Archive for February, 2006

Cat Piano

February 28, 2006

Excentric 17th century inventor Athanasius Kircher once designed a cat piano.

Dude… WTF!

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Crunchwrap – not portable!

February 28, 2006

Crunchwrap – not portable!

You know how Taco Bell always runs those commercials about their Crunchwrapβ„’ thing being all portable and “Good to goβ„’”? Guess what – they lie like dogs!

The crunchwrap is anything but portable. Today I popped into the local Taco Bell and grabbed one to go, cause I was in a hurry. I decided to eat it quickly at the bus stop while studying programming languages. I figured that I should be able to eat the damn crunchwrap with one hand and use the other hand to hold my book.

But that does not work that well… You see, a Cruchwrap contains the usual taco garbage inside – lettuce, tomatoes, and etc… That stuff starts falling out as soon as you take a bite out of the thing. In addition they did not fold my crunchwrap right, so it had a hole on top, and was falling apart to begin with.

This type of food was just not made to be portable. Remember this whenever you see that stupid commercial again. It’s not “Good to goβ„’”. It is tasty but not portable!

The title of the mobile fast food of the year still belongs to the Chicken Quesadilla. This is possibly the easiest food to eat on the go…

Wait… Why the fuck am I going on and on about Taco Bell????

I’m not the only one who hates the “IT Crowd” show

February 26, 2006

It seems that I’m not the only one who hates the stupid British show IT Crowd.

I have seriously no clue what people see in that pile of stinking garbage. It’s not funny, it’s not clever and most importantly it is not geeky. It’s a lame, lame show.

The people who like this show should turn in their geek badges and quit IT forever.

Dawkins Slams Religiosity

February 25, 2006

I just watched a great documentary by Richard Dawkins titled Root of All Evil. I found it via boingboing, and it intrigued me. So I went searching for a download. Thanks to the wonderful world of of p2p I found both part 1 and part 2 of this show.

Just a warning – if you are devoutly religious, poorly educated, or both – this show may offend you or piss you off. On the other hand, if you are like me – and you proudly display the FSM logo on you page, you might get a kick out of this.

Dawkin’s point is simple – blind, unquestioning, uncompromising fate is bad. All organized religions are guilty of encouraging groupthink, breeding prejudice and often clouding people’s reason and logic. Everyone gets roasted here – Catholics, Evangelicans, Jews and Muslims are all criticized.

All these religious groups are set in their ways, intractable, and determined to convert others to their way of life. Dawkins shows how this leads to escalating tension and conflict between members of the worlds major religions.

The most notable bit from part one is of course Dawkin’s visit to one of the biggest Evangelican churches in the country. There he has a chat with a bigoted, and ignorant pastor who tries to preach creationism to him. Dawkins marvels at the near-militant rejection of science among the evangelicans. His analysis of that movement leads him to believe that religion and science cannot coexist because they contradict each other.

I think that for the sake of sensationalism, and controversy he overgeneralized this. In essence, he concentrates on studying on what can be only described as the Kierkegardian “religiosity”. A shallow, and superficial faith based on groupthink and social conditioning. Religiosity can easily produce zealots, whose faith is only skin deep. Their religious zeal is simply a thinly veiled prejudice, bigotry and ignorance channeled through the filter of religious devotion.

In my opinion, these people do not even deserve to be called “religious”.

Real religion is in fact philosophy of the infinite and paradoxal. It is not a doctrine, and it does not require blind obedience, or zealotry. In fact it demands intellectual involvement, introspection, and a flexible mind. The domain of religion is the metaphysical, the unanswerable and the intangible. It is the study of the infinites, and the logic of paradox. It is the home of allegory, fable and mythos.

The true religion is not providing you with moral templates, or answering any questions with dogma. True religion poses questions and forces you to deal with them. All religions in a way try to give you a framework, or a road map to some kind of enlightenment or spiritual betterment.

Nothing in the Bible (or any other holly scripture) needs to be factual, or real. All biblical stories are allegories, that should not be read literally. Bible was heavily edited, and re-translated thousands of times. Names, places, and events might have been changed in the process. But that doesn’t matter. It is still a profound piece of literature that forces your brain to deal with infinities, and paradoxes that are hard to comprehend.

