Never has a tragedy hit home so personally as the earthquake and tsunami of this week. The home my family and I left 19 years ago, Sri Lanka, has been singled out as having been significantly affected. To all those that have asked and expressed concern regarding the condition of my family members still residing in Sri Lanka, I’d like to inform you that they are safe and have, by God’s mercy, survived the devastation.

But, as you all know, there are tens of thousands that were not as fortunate. Our prayers and condolences go out to all the victims of this tragedy. If you�d like to help out in someway, please follow the links below. Sri Lanka, as well as most of the countries there in southern Asia are desperately poor, even before the Tsunami, and any bit of support–I am sure–will go a long way.

Sri Lanka Relief
Red Cross Resonse Fund (Thanks Dave)

Insidious Boardgames

Guest Blogist: Roshani Ariyam

You may be wondering, “Am I reading this title right”? insidious and boardgame on the same line? Aren’t board games just a fun piece of recreation among family and friends an interactive way of sharing the warmth of each others company? Well, it is quite the contrary with my family. Oh by the way, this is Derick’s sister Roshani, guest-blogging for today. I am honored Derick!

So here I go. It is has come to my understanding, through some keen covert observation this year at the annual Christmas gathering, that boardgames bring out the worst in people, especially family.

Take for example the innocuous game of Monopoly. One would think, ahh a classic family game filed with mindless hours of convivial fun and laughter. However, this description of Monopoly, especially with our family, is best left on the back of the box, in all its euphemistic glory. In reality it is quite the contrary; the game has become taboo (no pun intended)–its mention is forbidden. Who would have thought cousins seemingly noble benign souls, were actually viscous loan sharks and cutthroat business moguls in heart with bribing tactics that would make Enron execs look like Alan Shawn Feinstein (yes Gloria, I know I still owe you a years rent for Park Place). Regardless, it’s quite amazing; the gross mutation that a simple boardgame can do to an individual. Moving on to Poker this was top on this year’s list of fun games to play at family gatherings. Pc games are really fun to and there are multiplayer games on it. Get a computer with a good motherboard, so your gaming experience is the best it can be. Shall I spit out the word umm..fascist tyrant. The way people start getting so serious about this game is almost comical. Let me put this into context for you, it was Texas Holdem, just chips, no money involved. However, we had this one cousin, who for some unfair reason, banked a lot of chips on one game, refused to share the wealth, and decided to up the ante during every round, trying to eliminate players as quickly as possible. Why do you want to produce such feeling of unhealthy competition on such a joyous occasion? Is there an award for Best Board Game Board player� that I am unaware of Regardless this is an observation that I thought I would write down. I’m sure you can all relate.

Thanks for letting me rant on about nothing.


Person Of the Year

Every Tuesday afternoon, at about 1:30, I can usually crack open my front door, stick my arm out and feel for the latest TIME magazine. And, of course being that time-of-year, specifically the week before the New Year, TIME does its “Person of the Year” and guess who is smack dab on the cover–Dubya!

Yes, President Bush is Person of the Year, according to TIME. But, no need to cancel your subscription just yet. The way they figure out who is person of the year, isn’t entirely subjective, and it’s not always meant for accolades, although you could look at that way. It’s determined by who has been in the News the most the past year, the famous and infamous, and you can’t deny the fact that Dubya has had a headline or two pretty persistently, and not always for honorary reasons. And to any liberals out there, you may take comfort in the fact that 4 years ago, when TIME was to determine, Person of the Century, they were actually considering Hitler. But, in keeping with political correctness, and staying off their own covers, they went with the more Innocuous Einstein instead– a reasonable choice.

But this year, with Dubya, and keeping with my suspicious nature, I think there could have been a splash of agenda involved with this final decision. This year’s election has been said to have two big losers, Democrats and the Media. Democrats for obvious reasons, and the Media, since some bias reports put their objectivity into question. Perhaps TIME was hoping for a way to absolve themselves from this stigma? Perhaps.

Either way, Person of the Year, I can understand it.


Arrogant Computer Guy

I’ll be the first to admit it, IT guys are arrogant. I can’t explain it; they just are. I think it may be the apocryphal notion that computer guys are smart, sometimes even dubbed as “geniuses”. Maybe this has got to our head? I’m lazy. I’m terrible at math. I sometimes spell ‘cake’ with a ‘k’, but I can probally fix your computer. Ergo…

I caught myself being that guy last night…

Sister: How do I do that thing again on the computer? You just did it so fast and left. I couldn�t follow.

me: man, you’re terrible with computers.

Mother: He never teaches me anything. Why can�t you teach me to use Excel?

me: Mom, you can�t ask a programmer to teach you to use computers. They’re too intimately involved with them. It�s like � hmm, how can I explain this without sounding arrogant. It�s like � Alright, suppose your lost in the city and you’re looking for a particular street, you’re not going to go ask the Mayor for directions are you?

Okay! bad example.

Finals, how exciting!

There’s nothing like the solidarity of students that know they’re going to fail a final.

During the few dwindling hours before my CSC final, a group of us gathered around the couches in the library and desperatly went over some looseleaf handouts and some badly taken, not to mention, hopelessly incomplete, notes from class. But surpringly ( when two or three are gathered), I think I may have learned more in that 2 hour study symposium, then I did all semester.

