This is my personal thoughts, opinions and musings place. I will also rant about things, especially politically-correct things that irritate me. And sci-fi. Did I mention sci-fi? There'll be lots of sci-fi stuff here. And movies, too. Mmmmm... Movies

Saturday, January 28, 2006



Monday, January 23, 2006

It's Canada's Election Day

Do you know where you vote is?

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Monday, January 16, 2006

The need for editing

I don't entirely know how I came across it, but I was reading the FreeDictionary article about Ivan the Terrible, which itself is a copy from Wikipedia. One part of the article that hammered home the need for better editing talked about how Ivan the Terrible was so impressed with a cathedral that he blinded the architects to make sure they didn't build anything better. Then the article goes on to say, "Other less positive aspects of this period..." That just struck me as hilarious. I know they're talking about all the good things Ivan may have done, but you just can't help but connect it with the blinding of architects bit.

Edit people, please edit.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

It's a strange world out there

First, we have this story about a 'vampyre' wanting to become Governor of Minnesota. He also wants to impale captured terrorists in front of the state Capitol building. Seems he doesn't quite understand why civilized countries don't create public spectacles out of such things. He also hates “God the Father”, but not His followers and worships Satan. Well, I suppose, why not. In this promiscuous and permissive world, if a woman can marry a dolphin, why can't some Devil-worshipper run for governor and beyond?

Next, we have a story about an elderly woman running her car off the road and being stuck for several days. She was reported missing, but the police didn't even know where to start looking, because her crashed was completely hidden from view. She was finally rescued when a truck driver, who sat much higher than normal car drivers, finally spotted her car stuck in some blackberry bushes and called for rescue. The old lady survived for all those days by sponging up the condensation on her windshield and windows and drinking it. Way to go, lady, great job! The irony is that her car was full of groceries, but she couldn't reach them.

It turns out that I may be a bit of a pervert. When I first read that first story, all I could think after I finished silently congratulating her for her quick thinking and being thankful that it all turned out quite well was, “Mmmmm.... blackberries..... Mmmmmm......”.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Holy crap, it's Friday the 13th!

And I didn't even realize it all day. So, here's a bit of info on the whole Friday the 13th superstition. And, if you're really curious, you can also read up on the movie series, Friday the 13th, just for kicks and giggles.

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Forgive Your Enemies

The Sunday's sermon was titled Forgive Your Enemies.

Toward the end of the service, the minister asked, "How many of you have forgiven your enemies?" 80% held up their hands. The Minister then repeated his question. All responded this time. . . except one small elderly lady.

"Mrs. Jones? Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?"

"I don't have any." She replied, smiling sweetly.

"Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?"

"Ninety-eight." she replied.

"Mrs. Jones, would you please come down in front and tell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years and not have an enemy in the world?"

The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation, and said . . .

"I outlived the bitches."

Stolen directly from The Median Sib blog! All hail The Median Sib!

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Quantum computers, is it?

I just found this news article, and I have to say that the headline is quite a bit misleading. “Researchers Develop Quantum Processor” Well, it sounds great, but is actually pretty misleading. They didn't develop a processor, so far as I can tell, they just developed a quantum chip. And when I say “just”, I don't mean that in any kind of derogatory way. Hell, a “quantum” chip, people! That's a hell of an accomplishment. And way beyond me, I'm afraid. “With quantum mechanics, an object can be in two places at the same time, as long as you don't look at it...” I don't even understand that!

But my understand, or lack thereof, isn't at issue here. The issue is the headline. Or does Yahoo, or whoever wrote the articule, not understand the difference between “chip” and “processor”? Sure, one day it can lead to a quantum processor, but I don't think it's there yet, so why call it what it's not?

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Take your well-earned place, please

A new movie has now officially gaind the top spot on my Worst Movies Ever list. This movie is called Space Fury, and it is by far the absolutely worst non-Japanese produced sci-fi movie. Japanese sci-fi will always top any Worst Movies Ever list, that's why it has to be specifically excluded.

