Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blackjack Basic Strategy

Since I am turning a certain age next month, I decided going to Vegas for my birthday would be awesome.

The goal is to have fun and perhaps make some bucks. To that end, I'm learning blackjack basic strategy. I should also study up craps strategy, since it seems that with a little luck you can make out fairly well in craps. The only thing to avoid are the sucker bets - which abound.

Luckily I have a full set of poker chips, a number of decks of cards, and a girlfriend to practice with. Also internet blackjack too. Strategy charts, and, I think I should be ok.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fair use... doesn't care?

I posted previously about some website indicating that fair use was somehow not applicable. I also promised to post any reply email. Well just to set the record straight, they (of course) did not reply. Big surprise. I guess they were crushed under the overwhelming might of angry boing-boing readers everywhere. Or maybe they tuned their spam filters to be "dissent filters".

Saturday, December 16, 2006

As you may have no doubt heard by now, due to a massive storm which dumped tons of rain, and about a million-a-mile hours winds, practically half of Seattle and area is out of power.

Since the nature of the power outage is winds blowing trees and poles over, the pattern of outage is semi-random. The core areas are all fine, downtown, nearby neighbourhoods, like Queen Anne (mine) are just fine. There were some streets nearby me that were without power, but I myself did not lose power at home.

Although work did not fare as well. On Thursday around 3pm our security folk emailed us to come pick up our emergency flashlights. I guess a few months ago they discovered that the batteries in the "emergency lights" were dead, and the whole building had to escape in the pitch black stairs. So this time, we had flashlights. First power outage hit around 4-4:30 while I was in the bathroom. Nothing like a pitch black bathroom - the power came back less than a minute so my next stop was to pick up a safety flashlight. It never left my side for the next 4 hours.

I figured it was time to leave work when they shut down all the servers, I couldn't get any work done, and also the storm "drain" was more like a storm "undrain" and actually spewing water out in a small 1 foot fountain. When cars were driving through 6" of water I knew it was time to leave.

Lucky I took the bus, and caught the first Seattle bound bus, figuring being on the right side of the 520 bridge was the most important consideration. Especially since there is a wind limit and they close that bridge (and they did close it for about 14 hours). So I looped via the University District, then downtown. Including a quick stop at Metropolitan Market for the snack-on, it took about 3 hours to get home. I had to walk the last half mile, that bus just wasn't coming.

Considering that over 1 million people are without power, I am lucky. Also double lucky - no work, no possibility of doing remote work either. It really sucks for those farther out - in some of the nooks and crannies it could take up to a week or two (or three!) to get power back. Mostly this is because crews have to find every little fallen pole and set it right again. For power outages to just a few homes due to a fallen pole, they are in for a long cold wait. Good luck to all.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Google Analytics

I gotta say I love Google Analytics. Easy graphs, minimal setup, great conversion data. For example, in the marketing summary, here is the top 5 keywords that got the visitors to my blog:

  • "zipfizz liquid shot" - 3 visits this week
  • "wow item" - 3 visits this week
  • "when will wow be back up" - 3 visits this week
  • "wow items" - 2 visits this week
  • "ears hurt" - 1 visit this week

Those are for the week 12/1 - 12/7. Now, a few referrals from Google in a week for one search isn't exactly a powerhouse of website - I'm no, uh, Google. But this blog dates to September only. And note, that if you search for "ears hurt" I'm #8 on the total results. I'm not sure that the entry referenced is a good place to go if you are worried that your ears hurt.

I attribute my high ranking due to the fact I am linked from The Joy of Tech, specifically the Jobs-O-Lantern cartoon. I'm tickled pink even if my blog is not the most relevent result for "ears hurt".

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ignite Seattle

I'm at Ignite Seattle, and I just saw a speaker talk about innovation. I disliked it so much I just had to complain about it online while at the actual event. The guy is Scott Berkun who talked about the myths of innovation. Unfortunately for me, I didn't agree with his assumptions. He started by saying we think of ideas as seeds that stand alone. He then went on to talk about the myth of Newton's Apple, talked about Edison, and so on.

Unfortunately for me, the content of his 5 minute speak was overshadowed by a sense of "yes yes, I know that" and another sense of "why is he dumbing this down so much?"

Know your audience.


I'm doing some Java coding. One of the things I find most weird about most Java programs is how much cruft there is - not in old weird programs, but in well maintained, TDD produced, Agile-approved code. I think the language encourages you to create lots of objects that no well defined purpose in life.

What do I mean by well defined purpose? Here are some warning signs your class is pointless:

  • Your interface has no methods whatsoever.
  • Your methods just call super versions of themselves.
  • Your methods don't really seem to actually _do_ much.
  • You seem to only exist to store data to return from another method.

And the list could go on. All of these are artifacts of the fact that in Java, everything, but everything, must be an Object. But, not everything actually is an object. So the problem is you have objects where you may not actually need or want objects.

If you want more, try reading Execution in the Kingdom of Nouns

What has me excited

I'm fairly excited about the new WOW content patch. 483 MB was a pain to download, but I did it at work, so no biggie. Bliz adjusted a bunch of things, added a new LFG interface, changed the PVP ranking system (no more brutal PVP grind) and also refunded all talent points. This last bit is exciting because I've been wanting to respec my level 56 rogue, but I wasn't sure I wanted to pay the 10g or so it would cost. But now I don't have to!

