Predictions for the Republican National Convention

As I’m sure everyone in New York is painfully aware, this week is the Republican National Convention. What can we expect to happen there?

[Disclaimer: what follows is satire and/or hyperbole. I hope.]

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Site Redesign

<voice style=”Dr. Weird”>Gentlemen, behold!</voice>

I was getting sick of the stock WordPress layout and its soul-crushing drabness. The result is what you see now. It’s a bit monochromatic, but it ought to be far easier on the eyes and much less suffocating. (For comparison purposes, Firefox users can select the old stylesheet using the menu on the left side of the status bar.)

If there are any issues with it, let me know.

World Domination Plan #1653

If you had a credit card with no credit limit, could you use it to purchase the credit card company, gain control of it, and waive your debt?

Do campus book stores price gouge?

To see just how much, if any, the local campus bookstores inflate their prices on textbooks, I compared the prices on the books I need this semester at the two campus bookstores (University Bookstore and Follett’s) and two online retailers (Amazon and Barnes and Noble).

Of course, this is hardly a good statistical sample — it’s neither randomly selected nor large enough — but it does reflect my experiences for this semester and probably extends fairly well to the general case. Doing so is left as an exercise for the reader.

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Moving Up

Tomorrow (OK, today, by the time I actually end up posting this) is my first day of class as a grad student.

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New Links

The observant visitor will notice that there are a few new links over there on the right. For the inobservant visitor, here’s what they are.

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Recruitment: Stage 1

Yesterday’s recruitment efforts at the BGR Student Activities Fair went pretty well, even though kryten was being stubborn about playing audio (I hate ESD and ALSA), Totem kept crashing every ten minutes or so, Wes couldn’t get the flag, and the printer started running low on toner about a third of the way through printing our fliers. We attracted a pretty good number of interested people (who hopefully will come to the callout in a couple of weeks), and quite a few of them even had previous theatre experience. For some reason, our attempts to give away leftovers from Matt’s lunch didn’t have any takers.

Good think the fair only lasted about two hours; I don’t think my voice would’ve held out for too much longer, though I was getting pretty good at running through who we are and what we do pretty quickly.

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Rhythmbox Applet Enters Debian

Good news for Debian users: today packages for Rhythmbox Applet have entered Sid/Unstable. Now installation is as simple as apt-get install rhythmbox-applet.

Thanks to Dan Korostelev for maintaining this package!

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Isn’t this false advertising?

Suppose you had a gift card for Borders. You then look on the back and see that you can use it for purchases on their web site. Then, hypothetically speaking, you go to that web site and try to purchase something.

The question is: can you use the gift card to pay for the purchase?

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BGR Student Activities Fair

Wes and I will be manning a table at Tuesday’s BGR Student Activites Fair from 11:00 to 1:00 to spread the word about the upcoming callout for the Purdue Improv Club, the student organization facet of the Ship of Fools. We may not have fancy cardboard display boards like other student orgs, but we will (assuming I stave off Murphy’s Law) be showing videos of past performances! If you’re an incoming Purdue student, be sure to check it out!

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Back on the air

This site’s utter unavailability for the past week was none of my fault, I swear. It was all ITaP‘s doing.

Assorted tidbits of what you’ve missed during the downtime follow.

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Squeezing out more performance

Vitek and I talked about an idea he had to make the exhaustive search in MBA a bit more efficient. Basically, it involves the program being able to remember things it’s tried before, and not bother trying them again if it knows it won’t work. As a result, you can eliminate consideration of lots of sets of constraints right away. While each one wouldn’t have taken long to evaluate, being able to skip over dozens of a time should still be a win.

Actually, the idea was pretty similar to one I had been kicking around before leaving for vacation two weeks ago, but the approach I had had in mind wouldn’t have worked. Vitek’s is the same basic idea, but done in a way that shrinks the search space too aggressively. Early tests suggest it could produce a noticeable speedup in execution time, which is always good, and should work especially well for the nastier data sets.

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Open Source means never having to bother with error handling

A common error condition leaves your data in an inconsistent state and leaves temporary files all over the place? Just another day in the open source world, I’m afraid.

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Dear Republicans

Please stop acting like a bunch of three-year-olds.

Thank you.

EarthBound [Zero] Myths Debunked

Remember back when I reviewed EarthBound Zero, the NES prequel to EarthBound that was never released in the U.S. despite having its English-language version essentially completed? I didn’t think so.

Anyway, Lost Levels has an article debunking the myths surrounding EarthBound Zero, particularly the idea that it was just a hacked version of the Japanese release of Mother instead of an official English (would-be) release. There’s also some interesting info about the inner workings of Nintendo at that time.

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