So here we are in Colorado, with a rental car that is sure to make somebody jealous.
In other news, did I mention that we’re going on vacation to Colorado?
We went to the finals of the Pilot Pen tennis tournament yesterday. It was fun, even though we didn’t get to see any really good matches. In the women’s final, Svetlana Kuznetsova lost the first set to Ágnes Szávay, and then just as it was getting interesting Szávay had to give up because of an injury. Too bad.
James Blake beat his friend Mardy Fish in straight sets. We were sitting right next to one of the few Fish fans in the crowd which made the match a little more exciting. “COME ON FISH! SHAKE IT OFF!!!!”
We even hung around to see the women’s doubles championship match, which was a complete blowout: somehow the world’s top women’s doubles team lost 6-1 6-2! On the winning team was Sania Mirza, originally from India, who had attracted a respectable number of Indian fans who we watched filming and taking pictures of her somewhat obsessively and quickly scurring to try to get autographs after the game.
Just out of curiosity I checked today to see how much it would cost us to see the US Open. Tickets for seats at the finals as good as the ones we had are around FIVE THOUSAND BUCKS! Yowza!!! Jenny would like to see Federer play a whole lot… but not that much.
Today: Brookhaven National Lab! During the summer they give tours on Sundays and they saved the best for last: RELATIVISITC HEAVY ION COLLIDER!!!! What is that? Well, just like the name, it takes heavy ions (gold, specifically) and collides them…. relativistically! See the tiny circle in the middle of this map? Zoom in and take a closer look, that’s RHIC.
There were way, way more people out there than I had imagined! Who knew particle physics drew the crowds. They split the tours up into different groups, and first we took this bus and listened to this Actual Research Scientist™ describe a few of the buildings on the BNL campus and the basics of the RHIC experiments. Our first stop was the PHENIX experiment.
This is, if I’m not mistaken Stefen Bathe, (more publications here) standing in front of the PHENIX detector. He’s explaining the experiment, which among other things is creating a Quark-gluon plasma, and fielding questions from other people on the tour (can this be used to generate energy? no. how loud are the collisions? silent. what practical benefit will this research have? possibly none. how do you turn it on? a team of scientists and engineers go in that control room over there and work for a few weeks. are you sure it’s completely silent? well, the air conditioners do make some noise).
PHENIX has lots of interesting stuff on its website, including this Java applet that lets you visualize the results of collisions (although one of the scientists seemed to imply that these visualizations are for PR purposes only and she really is only interested in crunching the raw data – “I’ve never looked at one of my collisions, actually”). Also, here are a series of games where you can try to run the collider yourself. If you get a high enough score, the results of your experiements enable time travel.
We spent a little more time at the STAR experiment. The goal of this experiement is… exactly the same as PHENIX! The two teams are in competition and are trying to beat each other to results, and also create the same findings with two different methods.
Here’s one of STAR’s gigantic detectors. I’m not sure but this may be part of the FORWARD TIME PROJECTION CHAMBER, which sounds really cool.
We also got to see the control room for STAR. It was full of racks of computers, which of course drew my interest. By the way if I’m not mistaken this is STAR’s entire CVS repository: here’s a commit somebody made just a few days ago. I guess this is the real stuff. Also, STAR: the weblog. Subscribed!
Science runs on Linux!
OK, also sometimes on Solaris. And Love.
A chilling sign. Toto asked the obvious question: “What do you think happened to Dennis?!?!?!” By the way, RHIC is the collider that was in the news a few years ago… remember BIG BANG MACHINE COULD DESTROY EARTH? The article stated that some crazy scientists were doing an expierment that could bring about the destruction of the Earth, or possibly even the ENTIRE UNIVERSE! I asked about this and yes, it was RHIC. I then asked if any of these events have occurred and was assured that no, they have not. I didn’t ask the obvious follow-up question involving the anthropomorphic principle and the many-worlds hypothesis. Here’s the report the lab issued: RHIC Speculative Disaster Scenarios.
I did resist the urge to try to turn it on myself.
I’m guessing that a magnet crash would be…. bad?
More serious looking stuff. I love switches behind doors, which is why I was never any good at Steel Battalion. That self-destruct switch was irresistable. (by the way, don’t bother with that IP address – it’s not pingable and a traceroute dies somewhere inside es.net.)
Posted in the control room.
The final stop on the tour took us into the accelerator tunnel. This tunnel contains two “pipes”, one with particles moving clockwise around the RHIC, the other counterclockwise. At six positions around the ring these pipes cross over, so that collisions (at 99.995% the speed of light!) are possible. At this point of the tour we got an extremely enthusiastic and technical description of exactly how the superconducting magnets guide the beam, and the various safety systems that keep the collider from destroying itself if anything goes wrong.
All in all, it was a great trip and completely worth the two hour drive out to long island. And the icing on the cake was that Jenny got to cross another resaurant off her TODO list, Momofuku. Nano-review: good!
