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Eric: It's Burns's technical woes Part 824! Also, I don't really dislike sudoku, so don't send me mail

I'm beginning to think there may be a manufacturer's issue at play here.

Last night, for the second time relatively recently, my powerbook G4 (aluminum model) died a horrific death. Which would make me think it's a lemon, only it was a completely different G4 Aluminum than the last one. Both times, the hard drive suddenly ground into paste, leaving nothing of note behind but a sad, sad Eric.

The difference between this time and the last time it happened is... and this may shock and amaze you... I learned my freaking lesson the last time. Since the last time, I back my computer up daily. It's a cron based system using a hot little utility called "Superduper." I plug an external hard drive into it when I get to work in the morning, and the program slurps files over.

So, the absolute worst case scenario is I lost everything I did... from 11 yesterday morning (when the cron job finished) to about 11:20 last night. Twelve hours worth of 'stuff.'

Losing twelve hours worth of stuff is officially a 'pain in the ass.' It is not an 'unmitigated disaster.' For those you playing along at home.

I've synchronized my backup (which I'm running off of right now) to a second redundant backup, and I'm now letting a utility play with getting those changed files off the disk. Maybe it can do it, and maybe it can't. Either way, I'm holding off on reading my e-mail until after I see if it can recover the mail I read yesterday. (Though that offsite backs up as well, so I'm not losing sleep either way.) So, if you send me mail today, expect me not to get it right away.

Thanks, all. Enjoy the shrimp!

Posted by Eric Burns-White at February 23, 2006 9:25 AM

Comments

Comment from: Flogger [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 23, 2006 11:39 AM

Sorry to hear about your dead HD. Really sucks.

SuperDuper is worth its weight in gold. I'm not sure if you have version 2 or not, but you can specify the time you want the back-up to automatically take place. I usually have my back-ups set to run at 10PM before I go to bed.

-Krishna

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 23, 2006 11:57 AM

I do have Version 2. In fact, that automatic backup is what's saved me a lot of heartache. It goes off automatically at 10 AM when I'm in my office, and is usually done well before 11.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 23, 2006 11:58 AM

It learns to back up or it gets the hose again...

Comment from: sdf [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 23, 2006 1:15 PM

About a month after I bought my 12" Powerbook G4, I replaced the hard drive with the same model apple used when you upgrade capacity. I had to pay more for the experience than if I'd realized from the start I'd need more capacity...

And worse, a year and a bit later AppleCare didn't cover the new hard drive. (Duh.)

So I feel your pain. What size PowerBook is it, anyway?

Comment from: Christopher B. Wright [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 23, 2006 1:51 PM

I really want one of those new Intel dual core powerbooks... but if the hard drive has a tendency to crap out after a year, it's not really worth the money... o_O

Comment from: HydrogenGuy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 23, 2006 2:31 PM

And why shouldn't you hate sudoku? Or, for that matter, sudokus? We all have the right to dislike whatever the latest fad is, in fact, I think it's nearly mandatory.

I, for the record, do not like sudoku, and I will even go further and say on the record that Firefly grates on me like parmesan on ridged almuinum.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 23, 2006 6:39 PM

I like sudoku the *game*, just not sudoku the *concept that we will publish five million books about*. And now they've found my beloved Cross Sums...

Comment from: Plaid Phantom [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 23, 2006 8:20 PM

Sudoku is, in my opinion, one of the great puzzle games of our time. The problem is that I'm to apathetic to actually do any of the twenty or so sitting in a pile over in the corner.

Also, brilliant use of misleading headlines. I think.

Comment from: Dan Severn [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 12:25 AM

Why don't you dislike sudoku? It's not a game. It's a math test.

Comment from: Mr. Shivers [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 2:01 AM

That's why it's great though!

Actually, sudoku is okay, but as far as math tests go, its not very satisfying. More specifically, I'm pretty good with a math test, but puzzles like Sudoku just frustrate me after a bit, even the ones that are actually math based. But then, I guess I just like my puzzles really easy.

Comment from: Merus [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 6:05 AM

Sudoku is math-based? None of the info's in the numbers, they just use them because they're more distinctive than letters, but letters still work. Now, those ones where you have to do adding up because they don't give you any clues, those suck.

