News: 2003 -

It's a Time Helmet. The cat made it for me

12/23/2003 - This will be the last of my "I'm not really updating anything" updates. I will resume regular work on my website and my projects very soon. Well, perhaps not regular, but as regular as anything related to my site has ever been.

I'm applying to eight graduate schools and two fellowships. Three of my applications are done; I just have to get through the remaining seven, and I'll be home free. For the first time ever, I am not celebrating Christmas at home. I elected to remain at Caltech over the break so that I could get these applications done.

Microsoft Office 2003 is cool, especially Outlook. It lets me do all sorts of things I've always wanted to do, like hide things I never use and put the Reading Pane on my right monitor. I suppose that the junk mail filtering would be neat if I didn't already use SpamAssassin.

Of course, I am still planning on constructing my next computer Reason (although my webpage for it is seriously out of date). This is blocking on the release of the Prescott. I am not quite sure that I want to build Reason before I go to graduate school, but getting things simplified with a new setup is highly attractive. Although Northy is two years old, it has proven to be remarkably robust.

Part of my "no free time" problem is that class work, research work, graduate school applications, standardized tests, and so forth really do leave me with little free time. Another part is that working on the site and on my projects requires a certain level of creativity, and being swamped with work dampens my creativity. At the same time, it reduces my tolerance for mind-numbing repetitive labor, so I end up not wanting to organize my site, even though it is badly in need of organization. The last part is that I've been spending ridiculous amounts of time on IRC. And while IRC has been useful to me, just as forums were before, I shouldn't be spending all of my free time on it.

My obsessive, addictive personality is a strength when I get focused on something useful, but every so often I get locked into an unproductive state. I feel that this state is nearing its end. I will not be leaving the IRC channel I hang out in, but I do plan to become a more distant presence. Nevertheless, I do encourage anyone who enjoys my site to visit my IRC channel ( #beyond). Over the past year or so I have worked with many others to build something special and unique there. In particular, I have sunk a lot of time into the FAQ for the channel. Some of the benefits of that work will appear here; I have developed some neat tricks with tables that I am eager to use on my pages.

I have been accumulating a backlog of E-mail too. I'll try to work on that.

TranscendForum and libnuwen have come up a couple of times in my news posts, and I have said more about them on IRC. Yet I still do not have pages for them. This will be fixed soon. In particular, I now need TranscendForum to graduate, so you can be assured that I will work on it. bwtzip is also due for an overhaul, and this time it will be really cool. I promise.

As far as MinGW and all that goes, mlar. There is still no official MinGW gcc 3.3.2. I may end up using 3.3.1 in my next distro. I am also still waiting for Boost 1.31.0. Once I can create a new distro, I will also be able to create a page for the distro itself, as well as a good C++ page.

I'm not particularly looking forward to having to change E-mail addresses and site locations after I graduate. I'll say more about this later, and I'll also be deprecating the things that will be disappearing. Once I find the time to overhaul the site, I'll use SSI magic to make it possible to change all instances of my E-mail address simultaneously.

Incredibly enough, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne and Deus Ex Multiplayer are consuming my gaming thoughts once again. Halo PC looks enticing and is sitting on my left monitor. DXIW is not looking enticing, but it is also sitting on my left monitor. I wonder when the bugs in the 1.13b patch for TFT will finally drive me nuts and cause me to install one game or the other in a fury of rage.

I could rant at length about what's currently annoying me - the recent compromise of the Caltech CS cluster (and before that, the UGCS cluster), the utter bletcherousness of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, gcc 3.4.0's refusal to bootstrap for me, or how all of these graduate schools and fellowships should use a unified application system but are stuck in the twentieth century (or worse, the 1970s) - but I'll refrain. Somewhat. I'll content myself with the fact that The Return Of The King is fantastic and Eowyn is cute.

11/22/2003 - I have played a few minutes of the Deus Ex: Invisible War demo and I am not pleased. If the game is released in the same shape that the demo is in, it's highly likely that I will write a rant ripping the game to shreds. The problems with DXIW boil down to essentially one thing: DXIW does things wrong that DX did right, or at least less wrong.

The first term of my senior year has been almost as unpleasant as the first part of the DXIW demo. However, the long weeks of work are finally coming to a close. Second term will be a sort of renaissance for me and for the site.

