Tuesday, December 30, 2008

5-7-5

Since my earlier haiku was taken down (by myself) for being factually inaccurate, I figured it is only fair to replace it with... more haiku*.

Haiku for Jason:

exaggeration
is not tolerated here
just cold, hard logic

self-referential haiku:

exceptionally
circumlocutorious
versification

here's one from a shirt one of my co-workers wears sometimes:

haiku are easy
but sometimes they don't make sense
refrigerator


*remember kids, the plural of 'haiku' is 'moose' ... or wait, is that 'sheep'?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Inscrutable

Exhibit A:


Tempered by Exhibit B:
http://www.king5.com/weather/ <-- note, this link only relevant in the here and now. For future historians, allow me to sum up:
Snow, Rain, Slush, Freezing Temperatures Overnight, Ice, Busses sliding down hills, etc etc.... in a nutshell, sub-optimal driving conditions. Did I mention I live halfway up one of the largest hills in Seattle?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On typos.

Following is a fairly close approximation of two messages I got today from a dev:

Dev: ... should fix the bug, but now I'm seeing a visual artifcat
Dev: *artifact

Sadly, the bug wasn't actually fixed either, so I had to quickly make this picture as an appropriate response. I like it enough to share ;)



And, since here I am posting pictures anyway, here's some from Halloween. Taken with the craptastic no-flash 2 megapixel camera in my phone, so yes, they're kinda grainy and blurry :)

Clint and Yuna, as ______ and ______. A shiny browser cookie for you if you instantly recognized Yuna's costume... (half a cookie if you guessed Mark Twain instead of Albert for Clint's...)




Me



Later that night...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Urban Camoflauge

So here's a random tip for city dwellers who want to *dramatically* change the way that people react to them on the street: On the morning you are planning to be walking down said street, forget to shave, then spend your day ferrying things back and forth between your old apt and your new apt by stuffing them into a 50L+ camping/climbing/travelling style backpack. (Note: I only did this because I had to return my rental car yesterday). I'll admit that these circumstances may not be easy to reproduce for everyone. And for some of you, you'd have to forget to shave for a lot longer than one morning. For the women among you, this may never work at all.

I used the same pack as from my Eurovoyage, and it worked well. I dropped a receipt with a $5 bill crumpled in it and a random guy picked it up and handed it back because apparently I looked like I needed it (really I was more worried about the receipt). In Subway just now, it was nearing 10pm and these 4 guys sitting at a table stopped me as I left and were wondering about train stations and hostels... I didn't know, and they said "oh, we thought you were like us -- had to spend the night on the street; because of your pack" ... :p

Also some of the looks you get from random people are fun too. As they peer into the cloth bag you are holding in each hand, to see what sort of things destitute people carry around. That probably only confirmed their suspicion of my homelessness, as at that moment I had a box of cheerios and some peanut butter in that bag, clearly visible :p

"No video games for you!"
On a somewhat disappointing, note: I have nearly everything unpacked at my new place except for media boxes (books,movies,music,games). So at the end of today, I wire up my amp and surround speakers, the xbox 360, and hook it all up to the component video input on my computer monitor (I have no t.v. yet). Then, in a round of crushing disappointment, discovered that since I had last used my xbox 360 with a dashboard resolution of 1080p, it was stuck on it, and my monitor won't accept that signal format over component video cables :( So no way to change it until my t.v. arrives in a week or so. Shame! One might have thought that since the freakin' monitor does 1920x1200 from a DVI input, it'd work just fine to take 1920x1080 from another input... le sigh!

Unpacking is a lot like Christmas
.. at least, like the Christmases I remember from childhood ;) except now there's way more boxes to open.

Each box has a hint on the outside. 2 or 3 words that summarized the contents as notated by the guy who packed it [who, incidentally, was generally not me, since the moving company's insurance policy only covers stuff they pack themselves]. Once the box is opened, the contents are revealed as being very many wads of paper in varying sizes and shapes, for lo, all thy items shall be individually wrapped, say the packing masters. So you grab out a big wad of paper (big!) and start ripping and unwinding it. After four or five seconds the big item is revealed! A shot glass! ... hm, that leaves a lot of space in the cupboard. No wonder 5 giant boxes of stuff managed to disappear into my kitchen!

Also, those hints outside the box aren't always correct. Sometimes the packer just didn't know what something was, or was fooled because I had cleverly stowed things in boxes from other products, and then he mistook even those.

For example, if I had only one chance to pick a box to find my toilet paper before someone pressed a Big Red Button of Doom For the Whole World (hey, it's a family blog, I don't always need to stoop to "before someone killed someone"... besides, the double 'someone' sounds weird!), we would all be Doomed now. The toilet paper, as it turns out, was in a box marked "computer games". Other contents of this box included my bathroom scale, and a few boxes of miscellaneous PC hardware (screws, clamps, cables of varying sorts...).

There were actually a lot of boxes marked "computer games," due in part to the fact that I have a lot of games (and game related paperphernalia), but due in large part to the fact that after a few boxes of games, I figure the packer's eyes glazed over and he just started writing "computer games" as a default if he couldn't think of anything else.

Anyway, back to the Christmas-y bit...
The best part is that some of these things I haven't seen in nearly two years, since I packed them up in January 2007. I had actually forgotten what most of my cutlery and dishes looked like, so it really added to the opening-a-present feeling... you know, you rattle the box, weigh it, look for clues as you rip into it, and still you get surprised by the final thing! I mean, sure you knew this paper ball was probably yet another coffee cup since the last 3 were, but I bet you forgot that you had a "Class of '97" mug in there, right? Right? Okay fine, so you didn't. I did, and it's my story, so sod off.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The secret sauce is anger...

I want to like Apple. I really, really do. Much like Agent Mulder and his "I want to believe." Or was that Scully? I think Mulder believed anyway. Whatever. Apple makes nice shiny products. I wanted to like them. Really.

