Monthly Archives: March 2006

Why you should choose Maths in high-school

A recurring problem in most rich societies is that students in general do not take enough math – despite high availability of relatively well-paid jobs in fields that demand math, such as engineering, statistics, teaching and technology. Students see math as hard, boring and irrelevant, and do not respond (at least not sufficiently) to motivational factors such as easier admission to higher education or interesting and important work.

[Continue reading 12 reasons to choose lots of Maths in high-school]

Jonathan Coulton & The Science Band

Well, that’s not the name of the band of Jonathan Coulton but I think it should be.

What can you say after reading the names of the songs in his albums: Mandelbrot Set, That Spells DNA, etc. You can even download some of his songs for free

Don’t miss Mandelbrot Set, it’s awesome!:

Pathological monsters! cried the terrified mathematician
Every one of them is a splinter in my eye
I hate the Peano Space and the Koch Curve
I fear the Cantor Ternary Set
And the Sierpinski Gasket makes me want to cry
And a million miles away a butterfly flapped its wings
On a cold November day a man named Benoit Mandelbrot was born

His disdain for pure mathematics and his unique geometrical insights
Left him well equipped to face those demons down
He saw that infinite complexity could be described by simple rules
He used his giant brain to turn the game around
And he looked below the storm and saw a vision in his head
A bulbous pointy form
He picked his pencil up and he wrote his secret down

Take a point called Z in the complex plane
Let Z1 be Z squared plus C
And Z2 is Z1 squared plus C
And Z3 is Z2 squared plus C and so on
If the series of Z’s should always stay
Close to Z and never trend away
That point is in the Mandelbrot Set

Mandelbrot Set you’re a Rorschach Test on fire
You’re a day-glo pterodactyl
You’re a heart-shaped box of springs and wire
You’re one badass fucking fractal
And you’re just in time to save the day
Sweeping all our fears away
You can change the world in a tiny way

Mandelbrot’s in heaven, at least he will be when he’s dead
Right now he’s still alive and teaching math at Yale
He gave us order out of chaos, he gave us hope where there was none
And his geometry succeeds where others fail
If you ever lose your way, a butterfly will flap its wings
From a million miles away, a little miracle will come to take you home

Just take a point called Z in the complex plane
Let Z1 be Z squared plus C
And Z2 is Z1 squared plus C
And Z3 is Z2 squared plus C and so on
If the series of Z’s should always stay
Close to Z and never trend away
That point is in the Mandelbrot Set
Mandelbrot Set you’re a Rorschach Test on fire
You’re a day-glo pterodactyl
You’re a heart-shaped box of springs and wire
You’re one badass fucking fractal
And you’re just in time to save the day
Sweeping all our fears away
You can change the world in a tiny way
And you’re just in time to save the day
Sweeping all our fears away
You can change the world in a tiny way
Go on change the world in a tiny way
Come on change the world in a tiny way

Antivirus

I’m looking for an antivirus for a medium-size client (60 Windows XP workstations, 4 Windows servers, 1 Linux server) and hell if I know what to do.

Over the past three years I’ve worked with Panda (both the old antivirus and the new BusinesSecure), Kasperksy, Symantec, Trend Micro and McAfee antiviruses. Which is the one I liked the most? Absolutely no one. Everyone of them fails here or there: bad support, bad antivirus, bad or no antispyware, bad or no antispam, bad or no Active Directory integration, etc.

What I want to find is an integrated suite with at least these features:

  • Antivirus (of course!)
  • Antispyware
  • Antispam for the client workstation. Server antispam is not important for us, really. We prefer to run CRM114, SpamAssassin or alike.
  • Firewall
  • Backup, a-la Genie Backup, Cobian Backup, etc
  • Automated updates for antivirus, antispyware and antispam modules
  • Automated deployment of Windows, Microsoft Office, Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird updates (think of WSUS on steroids)
  • Full integration with Active Directory, including cluster mode
  • Certified for SAN, NAS and high-availability clusters

I guess that’s exactly what Symantec is going to do (at least, it makes a lot of sense after they bought Veritas), but I expect at least six to twelve months until they have such a product :-(

The antivirus business is currently a “choose your poison” business. Lame.

Real programmers

An interesting article I found today:

Real Programmers are reluctant to actually edit a program that is close to working. They find it much easier to just patch the binary object code directly, using a wonderful program called SUPERZAP (or its equivalent on non-IBM machines). This works so well that many working programs on IBM systems bear no relation to the original Fortran code. In many cases, the original source code is no longer available. When it comes time to fix a program like this, no manager would even think of sending anything less than a Real Programmer to do the job– no Quiche Eating structured programmer would even know where to start. This is called “job security”.

(Real Programmers Don’t Use Pascal, by Ed Post, Tektronix)

Funny how many things today we consider to be obscure and to require a master to deal with were considered toys twenty years ago.