Monday, December 28, 2009

updated wish list - post xmas

A few things...

Loose leaf tea. I'm too lazy to go down to the ID to buy it on my own and I don't think I'll want to bother choosing.
Half-decent computer speakers for the living room TV... because my TV is just a computer with a big ass monitor that happens to also get HD local stations.
Oil filters for my '93 Honda Accord SE... although I have a feeling I'll be riding my bike to pick up things from the auto parts store. It's on the way as I pass Kenmore.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

glad to see some ads?

From this twisted Chinese Facebook game of dog humping:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I slept for about ten hours last night and it was filled with crazy dreams. Some cast members were:

Three people from work
Two teachers from middle school
My brother
The Simpsons

Random excerpts:
  1. A coworker of mine is getting worked up about how he went through some transcripts from a research study to learn more about bit torrent and all he found was a javascript function bitTorrent(). I was thinking how I can just explain what the function probably did. Thankfully, the dream didn't get into that.
  2. I get some snail mail from this girl who also works at Microsoft. It contains her ATM card (which is shared with her brother or some other family member). Apparently she owed me money? It also came with instructions to mail it to some other person that she owed money to. Thank you, BofA, for making it into my dreamscape. You still suck.
  3. The Simpsons cruising down some random road in the southwest in a red convertible.
  4. Lots of class. Lots and lots of classes. And with it, lots of homework. I was thankful it wasn't due till after winter break, and then I realized that it's already almost January! Dammit! The teacher varied from my 7th grade biology teacher to some random guy with floppy dreads. A colleague of mine was there. She seemed to be totally on top of it.
  5. My brother and I were folding mattresses and blankets. I got done faster, but mostly because mine was normal and his was needlessly complicated with multiple pieces held together with staples and cable ties.
  6. Mr. Federer was there. I don't recall why.

Monday, December 21, 2009

the economy is screwed

I thought I had written this before here, but I don't see the post anywhere...

This is why I think things are screwed... for any individual person in today's world, we expect:

$100k to go towards college
$300k to go towards buying a house
$1000k towards retirement (that would be about 50k a year for 20 years... puny)
$100k over a few cars over a lifetime

Total, that's about $1500k. Let's say that we have 50 years of making money. It's way on the high side, but even then we would need to have an extra $30k a year to cover all of this. This does not include any day to day expenses like FOOD, utilities, or having fun. At best, we're barely scraping by. At worst, we're blind to our complete insolvency.

Monday, November 30, 2009

updated wish list - again

The only changes from last time are the removal of the messenger bag (bought it already) and moving up of the computer stuff. That hard drive situation is getting dire.

Added ski goggles

Computer stuff:

A 2TB WD Green HD (I've already almost filled up 1TB with photos and movies)
A decent 24" 1080p display (might do more work from home?)

Bike stuff:
A decent, fast road bike with a super wide range of gear rations both high and low (for the summer and longer rides, especially the Burke Gilman)
Some panniers? (maybe... I haven't used these before)

General stuff:
Sunglasses (last pair finally broke down and disappeared into an alpine lake up in the Grand Tetons)
Bike glasses (getting bugs in your eyes at 20mph is not fun)
Black Oakley A-Frame ski goggles with Pink Iridium lenses
Amazon gift certs (Kindle purchases?)
REI gift certs (I'll inevitably need something bike, ski, or hike related)

Friday, November 13, 2009

travel pre-plans

Something about my "empty" passport bothers me... and I haven't been on a real vacation in half a year and I'm not going on one for another half year. So... here's to some thinking...

Let's say Berlin, Istanbul, Jaipur, Hong Kong (and probably China along the way). Now prices (for my own personal future reference):
Star Alliance: $3907
Oneworld: $3900+tax+crappy flight options
Individual flights: $6000+

Hrm... not cheap.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

random thoughts

No, I don't always keep $200 hidden in my shoes.
It's great that I'm finally in a time zone where my friends are awake when I am, although they still won't be awake for at least another few hours (it's 6am on Sunday... EST).
It's great that my phone is no longer a fire hazard (as it was with the AirTel SIM in India).
I feel like I've spent more time working at Gate 90 at Newark International Airport than I have back at the office these past weeks.
Mmm... Dunkin Donuts
I have a presentation to give tomorrow. Maybe I should get started with that. Or maybe I'll do that when I get home.
If I know you, but I don't want to see you even if I had to travel halfway around the world and you happen to be there, you shouldn't be a facebook friend.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

um... i think i've had this tour guide before

what lif would call a small taj mahal

cruisin' down the rajpath towards india gate

Trust me. It's there.

the metro is hazy

red? fort

a smoggy day for sightseeing

Day 6?

Um... I've been busy, so no blogging during this trip. But today was a
free day where I could "be myself" and shake myself free of the
business trip... and the five star hotel.

So yes, I am the guy that negotiated the fare for the auto rickshaw
ride back to my five star hotel from 150 Rs to 50 Rs (or from $3 to $1).

Things here are cheap when I am not at the hotel. A meal at a decent
restaurant goes for about 120 Rs ($2.50) a dish. Breakfast here (I'm
at the hotel) costs around 750 Rs ($15). The tea itself is 180 Rs.
Yes, the tea is good, but not *that* good.

This morning I had a Parantha Aloo and Tea for breakfast (530 Rs. I
refused the upsell to the buffet), then used the 220 Rs ($4.5) I saved
for the 10 mile cab ride to the Red Fort.

Outside of the hotel, I used about 1500 Rs ($30) today. Good thing I
didn't take the hotel's insane offer for a car for 4000 Rs. And no
for the 2500 Rs car to the airport. I'll find my own way, thank you.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

wasted on me

I just discovered that I'll be staying at a 5-star hotel in Delhi. What's up with that? All I usually need is a simple, clean room and not much else. Here's a run down of the places I've stayed at in my Fall 2009 traveling circus.

Hyatt San Francisco - 4 stars! Decent room, fantastic location.
Hilton Garden Inn Manhattan (Herald Square) - 3 stars. Fantastic location, great room.
JW Marriott Rio de Janeiro - 5 stars!
Hilton Sao Paulo - 5 stars! Great room. Great location for business, crap location for seeing Sao Paulo.
Melia Buenos Aires - 5 stars! I have absolutely no idea why this hotel is "5 stars"

My personal ranking - based on the quality of the room, location, and cleanliness (not price)
3 star Hilton Garden Inn Herald Square
5 star Hilton Sao Paulo
4 star Hyatt San Francisco
5 star JW Marriott Rio de Janeiro Copacabana
5 star Melia Buenos Aires

My personal ranking based on smoothness of service
5 star Hilton Sao Paulo - smooth
3 star Hilton Garden Inn Herald Square - everything just worked. We asked them for nothing.
4 star Hyatt San Francisco - everything just worked. We asked them for nothing.
5 star Melia Buenos Aires - charged extra for Internet
5 star JW Marriott Rio de Janeiro Capacabana - lots of screwups followed by ass kissing.

My personal ranking based on ass-kissing
5 star JW Marriott Rio de Janeiro Capacabana - lots of screwups followed by ass kissing. Lots of free stuff at their restaurants
5 star Hilton Sao Paulo - somehow all their recommendations for restaurants for almost gaudy, with OK food
5 star Melia Buenos Aires - even if that only means awkwardness from excessive door opening and button pushing
4 star Hyatt San Francisco - we asked for nothing, they did nothing
3 star Hilton Garden Inn Herald Square - we asked for nothing, they did nothing

Lesson? Get a five star hotel if you want someone to kiss your ass

Friday, October 09, 2009

breast cancer

Just heard on the PA on my flight to NYC:

"You may have noticed that some of the flight attendants are wearing
jeans today... this month is breast cancer awareness month."

