« October 2005 | November 2005 | December 2005 »

November 30, 2005

Trustgenix acquired by HP

Greg's company, Trustgenix, has just been acquired by HP.

Congratulations, Greg, Atul, and team!

[ Greg and I are maybe going to write our paper on "The Model," which will explain how to start software companies, build them up, and sell them without venture capital or any outside investment, making tidy millions in the process. Here's another one, from a few years back. If we were really smart, we would keep it a secret. ]

Posted by tplambeck at 08:48 AM

November 29, 2005

Wrong place at the wrong time—a spider creeps under an Emacs CTRL-V

Page Down

I felt a slight squishiness, looked down, and there he was.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:27 AM

November 28, 2005

Network solutions DNS failure

I couldn't bring up this web site in a browser, but httpd's were running and an ssh session on my desktop for several days was still up. Four possibilities, in order of awfulness:

1) Someone hacked my machine and repurposed it to send spam or launch DoS attacks (it's happened before, but not in the last two years, despite my never upgrading the Linux version I'm running)

2) LLIC configuration changed somehow, must consult with Steve (awful only because Steve always ends up asking me questions about my configuration that I can't answer, then summarizes my cluelessness by asking me why I'm "not running Debian," in the same manner a person might ask why a child insists on wearing his shoes backwards...)

3) SBC messing with firewalls or other strange configurations

4) Temporary netsol DNS trouble

Thankfully, it was the last possibility:

We are currently experiencing a widespread DNS related outage. If you are attempting to contact us to report a product that is not working, please know that we are aware of the issue, and are doing everything we can to resolve all issues as quickly as possible.

Everything looks OK now.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:51 AM

November 25, 2005

Nebraska/Colorado, then Cirque du Soleil

With Grandpa, we watched the Nebraska-Colorado football game [30-3, NU, an unexpected blowout] at the loft until 6:30 remained in the third quarter.


Then it was time to leave for the 4pm Cirque du Soleil in San Francisco. It was set up in a series of colorful tents not far from SBC Park.

A miniaturized woman—(what does a person say, "dwarf," or "midget," or something else?)—appeared, tethered to five largish helium balloons. There wasn't quite enough buoyancy for her to float to the ceiling, so the master of ceremonies gave her push over the crowd, who helpfully pushed on her stockinged feet so that she would float back to the stage.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:18 PM

November 24, 2005

Prankster writes as ten year-old asking Senators for their favorite jokes


Jon Corzine's response:

"What did the number 0 say to the number 8?"

"Nice belt!"

* * * *
Added later Rick Santorum: "Although a favorite joke doesn't immediately come to mind, I do enjoy laughing."

[He's so lifelike, that Rick Santorum.]

Posted by tplambeck at 08:55 AM

Two trips

1) Went geocaching with Cole and Owen, following these clues to a treasure in our neighborhood. We found it after a longish walk around downtown Palo Alto, finding four historic markers that gave us some of the necessary coordinates for the treasure location itself. The log book in the treasure cache revealed that someone had been there just one day before us, "The Davidsons," who wrote that they did it on bikes.

2) Went to the doctor for a flu shot and hip trouble diagnosis, and came back with a lifetime prescription for this after my blood pressure came in at 150/90. It would be nice to know how to pronounce it.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:14 AM

November 20, 2005

Problem in a book with title "What to Expect on the ISEE"


Posted by tplambeck at 05:02 PM

November 18, 2005

Hoover Tower bathed in red light for the Big Game


Cole and Owen really wanted me to take a photo of this.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:17 PM

November 17, 2005

Creepy news in the San Jose Mercury News

They've got Beethoven's skull, or at least part of it, at San Jose State.


First, Beethoven's hair shows up in San Jose. And now, his skull.

It's true. Fragments that appear to come from the great composer's skull have surfaced in the home of a Danville businessman and will be on indefinite loan to the Center for Beethoven Studies at San Jose State University.

