Pi Day Follow-upby Jim

16 Mar 2009
9:03 pm

Okay, as promised, here is a picture of me in my Pi Day attire holding our Pi Day dessert.

Pi Day Pie

I’m a geek, I know it.

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Happy Pi Day!by Jim

14 Mar 2009
3:03 pm
        3.141592653589793238       462643
      9445     9230        7816406286
      20       8998          6280
               3482         53421
               170          6798
               214          8086
               513          282
              3066          470
              9384         4609
              5505         8223
             17253         5940
            81284          81117    4
           502841           027019 38
            521               105559

Happy Pi Day, everyone!  Today is 3.14 (aka March 14) and is special in a couple ways.  Today is my sister’s birthday (Happy birthday, sis!), Einstein’s birthday (hooray for geniuses), and Pi Day.  Pi day is an excuse to make (and eat) lots of pies.  We’ll post a picture of the pi we make for dinner tonight.

I hope you enjoy my ASCII art — I made it myself ;)

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A Special Day for Geeksby Jim

13 Feb 2009
11:02 am

You’ll have to pardon my geekiness, but today is a very special day.  Today, at 3:31:30 pm Pacific (11:31:30 pm UTC), Unix Epoch time will reach 1,234,567,890.  It is kind of like celebrating January 1st in the year 1000, at the turn of the millennium.  So that you can more fully appreciate this special moment, let me give a brief history lesson.

You see, way back in the early days of computing (1969), some really smart guys at AT&T Bell Labs developed Unix.  Unix is an operating system (like unto Windows) that runs programs except it didn’t have a graphical user interface (GUI with mouse pointers, icons, etc. — unlike unto Windows).  A GUI was developed later, but at first it was all just command line stuff.  For geeks, this is one of the things that makes Unix fun.  Anyway, they needed a way to represent time, so they decided to use a standard integer value counting in seconds.  Therefore, at 12:00:01 AM January 1st, 1970 Unix time started at 1 and they’ve been counting ever since.

Back on Sept. 9, 2001, Unix time rolled around to the 1 billionth second since Unix Epoch (1 Jan, 1970).  The geeks over in Denmark thought this was pretty cool, so they threw a big party.  Those Europeans are really into the whole Unix/Linux thing.  Actually, I think it is more likely they are into the Anti-Microsoft thing.

So, if you read this before the big event, set your alarms and have a moment of reflection for how Unix makes the world a better place.


(This image was modified for demonstrative purposes.)

For those of you who want to witness this event, find your nearest Unix/Linux machine and type:

date +%s

If you don’t think you’re fast enough to get it on just the right second, you can try:

watch -n 1 date +%s

Which will display once a second, so you’re sure to catch it.

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Conference in HD?by Jim

5 Oct 2008
3:10 pm

In the past, I’ve been saddened by how the Church has lagged in the technology department.  Understandably, technology is normally very expensive and it is sacred tithing they spend, so I’ve never complained about it.  A few years ago, when they finally started posting conference as video files, I was very pleased.  It wasn’t anything new or especially impressive, but it was a step in the right direction.  This year, though, I was impressed.  The new video streamer we used to watch conference this year was fantastic.  Not only was it very responsive (we were able to watch conference without missing large chunks because of insufficient bandwith on their part, as in years past), but the fidelity of the video was unbelievable.  I didn’t do any tests (I was trying to pay attention to the speakers), but the quality definitely looked HD to me.  Full-screened on my HDTV, the quality was better than most DVDs.  More than once, I got up from the couch and stared at my TV only inches away to see how clear the picture was.  As an added nicety, http://lds.org broadcast conference in widescreen!  (Strangely, http://www.byu.tv did not.)  Forgive me for being so excited about this… after spending a lot on a TV, it is nice when I get to use the HD-ness of it.  Did anyone else who watched conference online notice how good it looked?

The talks were all very good.  I especially liked Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk in the Priesthood Session.  What great counsel we received over the last 36 hours!


Okay, so it wasn’t HD.  It was 640×360, which is technically not high-def; but in all honesty, online conference never looked better.  ;)

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It’s a keeper!by Jim

30 Sep 2008
6:09 pm

Linux Server Uptime

The long search is over.  I’ve finally decided on my official Linux server distro: ArchLinux.  I’ve spent the last few weeks (and many, many hours) trying out a few different distros and have found the one I want to stick with.  Recently, I installed a trial copy of Windows Home Server after hearing a few recommendations.  This meant that my Linux server (where this blog is hosted, among other sites) would have to make room for another OS.  I don’t think I could survive without a Linux server, though, so I chose to take the virtualization route.  I tried out a few different virtual server programs and found Microsoft’s Virtual Server the most useful.  I wanted to use Sun’s VirtualBox, but Microsoft’s product has a web interface for configuring and controlling your servers: very cool.  Besides, it also automatically starts up as a service, just like it should.

Anyway, I would have used the same distro I had on the machine before installing Windows Home Server, but my version of Ubuntu didn’t seem to like being virtualized and it would freeze nearly every morning.  I got tired of reseting it, so I started looking for more distros.  I tried Fedora: too bloated — especially for a virtual server.  I tried Debian, but it didn’t like living in a virtual environment either; it couldn’t get anything from the repositories.  Then I found Arch (thanks to Antony).  It was just what I wanted: robust, but simple.  Simple meaning complexity, not ease of use.  Arch is not for the faint-hearted.  I consider myself a fairly experienced Linux user, so I gave it a whirl.  As you can see, Arch doesn’t have the freezing problems Ubuntu had.  I’m glad I finally found something that works well.  Arch is here to stay.

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May the 4thby Jim

4 May 2008
7:05 pm

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say, “May the Fourth be with you.”

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I’m Famous!by Jim

19 Apr 2008
5:04 pm

Well, maybe not famous, but the laser I’m working on is.  KQED did a little blurb on NIF recently, so I’ve posted it here.  It gives a good summary of what we’re working on out here in Livermore, and it is worth watching.  I think it is cool, but then I’m partial to videos about giant lasers.  (The segment is about 11 minutes long.)

If you’d like to watch a bigger version of it, pop on over to http://www.kqed.org and have a look-see.  Man, I love my job.

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