More RSS

June 16, 2003

I took it upon myself to add an RSS 2.0 feed to the site (it kind of makes sense that I would take it upon myself because it's my website and no one's going to do it for me  :P) . You can find a link to the feed in the menu on the left. I also spent quite a bit of time making sure that the new feed (2.0) and the older feeds (1.0 and .91) validated. The 1.0 feed validated right away, but the other two took a while. The problem had to do with the insertion of HTML (i.e., href and img tags from the posts) into the description tag of the feed. I tried removing Movable Type's encode_xml and remove_html variables from the RSS templates, and then adding my own CDATA tags (a tag that the encode_xml subroutine inserts). The problem with this method is that it would break the validation on 2.0, but not .91, or on .91 but not 2.0, etc. Kept getting the error, "description should not contain relative URL references," among others. Apparently, 2.0 won't let you have relative URLs (e.g., /archives/foo.php), which is how I link to all my past entries and other things throughout the site. To make a long story not as long, I changed every instance of a relative URL throughout the site (save the menu) to a fully-qualified URL, thinking that this would alleviate my 2.0 validation problems. It didn't. Even though there were NO instances of relative URLs throughout the feed, the validator insisted that there were. I was beginning to think that the problem was with the validator and not my feed. Chugging along, I put the remove_html and encode_xml routines back in and now, with those added and the relative URLs modified, all of the feeds validate.

Form update

June 14, 2003

I didn't realize that the contact form would be so popular. Though the original idea was for people who didn't know me personally to be able to contact me, it seems as if everyone is using it instead of their e-mail client to send me mail. Either way, I've added a subject field for you overzealous message-senders out there.

RSS, the new black

June 13, 2003

It's been a while since I was on my news aggregator kick. I'm on it again and I'm not sure it's going to stop this time. You might remember a couple of posts I did a while ago; one on Syndirella and another on NewsFeeder. While I did use each of these for a short time, neither of them offered everything I needed, not to mention the fact that some of my favorite sites (read: sites that I must visit each day) had no form of syndication.

This brings me to today, err, yesterday, when I started using NetNewsWire (truth be told, I messed around with it the second my PowerBook arrived but kind of forgot about it after I started getting into Safari). NNW is an RSS reader from Ranchero Software. This client does RSS right! It's everything one could ask for in a news aggregator, including the fact that it displays the number of unread articles in my dock. I spent a good part of yesterday finding the RSS feeds for the sites that I visit daily, some of which still don't have syndication of their own, but do have third-parties who syndicate their content (most likely unbeknownst to them). This provides me a segue into the New York Times online site, which, as we all know, is the best. Last time I really got into RSS, there was no syndication from NYT; perfectly understandable but something that really irked me. Thanks to Radio Userland (desktop weblog software) this has been remedied (thought I'm not sure they know that yet  :P).

The New York Times feeds are only available for Radio 8 users. If you haven't got Radio yet, you can get a thirty-day free trial. If you already have Radio, you can be subscribing to fresh New York Times headlines in less than one minute.

They then list instructions on how Radio Userland users can add the NYT syndication to their Radio applications, followed by links to the various NYT channels, followed by:

Note: For people who don't use Radio, the coffee mugs point to a page on the user's desktop which handles subscriptions. If you're not running Radio, the coffee mug links won't work. Sorry.

Well, they really have nothing to be sorry for, the coffee mug links work fine with a small bit of tweaking. Each of these links is revealed as 127.0.0.1:5335/system/pages/subscriptions?url= http%3A%2F%2Fpartners.userland.com%2FnytRss%2Fbooks.xml, which obviously won't open without the local Radio client running. But, one quick glance at the address reveals that the syndicated URL is here. Remove the cruft and voila, you have partners.userland.com/nytRss/books.xml — the NYT book feed. I've listed the feeds from NYT that I subscribe to below; feel free to add them to your client.

Books
Business
International
Homepage
Movies
Politics
Science
Technology
Sports

I've also exported and uploaded my current subscription list to the website so that others may use it in their clients if so desired. You can find the list here.