Well test-time arrived, I scrawled a few formulas on my palm (i need a bigger palm), and well… I think I got enough ink down to pass. Here’s hoping :-/

Evil Spyware

One day I was looking for naked pictures of former attorney general Janet Reno on Google, and I clicked on this link that seemed promising. Lo and behold, about 20 windows started to pop-up, one after another. I’d close one, two more would appear, asking me to install things, and I kept saying “no”. And not the polite “no”, it was the loud and colorfully languaged “no�. Then, after clicking “no” about a dozen times, and seeing that the sea of questions were no way relenting, I did the vulcan live long and prosper on my keyboard to get it to just terminate my web browser. But, it was too late. After I restarted my computer, all of sudden it had become a nesting ground to a gross brood of various new programs that surreptitiously installed itself –like “Bargain Buddy”, and “Cool Web Search”, oh, and the ever popular and bitch to remove “Home Search Assistant”.

I was mortified by this. I think it irks computer science guys even more when stuff like this happens to them–because (arrogantly) we’re better than this. Anyway, today I finally got rid of all my spyware, without having to reinstall windows. I had one particularly pernicious one that couldn’t be removed by conventional means and proved to be quite disabling. It caused my AIM to crash, and slowed my computer down significantly; it went by the name “Home Search Assistant”.

If anyone has this listed on their “Add/Remove” programs list, and having trouble removing it, there is a great step-by-step tutorial online here that will help you out.

Anyway, I finally went Mozilla Firefox all the way now; you won�t catch me dead using Internet Explorer. I recommend you do the same if you happen to like your computer– download it: www.getfirefox.com

FYI: I was obviously kidding about looking for naked pictures of Janet Reno

(It was really for Ruth Ginsberg )

Waking up is Hard to Do

I remember as a kid growing up, having to be woken up ever morning at 6:45 for school. I remember being dragged out of bed, kicking, screaming, pleading, begging, for just 5 more minutes of sleep as though a mere 5 more minutes would be all I need to be somersaulting out of bed. If the begging didn’t work, I’d perk my ears out, trying to hear the patter of the shower, an occupied shower usually guaranteed at least 5 more minutes of sleep. A nod of acquiescence and I’d drop my head on the pillow, curl up, fetus-like, and as soon as I got comfy BE WOKEN UP SINCE FIVE MINUTES WERE UP. Ah, yes, what a miserable hour that “6:45” is. I’d then drag myself in the bathroom, to be even more depressed looking at the bathroom window. How can it still be dark out? Where am I, the moon? What sick maniacal joke is this, and who are the misanthropes that decided school should start so damn early?

Now here I am, in my last years at college, bit*hing about 10’o clock courses–fists in the air and grunting that their “too damn early”. But I think I’m alone on this one. Everyone I talk to, unless their lying (which is a reasonable explanation) asserts that they have no trouble getting up in the morning. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there is a certain quantity of hours set for every individual that you can’t exceed, or be delinquent of, to be able to jump out of bed in the morning, grinning like Bob from the Enzyte commercials. You know, Bob, the Once-a-Day tablet for natural male enhancement? –Don’t look at me like that!

I still haven’t figured out my optimal sleep amount, but one thing is certain, it’s not 11 hours. I had 11 hours last night and I’ve been a walking zombie all day. It’s not 8 hours either, that’s my average amount, and my eyelids still fall like guillotine blades.

So the question is: my optimal amount of sleep, does it fall in between 8-11 hours? Does it even exist? Or is it just a pipe dream.

Procrastination Becomes You

I am the epitome of procrastination. I am what procrastination would be if it took on a human form.

I have had this term paper assigned for class, I believe the second week of school. It is now the last week of school, and I have yet to start. Why is it so hard to start something before the night-of it�s due date? What is it about “starting early” that is so… unattractive?

Even now, instead of working on this paper, I�m over here writing a posting on my website!

Alright, enough distractions, here I go. Two nights, 15 pages, a medium Dunkachino, I can do this!


Finally finished, never thought I’d be able to say that!

Since there was a ton of material I found online that really helped me with research etc. — especially previous essays from students from other computer science courses, I’m going to put some of my CSC320 essays online as well. I don’t recommend reading them, lol. They are dull and estoric, but in the happenstance that someone in a CS course somewhere would find it useful, I’d like to share and do my part.

Minority Report Analysis:
Pre-crime and the Patriot Act
A loss in Privacy

Internet, Law, and the Possibility of Government Regulation

Spamming the Spammers

We all hate those pathetic internet scammers. Have you got the one about inheritance money in Nigeria?

Anyway, Andreas, a friend of mine from my csc436 class pointed out this neat website run by a group called Artists against 419’ers, solely dedicated to fighting back internet scammers. The way it works is pretty clever, from a computer science perspective, and it�s not very hard to understand, let me try and explain:

See, when you purchase hosting from an internet site, like my website for example, you pay for something called bandwidth. My website provider allows me to have 5 GB of transfer a month, meaning every time you load this site it takes away from my 5 GB allowance. Now to put these numbers in perspective, a visit to my site will deduct about 45k or .00042915 GB from my 5 total–which as you can see, is tiny, and with my current modest readership, there is just no way in hell I will ever exceed 5GB. But, if for some reason, I get a million people reading my site, instead of, well… 5, I just might go over this allowance.

Using this same idea, this anti-spam group has created a website that you can go to that will keep reloading websites of known spammers. You simply have to go to a website (make sure you internet cache is disabled) and when enough people do this, the websites of these spammers will eventually exceed their allotted bandwidth, bringing their websites down.

Ah yes, sweet revenge.

Here�s the link