I always knew that breast cancer has been a very well marketed cause,
and I've participated in a fair number of drives and run a number of
Race for the Cure events. This year it seems like they've crossed the

With jeans wearing flight attendants, the NFL creating custom pink
gear for players and the refs, and their usual huge marketing
campaigns, I not only wonder how much money is blown on marketing
overhead, but also what other causes are missing out on the
philanthropic dollars being drawn to breast cancer. Nothing against
breast cancer, but last time I checked there were a ton of other
health and social issues that need a ton of work.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

the browns

For some reason I was thinking back to the Browns of 2002. So many first round picks it's sickening. Our offense featured:
QB Tim Couch
RB William Green
WR Kevin Johnson
WR Quincy Morgan
WR Dennis Northcutt

On the defensive side, we had two first round picks:
DE Courtney Brown
DT Gerard Warren

Where are they now? It's 7 years later, so with all these young players, they should still be around, right? After all, Couch, Green, Brown, and Warren were all first round picks. Of all of these players, only two are still in the league today: Dennis Northcutt with the Detroit Lions and Gerard Warren with the Oakland Raiders, two teams that are almost as bad as the Browns are this season. The rest of them are all out of the league. So much for using the draft to stock up on talent.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I won't be flying American to India after all. I'll be rocking a flight on Continental. I have fond memories from 7 years ago or so when Continental had all these new planes. Those planes are not new anymore. That said, they are a hell of a lot newer than the MD-80s that American continues to fly. Those shiny planes are only a few years younger than I am!

So as it stands, as I am flying back from Delhi to Newark, I'll attain elite status on Continental's OnePass. As I fly back to Seattle from Cleveland after Christmas, I'll attain elite status on AAdvantage. No elite status on Delta though.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


You know, up till this year I've never flown in American Airlines. I don't particularly like them, but it seems like this year I'll be spending 43696 miles with them, and about 30000 miles with them in the span of three weeks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

what i want for the holidays

Yes, it's a bit early, but here's what's on my mind:

Bike stuff:
Another Ortlieb Messenger Bag (for work and dirty stuff, so I can keep that separate from groceries)
A decent, fast road bike with a super wide range of gear rations both high and low (for the summer and longer rides, especially the Burke Gilman)
Some panniers? (maybe... I haven't used these before)

Computer stuff:
A 2TB WD Green HD (I've already almost filled up 1TB with photos and movies)
A decent 24" 1080p display (might do more work from home?)

General stuff:
Sunglasses (last pair finally broke down and disappeared into an alpine lake up in the Grand Tetons)
Bike glasses (getting bugs in your eyes at 20mph is not fun)
Amazon gift certs (Kindle purchases?)
REI gift certs (I'll inevitably need something bike, ski, or hike related)

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Friday, September 11, 2009

mount rainier, adams, st helens, and hood

Monday, September 07, 2009

bike safety and cougars

With various people showing excessive concern about bike safety, I want to make it clear that I don't plan on dying in a bike accident and that I also do many of the things that prevent such things from happening. Here's my excessively detailed TMI response.

Top level, per mile biking is 3-11 times as dangerous. That sucks. I should be at least 3-11 times safer than the average "statistic" of a injured/dead cyclist. Joy.

Three good sources for cyclist accident/injury/death data:

From the Moritz study, we can see that the most dangerous paths (by crashes per distance ridden) are other/sidewalk and off road. I don't bike off road (except the short distance on the field when I bike to play ultimate). I don't bike on sidewalks except for short distances where the alternative is going on a major non-bike friendly road, such as the occasional few blocks by Montlake. Based on where I bike, I'm roughly 2x better than the average stat. Yay me.

For biking fatalities (second link), I'm not susceptible to 20% of the causes since I check for cars, I check for cars, I check for cars, and I use lights anytime there is low contrast or backlighting. 56% of fatalities happen at night with no lights. I use lights at night. I'll also be biking less when it gets completely dark, so no more bike commute. )-:

So to summarize, the studies show that sidewalks are bad, off road is bad, bike lanes are good, paying attention to traffic is good, and no lights at night bad. I'm looking pretty good. Bad part is that that gives me a 2x advantage, which means it's still 1.5-5.5x as dangerous as driving. Ouch. I'll rely on the "soft" stuff for the remainder, like how the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risk and the other stats on those linked pages that use the most optimistic lenses when looking at all the data.

If you're curious what my typical routes look like, here you are:
5x/week - 2.5mi - Morning ride to Montlake
5x/week - 1.4mi - Morning ride from OTC to the office
2x/week - 1.4mi - Afternoon ride to OTC from the office
2x/week - 0.5mi - Afternoon ride from bus stop home
1x/week - 18.6mi - Bike home on I-90
1x/week - 26.4mi - Bike home on the Burke Gilman

You can cross reference those routes with the local bike maps to see the facilities I'm on (or zoom in on the satellite view). Also note that on Boston/15th coming up the hill they are putting in more sharrows, which aren't reflected on the map. It's good to see that since I've moved here they've put these in along all the major corridors by where I live.
Seattle Bike Map
Bellevue/Redmond Bike Map
King County Bike Map

Lastly, I'd like to point out another danger of my west coast life that I haven't gotten many concerned messages about: Cougars. They are out there.

Not the location of where the second cougar was - 520 and 51st - that is precisely where I work. I'm only on a bike a few hours each day and I'm usually looking out for things that could happen to me. I'm at work 9 hours a day and I'm usually not looking out for wild predatory animals sneaking around campus. Perhaps that is what y'all should be more concerned about!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

goodbye passport

The passport that I have been using for the past 10 years has been retired. )-:

6 continents
15 countries (EU counts as one)
6 full page visas
68 stamps

It's been a good run, but now it's time for my new passport for the next 10 years. We'll see how many pages need to be added to this one. This year alone I may need 7 pages, thanks to full page visas. That leaves 10 pages for the remaining 9.5 years. Hrm...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

ophelia's place

I watched Trading Places again (great movie) and I noticed the address of the place where Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtiss' character) lived. Looks like the building is still around, but the rest of the neighborhood has been rebuilt.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

seattle, the place to be

Seattle earns top marks. Truly the place to be.

Smarter Cities Rankings

to the big fellow in the locker room

1. There is no reason to glare at other people who happen to glance over when they first notice you in the room. It's a natural human reaction (the looking, not the glaring).

2. I understand that your locker was right in front of my shower stall, but please, cover yourself. Instead of spending a minute meticulously laying out your towel on the floor (to keep your feet clean? where were you standing while laying out the towel?) maybe you could use it to cover yourself. And no, I'm not sure the profile view is better or worse than the full frontal.

3. I'm not sure why you needed to stand there naked for an additional minute. I'm even less sure of why you needed to turn directly towards me for that additional minute. I'm pretty sure I don't want to know.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

itunes is brilliantly shitty

I made my attempt to update my iPhone's firmware to 3.0.1 today. Still in progress several hours later because iTunes is ridiculously idiotic.

Fail #0:
Apple finally patches a known security hole because the people who made them aware of it months ago are about to tell the world about the SMS exploit at a conference. This motivates me to try to update the firmware.

Fail #1:
iTunes failed to install the new firmware. Bricked several times with error #14. I've been that error before trying to install a firmware and the previous time I got around it by updating to iTunes 8.2.1.

