This Day In History: 02/24

Sunday, February 24, 2002

I've been listening to two CDs of Don Sebesky this weekend, Moving Lines and Giant Box. The first is a nice, inoffensive jazz CD which reminds me of Sammy Nestico's big band favourites CD, but the second is a little more meaty, with jazz fusion arrangements around the solo work of folk like Freddie Hubbard. Sebesky is an arranger who did some nice charts for Doc Severinsen in the 70s, and also wrote the saxophone concerto Bela and Bird in Bb, which is an interesting work in its own right.

Of the two MP3s posted yesterday, the first was straight MIDI and the second was the actual orchestration. All three people who guessed got it right, and I don't think it was too hard to figure out with careful listening. What was interesting was what gave it away for each person. Everyone said that the MIDI become painfully obvious based on the sound of their own personal instrument, trumpet, horn, and suspended cymbal.

I had a fairly productive weekend of composing, although not much was written last week. I'm trying to go for a feel of "spinning out" from beginning to end of my last movement, while still retaining a sense of concinnity throughout. It's hard for me to not write in a completely sectional manner, and its the transitions that are giving me the most headaches.

GameSpot: Melodies, Where Have You Gone?

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Monday, February 24, 2003

I did, in fact, finish up the student file creation part of MFIT this weekend, but there's really not enough interactivity to make putting an applet up worthwhile. All it does is allow you to enter a student's information and then encode it into an XML file in a folder of your choosing. My next step (which I'll be doing during the week) is to create an imaginary class full of students and pack their files with a variety of activities and results to test that the files are read properly. It'll be like I'm managing a fantasy fundamentals league but without any payoff.

This week is the final week of rec league basketball, and if the planets stay properly aligned, it looks like we just might be able to finish the season with a perfect record. Our last two games are on Tuesday and Thursday night.

Alias continues to get better. I thought it was surprisingly ballsy of ABC, the family channel, to air this episode after all the hooplah surrounding the Korean subway and the Rhode Island fire (it had dramatized depictions of a neutron bomb used in a church). Watch it already.

He said that I should cut off her breasts, but I said no woman wants that.
I can't seem to shake the idea that Swanson is trying to feed people horse scabs.
Your only black character, who is named Jesse Jackson Jones, expresses his concurrence by saying, "Right on!"
The Catania Method for Dictation (PDF 261KB)

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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

"It was so sweet backstage. The Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo." - Steve Martin at the '03 Oscars

It's time for the Third Annual Uri! Picks for Oscar Night! I saw even fewer movies this year than in the past two years, but I'm luckily saved by the fact that the same four movies appear in every category. Before you run off to your bookie, you should know that I got 4 of 24 correct last year and 9 of 24 the year before that. My scores should improve this year, because I'm not letting Booty have any say in the picks.

With that said, let's start with the categories that no one cares about and build up a false sense of suspense through Sunday's update where I'll make my picks for the four most important categories that no one cares about. Any movie I've seen is marked with a dot. As you can tell, I haven't seen any of today's movies.

Best documentary feature
    The Nominees:
    My Architect: Film maker studies the life of his father, architect Louis Kahn, and traces his secret lives and wives
    The Weather Underground: Looks at the evolution of the radical group, Weathermen, through the 60s and 70s in America
    Balseros: A film maker tracks Cuban refugees from detainee camp to their new lives in America through good times and bad
    Capturing the Friedmans: A film maker observes a family torn apart by accusations of child molestation through good times and bad
    The Fog of War: A film maker looks at the life of Robert McNamara who "shows regret and pride in equal measure for his mistakes and accomplishments" (he had good times and bad)

    What will happen?
    Voters will not remember which movies they watched and ultimately decide that McNamara is a child-molesting Cuban who had good times and bad. Since this is not a particularly pleasant scenario, The Weather Underground will win for resembling a Bruckheimer action movie.
Best documentary short subject
    The Nominees:
    Chernobyl Heart
    Ferry Tales

