Vincent Cheung

Vincent Cheung's Blog

« Newer Posts Home Older Posts »

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Universal Studios

Universal Studios was a blast! There was a lot of new stuff since we last went and it was pretty different than the one in Flordia. The Studio Tours was pretty cool - they put us in a little train-shuttle thingy and we got to see a lot of the Universal Studios sets. We drove right through Wysteria Lane (aka Desperate Housewives)! The whole street was there. The houses looked a little fake and the lawns were absolutely tiny! There was only like a few feet of grass. Not sure how the gardener had work to do :p. We also saw the set of War of the Worlds where the plane crashed. That was really cool, complete mess and looked quite realistic. Too bad the movie sucked shit.

We hit the classic, Back to the Future, which is always great. Be cried!!!! She was scared of the dinosaur! Which was on the big movie screen! She's 26....

The Mummy ride was pretty cool. There was a sudden drop to start the "real" part of the ride and that's when they took the ride photo. It turned out pretty good. Mich was grabbing Caz's arm like crazy and hiding. She tried to act all cool after. I liked the part where the car went in reverse.

After we finished the lower level production, we tried to rush to the T2 ride, but there were A LOT of stairs. Something like 4 or 5 long esculators, each higher than just a single story. Luke and I ran up the whole thing and did it in 3 min. My legs seriously weren't working after that. Luke ralphed.

The 3D movie "rides" were both really good - T2 and Shrek (which was really well done, original voices and everything and pretty good story line). T2 had real actors that kinda jumped in and out of the movie and tried to be Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and the kid.

We also saw the Backdraft, Special Effects, Animal Planet Live (which was ok, but not long enough and didn't do much that I hadn't seen in other animal shows), and Waterworld (which was different than I remembered) shows, all of which were good.

14 people in an amusement park is just crazy! Uncle Dennis was totally the kid!

We also figured out how the order of the kids by age (/ means same age, * means married in or significant other): Andrew, Russell, Linda*, Tracy, Caroline*/Luke*, Belinda, Michelle/Me, Kelly

We hit Chinatown for dinner, which was pretty good. We ordered A LOT of food and I was surprised that we packed it all down. Dad won the fight for the bill tonight. Luke had gone off after Universal Studios to meet up with some friends of his that he knew from when he lived in LA before. We went to Korean town after to try and find the elusive golf store that the guys heard of from Luke. We ended up in another sports store that was still open and got some random stuff. I got the Wilson volleyball from Castaway!!! I've been meaning to get that for a while :)

We walked up and down Rodeo drive (where all the expensive shops are) after, which was kinda nice b/c it was completely deserted at 10 pm on a Friday night. The coolest thing was that the street lamps were full out chandeliers !!!! They were enclosed in glass or plastic boxes to prevent theft and damage.

Called it a relatively early and quiet night as we're starting the cruise tomorrow! Starting then I'm unlikely to be online. Until then, talk amongst yourselves :p

Friday, December 23, 2005

Live from LA, it's Thursday night blogging!!!

This blog is now coming from it's 4th different city! The thing I noticed the most landing in LA was the obscene amount of smog. It was rather gross to actually see it in the air... Fortunately, no black stuff spewing from my nose yet.

Met up with the family from Australia for some Mexican dinner at El Coyotes. Amazing seeing them again. Always a great time. It's too bad I don't get to see these cousins more often. The frozen blended fruit margaritas were not as good as the place in Toronto. They were rather on the strong side...

Tomorrow is Universal Studios. Should be a blast in our group of 14 :D

Thursday, December 22, 2005

An awesome year of travel

Winnipeg -> Toronto -> Collingwood -> Toronto -> Snowbird, Utah -> Toronto -> Winnipeg -> Toronto -> San Diego -> Toronto -> Seattle -> Toronto -> Winnipeg -> LA -> Mexico -> LA

I'm just completing the last leg of this incredible year of travel. I'm leaving in a couple of hours, so don't expect many (if any) updates until next year as I'll have better things to do on a boat in a tropical climate. In the meantime, you guys can just talk amongst yourselves in the comments of this post.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Movie on a big screen TV + Settlers

Finally saw Chris's big screeen TV. Fantastic Four wasn't particularly fantastic aside from Ms. Alba. Settlers after was quite a bit quicker, which helped with only 4 people and everyone had played at least once, but was still rather slow paced.

Semi-annual Engineering Dinner

Monday: 9 iron rings (well, 8 since a certain someone whose names stars with "K" and ends with "wan") + indian buffet!

Numbers swelled to 13 due to significant others and the infamous pharmacist-turned-engineer-turned-internet pharmacist.

Settlers at Rob's afterward with a subset of the group (not that Rob, the other one, but the original was there too, it's all very confusing, uniqueness in names should be enforced like online, so then you'd get Rob3847 and Rob68473, or they can be referred to by their last names only). I so would've won if it wasn't for Florence!!! She screwed me over like a blind man's dog attacking its owner! Yes, you Florence! I know you're reading this! Words to the wise, 6 player Settlers with two newbies takes FOREVER. It was like 2 hours long! Just roll the damn dice!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Happy Boxing Day!

As yesterday was Christmas (yes, it was Christmas!), it must mean that today is Boxing day, which seemed right as I went out and bought a new wireless router to replace my busted one in Toronto.

It was a predictably white Christmas with some snow banks as high as me! Even Santa knew it was Christmas last night as he had come down the chimmney and filled our stockings!

Didn't get anything spectacular this year, likely because I couldn't think of anything that I wanted. It's basically gotten to the point that anything I want within the price range of family Christmas presents, I'll just go out and buy. The things I want most are not materialistic and those that are (car, house, yacht, private jet, an island, trip to space and/or the moon), they're not for now and are out of the price range.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Steve, you need to see a psychologist

For those of you who haven't seen Steve Ballmer at a convention as a speaker, here's a treat for you. He's the CEO of Microsoft and one of the richest men in the world, so he should be respected. However, he may be mentally unstable. These videos are hilarious, but also edge a little on the scary side.


