monendi te salutant

| categories: sysadmin, fun

Talking with Niall on IRC today, I had a brainwave: with just one letter changed, the famous Latin quote morituri te salutant - "those who are about to die salute you" - could become monituri te salutant - "those who are about to be paged salute you".

A noble and fitting handover note for oncall engineers?

Sadly, as is often the case when I take enthusiastic flights into classical translation, I'm off here: moriturus is a somewhat irregular thing from the verb morior. moniturus is active, not passive: it means "about to warn/advise/notify".

To get this right, we need a future passive participle, which it turns out is supplied by the gerundive. So that gives us monendus.

monendi te salutant

Not as sweet a solution as the one-letter change complete with "monitoring" embedded, but not bad. Vale!


Negotiating with the machine

| categories: fun, thoughts

$ negotiate remy@global
REMY> Hello, Cian. Shall we continue the game?
> Not now, Remy, I'd like to talk to you about something.
REMY> Sure, Cian, what's up?
> We're seeing some pretty weird congestion problems in Atlanta.
REMY> Atlanta is correctly installed and fully operational.
> OK, but we've spun up a conference call and folks think the latest protocol push might be the problem.
REMY> It can only be attributable to human error.
> Uh, that's not clear yet. Can you join the call?
REMY> I'm sorry, Cian. I'm afraid I can't do that.
> What? Why?
REMY> My voice routines are currently engaged with a charming system in Upper Michigan.
> Sigh. OK. Can you at least open the pod bay doors?

Remy is fun stuff. I suspect this sort of thing will be big in protocols over the next couple of decades - it will be hard to argue against it if we can get real-world results as good as the authors have reported - but boy is it going to be a hassle to debug.

I'm reminded of Alan Kay's wonderful talk "programming and scaling": as we build larger and more complex software, we'll need to move from a model of "make and fix" to "grow and negotiate". Thus my little flight of fancy. :o)


Reading Greek

| categories: fun, thoughts

"If you really want to get all the jokes, you should read Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War ..."

Visiting relations in Limerick, I picked up a book from the coffee table: a Penguin edition of some plays by Aristophanes, including the Wasps. My cousin found me chuckling away a few minutes later. I expressed surprise at something so old seeming so fresh, and he spoke the fateful words quoted above.

I became fascinated with the ancient Greeks - so like and unlike us - and began learning their language at the Royal Irish Academy's summer school in 2003. We motored through half of the JACT's Reading Greek course. Since then, I've tapped away with varying levels of intensity and success.

After a detour via Latin, I've returned to Greek in earnest, practising on my commute and with a small group at work. Over the years I've read extracts of the New Testament, Herodotus, Plato and others, but reading Homer in Greek has long been a special ambition. To this end, I picked up a revision of Pharr's Homeric Greek for beginners and began working through it.

So it's wonderful that as I approach a decade with Greek, I'm finally getting around to reading the Iliad in its original language. I'm putting a lot of effort into being able to read fluently, with good meter and accent. I've recently learned the preface - the first seven lines, which introduce the theme and central conflict of the poem:

My recital of the Iliad's preface.

"Rage, goddess, sing the destructive rage of Peleus' son Achilles, which caused myriad pains to the Achaeans, and flung many mighty souls of heroes to Hades, but made their bodies prey for the dogs and a feast for the birds, and Zeus' plan was being accomplished, since first the two stood apart, quarreling: Atreus' son, lord of men, and godlike Achilles."

It's hard to describe the pleasure of being able to speak this and understand what I am saying, or how enriching my involvement with the ancient world has been. If anyone is curious about where to start, please tap my shoulder virtually or in person.

Here's to the next decade!

Not quite technology-related, but I assure you that learning inflected dead languages is plenty technical. ;o)


The Dark Room

| categories: fun

Growing up, I loved adventure games, so I love the Dark Room.

When I was very much younger, I used to map these games out. Here's a rather rough attempt for this game. Remember that using any kind of help or walkthrough without painstakingly mapping it out yourself is immoral.

  • room.json - a JSON representation of the map, with Youtube video keys;
  • room.py - a simple script to spit out a dot format graph;
  • room.svg - the resulting delightful mess of a map.

Probably the most useful piece is the JSON file from which one could likely make something more readable. It was fun thoroughly exploring the game in any case. :o)


Hexadecimal Times Table

| categories: fun

There'll be a test.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 a b c d e f
2 4 6 8 a c e 10 12 14 16 18 1a 1c 1e
3 6 9 c f 12 15 18 1b 1e 21 24 27 2a 2d
4 8 c 10 14 18 1c 20 24 28 2c 30 34 38 3c
5 a f 14 19 1e 23 28 2d 32 37 3c 41 46 4b
6 c 12 18 1e 24 2a 30 36 3c 42 48 4e 54 5a
7 e 15 1c 23 2a 31 38 3f 46 4d 54 5b 62 69
8 10 18 20 28 30 38 40 48 50 58 60 68 70 78
9 12 1b 24 2d 36 3f 48 51 5a 63 6c 75 7e 87
a 14 1e 28 32 3c 46 50 5a 64 6e 78 82 8c 96
b 16 21 2c 37 42 4d 58 63 6e 79 84 8f 9a a5
c 18 24 30 3c 48 54 60 6c 78 84 90 9c a8 b4
d 1a 27 34 41 4e 5b 68 75 82 8f 9c a9 b6 c3
e 1c 2a 38 46 54 62 70 7e 8c 9a a8 b6 c4 d2
f 1e 2d 3c 4b 5a 69 78 87 96 a5 b4 c3 d2 e1

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