    What will happen?
    There are currently five movies with the title Asylum on Blockbuster's site. Depending on which you take home, you could get anything from a horror flick to a romance movie involving Ian McKellen. Chernobyl Heart is about heart conditions following nuclear accidents, and I don't know what Ferry Tales is about since there is no synopsis. Since the purpose of a documentary is to educate, Ferry Tales will win, because by the end of the movie I would learn what it was about.
Best animated short film
    The Nominees:
    Gone Nutty
    Harvie Krumpet

    What will happen?
    An animated short always has to have an offbeat title that suggests its light-hearted and/or whimsical tone. Destino loses. Of the remaining titles, Boundin' will win because it suggests the carefree image of an animated puppy "boundin'" (GET IT?) through a field of dandelions with the theme from Super Mario Brothers 2 playing in the background. Harvie Krumpet will be unmemorable, because the title is a mishmash of Harvey Keitel, Harry Potter, and Wallace & Gromit (characters who would have an unlikely progeny, were they to do a little dance and make a little love). Nibbles will lose because it's too close to last year's ChubbChubbs! and the previous year's Stubble Trubble. I still think Mt. Head should have won last year. You could have so much fun with the press releases.
Best live action short film
    The Nominees:
    Die Rote Jacke (The Red Jacket)
    Most (The Bridge)
    (A) Torzija ([A] Torsion)
    Two Soldiers

    What will happen?
    This fight is solely between Squash and Two Soldiers. A live action short film should not require a subtitle or translation, because the movie is over by the time you've finished the title. The length rule is also why the 1994 Indian movie, Shree Shree Rajadhiraja Shree Shree Madana Kamaraja Shree Shree Vilasa Raja Shree Shree Mahdubana Raja Shree Shree Krishnadeva Donda Raja, and the 1967 British movie, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade would both fail as live action short films. Your movie title should also not look like an advanced mathematics problem, so (A) Torzija ([A] Torsion) is out of the running. Squash will ultimately win because Hollywood is the land of stupid diets and squash is a healthy side dish when not sauteed with peas, carrots, and pig fat.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    number of toll booths, melody shifted a beat, romatic era of european music

Court rules that child's name would expose him to mean haikus
More on the T.C. Williams name-changing issue

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Thursday, February 24, 2005
Foreign Language Film

    The Nominees:
    As It Is In Heaven
    The Chorus
    The Sea Inside

    What will happen?
    It's a sad day for foreign films when not a single title has any kind of accent marking. Going solely on title alone, I'm choosing The Sea Inside because it obviously has something to offer. We know all about the sea outside, so the sea inside is obviously fertile ground for a movie.
    The Nominees:
    Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
    The Passion of the Christ
    The Sea Inside

    What will happen?
    An even more pathetic showing than the Foreign Language Film category, it appears that they could only scrounge up three nominees this year. I'm going to choose LSaSoUE for this one, but not because it's deserving. There's probably nothing innovative in the make-up of The Passion that hasn't already been seen in a Wes Craven movie, and I doubt the sea looks any different with a little Mary Kay mixed in.
Music (Score)
    The Nominees:
    Finding Neverland
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events
    The Passion of the Christ
    The Village

    What will happen?
    John Williams has already fully milked the motive he stole from the computer game, Return to Zork so an Oscar is not in his cards this year. Instead, The Village will win and Chris Rock will accidentally give away the secret twist from the end of the movie.
Music (Song)
    The Nominees:
  • "Accidentally In Love" - Shrek 2
    "Al Otro Lado Del R?o" - The Motorcycle Diaries
    "Believe" - The Polar Express
    "Learn To Be Lonely" - The Phantom of the Opera
    "Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" - The Chorus

    What will happen?
    Here, I'm picking Al Otro Lado Del Rio, which is German for "Get Fat Lady Off My Bike", because the supporting actress is now a regular on Alias.
Best Picture
    The Nominees:
    The Aviator
    Finding Neverland
    Million Dollar Baby

