flwyd: (farts sign - Norway)
Terms: x, y, z

Conditions: x < y, x + y != z, (x % y == 0 && x % z == 1)

Supportive Puns

Sunday, August 17th, 2008 09:16 pm
flwyd: (fun characters)
Two puns from the night before Dragonfest:

Boobuntu, the Linux distribution for people who need support.

Wow, a terrabyte! You could take a big chunk out of the Earth! Om nom nom nom...
flwyd: (Default)
I wonder how hard it would be to synthesize human laughter. On one hand, there are a lot less rules and quirks than synthesizing speech. On the other hand, fake laughter isn't funny (and may even be condescending) while fake speech carries most of the important information.
flwyd: (daemon tux hexley)
From Slashdot:
We will support five programming environments on the laptop: (1) Python, from which we have built our user interface and our activity model; (2) Javascript for browser-based scripting; (3) Csound, a programmable music and audio environment; (4) Squeak, a version of Smalltalk embedded into a media-rich authoring environment; and (5) Logo. We will also provide some support Java and Flash.
-- One Laptop Per Child software specs
It's built on Linux, Firefox, XWindows, and many other open source projects.

You can buy an XO laptop for your kid (or yourself) and a kid in the developing world for $399, staring November 12. A low-power laptop with wifi, word processing, and high-level programming for $400 sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
flwyd: (mail.app)
Background: My company's email server runs MS Exchange. They won't turn on IMAP support, so the ways to access one's email are MS Outlook, Webmail, and programs written to read the (undocumented?) webmail format. As far as I can tell, Evolution is the only mail user agent which runs on Linux and can access (through a plugin) MS Exchange. Evolution's theme animal is the primate: its old logo had a monkey, it was originally called Ximian Evolution, some of its background processes are named bonobo, and so forth. Though not my favorite mail user interface, Evolution works reasonably well. The evolution-exchange plugin, on the other hand, has gone through several revisions of bugginess. A year or two ago it had a tendency to crash Evolution at random, but these days the main bug is the moderately annoying habit of re-downloading mail I've already seen when I launch Evolution. I've got to give the developers credit for creating something that's at least usable given the unsupported environment in which they're working, but all things being equal I'd rather not have this setup for my mail.

This morning, I came in a little after 8:30 and stepped through my new mail. One item in my inbox was spam, so I hit the Junk button in Evolution and moved on. A few hours later, I got an instant message that a coworker had sent me an email with a stack trace. I heard my "new mail" beep, but the message didn't show up in my inbox. I asked him to resend and the same thing happened. I looked at my inbox via webmail and saw the messages, but Evolution still had no clue, even after a restart.

After a morning of not getting email, I dug around in the files Evolution stores. I could see my new mail in the file on disk, but I couldn't see it in the application. I deleted the index, the metadata file, the summary. No help. Since Evolution was clearly copying data from Exchange to files on disk, I started investigating other clients I could use to read and send mail, planning to leave Evolution as a mail delivery agent. While Sylpheed and its offspring Claws looked promising, they seem to require the internal use the MH storage format and I didn't want to add an MBox to MH step to an already somewhat fragile mail setup. I installed Thunderbird and started setup for a mailspool account. But then the Thunderbird GUI seemed to hang while loading my spool (which only contains 147 cron messages), so I figured I'd give Evolution one more try.

I looked back in my Inbox mbox file and noticed that the junk mail I'd received this morning was still there. "Hmm... maybe Evolution just flags spam, but doesn't move it." I took a gander in my Junk folder and sure enough, there was all the email I received today. Select, mark as "not junk," and my mail was magically back to its correct place. I have no idea why everything got auto-filed as junk. Maybe there's a sticky flag bug. Maybe its small sample size made it think something like "From" was a spam word and everything with "From" in it should be marked junk. Regardless, I turned off junk mail scanning and sighed about a wasted afternoon.

The lesson for today: An infinite number of monkeys will eventually misplace your email.

P.S. I think I saw that the Exchange protocol will soon be (more?) open. I hope that will quickly lead to quality plugins for a great many email programs so that Evolution can fight for natural selection with more than the null set.
flwyd: (dogcow moof!)
While sorting through a box of papers from college in advance of packing and moving, I found a piece of paper with the title Ten Usability Heuristics. It's not sourced, and it may be somewhere on the web, but I'll record its contents for posterity.
Visibility of system status
The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.
Match between system and the real world
The system should speak the users' language, with words, phrases and concepts familiar to the user, rather than system-oriented terms. Follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a natural and logical order.
User control and freedom
Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked "emergency exit" to leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue. Support undo and redo.
Consistency and standards
Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.
Error prevention
Even better than good error messages is a careful design which prevents a problem from occurring in the first place.
Recognition rather than recall
Make objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.
Flexibility and efficiency of use
Accelerators -- unseen by the novice user -- may often speed up the interaction for the expert user such that the system can cater to both inexperienced and experienced users. Allow users to tailor frequent actions.
Aesthetic and minimalist design
Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.
Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors
Error messages should be expressed in plain language (no codes), precisely indicate the problem, and constructively suggest a solution.
Help and documentation
Even though it is better if the system can be used without documentation, it may be necessary to provide help and documentation. Any such information should be easy to search, focused on the user's task, list concrete steps to be carried out, and not be too large.

Nominally Funny

Friday, February 16th, 2007 09:54 am
flwyd: (daemon tux hexley)
Ubuntu's security update this morning includes a fix to ImageMagick with the comment
SECURITY UPDATE: overflow in PALM reading.
Magick indeed.

On Computers

Friday, February 2nd, 2007 09:30 pm
flwyd: (rush counterparts album cover)
Using the same device for Productivity and Leisure has its downfalls.
flwyd: (carmen sandiego)
If a spy adopted an identity as a sweet old lady so that she'd appear softer and kinder, the spy would be auntie aliased.

I've noticed before that I'm punnier when I stay up past 1 AM the night before.
flwyd: (mathnet - to cogitate and to solve)
When your DBA moves a database, it's a good idea to make sure all the tables still have their primary keys. I discovered this week that Oracle and SQL Server both enable you to move tables while leaving indexes behind.

It may be a sign of a strong framework when your software operates more or less successfully even when 75% of your tables lack proper unique constraints.

It may be a sign of good luck when this sort of thing only happens to (a) training databases and (b) production databases deployed in a situation in which data loss is not a big deal.
flwyd: (dogcow moof!)
I wrote the following comment on a Slashdot question about moving cross country. Nobody moderated my comment, but I think it was clever:

You should choose a transfer protocol which is reliable, though it need not be ordered. If you select a connectionless transfer protocol you should make sure you have a good error detection and recovery plan in place.

The RTT will be high, but that's acceptable. The Interstates have high bandwidth, but U.S. highways often have fewer collisions and hops with nicer food. Make sure you set your TTL high -- frequent hops make collisions less likely.

I suggest using physical private key protection for your content. Every standard implementation at the automobile layer supports this.

Consider generating a checksum for each delivery unit. That way you will be able to tell at a glance if any packets or boxes are dropped en route.
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