Emergent Behavior Sucks

Posted by trevor Tue, 17 May 2005 16:49:00 GMT

I’ve got two Rails apps in ‘production’ mode. That is, they are (were) stable, humming along nicely and hadn’t been changed in weeks. Until this morning, that is.

All of a sudden FastCGI is going nuts spawning copies of itself and complaining of incomplete headers – of course, no crash log is generated, so my only pointer is incomplete headers. Not much help there.

I rebooted the box, killed all the old session files and removed the FCGI IPC directory (to get a clean one). No joy.

I tried switching back to vanilla CGI - works fine so it’s not issues further down the chain (like the DB). Still no joy then.

After much digging (and swearing), I found that by removing the -restart flag from my system-wide FastCGI settings I could make the problem go away.

The problem is, I’ve had the -restart flag set for ages with no issues. I haven’t touched the box in, like, forever (internet time). So from the guy who can often be found saying “OK, I know you don’t think you changed anything but try really hard to remember what you might have done”, I’m saying dammit, I didn’t change anything!

So what’s the deal? Oh wait – it’s Tuesday isn’t it? That must be the problem. Tuesday.

Stupid emergent behavior…

inappropriate book game

Posted by trevor Wed, 11 May 2005 18:11:16 GMT

I’ve just begun to read a borrowed copy of “Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid”.

Here’s a game you can play if you need an occasional diversion when plowing through the material:

Let the book fall open to a random page. Scan the page for a lengthy paragraph which is completely incomprehensible. Something where you can pronounce the words but you have absolutely no idea why they are significant when strung together. It shouldn’t take long to find a likely candidate.

Next, picture Wallace Shawn sitting across from you at a restaurant. Imagine that he is speaking the words as you read them from the page.

As he goes on, he becomes agitated. His voice becomes more and more shrill and his lisp is uncontrollable. The pace of his speech becomes feverish and he occasionally stabs at the air with pudgy fingers.

He approaches the climax of his diatribe and he can no longer contain himself. He is speaking far too quickly to allow for pauses so he flails his arms and smacks the table as a whole-body substitute for punctuation. Tiny globules of spittle arc from his bottom lip – luckily not far enough to reach your bowl of soup.

Somehow, squeezing the last bit of air from his lungs, he actually manages to increase the pitch and volume of his voice even further. Face purple with effort, he utters the final words – the fundamental truth of what he’s been describing (and what you’ve been reading).

He slumps in his chair, silent, nodding, smiling. And looking to you for a reaction-in-kind.

Okay, so it does nothing to help you understand the material but it sure can be entertaining.

Try it. It’s fun.

is this thing on?

Posted by trevor Mon, 09 May 2005 06:22:35 GMT

Right. Here I go then.

We have a tradition at our house. OK, the reality is we stole a tradition from some good friends but that’s not the point.

The tradition goes like this – at the dinner table everyone gets to say three things about their day: something good, something bad and something they’ve learned.

And that’s why I’ve renamed my journal “something learned”.

Riveting huh?

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