Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

Browsing Posts published in March, 2005

DrunkenBlog has yet another great developer interview, this time with Jon “Wolf” Rentzsch of Red Shed and mach_inject fame. Even though I’ve run into Jon several times at MacHack, I knew relatively little about him; especially not that he comes from a noble German family.

If you’re a developer, it’s a must read. Also, be sure to look up the other interviews, which I’ve been remiss not to point at before; especially the one with Brent and Sheila Simmons.

Follow-up; unfortunately it didn’t work out as well as I had hoped.

It seems that Firefox is limited to files under 2GB; at least it misreported the file size, which should be 2314MB, as 2097MB, and cut off the download at that point, with the final 200-odd megabytes missing. It also doesn’t support resuming downloads after quitting the application.

Several other tricks I tried to resume the download, or to download from the command line, also didn’t work. So I reported the issue to Apple DTS… let’s hope the actual DVD arrives sometime soon. It usually takes 2-3 weeks. icon_sad.gif

As the gentle readers who’ve met me in person probably know, I don’t own any socks.

It must be some sort of thermal disability, but the last time I recall borrowing a pair of socks to use inside my standard Birkenstocks was some 5-6 years ago when we went for a walk on the Columbia Icefield. A well-known anecdote about this features a slack-jawed landlady near the Titisee, where we went looking for a room in somewhat dismal weather, gasping “but… you have no socks on!” after opening the door.

Still, for one special case I’m all for socks. SOCKS, that is. I was stymied by trying to download a 2GB+ file from the Apple ADC Site. Apparently, my ISP interposes a transparent proxy cache which breaks downloads of such huge files over the standard HTTP port (80). So after beating my head against that wall for a few weeks, I chanced to ask Mike Ash about this, and he promptly came out with a recipe for doing it over a SOCKS proxy! And it has other nice side effects:

…This allows your traffic to traverse your local network without being visible to snoopers, even when visiting unencrypted sites.

It also allows you to appear to come from a different IP address, allowing you to defeat geolocation schemes. In particular, some credit card processors try to make sure that your credit card billing address is correlated with your IP address, which can be hard on us expatriates.

Thanks a lot Mike!

Here’s a follow-up

The original cargo cults were religions that appeared in the South Pacific after vast amounts of cargo were brought in, mostly during the World Wars. The islanders then tried to keep the cargo coming in by sympathetic magic. Richard Feynman referred to Cargo Cult Science as being something that imitates the superficial appearance, but not the inner workings, of actual science. The analogous Cargo Cult Programming is also known to any experienced programmer. It’s one of my favorite memes; I’ve observed Cargo Cult Business Administration and Cargo Cult Politics in action many times.

Now the always-interesting Language Log confirms yet another thing I had suspected: Cargo Cult Linguistics.

…I think it’s fair to call this “cargo cult linguistics”. Just as some post-war islanders in the South Pacific engaged in ritual imitations of the airstrip activities of foreign armies, in the belief these actions would bring them cargo, so some post-war philosophers in Paris engaged in ritual imitations of the analytic practices of linguists, in the belief that these actions would bring them insight. The islanders carved wooden radio sets and sat mumbling in imitation control towers; the philosophers invented semiotic terminology and sat disputing in Parisian cafes. And just as the failure of cargo to arrive as expected led to social crises and theological reformations in the South Seas, the failure of stable insight to emerge in Paris led to “rapid changes in theory” and to “mobile” concepts expressed in an increasingly opaque style.

I just stumbled upon a very interesting research result: “Fossil Records Show Biodiversity Comes and Goes“:

A detailed and extensive new analysis of the fossil records of marine animals over the past 542 million years has yielded a stunning surprise. Biodiversity appears to rise and fall in mysterious cycles of 62 million years for which science has no satisfactory explanation. The analysis, performed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley, has withstood thorough testing so that confidence in the results is above 99-percent.

And if I read the included graph correctly, the last mass extinction was about 60-some million years ago, so the current extinctions would fit in too. One of the researchers posits an astrophysical explanation:

“Comets could be perturbed from the Oort cloud by the periodic passage of the solar system through molecular clouds, Galactic arms, or some other structure with strong gravitational influence,” Muller said. “But there is no evidence even suggesting that such a structure exists.”

One of the books in my collection, Second Genesis by Donald Moffitt, also posited such a galactic feature and links it to mass extinctions; I think he even got the period about right. I really must dig the book up from my stack of less-frequently-reread books. I think it dates from the 1980’s.

It’s been some time since I updated my travel status; so here it is, courtesy of World66:

and the detail map for Europe:

As it happens, I took my old iBook on the trip and in my copious and interruption-free spare time worked on RBSplitView 1.0.4. Which is now available.

The major new thing here is animated collapse/expand. I also figured out how to undo some actions in the Interface Builder palette, and fixed this and that… just the sort of detail work that’s hard to do in the normal course of events.

Hopefully now I’ll be able to get back to work on XRay 2.0. icon_wink.gif

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