Friday, June 1, 2012


People do stuff on the Internet like trolling, spamming, etcetera. It's funny when people troll and spam in real life as well. For example, I've been recently spammed with election flyers, election slogans broadcast from cars, election-related discussions in bars from strangers, election-related discussions in bars from friends, and flower offers. Yes, in Romania people spam you on the street offering to sell you cheap flowers. Fuck, I know. Trolling however requires much more skill than simple spamming. For instance, my friends successfully trolled a robotics competition by building the shittiest possible robot that still works properly. They were actively trying to cut the parts to the wrong dimensions and splice the wires so they look like a rats' nest. That took hard work.
This being said, yesterday evening I tried to fork-bomb a bar. How do you fork-bomb a bar you ask? Very well. First you need a bar that's open 24/7, such as the one in my University. It should ideally have a lot of tables outside and only serve drinks at a counter inside. At some point they will need to change shifts and go through the inventory. While they do this there will necessarily be a 15- to 30-minute break during which no customers will be served any drinks. Hang around the counter and immediately after the new shift starts, buy some beers, go to the tables outside and shout "Bar's open!" This should be making other people shout "Bar's open!" to their friends and neighbouring tables and so on, until everybody, thirsty after the 30-minute closure, rushes to the bar to buy more drinks and forms an enormous queue. So, did it work? Nope. Seems that during the break, half the people left for another pub and the other half weren't really that thirsty. But anyway, that's how you fork-bomb a bar.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Party. Guy friend. Girl. They meet. They dance. They touch. Their faces come close, closer, closer. Girl prepares to kiss guy. At last moment guy pulls head back and walks away. Didn't think I'd live to see that.

Idiot, Y U no kiss girl?

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I've been watching some documentary that essentially complains that Western society is falling apart. On the topic of education, they had some professors state that knowledge should be had just for the sake of knowledge -- I totally agree. At a certain point they had a younger one talk about how mathematics is being developed purely for the sake of knowledge and how many mathematical frameworks find practical applications decades after being developed. This is also true and I also agree with doing pure science just for the sake of it, and not necessarily aiming to find an immediate application - the applications will eventually appear.
What actually pissed me off is that instead of giving a sane (and famous) example such as non-Euclidean geometry finding application in General Relativity, he stated that propositional calculus is needed for computer programming.
Propositional calculus is not needed for computer-anything. Just because computers work with low and high voltage states which can be thought of as ones and zeros or true and false, doesn't mean anything, and it especially doesn't mean that I needed to know propositional calculus when I was 12 and programming a fucking* computer.
* The same show argues elsewhere that because the presenter is censored while saying something like fuck on TV, there's no free speech. Here, I said fuck on a publicly accessible platform, which as opposed to a TV show is permanently visible, and nothing happened. There is free speech.
Back to computers. Having a scientific background myself, I cannot overstate how important mathematics is - in describing theories and models, in proving correctness - yes, even the correctness of computer programs, and generally in forming and expressing scientific ideas. However, computer programming is usually viewed as a craft, not a science, and I can guarantee that at least 90% of programmers couldn't care less about propositional calculus or mathematics in general - they don't need (and are not required) to prove that their programs are correct, they just need them to run reasonably well. Also having a programming background, it kind of pisses me off when people try to patronize me - like saying that nothing is possible without expert command of formal mathematics. I can build a simple processor by scribbling some schematics on a piece of paper and soldering down some TTL chips or even transistors (if FPGAs are considered too high-tech), I can attach a memory to that (I could solder that from transistors too but it's simply too much repetitive work) and I can program it in machine language, and with some effort I could also do assembly language or C, without using a single element of propositional calculus. I am willing to bet on this. When will people understand that all computers do is simple numeric operations and copying said numbers between memory locations defined by other numbers? Hit the correct location with the correct number and the hardware makes sure you get a dark-red pixel. Do it a billion times per second and do it right and you get Angry Birds or whatever. I know this first-hand, e.g. as a student I had an assignment to write something in assembly and I wrote a clone of a certain game involving falling pieces made from four blocks. It didn't take more than 1500 processor instructions, and no propositional logic. Fuck theoretical snobs.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Last night I had an awesome, disturbing dream. It began with me waking up and realizing I was dead. I was somekind of ghost that people couldn't see, but those close to me could hear and maybe touch. I on the other hand experienced the world as usual -- no walking through walls, no flying, no mind-reading -- it felt the same. Once I realized I could talk to people, I asked them what was going on, and everybody seemed to agree that I'm an invisible ghost now. I assured them I saw neither hell nor heaven, and asked them what they had done with my body.
"Oh, we just called the disposal team and had it incinerated, we thought that's what you would've liked us to do".
"Oh, yes, certainly, good job".
(That's got to be the greatest piece of dialogue I've ever experienced.)
Thoughts of unfinished business and unfulfilled promises raced through my mind, but they were quickly quenched by the realization that I could ask people to do said buisness for me. Still the fear remained that I would soon be unable to communicate with those I've left behind.
After a while I fell asleep and then woke up again and glitches started happening, like objects disappearing. I thought - maybe I was decaying. It was very short-lived. Things started looking and feeling normally again. Actually it felt so normal that with no dead body available I was starting to doubt that I was a ghost. So I challenged the people to shine a laser towards a wall. I put my hand in the laser beam and sure enough the spot on the wall disappeared. But the people told me that no, the spot is right there on the wall, unobstructed. I then told them to point a digital camera at the wall. Surely a system so complicated would separate my possible illusion from theirs, and most likely record the spot on the wall. But it didn't happen. It was just too complicated to dream. I woke up.
I've been trying to decipher this dream to no avail. Maybe I've been reborn or something. Maybe I've just been feeling weird. The Universe has been screwing with me lately, and it's been wonderful.
So remember, don't drink and sleep, and when in doubt, fucking lasers yeah.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I hear this annoying argument all the time: I live in a cold climate so my {home server, tube amp, idle set-top box, microwave oven display} doesn't waste electricity, it just helps keep my house warm.
I understand that resistive space heaters are popular in the U.S., but in the rest of the world some people like heat pumps better. The heat output from both resistive space heaters and microprocessors or all other electronics is equal to the electrical energy drawn from the grid. The heat output from a heat pump-based device is higher than the electrical energy input, the difference resulting from cooling the outside air. Just like air conditioning in the summer, but in reverse. So there, your inefficient technology is not only helping keep your home warm, it's also wasting electricity that could otherwise be used to heat it more efficiently.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I found this nice, classic "beware of macros" bug:
#define MAX(a, b)    ((a) > (b) ? (a) : (b))
[ ... ]
int x = MAX(foo, bar++); // incremented either once or twice


