Monday, February 15, 2010

The Weekend is Over

Two whole days off, and now back to the grind. At least we got out of the apartment a couple times and managed to get a few things done. Part of the reason is all the time I freed up by staying off Facebook. I find I don't miss it at all, while enjoying all the extra time in every day. Sure, I use most of that time to watch all the crazy stuff people put on YouTube, read murder mystery novels and watch movies, rather than pursuing a PhD in physics or writing the Great American Novel. But anything is better than endless hours on FaceCrack.

And the waffles were sublime, if I do say so myself.

The focus over the weekend was on the video of luger Nodar Kumaritashvili smashing into a steel pole. He was young and inexperienced, so of course it was his own fault, not the people who put a series of steel columns on the exit of a dangerous curve at the bottom of the track where the lugers are running at maximum speed. Maybe I'm over-reacting, but I guess I missed the memo that says it's OK to design a track where inexperienced racers are killed rather than simply having a bad run. Or that it's OK for the home team to act like douche-nozzles.

Anyway, other than the "death video" of Kumaritashvili's run, I haven't seen any of the Winter Olympics. Am I missing anything? Should I go trolling the web for coverage, or am I safe watching Ace Ventura: Pet Detective tonight?

Scott Adams talks about every PC's owner bete noir:
My computer's memory fills up a few times a day, and then the system crashes. It doesn't seem to matter what applications I use. And closing applications doesn't free up memory. This has been true on every computer I have owned, both Macs and PCs. Rebooting periodically is the only temporary fix. To which I say, "SERIOUSLY?? WTF???? IS THIS REALLY AN UNSOLVEABLE PROBLEM, LIKE FRICKIN' GRAVITY???"

No, it's not unsolvable, but it is a career-ender to suggest that time be taken out of the development cycle to chase down the problem. Every software company from Microsoft to Jimmy working in his mommy's basement faces the same dilemma: if you stop adding features and try to fix anything but the most gross and obvious errors, you will be left in the dust. The history of computing is piled high with the corpses of companies that emphasized stability, compactness and efficiency over getting a new release out every few months (Brown Bag Software was one of my favorites; loved their outline editor). Besides, a program that is a memory or CPU hog today will barely register on the next iteration of hardware. The two computers we own are illustrative: the older, dual core, 1 gig RAM machine has become barely usable because memory usage is over 70% just sitting at the desktop after a fresh reboot. But the newer one has 4 gig RAM and 4 cores and has no difficulty. Our next machine will likely have 8 gig RAM and a minimum of 4 cores, possibly more. What motivation is there for a software company to worry about a memory leak that requires a reboot once a week? Sure, in rare cases like Scott's, a particular combination of software makes the problem rise from mild irritant to work-killing problem, but it isn't common enough to warrant anyone's attention. Easier just to point fingers vaguely in someone else's direction, keep plowing new features into the product and pray to the IT gods that Intel will once-again bail your ass out.

In my lifetime, corporal punishment has gone from normal and expected to child abuse. But I wonder how the alternative will be viewed a century from now?
A Port St. Lucie first-grade student was handcuffed and committed to a mental health facility because of her classroom behavior, and her parents are furious that the school took such extreme measures.

Not really sure what to say to that other than, "Wow. Damn good thing they didn't do anything abusive like paddle her ass for acting out."

And Climategate continues to unravel. The unfortunate thing is that there will be an over-shoot. We really do need to figure out how the climate works and if we are mucking it up. Just because some politicians decided to grab on to global warming as a path to wealth and power doesn't mean that we should keep on as we are. Burning dead dinosaurs in our cars is a bad idea if for no other reason than we have better uses for the stuff.

Well, the alarm just went off, so I need to go get ready for another exciting day of dealing with the logically-challenged.

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