Needless to say, Michael Paré sure knows how to pick 'em, and this was certainly no winner of any kind of awards, except perhaps for the most unrealistic portrayal of Russians I've seen in a long time. For the most unrealistic portrayal of American troops, you must see the movie Act of War. In Space Fury, things get blown up, Russian separatists hatch a plot that outlives them, a Moscow prostitute is murdered, a Russian police detective(hah! I've seen Cops in Moscow, they can't fool me!) glares impotently, an American scientist is driven crazy, a misile is launched at a space station, an orbiting laser battery opens fire and a black American athlete makes a complete ass of himself as a space tourist.

This movie has all the proper credentials to be so bad, so awful, that it is virtually impossible to tear oneself away from it. It sucks the life out you, and the only to get it back is by blogging about it.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Why didn't anybody tell me?

I discovered today that a high-capacity MP3 player(say, in the 20GB range) can easily replace a home CD changer. It works surprisingly well, too. I found out, however, that you can't feed the MP3 into a stereo's CD input; it just doesn't work well, barely any sound comes out. Hmm, maybe the CD input is not amplified. Weird. I ran it into the Aux input, instead, and it works like a charm! Is life great, or what?

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Chocolate Fondue Fountain

Now I've seen everything. A Chocolate Fondue Fountain. Well, I never. Can you imagine such a thing? Up to 5 pounds guey, flowing chocolaty goodness.

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Kitty Cannon

A bit of perverted fun for y'all to enjoy.

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A new version of 'Defend' is now out

I've just released a new version of my game, 'Defend', version 0.6. There are many bug fixes and not a few new features. Please enjoy.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Of outsourcing to India, and the search for the almighty rupee!

One of the more interesting phenomena of the modern age is outsourcing of work to other countries, especially software development to India. In this article I will attempt to summarize my experiences with and opinions on this subject. Since I am a computer programmer, I will present that side of it.

Software development is a ludicrously complex and time-consuming activity, and complexity and amount of time increase logarithmically as numbers of users and amount of data increases. It is not an easy profession to be in, regardless of which particular industry you work in. Hours are often ridiculous, as are demands by the user community. It is, however, a highly intellectual job, and one that can be very satisfying.

Because it is so complex and time-consuming, many companies, especially the larger ones, decided to outsource their IT departments to save cost. Usually that worked out quite well, because the company's own programmers would often be transferred directly to the new outsourcer to provide an immediate core of competence. Then came moving from one outsourcer to another, and often a whole new team would show up, learn the entire system in three months and then completely replace the previous team. That's how I got my current job, by taking it away from another outsourcer.

We eventually lost that contract due to unfortunate timing with the customer almost going tits up. The work went to another company in Canada, which sent it all to India within the year. And that's when the trouble started.

Most of us moved on to different positions within our company, and never really gave the lost contract much thought. I, certainly, never thought about it, until I heard from an old friend who had been hired by that old company to fix the disasters created by the India team. None of us had to worry about it for about two years, at which it was announced that half of our current contract would be going to India.

It took about three months from the date of the announcement for me to learn that the problems associated with the previous India team were not just a hiccup in the generally smooth transitions, but appear endemic to the software development industry in that country.

Apart from being grossly incompetent, I found them to be rude, abnoxious, arrogant, lazy, unwilling to listen to those with experience, and above all else, convinced of their own superiority. You're taking my job, the least you can do is show some sensitivity. And sending me highly insulting emails when I'm trying to ensure you're properly completing a monthly process(one that you have not yet completed successfully by yourself) is not very likely to endear you to me, especially when those emails are CCed to every manager under the sun.

As for competence, I'm not talking about lack of knowledge of the system they were taking over, nobody knows that when you first start a new job. That's something you learn eventually. No, what I'm talking about is basic software development skills, analysis, design, troubleshooting, investigation. None of those things they were able to do, even the supposedly more experienced developers they eventually added to supplement the kid that was sent.

