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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Clint's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, August 2nd, 2007
10:20 pm
Harry Potter V
I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix a couple of weeks ago. I haven't read the book, and now I don't think I will be able to. As it turns out, Dolores Umbridge was on my thesis commmittee. I'm pretty sure it's not the real Umbridge, but they do have a lot in common. They are both rather evil, they both enjoy torturing people they have power over, they both look similar (at least as far as the movie goes), and neither actually read my thesis. I've been told that she plays a larger role in the book.
Friday, June 9th, 2006
2:35 pm
Back the iBook Goes!
Fixing the trackpad shouldn't take more than ten minutes even for a technician who has never seen an iBook before. Still, Apple's desire to give each customer that special "I've been had by Apple" feeling means I have to ship it off and wait another week for an Apple technician to take the top of the case off, screw in the trackpad, replace the top of the case, reformat my hard drive (optional), and ship it back. At least the person I spoke with this time didn't try to get me to downgrade to a MacBook.

Current Mood: tired
Thursday, June 8th, 2006
1:25 am
iBook update
I've got the iBook. The trackpad doesn't seem to stop working, but the lower left corner is loose. We're going to take it to a technician soon.

I can't even begin to express how much I miss SoundApp from the good old days of OS 8.1. The nicest thing I can say about iTunes is that Apple appears to have put a lot of work into it. That's why it takes up 50 megs of RAM and most of my screen. I don't ask that much from a music player. All I really need is a program that
  1. plays music - iTunes has this, at least
  2. doesn't suck up too much RAM - it looks like opening Classic and running SoundApp takes less memory than using iTunes
  3. doesn't suck up much of my screen
  4. doesn't sit on top of every window on my screen, or at least gives me the chance to turn this off - Taply fails this one
  5. lets me play songs by double-clicking them in a Finder window - DropSound fails this one
  6. queues songs (if I select one song while another is playing, the second song gets played after the first one finishes) - Audion fails this one
Wednesday, May 31st, 2006
9:56 pm
I am sick of Apple
My replacement iBook should have shipped today. I guess there are a few hours left for them to put it in the mail, but I'm not particularly optimistic. They called early this morning, and fortunately they reached my roommate rather than me. It seems they wanted to discuss "options," by which they meant trying to talk me into taking a MacBook. Having heard me rant about this before, my roommate gave the Apple guy a very stern "He would not be happy with that."
Tuesday, May 30th, 2006
11:07 am
iBook replacement
Much to my surprise, AppleCare did something useful. They didn't say, "Well, trackpads don't just arrive defective. You must have abused it." They did, however, say, "Mr. Ryan, we're going to transition you to a MacBook." This, of course, isn't going to happen. I spoke to the next person up and it looks like I will get another iBook.
Saturday, May 27th, 2006
10:52 pm
I've been having trouble with my trackpad ever since my iBook arrived. Every so often, it basically stops responding. It might move a little, but not much. If I wait for ten seconds or so, or if I move my finger back and forth slowly and regularly, it starts working again. I usually have this problem after I've been using the computer for a while, and when it happens once in a sitting, it happens again and again.

I went to the Apple Store in Palo Alto today and talked to one of the people there. It took about two minutes of constant use before it happened. Originally he thought it was the way I was using the trackpad, but then it failed when he was trying to check my system software. Since this is a "custom" machine (I've got more RAM and disk space than the default model, but only what I could get by selecting options on the Apple Store website), he said it would be annoying to have it fixed and that Apple should just send me a new one.

My cynical side thinks that Apple will claim that they are out of iBooks and try to get me to switch to a MacBook.
Friday, May 19th, 2006
6:43 pm
More Apple cleverness
I got an e-mail from Apple at 2:00 Tuesday telling me that they were holding my order and encouraging me to buy a MacBook. This e-mail should either have been sent out as soon as I ordered the iBook or not have been sent at all, since I did uncheck the "Apple may contact me with nifty advertisements about new products at this address" button when I signed up for my Apple Store account.

Read the message, if you want.Collapse )

I like the part where they say they will hold my order for a full ten days if they don't hear from me.