So. Been looking for a phone for quite some time. Mostly I was waiting until I had my new apartment so I could make sure to get one that had good reception there. Discovered my Rogers phone, which roams on the AT&T network, had good signal, so after much deliberation, today I went and bought an iPhone (for you Canadians in the audience, Apple and AT&T have an exclusive contract in the USA, therefore no other carriers have the iPhone available). Alas, the story does not end there, and I won't be giving anyone a new phone number to call just yet.

Here's about how my night went:

1740h. Downtown, Seattle. [Isn't it ominous when you see the city on the first entry? It's like you're watching a spy thriller!]
Entered the AT&T store at 6th & Pine. Spent a pleasant while talking to the sales guy, ending up with:

1811h. Downtown, Seattle.
My receipt is printed. I am happy. I spend a bit more time as the sales guy shows me some features of the phone, then I leave the store and start walking to my new apt, intending to get some more boxes unpacked before walking home to sleep.

1846h. First Hill, Seattle.
I'm in my apt. I carefully apply the screen protector to my new phone (it's so shiny!). I place the first call to my friend Ken:
Ken: Hello?
Me: Hi Ken, it's Logan.
ominous silence
Me: I just got that new phone! and you're the lucky recipient of the first call!
Ken: Hello?
Me: Hello..? Hello.. is this thing on?
Ken: Hello..? Hello?
Me: crap, this isn't working at all [messes with volume buttons]. Hello? Hello? Arg. [Hangs up]

I spend a bit more time calling my Canadian cell phone with it, and end up discovering that the microphone is actually broken, although if I plug in the headphones+mic that came with it, I can at least get crackly bad sound. So no setting of the voice mail greeting yet, at least. Oh and the protective rubber case shredded itself when I took it off to apply the screen protector. Woo.

1917h. Downtown, Seattle.
I've walked back to the AT&T store. The guy who sold me the phone is no longer there, but I talk to another guy who is very friendly and helpful. By about 1930h, he's given me a free replacement of the rubber case, verified the broken microphone on the phone, and been thwarted on replacing my phone by the corporate agreement with Apple: AT&T is apparently not allowed to handle any customer service issues, Apple wants them all.

So he looks up the nearest Apple store, which is in the U-district. It's a few miles away and I'm on foot, but it doesn't even matter because it is closed for renovations. The next nearest one is in Bellevue Square, twelve miles away. He checks their website and lets me know that they're open till 2130h. By this time it's past 1930h, but hey, I figure it's worth it to drive over there just to get this resolved tonight. I still haven't eaten and my blood sugar level is aggravating me but I am determined. Oh, and the guy added a free +100 minutes a month to my phone plan just for enduring the hassle. So AT&T has done okay by my books, at this point.

2000h, Belltown, Seattle.
I've arrived back at my corporate housing. Up to the 21st floor to fetch the car keys, down to the parking garage, and I'm on my way to Bellevue. I'm formulating the best way to politely relate the story to the Apple store customer service chaps, and ask them to put a happy ending on three hours of crushing disappointment.

2020h, Bel Square Mall, Bellevue.
I arrive in the store. It is jam packed. Seriously there must have been 20-25 customers in there. Wow. Still, within 10 seconds of entering, an employee asks me "How's it going?". I say "Not so good, but I'm hoping you can help with that". So far, so good. I bring out the iPhone box.

She says "oh, iPhone problem? You need to deal with Tech Support".

I say "You are not going to tell me that I have to mail this in to get it fixed...".

She says "No, but I don't think we have any tech support appointments left today so I can't help you."

I briefly relate the agonies of the night. She goes back and checks with the mystical "They" who live behind the closed doors of every store in the universe. She comes back and says nope, sorry, nothing they can do, she can't replace my phone, the tech support guys have to analyze it and find out what's wrong, and they can't do that until tomorrow.

Ok, major frakking aside here: WHAT THE FRELL IS WRONG WITH THESE COMPANIES? It's a BRAND NEW GORRAM PHONE. If you had found the defective microphone a second before I swiped my credit card, you would have just gone and grabbed another box from the back. WHAT IS SO SMEGGING HARD ABOUT SWAPPING IT? This isn't something I bought months ago and then developed a problem with. But no, sorry, once you've paid your money, now you have to go through "channels" to get any kind of smurfing customer service whatsoever.

Did I cover all the tv pseudo-curses? No? Good.


So my options are 0810h, and deal with rush hour traffic, or tomorrow evening (or later), which would mean stewing in all this anger even longer. I opt for the 0810h deal, and I don't think they realize what a huge favour I am doing them by giving them the opportunity to fix this problem before I have a full 24 hours to build up a nice head of rage at Apple and their so-far-so-shitty customer service. Seriously, why stipulate in their contract with AT&T that AT&T is not allowed to replace defective phones? This is bordering on retarded.

2035h, Bellevue.
I use my iPhone to browse to Apple's website (hey, at least the 3G network and the web browser work) and find the phone number for the Lynnwood store. I figure I can call them on my other cell, see if they have appointments left tonight, and still have a shot at letting Apple fix their mess before I sleep. 5 minutes of recorded messages later, I finally find the option on their menu that lets me talk to a real person, the recording says "transferring call...." and then I listen to it ring for about 2 minutes straight.

Then I give up.

I have a burger and a shake (first time I've eaten since lunch).

I drive home.

2130h, Belltown, Seattle.
I need to vent. Rather than relate this story verbally to everyone, I'm writing this down and will just let people read it. If everyone in the world was to read my blog, today would be the day, because frankly I think it should cost Apple dearly to have such absolutely terrible customer service policies.

Nonetheless, tomorrow when I get there I am going to still be very calm and just ask them to please resolve the situation in such a way that lets me know that Apple might actually care about their customers.