American Chopper

June 10, 2003

If you haven't had a chance to see the Discovery Channel's American Chopper series, I strongly suggest you check it out (Mondays at 10PM). You guys know I'm a reality-TV freak, but this show takes the cake. It's entertainment crack. You have Paulie, the young, unassuming, happy-go-lucky motorcycle-design wizard, who, despite his best efforts, can't seem to shake his father's incessant nagging about his performance on the job. The father, a fairly menacing physical figure before he speaks and downright frightening (read: hilarious) when his son sets him off, seems to live for staying on his boy's ass. He's the type of person that, upon realizing he is wrong about something, might concede it, but not before explaining to you why he was right if you look at the situation from another angle. Above and beyond their "work" relationship lies the beauty of the show — their father-son relationship. While he's constantly barking at Paulie, one can easily see the pride he has for him and the obvious joy he gets from being able to spend so much quality time with his son. I can't, through words, impart to you how great this show really is. It certainly isn't meant to be this good, and most people probably don't get out of it what I do, but that doesn't stop me from going on and on about it. I encourage you to check out an episode. I think you, like me, will immediately fall for this annoyingly humble, middle-of-the-road family. (Discovery, please direct payment to my PayPal account  :P).

Relative dates in Movable Type

June 09, 2003

I've removed the relative dates (e.g., "Posted 12 hours ago") on the posts and have gone back to a basic date format. The reason for the change went something like this: I woke up this morning and thought, "Man, I sure would like to get rid of those damn relative dates." The PHP code I developed for the relative dating scheme is still available to anyone who wants it; just ask (and bring me cookies).

Take that

June 08, 2003

Huey Long, the unapologetic and ridiculously powerful former governor of Louisiana, once said, "Quote me as saying that that Imperial bastard will never set foot in Louisiana, and that when I call him a son of a bitch I am not using profanity, but am referring to the circumstances of his birth," in reaction to a threat by the head of the Ku Klux Klan in 1935 to come into the state and campaign against him (Long was the only southern governor who treated blacks as equals at the time).

I really enjoyed the quote and thought I'd share.

Human machines

June 08, 2003

Is it in the best interest of mankind to build a human machine?

That's the topic of a paper I wrote for a "legal computing" class last semester. I've been asked by quite a few people for a copy and so I decided to just put it up here.

Thesis

Advancement of the species is the ultimate goal of any human civilization. As the distinction between computers and man becomes increasingly blurred, we, as a society, will be left to decide whether human, or "conscious" machines can play a beneficial role in our lives. Machines with human-level intelligence will be possible in the future and they will be made. Initially, human machines will be inherently beneficial to society as they will not only push the boundaries of science and imagination, a wholly human ambition, but will also allow us to extend our lives, and may eventually lead to a mechanical immortality. Up to now, the application of ethics to machines, including programs, has been that the actions of the machine were the responsibility of the designer and/or operator. In the future, however, it seems clear that we are going to have machines whose behavior is an emergent and to some extent unforeseeable result of design and operation decisions made by many people and ultimately by other machines. It is the unforeseeable results that might very well put mankind into harm's way.

Introduction

There are usually three stages in examining the impact of future technology: the sheer fascination of its potential to overcome age-old problems, then an acknowledgment of a new set of problems that will inevitably accompany these new technologies, followed by the realization that the only feasible and responsible path is one that can provide the promise while managing the peril. The best interests of mankind lie somewhere between the promise and the peril. The promises of a human machine are many. They would provide great opportunities for improving the material circumstances of human life. A machine with human-level intelligence can perhaps be viewed as the next step in evolution as it frees the human mind from its severe physical limitations of scope and duration.

As with most revolutionary promises, attached to it is the possibility of revolutionary peril. It has been said that artificial intelligence research makes possible the idea that humans are automata — an idea that results in a loss of autonomy or even of humanity. Some futurists suggest that once the human race brings into existence entities of higher, perhaps unlimited, intelligence, its own preservation may seem less important.

Arguments over the desirability of a technology must weigh the benefits against the risk, the promise against the peril. The peril associated with human machines could be the worst possible: extinction. As has always been the case, any given technology can be deliberately misused to the detriment of humanity, but unlike all previous technologies, machines with human (or better) intelligence might make that decision for mankind.

