New Favorite Spam Title
Feb 26, 2003

Continuing the spammer's march to make sure that e-mail is 100% useless soon, I recently received a spam with this title: "Please return immediately, or we will be forced to take legal notice". Can you afford to ignore that, in light of the fact that electronic notice is sometimes sufficient, IIRC? (Though the last word should be "action".) It's a porn spam.

It is getting harder every month to visually scan my spam and reliably seperate them by title.

Round Numbers
Feb 25, 2003
256 days since I quit smoking. Yeah, I'm a programmer. Sue me. [Scripting News]

For non-programmers, 256 happens to be two raised to the power of eight, which is the number of distinct bytes that exist (a byte is eight bits, which is either a one or a zero).

Incoming computer science students no longer know their powers of two. Even most of my contemporary grad students don't know their powers of two. Those of us who instantly know 32,768 is 215 are a dying breed. Heck, most grad students don't even seem to know the 210 =~ 103 (where =~ means "approximentally equal)... I see something like 255 and I know quite quickly that is approximentally 32 quadrillion, close enough for government work.

Count with me now the Holy Round Numbers: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16384, 32768, 65536. (I know more then that, but that's the first 0x10 Holy Numbers and that'll do.)

Just the other day as I was doing my taxes I noticed the last section of my employers ID number was 216-1 (the -1 shows up a lot on the higher numbers a lot, because 256 distinct numbers, including 0, means 255 is the highest a byte can hold, 65535 is the highest two bytes can hold, etc.). This did not amuse my wife, which amused me further.

The actual value of 255 is of course 36,028,797,018,963,968. (No, I do not have that one memorized.) Note that even with that absurdly high number, 210 =~ 103 is only off by a little over 12%, which is not generally a lot when discussing numbers of that size.

Guilty as charged
Feb 25, 2003

What bothers me more is that Jeremy Bowers, who is usually so insistent that we should be clear and precise when we speak, is now using such obfuscating and emotionally-loaded language.... "Wage Life" is, to my mind, a content-free phrase which can only confuse the issue. - words (is that the right name?)

Read the rest (522 words)

"Wage Peace"
Feb 24, 2003

I saw a "Wage Peace" sign today, obviously homemade, and for some
reason it set me off thinking.

It occurs to me that the whole War/Peace dichotomy is a fraud. There
is no War, there is no Peace, there is only Life and Death. A War can
save Lives. A Peace can Kill. There is no contradiction, because they
are not opposite.

I am on the side of Life, whatever that takes. If there is a War that
will save Lives, I am in favor of it. If there is a Peace that is
Killing, then the peace should be broken.

I believe that deposing Saddam will save lives. I am in favor of
another Gulf War. I think we should have finished the job last time,
and I hope yet again the lesson is learned about the dangers of
leaving governments in power who shouldn't have it.

I do not concede any moral high ground to the Peace protesters. The
Peace you defend is a peace where a highly skilled and sadistic,
ruthless, psychopathic dictator is left in charge of millions of
people. That is being on the side of Death. To hell with you and your

Take a stand that requires real guts, real sacrifice, and real moral courage: Wage Life!

Wordnet GUI Browser released
Feb 17, 2003

It took longer then I might have liked but I've just finished a preliminary version of the wordnet browser I wanted to build so I could see what's going on. Download it here, bzunzip2 and untar it, and run

The GUI will pop up. Type the words you want to examine into the text box and hit "Refresh Tree" to refresh the tree. The weighting method can be selected, along with the sense decay. (The Weighting Weight is currently not used, but will be used to tweak the weighting method later.)

I had to do a lot of refactoring to get this to work right, so a lot of the menu commands probably won't work. Most of them aren't relevant anyhow, but Outline->Expand All, which will be very useful to you, should work.

Note you must type in text, and select a weighting method, before the outline menu will work at all, so don't be afraid if it doesn't seem to open before you enter text.

Enjoy; it's a bit rough right now but it will improve.

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