Fail #2:
Still fails to install the new firmware. Thankfully, I have the old 3.0 firmware laying around and I'm able to restore to that. After that restore it has the firmware and functions, I try and restore my backup.

Fail #3:
The restore of the backup aborts. iTunes claims that the iPhone disconnected (of course it wasn't). At this point, none of my apps have been restored and the thing looks jacked up (the Google Talk logo is just a blank square). At least my contacts and bookmarks are all there.

Fail #4:
Upon reconnecting the iPhone, iTunes immediately backs up my iPhone, replacing the good backup with a bad backup.

Fail #5:
I sign up for a trial of mobileMe, thinking it would be a sure easy way to back up my contacts and bookmarks. It backs up my contacts. When asking it to backup my bookmarks, it tells me I can only sync bookmarks if I delete all of them. What's the point of that?

Fail #5:
iTunes refuses to recognize the iPhone at all. A reboot is required.

Fail #6:
Even after putting the phone into DFU mode (don't ask), it still won't take the new firmware. Fantastic.

Fail #7:
iTunes now refuses to install the 3.0 firmware. Seems like I'll brick my phone doing a minor update while I never bricked my phones while jailbreaking. Brilliant.

Fail #8:
After three tries (and two different new error codes), 3.0 installs. Great! Then in my endless optimism, I try to install 3.0.1 again. Fail.

to be continued...

Monday, August 03, 2009

wtf, iphone

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

the weather

I finally tuned into the weather coverage today, mostly to see how hot it got during my 18 mile bike ride home (which was fine, by the way). It got up to around 107F where I worked and was around 104F where I live. It honestly didn't feel that hot though. I'm sure the low humidity helped. Tomorrow I'll be biking home again, but it's forecasted to be a much more pleasant 100F for that ride. I think we'll be taking the 28 mile route, and I'll probably be carrying my laptop with me. Yes, I'm that brilliant.

An interesting thing I noticed about the weather coverage is that for the ticker at the bottom of the screen they were showing information about "cooling centers" that were set up around the city for people to go to if they were getting too hot. Most people here don't have air conditioning (because it's totally unnecessary), so it makes sense. Anyway, time to shower, hydrate, and get to bed. I'm aiming to get to work early again tomorrow.

Oh... and another random heat thing - the a/c units for the buildings at work can't handle the extreme temperatures. It's about 10-20 degrees warmer than it usually gets in the summer and the we're exceeding the cooling capacity. End result is that the cool air is diverted to labs and the offices may not be cooled. It was getting pretty humid and toasty in one of the buildings I was in. Thankfully we're still getting pretty good coverage around where I sit. One of the advantages of a garden unit.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

seems like another good day to bike home

Monday, July 27, 2009

the fedex wallet

Cheap! (free!!!)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

keep trying, aa

My mail from American Airlines since March or so. At least they upped
the incentive 5,000 miles, but dammit, I am not getting your damn
credit card!

Monday, July 13, 2009

rush hour in cleveland

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Friday, July 10, 2009

just saw the third aztek. sigh...

why cleveland???

beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

cleveland traffic

Now that I live in Seattle, Cleveland rush hour amuses me.  Some perspective – the SR520 bridge in Seattle gets 106,000 cars on it every weekday (and 87,000 on a weekend).  In Cleveland, you’d find similar traffic volumes on I-271 in Mayfield or on I-90 on the west side.  The SR520 bridge has two lanes, meaning 53,000 per lane during the week.  I-271 and I-90 both have 10 lanes, or 11,000 per lane during the week.  This morning I was guessing that typical weekend traffic in Seattle was 4x the rush hour traffic I saw this morning.  I guess I wasn’t too far off.

Summary:  10 lanes in Cleveland serve the same amount of traffic as 2 lanes in Seattle.

Monday, July 06, 2009

knees locked and fully extended. seat 5f is like first class, just much much cheaper!

i class it up

Friday, June 26, 2009

wifi galore

My router died while I was away.  It served me for about two years before goofing off.  What happened?  If I connect the router to the cable modem the thing shuts down.  That makes it worthless.  My backup router’s wireless doesn’t really work so I ended up spending my $50 commute bonus on a new router.

The new router is from TP-Link, the leader in China, as it proudly boasts on the box.  Not to be confused with D-Link.

Checking whether I had picked the right channel, I did a scan to see whether I remembered correctly which one to choose.  I recalled channel 6.  Looks like channel 5 is better.  No, 5 is not a channel I should be using in the US, but Chinese router lets me do what I want.  In my situation, it probably is for the common good.


Monday, June 15, 2009

i am special

Israel gives me special treatment. It's like a lover who at first
doesn't want me and now doesn't want me to leave... kind of... sort of.

I initially had no problems getting in, heading to the West Bank, or
getting back into Israel. After visiting Jordan, things got more

Coming back from Jordan I was held up for 20 minutes as they checked
my documents. No questions, and allegedly "no problem."

Leaving Tel Aviv's airport was a bit more complicated. At the passport
check before getting to check in, I was passed along to a more senior
guy who asked me about by travels to Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco,
checking the dates on my passport as he listened. He also asked why I
went, who I traveled with, and whether they were traveling with me or
in the airport.

Afterwards, he directed me to a specific x-ray machine, which then led
to an inspection which as basically if j had a camera in one bag and
why I decided to buy the one guide book that I had ("Jerusalem and the
Holy Land" by Eyewitness Guides from amazon, if you are curious) as
well as why and from where. That was it. Odd.

After checking in, I got to go through the second security checkpoint.
Once again, I got the special treatment - lane no. 1. The lane wasn't
open, but they were happy to open it just for me, x-ray my stuff, and
then ask me to unpack most of it so they could check for explosives.
None found.

I am finally through all of this and waiting at the gate. I wonder how
much of this PMA had to endure with his new passport...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

day 9 - back to israel

I'm writing this entry while sitting on the floor of an Egged bus. We
got a cab back to the Aqaba/Eilat border for 20JD, which is much
better than the 60 we paid to get to Petra (my bad). The border
crossing there was as dead as it was the first time we crossed. We
only saw one other party the entire time. After passing through eight
stations (four on each side), we were eventually able to get through.
For some reason the Israelis spent literally 20 minutes inspecting my
passport, but the only comments were "no problem" and "Have a good
time. Welcome to Israel."

We then skipped multiple offers for taxi rides back to Eilat so that
we could hike back to the main highway where we could catch the bus,
and catch the bus we did. 140 of the 157.20 shekels on the bus fare
and standing room only for us. Ok, I took a seat on the step at the
back of the bus.

day 8 - petra

Final day at Petra. Three days was probably bit much, but definitely
worth the excursion. It's been a great trip so far, but sadly it's
beginning to wrap up. After today, we are headed back to Israel and
then back to the states shortly thereafter.

