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Cleaning house, both corporally and cybernetically. The ongoing e-mail
project has my inbox now around 1000 messages (down from 2300 at the
turn of the year.) I carted out one trashbag full of shit from my
office, and a stack of about three feet of magazines to recycle. A lot
of this is old computer magazines – Dr. Dobbs, Mac Addict, Linux
Journal, etc. We’re not wild about our current house and we’d like to
get out. Although we don’t have any current plans to leave any time
soon, the more stuff I get rid of the easier it gets when it
happens. I am completely tired of never being able to find anything,
so this is also part of that. There is a stack of books about as high
as the magazines of COM, ATL, Visual Interdev and other Microsoft
programming type books. I’m considering whether to get rid of them or
just move them to storage. I really would like to never need them
again. If my career is such that I do, I’m going astray anyway. Maybe
I should just pitch them and assume that I’ll never be that
desparate. MS being the way they are, I doubt any of it will be very
applicable for much longer anyway.

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I don’t mention my wife very often in this weblog. That shouldn’t be
taken as any sort of indication that I don’t think about her or that
she isn’t important in my daily life. She has explicitly asked to “opt
out” of the weblog. She thinks the whole thing is weird and slightly
disturbing. “If you feel the need to air your personal life on the
internet, that’s fine but please leave me out of it” was the
directions I received. That’s why she is only tangentially mentioned
in here, even though she is the most important part of my life.

Which brings up an interesting question – what conclusions can be
drawn by what isn’t in a weblog? Mine has been leaning to the personal
lately. Some are more like columns or series of essays, some are
nothing but links to weird and cool things. I read Doc Searl’s weblog most days on my
Handspring via Plucker and I like his mix. Some personal, some
technical, some philosophical. I’m not that deep a thinker, I’m just a
dude trying to make my way in this life, so I don’t have a lot of
manifestos to offer up. I wish I were one of these guys with all these
deep discussions of common good and such. I’m a nerd who spends my
time trying to amuse myself, create a few things to entertain and/or
enlighten, and live a life of increasing pleasure and decreasing
pain. I’d love to get on a pundit career track if I knew how to do
that. I envy my wife being able to present her research at
professional meetings. I want to do that! I’ve been killing myself to
figure things I can speak at, without much success. The occasional
panel at a science fiction convention is it for me. How does one
bridge the gap from dude to pundit? Are pundits born or made?

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Technology TopicAs I’ve been working with CRM114 and patching a problem with
inter-process deadlock (I wrote the developer, he explained the
problem and I altered my copy to fix it, dusting off my C skills for
the first time in a while) I have been thinking about other
applications of this thing. It does statistical matches based on
distributions of words and combinations of words. That’s how the spam
filter works – you have a set of characteristics for things you have
called “spam” and “nonspam” and then you ask CRM114 “Which set is this
thing more like?” However, it doesn’t have to be limited to spam.

I once had a script that did regex searching through newsgroup
postings, typically looking for things in .forsale groups. At the time
I was deep into Rocketeer toys, so anything in rec.toys.forsale with
the term “Rocketeer” in it would get mailed to me. The problem is that
maintaining the list is a pain and it is limited to what you
literatlly put in it. I’m thinking of a newgroups filter written in
the CRM114 command language through which you run newsgroup posts. You
train two data sets – “interesting” and “not interesting” and ask
which it is more like. You don’t have to know what words are
matching or even care – over time the neural network is trained on the
things you like. Given the training sets, you could then have a script
that goes out periodically, downloads all the posts in target groups
and forwards you all the posts that are more like the “interesting”
set than the “non-interesting”. I would envision this being kind of a
pain at first as you train the sets initially, and then getting really
cool. Just like the spam stuff if something gets marked as relevant
and you don’t think it is, you can unlearn it from one set and add it
to the other. The wrinkle is that each group needs its own training
set because what makes a post interesting in ga.forsale is quite
different from what makes one interesting in rec.arts.music.zappa. It
is an interesting idea.

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It is official, my posting of the list of searches does in fact screw
up further searches. I can see that some of the search terms this time
in fact hit one of the previous postings of search terms. I don’t feel
too bad about it, that’s life in the directed graph. I saw that two of
the hits were for “Del Cotter”. I couldn’t remember what I wrote
about him so I reread that entry and realized that it was me talking
about killfiling him once and for all. That makes me wonder if it was
him searching on his own name? I do that for myself. Oh well. The
entry was pissier than it needed to be, but at that moment I was still
mad from having read the umptyumpth iteration of “Don’t post this in
rec.arts.sf.written” directed to an obvious member of the SF tribe
obviously acting in good faith. These gatekeeper things are like
trying to protect something by putting up a little rope with “Do not
enter” on it. People who care for the rules will stay out and the real
threats who don’t care for the rules will do whatever they want. All
the “Don’t post this” crap goes to people who care, while the scumbags
act with impunity. I don’t like the power politics, I don’t like the
gatekeepers and think their efforts to protect the newsgroup makes it
less valuable and useful to me. Piss on them.

Here are actual links to the thing that turned me against this guy
(thank you Google groups). Here is
Del’s
response to George Alec Effinger’s “I’m back” post
and here
is GAE’s reaction
to the accusation he might be an impostor. Sorry for the long links, my friends that read
these in the newgroups. What kind of combination of cluelessness and
brass monkeys does it take to assume that you can spot as an impostor
someone with whom you have never interacted (based on the fact that he
had a Hotmail e-mail as the only evidence of foul play), particularly
when that person has such a unique writing style. Why even does the
first thing you post have to be “This person might not be who they say
they are” anyway? Isn’t that the risk with every non-PGP signed Usenet
post ever? The risk didn’t just happen, so there is no reason to unleash the guns on
poor George. The fact that Usenet posts might be forged is in the “No
shit sherlock” category of insights. Checks might be forged too, but
it’s not the default assumption. Can we not begin by giving people a
break and waiting for them to do something fishy before jumping on
them?

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I forgot to mention that some random girl I didn’t know wanted me to
dance with her at the Susi French show. Her boyfriend wouldn’t so I
did – I’m that kind of guy. I could care less about looking stupid
when I dance or when I do anything, really. That implies that there is
someone viewing that I care what they think, which has a vanishingly
small probability. For that reason, I think that men who won’t dance
are complete wussies. I had a Cajun guy in Lafayette tell me once
“They ain’t no shame in dancing bad but they is in not dancing at
all.”

This same girl mentioned something about my hair. It is really odd, my
hair. I get positive comments about it often enough to be
noticeable. I keep it long, ranging from just past the shoulders to
the nipples. Except for a brief interregnum, I’ve worn it this way my
entire adult life. I have no particular style to it, I do nothing
special to
it, doing the combined shampoo and conditioner because I’m too lazy
for two steps. I seldom comb it every day of the week, usually doing
it four or five days tops. Despite all these, people talk about
it. The waiter at the Stinking Rose couldn’t shut up about it. This is
one of many things in this world I don’t understand at all.