So maybe if you don't play WOW you wouldn't be as excited as me.

I'm also attending Ignite Seattle a mostly Make oriented Seattle geek night. Also Amazon Web Services will be there in force. I'm not sure how I feel about that - after my experience at Amazon I know I wouldn't trust any AWS service. The big question is, should I actively promote my view to other attendees?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Today I went to lunch at Caffe Macs at building #3, 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino. You might recognize this as the Apple corporate HQ. I wanted to have lunch with a old school buddy, but he is too busy and could not come to Google for lunch. So I went to Apple instead. The cafe is very nice, and since it was a nice day today, outside eating was great.

While at Apple I had a visit to the Apple Company Store. The store is great, awesome Apple schwag. Actually having to pay to be a walking billboard for Apple is a privilege, one bestowed only to those who make the trip out to Cupertino. And I did make the trip, I did pay, and I am now wearing a t-shirt that says:

859 miles and 180o from Redmond.

Hopefully I'll make a bunch of people angry back in Seattle.

Finally, I am on Google campus yesterday and today. Here are some things you might see if you were here too:

  • People playing beach volleyball in December.
  • Giant real life sized metal skeleton of T-Rex.
  • SpaceShipOne replica hung over a starway.
  • Excessive sunnyness.

And much more of course. It is nice to have somewhere to visit, somewhere to stay (I could sleep somewhere on campus pretty easily), somewhere to eat when I visit the valley. And to top it off, since I'm here actually doing work, I don't have to pay my own flight down. Overall it's pretty much awesome. It's nice to realize things are awesome while actually doing it. So much we realize later how good something was. Live in the moment, and all that Zen stuff!

Monday, December 04, 2006


The latest rumours of the iPhone have me psyched. The rumour says that the iPhone (or whatever it will be actually called) will be ultra-full featured and not locked to any network. This is great for several reasons. None of these are my original thought, but you'll have to deal with my non-attribution.

Networks currently control which phones are sold. Since most people get their new phones on contract ups, what the networks decide to sell is what is sold. Meaning the choice is fairly small. The situation is so dire, an entire network (MNVO) was created to meet the demand of korean uber-advanced phones. Hopefully we can get people used to the idea of purchasing phones as a high tech gadget investment (like an iPod), rather than as an item to settle on the best for the least.

The other major problem is the limited UI some carriers are well know of crippling. Add this to rather uninspired design, both on the software front, and the hardware front, and you end up with a whole lineup of weak phones. I enjoy my phone quite a bit, however it doesn't run Google Maps well. I keep on having to approve network access, and the phone heats up and battery life is reduced.

Of course, no well designed product is the fusion of 2 corporate communication and marketing teams in conference rooms in New York and San Jose. That is just recipe for disaster. And that is exactly how many cell phones are pushed to market. Eg: All Verizon phones have OBEX Bluetooth disabled - meaning you cannot download images via bluetooth. My PEBL is from T-Mobile so I can download images via bluetooth. Why does it matter which network you're on? Consumers are just lucky that number portability was created. Or unlucky, since most cell companies are making serious bank from the fees they are allowed to charge.

Luckily this is a blog, so my accusations can go unsubstantiated. But I'm pretty sure I read about those things.

Guitar Hero

The absolute best thing about this game Guitar Hero, is it really convinces you can be a mega-rock star. When you hit those awesome combos and really nail a hard sequence, you get a SERIOUS "I Rule" moment. This ties back to the creating passionate users stuff - make your users rule. The beautiful thing about Guitar Hero is all the positive feedback. If you make it all the way through the game the screen says "You Rock!" and the fake newspaper headline shows your paper review - either 3,4 or 5 stars. The headline ranges from " puts on solid set" to " amazes the croud". So if you just squeak through, you still rock.

The other beautiful thing about this game is the great music. I have started to just love some of the songs just because I played them many times. I made a small mix cd of about 7 of them and listened to those songs for an 11 hour car drive. You close your eyes and see the scrolling field of notes, and can make the finger motions.

I have heard that playing video games is not a skill - well clearly this is not true, since people can become better at it, I think what people are really saying is "I think it's a waste of time". The value judgment has to come out as an absolute statement, but I think that is just a generational gap thing. I remember a Nintendo DS game called Brain Age which trains and stimulates your brain. This might well be the first game targeted solidly towards baby boomers.

In the end, for some of us, video games are not just consumer items, they are pop culture items. They are as essential and integrated with our self identities as the rolling stones were to those growing up through the 60s and 70s.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Future and hope... from the past?

I was watching "The Top 100 One Hit Wonders" - a fantastic VH1 rockumentary. I am a big fan of their special programs, they are educational (about music and pop history at least), fun, interesting, and generally have good clips to watch.

Interestingly enough, at least half of the One Hit Wonders was from the 80s. Perhaps the economics of the day just set things up naturally for one hit wonders. Many of the one hits made it big because of MTV, so that is not a small part of it. (Cue analysis of unfragmented pop culture consumer market of the 80s vs the fragmented pop culture market of the late 90s,00s).

But I realized while watching that show, that I just love 80s music. Not just the music, but the looks, the video clips - especially when set to music. It just fills me with a weird sense of hope, wonder and excitement for the future. Which seems weird since some of these clips are 20 years old.

