Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

Interesting observation when you look at the angle increments on a circle, equally divided down to the smallest integer intervals (45° apart):

0°, (Twelve o clock), 45° (1.30), 90° (3.00), 135°, 180°, 225°, 270°, 315° and 360° – all the digits of these divisions add up to exactly 9.

And when you multiply 9 by anything, the digits of the answer also add up to 9, (except multiples of 11 x 9, which have to be divided twice, as in:  11 x 9 = 99 -> 9+9 = 18 -> 1 + 8 = 9).  or 22 x 9 = 189, 1 + 8 + 9 = 18, 1 + 8 = 9).

I plugged some randomly high numbers into a calculator to test the theory beyond what I can do in my head, and here’s what I got:

9 x 103 = 1107. 1 + 1 + 0 + 7 = 9.

9 x 358 = 3222.  3 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 9.

9 x 774456 = 6970104.  6+9+7+0+1+0+4 = 27.  2+7 = 9.

9 x 1155 = 10395.  1 + 0 + 3 + 9 + 5 = 18.  1 + 8 = 9.  Incidentally, 1155 is 105 x 11: another multiplication of 11.

Going in the other direction, 9 is 3 squared.  In binary, 3 is written as 11.

Something I’ve been pondering lately is how our species love puzzles of all kinds, (from crosswords to Sudoku, Connect 4, jigsaws, chess, cryptograms, you name it.) But so many of the general populous of puzzle solvers are terrified or oblivious to the fact that learning to write computer programs comes from the exact same place & passion. If you hunger for mental challenges, putting pieces together, figuring your way through a maze or connecting dots for fun, then you could apply this pastime & hunger to something that will have so much leverage in your life, it’s phenomenal. Learning how computers work, and then how to expand this understanding to make them do more, was by far the most powerful thing I ever directed my hunger towards. I went from being terrified of touching Excel (because it did things I didn’t understand) to learning how to get under the hood, break down the walls and limits and make that one program do virtually whatever I wanted it to do. But getting there was just another puzzle and series of basic steps, to which I applied my crossword-brain.

I took some classes and have a ton of books about everything and anything; I learned several languages from C to php to VB to VBA to whatever. But to this day, the most important 2 things in my entire learning arsenal were:

1. A basic class on how computers work, which essentially said: “they are dumb”. They follow steps, and only when told to do so. They don’t make assumptions, and they need explicit instructions, or they can’t do anything.

2. A language-independent class on the fundamentals of programming. It taught me how to drop my assumptions, think in smaller and smaller terms about how things come to be, how to forget what I thought I knew, and then how to reconstruct my knowledge whilst paying attention to the things we tend to overlook, due to their simplicity. “Otto the Robot” was the most important puzzle I ever solved, and this was before I allowed myself to even consider what a development environment was.

When you make a program which automates and simplifies someone’s life, they look at you like you’re an alchemist. You just turned lead into gold, you just wove magic out of thin air. The inevitable next question is: “How can I learn to do THAT?”

The unfortunate answer is, “by becoming obsessed, dedicated, single-minded and applying hundreds and thousands of hours into wanting to do it, never accepting no for an answer, never accepting that something is beyond you, and by so much patience and self-forgiveness that nothing will beat you into submission, no matter how hard it tries.” (We make it look easy so folks often assume it is.)

For the first time in my life, my twisted obsessive personality worked in my favor, because I HATE not knowing things, I hate when something won’t work when it should, and I especially can’t accept this when I know that every single thing is made of a system of steps and checks.

Bottom line: If you like puzzles, then learn how computers work, and apply that passion towards making the world a better and more efficient place. Contrary to popular belief, there is no magic involved.


So Monday morning I’m operating on ~2 hours of sleep, and after work I have school.  Yay.

But that’s OK, because I’m invincible.  Cannot be vinced.  And I have a lockable car with reclining seats, for those rare lunchtime naps…

I noticed yesterday that through my Johnson & Wales network, I have a subscription to – this is crazy cool!

Since this discovery, I have listed about twenty video courses I want to take, and already watched about six hours’ of material.  Free learning is the best, especially for the subjects that aren’t that typically supported, without spending $$$ on classroom learning.   Good stuff too, really well-made from what I can tell.

So next week, I will be an expert in:


If you want any help with anything at all in the known Universe, let me know.  But no earlier than Friday, or my knowledge may contain gaps.


Today is gorgeous, and I need to shave my stubbly mush and get out there pronto, before the sun goes away. But that’s OK – plans are in place, razor is available and I just need to convince my lazy posterior to get off the chair and spring into action. I had a dream last night in which my fingers were bananas, and have been trying unsuccessfully to figure out what this means. You could call it ‘Fruit Claws Analysis’.

I drafted a new story for Machine of Death 2 this last couple of weeks, but it’s all over the place and requires effort I can’t be bothered to expend. The deadline I think is July 15th, so if I can get my act together by then I will send it in, but if not then I won’t lose any sleep either.