Thus, the one thing on which I do not agree with Dawkins is this: religion and science can coexist. They are supposed to be mutually disjoint. The fact that some religious organizations seem to be hell bent on overthrowing modern science, and replacing it with medieval mythos does not change the primary function of religion.

I used to think just like Dawkins, but then I met some truly amazing philosophers and religious scholars. People who were not only brilliant, but also open, tolerant, and approachable, while at the same time being deeply religious. We had some of these people (and still have them – I home) in the Philosophy and Religion dept. at MSU. πŸ™‚

Creationist Pamphlet

February 23, 2006

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Creationist Pamphlet
Creationist Pamphlet,
originally uploaded by maciakl.

Someone gave this creationist pamphlet (click on the thumb to view) to my brother’s girlfriend on a bus. She found it funny so she kept it to show to my brother. He in turn knew that I will get a kick out of it so he ended up saving it for me.

Of course I immediately scanned the funniest bits it and uploaded it to flickr to share the humor with the world! I find it hilarious! Especially the banana bit. Did you know that bananas proove inteligent design? Check it out:

The bananna–the atheist’s nightmare

Note that the bananna:

  1. Is shaped for human hand
  2. Has non-slip surface
  3. Has outward indicators of inward contents: Green–too early, Yellow–just right, Black–too late.
  4. Has a tab for removal of wrapper
  5. Is preforated on wrapper
  6. Bio-degradable wrapper
  7. Is shaped for human mouth
  8. Has a point at top for ease of entry
  9. Is pleasing t otaste buds
  10. Is curved towards the face to make easting process easy

To say that the bananna happened by accident is even more unintellingent that to say that no one designed the Coca Cola can.

LOL! Wow.. Where do I begin. What if you hold the bannana wrong? Then it is curved away from your face! Is that a proof against inteligent design?

Has a point on top for the easy of entry? Entry where? I admit, I have a dirty mind by nature, but that just sounds wrong!

Bio-degradable wrapper? Dude, it is a fruit! All fruits are bio degradable!

How about I make a little super biased test in the same way they did on that pamphlet:

A person who rejects evolution, despite overwhelming scientific proof supporting it is:

  • A. Intelligent
  • B. A fool
  • C. Has an ulterior motive for denying the obvious

I almost feel guilty making fun of this… They just make it so easy!

AJAX and me

February 22, 2006

As part of my job I do some development on web applications. Mostly LAMP and WIMP shit. I’m not a graphics designer though, and my Photoshop skills are limited. This is something that I plan to work at, but for the time being I usually opt for a simple css layouts with minimal amount of graphics.

My philosophy for the most part is to use the database and php to do the heavy lifting, and leave the client side simple and basic… This approach is good for most websites, but some web applications written this way suffer from the click-refresh-click-refresh issue. My users were complaining that they spend more time waiting for the page to reload after they submit a form, than they used to when working with their old spreadsheets and hand written forms.

On of the ladies at work asked if it would be possible to redesign the page so that she can make changes without constantly reloading it… Yes, it is possible – it is called AJAX. I avoided AJAX for all this time, but it just caught up with me.

As much as I hate working with javascript, this is the direction where the web applications are going right now. So I spent my day today doing my first, shaky steps in the AJAX land. It is not as bad as I thought.

AJAX essentially boils down to few basic asynchronous request calls, and everything else just builds on top of that. You can actually accomplish some really cool stuff with just few lines of javascript. So it is not all bad.

I produced a functional app today, but I’m still having trouble with few things. For example, I’m still not sure how to get a pointer to the DOM object that generated my asynchronous call, in the event handler that updates my page after I get the data back from the server. Most samples I have seen on the web simply use the getElementByID method but that does not really work for me. I have oodles of text fields on the page that can generate AJAX requests, and I need to update them accordingly.

When I marked them with unique id’s and passed that ID to the server so I can pass it back to javascript again, I run into some bizarre XUL issue with firefox. That and IE 5.0 refused to display my page at all for some reason πŸ˜›

I will need to work out few of those issues, but so far I’m happy with the progress. I’m learning some new stuff. I plan to look into some of the existing AJAX libraries out there. Maybe I can lean on some more mature code, and have it do most of the dirty work for me as I work on this project πŸ™‚

Is CIA Secretly Rewriting History?