Steve Ballmer Monkey Dance



Steve Ballmer Loves Developers


Has he always been this insane? Apparently so. Here's one I haven't seen until I searched for these videos again:


Steve Ballmer Sells Windows 1.0 TV Ad


He doesn't disappoint in real life. I got a good show at the company meeting back in October. His intro song was "Eye of the Tiger" and the second I heard the song I knew who was coming up next :). I got the whole running around stage and screaming dance, plus the crouched over football stance, sweat stains, and loud proclaimations of "I HAVE THE EYE OF THE TIGER!!!11!ONE!!", "DO YOU HAVE THE EYE OF THE TIGER??!!?!", and "I *huff huff* LOVE *huff huff* THIS *huff huff* COMPANY!!!!11ONE1!!. All very amusing, but again, scary at the same time.

He does have one thing going for him. He's very enthusiastic and passionate. Though I can't imagine what's it's like being in a board room meeting with the alpha male gorilla from Microsoft. I'd bring a taser.

Annual Christmas Potluck

Tonight marked Lindsay's annual Christmas potluck! The highlight is always the tacky gift exchange where it takes forever to decide who gets what present. In the last "turn", I had my gift stolen repeatedly and had every single present at some point. I ended up with Rob's, as people tend to avoid his gifts because of his track record of glass vegetables and frog boxing pens. I got a small pillow that says "2 Sexy". It's almost practical and it totally fits me :p. Good present for me b/c it's small and light, 2 key things for fitting in my suitcase.

Miraculously enough, by some balance in the universe, Rob got what turned out to be Nusraat's gift, and even jokingly said "this better not be bath stuff", and got bath stuff :p. It looks to be a re-gift. There should be ground rules that presents should be unisex. Nusraat, you should know better! I know you read this. You heard me. The finger is pointing at you.

Cranium ended up being a marathon, but fun. We were close to finishing, but didn't b/c the teams kinda fell apart with Mohammad having what seems to be an allergic reaction to Lindsay's cats.

Last time this year, everyone was unmarried and almost everyone was living at home. One year later, we've got two married couples. The party's not appropriate for kids, so if things keep moving at this pace, we might have to pare down the group next year. *Points at the wives* have your pet spayed or neutered!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The gang of 4 is all messed up

This is what happens when one of us gets married! The whole group starts to get fractured! With Cutts out in Nevada with his wife and missing from the equation, we were left with the remaining 3 for lunch today. Hadn't seen Kives and his gf since Cutts's wedding and strangely enough, hadn't seen Cannons since the summer even though he lives just a few blocks away in Toronto, though Seattle had something to do about that. Looks like Meghan (Megan?) passed the Cannons test, so she's out in the clear. Now Kives is off to his regular Hawaii winter trip tomorrow and I'm off a few days after, leaving Cannons by himself here. Weird.

It's likely we'll be having a reunion of sorts in Feb. when Kives comes to T.O. for one of his random, spontaneous trips where the first thing I know about the trip is when he's already in town :p

Words to the wise

Pushing a shopping cart in an unshoveled parking lot isn't much fun.

WHAT?? I CAN'T HEAR YOU OVER THE MUSIC!!

JUST CAME BACK FROM THE BAR, WHICH IS WINNIPEG'S WAY OF SAYING CLUB. Sorry, I'm kinda deaf right now. At least I don't reek of smoke, courtesy of the smoking ban. I went with the bloggin' boys + Lindsay, no not that one, the other Lindsay, NO, the OTHER one... YES! We also met up with some swing dance people there. Good times at Coyote's, of which a more proper name might be Cougar's, but it wasn't too bad tonight, guess enough students were done exams. Rob, you said you were gonna get totally smashed. I'm highly disappointed in you.

That's the other thing, cover was only $4 and beers were only $4 as well, being in Toronto too long has skewed my view of prices... The line-up was decently short as well (like a 15 wait), which was nice b/c it was pretty damn cold outside. My toes were freezing! Those shoes may have been made for dancing, but sure weren't insulated and made for cold weather! And we didn't even get passed through a metal detector or get frisked and when there was this loud noise inside the bar, it was a balloon popping, not a gun shot!

Prior to the bar, we were playing some Carcassonne, adding Chris into the mix, who ditched us for his gf after. Fun quick game. Next time we play Settlers.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Complaining works

The DSL here has been rather flaky ever since I got back here. I blame Florence. I determined that it was MTS's fault as the "DSL" light on the modem was flashing red and green and wasn't able to establish a good connection with the what-ever-ma-call-it. I finally got fed up enough to call to complain. The guy was nice and I guess I showed enough intelligence to not warrant the usual "are the wires plugged in" questions, so that was nice. Anyways, they checked things on their side and a guy called me back in a couple minutes saying that they "changed my profile" and surprisingly enough, it was working. Not sure what "profile" they had me under before, but whatever, it's working now. Florence if you're reading this, please provide some insight.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

In other hockey watching news

Today was rather unproductive. Me waking up at 1 pm may have contributed to this.

I did accomplish one thing today - I watched a professional hockey game! Jill had the good idea to watch a Manitoba Moose hockey game (AHL, not NHL) after hearing about my "open mind" policy and mindset to "do things I haven't done" and that I had never seen a professional hockey game or been at the relatively new MTS Centre. Although, I suspect that one of her ulterior motives was to get mentioned on my blog again, as she enjoyed the fame that came with her previous mention :p

Rob joined us on what turned out to be "singles night out". We planned on hitting up Moxies at the arena before the game for a bite to eat, but it was way too small and crowded. We resorted to Pasta La Vista nearby. It seemed like a decently fancy restaurant, but I was rather taken back when our waitress commented "so you guys going to the game?" Was it that obvious?? We weren't decked out in hockey jerseys like the guys two tables beside us. Not like the restaurant's that high class, c'mon, it's in a friggin' mall! Whatever, we were in and out in an hour and got to the game on time and the food was pretty good.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Trying to look professional when you're not makes you look even less professional


Thank you for your email. I have left for the weekend and will return on Monday 04/18 at 8am. If you require immediate assistance, please call our answer service at 206-XXX-XXXX and a specialist will get back to you shortly.