I was initially writing this entry from somewhere mid-mountain behind
the ampitheatre. There were a ton of unescavated tombs and stuff up
there that made for good exploring. Surprisingly, Petra wasn't totally
overrunby tourists. Yes, there were definitely quite a few, but not on
the same scale as sights in Egypt, Europe, or the US. Given that and
it's size (only about half is on the main drag), it should be ok for a

Friday, June 12, 2009

day 6/7 - petra

I'm chillin in Petra right now facing "The Monastery," which is like a
bigger and less ornate "Treasury" that most of you should recognize
from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. So far this has been the
highlight of the trip. Magnificent ruins, great hiking, and the
freedom to explore - Petra's got it all. It puts to shame most ruins
that I've seen outside of
Egypt. We planned to spend three days here, but clearly we cover more
ground than the Lonely Planet authors. We may be out of here tomorrow
to check out Amman.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

red sea @ eilat

day 5 - red sea

Today was mostly a travel day to get to Eilat, where we can cross over
to Jordan and hitch a ride over to Petra. Eilat is a funny town,
serving as Israel's port on the Red Sea. Scattered around the same
gulf are Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. The highlights here are the
Red Sea and the reef. The other highlight is that this seems to be the
spring break type destination for Israelis and features tons of
hotels, including what seems to be it's own version of the Las Vegas
Strip - complete with picture cards with pics of scantily clad women.

We arrived with no lodging set up, but we were able to find a room at
the hostel here without issue. The place seemed a bit dead with most
areas running at what seemed like 10% capacity.

Anyway, I'm gonna cut this update short. We're aiming to catch sunrise
over Jordan and the Red Sea tomorrow morning. (-;

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

day 4 - dead sea

Today was a light walking day. We walked two miles to the bus station
where we hopped on the 486 which too us to Masada, this fortress atop
a mesa where the Jews resisted the Romans many years ago. For a "must
see" attraction, I thought there was more left of the structures to
see, but it was interesting to see how formidable this fortress was.

Afterwards, we hopped on another bus that took us to Ein Gedi Beach on
the Dead Sea. Based on the pictures I had seen I expected obnoxious
crowds, so I was pleasantly surprised that there were only about 20
people there. It's not the nicest beach, but the attraction is the
water, not the beach itself. I have to say that it was a pretty neat
experience. The water is so salty that it was tough trying to stand or
sit in the water. Even my legs floated! I also managed to take some
near pics from the water. (-; The only downside is that the water
itself can be gross. It tastes awful, and when it dries it leaves some
sticky residue everywhere. My cameras, my bags, and my clothes are now
gross. Still, it has definitely been the highlight of the trip so far.

Monday, June 08, 2009

day 3 - bethlehem

Today was a light day. We got up, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast,
walked 2 miles to the bus station, caught a bus to Bethlehem... ok.
Not to Bethlehem, but to the checkpoint near Bethlehem. For those who
don't know, Israel has been erecting this huge wall around the West
Bank. It's like the Berlin Wall or the Great Wall of China. It's
concrete like the Berlin one, but tall like the Chinese one. Length
wise, somewhere in between. After passing the wall, we negotiated our
taxi fare into town (15 shekels, down from an absurd 100). The Church
of the Nativity was interesting, as it is where Christ was allegedly
born and it is also the oldest church (established in the 4th
century). Afterwards, we wandered around town a bit before finally
walking back to Jerusalem. It was a fine walk. We mostly did it for
shits and giggles, but it was neat finding our way back and it also
gave us some good photo ops of the absurd wall. It was also cool as we
got closer to town and we finally got our first glimpse of the Old City.

Tomorrow we check out the Dead Sea area. Should be a good time!

border control

chillin in the west bank


Sunday, June 07, 2009

day 2 - jerusalem... all of it

22 hours after arriving, we are done with most of Jerusalem. We
checked out all the main sights in the Old City and did some wandering
off the beaten path. We explored the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion.
We walked to the bus station and back. We checked out New Jerusalem.
We saw some random sights in between. We skipped the Archaelogical
Site because we already saw most of it from where we were walking (and
walked back to cover the part we didn't realize we were passing). We
climbed the ramparts of the city wall - and got yelled at once and
asked to leave another time) We ate dessert twice. We visited the
Wailing Wall
twice (for different lighting). We walked Via Dolorosa at least five
times. I've been identified as Japanese, Mexican, Filipino, and
Chinese. We went through the Damascus Gate at least four times (round
trip). We went through the Jaffa, Zion, Dung, and St. Stephen's Gates.
We walked by the New Gate and both sides of the sealed Golden Gate. We
checked out the rooftop walk through the common entrance and left
through some winding stairs through some Orthodox Jew community. We
saw where Christ fell with the cross, where he was betrayed, where he
ate dinner, where he died, and where he was laid to rest. We saw a
large rat. We saw lots of feral cats. We helped several tourists
navigate. We were checked out by some Israeli chicks with guns. Oh
yes... and we did jump shots.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

the rock

western wall

kunefeh dessert. yum!

$1.25 falafel dinner

Friday, June 05, 2009


the north coast

Flying over Lake Erie right now. Actually, passing by Cleveland. The
commercial/industrial development/decay along I-90 and Euclid Ave is
like a scar on the earth when looking at it from the air.

Nuclear power plants spotted so far: 2

Saw the one by Detroit and the Perry plant that I got a nice view of
from my old apartment. Based on the flight, I should also be able to
catch the one by Wilkes-Barre, PA that I'd pass whenever traveling
between New Haven and Cleveland.

Clearly the in flight entertainment isn't keeping my eyes busy. I
frown at the pay movies, but I like the option of listening to some
albums from Weezer, White Stripes, Smashing Pumpkins, and NIN. It
ain't all bad! (-:

still tracking I-90


Just passing over Souix Falls. I remember getting gas here once. Wow.
They just asked the passengers to sit down with a tone of urgency.

Fun. Turbulence.


I'm in the air almost to Billings. One of the neat things (in my mind)
is looking out the windows and see the places I've been. Ever after
taking that ridiculous drive across the entire length of I-90, there's
a ton more places along the route from Seattle to
Chicago, Cleveland, and NYC that I've seen on the ground. Granted,
most of that drive was exceptionally boring, but at the very least I
can take comfort knowing that what took me a day to drive we have
covered in an hour and a half. (we're flying past Billings right now)

By the way, exit row and personal entertainment system means good
times. (-:

Thursday, June 04, 2009

packing list

(from memory...  I just realized that I'm assuming that pants will dry overnight)

Note:  No boots, no water bottle.

1 Floppy hat
1 pair of sunglasses that I'm about to buy


3 pairs of socks
4 pairs of lightweight cotton boxers
1 cotton undershirt

1 synthetic tee
1 pair of jammy pants

1 pair of togs

1 dark linen shirt
1 dark synthetic tee
1 dark long sleeve tee

1 pair of jeans
1 pair of dark linen pants
1 pair of dark linen shorts

2 x 2oz contact lens solution
1 contact lens case
2 pairs of contact lenses
1 razor
1 half used bar of soap
1 oz of face wash
0.5 oz of face lotion
1 albuterol inhaler
Some diarrhea meds from YALE
3oz of shampoo from corporate housing
2 pairs of contact lenses
2 single use bottles of body wash
1 toothbrush
10 yards of floss
1.5 oz of toothpaste
1 pair of glasses

Canon Digital Rebel XT
6GB CompactFlash card
4GB CompactFlash card
Cheapo Sigma 18-135mm? lens with polarized filter
1 spare battery
Rebel battery charger
Canon Powershot SD-something
2GB SD card
Powershot charger (I won't bring this if PMA has his)
Lens cleaning solution
Lens cleaning wipes
Latex glove
1 dented iPhone
iPhone charger
Apple power adaptor
Generic power adaptor

Crumpler camera bag
Jansport day pack with water pouch
Some medium size bag that I'm about to buy

Random crap:
Random drawstrings for laundry lines
1 credit card hidden in the camera bag
1 credit card hidden in the regular bag
1 credit card hidden in the daypack
1 book...  maybe Nudge

four year old stamps... ugh...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

packing list

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

seattle weather sucks!

