packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (quarter-rear)
If I were not the most unprepossessing square I'd ever heard of and didn't already have a better bag, fellas, I would be all over the FreakAngels KK Field Bag like black on soot.

Ah, well.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (darwin has a posse)
Man, today sucked. I thought I had a streak going!
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
I should get a Twitter account. If I had one, I would have just posted this:

Things that cheese me off #eleventy-billion: word processors that italicize or deitalicize the nearest word when you hit Cmd-I, rather than simply switching between typing in plaintext and italics.

Just saying.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (sad mac)
Dunna work.

Or, if you prefer, EPIC FAIL.

(Summary, as far as I can tell so far: Mac OS X 10.5 uses the new, fancy, consistent standard that works perfectly with new, fancy, consistent networks, if you ever find one. When faced with a router with the old firmware - like any of them at UMD - the new OS, unlike XP, Linux, Mac OS X 10.3, and other such, breaks.)

(It's Comcastic! And, ironically, very Windows Vista.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (arecibo)
Naming no names, of course.

Edit: And greetings to all the peeps from [ profile] the_zaniak chiming in!

Edit #2: And [ profile] thequestionclub! (Wow, that's a lot of people.)

[Poll #1166935]


Mar. 15th, 2008 09:01 am
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (swing dismount)
Dagnabbit, I was shaving the wrong yak, and Apple doesn't even seem to have the right one for download any more (10.3.9 here). Fortunately, although weirdly, I had started shaving the right yak I-don't-know-when and I just found the fleece, so I might be able to continue anyway.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (twisty little passages)
Warning: this is going to be very random and probably completely uninteresting. I'm only making an entry so I can remember it. End warning.

A few days ago, at the infamous ASME lounge, we were discussing the relative merits of Apple- and Microsoft-powered computers. After telling my favorite Mac-vs-PC story - the one where my lab mates and I set up IP printers on OSX 10.3.9 and Windows XP, respectively - I enthusiastically extended myself beyond my experience to sum up the difference as follows: Windows computers make most things consistently hard, where Macs make the tasks they expect you to do incredibly easy but leave everything else even harder. One of the participants in the debate replied to this by saying he'd never seen anything that he wanted to do that Apple had not thought of already.

Well, here's one they've missed in 10.3.9. When you're using Finder in "View: As List" mode and select a folder, the right arrow opens the folder as an indented subdirectory and the left arrow closes it. This is well and proper. However, if your cursor is within the indented subdirectory, the left arrow does not make the cursor "jump" to the folder in the parent directory. If it did, as it does in (for example) Firefox and Second Life, repeatedly pressing the left arrow would allow you to close directories all the way back to the top level being viewed.

Is this a major flaw? Absolutely not. Did they fix it in 10.4? Quite possibly. (If anyone has a computer running 10.4 handy, please check - I'm curious.) (Edit: [ profile] kirabug confirms that it has been fixed by 10.5.2.) But it is an avoidable aggravation, something they didn't think of.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (tired)
...I just finished Point Number One on my list. A PDF of three elementary heat transfer problems solved exactly, plus a long digression on root-finding algorithms that I wasn't actually qualified to write.

Dying now, kthxbai. *whump*

(P.S. I'm actually kinda proud of those five plots - the heat conduction equation turns out to be amenable to Fourier analysis, so I wrote some MATLAB code to calculate the first 200 frequencies and coefficients so I could determine the solution for any time t > 0.01 'seconds'.)

(P.P.S. Somehow I'm thinking I spent more than 20 hours this week on the class....)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (tired)
Dear Self:

It's a sign error. It's always a sign error, when it's not a syntax error. F-ing put that minus sign there already so we can go home.

Your humble servant,


Oct. 2nd, 2007 07:51 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (pale blue dot)
I recall reading some time ago a story about a writer talking to a group of people at a party - naturally, the subject of 'getting around to writing' came up. How do you do it?, they asked. And the writer had no answer, for writing was simply what they did, something as automatic as breathing.1

I mention this, because I don't feel that way about what I'm doing.

Engineering is good. Objectively, I mean - supports the social organism, at least if someone can make a buck thereby. (Although ASME, for example, still has the idealistic code of ethics from the years when such things were valued by the leading lights of the profession.3) Also as a career, since if you're any good someone can make a buck thereby. And I'm ... not actively bad, and certainly a good applied mathematician and a passable technical writer. Possibly even capable of thinking fast on my feet when talking to possible sources of money. But I'm not crazy about the work.

But what are you supposed to do, if you're a grad student already? Go to your advisor and say, "Sorry about the research projects, but I want to do comp. sci. now, seeya"? I think I find mathematics cool, but will it be cool if that's all I'm doing, eight hours a day? And if I can't say "yes, I'm sure", then isn't it a bad idea to drop out? If I can't say "no", isn't it a bad idea not to try it?

...I ought to get some sleep.4 Thanks for listening, anyway.

1 I've probably read that story a dozen times, now that I think of it. I guess a lot of writers are ... well, writers, in this sense.2

2 Yes, there are confirmed exceptions. Connie Willis, for example.

3 Approximately 1900-1930, I'd say - I read about it in a book, but it was a while ago.

4 Another bad sign - the engineers I've heard are complaining about four hours a night, and I'm whinging about only getting seven?


packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

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