I love how weekends start on Tuesdays at Microsoft and last for 4 months. I hope my reimbursement for my travel expenses come back sooner than that...

Dollarama

How do these guys pay the bills? I went to a Dollarama for the first time today and was shocked to see the stuff that they had. It wasn't your usual dollar store where it's mostly crappy stuff and sometimes the stuff is more than a dollar. No, here, there was genuinely some cool stuff and the stuff didn't look like it came off the ground and would break about 5 min. after using and everything was $1 or less (Canadian nonetheless!) It reminded me of the days of "Everything's a Dollar" when it first came around in the States. You're tempted to just grab everything off the shelves b/c it's so cheap :p. Of course, some stuff is a total rip-off like drinks, chips, and chocolate bars (unless you compare to a vending machine). The funniest was packages of gum selling at 2 for $1, but the packaging said 45 cents... But there are definitely some good steals.

One lucky person, perhaps even one of my regular readers, will be a receiving no less than 5 gifts during the "$5 tacky gift exchange" come Saturday :p. Shhh... don't tell anyone where I got the gifts from :p.

Monday, December 12, 2005

New banner!

I finally replaced that obscenely overused banner that came with my template and now I have a spiffy new banner! Let it bring you strength and inspiration and come back tomorrow to see it again!

Family Fun

I had dinner with every single person in this city that I'm related to. That's 13 people, including me - one family on my mom's side, one on my dad's side, plus 1 cousin from my dad's side here for high school. It's sizeable enough that it's somewhat of a big deal, but also manageable and relatively easy to arrange for everyone to be there. It'd be cool if I had more family here (the rest of it being in Hong Kong, Australia, and one family in Chicago), but then on the other hand, you would have to deal with the extra family :p

Nice to see everyone again. My cousins are changing quite a bit and it's strange that my cousin who's 10 years younger than me and I remember carrying him as a baby is almost as tall as me! He better stop growing like right now!

The fastest blood sample in the west

The reason I was up before McDonald's breakfast was over was because I had a doctor's appointment to check if I need a hepatitis vaccination. The nurse was insanely fast in taking my blood sample. I was seriously out of the chair 30 seconds after I sat down! Elastic band. Cotton swab. Poke. Bandage. Done.

Random Winnipeg Things

I'm pleasantly surprised by all the construction activity around here. I went through the Kenaston-Wilkes intersection and was surpised that such a nice job was done. For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, that intersection is the busiest intersection in North America with a railroad crossing. There's something like 80 trains that pass that every day between 9 and 5. The cars get backed up for like a kilometre. My old high school accepted the fact that people on the other side of the railroad would be late for class in the morning and when I was going to the U of M, I had to pass that crossing twice a day and got stopped at least once a day. It's almost as bad as getting a train at 3 am when you're trying to get home...

After 20 years of talks, they're finally putting in an underpass to relieve the traffic and while the underpass isn't built yet, they've made a nice detour around the area that looks like it actually improves traffic (moves the intersection farther away from the railroad crossing. I like the new Sterling Lion Parkway as it bypasses the second railroad crossing on Wilkes where the trains go back and forth on the tracks. It's the worst when the train crosses the intersection, but doesn't quite cross the road, then reverses, and repeats. You sit there for like 15 min. watching the retarded train driver.

I also saw the construction site for the new Manitoba Hydro building the other day. That reminds me, I should check out the new engineering building at the U of M. It's almost as if it's not a stagnant city!

I went through the drive through at McDonald's for breakfast this morning and the window was frozen shut! I had to open the door to pay and get my food :p

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The symphony and other random stuff

I checked out the Millenium library today, which just opened recently after much delay (hence the millenium library opening at the end of 2005...) It's pretty nice now, though I would have liked to see more study space and longer hours (they kicked us out at 5). It's nicer/newer than the Toronto reference library, but pales in comparison in size.

I got some clothing from MEC today as well. I needed some ski clothing - quick dry undergarments.


I also went to see (hear?) the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Express concert today with Jill and the girls (Lindsay, Monica, Kelly, and Lisa) for Jill's belated birthday. The 5-to-1 girl to guy ratio was pretty good, although you should probably take away the married girl from the equation.

I quite enjoyed it. It was the first time I went to see any type of symphony. All the different types of sounds were really cool and figuring out where the sound was coming from always provided entertainment. The whole thing was sort of shifted towards pop and mainstream as it was a holiday special. It was mostly Christmas carols with a Chanukah song and a vocalized version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas thrown in. I wasn't a big fan of the singing Santa or the ballet dancing reindeer, nor was I pleased with the solo singers. The choir was quite good though.

The symphony outing has added to my "open mind" project.

We all headed over to Jill's and met up with Rob and Chris and just hung out. Snacks, drinks, cake, Cranium. Good times.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Back in the 'Peg

Just got back into Winnipeg tonight. Things are pretty much the same here as it's always been and should remain so for the next 10 days.

I noticed a few trends in progressing through 3 homes in 3 cities in less than a month (Seattle -> Toronto -> Winnipeg).
  1. It's colder

  2. More snow

  3. The water is harder

  4. The air is drier

  5. The house gets bigger

  6. There's more people in the household

  7. I've lived in the house longer

  8. More food in the fridge and cupboard

There are some constants though:
  1. Queen sized bed

  2. My buckwheat pillow

  3. PoBo

I had an interesting encounter on the plane. I was talking to this guy on the plane that was in the Canadian military, I think he was like a mechanic or something and not actually fighting. He was 20. Very different talking to him than people I reguarly talk to. It was cool getting some insight into the military and his view of things and life. He told me about how cut backs have really hurt the military. Two heart breaking stories: soldier is away for like 2 years, much longer than expected, and comes back to Canada with the wife is gone and divorce papers on the table, second solder is also away for an extended period of time, unable to sort out all his problems with his wife, gets notice that he's being deployed overseas the next day, after getting back after several months the wife is gone.

