Archive for October, 2005

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A life of comfort?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

So today I awoke well-rested, thanks to a new orthopaedic pillow (a replacement for the feeble replacement pillows I bought a week ago). I went into work and (mostly*) was able to sit at my desk without severe contortions, thanks to a new cushion.

And the past week or two for me has been almost unbearable without that €18 expenditure on those two items. Today, the difference was amazing.

It’s the little things. <shakes angry fist at office chair and old pillows. And possibly my back and shoulders too for being so finicky.>

*Chair isn’t perfect, but hopefully liveable with.

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DELETE. POV, Non-notable, Vanity, Original Research.

Monday, October 24th, 2005

I’ve touched on the subject of Wikipedia already, but I’ve recently given more thought to the issue.

I’ve been a Wikipedia contributor for over a year and a half now, for which I was an addict for the first year. I later decided it was taking up too much of my time, took a couple months off, and came back as an occasional fiddler. I no longer see the point in putting much effort into it, despite the “benefits for all” theoretical aspect which appeals to me as a dedicated Christian. Spending my time on just about anything else, in the real world, is as far as I can see, much more useful.

Wikipedia is, and always has been, fascinating for it’s detail in certain areas (by no means just geek articles, but rather any narrow area in which dedicated people contribute to Wikipedia). It has in my experience, only succeeded in creating good articles on popular or general topics where a handful of people are dedicated to those articles as much as is usually the case in some small niche area. Heck, Wikipedia didn’t even have a proper article on Livestock just over a year ago (See 6th August edition). Why? Because no-one was interested in it.

There are more subtle things, like which articles attract dedicated editors who are also knowledgeable in the area, which articles attract the ignorant, and which articles attract vandals/point-of-view pushers/few dedicated Wikipedians.

The current Wikipedia model will never result in anything approaching a proper encyclopaedia, nor a satisfactory reliable or comprehensive (surprisingly many areas aren’t covered despite very broad coverage of other areas) resource. I would argue that much of the incredible amount of work that has gone into it is nonetheless useful. But ultimately a failure in its aims.

I’d love to go on about all the other things Wikipedia fails on, procedurally and in philosophy. But the reasons above alone dictate that it doesn’t work in its current form.

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Bleah…

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

Skynet talks were excellent, really interesting stuff. Steve and Braz have suitably reported on them though.

I’m currently not feeling that fantastic. I ate too much food last night, stayed up late surfing online and didn’t get up till 2pm (yes, Danny and Steve might be jealous, but really that’s much later than I like to arise). More importantly, no coffee or food till 2:30pm!

And I’ve spent the rest of the day feeling woozy as a result of all or some of the above, and possibly my breakfast/lunch choice of a greasy cheesy breakfast panini. Tasty, but in the long run, bleurgh.

Also I should have been productive today and tried to get a bicycle. I think I’d have certainly been better today for a nice brisk cycle.

Oh well.

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What’s the story?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

More attempts to disentangle inter-related topics, convoluted mathematics, and papers with useful bits interspersed with <Zzzzzzz>. Today was a good day, even though I had a sinking “I’m overwhelmed” feeling briefly at one stage in the day.

Also food for thought, for me anyways, was the news that Wikipedia may be a giant garbage collector. I can’t remember if this story is from today, yesterday or the day before because the days are merging again, worryingly enough. I’m still undecided as to quantifying how useful Wikipedia is, or indeed trying to tie down it’s failings. Bill Gates and Jane Fonda were offered as the crap articles, and even Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales admitted they were.

As an experiment I went on a “random article” walk. I was actually surprised at the overwhelming amount of articles returned that were perfectly fine. Even bios on French literary writers and composers were well put together. I suspect actually that Wikipedia deals worst with the most common topics (them attracting more of the general uninformed public, and not interesting dedicated contributors focussed on one area). It also seems not to handle abstract topics well either, or topics consisting of large quantities of articles. There’s perhaps a lack of hierarchical organisation (i.e. parent articles should summarise a well-ordered set of daughter articles). I don’t subscribe to the view that it’s just nerd-stuff and Klingon, etc. that are well covered on Wikipedia. I think it is merely the case that sub-areas and narrow topics are covered better on Wikipedia whatever the field.

