Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Secrets of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Yes, it is true, I have seen the vision of the final book in the Potter series. I'll tell you about it if you promise not to say anything to anyone else...

1. Dumbledore is not dead. Snape and he set it up to allay suspicion. See North by Northwest by Alfred Hitchcock.
2. Snape is actually a good guy, who was redeemed from death-eater status by the the love he felt for Lily, before she became Harry's mother. Dumbledore knows this, and they have worked together to manage his appearance as a double-agent.
3. The fact that Harry has "his mother's eyes" is a reminder to Snape of his responsibility to protect him.
4. Voldemort is destroyed by the thing he never understood - love, sacrifice and friendship.
5. Harry will have to die to kill Voldemort, like Neo and Smith in The Matrix.
6. Hermione and Ron get married and have wild kids with curly red hair - ok, maybe not.
7. Petunia is committed to protecting Harry because Dumbledore has enabled it to protect him, and out of shame for how she treated Lily.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

MacBook Pro can Safe/Deep Sleep (Hibernate)

I have both an IBM Thinkpad running Windows XP/Pro and a MacBook Pro, so spend lots of time hoppin from one (the PC for scheduling and Office, and some Explorer-only websites) and my MacBook, for Creative Suite and Flash testing. Hopping from one to the other gives me lots of opportunities to appreciate the integrity of the Mac OS, things like being able to actually copy and paste reliably from any application to any other. Once in a while, there is a cool thing in Windows that I like that is worth mentioning and eventually, it moves across to the Apple side as well. The best known one of course is the Alt-Tab application switching, but another one I came to depend on was "Hibernate". Hibernate is a power-saving mode that copies the contents of RAM onto the hard drive, then shuts down. Starting up is much faster than rebooting Windows, and it was essential given that sleep mode on my IBM laptop would exhaust the battery in about 3 hours.

In Mac OS 10.4.3 and later a hibernate mode has been enabled, but apparently won't be official for a while yet. Still, I've been messing around with a little Dashboard widget called Deep Sleep that lets you deep sleep your Powerbook/Macbook. Andrew Escobar has a very clear description of how to set this up from your command line. I prefer the hibernatemode 3, which puts the mac into your standard sleep more, and when the battery gets low, automatically goes into the deep sleep.

I like the deep sleep mode not so much for the reboot/wakeup speed, since OS X boots up pretty quickly, but that I don't have to relaunch my applications and can leave documents open.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sims 'R Us Pt. II

They were all dead.

Well, as dead as you can call a simulated life form.

A quicksort of the full entity list showed that every one of them had kicked out of their event loops, that is, they were without the event thread that animates them - the causal agent that triggers the repeated loop of micro-introspection of a sim - am I happy? am I fed?

Tailing through the history log showed they all stopped from exceeding their pain threshold index. They'd been murdered. All of them. All but one. There was one remaining thread, a single sim that was left, running a basic eat/sleep cycle. Was this the murderer? What motive could he have had? Sol ran the regression playback and looked for clues. But without the chronology, the clues were lost, the trail - cold.

Cold. That definitely described the feeling of looking at the aftermath of this simuation run. Something very cold happened here. But where does the warmth come from? What prevents people from actually doing this - destroying everyone ouside their family group. Isn't that just what survival dictates? Sure, he could add an altruism factor to each sim, and crank it up to the level where they all put the interests of their neighbors ahead of themselves, but that seems as artificial as this mass extinction. What are the balancing forces in real life he can convey to his newly-enhanced sim world?

Start with the basic externalities, he thought as he cracked his knuckles and launched the editor. Drive to survive, need to reproduce, compulsion to protect offspring. Maybe a couple more; babies are really cute, and health needs a good environment. That might do it. Round two, file, save, open, start. Sit back.