Archive for February, 2011

Productive Weekend

13 February 2011 at 10:37 pm
by Berck

I’m rather proud of myself. This weekend alone, I’ve managed to do my Discrete Math proofs, write some documentation relating to my C++ project, do my C++ programming homework, do my assembly language programming homework, brew a batch of beer, and put new brake pads and rotors on Jonah’s car.

That leaves a lot of Calculus homework to do during the week, but it’s not due until Thursday. Not to mention all the stuff I’m sure I’ll have to work on for the next week. I’m not sure why I thought 18 semester-hours would be easier than it’s turning out to be. Somehow, with 14 hours, I had plenty of free time, but with 18 hours I’m not quite, but nearly overwhelmed.

I had a terribly frustrating ordeal with Amazon Marketplace sellers over the book for the Assembly Language class. I ordered the book by ISBN from an Amazon seller who listed it as being in “Like New” condition. It arrived damaged in shipping, but the seller was willing to refund 25% of the purchase price, so I soldiered on with it.

Until the third homework assignment, when I discovered that nothing in the book was giving me any useful information about the MIPS programming language, which is what this course focuses on. There was almost no MIPS information in the book at all!

I finally managed to determine that I had some third-world country edition of the book, which did not have the same ISBN number, but otherwise appears to be identical. Only, instead of focusing on the MIPS language, it focuses on ARM, which effectively made the book worthless to me.

The seller was clearly aware of what they were doing, as there was a section of the book’s cover cut out and carefully taped over. I suspect that’s the part that says, “Not for sale in the United States of America.” It’s a cute market segmentation scheme–sell your book for an insane price in the U.S., but sell the same book overseas for far cheaper. One of my classmates has the same calculus book I do, only his is in black-and-white and says “For sale in India only”. Since the marginal cost of production of a text book is very low, it makes sense.

Until, of course, someone re-imports your book. This author is clever and effectively made the book worthless for U.S. students, but didn’t actually damage the book by switching to ARM. There’s nothing wrong with learning ARM assembly instead of MIPS, but you need to focus on one or the other.

Lesson learned: when buying textbooks used on Amazon, check the ISBN and return it if it’s not what you ordered.

Pythagorean Porter

6 February 2011 at 7:48 pm
by Jonah


Label designed by Neal!

Flyboy

3 February 2011 at 7:10 pm
by Berck

Some time ago, Google started a webmail service. I managed to get an invite pretty early on as a result of knowing Jonah, and I was excited to be able to sign up for berck@gmail.com before any one else grabbed it. (Hey, you never know!) It turns out that Google, for some reason they have not disclosed, decided to limit e-mail addresses to a a minimum of 6 characters. It suggested Berck.Nachzen@gmail.com. I figured I might as well get something that someone else would want one day, and picked flyboy.

Boy was that a mistake.

Within a couple of years the flood of mis-addressed email started. There are, I estimate, hundreds of people with e-mail addresses that are some variation on flyboy. It turns out there are two main subsets of people who have decided to go by flyboy (I’m not suggesting these groups are mutually exclusive): African American Men and Military Aviators. (For what it’s worth: These groups appear to be equally stupid and equally interested in pornography.)

You’d think that most of the misdirected email would come from people who simply forgot to add the numbers to flyboy314159@gmail.com. Much of it, however, seems to come from people who simply don’t know what their own e-mail address is. Google sends me “click here to recover your forgotten password” e-mails several times a week–all requested by someone who is surprised they can’t log in to their g-mail account. I’m sure they remember the password, they’ve just forgotten that they’re not really flyboy.

I’ve also been signed up for countless email promotions from JC Penny to mail for expecting dads.

Totally unrelated: the following email just showed up in my UCCS inbox:

Hello UCCS Students,

Please be aware of these upcoming career opportunities:

1) Have you ever wanted to be a pilot??

Yes, yes, I want to be a pilot! How do I do it?

Anyway, people have paid for things like wifi internet accounts and pornography subscriptions using my account. A couple of years ago, someone signed up for Blockbuster video rentals with my e-mail address. I changed the account password, then filled their queue with things like “Manos the Hand of Fat” and “High School Musical”. Doing things like this insures that no only will the moron who doesn’t know his own e-mail address will be harassed, but also the company that fails to verify e-mail addresses.

Have you ever been annoyed by something that requires you to verify receipt of an e-mail before your account can be activated? These things used to annoy me, now I realize that all good sites should implement them. When I get one of those, all I have to do to avoid being further harassed by the site is delete the e-mail. (Frequently, though, such an e-mail is often followed by a Google password change request.)

Lots of e-mail I get as a result tends to be personal. For instance, a few weeks ago a prostitute negotiating a “party” got confused about an e-mail address and sent me the entire exchange. A few years ago, I managed to get on the forward list of a Jewish grandmother. It’s bad enough to get forwards from your own Jewish grandmother–no one should have to deal with those from someone else’s. When I told her that I didn’t know her and asked her to stop sending me e-mail, she said, “I’ll send e-mail to whomever I want.”

The niceness/nastiness of my response often depends on what I’m being forwarded. If you’re a right-wing moron, I’m probably going to be pretty mean. Often, I get aviation related forwards that I’m interested in. I usually don’t respond to those.

A couple weeks ago, I got an annoying forward about how Jane Fonda is a traitor. I responded with, “I won’t know who you are, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t send me email.” Response: “Its Uncle Howard. I’ll stop. Sorry”

People like to argue with me. Often they tell me that they don’t know how I get their e-mail, but they e-mailed someone that wasn’t me, and it’s obviously not their fault.

The latest is the mother of a person who is obviously a member of one of the aforementioned groups. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine which:

Hi aaron

i,m doing fine tring to get back to sending you some mail

glad to know that you are getting a little better each day you know that

all our help come from the good Lord we must keep our trust in him.

Love alway

Mamma (..) (..)

Ps Hi to all

I responded rather politely that she’d gotten the wrong e-mail address. I got another today.

O.give Thank to the Lord for he is good and his mercy indureth forever Psalm136

hi aaron ihope your day and nite will get better,dont let the devil put doubt in

your mind that no one care about you i believe Lisa does she just dont know how to deal with it she hurt just like you do some it hard for her to understand

but we all must keep on beliveing.sometime our hard trail come just when

God is getting to bless us.

Remember the children of Isreal just before the cross the red sea no where to go

and GOD derliver them and then did not have the Holyghost ha had dont gve up.

Loveyou

Mamma (..) (..)(..)