My Appearance on “The World Today”

Posted in Laws by epictetus on September 3rd, 2007

Along with Gene Koo, I was interviewed on The World Today  this morning about the Cyberone class I took that met in Second Life.  Here’s the audio: The World Today

More youtube music

Posted in Laws by epictetus on June 26th, 2007

[youtube M37EkcmlVAA]

It’s the All Girl Summer Fun Band

Straight As again

Posted in Laws by epictetus on June 8th, 2007

Number Theory and Analysis: A

Intro to Logic: A

Engineering 123: Digital Circuit Design:  A

Mirah is Amazing

Posted in Laws by epictetus on April 27th, 2007

[youtube hH-cpZZAUWQ]

This performance is absolutely haunting — when she kicks on the distortion it’s like a heart attack.

I missed her when she was playing a bunch of MA schools recently, I would love to see her some time.

Search rankings

Posted in Laws by epictetus on April 27th, 2007

These are the search rankings for, my wife’s real estate website, on google, for various terms:

weston real estate – #22

weston land — #30 (Community profiles page)

weston ma #53

weston ma real estate – #62

weston – #796

weston mass – Not in results
weston homes for sale – not in results
weston ma homes for sale — not in results
weston massachusetts homes for sale — Not in results

Pi Project Notes

Posted in Laws by epictetus on April 11th, 2007

     I’ve been doing a lot of research on the practice of computing the digits of Pi.  The first question is, “Why?”.  In the great majority of real-world applications, an approximation of few digits (i.e. 3.14) is close enough — it’s hard to imagine any calculation where an approximation to 20 digits would not be accurate enough.
One of the most interesting things about Pi is how much we don’t know — the “state of our ignorance” as Borwein puts it (CHECK).  For instance, in all calculations so far, the frequency of decimal and hexidecimal digits has been very close to what you would expect from a completely random  distribbution of digits (each digit has about 1/10th probability of occurring, or 1/16th for hexadecimal)… but there is no proof that this must be the case for all digits.  In “Contact” by Arthur Clarke he speculated about a binary “message” hidden in the digits of Pi — we currently have no proof that such a message or similar statistical anomaly exists, though of course it seems unlikely.
Also, as an excersize in computability and algorithms, it is somewhat interesting to look at the records for calculating the digits of pi.  The last few records have been set by Professor Kanada, using a number of supercomputers… the current record is about 1.3 trillion digits.  In ASCII format, that’s 1.3TB of digits (or in a more efficient 4-bits-per-digit representation, 650GB).  This means that memory/disk efficiency will be key, and algorithms that calculate digits indiviually will probably be preferred; if at all-possible, the only number of the final precision we want to store/use in our algorithm is our final answer, not a number of intermediate steps.

The algorithms for approximating Pi involve some kind of converging series.

Here are some links to interesting papers on this topic:

* Unbounded Spigot Algorithms for the Digits of Pi — Jeremy Gibbons responds to and improves upon the spigot algorithm proposed by Rabinowitz and Wagon in 1995.

* A Spigot Algorithm for the Digits of Pi — Rabinowitz and Wagon give a great “spigot” style algorithm for computing digits of Pi,

Ramanujan, Modular Equations, and Approximations to Pi OR How to Compute One Billion Digits of Pi .  — Borwein, Borwein, and Bailey evaluate a number of different series and algorithms that converge upon Pi. with a focus on computability and speed of convergence. Expands on Ramanujan’s work.

Cellphone pictures

Posted in Laws by epictetus on April 9th, 2007

I figured I would upload a bunch of cellphone pictures and comment on them.

Dim Sum in Chinatown
Here is our table.. you can see various dumplings and mystery items in front of us.

Dim Sum

Here is a view across the restaurant, the part in the foreground is only about 1/4 of the overall space. The place was HUGE, and basically they bring carts of dumplings and things past and say what they are (in chinese), and you grab what you want.  Unfortunately, as a vegetarian, none of them seemed to know what the word “Meat” meant.

My Computer

Here is the computer I am building. It has a Dallas version of an Intel 8032 as the CPU, and 32K of external memory, a 16 bit address bus (but the upper 32k of addresses are all IO space due to some lazy IO decoding), and an 8-bit data bus. I am building it as part of the engineering sciences E-123: Digital Circuit Design course at Harvard Extension school. Notice the nice hex keypad. Right now I have to manually program it a byte at a time, because I have not yet added a serial port and software to allow me to send data from the serial port into memory.

Kids with Potato Cannon
Here are a couple of the guys with the potato cannon I built. Notice the landern igniter and large cumbustion chamber.

