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Brian Danger Hicks

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Not that I'm any better [Mar. 15th, 2009|04:48 pm]
Brian Danger Hicks
[Current Music |Neko Case - The Pharaohs]

So, I finally got around to reading the copy of Great Model Railroads 2009 that I picked up a while ago, and one of the articles starts out: "My HO scale Western Pacific laout began innocuously enough: I set out to build an accurate scale model of WP's famous Keddie Wye steel viaduct."

Let's be clear, there is nothing innocuous about building a model of the Keddie Wye. You've really got no one to blame but yourself.
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Nigerian Scams Gone Meta [Mar. 11th, 2009|11:55 pm]
Brian Danger Hicks
[Current Music |Primal Scream - Beautiful Future]

Well, I give them an A for effort. They still get a failing grade overall, but an A for effort.

Office for the Coordination Of Humanitarian Affairs,
Integrated Regional Information Network
503B Zik Avenue Garki Abuja
TEL: +234-7036487288
E-MAIL: richardgozneyoffice1@gmail.com

The British High Commission in Nigeria,Benin Republic,Ghana and Bokinafaso
received a report of scam against you and other British/US citizens and
Malaysia,Etc. The countries of Nigeria, Benin Republic, Bokinafaso And Ghana
have recompensed you following the meeting held with the Four countries'
Government and various countries' high commission for the fraudulent activities
carried out by the Four countries' Citizens.

Your name was among those scammed as listed by the Nigeria Financial Intelligent
Unit (NFIU). A compensation has been issued out ATM CARD to all the affected
victims and has been already been in distribution to all the bearers. Your ATM
CARD was among those that was reported undelivered as at on Last Friday and we
wish to advise you to see to the instructions of the Committee to make sure you
receive your ATM CARD immediately.

NFIU further told us that the use of Nigeria and BeninCouriers was abolished due
to interception activities noticed in the above mentioned courier services in
Benin,Nigeria and Ghana and thereby have made a concrete arrangement with the
DHL Courier Company for a safe delivery to your door-step once the beneficiary
meets up the demand of the conveyance.

We advise that you do the needful to make sure the NFIU dispatches your ATM CARD
on Monday. Reply this e-mail to richardgozneydesk@gmail.com . You are
assured of the safety of your draft and availability. Be advised that you should
stop further contacts with all the fake lawyers and security companies who in
collaboration scammed you. Call me at: +234 703 648 7288 immediately to check if
the delivery date suits you.

Yours in Service,

Mr. Richard Gozney

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Also, I can't find an explanation of the difference between a bombard and a cannon [Mar. 7th, 2009|08:04 pm]
Brian Danger Hicks
[Current Music |Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower]

So, the story of this Great Turkish Bombard is pretty hilarious.

First off, the guy making it approaches Constantine XI if he wants to buy it, and Constantine says that even if he could afford it, he has no use for it. So the guy goes to Mehmed II and asks him if he wants it. Mehmed says yes and as soon as it is built it is pressed into service bombing Constantine's city. Of course, to get the thing to Constantinople it takes one hundred men to clear and reinforce the road for it, another hundred to keep it from falling over, and that's not even counting the 60 oxen that do the actual job of pulling it.

So, it finally gets to Constantinople, and they start firing three-quarter ton rocks at Constantinople, which of course makes some very large holes in the walls. Of course, the gun is so unwieldy that it takes hours to reload and by that time the hole in the wall it just made gets plugged up. But they keep firing and they keep filling the holes and then finally Constantinople falls, not because of the biggest gun in the world being fired at it, but because somebody forgot to lock the side door and the Ottomans walk in and take the city.

After all of this, Mehmed decides he likes the gun so much he gets 41 more and puts them protecting the Dardanelles. And the guns sit there. And sit there. And sit there. And then over three hundred years pass, the guns are now museum pieces, and now the British are coming. So somebody says, "Hey, lets dig out those superguns that our rotting in our museums and fire them at this British fleet." So they do. And the ancient guns still fire just fine and the British retreat because, hey, superguns.

