Niall's virtual diary archives - August 2007

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5th August 2007 Lotsa maths
12th August 2007 Physical illness sets in, the Cartesian split becomes healed
22nd August 2007 Megan asks me out!!!

 

Sunday 5th August 2007: 1 1.54pm. Things are definitely better this past week. I have given up smoking, having had restarted it since Easter break due to stress, and I am feeling much the better for it. I still can't quite believe we're into August already - I have my resit in Economics in just under a month when I'll also be ending all contact with the girls permanently now M- has made her choice.

Late last night at 4am I achieved a major milestone for the work I intend to complete this summer, and the first fruits of all that money I spent on new computer hardware. You will all surely recognise this:

A Mandelbrot Set

Yes, it's a Mandelbrot set. However, it's no ordinary Mandelbrot set - the one above is the output from a streaming maths computation program and it was the testcase for the functionality I have been implementing this summer.

Are you still thinking "so what?". Well, the above is a vastly shrunk form of the original - it's about 144 times smaller. Here is something closer to the original - note you'll need to scroll around a lot with the scrollbars in your web browser to see it. Now get this - that massive original is still shrunk from the original: it's actually four times larger again!

In case you can't quite get your head around it yet, the original is 7168 x 7168 which means there are 51,380,224 points or pixels in total. Each one of those requires up to one hundred iterations ie; repeating the same calculation and the average is about fifty, so that gives us around 2,569,011,200 iterations.

Each iteration of the Mandelbrot formula requires a minimum of six multiplies and four additions (that's the only operations you need to do for the Mandelbrot set: additions and multiplies, nothing more complicated - it's amazing you can get such beauty from such simple mathematics). To get the colours, I added another six additions, so that gives us six multiplies and ten additions, or sixteen floating-point operations per iteration. Thus, to get our picture above, it requires about 41,104,179,200 calculations!

To perform 41 billion calculations takes a while, even on a modern PC. Each processor core of mine can do about 10 billion a second, so that's just over four seconds at best. Fractal calculations are an example of an embarrassingly parallel calculation whereby each of those 51,380,224 points can be calculated totally independently from one another, and thus entirely in parallel. Here's where the streaming maths computation comes in! A modern graphics card is precisely just such a parallel maths computation device whereby it will compute as much of the problem in parallel as possible - unlike normal CPU's which do everything serially (ie; one thing at once). The current top-end graphics hardware (a NVidia GeForce 8800 GTX currently costing some £350) can process 350 billion ops a second and thus render the entire Mandelbrot set in less than a fifth of a second, but unfortunately I can't afford such high-end hardware. Instead, I have a bottom end ATI Radeon x1300 Pro which can at best do about 9.5-14 billion ops/sec, so it's about as fast as my CPU. The next generation of cards should exceed a trillion ops per second and they are expect to double that every year from now on (normal CPU's only double about once every eighteen months).

Such cheap & massive computational power is precisely why I am developing a framework for utilising graphics cards for my proposed Economic model. I have taken Brook, an aging research project from Stanford University's GPGPU group, which had extremely outdated OpenGL support and upgraded that to the most modern available (ie; v2.0). Previously, the above Mandelbrot wouldn't even compile under the ancient ARB OpenGL support within Brook, but with the new GLSL backend support I have added it runs just fine.

Here are some figures for my ATI Radeon x1300 Pro graphics card for a 7168 x 7168 Mandelbrot (51,380,224 points):

Brook Computation Backend  Time Taken Operations per second 
DirectX 9 + PS30 (SM3.0) 4.55 secs  9 billion a second 
OpenGL + GLSL 7.08 secs  5.8 billion a second 

And for a 4096 x 4096 Mandelbrot (16,777,216 points):

Brook Computation Backend  Time Taken Operations per second 
DirectX 9 + PS30 (SM3.0) 3.86 secs  3.47 billion a second 
OpenGL + GLSL 2.10 secs  6.4 billion a second 

Yeah, I notice the ops per sec increasing as the problem size decreases with OpenGL too! That's the opposite of what it should be. Interestingly, the actual calculation itself is 8.9 billion ops/sec and that's pretty fixed - not too much below the DirectX SM3.0 implementation. The BIG problem is that the ATI drivers are being braindead when it comes to moving data from the graphics card back into the computer memory. It's a driver bug, pure and simple.

The really good news about the new OpenGL + GLSL support is that Brook now has equivalent functionality on Linux and Apple Mac OS X as it does on Windows. Just for your interest, Brook is used to perform protein folding among other things, so with a bit of luck my efforts this summer will contribute to disease breakthroughs. I know a lot of people think I am crazy to "waste" my summers not having a paid job, but hey, I may just have cured your cancer in years to come! And it may well yet pan out that I save your job and your entire future family from starving to death during a massive Economic downturn! smiley

Ok, time for breakfast! Be happy!