Trying to get re-enrolled for Fall classes, but I took too much time out this year so I had to re-admit into school; last class I took was Operating Systems in Fall 2010. It was all good though; during my break I learned php, MySQL, html, CSS, a little Javascript, and I started playing guitar again, after about 7 years off. I just got back in touch with some old friends from England, which was nice, and I have been writing some recreational funny non-fic, which I will post on the Understatement in a couple of weeks when things settle down.

This afternoon we’re going to a cookout at Ed and Noelle’s house, so get to play with them and their cool dog Joey and their cool baby Declan. I’m looking forward to it; I’ve missed those guys and need some easy, undemanding fun downtime. My other friend Andres just had a baby yesterday, my brother Nick is having a baby in about ten weeks, our friends Sean and Amy had a baby last month, who I got to meet recently, and so in the good news, procreation is still occurring, and life is like a Nora Ephron movie. This definitely beats the Tarantino movie life of last month, and will suffice through the summer, after which it’ll be more like Tron or Lawnmower Man, when I hibernate inside the grid ready for Winter.

And if you need some amazing music, here are 5 stations you MUST create on Pandora radio:

Beats Antique, Massive Attack, Hank Jones, Medeski Martin & Wood, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Right now, on Beats Antique, a dub-electronica-symphonic groove-string remix of Led Zep’s Kashmir is playing, by Bond, and it is blowing my mind.

It’s the end of a fun and mellow weekend, and a few interesting things transpired, such as:

Machine of Death has announced they’re putting together a sequel, taking submissions for vol 2 from sometime in May. Big question – do I want to write something new and submit to this one as well? The guidelines explicitly state that “NO PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT will be given to people published in Vol 1”. I think I probably do want to submit something new anyway; I have a few ideas, but actually sitting my arse down a writing something start to finish is the real litmus test. I bet this time they get more than 600 submissions, after the success of the first volume. They are also trying to sell film / TV rights, and have optioned the stories in vol 1 just in case. Fingers crossed!

Been tinkering on the site a little more today, mostly building database tables and populating it with fake users and companies, so I can play around and make sure only users working for company X can read / write to company X’s records, and will remain oblivious to company Y and Z’s information. I threw together a blank user login / index page too, but all it consists of right now is a form for the login info, a new-user registration link and a blank space for what will be the public sales pitch / demo / screenshots type stuff. Having to go back and do some more tutorials every step of the way for many of the individual things I wanna achieve, but it’s coming together pretty well. In the next few days I should be able to get the login page plumbed in, along with validation scripts and cookie / session data so concurrent users can access this at the same time.

I just picked up Zoe Heller’s new(est) book The Believers, and once again she is kicking my butt with how awesome her writing is. If you have not read her work before, I heartily recommend Notes On A Scandal. Awesome stuff. Last fiction I read was White Tiger while we were out in California, and that was really good as well, although it made me want to take several showers per chapter. And last night, we grilled chicken drumsticks, using Kingsford Charcoal laced with Mesquite chips, and the flavour of everything is enhanced soooooo much, it came out killah.

And probably the most amazing news of all: Popcap Games have launched Zuma Blitz on Facebook. This is one addictive weapon of mass distraction. Just… cannot… stop… shooting. I love it!

Geekery makes me calm. Can’t explain it, but my god it does. Coding / writing algorithms / debugging or just thinking about how stuff will work is one of the only things that puts me in a completely Zen place. I’m doomed, but happy to be so. I love it. I just need a pocket protector and a few zits, and then I will be perfect.

Last night I went to a Providence Geek meetup at AS220 on Empire Street downtown, and heard a presentation about the evolution of Providence software company Andera, by their CEO / founder Charlie Kroll. That was an interesting event & good presentation, met some pretty cool new folks and a couple of older friends, and also found out about some other neat local geekeries going on which are actually specific to php web development. How could I possibly abstain?

Today I finally wrapped my head around the potential of external Cascading Style Sheets, as well as the coolness of php include() statements and pulling in variables and page elements from external files. Getting used to working in fragments like this at first seemed like a somewhat unnecessary pain in the arse, but having played with it for some time, my opinion has completely flipped, and it makes updating anything really, really, REALLY really simple.

I’ve been working a little bit with some visual flowcharting representations of the QMS for work, and that quickly started to scream a need for html involvement. I don’t know how successful I will be getting all the toys / tools I would like to complete this task, but DreamWeaver would make it a whole lot easier and more fun. Or even some of the freebies, like Nvu and Bluefish would work. But being in a corporation means I can’t just go downloading stuff willy nilly, I have to go through channels or the IT police will arrest me. But if I’m a good employee this year and state my case poetically with a hint of poignant desperation, maybe Santa will bring me some software.

But for now, I’m tired, and need to go wash my face in lard, then eat a pound of chocolate and wrap a thick, grimy pink Band Aid around the middle of my glasses, and have a pen leak in my shirt pocket before bed.

Peasant dreams!

I liked this last few weeks, even though parts of it made me a bit blue; in the not-so-goods was: 4 of my favorite colleagues had their last days at work, one retiring and three moving onto new opportunities. That involved far more beer than I had intended, but they’re all worth it.

