Solipsism Gradient

Rainer Brockerhoff’s blog

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Trying out this newfangled Twitter thing… hopefully it’ll mean faster updates on the latest memes.

So far, I like it. Took out a few hours to build a starting list of people to watch; it’s an oddly familiar neighborhood, of course, as it duplicates parts of my list of chat buddies, RSS feeds and so forth.

In a way it’s a slow-motion, somewhat less coherent, version of IRC. Which is actually a good thing.

Connectium Tremens

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My ADSL line has been down for almost 24 hours now – and it’s promised to be up in a few hours. But then, they already said that yesterday, to no effect . icon_rolleyes.gif First time it’s been down in over a year, so I can’t complain much.

I’m posting this from my neighbor’s poky connection; if you’ve e-mailed me in the last 24 hours, my apologies. It may still take some time before I can reply.

Re: Quay vs. 10.5.2

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Just after I posted here a week ago disaster struck, by way of a pulled muscle in my lower back – courtesy of 4.5 hours in a non-reclining airplane seat.

While nothing irreversible seems to have happened, during this week I was unable to stand, sit, lie down, work, sleep and so forth for longer than a few minutes; too few to count as useful for any given activity. The pain is finally starting to recede and hopefully will allow some work over the weekend.

I have quite a lot of preliminary work and testing done on Quay 1.1. I can’t give any details yet, of course, but the changes purported to be in Mac OS X 10.5.2 will, at the same time, make things easier in some areas and harder in others.

During the week I’ve also had time to think about installation and deployment, and decided on a new approach to those. Not surprisingly it will need Yet Another Complete Recode™. Still, I’m confident that it’ll be a better user experience. Details over the weekend (I hope).

Déjà Vu

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Just saw this over at Amazon:

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use.

…Start, terminate, and monitor as many instances of your AMI as needed, using the web service APIs.

Pay for the instance-hours and bandwidth that you actually consume.

…Amazon EC2 passes on to you the financial benefits of Amazon’s scale. You pay a very low rate for the compute capacity you actually consume.


History repeats itself… this is very close to what we used to operate with in my mainframe days. You punched out a job control deck and ran a job that used a virtualized instance of the OS. Later on you’d get billed by so many seconds of actual CPU time, I/O bandwidth, and storage. In fact, my M.Sc.-thesis-to-be (1975, I vaguely remember) was about implementing just such a billing system.

So The Onion said:

Hallmark Scientists Identify 3 New Human Emotions

…In 2002, McMurrough monitored the MRI activity of nearly 10,000 test subjects between the ages of 25 and 40 as they described all emotions they had experienced in the past six months and rated each for its intensity, duration, and whether it would be conveyable to others by mail…

The first emotion the project successfully isolated was “requiapathy,” the combination of relief and guilt that comes with the sudden realization that you no longer miss a dead loved one. That discovery quickly led to the uncovering of “seprudity,” the feeling of appreciating a coworker’s dedication without fully understanding his or her job function, and “trepatiousness,” a synthesis of rage and jealousy, though more muted and often accompanied by a sensation of weight-lessness.


Of course Hallmark was interested only in emotions that might be “[interpreted] in warm, concise verse; inoffensive, ingratiating humor; and reassuring pastel watercolors” to quote further from the article. What they neglected to say was that several other emotions were also identified, and I present a few of them for your edification.

Debloggery: the combination of guilt and panic felt when you realize you haven’t blogged anything for at least two weeks, and may have even forgot the password to do so.

Backupenia: the first stage of what you feel when your hard drive was wiped out and your only backup disk refuses to mount properly. The following stages are “disconnecticity” (blaming it on the cable and rushing out to buy a handful of new ones) and “declaimitance” (pretending to everybody that you actually wanted to initialize your drive anyway and the lost data were of no significance).

Retradelessness: the sinking feeling you get when you discover, upon returning from the store with your new Mac, that the Apple Store web page is offline in preparation for new products.

Fartusity: the rapid succession of superiority and that “uh-oh” feeling when you whip out your trusty 10″ slide rule at a job interview and the interviewer asks if it runs Linux.

Applemunity: the smugness you, as a Mac user, feel when you overhear two Windows users complaining about viruses.

My ISP of choice for the last 2+ years, DreamHost, has been having a string of bad luck the last few months. Server outages, power problems, you-name-it. As usual, lots of people complained and some even switched providers. Then DreamHost’s CEO posted a self-confessed super-lame apology in their characteristically snarky style; Jesper summed it, and the majority of user’s feelings, up pretty well.

I must say I’m more relaxed about this. They (or at least the server I’m on) have, on the average over the last two years, had less downtime than the ISP I used before for longer than that – one that was 2 minutes away from my home, run by personal friends, yet in the end couldn’t do what I needed to. They’re located in a convenient place very near (in ping time) to my user base. They offer all the technical conveniences I need. Their bandwidth and space limits are so ridiculously large I never worry about them. And best of all, they’re inexpensive – with the rewards program those 2+ years have so far cost me about $200, and I still have almost that much in credit; if this goes on, I never will have to pay them again. (Click here to sign up and I’ll get yet another reward! Thank you!) Yes, if I had a high-traffic e-commerce site that needed 100% 24/7 availability I would probably host it elsewhere. And pay at least 10 times as much. Make that 20. Or 50…

Not catching up.

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A few years ago, when I was still getting the idea of this blogging thing, I made a serious effort to stay “in the know”. I read most of the Mac websites, I had 390+ feeds in my news reader, I posted links to interesting blogs, I tried to comment on the hot issues of the day. No idea how successful that was (depending on your definition of “successful”), but one side-effect became apparent after a year or so: no useful work on my applications got done. There are just so many nanoseconds in a day.

Perhaps the main cause of that was my overly-zealous polishing of each sentence – writing in what is, after all, my fourth language isn’t that easy – but if there’s any obsessive-compulsive polishing that must be done it would be better applied to my code than to my text. Right? On the other hand, there are people who tell me they like reading what I post here, if only to keep up-to-date with my trips. And the whole thing was, after all, just a sideshow to my support forums… no sense in closing it down.

So, I’ll probably not comment after the fact on most of the various issues du jour here… there have been an awful lot of them lately. I won’t even take the trouble to find links to them now. Let’s see, there was the AirPort security thing, the HIG-is-dead/Disco thing, the MacHeist controversy, the iPhone came-out-but-not-really flap, the options scandal is still going on, I still can’t comment on Leopard, yadda yadda.

My late father worked at a large company and he used to tell with some relish a story about how he used to sort the requests that crossed his desk into “not urgent”, “normal” and “extremely urgent” piles. His usual mode of operation was to ignore the “extremely urgent” stuff until someone asked after a particular item at least twice; it turned out that most of them were never followed up at all! The lesson has served me well. Many of those hot issues have a short half-life, emitting lots of sparks but decaying very soon into plain, dull lead. Nothing like letting a few weeks or months pass to get the proper perspective…

In the meantime, yes, suddenly I’ve been able to get lots of polishing done on XRay II. Keep tuned.

Oops. Sorry

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You may have noticed that this site has been down for about a day… seems that I inadvertently let the domain expire, because the e-mail at the registrar was pointing to a defunct address. A previously unnoticed side-effect of my switching to DreamHost 18 months ago.

All is being sorted out now, and I apologize for any inconvenience.

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