Harvard student Sleep-studying

Here is a typical Harvard undergrad, she has fallen asleep in a common room while studying with her laptop.

Books, Toys, Etc for Kids

Posted in Laws by epictetus on March 23rd, 2007

Things to Learn and Where to Learn Them:

  • English and vocabulary: Television, books
  • Math:  Counting, blocks, games


  • Piano
  • Alphabet song
  • Lullabies
  • Christmas carols
  • Kids’ songs


  • Blanket
  • Teddy bears
  • Ripcord cars
  • Paper airplanes
  • Balsa wood airplanes
  • Handkercheif parachutes
  • Maple seeds
  • Bubbles
  • Water rockets
  • model rockets
  • Kites
  • Water
  • Dirt
  • Shovels
  • Holes
  • Hoses
  • Tricycles, Bicycles
  • That doll that goes pee
  • Building forts:  Brush forts, blanket forts, furniture forts, cardboard forts, snow forts, tree forts


  • Uno
  • Chutes and Ladder
  • Candyland
  • Soccer
  • Baseball/Softball
  • Hide and Seek
  • Racing

Books and Authors:

  • Dr. Seuss
  • Roald Dahl
  • Judy Blume
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • The Dagda’s Harp
  • The Hobbit
  • The bobbsey twins
  • Sweet valley high (not as much)

I Hit the Trifecta

Posted in Laws by epictetus on February 7th, 2007

Just got my fall term grades:

Analog Circuit Design: A

Cyberlaw:  A

Comp Sci (C programming in Unix):  A

Hopefully I can rock the spring term the same way I did the fall, I’m taking Intro to Logic, Digital Circuit Design, and Analysis + Number Theory.  The analysis course is the only one that has me worried, I’m a little rusty on the math stuff.

Summer Magic

Posted in Laws by epictetus on January 22nd, 2007

It was after sunset, and all light had been extinguised in the clearing, circled by small tents and cabins. Moments before, it had been bustling with activity, but now it was strangely silent and empty, with a few other scattered strangers disappearing in darkness as the last lights of day faded and clouds obscured the starlight.  People like me, who weren’t sure they belonged.

And then – in the distance – multitudinous sweet voices in harmony could be heard approaching. Moments later, a column of dim hooded shapes snaked past, circling the field.  They seemed to be singing of joy and wonder — and of ideals, and of service, and of their Queen.  Small figures in green could barely be seen.
They come to a stop, and stand at attention.   A woman approaches the center and lights a camp fire — the light illuminates young faces that were hidden before.  She addresses them all and leads them in prayer.  They respond to her in voices and songs, knowing their part in this secretive ceremony.  Each girl is brought to the center of the circle and given solumn rewards and honors for her accomplishments.  Finally, a candle is lit, and as the points of light spread around the circle the faces are illuminated in a promise, a covenant to keep the spirit alive until next year.

I was lucky to get the chance to help pick Valerie up from camp.

Open Courseware Podcast — YEAH BOYEEE — eminem inspired

Posted in Laws by epictetus on November 6th, 2006

Download the mp3 of my podcast — this is an empathic argument for open access in education, inspired by eminem’s final battle in “8 mile” where he wins by making the other guy’s argument for him.  No apologies to Weird Al, this is some homegrown dirty south style white boy crunk.


Posted in Laws by epictetus on November 1st, 2006

Sorry, here are some random HREFs.
Great is Diana Chaplin (my wife)’s great Weston, MA real estate site.

The Room To Dream Foundation is a nonprofit foundation that does bedroom makeovers for sick kids.

What is Cyber Oppression?

Posted in Laws by epictetus on September 18th, 2006

Because of my Cyberone class I’ve been thinking a lot about virtual worlds and the ethics and control systems inside those worlds.  I am wondering, what would it take to create a totalitarian, oppressive government inside Second Life?  Could one arise independently of the world’s technical admins?

How Free Software Taught Me To Fish

Posted in Laws by epictetus on September 18th, 2006

I thought I’d upload this essay I did for a summer expository writing class.  I took the class with my stepson Avery, it was a lot of fun. The essay is about how free software saved my life, and the way I feel I must repay that debt of honor.

I am mad busy

Posted in Laws by epictetus on September 16th, 2006

Hola amigos, it’s been a while since I rapped at ya.  I’ve been really busy with school and work and marriage and step-fatherhood and all the other stuff I do to keep busy. Just last week my company started running radio ads for the product I designed, efact. We’ve also sent out postcards to a few thousand real estate conveyancers, and have a team of cold-callers calling all of those conveyancers to tell them about the product.  It seems to be selling very well, but the rollout is keeping me very busy.

