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January 28, 2009

ATTN: San Francisco bicyclists (, )

by fluffy at 10:29 PM
While you're approaching an intersection where your light is red, I suppose that shouting out "Careful! Careful! Careful!" to the cross-traffic is one way to avoid getting hit, but might I suggest you try — and I know this is a crazy idea, but bear with me here — not running red lights, you goddamn idiots.

January 25, 2009

Grosser grocer (, )

by fluffy at 4:39 PM
So because of the whole mouse thing I decided to try out other local grocery stores. The top contender was Precita Food Mart which is actually slightly closer to my home than Safeway. So today I went there, and found out that Yelp has a very strange idea of what a grocery store is. This was more of a convenience store, with just two lonely aisles of overpriced canned food, beer, and wine. There was also a freezer case with some old ice cream and a basket of overripe bananas. (As it turns out, there are two Yelp listings for it for some reason; the other one, which I wouldn't have found with my search for "groceries," is much more accurate.)

The other local contender is 26th and Guerrero Market, which is a little bit of a schlep, but the reviews are much more promising, although they still say it's not suitable for "major grocery shopping." So, it's still not a Safeway replacement.

January 24, 2009

Dear TiVo Video-On-Demand team: (, )

by fluffy at 9:45 PM
It's bad enough that you designed your crappy system such that anyone viewing a VoD program gets kicked out of it when the TiVo VoD servers go down (even though the movie is being actively streamed from an external third party, such as Netflix). But why the hell do you go down for "scheduled maintenance" at 9:45 PM on a Saturday? I'm pretty sure that's prime movie-watching time!

I suppose the saving grace is that at least it keeps track of where you were in the movie when you get unceremoniously dumped out to the main screen.

January 23, 2009

Oh, ICK (, )

by fluffy at 9:08 PM
I don't know what's the worse possibility:
  1. That my kitchen has mice
  2. That the Safeway has mice running around in the bread department, and I've eaten 4 out of 6 bagels without realizing that the bottom-most one had been chewed on
Considering I see no other evidence of mice in my home, I'm pretty sure it's the second one. Euughghghh.

Wacom Bamboo Fun ()

by fluffy at 6:53 PM
So, today I received yet another new toy, a Wacom Bamboo Fun, so that I could reasonably draw on my laptop (since my main tablet, a 12"x12" Intuos2, is far too large to fit in any backpack I've ever seen, and my old 3"x4" Graphire is too small for any screen larger than 1024x768, and Mark thinks it's funny that I have this awesome laptop that I only use for gaming instead of work).

So anyway, now I have a tablet which is a reasonable size to draw while I'm watching TV or at a coffee shop or whatever. So I figure I should give a brief review.

Why people getting hit with the iWork "virus" are idiots (, )

by fluffy at 2:55 PM
Okay, so much fuss has been made lately of the new OSX "virus" that's coming bundled with a warez copy of iWork '09.

First off, it's not a virus, it's a trojan. It is spreading as the result of user action. In this case, by installing a patched, pirated copy of a software application.

Second off, the people who are downloading iWork from a torrent are complete idiots. Apple provides a trial version to download, to be unlocked with a serial. There are leaked unlock serials. If the serials phone home to confirm a unique registration (which would be a first for Apple) there are certainly workarounds for that.

Rainy day temptation ()

by fluffy at 9:06 AM
So, it's pretty rainy right now. I have my sister's car for the next few months (she's spending some time in Africa with her husband who is doing some interesting work there). So I'm a bit tempted to drive to work, even though I know that I'd get just as wet having to walk there after parking some distance away (we have a lot of visitors in the office right now so all of our visitor spaces are probably full).

But I guess I'll just ride. It's not like it's THAT wet out right now.

January 21, 2009

Exceptions vs. error returns, quantified ()

by fluffy at 4:05 PM
Today I got into a bit of a discussion regarding embedded programmers and their tendency to avoid exceptions in C++. The argument basically boils down to three things: code size, memory usage, and runtime. So, rather than continue on without actually putting my beliefs to the test (the discussion basically centered around whether engineers are making assumptions based on how things were 15+ years ago), I decided to construct a minimal test which I think shows where the tradeoffs may be.

