If it was Thursday, I must have been in Berkeley…

…visiting the Computer Science department at UC Berkeley and finding myself completely without connectivity. There were Ethernet outlets everywhere, but they were all turned off (“…we don’t trust the students not to start sniffing the Ethernet…”, or so I was told). But it was an interesting day anyway, seeing what’s happening in the Iceberg and Endeavour projects and meeting enthusiastic graduate students. Made me feel old, though — these folks can crank out more code in one afternoon than I can do in a month these days! I’m also impressed at the relevance of their projects, compared to what we did back in the mid-70’s at RPI (my Master’s project was a self-hosted compiler for a toy language (a subset of Pascal) — to call it useless would be to give it far too much praise; one of the projects I saw yesterday dealt with making it safe to deal with financial sites from untrusted environments like public Web kiosks).

I am so glad that I don’t have to go to Berkeley very often, though — the trip there took nearly 2 hours. I stayed for dinner and so rush hour was over by the time I came home, but I was still on the road for an hour. And people make that trip every day…but not me if I can avoid it! At least it was 20 degrees cooler in Berkeley than at home.

Today has been a quiet day; Jeffrey’s school year ended yesterday, and summer day camp/child care doesn’t start until Monday, so I stayed home with him. We spent the morning fiddling about the house (he decided he’d like to watch Some Like It Hot again after hearing that it was number 1 on the
American Film Institute‘s
“100 funniest films” list), mid-day getting his passport renewed (and visiting the library), and now we’re home again on our computers. I had thought we might go to see
Titan AE
, but Jeffrey doesn’t seem to be terribly interested, and the review I read in today’s Merc wasn’t very promising. Fortunately, it’s cooler today than Wednesday (we were lucky on Wednesday that we never lost power; the map in yesterday’s Merc indicated that our area was one of the areas hit by rolling blackouts, but the clocks all had the right time, so I guess we were spared), and so it’s not unpleasant to be home or even out and about.

I did fix one long-standing problem on his computer — one of the games he likes is Star Trek: Starship Creator, but it would never save his work, so he had to start from scratch every time. This, as you can imagine, was not a satisfactory state of affairs. I tried reinstalling the game and installing a new version of QuickTime, but that didn’t help; eventually, I noticed that the icon he was using to start the game pointed to the CD and had the CD’s root directory as its working directory. I changed it to use the installed directory as the working directory, and lo and behold, suddenly the game saved its state automagically! The programmers had never bothered to test whether they were able to write to the disk, or if they had tested, they didn’t bother to issue error messages. “Not caring” is endemic in the industry, I’m afraid.

I’m hoping for a quiet weekend with as little time spent on the computers as possible, so I’d better plan ahead and say Happy Birthday, Cliff! now instead of being late.