Warning: Today’s entry has ended up being even more journal-y than normal; if you don’t go for that sort of thing, or couldn’t care less ‘bout my personal mumblings, maybe come back tomorrow, eh?

Whadda weekend. In lieu of actually doing anything resembling the work I had intended to do, I went to a computer swap meet/”Bargains!Bargains!Bargains!” type sale on Saturday, where I ended up picking up a copy of $GAMEOS. Strangely, the new Compaq PC that was supposed to accompany it was missing. I also grabbed a second hard drive, and on a loop through CompUSA, a collection of old Ultimas happened to fall into my lap. When I got home, I happily set about installing the new hard drive (fscking symmetric IDE cables…grr), put on $GAMEOS, a game or two, and played around for a bit.

Then, I made a critical mistake — I had a “Boy, it’d be nice…” thought. The new drive is 10 gigs — and I only need 2 or 3 of that for $GAMEOS. This would be my opportunity to back all my Linux stuff up, re-partition my main drive to fix the mistakes I had been living with for awhile (hint: a 100 MB /var really doesn’t cut it for Debian), and gain some drive space for mp3 storage. Great plan, right? Well, it was a good plan — but I fscked up a minor detail or two, and ended up re-installing Debian — which involves a lot of downloading when all you’ve got is a “slink-and-a-half” CD, and you’re trying to install woody.

So, that’s where I’ve been for the last couple of days — I just got X back up this morning, and finally got Gnus working after I got home from work. It’s good to be back in “my office”, although I keep tripping over little imperfections, and I need to have a long sit-down with dselect at some point.

The other big event while I was rebuilding my system was the delivery of our new bed. To really understand the magnitude of this, you must know that I’ve slept on a futon for the last, um, nine years, give or take. Our current one had been serving us for five or six years — and that’s too long for a 4” thick futon. I would have happily replaced it, but Lor has been having some back issues, so off to the mattress store we went. Last night was my first night on it — I think I’ll get used to it, but it’s going to take awhile. To make things worse, Lor’s away on business, and that always makes me sleep worse. (Did I mention I have to give group meeting tomorrow? Oy.) Lor got to try out the bed before she left, and gave it the thumbs up, so at least one of us is happy.

Okay, I swear I’ve got some links below, but first a bit of ‘blog-centric navel gazing:

First, to the mystery weblogers I had dinner with this weekend: It was nice to meet both of you, and I hope everything worked out with what you were in town to accomplish.

Speaking of DC bloggers, has anybody heard from Fred lately?

Ge? Germanium? Hmm, this reference tells me it’s used in semi-conductors. Great, I’m a doping material — what’s the hidden message there?! (Sorry, Nik, just trying to get into the general spirit of low-grade hostility and over-interpretation that seems to have sweep the ‘blog world in my absence…)

Hey, Debra, ya, um, finger-jabber! I wasn’t “cruising”, although I might in the future — I do seem to have some kind of interest in sharp metal bits jabbed through (other people’s) body parts. Just don’t assume it’s just penises (penii?), ‘kay? And you can just keep yer interpretations of that last bit to yerself, too. 8^)=

Oh, and in the pic (see below), those aren’t suspenders, but rather a strip of highly collectible ratbastard.org stickers. It’s curious that Deb was the one to pick on me about the shirt; I’m waiting for someone to assume that it refers to her hobbies rather than mine, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Finally, speaking of the Ratbastard, if you’re curious (like me), but lazy (um, like me), and have access to a nx system with Perl, here’s a decoder ring. Download, gunzip, chmod +x, run, enjoy the feeling that you out-bastarded the bastard, and then wonder how long until he changes to a rot-n style encoding.
If somebody with CGI access wants to whack that into a web page, feel free

It’s not just Microsoft that’s arrogant; just last week, WorldCom slammed a Michigan 911 center. It’s apparently the PHB’s world; we just have to live in it.

The Quine Page:

:quine: /kwi:n/ /n./ [from the name of the logician Willard van Orman Quine, via Douglas Hofstadter] A program that generates a copy of its own source text as its complete output.

By fave? The classic BASIC example:

Programming Languages Poll. Some interesting distributions in the results; I would have expected more people to know at least some Perl.

Any of you indie rawk gods in the audience know anything about a group called Mathlete? I’ve been digging their stuff on indiepopradio at work all last week, but I can’t seem to find anything online. Their apparent home page 403’s. I did find out that it’s a side project of some people from Wolfie, but that doesn’t tell me a whole lot.

Okay, that’s it for linkage — I’m going to finish up with a bit more personal things. You’ve been warned.

I’ve been at the NCBI for two months now. I’m beginning to feel like I’ve already gotten into somewhat of a rut; like I’m not taking advantage of the opportunities I have, or like I’m not challenging myself enough. I’ve been working on porting some stuff I did in graduate school from Perl to C, as sort of a learning project, and also to see if I can get it to run faster. It’s not quite done; there are some memory allocation issues that FUBAR longer (read: production-style) runs, but I’ve done enough to get a working knowledge of C, and to figure out that the code isn’t going to run that much faster than in Perl, and it’ll need more memory to boot. It’s time to move on to another project, but most of the things I’m interested in are conceptually close to the work of others in the group — a situation I’ve always been tentative about getting involved in. sigh Discussion with the mentor coming up, I suppose.

The one big epiphany I had while learning C was an insight into the difference between “scripting” and “programming”. For the non-coding part of the audience, this is a classic flame-starting topic in certain circles. I’ve always been on the “it’s all the same thing” side of the argument, but while porting my stuff from Perl to C, I realized that there is a difference: in programming, data structures matter, a lot. When you’re scripting, your focus is on function — what you’re doing to the data. How it’s stored before, during, and after this is incidental to the main point — doing stuff to the data. In programming, first you have to figure out how to store the data, then revise this to fit what you want to do to it, then revise it some more. Looking at my Perl data structures without the code wouldn’t tell you a damn thing, but looking at the C data structures would tell you quite a bit about what I’m doing.

Did that last part make any sense, or am I just babbling? Mail jacobs@genehack.org and let me know.

Okay, I’m off to my new bed; hopefully to spend a slightly more restful night. See you tomorrow, maybe.

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