Then there's the psychological problems. Living in a world where the rules are completely different and you're fighting for your life 24/7, "normal" society is a shocker. People tapping you on a shoulder can make you jump. I totally see where he's coming from. I've seen it to some extent myself. I'm say using the computer a lot and doing something pretty critical, perhaps playing a game or writing something, and I'm saving very often and often using the "undo" button, then I go out into the "real" world and I'm like *ctrl-z*, shit, the "undo" button's not working!!! Oh, right, life has no "undo" button. Apparently soldiers get put into some program for a couple of weeks before they're allowed to go back to society.

Airport's fun with soldiers as well. Bomb sniffing dog is gave the guy a hard time once. The security people tell him that his bag has remnants of gunpowder and explosives. The guy's like, I'm in the military and shows the guy his papers and badge, and gives him the *duh, are you retarded?* look. Eventually he's let go and not deemed to be a terrorist. This guy was dressed in "civilian" clothing, which is I think military policy, although for security reasons, it'd probably actually be better for the soldiers to stay in uniform during flights as least to mascarade as additional security :p.

He seems content there with the prospect of making 40-50 grand and retiring at 45 (25 years of service) with a full pension. He mentions things like guaranteed roof over your head, food on the table, people looking out for you, and pretty easy life. This was the biggest shocker for me. Just kinda hit me that I don't know anyone like him. In fact, my view of people is really skewed as I basically exclusively socialize with people with University degrees (or in the progress of obtaining one), where it's not usually a question of roofs and food, but how much and ambition for more prevails over the simple life. Off the top of my head, I can't name a single friend of mine that isn't in University or graduated from University. I also realize that everyone I know is computer literate and this guy doesn't seem to be. How weird would it be to not use a computer? The view of the world from this guy is completely different than mine and it makes you evaluate what is important in your life and how you live it.

This whole thing is definitely helping me have an open mind. Try new things. Be open to new ideas. See the world differently. This is the basis of my new year's resolution and new outlook on life.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Airlines suck. Packing sucks even more.

Stupid airlines are restricting luggage weight to 50 pounds and I can only take one piece of luggage onto the cruise.

How am I supposed to pack for both -30 and +30 with one piece of luggage less than 50 pounds???!?!?!111!!!1one!!?? It's stupid. It's anachronistic. They're regressing technologically.

Update (next day):  I just made it - my luggage was 51 pounds and (so far) I only forgot a dress shirt for my suit and my sunglasses, which are now on my Christmas list :p

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bio Party

I went to a bio party tonight. Kinda weird. The bio guy I'm collaborating with just did his phd thesis defence today and his advisor threw a party at his house. I knew some people, mostly just by face though b/c other people in my group collaborate with them. Brendan would've been there if he wasn't in Whistler skiing, I mean at NIPS.

There were a lot of kids running around. All the profs brought their kids and like even Nevan has a 2.5 year old kid! One point it really freaked me out. I was eating some food, being careful to hold my plate above kid head height level so they didn't know my plate b/c they were running around. One kid ran around me and then past me. Then I resumed my conversation. I then lifted my plate during my food consumption process and was like shit! there's a kid under my plate!!! He was apparently standing right in front of me and under my plate without me knowing :p

The worst part was that the kids were all running around and pushing people out of their way and squirming between people. The problem was that their arms reached just at crotch level. I can't even count how many times I was groped. Wild party....

Just something about Toronto that seems to get me to be a semi-regular drinker. The summer I was drinking every week after pick-up volleyball. Then the last 3 weeks, I've been drinking too - Peter's last volleyball b/c of baby, intramurals loss, and Nevan's thesis defence. Not that my tolerance has increased at all, because a half glass of wine and a small cup of champaign makes me light up like rudolph's nose.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lots of intramural watching

I went to my first live hockey game tonight! But it was intramurals. And Div 4 (the "best" being Div 1). And it was non-contact. And only half an hour long. It was however, very exciting!

I went b/c it was my friend's last hockey final ever as this is his last semester of pharmacy. Next semester's he's out doing placements. We got a goal right before the end of the first period with 2 men short, it was pretty lucky. We were up 1-0 right to the end of the second. 5.... 4..... 3.... 2..... OH SHIT!!!! The evil "K. Cheung" scored a goal for commerce! Me and Sony were cursing him through the whole game b/c we all shared the same last name, none of us related. Overtime started, but within 8 seconds, it was all over and we won!

Last monday, I watched my old/future co-ed volleyball team win it all in Div 1 volleyball against SGS. Either way I was going to win. Skule (Engineering) vs SGS (School of Graduate Studies).... either way I win, but I used to play for Skule b/c the SGS team was new this year. It was a pretty convincing win for Skule.

Last Thursday, I watched my old/future men's Div 2 SGS team lose in the finals to Woodsworth (who's team came out of nowhere, but had a bunch of familiar faces, they were good b/c they didn't have a Div 1 team, so all the good players played Div 2). It went to 3 sets and we lost by like 3 points in the last. Stupid rules though, the last set only went to 15, instead of the usual 25, which I can see why they do that in regular season, but there's no excuse for the finals b/c they give us 1.5 hours. Argh... I told them not to screw it up like we did last year...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I'm on an e-mailing rampage

I'm catching up on all my e-mails right now. So check your inbox if you e-mailed me like 2 months ago and I never replied.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The student has become the teacher

Oh Kdog, or Circle K if you prefer, how the balance of power has shifted. The tides have turned and it is now I that must write the reference letter.

Still, this isn't as awkward as the student who's advisor was in the same undergraduate class as him.

The plan for today

  1. Write down things that need to be done

  2. Do them

Friday, December 02, 2005

Evidence against creation

Who would make such a messed up world where it's warm one day, then it snows, but is warm enough that the snow melts, and it gets all messy, then it's actually dry for a few days and I'm rollerblading around in December and it's pretty warm, then the next day it's fracking freezing and snowing and there's a windchill and then it's going to melt again and get messy again. Repeat.