My classes are just starting right now also — I am in a class called CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion.  It is taught by Charles Nesson and his daughter Rebecca. It’s only been going for a week, but so far it seems like it might be one of the coolest classes I’ve ever taken. Parts of the class are being held in Second Life, and CBS Evening News is supposedly going to do a special about it because it is so innovative.  I am also taking a programming class (on linux, unix, C, CGI) and a laboratory electronics class.

I’ve had some kind of illness for quite a while now, I’ve been on two different kinds of antibiotics but I just can’t seem to kick it. I hope I get better soon.

Microsoft Genuine Advantage(TM) Javascript Crack

Posted in Technology by epictetus on April 3rd, 2006

I figured that I would post this in case I ever have trouble finding it in the future. Microsoft has a “feature” of its windows update process that verifies the product key that was used to install the product; in some corporate environments where a number of systems were cloned using the same key this can cause problems.

To get around this, when on the windows update website, before hitting “Custom” or “Express”, just cut-and-paste the following javascript command into the Address bar:


Viola, no more Genuine Advantage.

Diebold is Evil

Posted in Laws by epictetus on February 27th, 2006

I saw this link to an LA Times story.  Stephen Heller, a word processor who stole copies of internal Diebold documents revealing that they had violated California state law and sold uncertified voting machines, is now facing felony charges for access to computer data and computer burglary.

It’s a sad day in America when Sony can break into hundreds of thousands of computers (including government, military, etc) to illegally spy in order to try to profit, and get a slap on the wrist, while a whisleblower who reveals corrupt voting machine manufacturers and potential voter fraud faces felony charges.

My Thoughts on Google in China

Posted in Laws by epictetus on February 24th, 2006

While I certainly understand where all of the protestors are coming from with the current anti-google movement, I’d like to put forth a conflicting opinion. I, for one, actually buy the excuse that it is worth participating in some censorship just to be able to enter the market. I believe there are a number of reasons for this:

  1. Intelligence. The more information that American companies have about what the Chinese Communist Party is doing, the more we can potentially help those in China who want to end oppression. Google is the world thought-leader on aggressive information collection and data mining; there is so much potential good that could be done with the information they will be collecting there.
  2. Presence. The more progressive companies that are in China, there are more opportunities to subtly influence China in order to help advance freedom.
  3. Conspiracy Theory. I believe google is part of a conspiracy to do good in China, to work as a “secret agent” against the Communist Party’s strangehold in any number of different ways. They are coordinating and networking with other progressives in China and in the end will do a lot of good that they can’t tell us about. Obviously, when you are acting secretly in a totalitarian country, you can’t publish a press release saying “Leave us alone, protestors, we’re actually secret agents of Democracy.”

HD DVD Standard Deliberately Downgrades Picture Quality for Older HDTVs

Posted in Norms,Technology by epictetus on February 24th, 2006

I noticed a link to this SCI FI Tech article; the author points out the under the access control rules just released for the new HD-DVD standard, component output (which is the only HD input featured on quite a number of older/early-adopter HDTVs) will be limited to only 1/4 of full resolution.  Once again this shows the gall and utter disdain of the content industry for their consumers;  they have absolutely NO objection to abusing thousands of their lawful, paying customers in order to place small technological “speedbumps” to piracy (which will NOT prevent piracy, there will be any number of technological means to bypass this).

I was listening to a talk Cory Doctorow gave a little while ago, and he pointed out the funny paradigm that if you purchase a legal copy of a DVD or a copy-protected CD, you get a much lower quality product than if you pirated the same movie or album.  It just seems like a funny business model to punish paying customers by giving them a worse product than people who use peer to peer networks to download it.  In the world of business, it usually makes more sense to reward paying customers than to punish them.  In the case of the Sony rootkit, you are rewarded for your patronage by Sony breaking into your system, spying on you, lying about it, and also compromising your security so that other people can also break in.

China Open to Less Restrictive IP Law

Posted in Laws by epictetus on February 15th, 2006

Here’s a link you probably won’t see anywhere else, an article from China Daily (the state-run periodical, the voice of the Chinese Communist Party in English essentially) mentioning John Howkins’ talk at a chinese business summit.  He talks about how adopting US-style copyright and patent law might have a downside, and emphasizes that future IP law should embrace innovators who want to share their work as well as ones who want to protect it.

I hope they listen to him.  And I hope they abandon their one-party government and adopt a sensible representative democracy, while they’re at it.

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