Of Nikoli's puzzles, sudoku isn't my favourite, but I can see why it's popular - it's compact, variable and reasonably fair. (And for everyone else, there are the crosswords.)

Comment from: Greg Case [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 8:10 AM

C.B. Wright:

I really want one of those new Intel dual core powerbooks... but if the hard drive has a tendency to crap out after a year, it's not really worth the money... o_O

I have had a Titanium model since 2002 and never had any trouble with any of the technical hardware (HD, RAM, etc).

Is this a model-based thing? Is there data out there saying Apple's harddrives are questionable, or is Eric just plain unlucky?

Comment from: Kaychsea [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 9:30 AM

Now, those ones where you have to do adding up because they don't give you any clues, those suck. If you mean Kakuro I actually prefer these, and it doesn't so much require adding as a memory for combinations.

Comment from: Kaychsea [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 9:31 AM

Well that didn't work! :-)

Comment from: iconoclast [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 10:17 AM

Is this a model-based thing? Is there data out there saying Apple's harddrives are questionable, or is Eric just plain unlucky?

i think it's a little from column a, and a little from column b. i've NEVER had hard drive problems with my ibooks, but all the same, i've heard they have plenty of HD issues. he just managed to get 2 comps that have bad HD's.

on a different note...GO READ QC TODAY! you'll be thankful you did.

Comment from: Starline [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 12:05 PM

Where do you get SuperDuper from?

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 12:15 PM

Starline -- http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/22126 has the details.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 2:09 PM

Sudokus aren't math-related at all. They could work just as easily if you used any nine distinct ideograms. For example, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I would work just as well. It's a basic logic puzzle.

And the reason there are so many sudoku books is because it's so easy to write one and make money off of it. So few are any good.

Comment from: Wednesday White [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 3:34 PM

It's a basic logic puzzle.

Right. Math.

(If it causes the seventh hell-circle level meltdown in my head, it's math.)

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 4:12 PM

Oh, right, logic is considered a realm of mathematics these days. Never mind that logic can prove that 2 plus 2 does in fact equal 5, when math obviously says otherwise.

Comment from: Pyrthas [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 4:29 PM

"These days"? Logic has had a foot firmly in both philosophy and mathematics for at least 100 years or so now, and more recently it's gotten a third foot into computer science. But I'm not quite sure what you mean by "logic," since you're both saying that it's part of mathematics, which suggests that you're talking about formal logic, and saying that it can prove that 2 + 2 = 5, which seems misleading at best if you're talking about formal logic.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 4:42 PM

Logic is a little tweeting bird. Logic is a bunch of pretty flowers that smell bad.

Comment from: Pyrthas [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 4:47 PM

But no little tweeting birds are bunches of pretty flowers that smell bad. A contradiction! And logic complains.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 4:52 PM

Bah, never mind. I'm not conveying myself well at the moment, and I don't suspect I'm about to. I'm just going to go curling instead.

Comment from: OmenPigeon [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 6:14 PM

Formal logic can too prove things like "2 + 2 = 5". Just this morning I proved that if there exists one thing that is a bird, then everything that exists is a bird, and that was just with first order logic. With induction its absolutely trivial to demonstrate that all horses are the same color. Formal logic systems are a powerful tool, but they can all be abused to prove things which are obviously false. But really, thats half the fun.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 6:32 PM

OmenPigeon -- I'm that it sounds like you've fallen into the fallacy of the undistributed middle on your bird proof. Assuming we're discussing a syllogism.

As for inductive reasoning, surely you're aware of the formal constructs of strong and weak inductive logic. An induction that purports that all horses are the same color would be a terribly weak induction.

Comment from: Factitious [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 7:46 PM

Sudoku involves having thoughts like "OK, this symbol has to be in one of those two spaces. It can't be in the first one, because it's already somewhere else in that square block, so it must be in the second one." Fill in the symbol there, stare at the puzzle some more, repeat.

You can call that math if you want, but I'd just call it thinking.

Comment from: YourArbiter [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 8:31 PM

Er, I'm a long-time lurker on this website, and making my first post; this whole math-sudoku-logic discussion is entirely too good to keep out of.

Omen, way to bring in the "all horses are the same color" proof, the reason I can't restrain myself from posting. For anyone who isn't familiar, the problem isn't that the proof uses weak induction or strong induction, but that it assumes an improper base case and reasons out from there. It's one of the most important pieces of faulty reasoning for armchair mathematicians to look into, as it demonstrates the kind of fallacy you can very easily fall into.