Discussion of Research

Artificial intelligence is broadly defined as anything that a computer does that would otherwise be considered a human trait. It is the part of computer science concerned with designing systems that exhibit the characteristics we associate with intelligence in human behavior — understanding language, learning, reasoning, solving problems, etc. While the study of artificial intelligence is one of the newest scientific and technologic disciplines, the study of intelligence is one of the oldest. For more than 2000 years, philosophers have tried to understand how seeing, learning, remembering, and reasoning could, or should, be done (Russell and Norvig, 3). The study and creation of artificial intelligence directly relates to a better ability to understand humanity. The chance to learn more about mankind, to learn what it is to be human, could be one of the most rewarding benefits of a human machine.

There seems to be an agreement that there are definite short-term benefits and long-term risks associated with a human machine. In the short-term, the benefits of increasing the intellectual power of machines will be seen as a great boon to humanity. There are already hundreds of contemporary examples of "narrow" artificial intelligence, that is, machines that can perform well-defined tasks that we regard as examples of intelligent behavior when performed by humans, including diagnosing blood cells and electrocardiograms, guiding cruise missiles, solving mathematical theorems, playing master-level games such as chess, and many others.

Technological progress in other fields will be accelerated by the arrival of human-level artificial intelligence — it is a true general-purpose technology. It enables applications in a very wide range of other fields. In particular, scientific and technological research (as well as philosophical thinking) will be done more effectively when conducted by machines that are smarter than humans. Overall, technological advancement will be increased. For at least the next 30 years, computers based on human brains will be far too useful to be suppressed. Military and economic forces alone will be enough to legitimize the advancement of the machines, not to mention the ability to relieve humans of many everyday chores. Among a slew of other things, they will become smart enough to teach children, clean up around the house, drive cars, provide sex, and help human experts in decision making. They will do most of the work that used to require humans and in doing so will create great wealth for the entire planet (de Garis).

Ray Kurzweil, a well-respected author and inventor, and perhaps the world's most accredited futurist voice, says that one of the most exciting benefits of a human machine will be a virtual immortality. It will be possible to "upload" the brain into a computer — knowledge, memories, loves, goals, an entire existence. These machines will be able to convince us that they are conscious by mastering the delicate cues that humans now use to determine consciousness in other humans (Kurzweil, Live Forever). It is clear that most, if not all, short-term effects are beneficial to mankind, but the long-term risks that can arise from human machines can be described as nothing less than catastrophic. Artificial intelligence is a truly revolutionary prospect because it can be expected to lead to the creation of machines with intellectual abilities that vastly surpass those of any human. It would be a mistake to conceptualize machine intelligence as a mere tool. The scenario in which machines with general-purpose intelligence are created needs to be given serious thought. Machines capable of general-purpose intelligence would have independent initiative and could make their own plans. These machines might be better viewed as persons than machines. Many of those well-versed in the field of artificial intelligence share the sentiment that if mankind can indeed create machines that exceed humans in the moral and intellectual dimensions, then it is bound to do so. It is simply seen as the next step on the evolutionary ladder. It is in agreement among most leaders of the artificial intelligence field that by 2020, a $1000 personal computer will have the processing power of the human brain — 20 million billion calculations per second. By 2030, the ability to scan the human brain and recreate its design electronically will be possible. By 2050, a $1000 worth of computing power will equal the processing power of all human brains combined (Kurzweil, Live Forever). The figures help to paint a very powerful picture of where humanity's place in the intellectual food chain will be, or won't be as it were. George Dyson, author of Darwin Among the Machines, writes, "In the game of life and evolution there are three players at the table: human beings, nature, and machines. I am firmly on the side of nature. But nature, I suspect, is on the side of the machines" (Joy).

Professor Hugo de Garis is caught, perhaps more than anyone else, between the promise and the peril of a human machine. He is leading a group that is designing and building the world's first "artificial brain." The "brain," he says, will consist of a billion neurons within four years. Human brains have roughly 100 billion neurons (de Garis). He notes that while massive computational speed and size to do not automatically lead to massive intelligence, they are prerequisites. He not only believes that these machines could become smarter than human beings, but that they could "truly be trillions and trillions and trillions of times greater."