Friday, May 22, 2009

i enjoy shaving in public

Thursday, May 21, 2009

going home

On the 545. Apparently there were AT LEAST five punctures in the tube.
I'm guessing there were more.

Good news is that I have plenty of spare tubes and also a couple of
spare tires at home. I was actually thinking of putting the other
tires on since I occassionally get flats with the damn Kenda Kwests,
but I wanted to do one last ride with them and my cycling shoes so I
can see how big of a difference the shoes make. My finding is that the
shoes make very little difference if I don't even make it home. The
Kenda Kwests get a big FAIL. I would want the Panaracer Pasela
Tourguards to do better.


odd day

This has been an odd day so far. 

  • I locked myself out of my building while on my way to get breakfast. 
  • I left my ATM card in the ATM.  Thankfully someone found it, and they were amused at my derogatory signature on the back that I leave there since I never use my ATM card as a debit card.
  • When I was getting my coffee this morning, I did the usual thing where I tell the coffee machine to get started while I then went to wash my cup and put in the milk and sugar.  Usually this leaves me some time to get my cup into the machine to catch the coffee when it comes out, but not today.  Instead, it dumped the whole cup of coffee on the floor.

I'm curious to see what other surprises will come up today.

bike commute - am

Monday, May 04, 2009

facebook suggestions

I’ve already been complaining about how stupid Facebook’s suggestions have been.  Friends were bad enough, but now it suggests fan pages.

Today’s suggestion?  Prayer.  Gee, thanks.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I don’t really commute by bus/bike because it’s better for the environment, but it’s a good bonus.  For the 27 mile commute (round trip), I think I do about 6 miles on bike and the rest on a bus that’s 3/4 full.

Gotta love SUVs.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

iphone update

The good news:  The iPhone is jailbroken, which means I can install all sorts of apps that aren’t available in the App Store.  Sure, they range from useful to amusing to worthless.  Useful would be SBSettings so I can quickly jump to other apps without (slowly) returning to the Home screen.  Amusing would be iSutra.  Worthless would be most of the crap that’s out there.

The bad news:  Battery life is terrible.  It seems like I regularly reach the 20% battery warning.  If I actually use the phone for calls or music the battery is almost guaranteed to die before nightfall.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Spotty rain and sun in the morning
Sunny in Bremerton, rainy in Bainbridge
A violinist performing outside my grocery store
Two dogs patiently waiting outside Coastal Kitchen for their owners to
finish dinner
A random 130 pound dog riding the bus
The bus driver asking his passengers to wait a few minutes as he runs
out to grab a coffee
Drinks downtown for no apparent reason

Monday, April 20, 2009

needlessly complicated

I’ve never had trouble zipping up after going to the bathroom, but apparently some people have serious problems with getting their stuff back in order after doing #1.  I just witnessed a fellow who was clearly doing it wrong.  Some pointers:

  1. Continue facing the wall
    There is no reason to take a step back and turn to face the door and any unsuspecting person like myself so that we can see what you’re up to.  It’s embarrassing to everyone.
  2. Don’t worry about your shirt
    With practice, you’ll be able to find your zipper and slide it up without having to lifting up your shirt and holding it there with your chin.  After a few years of practice, you should be able to do this without looking.  If you have no feeling in your fingers, I apologize.  That must be rough.
  3. Keep your boxers in your pants
    Pulling your boxers as far out of your pants as possible is the exact opposite of what you want to be doing.  In order to close the zipper, you can’t have your boxers or anything else in the way.  If you do that so that no one can see you while you’re doing the act, then consider facing the wall while you do this whole operation instead of showing off each time so we can see how good you are at what you do.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

cold hearted snake

I just got back from having dinner up in Canada.  For the first time, coming back into the US was easier than getting into Canada.  The guy just asked me where I live, what I was doing in Canada, if the car is registered in my name, how long I had the car, how come I have new license plates, what I do in Seattle, and "so you work with Bill?"  Friendly, and reasonable considering my car is filthy and my plates are shiny.  Coming into Canada I ran the gauntlet with the customers officer.  She was kinda cute, but she had no soul.

Why I was visiting Canada?
Where I was going?
Where I am coming from?
What I do here?
Exactly what do I do here?
How long will I be here?
Will I be staying overnight?
Who am I meeting?
Where am I meeting them?
Where do I know them from?
College?  Did I go to university in Canada?
Where are they from?
Why are they in Vancouver?
Is she my girlfriend?
Am I bringing anything into the country?
What do I have in my car?
What specifically do I have in my car?
Is the car registered in my name?

I am not sure what she was getting at, but I was actually questioned TWICE while leaving the US.  I had to talk to a US guy on the US side first.  Usually no one has to do that.  Something must have been up.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

iphone’s second coming

A couple days ago my iPhone fell.  At first it seemed OK.  Then I tried switching apps by using the home button…

Nothing happened.  The only way to get back to the home screen was to reboot the damn thing.  After few reboots (which takes forever, by the way), I gave up and went on my way.  I was biking home that day (which is glorious), so I didn’t want to spend time troubleshooting my phone while standing in the hallway by my bike.

After getting home I looked into the issue online.  Apparently it’s a common problem.  And the fix?  No easy fix.  The culprit is likely a loose cable that’s behind the guts of the phone.  Nice.

I hesitated.  Taking the phone apart is no joke.  It requires blades, prying, care, and a hell of a lot of patience.  I wasn’t really looking to do something like that.  Maybe I could deal with rebooting the phone each time I wanted to do something different, I thought.

That’s when I realized that it wouldn’t charge anymore either.  The injury was deep, and the phone was basically paralyzed from the waist down.  Anything “down there” was all jacked up.  No home button, no syncing, no charging, and after a while the speakers starting making random noises.  Fun.  Intolerable.

Since the phone was worthless – can’t use it, can’t charge it, and can’t even save my data, I figure I might as well risk totally destroying the thing.  After all, I’ve been hating on the thing for the past half year for it’s absurdly unresponsive UI.

Step one:  Get the black piece off.  After using a sharp knife on the edges, I was able to get it off.

Step two:  Get the back panel off.  This took forever.  Some more blade and some screwdriver was able to get the job done.  If I spent a few more hours on it I probably could have gotten it off with less scratching, but I wasn’t going to sell the thing anyway, so whatever.  I’ll save myself the effort and use the screwdriver. (-:

Step whatever:  Figure out WTF is the problem.  The thing is tightly packed.  From reading online, I knew that the culprit cable was behind the battery, but after fiddling with it I got no results.  I kept at it though.  Eventually after working at it from multiple angles and reconnecting everything that disconnected itself, I got the thing working.

It’s amazing how easy things inside the phone get disconnected.  Simply gravity was enough to get the camera to fall off.  The same weak connector is also used to connect the side buttons and the screen.  What does this mean for you?  Don’t drop the thing, or it will die.

Drop it on it’s bottom, expect to get what I got.  No home, no sync, no charge.

Drop it on it’s face, and the screen is likely to get disconnected.  This one would also be a complete pain in the ass to fix.

Drop it on it’s back, and camera and/or side buttons are likely to go on you.

For best results, drop it on it’s head.


Thursday, April 02, 2009


I think I'll make this official. My new preferred method of getting to/
from work is the bike shuttle in the morning and the connector in the
evening. After doing that in a "winter storm" while wearing jeans I've
realized that no matter how bad it is, I'm still ok with it.