Of course, perhaps the bigger issue is that the vision of the future from the 80s is better than the current non-vision not being offered. I would say that the national mood is one of deep pessimism, the midterm results might have offered a momentary lapse, but it will be momentary.

In the mean time, I need a full set of the 3 "I Love the 80s" series VH1 did. That is almost 20 hours of quality analysis from the likes of Weird Al and Lisa Lisa.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Cheating on Hairstylists

So I posted earlier about cheating on hairstylists. I did have an oppertunity to revisit my hair stylists and admitted (tearfully I might add) to my wayward ways. She seemed pretty cool about it, so luckily she still cuts my hair. A month later I read in an advice column about someone who was seriously worried about cheating on their hairdresser. A choice quote:

He as much as said that he wouldn't be able to take it if I were to leave him.

Now to remind you, we are talking about a woman who is unhappy with her current hairdresser and wants to have someone else cut her hair. I had no idea that people could be so obsessive about such things, and my original post was completely in jest.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Seattle Mindcamp 3.0

Well I think I'm finally recovered from Seattle Mindcamp 3.0. It was quite the event, unlike 2.0 where I was only there for about 8 hours, this time I did 15 hours worth.

Here's are some of the things and people I met:

  • Singularity talk - random arguments as most discussions of this goes.

  • Vegetable gun with the Make people. Cool, but abortive. Only one shot, sad.

  • The Make Drawbot

  • How to read Finnegans Wake by Ron Hale-Evans.

  • Supper with a bunch of people, and a conversation with Tom Bihn

  • Chilled out with Make's Bre, Sparktography, more Make people, and even more people during a multi-hour Werewolf game

  • Guitar hero on the big screen

Also, either thanks to, or no thanks to sparktography, I learned about Zipfizz. I don't think I have ever been wired on caffeine before. Specifically it was the fruit punch liquid shot, with 41,667% your B12 RDA. I stayed up until 6am quite handily, but as soon as I lay down, I fell asleep instantly.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Elections? Say what?!

This edited text replaces some stupid rant about political outcomes from the 2006 midterm elections. I guess my main point there was something about the market reacting, blah blah. But now I realize this was a pointless post, so instead I replaced it with a meta-post about the post. I figure it's probably slightly more interesting to read the executive summary and meta-meta discussion about a post than actually reading some opinion. Next step is to replace this post with another summary. Check back in about 3 months.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I present

I present to you... the Jobs-o-lantern, instructions courtesy of The Joy of Tech! Also, just to be clear here, I carved this pumpkin from the template on JOT. It's currently sitting on my balcony, but it's a little dark so you might not be able to see it on a drive by.


A few more pics on flickr

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My ears hurt!

Exploring the big wide world of nerdcore, I came across a site that has horrible audio clips from video games. I first heard the newscaster voicing from l33t g33k b3at.

I love cheesy voice over from video games.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Fair use not applicable"

Today I saw on boing boing that a investigative journal has a warning on it's website that apparently "fair use is not applicable". Originally this was from a Harvard law blogger. So in the spirit of the internet and letting people know when they are in the wrong, I send this email:

Hi guys,

I noted that your website is incorrectly displaying the following notice:

"All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed by anyone without the express written permission of the publisher. This article is copyright protected and Fair Use is not applicable."

When in fact, the law provides for fair use without your permission. For your edification perhaps you might like to peruse:

While it is your right to state what you did, it doesn't make it the law, nor would it help in the face of overwhelming precedent in this matter.

So we'll see what happens. I'll post any reply they send.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Party Time?

So I went to my friend's 40th birthday party at a downtown bar. Cool venue, they had their own room just for the party.

Weirdly though, I spent about half of the time talking with the person who ended up having the most in common with me. Yep, that's right, a 15 year old girl. The conversation started innocently enough by me telling a friend I played more WOW than actual work in the last 3 weeks of my previous job. She was sitting right near, and her ears perked up on the magical "WOW" phrase. A long conversation about technology, wapanese, nerdcore and video games ensured. Unfortunately for her, she currently doesn't have a computer to play WOW on, plus she is spending her bucks on comics instead of WOW.

So now I am listening to "WOW" by the Futuristic Sex Robotz. And it is the sweetest song I have heard in a while. Ok the other ones are pretty awesome too, but this one right now really resonated with me.

On the way to work I was watching some TED Talks on my video iPod. Specifically I watched the David Pogue dancing-singing-show, and Larry Brilliant's talk. Very inspiring talks - the advancement of personal tech and the eradication of smallpox. I'm hope Brilliant gets to do some awesome things as director of

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Indicating Apparatus

As it turns out, I discovered I need an Indicating Apparatus. It turns out, many things in my life is not being indicated by an appropriately inscrutible apparatus. Luckly for me, a device was invented for this exact purpose. I was alerted via boing boing.

Unfortunately it is not available... yet!

Lack of updates

Lack of updates are due to WOWing and my new job.

Of course I also went to Vancouver last weekend. No blog updating while hanging out and chillin'. The good things were Saturday afternoon in the West End and picking up drinks at Delany's and chasing seagulls at the beach.

Sunday was rainy and shopping.

And now it's wednesday. On the plus side I'm now level 49.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

WOW Item Catalog

So this week I got some pretty sweet items for my Level 48 Rogue. Here is an inventory listing of the cool stuff I got:

Rune of the Guard Captain

Binds when picked up



: +20 Attack Power.


