jc blog - tales of a modern-day nomadic hunter-gatherer

Follow jcomeau_ictx on Twitter This is the weblog of Intrepid Wanderer. You never know what you might find here; graphic descriptions of bodily functions, computer programming secrets, proselytizing for the antichrist, miscellaneous ranting and kvetching, valuable information on living off the land... if you don't share my rather weird interests you may want to try slashdot instead.

You can consider my Del.icio.us links an extension to my blog, as are my LifeTango goals and my other to-do items. My to-buy list is also public, but only for sharing any useful ideas that might be there; I'm not requesting charity, neither do I offer it.

You can find me easily in google searches, as jcomeau, jcomeau_ictx, or jcomeauictx. There are lots of other jcomeaus, but AFAIK I'm the only jcomeau_ictx out there so far.

If you want to comment on anything you see here, try the new Facebook comments, reachable by clicking the "[comment]" link at the end of each post. If for some reason that isn't working, go ahead and email me, jc.unternet.net. You know what to do with the first dot. Make the 'subject' line something reasonably intelligent-looking or it goes plunk! into the spambasket unread.

This RSS feed may or may not work. Haven't fiddled with it in forever. RSS Feed


Pipelining, out-of-order execution, cache misses... all this shit I never bothered to learn is haunting me now as I attempt to catch up with the 1990s reality of microprocessing. Just like chess in the late 1960s, early 1970s... as soon as my friend Bob Patterson started studying books on the subject, and I refused to, my game was no longer a match for his. And as soon as tricks like AAM 10 were not sufficient to speed up assembly language programs -- in fact, adding instructions sometimes work wonders -- I was out of my league in that field. Now I've got about 15 years of catch-up to do before I can seriously compete with the C++ crowd. Not to mention all the algorithm improvements that have come out since Knuth and Sedgewick.

Bought a whole case of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale at Costco. I hate the shit. Way too hoppy for my taste, and I vaguely remembered that when I bought it, but that wasn't one of the things they let you sample at the store. So I'm stuck with it. Had 3 pints of Moylan's Irish Red before I came home from the gym tonight, though, so I'm already way ahead of the crowd.

I'm starting to get some upper-body muscle. And other weight that can't all be attributable to muscle: I weighed in at 154 at 24 Hour Fitness tonight, up from about 130 when I arrived here on my bicycle. Beer and holiday sweets are adding on the pounds. Thankfully my toothache hasn't yet resurfaced.

This coming year ought to be interesting. The anarchic streak among Americans is starting to show strongly, just as the federal government is getting all the more obnoxious and overbearing. The public is armed and dangerous, and it seems fewer and fewer people are allowing themselves to be brainwashed by the media. I seriously doubt that someone can come up with a workable method of governing the 6.5+ billion people on earth, but a return to tribes as a system of governance on the local level has to be a serious contender for a post-civilization world. I finally read Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash a couple of weeks or so ago, and while it was underwhelming as science fiction goes, it shows a workable concept of postarchy. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all pans out. [comment]


Can't sleep. Got to blog this: about 20 hours ago, I had a dream that I was in some spiritual community, where some women in baggy white gowns, lumpy as if there were balloons under them, and white rubbery masks on their faces, were doing some kind of dawn worship, quietly standing in different positions or walking about. Then some young people in normal clothes approached, and I asked them where this was. They answered as if they knew I was visiting via the dream world and it didn't surprise them. It was in the "tropical" region of Texas, between Paris and some other town I can't remember.

Now, I have no idea whether there's a Paris, TX or if so it has a tropical climate. I may Google it someday. What struck me was that I knew I was dream-traveling while in the dream. [comment]


Well, that was fall-off-a-log easy. Apt-get installed linux-image-2.6-amd64, configured it into LILO, and rebooted. Then installed gcc-multilib, and compiled a hello-world program as gcc -m64 -o hello64 hello.c. Objdump shows it's a 64-bit ELF file. It ran. Awesome. Now to play with some 64-bit Mandelbrot generators. [comment]


Fuckin' finally got X working on my Linux partition. No more need for Vista, except when doing Microsoft-specific programming! Yeah!

Had to use lshal to see what the device mapping was, then change the Mouse0 driver in /etc/X11/xorg.conf to be "/dev/input/event8", which maps to the touchpad. The mouse is a bit jumpy, but it works. Eventually I'll figure out how to fine-tune it, or I might get used to it the way it is.

