blackeiderdown: (BW Edith (Overcome))
The NNIA faces down a new threat: mice.

The mice got into our desk drawers and ate any food. They also chewed holes through plastic packaging, consumed foam ear plugs, and gnawed on plastic or metal. The mice even went after one agent's tampons.

Although the NNIA has hired amazing talent, we have to employ more mundane methods to deal with mice. Our many variations of coffee-bean magic have proven useless against this threat.

I hope that we eventually get around to putting wire mesh in any suspicious holes. Mice periodically infested my home until pest control blocked all of the gaps in my brick walls.

As for traps? My house mice seemed smart enough to avoid traps. Could I have even ended the infestation if I failed to catch the entire breeding population?

At work, breakfast scones will be sitting out in the office kitchen over Labor Day. The office will be quiet this weekend. Those mice will have ample opportunity to explore. 

When I get back to the office next Tuesday, I will probably discover that all of the breakfast scones have gone missing. 

This infestation spikes my ire. That amateurish attempt to make a Cheerios box read every agent's mind? Not so much.

blackeiderdown: (Sweatdrop (cat))
That renegade agent has animated the fridge, the microwave, the water dispenser, and the sink! Whenever I go into the kitchen, the appliances just stare at me without blinking or making any noise.

I am honestly surprised that they all still work. Normally inanimate objects stop performing their original functions after someone magically gives them life.
blackeiderdown: (homestuck)
My commanders have warned that they will put me on the front lines in the future. For now, they have conscripted me as one of their several odd-jobs guys. I am doing the magical equivalent of
  • repainting signs
  • rewiring the facility
  • updating forms
  • fixing leaks in the plumbing
  • etc.
Ironically, I have gotten a pay raise and a higher yearly bonus after transferring to a position that arguably requires less specialization. (The pay raise has little do with my transfer. Everyone in my unit is getting a pay raise.)

Although numbers have stepped up their attacks on humans' magical systems in recent months, morale in my unit remains high. Someone was animating all of the electrical appliances just yesterday. Our water dispenser stared at me with wobbly black eyes as I attempted to get to water for tea.

Uh oh

Aug. 6th, 2017 04:47 pm
blackeiderdown: (Default)
My commanders moved me to the front lines...I lack the training for this job. X0
blackeiderdown: (Default)
Other agents fight on the front lines in the on-going war against walking, talking numbers. In my line of work, I rarely see the powerful impact that they can have on business operations and infrastructure.

However, numbers are closely allied with Time. If a report takes too long to run, the numbers can swoop in and cause the report to fail entirely. When numbers cause a report to crash, they cut NNIA agents off from valuable intelligence.

Another agent is working on a defense for our report generator. I hope that his solution will provide me insight into how I can prevent my own spells from becoming a similar weak point.

blackeiderdown: (single feather)
I am in the process of migrating a blog that no one but bots ever read. Regardless of whether I have readers, my new URL sounds cooler.
So what am doing now?
As I mentioned in the past few posts, I finally decided to graduate the NNIA academy and join the war on walking, talking sentient numbers. Given my background in Diplomacy and Propaganda, I gravitated toward communications. My spells assemble reports for agents who monitor the NNIA's magical architecture for weaknesses. 
While I often find my current assignment challenging, I also miss the NNIA academy. My assignment involves a lot of routine. As a student, I had to constantly cram new information into my brain and take on difficult projects. I also liked being able to walk around campus and to take the bus every day to academy.
Now I have a car that has too many unnecessary features such as Blue Tooth and a moon roof. I sometimes even dream that my car can fly and float on water.  
What are the pros of working? I get to associate with competent, brilliant people and to gain experience working on production spells.

What advice would I give to students at the NNIA academy?
Hunt aggressively for internships.  

A Letter

Mar. 26th, 2014 11:04 pm
blackeiderdown: (single feather)
Dear Haskell,
  Have you stolen Prolog's neck scarves and SQL's pants?
blackeiderdown: (single feather)
1. Juggle all the parentheses.
2. Prostrate myself before the Queen.
3. Pass Numerical Psychology III.
4. Pass Numerical Psychology III.
5. Pass Numerical Psychology III.
6. Pass Numerical Psychology III.
7. Pass Numerical Psychology III.
8. Pass Numerical Psychology III--
9. Ahem. Juggle some more parentheses.

June 3, 2014: All resolutions met!
blackeiderdown: (Sweatdrop (cat))
The IEEE citation style almost seems designed to get students into trouble! You should number sources based on the order that the sources appear in the paper. If you reorder sections of your paper, you have to renumber your sources. I have seen papers in which the authors probably reordered their sources incorrectly (and successfully frustrated readers like me).

I have thought about how to "fix" this problem. You can cite authors by name in the text and replace the names with numbers using the replace function--but only once you have completed your final draft.