For millions moved by Beethoven's music, it is not just an amazing event -- something like the bones of an apostle showing up after centuries. It also opens a new window into Beethoven's legendary medical problems, which helped shape his mind and music.

The center, which already owns a celebrated strand of Beethoven's hair, is to make the announcement today after coordinating six years of forensic tests, which seem to corroborate the authenticity of the bones.

``I am in awe,'' said Paul Kaufmann, a Danville businessman. His great-great-uncle, a Viennese doctor named Romeo Seligmann, secretly was given two large fragments and 11 smaller ones when the composer's remains were exhumed in 1863. (Beethoven died in Vienna in 1827.) Kaufmann said the bones will be loaned to the center ``in perpetuity.''

Starting today, they will be locked in a vault and made available for scientific research. The public will see them only in a still-to-be scheduled exhibit that will tell the story behind the bones and their scientific analysis...

This image in the newspaper of Beethoven's skull took my breath away:


sfgate article

Posted by tplambeck at 10:32 PM

November 16, 2005

NYT quotation of the day

"If a person is having a problem in life, someone who is 42 might not know where to go - 'Do I need acupuncture, do I need a new haircut, do I need to read Suze Orman?' " said Casey Greenfield, 32, a writer in Los Angeles, referring to the personal-finance guru. "Someone my age will be like, 'Do I need to switch from Paxil to Prozac?' "

Young, Assured and Playing Pharmacist to Friends (Amy Harmon)

Posted by tplambeck at 08:47 PM

November 14, 2005

Two cats

#1) Owen brought home a painting of a leopard he made in 2nd grade:


#2) Investigating the poor delivery of air from the Yosemite house heater/air conditioner into the house through the ducts under it, the repair guy told Gloria there was a "fresh carcass" under the house and that it's very likely the bobcat I managed to photograph prowling around the house in September actually lives under the house. "It wouldn't have been so nice to meet up with her there, in your crawlspace," he observed.

"You need to call pest patrol," he concluded.

Somehow I can't think of a largish feline predator as a "pest." Does the Orkin man really know how to deal with this?

Our friend the kitty cat pest

I'm glad I'm scared of spiders and declined to look into this matter myself.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:55 PM

SGI delisted

Today was the first day since 1986 that the stock of Silicon Graphics Inc., better known as SGI, has not been traded on the New York Stock Exchange....

link (via langreiter).

Posted by tplambeck at 05:51 PM

From that Penguin Classics Library list

Con men and Cutpurses: Scenes from the Hogarthian Underworld

Sounds good.

1081 to go.

I should finish Oliver Twist, first.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:17 AM

Penguin Classics Library

Today's NYT has this interesting article about a woman whose house burned down in a Los Alamos wildfire, taking her library of thousands of books with it. She spent $8000 to get started replacing her collection by buying the Penguin Classics Library at Amazon (1082 volumes).

"Wait! if you add just $2340 to your order, shipping will be free!"

Here's the complete list of books in the collection.

Posted by tplambeck at 10:12 AM

Why I'll probably drop my ACM membership again, as I have before

I joined again to get access to the papers that they've put online in the ACM Digital Library. It's a nice service, although I wish it convered more of the CS literature.

As a "member in good standing," I'm sent the flagship publication, the Communications of the ACM. Here's a large font quotebite from the Nov 2005 issue, on my desk:

Any attempt to deskill programmers would certainly be counterproductive (and counter-creative) to the world of software as we know it.

Ack. Whatever possible meaning is encoded in that horrible sentence [perhaps it should be called a "Communication," instead], it's going to depend on what the mysterious word "deskill" is supposed to mean, and it's not even a word.

Is more bad writing to be found in the IEEE Spectrum, or the Communications of the ACM?

Just wondering.

Posted by tplambeck at 09:12 AM

November 13, 2005

Lititz, PA


Posted by tplambeck at 07:23 PM

That stupid Tortoise guy—it's like he is stalking her!

Gloria found this note at an ice rink.



