The Thunderscan story

I’m surprised I never got around to mentioned this, when [I promised I would][nans second story]. Since it’s been years, go back and read it, and come back. I’ll wait.

In high school, I owned a [Thunderscan][Thunderscan]. For those of you too lazy to click on the link, this was a device that would digitize photos by replacing the ink cartridge of your ImageWriter, [a dot-matrix printer][dot-matrix printer], popular with Macintosh computers of the era.

(For those of you too young to remember what a dot-matrix printer is: in the old days, our printers were slow enough that you could watch an episode of *[Cheers][Cheers]* waiting for it to print out an article or “graphics” —the latter of which was whatever came out of [Print Shop][theprintshop]. And they were so loud, that a popular accessory was huge muffled box to place the printer in, in order to contain what can only be described as the primal periodical scream of the then nascent personal computer, “Why the f*&k do I have to be tasked for the next half our printing up a sinfully ugly banner for [your terrible P.T.A Yard Sale][review the print shop]?”)

Now imagine something that did the reverse (put print into the computer) by scanning it line by line. And realize that a typical “line” of text back then was actually 24 “lines” to this scanner.

This was a Thunderscan.

Continue reading The Thunderscan story after the jump→


I found [this comment][megan] amusing:

> Finally, [[Megan McArdle][megan mccardle]] as an approximately 6’ tall, moderately attractive woman — who likes guns — libertarian, objectivist, and conservative fan-bois glommed on to her like a million sperm all trying to fertilize the same egg, which provides its own kind of mockworthy spectacle

The college I went to had a 6:1 guy:girl ratio at the time. Being an institute full of socially stunted nerds just like me, they had their own word for when multiple guys talking to or associating with a single girl: “glomming.” While it has morphed beyond its original meaning—it is short for “agglomeration”—it has become part of our [urban dictionary][urban glom], and the above example shows it in its original definition.

One day during Rotation, I was hanging out on the Triple on the second floor, and watched “glom pools” forming around the night’s new batch of [Freshman][frosh] girls in the dorm’s courtyard below. The image of “a million sperm all trying to fertilize the same egg” is an especially apt description. I can trace a direct line to [my intense shyness][shyness] [around women][photographing women] to that singular and instructive moment.

– **glom** *v.t.* to accost a girl who is already surrounded by multiple guys
– **glommer** *n* a male who gloms serially
– **glom pool** *n* an aggregation of many guys around a single girl

Oh yeah, if any Techers at the time are wondering about all the hacked copies of [CrystalCaltech Quest][crystal quest] on campus—the one where [ResEdit][resedit] to add Caltechisms like the infamous and indestructable “glom monster” toward the end? That was me.

[megan]: “Open Park and Open Thread—Balloon Juice”
[megan mccardle]: “Megan McCardle—Wikipedia”
[urban glom]: “glom—Urban Dictionary”
[frosh]: “frosh—Urban Dictionary”
[photographing women]: “Collapsing the female wave-function”
[shyness]: “Ruby, Photography, and Women”
[crystal quest]: “Crystal Quest”
[resedit]: “ResEdit—Wikipedia. Hacking the game became so popular, they created their own tool which they built into later editions of the game.”

Crunchy granola-eating rib cages just asking to be nudged with a baton

Stephen Colbert finds his humor best, when people are at their worst:

It’s amusing to read right wing defenses of these actions. My personal favorite is “the clip is too short”—as if [you can’t use the googlez][occupy cal] to find that the full clip is even worse.

Another interesting one is that this is okay because Berkeley “accepts about 10-12% public money (or 88-90% private).” A cursory use of the google shows that they’re one quarter state funding. The other three quarters are from public AND private funding. For instance, any professor who brings in a grant (most grant, but not all, are publicly funded), has about 40% siphoned off by the university as overhead. This has always been the case. The university is also supported by [a $3.15 billion endowment][berkeley endowment].

