Category Archives: Nerdy

Red pill, please

And now, for a quick traipse through the wonderland that is my mind…

How much space does the internet take up?  Physical space I mean.  And how much bigger does it get everyday from blog posts alone? 

Does the internet grow faster than the computing chips growing smaller?  Put another way, does it grow more than 2x per 18 months?

Are we going to RUN OUT OF SPACE for it?  When will this happen?  Can we put it in the ocean (overflow dumping ground)?  Outer space (lieutenant overflow dumping ground)? 

If the nuclear holocaust were to hit, and the bunkers are only so big, what will be the exchange rate for internet to people?  Do we leave 10000 people out to die in order to save wikipedia?  WebMD?  Youtube?  Twitter?  This Blog? 

Would I rather live on through this website, or live on in the more conventional, physical, way, but in a world where all of human knowledge and history has been snuffed out? 

Is there anything in my mind that isn’t online?  If not, wouldn’t extra bits of internet be the more valuable addition to future society?  But then, should we just go ahead and conclude that the machines are the important ones, and we humans are just here for repopulation purposes?

Has this all already happened?  Is this the Matrix?

October 2009
a more innocent time

Pi Pie Pie!

It’s a funny thing about having a blog.  It makes you wanna do things up a little bit “just for the story,” AND it makes you see stories everywhere.  Even in the unremarkable little things, like making lists or buying oreos.

That said, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for pi day.  But now I have the pictures to prove it!

Pi Pizza Pie

Perfectly Petite Pies

Divied up!

Fun fact: Today is also Albert Einstein’s birthday!

π is ubiquitous, mysterious, and coy – its value is still being calculated – so there’s really no question that it deserves a party.  However, the true magic of pi day lies in the fact that it’s recognized only by the sector of humanity which resides in my particular strata of Cool-slash-Awesome.  So here we are celebrating together, shades on, looking down on everyone-who-wishes-they-could-be-this-hip, placing bets on pi recitation contests (yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like). 

Happy Pi Day!  Go forth, be irrational!  #mathhumor

Last Friday Night

I had a lot going on Friday night.

1. Netbook (Toshiba NB505), being used here as a book prop thing.

2. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin.  Winter is coming.

3. Sidewinder gaming mouse, photo-bombing

4. The Art of Computer Programming, by Donald Knuth.  Also a photo stowaway.

5. Water bottle.  Hydration is important when nerding out.

6. The heart shaped box formerly known as the heart shaped box of M&Ms.

And the Star of the Show:

7. “Back-of-envelope” calculations. This was some critically important Jack Bauer shiznatch. I was working out what had a bigger effect on population growth – number of children you have or the age you are when you have them.  Answer: it’s complicated.  But I CAN tell you that if you’re worried about your spawn footprint being Yeti-sized you can make a big difference by waiting longer to have kids. I can also tell you that I was beside myself about having an original thought for once!

All around a pretty exciting night – I’m sorry you couldn’t all be there!

SOPA/PIPA – What is everyone talking about?

I’m usually not “in the know” when it comes to current events, whether it’s regarding international injustices or who-did-what-with-who-this-weekend.  In general, I’m just not as up-to-date as you are on what’s going on.  I’m very left out at the water-cooler.  I skip sporting events and watch the highlights.  I would be a terrible disappointment if I were a faraway visitor to an 18th century Jane Austen household.  And TMZ would never ever hire me.  Needless to say, the smartphone is an amazing field-leveling tool for me.

Instead of keeping up with daily headlines, I research topics one at a time, in depth, all in one sitting.  What can I say, my brain is single-threaded and pretty much always absorbed in its own rich and important stuff.  I assume, right or wrong, that if a piece of news is relevant to me it will reach me somehow (thank you democracy and Web-2.0).  Once I’ve heard a buzzword enough times (Darfur, Prop8, Balloon Boy), I’ll look into it.

Basically, tell me what was trending yesterday so I can catch up.


This brings us to today’s research topic, which is old news for you but new news for me: the SOPA/PIPA legislations.  Here’s what I found.

The Terms:
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is the House bill, PIPA (Protect IP Act) is the Senate bill.  The impetus of these is to crack down on foreign websites shamelessly (or even shamefully) sharing American copywritten material.  The sites in question are outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.