The word is spreading ()

by fluffy at 10:12 AM
Last night while riding home from work I saw someone else with a Down Low Glow. His was a one-tube orange. After seeing how relatively weak the lighting was I am very glad I went with the two-tube.

Superfluosity ()

by fluffy at 7:50 AM
I dreamt I was in a team cooking reality show (along the lines of Hell's Kitchen or Chopped). There were several teams of 5. Our challenge was to taste several sandwiches and then to perfectly reproduce one of them within a time limit. The one we selected was pretty easy because its contents were along a theme (red rye, red onions, beets, red lettuce, and so on). While my teammates happily accepted my input, when it came to actually doing anything, every task was so trivial that I kept getting pushed out of the way, and I ended up spending the whole challenge working on something completely unrelated. So of course, both the presiding chef and myself were concerned about me not doing anything, and I felt that my position on the show was in peril.

January 18, 2009

Circuit City extended warranties ()

by fluffy at 1:47 AM
So, back in 2005 I bought my first HDTV, a then-recently discontinued model, at Circuit City. Even though it was being massively discounted between being discontinued and me having a 10% off "welcome to the neighborhood" coupon (having just moved to Seattle), the salesperson threw in an extended warranty for free.

Now in 2009, the warranty is long-expired, and I sold the TV close to two years ago anyway. I have moved three times since purchasing it, and haven't bought anything at Circuit City since. Yet somehow, today, I got a letter from Circuit City, direct to my current mailing address (I guess they've been keeping tabs!), offering to extend the extended warranty, for the "low" price of $60-and-change per year, which could be conveniently billed to my credit card in perpetuity.

So, I guess some part of Circuit City expects to survive Chapter 7 liquidation...

January 16, 2009

So let me get this straight: ()

by fluffy at 9:37 AM
Random chance put you in peril but God saved you? To me it seems more like it's God (i.e. random chance) that put you in peril and the skill of the pilot that saved you.

January 15, 2009

Sony MHS-CM1 Webbie HD ()

by fluffy at 7:16 PM
During CES this year, Sony announced two new entry-level camcorder products in the new Webbie HD line. Both support 720p30 and 1080p30 video and still camera functionality. The MHS-CM1 (available now from Sony Style and from Amazon) is $200, and the MHS-PM1 (available in March) is $170.

There have been a lot of small-form-factor video recorders put on the market recently (such as the Flip Mino series which has gotten rather a lot of press), but the Sony ones are pretty compelling for a number of reasons.

So anyway, $200 was cheap enough that I could justify buying one without too much remorse, and so I ordered a CM1 (in purple) the instant I found out they were available. It arrived today. So here's a brief review.

January 13, 2009

Rock The Bike really should be paying me! ()

by fluffy at 6:07 PM
Pretty much every night I get at least one person (often more!) asking me where I got my bike lights. Several of them have been folks in cars, and I get the impression that at least one of them wants to bike commute but was just concerned about road safety at night.

For whatever it's worth, I actually feel safer riding at night than during the day, now. During the day I still have close calls since I'm just an invisible speck. At night, I'm visibly huge, and don't. Even the people who don't respect my space on the road obviously see me!

January 10, 2009

Evolution ()

by fluffy at 1:32 AM

January 9, 2009

A new symptom ()

by fluffy at 10:36 AM
Usually my left wrist is more painful than my right (which is the case currently), but lately it's my right wrist which sucks more. It's like my fingers don't want to move correctly sometimes, and sometimes my right thumb twitches involuntarily, like there's a nerve problem or something. I've been drawing a lot more than usual lately so that probably has something to do with it.

My grip strength is still excellent, though, and I don't have numbness in my fingertips, so it's not carpal tunnel syndrome (I did probably have CTS 10 years ago but since then most of my wrist problems have been more likely some form of tendinosis).

Man, why does biology have to suck?

For now I'll try mousing with my left hand, and maybe try to figure out a more ergonomic setup for my Wacom tablet at home (I'm not going to try drawing left-handed though).