Here's a tip: simply swapping my phone won't do it. Swapping the phone only gets them up to "barely acceptable" customer service. At this point, by the time this is over, I'll have driven two round trips to Bellevue, once through rush hour traffic, in a car that gets 22 mpg. Combined with a good 5+ hours of my time taken on this above and beyond the initial purchase, I figure the invoice should look something like this:

Gas: $10
Time: $200
Mental Anguish: $100

That should basically mean the phone should be free :p No, I don't seriously expect them to see it that way. But if they don't at least try to come up with something beyond a basic fix I am going to be very disappointed. Even a measly $20 gift cert to the Apple store would be something. Hell, they'd make a profit, since that'd mean I'd probably end up buying some accessories and spending $50-60 there, not to mention that they might actually come out of this with a repaired reputation in the eyes of me and my little world (which basically amounts to just me, so they probably don't care) if they at least try to show some good customer service.

Will they? I doubt it. But I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

I will, of course, post an update if/when this is resolved. Meanwhile now that I've vented, I think I need to fire up a violent video game and shoot something ;)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How To Tell

So, after getting my stuff delivered today, and then realizing that the first thing I needed to unpack was all my cleaning supplies in order to make the rest of the apartment safe to unpack things into, I now present "To The Last Person Who (Theoretically) Cleaned My New Apartment", in the style of Jeff Foxworthy...

  • If you leave not only all the dust and crud but also 3 blue tupperware lids on the top shelf of the kitchen cupboards... you may not be cleaning thoroughly enough.

  • If you leave a bottle of Aleve in the cabinet... you may not be cleaning thoroughly enough.

  • If there is still a picture of your grandparents and their dog in one of your drawers... you may not be cleaning thoroughly enough.

  • If the plug for the bath tub, along with the associated plug chain, has fused to the corner of said bath tub because it has not moved in such a very long time... you may not be cleaning thoroughly enough!!!11!1!one!!1!


That is all.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I'm starting to like the cut of this man's gibberish...

Just a couple links to share:

First, Fantastic Contraption. A neat physics based toybox, and a great way to kill some time :) Come up with creative solutions to the puzzles! Here's a couple that I made:

Duck the Gap
The One-Vehicle Solution

That's just to give you an idea :) I'd hate to ruin all the puzzles before you go try it yourself...

Also, for a few years now I've been hearing about "The Tick" and how it was such a great comic and TV show. As one person commented on IMDB, think of this show as "Seinfeld with superheroes". Well, Hulu.com now has the entire live-action show (there was an earlier animated one too). It was a short run, at 9 episodes of ~22 minutes each, but you can watch them all here when you've got some spare time :) I'm working my way through slowly but surely...

Oh, I applied for and put a deposit on an apartment in Seattle. Hopefully should be signing the lease by Wednesday. Woo!

Finally: the quote of the Day, for yesterday (received over IM from Radu):
[11:58] Raduuuuuu: imm on my phoone etc driving to get pants

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Notes

So, some things of note. And a lot of non-noteworthy things.

RSS Feeds.
I've finally been dragged forward into the 18th century and started using an RSS feed aggregator. Now I can get my 4 webcomics, Ars Technica, and Talena's blog all in one place. Yay! You can do this too. If you are using Firefox, just click that little orange-and-white icon on the right hand side of the address bar right now. Muddle your way through a couple more clicks and you're done! (Don't worry, those extra clicks won't kill you, and there is probably no wrong choice.)

I do find that it is hard to kill the urge to browse to all of the aforementioned sites via bookmarks or manually, though. What if they post something and it takes 30 seconds to show up in the RSS feed>? I might live 30 seconds without laughing at a comic that I would otherwise laugh at! Omg! OMFG! ... yeah, I'll adjust :p

Dinosaurs.
They do roam the earth. I'm typing on one right now. It didn't feel that way until I just got home and turned it on after my first day in the new office, where I was using the new laptop they issued me for work. That one is really nice :p (smaller, faster, creates fire and simple tools... yep, it's a step up the ladder)

Pizza
Papa John's doesn't deliver to my current address. Sad! Zeek's Pizza does, and it is even tastier, albeit at "specialty pizza" prices.

Movin' on up
Becoming a Microsoft employee feels a bit like upgrading to being a first class citizen. There are a lot of businesses (banks, restaurants, car dealerships, insurance, whatever) around here that offer special discounts and deals for MS employees. And with a MS population almost half the size of Red Deer right here in the Puget Sound area, it is no wonder. On top of that, we get a Prime card and the uber cool status that can only come from wearing a badge with a blue square and your picture on it. Woo!

Movin' on up even higher
My temporary apartment is on the 21st floor, large windows facing south into downtown, which is at least 5 blocks away. Everything in between is short buildings, so the view is great, over a bit of Puget Sound too :) Me likey. Of course, once I get my own place it will probably have a view of a brick wall, so it is appropriate to enjoy the view whilst I can.

Yuppieness
So. High rise apartment, office downtown, fancy-shmancy rental car... yep. I feel like a yuppie. Finally? That should last approximately until I have to pay my own rent then go broke from the crazy rental rates around here :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Arrival

No, not the crappy Charlie Sheen movie.

I arrived in Seattle this morning, and by about 10:30 was happily getting lost as I fiddled with the dials in my rental car. As an aside, I will never buy or own a 2008 Mercury Milan, as the thing is a freakin' boat. Though it is shiny and new and has a voice controlled USB enabled satellite stereo thingy powered by a Microsoft product (just pluggin' the new employer here...).

Given that I could not check in at my temp apt before 1500, I headed over to Clint's place. I got to his door just as he was locking it to head out for breakfast (around 1100 ... heh), so that seemed like a plan. Spent the day hanging out with him and Yuna, checked out the Seattle Public Library, had a martini, ate a wonderful Italian supper (I will never eat Chef Boyardee ravioli again, it'd spoil the memory), and am finally winding down and getting ready for bed.

