Archive for June, 2006

it's all geek to me

Friday, June 30th, 2006

After a conversation with recently I got to thinking: what do all the letters of the Greek alphabet represent? What is their canonical meaning to me? Here's the result of my thoughts.

  • α (alpha) : A quite buggy version of software.
  • β (beta) : A prerelease (but not so buggy) version of software.
  • γ (gamma) : Something you correct when it's too dark.
  • δ (delta) : A small change in something.
  • ε (epsilon) : A very (very) small quantity.
  • ζ (zeta) : No meaning to me: it's up for grabs! But it's one of the squiggles, so hard to disambiguate.
  • &eta: (eta) : Nowt here either. Too easy to confuse with n.
  • θ (theta) : Any old angle. Or temperature. A stalwart friend.
  • ι (iota) : Too boring to mean anything technical.
  • κ (kappa) : Apart from it being some sort of Japanese water-creature, I don't know of anything…
  • λ (lambda) : An unnamed function. Oh and a half-life.
  • μ (mu) : Micro-prefix.
  • ν (nu) : Nowt. Too easy to confuse with v.
  • ξ (xi) : Another squiggly. No use.
  • ο (omicron) : Seems like I should use it. So that when people ask me what “o” is, I can say “It's omicron, actually.”
  • π (pi) : Ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter.
  • ρ (rho) : Density.
  • σ (sigma) : Standard deviation. Needs to be put to another use because this one's fun to write, with its little tail.
  • τ (tau) : Torque.
  • υ (upsilon) : Another useless letter.
  • φ (phi) : θ's big brother – the other angle in a spherical coordinate system. Or the golden ratio. This is one of the cooler ones.
  • χ (chi) : Vaguely aware of some statistics thing called the χ-square test. And a bit of a Christian overtone to it. Neither of which endear this letter to me.
  • ψ (psi) : Tries to be as cool as φ but falls short. I discard it.
  • ω (omega) : Angular velocity.

impressiver and impressiver

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

It’s been at least 4 hours since my last post about Linux, so it’s time to relate my latest Ubuntu adventures.

I’m well impressed. A few weeks in to using Ubuntu, and everything’s still rosy. Everything still “just works”. Sound, webcams, iPod, automounting, everything that (I’ve learned over the years) is tricky to wrangle under Linux. I particularly like the auto-update feature – Ubuntu tells me when anything I have installed is due for an update, I just click “OK” and it downloads and updates. Almost never any need to reboot of course (just once in a while when updating the kernel).


Take for instance a couple of things I decided to install tonight.

Item 1: Get proper encryption working with email.

Ubuntu comes with Evolution installed as standard, and that’s fine with me. I installed GnuPG and created a key (admittedly, I had to touch the command line to do this, but it was as simple as typing gpg --help and following the simple instructions). Then I went to the account preferences in Evolution and in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, I had a successful test of signed email to myself.

Item 2: Install Eclipse for C++ development.

This one I was feeling less certain about – Eclipse runs on Java, and Java on a 64-bit architecture is a bit iffy, as evidenced by my Gentoo experience. Or so I thought. I searched for “java” in the package manager and found that it was already installed. I searched for “eclipse” and found it easily, and marked it for install. Half a dozen other required packages were automatically selected too. Click “Apply”, wait a couple of minutes for download and install, and my desktop menu bar has a new item: Applications -> Programming -> Eclipse. Cool. I started it up and wrote “Hello, world” to test it. The log window said it couldn’t run “make”. So I did another package search and discovered that make wasn’t installed. Odd, I thought, but 30 seconds later, it was no longer a problem. And Eclipse was able to compile and debug “Hello, world”. Job done.

Superman Returns

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

Pretty good. Plenty of scenes remade like or reminiscent of the original(s). Good special effects. The plot and or pacing was a bit uneven though; it just started to get interesting and it was over.

Oh and Sir Richard Branson makes a cameo as “Shuttle Engineer”.

Dungeon Fun

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

I escaped from the Dungeon of Elbeno!

I killed Greatbiggary the arch-demon and Linca the kobold.

I looted the Wand of Linux, the Armour of Mathematics, the Sword of Kinepela, the Dagger of Trivia, the Sword of Unicycling, the Sceptre of Open Source and 89 gold pieces.

Score: 114

Explore the Dungeon of Elbeno and try to beat this score,
or enter your username to generate and explore your own dungeon…

Superman Returns

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

I shall be seeing Superman Returns* this afternoon, courtesy of work. That's worth a couple of hours even if I have to pay $2 for parking. Oh and apparently Brandon Routh is the new gay icon.

*Link removed – since when did IMDB start using interstitial ads?

A strange storm

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

Last night I was awakened at about half past midnight by either Mrs Elbeno or some thunder, I'm not sure which. At any rate, there followed over the course of a few minutes about 6 or so flashes of lightning and accompanying thunder. The storm was less than two miles away at this point. Then it started raining. About 45 seconds later it stopped raining. There was no more rain or lightning, and we went back to sleep.

The backups worked

Monday, June 26th, 2006

20 DVDs' worth, all correctly restored. Yay.

The essentials

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

I’m coming off the back of another Windows install, so I now have a directory containing about a CD’s worth of software – the essentials for installation on a clean system. In alphabetical order (from my folder listing):

  • 7-zip – for dealing with .zip, .rar, and all other archives.
  • nVidia drivers – I ditched ATI a while back because their Linux driver support is poor.
  • Ad-Aware SE Personal edition – but I seldom get many hits with it.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader – I figure under Windows it’s a decent choice.
  • Free-AV Antivirus Software – one of the few AV programs I’ve used that treats me like an adult.
  • Bittorrent – yeah I’ve heard of Azureus and other clients but plain old BT does everything for me.
  • CDBurnerXP Pro 3 – good free alternative to Nero/Roxio or some sort of bundled-with-the-drive software.
  • DirectX SDK – because I’m a games programmer.
  • Firefox – I’m tempted to try Opera 9, but not sure what it adds to my average browsing experience.
  • Gaim – nice free multi-protocol IM client.
  • GIMP – my alternative to Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro.
  • Ghostscript & Ghostview – for viewing postscript files (such as papers from the web).
  • Inform 7 – I’m playing with it.
  • MSN Messenger – only because Gaim’s support for video conversations is still poor (MSN Messenger seems to have been replaced with Windows Live Messenger).
  • Java Runtime Environment – for all sorts of stuff (e.g. OpenOffice).
  • Lisp in a Box – another thing I’m playing with.
  • nForce drivers – for my motherboard.
  • Notepad2 – everything that Notepad should have been.
  • OpenOffice.org – although I can get MS Office for $20 from work, I use OOo.
  • Putty – because the Windows telnet client pushes the lameness envelope.
  • SB Live! Drivers – it’s on my MB; I didn’t buy Creative by choice.
  • Spybot Search & Destroy – a counterpart to Ad-Aware SE.
  • Vidalia bundle – which encompasses Tor and Privoxy for anonymous web browsing.
  • Creative webcam driver – just because I have that kind of webcam.

Paid-for software (but in most cases, I didn’t pay for it) that makes the list:

Are you old?

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Can you hear this?

I'm tempted to wait a couple of years until I can't, then play it out of my speakers at full volume while working. 🙂

Happy "Summer" solstice

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

In just under 7 and a half hours' time, the northern hemisphere will be at its maximum tilt towards the sun. So rejoice and be merry. (Even if it is, for you, actually a “Winter” solstice 🙂