February 21, 2006

It appears that in the last few years CIA was secretly reclassifying some historical documents that used to be public. In most cases these documents did not contain any sensitive information that could impact national security.

However, some of these documents did contain information about embarrassing governmental blunders, and CIA mistakes during the Korean war, and early years of the Cold War. The NYT article linked from /. gives a great example of this:

One reclassified document (…) gives the C.I.A.’s assessment on Oct. 12, 1950, that Chinese intervention in the Korean War was “not probable in 1950.” Just two weeks later, on Oct. 27, some 300,000 Chinese troops crossed into Korea.

Why are these things reclassified? And why is this done in secret? Call me paranoid, but stuff like that makes me nervous. If the governmental agencies bend the regulations to secretly reclassify public records and get away with it, then how do I know that next time they won’t bend them even more? What is stopping them from altering the reclassified documents?

How do I know that one day they won’t secretly de-classify altered historical facts? And if anyone happens to own an original copy, they can use the Patriot Act to confiscate it, and slap the guy with a gag order…

Welcome to 1984 ladies and gentlemen. Repeat after me: Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia…

Weekend Coding Sessions

February 21, 2006

I spent the whole Sunday locked in my little office, hacking away on the code for my thesis work. This was first time in weeks when I left school without feeling frustrated and stressed about this work. I finally made some progress, and actually got stuff working for me without having major issues. I was happy, with the work and I no longer felt guilty taking the evening off and playing Dawn of War πŸ™‚ It also freed up my Monday schedule for other stuff.

Heh.. I not only caught up with my thesis work. I also managed to grade all the homeworks for the 183 class, and do some blogging πŸ™‚ It’s amazing how much you can get done if you are not interrupted or distracted every 5 minutes.

I’m definitely doing this again this coming Sunday. If I take one day each week and spend it working towards my thesis, I think I can finally catch up with my work, and get back on the right track.

It has come to my attention…

February 20, 2006

LOLOL!

Shamelessly stolen from PVP.

Coding without an IDE is like eating soup with a fork

February 20, 2006

The more I use Eclipse, the more I learn to depend on it. I cannot imagine coding anything serious without Eclipse “compile as you type” error checking, one-click correction tools, automatic code generation tools and refactoring utilities. Vim is great but it will not detect a thrown exception as I type and it will not give me a choice to automatically generate a “throws” clause or catch-try block.

No simple editor will automatically rename my file and refactor all references in the code when I change the name of the class. And neither vi or notepad will generate getters and setter methods for me.

Here is an example. Today I had to code up a big data structure which had around 8 fields that needed to be accessible, but not public. How long did it take me to write all the accessor and mutator methods? 10 seconds! Clickity click, done! Eh… Sometimes I think I’m just getting to lazy with all these nice features. But then again, you do not want to waste time typing silly stuff like 20 different accessor methods when you could be putting that effort into making the algorithm work.

Eclipse is my personal favorite. I think it is possibly the best IDE for Java out there, but your millage may vary. Allot of people like NetBeans. I briefly used it at one point, but I went back to Eclipse. It was just not for me. But it is still a great alternative if for some reason you dislike the IMB brainchild πŸ™‚

Actually any piece of software that attempts to call itself an IDE should provide similar set of productivity increasing functionality. These things are here to make our life easier.

If you are really thinking about writing that Really Big Project™ using vi, think again. I know that talking about editors is kinda like talking about religion. Personally I think vi is great tool for programming. But when you are facing a huge, complex project you may want to put your religious beliefs aside for a minute and think about stuff like productivity, convinience and etc… You might be more productive with vi than with an IDE initially. But once you start using some of the advanced features you will quickly realize how much less typing you need to do πŸ™‚

If you are vi/emacs guru and you can do amazing stuff with your editor, then please ignore my ramblings. Hats off to you and your impressive skills πŸ™‚

On the other hand, if you are planning to use notepad, or pico you are insane. Repeat after me: pico is not for coding. Notepad is not for coding. Get an IDE, or at least switch to vim/emacs where you can get some syntax highlighting and helpful features.