At one point in the past, I showed an intermediate programmer a process he had to do every once in a while, on an almost-random basis. It wasn't a process I was particularly familiar with, mostly because it happened so infrequently. Almost immediately he discovered a flaw in the documentation I gave him, and was also able to suggest improvements to the process. When I tried to explain this same process to the India team, it was like talking to a brick wall. However, since they didn't even know how to rename a file, perhaps I was asking too much of them.

Nor does the language difference help matters. I've now realized that when people say that Indians understand English, what they really mean is that they can read and write English, but pronunciation and spoken English confuse them terribly. That sounds racist, but the funny part about all this is that they don't even understand each other when they speak in English. Though, I must admit that speaking the way they do makes it easy for them to manage recalcitrant customers, who just give up when they don't understand what the argument is all about.

What it all boils down to is that nobody sends work to India because they're so good at what they do, but because they're cheap. Though I'm not entirely sure what's so cheap about them. They earn a third of my salary, but it took five of them to do the job I did by myself with the occasional help of an intermediate developer. And considering the months it took them to fix problems that used to take a day or less, I'm less and less convinced that there's much in the way of cost saving by outsourcing to India.

Language barriers, lack of general software development experience, extremely high turnover, twelve hour time difference, extreme culture clash. These do not make for high quality application and user support.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Woo hoo!

Problem with the blog has been resolved!

It turns out you have to update your account every 30 days or so, or it gets deleted automatically. That's a bit irritating, but I guess I can put up with it in a free service.

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Parts of this blog are currently experiencing... technical difficulties

Yup, yup, thats the ticket, that's what they're called.

Actually, my domain name got deregistered, and I'm currently waiting for the new registration to work its way through the Internet. Hopefully soon.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Of BOINCing, or what women want

OK, I'll admit, this has nothing to do with horizontal negotiation or with women or what they want. But you might find it interesting nonetheless, at least some of you might.

A couple days ago, I downloaded a program called BOINC. It's a cooperative computing effort that allows certain projects that require massive amounts of computing time to utilize the free CPU cycles available on millions of idling computers. There're a number of projects you can lend your machine to and the program BOINC manages it all for you. It downloads certain work units from the project servers and processes them; when it's done, it uploads the results, updates your statistics and requests more work. And on and on it goes like that. These units take many hours to process, so it won't be hogging your Internet connection. The computation itself happens at low priority, which means that if you need your computer, BOINC automatically gives up control of the CPU to your other programs.

I joined two projects, Einstein and Rosetta. Here are the times required to process their work units on my home computers:

ComputerEinsteinRosetta
P4 2.53Ghz Windows XP4.5 hours4 hours
Dual Athlon 1.2Ghz Linux12 hours8 hours
P3 667MHz Linux
Overclocked to 720
25 hours


BOINC also detects and automatically uses multiple CPUs, if more than one is present. Each work unit process run on its own CPU, and since there's no constant switching between them, it doesn't seem to have any bad impact on performance.

I wouldn't recommend running BOINC on a laptop, due to their inability to properly dump heat, but if you want to see how your machines compare to others, this is a pretty good way.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

"Other Blogs" Adjustment

I made a couple of adjustments to the “Other Blogs” section in the sidebar. Specifically, the address for Princess Wild Cow blog was adjusted to take into account that blog's move to another server, and the “Girl Punch... The Perfect Blend of Crazy” blog was deactivated - it appears to be no longer valid or registered. Too bad, I kinda enjoyed that one.

Ah, penguins

OOOOOPPPPSSSSS! I guess, I should've paid more attention, or at least not have posted quite so late in the evening. OK, the animation's fixed now.

Of course, I'm not entirely convinced this is actually real, and not somebody's photoshop skill showoff, but it's still pretty cute, whatever it is.

Stolen from Raging Wombat blog.