Posted by tplambeck at 09:08 AM

November 12, 2005

Ron Graham juggling

Ron Graham juggling
Originally uploaded by thane.
The mathematician Ron Graham juggling N pins (for N >> 3) with three different people.

[Cellphone photo taken at the INTEGERS conference in Carrollton, GA a few weeks ago]
Posted by tplambeck at 08:51 AM

November 09, 2005


1) I'm finding that ZZ Top played on the iPod nano stimulates me to actually work on the several math papers I'm trying to finish.

2) Lemony Snicket, in the Introduction to this book, writing "If you enjoy tedious stories, you may read the following paragraphs for your tedious enjoyment, and if you don't, don't," proceeds to offer the following:

A) "I have an adorable announcement!" cried the Kind of Teddy Bear Land. "In honor of Princess Buttercup's marriage to Prince Appletree, we will have a Teddy Bear parade throughout town square, which happens to be made of candy!"

B) "But if you're a wizard," asked Henry, "why can't you just defeat the Shadow Lord and his army of vicious porcupines with a wave of your wand?" "That's a good question, young Henry," replied Thistlewing. "You'd better sit down, because I'm going to take the next nine pages to explain what wizards can and cannot do in this particular land."

C) "Don't be silly!" cried the Long Division Worm. "Math is fun! Come with me and I'll show you!"

Added later: bookgasm review

Posted by tplambeck at 10:52 PM

November 07, 2005

Dialogue imagined after reading Queen Elizabeth's suggestion that "rescue helicopters" provide a 'suitably neutral' choice for 'casual conversation'

THANE: How do you do?

QE-II: Very well, thank you. How do you do?

THANE: Very well, thank you. [Pause. Followed by longer pause] Say—I've heard of some nice new rescue helicopters, you know, the kind used to save people's lives in the Andes, or on I-5, or whatever.

QE-II: Fascinating!

Posted by tplambeck at 11:49 PM

W. W. Rouse Ball on Newton's fluxions vs the Leibnitz differential notation

From A Short Account of the History of Mathematics (4th edition, 1908) by W. W. Rouse Ball
* * *
If we must confine ourselves to one system of notation then there can be little doubt that that which was invented by Leibnitz is better fitted for most of the purposed to which the infinitesimal calculus is applied than that of fluxions, and for some (such as the calculus of variations) it is indeed almost essential. It should be remembered, however, that at the beginning of the eighteenth century the methods of the infinitesimal calculus had not been systematized, and either notation was equally good. The development of that calculus was the main work of the mathematicians of the first half of the eighteenth century. The differential form was adopted by continental mathematicians. The application of it by Euler, Lagrange, and Laplace to the principles of mechanics laid down in the Principia was the great achievement of the last half of that century, and finally demonstrated the superiority of the differential to the fluxional calculus. The translation of the Principia into the language of modern analysis, and the filling in of the details of the Newtonian theory by the aid of that analysis, were effected by Laplace.

The controversy with Leibnitz was regarded in England as an attempt by foreigners to defraud Newton of the credit of his invention, and the question was complicated on both sides by national jealousies. It was therefore natural, though it was unfortunate, that in England the geometrical and fluxional methods as used by Newton were alone studied and employed. For more than a century the English school was thus out of touch with continental mathematicians. The consequence was that, in spite of the brilliant band of scholars formed by Newton, the improvements in the methods of analysis gradually effected on the continent were almost unknown in Britain. It was not until 1820 that the value of analytical tools was fully recognized in England, and that Newton's countrymen again took any large share in the development of mathematics.
* * *


Posted by tplambeck at 10:36 PM

Citebase (amongst other things) blows up


Physicists or chemists were responsible, presumably.

Computer scientists don't do explosions, really.

