nvidia drivers

I just noticed that some people are working on reverse-engineering nvidia’s graphics chipsets. Sweet. Maybe we can someday get a decent 3D- (and 2D-) accelerated open source video driver.

Maynard Ferguson Passes

Just read that Maynard Ferguson passed away yesterday. I wasn’t a huge fan of his playing style, but nonetheless I have to respect his skill. I heard him play live sometime in HS, and I was quite impressed. Shame…

Cognitive Dissonance

While I generally consider myself a liberal (socially at least, even if I’m generally financially conservative), I enjoy reading about the opposition. Unfortunately, I get the impression that the opposing viewpoints will just never find compromise.

Take this article, for example. Summary: “liberals do not appreciate the seriousness of the terrorism threat”. And maybe we don’t. Sure, 9/11 was a terrible occurrence. But if you consider lives lost to terrorist attacks in the United States over the past 50 years (or whatever), it’s pretty insignificant. Somewhat ironically, we might find that the lives lost in our own retaliation for terrorist attacks (e.g., Afghanistan) might rival or even eclipse that number. (I’m not saying that’s the case; I’ve done no research on this topic.)

This article seems to miss the point on several of its arguments, however. I don’t view Iran as a terrorist threat. Sure, their government has a nuclear weapons program. But that has very little to do with terrorism, unless, of course, Iran plans to arm terrorist groups, an accusation for which I believe there is no evidence. Iraq also has nothing to do with terrorism. Saying you are against the war in Iraq has nothing to do with your stance on fighting terrorism.

So all that’s left is the attempt to make fun of the liberal mindset on preserving due process and civil liberties:

Liberals: Stop the illegal wiretapping and torture! Conservatives: Hah! Stupid bastards, we just prevented a terrorist attack based on what you call illegal wiretapping and torture!

Maybe liberals are just idealists? Maybe some liberals are willing to allow a couple attacks to succeed if the only way to stop them involves an unacceptable erosion of rights? It’s hard to draw the line. What if I were a passenger on one of the planes earmarked for destruction? Could I honestly say I’d rather die than to be preemptively saved through means I find reprehensible? I’m not sure I could. Would I, as a potential policy-maker, be willing to make that decision for others? I don’t know.

I’m often torn on the point of emotional detachment. On one hand, I feel like policy decisions should be made without regard to anything but the cold hard facts. Is A, B, and C an acceptable consequence of doing D and E, based solely on numbers and an objectively measured effect? In this case, are lost lives worth the preservation of what I consider essential liberties: reasonable expectations of privacy and due process? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.

But on the other hand, there’s always a human element. We are emotional creatures. An objective, emotionless response to a problem may seem neat and tidy from a logical perspective, but ignoring how people (including yourself) feel about any particular decision doesn’t make sense from a human perspective. People will have an opinion – often a stong emotionally-driven opinion – on any decision that has the potential to affect lives. Even if I can say that yes, I’d be willing to sacrifice lives for an ideal, that’s too abstract. What if one of those lives turns out to be someone I care about? But does that even matter? Greater good and all that?

I’m not sure where else I’m trying to go with this. Maybe nowhere.

They've Already Won

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the terrorists have already won. Apparently now it’s a terrorist act to buy a large quantity of cell phones. Oh, and it helps if your ethnic background is Middle-Eastern as well. Such bullshit.

Drunk and Sober

The BBC has a couple amusing articles on the five stages of drunkenness, followed by the five stages of sobering up. Funny stuff.

Misc Stuff

I’m currently working on a new, more minimalist design for my website. It’s not finished yet, but you can preview it here.

I actually did a little hacking on Xfmedia earlier this week. Unfortunately I find myself forgetting fine details of the direction I wanted to take with the reorg, so I feel like it’ll be a while before I really jump into it hardcore again. On the other hand, I’m having second thoughts about parts of that document, so maybe it’s a good thing that I’m re-evaluating and possibly redesigning some portions.

I attempted to update Xfce Bugzilla to 2.22.0 yesterday, but running checksetup.pl failed with some weird error about the parameter ‘languages’ not existing. I messed with it for a little while, but ended up downgrading back to the latest stable in the 2.20 series.

I’m also working on a Xfce debugging guide for people with crashes or unexplained behavior who want to help out. I’m seriously getting tired of answering the same “how do I get a backtrace?” questions. I’m also tired of people posting straces in bug reports. While an strace might be the easiest thing to get, and it may look impressive in the amount of output it generates, in my experience it’s useless in fixing most crash bugs. A stack dump at the crash from the debugger is really the best way to go. Bonus points if it’s done on a debug build with symbols unstripped and no compiler optimisations. Double bonus points if the supporting libraries have debugging information too.

Anyway, this guide isn’t finished yet, but I’d appreciate some feedback. Already I see it’s gotten way too wordy and long. Probably some parts of it should be broken down into concrete steps instead of paragraphs, and maybe it should be separated out into two separate guides, one being more of a FAQ to help figure out what part of Xfce crashed, and the other more of a generic how-to on gdb. Not sure yet. As I said, comments (either here or via email) are appreciated.

Mental Weirdness

Interesting. From Slashdot:

I find that when spending too much time looking at the same code, it starts becoming ‘vague’ and I feel as if I’m in a fugue. It’s akin to the same thing as writing a story or some e-mail and thinking that you’ve misspelled the words ‘it’ or ‘and’. It may very well be correct, but it looks foreign and you try to fix something that isn’t broken.

That’s so weird. Something similar happens to me sometimes, but with spoken words. Occasionally when I’m speaking, a word will just sound very strange and out of place – almost foreign. If I stop and think about it, and repeat it a few times, it just doesn’t sound right, like I’m trying to pronounce a word I’ve never said before, and I’m not getting it quite right. It’s usually a simple word, like “toast”. If I let it go, and think about it hours later, everything’s fine, but if I keep at it, it all seems to get much stranger.

I guess it’s good to know I’m not the only one with weird language issues sometimes.

What Not to Say

A phrase you never want to see in a bug report assigned to you: “Please correct this issue.” Really? Because bug reports are actually just a forum for people to complain, and me to just stare at and think, “Hahaha, look at all the people with problems; let them suffer!”? Because I’m somehow beholden to you to make everything all right? Try some tact and learn some manners, moron.

Sorry, I’m just a bit cranky this morning, and that set me off.

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