Oh, Talena, some day you should come see this library. They have a huge section devoted to sheet music, and two reasonably sound proofed rooms with pianos in them for people to try out the sheet music (you can also check it out of the library, I think). You could probably lose yourself for a few days there while Jason and I saw the rest of Seattle, so long as you packed some sandwiches.

Anyway.

People say that Clint and I look similar. I think it is all lies. Observe:

See? No similarities in facial features our our independently chosen style of dress on this particular day. (Hint: I'm the one on the left. I think). But just in case I asked him to stop wearing what are clearly my shirts.

Good night!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ship it!

So all my stuff is gone, now. Packed away by the moving crew this morning, except the clothing and personal grooming items that I deemed essential for the next 32 days. 2 days until when I hope my flight is, plus up to 30 days of storage / temp housing before I get all my packed household goods delivered to my actual new place, wherever that ends up being.

For the last three or four days I've been meaning to do a trial-run of packing all my held-back-to-take-on-the-plane (HBTTOTP) items into the check-able backpack, the carry-on bag, and my laptop bag. Of course, I didn't actually *do* it, because that would have eliminated the suspense that I now face: will they all actually fit? Or will I have to leave behind some of the HBTTOTP items? ... Oh, and the real reason I didn't do a test pack is because some of them were dirty, and if I put them in the same backpack as my test-packing clean clothes, the clean clothes would have gotten cooties. Clothes are kinda immature, and have that whole first-grader mentality about them. Sometimes they tend to be over-using-hypens-type clothes, too, and you just don't want those mixing with your normal, unhyphenated clothes. (Yay, I can mock myself!)

So, anyway, now I anxiously await emails containing things like flight numbers and times. That is, pretty much in it's entirety, my full time job right now. Wooooo. Talena, you may be the chicken with its head cut off, but I'm the same chicken five minutes later, you know, just after it stops twitching.

[edit - 1712h]
And the emails are in.. may I have the envelope, please? ...

Departure Thursday, September 18. Customs-guy-in-a-good-mood permitting. w00t!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Shirts

Because shirts are fun, and these will probably show up on Talena's kids at some point if I link them here...

Cat shirts! (Dad, don't look, you'd just shoot the shirts).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It's not the cost, it's the inconvenience.

I am not a violent man. However, if the Sony executive responsible for the decision to not include any form of HD capable cables (component or HDMI) in the PS3 box, and also to not actually specify that in gigantic bold print on the OUTSIDE of the box, had knocked on my door yesterday, I would not have punched him in the nose. I would probably have grabbed the golf club beside the door and poked him in the nuts. Because he'd deserve it.

I mean, c'mon. RCA jacks? R-C-A?!?! A Not even S-Video? What the HELL, Sony? Yeah, I really wanted to turn around and drive right back into town. Thanks for including a 60 year old connector type on your console that is designed for digital output of high resolution graphics, and selling the HD-capable cable types separately.

Now you can all send me pictures of a ps3 box that clearly states "Component and HDMI Cables Sold Separately" if you wish, but it won't make me much less mad :p. All I remember seeing on the list of box contents was "video cable". Sue me for thinking it would be component or HDMI.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Questions you may not want to ask a mercenary

Unlike the authors of xkcd, Howard Tayler probably wouldn't approve of having his comic directly posted into my blog, so I'll just link.

You should read this comic right now!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wii Motion Plus

For those of you with Wii's or who are disgusted with the unrealism of Tiger Woods golf on the Wii because it isn't just like a real golf club: There's hope! see here:

Of gyroscopes and gaming: the tech behind the Wii MotionPlus

Enjoy. Maybe Tiger Woods 2010 will play a lot better, now. :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Apparently I learned to blog from Talena

Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Ph.D., an expert on marine debris, agrees. “If you could fast-forward 10,000 years and do an archaeological dig…you’d find a little line of plastic,” he told The Seattle Times last April. “What happened to those people? Well, they ate their own plastic and disrupted their genetic structure and weren’t able to reproduce. They didn’t last very long because they killed themselves."


from the article Our Oceans Are Turning Into Plastic - Are We?. Which, frankly, you should go read as soon as you have time.

Here's a shorter article that introduces the topic: The world's rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan

And some info on Bisphenol A (the type of plastic with the number 7 inside its recycling triangle icon), and how Canada is banning it.

Canada to ban bisphenol-A...
...especially from baby bottles

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The evils of the second hand hamster market

For example, let's say that I want to make a post about how much I dislike dealing with used hamster salesmen (UHS), and the topic was on my mind because I was in the market for a used hamster. What if the only person with a used hamster to sell happened to check my blog and then decide not to deal with me? Ah, the perils of the Internet. Maybe someday I will have to make a blog only viewable to registered and approved users. Then I could post about used hamster salesmen to my hearts content.

As it is, I may have to content myself with venting only in euphemisms. I really dislike the monopoly of UHS personnel on controlling who can and cannot buy a used hamster. Especially when only one particular used hamster will do, and the vagaries of the market demand that you deal with a specific salesman, but he's having a bad day and doesn't want to sell to you. Also, just by chance, you may have to fill out a form Q-48, "Application for Used Hamster Ownership", at the cost of much time and effort by an expensive hamster lawyer, and it might not even end up doing you any good because the only category of hamster owner acceptable to the Second Hand Hamster Legislation Board is "people who were born in mid-air on transatlantic flights to parents who both were transporting hamsters at the time", and the closest you can come is "Well, my parents knew hamsters existed, but I was born on a train".

OK, my euphemisms have derailed to the point of fruitlessness now. I just dislike paperwork, mostly. :/ And I needed to vent.

Stupid hamsters.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Assimilation in progress.

