Monday, May 30, 2005

Warning signs

My right wrist hurts. And I think it's the hurt of RSI.

Possible causes:
Driving. (It didn't hurt before yesterday)
Powerbook (I use a natural keyboard in Pittsburgh, but I've been using the laptop exclusively for 3 weeks now, and in any random posture I feel like)

I think I'll get a natural keyboard asap at work, and asap for the laptop

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


This weather is driving me batty. Cold and wet. And dim.

Can't wait for next week. I drive down on Sunday, and start Tuesday.

I guess this is Maine's way of making me glad I'm not coming back so often.

7 months from now, my life is a complete mystery.

The Diamond Age

     "I think I have finally worked out what you were trying to tell me, years ago, about being intelligent," she said.
     The Constable brightened all at once. "Pleased to hear it."
     "The Vickys have an elaborate code of morals and conduct. It grew out of the moral squalor of an earlier generation, just as the original Victorians were preceded by the Georgians and the Regency. The old guard believe in that code because they came to it the hard way. They raise their children to believe in that code--but their children believe it for entirely different reasons."
     "They believe it," the Constable said, "because they have been indoctrinated to believe it."
     "Yes. Some of them never challenge it--they grow up to be small-minded people, who can tell you what they believe but not why they believe it. Others become disillusioned by the hypocrisy of the society and rebel--as did Elizabeth Finkle-McGraw."
     "Which path do you intend to take, Nell?" said the Constable, sounding very interested. "Conformity or rebellion?"
     "Neither one. Both ways are simple-minded--they are only for people who cannot cope with contradiction and ambiguity."

From The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. (Page 355-356 of my Bantam Paperback)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Maine at Night

You know the drill, the title's a link to the gallery, the photo is the one I like best.

The first 9 are around the dam on the Androscoggin between downtown Brunswick and Topsham (and the Frank J Wood Bridge).

Sunday, May 22, 2005

BT - "The Revolution"

We stand in the face of a quickening,
And the great dumbing down of our people,
And in our greatest minds,
And we wage war,
By whatever means necessary,
By punishing awakening,
Into our sources and into our thoughts,
By blaming our cookie-cutter pleasantville,
Out of our gray slumber.
This revolution is not free
This revolution is not free
It's powerful

Friday, May 20, 2005

Why is this news?

IBM has been over the news lately with news of how FireFox is being recommended internally, and 10% of its 300,000 employees are using it.

IBM is a computing company (mainly software and consulting). Natonal acceptance rates for Firefox are about 5%. So it actually is surprising how LOW the acceptance rate for Firefox is given the (hopefully) early technology adopting of a tech company.

I can virtually guarantee Google's Firefox usage rate was at least 25%+ last summer. Y'know, 12 months ago. We had issues in my group that some of the stuff rendered slightly wrong in IE and the developers didn't notice because we all used Firefox.

So let's start writing news articles like "Tech companies, which should have Internet Explorer strictly for testing how pages render (because they know better), still have more than 50% of their users using an old, buggy, spyware-prone application."

We're the people calling out for the average net user to stop using IE, yet the average user at our tech companies aren't adopting it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Never date someone...

Never date someone who...
... doesn't want you to look at her before she's brushed her hair
... doesn't want you to look at her before she's put on makeup
... isn't comfortable wearing her glasses around you
... pretends that she doesn't burp
... wouldn't wear sweats around you
... wouldn't consider eating pasta and watching a DVD an excellent Friday evening sometimes
... wouldn't cry in front of you

(Feel free to suggest more)


Monday, May 16, 2005

Things that are very uncool


I will not be buying any more CDs that aren't plain old CDs anymore.

Dualdiscs are new CD/DVD combinations that you flip to use as one or the other. However, they don't rip on my PowerBook or on my parents' DVD drive. They do rip on my parents' CD-RW however.

I only buy CDs so I can rip them and have the liner notes & jewel case. I listen to music solely on my computers, solely off of the hard drives.

As a side note, I purchased Ben Folds: Songs for Silverman, and Dave Matthews: Stand Up

And as another side note, both discs have big ass "FBI ANTI-PIRACY WARNING" logos on the back. When did this start?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

To do this week

    To do this week
  • Learn about OS X Widgets and maybe start programming one
  • Eye appointment
  • Visit Cheverus
  • Slack
  • Inline the bike path 3 times, hopefully returning to 10 miles per session

My mom graduated from her master's program this weekend, and she's turning 50 on Tuesday, so it's been a very fun couple days of celebrating her.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

A realization after my 21st birthday

Number of times I have purchased alcohol since I turned 21: 5
Number of times I have been carded: 2 (once only because everyone was, at PDC, and once at a grocery store)

If I'd known carding was so infrequent... I probably still wouldn't have risked it. But it's rather surprising.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Falls & The Drive home