Oh, yeah, and that Questionable Content sure is getting saucy.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 8:32 PM

I'd call all thinking math. And logic. On a level that often doesn't need acknowledging, sure, but it's there.

Cross Sums (the nascent craze is calling them by their Japanese name, which I don't remember and don't really care to) are math--unless you do enough of them that most of the sums automatically express themselves as the possible list(s) of numbers than can be used. No one even slightly experienced with those looks at 3) _ _ and thinks "hmm, what two different single-digit positive numbers add up to 3?" They think "ah, 1 and 2".

Comment from: Darth Paradox [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 9:01 PM

Incidentally, Sudoku does seem to fall into the realm of set theory. Which is math.

Of course, set theory and logic are nigh-interchangeable, with the right transforms.

And OmenPigeon, all you've demonstrated is that you know how to do formal math and logic incorrectly. For example, the all-horses-are-the-same-color proof fails because your inductive hypothesis has to be proven correct for the base case, which doesn't happen.

Comment from: YourArbiter [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 9:03 PM

Darth, I think what Omen was proving was that he knows how to make a point about doing induction incorrectly-- which is to say, he knows it very well.

Comment from: Pyrthas [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 24, 2006 10:43 PM

Omen: Not with standard axioms. Obviously you can prove whatever you want starting with the right axioms and rules of inference (indeed, it's easy; take inconsistent axioms, and you're home free), but you're not going to get that 2 + 2 = 5 out of, say, Peano arithmetic. And you're not going to get a universal quantifier out of an existential quantifier in first-order logic (as much as students might like to do so from time to time on their homework). And people have already talked about your horses.

Comment from: clint Hollingsworth [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 25, 2006 1:06 PM

Sorry to hear about the HD woes. I just had to replace the HD in my older Ibook. Fortunately, I didn't have much of value on it.

Here's hoping third time's the charm!

Comment from: Factitious [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 25, 2006 6:48 PM

Guys, I'm pretty sure the people saying that 2+2=5 according to logic are joking.

Comment from: Tice with a J [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 25, 2006 8:03 PM

Guys, I'm pretty sure the people saying that 2+2=5 according to logic are joking.
Yes, they're joking. Trouble is, it's not funny. Not to say that you folks are trying to be mean or callous, because you're not. I have discovered a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition that this margin is too narrow to contain. However, the logic jokes never got going. A good quip about proving that all horses have an infinite number of legs might have have started things off on the right foot, but as it happened, I think we can all agree that it isn't that funny right now. To deny the facts would be illogical.

So instead of logic, let's talk about something funny. Like sandwiches.

Comment from: Dan Severn [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 25, 2006 11:43 PM

Logic isn't fun. Logic is just truth. If you claim that 2 + 2 = 5, then you are not being logical. You have fallen into a fallacy.

I don't really like most puzzles, because they usually have but one solution, or a limited number of solutions, and style counts for nothing.

And that, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with life. It is human systems, not logical ones, that interest me.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 25, 2006 11:48 PM

I'm not sure I concur. Logic isn't truth, per se. Logic -- and there are several varieties of logic -- is a method of reasoning. It is philosophy and methodology. However, it's not innately truthful.

Comment from: Doug [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 1:08 AM

But no little tweeting birds are bunches of pretty flowers that smell bad. A contradiction! And logic complains.

But why? Why can't logic be both? Why does society shoehorn things like logic into roles that have remained unchanging for centuries, forcing it to assume expected behavior and denying it the freedom to act as it would prefer?

Isn't it time that we allow things like logic to express itself freely, unhindered by our prejudicial expectations? Can't we break ourelves of the ingrained expectations we have of things like logic and math? Why can't 2 + 2 = 5 if logic wants it to be that way? Why can't the square root of minus one equal a duck if it wants to? Isn't their room enough for allowance for individual creativity? Is our modern society so hidebound that it has to compel such things into restricted avenues of behavior, shackling it and restaining it from being able to assert its own desired identity?

And isn't this a lot of question marks, literally begging the question?

Comment from: Alan Sharkey [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 6:30 AM

Why can't 2 + 2 = 5 if logic wants it to be that way?


Largely because freedom is the freedom to say 2 + 2 = 4.