Sunday 12th August 2007: 12.18pm. Well, what an interesting week! Last Friday plus one week I gave M- the first part of her goodbye letter. Now that's probably one of the harshest pieces of writing I have ever put on paper and furthermore I wrote and finished it mid-June, but it all needed to be said. It was on how she has treated me and others during the last two years, and on the processes and mechanisms within her (in my opinion) that lead to such malevolent behaviour.

She handled it as she always does - by erecting barriers to distance herself from the offending object and not genuinely engaging with it at all. She had been suggesting a picnic together all summer, and last Wednesday the weather was really, really gorgeous so I sent a sarcastic text message about how she never seems free on the sunny days but always can moan about how we keep missing those nice days when it's raining. She suggested the following afternoon, which annoyed me still further because yet again she had made it look like I was making her do this when she didn't really want to.

By then though, my mind was set. As part of transforming myself into someone I think deserves to be dated, I had decided that if she couldn't stop treating me abusively, then she had to get cut off sooner than early September. So during a most gorgeous picnic, I pointed out how she was disrespecting me yet again, how she was still doing the things the first part of the goodbye letter said and she really obviously wasn't taking me or the letter seriously despite the effort I had put into the 12,000 words or so. Therefore, we were done I said. I gave her the second part of her goodbye letter, on the processes which surround us, walked her home and as far as I was concerned, that was that.

Now that it was being brought home to her by this that this was serious, and as she actually started to engage, she became most upset that night. The following day when rereading the two parts, she became profoundly upset and resolved to go do something about it. Unfortunately by Saturday afternoon, despite (as usual) making all the right sounds, she obviously was pathologically lying yet again because she wasn't backing up all the fine words with actions. Yet again, she was only acting because of the fear of losing me, not because she actually genuinely wanted to out of love (fine line I know, but it's all about the purity of thought that precedes purity of action).

As for the effect upon myself, I really didn't expect what happened next. Thursday night I began to physically hurt, as in my muscles started to ache, my joints began to grind and I began to feel really quite physically sick. This abated slightly yesterday morning when she seemed maybe to finally be going somewhere better, but after a text last night saying that she was just doing all the same old pathologies and she gave up, I got considerably worse. Right now as I type this, my hip joints are burning (especially my left), my shoulders and back just hurt all over and my knees, elbows and hands ache noticeably even if I move them very slightly.

I'm not used to this! I am not used to my body disobeying so gratuitously! My mind is set on its purpose, I am resolute god damn it! My mind can do this, it's just my body appears it cannot! I know all this is psychosomatic, that I'm fighting myself, and I am feeling more than a bit silly because I'm not used to being so out of control of myself. This physical manifestation of mental pain I have only had with three people: Ruth, Johanna and M-. M- now owns the top spot, even Ruth has never affected me quite so strongly over so many days in this particular kind of way.

Now I could force my body to comply - my mind is definite. However, I know that my body is my mind, so if I force one part through against the other, I am creating many more problems down the line. I know that coming off M- is like coming off heroin, and there are many similarities, but in the end she's far more than an addictive drug: she's a person. So, much as I am loathe to admit it, the signs indicate that I don't think I should cut this girl off.

She's going to ring me on her work break next fifteen minutes or so ... where I'm going to admit that I am a weak, pathetic fool who has put her and me through all this for no avail except to learn that it's probably not a good idea for my health. God knows what I'm supposed to do next semester now ... and her friends are SO going to think this was some sort of manipulation to punish her. I'm really going to be hated for this ...

Later that day ... 5.15pm. Just up from yet another attempted nap. God I feel like crap, I feel like I have been beaten all over with a baseball bat. We spoke, it was really lovely, and I'm going around to hers for lunch tomorrow. Yes, I am rather pathetically happy I'll be seeing her again so soon. I hate lovesickness, the whole idea behind lovesickness, it very seriously annoys me.

Still, I really did try my best. She was also suffering physically much worse than I and had lots of mental suffering on top of that too, so after that phone call she's much better for it too. Seems ecstatic she'll be seeing me tomorrow. Aren't we quite the couple? smiley

I hate to admit it, but I am actually smiling and I can't help it! Be happy everyone!

Wednesday 22nd August 2007: 2.10pm. I've just upgraded the website's PHP to considerably improve the speed of accessing this website. Due to the web counter at the top of each page, hitherto each and every HTML page fetched from nedprod wasn't cacheable which meant it was being refetched each and every time, plus because the web browser didn't know how long the page was, it had to assume it was very long (and thus it can hold back on showing it to you early). This rather increased bandwidth usage, such that over two thirds of the bandwidth used is purely from HTML. This simple fix (which I should have done ages ago) also adds compression for pages of any reasonable size (eg; this front page) and it makes using nedprod via a dialup modem very significantly easier indeed. It also means various caching systems which ISP's etc use now work as they should.

