August 2008 Archives

The Voodoo That You Do...

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If someone were to ask me what I do, its sometimes hard to explain...  I thought of a new way last night.

I think about how to do a task.  Then I make a computer do the task.  Then I think of how a user might interact with the computer while doing the task. I then watch what happens and fix whatever breaks.

These steps don't usually happen in series.  Not really in parallel either.  More of a furball.


The Last Ten Percent.

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Need to finish cleaning up show pics... 

F40.jpg

'not expressly forbidden'

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There is a saying in astronomy/physics which goes something like... 'anything not expressly forbidden is compulsory' which is about the same as saying '**** happens'.  

It comes into play in situations like forbidden emission/absorption lines in spectroscopic analysis...  astronomers will see these lines in spectra, although they are technically forbidden.  

What is meant by 'forbidden' in this case is that the transition which would cause the spectral line is extremely unlikely via quantum mechanics. As in once in a billion, billion times. And if there is any other way the transition  could occur, it will almost always happen in that way.

However, forbidden lines do happen because, while the chance of them is very, very small and the likelihood of a any  other way of that transition happening in very, very high, in interstellar gas clouds there are a large, large number of atoms which are at very, very low densities.  We're talking about better than the best vacuum created on the Earth.  So there is almost no interaction between the atoms in the gas cloud, which means there is almost no other way for the transitions to happen.  So you get forbidden spectral lines.

So what does this have to do with PSU or IT?

If a student or employee at PSU can log into a web application with their PSU Access Account and change any of their identifying information (name, PSU ID#, user name. etc.) accidentally or on purpose during the process, someone, at some point, will do so.  Even if it makes no sense to do so.  

It is inevitable unless completely and totally prevented by the developer in all cases, at all times.


University Calendar?

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Can anyone explain why the PSU event calendar appears to be pretty useless?  I don't see listings for things I know are happening...  there seems to be a lot of 'odd' things posted...

What's the point?

With my diversity of interests, there are a lot of potentially interesting things going on at PSU.  But, I really am not going to try to hunt through every department's and unit's local calendar to try to find useful information.  'Word of mouth'  seems to be the best way to find out things...

On the 'main' calendar there's no RSS..  searching gets weird results..  its not very attractive...  no .ics files or anything...


Copyright

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From an article on TechDirt - Copyright Expert William Patry Shuts Down Blog, As It's 'Too Depressing' - 
an interesting quote.

Copyright law has abandoned its reason for being: to encourage learning and the creation of new works. Instead, its principal functions now are to preserve existing failed business models, to suppress new business models and technologies, and to obtain, if possible, enormous windfall profits from activity that not only causes no harm, but which is beneficial to copyright owners. Like Humpty-Dumpty, the copyright law we used to know can never be put back together again: multilateral and trade agreements have ensured that, and quite deliberately. 

Very interesting...

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