jc blog - tales of a modern-day nomadic hunter-gatherer

Follow jcomeau_ictx on Twitter This is the weblog of Intrepid Wanderer. You never know what you might find here; graphic descriptions of bodily functions, computer programming secrets, proselytizing for the antichrist, miscellaneous ranting and kvetching, valuable information on living off the land... if you don't share my rather weird interests you may want to try slashdot instead.

You can consider my Del.icio.us links an extension to my blog, as are my LifeTango goals and my other to-do items. My to-buy list is also public, but only for sharing any useful ideas that might be there; I'm not requesting charity, neither do I offer it.

You can find me easily in google searches, as jcomeau, jcomeau_ictx, or jcomeauictx. There are lots of other jcomeaus, but AFAIK I'm the only jcomeau_ictx out there so far.

If you want to comment on anything you see here, try the new Facebook comments, reachable by clicking the "[comment]" link at the end of each post. If for some reason that isn't working, go ahead and email me, jc.unternet.net. You know what to do with the first dot. Make the 'subject' line something reasonably intelligent-looking or it goes plunk! into the spambasket unread.

This RSS feed may or may not work. Haven't fiddled with it in forever. RSS Feed


Still incorrect, but a sign of life (98KB) on my colorForth version of the Mandelbrot program. Got to speed it up by at least two orders of magnitude, too. Even on VMWare Player, the fastest of the emulators I'm using, it took 5 hours or so to get this far. [comment]


So much for those eggs. I had over a dozen left, and today when I tested them, all but two floated. Let's hope the chorizo experiment works, or I'll have to find a way to be happy with vegetable proteins.

Some coffee that I'd roasted to a light caramel color before the fire has been sitting in my kitchen all this time; ground it this morning, and it was so hard it felt as though it would break my neighbor's grinder, so I brought it back to my place to finish; then when we brewed it, it had such a strange and wonderful aroma and taste. Not like coffee at all, more like toffee if that makes any sense. [comment]


I'm jazzed. Spent most of the night hacking colorForth to run on VMWare, after cramming a debugging routine into the bootblock that shows exactly at what address it fails. And now it works! New release is at SourceForge.net.

Now to fix it to run as a comfile, and get the Mandelbrot set display to work. [comment]


What hoops must one jump through to write position-independent code for an x86 processor! Stupid stack tricks to figure out "where we are"; messing with segment registers; using SI or DI or a 32-bit register as an index pointer. It was so fucking easy on the PDP-11, everything was PC-relative unless specified otherwise. CALLs and JMPs are PC-relative on x86, why does data have to be absolute?

It wouldn't matter if colorForth was to be booted only directly from a floppy, but Chuck Moore's was designed to be also run as a .COM file from MS-DOS. If I want to have the same capability I've got to add a lot of stuff to my code. And now I'm thinking I should set DS or ES to be offset from 0x9400, or whatever the load address ends up being, to avoid any changes to high-level code. But there's only one or two as it is, maybe better not mess with it... and I've already added most of the necessary offsets in the assembly code. Ah well, one thing at a time. [comment]


A bit of social engineering: instead of letting the security droid at Wal-mart (otherwise known as the "greeter") tell me to leave my bags up front, I was proactive: I said "mind if I leave my bag here?", to which he assented, and I took both bags off my shoulders. I left only the Akona bag, which now has only my sleeping bag and some other less expensive stuff, and put my new Otterbox with my laptop back over my shoulder and walked into the store. Sure enough, he didn't challenge me on it. [comment]


Back to beer again after 3 days of sticking with red wine, which is far more compatible with my body. Went to the Pink Store and had a couple of Pacificos, followed by café, and a steak while hacking colorForth. I have an idea for troubleshooting its failure to boot on real hardware (it works, so far, only on Bochs and QEMU), using some routines from Geezer's protected-mode demo code. I might get to it later tonight, but for now I'm hooked on getting the Mandelbrot set to display on colorForth. The program is dog-slow and incomplete, but it's far more readable (to me, at least) than Mark Slicker's, and there are ways to speed it up.

I've been thinking I have too much money. I bought a whole bunch of stuff, and now I have about 20 projects going, which overwhelms me and I don't get much done on anything. If I were poorer, I'd have to sell most of my "stuff", leaving me with a more manageable set of projects. Ah, well. I tried to quit my "job" again today but my customer won't let go so easily. [comment]


Getting close, I think. Weird artifacts, like alien eyes peering out at me. [comment]


I used to think that a MasterCard debit card always showed you your purchases immediately, as Paypal's does, but that doesn't work with Washington Mutual's. I sometimes have to wait for 3 days or so to see what I spent. Since I'm no good at remembering things or logging expenses, that means I'm bound to mess up sooner or later and have to pay overdraft fees.