Don't tell me that isn't funny.
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It might have something to do with living in Folsom. [Jan. 29th, 2009|06:04 pm]
Brian Danger Hicks
[Current Music |The Decemberists - Valerie Plame]

So, whenever I fill out a self-assesment or a status report for work, I always want to include "Shot a man in Reno, watched him die" on it.
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They've been doing this a while, I've just been forgetting to mention it. [Jan. 28th, 2009|07:57 pm]
Brian Danger Hicks
[Current Music |Arcade Fire - Neighborhood 3 Power Out]

At work they would talk about our release dates for the past few years with two digit numbers, "oh-eight", "oh-nine", etc. Now we've apparently skipped to three digit numbers, because they're talking about "oh-ten" and "oh-eleven" releases.
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My meal fell apart, if you couldn't tell [Jan. 26th, 2009|09:15 pm]
Brian Danger Hicks
[Current Music |R.E.M. - Orange Crush]

So, does a burrito count as a tensegrity structure?
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Lojban Doesn't Count [Jan. 25th, 2009|12:18 am]
Brian Danger Hicks
[Current Music |The Presidents of the United States of America - Kitty]

So, I was trying to think of all of the programming languages I've used or learned in my life, and I think this is a pretty complete list. I've included markup languages and hardware definition languages at the end, which people may or may not consider programming languages. I'm pretty sure many of you could make more impressive lists, but I doubt many of you will have all of the ones I have:

BASIC/QBasic/TI-BASIC - I remember as a kid getting the 3-2-1 Contact magazine, which had some BASIC code in it that my brother would sometimes copy onto our computer. I remember the first program I wrote with this was just a whole bunch of print commands to make some ascii art. Sometime later I learned some QBasic by reverse-engineering the example programs and made some simple programs. I used TI-BASIC a bit on my grandfather's TI-85 one Christmas (my brother got a graphing calculator for Christmas so I borrowed my grandfather's while we were visiting). A few years after that, I got my own TI-86. All of the programs I made in TI-BASIC were pretty simple. BASIC cropped up again when my family got an old TRS-80 Model 100 from my other grandfather, and I did a bit of programming on that, mostly just as a time-killing thing.

Turbo Pascal - One Christmas I got a Pascal book as a present, because I had been complaining that all of my QBasic programs had to be run from the IDE instead of getting compiled. I wrote a few programs in this, nothing too fancy. I remember reading the Pascal book was the first time I had ever heard of integers, well before I ever got to them in math class, and it took me a while to figure out what the author was going on about.

C/C++ - I've taken up C several times during my life, with varying degrees of success. The first time, I borrowed my Dad's copy of The C++ Programming Language by Bjarne Stroustrup, although I never got very far that time. After I had gotten into Linux I got a copy of Practical C Programming and made it relatively further in that before I lost interest again. Eventually in college I took a class that included C programming and learned about mallocs and such, although that faded some over time. I took another stab at programming in C going through the GTK programming docs online, but I don't think I ever got past putting a few buttons on a window.

Java - In high school my brother and I learned some Java out of one of those teach yourself X in Y days books. My brother got a lot further on that than I did, and my interest petered out somewhat quickly.

Bash - Not a whole lot to say here, I started using Linux, so it pretty much follows that I ended up doing some bash scripting.

Assembly - As part of the same college course that I learned C, I also learned some assembly language on a somewhat hypothetical processor that only existed in an emulator program for teaching purposes. The upside of learning Assembly for that was that I finally figured out how you go from digital logic to a general purpose computer. A semester or two later I took a microcontroller course where we did m68k assembly, and my computer architecture course had another machine that didn't exist outside of a verilog simulator.

Perl - The first time I really used Perl was when I was playing around with mooix. I pretty much just reverse-engineered bits and pieces and supplemented that with google searches and managed to make a few somewhat interesting things. Mooix is the only open source project that I have ever actually contributed code to, although some of it had to get cleaned up a lot. Later after I started working I used Perl some more, at first it was still just whatever bits I had pieced together, but eventually I took a Perl course that was offered at work, plus they gave me some O'Reilly books. I still have to maintain and write bits of Perl code, but I don't have to deal with that too often.

