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March 31, 2008

3G iPhone ()

by fluffy at 9:03 AM
Okay, so with all the rumors of the 3G iPhone coming out as early as June, I can't help but be a bit tempted to switch to that when my T-Mobile contract is up. I know, I know, my W580i is The Perfect Phone and so on, but I haven't really been using it much as a phone for quite some time (and I don't really use it as a media player all that much either). Meanwhile, I used my iPod Touch extensively when I was in Japan, and it worked out quite well for me, even without much in the way of WiFi access (and 3G + WiFi = killer combination for that sort of device).

Hopefully there'll still be some sort of loophole to allow getting a pay-as-you-go plan with it when it does come out. I don't want to be stuck in another 2-year contract (especially considering that contracts are supposedly there to subsidize the purchase of the phone when the iPhone is accounted in a completely different way).

Wow, melatonin (, )

by fluffy at 7:42 AM
When we were in Tokyo, ucblockhead kept on espousing the wonders of melatonin for mitigating jetlag and resetting sleep cycles. I had heard some conflicting stuff about it, but then he pointed me to a study which showed that it worked significantly better than placebo. Over the last few days I've still been having trouble readjusting to Pacific time, so yesterday I bought some, and at 11:30 PM I took 5mg.

Normally it takes forever for me to fall asleep (even with sleeping pills) and I sleep fitfully and wake up several times during the night (also even with sleeping pills), and then I basically have to drag myself out of bed in the morning (and often sleep through several cycles of my cellphone alarm, which goes off at 8). Last night I fell asleep without much bother, though, and I actually woke up at 7 AM feeling awake.

So, hooray for melatonin!

March 30, 2008

BEAM me up ()

by fluffy at 2:24 AM
One of the few things I had a chance to do in Tokyo which wasn't in the set of {"having meetings","eating","sleeping"} was to go to Kiddyland in Harajuku. It's 6 floors of toys! One of the toys I found was a little tiny robot bug for about 1200¥. Of course, since I can't read Japanese, all I had to go by was what I could see of the robot, and through the transparent casing I could just see a pile of transistors, and the antennae looked like they were passive things. Could this be a BEAM robot?

So of course I bought one. Earlier today (well, technically yesterday, now) I finally unpacked it and played with it.

March 29, 2008

Movies I watched on the flight back from Tokyo ()

by fluffy at 10:30 PM
Atonement: What is with modern movies doing nonlinear stuff from multiple points of view? A few movies did this pretty well but this one doesn't. I ended up stopping watching after about half an hour. EMO GURL IS EMO etc.

Michael Clayton: Pretty good, although this one also tries to be nonlinear for the sake of nonlinearity, and didn't really add to the story by doing it. Also I can't help but feel that the title character's reputation is more or less undeserved, seeing as how basically the only good move he makes in the whole movie is (spoiler) playing along with the prosecutors for the OMG TWIST ON A TWIST at the end. Other than that he never really fixes anything (and even that one fix isn't really doing it in the sense that he's supposed to be so incredible at).

In Treatment: This wasn't being shown on the in-flight system; instead, it's a very good HBO series which is available for free download (for now, anyway) on a number of services, including iTunes and Unbox. I only watched the first few episodes but they were quite good. It does have a bit of a theatrical feel to it (as in, it feels like it was adapted from a stage play) and most of the patients seem to show a disturbing lack of self-awareness, but I think that's kind of the point. I'll have to watch more of the show before I decide exactly what the point (if any) is, though.

March 27, 2008

I'm back (, )

by fluffy at 11:24 AM
I already had a Thursday the 27th. I'm not sure I want to face another one. Guh.

March 25, 2008

Point of no return (, )

by fluffy at 4:57 AM
Before tonight, I had never used a robo-bidet.

I have now used a robo-bidet.

This changes EVERYTHING.

March 24, 2008

Dear Google ()

by fluffy at 1:42 AM
Just because I'm in Japan doesn't mean I suddenly know how to read Japanese.

It's a bit annoying how you can always switch to a language-specific Google by appending the appropriate ccTLD, but how do you go about specifically doing the American version? (okay actually it turns out that google.us always works, and surprisingly isn't squatted on by some sort of social networking outfit or something. I'll have to remember that.)

Movies I watched on the flight to Tokyo (, , )

by fluffy at 1:37 AM
Martian child - really good. Maybe a little too relatable? I was all teary-eyed. Highly recommended.

Beowulf - had to stop watching after 10 minutes. Deep into the uncanny valley, and all the borderline nudity made me feel strangely uneasy. Supposedly it was better on IMAX but this airplane seat isn't equipped with an IMAX projector.

Bee movie

Hello from Tokyo ()

by fluffy at 1:20 AM
Apparently I don't have the right plug for my laptop power supply. Oops. Also, while I have free Internet access in my hotel room, it's wired-only (not wifi) so it'll take some doing to get the entry I wrote on the plane on my iPod Touch up (not that hard since I can just make a private NAT but, you know).