: Improves your chance to hit by 1%.

Sells for 1 Gold 62 Silver 83 Copper to vendors

Item Level 51

Source: Quest


Live (1.12.1)

Carrot on a Stick

Binds when picked up



: Increases mount speed by 3%.

Sells for 71 Silver 62 Copper to vendors

Item Level 50

Source: Quest


Live (1.12.1)

Masons Fraternity Ring

Binds when picked up


+13 Agility

+5 Stamina

Sells for 70 Silver 92 Copper to vendors

Item Level 47

Source: Quest


Live (1.12.1)

Woven Ivy Necklace

Binds when picked up


+6 Strength

+9 Agility

+10 Stamina

Sells for 2 Gold 11 Silver 41 Copper to vendors

Item Level 51

Source: Quest


Live (1.12.1)

Blazewind Breastplate

Binds when picked up



148 Armor

+3 Strength

+23 Agility

+5 Stamina

Durability 85 / 85

Sells for 1 Gold 69 Silver 38 Copper to vendors

Item Level 57

Source: Quest


Live (1.12.1)

Links of Oct 12

Some links to remember before I close my massive firefox session:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

First Week

First week is half way through. Since I was well expected and I had a project, I had a computer and desk in an office with 3 others already set up for me. Bonus, my mentor is sitting here, along with the techlead of the project I am on.

Getting acclimatized to the setting of course will take a while. Organizational differences, new technology and a new commute will take a while to settle down. On the plus side, there is a strong educational orientation, with lots of documentation, tech talks, and friendly folks ready to help you out.

However my office is cold in the afternoons. East facing and all that. Brr.

Weekend Summary

So writing a weekend summary on Wednesday is a little silly, but whatever.

I'll start with last Thursday - my new manager arrived in Mountain View, and we went out to Francis Ford Coppola's restaurant. A nice Italian deal.

Friday - last tech talks of the day, then a Friday "TGIF" meeting.

That night, I went to San Francisco to meet J there with my friend. We had supper at Lori's Diner. Afterwards we met up with another friend at The View Lounge at SF Marriott. This place has large windows at the top of the hotel - 39 stories up, pretty much on market. Views of SF, the Bay Bridge and the Financial district. And also on that Friday (all of them?) was live Jazz music.

The night ended late, sleep at 2am. Which was unfortunate since the return flight to Seattle was at 12:30pm. Evening of World of Warcraft capped Saturday.

Sunday was excessively lazy. An evening game night, played some Settlers and also a card game called "Lunch Money." I'm not sure this is a great game since it is fairly complex to learn - there are lots of cards that can only be played at certain times, and figuring it all out takes a little while. Teaching new players is hard, they would probably feel they are losing because of the complexity. And the game isn't really open ended enough to enjoy playing time and time again. I would have to overall rate this game "not recommended". Which is unfortunate because the dark imagery on the cards is pretty cool.

Cap it off with late-night WOWing and that is how you fill up 4 days.

More T-Shirts

The last week has been t-shirt madness. The aforementioned post noted the Apple wear - which I am currently wearing 2 pieces of. Spiffy white embroidered logo tshirt and even spiffier black logo jacket.

Waiting for me at home was my Jinx order. I had the following things in it:
I also ordered / ninja'ed another cool tee.

This is some serious dorkery.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Late night on Wednesday

Yesterday I trekked to the Apple Company store. This is a really cool store, has many things you just cannot get anywhere else. Obviously they carry Apple hardware and software, but they also carry Apple swag. And it's really awesome and cool stuff. Here is what I got:

  • "I Visited the mothership." tshirt
  • White Apple logo tshirt
  • White Apple logo ringer tshirt
  • Black north-face Sport Apple Logo Jacket (VERY nice)
  • Fancy Leather notebook
  • Black Apple logo Mug
  • Black and white Apple logo pens
  • Black and white Apple logo badge holders
  • Apple circlular mouse pad
Unfortunately the only cool tshirt they had available was the mothership one that I got (and am currently wearing). They also had other things, such as apple logo pencils, other clothes (including baby clothes) and various branded notebooks (paper kind).

This place is pretty cool, and as far as I know the only way to get these products is to walk in to the store in Cupertino.

Pictures may follow up later. Any votes for pictures?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Magnetic plug

I'm using my new Macbook Pro courtsey of my new employer. First off, this is a cool machine, it's back to the 1" form factor which is nice and thin. Secondly, the magnetic power plug is pretty cool and actually really fun to play with.

My week so far has been insane and crazy. Here is the executive summary:
  • Saturday 4:30pm: Arrive in SJC (with J)
  • Saturday 6:00pm: Leave temp apartment to go to SF.
  • Saturday 8:00pm: Supper at north beach with friends.
  • Saturday/Sunday 2:00am: Home and sleeping.
  • Sunday 12:21pm: Catch caltrain to SF with J
  • Sunday : Hanging out in SF, took the Cable car, saw Fisherman's Wharf, etc.
  • Sunday 6:30pm: Supper again with same friends.
  • Sunday 8:00pm: Catch return caltrain to Mountain View just in time.
  • Sunday/Monday 2:00am: Finally sleep
  • Monday 8:00am: Woke up barely
  • Monday 9:00am: At work for all-day orientation.
  • Monday evening: Supper with J and roommate in downtown Mountain View.
  • Tuesday 8:30am: Woke up
  • Tuesday 10:00am: At work, at introductory tech talk.
  • Tuesday afternoon: Hung out at work, walked around, etc.
  • Tuesday 7:00pm: Friend came by work, checked it out briefly, then left for SF.
  • Tuesday 8:30pm: Had supper at chinese place. Not great, but not bad.
  • Tuesday 11:00pm: Left SF for Mountain View
  • Tuesday 11:59pm: Sleep, unusually early.
Now it's Wed at 11am, I'm sitting in another tech talk with all the other new hires. With plugs on desk for notebook power, and wireless life is good here.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday before?