In between scrambling to get my assignments done, grading my students' labs, applying for fellowships, and taking the GREs, I've managed to work on building a few more components for my MinGW distro. In particular, I identified some problems in Boost's regular expressions library which the Boost developers addressed quickly. Next, I plan to run some tests to make sure that the problems have been fixed. (Getting Boost 1.31.0 in a usable state for TranscendForum is a priority for me.)

10/25/2003 - I have finally gotten MinGW to bootstrap successfully. I'm now waiting for Boost 1.31.0, and then I'll release a new distro.

9/21/2003 - So, it's been over a month since my last update, and even longer since my last real change to the site.

I have returned from my short vacation in Colorado. I took new pictures of myself and my cat, Peppermint; these pictures will appear when I revise my personal page.

libnuwen is still coming along nicely. I've identified a couple of issues with it that I want to fix before I make an official first release. Some of these issues are my own fault for not knowing better, some are Winsock's fault, and some are Boost's fault.

gcc 3.3.2 is scheduled to be released on October 1, though such dates often slip. My next distribution of MinGW will include gcc 3.3.2. I expect to be able to do this near the end of October, along with writing a new page dedicated to explaining how to use the compiler and the associated tools I include with it.

I don't even want to count how many novels I have to write reviews for.

The creation of this website in its current form coincided with me entering Caltech. Now, three years later, something is happening that's never happened before: I have to apply to graduate schools. So, the next few months are going to be very busy for me, just like the last few months. The site update drought will continue. But it won't be forever; by January, first term will be over and all of my graduate school applications will have been submitted. I'm not becoming finished with my website; I'm just getting started.

8/19/2003 - I have finished libnuwen's socket.hh. It now correctly closes sockets on both Windows and GNU/Linux.

I have discovered that my E-mail account has been silently misconfigured for quite some time now. It was my fault, though Caltech Information Technology Services enabled me to make the mistake in the first place. I wanted to increase my level of spam filtering, but I ended up increasing it to unreasonable levels. I'll be vague about the precise nature of my error, except to say that it involved regular expressions, flocking, and togetherness.

In any case, my settings are now fixed. If you have sent me an E-mail but did not receive a reply, it's likely that your message was zorched by my overzealous settings. If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer. Or something like that.

Yes, I really should work on the site.

8/6/2003 - I have extensively revised libnuwen's time.hh, which creates and formats timestamps. I have also added priority.hh, which allows applications to set themselves to run at idle priority. libnuwen will power TranscendForum and bwtzip when those applications are rewritten, so improvements to time.hh directly affect TranscendForum, while priority.hh will allow bwtzip to play nicely with other programs.

The improvements to time.hh include:

Of course, solving a bug is important, but understanding why the bug occurs in the first place is more important. I understand the problems in the old time.hh that were my fault and I understand the problem in Boost that wasn't my fault. I don't yet understand why the following code segfaults when compiled with gcc 3.3:

#include <boost/lexical_cast.hpp>
#include <boost/date_time/posix_time/posix_time.hpp>

int main() {
        boost::gregorian::date(1969, boost::gregorian::Jul, 21).month()

Grr. I'm currently compiling a snapshot of gcc 3.4 to see if it can compile the code correctly.

8/2/2003 - Did I say 22? It's, uh, 25 now.

What are the three technologies you'd most like to see within your lifetime? I choose commercial hot fusion, artificial intelligence, and room temperature superconductors. Stuff like nanotechnology or biological immortality would be nice, sure, but I don't expect them in my lifetime. In contrast, my three technologies are reasonably conservative. Commercial hot fusion is certainly possible and feasible; it's just a matter of working up the will to solve the engineering problems that stand in our way. Artificial intelligence is also certainly possible and almost certainly feasible, though it depends not on plasma physics but on understanding our own minds in the first place. And room temperature superconductors, while they may or may not be physically possible, would certainly be cool.

7/26/2003 - Feeling demotivated. I now have a stack of 22 SF novels to review. libnuwen is coming along nicely, and TranscendForum is almost ready to be reimplemented. bwtzip is still reasonably far away from reimplementation.

Let override, let overwrite.

7/19/2003 - The LeechFTP website has vanished, breaking my link to it in the Utility Programs section of the Links page. I now provide a local copy of LeechFTP.

7/12/2003 - I am working on revising and adding to my reviews. I have split off a page that describes my Rating System.

7/4/2003 - The Index & Plan now uses valid XHTML 1.1 and CSS 2.

Buzz Aldrin (updated 3/1/2005)
Stephan T. Lavavej
This is my personal website. I work for Microsoft, but I don't speak for them.