IEEE citation has one (dubious) advantage: you refer to your sources by their numbers instead of by their names. For example, say that you would ordinarily refer to the fifth source in your final draft as "Anderson and Clive." Instead of writing "According to Anderson and Clive...", you would write "According to [5]...".
blackeiderdown: (single feather)
I am finally learning MySQL and PHP this semester (squee!). With these tools at my disposal, I can now build an HTML-based platform for writing stories or blogging. While LiveJournal has the same functionality, I am one those get-under-the-hood kind of people. As my course has focused mostly on normal forms, relational algebra, and database data structures, I may need to read up on MySQL blobs before I start any independent PHP projects.

"At the NNIA, blackeiderdown has just discovered that the NNIA stores some its data as magical constructs called 'blobs.' The blobs are radioactive green and shake like jelly if poked..." 
blackeiderdown: (orange dirk strider)
I am taking a class in Non-Linear Spellcasting. We should have gone on to more advanced topics in the class this month, but the numbers 232 through 244 launched a magical freezing attack on the academy yesterday, causing many of the pipes to burst. The academy has recruited all the upper division classes to repair pipes all over campus. Instead of learning more advanced non-linear spellcasting techniques, we are using our crab constructs to inspect the damage.

I am ankle deep in crab constructs. Help!
blackeiderdown: (dirk strider)
I am creating a spell that helps users run other spells. The spell takes the shape of a crab that can communicate with humans through the writing on its shell and the clack of its claws. 

The spell can also clone itself. Each of the child crabs it creates runs a single spell for the magic user before it disappears, while the original crab remains to listen for other requests.
blackeiderdown: (Default)
I'm taking a class called "Virtual Evolution and Automatic Spell Generation" at the NNIA Academy. Translation: I'm taking a class in genetic algorithms and genetic programming.

My made-up title for the class actually describes its topics well. Genetic algorithms evolve solutions to problems by using natural selection, crossover, and mutation on a population of genetically diverse organisms (potential solutions). Genetic programming evolves functioning computer code.

The NNIA would probably use genetic algorithms and genetic programming to simulate how numbers react in different situations (id est in the real world, find the solutions to complicated math problems). 

blackeiderdown: (Default)
I am changing to the NNIA's Diplomacy and Propaganda department. Since I have all ready taken several courses that this department offers, I am well on my way to completing their curriculum.  

Does anyone know a good mechanical wizard?  I could use one when my family breaks yet another toaster.
blackeiderdown: (Default)
In another universe, I am trying to pick a career.  A number of recruiting advertisements by the National Number Intelligence Agency catch my eye.

On the radio, a voice charismatically explains the purpose of the National Number Intelligence Agency and tries to persuade me to join:

"After the many years you have spent studying arithmetic, don't you ever wonder about the secret lives of numbers?  Aid your country by joining the men and women on the forefront of observational research and surveillance of numbers at the National Number Intelligence Agency!" 

In the newspaper, I spot another recruitment add in the classifieds.

After doing some research on their Website, I decide to register for the upcoming semester.  With luck and hard work, I will be a full-fledged NNIA agent in four years.

A Year Later

My first year in the training course has been very interesting experience.  I am so excited to start the new semester that I nearly squirm in my seat as the professor introduces the subject matter and learning goals of the class.

"In the first course of this series, you learned methods to spy on individual integers or small groups of integers.  You also touched on how numbers tend to organize themselves when they live in large groups.  In this second course, you will learn about numerical psychology and how to take advantage of this in your surveillance..."

During this semester, the classes are much harder.  I am at a much greater risk of having some kind of accident in the classes that involve field work, such as Magic with Java Beans II.  A typical day goes by like this:

Class 1 (Magic with Coffee Beans II)

"Let's make an arcade game during our coffee break!"

Class 2 (elective)

"For today's lab, we get to make three maps of this town as it looked during the Cretaceous."

Class 3 (Diplomacy and Propaganda)

"The camera is counting down to explode!"

The camera flash goes off.

"Oh, you just set it up to take pictures on a timed interval..."

Lab Where I Ran that  Program (Doing Homework)

Deliberately ignoring the yellow exclamations on the monitor, a student programmer decides to compile their code.

Fifteen Minutes Later:

Me: "I thought that the  ^ operator was used with exponents."
Lab Tech examining the busy computer: "When you use the .^ operator in this context, the computer starts trying to find the meaning of life."
Me: "How do you stop the execution of this program?"
Lab tech examining the busy computer: "You don't.  The computer will continue to run the program until it finds an answer, and that may take millions of years."
Me: "Can't you just reboot the system?"
Lab tech examining the busy computer: "The computer commits its progress to memory regularly.  When we turn it back on again, it starts from where it leaves off."
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