Hopefully the front desk has a plug adaptor, or I can find an Apple store or something. (Unfortunately, the Apple Store Japan page doesn't appear to have an English version. Not that it'd help anyway since I have no idea how to navigate here.) (update: okay, by unplugging the fax machine I can at least jury-rig a power connection, albeit ungrounded.)

March 22, 2008

An Inconvenient Truth ()

by fluffy at 10:51 PM
Okay, I know I'm like two years behind the times, but I finally watched An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore clearly has an agenda, but that agenda is saving the world so I can't really fault him for that.

Now I can't help but notice all the little things I could do to save a lot of energy. Like turning my computers off when I'm not using them, not always having my PS2 in standby mode since I almost never actually turn it on, completely powering off my stereo instead of just putting it into standby mode, and so on.

PS3 Orange Box patch: a definite good thing ()

by fluffy at 5:14 PM
The other day, the Orange Box patch for PS3 finally went out. Now loads are much faster! This makes everything a lot less annoying.

Of course it's annoying that the game shipped in a less-than-optimal capacity, BUT it had been delayed quite a lot as it is, and I'm glad we got to start playing it a few months ago instead of having to wait until now.

March 21, 2008

A slightly more than three-hour tour ()

by fluffy at 9:29 PM
In case you don't follow every single little thing I do everywhere on the Internet (and why not? HUH?!) I am playing a number of shows in a couple of weeks. Short short sets, but there are lots of other people playing short short sets (it is a Song Fight thing) and it is a lot of fun.

  • Wednesday, April 2: San Francisco: The Space Gallery at 8:00 PM
  • Friday, April 4: Portland: Imbibe at... uh... some time in the evening.
  • Saturday, April 5: Seattle: Finn MacCool's at 8:00 PM
  • Sunday, April 6: Spokane: Brooklyn Nights at 7ish
  • Monday, April 7: Moscow, Idaho: Student Union Building International Ballroom at 8:00 PM
I believe all the shows are 21+ except the one in Moscow which is all-ages but if you're over 21 what the hell are you doing in Moscow anyway?

March 19, 2008

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Switching to Windows at work (, , )

by fluffy at 7:19 PM
So, at work, one of our target platforms used to have a supporting toolchain on both Linux and Windows, but the next version will be Windows-only. Previously, at work I was running Linux on my work-provided laptop (which I kept locked up in a drawer) and a MacBook connected to it (via NFS) for all the actual user interface stuff (since that combination also works well with perforce, which is pretty finicky about how file permissions get managed).

So, because there's no more Linux support, we have to move to Windows for our primary dev environment, and since Windows and OSX don't really get along that well in terms of managing file permissions and so on, I decided it'd be easier to just reinstall Windows on the laptop and use that as my only environment.

I was never that big a fan of Windows, but starting today I absolutely loathe it. Anyone who thinks that Windows and Macintosh are "more or less the same" can bite me.

March 13, 2008

New Apple TV ()

by fluffy at 12:16 AM
Okay, so by "replacement hard drive" they actually meant "replacement Apple TV." I don't know why I needed to schedule multiple appointments and deal with all sorts of delays and stuff just to get my Apple TV replaced with the exact same model that they still have on the shelf, but whatever.

Anyway, it's nice to finally be able to watch podcasts on the TV again. The video quality of most podcasts is still higher than TiVoCast, and most of the podcasts I watch aren't available on TiVoCast anyway. Plus, the Apple TV interface is (sadly) way better than the home media interface on the TiVo, so even when the video update to TiVo Desktop finally releases, I think I'll prefer the Apple TV (plus, Apple TV means not needing to transcode most things, and also keeping it in HD resolution and having much better integration with iTunes).

March 12, 2008

Yay, I can finally do my taxes ()

by fluffy at 4:25 PM
At the beginning of the year I got a letter from Amazon about how the rules for "Highly-Compensated Employees" changed regarding 401(k) withholdings, and that I may be subject to an additional mandatory rollover distribution, which would change my taxable income and so on. (I'm not sure how the mechanics of that would work seeing as how I have since converted my Amazon 401(k) into an IRA.) They said the audit would occur in February, and that I shouldn't do my taxes until I heard back.

I got a bit impatient about waiting, so I went ahead and emailed Amazon's 401(k) coordinator, and he pretty much immediately got back to me:

Thanks for checking in. I just sent out notices to HCEs who received refunds on Monday and HCEs not receiving refunds yesterday. For some reason your name didn't pull into yesterday's list.

You are not receiving a refund so you can go ahead and file your taxes.

That is good to know.

March 11, 2008

Leopard suddenly has NTFS support? ()

by fluffy at 9:43 AM
So, I just booted up my MacBook into MacOS X, nothing unusual. Except something unusual did happen:

March 10, 2008

Smashing ()

by fluffy at 6:53 PM
Well, I was going to spend the night finally playing the PC version of TF2 (which I bought a week ago or so), but instead my copy of Smash Bros Brawl arrived! So I will be playing that instead.