Saw these at the local asian grocery:
After doing a double take I realized that yes, those were emoticons on the cookies! (or biscuits, I guess) I bought them, and just as advertised:
I couldn’t find a page dedicated to this product, but this is the manufacturer and here’s some Japanese guy blogging about them. How do they taste? Sort of Pocky-esque, but not as good. But hey, EMOTICONS! *^^*
I don’t remember where I picked it up, but Anarchaia by Christian Neukirchen is one of my current favorite feeds. It’s an incredibly eclectic combination of deep geekism, pictures, random links, IRC chat snippets, and occasional poetry (which I skip – especially when it’s in German!).
If you’re on an iPhone, press back now! NOW! PRESS IT!
TOO LATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOOOOOOOO!O!O!!!O!O!O!O!O!!!O!O!!!
One of my friends suggested over email that maybe our circle of friends should form a book club. She even proposed a book that we could try. Reaction ranged from complete apathy, to violent emailed screeds against book clubs, and finally culminated in a horrible photoshop defacement of the proposed book’s cover.
That idea rejected soundly, the next time we got together we realized that now that there are no shows on TV anymore that anybody could possibly care about (Lost and Battlestar being both on hiatus), we need some other excuse to get together once a week. Remote control helicopter club? Nintendo DS club? Badminton club? Shaw Brothers movie club? Sitting around and rotting club? All good ideas, but finally I came up with an idea that everybody immediately agreed on: CHEESEBURGER CLUB!
Tonight was the inaugural meeting! Jenny made incredibly thick and juicy and RARE cheeseburgers, with caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms available as special toppings. She followed that with home made french fries (I called them that at least, I guess they were really baked potato wedges). And then to finish it off, A CAN OF BEANS. What could possibly be better? I guess maybe some local corn on the cob might have been nice, but it’s not quite the season yet. Oh, and for dessert: chocolate cream pie! The “classic cheeseburger” has now been knocked out of the park, and the other members of the club are considering more exotic styles. And by exotic I mean really radical stuff like maybe seasoning the meat or using non-american cheese.
Despite my complete lack of cooking ability (I did help Jenny set the table) I think cheeseburger club is one of the better ideas I’ve ever had. I’m assuming local chapters will start cropping up all over the country – wait, what am I saying, I mean THE WORLD, and will look to me as a sort of spiritual leader, a role I am ready to graciously accept… as long as it means I get more cheeseburgers.
In the end there were just too many classes. The coupling was too severe; the dependencies too subtle. The Samurai is beaten. The blades of destruction spin down. Not so much Kill Bill – more my very own horror film, The Refactoring.
There is only one course of action left for the true Samurai:
Awesome quote from Bryan O’Sullivan on how much fun programming is becoming, given the whole “Moore’s Law is Dead” meme and how you couldn’t even buy a single core computer if you wanted to:
Programming is hard; parallel programming is way the hell harder; compsci courses have turned into votech Java pap; and enrollments in compsci are in any case as lively as the waiting list for the Lusitania the week after it was torpedoed. People want their programming to be easier and more casual, and they’re about to have it jammed into their eyesockets on bamboo stakes instead.
By the way, I know what he’s talking about, because I’ve had some fun with a type of parallel programming recently. Each screen = one CPU, plus one more, just for fun.
(*Also known as “Bob from Bob’s Furniture, you know, ‘COME ON DOWN!’” and “the lady from Cruising Connecticut”)
Their status of non-wedded-bliss is confirmed by a source no less authoritative than Eastern Connecticut State University Magazine:
Easily recognized by television viewers in the Northeast, many people believe that the woman who has rocked, reclined, and lounged her way through numerous TV and radio commercials for Bob’s Discount Furniture is Mrs. Bob Kaufman. In reality, Bob’s sidekick is Cathy (Horan) Poulin ‘89.
She first met Bob Kaufman while working for a cable advertising company in Manchester. The company had launched a new local access channel and needed to develop its programming. In 1992, Poulin created the half-hour show “Cruising Connecticut” in which she drove around in a Corvette with a male cohost and visited the company’s local clients.
Poulin resides in Hebron with her husband, Paul, and one-year-old daughter, Madison, who she acknowledges is her “greatest accomplishment by far.”
This has been yet another public service announcement from messy-78.
And for the record, the official editorial position of messy-78 is that Bob is awesome, and his commercials are not so much annoying as they are… “memorable”.
If you’ve ever used it, then you know ClearCase sucks. But let me tell you, if you haven’t used ClearCase MultiSite, which is the version for distributed development, you don’t yet understand the meaning of the word “suck”. If you can, imagine a slower, harder to administer, more expensive version of ClearCase. That’s MultiSite — but only if your sites are working on completely seperate projects! If your distributed developers want to work together on the same project, or god forbid, on the very same files, then I can guarantee that your imagination is not sufficient to fully envision the universe of pain that awaits your every working hour.
You might think all that money would buy you a system that lets developers on different continents work together as if they are in the same building. How naive! No, instead MultiSite allows developers on different continents to work together just as easily as if they are on different planets.