Yep, officially being assimilated. Still some paperwork issues to get through, of which the one that will take the longest is probably the work visa. Once that is all done, though, I'll be moving down to Seattle to start work at ye olde newe job(be). Whee! Probably everyone who reads this already knew that, but eh, it's here for the record now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Because it's funny to me



One of these days I'll stop posting xkcd comics here, but this one was too funny not to.

If any of you actually burst out laughing without doing a google search for what 'sudo' means, I'd like to know :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thinking Ahead



Aside from the "things still unresolved with...", this is eerily close to a thought process that has regularly run through my head. Mostly it is my brain making excuses, no doubt, but apparently I am not the only one. :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Two-timing Troglodytes!

This was originally going to be a comment on my sister's blog comments (am I really reduced to that now? Commenting on comments? Apparently not, since now this is a post! ha! Chew on that!), but then I decided that as a public service, other people could use this information too.

Here are some alternate phrases for the next time you really need to express that righteous fury in a way that only a polysyllabic exclamation can do, and yet maintain a family friendly rating.

  • Billions of blue blistering barnacles! (see tintinologist.org's list for more Haddock curses... too many to list here)
  • That's Bolshevism.
  • Aw, snap! (a little too valley-girl, but it might work for you)
  • Jiminy Crickets!
  • Crap on a crutch. (read the Note on the linked page. Do it now! I'll wait.)
  • Smurfing smurf!
  • Whoa! (Nelly optional. It does make it a bit less 'Keanu Reeves' though)


Now I freely admit that none of the above are original products of my brain. Here's some that are (of course, someone may have come up with these independently, but so did I, frog bite it!):

  • Polysyllabic Exclamation! (This one might work best shouted in a public place, just to see how many people go 'huh?' vs how many crack up)
  • Mercaptans! (based on the fact that many exclamations are synonyms for foul smelling substances, this should work well...)
  • Arrrgariffic! (sometimes blending words is fun!)
  • Cellular Mitosis! (hey, if other biological acts can work for curses.. this could spawn an entire line of new ones!)
  • Five nuns in a four man rowboat! (think about it a while... there are layers to this! Like ogres.)
  • Corrupted bytes after a three hour download! (ok, this one is inspired by an experience I had the other day and may not work for most people)
  • Tapping tappity taps! (just for you, Dad!)


Yeah ok I'm done now. Time to go see if today's three hour download has corrupted bytes...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Resistance is Futile

While it may not be quite as great as some, the hunt is on, and continues apace. I just did a telephone interview with a really neat team at Microsoft, and they want me to come in for an in-person interview. It is for a slightly different type of coding than I have done before, but life is nothing without variety.

Yay! Soon I may be assimilated.

oh, and there are more types of coding than you may have thought:

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Interview ftw?

Well, things have worked out serendipitously, and my nebulous "maybe I'll swing back through Vancouver and interview somewhere" plan from before leaving home has turned, through no real effort of my own, into "I'm in Vancouver and I have an interview at a really neat looking studio on Monday afternoon." I say through no real effort of my own because this stemmed from a Vancouver recruiter emailing me while I was in Seattle and setting up this whole thing.

I'm excited about it, and having spent the last two days wandering around Vancouver with Ben, have decided that this is actually a decent city to live in. Even though the cool places cost a zillion units of currency. (Seriously, that place is a few blocks from the job, and directly above a Home Depot, Save On Foods, Best Buy, Canadian Tire, Starbucks, Wendy's, and a branch of my bank. How much more feature-rich can it get?)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Days Are Just Packed

Live music. Afternoon at the shooting range. Wandering the wrong direction looking for more live music late at night. New jacket. Wedding+reception. All day BBQ and chillin'fest. (Yes it's a word. Because I said so. Shut up!). Discovering sauerkraut really can be tasty. Board games played till 0530h. The days, I tell you...


Oh, and... "Small medium at large." I suppose it is more obvious when you already know the answer.

Happy Canada Day!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Travels

Pulling into Redmond again after a 17 month absence was strange. Not strange as in a "hey everything is different" manner, even though some things were different and shocking, but strange in a "I feel like I belong here much more than Red Deer or Sylvan Lake or Calgary, and that seems wrong somehow". The theater at Redmond Town Center is gone. EBX changed their sign to GameStop. The old Northwest Brewhouse brewery/restaurant/bar is now a bank and a AAA office. The Brown Bag Cafe is for sale. They finally *almost* finished the flyover on 520 to get rid of that nasty left turn. Other than that it was the same old place. Went and got bacon and eggs at the same Safeway. Used the same club card.

Of course, there are culture shocks. Yesterday Darryn and I went over to Bellevue to watch Iron Man, and it wasn't until I was turning into the underground parking lot that I remembered the whole city parking paradigm, with the paid parking and validation from business for free hours etc (turns out the theater validated for 3 hours of parking so it was free anyway, yay!) How do you forget something like that?

Last night Clint, Darryn and I went out to the Blue Moon to see some live bands. Amazingly, no cover charge, but apparently that is to be expected from the dirtiest bar in Seattle :) The music either got better as the bands changed out, or I got deafer. Either way, an enjoyable evening. Radu and Matt met up with us there, which was cool. Everyone has changed weight since I saw them last. Some up, some down, heh. Some just have less hair!

Oh, and Iron Man was great.

.... dammit, this post wasn't even remotely funny. Umm... What do you call a midget fortuneteller on the run from the law? Check back next episode for the obvious pun!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Elitist Shaving Pig

My Italian shaving cream just ran out. So apparently it is time to go to a foreign country for personal grooming products. See, when you travel, you become a grooming snob, and domestic products simply will. not. do.

So, Wednesday morning, I'm outta here! Woo!

p.s.: prize for whoever takes the post title the furthest out of context. Compete for glory! Winner gets.. um... an empty can of shaving cream with an Italian label?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Alzheimers

This morning, I had an idea for a really witty, short, blog post.