Things moved rather quickly after the last entry, but well what else did you possibly expect given it's me? smiley The following Monday I did indeed go for lunch at hers and we ate a fine hand-made lasagne she had prepared - which was the first time she's ever prepared anything for me alone. We sat outside her house on the grass in Fife Park afterwards for a dessert of grapes, and while there she was talking about how she kept wanting to just go out with me already, that she woke up some mornings and had decided to definitely go do it, and within a few hours fear & doubt would set in and her will would evaporate. She had been just as physically affected by my attempts to end things as I had, and I pointed out that surely given the ever-increasing mountains of evidence that she had to finally accept that she actually was in love with me, had been for well over a year, and furthermore was more in love with me than anyone she had ever been in love with. As loathe as she is to admit it, it was because she was so much in love with me that she has done all the fucked up things she has done - and she started those fucked up things exactly at the same time she fell in love with me. I had been trying to get her to accept this for oh about fourteen months now, but she has major difficulty in accepting that it is possible to so maltreat someone you are so in love with.

Indeed, she had hitherto just assumed that I had been trying to convince her that she really felt this way out of my own sense of ego, to create some sort of dependency and to use or take advantage of her in some kind of way. And I can see (and did see) her point, that sure I was making this all me-orientated and absolutely, I'm really not "all that" or some sort of God's gift to women. However, all that said, there is a definite correlation between relations between us and her reacting at a deep subconscious level by performing some horrendous self-destructive act upon herself. Even within seven days of me asking her out, she had gone off and done several pretty stupid things and she hadn't done any stupid things at all since Easter break when she and I had become reconciled after six months of ostracisation. As a gross over-simplification, when she and I were okay, she was nice to herself. When something that she perceived as bad happened between us, she harmed herself. And that had been a predictable constant for eighteen months now - indeed it was even a constant last October because I deliberately delayed cutting her off fully till the start of December because I knew she would go do something especially bad to herself in response (which indeed she did).

It also helped that her best friend had told her that of course she was obviously in love with me and had been for over a year. So, despite her disgust at the idea, she decided especially after her profound physical & mental reaction the previous weekend to stop denying reality. I joked at her "So go on then, you ask me out!" and to my very great surprise, that's exactly what she did.

That rather floored me, because she actually seemed genuine. I decided not to answer immediately, but told her that if she still asked the same question next time I saw her (which would be in a few days as she was going to Edinburgh), then I would say yes - but not to worry if she retracted, because there would be no point in us going out unless she really wanted to across many days - she had to commit.

Unbeknownst to me, she spent the next few days in Edinburgh meeting up with ex-boyfriends and prospective boyfriends and putting her house in order to go into a long-term relationship. I had no idea at the time and heard nothing from her. Thus came Thursday night when I had still heard nothing, so I figured fine she's going to retract the question, I was very horny, so arse to being celibate & waiting for her and so I shagged a close friend of mine. I sent her a text the following morning saying simply "So?" and was expecting the usual crap & excuses - not that I was proud of myself mind, but I had considered my weakness as merely preemptive.

Yeah ... well ... that didn't quite happen. We met up in Aikman's Friday night, and I firstly humbly told her about my bad behaviour the previous night and said that I fully understood if she told me to go fuck myself because as her friend I had to say that my behaviour was appalling and I recommended that she dump my ass before she even began. She then told me that she had shagged two people for not the right reasons within a week of me asking her out after a long period of celibacy (which I suggested was not helped by my nasty text on the Friday after asking her out), so she was no one to speak either. And so she asked me to go out with her again, to which I said "Yes please!". Yay! smiley smiley smiley

Which means I can finally dispense with the M- and call her by her real name, which is Megan (yeah, she's American)! Now, I know that pretty much everyone I take advice from seriously has strongly advised me to never, ever, ever, go near Megan with a bargepole. This diary entry almost certainly will prompt vast numbers of concerned emails along the lines of "I told you to not do this, and when it goes tits up, I am going to say I told you so". Indeed, those I have already told have so far uniformly reacted from negatively to in the case of my dear sister, extremely negatively. I don't think one single person so far is on balance positive, and I'm not expecting one single mostly positive viewpoint to be truthful.

Yes, I know she pathologically lies to me and herself and indeed anyone else she cares about. Yes, she has hurt me more than anyone in this world except Ruth and yes just her and Ruth are in a league of their own far, far exceeding anyone else alive. Yes, only three months ago she with her compadres tried to destroy me and they came close to succeeding. Until very very recently, she has been consistently the worst friend I have ever had, to a fault she has continually failed to ever be there for me, to do anything for me, or even to defend me when others were spreading maliciousness about me - indeed, she herself has repeatedly unfairly painted me in the worst possible light to her friends and others - and I only caught her doing it again only last Friday. She has repeatedly gone out of her way to be as backstabbing & unsupportive to me as possible for at least eighteen months, ever since I confronted her outside Andrew Melville about how she was letting down her friends some two weeks before Easter break 2006 (in response to which I wrote this article for her on how I stopped being mad).