I slept in heavily today. At about noonish my girlfriend J called to say she was returning home early because work was light. So I turned off my alarm and resolved to be woken up by the pitter patter of her feet.

The only problem with getting up at 1pm is you really don't get much done. That's ok, since I really didn't have anything to do. However, I did cheat on my hair stylist.

I wonder if its an unspoken rule not to cheat on hairstylists? I mean, presumably everyone does it, but do they cry a little when they learn about the violation of stylist and styled confidentially agreement? I guess every hair stylist knows they'll eventually be cheated on, but it must sting each time anyways.

So I also had my first and only meal of the day at 5pm from Pagliacci's. This makes it hard to have my B vitamins, so I have been feeling tired this evening as a result. I also watched the first half of Canadian Bacon - it feels very creepy after the last number of years of world goings on. J fell asleep so now it looks like it's time for WOW again as usual. Looks like my guilders want to run The Sunken Temple aka "ST".

I must say, I am hoping my new company gets me a spiffy new Macbook pro. I am bringing my WOW disks just so I can game on it. That way J can play my Powerbook, I can play my new Macbook while we're away. And when we're back, I have my spiffy iMac in addition to a new spiffy Macbook pro. And in one fell swoop all WOW gaming needs will be taken care of.


So I just did over 400 miles in one day. The path from Nelson, BC to Seattle, WA is fairly long, and one major disadvantage is I had to traverse Spokane at rush hour.

Spokane is a surprisingly nice town I don't really want to spend any more time in. Sorry, but the downtown is the only thing unique going for it, and the scenery and terrain while nice is not awesome. Add in the whole conservative thing, and actually interacting with people there may not be so awesome. Might as well visit Vancouver, or San Francisco or anywhere else.

Plus the drive, oh my! Although this time the 4 hour drive seemed to go by faster. The slowest part is from Spokane to Vantage/The Gorge. Flat, straight, with lots of opportunities for speeding. And lots of State Patrol using every speed measuring device measured. I've seen radar, laser and I've heard of planes. I always see cops either speed trapping people, pulled people over, or passing by me with lights, I just don't bother speeding. As tempting as it is - that is some nice highway - the actual asphalt that is.

So now I'm back in Seattle, with tomorrow my last actual day with my old employer. Rumor has it they want to exit interview me, so perhaps I'll go there tomorrow and give them an earful. Or not, after all, no sense burning bridges, right? If they can't figure out what is wrong, they certainly don't deserve to be told, right? Still debating exactly what to tell them. Probably half truth and half "figure it out yourselves".

Then Saturday I board an airplane (with J) and fly off to my new fabulous life. Almost literally, since it should be fabulous, but I will return to actually work here. So I will fly then return to my new fabulous reinvented life. After all, half of actually getting something is actually imagining it.

So, Thursday: Drive all day, Friday: pack all day, Saturday: fly (not all day thankfully).

I was considering asking the check in airline employee where I can make a "symbolic but probably useless complaint about security." After that guy who was detained at a TSA checkpoint I'm not so sure now. Clearly airline security is really just a "how scared should you be" thing, not actually anything useful anymore. There is much to be said here, most of it said much better than I.

I'm tempted to bring water just to have it confiscated. Just for fun, after all, as everyone knows, H2O is an essential ingredient to life, and one must have it on hand at all times. Plus the little shops beyond the security line gouge like crazy. Maybe it covers the cost of xraying your soda bottles?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Editorializing the BC Border guard strike

I noted previously that the BC border guards walked off the job in response to apparently what was an armed and dangerous threat. With the arrival of the Harper government, border guards in Canada have been making much noise about how they are unarmed. Of course, the answer is obvious: arm the guards. However, an editorial in the Vancouver Sun points out that giving border guards weapons and 3 weeks of training is not really securing the borders.

I'm going to have agree with all the points this editorial makes. Providing permanent police stations at the major border crossings makes all the right sense. Handling dangerous situations is something that is difficult to train for. That is why police are generally given a significant amount of training.

This walkout smells like a politically oriented action, even though it's in response to an actual situation. A more reasonable response would have been to request visible RCMP backup on site for the duration of the threat. Of course, reasonable responses doesn't drive headlines, and awareness of the border guard union demands.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sunday Driving Adventure

I like nothing better than 11 hours of driving in one day. Here is how do to it:

- Leave Seattle 10:20am. (After going to bed at 3am the previous night, this qualifies as a miracle)
- Arrive Vancouver, BC at 1:15pm. Luckily I missed the border guard strike
- Leave Vancouver at approximately 2:30pm. Start west.
- Stop in Chilliwack - gas and snack.
- Stop in Princeton - bathroom and beverage stop.
- Stop in Grand Forks - gas and food.
- Arrive in Nelson, BC at 10:20pm.