Why did Apple wait 26.5 hours after my order to send this? Why didn't this message go out the second they decided to put my order on hold? My guess is that they wouldn't have sent me anything if I hadn't yelled at them Monday. Now they can say, "See? We let you know!" The big plan, I assume, was to let the customers notice the hold in their own good time, assume there was some kind of real problem, call Apple in a panic, and get a sales pitch just as they find out there is nothing (except Apple's tactics) to worry about.
Tuesday, May 16th, 2006
6:54 pm
Yep, I still hate Apple
I purchased an iBook today, since Apple has decided that everyone must use a MacBook in the near future. I don't want the MacBook because it isn't a laptop. It's a small desktop with a higher price and integrated screen. The MagSafe power plug, which is designed to protect us moronic Mac users from tripping over our own power cords and sending our computers flying across the room, works really well unless you do something crazy like put the laptop on your lap. Then it falls out. I showed this to a guy who tried to sell one to me. I've explained this to several people at Apple. The guy who actually saw it was at a loss for words. He finally came up with, "You know, I never would have thought of that." Apple has pulled the iBooks and PowerBooks from their online store, but for some strange reason they plan to unload the rest of the iBooks through their online education store. Since I would dearly love a laptop that I can use on my lap, and since I've learned over the years not to run my power cord at ankle height through high-traffic areas, I wanted either the 15" PowerBook or the 14" iBook. Apple discontinued the 15" PowerBook a few months ago, and they pulled the 12" model today. I was hoping to wait a little while to see if they would come around on the MagSafe (or at least try to spin a 180 as yet another revolution -- "We've got an even cooler-looking idea! How about a power cord that won't fall out of your computer!") or drop the prices on the iBooks, but this morning I decided I didn't know how much longer the iBooks would be around. I ordered one, but when I went to check the shipping status, I saw



I called them and waited on hold for about five minutes before somebody told me that my order was being held because they wanted to tell me that the new MacBook is now available. I'm afraid I'm going to get a "Would you like to purchase a MacBook?" window every time my iBook boots.

Update: I spoke with a service manager. She didn't get (or wasn't allowed to get) the idea that I'm mad because Apple made me call them and sit on hold for a while just to hear another advertisement. Since a new line of MacBooks came out today, Apple assumed that everyone who purchased an iBook must have missed the giant advertisement that filled up half of the screen on the Apple Store homepage. All Apple wants to do is protect us from waking up in a day or so and saying, "Crap! I really want to buy an overpriced desktop computer instead of an iBook!" since we would have to spend our own money to have the iBook shipped back. Apparently it is not, as I originally suspected, some kind of plot to force everyone who hasn't purchased the most expensive product to listen to one last advertisement disguised as a friendly word of warning like
Hold on there, Timmy. You almost made a mistake that could cost you! It looks like you ordered an iBook when you probably meant to order a new MacBook instead. We'll let you order one if you really want, but we need your confirmation. The Law requires us to get one last confirmation before you do something as monumentally stupid as ordering an iBook. If you really want to throw your life away, just say, "I, your name, willingly shoot myself in the foot by ordering a dowdy old iBook instead of a wonderful new MacBook."

However, the manager did offer me second-day shipping, so I should have it within a week. Score. Of course, I would have been just about as happy if Apple had said something like "We just set fire to $50 of our own money." I'd be a lot happier if the manager had said, "Yeah, that was scummy. We're sorry we made you stop what you were doing and call us to listen to an advertisement." I guess they're going to do this for anyone who doesn't order the most expensive products possible.
Saturday, May 6th, 2006
9:56 pm
References in my thesis
  1. BBC radio comedy Old Harry's Game: Quote from Satan on page 1
  2. Dave Barry Slept Here: October 8 as a key example in section 1.2
  3. The Matrix: "There is no spoon" reference in the Motivation section
  4. Space Ghost Coast to Coast: Zorak paraphrased in the Theory chapter
  5. Father Ted: used as an example in a footnote in the Theory chapter
  6. The Frost Report: "Top of the Form" reference in the Theory chapter
  7. Burlingame Pez Museum: mentioned three or four times
  8. Victor Borge: mentioned in the Results chapter; phonetic punctuation used as an example in the Discussion chapter
  9. Lea Hernandez (divalea, author of the Texas Steampunk Trilogy): quoted in the Conclusions chapter
  10. Alex the parrot: research about Alex cited in the Conclusions chapter

