Skip to main content

Sitting here in...

...Rhinelander? Yes, yes indeed. Now, you may ask, "Andrew, how did you end up in Rhinelander? Do you not go to school in Houghton?" and, well, you would be very accurate in your question.

I wound up in the labs after my C++ class, where I met up with Corey, Lenore, and Steve. We talked for a while, and Smo joined us. It got on towards 1800 or so, and the thought of food was discussed. I have a number of guest swipes for the dining hall, so I offered. Steve declined, but the rest of us headed over to McNair for some tasty eats. Lenore realized after dinner that she needed to go home (formerly Pembine, WI) to vote, so she decided that she would drive down that evening and offered rides on a "WI roadtrip". I took her up on it and now, by way of Baraga and Pembine, I am here in Rhinelander, waiting for her to get back from the DMV and voting for the trip back up to school.

I also have a cat occupying my lap, coincident with much of my laptop keyboard. It had been a worthwhile trip.


So, I think I have hashed out a schedule I can be happy with for next semester.


  • Slightly later classes--more conducive to sleep.

  • Better time management--classes are clumped together, instead of leaving long breaks during which I will simply waste time.

  • Major-related courses and fun courses--should be an interesting semester, instruction-wise.

  • 15-credit workload--I should be able to handle the amount of work.

Drawbacks: * No lunch on Thursdays--cannot be helped; if I want to take the Logic/Signals lab, I have to do it then based on the way my schedule works out.

  • No crypto course--I wanted to take MA3204 this coming semester, but Diff. Eq. took precedence when the two coincided.

  • Few overlapping courses with friends--I had a mind to take a few courses that were coincident with my friends, but it seems that I am trailing a semester or so, so most of the courses I am taking, they took this current semester.

All in all, not a bad schedule. Let us hope that I can actually get into all the classes I want come November 6th, 2200...


So, sitting here in my first class of the day, I have found myself thinking about habits. These habits are not necessarily bad habits, but are definitely detrimental to my continued well-being, mostly on a mental consideration.

The first of these is the alarming habit of not sleeping. Well, to revise that statement, of not sleeping enough. I find myself puttering about, either talking with friends in the kitchenette or doing stuff while watching Firefly in my room, until well into the next day's morning, occasionally turning in as late (or early) as 05:00 (though usually more like 02:00 on "school days"). I have also found that, after a certain point, my body refuses to wake up at my 07:15 alarm, electing instead to skip over my first two classes, waking at 10:30 or so. (As a side note, I have found that this can be mitigated--at least for now--by having my clock alarm set as an unknown threat. I have yet to not wake up to my watch thus far (the last three days), despite the time of my bedding) This, needless to say, is not an optimal situation, though my first two classes on the MWF schedule are Calc III and Discrete Structures, two classes I am not worried about in the least. I will be attempting, much as I had to do around this time last school year, to find a time for myself to interrupt whatever I am doing and head for sleep.

A second habit I have found relates to, well, relationships. It seems that Brittany has completely and utterly vanished from the North American continent. Her schedule no longer exists at the University of Waterloo, she has not returned an email or IM in several months, and I am getting the distinct feeling that I have been implicitly "Dear John"-ed. I am pretty much OK with this, as we really had little more than a slightly creepy pen pal relationship. I wish Brittany the best, and will close that chapter of my life. [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]

However, that leaves me a little stuck. Because I have literally never yet in my life had a romantic relationship, I have no idea how to start or maintain one. Thus, I feel myself at the emotional development level of a mid-range adolescent, especially given my relatively recent discovering that members of the female species were, well, female. I am having some difficulties right now adjusting to this, especially since a number of our (the CSLC) "adopted" (from Daddy's Girls, at the other end of the floor) women are very cuddly people. I do not mind at all, as I tend to be a bit cuddly myself, but it is (shall we say?) distracting...

::mmm...but welcome distractions...::

...moving on, I either need to find a way to suppress (I know, I know, bad) these feelings, jump-start my emotional development to a better level (not likely), or just bite the bullet and deal with it the way that all young men have done since the first time (unfortunately, pretty much the only option).

A third observation (not so much a habit, so far as I can tell) is how much I have changed since I first got here over a year ago. I had this driven home to me a bit recently, as I had cause to review the LUG IRC logs from around this time last school year (I needed to stitch together a number of files to use as feed for our stats generator). To be blunt--I was pretty much an uppity moral bastard with a fairly major case of holier-than-thou attitude. I am pretty much glad I (seem) to have gotten past that--I cannot imagine that I was terribly pleasant to talk to on IRC during that time. Well, OK, I exaggerate a bit, but the point still stands that I have distinctly and noticeably altered my view of the world, I think for the better.