Now the question is, should I get some more bike stuff? This bike
home option intrigues me.

Sent from my POS iPhone.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

bike home?

I’ve been coming to work super early so far this week (7am).  At this point, I’m beginning to feel a little out of it.  I’m thinking of biking home.  Nothing like a 27 mile bike ride to end the day, right?

The worst thing is that there’s a nice 400’ climb at the end.  Something to look forward to I guess.

Read this chart backwards:

Monday, March 30, 2009

another stupid analogy

There are these people who love ice cream.  No one would argue with them that ice cream is a good thing.  They make ice cream and they encourage people to try ice cream and make ice cream a regular part of everyone’s life.

These proponents of ice cream have been around for a long time – long before ice cream became popular.  In the beginning, various groups emerged everywhere in support for ice cream, eventually getting us to the ice cream loving world we live in today.

However, not all is well.  These various groups feel very strongly about how ice cream should be eaten.  Some purists see using a scoop as the only “correct” way to eat ice cream.  Other purists think that eating straight out of the tub is best, since it’s the fastest and most direct way to consume the ice cream.  Yet another faction insists not only on the use of the scoop, but for a magnificent presentation of the dessert.

In these rough times, ice cream is plentiful, and people generally love ice cream, but there is constant disagreement over the correct way to eat it.  In fact, some people have become so dedicated to promoting their method of eating ice cream that they have little time left to eat ice cream themselves, sometimes letting ice cream melt and go to waste.  Worse still, some people have started eating other cold, refreshing desserts like frozen yogurt.  Oh my!

Thankfully, not everyone is as concerned about all of this.  Most people enjoy having the option of having a cold tasty dessert and see no reason to limit themselves to a particular way of eating ice cream, or any frozen dessert.

Meanwhile, those fervent supporters of spoons, scoops, and sundaes continue to spend a tremendous amount of energy supporting their cause, losing sight of the original intent of their forefathers.  The fight to promote cold tasty desserts has been won, but yet they fight on.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I knew something maybe wasn’t right when the tires started slipping on level ground.

Something definitely wasn’t right when the car would move forward on level ground only with extreme effort.

Miraculously, we were able to get out of the parking lot, which had a slight uphill ramp to get up to the main road.  After that, it was all downhill.

Thankfully, the brakes did work for the moderate downward slope.  Not so fortunately, they got a FAIL for firmer braking needed for the stop sign at the end of a steeper slope.

Luckily, we weren’t going too fast and the car in front of us wasn’t damaged.  Cars have bumpers for a reason, and 1 5-10mph collision is what they are designed to handle.  Unfortunately, my friend’s car didn’t fare so well. He’s got dents on a few panels up front and a smashed headlight.

Lesson learned?  Next time someone offers to drive despite clearly inclement weather, make sure that they have all season tires.  I went and looked up the OEM tires on the car:
Pirelli PZero Rosso

On the TirerRack page, you’ll notice that there are no ratings for snow or ice traction – reason being this is a summer tire.  Also mentioned on the page: “PZero Rosso tires are not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice.”

Very nice.  I can see how summer tires are fun, and they probably make the car handle very well during test drives.  However, selling summer tires as standard equipment in areas that get snow seem pretty irresponsible.  In Seattle it makes some sense since we get very little snow here.  However, the same practice goes on in Cleveland and other cold areas – especially with luxury cars or sporty cars.  Then again, car accidents are good for the industry – more repairs, more parts sold, more new cars sold.

Friday, March 27, 2009

almost as dumb, but much more amusing

Google vs. Porn:

What’s with the end of year uptick for porn?

For more amusement… check out Ohio:

dumbest search ever

Clearly I am feeling inspired today.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

i have a clock!

Back when I retired my Comcast DVR service, the thing that I missed the most was that I no longer had a clock in my living room.  Since then, I have actually gone through the trouble of finding a replacement clock.

In my mind, a simple clock should cost no more than $5, and shouldn’t be needlessly elaborate.  I first tried Target, where there was a Sony clock for something like $15.  Too much.  I then tried Best Buy, where they had the same clock, but for more money.  I clearly was looking in the wrong places.  I later checked out the local hardware/random crap store where they had some cheapo clocks like the one I got in Hong Kong 20 years ago that didn’t even accurately keep time.  $3, but too small and crappy for the living room.  At that point, I basically gave up.

But, as fate would have it, I was destined to find a clock.  As I was coming back up to my apartment after driving home from work (a rare occurrence in itself), I spotted a iPod dock/alarm/radio/clock in the corner that people put the trash that they think other people might want.  I snapped it up and figured I’d give it a shot.  The thing worked, but not surprisingly, wasn’t in perfect operating condition.  One of the speakers wasn’t working.  This must be why it was thrown out in the first place.

So what do I do?  I had the clock that I wanted, complete with dimmer, which is pretty awesome.  But no, I must meddle.  I just *had* to take the thing apart to try to figure out what was wrong with it.  After meddling with the speaker connectors, I came to the conclusion that the speakers worked fine, but for some reason the circuit board wasn’t outputting any audio to the left speaker.  I didn’t see anything visibly wrong with the board, so I cut my losses and decided to make it so that the thing has mono output.  Yes, I know.  It already had mono output so it really makes no difference.  But anyway, a bit of solder later, I had both speakers working.  It actually sounds better, BTW.

OK…  where was I…  I wrote all that while Outlook was searching for some e-mail… Now I’m waiting for my remote computer to do something.

Anyway, the clock is working.  Plus, it has decent speakers so now I can listen to the radio while working from home without having to have both my HTPC and my TV on.  Instead of 200W? I’m running on 15W.  Sweetness.  I also managed to tether it up as a speaker for the HTPC in case I feel like listening to my own music off the comp without wasting the 47” TV.

Back to work!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

the western stubby

Top: Western Stubby (4oz.)
Bottom: Elgin style (4oz.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

a year ago…

Maybe I should get around to posting all of my Egypt photos.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

workout routine

For last week and this week:

Monday: Gym
Tuesday: Ski
Wednesday:  Bike
Thursday: Bike
Friday: Bike

Saturday, March 14, 2009

comments on the new facebook

I have 451 friends, well above the 120 friend average, so I’m not the “typical” user… although I may be the typical content creator that helps keep a bunch of typical users engaged.  Anyhow…  here goes.

  1. Too much news.  Sure, I check facebook waaaaay too often, but having the News Feed only capturing the last 4 hours of activity is not cool.  I may check facebook frequently during the day, but that does not mean I want an entirely new page of content to look at every time.  A handful of new items each time is all I want.  Thanks.
  2. Highlights are worthless.  Why?  Because they position the content before the contact.  There’s no easy way to scan through it.  I need to keep jumping from picture to subject to creator.  It takes me way too much effort to figure out which are photo albums or what the photos contained in are.  Yes, videos have the play icon, photo albums have the photo border, but none of these pass the squint test.  They all look the same dammit.
  3. The photos in the News Feed are distracting.  They draw my attention away from the content.

seattle weather is wonderful

No, no sarcasm there. I honestly like the weather out here.  The only thing is that no one seems to believe me. Subjectively I feel that it’s better since I feel like I see a lot more sun out here than I would back home.  Even on cloudy days here (like today) it’s fairly bright and the clouds are often patchy enough that the sun would poke through at one point or another.  The hills and the water help to highlight this effect by making it easier to see breaks in the clouds miles away (as in 50 miles away).  The sun may not be shining on me, but it’s nice to know that it’s shining somewhere nearby.  Temperature-wise, I’m OK with the cooler climate, especially since I like to do active activities outdoors.  No sweating if I bike up Capitol Hill!  And it’s cold enough that there’s snow in the mountains so I can ski, plus the occasional snow in the city for the sake of variety.