Comment from: Alexis Christoforides [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 8:10 AM

In logic, 2 + 2 equals 5 if you have a rule (or a set of rules) that conclude that 2 + 2 equals 5.

The rules of 'real life as we perceive it' or 'commonly-understood mathematics' do not have such a rule or set of rules. They have, however, a set of rules that allow us to reach the conclusion that 2 + 2 equals 4.

It's not that 2 + 2 cannot equal 5 according to logic, it's just that it's not *useful* for it to equal 5.

Sudoku, by the way, IS math. It's also an NP-Complete problem, which basically means that a simple way to solve them will probably never be found (because if it IS found, it would actually revolutionize much more than solving Sudokus, and solve one of the Millenium Problems)

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 8:36 AM

We have always been at war with Apple.

Comment from: Doug [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 26, 2006 3:09 PM

I now have the uncomfortable feeling that my screed on logic ("Be anything you want to be if it makes you feel good, even if it contravenes natural laws!") was taken seriously. Once again I double post.

I can assume two causes for this inferred behavior: either there is a dearth of humor here, or conveying the proper tone of delivery through the written word is often difficult and that I have to work on my writing.

Logic keeps reminding me about all those times I sat and laughed while reading some of the things written here and what that says about the former, so you don't have to be Aristotle to figure out that the latter is the one to bet on.

Of course, the third supposition is that International Communism, in league with the shadowy forces of New Age Spirituality and creeping socialism have formed an unholy alliance to subvert the scientfic method and turn our vibrant technological society towards a new Dark Age, plunging us into chaos and centuries of no cable TV, that I have unwittingly uncovered.

But, while you're looking the other way and trying to figure that out I shall deftly change the subject.

Entirely unofficial, from some people at the Apple Genius Bar(s) hereabouts: it seems that much like the batch of problem power supply parts one of the OEMs shipped and that wound up causing problems in certain models, one of the revision/batch of HDs they received from the supplier tends to have a much lesser average MTBF than the spec calls for, to put it politely. There's not enough bad ones to warrant a recall. In fact, most of the things live a long and useful life. There's just a larger number of lemons than is usual. Apple (or at least these particular Genius Bars) is/are taking a "replace bad drives quickly with even less questions than normal" approach.

Please bear in mind that this is not from an official source, but some friendly Apple Store employees I chatted with, and so might be so much wind.

Comment from: Dan Severn [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 27, 2006 2:00 AM

Apple is in league with the international communist conspiracy. Got it.

Tell him . . . I said . . . "ow."

Comment from: TasteMyHouse [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 27, 2006 7:05 AM

Robert Hutchinson

I wish i could post of those "i see what you did there" owls, because you totally deserve one. you made my laugh out loud, good job.

Comment from: Zeke [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at February 28, 2006 10:32 PM

Speaking as a Master's student in Pure Math, I loathe sudoku. It's not right that the most popular mathematical thing to come along since Rubik's Cube has almost no math in it. (Sort of like how most people asked to name a famous mathematician will name Einstein, a physicist.) Soduko makes you think you're doing math without really doing any.

Further, the marketing really pisses me off. First of all, sudoku is not a Japanese puzzle any more than tangrams or Chinese Checkers are really from China. It, and puzzles like it, have been around for centuries. This is just the first time this particular one has found the branding it needed to succeed. (Kakuro is even more blatant -- as Robert said, it's been around a long time as Cross Sums.) Second, and worse, is the fact that there's now a huge industry selling high-priced sudoku products that are worthless. I held my tongue when my mom bought Scrabble-style sudoku sets for some kids in the family, but it's like spending $30 on a tic-tac-toe board. The most appalling part is that the sets advertise themselves as for 1-4 players or some such, but the multiplayer version is nothing more than "pick a puzzle and see who can solve it faster." You'd think the fact that sudoku doesn't even make a good Java applet would be a sign that it's not something to spend money on.

A final objection is unlike anything else on the puzzle page, sudoku doesn't need a composer. The creativity and originality that go into any chess problem or cryptic crossword are tremendous, but sudokus are easily made by computer -- just generate an array and remove numbers till the solution becomes non-unique. Solving a cryptic is like matching wits with the author. Solving a sudoku is like pretending to be a C program.

