Old Signature Block

Going through some old emails (in this case, March 25, 1997) I found this bit of ASCII art. I’m not sure whether it’s something I once used in my own signature, or something that someone else was using. Either way, I’m certainly not the one who originated the artwork. Regardless, it’s a pretty good graphic considering the medium. (This will probably be unrecognizable on a mobile device.)

     (___)      _|_|_|_      (___)

Hand over the chocolate and nobody gets hurt.
(Uh oh! They left Troi in command!)

Literary Meme

You should blame Marauder for this.

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal…along with these instructions.

To access any of the framework’s features, you need to know which namespace contains the types that expose the facilities you’re after.

(Who the heck keeps great literature – or even a comic book – near the computer?)


During the course of any lengthy journey, it’s important to stop from time to time and find out where you are on the map. This allows you to check your progress and take corrective measures before you wind up hopelessly lost. Poor map-checking is how it once took me six hours (and a side trip to Delaware) to get to Ocean City while the rest of my group made the same trip in half the time.
I thought I had learned from that mistake, but evidently not. Today I took a few moments to find myself on the map and discovered that something has gone horribly wrong!
It’s been more than 2 1/2 years since I started Dividing by Zero. With so many internet success stories out there (Facebook sold for how many hundred million?), it seems reasonable that by now I should have one of the five most popular sites on the web, several million in the bank, a Porsche in the driveway, and a steady date with Jennifer Aniston.
That was the plan anyhow. Instead, my site is still largely unknown, though I do have the number one search result for chirping smoke detector; I only have enough money in the bank to cover my mortgage payment; and the car in the driveway is a Honda.
Still, I do have to admit, my situation could be a lot worse. The smoke detector thing is cool in its own way, I do have a car, and I can make my mortgage payment. And although I’ve never met Jennifer Aniston, at least I’m not getting drunken phone calls from Britney Spears or Paris Hilton.

The Presidency

It seems to me that it’s time to face facts: This Country Needs a Presidental Candidate.
The Democratic Party has done a tremendous job of shooting itself in the foot over the past year. Between the endless posturing over Michigan and Florida and the choice of candidates going to the superdelegates instead of the voters (Quite ironic that it’s called the “Democratic” Party, huh?), it’s not hard to imagine the voters defecting en masse.
Of course, the Republican side isn’t any better. I do somewhat like McCain’s willingness to compromise — most members of both parties seem to have decided that winning arguments without concession to other opinions is the only way to go — but between the awful state of the economy, the endless war, the wholesale erosion of individual rights in favor of business interests and still more endless posturing, well, I just have a hard time trusting the Republican party either.
If there was ever a time for a third-party candidate, this is it! I first mentioned this candidate two years ago, and the reasons for choosing him are as valid now as then:
He stands for:

  • People
  • Freedom
  • Democracy
  • and stuff

(Just try getting any of the other candidates to admit to that last one!)
Still not convinced? Check out his campaign video!

So remember: Vote Early, Vote Often and Vote Beeblebrox!

At Least I'm not the Bad Influence (this time)

I get the most interesting voice mails from Marauder. He apparently spent most of Easter Day with his girls. Nothing wrong with that (it certainly beats my Easter Day activities which largely consisted of putting off some housecleaning until early evening) and as part of his father-daughter time, he taught Evangeline how to use a magnifying glass to start fires.
The next sentence in the voice mail clarifies things a bit. What he was really teaching her was how to do wood-burning but she immediately saw the additional applications for this skill. He then quickly added that of course she understands that she’s not supposed to do this unless there’s a grown-up present.
But still, I can’t help thinking that Evangeline is developing a most interesting skill set. She’s already demonstrated a knack for opening locked doors. Now she has a method for covering her tracks.
Fortunately, this also means that her life of crime will be limited to daylight hours.
(It looks like Marauder is also starting to wonder about the skills he’s teaching.)

Something to Smile About

This comes from DDMD who is an Air Force dentist and therefore has an interest in seeing people smile.

Smiles are good. Smiles can change a day around. Giving someone a reason to smile is a gift and then some.
Using anything you can, any way you can, through the power of the comment box, make me smile. Look at my interests, past entries, anything, pictures, fanfic, facts, links, drabbles or even just a cool word, anything to pass on a flash of a smile!
Post this in your own journal so I can pass on the favor 🙂

So… What Makes You Smile?

Farewell to Arthur C. Clarke

Between the two of them, Da-Cap and Da-Simon pointed out that the Hubble Space Telescope was reported to have found precursors of life (signatures of the necessary chemicals) in another solar system at just about the same time that Arthur C. Clarke passed away.
John posted a neat bit pointing out that when you look at the dates involved, it turns out that the man who gave us both 2001: A Space Odyssey and the geosynchronous communications satellite also managed to time travel.
The Joy of Tech presented two commemorative cartoons featuring both HAL and Arthur. As well as some older cartoons, one about the idea of a space elevator, and another about the Tycho Monolith.
For myself, I’ve never been able to listen to “Blue Danube” or “Thus Spake Zarathustra” without thinking of O’Neill colonies and proto-humans flinging jawbones into the air.
If the purpose of books is to entertain and provoke thought, then Arthur C. Clarke certainly succeeded.

Beware the Kangaroos

I first heard the story of the “heavily armed” Kangaroos back in 1999 and although it sounds somewhat apocryphal, it’s still quite entertaining. Going through some old emails last night, I ran across it again:

The reuse of some object-oriented code had caused tactical headaches for Australia’s armed forces. As virtual reality simulators assume larger roles in helicopter combat training, programmers have gone to great lengths to increase the realism of their scenarios, including detailed landscapes and — in the case of the Northern Territory’s Operation Phoenix — herds of kangaroos (since disturbed animals might well give away a helicopter’s position).
The head of the Defence Science & Technology Organization’s Land Operations/Simulation division reportedly instructed developers to model the local marsupials’ movements and reactions to helicopters. Being efficient programmers, they just re-appropriated some code originally used to model infantry detachment reactions under the same stimuli, changed the mapped icon from a soldier to a kangaroo, and increased the figures’ speed of movement.
Eager to demonstrate their flying skills for some visiting American pilots, the hotshot Aussies “buzzed” the virtual kangaroos in low flight during a simulation. The kangaroos scattered, as predicted, and the visiting Americans nodded appreciatively….then did a double-take as the kangaroos reappeared from behind a hill and launched a barrage of Stinger missiles at the helpless helicopter. (Apparently the programmers had forgotten to remove THAT part of the infantry coding.)
The lesson? Objects are defined with certain attributes, and any new object defined in terms of an old one inherits all the attributes. The embarrassed programmers had learned to be careful when reusing object-oriented code, and the Yanks left with a newfound respect for Australian wildlife.
Simulator supervisors report that pilots from that point onward have strictly avoided kangaroos, just as they were meant to.

Over time, I’ve learned more often than not, any story you find online which sounds that good is more than likely bogus. The story about the guy who attached solid rocket boosters to his Chevy Impala is one such example. It’s a fantastic story, but it’s complete bunk.
So after coming across the Kangaroo story again last night, I decided to check whether it was real. By the time I first ran across it, many of the details had been greatly exaggerated. But to my surprise, it turns out that the underlying story is true!
Doing some more digging, I found a first hand version of the story. Even without the embellishments, it’s still a good laugh.
And the official word from Australia is that (as of eight years ago anyhow) the Kangaroos are no longer armed.