Monday, April 14, 2008

Ode to the Blue Screen

To the tune of "what a wonderful world":

I see screens of blue,
And text of white

I haven't found anything else to put here yet, however google returns no results for "screens of blue" "text of white", so I hereby claim originality.

Feel free to add more lyrics!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The End of the Universe... or not.

After coming across an article about CERN's Large Hadron Collider, and the possibility of catastrophe that this will introduce when it is turned on, I started thinking. I have come to the conclusion that the catastrophes mentioned are, in fact, not going to bother us.

The article also mentioned the similar hype that surrounded the RHIC when it was first started. I maintain that this particle accellerator did indeed produce the strangelets that everyone was worried about, and these strangelets did in fact destroy the planet as they were supposedly going to. However, we never saw this.

This can be explained fairly simply by putting together a few of the more unusual principles to come out of recent physics. First up is the "multiple universes" interpretation of reality, which we can use to claim that every possibility (including those so totally bizarre that I'm not even going to attempt to think about them) plays out in a separate universe. This is fairly well accepted among science-fiction and fantasy authors and readers.

Secondly, the "Anthropic Principle" comes into play. This takes various forms, but can be boiled down to this: "conditions that are observed in the universe must allow the observer to exist". This means that the universe is in the state that it is in because that is the only state of the universe that can contain us to observe it this way. This view is commonly seen as weird.

When you look at these two in conjunction with the "Quantum Suicide" thought experiment, you get an interesting result - only the version of the "suicidee" that survived will be able to interpret this fact (the other version is no longer conscious, therefore doesn't count), meaning essentially that he cannot die.

Now apply this to the entire population of Earth. Treat the RHIC and the LHC as a planet-wide quantum suicide experiment. The result of each usage of these colliders is a number of alternate universes, each of which has had something different happen. In many of these universes, we're all dead.

Thank goodness my reality exists only inside my head!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Argh, expensive software!

Why is expensive, specialised software always so annoying?

The last time this rant surfaced, I was still at uni, trying to wrap my head around the user interface for an electronics simulation package called Sabre. The back-end of Sabre was awesometastic, and did everything pretty well (from what I could tell). The UI was the problem - it was just horrible.

Now, I'm working for a living, and having to deal with quirky software yet again. This time around, it's a documentation tool by the name of DOORS. I'm not entirely sure of what it's really supposed to be, at the moment I'm using it as a word-processor until someone tells me what else I need to do with it. However, this time around, it's not just the UI that's driving me crazy - or crazier, at least. The UI does have some funky behaviours, including dreadful repaint flickering, re-defining the scrollbar to suit itself, and having some of the more essential features requiring mouse-type interaction, just to distract you from actually writing stuff. Creating tables, inserting objects, even adding numbered lists, are all proving to be incredibly awkward.

The scrollbars are particularly noteworthy. DOORS deals with "objects" - which are sections of text (or whatever else) with optional headings - instead of with text, like you would expect a document tool to. I can cope with that, but the terminology gets confusing when you insert an object in an object - the first one being an OLE object, the second being a DOORS object. Ouch. Anyway, the scrolling action is not to move the screen by X pixels or Y lines of text, but rather to align the next object with the top of the page. This makes life interesting when you try to scroll an object containing a long picture, as you essentially jump over the top of it. And to add icing to the cake, the size of the scrollbar handle is dependent upon the number of objects on screen right now, rather than the length of the document. Argh.

The spell-checker is also rather cruft-laden. Spell-checking the phrase “four seconds” produces this message:
“Format error. Consider four-seconds instead of 'four seconds'.Spelled-out fractions require a hyphen unless the numerator or the denominator already contains a hyphen: three-fourths; twenty-nine thirtieths.”
A bulleted list produced a long-winded message about the length of the sentence. I also noticed that the message the spell-checker produced was rather unusual, in that it had punctualtion errors in it. Just for fun, I ran this message through the spell-checker, only to be told that it had grammar errors in it - in this case, no space after a full-stop.
“Punctuation. Consider . Use instead of '.Use'.A space should usually follow a full stop or comma between two distinct words. Ordinarily, the word following a full stop begins a new sentence and should start with a capital letter.”
I gave up when I noticed that, apart from being a little hard to interpret, the message didn't follow the rule that it was explaining. :D

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Well, here we go!

I may have some stuff to talk about. Let's see...

I'm a computer engineer. Hooray. I just started working at the Air Force base in Williamtown (NSW, Australia, if anyone's keeping track - and I doubt that anyone is just yet!). I'd write more about it, but there's not a lot to say at this point. The guys I'm working with seem kinda cool, but I've only been there a week so we'll see what happens.

I'm also a musician, of sorts. I play saxophone (alto, currently) in the City of Lake Macquarie Concert Band. I'm linking to their website because they need more exposure - they're not even indexed by google at this point. It's heaps of fun most of the time, even if we haven't got a great track record at the contests at this point. We had a playout last Sunday, and I didn't even mess up my solo as badly as I usually do. Hooray!

More later.

I'm not good at blogs ;)