MIA since Thanksgiving

I've been missing in action (blogging-wise) since Thanksgiving. During that time we've packed up the rest of our belongings and put them in storage and have moved in next door with Cade and Becca. I "worked magic" (using my preferred secret ingredient for working magic: Tcl) on a high profile Corporate rebranding. I've been helping my friend Lin typeset his father's magnum opus into a 652-page book. And I've been suffering from the effects of pneumonia.

All in all a busy couple of weeks. I have hardly had anytime for anything else, not even for solving math problems. But the book goes to the printer tomorrow, we close on the sale of our house Thursday afternoon, and the antibiotics seem to have kicked in and are doing their thing...

— Michael A. Cleverly

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I carpool with an arms dealer?

Potato Gun

This morning I sent my carpooler a link to this blog post on the joys of owning Potato Guns (and how they can bring your family closer together!). Next thing I knew he was getting a big group order together. Ultimately everyone on both of our teams bought at least one. I'm buying eight.

Potato Guns are all sold out on Amazon.com but are still available from other sources. Collectively we ordered 80 potato guns. Factoring in the cost of UPS Ground Shipping and volume discounts, the per unit cost was only $1.28 each.

Time to shop around for a ten or twenty pound bag of ammunition...

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Strangers are moving into our house!

It was very disorienting to drive home from work today and see a U-Haul in the driveway of our house (well, our house up until 4pm yesterday—unless it was still ours until their purchase funded sometime mid-morning today).

Our house that we (had) built, that we'd lived in for almost seven years. I hope they take good care of it. (They seem like nice enough people.)

We have a tidy five-figure sum in the bank (for another three weeks). It'd be nice if my checking account balance always looked so robust.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Real world law enforcement for "crimes" in a virtual world?

Via a story on Lambda the Ultimate programming blog comes this tale of G-Men Called on W-Hats for WMVD and the (unintended?) consequences of letting players program their own objects within the virtual world.

One of the cool things about Second Life is that players can create new kinds of objects, by writing small programs in a special scripting language to describe how the objects should behave, and then launching objects into the world.

Things got really out of hand when the W-Hats created a doomsday device. It looked like a harmless little orb, but it was programmed to make copies of itself, repeatedly. The single object split into two. Then each of those split, and there were four. Then eight, and sixteen, and so on to infinity.

Apparently the creators of Second Life have reported the Denial of Service attack to the FBI. My first reaction was "oh, please." Ed Felten (and others in the ensuing comments) make the case that doing so is an appropriate response. I'm not entirely convinced, but it does seem that there is a good argument that can be made. I think civil action (think violations of the game's acceptable use policies or terms of service) is a more appropriate response than a criminal one considering that only in-game tools were used.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Potatoes and Bows


"Just twelve [five pound] bags of potatoes and [a bag of Christmas] bows?" asked the cashier at Bowman's this morning.

"Yes," I replied, "office gifts."

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Secrets of Success, Happiness, and Failure

Yesterday Alexander's delivered the thirty-five copies of "Secrets of Success, Happiness, and Failure: Wisdom Through the Ages" that Lin had published with them.

Overall the book looks very nice. I am sure Lin's father, who spent so much time working on the manuscript back-in-the-day working on an original 128K Macintosh will be quite happily surprised come Christmas morning.

Naturally when I thumb through the book little annoying details jump out at me. By and large I doubt that all but the most discerning reader would notice most of them. If we'd had more time I like to think I'd have caught and cleaned up most of them. If we were professionally publishing this book we'd undoubtedly have printed proofs and then proof-read them before printing the finished product.

This time rather than fight with configuring LaTeX to use fonts (as I did in August while preparing the most recent printing of Mormon's Book) I decided to abandon cross-platform typesetting and use the Macintosh-specific XeTeX engine to render the LaTeX+Memoir markup. This made it easy to typeset the poetry in Poetica and the quotes in Bembo.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Handy trick to eject a CD/DVD under OS X

At work today I inserted a DVD that my Macintosh Powerbook didn't recognize. (It was burned on a Windows machine for what its worth, but that's never proven to be a problem before).

In any case I couldn't drag the disc to the trash because it hadn't mounted. I don't see any paperclip-sized hole to manually eject the disc. After spending some time googling I did discover a way to do it from the command line without having to reboot: drutil eject will spit out the disc. (The most common solution I found in my googling was to reboot while holding down the mouse button and then the disc is ejected on startup. I didn't want to kill my uptime, though... ;-)

— Michael A. Cleverly

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