(State funding used to be a much higher percentage of Cal’s budget, but was cut by the governator so the state could keep its prisons. The [largest single private grant to the university][bp grant] was done by [the hippies at British Petroleum][oil spill]. Those two facts explain why the “powers that be” at the University of California tacitly approved of these actions and [the one in 2009][2009 budget crisis].)

No matter, the discussion of “public” vs. “private” with respect to speech is a red herring. The [Free Speech Movement][free speech movement], which began in exactly the same place, settled this matter. Arguing that “pitching tents” is a bridge-too-far isn’t really going to save a lost cause when videos of your police dragging people by the hair and beating 4’10” asian girls in the stomach are going viral on the intarwebs.

But perhaps the most damning argument comes from [this observation][observation]:

> If we were to view the actions of police as Americans watching people attempting to gain their rights in a foreign country, we would find them appalling. Yet somehow there are those in this country who are all too happy to deny rights afforded to all Americans under the Constitution. The right of peaceful assembly is guaranteed and those who seek to deny them are ignorant of this “fact.”

Whether or not it is legal to “nudge with batons” to take down some students’ tents, it is clear what is right—which is why, I suppose it, [is a Right][first amendment].

> “The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence.
> —[UC Police Capt. Margo Bennet][use of batons]

> It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms and forming a human chain to prevent the police from gaining access to the tents. This is not non-violent civil disobedience.
> -[UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau][chancellor letter]

Good luck with that line of thought. [Bull Connor approves][Birmingham campaign]!

Clearly these people needs to be “nudged” in the rib cage by a police baton.

[chancellor letter]: “Message to the campus community about ‘Occupy Cal’—UC Berkeley News Center”
[2009 budget crisis]: “Nov-Dec ’09 News—UC BErkeley Budget Crisis”
[occupy cal]: “Occupy Cal 11/9/11 PART 1—YouTube”
[free speech movement]: “Free Speech Movement—Wikipedia”
[first amendment]: “FIrst Amendment to the United States Constitution—Wikipedia”
[use of batons]: “UC cops’ use of batons on Occupy camp questioned—SFGate”
[Birmingham campaign]: “Birmingham Campaign—Wikipedia. Bull Connor. “When the students crouched or fell, the blasts of water rolled them down the asphalt streets and concrete sidewalks.[68] Connor allowed white spectators to push forward, shouting, “Let those people come forward, sergeant. I want ‘em to see the dogs work.”.”
[bp grant]: “BP selects UC Berkeley to lead $500 million energy research consortium with partners Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, University of Illinois—Berkeley. I like this article because it tells me that in 2007 one of my physics/math professors is chief scientist at BP. Smart guy but he always was an asshole, so I’m not surprised.”
[oil spill]: “Deepwater Horizon oil spill—Wikipedia”
[berkeley endowment]: “Berkeley Endowment Management Company”

Last-Place schadenfreude is short-lived

It is said that the reason many poor are opposed to social programs that benefit them is [a fear of coming in “last.”][last place aversion]

If that is the case, the [impending implosion of the euro][euro ends], as [predicted for years by center-left economists][can europe be saved], offers a marked example of schadenfreude for us Americans.

Besides the obvious worry over whether the death spiral will reach our shores, there’s the question of how [Rupert-Murdoch-on-steroids][sylvio berlusconi] could run the third largest European economy (7th largest in the world) into the ground, what’s with right wing obsession with inflation in times of deflationary spirals, and why this prediction seemed to only have been made by liberals.

So my thinking is our laughter has a touch too much nerves.

[last place aversion]: “The “Last Place Aversion” Paradox—Scientific American”
[euro ends]: “This is the way the Euro ends—Paul Krugman @ New York Times”
[can europe be saved]: “Can Europe Be Saved?—New York Times”
[sylvio berlusconi]:

Learning Programming Part 4: "Programming is Hard"

Previously: [Part 1][programming1], [Part 2][programming2], and [Part 3][programming3].

> Programming, it turns out, is hard.
> —[Eloquent Javascript][eloquent javascript] (and typical)

A few months ago, a girl expressed to me her frustrations about, in particular, the attitude expressed many engineers on her attempts to learn to programming.

