Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Saint Patrick's Day 2007

Random, mostly uninteresting bits so far

  • Woke to cat snuggles
  • Bittorrent from last night completed, some of the music is corrupt, rest is quite nice. Yay Bhangra-inspired music.
  • Mad dash from shower to cell-phone, boss reports hearing beeps from machine room. A quick check shows all systems still up, resolve to visit there today
  • Pack, quick run up the hill to Temple Sinai bus stop
  • A disk on one of the backup raids dead. Shut it down, will order replacement disk to take care of it on monday.
  • Cluster is completely empty. Check bus time with Google Transit, take care of some database stuff for work while waiting.
  • In the Southside, people seem to be going all out for Saint Patrick's day, with a lot of people wearing green, some wearing giant hats, dying their skin, or wearing antennas(?).
  • Get some hiking socks (which I just treat as warm, durable socks) at REI, resist temptation to spend a lot of money on other things
  • Pick up Rushdie's Satanic Verses and the latest issue of the Middle East Journal at Joseph-Beth's, avoid temptation to buy books about the siege of Stalingrad and fail to find books on Chiang Kai-Shek
  • On way to beehive, celebration gets more intense, with a number of people in various states of drunkenness carrying other people in various states of drunkenness, people urinating on buildings on crowded streets, and people being almost as friendly as southerners. Celebration is not limited to any particular age demographic. I notice an unusual number of people who share my mixed-blood-gaelic look on the street.
  • Quick stop in one of my favourite pizza places - Flogging Molly is on, and it is loud and good. I manage to resist my urge to dance.
  • The Beehive is, like a TARDIS, an island of "something else" from the outside, with nobody wearing green or acting odd.

A slashdot post asked about perfect dream machines. Here's mine right now:

  • 19" laptop
  • 200G disk
  • 4G RAM
  • USB ports on both sides
  • has firewire
  • no legacy ports (PS/2, modemm, parallel)
  • has DVI out
  • wireless that works without ndiswrapper or any "binary firmware" loading nonsense
  • soundcard that has excellent ALSA support
  • gigabit wired interface
  • battery that lasts 12 hours between charges that's also swappable without powering down the system
  • CF card interface
  • high resolution with good 2d performance and open drivers (3d relatively unimportant)
  • 5 year comprehensive warranty
  • system is very very physically tough
  • CPU is relatively unimportant (POWER4 or PPC might be amusing, Amd64 would be ok, I'd prefer not to buy Intel).

There's been a fair amount of press about Wikia trying to make a new search engine to topple Google. I don't think it's too likely - there are some kinds of information that arn't well suited towards open, collective editing, and my intuition is that search engine scoring/design should ideally be handled by small groups of researchers who cut attempts to manipulate the system efficiently off and otherwise treat the endeavour with an attitude similar to scientists measuring the weight of elements. Involving the masses in weighing sites they're more likely to be involved in the creation of invites their ego to make the judgement (already likely worse because it's not dominated by an academic/scientific attitude) is charging right into a weak spot of Wiki culture. In short, I expect the result of searches on the created search engine to be worse. This isn't to say that it won't be very popular - I expect a lot of people to use it simply because they like the idea of Wikis (regardless of the quality of the results), and if it immediately has the userbase of Wikipedia's readers, that's nothing to scoff at. It'd be unfortunate if it did crush Google - while I like seeing open software and open culture growing large, for cases like this it represents a substantial loss in quality over the academic approach. If we then imagined Wiki-culture replacing traditional peer review, universities, the degree system, and peer review, I could hardly imagine a more catastrophic thing for western society - I'm sure a lot of anti-authority "it's just a piece of paper, and universities are really worthless" folk would love to see that result, but learning would suffer deeply. Has Wikipedia already done that for Encyclopedia? I don't think so - the encyclopedia as an institution was already dying before Wikipedia started. If one doesn't confine oneself to the articles that actually *should* exist, Wikipedia's quality is far worse than they were, and when one does, it's roughly on par (albeit more up-to-date and with sometimes surprisingly better or worse articles). I'd like to think of Wikipedia as an excellent first-draft for better things, and I hope sometime a second draft of a proper encyclopedia is pulled from the rubbish and polished up to shine - if this ever happens, it probably will happen by a third party or by a faction of Wikipedians that manages to get the funding needed to host their own site. I wonder if this would be more likely if the project fails and thus the mob-democracy-anarchy folk (e.g. this guy, who also appears to be with the Wikitruth goofballs) wander off. In sum, I don't know if Wikipedia's done much to Encyclopedia except put the last few nails in their coffin.

I'd like to go dancing again sometime - it's been too long. I'm not that fond of goth night at Pegasus, but might go if no other opportunities come up soon (and ideally if some people invite me along). I'd really like to go to Outland again soonish (hopefully that housewarming in Columbus will come together soon) or perhaps Albion in NYC. The fact that I met some cool, attractive, intelligent gals (plural!) at Outland who seemed interested in me the last time I was there really rocks.. Columbus actually has a lot of cool people.

Tags: wikipedia

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