creepy. Or, rather, revision helps that. Have not heard back yet, but it has been only ::checks watch:: about eighteen hours since I sent it.

[2022 edit] hi, it is me from the future. This was a really...weird...time in my life and I was super creepy around Brittany and...yeah. I was dumb and horny and should have known better.[/edit]


So, this past weekend was most interesting. We had the CS dep't end-of-year party, Bonzai, in Rekhi, as well as the semiannual event run by HARO, DDR Club, PFRC, and a bunch of others, Nanocon.

Some interesting highlights from the weekend's festivities:
BonzAI Brawl--write a game AI in eight hours to destroy the competition in a pirate-themed treasure-finding game.
LUG LAN Party--Enemy Territory on all the computers in one of the cushy CS labs.
Gran Turismo 4 Tourney--a mini-LAN set up in Fisher to race or crash a lot.
Rock Band Tourney
Anime Showings
DDR Dance-Off
PFRC Parallel Projection Project--four projectors and speaker set-ups running four B-movie/science lecture/anime/kung-fu films at once in one room.
Apple Detonation--what happens when you take an apple and short a 3uF, 17 200V capacitor across it? The apple detonates, that's what happens!
Tesla Coil Fun--turns out that the ozone generated by a tesla coil running for two or three minutes straight is enough to clear a room!
LN2 Ice Cream--always a crowd favorite, custom-made ice cream with liquid nitrogen as coolant.
Magic: The Gathering Tourney

And, the top highlight, at least for me, was the unofficial, after-hours, PFRC expedition to the dumpster behind the M&M; to reclaim several hundred feet of stainless-steel tubing and fittings formerly used for nitrogen, as well as a few other interesting goodies...

You ask what the PFRC could do with that much small-diameter stainless-steel tubing? Well, I'll tell you--make liquid oxygen! Yes, or a number of other interesting things, such as triglycerol and nitrous oxide, just to name a few.

I also have found a most interesting and useful little utility online called Back|Track, which is used for a number of security-related things. It should prove a most valuable tool in my collection of software.

It is also altogether time enough for the semester to end. I mean, c'mon, dammit!


So, I've been bashing my head against a wall for the last couple of days trying to get this simulation working. For my Engineering Fundamentals course, I'm part of a team that has to design and simulate an entry to the SAE Supermileage Competition. We don't actually have to build it, and development/build costs are above the scope of the project. However, the code to simulate the performance of the vehicle is due tomorrow, and I was having a devil of a time getting it to do what I wanted to. There were two, vaguely-related issues at hand:

  1. The vehicle refused to go slower than about 175m/s. Now, this is a ~75kg vehicle being driven by a stock 3.5hp engine...aside from the fact that that just isn't physically possible, if you looked up the rules on the link above, you'll have seen that the maximum allowed average lap speed is 11.176m/s...less than a tenth the value the simulator was giving.

  2. The data being charted out by the simulator looked, as an astute onlooker mentioned, "like a demented two-year-old hopped up on sugar, paste, and napalm drew it in a fit of rage with crayons". It was, to say the least, a most--shall we say?--interesting thing to see...

As the old programmer's saying goes:

The code is doing exactly what we told it to do;
now we have to trick it into doing what we want it to do.

Sometime mid-day on Monday, I had an epiphany of sorts regarding the first issue, and the vehicle began to behave quite nicely, producing a neat 3600mpg mileage. However, it took until late today to have a breakthrough on the second issue, and suddenly the code was done!

I fiddled about a while longer, putting together a real nice interface for it, to gather the initial vehicle data from the user or a file, and to determine which of eleven different plots the user wanted for that particular run. I wrapped it all up, cleaned and documented, and sent it off to my team and the professor, almost a full day early.

Spent the last half-hour generating PDF documents from the code and data files, as my printer apparently has decided it is going to be antisocial and not talk to either of my computers. le sigh Oh, well. This is why I pay the lab fees, eh?

So, I've been doing a little happy dance here, because it was an especially satisfying project completion. I could, I guess, add the "enhanced" features to it, that are due next week some time, but I'm not going to for three reasons:

  1. I don't feel like it.

  2. It'd be showing off, as I know for certain that our simulation is thus far both the most complete and the most functional (yes, those are two different criteria, just look at a Windows OS for an example of a complete, non-functional program, and OO.o for a functional, incomplete program) in the class.

  3. It'd be breaking a basic tenet of coding, that one writes the code as close to the deadline as possible to give the impression that the code is a difficult challenge that not just anyone could do (in other words, protecting job security).

In other news, I have, finally, gotten an email address for Brittany Li. ::big grin, too large for an emoticon to contain::

[2022 edit] hi, it is me from the future. This was a really...weird...time in my life and I was super creepy around Brittany and...yeah. I was dumb and horny and should have known better.[/edit]

Midnight Ramblings

Yes, yes I have them. And, yes, I'm still up. Or, maybe, I'm awake now. I have no idea. However, regarding Brittany:

Well I’m not paralyzed
But, I seem to be struck by you
I want to make you move
Because you’re standing still
If your body matches
What your eyes can do
You’ll probably move right through
Me on my way to you

--Finger Eleven, "Paralyzer"

Magic, my good friends, magic. No, I'm not as suave as the guy in the video, nor do random people come out and dance behind me in the street, but, oh man. I found her online, some pictures, oh, whee. I can only hope I can attract her attention and, once I have, give her something worthwhile in return. No, I'm not going to post pictures here until I ask her, as I can tell she likes privacy as much as I, given the discussion in the previous post.

Magic. Pure, unadulteratatedingly good magic. Whee!

Friend of mine had some sugar cookies. They were greenish. Not from organic decomposition nor by food colouring, but by other...means...which might very well cause cookies to become, well, greenish. I was tempted but, well, it was late, and raining, and I did not wish to walk back from his house in the rain having eaten...well...greenish...cookies. And, so, Andrew Meyer remains untouched by..."organic products". Also, I do not recommend watching "Kings of Power: 4 billion %" ever, and especially not with people who actually understand it. Think of the worst trip you know your old roommate who went to Woodstock while you finished your conscientious-objector essay ever had, multiply it by Japan and raise it to the power of Australia-minus-Akira, and you might get an inkling of the short film's nature. Maybe. No, no, no you wouldn't. Of course, I don't have a roommate who went to Woodstock while I finished my conscientious-objector essay, nor does he make use of coloured squares of blotter paper. Or anything in the same line of grey-matter crunching of data, for that matter.


Since I do not in fact have a purple elephant over my shoulder telling me that sleeping would be a good idea, I'm going to tuck in and say goodnight to the fishies in the ceiling. Yay ice cream!

(Disclaimer: Any pants that were harming in the maked of this post were not in fact llamas, but merely water buffalo as your father told you, so there.)

(Disclaimer to the disclaimer: Anything you write can and will in fact have bugs in it, and they will usually be poisonous cobra-eating cockroaches with fangs and spiky tails who say "NI!")

(Fuck it all I'm tired: ::random flailing on the keyboard can in fact be proven to not only eventually produce the ultimate code, but will help your immune system repel dead cats.::)

(Not a message from dog: "My hovercraft is fluffy. That, ma'am, is all.")


(This space intentionally full of eels.)