danalwyn: (Default)
There's a superb introductory-level article about code at Bloomberg. Here, it's very, very, very long. 38,000 words to be more precise, so don't embark upon it lightly, but if you ever were curious about how programming works or what those overpaid idiots in my profession actually deal with, this is probably the best introduction I've ever seen, including textbooks on the subject.

It's also a good way to waste a couple of hours, even if you know something about the subject already.
danalwyn: (Default)
One of the things you have to watch out for if you run email announcements for any sort of organization is to always make sure to put the list of recipients in the bcc column instead of the cc column when you want them to stay confidential. There's no better way to screw up an entire business deal then to let everyone know who's in on it. It's one of the most basic, and the most damaging, mistakes you can make on a computer on a day to day basis.

This goes double if you're doing this not for a corporation but for an international terrorist organization.

As they say, 'heads will roll', although in this case they may actually be doing so literally.
danalwyn: (Default)
A lot of computer people have long suspected that anti-virus software was essentially a kind of elaborate scam, not just the pop-up window viruses that promise you 'virus protection' after they've infected your computer, but the kind of anti-virus programs that they sell in reputable stores. Even when they work, they're essentially attempts to fix problems they already know about, when your biggest problem is ones that you don't.

So it comes as no surprise that John McAfee, creator of the company that is probably second- or third-most likely to install their software alongside something entirely unrelated, is a bit of a snake oil salesman in real life. But we were surprised to find out from Gizmodo that McAfee has entered a lifestyle involving 17-year old girlfriends, an arsenal of guns, and a descent full-blown paranoia.

That was then, of course, November 8th. Now the neighbor that McAfee had disputes with, American expatriate Gregory Faull, is dead. McAfee himself, wanted for questioning regarding the incident, is on the run.

The affair has turned into a full-blown internet sensation. McAfee is making regular phone calls to Wired reporter Joshua Davis, claiming that he is now in disguise, and is evading the police. He's already compared the rounding up of his various employees for questioning to Stalin's detentions, has claimed the police are out to kill him, and is presumably doing some wacky stunt right now, probably involving driving an ATV off a cliff. What's drawn people here is not so much the celebrity factor, but the continual amount of crazy that McAfee continues to deliver live through the internet.

If this was the US, this would be pretty cut and dry. The kind of person who has to give live updates on his escape on twitter is not the kind who can stay out of police sight for long. If he managed to escape here he would rightly raise all manner of conspiracy theories. But McAfee has been living in Belize, that small country in South America that doesn't quite fit in.

No Conspiracy Theories Necessary )
danalwyn: (Default)
After the previous announcement I have managed, by various machinations, to reduce myself to about 0.5 functional computers, spread out over two different boxes. Almost back to two functional, but it's still a bit of an uphill battle...


Nov. 7th, 2011 01:13 pm
danalwyn: (Default)
Looking at the new Google Reader (actually, I've been looking at it for about a week or two), I've come to realize what it is that I don't like about the new Google look.

I think it's that Google, being rich as sin, must buy all their developers giant new monitors, monitors that are so giant that the fact that there is enough white space on the page that you could fit the entire works of Shakespeare in it doesn't bother them. For the rest of us, the crushing post-modern blankness means that the only actual information on the page has to fit into a space that is increasingly tighter and tighter, making it more and more difficult to read. Because some of us still use things like Google Reader for, well, you know, reading.

The problem with the Googleplex seems to be that the more time you spend there, the less likely you are to remember that your products are used by people outside of the bubble...
danalwyn: (Default)
So in python, if you want to copy a file, you can use a function called shutil.copyfile()

But if you want to copy a directory, you use a function called shutil.copytree()

Although this explains how I just spent serious time trying to figure out why python was telling me that there was no such function as shutil.copydir(), I have to ask: How does that make any sense?
danalwyn: (Default)
I got my advisor's old laptop for temporary use today. It's old, running on what seems to be a Celeron 1.4MHz, and it was running a bit slow with Windows XP. So we installed Kubuntu on it instead.

That was probably a mistake, because I don't know how to use Kubuntu. As a result it took me well over an hour this evening to even put the pieces in place so I can test the wireless setup tomorrow. I know something about computers, but unfortunately I still found the advice fragmentary and often difficult to follow, and that it required a Google search. It seems that user-friendly Linux still has a way to go.

Next time I'm going to just install CentOS.
danalwyn: (Default)
I've been to a lot of conferences lately, in the past four months, and I'm not sure I like it.  So far, none of them have been Physics conferences.  My suspicion that I'm being turned into a computer specialist is pretty much confirmed.  Anyway, I've now come back from Indianapolis, and am not particularly happy with the outcome (as it seems a little vague) but I suppose it was as much as could be expected.

So I thought, just to torment you, I would actually bother to tell you what I'm doing.

Experience tells me that only about three people read that, but I'll live.  I don't promise anything entertaining in the future though.


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