Due to a serious fire and explosion on the 30th October 2005 at the University of Southampton, Citebase Search, the Archives Registry, Celestial, and other tools managed by me will be unavailable until further notice.

citebase announcement / bbc story

Posted by tplambeck at 09:38 PM

November 06, 2005

November 05, 2005

Another prison break

It's been a good week for prison break stories:

* * *
Jurors and victims' relatives fear they might be targets of a death row inmate who freed himself from handcuffs and walked out of a county jail in civilian clothes.

Convicted killer Charles Victor Thompson remained at large Saturday, authorities said. Thompson, 35, fooled at least four jail employees when he walked out of the Harris County Jail on Thursday.

"This was 100 percent human error. That's the most frustrating thing about it," sheriff's spokesman Lt. John Martin said Friday. "There were multiple failures. There were several points where it could have been prevented."
* * *
This story follows the classical form in its introduction:

First paragraph: Teaser details: "walked out..." "in civilian clothes..."

Second paragraph: Criminal name and age. Development of detail: "fooled at least four jail employees.." Name of correctional facility.

Third paragraph: Law enforcement officer identified. Quotation expressing regret and frustration.

Posted by tplambeck at 11:52 AM

Lasker's House

Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941) was the world chess champion from 1894 to 1921. In an interesting article on the recently opened Emanuel Lasker exhibition in Berlin, I learned that he had a cool house that is going to be rebuilt:



He later went on to study mathematics at Erlangen University. He achieved the German master title in 1889. He made up a Nim variant called Lasker's Nim, which unfortunately is tame in misere play, so my recently developed fancy theory of such games is unneeded to solve it.

I've heard about Lasker having had quite a bit of contact with Einstein, but don't remember any of the details (Google would know).

Posted by tplambeck at 08:16 AM

November 04, 2005

Prison Break

Two violent felons who stopped at nothing to escape from a maximum-security prison—they hid on a trash truck —stopped for pizza later, and were caught.

Johnny Brewer, a convicted murderer, and Jimmy Causey, a convicted kidnapper, had been on the loose since Tuesday, when they escaped from a Columbia prison. They were apprehended about 110 miles to the south, at a motel along busy Interstate 95 in Ridgeland, said Robert Stewart, chief of the state Law Enforcement Division.

"We got a tip from a local restaurant that had delivered pizza and thought it was suspicious," Ridgeland police chief Richard Woods told CBS News.

* * *
[ A new theme for the prison break story generator: fast food capture. I've got a big backlog of updates, unfortunately. ]

Posted by tplambeck at 01:47 PM

From a proposal for ending short draws in chess

Our proposed solution does not change the rules about draws by mutual agreement, which still can be offered and accepted at any stage of the game. Instead, we believe that draws should not be accepted as a final chess result. Automatically, whenever a game ends in a draw, the two players shall immediately draw colours for a blitz playoff.

A Cure for Severe Acute Drawitis?

Posted by tplambeck at 09:54 AM

November 02, 2005

Sapien Bookcase (Tall)

I'm afraid I'm going to have make a "prior art" declaration concerning this "unique solution" by Bruno Rainaldi. Yes—I discovered this system of book storage many years ago.


H 83" W 13.5" D 13.5" [83 inches high!]

page (design within reach)

Granted, my system involves no furniture, just simple very tall stacks of books. But my stacks have the advantage that when they fall, no one gets poked in the ear with a long metal pole.

Posted by tplambeck at 08:37 PM

Halloween is over? You're going to do WHAT to the old pumpkins?


Posted by tplambeck at 04:37 PM



Posted by tplambeck at 04:22 PM

November 01, 2005

Grinning red-eyed predator intimidates golden retriever

I went to mail our "permanent absentee" ballots and took Pearl the dog with me.

I thought we might as well continue down the block for a short walk. But then we were unlucky enough to encounter this:

Pearl wasn't going anywhere near it. It looks like entrails of its last victim are spread out on the ground in front of its mouth, I guess.

We turned around and went back home.

Posted by tplambeck at 06:26 PM

Maybe I should take down the "FOR SALE" signs

My blog is worth $0.00.
How much is your blog worth?

Posted by tplambeck at 10:15 AM

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