Arrival

clapboardThis week, I was impressed by the movie Arrival (2016), directed by Denis Villeneuve.

There can be different essences that permeate a movie. One builds an adrenaline rush as the winners conquer their foes. Another thrills the audience with fear and suspense. Others gush with emotions like pathos or euphoria. Further movies purpose is to misdirect and then surprise the audience.

I don’t think Arrival fits neatly into those categories–it comes closest to the misdirect & surprise-the-audience theme. However, mostly, it gave me reasons to think. The movie didn’t feel like an attempt to market products to me–I didn’t even notice who manufactured the computers that were everywhere. It only asked me to spend time engaged with the story and to think about the human experience.

Once I watched the extra features on the disk, I saw attributes that make me appreciate the film more. Those nuances weren’t overwhelming. On first viewing, they didn’t draw me away from my embedding in the creators’ imagination and my suspension of disbelief.

The essence of my review is that am glad that I saw the movie.

Another dimension of success for the movie is that I am interested in seeing more movies by director Denis Villeneuve or with actress Amy Adams, who played the protagonist Louise Banks. Thanks to IMDB, that’s a lot easier than it was 40 years ago.

As a side note, one of the final credits thanks Stephen Wolfram. He is the creator of the tool Mathematica and the web site wolframalpha.com. I doubt that he remembers me, but about 30 years ago I visited his research lab in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois which was an exciting experience.

Quixotic?

oven mittsRecently I felt like a modern Don Quixote.... I was going to vanquish the army of spiders beneath my house.

While I was at war, my inner Sancho was sure I could never make a dent. I would never reach my dream of a spider-free basement.

However, I got out my Dirt-Devil and attacked the stairwell. It felt like a quixotic quest. I was sure I’d burn out the sweeper long before the cobwebs were gone.

All I wanted was a nice place for my new furnace filter and I gave up feeling defeated.

...or so I thought

I went down last week and the cobwebs that had ruled in the past were no more.

Don Quixote: vindicated at last!

Replace Windows 8 disk, phase 3


I was able to archive quite a few files.
* The files from a Linux server that I hadn’t saved
* The files from a 1TB drive from an old computer
I restored the files from the archived system onto that 1TB drive.

When I booted that restored system, the hard drive was making extremely loud seeking noises. I looked quickly at the drive performance statistics and they were the same as the original drive. I shut the system down and checked and the drive wasn’t damaged.

I was able to reset with the recovery partition and now I’ve got plenty to do and the system appears stable so far….

Dominoes

When I go over to Mom and Dad’s, sometimes we play dominoes. Our go-to game is Mexican Train.

Dad was at choir practice last night so it was just mom and I. We decided to alter the rules and play with a double 10 set of dominoes and start with 12 each instead of 15.

It was very pleasant. Not too much thinking and the rounds didn’t last too long.

Mom started building a tower, so I thought I’d build one too. I had an idea to make it triangular instead of square. That turned out to be pretty stable.

I got it pretty high

dominoes in front of me

A tower of dominoes only lasts so long


This is after the inevitable.
dominoes spread across the table
Mom had the camera pointing at me just as it fell, but she jumped out of surprise so there aren’t any pictures of the demolition.

I was wrrrr

I was wrrr
I remember Happy Days where Fonzie (Henry Winkler) was so macho he couldn’t say “I was wrong.”

When I’m trying to figure out why something is wrong, it’s easier to blame someone else. Usually, my first guess is not “It’s my fault.” However, I’ve learned that if I’m programming and I think it’s a compiler bug, I’m probably wrong.

I have a spreadsheet of driving statistics from 2003 to 2017. I was cleaning house this month, looking for old documents to scan before I shredded them. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few months of gas receipts from 2010 that weren’t in the spreadsheet. Score!

I entered the data and wanted to include it in my summary table showing each year’s totals.

I got a new row for 2010 set up. But 2010 had $0.00 spent and 0.000 gallons and wouldn’t show what I expected. It was very frustrating. I was trying to force Excel to do-the-right-thing and calculate those values and it refused to. Matrix formulas were a new to me, so I thought it must be some subtle Excel flaw. (Thinking along the lines of it’s someone else’s fault.)

I was getting pretty frustrated until I looked at my table a little closer. All of the other rows had the beginning date on the right and the ending date to the left, backwards!

When I added a 2010 row, I had entered the dates normally. Oops! I was wrong. Rather than kick myself, I just swapped the dates.

It wasn’t a (figurative) compiler bug after all nor someone else’s fault. I wonder how often I make equivalent assumptions in real life?

After trying to tell myself the backwards columns were too much work to fix, I noticed how much time I had already wasted because they were wrong. It turns out, Excel is smart and it was trivial to fix.

Table of gas usage statistics
(The 2010 receipts didn’t have mileage and the table shows zeros for that data.)

Replace windows 8 disk, episode 2


So, I replaced the disk that was ruining my system and got everything back to where I started. but…

… the new disk has the exact same symptoms… lots of data errors and seek errors, no bad sectors and 5 to 10 second average access times.

Now I need to do more sleuthing to find out if I’m just unlucky and got two drives with the same problem (which sounds really unlikely) or there’s some other problem going. The troubleshooting tool from the PC’s manufacturer didn’t find any problems which is a problem in itself. It’s really fishy.

I dusted off my Linux box that I hadn’t used for 5+ years. The goal with the Linux box is to not need to tackle Windows malware at the same time.

There’s some Linux bit rot going on because the display is stuck at 640 x 480. I’m fighting with the X configuration file but am not making a lot of headway. The auto-config dumps on me.

I’m finding clues that the Linux box had vmware installed on it. I can’t get it to launch. (It might be because of the screen resolution?) The old virtual machines I have scattered on backup discs are incompatible with modern vmware.

It would be awesome if I got vmware to work because I have antique versions of Windows (98 and Millennium edition) and antique versions of Microsoft Office (2000 and XP) that would be fun to play with again. I have a matching vmware install disk, but that’s for another day.