February 24, 2005

"Have you ever retired a human by mistake?"

Blade Runner Blade Runner. Dark. Ominous. Depressing. Brooding. Haunting. Yet still - brilliant.

Yes, I ought to have watched this one a long, long time ago. I'd seen the "like tears in the rain" monologue in a dozen different versions in about a hundred e-mail signatures. I'd seen it top various charts, including 'best of the 20th century' and stuff. I'd read maybe a thousand reviews that mentioned it. I rented the director's cut with an uneasy feeling - would it be just another case of a hyped-up movie which turns out not to be quite all that great?

Last night, a couple of minutes after midnight, I slipped the DVD into the player. Two hours later, after the last copyright message had scrolled off the screen, it was *very* difficult to turn away from the TV set long enough to reach for the remote. Another hour later I'd pretty much seen half the movie again, in various bits and pieces - and the neighbors had probably learned the monologue in question and the "but then who does?" finale by heart by then.

So... If you are looking for a flick to give you two hours of mindless action, then Blade Runner is not, repeat not what you want - try droppping the "Runner" part ;) If you want to see Harrison Ford as a dashing beau, or Darryl Hannah and Sean Farrel as empty-headed bimbos sporting their charms - again, you've got the wrong movie. If, on the other hand, you are in the mood for a serious questioning of most of your judgements, maybe a sleepless night or three, and a couple of days of pensive moods, then run, don't walk, to the nearest DVD store, and pay homage to Ridley Scott and Philip K. Dick - you won't regret it.

Posted by roam at 05:52 PM

February 23, 2005

Slash this, baby!

Well, well. There was a thread on the freebsd-hackers mailing list that started a couple of days ago, and it looked like some kind of trivial C programmer's mistake. As the thread unwound, however, people started to suspect weird syntax problems. In the end, it turned out that it was just a C compiler that liked C89 syntax - the original C language standard ratified by the ANSI X3J11 committee - and choked on C++-style // comments. Okay - fine - good - just use C-style /* comments */, and end-of-story, right?

Well, it turns out that there's more. After a bit of discussion on C89 versus the newer C99 standard (again from the ANSI X3J11 committee), Dag-Erling Smoergrav hit the list with the following gem of a program, which can actually differentiate between the C dialect used by the compiler without any #ifdef conditional compilation:

#include <stdio.h>

        int a, b, c;

        a = 10;
        b = 2;
        c = a //* oops! */
        switch (c) {
	case 8:
                printf("C99 or C++\n");
	case -5:
		printf("can't happen\n");
        return 0;

So how 'bout that, eh? :) See how it performs quite differently under a compiler that treats // as the start of a comment, and one that only treats /* as such and lets through the '/' character? :)

Score one more for Obfuscated C. "Kids, don't try this at home!" And as a former coworker used to say, when he saw me get that faraway look in my eye in the midst of a weird programming practices' discussion over a beer or five, "Hey! Don't try this at work, either!"

Posted by roam at 12:49 AM

February 14, 2005

Green things and salivations

Well, it's that time of the year again - and it's that day again. To my sister, if you're reading this - happy birthday, many kisses, and don't take it all too seriously! :) To my grandma, who is most likely not reading this - happy birthday anyway, see you later today!

To fellow Bulgarians - g'luck and cheers, no matter whether you decide to celebrate Valentine's Day or Trifon Zarezan - just try to make sure that you make it back to work by, oh, say, Thursday afternoon, alright? ;)

And to those poor folks who have never ever celebrated Trifon Zarezan and don't even have an inkling about what kind of holiday it is - well, all I can do is sigh, wish you a good time on Valentine's Day and hope that some day you'll learn ;)

Alright then, enough with the greetings and salutations (and thanks to a certain EFnet #c regular, who is almost certainly not reading this, for the pun)... I guess you've got the general idea by now - go forth and celebrate![1]

[1] And, uhm, no, that's not, repeat not, meant to mean anything like the polite representation of FOAD that it resembles!

Posted by roam at 01:11 AM

On lengthy treatises

On Friday, a friend saw the two Stephenson books in my backpack; she immediately asked me if I never read anything of about, say, a hundred pages or so. Well, of course I do - I mean, the textbook for the Artificial Intelligence class at the Sofia University's Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics weighs in at a mere one hundred and fifty pages, and then you don't really have to read all of it ;) But the reason I'm writing this is that several hours later, just two minutes into Quicksilver, I came across this gem in Neil Stephenson's "Acknowledgements" section (italics are his own):

"Of particular note is Sir Winston Spencer Churchill's six-volume biography of Marlborough, which people who are really interested in this period of history should read, and people who think I am too long-winded should weigh."

For what it's worth, no, I don't think either the Cryptonomicon or Quicksilver are long-winded; but then, people have been known to accuse me of never knowing when to put a sentence/paragraph out of its misery, so maybe the reason I love this quote so much is that it finally provided me with an excuse :)

Posted by roam at 12:47 AM

February 13, 2005

A not-so-random quote...

Something I heard for the umpteenth time today, only this time it did strike home (no pun intended):

If only tears were laughter
If only night was day
If only prayers were answered.
Then we would hear God say:

No matter what they tell you
No matter what they do
No matter what they teach you
What you believe is true

Just a quote from Meatloaf's wonderful Home By Now/No Matter What song.

Posted by roam at 01:15 AM

February 11, 2005

Must... Keep... Away... From... Bookstores!

Yep, I've done it again. After Vasil helped me ruin my sleep by passing me a copy of the Cryptonomicon (the dead-tree edition, of course), and after I found out that I've reread my whole pterry collection over the last few months, I did a really, really stupid thing today: up and walked into a Knigomania bookstore[1], fully conscious and of my own free will.

...skip twenty minutes that flew by in a blur of hardcovers, paperbacks, calendars, art and photography collections and the like...

So, here's the tally:

[1] For our foreign readers, Knigomania is a chain of bookstores in Bulgaria largely known for carrying all manners of foreign literature - mainly English and Russian, but also French, German, Spanish, and more. The name "Knigomania" would translate to "Book-mania"... or something.

Posted by roam at 04:28 PM
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