- Z

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 1, 2006 12:07 AM

Well, I wouldn't go *that* far. :)

Really, just because sudoku can be made by a computer doesn't mean that they *can't* be made by a person. And it's the only type of pencil puzzle that can be generated by a computer? Cross Sums, word searches, various word-list crosswords--three counterexamples that come to mind. Oh, and Battleships.

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 1, 2006 10:32 AM

I'm a puzzle junkie. I love word puzzles, number puzzles, even those "fill in the random squares to see what the picture is" things (in teeny doses, and only after I've done all the good stuff in the book).

When I buy a puzzle book, which isn't often anymore, it's all I do with my spare time for the next couple of days. I start on the first page and do every single puzzle, even the ones that suck. It's a strange compulsion, and thus is only something I allow myself to do if I'm going to be in a situation where I need massive amounts of distraction - say, in a waiting room at a hospital, or on a looooong car trip.

Sodoku is numbers, sure, but the ones I've seen are more about patterns than about math. You could just as easily put colored squares or symbols in there Ishido-style and have the same effect. It's amusing enough, but quickly pales. I would rather go play Text Twist and watch the letters go all jumbly jumbly. heh.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 1, 2006 4:55 PM

Okay, I can buy most anti-sudoku arguments, even if I don't agree with them. But when part of your argument is "A computer can make them," you've lost me. Maybe I'm all too accepting of my descendants' future being hunted by SkyNet, but I really don't think it's a big deal that a puzzle I like was made by a computer. Heck, so was Tetris, and I love that, too.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 1, 2006 9:42 PM

I have subscriptions to two puzzle magazines. But with all of the other stuff I spend my free time doing (hello Internet), I often find myself "falling behind" on solving at least a good percentage of the puzzles in each. It makes me sad.

larksilver: Surely you're not pooh-poohing Paint By Numbers, aka Crack? There was a while when I had the compulsion to do every one of those first in each new magazine, before I would look at anything else.

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 9:19 AM

Robert: Oh, no, I'm not pooh-poohing them as a puzzle. They're fun! But they're not exactly art, y 'know? What I was referring to was the ones where you have the little blocks at the top and you have to draw each square in the grid below to get the picture. Again, not exactly art, but kind of cool to watch it come together.

My very favorites, and the ones I always want to do first, are the Double Trouble Crosswords. I won't buy a puzzle book that doesn't have one in it, and have been known to base my book-buying choice on how many the book has. (ooh this one has three.. but that one has FIVE! I'll take it!) heh.

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 2, 2006 9:20 AM

Robert: Oh, no, I'm not pooh-poohing them as a puzzle. They're fun! But they're not exactly art, y 'know? What I was referring to was the ones where you have the little blocks at the top and you have to draw each square in the grid below to get the picture. Again, not exactly art, but kind of cool to watch it come together.

My very favorites, and the ones I always want to do first, are the Double Trouble Crosswords. I won't buy a puzzle book that doesn't have one in it, and have been known to base my book-buying choice on how many the book has. (ooh this one has three.. but that one has FIVE! I'll take it!) heh.

Comment from: The_Prof [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at March 6, 2006 1:34 AM

@Doug: Thanks for a breath of sanity on the HD discussion. :)

Seriously, I once spent two years working tech support at a HD reseller/repackager, and I'm really starting to get irritated at comments like "Is there data out there saying Apple's harddrives are questionable, or is Eric just plain unlucky?" There are no Apple hard drives. There are no Dell hard drives. There's about four or five major laptop HD manufacturers: Toshiba, IBM/Hitachi, Fujitsu, and recently Seagate and Samsung have gotten into the act. These are the exact same mechanisms, whether they go into a Dell or an Apple or anyone else's laptop. When you're talking about excessive HD failures (or indeed any standard component failure), look at the component manufacturer, not the computer manufacturer. And when you're talking warranties, again that's something covered by the component manufacturer; when I was at APS and we got a dead mechanism back, we sent it back to the component manufacturer and got a replacement drive back from them.

APS went bankrupt a couple of years after I left, and a major contributing factor was component manufacturer Micropolis going bankrupt; instead of telling customers 'tough luck' when a Micropolis-based drive they sold them failed (which IIRC was legally covered and par for the course), they replaced it with another company's mechansim and ate the cost. And it killed them.

So yes, I tend to be a little bit sensitive about these things. :)

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