Anyway, I decided to risk it, and am drinking pints at Gentle Ben's in the university district of Tucson. I've got a ticket on the 1:20 AM Amtrak to Deming; Greyhound no longer stops there and even if it did, it would have been as expensive or more. Fuck that, I'll take the train over the bus any day for the same price.

Hey, just checked my tab, and it's only $5 for two pints so far. Not bad at all for such a pricey area, where tacos were $6 just down the street (I spent less than $4 for a lamb wrap at the Indian restaurant instead). I slept today at the park down Congress Street, and will probably sleep more on the train... hey, if I oversleep and they don't wake me up till El Paso I sure won't complain.

I'm making progress with ../src/mandelbrot_int32.py; the outline of the Mandelbrot set shows up, but with a lot of background and foreground noise. Along the way, some really strange shit showed up that looked like runes, but I didn't want to show you every failure no matter how interesting... I may actually need to work as a programmer again some day, and my methods probably aren't very confidence-inspiring to potential clients. [comment]


Hopefully I behaved well at cusp. Rather than attempt to deal with a problem when everything I said or didn't say seemed to exacerbate it, I got out of the car a few miles south of downtown Tucson and walked back into town alone. I'm sitting in the Heart Five having a pint of Guinness and ruminating on the past, present, and possible futures. Hopefully will find some wireless access later on tonight if I'm sober enough to accomplish anything. [comment]


I've been playing with ../src/mandelbrot.py trying to get it to work with fixed-point 32-bit numbers instead of floats. It's more difficult than it was converting to floats (reals) from Python's built-in support of complex numbers; for that I just had to learn the rules of complex addition and multiplication. So what's so difficult about fixed point arithmetic? I can't find much about it on the web, and since Python automatically promotes ints to longs, one has to jump hoops to keep results within 32-bit boundaries. Just a few minutes ago, I got something to show up in the display, but it's nothing resembling the Mandelbrot set. Take a look at the screenshot and the source if you're interested. It's more of a Moiré pattern than anything else.

Anyway, now that I have some output, hopefully it won't be too hard to get the remaining bugs out; then I can port it to colorForth.

We ought to be in Phoenix in an hour or so; might even be home sometime after midnight tonight. It'll be good. [comment]


Today I got a guided tour of a modern genetics lab; got to see the PCR process, and analyses done with an Applied Biosystems 3730 and a Biotage PSQ 96MA Pyrosequencer. Added some interesting links to my Del.icio.us page when I wasn't peering over somebody's shoulder. [comment]


The Community Wi-fi hotspot is reachable from inside Grilla Bites, a block away, and there's another AP called Naked Cafe visible also. [comment]


Sitting in the Starbucks in downtown Chico. The AP "Community Wi-fi" is available just outside the door, but not inside; and there's a linksys configured for open access that fades in and out of reachability from inside. I don't yet know of any other free wifi nodes in this town... oh, scratch that, I just searched my blog and there's Coco Caffé, or at least there was in December of 2005, the last time I was here. [comment]


Breakfasting at Café Express in downtown Flagstaff. It's a bit expensive -- almost $7 for the sausage scramble special -- but it was open early (7-ish), has nice restrooms; pleasant service; and wifi! We expect to hit Grand Canyon by early afternoon. [comment]


I'm eating one of the chorizos I made almost a month ago. It tastes a little rancid, but no moreso than it did when I made them; let's see how sick I get. I'm just recovering from what's referred to as a "cold", so if these are really bad I'll be hurting... or I could just get parasites from the raw (albeit dried) pork. It's a little difficult to determine that. [comment]


Had a fire in my place yesterday, took out a few cubic feet of my papercrete roof. Tried to quell it myself with the help of my neighbors, but it seemed to be getting away from me so we called 911 and the Columbus FD came out and saturated it for me.

What had happened was the stovepipe inside the wall had come apart, and all it took was one hot ash to ignite the wall. It followed cracks in the papercrete for almost two feet in both directions before I noticed it when I went to pour more water into my coffee and some red-hot ashes came falling down from the ceiling above the wood stove.

So anyway, now I've got a mess in my kitchen, soggy papercrete chunks all over the floor. I'm going away for a week or two, to Northern California for a friend's 50th birthday celebration, and will deal with it when I come back. [comment]

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