Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Atonal Symphony

Wow, whizzed it right down the leg today at work.

Dead CMOS battery is at fault - it died about 8 months ago (or maybe more?),and I haven't bothered replacing it because it just provides two irritants - first, a message saying last-boot-failed-please-enter-CMOS-utility (a control-alt-delete to reboot gets me past that quickly), and secondly, the computer thinks its 2005 (and fsck insists on correcting the last-mount thing in the superblock to something "plausible") - an ntpdate after booting makes everything happy.

Sometimes the battery squeezes a little bit of power out of itself and remembers the date when I move the system (seems to be unrelated to how long it was unplugged). So.. when the system doesn't complain about the last boot failing, I don't bother rerunning ntpdate. Unfortunately, very recently it's begun to get bored with binary logic and be a little bit wrong, anywhere from a day to half an hour.

Today was one of those days where it decided to explore tri-state logic, and so while I was just starting to prepare to call in to a conference call, the meeting had been going on for 40 minutes and was wrapping up.

Perhaps it's time to replace the CMOS battery (or the system), given that the screen hinge is starting to go and the screen frame now has a number of nice cracks. For those of you who believe in reincarnation, hope that you're never reborn as one of my laptops.

Reminder: If you can bear the not-particularly-impressive art, My Webcomic, Oyschlisn, is here.

Frustrations at work:Network management in SCS is much more heavy-handed than the general campus network. On the andrew network, sufficiently skilled and trusted people can manage their machines themselves through a system caled netreg, changing mac addresses, managing several aspects of DNS, etc. Webserver goes down? Put another box on the network, enter netreg to change the mac address for that machine to match what's in the other box, and all's good pretty quickly. In the Computer Science department, we have to email someone, meaning a nice, slow back-and-forth with someone who generally responds very slowly.

Also, I want to rewrite huge parts of the software I'm working on. It's big, messy, and undocumented (the basic idea is sound, and the functionality is pretty awesome, but the path between is not pretty).

I really miss Psychology. I miss the feeling that the research is actually on something really unknown (engineering-interesting has a different flavour than science-interesting), I miss the people (and the different mental flavour they have), the building (which doesn't have that slim percentage of people who don't bathe enough ruining it for everyone else), I miss thinking about brains and being surrounded by people also interested in the big picture (including at least most areas of cognition, sometimes extending outward into interpersonal relations and society at large).

I'm not sure if I miss being top geek there - there are more people like me (in that aspect) here, but .. maybe I'm empathising with a few people I've heard from who made Aliyah and found that being in Israel surrounded by Jewish folk diminished their identity too much. To step away from the analogy a bit (or not, depending on perspective on "Light unto other nations"), I felt more needed there - the department really needed someone who knows unix really well, who's an accomplished programmer who knows many of the interesting technologies (databases, webservers/cgi/etc) and an experienced sysadmin who's worked with many kinds of big systems. CS needs that too, maybe, but not in the same way, and they'd rather get a number of separate people to fill those roles than one or a few people who know it all.

Being immersed in CS doesn't help me much socially (yet, anyhow), given both where I am emotionally and how CSfolk (and other logicians) tend to be amazingly overconfident and dismissive of other fields, often having the amazing chutzpah to lecture them about how reality *must be* and the right way to find it without having read diddly about these fields or the relevant (and rich) body of work on philosophy and practice of science and other fields. It's hard for me to respect people who do that, and it's *really* common. When I was younger I was the same way. I'm not sure, but it seems that psych people are never that irritating, either because they never have the attraction towards sauberkeit/toy problems/platonism that they need to escape from, or because they get over it really quickly in the practice of real science. I suspect Hegel would laugh at or with me about this and say something insightful about dialectics on intellectual journeys. A dialectic-powered motorboat might be a powerful craft indeed, but I suspect it needs extra time to get started.

It's a bit weird working right near the other group in CS that decided not to hire me.

Scott Adams showing off how he draws Dilbert is pretty cool. It was also interesting - on the walk to work today I passed a number of art students on the golf course, all with easels set up so they could draw a pumpkin from across the street. Some part of me, seeing how serious they all looked, wanted to grab the pumpkin and run off with it.


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