The future, as told by de Garis, will consist of humanity split between two major ideological groups. On one side will be those who think that the creating of these super-intelligent beings is the destiny of the human species and the ultimate goal of creating the next dominant species. The other side will belong to those who believe that building these human (or better) machines will mean that mankind is accepting the risk that they may eventually decide that the human species is inferior and annoying, and might call for its extinction. It is along these lines that de Garis commented, "I'm glad to be alive now. I fear for my grandchildren. They will see the horror, and they will be destroyed by it." He is not alone with a dire vision of mankind's future.

Bill Joy, Chief Scientist and Corporate Executive Officer of Sun Microsystems, has spoken at length about his worries for the future of mankind. He stresses that we need to proceed with great caution as we tend to overestimate our design abilities, which, regarding human machines, could result in our extinction (Joy). Joy states that "We are creators of new technologies and stars of the imagined future, driven despite the clear dangers, hardly evaluating what it may be like to try to live in a world that is the realistic outcome of what we are creating and imagining."

Hans Moravec, the Principal Research Scientist in the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, sees the future in a slightly more optimistic, but equally alarming perspective. Like most others well-versed in the field, he believes that the development of intelligent machines is an inevitable truth close at hand, and that every technical step along the way has an evolutionary counterpart likely to benefit its creators, manufacturers, and users (Moravec). He says that each advance will provide intellectual rewards, competitive advantages, increased wealth, and can make the world a better place to live. Humans will be alleviated from essential roles and tasks because intelligent machines will be able to perform them better and cheaper. The increasingly large displacement could eventually remove mankind from the equation altogether, something he claims does not alarm him because he considers the future machines mankind's children — mankind in a more compelling and powerful form. As Moravec explains, the machines will embody humanity's best chance for a long-term future but at the same time will also cause humanity's decline.

The speed of the descent could be slowed, because in the same way that some biological children care for their elderly parents, so too could machines be taught to care for humans until the time comes when humankind should "bow out." Moravec sees this as "a comfortable retirement before we fade away" (Moravec). As was stated above, a slightly more optimistic, but equally alarming perspective that still ultimately results in the extinction of the species. There are those who feel that if we can control the motivations of the artificial intellects that we design, then they could come to constitute a class of highly capable "slaves." Pop-culture is rife with such utopian views of the future. One needs to look no further than 1977's Star Wars, in which intelligent robots are not only a reality but refer to their human owners as "master." On the other hand, it must be noted that even if the case for slave-like, human-preserving, intelligent machines can be made, there is still the very real possibility that they could be turned against humanity by some "evil" person (Lanier). Again, a rather dystopian and scary outlook for the future; perhaps not unlike 1999's The Matrix, where the world has been laid to waste and taken over by advanced intelligent machines.

Once an intelligent robot exists, it is only a small step to a robot species — to an intelligent robot that can make evolved copies of itself (Joy). Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned British scientist and physicist, says, "In contrast with our intellect, computers double their performance every 18 months, so the danger is real that they could develop intelligence and take over the world" (McAuliffe). As quickly as possible, Hawking thinks that technologies need to be developed so as to allow a direct connection between brain and computer, so that artificial brains contribute to human intelligence rather than oppose it.

The interval that humans and machines will have roughly equal intelligence will be brief. The intelligence levels of a human machine will grow quickly and will be superior to human intelligence because it will combine the advantages of non-biological intelligence with the powers of human intelligence. These advantages include the fact that electric circuits are 100 million times faster than the human brain and virtually unlimited memory is available to computers. Human machines will also be capable of sharing knowledge extremely efficiently between them, and much easier and quicker than humans (Kurzweil, Ray Kurzweil Speaks). The brief equality between machine intelligence and human intelligence, coupled with the assured rapid progress of the former, reveals that advanced planning and diligent maintenance will be required to maintain mankind's existence even if the effort is inherently futile. Despite all human diligence, Moravec contends that once human-level intelligence is achieved, "It is the 'wild' intelligences, those beyond our constraints, to whom the future belongs," and it is to this end that most scientists and researchers agree (Moravec).