(Click on title for gallery)
    Notes of my trip:
  • The exit for the Rainbow Bridge to Niagara Falls is not well marked from 190. But there's another bridge a little further up that works
  • Customs is easy. Going in to Canada, had to show no id. Coming out was almost as easy. Plus the guy said "Happy Birthday" to me
  • The falls look big in pictures, small in real life.
  • It takes longer than you think to drive from Niagara Falls to Maine.
  • Driver suffers burn in crash on I-495, jumps into river to put out flames (whatever happened to stop, drop, and roll? The extra hour and 15 minutes the holdup put on my trip (at least) let me take pictures like this though)
  • Leaving one place at 7:15 am and getting to the destination at 12:40 am is not fun; however, I wasn't driving all that time.
  • New York is a lot of nothing. And unfortunately you can't see Rochester, Syracuse, or Albany from I-90.


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Things that are bad

So today's been interesting.

Get to campus before 10 to do some things - the cross registration form for Arabic at Pitt, change of address form for campus mail, etc.

First realization: Postal Services doesn't open til 10, Hub til 10:30.
Second realization: when I rebooted computers the other day, my webapps project would no longer work from outside the apartment
Third realization: while packing stuff from my desk, I didn't see my Social Security card or my Birth Certificate (they're kept together)

Well, these were all solvable
Had enough time to return and fix the webapp
Took in the trash from outside to make sure my SS card/Birth certificate wouldn't get taken
Did my change of address & cross registration after lunch

Everything's good, school's out for the summer, and I'm in good shape for the future

Have a good summer everyone, I'll keep blogging!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The flip

When I was a freshman, I went away to college. We all did the long pack of moving away.

Now we're all packing to return to a place that isn't any longer our base of operation. The long, emotional pack is at the end of the year, and the beginning of the year we're just sliding in to our dorms, back to normal.

In the fall, I'll carry some stuff up from the basement, take a few courses, and then move. To where, who knows. But there's one semester left after this one. And then the big move. The next big separation.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Advisor clarification

So I'd like to clarify something about the post from the Advisor.

I recognized myself not in the male description given in the Advisor, but the description of the female. That's what I found most amazing.

Some females I know peform the role of the male, not talking about things due to perceived lack of perfection, a perceived loss of strength.

It's not to say that I'm effeminate, but that I've got appreciation for reassurance that a relationship is strong, and I appreciate conversation that reassures me of that fact.

But at the same time, I don't look to share mundane details with my male friends.

Disclosure does not make me feel vulnerable. It actually makes me feel stronger.

If you've ever seen 8 Mile, it's like the scene where Rabbit (Eminem) disses himself, and then says "now what are you going to say about me?"

If you make everyone know your weaknesses, you lose a weakness: the ability for someone to find out something you're hiding that they could use against you.

I'm also not very comfortable with the idea of "gender roles" either. Even if we are genetically predisposed towards being one way or another, I believe the human mind and body (not to mention soul) are such amazing things that we can all do everything, and we can all peform the actions we feel are most correct.

I'll continue being me, continue to keep my faults obvious, continue to reaffirm my affection, and continue to ignore gender roles.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Advisor

Sometimes, the advisor's pretty amazing

What does it mean when a woman asks, "What are you thinking about?" --W.G., Bowling Green, Ohio

She's looking for a pulse -- some acknowledgement and reassurance that the relationship is humming along. The question usually confuses guys. They figure if the relationship isn't working, one person will leave. They think, Does she want me to catalog my current random musings on baseball, (etc)? That will only piss her off. But if you respond with those old standbys "nothing" or "you," that doesn't satisfy her either. Men need to recognize that the exchange of seemingly mundane details is how women establish intimacy with their best female friends. She's approaching you in the same way. Deborah Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown who wrote the bestseller You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, says the best way to deal with this is for couples to acknowledge what's going on. The man should get in the habit of bringing up topics for discussion. The woman needs to reassure herself that, absent other signs that the relationship is suffering, the silence doesn't mean he's unhappy. Linda Vaden-Goad, a social psychologist at Western Connecticut State Univesity who has studied how couples use silence, says even if men are willing to share their thoughts, they are more comfortable with action than analysis. "Disclosure makes them feel vulnerable, and they're supposed to be strong," she says, "though some men in our studeis admitted to using silence as a strategy to maintain power because it keeps their partner guessing." Which is interesting but not something we want to talk about.


43 minutes to fix.

Now break.

Break time


rm model/*.java
is not the same as
rm model/*.class

It's just a bunch of classes that will be easy to rewrite

but it's still probably an hour of work

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Next statement

Every government (or administration) has to decide between two goals that are fundamentally at odds.

They can either pass and enforce laws (rules) that follow the idealized morals of the society, or they can enforce sensibly. It's the choice between idealism and realism.

