Monday, March 29, 2004

Rock Chalk, and wait until next year

Well, KU's try for three final fours (and maybe one championship) in three years is over. They played well, though, especially considering that Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich are gone. They had a good run towards the end of the season.

And, of course, they lasted longer than North Carolina.

You've got to keep things in perspective.

The Amaya Browser

Amaya is the W3C's Web editor, which supports HTML+CSS and XML applications such as XHTML, MathML and SVG. It's also a good (and free) testbed for your web pages: if they appear correctly in Amaya, they are probably valid HTML or XHTML. (Of course, you can always run your web pages through the HTML validator and the CSS validator to be sure.

There are some binary packages for Amaya, but the best way to get the thing built is from the source. Here's how: In the following I use an account called local which I've created on this machine. It's home directory is /home/local, and it has only ordinary user priviledges. Otherwise, it's set up much like /usr/local. That is, there are subdirectories /home/local/src, /home/local/bin, /home/local/man, etc. I use this account to install things that don't need to be installed as root, but should be accessible to any user with access to this machine. Of course, that means that /home/local/bin has to be in your path. OK, here we go. Assume you're logged in as local, and have downloaded the amay source code, amaya-src-8.3.tgz, into the directory /home/local/src:

  1. $ cd /home/local/src
  2. $ tar xvzf amaya-src.8.3.tgz This extracts the files for the gzipped tarball. Two sub directories are created, Amaya and redland. The later isn't needed for the default installation of Amaya, and I haven't tried figuring out what it does.
  3. $ cd Amaya The following departs somewhat from the instructions contained in Amaya.readme, but things still work:
  4. $ mkdir obj Creates a directory where all the work will be done.
  5. $ cd obj Go to your fine new directory and start the configuration process:
  6. $ ../configure --prefix=/home/local Sets up the makefile which will control execution, and tells it build the files under the /home/local tree. This will eventually create a directory /home/local/Amaya where everything is stored. There will be a soft link to /home/local/bin/amaya to launch the browser.
  7. make Wait awhile. If everything compiles normally you can do
  8. $ ./bin/amaya This should run the browser. If it does, exit and do
  9. $ make install Which puts Amaya in its proper place.
  10. Exit the local account and open a shell under your user account. Assuming /home/local/bin was in your path,
  11. $ amaya will open up Amaya. From there you can surf or edit HTML files.

That's it. If the ../configure script did its job correctly, Amaya will run with all the capabilities allowed by your computer.

You say you want some evolution?

Given the fights over teaching evolution, intellegent design, or creationism in school, this is an idea whose time is definitely here: UC Berkley's Understanding Evolution page. It gives the history of thought about evolution, the theory itself, evidence (including missing links), misconceptions, teacher resources, and much, much more. You'll need javascript running, if not java and/or flash.

Friday, March 19, 2004

DI-514 Note

Sorry, I keep forgetting this:

To turn off SSID Broadcast, go to

Advanced => Performance

And click the "disable" button on the "SSID Broadcast" line.

We'll soon return you to our regularly scheduled rants.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

I, uh, "borrowed" this yeah, that's it, from

Dave Barry's blog:

Give The Dialectizer a web page, it will give it back to you in Redneck, Jive, Cockney, Elmer Fudd, Swedish Chef, Moron, Pig Latin, or Hacker.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Free Books Online

My we're busy today, aren't we. Two sites of interest:

For books out of copyright, see Project Gutenberg, which now has thousands of books online. These were typed or scanned in by volunteers. Bibles, Shakespear, Twain, it's all there. Now the files are available on CD and DVD. Useful for taking on trips with the laptop. The books are in plain ASCII format. If that bugs you, read them with your browser and change the font to something you like.

For certain books in print, there is the Baen Free Library. OK, it only has Baen books, and not the current ones, though you can also purchase current ebooks from Baen. The free books are promos, of course, hoping to draw you into one series or another. These books are HTML formatted. Series included are Telzey, Honor Harrington, Retief. Authors include Bujold (one short story), Flint, Weber, Niven and Pournelle (Fallen Angels), and more.

And the Problem With RSS Reader Panel is

You'll remember I'm using the RSS Reader Panel extension to Firefox as my RSS Aggregator. And it works really well.

Except on this Blog. If you add Linux & Things to your RSS bookmarks, and then click on the link, everything looks normal. On the sidebar below the bookmarks you see the article titles. In the "content area" you see the first few lines of each article. However, when you click on an article you get the message

We're sorry but the Username/Password combination you've entered is either invalid or you don't have permission to access this Blog.

I contacted Blogger support, who gave me a nice answer which showed me that they'd really looked at the problem but, unfortunately, their answer comes down to "not our problem, man". :-( It seems that when Blogger produces its Atom-formatted XML file it produces two links per article. The first is an internal link for Blog*splot, and the second is the permanent link to the article. As far as I can tell, Blog*splot is the only site that does this. I've examined some other Atom files, and none of them seem to have more than one link per article. However, Blog*splot does produce proper XML code, according to, so I guess it's legal. The permalink is identified as type text/html, while the other link is type application/x.atom+xml, so it shouldn't be too hard to figure out the correct link.