Intelligent design my ass? What part of this is intelligent? Looks more like a shitty, quickly thrown together project by a procrastinating student.

Messy stuff is the worst. Make up your freaking mind. Either be warm or be cold enough so the snow stays on the ground. Stop with this hovering around melting point shit. And someone turn off the air conditioning in my office. Intelligent design would involve a dome around the city to regulate the temperature. When god throws one of those down from the heavens around Toronto, then I'll start believing.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Weirdest phone call ever

The phone rings in the office. The guy on the other line asks to whom he's speaking. He's relieved to hear that it's me, this was my first tip-off that this was going to be weird b/c strangers don't generally call me in the office.

He then confirms that I've done some work in video recovery, which he saw on my webpage. I was a little surprised at this, someone was actually calling me about my research! This is where things go rather strange.

His problem however, has little to do with my research. He has accidently taped over some video on his camcorder (presumedly something important like home made porn) and is asking how to recover it! I'm thinking, ummm.... wtf? that's not what I do! Well, in a small scale to some extent, but not what he's asking for, where in the best situation a huge amount of video is missing and in the worse, the whole thing is missing. The whole basis of my work is that I have examples of what the missing data potentially looks like and then fill-in based on that, not just recovering arbitrary data from nothing. Who I thought was a legit researcher turned out to be a complete random off the street. The proper solution for him is not algorithmically derived. He should be looking into media recovery...

I tried to point him in this direction, but I have no idea of what's out there. Like, for hard drives, it's definitely possible, but I'm clueless about video media. It's also dependent on what kinda media - analog film, mini-dv tapes, or whatever.

I guess the weirdest thing was that this was actually a phone call. I would expect that the typical form of communication for this would be e-mail. I wonder who this guy is, what he taped over, and where he's from (guessing from Toronto if he called, would've been bizarre if it was long distance). Wonder if he's a big Hollywood guy that is shitting himself b/c he now has to reshoot a multi-million dollar scene. If he flys me down to Hollywood I'll do my best to help him out ;)

Update (later that day):  Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Hollywood was calling. I've determined through my spying techniques that the call has come from some random from the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies at York University, who got to my site by googling "video recovery toronto". My advisor, Brendan, had a good laugh at my new found fame.

Speaking of random encounters, here's one I got recently. This guy was sensible enough to send me an e-mail rather than call me up on my office phone.

Hi,
Do you know Leung Kam Cheung? I met him when I was in Lufkin, Texas.
Just wanted to know...
Konstanze

And no, I don't know that person. Just because we share the same last name, doesn't mean that we know each other. And what makes him think that I've even heard of Lufkin, Texas?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

These people don't waste any time

Election called on Tuesday. That same day I see a Jack Layton sign on someone's yard (his wife is running in my area and the sign is likely from the last election). Then today, I see the Jack Layton campaign bus on campus along with TV network vans...

This is exactly what we need, politicians putting up wreaths and shit. Sorry, politicians and Santa (or the Holiday Armadillo or whatever) don't mix.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

People spy on me, I spy on them

People do some strange searches. I notice them periodically when I check my site stats. I see for example a number of people getting to my site by Googling things related to sleep, waking up, and alarm clocks, because of my Alarm clocks are bad, wake up and feel better post </shameless plug>. I also get ones related to my posts like "fob hairstyles", "tropicana orange juice", "chinks japs", "harry cheung google", and "tikibar". Then I get ones from perverts, like "a girl & her mom sleep naked in bed", no idea how that search made it to my blog, but I'm guessing that they made it to this post. Who searches for stuff like this?!?!? If it was you, you can leave now. That person was messed up anyways b/c he/she used Yahoo search. Who uses Yahoo anymore?!?!? Unfortunately I don't have his/her IP address, otherwise I could make fun of them more....

Then there are the personal searches. These include my name and maybe someone else's with perhaps a verb thrown in there. People think they're searching anonymously. But they don't know that I can see what they searched for if they got to my page from a search engine. Reality check: every web page you go to can do the same thing. If you search for something and click on a link, that page can see what you searched for in order to get to their page. I figure that if people spy on me, I will spy on them. But it's not like you can really tell who did the search. At best you can nail down that the person searched from say NoNameCity, SomeProvidence and some other clues, but you can't tell who exactly it is unless you get like a search warrant (or whatever you need, like a gun) and get their ISP to tell you.

For future reference if you want to remain anonymous when searching for something, or you're going to a seedy webpage, or you want to get around content filters at work/school/library/etc., you can try Hide My Ass, which is a free web proxy. Just enter the address of the page (eg. http://www.google.com/) and they fake your IP address so that you can remain anonymous. Not that I have anything to hide...

The Great Conspiracy

9/11 - a state sponsored (or at least assisted) act for political and personal gain? And by state, I mean the United States of America.

I found this video to be quite interesting:: The 9/11 News Special You Never Saw

I don't believe everying they say, but I think there is some truth in there and it's nice to see some actual reporting and investigation for once instead of this mindless and naive crap in the media. The video is similar to Fahrenheit 911 in that it takes a view opposed to the Bush administration, but goes at it from a different perspective.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Once you've had good pasta, you can't go back

Recently I've been staying away from those cheap $1 packages of pasta. My recent thing has been Barilla brand pasta. It's a little pricier, but it's totally worth it. It's noticeably thicker, springier, and has more substance in its taste.

Then, after I watched Harry Potter, I went to the St. Lawrence Market as it was just across the street and I hadn’t been in there before. I was quite surprised by all the food that was inside, which was fortunate as I needed to get some groceries. There was a stand that was selling fresh pasta and true to their word, they were making pasta right on the spot. The pasta was soft, not dried out like the stuff you buy in stores. They also advertised the absence of preservatives, so I doubt that it has a long shelf life.