    What will happen?
    This is a very strange batch of Best Picture movies. The Aviator will win because it's the most recognizable.
Short Film (Animated)
    The Nominees:
    Birthday Boy
    Gopher Broke
    Guard Dog

    What will happen?
    Hollywood needs to hire a new title-man. If the movies are as drab as their titles, then there will be no winner in this category. Gopher Broke barely gets chuckle points, beating out Birthday Boy, Guard Dog, and Meter Maid, as well as Lorenzo, Ryan, and Chuckie.

To Be Continued...

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Fragments

The illegitimate offspring of The New York Times and The Sun

  • You know you ordered too many checks when they all list your address as Centreville, you moved out of Centreville in February 2004, and you have at least two more boxes of fifty checks each still unopened. By now, I've even given up on the pretense of scratching out the address.

  • It doesn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things since the only things I pay for with checks these days are the mortgage and my cable bill. Yes, Adelphia still doesn't have online billing. This is 2006 -- even my visits to the bordello can be Pay-Pal'd.

  • Season One of The 4400 started out so intriguingly that I just had to finish it, and finish it I did. Even though there's only five episodes to watch, enough answers are revealed to make the first season a coherent unit while providing tons of space for season two which supposedly has 12 or 13 episodes. Because it's not exactly a high budget show, there's occasionally a laughably bad line of dialogue or a cheesy subplot, but overall it's excellent!

  • I was reminded yesterday of that old Comedy Central show, Strangers with Candy. Was I the only person in the universe who 100% didn't get it? I found it to be unfunny and painful to watch for more than a few minutes. In fact, I can't recall a single thing that ever made me laugh. And I laughed at UHF so it's not like I'm incapable of it.

  • UHF was such a horrible, horrible movie, but it did have its moments of inspired lunacy. The first fifteen minutes of Weird Al trying to act might even be as painful to watch as Strangers with Candy.

  • Last Friday, I mentioned a note I got from Dave McKee about trumpet stuff. I got the same letter in the mail yesterday with the added note: "Let's make it a surprise!". So, I guess that means that if you called anyone important at Tech to talk about it, you should call them back to say you were just kidding or something. Shhh.

  • My newspaper doesn't get delivered roughly once per month, so I have to report it missing on They have a rule that says if you don't report it missing by 8:30 in the morning, you won't get an extra copy. However, I get the Loudoun Mirror every Thursday like clockwork even though I don't want it. I read through it once and decided that it would be better suited for lining a guinea pig cage.

  • I've never understood why you're supposed to tip the newspaper delivery guy. Maybe in the 50s when it was a kid on a bike trying to save up enough money to go to 4H Camp a tip made sense. But now, when it's just some guy driving around the neighbourhood chucking papers into your bushes, how is that really a tippable service?

  • My sister and I used to have guinea pigs, Speedy and Pokey. They were fun to have until they got so big and poopy that they required daily cage cleanings. Then we got lazy like typical disinterested prepubescents and my dad gave them away after he got tired of cleaning the cage himself.

  • They're making a sequel to The Dark Crystal. What more can really be said after the gelflings save the world? This used to be a favourite movie as a child, and I had all the bubble gum collectors' cards as well. I re-watched it for the first time in 2001 and it wasn't nearly as good as I remembered.

  • This morning when I went into the bathroom to take my shower, I saw a grey hair in the mirror. Then I looked closer and realized that Amber had just sat on my head sometime during the night.

  • I got another e-mail from a guy who liked Augmented Fourthlast night. When I first released the game back in 2000, I barely got any feedback at all, so it's nice to know that people out there are still playing and enjoying it, six years after the fact. Someday, I still need to get around to fixing all the minor bugs in the original version and re-releasing it.