Minus the hour and a bit, that makes for nearly 11 hours of driving.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Last Friday

I took the bus to work, for the last time. I might have to go back in a week for exit interview, but I will never go there again for actual real work. Strange though, it didn't really feel different, although perhaps it should.

Of course on your last day, you never should actually do real work, and today was no exception. I think I spent a grand total of 3 hours at work, and left to a goodbye happy hour at 4. Happy hour came and went, and I ended up at a resturant/pub in Capitol Hill with J and a bunch of the regulars. Unfortunately my previous late night made me hit a wall around 9 so J and I ended up just going home. Lucky her, she went to sleep right away, and also lucky me I stayed up playing WOW and messing with Mindstorms.

Lego Mindstorms

I am a pretty heavy Mac user these days. I have a Powerbook and an intel iMac. I was very happy to hear that the latest Mindstorms kit I got fully supported the Mac. I installed the software on my Powerbook, did a few very simple things, and realize "hey, this would be faster on my iMac". Luckily I also have bluetooth on both computers, so no wires, right?

Well it turns out, the bluetooth connection just does not work on the intel iMac. It turns out that they do not have an universal binary yet, and it ALSO turns out that bluetooth does not actually work on intel with the translated PowerPC binary.

The strangest thing was how difficult it was to confirm this on something legit. As you can see that page is a far cry from the main pages, yet it showed up fairly high in this google query.

Poking around finds a gizmodo article from Aug 1st talking about how a universal binary is available. Now when this is the 5th hit for the query "lego mindstorms "os x" universal upgrade" and the previous 4 are either macnn or macslash stories, it seems to me that in fact there is no upgrade yet.

Looking for the upgrade far and wide, I have fallen flat. If I can't find it by now, it probably does not exist.

This is very tragic, and significantly reduces the utility of mindstorms. Lego, if you're listening (and you're not), get that universal binary out!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thursday Sept 21st

Second last day at Amazon. So sad to be going, it's really weird to spend five years doing one thing, then all of a sudden, everything is over.

My old manager and team came out to supper (thank you expensing), to an excellent Indian place called Roti in Queen Anne. It was a great supper, and the team did up some going-away cards.

The first one was a "Our Sympathy" card - trying to cut me off at the pass (no secret: I am very happy going where I am, and I feel a little bad about those left behind). It was great, I absolutely deserved all the sarcastic words. Great guys! - They are all men, it's a fact of working in tech! There are some women, all great, but not on my team.

The next card was serious, and it was pretty hard to read. I'm so lucky to have worked with great people who are just plain old awesome! I was surprised by a few words from some people I didn't realize I had such an effect on. That was very touching all in all.

Finally ... present time! What? Luckily my old manager is very set in his ways, and insisted on getting me a goodbye gift. He asked several times "what should I get for the person who has everything" - and he eventually found it - with it being the new Lego Mindstorms set. I guess bringing in all my lego last fall really made an impression on people!

But I must say, this set is very very cool. It's stupidly advanced, with bluetooth so I can program without USB, and really advanced sensors and servos. The "motors" are actually servos with a 1 degree accuracy on measurement. Meaning you can say "move the motor exactly 30 degrees" and you'll get 30 degrees. The sensors detect light, sound, distance and touch. Combined with a powerful ARM7 based controller, the whole package is surprisingly advanced! They even got LabVIEW to make a version of their software for them.

All this stuff just floored me, I really can't believe that I made such an impact. I worked in a very isolated part of the company and for quite a long time I felt I was not making as big impact as I could have, but it looks like I wasn't entirely correct.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I just bought myself an iPod video. The new 30 gb is pretty sleek, although I guess technically it's the same size as the old 30gb video. The beautiful thing is they have improved and changed the video stuff, because the Pirates movie I bought from the iTunes movie store plays perfectly on the little thing. The slickness and interoperability is everything you expect out of the downloadable music.

While technically Amazon's Unbox has better selection, the iTunes music store has much more going for it:
- Users feel like they own the music/movies. DRM is unobstrusive.
- The items you download work perfectly on the iPod (of course).
- iTunes is available for Mac and Windows. (Sorry Linux users, maybe you should do as I did, and get a Mac?)
- You can copy the music/videos and play on up to 5 computers.

Right now only Disney's movies are on iTMS, but it's a matter of time until the other major labels realize how much better things are.

Of course, most of this is plan as day to practically everyone - except of course the purveyer of Unbox.

The other cool thing I learned about is that I can check GMail from my cell. Any cell can visit and you can log in and view your email. Aside from slow cell phone load times (why are all cell sites so slow?) the UI is very minimalistic and works well. I can read email, compose email, and otherwise meddle with it. The biggest problems are:
- Cell phone is slow to load. This isn't strictly Gmail's fault, all sites are like this.
- Typing in messages sucks. Hard as texting.

While I do like the look of those blackberries, I'm not sure I really need one. But I do like gadgets and wireless access. Maybe I should see if TMobile will upgrade my PEBL's firmware to the newer one that has EDGE, because the one I have now does not. Without EDGE the GPRS speed is about 5kB/sec, with EDGE it should be more like 30 kB/sec.

