It's so hard to find good help

Saturday 21 November 2020, 08:51

Your friend Andy tells you that he's planning to move to a new apartment next Saturday, and asks you to help. How do you help Andy? Maybe you'll show up at the old place on Saturday, help him load boxes onto the truck, and unload them at the new place. Helping Andy means participating in the achievement of his goal - actually doing some of the work yourself so that he doesn't have to.

The bridge across Avon Gorge

Thursday 12 November 2020, 10:45

The question has come up of building a bridge across the Avon Gorge. Davies, who manages the funds, says the project must be abandoned because it is technically impossible. Isambard, the engineer, says it can be done.

Clifton Suspension Bridge

The painting of Boyarynya Morozova

Monday 2 November 2020, 19:13

Since about 2016 I've been using this image as the banner on most of my social media profiles. It is a painting called Boyarynya Morozova by Vasily Surikov, depicting Feodosia Prokopiyevna Morozova (the term Boyarynya is a title of nobility similar to "Duchess") being dragged away in chains in 1671 at the order of Tsar Alexis I. She was tortured and imprisoned until dying of starvation on November 2, 1675; 345 years ago to the day, as I'm writing this. These events were part of an upheaval called the Raskol in the Russian Orthodox Church during the mid-17th Century, which led to Morozova's faction splitting off to become the group known as the Old Believers, who still exist, but are rather few and obscure, today.

Byarynya Morozova by Vasily Surikov

Pandemic: the reckoning

Sunday 2 August 2020, 18:33

The word "reckoning" came up a lot in discussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially early on as the world just started to realize the scale of the problem. I've seen a lot of people grimly commenting that "there will be a reckoning for this" in response to things like media dismissal of early warnings, followed by later media endorsement of exactly the positions they had earlier mocked. I've made such comments myself. It's human nature to hope for a reckoning, but at this point I don't think it's rational to expect one.

Shining Path

Saturday 14 March 2020, 12:44

I finished the manuscript for my first professional-grade novel in 2011, spent a few years trying to find an agent to represent it to publishers, and then shelved it as the demands of other parts of my life took priority. Now, I've posted it online at . Please share that link widely.

It's a 100,000-word book in a genre I would describe as dark anime science fiction. Drugs, sex, religion, gangsters, catgirls.

Take it to Zdrabko

Sunday 23 February 2020, 12:16

Many years ago, when I was less than half my current age, I worked at a software company where they had a unique engineering process I haven't seen anywhere else. It was called something like "taking it to Strafco"; it wasn't a written-down process and when I first heard about it I wasn't sure of the spelling, but that was what it sounded like.

Apache, PHP-FPM, chroot jails, MediaWiki, MySQL, and so on

Wednesday 22 January 2020, 12:12

These are some notes on configuring Apache httpd to run large PHP applications via PHP-FPM in separate chroot jails. I recently had occasion to do that, and I had to find bits and pieces of information about it in many different places around the Net, so I'm compiling these notes both for my own future use and for anyone who's contemplating a similar project. There are a number of subtle details needed to do things like get TeX working (needed for MediaWiki math), configure process-pool policy, and so on. I'm not going to go into much detail on why someone would want to do this, nor background systems administration concepts like "What is a chroot jail?".


Thursday 12 December 2019, 10:53

古風な活字とき、ページがよく飾られました。 いろいろのディングバットありました。 LaTeXでその活字をしましょう。

これは「TeX and LaTeX Advent Calendar 2019」の13日目の記事です。 12日目はMahito TANNOさんです。 14日目はhak7a3さんです。 外の年も記事を書きました。 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018

The Genie speaks

Sunday 6 October 2019, 08:34

Once there was a Sultan who fucking loved science. That was the slogan embroidered upon his robe.

A palindrome

Thursday 19 September 2019, 09:09

From roughly 1999, when I completed a Bachelor's degree and started a Master's, until 2016, when I left academia at the postdoctoral research level, I regularly received solicitations from recruiters trying to interest me in work in the computing industry. I generally ignored and rejected these solicitations - mostly because I wanted an academic career instead, and also partly because the recruiters steadfastly refused to use ever email as a first-class communications medium, instead trying to "set up a phone call" for any substantive communication. More about the telephone thing another time.

For now, the point I'd like to highlight is that as soon as I left the academic path and updated my LinkedIn profile to say I no longer worked at a university, I stopped hearing from these people. My qualifications are the same or better now; it would seem (since I now have some business experience, and I'm no longer committed to research as a career) that I might be a better prospect, with more freedom and possible interest to listen to what they have to say; but the solicitations have just dried up. It's almost like they only want the one that they can't get.