“They act like learning programming is hard. They imply that if you haven’t been programming since you were seven, there’s no hope for you,” she explained.

I opined, “If someone can learn to program when they are seven, then it must not be that difficult.”

Think of all the things you couldn’t do when you were seven—programming is less difficult than all of those.

[eloquent javascript]: “Eloquent Javascript”
[programming1]: “Learning Programming Part 1: 5 million”
[programming2]: “Learning Programming Part 2: Programming Frameworks”
[programming3]: “Learning Programming Part 3: C/C++ superiority”

Conan on a roll

Marie showed me two videos the other day from Conan’s new show on TBS.

The first is Triumph at Occupy Wall Street:

And the other is Louis C.K., who was there to promote [his new web-streaming comedy concert][louisck web] commenting on social media

Both were from the same episode.

[louisck web]: “Louis C. K. Plans Online Broadcast of Comedy Concert—Art Beats @ New York Times”

Super Tuesday

When I first moved to San Francisco, the PHP meetup group hadn’t had a meeting in a year. That was before [Touge][touge] took it up, and, along with [Mariano][mariano], does the hard work of actually scheduling people to come shoot the shit.

Apparently, it’s time for my shit to be shot.

[Tomorrow, I’m giving a talk][talk] at [SFPHP][sfphp] on [DevOps][devops] for PHP developers. I’ve giving this talk before as the [closing keynote][lineman phpcomcon] at [PHP Community Conference][phpcomcon] and [to sysadmins][lineman oscon] at OSCON.

> **Living without Your Linemen: The Programmer Becomes System Operator in the Cloud**
> If a website architect is the quarterback, then site operations is the offensive line—overworked, under-appreciated, and only noticed when it fails. They make you look good. However, four years ago cloud computing networks like Amazon Web Services and Slicehost have appeared. While deficiencies in frameworks in other languages have forced those worlds to adopt Infrastructure-as-a-Service, the PHP world—with it’s ultra-cheap shared-hosting (on one end) and tradition of dominance on some of the most trafficked websites (on the other)—has been slow to move. But as the technology continues to disrupt, modern web engineers will be expected to use their programming skills to not only build, but also provision and maintain fast, scalable websites.
> The efficiencies of a web-based language and experience in scalable website architecture offer a unique opportunity for programmers to transfer their skills when wearing a sysop hat. Not to mention some of the best libraries for programming them are written in PHP! When going from a small pet project to a go-live site, maybe we can learn to live without our linemen.

Trust me, you’ll like it.

[Please come][talk]!

Also, If you are an American citizen, go vote! :-)

[talk]: “Living without Your Linemen: The Programmer Becomes System Operator in the Cloud—SFPHP”
[sfphp]: “The SF PHP Meetup Group—SFPHP”
[touge]: “Grep My Mind”
[devops]: “DevOps—Wikipedia”
[lineman oscon]: “2011 07 Living without your Linemen—OSCON”
[lineman phpcomcon]: “Living Without Linemen—PHP Community Conference 2011″
[phpcomcon]: “PHP Community Cpnference”

Just keep shooting

One brunch, I noticed that a trio of my friends all had single-letter twitter names. I asked them to activate their wonder-tweet powers. They obliged:

@a @c @k
@a @c @k
Zazie’s, Cole Valley, San Francisco, California

Olympus E-P1, M.ZUIKO Digital 17mm 1:2.8 Pancake
2 exposures, 1/60sec @ ƒ2.8, ISO400, 17mm (35mm)

After discussing the [kissy ass face][kissy anus face] video, I asked my friends to pose one of the things that were “too dirty for [College Humor][college humor].”

Do the kissy-anus-face
Do the kissy-anus-face
Eddie Rickenbacker’s, SoMa, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Cosina-Voigtländer NOKTON 35mm F1.2 Aspherical
3 exposures @ 1/30sec, iso 320, 35mm (47mm)

One thing I like to do is keep shooting even after people are done posing, the smiles are more honest.

[kissy anus face]: “Jeff and I at the Rejection Show—Vimeo”
[college humor]: “College Humor”