Damn, that was difficult, even with extensive Googling. Imagine if Windows were so hard to get working. Well, I guess it may be, but the manufacturers deal with it rather than the consumer; if I'd bought a computer with Linux preinstalled, I wouldn't have the hassle.

Now to figure out a way to test a 64-bit kernel. Is there a way to run 32-bit binaries on a 64-bit kernel? I don't care about performance issues for now, I just don't want to have to install a whole new system. Back to Google I guess... [comment]


What the fuck was Sun thinking when they decided to put dollar signs in their class file names. Had a bitch of a time fixing my Makefile so the files got included in the jar.

And spaces in the -dname string for keytool... every goddamned example I see on the web has CN=blah, OU=blah but no recent version of keytool accepts the spaces between the fields.

And no, I haven't been hacking all night, despite the grumpiness... [comment]


Freaked out when a Java applet I'm developing suddenly died with a netscape.javascript.JSException: Native Windows is destroyed error.Reverted to a known-good edit with bzr, same problem. Because of aggressive caching of applets by default, the error hadn't shown up right away, and a Java auto-update to version 6 update 16 had intervened. That of course was the problem, and apparently lots of people were having problems with it, because I went to Sun's website and there was update 17. Installed it, and my applet works again. Phew.

The applet is an interesting project, using Griaule's SDKs to implement a timeclock. The customer had already set up most of it, but was having problems with getting the actual fingerprint scan; I haven't yet received the Microsoft Fingerprint Reader I bought on eBay, but I've started to code what I can, and see why he might be having difficulty. Griaule's installation instructions suck. I had to manually copy their DLLs to \Windows\System32\, and extract their jarfile into the web directory, to get the applet working. And I don't know that I'm out of the woods yet, but the applet at least can fill in the password of the login form with biometric data, assuming it can extract same from the fingerprint reader. [comment]


Passed my first Saturday without a paycheck in several years, didn't panic. I know I'll get by on odd jobs, and/or hunting, gardening, and gathering. I'm kind of glad it's over, because that expectation made it easier for me to not "live the moment".

Edibility-tested a large chestnut-looking thing that fell to the ground after the last big rainstorm. On the next-to-last part of the test, eating a small sample, I got light-headed and an unpleasant buzz. Turns out it's a California Buckeye and it contains a neurotoxin. I didn't eat enough to get really sick, though. Supposedly the toxins will boil out, but I don't think I'll do any more with those unless I'm in a survival situation.

The day after the CodeChef competition, when I downloaded the test data, I saw immediately why my N Queens Puzzle Revisited solution had failed. I was reusing an index variable in a second "for" loop, which caused the upstream loop to terminate prematurely. In other words, my program quit without finishing the test cases; my algorithm was good, a stupid error made the difference between one point and two for the competition. Anyway, so far I've got the fastest program posted, and it's not even a very good one; simple backtracking.

I joined the gym about a week ago, having bought the two-year membership from Costco for $300. I get most of my aerobic exercise on the way, jogging downhill the long way past McNear Park; then use the weights for a while, shower and shave, and walk back home. I'm getting pretty thoroughly domesticated, but I'm not complaining. Not at all. My only worry is that I might be getting too soft in case of TEOTWAWKI. [comment]


Still over an hour to go in the CodeChef.com competition, but I'm brainfried. Gonna call it quits with only one point, that for the Palindromic Numbers problem I nailed a day or two ago. This was a tough one, for me at least. [comment]


The current leader in the CodeChef December Challenge is David "pieguy" Stolp of Durham, CA, not too far from where I am. But there are still over 7 days to go, so his "perfect 6" may well fall if someone gets a better answer on the tiebreaker question. So far I haven't figured out fast enough algorithms to solve any of them within the given maximum times. Now that CodeChef is offering cash prizes everywhere, not just in the US and India, there seems to be more competition. A Russian guy took the lead at first, and China is well represented in the top coders again also.

The cactus fruits, mashed and with water added, made a nice light white wine. Once it was gone, I used some frozen concentrate mix of white grape, apple, and peach to make the batch I'm finishing tonight. I used three cups of it to make some bread, again taking care of the water, yeast, and sugar with the fermenting beverage. I did notice a strong alcohol smell when I first cut into the bread right after baking... don't remember that ever happening before.

Got to get back to work on my HPV. Having a hard time getting good results with oxy-MAPP welding, and can't find any good YouTube videos on it. [comment]

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