  • I have no big weekend plans although I will be devoting some time to next week's special Oscar feature. My best predictions hit 9 of 24 correctly, but those involved my normal habit of pulling knowledge out of my ass or asking Booty. I bet if I actually made serious predictions I could easily get more, but what's the fun in that?

  • Tonight is Movie Night, and I've blocked off a few hours for an oil change, taxes, and for Java Certification work (which I DID, in fact, start on this past week) over the weekend. Sunday is the birthday of my dad and Jim Barry, and Monday is the birthday of Paige! Happy Birthday to you all!

  • Have a good weekend!

  • Conclusion: Your trumpet may give you rust and tetanus
    Governor unaware that the Daily Show is a comedy show
    Penis prank gains world honour

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    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    Composing Spotlight: Clown Facades

    I sat down last night to write a Museday, but was struggling with inspiration. Instead, I decided to relisten to one of the pieces I wrote in my brief stint as a fulll-time composer: a commission I received in the spring of my 4th year of perpetual college.

    On the few times I received commissions, I always tried to nail down as many rules as possible up front, because more constraints generally lead to more creativity in trying to break those constraints down. Composing is the hardest when you have a blank screen and no direction at all (which is why Museday always starts from a single word). The rules I had for this composition:

  • The piece must be for trombone, euphonium, and piano. The trombonist and the euph'er must switch instruments at least once during the performance.
  • The piece should be an opener for a recital -- upbeat, lighthearted, not too grand, and not massive finale.
  • The piece should be about five minutes long.
  • With these rules in hand, I sat down at the keyboard over the summer of 2000 (which was also my first internship at FGM) and spewed forth several high-capacity jets of crap. The very first fragment I wrote down was this, (100KB MP3), which was far too flippant for anything but a practice room duet. The second fragment I wrote was this, (100KB MP3), which was much cooler, but also felt like a feeble ripoff of the Beatles. However, each fragment helped me shape what the piece would eventually become.

    The next part I wrote was the chords under the 8-bar introduction, which starts out with an F# minor 7 going to a D7 and back again. I recall being frustrated and deciding to start in F# minor because band music never starts in F# minor (this was going to be a problem when I eventually decided to get to G minor, but the Circle of Fifths is highly pleasurable).

    By the time school was about to start again, I still only had about 16 bars of music. After playing it for Paige though, she remarked that it sounded like a bunch of psycho clowns, which immediately clarified my approach to the piece. I finished the remainder in a whirlwind of focus, and used Paige's spaghettio font on the final title, Clown Facades.

    Below is a link to an MP3 recording of the piece as performed by a computer (computers are way better at maintaining a tempo than humans). Give a listen, and read some of my podcast style thoughts as the recording plays:

    Clown Facades (3MB MP3)

    0:14This is the original theme that Paige equated with clowns.
    0:30At this point, I realized that I wanted to be in G minor.
    0:40Mission accomplished.
    0:47Listening to this now, it sounds like I was going to compose about a bull fight.
    1:00We're in D minor now. Why did I try so hard to get to G? This section is based on the 2nd fragment that was Beatles-like. I was very much in a "I'll insert jazz ironically in all my compositions" stage, and also wanted to see if I could put 12-bar blues in a serious piece and not have anyone notice.
    1:16I wanted a very clean jazz. The score actually says "like Gershwin, not Ellington".
    1:41I really like the juxtaposition of a 2-meter vs. a 3-meter here. Clowns would mix it up, and so should I.
    2:05This section was originally just long enough to allow the performers to switch instruments, but I really got into writing the piano imitation.
    2:32The score says "Like a hurdy-gurdy winding down..."
    2:46This section gives the piano a rest, but is also intentionally simple and low to give the low brass performers a few notes to warm up their cold instruments. I'm clever like a lever with a C on it.
    3:18Okay, they're warmed up. Let's dick around.
    3:47This section hearkens back to the first fragment, and I wanted it to feel like a satire of a technical study. Jay Crone nailed it when he said to "play it more like an Arban ?tude from Hell" during a rehearsal. I didn't prompt him at all.
    4:10It's starting to get out of control...
    4:24Once I get in 3/4 time, all my pieces sound the same.
    5:04I felt like the only way to end the piece would be to reprise the introduction, but in parody.
    5:19I have no idea how we ended up in Eb major, but I think this was a perfect ending -- it closed the piece emphatically, but left enough tension in the air to ring in the rest of the recital.