In the good stuff, I made some fine headway with the new web app, building significant templates for several of the key pages, and even coding in some Javascript that makes popups of varying sizes without navigation / URL / Menu or scroll bars cluttering up the place. I even coded in some buttons and form elements which don’t do much yet, but are now ready and waiting for that fateful day when they have a SQL table ready to catch whatever dear information they may hold, and deliver it safely into the guts of the Internet. Now I’m thinking about Drupal, and wondering if that would either help or hinder my learning experience.

I also had a birthday this weekend, which typically makes me feel strange and start contemplating mortality, and other happy morbid existential pensive ruminations, and I spent a whole lot of time revisiting my relationship with ye olde guitar, which is coming on stronger and faster than I had anticipated. (And maybe for the first time in my life, I’m loving it. I used to like it, but have never loved it.) Thinking about subscribing to Acoustic Guitar mag, and whereas I spent my life using electrics, I’m now suddenly engrossed in blues and jazz and crazy chords, and wayyyyyyyyyyyy focusing on developing a lightning fast and accurate fingerstylin’ right hand. Does this mean I’m getting old, just because I wanna be Robert Johnson combined with Bela Fleck and John Williams?

But I’ve already been far more productive than I intended, so for the rest of the day we’re continuing our mega sci-fi marathon, with Children of Dune. Desert Power, and Muad Fn’ Dib baby!

Here are some pictures of my new lurve; I have yet to think of a name…

This week is / was a doooooooozy, aka a coincidental cluster of circumstances which require me (and my workmates) to run round like blue-arsed flies balancing it. We have a Nadcap audit in progress, someone in my department just left and so I partially (temporarily) inherited Rolls Royce, and my regular backup is out for some different training, so I’m juggling and cartwheeling all the way to the asylum. But I’m determined to take this Saturday off, because Sunday morning I’m flying out to CA for a week, for training of my own. But… we had some great news this week, and one of my first programs I built in VBA has been put to amazing use by my colleagues, and yielded some pretty cool results which pleased one of our customers (and management) greatly.

And… I finally bought a pretty, solid-top classical guitar on Saturday, which having not played in several years feels good yet extremely clunky and awkward. And on Sunday, my nephew and I went to Dave & Busters Arcade and shot the hell out of zombies, terrorists and Terminators. The new T4 Salvation game is awesome, and the guns are badass, but the only downside is that you can’t bring yourself to stop playing until your wrists are screaming in agony.

So in the list of stuff I haven’t achieved:

* Didn’t work on the new web application

* Haven’t slept enough

* Haven’t shaved my head since last week, so it may require the electric shears prior to the manual razor

* I didn’t learn banjo, (although I never wanted or intended to); but I did listen to Bela Fleck a bit over the weekend

Tonight we’re just kicking back and watching a couple of Stargate Universe episodes on Hulu, and tomorrow the audit will be done, so things will start to settle down.

Since I started back at work, various things have attempted to impinge upon my sanity, as well as any extra free time I was planning on claiming as my own. But that’s OK, stress is banned from my life, and so I don’t feel it too often. Weird how a mental pause & reflection can control this stuff. Peter Carroll calls it ‘Sleight of mind’, and this works for me on a surprisingly frequent basis.

This week a couple of Excel applications I built using VBA went beta-live, and there were only a handful of bugs reported, which were relatively easy fixes. One of my colleagues is leaving next Friday, and so I inherited another pile of work, but have no idea how or when I can break from my already over-maxed days to train in this stuff. And even under normal circumstances, two (one) weeks is grossly insufficient to train for that particular job.

Laguna Beach is getting closer, & while I’m out there I’m goin to be seein my friend Aurelio O’Brien, who incidentally is not only just an excellent author, but has just released his new novel “GENeration eXtra TERrestrial” in eBook format, which is A: Great writing, B: A great story, C: Available in bite-sized chunks for a very bite-sized price in all the popular formats. Highly recommended stuff.

So this weekend I’m going to be doing very little other than maxin and relaxin. Maybe write a little, maybe some sitebuilding, maybe even some beer…

First things first, I hope the link I just wrote in longhand html works…

Dead Fish

Posted: February 22, 2011 in Life, Tech
Tags: , , , , , ,

And the routine is back underway.

Yesterday was OK, dragged a little bit, but all in all I survived. This weekend I got my predicted death certificate in the mail, via David Malki from – which alleges that my demise is going to be a result of “Cannery”. It really is a gorgeous cert too, embossed with a gold seal of authenticity, signed by Mandovar Excelsior – the minister of predicted deaths. So it has to be true. One day, a Cannery will be my destruction. That’s far more positive than a Can’tery or a Won’tery.

Built another template page last night, which is working out well, because it gives me something to scribble notes and arrows and directions all over, and gives me a pretty clear view of the stuff this site needs to do. Right now, it more resembles a dead fish. But a dead fish filled with promise and potential.

And now, I’m heading back out into the fray.