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  1. Pathfinder

    June 17, 2011 by Saar Drimer

    Sometimes there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and the idea must die.


    Blocked on both ends

  2. Brain drain

    June 16, 2011 by Saar Drimer

    Brain drain usually means the loss of human capital. Some days my brain feels drained, or like a drain, where no thought can stick around for more than a few seconds; something like this:

    Brain drain

    Some days feel like this

  3. Gates in space

    June 15, 2011 by Saar Drimer

    Designing with FPGAs requires the understanding that the function of each physical logic gate changes with each design. Here are some gates on the way to their next mission:

    Gates in space

    Gates on the way to a new mission

  4. Hot peppers

    June 14, 2011 by Saar Drimer

    I’ve been growing Cayenne peppers in pots indoors this spring. I’ve got about four plants, and one of them grew to be quite big. That big one is magnificent… I love how it branches off like a clock tree or binary tree, thickening and darkening at the joints. The tragedy is that the flowers keep falling off and not maturing into peppers. I’m not an expert — I may have watered too much, or too little. It could also be too much fertilization, which encourages growth on account of bearing fruit. (I shouldn’t have fertilized.) Last night I read that it might be that since the plants are indoors they may not get pollinated, so I gave them a hand with a brush this afternoon. I also drew this sketch for the fallen ones:

    A sketch for fallen peppers

    For all budding peppers who didn't make it

  5. Still alive

    March 24, 2011 by Saar Drimer

    Thoughts of resurrecting this blog have been more frequent lately so I at least patched it and slapped a gratuitous theme on top. Other than that, I’ve been working on my fledgling company, boldport, for the past few months; I’m trying to make hardware/FPGA design easier using modern tools. I hope that this solves some problems for some people. If you’re interested in being a beta tester, let me know.

  6. year four

    January 24, 2009 by Saar Drimer

    This is the fourth anniversary of the weblog. If you look a couple of posts down you’ll see one about “year three”, meaning that I have not written much in the interim. Maybe my life’s boring, or maybe I lost the drive to share. Maybe I’m too busy, or not busy enough.

    It’s the time of the PhD when people ask me what I plan to do next (as if the PhD is in the bag, which it isn’t). I say that I don’t know. This is the truth, not an attempt to weasel out of a lengthy discussion. The world is in the gutter, and who knows what will it look like in six months. Regarding my own short term future, I suppose that the best answer I can give is that I’ll go where the best opportunity is. (OK, I am weaseling here, because I’m not defining what kind of opportunity I’m after… I’ll leave it for some other time, though those who know me can probably guess ;)

    As per tradition, I provide you with a picture of myself to cheer everyone up. This time I’m squinting and smirking at the Tatra mountains in Zakopane, Poland.

    saar drimer at the Tatra mountains Poland

    All the best to us all.

  7. Tesco stories

    December 28, 2008 by Saar Drimer

    Today at Tesco I was walking towards a woman carrying bottles of wine between her arms, close to the chest. A few steps between us, one bottle slipped over her arm. I remember this in slow motion… I look at the bottle falling, then her face, she cringes. Then I go back to the bottle and it bounces once, then hits the linoleum again and shatters in a surprisingly small footprint. While I am observing this, I take a couple steps back so nothing hits me. We both look at each other, and the people around us, turn, and vanish into an aisle.

    I went and got my own bottle of wine, and then at the till the oddest thing happened. I got carded.

    Till (old) man: Can’t let you buy the wine without ID*.
    Me: Wow. I’m 33.
    Lady (packing) in front of me: You should take it as a compliment.
    Me (to till man): Thanks. But I don’t carry ID**. I’m 33, really.
    Till man: OK, you’ve got white hair, so I’ll let you have it <wink>.
    Me (to myself): Now you’ve ruined it.

    * Legal drinking/purchase of alcohol in the UK is 18!

    ** This will change soon. As a foreigner in this country I’m being used as a test subject for their new and pointless ID card effort. That’s another story, though, so I’ll leave it for now.

  8. do you have to make it a disco?

    December 10, 2008 by Saar Drimer

    I break a near year-long silence for a rant. The restaurant was dimly-lit; a bit too dark, but manageable. Then, a group of about fifty thousand people came in to occupy the reserved table next to us; shoved a baby stroller next to me; prevented the waitress from accessing our table; and, finally, commenced to light up the place with their camera flashes.

    The first ten flashes — each multiplied by plenty of mirrors it seemed — were tolerable. I was paying attention though, all ten were repeats because the picture just did not come out perfect enough. They were over doing it with the next ten I thought. So I asked one of the guys if they could stop it with the flashes… “b-b-but we’re having a party”… and I said “but you also need to be considerate to other people”.