    What do you think about Composing Spotlight day? Boring? Fascinating? Should it return? Let me know! We can always use new ___ Days at the URI! Zone.

    Roman Ruins a Haven for Cats
    50 jobs in 50 states
    Dutchman off the hook for not running over cat

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    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Stuff in My Drawers Day

    It was around September of 1988 when I decided I could invent games just as cool as Infocom text-adventure games by drawing mazes on paper, and this was the first one I ever did. I now have a folder of over fifty, a mix of traditional mazes, Infocom box-style maps, and other images, and my fourth grade compatriots would crowd around the lunch table going through my mazes while I directed the action. None of us had ever heard or played Dungeons and Dragons (and to this day, I've still never played it), but I'm guessing it was roughly the same idea, without the numbers and nerd-stigma.

    This was one of the score sheets from my lunch games, and the fact that I spelled "shillelagh" correctly means it was probably during the period when I was playing Beyond Zork. Apparently, the reverse of shrinking is "normaling", and tragically, getting the cakes is only worth 1 point. Since the points actually add up to 34, I was either bad at math or there was a secret point.

    My scanner conked out before I could scan the rules page for my board game version of the book, Island of the Blue Dolphins, but you can probably get the idea from these excerpts:

    OBJECT: Move Karana across the island to where the white men will take her to another island.

    Sounds repetitive, with a slight tinge of slavery -- all the aspects of a good board game.

    MOVING: Roll the dice and move that amount of spaces. You MUST do yellow squares if you pass or land in them.

    SUPPLY CARD: When you take a supply card, keep it until you use it. When you use it, put it under the pile. If all cards are gone, each player must give back 5.

    Cards frequently ran out because I got bored while making the deck out of construction paper. Luckily, communism solves everything.

    RIVERS: There are two rivers. You can't cross unless 1) you have a canoe and 2) you land on the dock.

    BONUS: In bonus rounds, you can get a whole bunch of supply cards or roll alot.

    I have no recollection of how you trigger a bonus round, but it probably involved paddling across the river and missing the dock. WHEE.

    Twitter dating for tech-savvy singles
    Man tries to cheat hooker with Geek Squad badge
    Watch this movie and win $10,000 -- if you can

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    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Review Day: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

    There are no spoilers in this review, although you may not understand many of the words that are coming out of my mouth.

    I've been an off-and-on player of World of Warcraft since it launched, way back in 2004. I stopped for a couple years in 2006 when the first expansion pack killed the PvP brackets, started again, and then stopped right before my wedding (unrelated, of course) for what I thought would be the last time. With my 2009 cancellation, I didn't think there would ever be a compelling reason for me to start playing again, and even deleted all of the game files.

    So, coming into the third expansion pack, Cataclysm, the only reason I reactivated my account was a sense of nostalgia -- in tandem with its release, a huge overhaul of the "old" worlds was done as well, and it's always fun to go back to familiar places to see what has changed. I was skeptical as to whether the changes would be compelling enough to keep me playing for more than a few weeks, but was surprised to find that I was really enjoying myself again. With this expansion pack, a sense of "fun" has returned to playing, and the experience is polished and tightly focused enough to please ANYONE who might have enjoyed the game at one time but lost interest.