I bought a bag of fusilli and two small tubs of their meat sauce (they ran out of large). It lasted me two meals and set me back $10. I'm not sure what the price breakdown was, but it's more expensive than the regular stuff, but cheaper than in a restaurant and as good as anything I've had in a restaurant.

It was quite tasty. The pasta itself was awesome. It cooked really fast, faster than regular pasta (the Barilla pasta takes longer to cook b/c it's thick and dried) and had a great taste (I love carbs), texture, and feel. I didn't think that their sauce was anything amazing though. I think that my sauce tastes just as good. I don't quite remember the pasta at Marche, or what is now known as Richtree Market, as they have fresh pasta as well.

I don't think I can go back to the cheap pasta. I'd probably get the fresh pasta more often if the market wasn't so far away and had longer hours. I rarely do my grocery shopping during regular hours.

My biggest award ever!

Well, not financially, recognizability, or in terms of how many people I had to crush to win it, but physically it's my biggest award ever! Sure beats all those useless little medals...

CVPR 2005 Best Paper Award

I'm so retarded, and I just can't hide it, I'm about to lose control and I don't think I like it

I grab the can of Pepsi on my desk and throw it back thinking that there's only a smidget left and this way I can get those precious last drops, only to find out that there's more left than I expected and I get Pepsi all over my face and clothes....and I just did laundry....

Who does this kind of thing?.... At least I'm on the right path for one of the Darwin awards....

Missing things in Seattle

I wish I had an ensuite washer and dryer like I had in Seattle. Sure beats having to take the elevator down 25 floors and carrying my laundry. At least I can do all of it in parallel, but it's a bitch when you forget something and you have to go all the way up, down the hall, and reverse to put in the volleyball kneepads into the wash....

While I'm at it, I'd also like to have the dishwasher I had in Seattle as well as a car. It'd be so much easier to get groceries with a car...

Though I enjoy riding on the subway and walking in downtown, minus the black stuff on the kleenex when you blow your nose, but it's WAY better than say.... Hong Kong.

Where do all these kids come from??!!?!!1one!?!!

I went to pick up "dinner" from Subway yesterday. I go inside and there's like a hundred kids in there! Ok, maybe like 8. I was like, no way am I going to wait half an hour listening to these 10 year olds scream and giggle while the ONE guy working there makes all those damn subs. I'd probably have a conviction some sort of brutal, grotesque, violent crime on a minor had I stayed there.

I didn't understand why there were so many kids there. It was almost 8 and it was right beside my apartment, across from U of T campus. Don't these kids get fed at home??!

Strangely enough, when I got back to my apartment. My suitemate and his gf were making dinner and they made extra for me. This was very strange. Never happened b4. It's been the other way around a couple of times b4. Apparently the gf did most of the cooking, but she says that she doesn't cook, which scared me even more. Dinner was actually pretty good.

Then, today, I went to go see the new Harry Potter movie. I quite enjoyed it. I had forgotten some of the book as I hadn't read it in 2 years (back when I was a bum in Winnipeg in the summer b4 grad school and I read the first 5 Harry Potter books in a week - I suffered huge Harry Potter withdrawal after that). I enjoyed it more than the previous (3rd) movie. One guy came with us that hadn't read the books and said that it was confusing and didn't follow it.

Anyways, how does this relate to kids? Well, sitting right behind us were some kids that were talking the whole movie!!!! It was annoying as stupid undergrads knocking on my office door looking for people that aren't there. The kids had obviously not read the books either as they were like, "oh, this and this is going to happen!!" and I was like "no, you stupid sh*t, you'd know that wasn't the case if you read the god damn book, now shut the f*ck up!" Who's idea was it to watch Harry Potter as a matinee on a Saturday anyways? FYI, don't watch kid movies during kid friendly hours.

Oh, and I found a decent cheap movie theatre - Rainbow Cinemas Market Square. Matinees are $4.25 and they play 1st run movies. Regular price is $7.50, which is decent. Though the theatre is pretty old school and small. Not as good as Cinema City in Winnipeg where you can watch a movie on Tuesday for $1.75 (cheaper with frequently available coupons) or $3.00 regular price, though it's 2nd run movies (after the main theatres, before DVDs).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Freaky duplicate stuffed animals....

I was browsing through my feeds in Google Reader and saw this post on Blogger Buzz about adding personal touches to you blog. Then I see this picture, and I'm like, hey! My cat has that stuffed animal too! Freaky. Though, my black and white cat is much cuter than the one in this picture.


Funny thing about that stuffed animal. It looks a lot like my older black and white cat, and my younger, orange tabby cat likes to chase my older cat and attack her (she's lost weight ever since we got the second cat as she's had to run more). Anyways, my orange cat also enjoys attacking this stuffed animal pretending that it's my other cat :p

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Oh man, it's cold outside...

I just went to go grab a hot dog around the corner from Frankie's (the hot dog stands around campus are awesome), but he was no where to be seen. I guess he had already packed up for the day. Ordinarily I would then just go to Sid Smith and try the hot dog stands there, but it was too cold! Earlier in the day, it wasn't bad, so I was too lazy to bring my gloves and toque for this short trip, which I now regret. The wind just made it brutal...

When did this happen? The other day I was walking outside in a t-shirt (granted just down the street briefly), and today it's freezing outside. Like it's not that bad, but comparing to the other day, it's horrible.

I so need to move somewhere warm. I think I'm losing my Winnipeg tolerance to winter.

I'll probably try again later to get some food when I'm better prepared, but for now I'm settling for a bag of vending machine pretzels.

Monday, November 21, 2005

(Non-porn) amateur videos are taking over

Uploading amateur video onto the web is starting to get pretty big. And of course, as with most stuff on the Internet, this was first pioneered by the porn industry, perhaps the most innovate group on the Internet.

The thing that gets me are that these videos are really cool and entertaining and you'd never see them on TV at least in their full length glory. Aside from America's funniest home videos (again, the full length video wouldn't be there and only "funny" videos would be on that show), the Internet is really the only outlet for distributing this kind of stuff....