Conclusion

There is both promise and peril associated with revolutionary ideas and the concept of a human machine is certainly not exempt from this dichotomy. In fact, it might hold truer for this idea than any before it. The short-term promises of a human machine are many and exciting. The benefits are uncountable and most agree that they will be able to alleviate humans from many of the mundane duties of everyday life. In short, they will be left to do most of the work that humans are now responsible for doing. There is also the very real possibility of a virtual immortality being available to humans such that "copies" of their brains, of their existence, are actually put into a machine as they become their robotic selves. The greatest benefit of a human machine is that they, unlike anything before, can and will teach us about ourselves, about what it is to be human.

It is this entirely human desire for knowledge and advancement that will ultimately lead to mankind's demise. It is widely accepted that once human machines come into being, they will not only replicate themselves, but will also seek to make themselves smarter. They may very well devote their abilities to designing the next generation of intelligence, soon realizing that there is no practical use for their human progenitors and perhaps taking measures to get rid of them.

The best interests of mankind are certainly not found in its extinction, therefore a human machine from which extinction is a very real possibility, if not an inevitable certainty, cannot be brought to fruition if humans wish to maintain their role as the dominant earth species. Though most experts agree with this assessment and do feel that machines will eventually reign over man, they press on with their research. Robert Oppenheimer, leader of the Manhattan project, said the following, three months after the first atomic bombings on Nagasaki and Okinawa:

It is not possible to be a scientist unless you believe that the knowledge of the world, and the power which this gives, is a thing which is of intrinsic value to humanity, and that you are using it to help in the spread of knowledge and are willing to take the consequences (Joy).

It is with this idea, this notion that science must advance at all costs, that many researchers and scientists can sleep at night knowing full well the possible consequences of their work. They feel, as do I, that it is the height of arrogance to assume that humans are the final word in goodness and that if intellectually, and perhaps morally superior beings can be brought into existence, then it is the responsibility of mankind to do just that, even when the chances are high that it will remove humans from existence. Ultimately, it is not in the best interest of mankind to build a human machine, but that is not to say that it isn't in the best interest of something, even if that something is an idea that humans might never be able to understand.


Bibliography

Garis, Hugo. Building Gods or building Our Potential Exterminators? http://www.kurzweilai.net/meme/frame.html?main=/articles/art0131.html (2 Feb. 2003). Joy, Bill. Why The Future Doesn't Need Us. Wired. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy.html (5 Feb. 2003). Kurzweil, Ray. Interview with Sari Kalin. Ray Kurzweil Speaks His Mind. Darwin Online. http://www.darwinmag.com/read/120101/hal_sidebar2.html (9 Feb. 2003). Kurzweil, Ray. Live Forever. Psychology Today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/htdocs/prod/ptoarticle/pto-20000101-000037.asp (1 Feb. 2003). Lanier, Jaron. One Half Of A Manifesto. Edge. http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge74.html (8 Feb. 2003). McAuliffe, Wendy. Hawking warns of AI world takeover. ZDNet. http://news.zdnet.co.uk/story/0,,t269-s2094424,00.html (8 Feb. 2003). Moravec, Hans. Robots, Re-Evolving Mind. http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~hpm/project.archive/robot.papers/2000/Cerebrum.htm (1 Feb. 2003). Russel, Stuart and Peter Norvig. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995.

Contact form

June 07, 2003

I've done away with all of my contact information and have opted to use a form instead. I'm using a Perl script called FormMail to handle the html -> e-mail end of it. You might remember the post titled Too much spam, in which I lauded the Hiveware Enkoder and its ability to thwart e-mail-harvesting robots through JavaScript. While this solution has worked perfectly, I also made the point in that post that I like to keep my markup as free of superfluous code as possible and it is to this end that I have decided to use a form instead. This way I'm no longer revealing all of the other information (I'm gonna hear it about the mobile phone number being removed, I just know it) and am still able to receive e-mail while keeping the naughty e-mail-sucking bots at bay. You'll notice in the source of the contact page that there is a hidden variable called recipient to which the value "justin" is attached — "justin" is aliased to my e-mail address in the .conf file which the script reads when it is being executed — again making the e-mail bots play nice, or not at all as it were.

