Archive of October 2008

Fri 31 Oct

Halloween Geekiness

In a few hours darkness will descend over Chapel Hill and the Halloween revelries will begin. Instead of going out partying this year (since I've come to realize I just don't enjoy the party scene) I'm going to be volunteering with StudGov as a spotter. My understanding is that mostly means I will be helping drunk people back to their dorms and generally helping people stay safe. Hopefully my evening will be uneventful.

Last night I set up a new server in my apartment: It's a FreeBSD system running on some old hardware I had laying around (I mean old: Celeron 400 with 128mb RAM). I had tried putting Ubuntu on it in the past, but that was just a bad idea since it was far too slow to do anything interesting. Instead, I have it set up in my living room. I'm thinking of it as a long term "get better with UNIX" project.

My impetus for setting up forbin was actually because I'm going to be helping coach a FIRST robotics team for Durham Public Schools. My friend Maggie and I are the "programming mentors" for the team, and we will provide inspiration and guidance to the next generation of computer scientists.


Since the high school students who will be on team will have to be programming in C, I decided they should have easy access to a UNIX environment in which to write their code. Perhaps the FIRST robotics people will give everyone a nice IDE and everything to use to develop C on Windows, but in my experience it's much, much easier to write C in a UNIX environment than in Win32.

Mon 20 Oct

Phish More?!?!

Phish is coming back in 2009!

The first three shows are already sold out, but they're supposed to announce more in early 2009. I hope they come to the Triangle at some point...

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Fri 17 Oct

Quotes from a Labor Activist's Sig

One of my friends is very passionate about worker's rights. I got an email from her today with a couple quotes that really got me thinking. I'd love to hear reactions to these, as I'm still formulating my opinions on them.

"If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then, come, let us work together." ~Lilla Watson "Charity consoles but does not question. 'If I give food to the poor, they call me a saint, but if I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist.' Unlike solidarity, which is horizontal and takes place between equals, charity is top-down, humiliating those who receive it and never challenging the implicit power relations. In the best of cases, there will be justice someday, high in heaven. Here on earth, charity doesn't worry injustice, it just tries to hide it." ~Eduardo Galeano

Wed 15 Oct

Switcher: Expose for Windows Vista

I discovered a really cool application yesterday that enables Expose-like effects on Windows Vista. It's called Swticher, and so far I've found it to work quite well -- even with my dual monitor setup, which is an improvement over previous Expose clones I've tried. Of course, this tool is free (as in beer, not freedom, unfortunately), but since it takes advantage of APIs only available on Vista won't run on earlier versions of Windows.

While alt+tab is useful sometimes, I think that Expose-like applications are a much more elegant and intuitive solution to managing large numbers of windows. Kudos to Bao Nguyen, the author of Switcher (and a Microsoft employee who wrote this on his own time -- who needs 20% time?), for putting together such a slick tool.

This app gets a seal of approval.

Sun 5 Oct

Spring 2009 UNC Honors Courses

In an effort to stymie the move towards isolation, secrecy, and exclusivity of the UNC-Chapel Hill Honors program, here is the most up-to-date and complete listing of Spring 2009 Honors courses, including course ID's. Starting this semester, you must have access to the course ID of Honors courses to be able to even find out what time they are offered; otherwise they are hidden in the registration system.

Here is the list.

For a program that prides itself on "giving every Carolina student a chance to expand the boundaries of knowledge and be challenged in new ways", it's particularly disappointing that they have chosen to keep Honors courses hidden from non-honors students.

Remember kids: Information wants to be free.

EDIT: Bureaucracy pwn! So much for that plan.

Dear Shaddi, You were recently dropped from BIOL101H, because you are not a member of the Honors program.  Students who are not in the Honors program will be permitted to register for this course, if space is available and you meet all eligibility requirements, beginning Monday, November 3 at 8:00am.
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