Message Of The Day

Sat, 14 May 2005

18:24 [zork(~)] cat LatestGreatest.txt

Blah blah blah...

After hearing so much about it I finally brought home a copy of Gödel Escher Bach from the library. After three nights of tough reading I have finally made my way through the "Twentieth-anniversary Preface". Since I am a complete know-nothing I can blithely offer the opinion that Mr. Hofstadter has a HUGEly high opinion of himself and his work. I hope that this isn't going to be another ZatAoMM literary masturbation-fest. I am persisting. When it gets too annoying I alternate with a book I found nearby on the shelf. John L. Casti's Five Golden Rules is very readable. He covers Game Theory (Minimax), Topology (Fixed-Point), Singularity Theory (Morse), Computation (Halting) and Optimisation (Simplex). My maths knowledge is too poor to apreciate the details but otherwise the material is quite accessible. After digging into the first chapter I headed straight back to the library to pick up some more books on Game Theory and now I tend to see situations in my life in terms of payoff matrices.

My viewing has been varied. I watched Tim Burton's Ed Wood which is worth seeing if only for Martin Landau's amazing portrayal of Bela Lugosi. He's come a very long way since Mission Impossible and Space 1999. This is another film that Bill Murray doesn't screw up. Having seen one bad film I then plumped for Mystery Men as I had been curious what Tom Waits was up to (and Eddie Izzard?!). Mister sanity made a return when I picked 《千禧曼波》. This was a suprise to see as I hadn't particularly liked 《海上花》 and so didn't know what Hou Hsiao-Hsien was capable of (I have also seen another couple of his films). Obviously a big part of the mood of this one came from Shu Qi's performance but the whole setup was quite spooky. Is there really a "Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival"? (I sure hope so) Yikes! It seems that Pauline Chan killed herself the year after the film was released.

A decision was made to put laboratory workers in our departmnent on a hearing monitoring programme. This is probably because all the labs now each have several mass spectrometers and their turbo pumps can really scream. Even though I only make token lab appearances lately I wasn't exempt and so was tested (sit in a soundproof box with headphones and listen for the beeps). I was pleasantly surprised to find that, despite the heavy metal concerts in my youth, my hearing is actually on the good side of normal. A side-effect is that this means that other people are correct - I just don't pay attention.

I'll leave out any detailed descriptions of what has been happening at work. Suffice it to say that departmental management were all off to another site last week and there was much rejoicing. On the big plus side I had another mentorship meeting with Big Science Guy and he is very interested in what I have been up to (he wants to work on my department's management to tell them to back off and let me do my thing - and since he is a VP he can actually do that). I mentioned that I had been dabbling with some transcriptional network modeling using some of the programs I mentioned here and he became very animated and wants me to look into it all in more detail. I have thus been playing with Dizzy which is quite cool. It reminds me of the simulation side of Winnonlin (and the ODE modules have about the same capability) when specifying microconstants but the stochastic modules are fascinating. It is addictive running simulations of systems with only a dozen or so molecules of reactants. I need to understand how to compartmentalise the reactions (or actually how to shuttle species between compartments).

I still haven't finished reassembling my "spare parts" box. The stamped aluminium plate that covers/supports the motherboard connectors doesn't have a hole for the ethernet port. I need to file/saw/gouge something before I can finally put it all together. Too many of my projects seem to trip embarassingly at the finishing line like this. One stimulus for closure might be that the landlord has apparently decided to fit all the units with airconditioning. I arrived home one evening to find a note from the landlord's agent telling me they had scouted my apartment for locations. There was no comment about the gutted computer with miscellaneous parts, manuals and tools spread over the living room floor. I assume that they must have seen much worse.

Random Thoughts
Life needs tab completion for everything (and grep, of course).
Laptop touchpads are the world's stupidest pointing device (especially when in combination with pointing sticks as you have to crab your hand over it to avoid touching it). They must have been invented by those in league with people profiting from RSI work.

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