Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LOST Season Finale 'The End' (2)

____ ____ ___ ___ _ _____ ____ ____
/ ___|| _ \ / _ \_ _| | | ____| _ \/ ___|
\___ \| |_) | | | | || | | _| | |_) \___ \
___) | __/| |_| | || |___| |___| _ < ___) |
|____/|_| \___/___|_____|_____|_| \_\____/

I really didn't want to accept this, but all the
evidence seems to favor it... the Mirror world is
purgatory. Not in a strict Catholic sense or anything
of course, but when Christian tells Jack, "You created
this place" he's referring to the whole Mirror world
going all the way back to LAX, and it's a place
outside of time where the deceased can work through
unresolved issues in their lives before 'moving on'.

There are no troubling issues with people living side
by side in the Island and Mirror worlds, sharing
memories. They are not side by side at all. Everyone
in the Mirror world who is 'real' has died in the
Island world, from Libby and Charlie through Hurley
who may have endured for thouands of years as the
guardian of the island before finally dying.

Charles Widmore's contraption fully activated
Desmond's power to travel in time and allowed him to
even penetrate the barrier of death. He was not
afraid of the Man in Black because he knew how the
whole story was going to play out.

Eloise' weird behavior makes perfect sense. Wracked
with guilt in her life over her abusive treatment and
eventual murder of her son Daniel, in the afterlife
she clings to him.

Jack has no son... David is just an illusory prop to
help him work through his father issues. Probably the
same is true for Helen, who doesn't put in an
appearance at all in the final episode, even when her
fiance is undergoing spinal surgery.

Differences like Hurley being lucky, Locke's father
being a vegetable from a plane crash, Nadia marrying
Sayid's brother, that would seem unrelated to the
detonation of Jughead in 1977, make sense if
everything in the Mirror world is set up to be like
therapy to prepare everyone to 'move on'.

I'm not happy about this at all, but it explains
almost everything.

What does this imply for Mirror-world Aaron and Ji
Yeon? Are they dead-and-reborn real-world Aaron and
Ji Yeon, or just comforting illusions like David?

I'm still baffled by Locke's approaching the church in
a wheelchair and Jack's memory loss and recovery when
he touches the coffin.


Last year I used a tool called ICEFaces to create an AJAX web application.
It was pretty cool. Here are some of the features and advantages that led us
to choose ICEFaces:

  • Component-based AJAX/RIA/Web 2.0 framework.
  • JSF-compatible.
  • All Javascript is behind the scenes.
  • Client footprint is lighter than other AJAX frameworks because most processing is handled on the server. All the client does is process updates.
  • Security: no application specific Javascript is published to the client.
  • Free/Open Source Software.
  • Good online documentation.
  • Active and helpful forum.
Several developers who had used JSF before but with no knowledge of
Javascript or AJAX were able to quickly come up to speed using ICEFaces,
because it functions as a JSF component library. Once you get the
ICEFaces configuration set up you can just drop in components.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST Season Finale 'The End'

____ ____ ___ ___ _ _____ ____ ____
/ ___|| _ \ / _ \_ _| | | ____| _ \/ ___|
\___ \| |_) | | | | || | | _| | |_) \___ \
___) | __/| |_| | || |___| |___| _ < ___) |
|____/|_| \___/___|_____|_____|_| \_\____/

There was a mawkish sentimentality about this episode that started
with the weepy violin music and climaxed in the final
scene in the church. Everyone is reunited and gets to go
to heaven together, groan.

'The End' was so full of loose ends, ambiguities and just
holes in the plot I'm having serious difficulty
determining what the writers intended to say. I can't
figure out if they were just incredibly sloppy and
careless or if they're doing this on purpose trying to be
artistic or something.

Many viewers believe that the whole six seasons were a
dream or vision in Jack's mind as he lay dying in the
bamboo grove shortly after the crash. The juxtaposition
of Jack's death in the bamboo grove (where he originally
regained consciousness in the pilot) with the credits
rolling over scenes of the wreckage of Oceanic 815 on the
beach seems calculated to suggest this. Once you start
thinking about this possibility, all the loose ends and
lapses in continuity take on a troubling new significance.
Is this intentional? Are the writers playing games with
us, trying to suggest a number of different possibilities
without committing to anything?

How does Ben get out from under the log?

Jack is seriously wounded and seconds from death (or from
becoming a new smoke monster) in the glowing cave, then
the next time we see him he's at a safe distance outside.

What happened to Desmond? Did he just get up and wander

The glowing cave is the most isolated spot in the world.
Fewer than 10 people that we know of have ever been there.
Who dropped the water bottle litter?

Jack seems to go through recovering his memories twice,
once when he meets Kate after the concert, and again when
he touches the coffin in the church. What's up with that?
Why does Locke arrive at the church in his wheelchair?

For some time I have believed that the detonation of
Jughead created an instability in time and space which
lead to two alternate universes temporarily being equally
"real", and that the instability would eventually be
resolved with the destruction of the Island universe. The
Mirror universe would then fully become the 'real' world.
We saw the people in the Mirror world awakening and
remembering their lives in the Island world. Effectively
the souls of the Island protagonists were transmigrating
into the Mirror world.

In 'The End' there is nothing to indicate the destruction
of the Island world. In fact there are numerous
indications to the contrary. Desmond believes that the
events on the Island are of no consequence but Jack
contradicts him, saying "It matters". A good chunk of the
episode is devoted to the ultimately successful escape of
Lapidus, Miles, Sawyer, Kate, Claire and Richard, as
though we are supposed to care, implying this is all real.

Apparently the intention of the writers is that both
worlds go on existing side by side indefinitely.

