Monthly Archives: August 2006

Parsing natural language

Is the following statement true or false?


This is true, right? I mean, it’s obvious. Whether you think of this as being a simple algebra problem or just common sense, that’s the answer that most of you just gave.

The problem is, you’re wrong. Sort of. Without other cues, a machine attempting to parse this statement could legitimately look at this as involving a set of things labeled “one” and “two.” In this light, if “one” is taken away, you have only “two” left. It is true that we can write the question without ambiguity, usually by adding quotation marks, but this is much more difficult with spoken language.

Just something to think about the next time you’re cursing an automated phone attendant…

How to Sell Your Boss

I’ve been sitting on this for a long time. It’s time to get it out of my “inbox” – shame on me!

In his Working Smart blog, Michael Hyatt writes:

How to Sell Your Boss

Selling your boss is critical to your success. If you can’t get your boss’s approval when you need it, you are not going to go very far in your career.

As the president of a company, I spend a good deal of time listening to proposals. Those doing the pitching usually need my approval to proceed with their project. Frankly, I never cease to be amazed at how poorly most people do in this kind of situation. Unfortunately, most of us never receive any formal training […]

The article is moderately long but contains a lot of fantastic advice. I’ve been caught in most of the traps that he refers to over the years. Hopefully, never again.

Server crash

After running for several months without incident (not counting the time one of the kids pushed the power button and put it to sleep), the rev A iMac that runs this site decided it was unhappy. I have no idea why. It just stopped. Sure, the mouse moved and everything, but nothing responded. An animated icon was suspended in the middle of a movement. “Nothing to do but pull the plug,” I thought, so that’s what I did.

As a result of all of this, of course, I’ve reviewed several of the logs with a more keen eye than usual. Apparently it doesn’t take long for the hackers to notice. I’ve got some security changes to make. But don’t worry – you won’t feel a thing, I promise.

The new web site is dead, and other tales.

This was something I talked about well over a year ago that never really took off. It was slow. It ran on a piece of hardware I didn’t really want to maintain. It was outside my firewall, making it difficult to get to. It sucked power. And that’s the honest-to-goodness truth.

So, I killed it.

Now, I’ve put up a very bare-bones page that directs you to either my .Mac home page – the place where I put family pictures, movies, and such – or to this blog. It’s hosted on the same hardware as this blog. I’m also running an occasional streaming audio feed through the server. None of these, however, are the primary purpose of the machine, so that means it actually gets attention. Once in a while.

In other news related to past entries, some of which you probably know:

  • My iPod mini died. It was dropped once too many. It’s not completely dead, just mostly dead. But that’s enough to make it practically impossible to use in the car. Sigh.
  • NetBSD vs. ThinkPad update: I’ve updated to NetBSD 3.0.1 and KDE 3.5.3. Almost everything works, still. I goofed up something in power management that requires me to manually put the machine to sleep instead of just closing the lid. Overall, though, the machine is just as functional as when I first set it up. I’ve also tweaked Linux a bit so that it almost works properly. Still fighting with sound drivers, though. How annoying.
  • Katrina blew through more than eleven months ago. In spite of this, they still need your help down there. The rebuilding effort will be going on for a long time. Don’t forget them just because the media has. Please.
  • Gizmo Project has added XMPP (Jabber) IM support, and this past winter, Google Talk opened up their network. This means that you can IM your Google Talk friends with Gizmo Project and vice versa. We’re still waiting for voice chat interoperability, but expect that it will happen before long. (Feel free to give me a holler!)
  • I’m still not sold on converged mobile phone/PDA/music players. Two out of three might not be too bad. I don’t see a way to combine a phone and a PDA in a way that makes them palatable for general use. Yet. I sense a paradigm shift…
  • Microsoft won’t be adding support for Intel Macintosh systems to Virtual PC. What a waste. I suppose it’s just as well; Virtual PC doesn’t really seem to compete with VMware, the virtualization big kid on the block, anyway.

That’s about it. At least. that’s all I can think of, at the moment.

The new web site is dead. Long live the new web site!

You can tune a piano…

But if you let me play that piano, it’s unlikely you’ll recognize that fact. (What, you expected me to say something about a certain tasty canned fish?)

I’ve been tinkering with Garage Band some more since my Retrocaptive entry back in 2005. I’ve also played with Logic Express a bit, and oh, what a difference! Anyway, at least for the time being I’m including links to the latest tunes I’ve put up over on iCompositions (you can find them on the left under My Music). Is it because they’re awesome tunes? No, but I really would like to hear your critical opinion, if you have one. Yes, even if you don’t like it.Thanks in advance!

Converted from iBlog to WordPress

I’m annoyed with iBlog. It’s nice enough, but there are a few problems.

  1. Development has slowed considerably.
  2. It uses a proprietary and ugh-ly way to store and refer to other entries.
  3. With the exception of the iLife applications, getting information into and out of iBlog isn’t very convenient.
  4. Moblogging is only possible with the addition of a paid service.

I just don’t want to deal with a single license of a proprietary product any more.

Besides the fact that I can update things from a web browser, there are tools that support the WordPress format like ecto and MarsEdit. One cross-platform browser, Flock, is even geared toward updating weblogs, with a built-in editor and a “Blog This” function.

There are likely to be some issues. I think I’ve caught most of them but please do let me know if you find a broken link or an image that doesn’t load.

Is this the return of the blog? I don’t know. We’ll see. There’s no shortage of material, only time. This conversion might make things a little easier.