Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

the introvert inside

[via Dylan]: An atlantic monthly article, Caring for Your Introvert. For a while I thought I was an introvert. Then I thought I neither introverted not extroverted (just plain me). Reading this article, I assume I'm back in 'column one,' at least as far as a sweeping generalization like that can apply to any single person.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 22, 2003 at 8:10 PM

fusionone's syncml service

Russ has posted an interesting entry on FusionOne's new SyncML service for mobiles. Cool. I used FusionOne's service for quite a while, and I was happy with it (I was a paying subscriber) but in the end to do all I wanted to do with it I needed a different app. Outlook didn't cut it, and I didn't like the fact that all my personal data was in FusionOne's vault, secure as it might be. Peer-to-peer sync between my own machines is definitely the way I want it to be, and that's were spaces is going.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 22, 2003 at 4:12 PM

the hydrogen car

An article describing a test run with GM's hydrogen-powered car, a $5000000 prototype. A bit too much hype for my taste, but still interesting.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 22, 2003 at 4:04 PM

purify rocks

A short detour from my usual Java-oriented commentary...

As I'm finishing the implementation of my thesis work, I've been testing the system a bit more. It's written in C++/Win32 and runs both in Windows and PocketPC. Yesterday, a horrific bug appeared as I was stress-testing some new functionality. The program was crashing with a mysterious message that said that I was trying to "relocate" KERNEL32.DLL. WTF? I thought. I dug in. Hours of debugging and I was getting nowhere. I knew that somewhere there was a memory overflow, but couldn't figure out where. I'd been working on it for 10 hours straight. It was 4 am. Being tired was certainly a factor. Then I remembered Purify.

I had used Purify at my last job when checking for leaks on an ActiveX IE Control. Back then, it had been a huge timesaver. So I downloaded the evaluation version (2 hours through my puny modem connection) and went to sleep.

I woke up about 5 hours later, feeling like crap but slightly refreshed. I installed purify. After some minimal fiddling with VS.NET's settings, I recompiled and Purify immediately flagged the problem. Bingo!

The problem was an assignment overflow on a statically allocated array, when copying character data with strcpy. Now, my question is, why is it so hard for VC++ to add a check that you are not writing beyond the allocated size, at least in debugging mode? I'm not talking about anything sophisticated here. strcpy, since it's copying strings, knows perfectly well the length of data to be copied. Why not add a check? I can't find any practical reason for not doing it.

In any case, the bug was fixed, the code now works, Purify once again to the rescue. If it didn't cost a fortune I would buy it to run it permanently on my C++ code.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 22, 2003 at 4:02 PM

the new "synergy" in media

A Salon article covers a strange 'scandal' involving Rupert Murdoch's News Corp:

[...] In December, News Corp.'s scandal sheet, the New York Post, reported in its Page Six gossip column that an unnamed baseball Hall of Famer had been blackmailed into cooperating with a best-selling biography about him -- blackmailed under threat that the unnamed woman writer would otherwise claim the Hall of Famer was gay. At the time, the blind item got almost no attention.

Now, as it turns out, Sandy Koufax, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Hall of Famer, is the subject of the only recent best-selling baseball biography written by a woman (Jane Leavy's "Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy"). It also turns out that Koufax has quit as a special instructor for the Dodgers because the team is also owned by the News Corp.

[...]

Their book. Their tabloid. Their team. Their scandal. It is a spectacular example of synergy, working at its most efficient (when all moral, ethical and professional standards have been eliminated from the process and thus cannot gum up the works).

"Synergy" indeed! Very impressive (if unsettling). What I can never understand is how journalists let themselves be pulled into this. I mean, someone must be writing these articles right? Strange.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 22, 2003 at 3:50 PM

history repeats itself

Here's an interesting op-ed from today's New York Times. Quote:

ith our troops massed against Iraq, Americans are apprehensive and divided. The polls show us still torn between containment and war, between the instinct to give it time and the yearning to get it done. We worry about civilian carnage, American casualties and terrorist reprisals, about further shocks to a shaken economy, about being a nation alone. The Pentagon is ordering body bags by the thousand.

President Bush has enlarged the war agenda: we are not just eliminating a threat, we are delivering a promise of democracy to a region steeped in tyranny. Many, though, remain suspicious of his motives. "No Blood for Oil," the protest placards insist, and others mutter that this is somehow, too much, about Israel. The question of what comes after war has revived our longstanding fear of getting bogged down in unfriendly places.

Colin Powell, after trying to slow the march to war, has fallen loyally into step with his commander in chief. But the world, whose collaboration we crave, is in no hurry. The Germans are paralyzed by war angst. The French, deeply invested in Saddam and always happy to tweak the Americans, have been maddening. Democrats are straining for a way to be patriots without forfeiting independent judgment. The pope is calling for more "dialogue." Susan Sarandon is rallying opposition outside the United Nations. Saddam watches it all on CNN, and assures us we will be bloodily humbled.

Ah, the memories. The paragraphs above are constructed entirely from coverage of our national mood in the winter of 1991. Reading those old files made me wonder if maybe George Santayana was only half right: even those who remember history are condemned to repeat it.

Spooky.

Related to this, a Salon article that talks about the "human shields" positioning themselves on Iraq.

Categories: personal
Posted by diego on February 22, 2003 at 3:41 PM

nature as a model

Nanostructures that are designed following the pattern of a creature:

Taking a cue from a starfishlike marine creature, scientists at Bell Labs have created what they say are high-quality crystals that may one day help improve communications networks and nano-devices.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 22, 2003 at 1:53 AM

coding from scratch

A cool interview with virtual reality pioneer Jaron Larnier. Quote:

Currently, he is working on something he calls phenotropic computing, in which the current model of software as "protocol adherence" is replaced by "pattern recognition" as a way of connecting components of software systems.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on February 22, 2003 at 1:51 AM

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