Objectively, I’ve looked at the climate data and it has told me that Cleveland and Seattle have the same number of sunny/cloudy days.  I looked at this data back in 2007 and I can’t seem to find it again.  What I could find was a different set of reports:


You can find data for your area here.  Note that the Cleveland data is from the airport, which is on the west side which gets less clouds, rain, and snow.  The Seattle data is from Seatac airport which gets more rain and clouds because the city of Seattle itself is more in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains.  In other words, it’s biased against my argument that Seattle’s weather is better than Cleveland’s.

Seattle – 150 days/year
Cleveland – 157 days/year (+7 days)

Heavy precipitation (>0.5”)
Seattle – 21 days/year
Cleveland – 23 days/year (+2 days)

Needlessly hot days (High >90F)
Seattle – 3 days/year
Cleveland – 9 days/year (+6 days)

Comfy days (High >50F, <90F)
Seattle – 278 days/year
Cleveland – 231 days/year (-47 days…  a month and a half less!)

Freeze days (Low <32F…  not that I really care)
Seattle – 30 days/year
Cleveland – 120 days/year (+90 days… or 3 months)

Days with snow on the ground (not that I personally mind snow)
Seattle – 4 days/year
Cleveland – 53 days/year

On a side note, Seattle gets an average of 5.7 days of snow a year.  That hardly justifies investing in a large fleet of vehicles to manage snowfall.  For weird winters like this, just deal with it.  I’d rather spend that money on a new 520 bridge.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

flight stats

As I've mentioned before, the age of American Airlines' planes have been concerning me. On top of that, I just booked another set of flights on AA. To make myself feel better about that, I decided to look up some info on the safety of planes. Boeing put together a pretty nice and easy to follow report here:
(and if you want to look at some official numbers, check here)

So the DC-8x that I'll be flying on is probably ancient (most likely over 20 years old), but at least the model has a decent safety record. Domestic airlines have a decent safety record as well. Still, if AA fixed the dent on that jet I saw last weekend they might be getting some better fuel economy.

Friday, March 06, 2009

$6.30 at msft

Monday, March 02, 2009

we have some weather

On the flight over to New York on Friday the pilot indicated that there would be some rough skies as we pass through “the weather.”  I’m on the flight back to Seattle right now and the pilot just came on to tell us to fasten our seat belts as we “have some weather” as we head into Seattle.  Last time I checked, there is always weather.  Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s bad.  Granted, I find lazy shorthand ways of speaking useful, but it’s interesting to see the devolution (or evolution?) of language as we use it.


A year or two ago I was watching some sports commentary and one of the commentators was going on a small rant about how people no longer say that players have injuries.  Instead, body parts are listed.  “Player X has a groin,” or “Player Y has a hip,” never citing the fact that there was any injury.  Of course the player has a hip!


Oh, and happy birthday to PMA!

Friday, February 27, 2009


Work from plane.  Yes, it’s my first time.  I’m having a fun time going over research and mulling over some threads that sprouted from TechFest 2009, the equivalent of a tech science fair within Microsoft.  There was a bunch of cool stuff there.  Some of it was directly relevant to what I’m doing for work, while some of it was just cool in its own right.

I haven’t decided whether to officially take a holiday day for today.  It’s left to how much work I actually do today.  I’ve done some e-mails, reviewed some research papers, and done some nice long term thinking using some analogies I’ve been developing.  I love analogies, especially stupid and ridiculous ones that happen to work.

The most recent thread that I’m thinking about is to tackle an agency problem.  There something that we would like to do, but we resist doing it because of social norms or awkwardness.  Wouldn’t it be great if someone could just step in with some fake (or real authority), act as decider, and let you out of the bind?  It’s the reason why people make fake excuses to get out of things, or use luck as a arbiter – to put the decision on some external factor so that we don’t have to take the blame.

And Vatsal, when I said I couldn’t help you move this weekend because I was out of town, I was telling the truth.  Either that, or I’m constructing an elaborate lie using facebook, twitter, and my blog.  Helping you move would be easier. (-:

Monday, February 23, 2009

flock you

Checking out the blog editor in Flock.  It has an eerie resemblance to Windows Live Writer.  Maybe it's the tabs at the bottom with nearly identical names, or the bar at the bottom for entering tags.  Hrm....  Windows Live Writer does appear to be less buggy though.  Looking at the source, this thing is generating some odd HTML.

The "WYSIWYG" editor makes me think the first paragraph is in some default font and this current paragraph is in my preferred Trebuchet font.  The HTML says the opposite.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Saturday, February 21, 2009

hands on activities

Last night I was wondering what I felt like doing, and I felt like doing some hands on activities.  Unfortunately I couldn’t think of anything that I could do at the time.

Today, I woke up, ate some crumpets (cheaper and better than English muffins), and biked down to the Hop In Grocery to see how long it would take me to get there if I started taking the Connector bus shuttle to Microsoft.  It took me about 10 minutes, so it seems like it would be comparable to what I’m getting now taking the regular connector.  Granted, it’s all downhill.  Since I timed myself going down, I figured I might as well time myself coming back up.

The last time I biked up to my place from Montlake, it sucked.  After playing 2-3 hours of ultimate frisbee, an uphill climb of 400+ feet is just not that fun.  I had a much easier time going up today – that is, until I discovered that my rear tire had gone completely flat.  I guess that was the kind of hands on activity I was looking for.

Now that I have some good daylight in my apartment, I can repair the bike, maybe tune my skis (the edges are in desperate need of some filing), and at some point perhaps replace the dome light in my car.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

measurement fail: comscore

I've been spending some quality time figuring out how to get accurate external measurements on various Web properties. ComScore was the alleged solution, given it's the standard way that everyone gets data on market penetration and everything. They've got the data, they've got the tools, and they do the classification that makes the tools fairly simple to use.

Maybe I'm a methodology nazi, but I always try to understand where the numbers come from. It didn't take too much looking to see that the "social networking" category was a complete shit show. I think Facebook, MySpace, Hi5. ComScore thinks Blogger, Wordpress, MySpace, Facebook. OK. Fine. I guess blogs are "social" in a way too. But let's look deeper.

In addition to blogs, I noticed a ton of what I consider "content" sites. Some examples are Gawker sites (Gawker, Gizmodo, FleshBot, etc.), TechCrunch, and I guess these all started as blogs, but with paid reporting staffs and advertisements I think it places sites like that closer to news or media sites. Both feature content that someone gets paid to write. It's like saying the Wall Street Journal is a social networking site because people write content and the readers can leave comments. I respectfully and vehemently disagree with this view.

Then there are the notable exceptions. Certain well known local social networking sites aren't included - sites like Mixi, which is huge in Japan. One notable exception that you've probably heard of is Twitter. That's right. ComScore doens't consider Twitter social media. To me, Twitter seems much more social than reading news articles on TechCrunch. So how is Twitter categorized by comScore? According to comScore, Twitter is a "Instant Messenger" service. IM as I know it does private one to one communication in real time. Twitter does public one to many communication not in real time. Almost polar opposites.

What are these guys on?

your mom

So as part of work I've been creating some accounts on various Web sites so that I can try them out. Considering the number of these I'll be making over time, I've created a fake e-mail address and identity for these fake accounts.

