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Sat 18 Dec 2010 by mskala Tags used: , , ,

Very soon I'll be taking down and packing my main desktop computer. Although I'll still be able to read and write plain text email and make Web log postings after that, I won't really have full connectivity again until early January. In particular, you should not expect me to be able to see anything sent as an attached file, such as photos or video clips. That means you, Mom.

Yesterday (Friday) was my last day of work in Waterloo. When I left the apartment about 6:20am, I saw that the dead computer I'd left at the curb the previous night was still there; but the box of dead computer parts I'd left sitting on top of it was gone. If there were only one party removing electronic waste, that would be a very bad sign - it would suggest they weren't willing to take the computer. But there might well be more than one party involved. I noticed that the front panel had been popped off, which suggested someone had at least taken a close look at the computer even if they didn't remove it.

Today (Saturday) I got back from the 'Loo at about 1pm, having spent the night there. I see that although the computer is now basically gone, the side panel from it is lying bent where the whole machine had been. That's quite interesting, since removing that panel, not to mention bending it like that, would require tools - either to undo the screws holding it in place, or (more likely given it was bent) rip it off by brute force. I don't think an unaided human could do that. But why would anyone bother anyway? The City staff presumably wouldn't if they were just going to haul it away for recycling. My best guess at this point is that someone unofficial ripped the machine open in order to see what was inside, decided they liked what they saw, and took it away, leaving the panel in the snow. I don't mind - I'm happy to have it go to anyone who wants it - except that if they decide they don't want it after all once they figure out just what it is and that it doesn't work, I sure hope they will dispose of it properly.

I was up until 4am this morning, sitting in the bed and breakfast in Waterloo, communicating via Skype, SVN, SSH, and email with my Toronto-based co-authour about our ACL paper submission (due at 3am Eastern). We were doing the experiments for the paper at the last minute and had to scale them back a lot in order to fit them in in time and even then they produced results less good than we'd hoped for so it required some tricky writing to explain why our technique was still valuable, and as of about 6pm last night when I left the university campus I'd thought we were probably going to just hold this paper back, work some more on it, and submit it later to somewhere else. But my co-authour wanted to forge ahead and make the attempt for this conference, so there I was, sitting in an office Christmas party with my laptop, struggling with the encrypted wireless connection and the aptly-named "WPA supplicant," writing the paper and collating the experimental data. I don't know if it will get in. I don't even know if, when I go read our submission now that the alcohol and caffeine have worn off, it will even make any sense. But the bottom line is that, as with many other things in my life, I didn't want it to be possible for it to be said that I was the one who made it fail by not doing enough.

Now, although there are surely people who would like me to come visit from time to time, I have no specific obligation to ever go back to Waterloo again.


"I have no specific obligation to ever go back to Waterloo again."
That a good thing or bad thing? Steve - 2010-12-20 17:14
It's a good thing. Matt - 2010-12-20 17:39

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