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Jerkette! Of the Day!

Posted 2010.11.17 17.59 in Pointless Blather

My daily commute to and from work is quite short. 10 minutes, typically. Yet the number of clueless idiots I see behind the wheels of cars is truly frightening.

This stellar example of automotive excellence must have had some super-critical stuff going on in that cellphone of hers. Way too busy to turn on the turn signal, and I don’t think she even noticed that she’d stopped her car on the pedestrian walkway.

I used to think that the people you see on that ‘Worst Driver’ show were just pretending. Now, I know the Awful Truth – the streets are full of people who, seriously, have no business being in control of 2,000 pounds of steel, glass and plastic. These people should be given mopeds, and left to fend for themselves. Clue in, or get squished.

Routine Lapses of Judgement

Posted 2009.07.16 10.41 in Pointless Blather

I was going to call this post “Temporary Stupidity” but that just felt a wee bit too harsh. And not entirely accurate, really.

It’s ┬ájust that, sometimes I forget about consequences. Nothing huge mind you, like destroying the world because you think it would look cool, but then afterwards remembering that the world is where you kept all your stuff. Little things, and especially little things that can lead to pain or injury. Like, with my knife and sword hobby, it’s very easy to get all interested in playing with knives or swinging swords around, and temporarily forget that a razor-sharp knife might not be the best thing to practice fancy knife-twirling with, or momentarily fail to consider that accidentally swinging the sword into the coat-tree will result in most of one’s favorite jackets and sweaters ending up in need of emergency stitching (or replacement).

Read on for more – but warning, it might will get strange or and icky.

Read more »

How Computer Programming Works

Posted 2007.09.19 0.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Writing a computer program is kind of like trying to explain a complicated task to a gifted three-year old who only speaks Esperanto.

What do I mean by this? Well computers are usually very fast, and they usually have a very good memory, but they are not very smart. They need you to explain things in detail, and the fancier the task, the harder it is to explain exactly what you want done. And in Esperanto, because no matter what your native tongue is, the computer speaks something different. Unlike three-year-olds, however, computers always do exactly what you tell them.

Example: Tell the computer to pick up your dry cleaning:

If you’re using a high-level computer language, then there might be lots of built-in functions or routines that you can use, such as getNextDryCleanTicket, accessCar, and driveCar. You still have to program the actual map to the drycleaners, so how many meters on what bearing. You’ll want to include some event-handling processes to respond to other traffic and so on. High-level languages work because someone else has done the low-level work of creating those various functions / routines.

If you’re using a low-level computer language then you have to build your own functions and routines, so instead of just accessCar you need to define how to access it (where’s the key, where’s the car, what the key does, how to turn the key, etc.)

At the assembly language level – the lowest level language – you have to tell the computer everything – not just what’s a key, and what’s a car, but what’s a noun. Then work your way up from there.

The bottom line is, computers always do exactly what you tell them; they just don’t always do what you want, or what you expect.