Anyways, aside from the fabulous golf video, here are two videos I found today that are jaw dropping and insanely entertaining.

Crazy Christmas light display - My theory is that the guy recently got laid off and is using this as a way to land a job, because it's obvious that he has WAY too much time on his hands and doesn't have a job or life.

Mario unleashed on the marimba - If you have no appreciation for this work of art, just leave now, stop reading my blog, and don't come back.

Update (later that day):  Not sure why this stuff amuses me so much (nostalgia?), but here's a guy playing mario on the piano, blindfolded. Short version, long version, his webpage. Check out the end of the video, he just goes crazy - Super Mario World when time is running out! This makes me want to learn how to play piano.... Hmmm... I wonder how this music will be viewed like 100 years from now, like will it be as cherished as Beethoven? Considered to be classicial music? Some orchestras are actually playing Mario music nowadays....

Superpowers and weaknesses

Nebojsa says my superpower is "to take any algorithm and make it work". My weakness appears to be Civilization 4, which I've been playing way too much ever since I got it on Wednesday, hence the lack of blogs since then :p. I've been a big fan of the series ever since the first one. I like it so much that I actually bought it! That's saying a lot ;)

My whole sleeping schedule's all screwed up ever since I came back. Until last night, I hadn't gone to bed before 6 am. I guess it would be me going to bed at the same time as I was in Seattle, so basically I just didn't change time zones. No particular reason though for staying up so late. Just too lazy to go to bed.....

Civ 4 just made it worse. One day I'm up for 24 hours straight, then next day, after going to bed well after the sun has risen, I'm only awake for 12 hours before going to bed at a decent time. I need to fix this....

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Magic tricks

By popular demand (ok, 1 person), here's a magic trick to entertain you.

  1. Pick the number of days that you'd like to have sex this week (1-7).

  2. Multiply this number by 2, because you'll want twice as much.

  3. Add 5, man you're naughty.

  4. Multiply by 50, because you get 2 weeks of vacation in a year.

  5. Add 1754, no idea what's going on here.

  6. If you've already had your birthday this year, then add 1 for bonus.

  7. Subtract the four digit year you were born (19XX).

What you're left with is the number of days that you want to have sex this week followed by your age. Pretty clever huh? No, but at least my commentary was somewhat entertaining...


Are you a Potentate of the Rose? Check out the Petals Around the Rose game. It's a fun, simple game and can be done either on or offline. Some dice are rolled and you have to guess the score. The answer is always zero or an even number. That's all I can tell you and that's all there is to it.

If you figure out what's going on, then you get to join the exclusive club. The only rule about being in the club is to not tell anyone so that the game can continue to drive them nuts. Best played with a group of people when you can have some keeners get it and then laugh at the strugglers 8-|

I sleep on grain and under geese

It was a rather comforting feeling being back in my bed last night. I like my mattress here. Not too soft. Not too hard. My mattress in Seattle was alright, but I didn't like their mattress cover thingy b/c it bunched up sometimes.

The thing that most surprised me was the feeling of my blanket. I had completely forgotten what it felt like. I didn't particularly like the blankets in Seattle. The bed was like a hotel bed - flat sheet, fuzzy blanket, flat sheet, thin colourful blanket. The housekeeping people also tucked in the sheets like in a hotel. Sometimes I like to sleep with the blankets all tucked in, but other times it feels to restricting. I only now realize, after sleeping back in my bed, why it doesn't feel the same. With those blankets, what happens, especially when the sheets are tucked in, is that you get the "tent" effect. The blankets will cover you, but drape off you very gradually, leaving an air gap between you and the blankets, plus the blankets feel dense and the layers can get mis-aligned.

I have a goose down blanket here. It's thick, but fluffy and light. I use it throughout the year - keeps me warm in the winter, somewhat cool in summer. Lying in bed last night, I really felt the difference. It was such a comforting feeling. The blanket hugged me completely, but was not suffocating as it's light. The air gaps were very minimal as it naturally filled in all the empty space between me and the blanket. Just an amazing feeling.

Of course, I had my pillow with me in Seattle. Anyone that is familiar with my sleeping habits knows that I don't go anywhere without my pillow. Seriously, if I'm travelling anywhere, I take my pillow with me. What's so special about my pillow? It kicks ass, that's what's special about it. What? Ya, that's right, it kicks ass. You're crazy. I know.

I have a buckwheat pillow and have had one for who knows how long, probably like 10 years or something. My pillow is filled with grain. What? Yes. Grain. It's kinda weird, but I love it. I love how it conforms to the shape of my head and neck, provides amazing support, feels great on my head, and doesn't retain heat (the old commerical took a blow torch to the pillow, so I guess it's also not flammable). When I use other pillows now, my neck is usually sore when I wake up. I just got a Duo Bucky pillow a couple months ago to replace my older buckwheat pillow (which was many years old) and it's great. This particular pillow has both buckwheat and millet inside.


The best part of having a buckwheat pillow are the KO's you get when you have pillow fights ;)

Back in Toronto

I got back into Toronto late last night, but was too lazy to blog about it.

I went to Seattle with 2 extremely packed suitcases, each weighing at least my weight. I thought I was going to get my ass kicked by the check-in counter lady, but by some act of god (I don't believe in god, but maybe it's being in america so much that everything has to be about god), she didn't even weigh my luggage!!! It might have been b/c I was late and they pulled me out of the line to check me in b/c the line was long. Anyways, so I had no idea how much I was bringing.

I came back to Toronto with 3 bags, 2 of the overweight and got rapped up the ass sideways twice by the airline. So, apparently all the airlines are now limiting luggage to 50 pounds, instead of 70, which seems so anachronistic (that my friends, is a GRE word!!!). By the law of technology, things should be getting better, faster, cheaper, more efficient, and less polluting, yet the airline industry is reducing how much I can carry! This is not progress! This is proof of America's recent abomination of science! I blame Bush.