I think that is probably enough rambling, so I will close by saying that I was quite happy to see Esther yesterday evening, though I was a little sad to hear that she needed to get another job. I am also pleased with my new-to-me little Fujitsu Lifebook B-2545. Having multiple batteries for a laptop that each last around two hours makes a very nice wireless day.


October 27 2008, 16:05:40

Thats why you don't schedule 8am classes...

October 27 2008, 16:25:40

Now, who said anything about the classes I mentioned being 0800 classes? ;-P

Calc III is a 09:00 course. The reason my alarm is set so early is for my Digital Logic course on the TR schedule, which is an 08:00 course, but the only other option for that was coincident with my DIscrete Structures course, of which there is only one section. Next semester will be better...I hope.

October 27 2008, 17:56:38

The whole thing with Brittney seemed pretty creepy and I don't know the details. I think it's weird you like look up her schedule and search all over for her. She might have felt seriously stalked and threatened by you and thus had her schedule removed and changed her IMs and stuff.. you can't just do that to chicks, it's weird and creepy. That is not the way to go about getting a girlfriend

[2022 edit] hi, it is me from the future. Yeah, this 100%.[/edit]


Speed. Power. Sun, wind, leaves.
Unity with the machine underneath me.
An extension of my body, my soul.

Control. Exhilaration. Freedom, life, love.
Careful carelessness, an awareness and acknowledgment of the world about me.

Journey. Destination. Road, path, traffic.
Joy, unbounded, flowing in and around and through me.

Sound. Dance. An answerable hum to the world and myself, harmonizing to the dance of nature.

Smooth, silk, effortless. A gentle, firm curve like a delicate fractal rendered in steel.

Pressure welling up from the road, tires carving out my desires.

Tension, grace. A link following a link, following a chain, round and round.

Response. A instant acquiescence to my unspoken requests.

Support. A suggestion, mildly stated. A hill, taken as an accelerant. A long, banked turn, a leaping of the soul in freedom.


Ruminations on Revolution

...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

--The United States' Declaration of Independence

It has occurred to me on a number of occasions that it is perhaps time for us as a people (or, more likely, a select group of people deeming themselves representative of the greater faction of America) to rise and replace our government with something else. It seems at times that it would be the greater mercy to take the execution of our country into our own hands--do it quickly in a word--than allow her once-proud majesty to be trodden upon by the schmucks and lowlifes that seem to abound in our ruling class these days.

However, it also seems likely that such a noble endeavour would be doomed to fail from the very start. With the alarmist, panic-stricken culture of fear those who lead our country have so carefully and painstakingly induced in our society such that hot dogs are blown up in a baseball stadium for fear of "terrorist activities", this noble gesture of mercy would likely net nothing but sentences to Guantanamo Bay (or worse) for all its supporters, and even help perpetuate and strengthen the other side...

Even if such a cause and plot could be set up and guaranteed certain success if implemented (as it must, as there are no words to the effect of the above quote in the US Constitution, throwing all of any such plot firmly and irrevocably into the territory of treason, punishable by death), the issue comes down to what system to implement once in power. My thought is that our current system, with a few minor tweaks, should be workable for yet another two-hundred or more years, but the type of people I would enlist to support this endeavour would likely not approve of this system. The other issue is that, by implementing the same system, we run into the potential that it too will become bogged down in red tape and corruption, creating a scenario foretold in such wide-ranging media as George Orwell's Animal House and The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again". Other, more radical institutions would be proposed, and ever-more-detailed arguments for or against niggling details of the overall system would cause factions and bog down the endeavour to the point of internal implosion before it even begins to start.

Though this line of thinking is gloomy and not a little cynical, I do believe that there may be hope. It will not change everything that need be changed. It will not even begin to scratch the surface of the crust of slime and political detritus that cakes the face of Lady Liberty. It will however offer a ray of true, golden light where there is now but darkness. This hope, this one, solitary potential for hope, comes in the guise of the next national Presidential election. Though on one hand, we have a stiffly conservative old white guy with a running mate who has no control of her data signature, and on the other, we have an inexperienced senator trying to break a political pattern that has lasted almost a quarter of a millennium, I think that we may very well see the beginnings of change, for better or for worse, over the next four years.

Of course, there is always the option of moving to Canada. They seem sane enough up there still...though they have already stated their displeasure with the "American refugees" moving into their country...


Yay! Another meme!