That's one every 16 pages or so. I think I could have done better.
Friday, March 17th, 2006
6:48 pm
academic e-mail filter
As soon as I submit my thesis, I'm going to start ignoring any feedback on what I write that falls in any of the following cases:
  1. the comment assumes that I have access to a time machine
  2. the arguments assumes the use of astrology, other methods of telling fortunes, or related powers and pseudosciences
  3. criticism primarily because the data analysis comes out just like I said it would
  4. "You've got some mighty interesting data, but my personal philosophy says you must be wrong."
  5. "I haven't actually looked at your data, but I think you must be wrong."
  6. the commenter pretends not to hear me if I ask for clarification
Tuesday, January 17th, 2006
7:00 pm
Miss Kitty, Part 1
I have a cat, and she is going to die of cancer in a couple of months. I did not want this cat, but when wintersweet moved in with me, the cat moved in. Despite all of her quirks and defects and the fact that she is a cat, I've become very fond of her. I've lost a lot of pets. I can think of six memorable fish (three betas, a hatchetfish, a clown loach, and a red-tailed shark), two peacocks, two really sweet ducks, and a whole bunch of chickens (The Cochin; Dewberry; Camilla; Worf; Look Alike; One-Eye; Julie; Limpy; Kielbasa; Butterball; Stinky; Baby; Chalkdust; Sunset; The Turken; Dorn; the Egyptian twins; Ben, Post, Horton, and their five siblings; Arthur; Taffy; Silkie and Silkie; Wayne; Mystery; Lak; and probably fifty more whose names escape me). Except for the betas, one of the ducks, and three of the chickens, they just died. I'd come back from school to find that our neighbor's dogs had eaten one of them or something like that. The betas were sick for several days before dying. One of the ducks was blind; her partner took care of her, and when he died, we knew it was only a matter of time. She lasted a month, but she was old and we knew she would die soon anyway. One chicken, a really sweet little hen whose name escapes me, got fowl pox on both sides of her beak and couldn't eat. We thought she was going to make it, but she didn't. Kielbasa developed some kind of muscle problem in her neck that we really thought would go away, but it didn't. Post had some kind of developmental trouble. She didn't make it out of the shell before her mother and siblings left the nest, and it was pure luck that my father noticed her at all. We kept her in an incubator for several days and tried to give her good food and exercise, but eventually she started spitting up some kind of fluid and died. Still, I've never known that a pet had no more than a few months to live. I don't know how to deal with this. At this point, I'm just trying to remember everything I can about her.

The first thing Miss Kitty did when she got into my apartment was to run into the downstairs storage closet and hide in the back. The closet was narrow but tall, and I had it piled high with boxes and things I wanted to keep but didn't want to have in my room, so getting to her would have been quite a project. For some reason, rather than digging through the boxes, I opened a can of wet food by the door. She was out of the closet in less than ten seconds. Unfortunately, this was a mistake. Miss Kitty reasoned that because she had wet food once, she should have it every minute of every day. If she did not see wet food when she looked for it, she would file a loud, annoying complaint. We were kind of dense, so we ended up learning this the hard way.

Miss Kitty didn't really seem to have many goals in life. She liked sitting on the futon, running up and down the stairs, eating wet food, pooping in unexpected places, and biting me. She had a trick in which she would come up to me and demand to be petted. As I mentioned before, I'm kind of dense. I would pet her. Then she would bite me and run off. She had another trick in which she would sit on my lap and dig her claws into me. I know that kneading is the kind of thing cats naturally do when they are happy, but Miss Kitty wasn't out to knead. She was out to claw. Once I figured out the kneading thing, I put blankets or kitty pads on my lap to keep her away from my skin. Miss Kitty doesn't have much of a brain, but sometimes whatever combination of marbles and chewing gum she has between her ears roars to life. This was one of those times. When she noticed the blanket between my legs and her claws, she gave a good, long stretch and "accidentally" got her claw past the edge of the blanket. When I moved the blanket, she pawed at it and actually managed to get her claws back into me. I'm allergic to cats, and her claws itched as much as they stung. She didn't mind, though. I guess getting clawed was one of the few ways I could tell she was still alive.

Miss Kitty came to us third-hand, so we don't know her age or anything about her medical history. We got her from wintersweet's mother, who got her from someone who disappeared as soon as she had dumped the cat off, and this person claimed that she had gotten Miss Kitty from a paraplegic. Apparently someone had trained Miss Kitty to be a good pet for someone in a wheelchair. She would almost never climb up onto your lap unless you asked her to. She really didn't climb up onto anything. She didn't even claw the furniture. She didn't really do much of anything. She didn't play with toys, pay attention to things under blankets or behind doors, mess around in paper bags or boxes, or anything else like that. Then we went to Arkansas to have Christmas with family. When we came back, she had a nasty, wet, raw spot on her tummy. We thought it was some kind of infection, so we took her to the vet. It turns out that she had just licked herself raw, but we were given some antibiotics just in case her licking chest wound got infected.