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Tecnology marches on

I saw something interesting at McDonald's this evening. An assistant manager was using some kind of hand-held unit to fill something out on it, then she checked the looks of the garbage bins and then she scanned something on the wall. I even went over to take a look. Sure enough, there was a barcode label stuck to one of the walls, near the garbage bins. She did this all over the restaurant.

My guess is that's how they track how well the peons are doing their work. Then they can create a nice presentation from it, complete with blinking words and colorful pie charts. All of it will be stunningly beautiful, though ultimately useless since it's easier to just tell the peons to clear out the garbage bins more often. Though, given the history of that particular restautant, maybe not.

For the longest time I refused to go into that particular one after work(the only time I can go there), mostly because by the time I get there, all the adult managers and assistant managers have left for the day, leaving the kids behind on their own with maybe a slightly older kid to oversee them. Now, let me tell you, that is one bad idea. They didn't want to work, they wanted to play, to crack jokes, to laugh and giggle and horse around. I gave them the benefit of the doubt, of course, I didn't automatically assume they were always like that. I was wrong.

So, I quit going. Then, after half a year or so, I decided to give them another try. And that's when I discovered that with adult managers and assistant managers present, it was a completely different restaurant. Of course, I don't go there all the time(it is McDonald's, after all), but for those rare occasions when I have a craving for one of their uber tasty strawbery sundaes with nuts, it's the perfect substitute for food. Mmmmm... strawbery sundaes. Loaded with much sugary goodness, it is an excellent way to round out a day.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The heat, and the crazy air conditioner

Sometime during the late spring/early summer of of 2005 I bought a window air conditioner, and instantly breathed a sigh of relief. The thing actually made my apartment liveable during the hot days of summer, and with my big huge living room windows facing almost exactly east, it was doubly critical. During the heat waves of years past, the temperature in my bedroom routinely reached +35°C, sometimes even higher. During August 2002, the hottest part of that summer, I watched every movie showing in town, just for the chance to stay cool inside the air conditioned movie theatres, and many times I would wake up at night and go an after midnight drive in my air conditioned car. Needless to say, it was nasty. I was actually going to buy the A/C in 2004, but it was a cool summer, and so it was unnecessary.

In any case, when I had the A/C installed in 2005, I forgot to seal it. Not that it really mattered during the summer and fall months. Even on windy days, the hot(or warm) air didn't really seem to penetrate through the cracks between the A/C body and the window frame. But came winter, and it was altogether different. The cold air from the outside easily penetrated the cracks and on some of the days, I actually had to put on extra layers just to watch TV. Finally, I'd had enough and bought the stuff to seal the A/C with. And with that came its own problems.

One thing I didn't quite appreciate before I sealed the A/C was how much fresh air flowed into the apartment, not to mention allowing the whole place to ventilate with the help of the crack under the main door. When I first sealed it up, I was a little surprised by how stuffy the place suddenly became, not to mention that my temperature setting, having been high to counteract the cold air from the outside, suddenly roasted the place.

Of course, I must admit that with the sealant in place, it's much more comfortable, and it's still very easy to ventilate by simply opening the other side of the window. But I guess this shows I'm just never happy: automatic ventilation, but too cold versus stuffy manually ventilated apartment that maintains a comfortable temperature regardless of wind speed.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Human sexuality explained, or how to beat your meat!

There's a commercial running on the radio here in town, I heard it today for the very first time. It's for a butcher, and the whole gist of it is that you don't need to cook from scratch, you can just buy their semi-prepared meat. The radio ad ends with the tag line, “You can't beat our meat”, which struck me as being so hilarious I almost crashed the car when I first heard it.

Now, my guess is that this ad was created by French-speakers for a (mostly) French-speaking company, because I cannot conceive of any other reason that that expression actually became a slogan for the ad compaign. Did they ask no English-speakers? I could, of course, be mistaken about the whole thing, but I'm pretty positive I heard them say what I thought they said.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope all your wishes come true, and more importantly, that you keep all of your New Year Resolutions™!

P.S. I hope to return to more regular posting this week. Thanks for your patience.

 

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