I’ll need a name for my next machine

Update 2015-07-29: It has arrived! Naming it was tough; although there were good suggestions that friends made. I considered calling it “theven” given the previous one was called “sith”, but I’m going to go with “Gillie”. I like the ring of it principally, but there are other meanings. It’s the name of a character in GoT, and in French it means “tickle”, which was in the list I considered.

“Gailuron”, “Melina”, “Abraxas”, “Eloah”, “Precious”, “Phoenix”, “Sith”. I have not followed any particular convention in naming my computers, thus far. Here are the stories.

Gailuron” (namely “cheerful chap”) was a sturdy Sun workstation which I had not named myself. It was there when I was sworn into office at W3C in 1999.

Melina” was a sturdier desktop computer, I don’t recall which make. I named it after a most excellent Greek singer, Melina Mercouri. At the time, I was dating a guy who was half-greek, I danced the sirtaki (or rather the hasapiko -the butcher’s dance-, which inspired the sirtaki), cooked greek food, vacationed in Crete every summer, listened to orthodox liturgical music and other Greek music, particularly Melina Mercouri. You know, Zorba? She sang to the famous Zorba movie music.

Abraxas” was a heavy Dell Latitude laptop which the previous owner had named. I looked up “Abraxas”, and it’s related to ancient religions. If you look it up, you’ll find that Abraxas is both an Egyptian god and a demon, and you’ll see that he has legs like pretzels, carries a whip and a shield, and has the head of a chicken. I can’t fathom why anyone would name their machine like this.

Eloah” was a Dell OptiPlex, a desktop computer that I named after Éléa, the main character of a wonderful novel by René Barjavel, The Ice People (“La Nuit Des Temps”). I don’t recall how I went from Éléa to Eloah, which is a Hebrew word for God.
In this photo, it’s hidden under the humongous monitor and behind a screen of paper in the office also known for its “1-million dollar decoration” (that would warrant a post of its own):

At my desk, 2003

Precious“, ah, The Precious… My first Macintosh laptop, a 15-inch PowerBook G4. It took me so many months of relentless persuasion and negotiation before it was finally ordered for me, that it was only natural that it should be named the Precious. I loved it. I could sleep with it.
Incidentally, in this photo, it’s in bed with me:

Me and the Precious, 2005

Phoenix” -how could I forget Phoenix?- was the new Precious since on an unfortunate day in late 2006, Precious didn’t wake from sleep. Fortunately, I was in Boston, a short distance from the Cambridgeside Galleria Apple Store where I got a 15-inch MacBook Pro. It was entirely grey. And it was as pretty as the Precious. So I named it “Phoenix” after Jean Grey from the Marvel comics. Because it was grey and because it was sort of arising from the ashes of Precious.

Sith” is the computer I’m typing this on, a MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2009). I named it Sith because it had a dark keyboard. I hated it; it looked and sounded ugly. I had been able to get a glossy screen (versus glass), but there was no way to replace the loud black keyboard.

I can’t wait to replace the venerable Sith, and wonder what I’ll name its replacement, another MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015).

Last week’s scribing performance

One of the things I did a lot last week was minuting meetings, that is capturing a record of what people talk about. At W3C we typically do that via IRC and then a handful of bots and scripts generate HTML minutes.

So I scribed. Friday was particularly intense, being the second day of the Advisory Boad face-to-face meeting, the agenda for the day still being pretty full, and people’s heads being quite full of long talking points on what I consider complex topics.

I cleaned up the minutes the same evening, as I usually do, while things were still fresh in my memory. And what surprised my was the small amount of typos and spelling mistakes I had to fix.

Thanks to grep and wc, I found that of the 949 lines in the IRC log of the Friday meeting, 687 were my scribings (amounting to 8835 words). And the number of typos and spelling mistakes I find so low is: 32. That is all. I performed significantly better on that day than I usually do.

Of course, the worst part is now; I need to synthesize 2350 lines (15K words) of minutes into a summary. And “again, the Advisory Board saved the Consortium” isn’t enough (nor is it true just yet!).

The sound of things

Sound that things make and their levels, as analysed on my smart phone with Decibel Ultra:

Light rain under the porch: 60 – 70 dB
Heavy rain under the porch: 90 dB
Thunder striking a couple kilometers away: 100 dB
Downpour under the porch: 100 dB

This is usually when I give up staying out under the porch, because it means ricocheting water will soak me soon. And my computer too. [User relocates] Here, let me wipe a few drops from my screen and trackpad. Done. You should see the cat –having migrated indoor against her will, she sits under the table in front of the French window and looks dismally at the curtains of rain.

I like to measure the sound of things. Not all things, only things which sound level I find notable. Here are a few additional examples:

Loud snoring: 86 dB (peak)
MIT machine room: 83 dB? I haven’t committed that one to memory, I was too busy being impressed.
Meadhall nearby Stata Center: 103 dB! I lasted throughout dinner once, kept only by the fine company of two people I like.