I've posted a bug report with Reader Panel Support, so hopefully this will get fixed soon.

Favorite Blogs

OK, following Slate's lead, here are my favorite RSS Newsfeeds. This is in OPML format. (No, I didn't know what that meant, either. Thanks Google (TM).

Touring Blog Sites

The Internet Tourbus is one of my favorite email newsletters. The current newletter is about gadget blogs. This doesn't interest me all that much, but Patrick provides a link to, a rather large list of Blogs with XML and RSS links. (Wil Wheaton, fix your XML feed.) Worth much more than the price of the newsletter.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

You can now

search this site. Well, you could, if it was popular enough to make Google (TM).

Saturday, March 06, 2004

And Then There Was One

With Stanford's loss to Washington this afternoon, there is only one undefeated team left in the men's NCAA Division I: the St. Joseph's Hawks, who are currently 27-0, with the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament (held in the coastal city of Dayton, Ohio) to go. No D-I team has finished a perfect regular season plus conference tournament since UNLV in 1990-91, and no team has had a perfect Division I season since Indiana did it in 1975-76. Only UNLV and Indian State (1979) have gotten to the NCAA championship game with a perfect record, and they both lost.

Since none other than Roy Williams has said that the NCAA tournament is a crapshoot, I got to wondering what the odds were that we'd see a perfect season anytime soon. Since a team with a perfect record is likely to be the number 1 seed, I decided to look at all of the number 1 seeds in the 64-team tournament era (1985 on) to calculate a lower bound on the probability. I got most of my data from The Official 2002 NCAA Men's Final Four Tournament Records Book, and I looked up individual team records for 2003.

Start with the regular season, which, to the NCAA, includes the conference tournaments, if any. Since the 1984-5 season, the 76 teams with Number 1 seeds have gone 2086-266. In other words, an average Number 1 seed has a 0.8869048:1 chance of winning any given regular season game. Since a typical regular season is 30 games (including the conference tournament), this means that the probability than an average Number 1 seed (hereafter AN1S) has a 0.8869048^3:1 = 0.0273092:1 chance of a perfect regular season. Thus, out of the 76 N1S since 1985, we'd expect 0.027*76 = 2 teams to have a perfect record through the regular season. We've had 1 (UNLV, 1991), so our estimate is reasonable.

Now for the tournament. To finish the perfect season, a team must win 6 tournament games. Of the 19 NCAA championships in the 64-team era, 11 have been won by a N1S. Thus the probability of a given N1S winning the tournament is 11/76 = 0.1447368:1.

So the probability of a N1S having a perfect regular season record is 0.0273092:1, and the probability of a N1S winning the tournament is 0.1447368:1, then the probability that a team will finish the season with a perfect record is 0.0273092*0.1447368 = 0.0039527:1. With 76 teams having had a shot at this, we'd expect 0.00395*76 = 0.300 teams with a perfect record. OK, we don't have any, so this isn't all that bad an estimate.

But 0.3 isn't all that small either. With these odds, we could have had a perfect season in the last 19 years, just taking an AN1S and a little bit of luck. So we could have a perfect season this year. St. Joe's? Well, they're the only one left. I wouldn't bet on them winning, but it's not all that impossible.

And Roy? A N1S has one chance out of seven of winning it all. You've had 5 chances. The clock is ticking.

And One More RSS Thingy

Hey, look at this: this very Blog publishes its own RSS Feed. Who knew? Apparently I signed up for this when I created the Blog, but I didn't know what I was signing up for. There's even a summary page, which consists of the first few lines of each article.

And More Stuff About RSS

Slate (from MSN, but I don't hold that against them) has an article on speed-reading the net, which is all about how RSS works. They even have a collection of popular RSS feeds, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, not to mention the Drudge report. This is an OPML file, which means you can't read in your browser. To use it with the RSS Reader Panel, open up the RSS sidebar, click on Tools, click on OPML Import/Export, and follow the directions. All this is to introduce the launching of Slate's own RSS feed.

While following the links in the OPML file, (specifically, Drudge -- you can look up the link yourself) I found a link to, which is a portal that looks the way Yahoo used to look. Clean, no adds, no popups (not that users of Mozilla Firefox have to worry about that). They offer their own webbed based email (of course), but allow you to access any other webmail account with a click or two. Very nice.

Another thing I learned about RSS and the Reader Panel: Many (not all) RSS feeds contain story summaries. Just using the RSS sidebar doesn't show these summaries, but if you click on View => Open in Contents Area and then click on the RSS feed, the summaries will show up in the browser window, with the links still in the lower panel. If tabbed browsing is enabled, doing a middle-button mouse click will open up the summary in a new tab.