First gripe: It doesn't say which buttons to push to continue on the initial startup screens. The A button doesn't work. Turns out you have to press +. Weird. Actually a lot of the stuff in the UI is pretty whack.

Second gripe: Too many friends codes. I really must do something about that. Anyway, mine is 1032-0942-8357.

How not to do a referral service (, )

by fluffy at 10:42 AM
So, my apartment has contracts with a number of service providers for things like telephone service, satellite television, and so on. Lately I've been considering getting some sort of regular cleaning service, so I checked the apartment's service provider directory. For cleaning services, they linked to a company called Service Magic. So, I filled out their form (on the apartment's site) asking for a quote for regular (bi-weekly) cleaning.

Within minutes I got a phone call from Service Magic, which is based in LA. Rather than actually being a cleaning service themselves, they are a "contracting clearinghouse" which exists as a referral service between clients and actual contractors. Okay, fine. I explained what my (very simple) needs were, and the guy said he'd get back to me with a list of contractors.

March 8, 2008

I forget what I was going to say ()

by fluffy at 12:52 AM
I was going to write a weblog entry, but then Dreamhost goofed and so my site was inaccessible, and then I was playing online games and was going to talk about that instead and then yet another fire alarm went off, so I didn't really feel like writing about that either. I think I was going to talk about how annoying it is that I've installed Windows 4 times in the last 6 months due to various dumb circumstances, and how sick and wrong it felt to actually boot directly into XP on my MacBook. (I decided to install it with Boot Camp this time, since VMWare Fusion lets you also boot a virtual system from a Boot Camp partition, and this way I can at least have a chance of playing TF2 the way it was meant to be played. I actually went ahead and bought the whole $99 Valve Games Pack while I was at it, in case I felt like playing their various vintage deathmatch games and so on. Plus I guess Half-Life:Source might be fun.)

March 6, 2008

Freaking hardware ()

by fluffy at 11:42 AM
Sometime last night, the hard drive in my MacBook died. So I guess I get to deal with the Genius Bar tonight (my appointment's for 6:45). Then I get to spend forever and a half reinstalling all my software, especially on the Windows side. (Fortunately I don't keep any important documents on the MacBook, and even if I did, most of it's backed up thanks to networked Time Machine.)

I guess while I'm at it I'd might as well bring my Apple TV too, and finally get that fixed (since its warranty is almost up).

Obviously I'm not particularly happy with the quality of the hard drives Apple is using in their consumer goods lately.

March 4, 2008

More reasons to abolish DST ()

by fluffy at 4:32 PM
Not only is it jarring and confusing, but it turns out that it doesn't save energy at all.

March 3, 2008

Tokyo (, )

by fluffy at 3:55 PM
Going there on business, March 16-21 23-28. Obviously I will be more or less inaccessible during that time.

Another reason to dislike T-Mobile ()

by fluffy at 11:58 AM
My parents recently upgraded their phones. They didn't want to pay a lot for them, so they opted to just get some Nokias (the 5300, I think) which were $50 with a contract extension. So I was showing off Google Maps to my dad on my W580i, and he wondered if he could run it on his Nokia. I figured he could, so I put my SIM into his phone so I could download Google Maps Mobile, which downloaded and installed just fine.

However, the phone doesn't allow applications to do network stuff by default; you have to grant access to an application for that purpose. Unfortunately, T-Mobile has disabled the option to grant network access to applications. Clearly T-Mobile just wants to restrict people to only using the craptacular network stuff they deem appropriate for mobile use, rather than allowing them to actually make use of their network access.

I have a feeling when my contract is up I will be switching to a pay-as-you-go service. Unfortunately, T-Mobile is the only one with PAYG rates which make sense, and no useful data service whatsoever (you can only access T-Zones, which is little more than a ringtone purchase portal at this point). AT&T supposedly has data service on PAYG but they're completely unclear on the details, and their PAYG voice rates are confusing and byzantine.

1:57 PM I found unbranding instructions which should make it so that you can run any Java app without restrictions.

Finally used ZipCar ()

by fluffy at 9:22 AM
My parents have been visiting for the past week, and yesterday I used ZipCar to drive up to Marin county (after only, what, 6 months of having a membership? Clearly, selling my car was the right decision). It was a quite easy experience, once I figured out which of two cars I had actually rented (I didn't realize that the cars had names, and there were two of the same type in the lot). Towards the end I wasn't sure if I was going to make the drop-off in time so I called to extend the reservation by half an hour, which was an extremely trivial and easy process. (I ended up returning right on time for the original dropoff time, but it was close enough that I'm glad I extended it, since paying $4 for half an hour early is better than paying $50 for one minute late.)

My only "complaint" about the experience is that the car was a bit of a walk from my apartment (about 3/4 of a mile) but that's just because of the last-minute nature of the reservation. If we'd had some advance warning I'd probably have been able to get a car that was only a block away. So really the complaint is more a praise for the sheer number of cars within walking distance of my apartment.