Survived Week 2 of CS

Well I survived the second week of my Introductory class... which seems to have been better than others.. the first class had a lot of people trying to sign into a max course.. and by today we actually had empty seats for the first time.

We have gone over objects, references to objects, and a whirlwind of JUnit testing. The most challenging part of the course has been doing the labs in the last 45 minutes of class. I keep trying to add more tests or overthinking things.. and end up having to be kicked out before the next class can come in.

Still enjoying it however.


Grumpy Old Man Post 002: Parents

A friend of the family is having a hard time getting a school PTA going. Why is it that so many parents treat their kids like check-marks they needed to be a true-adult, and then expect someone else to take care of their children as it gets in the way of their own lives? This is a problem I have seen going across political boundries... the worst offender I knew seemed to hold the back of their car together with bumber stickers of "Bush/Cheney 200X", "Pro-Life Republican", "DittoHead", etc. However, every day it would be bitching about how the kid needed extra tutoring, how the teacher assigned homework that needed their time to complete, etc etc. I do not doubt that I would meet others who had as many "Kucinich for President Someday.." and "My President is Al Gore!".

As Stan Lee penned long ago.. "With great power, comes great responsibility." One of the greatest powers we have is bringing new humans into this world. With that power comes the responsibility to raise that human to be a responsible adult who will try to make the world a better place than it is now. That means making sure that they have an education, can make informed decisions, and will not be resentful of us when we are old and feeble :).

Ok back to other topics.


Alpha The Omega The Haas Or Something

So today I was what in the world the trailer I had seen before the Transformers movie that has no name.. basically it looked like some Godzilla movie from the viewpoint of random people getting smushed as you have the Statue of Liberty flying across the screen and crushing some people. Going to imdb.com I ended up with what someone thought was a link to the movie called:


which after solving some puzzles, you come to


I will say that I think this might be where gaming might go in the next 10 years. A gaming company would need to have a viral marketing scheme and then having a website and gaming that competes with WoW etc on how the characters, story, and game are shown to the players. I am guessing that this is what Hasbro has in mind with the D&D 4.0

The reason for bringing it up was that I had been looking at what in
1991 was pretty unique in RPG's, West End Games Torg campaign. In it there was a fairly interactive item called the Infiniverse campaign setting and
the rumour mill. WEG would send out a monthly newsletter with items from peoples campaigns, new rules, etc and they would have a section where you could run various small adventures or just vote that you thought something was happening in your world or not (or if the heroes were able to stop the badguys.) If enough badguy plots were stopped, things went well for players... and vice versa. It had a 2-4 month lag from what you wrote back in as everything happened via postal mail.. and you might not be able to run every rumour past your group.

My guess would be that if WEG were to do Torg now, it would be with a website where you build out your campaign and then have players and groups deal with rumours and storylines on a timed basis.. every world would be different but you could calculate a
center-state universe that would be 'the main' one.

There is also the grumpy old moment where I think to myself.. in my day we just used our imaginations, paper and pencils... and WE LIKED IT. Getting too damn old to have to carry a laptop to every game session... and why do I need a USB dice collection?

On the other hand.. while I do not think I could make something as slick as AlphaOmega.. there might be something that could be done via GoogleGears... will mull on that for later.


Goodbye SysAdmin Magazine

Got a card in the mail today saying that SysAdmin magazine was going out of print as of August 2007. The magazine covered Unix Systems Administration, and had a bevy of articles every month for Solaris, AIX, and Linux. I had been subscribing to the magazine since I had worked at Red Hat back in 1997 or so.. and had a couple of articles I was going to submit this fall for possible publication. I had noticed the magazine had gotten thinner and thinner over time.. my guess was that circulation was increasingly down as less Unix systems were around and more people get their information from the web. However the articles were surprisingly useful at times when I needed to figure out some arcane Unix issue that only occurred on version X.Y of Bubonix.
The good point, they are offering to fulfill my subscription with a CD-rom of all issues in pdf format from 1994 to 2007 so I will be able to have my back issues available for grepping about how to handle our aging AIX and Solaris boxes here at the University. The bad point will be that I will have to find out where to get up-to-date Systems Administration information these days. I should probably join LOPSA or SAGE again to see what they offer. Off to find out what magazines are good these days.. and what I can afford on a University salary.

I will try to put up my articles on puppet and computer security sometime in the future.

Thankyou to the editors and writers of the magazine over the years. You have been very helpful.


Not seeing the forest for the trees.