I've forgotten what it was. :(

Monday, May 5, 2008

On "action" in games

"This game doesn't have enough action to keep me awake... how about we play golf?"
- Earl Hilman.

Said while playing* Marvel Ultimate Alliance [a superhero game which consists mostly of pounding away at hordes of enemies], and desiring to switch not to *real* golf, but video game golf [which consists of making a quick swing then waiting 2 minutes for your next turn].

Comedy gold I say.


*I use the term "playing" here rather loosely, as he was mostly sleeping.Tip: it is hard to detect the action through closed eyelids!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"That's only entertaining the first million or so times"

So I'm reading this book, Effective C++ Third Edition by Scott Meyers, and I came across a bit about overloading operator[] with const and non-const versions and getting the non-const version to call the const version to avoid code duplication. This involves a couple casts to make it work right without calling itself recursively, so at first glance it seems odd. Frankly, the section was hilarious (also accurate and helpful, thanks Mr. Meyers!), so I laughed out loud for a bit. Then I thought of trying to explain why I was laughing at it to a non-programmer such as my three family members who read this blog, and I laughed even harder.

Then I decided it had to be done(, clearly).

Ah, recursion, how I love it. I remember when Joe Cygman taught recursion to our class in university, the first thing he said was that when dealing with the subject he was about to teach, it often helps to drink heavily beforehand. Frankly I don't think it is all that hard, but Joe is an amusing guy. (Also, favorite teacher ever. Just for the record.) Anyway, not that recursion is inherently funny, it was mostly Mr. Meyers' writing style (the title of this post is the quote from him that made me laugh, just so you don't think I'm claiming credit for writing something funny. Saw the quotation marks, did you? Those are my clever way of saying I didn't have an original thought to put on that line) in reference to a code path that causes a program to sit there spinning in an infinite loop, which is generally a bad thing =P

On a completely unrelated note, I thought I'd share some amusing video game moments.

Dungeon Siege II

After rescuing three squad members from a monster infested fortress and returning to their commander, Squadron Leader Taarth has this to say when he rewards you: "Thank you for rescuing my men. Most of our spare gear is destroyed or unreachable, but we found this dusty key under a rock. I'm not sure what it opens, but perhaps you will find it useful." ... Naturally, the key is a crucial to a later quest :p Either the quest designer was being really lazy or really sarcastic about the nature of RPG quests in general :) I'll go with door number two, Bob.

Dungeon Siege II: Broken World

Upon defeating the ultimate villain (oh no! I'm going to spoil what happens, quick, if you're going to play this, change the channel before you read the results out of your peripheral vision! woops, too late) he raises his arms to the sky, shakes his fist and yells "You cannot beat me! I AM ZARAMOTH! This is impossible! NOOOOOOOOOOO!", then his chest explodes, then a huge stalactite formation falls from the roof and crushes him to a bloody pulp. How over the top can you get? Also, if the game designers really thought they were being dramatic and not hilarious, this becomes sad and even funnier and the same time!

Guitar Hero II:

At the end of career mode, the audience starts chanting "Free Bird". The game asks you if you want to go out and play the encore. If you say yes, it asks if you're really sure, because Free Bird is something only a true guitar hero could pull off. If you say yes, it says are you really really sure? Its really hard! If you say yes again, it warns you that this is your last chance, and that Free Bird should not be taken on lightly. If you say yes again, it says "Wow, you must really like Free Bird" then lets you play it.

I don't know what happens if you say no to any of those questions. Only wimps say no!

p.s. Yes, it has been around 5 weeks since an update. This begs the question, did I generally update more frequently while traveling or since the return to Canada? hmmm.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Hello to the Future!

Why the Future, you ask? Or you might, if you bothered to read the title... Well, I figure that since within a couple weeks I will have spoken in person with pretty much everyone who reads this (all three of you) semi-regularly, the most likely audience now is made up of friends who are reading this next year or even later. So, please post in the comments section, what is life like in 2009? Have we been hit by a big meteor yet? Is reality television still a blight on society?

Anyone but Mom probably wants to skip this next paragraph (fair warning!):

Back near the beginning of the trip, Mom posted a comment asking if I was eating right, was I losing or gaining weight, blah blah blah... thanks, Mom, for being the stereotypical mother! Anyway, for the entire duration of my trip, I didn't step near a scale of any sort. (Error! I was in proximity to automotive scales at the ferry ports, but that seems unrelated.) As far as eating healthy stuff, who can say? I did consume a great (very, very great) deal of Subway sandwiches, canned ravioli, cottage/shepherds pie (the difference is that shepherds pie is made from lamb, and cottage pie is made from beef. At least in Europe. I always thought they were synonamous back here in Canada, but I am not running over to Safeway to find out before posting this!), and various other things that are cheap at supermarkets and easy to make in a hostel kitchen. Before leaving home, to weigh my bag, I stood on a scale with and without it. Combined weight: 190 lbs. (~25lbs of bag, 165 of me). Upon returning, the combined weight was still 190 lbs, though now it was 40 lbs of bag due to various things I picked up on the trip. This struck me as odd since I don't know where that weight left from, but eh, what can you do.

Ok, it is now safe for the average reader to read again.

One of my favorite things to find while travelling is a cool or funny sign, especially if it is unintentional. This one is my absolute favorite, for reasons that are not immediately apparent.

The reason I found it hilarious: it is in Bern, Switzerland. The spoken language in that area is German, and in the rest of the country French, Italian, and Romansch are also official languages. So it seems pretty clear who the sign is targetting :)


Stonemasons also having a little too much fun? Retro gaming on the walls, gotta love it.

