November 2009 Archives

Grok'ing the Ah-ha Moment

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One of the most satisfying experiences a technoluster can have is becoming proficient with a new technology, especially one that's not easy to master. Geeks sometimes use the word » GROK, which basically means you 'get it'.

The term was coined by Robert Heinlein in his novel Stranger in a Strange Land (SciFi, 1961). The martian word implies you understand something (such as how a particular technology works) .. on an intuitive level, in a satorial kind of way.

Stranger in a Strange LandThe difference between possessing a working knowledge of a particular technology and 'grokking' it is difficult to describe. Grokking impies a deeper understanding .. that surpasses mere facts & figures.

It suggests you can 'see into' the inner workings and comprehend how the different elements interact.

I've been studying CSS (off-n-on) for months, applying the concepts I learned (.. cuz that's how I learn best). And today I finally 'got it'. It came in a flash .. known as the » ah-ha moment.

[ Hmmm. That's interesting » I was looking for a good article to link to the phrase » 'ah-ha moment,' when my Google search returned a page referencing CSS. Surprisingly coincidental, no? Seeing that I didn't query the term 'CSS' (only » 'ah-ha moment').

What are the odds of that occurring? Of those two concepts being found grouped together so prominently (link #2)? Of all the possible topics in the world, CSS comes up. Maybe it means something. ]

It's not like I didn't understand CSS before. I'd long been reading about and felt comfortable wielding the technology .. using it to whip up sophisticated layouts. But now it seems my insights were superficial .. that I was merely applying recipes, cookbook style, mechanically.

Today's insight came so dramatically that it felt like I'd swallowed a ball of CSS enlightenment. "I finally get it," I muttered. Incredibly satisfying experience. Accompanied by a feeling of arrival, completion, mastery.

Of course, this doesn't mean I know everything there is to know about CSS. Far from it. Gladwell says you need 10,000 hours to master a skill. But I now 'see' how it works .. on an intuitive level.

I would love to be able to plug a cable into my brain and upload a whole slew of other cool technologies (.. like they do in the Matrix). Unfortunately, that ain't how it works. Nor can you grok something by sheer force of will. (If we could, I'd be grunting loudly.) You 'get it' when you get it and not a moment before.

Tho I'm curious about what happens at that moment. I mean, I knew everything I did about CSS now in the moments before I 'got it'. I've also been studying Programming. Maybe that helped yield insight, cuz CSS in some ways resembles programming.

The experience, in retrospect, could be described as a 'breaking thru,' or a 'crashing thru,' or a 'falling thru,'. The thing you 'break thru' seems like a semi-translucent crystalline membrane .. that obscures your vision .. from seeing deeply .. into the inner-workings.

The distance traveled (knowledge-wise) was very small, yet the resulting effect was dramatic .. sort of like the view you get when cresting a big hill. The straw that broke the camel's crystalline back, you might say.

eDawg's New Quad-Core Beast

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My buddy eDawg just built himself a new beast. Here's a copy-n-paste from the invoice (totaling $1325 + tax). He's using dual flat-panel monitors imported from a previous system. See here:

    Antec Nine Hundred Mid_sized ATX PC Case
  • Case Antec | Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Retail » $100
  • PSU Corsair | CMPSU-750TX 750W SLI + CrossFire Ready Retail » $110
  • Motherboard ASUS | P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 X58 Intel Chipset Retail » $290
  • CPU Intel | Core i7 920 Bloomfield 2.66G 45N Quad-Core - Retail » $290
  • 2 x Memory | Corsair XMS3 6GB DDR3 PC3 - Retail » $320
  • VGA XFX | Radeon HD 4870 1G 256-bit GDDR5 HD-487A-ZWFC PCI Express 2.0 x16 Retail » $145
  • Hard Drive 250G | Western Digital Caviar Blue 7200-RPM 8MB Cache SATA2 - OEM » $45
  • DVD Burner Lite-On | Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW SATA - OEM » $25
  • Windows 7

This system has 12 gigs of memory (2 x 6-gig sticks). That's downright decadent. I think he could arrested for having so much memory (without a permit). We hate you, eDawg. Actually, that motherboard can handle (up to) 24 gigs .. in triple-channel mode.

I said, "Dang, you probably oughta call your local power company and let them know whenever you're fixin' to start that beast .. so they can tweak bus frequency up to 62-cycles, so you don't bring down the whole western grid."

I asked why he didn't opt for a giant 2-TB drive for storage, or a 10K-rpm Raptor to run his system & programs .. or better yet » a solid state drive (drool).

I remember back when we ordered and built his very first custom system. That wasn't long after eDawg's dad married my friend » Maria. We all lived in this big 5-level Euro-style mansion that eDawg's dad built (which later sold for several $mil) cut into the hillside high above Laguna .. with a killer 180-degree view of the Pacific. Ah, the good ol' days .. sitting out on the deck and watching the sun go down.

Have a special treat for you today » my Nuclear Grade Stew recipe (2 pages). I've made this stew at least 50 times over the years .. probably closer to a hundred. Now that autumn is here, and the nights are getting chilly, it's time to break out the crock pot.

Crock PotFor the pages that contain this recipe, I designed a new, single-sidebar layout .. another liquid-elastic hybrid. See what you think.

For previous web pages, I used a design that comprised dual-sidebars, one on each side, cuz I liked the balanced, symmetric look provided by that layout. So this feature took longer to complete than expected, cuz I first had to code the CSS from scratch.

I've made this stew for the Bug many times (cutting the veggies into smaller pieces so they fit easily in his little mouth). So it's made with lots of love. He digs it.

Been lagging on entries lately, as you mighta noticed. Been dabbling in Programming. Kinda got lost. Big subject.

On the personal side, I took the Bug kayaking last week .. out on the Newport Back Bay. (No waves there.) He later confided, "Dad, at first I was a little scared. But now I'm not scared." We stopped at a small island where he got out and searched for buried treasure.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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