The Players:

  • Major supporters include the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and production studios like NBC Universal.
  • Major opponents include large internet properties such as Wikipedia, Google, and Facebook.  And everyone who uses one of these, it seems like.  A worldwide blackout has been organized for Wednesday, July 18th (now), in which over 7000 sites including Wikipedia will shut down for 24 hours.
  • Earlier this week, the Obama administration also announced its opposition to SOPA/PIPA via the White House blog.

The Stakes:
(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and I haven’t read the actual bills.  This is based entirely on shady internet research and hearsay.)

  • While U.S. websites are technically unaffected, the onus of screening and blocking the offending foreign material falls on U.S. companies.  There are provisions to enjoin search providers to de-index offending sites and for ISPs and DNS servers to block them.  Opponents claim that this is not only onerous, but also fundamentally interferes with the basic nature of the internet.
  • If ISPs think a site is “guilty”, they can blacklist it in good faith without a court order.  Some opponents make comparisons to foreign regimes who censor the internet liberally and without process.  Slippery slope argument.
  •  One provision allows for blocking sites (US or foreign) from providing information on how to get around SOPA/PIPA blacklists.  Not only is this burdensome (think about Facebook, Twitter, or Blogger having to scrub user-generated content for this), but it also raises concerns about censorship and freedom of speech.
  • Rupert Murdoch and other players in Hollywood and TV urgently express the need to prevent a repeat of music-industry-circa-2000.  Entertainment makes up 3.5% of the GDP, employs 2.2 million people, and even if it didn’t – intellectual property should still be protected and artists should get paid.

The Editorial:
I hear you Rupert, I really do, but there has to be a better way.  Trying to police the content of the internet like this is unwieldy and unscalable, like herding more and more kittens and parakeets – together.  Frankly, even if this passes, it’s not going to work to end piracy.  There are always workarounds, new websites, new workarounds, new websites.  “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

If you want to learn more about the protest and how you can be involved, check out Google’s SOPA/PIPA page.

SO, how does the Wikipedia blackout work?

Like I said, I am not a lawyer and I haven’t read the bills actual.  But I may just be a software developer after all.  I had always assumed (that is, for the last 3 hours when I knew about it) that the wikipedia blackout would be implemented by an url redirect.  I thought the “code review” would be a couple of guys fidgeting with a config setting in an ops dungeon somewhere (sexist imagery).

Just to be sure, I refreshed my wikipedia window at 9:01 PST and noticed in the address bar that there was no redirect, and that the original page had even rendered for a few seconds. A little bit of source code snooping and firebug magic reveals that there’s a script running that adds an overlay div (mw-sopaoverlay) and adds a display:none style to all the content blocks.  So if you yourself add “display:none” to ms-sopaoverlay and then remove the display:none style from #mw-page-base, #mw-head-base, #content, #mw-head, #mw-panel, #footer – you could have this!

A beacon of light in a sea of darkness. 

Why am I on Mackenzie Rosman’s page?  Today I was also investigating the breaking news of Justin Timberlake’s engagement.  That took me to Jessica Biel, which took me to Seventh Heaven, which got me here.  I could never make it at TMZ.

If I really were a real developer I might have written a little browser addon (GiveMeMyWiki!) that would have disabled script on Wikipedia and taken care of all of this for you…

…or you can do what I do and use Wikipedia mobile for all your bar-bet-settling needs over the next 22 hours:

All I Want for Christmas

Dear Santa,

I know Christmas is not for 363 days, but here are the things that I wish there were:

- Light speed bullet trains
- Molecular transporters
- Incredibly realistic immersive virtual environments accessible from anywhere, complete with tactile, olfactory, and gustatory feedback
- A way to condense the great plains and mountains majesty to make things closer
- Portkeys and/or apparate/disapparate spells
- Responsible time travel

Happy travels everyone!

success: what it really looks like

Success: what people think it looks like what it really looks like

* Demetri Martin, "This is a Book"

Reassured that I must just be in the squiggly part, not in the left-side-non-starter-zone. #onmyway! #blogpoststhatshouldbetweets

Sidebar: While researching the photo credit for this drawing, I was thrilled to learn that it’s from This is a Book by Demetri Martin (omg he has a book?!? i never know anything)Comedian extraordinaire with a unique and dorkable sense of humor and a pretty cool back-story (genre: white collar suburban defiance and triumph. when office space meets eight mile).  When this blog blows up and the peoples of the world recognize my importance I will find him and fan-girl it up, or maybe play it cool and score a blog-erview.  Don’t be me (aka in the dark about many awesome things): watch Demetri Martin. Person. available on Netflix streaming.  Watch it now!