March 24th, 2004

run the fuck away

Why's and Linkages

Why are all our jobs going overseas? Schools don't teach enough science and math. I think I'd reword that though- schools don't teach. Around the country, educators are reading this report, and preparing to revamp the curriculum to add more science/math classes at the expense of other programs.

_More_ classes, changes in standardized testing- these aren't going to fix the problem. In fact, I'd say ditch the standardized tests entirely. I remember having to skip over dozens of topics that intrigued me in school because "it's not on the Regents". That's a _wonderful_ way to meet student interest in learning. "Oh, you want to learn that? Too bad. It's not important enough."

In another "genius" manuver, the TSA has decided to take the already hole-ridden security program used at airports and add a "fast track" or what I'd call a "gaping obvious hole ripe for abuse and exploitation". There ya go, enjoy your illusion of safety at the expense of your own privacy.

Now, here's a response that I approve of. "Fine, you want controversy over who can get married? Then nobody can until we sort this damn thing out!" Good. So it should be- when you can't find a fair way to do something, don't do it until you've got it figured out. And amusingly, the county seat is Corvallis, which some sci-fi fans should recognize. First person to name the book gets absolutely nothing, but street cred for being a sci-fi geek.

Not to pimp DRT news but this amuses me:

How Random?

So, I found a website that offers you truly Random Numbers as generated by a quantum detector doohickey. Very cool but just getting numbers on a website doesn't do me any good at all. So much work to try and integrate them into a program. So I encapsulated that work in some java code- there are three classes- qrandom.Random which actually gets the page, scrapes it, and returns the results. There's a really nasty hack in there, because I was too lazy to tweak the regex properly. The second class is an XML-RPC server for qrandom.Random and the third is a client to connect to the XML-RPC server.

The end result? If someone really wanted to, they could host a Random Number server over XML-RPC using the quantum generated numbers. This is really handy for encryption purposes, and all sorts of math and research.

For the geeky of you, there's a .jar containing the class files and source and JavaDoc. If you poke in the source you'll see my really ugly hack because I was feeling like a regex retard (namely, I actually have the remote site generate twice as many numbers as you request and only return half of those). ::shrug:: I do think they'll be fairly upset if anyone ends up running my server and fielding lots of hits. Though, they say that in a few months they'll have their own server running, though I don't know what protocol it runs. I do hope it's XML-RPC, because XML-RPC is sexay.

All in all, the QRandom thing took about an hour of actual work, most of which was spent learning how java.util.regex works.
Tom Baker

In the Vacation Duldrums?

Tired of the same old, boring vacations? Dreading the thought of yet _another_ theme park, historical site, and sandy beach?

Never fear! The Cambodia military will let you blow up a cow with a rocket launcher for $400!

The Somali Minister of Tourism also promises that tourists will leave Somalia alive, and hopefully won't be kidnapped. "At least, we would try to make sure they were not kidnapped, though it can happen."

Now _that's_ a tourist draw. You can also get hand grenades for $10USD in Somalia, so if you _don't_ leave alive, it's probably your own fault!

Hey look... another version of the same tool...

...generally anyway. Hotbits is another geniuine random number source, and this one already has a java package that can be used to connect to it.

Of course, the java package page scrapes, much like mine does. The server presents the data in an easier format, so that's actually a bit sharper there, but the turnoff is the tiny little quota, limiting the number of HotBits you can download.

Fat lot of good _that_ does me, eh?

I want to experiment with the Monte Carlo value for PI, and HotBits isn't going to cut it for me. The Monte Carlo value for Pi is computed like so- take a metric buttload of random bytes. Take every six bytes, and convert it to an XY coordinate for an arbitrary square- if the point is in the radius of a circle inside the square, it's a hit, otherwise, it's a miss. From the number of hits, you can calculate the value of Pi. I want to see what happens when I feed it a gig of data from a very random source and go away for the weekend. Aside from a floating point exception.
johnny cash


If the hedgehog that has taken residence in my throat is yours, please take it back. If not, I will continue attempting to drown it in scalding water filled with honey and lemon juice. Failing that, I will use a rotorooter to extract it.

I do not jest.

You have been warned.

Bah... I hate being ill.