Friday, September 10, 2004

10 September 2004: Breathe

Whales live under water, but breathe air. This means every two hours or so they need to come UP to the surface, BREATHE an enormous deep breath and DIVE again.

Installing Citeseer is a little like that. A dry run on my Fedora-powered laptop took about a week, as I figured out how to solve the little problems along the way. And then UP and BREATHE and DIVE again to install it on the big server where it will actually live. Many more problems there, most of which caused by the 64-bit architecture of the RAID machine ("recompile shared library with -fPIC and try again"), but it's more-or-less been wrestled into place now. Not so much fitting a square peg in a round hole, more like fitting a water-balloon through a sharp-edged metallic hole of any nominal shape. Hold in one part of the balloon and it expands somewhere else; touch the edges of the hole and the whole thing breaks. Still, it seems to have been wrestled into some sort of submission-hold, and the Citeseer Diaries (currently standing at five hand-scribbled pages of A4) should be ready for comsumption soon.

And UP and BREATHE...

But before I dive again, I was thinking about what I was doing a year ago. In the midst of the move from London to Southampton, a surprising amount of my spare time was being taken up with a most bizarre yet strangely relevant experiment. Sept 10th 2003 was the day Kamgod moved offices from his familiar abode across to the new building that we had all watched being built over the period of a few months.

For those of you initiated, those uninitiated and those still on the waiting list, a quick explanation: Trogdor (a person assuming the name of the dragon, not the actual dragon) discovered (burninated) a guy, nominally 'a professor' (actually he did have an honorary doctorate) who had set up a webcam in his office. No links to it, Trogdor found it by mis-typing an IP address (as we all do from time to time, often deliberately, just to see what's out there). The aim was this: purely through use of the camera (which we, the viewer, could control the movements of), we were to get his attention and get him to visit, and eventually to post a message on the William Gibson Board.

Took six months and we failed miserably, although I came very close at one point when a sequence of events known as The Fist Of Matey meant I got his attention but blew it by not zooming in on the keyboard quickly enough. Eventually we sent the guy a basket of goodies and told him what we were doing. He responded and left us a message on the WGB, and that was pretty much that. Apparantly, his niece got into the whole thing rather more than the professor himself ever did. But it would be wrong of me to divulge such information. As it would be to tell you that his real name was Bob.

The webcam was discontinued at the end of January. The thread discontinued on Feb 18 2004, and appropriately the final entry read "lol lmao". Summed up the whole thing, I think.

But it was good while it lasted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you were serious about posting your CiteSeer diaries, please, please do so. I'm currently wrestling with an installation & if you're will to share what you've learned along the way it would be enormously helpful.