TCL - I use this a lot at work as a language to, you know, command tools. I mostly just figured out how to program TCL from reverse engineering other people's TCL scripts, although I've also got some information from some training slides for a class I didn't go to and the manual pages in one of the tools I use TCL for. I'm still using this a lot, but it looks like I won't be using it as much in the future.

Python - I started learning Python late last year, and I've been slowly progressing along. I bought a copy of Dive In To Python, which was somewhat refreshing after other programming books. I've managed to do a few somewhat useful things, and this time I have a few projects I want to do with it, so I've got a bit more motivation than back when I was in high school ("It's summer and I'm bored").

MOO - Recently one of the guys on IRC set up a LambdaMOO instance, and learned some of the programming language for that. So far all I've done is try to re-implement stuff I previously did in mooix. I'm not sure how much I want to do with this, at least with mooix I was learning a language that I used again elsewhere, which isn't going to happen with LambdaMOO

Markup Languages:
HTML/XHTML - I first learned HTML in high school at first from looking at the source for webpages, and eventually I had some class that went over a bunch of basic stuff. I made and then re-made homepages for myself in highschool and some in college. Last year I figured out some bits of XHTML and re-did my webpage a bit, which I had been meaning to do for quite some time. Since I learned HTML back in the 90s and didn't deal with it much afterwards, I'm not really all that up on stuff like CSS

LaTeX - I learned a bit of LaTeX in college, which I used to put together various papers and homework assignments. My LaTeX knowledge is somewhat limited because the only time I was motivated to learn LaTeX was when I was formatting my assignments at the last minute before they were due. I also put together a LaTeX formatted resume, which I never get to use because everybody wants it in a Word format.

SVG - Between the W3C documentation and looking at the source, I've pieced together a fair amount of SVG knowledge, and thrown togther far too many stupid SVG tricks for my own good.

Hardware Description Languages:
Verilog - They taught Verilog in my computer architecture course in college, where I learned off of a pre-release PDF of a book some of the professors at the college were writing (although the instructor of the course was not one of the writers). Most of the actual digital circuits I deal with at work are done up in verilog.

VHDL - A semester or so after I took the computer architecture course, I took, a digital logic course where we programmed FPGAs in VHDL. I remember wasting several hours in the lab for that because it didn't synthesize my edge-triggered logic the way I had expected. At work I've dealt a little with VHDL, mostly in legacy testbench code.

System Verilog - I learned a bit of System Verilog at work while I was trying to make a testbench, although I never did finish up work on that because I kept getting interruped with higher priority tasks and eventually the testbech was handed off to someone else. I expect that making testbenches in System Verilog is something I will have to do again.
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At least lostpedia has decent hosting [Jan. 23rd, 2009|06:09 pm]
Brian Danger Hicks
It would be nice if battlestarwiki.org and razzies.com got smarter about their webhosting, because their servers get crushed on a completely predictable schedule.

It would also be nice if the the razzies site wasn't crappy.
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Don't read if you are travelling by plane soon [Jan. 16th, 2009|06:47 pm]
Brian Danger Hicks
[Current Music |+/- - Halos]

For those of you who can't get enough of that miraculous jetliner landing action, here's a story about landing with control surfaces and no engines and another story about landing with engines and no control surfaces
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Plus, the twist ending was not as obvious in the original [Jan. 13th, 2009|12:37 am]
Brian Danger Hicks
[Current Music |Alice Russell - Turn and Run]

So, I just watched Charade, which I somehow didn't realize was the original movie that The Truth About Charlie was a remake of. It wasn't until right near the end when they figured out where the money was hidden that I realized the connection.

Anyway, while Thandie Newton may be an acceptable replacement for Audrey Hepburn, but Marky Mark is definitely no Cary Grant.
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