Once she got the antibiotics in her system, she started paying attention to more things. She was a little bit more active, and she would sort of play with toys. She still wasn't interested in things behind doors or under blankets, but she would at least notice catnip mice. She would touch them once or twice and then get bored, but this was a huge change. There was one toy she really loved, though. It was a length of curved wire with some bits of cardboard on one end. I discovered that if I held it upside down and gave it a few good twists, it would swing all around the room. Miss Kitty would try to catch it for minutes on end. I think I actually got her to play for an hour once. She generally liked to do all of her catching from a reclining position. She would roll over on her side and swing at it with one paw. If she really got into the game, she might sit up and make a quick grab with both paws. She also developed a fondness for string and string-like items. She loved stalking a telephone cord, although half of the time she lost to it. She liked hiding in obvious places and leaping out at it, or striking when my back was turned. She really enjoyed attacking when the string was moving away from her, but she often waited until I actually looked away.
Thursday, June 9th, 2005
6:14 pm
I've found my dream job
Screw this teaching thing. My new dream job is to be a juror at the trial for the person or persons responsible for murdering every single person involved with the creation of Beauty and the Geek. I'm talking the directors, camera people, editors, set designers, producers, pet sitters, the doctors who delivered the people who make it, whoever designed the fonts used in the credits, whoever fixed their cars to allow them to go to work and design the fonts, and so on. Everybody. I'd serve on the jury for free. I doubt a jury has ever given a medal to the defendant, but if given this job, I'll see what I can do. Hell, it'd make my heart glow just to know that such a job exists.

Current Mood: violent
Tuesday, May 17th, 2005
2:37 pm
When m_cat tells you to lay off the drugs, you know you're a fuckup.

Current Mood: amused
12:20 am
It seems that m_cat has been reading my journal and is now trying out direct action. She's on special cat food until tomorrow, and she isn't allowed to have anything else. Unfortunately, half a can of wet food twice a day doesn't quite meet her dietary standards. I found her sitting as close as she could get to the bags of dry food while still being in my way. She didn't make any noise. She didn't beg or anything like that. She just stood there and stared at me and refused to move out of my way. *sigh*
Saturday, May 14th, 2005
12:39 pm
civil disobedience
"Civil disobedience" seems to be one of the big things for faux liberals to hide behind. Bush has fighting terrorism. Faux liberals have civil disobedience. I suspect that the people who have actually risked their lives fighting terrorism or standing up for civil rights aren't too happy about either of these trends. Here, for those who would make Martin Luther King or Henry David Thoreau cry, is a short but very good explanation of what civil disobedience really means.
Thursday, April 14th, 2005
11:47 pm
fandoms or something like that
A) Post a list of 20 fandoms
B) Have your friends guess your favorite characters from each one.
C) When guessed, bold the line, include the character name, and write a sentence about why you like that character.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms (three choices, one per kingdom)
Watership Down: Kehaar is smart and somewhat blunt, and has a very different way of thinking about the world, probably because he's a bird and all that. These three combine to give him some very memorable lines.
Master and Commander
Mystic Seaport Chanteymen
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (the manga)
Lone Wolf
Final Fantasy
8-Bit Theater: Black Mage is such an amazing mix of evil and incompetence, and yet he's usually the only one who spends time outside of the dysfunctional dreamland of the other five characters.
The Muppet Show
Bloom County
Sam and Max: Freelance Police
Are You Being Served?
analogical reasoning researchers
The Last of the Summer Wine
chicken breeds
Waiting for God: Diana Trent is sort of like Black Mage in 8-Bit Theater, although she's usually evil for the cause of good. Plus, every so often, she shows that she's a sensitive human being.
Casablanca: Sam really set the tone for Rick's Cafe Americain, and although we didn't get to see much of it in the movie, he wasn't all smiles and songs and carrying suitcases.
numerical analysts: William Kahan talked to me when I was about to drop grad school and encouraged me to think about what I really wanted to do. That's why I'm still here. Plus, he's one of the big names behind IEEE 754. Plus, he and his class put out a paper called "How Java's Floating-Point Hurts Everyone Everywhere."
Harry Potter
Thomas Hardy characters

I've got 21. Sue me.
Wednesday, December 1st, 2004
1:08 pm
Firefox search icons
Does anyone know if there is a way to turn off the damned icons in the Firefox search bar? I'd much rather see the name of the engine I'm searching than some stupid icon, and I'd rather not have to design a new icon for every search engine I add.
Sunday, November 28th, 2004
11:21 am
video cards
I just did a phone survey in which one of the questions was, "How much RAM does your video card have?" The list of possible answers started at 64 megs. I'm pretty sure my card doesn't have more than four, but when I said this, the interviewer said, "That doesn't sound right." In contrast, I'm at a loss to understand why someone who isn't doing scientific visualization would ever need half a gigabyte of video RAM, which was one of the options. I guess it's safer than buying an expensive car and wrapping it around a tree, but really.

