Books and Laptops and Bugs

Hey!  To anyone in the Boston area who wants to get an xkcd book signed, I’ll be doing a signing event at MIT this Thursday (the 17th).  It’s in Room 26-100 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.  Details are here.  The event is free, and there will be books for sale there.  I’ve been pretty busy signing prints for the store to keep up with the massive flood of Christmas orders, but I wanted to get in a free non-charity event for people who wanted to get books signed but couldn’t afford tickets.


Speaking of which, here are pictures of the xkcd school nearing completion in Laos:

Thanks for all suggestions for the dedication plaque thing! Here’s what we ended up going with:

“Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” – Plato.

This school is a gift from the readers of XKCD, an internet comic strip. The world is full of exciting things to discover. We hope you find some of them.

Thanks, everyone.  <3


I posted a while back about getting an x200s laptop.  A big part of my decision was based on its durability — reviews touted the roll cage and carbon-fiber composite casing.  Sadly, it doesn’t seem to hold up very well in my daily use.  The case has cracked in five or six places, and some of these breaks have warped the frame.  It also just feels flimsy.  The related computers in the line (the x301, the x200, etc) are reportedly a lot sturdier.

Long and boring story short, I decided to repair and resell it, and use the money to get a 13-inch Macbook Pro.  It’s significantly heavier than the x200s, but I have a Droid now (which I quite like) and it’s helped remove a lot of my need for an ultraportable laptop.  I’ve been using an OS X desktop (a Mac Mini) as my main desktop machine for a couple years now, and I’m tired of rebooting my laptop to Windows when traveling to get to Photoshop (Wine et. al. don’t quite cut it).  The things I use Linux for (programming and playing with random toys/projects) are, on the other hand, easily done in VMs.  So for me, an OS X laptop seems like a logical choice, and so far I’ve been largely happy with it.

I love the multitouch trackpad (I’ve installed jitouch to expand the set of available gestures), and VMs seem to run nicely.  Supposedly the battery’s lifespan is much improved from the old 250 cycles.  If not, expect a post in about a year and a half about me blowing up my apartment while attempting to replace the battery with an off-brand one.  I may die, but at least I’ll prove the TSA wrong. This laptop has the bonus of being more powerful than my old desktop, which I can now resell to another friend (making the laptop my primary computer), and actually come out ahead on this whole affair.


So long as I’m blabbing about recent gadget experience: Amazon’s support/replacement for broken Kindles is amazing (“We’ll rush-ship you a new one immediately! Just send the old one back to us whenever. So sorry!”). The Droid is proving excellent, though it seems like each day brings a hilarious new Android bugs. For example, it turns out having certain kinds of DNS records for the Jabber server for your Google Apps account for your domain can, starting last week, through a complicated series of events, cause Market downloads to freeze and keep you from updating any apps on the phone.  That was a fun bug to try to track down, but it’s trumped in sheer weirdness by the Droid’s 24.5-day Autofocus bug, which is itself the weirdest bug story since The Case of the 500-Mile Email.

173 thoughts on “Books and Laptops and Bugs

  1. Re: #697

    How is your Space Elevator a \modern Babel\? The Tower of Babel was built to be a shelter in case there were any more floods. There seems to be confusion over the mistranslation over it having the heavens at the top, which actually meant there were pictures of constellations on the top floor for astrological purposes. It was a somewhat tall building, though, but it would never would have been as tall as everyone has made it out to be.

  2. I’ve noticed a few of those Android bugs as well. I have another to add that may be Droid specific:

    When the Droid is sitting in your peripheral vision, sometimes you think you see the little green light blink. After staring at it directly for several seconds, you decide that it did not blink at all, and you feel alone.
    (On a side note, having the green light blink once at random intervals would be an amazing prank app.)

  3. This post hit me like a punch in the face (in a good way though, I just couldn’t think of anything good that had the same stunning power). I never really got into the whole xkcd thing, on account of how I hate math and so a lot of the jokes go over my head. Or at least, that’s what I thought, but I’ve been reading a couple weeks now and laugh a lot more than I expected. Huh.

    Anyway, I clicked the blog today because I was bored, and saw this post and… and damn. My world has sort of flipped. It’s not every day you read a webcomic’s blog and then see “Oh by the way we’re BUILDING A SCHOOL.” That’s just awesome. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I thought this was a silly little webcomic for physics nerds and here instead it is the foundation of a community that causes big things to happen in places where they need to happen. I got a little misty-eyed just thinking about it.

    So yeah… Nice way to start the day. :)

  4. I know I’m a bit late posting this…but THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the jitouch link!!! I love the built-in multitouch gestures, so having more makes my Macbook Pro even more awesome!

  5. bawww! There is an xkcd school? I hadn’t heard of this! I want to contribute!

    This is what I get for not checking the blag and forums for months on end. harrumph.

  6. Is there better location details for the school available? I’m going to be in Laos at the end of the year and thought it’d be a good chance to go have a look.

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  12. The 24.5 day auto-focus article reminded me of something even crazier, the fake leap-year PS3 bug. It hit March 1, 2010 and lasted twenty-four hours, though various message boards figured out the problem before official responses were posted.

    Basically the PS3 used an internal time-stamp to authenticate things and the secure hidden clock mistakenly thought that 2010 was a leap year and thus it should be March 29, 2010. It ended up disabling trophies, DLC and even on-line play for the entire day among other things.

    Then it went away after twenty-four hours, because hey, it’s only a bug that shows up once every four years!

    BTW, there is a string of spam up above.

  13. Once again some great arguments in the discussion on whether knoweldge should be accessible to all. Unanticipated use is exactly how knowledge can be furthered, and networked scholarship also allows those of us outside academia to follow and perhaps even occasionally participate in knowledge creation.
    So keep up the good work!

  14. Basically the PS3 used an internal time-stamp to authenticate things and the secure hidden clock mistakenly thought that 2010 was a leap year and thus it should be March 29, 2010. It ended up disabling trophies..
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  18. I thought this was a silly little webcomic for physics nerds and here instead it is the foundation of a community that causes big things to happen in places where they need to happen. Sell Note

  19. it seems there is not so much connection between the article words and the pictures, but seeing the constucted building by yourselves is also inspring.

  20. I really agree with the saying on your plaque; children really do learn better when they are passionate about the subject at hand and encouraged to explore for fun and knowledge’s sake. Pressure is never good.

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