In Belgium, they take their comics seriously. It is part of their national heritage, even more so than seal clubbing is for us Canucks. Here are a couple shots of the entryway to their National Museum of Comic Strips in Brussels. (Musee Nationale de Bande Desinees? with funny accents?).


Some of the most recognized images in comics the world over, those are. Tintin in particular is nearly the epitome of the 20th century. His first adventure, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, was (if I remember my facts straight) started around 1921 as a black and white serial strip in a magazine, and his final adventure was in the late 1970s (the author died before finishing any more). During his time he went from big game hunting in Africa, to submarines, to rocketing to the moon. Wearing plus-fours nearly the entire time (except for one book). Yet he was always current with the times, and even now the older books still seem relevant. Kind of like James Bond, if he was flat-shaded with a thick black outline!

A couple of the few souvenirs I brought back are a Tintin book and an Asterix book in the original French. Of course, I bought them in Switzerland last November, before I realized that they were both originally Belgian anyway... oops! Oh well. At least I can read both of them, mostly. With the help of vague memories of French, the original English versions of the books, and a small French-English dictionary, anyway :)

On the final night of my first stay in Edinburgh (2008.01.11), about a dozen of us decided to have ourselves a multicultural supper. So we all went out to the supermarket for supplies, and everyone made a dish from their home country, then we sat down and ate. Surprisingly it all worked out rather well together. However, it does raise the question: What is a Canadian dish? The two Americans in the group had already laid claim to making burgers, so that was out. I wasn't about to buy steak for 12 people. The Dutch girls were making pancakes. What's left? Well, I figured, how about an omelette? There's just one catch: I had never made an omelette before in my life. However, for the record, my concoction turned out rather well. There was one other Canadian in the bunch (Hi, Andrew!) so we split the chopping and cooking duties to avoid having to come up with *two* Canadian dishes.

I call it "Scrambled Omelette"

1/4 lb butter
lots of mushrooms
2 red peppers
1 green pepper
1-2 tomatoes
1 lb cheese
18 large eggs

chop the mushrooms and sautee in butter in a large pan (really large. See photo!). Once they are brown, add in the chopped red and green peppers. Keep sauteeing. Keep adding butter, too! While this is going on, have your co-hort keep chopping things.

Beat all the eggs with a fork or whatever is handy. Pour into the big pan with all the sauteed bits. (Tip: You might want to drain out some excess butter first. I didn't, but I kinda regretted it even though everything still tasted great...)

Stir, flip, whatever, until the eggs are solidifying, then add in all the grated cheese and keep stirring and flipping. Soon it should be a big greasy mess from all the melted cheese, butter you forgot to drain, and eggs! Wheee!

Add in the chopped tomatoes, give it a final stir, then put it all in a pot for serving, with a lid to keep it hot :)

Ok... now, Talena, feel free to tell me everything I did wrong :p but keep in mind, it did taste great (and I am not the only one who thought so!) so I may just laugh at your comments! As a matter of fact... HAHAHAHHAAAA! There. Just getting it out of the way pre-emptively.

Here we are, enjoying our meal. If I recall correctly, here is what everyone made:

Dutch: Pancakes
Brazilian: Some really sweet chocolate candy dessert thing
American: Burgers
Mexican: Quesadillas
Canadian: Scrambled Omelettes!
Danish: They did their own thing, but sat with us to visit anyway
Somebody else: Some kinda of spaghetti casserole thing
Everyone: The cheapest, vinegariest wine at the supermarket.






How many people can you fit in an old style British Telecom booth, anyway? Apparently the local record for this particular booth is something like 11-13, but we only managed 9.



.... and that's all I've got to say about that.

Friday, February 29, 2008

In the land of the snow

Arrived home in Canada on Monday. One might think that this would mean I would now make a big long post expounding on everything, since I have a real keyboard to type on, but one would be wrong!

However, such a post (or, more likely, multiple posts) will be coming in the future. Meanwhile, I shall throw a bone in the form of a funny sign (I took a lot of pictures of funny signs over the last 6 months...)


One of the many things you have to watch out for on the roads in Scotland!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hello, Hell's Maintenance Dept? Could you check the A/C?

Yes, amazingly, I finally managed to post more photos of my trip. You can check them out on Facebook. So far, I've gotten stuff posted up to near the end of November, 2007.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Writing for children is no excuse for stupidity.

I have a confession to make. I ... oh, God, this is hard. I... Well, maybe we should talk about something else first.

It turns out that the further south you go, the further you are away from the north. No, really. Stop looking so flabbergasted, I swear it is the truth. It also turns out that all those ancient Romans in their zillion cubic foot buildings with wide archways and robes must have frozen their naughty bits off every winter. Egads. All those statues with missing naughty bits? They aren't broken, they were made from live models, I'm sure. Anyway, Roma actually wasn't too bad. They at least had heating (in their more modern buildings - but since only rats and cats infest the ruins, they can get by without). By the time I got to Catania, however, I began to realize just how far south I had really come: namely, not far enough.

See, if you go far enough south, even in December (/wave to Shona, who doesn't read this but had an outdoor BBQ on Christmas day... damn ozzies! jk), you don't need things like heated rooms, weatherstripping, hot water for showers and shaving (well, that might be pushing it), clothes dryers, etc. But if you go to just the right latitude (ie, south of Napoli, but stay in Europe), you find a curious region of the world where all of these things are *needed*, but not *present*. This is especially annoying when one is trying to overcome a nasty fever/headache symptom combination that has one curled up in bed all day. Annoying enough to make one radically alter one's Christmas and New Year's plans from "staying there in recovery mode for all the nights one has reserved" to "hopping the first train north and hoping for a vacancy in a place with a water heater." Turns out you need to go to Switzerland for that sort of thing on 24 December. Apparently.