    High Points

  • The revamping of the old world is perfect -- fun quests flow naturally together, there are fewer instances of aimless traveling, and storylines worth reading actually tie everything together. There are fewer "kill 100 snakes and get back to me" quests. I've always liked Warcraft, but this is the game it SHOULD have been at launch.
  • The UI is greatly improved (although I still use Bartender to manage my buttons), and the built-in Quest helpers make questing a breeze.
  • The new "Random Dungeon Finder" takes all of the pain out of gathering a group of people together to run a dungeon. I can usually find groups for all sorts of dungeons at my level in under a minute.
  • The music has improved with each release, leaning heavily towards intelligent orchestrations and use of motives and reducing the amount of ambient music. (Ambient music is an English term which means "annoying uncreative repetition"). I used to play with music turned off, and now I only turn it off when the annoying (ambient) Felwood theme comes on. The new Goblin and Gnome themes are perfect. Kazoos are fun and very gnome-like.
  • Low Points

  • I haven't played the new Goblin race, but the Worgens have really annoying sound effects, especially noticeable when you're sitting in the auction house and the Worgens around you sound like a herd of pigs searching for truffles. I call them "allergy wolves" now.
  • You almost level up TOO fast. I'm all for a streamlined game, but when your druid gets Cat Form at level 8, the game is too easy.
  • All of the great old world content that was revitalized really brings the omitted bits into sharp relief -- Silithus is still horrible, the Outlands look the same, and you still can't ride a flying mount in some areas.
  • The twink brackets are completely broken. My level 59 priest, Plinky, has experience turned off, and the queues for Warsong Gulch never pop.
  • Some of the new new stuff is great, but it all starts to run together after a while -- when you're dealing with millions of experience points and thousands of hit points, it can't help but to get a little tedious. Thankfully, there's plenty of other stuff to try out when questing is dull.
  • The new quests rely too much on phasing (where you are the only person who can see what's going on in your quest) and cutscenes. Since people on different phases of quests are not visible on your screen, it makes the world more non-interactive, and lifeless. If I wanted to play Zelda, I would get out my SuperNES.
  • The bottom line is that World of Warcraft now has over 6 years of experience in what works and what doesn't, and the game as it stands today is easily the best game I've played in quite some time. It even stopped my Minecraft addiction. Give it a shot if you've cancelled your account in the past, and take the time to enjoy the leveling up process -- the game is only lame when you're rushing to the end and then find that there's nothing there.

    Final Grade: A-

    Sarah Palin uses secret Facebook account to praise main account
    Today's lab rats of obesity
    Handcuffed suspect drives off in police car

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    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Cat Picture Friday

    Booty is a study aid. Look at all of that technology!

    Amber turns into a shoe after midnight.

    My work schedule should go back to normal after this coming week, resulting in a direct increase in words on this website!

    Cops Trolled Driver?s License Database for Pic of Hot Colleague
    The myth of the eight-hour sleep

    tagged as cats, media | permalink | 2 comments

    Monday, February 24, 2014

    Weekend Wrap-up

    On Friday, we had steaks for dinner, since the grill had finally revealed itself underneath the rapidly melting snow.

    On Saturday, Rebecca went hiking in the highlands of Loudoun County, while I stayed home and did homework for an online Coursera course about information security strategies. We regrouped in the afternoon and had pulled pork for dinner with my parents, to celebrate my Dad's upcoming birthday. In the evening, we watched the movie, World's End, which, though it was the ending of a trilogy, should not be confused with the unnecessary Pirates of the Caribbean sequel.

    On Sunday, I did a little work to short-circuit the week a bit, and watched the movie, Elysium. We then had a whirlwind session of planning out our social calendars for the next two months before taking a nature walk in the melted bogs of Claude Moore Park. For dinner, we ate at The V again, and then returned home for an episode of House of Cards.

    How was your weekend?

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    BUriversity: Machine Code 101

    Based on readers' topic suggestions

    How do we tell computers what to do?

