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Jan. 19th, 2010


Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens.
-- Duke Leto Atreides, Dune

This past week, after nine and a half years with CSAIL and its predecessor, LCS, I announced my resignation. I prefer, however, the term "graduation." I've been with CSAIL for its entire history, and for my entire professional career. I started work at LCS in 2000, while still an undergrad at Northeastern. When the need to build an infrastructure from scratch presented itself with the formation of CSAIL, my group merged with its counterpart from the AI Lab to form TIG, and we set to work. With what I believe were very limited resources, particularly on the personnel front, we accomplished what I believe was a small miracle when we coordinated the new Lab's move to the Stata Center while also redefining how computers would be used and managed at the Lab in the coming years. In the time since then, I have worked on numerous projects within TIG, ranging from email service to GNU/Linux installation systems.

Preparing the Lab for life after my departure has been interesting. It's not the sort of thing I have any experience with. Every once in a while, when talking about long-term plans for some service or system, it will occur to me that I won't be here to see those plans to fruition. When interviewing candidates for the two open positions within TIG, I'll occasionally have to stop and remind myself that the candidates won't end up being my coworkers, but rather my successors. It's hard to come to grips with the thought of leaving behind a lot of things that I've built and maintained for years, to say nothing of the relationships that I've (slowly) cultivated with my coworkers and other CSAIL members.

It's been observed countless times over the years that one never really leaves CSAIL. Once the Lab gets its hooks into you, it doesn't let go easily. Whatever that means for me personally remains to be seen, but no matter what happens, you'll never be able to get all of me out of the Lab, or all of the Lab out of me.

My first day at LCS was August 14, 2000. My last day at CSAIL will be January 29, 2010. Next stop, sunny California.

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Apr. 5th, 2009

Things that sour a good ride

Things occasionally happen while biking (usually on the road, not in the woods) that leave me in a foul mood even if the ride was generally great. One of those things happened today.

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Feb. 25th, 2009

My computer is things

So, I know it's probably lame, but at the same time, I'm kind of amazed. While playing around with's API, a program that I wrote downloaded some postings that were written in Eastern encodings of some sort. What amazed me was how it just sort of happened, without me thinking about it. I'll admit that I almost never use characters outside of ASCII, but I had always been under the impression that there was something "hard" about handling international character sets. Maybe I'm totally wrong, or maybe that used to be the case, but if it was, it doesn't seem to be now.

Just for fun, figuring "OK, that was too easy, this has got to break," I copy+pasted some of this text into emacs. Holy crap, that worked too!

I'm sort of dumbfounded.

Jul. 2nd, 2008

knee pain, etc

Last tuesday's ride hurt my knee. Bleh. So I'll never go riding last tuesday again! Hopefully Thursday's ride will be nicer to me. The strange and unpleasant thing, though, is that I don't think I did anything to hurt myself. The pain seemed to be behind my kneecap, and it made it really difficult for my knee to support any weight. Bending it past about 90 degrees felt weird, as though there was some swelling or inflammation behind the kneecap. I took an anti-inflammatory on Tuesday afternoon, and by evening things seemed OK. By Wednesday morning, I felt only the faintest discomfort. Dirt Rag and Bike have both had articles within the past year or so about knees and knee pain, so I'll have to go dig them up and see if there are stretches, exercises, or other suggestions for avoiding this sort of thing. It hurt bad enough that it could mess my riding schedule up, which would suck.

It's too bad it hurt, because it was a good ride. I've been riding a lot this summer, and am generally feeling that my abilities are improving all around with the more riding I do. I'd hate to have to back off or something.

On an unrelated note, I've been thinking a bit about nutrition, mostly in terms of post-ride recovery and on-ride hydration and electrolyte replacement. The selection of products on e.g. Jenson USA is large enough to make it quite difficult to settle on a particular product. I like Clif Bars for food during rides, and maybe there are enough carbs and electrolytes in them that I don't need to worry about a special drink, but I'm not sure.

Mar. 7th, 2008

crm114 + spamassassin

In response to madduck's wishlist bug requesting the addition of Martin Schütte's crm114 plugin to Debian's Spamassassin packages, I've been using this plugin for the past few days to get a feel for how well it works and how it might be integrated into the package. Although the configuration requirements make it unlikely that this plugin could be used by default (if this is even desirable), once it's set up it does seem to work quite well. Read more...Collapse )

Feb. 9th, 2008

Dear Microsoft

You can take my Flickr and when you pry them from my cold dead hands.

Damn you. Go away.

Feb. 4th, 2008

The Superbowl.

I guess the NFL asked the right question with their playoff slogan "Who wants it more?" It was pretty clear last night that the Giants wanted the Superbowl title more than the Patriots did. It was pretty tough to watch as the Patriots were outplayed and outcoached. Read more...Collapse )

Jan. 16th, 2008

Mike Huckabee is the anti-American

I'm not sure which interpretation of the First Amendment Mike Huckabee subscribes to, but I guess it really doesn't matter. Who needs to worry about the constitutionality of your laws when you plan on rewriting the Constitution?

Maybe Mr. Huckabee could try getting all the gods of all the various religions together to discuss this. I guess if every god (included those that don't exist) agreed with Mr. Huckabee, then his position might belong in the Consitution. (Yeah, right.)

Jan. 13th, 2008

Update on

I'm sure somebody out there is wondering what's up with, given that it's now been over two months since I last posted about the problem. It turned out that the machine was still quite unstable, suggesting that the problem was not likely related to a cooling issue. Suspecting some other, more obscure, hardware problem, I accepted an offer of a donation of a new Raq2 that reached me via the debian-mips mailing list. Unfortunately, the new hardware showed the exact same problem. Eventually it was determined that a software problem was at fault. Ralf Baechle, one of the linux MIPS maintainers, indicated that he was working on this bug, so I've been patiently waiting to see what he came up with. Two days ago I built a kernel from the current git head, and am currently testing the new kernel's stability by building iceweasel. The build has been running for 16 hours (!) and hasn't died yet, so let's consider that a good sign....

Nov. 24th, 2007

What does a cowsay?

I decided to start learning Ajax programming recently. I've been meaning to for quite a while. So, as a simple exercise in Ajax, I created a web interface to cowsay! And the web just got a little dumber. Moo!

I've been told that this doesn't look right on Windows. I guess it needs DOS-style line endings in pre-formatted text. Yuk.
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