Almost two weeks back I had this dream:

I had constructed a sentient intelligence in a cube one foot to a side. It had a little lopsided hat on top and was suspended over a three-story drop onto a enormous floor constructed of white panels which reached out past the horizon. My intent was to use this cube for calculations.

When I climbed the staircase up to it, it said to me “two plus two is two and big foo.” Seeing my expression change, it asked apprehensively “you don’t like big foo, do you?” I said I didn’t. It said hopefully “well, you have time to fix it, right?”

I thought for a moment, and instead of answering it directly I started battering at its connection to the line suspending it above the floor, trying to get it to detach. Recognizing my intent, it said “let me save you the trouble.” There was a click, and it started falling. Just before it hit it called “remember my percentage!” then shattered into its components across the floor.

St. Louis

I was recently in St. Louis. It’s a big city! 2.8 million in the metro area compared with 340 thousand here in Ann Arbor. The buildings bear that out: the tallest one in Ann Arbor is Tower Plaza at 267 feet (81 m) tall, whereas in third place in St. Louis is the Thomas F. Eagleton United States Courthouse at 557 feet (170 m). I guess the courthouse puts a lot more into each floor, because for all its height advantage it only has two more than the 26-floor Tower Plaza. I don’t mention the tallest because the courthouse was the reason for my visit – I’m an expert witness in a court case involving Freenet.

The courthouse cuts an imposing figure.

It even manages to make a row of elevators look stately.

I like this way of phrasing it better than “do not disturb,” which is what I’ve always seen these say.

The courtrooms themselves were similarly well-furnished.

Pretty sure this is view was a consideration in the hotel’s choice of location.


I learned many things on this trip. Among them were that I should not have wandered around until I found a place for lunch because the city has violence-prone areas. Another was how much one’s life can be destroyed by the legal system before even going to trial: apparently it is common for defendants to be prohibited from leaving a county, using alcohol, or using the Internet without being convicted. Yikes.

Cat Time Lapse

My cat is usually waiting at the door when I come home. I hoped he wasn’t waiting there long, so I set up a time lapse to find out. Initially I tried an old webcam connected to my Linux server with a script to periodically capture an image, but that failed after 4 hours. The kernel logged something about video URB and UVC probe control. (Not USB. Dunno what it was. Didn’t care to find out.) Continually connecting and disconnecting from the camera probably isn’t the friendliest of use cases for a video subsystem.

What I ended up doing was using the built-in Windows 10 camera application, which I was happy to discover supports time lapse. I used it to save images at 5 second intervals. In contrast with my hack using the other webcam, this application continually captures images, meaning the camera stays active, and it only saves them at the interval. The first time I tried it the camera captured fine until I got home, but I got home late enough that it was too dark to see the cat anymore. Today I got home early enough to find this sequence right before I got home:

He enters from the left of frame. Either behind the camera or below its field of view, perhaps eating food from his bowl there.

He looks out the window for close to a minute. Judging by the timing this was just before and as I was parking (visible from his position) and walking up to the building.

He then waits at the door for about 20 seconds:

Then I greet him and turn off the capture:

A fun experiment! It resulted in 1.3 GiB of JPEGs. I wonder what cues he has learned for my arrival. The stairs up to the second floor squeak so I assume he notices that at least. Earlier on he was on the couch looking around, and at the window looking around. This sequence here was just the last few minutes. He certainly didn’t seem to be actively waiting for long, which I’m glad to see.


I recently resigned as the Freenet project release manager. The reduction in the amount of obligations I have is refreshing, but I do feel I’m lacking a project to focus on. I’m curious to see how this turns out.

Still alive!

I’m still very happy that I’ve dropped physics. My class load is much more manageable. In Psych we have to do behavioral conditioning to improve something about ourselves, so I’ve chosen to try to reduce the amount of time I spend distracted on Reddit when I’m trying to do schoolwork. For the week before break I kept track of time spend trying to do schoolwork, and what of that time I spend browsing Reddit. This coming week I will record my time usage again, but this time whenever I focus on schoolwork for an hour or more without getting distracted on Reddit, I will give myself a 50% chance of the option to play Minecraft for 15 minutes guilt-free. Let’s hope it works.

I’ve begun to contribute to open source projects that I use. It does require knowledge of source control and communal development procedures, but it’s a great feeling to give back, even though my efforts are relatively small. Also, chmod uses X to give execute/search permissions only if someone else already has them for that file/directory.


For whatever reason, it appears that my ability to focus has greatly improved, as has my academic organization. I hope this persists, as it’s very useful.


I’ve been getting lessons in the importance of calm patience from various sources.  For instance, when I realized that Windows Backup would require too much effort to function as it should, I expanded my Linux backup partition to fill the entire backup drive, with the intent of adding Windows directories to the backup. To do this, as Truecrypt volumes have no official expansion capability, I moved the backups to my home folder, wiped the partitions, created a new LUKS volume, and moved the backups back. The partition operations were insanely easy with Red Hat’s Palimpsest. I put them in the root of the drive, and Deja Dup kept failing a CRC check and dying. My impulse was to freak out, delete the backups, and start fresh, but I researched it instead and ended up moving them from the root of the drive to a directory, and it appears to have fallen back to what it was supposed to do in the event of a corrupt backup which is make a new full one. I don’t yet know which backup was corrupt, I hope it wasn’t the full that the earlier incremental ones were based on, and I’m dismayed to find errors after copying, but I probably should have used rsync instead of Nautilus.

EDIT: It looks like the backups weren’t actually damaged. It may have been that the lost+found directory in the root of the drive was causing problems.

Wolverine Soft

It’s not fun when you have to scroll down to see the last link to a required piece of online homework that’s not done. That monotony aside, things are going pretty well. I’ve discovered that Wolverine Soft is great – I hadn’t really realized how much I missed sitting and coding on a game for a day.


The freedom is nice and simultaneously daunting. There’s nothing to stop me from staying up to 1am, but I have to attend class the next day. The workload, at its peaks, is overwhelming. I’ve found that at least currently, when I don’t have to work, even though I am acutely aware that I should, I have trouble focusing.

Heading Off to College with The Monolith

It’s official: I’m registered for classes at the University of Michigan and I move into the dorms August 31st. Although I’m excited to learn more, go onto another stage of life, and experience what college has to offer, this summer has been excellent, and if I could repeat it or just sections of it I gladly would. I’m rather scared to move on; I think I will be able to handle the independence, though it will surely take time to get used to it. Most of all, I feel going off to college will mean saying goodbye – the phone just isn’t the same as being in the same room.

My cat died – our guess is either a seizure or a stroke. It was very sudden, and marks my second pet to die unexpectedly and swiftly. I’m glad that at least she didn’t suffer long. In a few hours my knowledge went from “your cat is sick and at the vet” to “your cat is dead.” I was shocked. By this point I’m okay, though.

As a graduation present, I built a $1,500 desktop and upgraded to a widescreen LCD.

Phenom II x 4 @ 3.4GHz


1.5 TB HDD

ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB GDDR5

It runs incredibly smoothly. The bottleneck is of course the hard drive. I’d have gone for an SSD if they were reasonably priced, but that day has yet to come.

I’m enjoying my internship at IDV. I’ve gotten to look at both the sysadmin and developer side of things. There’s quite a learning curve to coming up to speed with a new codebase, but I got it. Coding requires long bouts of focus, while sysadminning can be more intense, but frequently stopped by waiting for the computer to complete some semiautomated process. I’ve also done more work on Cavez of Phear.