Saturday, September 24, 2011


Scientists studying neutrino oscillations have recently managed to screw up their measurements and come up with a speed for the particles that's higher than the speed of light. For those of you not familiar with particle physics, think of neutrinos as very light electrons but without the electrical charge. Having no electrical charge they seldom interact with matter and can pass through thousands of miles of rock undisturbed. So they generate the neutrinos at CERN and measure the time it takes for them to arrive in Italy. Of course, according to all we know so far and according to countless experiments, no particle travels faster than light. This paper, the authors of which could easily fill up a large bus or maybe a small train, details their method. The paper is properly written and simply presents their method and results; it makes no extraordinary claims, but rather states that the authors have yet to identify any more sources of error and are searching for those. Of course the media have picked up the story. The respectable outlets maintain the cautious tone, but several are trying to make this into a sensationalist news story: "Einstein's Relativity could be wrong". No. The chances of Relativity being wrong are extremely slim. The chances that an undetected error screwed up the measurements is overwhelming. The time measurement and calculation error from known sources is about 10 nanoseconds and the particles have supposedly arrived 60 ns too early. Given the complicated system used to do the measurements, whose systematic (fixed) errors that had to be calibrated are much higher than that, it's very likely that this result is due to an equipment problem or a mistake. For example, does the circuitry always have the same delay? Does that 8km-long optical fiber always have the same delay? Are those delays during the experiment equal to the ones that have been measured while not doing the experiment? 60 ns is a pretty long time, given that one light-nanosecond is about 30 cm. But it could easily arrive from faulty equipment or bad measurement techniques. I'm sure that in the following weeks or months these errors will be identified. Until then, supernova measurements indicate that neutrinos arrive at the same time as light, not earlier. If they were really going faster, then the signal measured from a supernova that's thousands of light-years away would precede the optical telescope detection by days or weeks, which we're not seeing. So neutrinos don't travel faster than light. One might think that there's a small region, near the area where the high-energy reaction that creates the neutrinos takes place, where some extraordinary phenomenon might be happening, and that is causing the effect - once they leave that area they behave normally. This is also highly unlikely. It's true that Relativity has to be adjusted at small scales and high energies, but those scales are very far off and a space-time distortion large enough to cause 60 ns or 18 meters of error is surely going to be noticed and cause some very weird shit so to speak.
So there. Calm down and wait for that defective satellite to fall on your heads tomorrow.