Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sorry about the outage

I'm not sure for how long the blog was down. It turns out that one of the library files on the server was truncated somehow, so every time the blog program tried to run, it gave a syntax error. I have no idea how something like this could happen to the server's Perl installation. Very odd.

Monday, May 30, 2005

If I were a carpenter

Just one verse so far.

If I were a carpenter, and you were a walrus
Would you lure the oysters away, would you share the mollusks?
If a hatter were my trade, would you come to tea?
Would you draw from the treacle-well, and take the dishes behind me?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Peace, order and good government

Just a thought, really.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Dates and departments in flux

I don't think there have been many visitors so far -- my expectations of readership for this blog should be made clear by the name -- but if anybody's out there, you will find that some of the dates and departments have been shuffled around a bit. That will probably cause the RSS feeds to feed a lot of old stuff as if it were new. Sorry.

The good news is that I have now gone through everything and changed the dates, so there should be no more jumping around of those. The bad news is that I haven't decided what to do about departments yet, so those might change in the future.

About the dates in this blog

As should be obvious, many of the dates given for these entries are not really the dates they were posted to the blog. One thing I wanted to do when I started the blog was move certain files from my old home page to the blog, in order to take advantage of comments and to clean up the web page a bit. Of course, the blog requires that I give each entry a date and time. I suppose the right thing to do might be to give the date that these were added to the original web site, but in general I no longer have that information.
What I do have in many cases is a date and time when the entry was originated, because they originated as email or forum posts, or I simply still have the original files copied from disk to disk. For example, the first entry (What, Definitions? What's a Definition?) really was finished and saved to disk on November 10, 1986.
The alternative, it seems to me, is to give all the files the date when the blog was started (May 16, 2005). But there's nothing really special about that date, and I don't want to mush so many years of my life into one lump, from high school through my thirties.
So, although it may seem anachronistic, I think it makes the most sense to put entry dates back in the 1980s into the blog, and then put a link to this explanation above the dates on the sidebar.
This only works now, when the blog is just starting. In the future, I wouldn't want people to have to dig through the archives regularly to see if I decided to post any of my college-age materials. So if I should do that, I'll give it the date it is being posted, not the original authorship date.

Firewire! Give my creation firewire!

I had a minor success today. A few weeks ago I accidentally closed the outer case of my old dual firewire enclosure on the power wire. This unfortunately blew the power supply. I couldn't figure out how to open the damn thing to see if the fuse could be replaced, so I just ended up buying a dual SCSI case listed on Craigslist. It's a a CI Design 3520 2 bay 3.5" drive enclosure. (I can't find a company that lists the price in dollars, but apparently a company in England wants £145 for it. Pretty good for $10.)

This case unfortunately doesn't have holes in the normal locations to fit other drives; it uses some kind of weird drive rails, or something, that fit little tabs in the side of this case. (you can see these in the brochure).

I'd like to say that I made the decision to just drill holes in the side of the rail assembly after searching the web and finding out the difficulty of buying these rails -- none of CI Design's listed retailers seem to carry the kit -- but in fact I found the manufacturer label only after buying the rather longer than usual screws, drilling the holes, and installing the drives. Oh well. The point is, the thing works. Yay! And I didn't have to use lighting from my castle to reanimate it. I did have to install the drives upside down, but I remember reading that this is usually OK (and Seagate's manuals specifically say "any orientation" so I'm going to take their word for it).

I now have two 120 GB drives in it, one Maxtor and one Seagate. The bridgeboard from my old case is an ATA-5 bridgeboard with the 137 GB limitation, so this pretty much maxes out the capacity. (They don't actually make 137 GB drives, for some reason; you can either use 120 GB drives or waste space using 160 GB drives. I here use 1GB = 1 billion bytes, not 230 bytes.)

I thought this was such a good idea that I bought a bridgeboard and dual 5.25" case from eBay -- I'm going to put a 160 GB hard drive and a DVD-RW drive in it and give it to my brother and his family for their iMac. I hope the case gets here soon.

The only problem is the thing sounds like a wind tunnel. I haven't decided whether to replace the fan, but I'm thinking about it. This case is quite big and there's plenty of space between the drives, so I suspect maybe it doesn't need a fan at all, but I'm not sure I want to take chances, even though this is intended to be used just for backups and occasional use when I need a lot of scratch space.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Internet Explorer for Mac

The CSS bugs that made Internet Explorer for Mac display a huge amount of space between each line should now be worked around. The top banner isn't perfect, but the blog should now be readable.

At this point getting the blog pixel-perfect for old browsers is low on my priority list, but if you have serious trouble reading it, let me know. Thanks.

Comments are here...

So, comments should now be working. All the people who aren't reading this can now tell me what I should have said instead of what I actually did say.

The comment plugin also handles trackbacks, although I have no way of testing this and I'm not really sure what will happen.

I'm not so sure it's really a good idea to open up a place where people will spend all their time talking about me, but who knows, maybe people will be nice for a change. Here's hoping!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Supermarket bagels

My usual breakfast includes a bagel or three, so I buy a lot of them. I don't know why it is that supermarkets cannot sell a good bagel, but only bagels that are light and fluffy. Bagels should not be light and fluffy. They should be chewy.

I tried a brand from Albertson's called "Country Farms" bagels. For supermarket bagels they are OK (here's a review from the San Francisco Chronicle) but I think the name itself gives away that they can't really be right. Bagels' brand names should not conjure up images of midwestern farm country; they should conjure up images of ethnic urban scenes. Noah's, whatever your opinion of their steamed-not-boiled bagels, has the branding right with their subwayesque mosaics, Yiddishisms, and New York-themed interiors. My gift to any aspiring bagel shop owners: Try "Stickball Bagels."

(I do have to admit a certain fondness for "Boogie Woogie Bagel Boy." If they are incorporated, would it be as "Company B, Inc."?)

What's write-only memory?

Write-only memory is, of course, the opposite of read-only memory.

From the Jargon File:

The obvious antonym to read-only memory. Out of frustration with the long and seemingly useless chain of approvals required of component specifications, during which no actual checking seemed to occur, an engineer at Signetics once created a specification for a write-only memory and included it with a bunch of other specifications to be approved. This inclusion came to the attention of Signetics management only when regular customers started calling and asking for pricing information. Signetics published a corrected edition of the data book and requested the return of the ‘erroneous’ ones. Later, in 1972, Signetics bought a double-page spread in Electronics magazine's April issue and used the spec as an April Fools' Day joke. Instead of the more conventional characteristic curves, the 25120 “fully encoded, 9046 x N, Random Access, write-only-memory” data sheet included diagrams of “bit capacity vs.: Temp.”, “Iff vs. Vff”, “Number of pins remaining vs.: number of socket insertions”, and “AQL vs.: selling price”. The 25120 required a 6.3 VAC VFF supply, a +10V VCC, and VDD of 0V, ±2%.

A page linking to scanned copies of the magazine ads.

Wow, I've started a blog!

Well, Write-Only Memory, my long-in-coming but not long-awaited blog, is now up. I hope to add comments (for as long as I can stand dealing with comment spam) and maybe other features soon. Meanwhile I have seeded the blog with stuff from my web site. I will probably eventually redirect the old web site links to the blog entries.