Grab the nearest book.
Open the book to page 56.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the next seven sentences in your journal along with these instructions.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

Because, like jon787, I had several books equidistant from me, here are two:

Hiro cuts across the Hacker Quadrant, headed for Da5id's table. He recognizes many of the people in here, but as usual, he's surprised and disturbed by the number he doesn't recognize--all those sharp, perceptive twenty-one-year-old faces. Software development, like professional sports, has a way of making thirty-year-old men feel decrepit.

Looking up the aisle towards Da5id's table, he sees Da5id talking to a black-and-white person. Despite her lack of color and shitty resolution, Hiro recognizes her by the way she folds her arms when she's talking, the way she tosses her hair when she's listening to Da5id. Hiro's avatar stops moving and stares at her, adopting just the same facial expression with which he used to stare at this woman years ago. In Reality, he reaches out with one hand, picks up his beer, takes a pull on the bottle, and lets it roll around in his mouth, a bundle of waves clashing inside a small space.

--Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

Two's complement is the way negative numbers are stored on computers. The idea behind two's complement is to provide a binary representation of a number that when added to a positive number of the same magnitude will produce zero. This is done by first writing the positive number in binary, then flipping all the bits, and finally adding one. This can be quickly explored and validated with a hexadecimal and binary calculator, such as pcalc.

$ pcalc 72  
>         72              0x48              0y1001000  
> $ pcalc 0y0000000001001000  
>         72              0x48              0y1001000  
> $ pcalc 0y1111111110110111  
>         65463           0xffb7            0y1111111110110111  
> $ pcalc 0y1111111110110111 + 1  
>         65464           0xffb8            0y1111111110111000  

This pcalc example shows that the last 2 bytes of the two's complement representation for -72 should be 0xffb8, which can be seen to be correct in the hexadecimal output of A.

The third line in the example, labeled [field width on B], shows the use of the field width option in a format parameter. This is just an integer number that designates the minimum field width for that format parameter.

--Jon Erickson, HACKING: The Art of Exploitation

Hmm...I seem to have a pattern going here...


So, this has been an interesting week. First, a guy down the hall got the capacitors and laptops shipped in mentioned in my previous post. Then, discussion was made in the CSLC about running a big LAN party (100 pre-registrations), then an even bigger one (possibly up to two hundred or so). A LAN of a hundred machines is a large LAN, and needs a solid backbone. Well, I happen to be the server administrator for an organization that has several 24-port 10/100 switches floating about, so I offered my services and then asked LUG if they were interested in doing this for the CSLC. The answer was positive, and then the unexpected happened. Dr. Phillip Merkey, our faculty advisor and one of the people who helped develop the concept of a Beowulf cluster while at NASA, offered the use of a large box of CAT5 cables and a 72-port 10/100 switch, formerly from a Beowulf cluster (scroll down a bit until you see Ecgtheow) he brought with him to Tech from NASA. This equipment is currently sitting in my room, waiting until the LAN party to be restored to part of its former glory. It is really kind of awesome.


Progress is much better for one's spirit than failure. After yesterday's post, I made a fair amount of progress on the larger looming projects on my todo list, finishing both of them in full. Today I am finishing off at least one more, if not two. Plus, I am looking around for little parts to rebuild a Fujitsu Lifebook B Series notebook a guy down the hall sold me for $80. The notebook does not currently have a hard drive, and the power supply is still in Grand Rapids due to a misunderstanding on his parents' part, but with it I got three six-cell batteries, a two-battery simultaneous charger, a Belkin PCMCIA 802.11b card, and a second (partial) unit, which will be used to cannibalize for spare parts. Also, the guy has produced a wealth of low-voltage, high-capacity capacitors:
Quantity| Voltage (VDC)| Capacity (μF)
5| 25| 36 000
3| 15| 87 000
1| 50| 41 000
1| 50| 10 000
1| 40| 40 000
1| 40| 37 000

These will be used by the PFRC for various high-current applications, such as coilguns and can crushing. We figure we can set them up in a 40VDC array rated for roughly 222 400μF, and ought to be capable of sourcing around 8 900A of current over a discharge time of 1ms, which is what electrolytic caps tend to have as their minimum discharge time.

Getting Things Done

Psst...want to hear an awesome way to manage your life? I will tell you, it worked for me. It is very simple, not like those other systems you may have seen before.

Read more…

Dancing Away...

All I can say is "...ow..."

We started working with the polka today. I am not happy about this. The polka hurts, especially when one decides it is a good idea to forgo stretching before class on the thought that "Well, hell, I am not going to stretch before a dance in real life, so I should learn to dance without stretching now."

♩ This was a forfeit. I am making a note here: HUGE FAILURE. ♩


Yes, I just paraphrased "Still Alive". What of it?

Yes, I also just used Unicode in a LiveJournal post. Nifty, eh?