Finally, what is up with this years Atlantic hurricane season? One more tropical storm and they’ve run out of names, it’ll be Tropical Storm/Hurricane Alpha. Also this last one, Wilma is insane: 16 hours from hurricane to Cat 5 hurricane. Biggest ever in the Atlantic, 10th in the world, etc.

Everything is really fascinating. Including Time Team’s muddy trenches.

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Bouncy bounce

Friday, October 14th, 2005

Whoa… first teensy wee bit too much coffee without the involvement of Wild Onion refills in a while.

So… This week I declare a success. By that, I mean it’s Friday and I don’t particularly feel dead tired anymore. Though that could be the coffee. Also: “This week I have been mostly eating…” papers. Papers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well… perhaps not, perhaps just reading some during worktime. But thinking about work stuff continuously it certainly feels like I’ve been mentally doing the equivalent of hooking up an IV drip of information to my head.

Or something…

I should stop now. Back to two coffees a day I think, but for now: Wheeeeeeee!

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As clear as mud

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

So, seemingly a cheerful morning of sunshine is a cure for all ills. How fickle, yet apparently effective.

In other news, I’ve decided Dirk Gently (‘s holistic detective agency – Douglas Adams) was right. All I need to do is see the interconnectedness of everything and I will solve the mystery of runtime software verification. Seriously though – all the different methodologies I’ve looked at just seem to be different ways of saying the same thing. And none of them are quite good enough for real life. And people have spent decades combining them in different ways, arranging conversions between different representations, extending them, rearranging them, and yet to little avail* . Seemingly the more threads you try to tie up, the more the whole tapestry seems to have holes.

Or something, I think my skills with metaphors need some work.

(*well, OK, lots of avail, but the stuff still doesn’t do what it says on the tin)

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Tic tacs? That makes no sense.

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005

Subconcious mental connections evidently not being my forté, I took four days to figure out why renaming “tactics” to “tic tacs” had even a remote possibility of being a pun.

Worrying.

Also worrying is that coffee is the only thing keeping my brain alive at the moment. Morning caveman syndrome is increasing.

I want to go hibernate for a bit… unfortunately not an option.

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How to manage time…

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

…do nothing for a while. Turns out that taking a day off was a very good idea. All my thoughts and things to do are now nicely pondered and filed, helped by endless Sudoku (note to self – avoid doing that again so much that one sees grids and numbers when closing one’s eyes).

And it was a brief respite, I have an exponentially increasing amount of academic papers to read to expand my knowledge of the areas of runtime software verification (in hardware), model checking, formal verification, temporal logic, <insert random word combination here>.

Timewise this isn’t a problem. Boredom isn’t a problem (the topic interests me). Physically managing to read and comprehend more than a certain amount each day – that’s the hard bit. Still, this stuff looks fantastic for PhD work, and the overall project brief here is for something reasonably groundbreaking.

But avoiding the desiccated eyeballs and exhaustion from seeing too much will be interesting…

…especially when I start doing actual work as well as all the reading!

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Desiccated Eyeballs

Friday, October 7th, 2005

So much reading. My head hurts and I don’t want to have to look at stuff anymore. That said, reading lots of academic papers is proving very educational, and I may even be having ideas from it all. It’s interesting enough to read a lot of them, but there’s only so much I can physically manage in a day/week.

I don’t seem to relax well at the moment, regardless of sleeping at night being no problem. I need to just sit and think, or reflect. But I get bored doing that, and so it seems I never have time to sort my thoughts.

Why is having coffee on my own in the Allegro in college more relaxing than sitting at home? I think I should just get a laptop, abandon my desk and set up shop in the Allegro permanently.

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Time for rambling on again

Sunday, October 2nd, 2005

And so, I join the legions of bloggers… kinda like the “million monkeys at a million typewriters” in the eyes of some I believe! No monkey-writings for me though, oh no, I hope I’ll have some crazy coffee-inspired ramblings here for all and sundry to laugh at!

However, it is not the time of day for coffee, caffeine has long left my bloodstream, and so I shall merely provide monkey ramblings for now. Today saw the resurrection of a lava lamp thanks to a trip into town with an expired bulb, toilet-roll centre, and toilet roll. Also a futile attempt to procure vacuum cleaner bags (Limerick actually has a shop dedicated to that purpose!). And I bought some cheap, nearly expired blue cheese and some socks. So not really a normal Saturday at all, but ultimately successful.