    The central processing unit, or CPU, is the brain of any computer. It understands a very basic set of atomic instructions like "add this value to that value" and speaks only in binary -- a neverending series of 0s and 1s. In the early days of computer programming, programmers quickly came to the realization that communicating with the CPU at this level was error-prone and migraine-inducing, like the job of a cop reporting on the high-speed pursuit of a criminal whose license plate is a random mix of capital Is and lowercase Ls.

    To remedy this situation, programmers relied on "layers of abstraction", taking chunks of machine code and assembling them together into human-readable instructions just slightly more understandable (called assembly language). Programmers then went up another level to languages like C, which are English-like and compiled into assembly language. Programming languages, then, are like ogres -- they have layers. If this layering concept is still hard to grasp, click on one of the buttons below to get an example in a context you are more familiar with.

    This layering of abstractions continued over fifty years until today, where we have high-level languages that are so close to English prose that they sometimes read like poorly-written Twilight fan fiction. The benefit of these layers of abstraction is that a human programmer can write instructions in a language more closely related to the domain he or she is working in. Unfortunately, as languages becomes easier for humans to understand, they become more difficult for the binary-based computers to understand.

    Every high-level language is eventually translated down to binary machine code before execution, since the CPU is essentially like a calculator with only 3 buttons. Thankfully, this translation is not a manual process, since a single line of code like System.out.println("Booty"); could end up being hundreds of lines of machine code.

    Wouldn't the machine code need to be able to read itself as binary?

    No. The machine code is just a dumb set of instructions with no processing smarts of its own. And, the CPU has a small set of instructions hardwired into it, such that there is a one-to-one mapping of every incoming machine code instruction to a CPU instruction. No interpretation or translation is happening when the machine code arrives at the CPU -- it just gets stored and run as-is. The CPU is like the bureaucrat with fifty years experience who knows exactly where to file your paperwork just by the identifying number on the form, not the summer intern who has to look up the form number in a process manual every time he sorts the mail.

    Have any more ideas for future BUriversity courses? Suggest them in the comments section!

    tagged as buriversity | permalink | 3 comments

    Wednesday, February 24, 2016

    Time-lapsed Blogography Day

    BU at multiple data points

    • 26 years ago today, on February 24, 1990, my sister took her eighth grade science project "Does Listening to Music Affect Your Ability to Think?" to the local science fair at Hammond Jr. High. I would repeat this study with equally clueless test subjects 4 years later.

    • 22 years ago today, on February 24, 1994, I finished my second sculpture in art class, a wizard in blue.

    • 21 years ago today, on February 24, 1995, I was at my Junior Band Banquet and took home an "Outstanding Contribution" award, proving that there's room for all races in marching band.

    • 20 years ago today, on February 24, 1996, I was on the TC Williams Science Bowl team that came in third place overall but lost to TJ, greatly exceeding expectations.

    • 18 years ago today, on February 24, 1998, I was heads down coding Augmented Fourth.

    • 17 years ago today, on February 24, 1999, I stayed home and worked on the second movement of The Hero.

    • 16 years ago today, on February 24, 2000, I went to a brass concert with Shac, Kelley, and Liz.

    • 15 years ago today, on February 24, 2001, Anna and I went to a party at Gammy's house with nearly everyone else in the marching band.

    • 13 years ago today, on February 24, 2003, I finished work on a Java-based XML file reader that could read student progress files from Dr. Spencer's Lingo/Shockwave music theory application.

    • 8 years ago today, on February 24, 2008, I played poker at James and Diana's house, and then had my parents over for corned beef and Hot Fuzz to celebrate my dad's upcoming birthday.

    • 4 years ago today, on February 24, 2012, I was working overtime writing 149 pages of examples of the Universal Core specification shown bombers flying over a veterinary hospital in Atlanta.
    • 2 years ago today, on February 24, 2014, I had Mediterranean pizza and leftover Wegmans pulled pork for dinner, one of which led to 3 days of stomach flu.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, February 24, 2017

    Stuff In My Drawers Day

    I drew this picture thirty years ago at the age of 7.