Toast

June 02, 2003

Last Saturday, after learning that the tanning salon at my apartment complex was now free, I got inside a "tanning bed" for the first time. The guy at the front desk asked if I'd ever been before. I said "no" and he proceeded to ask me how long I would like to go in for, to which I replied, "take me out right before I get cancer." He suggested 12 minutes (the obvious cancer cut-off) and since I was in no position to argue, I agreed. I have to say that it was a pretty decent experience; I saw results right away and even went back again today. I'll probably go quite a few times throughout the summer (after all, it is free). I figure that it can't be too bad for me as I've lived in Florida almost all my life and have spent a very large portion of that time outside and in the water (before I came to college anyways  :P), so I probably have cancer already. Right? Right!?! Right!?!

A slight deviation

May 31, 2003

I think I've sent out 40+ resumes now, only to be continously shot down. Case in point, the following letter (one of three that I received yesterday):

Dear Mr. Blanton:

Thank you for your interest in employment with LearnitCorp. Although your credentials are quite impressive, we have already selected another candidate for the Technical Writer position. We wish you much success in all future endeavors.

Sincerely,

Karen Gandolff
Human Resources Associate

Needless to say, the other letters read the same. In stark contrast to those letters and the past few weeks, I was actually brought in to an Eckerd yesterday to do an interview. Two of my best friends (who are also engineering graduates) currently have summer jobs as pharmacy techs at Eckerd and so I thought I'd give it a shot. I began calling all of the Eckerd stores within a 25-mile radius of Gainesville to see if there were any available tech positions. The second store I spoke with brought me in immediately and I filled out an application and talked to one of the pharmacists. She was incredibly personable (not to mention attractive) and seemed to take to me fairly well. She won't be there next week but she is giving my application/resume to the main pharmacist who is supposed to give me a call and let me know. We'll see. I'm told that it isn't a very demanding job, nor does it have anything to do with my undergrad degree/passion, but it would be a source of income, which I'm realizing is ridiculously hard to come by if you only plan on working for two months at a time.  :P

On a completely different note, I've become quite addicted to the chicken wraps at Chik-fil-A. I'm almost positive that these things are put together and wrapped by a machine because they are perfect every time (yes, I know you too were curious).

Too many variables

May 28, 2003

Ugh. Looking for a place to live clear across the continent is no small task. I've been searching and searching and searching. Yesterday my dad brought up the idea of buying a condo out there in the Valley. Well, umm, as I've mentioned before, it's pretty much the most expensive place in the nation to live. To this end, I've found that almost anything available for $200K and under is a mobile home. It's insane. I have found a few possible condos, but won't know anything for sure until we actually go out there and take a look, which isn't going to happen for quite a while. Ideally, I'll end up in a 1br/1ba apartment and/or condo (more likely the former), but who knows, perhaps I'll just get an RV and rent space at a campground with WiFi. The possibilities are endless. Bleh.

While I'm still on the wonderful-news train I guess I should talk about the job situation. I think I've given out my resume to every single employer in Gainesville whose job description merely mentions "computers." If I hear anything back, it's usually 1.) You're over-qualified or 2.) The job has been filled. I almost want to lie; to say that I plan on working there for the rest of my life (not just the next two months) and that I see myself going far within the company. I just can't bring myself to do it. Damn it, just bring me in, give me a large, demanding project, and ship me back out.

I will be doing some web work for my dad sometime this summer, and perhaps for some other doctors as well. Who knows.

Headed out for some Jai-Aila action now. Hopefully I'll make a few bucks on the four dollars I have in my pocket. I lost five dollars.

OS X Tip: verbose boot

May 26, 2003

If you, like me, come from a strong Linux background and have recently migrated to Mac OS X, then I think you'll really enjoy the following tip. By default, the OS X boot sequence is hidden from the user. This doesn't sit well with me and so I've sought out a way to make it show me exactly what was going on (instead of simply showing the small Apple logo and the rotating circle).

You can do one of two things. If you occasionally want to see the bootup sequence, then simply hold down cmd-V after you've hit the power button (until you see text on the screen). If you'd like to enable this verbose output each time your machine boots, then execute the following command from a terminal:

sudo nvram boot-args="-v"

Speaking of terminals, the one that ships with OS X is complete shit. After researching and playing with a few of the available terminals, iTerm was the clear winner.