I do know all this! It is me after all who has taking all this shit for all this time. And yes, I know this looks like a case of Stockholm Syndrome, that both she and I are engaging in an unhealthy limerence not love, and that this is a classic case of Capture-Bonding where two people who have abused each other severely over an extended period develop an unhealthy & obsessive emotional bond which is just guaranteed to end in disaster. I am well aware that it could be that she has only been giving out "small kindnesses" during this summer solely through panic at the idea of losing her abuser/abusee (this is a really depressing article on the topic) because she was about to get cut off. I am more than fully aware that all of the bad things she still does to me are likely to continue, that especially once her friends start digging into her about her treachery that she'll probably go off and do all sorts of wicked things which will hurt me (and herself) severely, and that this (rationally speaking) is probably the single worst decision I have ever taken - even exceeding my decision to move to Spain to be with Ruth.

And maybe it will end in total disaster. In which case all of you can happily tell me that you told me so, though I'll probably be in too severe a mess to handle it. However I think it won't end in disaster, though I agree that it could end in disaster. I know I'm the only person I know to think so positively with the possible exception of Megan herself who has been unusually positive recently - I think it's genuine rather than repression or denial, I think she likes the feeling of having taken control of her life and done something positive for once - I am the first person she has ever asked out (who she hadn't just broken up with), and given her typical behaviour of running away from everything than means anything positive to her, that's a really big thing for her. I personally am very proud of her - even a month ago she reacted to me asking her out by trying to begin a relationship with someone else, but in as little as a month has undone that act of avoidance - so that's another major step forwards. As I have said ad nauseum in previous entries here, she keeps making an incremental improvement: each week, she is better than the previous week. Furthermore, her rate of self-improvement is clearly compound increasing, so her incremental improvement is speeding up exponentially. As she herself says, she's really not quite sure how or why this is happening, but she thinks she likes it. I know I can't live without her, so hell, let's try the opposite of cutting her off completely and see what happens!

For sure, it's fun & easy & comfortable until people start arriving back - and certainly things have gone vastly better last five days than I or she had been expecting, especially in the bed department - only a matter of weeks ago, me getting too physically close filled her with disgust. She heads home around the 6th September, so we basically have it easy until then. Once she comes back, then it gets rapidly more tricky as the semester progresses. How do I stay over at her house when it is filled with people who want me destroyed? How can I socialise around her friends without causing major upset and ruining the atmosphere? How will she cope with the unyielding wall of lies & misinformation that will be spread around to try and break us up, or at best to cause massive arguments and infidelity? How do I combine having no part to play in what is to come for that group with loving & supporting Megan? There are even simpler issues: I am uncomfortable with the idea of shagging Megan with Johanna next door. You might think that a bit stupid or something, but remember I am just as in love with Johanna as I've ever been and the same goes in return (in my opinion). I'm sure Johanna has absolutely no problem with it - I would have no issue with her shagging her boyfriend next door - but I do have an issue when it's me. So even these very simple issues are immensely complicated - so where does one even begin?

Well, I have no idea. It's going to be horrendously difficult with absolutely no clear answers to anything. It seems like a tremendous amount of hassle & pain - it will certainly make for lurid diary entries! But I'll tell you something - going out with Megan makes me very happy indeed - I've wanted it for well over a year, I've invested a tremendous amount of effort to get it, and now I've got it. And seeing her last few days, well she looks happier than I have seen her since first year - she's just ecstatically happy despite knowing all the problems I've just outlined (and many far more serious I can't mention here in public). Both of us are just tickled pink. And I have faith that things are going to pan out - it's totally, 100% irrational. There is no basis whatsoever to have even the remotest optimism at a rational level - the entire situation is completely & totally fubared.

So okay, if you'd like to send your emails telling me how terrible an idea this is, or sit & fume quietly at how I'm not listening to your advice, well I can certainly understand. If any of you ignored my advice like this, I'd go ballistic. Yes, this is me being totally & utterly hypocritical once again - yet again, it's all "do as I say not as I do". I am actually really sorry about that - I know how much I've upset certain people with this decision, I have obviously caused them pain. I do appreciate your advice, and I am listening - it's just I am following my instincts and doing the opposite this one time only. You've got to follow your heart in the end, even if it leads straight to hell. Hey, I've been there, done that with Ruth - I survived, so even if it goes completely tits up with Megan, I should hopefully survive it.

I'll get back to you smiley - in the meantime, be happy!

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