Penguicon Reading List

Many of the Penguicon panelists referenced extra reading materials over the weekend. I wrote many of them down, and I hope to read what I can. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find enough time to read these days, but I hope to get better at that.

Here’s the list, broken down by the panel or presentation where they were mentioned:

Life Extension: Good News, Bad News, Weird News - Christine Peterson

Constructed Languages - Matt Arnold, Ron Hale-Evans, Catherine Devlin

The Future of Spyware - Bruce Schneier and Charles Stross

Posthuman, A Lousy Marketing Concept - Christine Peterson, Jason Ahlquist, Karl Schroeder, Ron Hale-Evans

Design Better Airport Security with OSS Methods - Christine Peterson and Bruce Schneier

Limited Female Roles in Fantasy, Comics, & Sci Fi - Sarah Monette, Elizabeth Bear, John Scalzi, The Ferrett, M. Keaton

Technology As Legislation - Karl Schroeder, Charles Stross

Code Poem at the Astronaut Collective

Last week, for Austronaut Collective 12, someone (not I) submitted a code poem. It was written in Python and I think it’s pretty cool. Currently the indentation is not being preserved on the web page, and since Python is whitespace sensitive this breaks the poem. But I’ve contacted Cooper, the guy who runs the Astronaut Collective, so hopefully it’ll get updated soon with proper whitespace.

Update: Since the poem layout hasn’t been corrected on the Astronaut Collective site, I’ve posted it here:

Code Poetry

A few months ago I was at a party and ran into the guy who runs the Astronaut Collective. Caroline Miller was also there (work) and we started having a conversation about code poetry. Unfortunately, I don’t think they really got it. Neither of them are programmers and they were more familiar with digital poetry like Puppy Flowers and UBU WEB, so I don’t think they understood the difference between code poetry and digital poetry.

What I was talking about is poetry written in computer programming language. Usually, it has to be at least compilable, but sometimes it is even executable (see Jabberwocky in the link below). Due to its flexible and conversational nature, Perl has often been used to write code poetry. In the article Jabberwocky and, there is a brief description of the history of code poetry, finishing with a description of the brilliant poem is a triptych that reinterprets both the text of William Blake’s “London” and the relief etching that he used in his books of poetry. High resolution copies of the panels are available at the Mongrel web site, but the files are huge and they don’t have a text transcription of them. I emailed the contact address at the old Mongrel X site for permission to reproduce it, but got no response. I’ll just assume they’re fine with me distributing it, especially given the new mongrel.xorg site.

So, here are some more usable copies of


Visual Studio and OpenAFS

Since I’m learning C# for work, I decided to install the Visual Studio .NET 2003 on my home computer, which I got for free from the U of M MSDN subscription. Unfortunately I struggled for several hours trying to get it to work. The setup would make it through the prerequisites, then at the screen that said “Setup is loading installation components. This may take a minute or two.” the progress bar would make it all the way to the right, the window would lose focus, and it would just hang.

Visual Studio Setup Hangs

The Task Manager reports that it is still in the Running state (as opposed to Not Responding), but nothing happens. I found other people with the problem via some Google searches, but most of them had installed a beta version of the software and not uninstalled it or had a virus scanner running, which seems to mess things up. I tried removing my .NET Framework installations, adding IIS, freeing up more space on the C drive, and even letting the setup window stay up for several hours in the hope that it would eventually complete. None of this helped. I even tried installing Visual Studio .NET 2005, with the same result.

Then, tipped off by the virus scanner problems, I decided to disable my OpenAFS service, which mounts remote directories as local drives. Once that was done, the installer moved on. In case you have OpenAFS running and want to install Visual Studio, here are the steps to disable it:

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Double click on “AFS Client Configuration”.
  3. Click the “Stop Service” button.
  4. Click OK on the confirmation dialog box.

This will allow you to install Visual Studio. After the installation is done, you can enable AFS again by clicking on the “Start Service” button.