Blog

This blog is intended for texts more discursive and unfocused than one would find on my root website. That is, the posts here are usually “one-off” affairs on topics that captured my attention for an evening, or generally less formal content.

  • Move Steam Installed EVE on Disk on Windows

    Steam generally makes it pretty easy to move games from one location to another. However, the story is a bit different for games that come with their own launcher, where Steam does not give the option to “Move Install Folder.” EVE Online is one of these. I could find no guides on how to do it, so I decided to just write up what I did.

  • Move to GitHub Pages

    I am shifting my site onto GitHub Pages using Jekyll, as opposed to a PHP-based site which I’d done for almost twenty years. At the same time, I am taking advantage of this to shift the content and tone a bit, basically bringing my 2010 site into 2021.

  • Polaris and Epsilon Gruis

    One of my job responsibilities is interviewing candidates. Finding talent is a high priority so I take it seriously, but I also enjoy it since it also gives me a chance to think about fun puzzles and problems (algorithmic, or otherwise). However, interesting problems are by themselves not good interview questions. Good interview questions must achieve a very delicate and complex balance. They have to be simple enough for a person to have thoughts within a few seconds, but multifarious enough that you get a good “image” of a candidate’s capabilities, and thought process. A question which is good or clever might ultimately be a bad question to ask during an interview. I’m going to write about one such problem which I rejected as it was a poor interview question, but which I still find very interesting.

  • The Implications of the Maximize Button

    The maximize button in the Microsoft Windows UI is interesting. While I had obviously been aware that Windows had such an interface idiom, it was not until I’d been required to use Windows in my daily work, used Windows programs day in and day out, and seen the developer culture at Microsoft, that I began to appreciate its profound impact on application design and developer psychology. The fact that there is a button devoted to every window to allow it to take up the entire screen very far from being the ancillary detail. In many respects its presence (or absence) encapsulates the entire philosophy underlining application design on the platform, as well as shape the behavior of users.

  • The Awful Tychus Findlay

    I’ve been enjoying the single player campaign of Starcraft II. It’s great fun. The tremendous variety of goals and mechanics of each level makes each level a very unique fresh experience. They are not so much “levels” per se, but more mini-games with rules all their own which just happen to use Starcraft units as gamepieces. The Mass-Effect-like mechanics of collecting resources which you spend on troop upgrades in between missions is likewise really engaging.

  • New Blog: Defaults and Sidebars

    This is my new blog site.

  • Circular/Radial Photography

    Photographs are rectangular. Historically, this makes sense; when photography was first invented, it was the film (or rather, photographic plates) that cost the most money versus, say, the lens, and obviously one makes the best use of the raw material of plates by cutting it into rectangles, and later the lengthy rolls of plastic film were put to best use by partitioning it into rectangles. (Hexagons could potentially work for no wastage, but this would be far more awkward, especially when it came time to put them in a roll.)

  • Zoom vs. Prime: Focal Length Usage

    I recently observed an online discussion of camera lenses. People were debating the merits of zoom vs. prime lenses, falling into the predictable points of flexibility vs. performance. One of those defending the merits of prime lenses posited that if one were to plot the usage of focal length with respect to number of photographs taken, the tendency would be for photographs to cluster around the extremes of the focal lengths.

  • Webpage Exile

    About one month ago, I received an unwelcome notification from Cornell’s CS department that they intended to close my account and delete the associated data. This was something I had expected for some time: I had defended and graduated a year and a half prior, and I didn’t expect the department to host my account indefinitely. I’m surprised they kept on as long as they did. However, it did present a practical problem, as Cornell still hosted my personal webpage. A personal webpage is de rigueur for computer science graduate students, both current and former. It’s a bit weird if someone doesn’t have one. Further, I do publish some software dating from my student days which some people actually use, so a stable website is desirable. Unfortunately the notification came at an astonishingly bad time, as my child had been born three hours prior to the notification (!?), so my schedule was not exactly clear. Nonetheless, I felt obligated to move the site.

  • Orion: The Space Flight Simulator

    When I was much younger, still on my first computer, my parents gave me a voluminous 240 MB hard drive for my Mac IIcx. Upon connecting the drive, I found among other contents a shareware spaceflight simulator, Orion, the work of one Robert Munafo. This serendipitous acquisition quickly became one of my favorite programs. With this program, one controls a spacecraft by applying thrust, roll, pitch, and yaw, and has a capability to travel to any star system within a 32 light-year radius (all of these helpfully had 9 planets, Pluto being considered a planet at the time). By flying at a planet in just right way and executing some slightly deft maneuvering, one could enter orbit. By executing the maneuver incorrectly, you’d fall into the planet or, more likely, get flung out past escape velocity back into the star system.