So a question on our first homework was something like:

What is the answer? (Hint: The answer should be the following:

I then spend the next couple of hours trying to decode the data via hexdump, xxd, looking for what google has on the various 16 bit pieces [4cc7 9ff6, etc etc]... looking for repeating patterns etc. Of course the answer is a lot simpler.. if I just didn't think about it.


Transformers... the pain

Went to see Transformers the movie Sunday night with an old college buddy. It was an altogether dreadful experience. First the theatre was packed with people bringing their little kids to watch it. I would say that 1/2 of the theatre was under 13.. and some were definately as young as 4 or 5 (from the screaming kid who had to be taken out during one of the battle scenes.) My grumpy old man post is that there is a rating for a reason: 1 so you have an idea what might be too intense for children.. and 2 so us grumpy old people do not have to hear little kids crying when we are trying to enjoy a movie with large explosions etc. I seem to have bad movie karma.. every movie I have gone to in the last 4 years has had this happen.. even the 11pm showing of the Matrix 2. I haven't gone to many movies lately because it has become such a trend of parents who believe that inflicting nightmares on little Jimmy is ok for me to watch as much as the movie.

Next, the movie was pretty much written via the Summer Blockbuster Committee.
  1. Loser Boy (Shia LaBeouf) who might become a Man, Check.
  2. Large explosions, Check.
  3. Not-so-subliminal political and moral comments, Check.
  4. Girl with a past (Megan Fox) who falls for Loser Boy even when the car is a better boyfriend, Check.
  5. Every other scene being a short comedy skit with teen actors we are trying to groom for the next 3 years of movies, Check.
  6. Standard stereotypes of bit characters who are not seen 20 minutes after introduction. Check.
  7. Government conspiracy group that couldnt do a competent action throughout the movie. Check.
  8. Horrible gobbledy gook science that was passe when War Games came out. Check.

I will give the movie an A for giving me the most disturbing scene I have seen in a PG-13 movie.. and probably why the movie got a PG-13 over a PG. The story is a boy gets car, boy gets girl, boy learns that girl has a juvie record, boy loses girl to car, and the boy gets girl back in the end (for some reason.. honest honey.. stick to the car!). So for our "Boy becomes man and gets reward from the maiden" checkmark we have the boy and girl making out ONTOP of the transformer car, WITH the rest of the Autobots looking on. I was expecting to hear comments from rachet on "Boy, her pheremones shot up when you touched her there.. please do so again so that I can confirm my analysis." I don't know but it was like watching someone makeout while laying ontop of their brother.

Finally, I had a hard time not comparing the movie to Independance Day (and finding Independance Day coming out on top.) I kept coming up with ways that I would have loved to rewrite/redirect the movie to make it a bit better here, a different point.

The best acting/storylines in the movie to me were the US Soldiers and
Mikaela Banes (Girl with past). I still believe she should have dumped the boy and stuck with Bumblebee versus 'just' dating the boy (Oh I said that before didnt' I?) I ended up with a complete rewrite in my head with the Decepticons coming after the two groups because one had a clue to the Cube, and the other a clue to where Megatron was. Cut the cast in 1/3 so there was a lot more screen time and still have a short amount of robot time because CGI that good costs money. Oh well.. when I take a screen writing class next year.. I will use that as my basis (GI Joe Meets the Transformers!)

First Day Of CS Classes

Today was the first day of my 'academic' renewal. In 1994, I had gotten a bachelor's in Physics w/Astrophysics option from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology... and had left the school very burnt out and not wanting to ever see a University again... after 13 years... the school bug has bitten again, and I have decided to venture back into Academia with the long term goal of getting a PhD in Computer Science or similar field.

However, a long time has passed since my CS courses (Pascal and Fortran are no longer used as much in classes... and the assembly courses no longer use the M68k for their target CPU). To address that problem, I decided to start from 'scratch' again by taking CS259, a course that combines the first two UNM CS courses into one firehose class. I got to school early this morning... found the classroom on time... and got caught up with how people program in the 21st century by writing a 'Goodbye dear world' program using Java and Eclipse. I will say that I liked my professor's style... no PowerPoint presentation as others use.. no just good old fashioned lecture-mode in Emacs. This week is basically the first chapter of Arnold, Gosling, and Holmes , 'The Java Programming Language'. and some esoterical questions about the idioms of programming in Java these days.

Ubiquitous First Post

Well after many years, I decided to start a new blog as my last blog ended in 2001 around the time I left my job at Red Hat. The purpose of this blog is to be like many others.. a biographical log of my life, points of views etc. We will will see how this progresses.

The subjects that I will probably cover the most are:
Getting a PhD.

Computer Security
l Projects

Edited (2007/08/21): To make font bigger so people could read it.