For some reason I decided to go with the name "Your Mom." Clearly fake and also amusing. This morning I checked the e-mail for that account and discovered that sends out e-mails for whenever anyone on their site searches for you. In less than 24 hours three people have already searched for "Your Mom" on I'm amused.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

i miss comcast cable

I didn't think this would happen, but a few days after getting my Comcast cable canceled, I'm beginning to realize that the Comcast DVR was a bit more important to me than I thought. The main thing I miss about it was the clock. I didn't realize it until I took the DVR out that I constantly check the time on it. Now, when I look over to check the time, I just see empty space. Maybe I should go buy a clock.

On another note, I just realized that I haven't updated my profile on blogger for a while. The only things updated were my city and the removal of some items that weren't supposed to be displayed in the first place. Note to self: don't use a blog as a real journal or scratchpad, even though being able to e-mail stuff to it is awesome.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

t1000 and the motorola dvr

These items are completely unrelated.

I just watched the ending of T2: Judgment Day, and the more I’ve had to think about this the more incompetent the T1000 is.  It could have done so much more.

I think the problem stems from the fact that the the T1000 was an evolution of the terminator series of cyborgs that were designed to infiltrate the resistance by posing as humans.  The T1000 was great at that, but I think it could have been much more effective if the creators re-thought the Terminator’s MO.  The old terminators had to masquerade as people because that was the only way they could insert a killing machine into a mass of unsuspecting humans.  Something smaller and less intrusive wouldn’t have the firepower, and anything that was big enough wouldn’t be able to get into the bases without such a trick.  The T1000, on the other hand, had a host of other options if the machines had the same creative thinking abilities as humans.

The T1000’s liquid metal alloy may have been designed for better cloaking by giving the T1000 the ability to take the form of any person.  Great.  They also found that the T1000 could hide by becoming a floor of some other object, as seen in the metal facility where the lucky guard met the T1000 at the coffee machine (so lucky he got a full house).  Why couldn’t the T1000 do this as its primary attack?  My only explanation is that then it wouldn’t be a terminator in the classic sense.  The T1000 almost seemed obligated to return to its human form.  Because of this identity crisis, the T1000 constantly went around as a human, complete with all of the strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths are the ability to gather information from people.  This was key in finding John Connor.  Weaknesses are all the limitations when trying to kill John Conner, Sarah Connor, and the Terminator.  For some reason the T1000 stuck to it’s human form.  When trying to find its targets in the factory, it walked around as a cop.  Why not just melt into the floor and seek them out, then jump out of nowhere and stab all of them at once.  Easy!  But no.  The T1000 seems to think that the only way to get credit for the kill is to do it as a human and using as little of its advantage as possible.  I blame the machines for programming it this way.

Another thing is that the didn’t program some unique escape or pursuit tactics for the T1000.  It runs after cars.  It can’t escape from tight situations like being in a molten pit or a pool of liquid nitrogen.  All the T1000 needs to do is have the equivalent of “Go go gadget arms,” reach out, grab something, and then haul itself immediately away from danger.  Jokes.

OK.  On to the crappy Comcast DVR from Motorola.  For those at Comcast reading this, recall that there was this open source DVR product called Myth TV that was available years ago (and still is).  Thanks to Greg, I was using MythTV back before I went back to school.  It was great.  It did the same recording of programs as the Motorola DVD does, but it did it so much better.

First of all, Myth TV is responsive.  The Motorola/Comcast DVR is not.  Yes, the Comcast box with its latest software is better than what it was before, but it’s still a joke.  Remember back when we had slow computers and the designers took that into account?  It seems like people these days assume that the devices we use have ample power to respond instantaneously so they don’t worry about this.  The end result is that we press buttons and it takes the device seconds to respond.  This might be acceptable for web pages (although less so), but it is completely unacceptable for hardware and client software.  Sure, it’s OK to make us wait.  We did this happily for years as we dealt with modems, floppy drives, and slow CPUs.  That’s why we have progress bars a dialog boxes – to tell the user that the system has recognized your input and will get back to you.  The Motorola DVR and the iPhone fail to do this, and it pisses me off to no end.  As the Motorola guy or the iPhone guy, you may be thinking “gee, if we put in these things, it would make the experience hell.  Who would want a DVR/phone that gives them confirmation when they press a button?”  I ask you, who would want a phone or DVR where they can’t tell if they presses a button or not.  The iPhone was great at this at the beginning with the nice transitions between screens.  I loved that since that’s a great way of letting me know that the input is accepted and making me wait without making me wait.  Nowadays I need to wait a few seconds to get that animation.  To that I ask, “WTF?”

My second gripe is that the Motorola DVR doesn’t have great playback features.  I really miss the automatic skipping of commercials offered by Myth TV.  With that I can just sit back and watch a 1 hour show in 40 minutes (literally!).  With the other great MythTV feature of watching playback at an accelerated speed, I could watch that 40 minutes of TV in 35 minutes.  60 minutes of regular TV condensed into 35 minutes.  I may actually start watching more TV!

Lastly, the Motorola DVR just sucks at managing the recordings.  After getting the complete recordings of Seinfeld, I no longer needed to have all those episodes on the DVR.  Is there an easy (or at least easy to discover) way to delete an entire series of recording?  No.  (And as I like to say at work, if a feature isn’t discoverable, it doesn’t exist)  Instead, I need to manually delete them all.  This means:

  1. Press down to an episode for Seinfeld
  2. Press OK
  3. Right press to the delete button.
  4. Press OK
  5. Press OK to confirm
  6. Wait for a second wondering if it recognized my second OK
  7. If the confirmation box is still there, press OK again and go back to the previous step
  8. Go back to step one and repeat 50 times or so

Reading that list of steps probably takes as long as it does to delete one recording.  Imagine doing that 50 times.  If you don’t have an active imagination, just read the list 50 times.

My final gripe is more about my TV or HDMI, so Comcast, don’t take this personally.  To switch HDMI inputs on my TV it takes 5-10 seconds.  This gets annoying if I want to watch a DVD and then switch back to the news or something.

My plan is to just use this new PC.  I can watch movies from it.  I can stream all the shows I watch online (except for King 5 News).  I can listen to music on it.  I can type this blog entry on it. (-:  And I can do all of this without having to deal with poor responsiveness or switching inputs on my TV – plus I don’t have to pay for cable, although it seems that Comcast is perfectly willing to give me cable TV for free.  How about just give me cable for a lower price so I don’t start actively thinking about Clearwire or FiOS?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

good place for a snack!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

ie7 vs. firefox, part 2

I redid the test at home and the results for the two browsers were virtually identical, and about 10 times slower.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

speed test: ie7 vs. firefox

Try this at home, I will.  Results from using my corporate connection at Microsoft behind a proxy.  I did this after getting annoyed at how slow comScore was loading in Firefox.


IE7 pass 1 – 85997kbps download / 5846kbps upload

IE7 pass 2 – 81569kbps download / 5465kbps upload / 4ms ping

IE7 pass 3 – 81569kbps download / 5465kbps upload / 4ms ping


Firefox 3.0.5 pass 1 – 29946kbps download / 10747kbps upload / 14ms ping

Firefox 3.0.5 pass 2 – 24268kbps download / 6734kbps upload / 11ms ping

Firefox 3.0.5 pass 3 – 35298kbps download / 10221kbps upload / 10ms ping


IE7 has much lower latency (4ms vs. 10+ms) and much higher download speeds (2-3x faster), but much slower upload speeds.