January 7, 2009

Yay bike! ()

by fluffy at 6:46 PM
So I took my bike to Performance Bike at lunchtime today. The mechanic (who was busy and didn't bother to look) said the brakes were probably stuck, I told him I checked that already and tuned the brakes and it's definitely not the problem. So he took a closer look and said that the hub was probably just over-tightened, and that fixing the tightness would cost $25, but given the age and the condition I bought it in he figured the hub could do with a rebuild, which would cost $30ish. So I said to go ahead and rebuild it.

When I picked it up today, he said that yeah, the bearings were totally shot and the lube was dried out and it was gunked up, so a rebuild was very necessary. Then I spun the wheel and it was absolutely soft and smooth. So I paid my $31.96 and had the best ride home ever. It's not quite as smooth as the Mongoose (since it doesn't have a front suspension), but actually not having a suspension made starting up a lot easier, especially going up hills.

Plus, I got a lot of comments about the Down Low Glow tonight. For about a mile and a half I was riding alongside someone who wanted to know everything about it and we had a good chat about that and also bike safety etiquette. And then someone on a scooter came up beside me at a light and was all, "Whoa, nice light!" And then when I got to my apartment yet another person asked me a bunch of questions ("Where did you get it? Is it battery powered? Does it come in other colors?").

So, hey, Rock The Bike, I'm getting the word out!

"New" bike day 2 ()

by fluffy at 12:48 AM
Rode to work, it kicked my ass. The damn rear wheel makes it a chore to ride it. After work I ended up going to a MacWorld party with some friends (spoiler warning: it sucked) and then after that just hung out with them and went to a gaming party with them and so I left my bike and other crap at the office and took BART home. I'm so very sore from the ride this morning so I'll definitely see about just having Performance Bike try to fix it during the day tomorrow. Maybe I'll have a decent ride home for the first time in a month. Meh.

Worst case I just need to get a new rear wheel, which I guess would cost more than the bike itself (ugh) but probably it just needs a good cleaning and lubing, which seems straightforward enough (and would probably cost what, $50ish? maybe I can cut a deal with Performance considering I've bought two bikes and a hell of a lot of accessories there and have never once taken advantage of their "free tuneups for life" deal, although I'm not optimistic about that). Or maybe it's just plain completely maladjusted. I don't really know what goes on inside a bike wheel's hub.

January 5, 2009

"New" bike ()

by fluffy at 8:11 PM
Just paid $90 for an old piece of crap KHS Brentwood. Also ordered $70 worth of accessories for it online (back rack, cargo net, panniers). It also came with a rather nice water bottle cage and a u-lock with long "uncuttable" cable (so I can actually lock it up in the garage now). Basically the accessories I have for the bike are worth more than the bike.

The ride home was rather painful and difficult, both because I had a hell of a lot of stuff in my backpack and because the bike really needs a tuneup. I'll do what I can to tweak the brakes and so on tonight (when I also get my various existing accessories installed) although I really should just take it to a mechanic. Maybe tomorrow, if I don't go to the Delicious Monster Macworld party.

Dear RSS-providing content creators, (, )

by fluffy at 11:39 AM
If you change your RSS feed location, it would be really nice if you'd actually put a note about that in the old feed, or better yet, redirected the old feed to the new one. The whole point to RSS is it prevents readers from having to manually check the site on occasion, so if someone's subscribed by RSS, it means they're not checking the site, pretty much by definition.

I am particularly looking at you, JREF. You of all organizations should understand that your readers aren't psychic!

January 4, 2009

And thus ends a long-standing record (, )

by fluffy at 3:05 PM
I've been summoned for jury duty sometime the first week of February. This is the first time I've ever been summoned for it in my 12 years of eligibility. Hooray!

I actually kind of look forward to it. I see it more as a civic duty and a responsibility, not something to get out of. The timing could of course be better, seeing as how we're on a tight schedule at work for the next couple of months, so I probably need to postpone it anyway (fortunately, the state of California makes that easy to do, and you're allowed to postpone it up to 6 months).