This is mostly rambling, but unless there are requests, that's all you get for now!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

WOW is back up

So my server is back up. It's nice to be back, really gives a good ending to the evening. Plus I was able to post a bunch of auctions since there are about 500 (vs 5000 normally) auctions up. Because most people don't have a historic view of the market, and without competing auctions to compare to, I'm hoping my auctions will sell quickly and net me a goodly amount of gold.

In the game I have an alternate character which I created to hold my extra items I want to auction. Because I can just mail items off to that character from any mailbox in the game (there are mailboxes in every town), I don't have to worry about bag space, and I also don't need to worry about the 'right time' for Auctioning. I will have a big pool of things to auction and when the time is right I can put them up easily and quickly. My auction mule character hangs out in Thunder Bluff near the bank, mailbox and the Auction house. I can post 10 auctions in 2 minutes and take advantage of the market upswing on Sunday nights.

This'll come in handy later when I need to earn 800 gold for my elite mount.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tuesday night

You might think I would be busy playing WOW, and normally I would be. Unfortunately due to "upgrades" my WOW Realm (server) is offline for about 36 hours. While I wouldn't say I am getting the jitters (yet), I am kind of "oh my, now what?".

On my other notebook I was reading my old email, and behold on the screen is an email entitled "40 percent of World of Warcraft Players Addicted" by our ex-intern who was QUITE sick of hearing our WOW-inspired conversation during lunch. Of course I am not addicted, I can quit anytime I want, I just don't want to and quit asking thank you very much.

So I'm watching Pirates of the Caribbean which I download on the new spanky-fresh iTunes movie download store.

Of course, why not use Amazon's unbox? Ah yes, well I am a mac-head, so no go, I don't have a Windows XP box to even install it on. I can't personally believe how wrong Amazon got it. The general public is fairly well informed about DRM issues, especially now iTunes has trained users to expect more than highly locked down music. I predict that once iTunes movie store outshines Amazon's by quite a bit, the reluctant Movie houses will come to their economic senses and sign on with Jobs and Disney.

The picture quality of the movie is excellent. It doesn't seem to be H.264, but Quicktime says it is "AVC0 Media, 640x272" - whatever that is. I copied the video to my Linux/Samba drive and am playing back on my other desktop iMac via Samba in Quicktime and all is well. No "download twice" crap that Unbox apparently makes you do.

Ironically we used to trash Apple because they didn't provide options for advanced users. In this case however, Apple is working out quite nicely. Obviously there is still the whole DRM thing, but so far it is manageable. With the iTv device next year, Apple's music store will reach your TV, something no one else currently does or can do with video downloads.


I woke up feeling under the weather. I am taking a vitamin B and CrMg regiment, but I skipped Sunday. Yesterday was not great as a result, and this morning I felt a cold coming on. So I slept in until the latest possible moment - which turned out to be 11am. I had lunch with some old friends at work, so I had to get there by noon. Thanks to the power of cars I in fact made it there at 12:05.

Now having arrived at noon, having a lazy lunch, what would be the next logical step? Yes, a slurpee run with a good friend who shares the same name as I. We did the International District to Seattle Center run (where the good 7-11 is), giving plenty of time to bitch about Amazon. Nothing more cathartic than complaining about things you can't control.

I made a big deal out of a program at my (current) work that seeks to identify good incoming MBAs and make sure they get properly cross trained. There is no parallel program for technical folks. This just cemented in my mind that the company is MBA-land and really is not a place to do good technical work. If I needed convincing that my move was good (I don't), this was perfect evidence that the company is firmly in the hands of MBAs. Another good example is the substandard PC notebooks that are furnished, and the low quality 19" LCD screens. I'd rather take my old 21" CRT.

That CRT met it's end one day while I was using it. I heard a pop and everything in front of me defocused. I freaked out for a moment and took off my glasses, before I realized it was my CRT going kaput. While the CRT was huge, heavy and very "thick", it had better rez and looked better than the LCD that replaced it. I have considered many times bringing my 23" Cinema Display to work, but then I wouldn't have it's awesome coolness to use at home. Now that prices fell I was considering buying one for work, then (large unnamed internet company) hired me, and they don't skimp on hardware, so problem solved.

I think another symptom of MBA land at my company is that our VP and Senior VPs don't have relationships with the individual contributors. We're talking about the people who make the company go and yet you don't even talk to them? Not to mention all the managers who informed me that managing upwards was a major skill to be learned. As far as I can see that skill involves hiding the truth just enough to not be lying but also meeting expectations.

That might seem a little harsh, and it probably is, however why wouldn't a company that depends heavily on technology want a good rapport between the top level who makes policy and decisions and those who pull the levers as it were. The idea that the techies and the management speak two different languages seems to be promoted mostly by those who want to take the job of translator. If the management of a high tech company can't take a little "CPU" and "RAM", then why did you hire them? And believe me, this is not a case of an IT department versus the business who doesn't know IT. This company exists because of tech, not in spite of it.

In the end, I think of myself as the invisible hand of the market. "We" did something wrong, and the ultimate punishment is your employees voting with their feet (ok, the OTHER ultimate punishment is failure). And yes, turnover is a form of failure - you haven't retained the best and the brightest and you've allowed huge treasure troves of knowledge to walk out the door. While NDAs protect you from your information leaving, it doesn't prevent people from using their talents elsewhere. I don't really feel sorry for the company, but I do feel sorry for my friends who will have to suffer this December because I'm not there.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Monday was a pretty slack day as usual. Now that I no longer am staying with (giant ecommerce company) all those long term projects just don't seem to feasable anymore. Thus I don't need to do planning, or code reviews or any number of other things. It is frankly, totally and completely awesome. I do provide some consulting to other team-members, which mostly involves hearing myself talk. I might even pen some documentation too.