Should've gotten the math minor

May 22, 2003

Most of you know that I've been looking for a summer job for a few weeks now. It's hard to find a decent job when you can only work for the next two months and then are headed clear across the continent. Anyways, I stumbled upon an awesome opportunity: redesign the online version of the Alligator — our 'school' newspaper and the largest college paper in the nation. I received the following e-mail earlier tonight:

Hey Justin,

Sorry for the long reply time, but here at the Alligator there is a bylaw that only allows students to work in the Editorial department. Since you are currently in-between student status, I was trying to find a way for us to be able to use you. Unfortunately, the CEO said that there is no possibility of non-students working for any part of our Editorial department, which includes Online. Sorry about this. I thought you were very qualified for the job and would have liked to have brought you in for an interview. Any more questions, feel free to write back.

Alex Bayevsky
Managing Editor/New Media
The Independent FL. Alligator

I'm pretty disappointed. I think it would have been a great job. I should have taken the one class that I needed for a math minor; I would have been eligible for student jobs on campus and this Alligator gig.  :\

A great place to call home

May 21, 2003

Lately I've been looking for (stressing over) a place to live in California as I'm headed out there for law school in the fall. As some of you might already know, the area I'm moving to (Silicon Valley) is just about the most expensive in the nation. I ran across a rather funny ad on Craigslist that kind of solidified how ridiculously expensive it is out there. The following is an excerpt from said ad:

$700 - A Great Place to Call Home

Hi,
I'm looking for a responsible non-smoker to be my roommate. I have a 2BD/2BA mobile-home in Sunnyvale on the Santa Clara border. It's in Adobe Wells, a quiet mobile-home-park at the corner of Tasman and Lawrence Expressway.

That's right, $700/mo for a room in a mobile home. Unbelievable. I've told this story to a few friends already and am linking to the actual ad to silence the naysayers. Check it out here.

Bluetooth

May 21, 2003

The D-Link USB Bluetooth Adapter for the PowerBook arrived this morning. As was expected, everything went off without a hitch. Plugged it in, told it to search for "mobile phone," put my T68i in discoverable mode and then paired the devices. iSync was a breeze — after the devices were paired I simply told it to sync and it began moving all of my stuff over.

When I get a chance I'm going to start messing around with some of the nerdier things.

Current book

May 18, 2003

I just added another little thing to the menu bar on the left. Below the 'search' you will find a section called 'Current Book,' and you guessed it, it links to the book that I'm currently reading. As long as I'm still reading the book, the book name will remain up there. Hopefully, this will encourage me to finish the book as soon as possible so that it doesn't look like I've been reading it for days on end.

Speaking of reading, the book I'm currently enjoying (see menu to the left, hah) is incredibly engaging. After giving a brief overview of genetics, it goes on to explain how all of us (all 81 billion 'modern' humans who have ever lived — a calculation he gives in the book) are more intricately related than most would like to believe. Though none of this is news to me, Mr. Olson scientifically ties it all together using genetics and logic. The book essentially abolishes the idea of race, because that is exactly what it is: an idea.

Speaking of race (wow, this post is just segueing all over the place), be sure not to miss Hitler: The Rise of Evil tonight on CBS at 9:00. It's a four-hour mini-series (two hours today and two more Tuesday night) chronicling his life and rise to power.

Doing my thang

May 15, 2003

I purchased a Sony Ericsson T68i yesterday (it arrived today), and yes, I've owned this phone before. I'm getting rid of my current Nokia 7250 for four reasons:

  • The Nokia doesn't have Bluetooth
  • The PowerBook doesn't have IR
  • iSync in OS X directly supports the T68i through Bluetooth
  • Leftover money from selling the 7250

The PowerBook doesn't have built-in Bluetooth (it's currently available only on the 12' and 17" models — I have the 15") and so I ordered the D-Link USB Bluetooth Adapter from Apple. Some of you might be quick to remember how I detest D-Link, but the fact remains, I need to sync my mobile phone with my PowerBook. I suck.

The list

May 14, 2003

I've decided to change my archives page somewhat. Instead of linking to all past entries by month, I'm now just listing all of the entries at once (with the date they were posted next to them). As you were.