It’s by now a well established fact that there is an opera singer on the Minutillo side of the family. OK, that may be an overstatement. What I meant is that there exists an opera singer named Hana Minutillo, and as far as I know, I’m not related to her. But, get this: new on the opera scene is Tsu-Ching Yu — Jenny’s cousin! We missed her debut solo concert, but through the magic of YouTube we (and you) get to see at least a few parts of it.
This month at work is especially fun:
PROJECT 1: Work with programmers from a Swedish company who live in Denmark and Germany to update an American piece of hardware to display (and edit!) French and Japanese text.
PROJECT 2: Try to access a .Net web service (created by programmers in Israel) from C++ on Linux. We made the possibly fatal mistake of trying to use Java as a rendezvous point to get started.
PROJECT 3: Travel to London to help a team of programmers there figure out how to clone some embedded Qt software in MACROMEDIA FLASH, of all things.
By the way, I have been extremely disappointed with the Java web service experience. There are SO MANY different Java APIs and toolkits out there, and no clear way to figure out which way the cool kids are doing it this week. Understanding Google results for anything related to Java web services is like interpreting an archaeological dig through thousands of years of technological progress, including dark ages, which may or may not be over. And the official site is no help, just pages with long lists of poorly named APIs.
I mean I just want to call a SOAP service, described by a WSDL file, and pass a username and password (a la WS-Security). Why is that so hard? No, I don’t want to learn all about handler chains or wsdd files or GlassFish (whatever that is) or deploy any WAR files to a server or install security providers or configure everything through a GUI in an IDE and just be left staring at “NullPointerException” when it doesn’t work. I just want to use the good old JDK to write a simple command line client which I naively thought would be about 10 lines of code. You know which web service client toolkit I’ve had the most luck with? cURL. BY FAR.
Recently I’ve been using Skype and have been quite impressed, especially with how effortlessly it glides through any firewalls and NATs that it finds in its way, almost as if they don’t even exist. I was even more impressed by “Vanilla Skype”, a presentation (part 1, part 2) that details the Herculean efforts that the developers of Skype went to to encrypt and obfuscate the workings of their client and network, and the truly Super-Herculean efforts of a pair of hackers who have circumvented all the encryption and booby traps and figured it all out anyway!
We went to a restaurant called “Machu Picchu” in East Haven. I ordered a steak, and was presented with this:
That’s a steak with two fried eggs on top, sitting on a mountain of rice and french fries, with a hunk of fried cheese, some fried plantains, salad, and finally just almost as a garnish, a HOT DOG.
Jenny’s “potato stew” was almost as surprising:
It was cold! Sliced potatoes! With sauce! What!??
Want to listen to Internet radio on your Wii? Try Wii Hear. They have 45 stations available so far, and are adding more all the time. Plus their player makes EXTREMELY satisfying Mario sound effects.
Want to listen to stations they don’t offer? Or stations that aren’t Shoutcast/Icecast streams? I asked how and within 36 hours, some wonderful person came along with all the secrets! The lazyweb triumphs again! Sort of.
Feed on Feeds, once and future king of open source web based feed aggregators, has now completed its move to Google Code. There’s no official new release yet, but there is some early code available in svn for the adventurous.
There’s also a newish project blog. Now would be a good time to subscribe to it.
後 – Hou4 – Back, Behind, Rear, Afterwards, After, Later
最後 – Zui4 Hou4 – Most Back — Final, Last
That’s right! This is the FINAL “Word of the Day”! Clearly I can’t go on forever, and I figured one thousand three hundred and eighteen is a nice round number to stop at. Or it may have something to do with the new year and all that. Happy 2007, by the way!
Here are a few sites for those of you who need some help breaking the addiction: our old favorite 中文.com (has a word a day feature), Oneaday (a Chinese proverb every day), and Audio Word of the Day (multi-lingual!).
I’ll still be here, of course, posting my normal stuff, possibly a little more often. Some of them might even be Chinese words … just not one every day.
Thanks to everybody who has ever read even a single one of these, and special thanks to everybody who wrote in saying they liked “Word of the Day”. I was always amazed to get any readers at all other than friends and family, and pretty much flabbergasted when anybody actually LIKED it.
再見！ – Zai4 Jian4! – Good Bye!
蕪 – Wu2 – Undergrowth
荒蕪 – Huang1 Wu2 – Uncultivated Undergrowth — Wasteland
蕪菁 – Wu2 Jing1 – Undergrowth Leek — Turnip
熔 – Rong2 – To Smelt, Fuse
We found a secret new good restaurant in North Haven: Formosa. It’s been open just 2 months, and isn’t even in the online yellow pages yet (132 Middletown Avenue, for your reference). Attracted simply by the name, we went in and recognized the owner. Turns out that Formosa is brought to you by the award-winning team behind Szechuan Delight, our favorite local Chinese place! The new restaurant is fusion. For example, my mango chicken came with a side of mashed potatoes! I’m sometimes a fusion skeptic, but in this case I think everything has fused correctly. Recommended.