In the evening I got the "must buy something new" itch. Unfortunately none of Apple's current offerings seemed tempting. Not actually needing anything I merely went home instead. J and I watched last week's house in preperation for Tuesday's house.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Lazy Sunday was very lazy indeed. I did grand total of getting up by the crack of 2:30pm, visiting J's parents out in the boondocks, and nothing much else. I may have played WOW in the wee hours however. Luckly J goes to bed at like 10:30pm to get up by 5:30am (ouch!), so after 10 it's WOW time to the max.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I was woken up at noon by a text from A-Dawg saying that he needed my help to move. After breakfast, showers, me and my GF (hereafter known as "J-Slice") arrived at his apartment at the early 1:30pm. They had rented a huge-assed 26' truck, and had already filled it up with furniture. It looked like they could fit quite a bit more, but they said it was going to take 2 trips.

They moved to a cool house a few blocks off Broadway on Capitol Hill. Very nice house, with an awesome kitchen, great bathrooms and sweet skylights. Luckly there was many helpers, so the moving went by quickly and without incident. Except for the friggin "heavy couch" - never ever buy a hide-a-bed.

J-Slice and I ditched the movin' boys and went shopping quickly downtown. Traffic was horrible of course, which reminds me - never go downtown by car on Saturday. After finding a new wallet for her dad, and a new tiny wallet for moi, J wanted to bake some muffins for the heavy liftin' boys. After making me promise not to make fun of her, quick muffin baking enused. I must say however cinnamon streusel dudes are pretty frickin' awesome.

This time they had finished loading the giant-huge-assed (did I mention it's a stick?) truck a second time. Following them throughout the streets of downtown it looked like the truck was having a few problems. Later I found out that the differential was broken when U Haul checked it in the next day.

The rest of the move was fairly uneventful. Tidying up the evening was a few hours of WOWing. Making level 42 was my big accomplishment.

So much for Saturday.

Friday, September 08, 2006


So on Friday I decided to arrive to work by 11:00am since I had a meeting at that time. I arrived 5 minutes late of course - this time it was the bus schedule! Really, honestly!

It was a meeting talking about this system I originally wrote last fall. I'm the expert in this system and my boss(es) are worried about the loss of knowledge (as they should be). We stumbled through the meeting, me barely caring, but offering tidbits and whatnot.

After lunch I was tooling about the office when my co-teammate, guild leader and friend "A-Dawg" (his real name) was gearing up to leave. He is moving tomorrow and needed to pack, since it was only partially done. While he was putting on his bike boots, I said "I'm coming to your house now, I'll take the bus while you bike home." So I hopped up on the bus and after 30 minutes I arrived at his apartment. I wanted to check out his World of Warcraft setup, and interfere with his packing.

Luckly for both of us he has Guitar Hero for the PS2, and I sat down and proceeded to play the game for something like 4 hours. This is the best game I have played since World of Warcraft, plus I really felt like I was a rock star. In fact I'm pretty sure I can become a rock star with some Guitar Hero training. I called my GF who came and hung out, but I'm afraid watching me destroy songs she knows wasn't fun so it was time to split.

After getting home we were tired, so it was time to break out the WOW again. Luckly my GF plays, so she at least understands the phrase "bind on equip". A bunch of my guildies were up so we hit up Stranglethorn Vale with some 40s and one of our 60 priests. We wiped a few times which sucked, especially since we weren't even in an instance.

This time I think I went to bed only at 3am. Maybe 4? I can't remember.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


So after staying up until 1:30am playing World of Warcraft (possibly the best video game ever), I then stayed up even later reading the rest of jPod. I must say, it feels like he just rewrote Microserfs for Generation-not-X, whatever 20-somethings in the '2000s' are called (ie: my generation). Since it's set in Vancouver, I love it despite the feeling that I've already read this book.

Deja-vu feelings aside, the book briefly made me think about starting heroin. I think life might be more interesting if I was a heroin addict, but I decided not to - not necessarily because it is illegal, but the other downsides, including trying to get off of it. Plus acquiring the substance would be hard in Seattle I imagine, there doesn't seem to be as many addicts here - or at least nothing as infamous as Main and Hastings.

After my non-marathon WOW 1:30am session, then comes the book reading session - by light of the LCD display too I might add. This finished at 4:30am, which means getting to work by 9am is not really possible. Add in that this is my last month here at (unnamed ecommerce giant) after which I will be joining (large unnamed internet company), I think I actually woke up at 11am. Of course all morning I'm ignoring phone calls from my chiropracter's office (twice) and the front door (once). Luckly it's the delivery company dropping off my new battery for my Powerbook - my old battery was dying, and just in time Apple did a recall. Hooray for recalls - I didn't have to shell the $130 for a new battery.

So I wind my way through downtown Seattle, first stop the Columbia Death Tower (oooh, so black) to get my back cracked. Cue Simpsons joke. Then next stop Kinkos/fedex - where I fedexed my giant paper pile to (large unnamed internet company) located in Mountain View. After which I arrive to work just in time to see the clock strike 2pm.

Another day, another morning perfectly executed.