    Obviously, I wasn’t popular with that crowd but I don’t care… people who do not respect other people’s space should be told to tone it down when they overdo it.

  9. Limits to Knowledge: Malthus, Club of Rome, and Peak Oil

    July 18, 2007 by philip

    (By guest blogger Philip)

    I was just reading F.A. Hayek’s speech upon receiving the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1974 and he mentioned a book called Limits to Growth as a current (to 1974) mistake in the application of seemingly scientific method to complex economic phenomena. It led me to read about this book on Wikipedia and then, via Google, to a paper by Matthew R. Simmons called Club of Rome Revisited in which he attempts to rehabilitate the Club of Rome (widely panned in the years since) by showing how misguided its critics were and how correct its predictions were. I started to be more interested when I then browsed to Matthew Simmons’ site and found that he is a big proponent of Peak Oil. In fact he wrote a book I had heard plenty of but whose author’s name never stuck: Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. It is referenced a lot by a certain type of paranoiac on the market bear boards I frequent (don’t ask what that says about me).
    It was crazy to read an intelligent man, Matthew Simmons, summarizing the gloom and doom predictions for the future and saying “jeez! they were right! look how good their math was!” When in fact, whether or not their predictions were right, what Hayek so eloquently debunked was their math. It was a bullet-proof debunking. They tried to apply simple math to complex social phenomena to get any sort of prediction. Can’t be done. Wait, I am wrong. It can and is done all the time. It can’t be done accurately or with any hope of scientific validity. Read Hayek’s paper if you want an eloquent explanation of why. What amazes me is that this man, Simmons, is not ignorant of Malthus. In the intro to his paper he strenuously distanced himself from the blindspots and errors of Malthus. He then did his best to channel Malthus. I’d say if his Peak Oil scam doesn’t work out he should set up a scam as a medium because I’d have been willing to believe he was communicating directly with the long-dead British doomsayer.
    I suppose it is mean to call it a scam since he is a victim of the scam before he is a perpetrator. Malthus is already serving an eternal sentence in the Halls of Shame for popularizing it. But just because the Club of Rome used an early supercomputer to distance themselves from the bad math doesn’t make their results any less shamefully unscientific and inaccurate. And just because Simmons noted that their predictions of the world population in 2000 were pretty accurate doesn’t get him off the hook for failing to note that everything else they predicted was way off. But more importantly, the accuracy of their predictions does not in anyway validate the methods used to generate them! If an accurate prediction is based on flawed analysis is the prediction still correct? Only in the most useless sense or to your balance with your bookie. The limit of what is knowable regarding the state of mind of the (accurately predicted) billions of individual actors in the world prevent math from being a tool to accurately predict the future of the world. As a phenomenon of organized complexity (see complex systems in Wikipedia) it is immune to this treatment. The complexity of human genius has allowed us to make a mockery of Malthus’ predictions of doom and exhaustion (though not his population numbers) and further to laugh at the well-intentioned but blinded-by-misapplied-science Club of Rome and now I suspect that Peak Oil is the third act in Malthus’ original play “Oh My God We’re DOOMED! or How I Misapplied Science to Scare the Children.” It continues to embarass the Keynesian central banks of the world and force senseless double speak from politicians and economists as they explain why their policies fail, their predictions are useless, and the unintended consequences of their actions dominate the intended ones. It just isn’t that kind of science. In closing, I hate you John Maynard Keynes =) =p

  10. “what a piece of Acrobat!”

    April 29, 2007 by Saar Drimer

    Adobe does not like people using their product names as verbs, specifically, “photoshopping” is not allowed.

    Trademarks are not verbs.
    CORRECT: The image was enhanced using Adobe® Photoshop® software.
    INCORRECT: The image was photoshopped.

    (emphasis not mine)

    Over the years I’ve grown to hate the bloated, often-crashing, slow going, Acrobat Reader. When my system (or browser) is slow, or not responding, the first thing I try is to kill the Acrobat process. That usually does the trick. It’s a poor product, to say the least.

    So it occurred to me that as a response to their prohibition of the verbing of their product names, I’ll start using “Acrobat” in all sorts of new ways, like so:

    “This product is a piece of Acrobat®!”
    “I just Acrobatted myself. Acrobat®!”
    “This plum tastes like Acrobat®.”
    “He’s got Acrobats® for a brains.”
    “Get out of here, you Acrobatting® piece of Acrobat®”
    “I Acrobat® you not!”

    Got some more?