Josef “Jeff” Sipek

IBM Fellows

Today was the second day of classes. During the first lecture for one of the courses I’m taking, the professor did a brief history of the field — starting in 1930’s, and ending in 1970’s. I couldn’t help but notice that he named about 10 people, out of which at least 3 were Wikipedia article: IBM fellows. *grin*

Roth Pond Regatta 2009

Yesterday, I went to the anual Roth Pond Regatta at Stony Brook. It’s an event where different groups of people race their cardboard and duct-tape boats across a pond. (This was the third time I went, but this year, my participation was limited to taking photos.) Below are some of the more interesting ones, you can always check out the whole gallery (as well as photos from 2007 and 2006; note that the photos haven’t been post processed).

The Stony Brook Computing Society’s boat:
What could it be?

Some other team’s boat…both nice looking and fast:

These folks did not have Dino around:

Gargamel (SBCS member):

Getting the head on:
Head-less smurf

Papa Smurf! (note the size of the people in comparison):
Papa Smurf

Another team had fun with special effects:
Dragon with smoke

Then, the races began…

Some boats didn’t make it off the starting line:
Boat Fail

Others did extremely well:
Dragon on water

Papa Smurf is getting old, and isn’t as agile as he once used to be: Papa Smurf on water

Gargamel finds it very amusing:
gargamel enjoying the race

Paddle faster!
Action shot

Trojans nearing the finish line (note that the boat looks somewhat unfinished - the legs aren’t fully painted!)

Papa Smurf getting demolished (part of the rules, once you lose, you must dispose of your boat)
Papa Smurf innards

Mummy trying to get to the shore:
Paddling mummy

The dumpster “guardians” using power-tools on Papa Smurf’s head:
Papa Smurf’s head

This is a very small subset of the photos I took…if you want to see more (un-postprocessed) photos, follow the link near the top of this entry.

CSAW 2006

So, today I paticipated in CSAW Cyber Security Quiz. The rules say that you must be a part of a team of two people - the other half of my team was Kim Albrecht.

Somehow, we managed to get 2nd place out of 14 or 15 teams. I knew suprising amount of answers even though I am _NOT_ a security person..I’m a systems guy. Security is one thing which we _try_ to take into consideration, but the security people generally complain…think DAC in Unix vs. MAC in SELinux. (We = systems people.)

Anyhow, it was a long, fun day which I now plan to end with a nice long sleep before the LUGSB meeting Friday afternoon.

Finals (Day 1)

I just finished my Physics 132 final. I must say, that it was very well made, it was supposed to take 2.5 hours, and it took exactly 2 hours 29 minutes, including a brief check of sanity of answers (units? does the number make sense? etc..)

About an hour before the final, I drank 3 cups of rather strong, caffeine full, no milk, no sugar, coffee. Since I got used to not drinking caffeine, it felt like my cardiovascular system would explode. When I got the final, I couldn’t help but notice that my hands were twitching a little - quite possibly from the caffein. :-)

Coding School Assignments

This semester I am taking a course where all the assignments revolve around “design.” At least that’s what we are told. For the most part, the design consists of drawing UML diagrams, and the coding the the rest. The one pet peve of mine is, the design exam. We knew that the exam will consists of drawing a bunch of UML diagrams in 80 minutes, handing them in, getting them back in few hours (the proffesor wants to make copies to prevent cheating, and for grading purposes) and then having a week to code up the application according to the UML. Of course we don’t know what the application to be design is supposed to be.

Here’s the kicker: Any deviation from the “design” will cost us points.

Now, my question is, does this really show if one is able to design well?

