It's a duck pond.
Why aren't there any ducks?
I don't know. There's never any ducks.
Then how do you know it's a duck pond?
Tuesday, May 31
Now in convenient capsules!
My grand-daughter Trixie has written of her "sleep compiler", an advanced electronic bio-feedback device that allows you to get by on just two or three hours of sleep a night. (It also lets you subscribe to the cable-dream network, but that's a post for another day.)
We seem to be catching up fast on Trixie's 22nd century world, unless it turns out that modafinil (pronounced like mow-daffodil) has some nasty side effects. Nastier than rashes and upset tummies anyway.
Modafinil (marketed as Provigil) has the curious effect of suppressing your urge to sleep. You still get tired - just not sleepy. And you still can sleep; it doesn't cause insomnia. It's just that you can remain awake and alert for extended periods without the need for sleep, and without the familiar side-effects of caffeine and amphetamines.*
It's not a stimulant; there's no high with modafinil. You wake up feeling rested, you find it easy to concentrate, you feel like doing work. You may also find yourself grinning like a feral chipmunk, so if this is not normal for you, you might find it best to keep your office door closed.
This site has first hand reports from people who have tried modifinil. It's interesting stuff, if subjective and occasionally unsettling:
I would warn that there might be a contraindication for high doses of Wellbutrin plus Provigil. I should mention I had some meth-amphetamine metabolites running around in my system from the previous night's partying (2 healthy sized tokes).Uh, yeah. My liver has gone into hiding just reading that.
Is modafinil the magic, um, sleep thingy? No-one's ready to come out and say so just yet. As a sufferer of the dread 28-hour sleep cycle† I'm more than a little interested; as a cowardly chicken who ain't gonna take no nasty pills‡ I'm inclined to wait and see.
Now I'm just waiting for the modafinil spam to arrive.
* Well, I'm not personally familiar with the side-effects of amphetamines, but they have been studied extensively.
† Left to my own devices, I sleep ten hours out of twenty-eight, rather than eight out of twenty-four. I'm never ready to go to bed in time to get enough sleep so that I'll be ready to get up in the morning, if you follow me. If I go to bed at 11 pm, say, I don't want to get up until 9, and even if I crawl out of bed at 7 I'm not ready to sleep again until 1 am. I've been this way since my teens, so I've learned to live with it.
One thing that helps is that there are exactly six 28-hour days in a normal muggle week. So if I take a week off and let my sleep pattern take its natural course, it's back in sync at the end... Or actually, eight hours out, which is what happens every weekend, which I counter with a nap on Sunday afternoon, except then I don't get to sleep until late and...
It's after midnight, and I'm fully alert, and I have to go to bed now or I won't get up in the morning. Bah.
‡ Except my anti-sneeze tablets, because without those, life ain't worth living.
Le vote franÃ§ais plonge l'Union europÃ©enneYou can say that again.
dans une pÃ©riode d'incertitudes
De hoppity-hop de-hop de-hop
De hoppity-hop de-hop de-hop de-hop-hop-hop -
Chop chop chop.
Sunday, May 29
Four installs and two failed upgrades later, I'm up and running.
Fedora Core 4 Test 3 came out on the 10th of May. Today is the 28th. There are already 1.2 gigabytes of updates available.
Also to be expected: There's more than one type of DVI cable. This is the wrong type.
Hmm. Okay, what I have is a DVI-I single-link cable. What I need is a DVI-D cable... Or a pair of needle-nose wirecutters. What I want is a DVI-D dual-link cable. Oh look, here's one, only $250. Maybe I'll try another store...
I went and did it. Currently installing about 8GB of software. Should take about half an hour.
Lots of shiny new toys to play with; my old Linux box was running Fedora Core 2, which is a year old now.
What's amazing is the amount of stuff that's left out. Nethack? Pike? Metakit? No sign of them, or of ten thousand other packages. Okay, 90% of them are crap, but that leaves an awful lot of good stuff.
So, I backed everything up yet again, checked it, double-checked it, triple checked it, and then installed the replacement video card in my new computer (the GeForce 6600 non-GT).
Stuck the CentOS 4 disk in and discovered that my computer no longer has a DVD-ROM drive. Ten minutes of fiddling with the BIOS options got it back, and it turns out that CentOS 4 has no idea what a GeForce 6600 is, and crashes when it tries to go into graphics mode.
Okay, pulled out Fedora Core 4 Test 3. That works. Mmmf. This means I can't easily do a test upgrade before wiping the LVM that it built when I gave up fiddling with that poxy pagan piece of shit.* Unless, maybe...
I'd say the hell with it, but this machine currently contains my only complete, easily accessible copy of my anime fansub collection.
* Disk Druid, Red Hat's partitioning utility. It sucks.
Saturday, May 28
It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
To call upon a neighbour and to say:
"We invaded you last night - we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."
And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That youâ€™ve only to pay â€™em the Dane-geld
And then youâ€™ll get rid of the Dane!
It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."
And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But weâ€™ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.
It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:
"We never pay any one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost,
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!"
Is one of these puppies. 8 64-bit MIPS cores, 32-way multithreaded (4 per core), two 64-bit DDR2-800 memory controllers and a 32-bit QDR SRAM controller, four gigabit ethernet ports and two ten-gigabit ethernet ports, HyperTransport and PCI-X.
Even better, rip out the PCI-X and replace it with twenty channels of PCI-E, which would be a huge improvement. Drop Linux or BSD on it and it will power a thousand websites without even breathing hard.
Friday, May 27
Why doesn't "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" translate as "The beautiful woman who never says thankyou"?
While I've been busy slapping down American journalists and academics, Gregory Djerejian has been doing the same to European diplomats, who are, if anything, worse:
As older societies, we tend to think of ourselves as more experienced in the way societies evolve, and we tend to be skeptical of Americans who seem to think that if you believe hard enough, and you muster enough resources, you can change the world.Wolfgang Ischinger, German Ambassador to the United States there. Thank you Ambassador Ischinger. We well remember your country's last two attempts to change the world. more...
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