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September 23, 2004

¶ new address
So csg.lcs.mit.edu was rather unceremoniously uprooted and is now hosted at pink-panther, and no longer has the username aliases.

If you're reading this, you have the new address already, but it might look kinda nasty (e.g. people.csail.mit.edu/u/a/albert/public_html/blog). A shorter URL is http://csail.mit.edu/~albert/blog/
June 23, 2004

¶ hull breached
Early this morning, the AI Lab file servers were disconnected and powered off quite hastily. This was to stop a rampant rm -rf /home/ai3/* that was wiping out half of the lab's home folders.

According to max, a lab machine had been compromised some time back. The tech staff has known about it for quite a while, and were gathering information and statistics on the intrusion. They were providing information to the FBI in an attempt to nab the perpetrator instead of just stopping him. Apparently, our cracker friend got wind of the fact that s/he was being tracked, and in an act of vengeance, decided to wipe out everyone's home directories.

rm -rf worked in alphabetical order, leaving a swath of destruction that made it through the M's before being stopped. So for most of the day, everyone with login names from a-m were wandering around aimlessly, souls without a home. Quite freaky, doing an ls in your home directory and seeing absolutely nothing there. In the late morning, a snapshot made at midnight was remounted read-only to give people some access to their files. I'm not sure what the status is now.

My group wasn't affected, as our stuff is hosted on different servers.
February 26, 2004

¶ Bill Gates
Bill Gates gave a talk today. I had totally forgotten about it until angelina reminded me, so I was 20 minutes late. Don't really remember much about his talk, it was all PR material. The whole time, my thought train was like, "haha, this guy has a super dorky voice!" ... "holy shit this guy is rich!" ... "dork" ... "#$^&@ rich!" ... "dork" ... "this guy could buy canada" ...

Overall it was interesting, if not just to see the guy. He made a lot of jokes (indirect references) about how he never graduated from college, and how rich he is. I got in line to ask a question, but I was too slow, and they ended Q&A before it was my turn.

In high school, I had this totally unjustified hatred for the man. In retrospect, it was just the geeky thing to do, like macintosh bashing. I would listen to other people say why they didn't like him, and then repeat what I heard, without really checking anything myself. Now it's different, but it's interesting to look back and realize that my opinions weren't really my own at the time.

It was interesting to hear him mention his philanthropic efforts. He said at one point, (paraphrased) "It's a little strange, spending some days trying to make a lot of money, and then other days trying to give it away". Glancing at the website, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has an endowment of $26 billion. That's an incredible amount of money for a charitable foundation. If nothing else, that's definitely the power to effect change.
February 18, 2004

¶ virtual monday, pleasurable office chairs
Yesterday (Tuesday), was a Virtual Monday. Virtual Monday means that even though it's a Tuesday, we have all of our Monday classes and the Institute operates as if it's actually a Monday. The idea is that we want to have most of our holidays on Mondays cause it makes for better weekends and more uniformity, but we don't want to screw over the courses that have class on Monday. So on the Tuesdays following every other Monday holiday, we have a Virtual Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Institute returns to its normal schedule.

in other news, I was just browsing through the archives of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Digital Library, and happened across the proceedings of a conference titled DPPI: Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces. Of course I had to take a look. So I look and see that the second abstract in last year's proceedings came from some researchers in the Netherlands. It's titled: "Measuring the emotions elicited by office chairs"1 At this point I'm just ready to fall over laughing. But I think maybe it's just a hokey title and they're actually presenting some interesting research, so I read the abstract. And I quote:
Office chair designers have traditionally focused their design efforts on optimizing the so-called 'ergonomic fit.' Although the effort to design chairs that support physical comfort is commendable, the focus on ergonomics neglects the possible impact of emotional responses on the general experience of comfort. The general experience of comfort experienced when using a chair is not only influenced by the ergonomic fit but also by the 'emotional fit,' i.e. an emotional response that is desired by the user. In this paper, a study is reported that was designed to measure emotional responses evoked by office chair appearance. The study was part of a bigger project concerning attractive and comfortable office chairs. The emotional responses evoked by 15 chairs were measured with the Emocard method, a non-verbal self-report instrument. Some differences were found in the results obtained with the Emocards and those obtained with a standard verbal evaluation method. Although discriminative to some extent, the non-verbal method was found to be less discriminative than the verbal method. In the discussion section, some recommendations for the development of the Emocard method are reported. It is discussed that, given these feasible recommendations, the Emocard method can be a useful tool for office chair designers that want to 'design for an emotional fit'.
So in short, they took some office chairs, and this thing called an Emocard, and showed the chairs to a bunch of people. Then they wrote a paper on it and presented their findings in an ACM-sponsored conference called Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces.

Somebody shoot me now before I get farther into academia.
1Karen Reijneveld, Michiel de Looze, Frank Krause, Pieter Desmet. Designing Pleasurable Products And Interfaces. archive Proceedings of the 2003 international conference on Designing pleasurable products and interfaces, Pages: 6 - 10
February 16, 2004

¶ updates from cambridge
new roomie moved in a week ago. we get along. have more in common with him than i did with china, at least =P

So I'm not really one for romantic things, but I'd feel like a tool if I didn't do anything on v-day. stacy came up friday night. The plan was to hang out in cambridge, maybe go ice skating, and then go snowboarding early saturday morning. Picked her up from the bus station, and then she was like, 'dude i forgot my contact lenses' and she didn't want to go riding in her brand new glasses so we were like 'shit'. stopped by a couple of opticians to see if we could buy some disposable contacts for her, but no go, as all the ophthamologists had gone home for the night and weren't giving out prescriptions. So we drove down to providence. and then drove back up to cambridge, with her contacts. That was friday. romantic, huh?

saturday was cool. took her to Loon, a medium size mountain with some nice riding. I bought new bindings last week, so my board actually stays on my feet now.

sunday met up with amandine and bryant and (surprise surprise) yotam for dim sum at china pearl. shocked them all with my blue hair, which stacy dyed for me last friday. I would post a picture, but I think my camera has breathed its last. won't turn on now =/ time to buy a new camera! dim sum, as always, was cool. had time to enjoy it this time. last time i went to china pearl with jay, we showed up 40 minutes before his train was scheduled to leave from south station. our meal was like: wait for table, get table, mob carts, snarf snarf, mob carts, snarf snarf, throw money at cashier, run to south station.
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