Web Application Development

After a number of hours coding the Scrabble game for my class, I decided to take a break and visit a site that I haven’t been to for quite some time: It is a news site with computer related news - mostly Linux related. (I stopped visiting it since it was virtually dead - 1 article per month, but it seems like they got back up on their feet.) Anyway, so I look on the front page, and I see a link to an article that details how to make a Ruby on Rails application. The speed with which one can create an application is truly amazing. That always reminds me how much I like mod_python. So, I look around some more, and I see a link to the Django project. The name seemed familiar, so I click, and suddenly I remember. I have seen/heared of it a while back - it is similar to Ruby on Rails, but it is for Python. I think I’ll look into it some more (once I finish this Java code) and maybe I’ll use it on my next project.

Expanding Vocabulary - One word at a time

Today, I resumed work on my CSE 219 project/homework — making a networked scrabble game. I found great articles on Wikipedia about scrabble:

I’m not exactly sure where I found the link, but apparently, cwm is an valid word in English. Here’s what the Oxford English Dictionary has to say about it:

Cwm Geol.

(ku{lm}m) [Welsh cwm (cf. COOMB).]

A valley; in Phys. Geogr., a bowl-shaped hollow partly enclosed by steep walls lying at the head of a valley or on a mountain slope and formed originally by a glacier; a cirque.

And here’s a link to Cwm definition on Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

Anyway, with that out of the way, I’m going back to implement the client GUI.

P.S. I’ll probably put the source up somewhere on the web once I am done with the course.


Recently, I have started poking around in Unionfs source, mostly because I’m part of the Filesystems & Storage Lab at school (really cool place in my no so humble opinion). It is a research lab, that concentrates on filesystems, storage, and operating systems lab; and unionfs is one of its creations. Should be fun :-)


Today I got myself a copy of Mathematica. The first thing that makes Mathematica cool is the fact that the CD you buy (at least the student edition) run on:

  • Windows — not really surprising
  • Mac OS X — I never new Photoshop users needed something as powerful as Mathematica :-D
  • Linux — Yes friends, our (well most of us) beloved operating system

Needless to say, I decided to install it in Linux.

I can start it in either purely text mode or X11 which uses Motif widgets. Looks kind of crappy, but you know what? This software is supposed to do math, not look pretty.

Here’s what I get when I start up the text based interface:

$ math
Mathematica 5.2 for Linux
Copyright 1988-2005 Wolfram Research, Inc.
 -- Motif graphics initialized --


And it is waiting for input.

I am still trying to figure out what cool things it can do (there are many!); I already found some. For example, I can use it to find the factors of an integer. The below example (which I edited for better vieweing experience) shows how mathematica can factor 157 digit number in just 10 hours of runtime on a 3.06GHz Pentium 4 with 512 MB RAM.

In[1]:= FactorInteger[18954687154695872364958716948576182347568347

Out[1]= {{5, 1}, {449, 1}, {144165319, 1}, {4178558693832203, 1},
>    {779106030485198636585518429, 1},
>    {1798938868692433402652210257967652037782868746853617010648162413726070
>      49510087101852320705894433460817, 1}}

The factors are represented by tuples, where the first element is the factor, and the second is the number of occurences of that factor. So a simple example looks like:

In[2]:= FactorInteger[100]

Out[2]= {{2, 2}, {5, 2}}

I must say it looks impressive - even tho I haven’t used it a lot, I already like it more than Maple which I used last year for some calculus labs.

Why Is Linux Awesome

Linux is simply awesome. Why, you ask? Good. Today I went to Stony Brook and after reading 3 papers (2 works in progress, 1 about to be resubmitted) I decided to hack the kernel a bit. I grabbed the nearest computer (0.3m away) and ssh’d into my desktop. I had a bunch of xterms open. The box was running RH Enterprise Server 4 (I’m guessing it was 4, beacuse it used 2.6 kernel and to my knowledge there is no official 2.6 kernel for pre-RHES4) and after 4 hours of work I decided to run one command just for fun…

$ uname -a

I don’t have the exact output, but it told me that there are two processors — which was cool, and that they are IA64! How cool is that? I’m using stock install of RH for four hours and I don’t even know that it’s a completely different architecture than what I have at home! That is why Linux is cool.

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