The administration of Carnegie Mellon is caught in this issue right now: do they do as they usually have and turn a blind eye to underage drinking, or do they enforce realistically, caring more about safety than catching minors consuming and frats providing?

College students will continue drinking underage, no matter what the school tries. By enforcing idealism, they're creating a more dangerous environment, with people drinking hard alcohol irresponsibly outside the confines of the amnesty policy, instead of drinking bad beer on campus within the school's safety net.

Tying in my earlier post, I believe that young, intelligent minds should be allowed to make their own moral decisions as long as they're safe. The amnesty policy increases safety on campus. Drinking a drink or two, even underage, is safe. Students are no longer free to try a drink or two, illegally, and make up their own minds and learn their own lessons.

Making alcohol taboo will only increase abuse.

To the administration of Carnegie Mellon: let us make mistakes. Let us learn our own lessons with alcohol in a safe environment, instead of making us experiment in a more dangerous one. Your idealism now will cause more problems later.

(This sounded a lot better in my head)

Idea for human relationships

In Computer Science, in some protocols, there's something called "exponential backoff" when something would otherwise break.

When you have a problem with someone else, I recommend exponential backoff. First time you annoy someone, go away for 1 unit of time. Next time, 2 units. Then 4 units. Etc etc etc.

I've found, looking back on my experiences, that's how I handle people a lot of the time. Back off in larger increments each time. Persistence is important in some things, yes, but giving people more time each time does help, I find.

It's not simply that x time has elapsed since you pissed someone off, it's that it's been y units of time since you last tried to talk to them about it.

Golly gee I'm a dork.

The beginning of a philosophy

I'm trying to synthesize my ideas into a coherent and cohesive corpus.

Here goes

Parents are called to prepare their children for their adult lives. This, I believe, is composed of two large parts: morality and the ability to fail.

The ability to fail is under appreciated. If you look at the past in America, people came through great adversity to try, to take the chance that they might fail in order to succeed greater than they ever have before.

If you look at many people who lead in America, they have failed. Look at Bill Gates, who left college. I can almost guarantee most of the great leaders of America had relatively tumultuous upbringings, that they didn't lead better than average lives. Even if they grew up rich, that doesn't necessarily imply a calm, peaceful existence.

People who are comfortable with failure will take the big risks and earn the big rewards.

So I believe that parents should teach their children to question, to try, to experiment and not keep them away from failure.

A parent's responsibility is not to make their child the happiest child ever, make her life the easiest life ever, or remove every obstacle from his path. (I was pretty pissed off when I knew my parents could do something for me and didn't. I appreciate it now.)

However, the questioning nature needs to be weighed against the idea that a youngster could lie, cheat, and steal because they believe he is always right, or she believe there is no other authority. Morality therefore needs to go hand in hand with the instilling of questioning, so that the child will have to reflect and think about the decisions so wise ones are made.

So the general idea is a society of people who are OK with failing and willing to admit mistakes.

I think a large part of the problem in America is that much of the country has grown up as either the strongest nation in the world or seemingly tied (during the cold war). We have the problem that many act as the spoiled trust fund child - the idea that we deserve the first place position and that we are entitled to it perpetually.

Others realize that this isn't the case, so they're fighting the current trying to stay in one place, trying to keep first place by standing still.

The reason America was first was due to a desire to be ahead of the pack, a desire to run, a desire to strive, a knowledge that survival wasn't guaranteed.

We're going to not be first forever. And some people are going to be shocked. We need to, right now, put ourselves into a state of intellectual battle if we're going to excel. The ever increasing globalization means that our geographic isolation will no longer be enough to ensure success. We need to start designing better cars, building better airplanes, writing better code, being better to mother nature, being better teachers, and having stronger minds.

I said Johnny whatcha doing tonight?
He looked at me with a face full of fright
And I said how about a revolution?
And he said, right.

"The revolution will not be televised"


So CIA had their BBQ here due to rain out last weekend.

Left over were a ton of buns, pre-shaped patties, and American cheese.

Ever since, I've been making Double-Doubles for lunch.

Mmm.... double doubles

Sadly, I will miss being in California due to the Double Doubles.

must... not... stop... coding

Monday, May 02, 2005

Fall 2005

From: John Robertson (Director of Undergraduate Programs, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar)
To: Matt Laroche
Subject: Re: Qatar TA position

Hi Matt,

I have bad news. We will not be able to bring out a TA for the math classes.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Weird dream

I dreamed I was a pitcher for the Red Sox, and I got into a disagreement with the coach. He said that one of the other players and I were trying too hard, and we were going to peak too early. I said I was trying hard because every game mattered and I was trying to carry last season's momentum into this season. I also said our record wasn't that good so far (and let's face it, the Sox aren't exactly perfect so far).

Reason the dream was a nightmare? He traded me to the Yankees.