People who were 'awakened' in the Mirror world but also
survived in the Island world include Hurley, Ben, Sawyer,
Kate and Claire. Did they all become like Desmond who
seemed to carry on a simultaneous existence in both
worlds? When we saw the dead people in the church
welcoming Jack into the afterlife should there have been
two Kates, two Hurleys etc? (Were there two Kates? Kate
drops Jack off in her car, then we see her again inside,
in a different outfit.)

Bummer for Aaron and Ji Yeon in the Island world, though
at least their parents get to enjoy facsimiles of their
children in the Mirror world.

When Christian says to Jack "This is a place you created
for yourselves", I initally took this to mean just the
church. But a lot of viewers are taking 'this' to refer
to the whole Mirror universe. I would find this
profoundly unsatisfying, but it would explain a few
things. There were continuity problems in the Mirror
world, like Sun and Locke arriving at the hospital at the
same time, Desmond's disappearing wedding ring and the
improbable level of coincidental meetings and subsequent
involvement among the Oceanic 815 passengers. In this
view, the Mirror world is a sort of Purgatory. If so, it
seems problematic that people still among the living are
present there.

Pairing Sayid up with Shannon like that was just lame.
Nadia was Sayid's soul-mate. Shannon was just a fling.
It's as though they abruptly paired Sun up with her
English teacher in the end with all the blurry-lensed
fanfare of true love.

The episode had some good moments, but overall this was a
disappointment. I feel like this was an end of the season
cliffhanger, not a series finale.

A few critiques of the series as a whole, now that it is

Why, after the failed(?) detonation of Jughead, did the
time-traveling Oceanic 815 survivors return from 1977 to
2007? This has never made sense to me other than in the
context of being necessary to take the story where the
producers wanted to go with it.

What do the Others call themselves? It strains
credibility that this was never once mentioned.

Why did it become impossible to have children on the

What happened to all those children that were kidnapped by
the Others? What did they want them for? (To replenish
their numbers because they couldn't have children?) I
realize the producers just changed their minds about where
the show was going and dropped this plot thread but it was
fairly major at the time and it would have been nice to
see this acknowledged with some sort of explanation.

What was Widmore up to? Did Jacob really invite him back
to the Island? Why after taking so many precautions did
Widmore come over to the Island and set himself up to be
caught by the Man In Black? The way they set Widmore up,
he seemed pretty important to the story. It felt abrupt
the way they just dropped him all of a sudden.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The Nature of Lisp Pretty good article for developers who
have a mental block when it comes to Lisp.

Springing Ahead Toward the Open PaaS New VMware/Google
collaboration. Integration of Spring with GWT. Deploy Spring
apps to the Google App Engine.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

My first experience was with a very old system. It's an old
Dell server with two 400 MHz Pentium II CPUs, 1.5 GB RAM
and SCSI hard drives. I used the Upgrade button in the
Update Manager dialog. It ran more or less all day on this
slow hardware. The download got interrupted once but
it was able to resume without any trouble.
  • System wouldn't reboot. It got the error "Gave up waiting for root device" and came up in the BusyBox shell. There's some discussion of this error here. If I exited out of BusyBox it would then come up. Fixed by adding 'rootdelay = 60' to the boot lines in /boot/grub/menu.lst.
  • Window manager apparently not working. No bar above the windows with Menu, Maximize, Minimize, Close. Can't move windows. Can't change to a different virtual desktop. See this. Workaround: I tried switching my visual effects setting from 'none' to 'normal' and that fixed it.
  • No virtual terminals. CTRL-[ALT-]-FN buttons take me to screens with video confetti or sometimes a flashing cursor. No fix/workaround for this yet.
I tried the upgrade on my laptop. This is about a 2 year old Compaq
6715b with dual core Athlon 64, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB 7200 RPM
SATA drive, wireless. Just downloading the over 3400 packages
took about 12 hours, then it took another about 12 hours to finish
the upgrade. With certain packages it stops to ask you questions
and I wasn't sitting right there looking at it the whole time so it's
likely for a few hours of that second 12 it was just sitting there
waiting at a prompt. At one point wireless was down but it needed
the network and I had to cable up ethernet. When it finally rebooted
I saw issues with Gnome similar to the first system only worse. I
couldn't work around by changing the visual effects. Also after a
few tries most of my panel disappeared. Wireless did
come back up. I didn't really have a lot of time to mess around
and wound up recovering 9.10 from backups.

So far, this is pretty disappointing... 9.10 was a lot smoother.

Lots of people are having this problem. For some switching
window managers (metacity to compiz or vice versa) seems to
fix it:
On my old clunker, I tried creating a new user and everything
worked fine with the new user. So I guess the way to recover
from this is to create a new user, then carefully move everything
but the config files from the old user to the new user.

Second try on the laptop. I tried the procedure described above,
still couldn't get things working with Metacity. Resigning myself
to Compiz for now.

Performance on my laptop OpenGL graphics is terrible.
(It's an ATI Radeon 1200). Also I get artifacts in some
OpenGL applications like Google Earth and SecondLife
(though frankly the Linux SecondLife client has not been
usable for me on any distro for a long time).
System->Administration->Hardware Drivers does not
offer any proprietary graphics driver. Envy does not
support Lucid. According to the AMD web site, my
graphics hardware has been moved to legacy support and
there will be no updates to the driver software after 2/2009.
This didn't work... when I tried running aticonf it said
something like 'no supported device was found'. This
messed up my desktop and even after uninstalling the
fglrx packages the window manager was not working
right. For a second time I bailed on Ubuntu 10.04 and
restored 9.10. It kind of looks like you can't get the
proprietary driver for 'legacy' ATI graphics devices and
the freeware drivers aren't so hot.