Also, for the record, no I didn't spend a single moment skiing during the week in Gryon. And no, you don't want to know why. ... Although I suppose that if that doesn't make you want to know why, then nothing will. Tough! I'm not telling. Now. Maybe later. Apparently if I was totally honest with myself, the "you don't want to know why" would have read "I don't want to think about why," but I appear to not be that honest.

Has it been long enough? Ok, I have a confession to make. I, during a period of convalescence, read a Harry Potter book. I feel dirty inside. However, it was there, I was there, and not much of anything else was there, so there it is. Now, having read it, I can say from a position of knowledge what I said before from a position of ignorance: At no future point will I engage in optical recognition of the entire text of a book in the Harry Potter series.

The rest of this post is going to contain some spoilers for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so if you actually don't know what happens in it because your stupid friends haven't dragged you to the stupid movie and you haven't been stupid enough to waste your stupid time reading this stupid book yet, but you WANT to, then stop reading now. However, if you just want to read my verbal abuse of the characters as if they were real people, then carry on!

Anyway, on with me venting about why I hated HP4. And the number one reason is? Ding ding ding... Voldemort is a pathetic excuse for an intelligent villain. Actually, he isn't even that: He is a pretty good excuse for a slug, though. An evil slug. Let me explain why I say this. First I will sum up the reasons behind my conclusions, in such a way that hopefully you will draw the same conclusions, and if you don't I can laugh at you. (Or if you feel like debating the point, bring it on :)) His entire evil plan in this book is to get himself back into a real body and out of his evil slug body. For this, he needs three things:

  1. The bones of his father. No problem, there' in a marked grave, he can get this any time he wants.
  2. The flesh of his servant, willingly given. Well, his servant was willing to cut his hand off at the end of the book, he would have been just as willing any other time.
  3. The blood of an enemy. Not just any enemy, of course, but Harry Potter himself.
So, number three there is the big one. The one that has him devising this whole drawn out plot involving multiple minions and great deals of subterfuge and impressive magical prowess. Managing to get Harry's name as an unprecedented fourth competitor in the Tri-Wizard tournament (which, from the name, you can tell is pretty much not supposed to happen). Managing to get him to succeed throughout the year.. let me say that again, the YEAR, to the final task. Managing to get him to win the final task, thus being the first one to touch the Tri-Wizard Cup.

Why?

Because also through great effort, the Cup has become a portkey (which, early in the book, we are told can be made out of anything: old shoes, spare tires, gum wrappers, rocks, Tri-Wizard Cups, etc etc), and touching it teleports the toucher to a pre-selected destination. In this case, to the grave with the bones of Moldy Vort's father, where his servant stands waiting with willingly given flesh.

So.. okaaay. I gotta salute you, Voldemort, on having an incredible amount of patience. I mean, wow. You're in this painful little slug body and you want nothing more in the world than to get into your real one. You know what it takes. The only part you're missing is a few drops of blood from this Potter kid. You even know how to teleport him if he touches something. You also have a guy at his school who Potter trusts, but is really on your payroll. AND YOU WAIT A WHOLE FREAKIN' YEAR.

How about just having Mr. Trusted guy - oh hell, we've had worse spoilers: Let's just call him Crouch - having Crouch take Harry into his office on the first day of school and saying "Hey I can do this great protection from acne spell for you, you'll never get a zit, just let me draw a few drops of your blood and you can go about your day!"

Or, if you REALLY were looking forward to making that big monologging speech to your minions in front of the kid and then killing him right away, the instant you'd gotten your body back, did it never occur to you to enchant a nerf ball into a port key and have Crouch say "Harry... catch!", again on the first day of school?

Oh yeah, the monologging speech. That is another thing that drove me crazy about this book. Ok, yes, we understand that the author wanted to explain to the readers how everything really happened since, unlike a really good author, she basically ignores it all except for occasional glimpses, all throughout the book. Was the 10 page monolog really necessary? Especially when, not a chapter later, we have the other villain (Crouch), giving another multi page monolog under truth serum to explain everything that the first monolog didn't. The greatest hilarity of this, for me, was that in this second monolog, even though Crouch was actually talking to Dumbledore, he generally still talks about Dumbledore in the third person. Kind of like the author wasn't sure where this particular bit of exposition was going to go, except that she really likes writing monologs, maybe he'd be explaining to his boss Voldemort? .. and had it all written up, then later decided to change it.

That has all been the negatives, though. What should old Mr. V. Mort have done? Let me offer some constructive advice in case he can send back a time capsule to his earlier self and do things differently. Here's what I would do if I was an evil slug who needed 3 drops of a kid's blood to get my body and power back, and also had a huge desire for revenge on said kid.

  1. Day 1: Subterfuge the blood. Medical tests. Accidentally cut him. Whatever. I already have Crouch in a position the kid trusts, the kid already puts up with having Forbidden Curses put upon him by Crouch, I'm sure that somehow Crouch can get a few drops of the red stuff.
  2. Resurrect self.
  3. Go out for a good meal. Take a drive, see the sights, do things that were impossible to do for the last 13 years as a disembodied spirit and then as a slug.
  4. Day 2: Heck, maybe Day 32. Feeling full of vim and vinegar and in the prime of health once more, have Crouch toss him the nerf-ball port key. Or maybe give it to him as an enchanted piece of homework. Either way, have it teleport the kid into a giant vat full of sharks with frickin' laser beams on their heads.
  5. Add blood to shark vat to induce frenzy. Doesn't matter who's blood. If there's any of the kid's left over from steps 1-2, use that just for fun.

See how this plan cleverly avoids spending another 10 months as a slug, and also avoids a painfully large amount of effort and subterfuge? Yay!

.... of course, then the author may have had to come up with some other sort of ominous plot to stretch her book over an entire school year. Oh, the humanity.

Now I have an even bigger confession to make: Not too far into the book, I realized I had seen the movie already, but I still read the book to see if it was any better. It wasn't.