    Excited about a planned trip to San Diego to visit relatives and go to Disneyland but not really knowing what California was actually like, I created this true-to-life representation of the life that Mike and Annie live on a daily basis. Also, there is only one beach stretching the entire length of the coast, called CALIFORNIA BEACH, and all of the houses have push bars on their doors like my elementary school did.

    tagged as media | permalink | 4 comments

    Monday, February 24, 2020

    Construction Day: Screen Porch. Part I of II

    We now transport you from the little warren under the stairs to the backyard, where a screen porch is emerging from the Loudoun County clay like a triumphant groundhog.

    And the conclusion!

    tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 0 comments

    Wednesday, February 24, 2021

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    We purchased this two player game based on our enjoyment of Patchwork. You compete to get tiles and gain points for deploying those tiles in different patterns. It's fun and easy to pick up in spite of the length of the rulebook, but it never really feels like you're in control of your fate. It feels impossible to plan more than a couple moves ahead, and some portions of the gameboard feel useless other than as a holding pen for discarded tiles. We'll try it a few more times to see if it clicks, but it's not our favourite. (edit: I re-reviewed this game)

    Final Grade: C+

    The Expanse, Season Five:
    The Expanse continues to be a good show, with a good ending and great individual scenes. There are still way too may CGI space shots slowing down the momentum. Season Five splits the main characters into individual stories (possibly related to COVID filming restrictions?) and the strength of each story is uneven. One particular episode featuring one of the actors all alone in space really wore down my patience. Free on Amazon Prime.

    Final Grade: B

    Animal Crossing: New Horizons:
    I was bored by Harvest Moon on N64 and Stardew Valley, so the only reason I bought this game was to have another activity to share with Maia during the cold winter months. This time around though, the problem isn't that I'm bored, the problem is that the game itself is boring. We've played it maybe 5 or 6 times so far and there's so little to do that we eventually just turn it off and do something else. Apparently, everything interesting in the game is behind a real-world time gate, meaning that time has to go by between gaming sessions or you never get to the good stuff. While Maia likes the sound that the NPCs make in the game, this is never a game she wants to watch more of on her own volition. Now, we just play Zelda.

    Final Grade: Not Graded

    Truth Seekers, Season One:
    This is a fun new series from the minds behind the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. Nick Frost stars as a broadband installer by day who runs a paranormal Youtube channel at night. Though it has a little unsettling horror imagery, it stays squarely on the comedy side of the equation with great guest appearances by Simon Pegg and Malcolm MacDowell. Free on Amazon Prime.

    Final Grade: A

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments

    Friday, February 24, 2023

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    The Sandman: A Dream of A Thousand Cats / Calliope:
    Marked as "Episode 11" in Season One of The Sandman (which I graded with an A), this is a set of two anthology stories that take place in the same universe as the main plot line. Both are fresh and fun, even if they don't push the main story forward. On Netflix.

    Final Grade: B+

    Banshees of Inisherin (R):
    This movie tells of two friends on a remote Irish island and the fallout that occurs when one wakes up and decides he doesn't want to be friends anymore. The muted premise is buoyed by dry (sometimes black) humour, interesting characters, and nice cinematography of the Irish countryside. I normally think that period movies like this tend to drag, but this one held my interest all the way through.

    Final Grade: B

    Cunk on Earth:
    This five-episode mockumentary about the history of the world is a perfect blend of British, deadpan, and absurd humor. Diane Morgan as Philomena Cunk is a perfect narrator and there are plenty of memorable laughs, like her thoughts on Galileo. On Netflix.

    Final Grade: B+

    Hustlers (R):
    "Strippers reacting to the drying up of business during the 2008 financial crisis" seems more like a Whose Line Is It Anyways? prompt than a movie synopsis but this movie actually pulls it off. It's engaging to watch until the final act, where it seems to peter out without knowing what it's trying to say.

    Final Grade: B-

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 2 comments


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