I guess the usual reply is that you need that much to play Halo 2 or something like that, but I consider lines like that to be the video game equivalent of "Yeah, I stole that money, but in my defense, I needed it to buy drugs." I'm struggling to think of a game on the market that could actually take advantage of even 256 megs. Before anyone says, "But you need that much for all the polygons," let me give an analogy. Let's say I've just purchased two very nice display cases. I fill one with interesting and pretty things. I fill the other with lint I've collected from the drier over the last twenty years. I've only "taken advantage" of one of these cases. In other words, ugly with an extra million polygons is still ugly.

I will admit that games have come a long way from "Guess a number" or "Stare at the sun" or "Colossal Cave." We've got Heroes of Might and Magic II, Final Fantasy VI, Myst, Katamari Damacy, the Adventure Construction Set, the Carmen Sandiego series, and many others. Some of those took advantage of the video systems of the time and some did not. However, they were all, each in it's own way, substantially more entertaining than staring at the sun or playing Colossal Cave. The main claim to fame for these modern monstrosities seems to be "Hey, we'll get your adrenaline pumping."

I briefly considered destroying the video game industry by opening up a chain of adrenaline bars (motto: No plot, no characterization -- we just inject you with adrenaline!). This thought died a nasty, screaming death when I saw a book called The Art of Halo. Clearly, adrenaline isn't the only attraction of these games. Some people actually like the art. WTF? I guess it's only natural. I mean, standards for beauty in this country are really broken. I mean, you can come pretty close to quantifying a woman's overall attractiveness by adding breast size to (hair bleaching * emaciation), so I guess leaving computer graphics to a group of people who flunked out of Stick-Figure Summer Camp doesn't bother that many people.

With 59 million voters clearly unable to spot poorly-written speculative fiction when they hear it, I guess many people will feel justified in saying nice things about the video game plots. I don't really want to get into this one, though.

And before anybody says anything about Colossal Cave, it totally kicks Staring at the Sun's ass.
Friday, August 20th, 2004
7:01 pm
I'd expect this from Bob Jones University...
The Dean of Admissions at MIT does for mental health what she did for women in academia. It's amazing to me that MIT somehow found someone with an even worse grasp of science than George W. Bush and placed her in charge of admissions.

Therapists at schools like MIT really don't have time to treat some small group of spoiled rich kids. They have enough to do treating all of the people who were fairly normal until they went to college.

I was shocked to learn how many of my lab assistants had been reduced to tears by our intro programming class. I picked all of these people because I knew they were unusually sharp and had done well in that class. Things have actually been pretty calm these last few years. I think it's been two years or more since my department had its last suicide. We've reduced the pressure since the last student threw himself off of the tenth floor of our math building. It's not that most professors in the department have learned anything about teaching. No, it's not that. It's just that we don't have as many students these days, so we no longer need to make them fight each other. That's just Berkeley's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department, though.

Schools like MIT, Stanford, and Berkeley are full of professors who have trouble telling the difference between teaching and torture, largely because they don't know the first thing about teaching. It's not really their fault. Very few SMET programs try to talk to their Ph.D. students about teaching, probably because the people in those programs wouldn't know what to say.

Far too many professors believe that placing students in high-pressure situations and giving sadistic exams and nearly impossible homework will make up for incoherent lectures, unhelpful textbooks, and a whole host of other problems. What it actually does is drive out most of the rational students, leaving those who lack the sense or spine to walk out and go somewhere else, or whose parents won't let them.

What Marilee Jones is really saying is, "If we could pick students who can tolerate four years of bullshit and teach themselves, life would be a lot easier."
Saturday, July 10th, 2004
1:43 pm
Good barbecue
I knew I forgot something. The restaurant is called Southern Heritage, and it is in a shopping center where Fremont and Grimmer intersect. The address is 40645 Fremont Blvd #23, Fremont, CA.

Just so you know, almost everything there has meat in it. The water didn't, the cornbread didn't, and the yams didn't, but everything else we ate had meat or was cooked with meat.

Edit: It's by the corner of Fremont and Grimmer, not fremont and Washington. Also, I found out the hard way that they are generally closed on Sundays.
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