So, that's $80 for the extra bag. $25 for each overweight bag. My luggage was 70, 60, and 25 pounds. Yes I could've distributed the weight better (well, it would've been hard considering the size of my third bag). I handed over my credit card for the US$130 bill. Fortunately, Microsoft pays for relocation costs :D

But seriously, the worst thing is that from now on, I'm going to have to travel super light, this includes my upcoming trip to Winnipeg (in the middle of winter) and LA/Mexico (which necessitates minimal amount of clothing). How am I going to pack winter and summer clothes in a single suitcase (won't be able to bring more than 1 suitecase onto the cruise) in addition to Christmas presents (bringing them back to Toronto) all within 50 pounds???!!?!?!? Impossible.

Back to the trip. My flight was direct to Toronto, with a brief stop in Chicago. I'm reboarding the plane, and I see this guy that looks crazy familar, but it can't be him, why would someone I know who should be in Toronto be in Chicago on MY plane? I'm like totally staring him down as I'm standing in the aisle of the plane waiting for the people in front of me to move. He glances back. I'm not sure it's him though, but as I walk past him, I see the mole on the side of his neck and man, it's gotta be him!

Landing in Toronto, the custom's guy doesn't even bother looking at my I-94 visa stuff and just waves me on. My luggage comes out on the wrong belt, but crazy fast. I get outside the baggage claim area and the guy is with his brother (who was also on the plane) and their gf's. I know both JP and Ann from volleyball this past summer. Totally crazy that he was on my plane. He apparently was in Japan and had gotten re-routed through Chicago on his way back.

I jumped in a cab (courtesy of Microsoft) and got home just after midnight.

The thing about high speed internet at home is that you don't appreciate it until you've been on dial-up for a while. Man does it ever feel good! I'm so used to waiting for pages to load. Of course, I had crazy fast high speed at work, but my ports were limited (at least on my laptop) and didn't use my desktop there as much for leisure purposes as I would my home computer.

Oh, in unpacking today, I see this stray piece of paper in one of my suitcases. "Notification of baggage inspection". Apparently they checked my bag. Didn't seem like anything was moved around, so I'm guessing they just popped it open and the dog didn't smell any explosives. That's never happened to me before. I guess that's why they tell you to not lock your baggage when travelling in the US b/c they will break the lock to peek inside (says so on the paper that they "may have been forced to break the locks on your bag").

Monday, November 14, 2005

Working late at Microsoft

Speaking from experience, leaving work at 1 am on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights is great in that you completely avoid the rush hour. Plus, with the super smart traffic lights here, all the lights turn green for you by the time you get to the intersection :)

However, Microsoft gives off clear signs that you're working too late and actively discourages people from working late. Usually, the first sign is that the lights in the washroom are off. They turn off automagically when no one's used it for a while. This phenomenon is typically observed around 6 or 7 pm on weekdays. Fortunately, the lights automagically turn on when noise is made in the washroom, which is fortunate for those long occasions in the stall - sounds of struggle keep the lights on.

The second sign that you're working too late is when the building ghosts get restless and play with the lights. This freaked me out the first couple times it happend. The lights would flicker in the evenings. I was quite startled by the power failure, but relieved when my computer didn't shut off. It was as if god him/her/themselves blessed me and saved my computer! I would then panic and quickly save my work in case the god(s) changed hi/her/their mind. Sometimes, the lights would go off for prolonged periods of time and I would begin to wander the halls of darkness in confusion, but then suddenly, as if an act from god(s), they'd relight themselves and I would rejoice as I was blessed with light from the light god(s)!

I later found out that it wasn't ghosts that were playing with the lights, but rather it was an energy saving feature. The light flicker signals the immenent disapperance of light. To save yourself from working in the dark, you must go and flick the switch on the wall in the hallway, which buys you another 2 hours of artificial sun. I have studied this marvel quite thoroughly and it starts at 9 pm on weekdays and runs continuously on the weekends.

Hmm... it's currently 11:50 pm on a Sunday, why the hell do i hear vacuuming?....

Sunday, November 13, 2005

omg, it's not Christmas!!!!11!!one!!!

Why the hell is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" already playing on TBS??!?!? That's just retarded. Check your calendar people! It's November! Still a month and a half until Christmas!!!! Yes, the movie will get old after airing it 1,000 times this holiday season!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Oh, it's already been broughten!

I've "added" all the "gas", the pedal's on the floor, and I'm in the highest gear.

The game is on. The battle's waging. The clock is ticking. I will emerge victorious!

My eye's on the prize and the deadline's Monday.

Expect this space to remain stagnant until I have more time (next week when I'm back in Toronto). No time to waste. Back to work.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The greatest video of all time

What is perhaps the greatest video ever made, at least starring yours truly, is now on Google video!

Click here for the video

Starring


Chris



Justin



Rob



Vince

Battlestar Galactica withdrawal....

Must..... have.... more..... Battlestar Galactica!!! Someone give me a hit!! Anyone?!?! I just want one more episode!!! I'll do anything!!!

AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!


Edit (after several hours of counseling):

Hi, my name is Vincent and
I'm a Battlestar Galactica addict.


Having gone through Harry Potter and Desperate Housewives, I moved onto Battlestar Galactica. Watched the mini-series (basically the length of a movie), the first season (13 episodes), and caught up to the most recent episode in season two (episode 10). Unfortunately, no new episodes until January :(

If you've seen the show, you probably know why I'm addicted, if you haven't, then you probably think that only light sabre swinging, dungeon dragon playing, Star Trek obsessed, overalls up to their neck, nerd geek freaks would watch a show called Battlestar Galactica. I was just as skeptical when I first heard of the show. With a name like Battlestar Galactica, you just expect it to be another Star Trek / Babylon 5 / other space nerd show. Well, it's not.

Battlestar Galactica is not about traveling faster than the speed of light, fighting aliens, discovering new planets, or using futuristic technology, the show is all about what it means to be human. The story is set-up through the genocide of humans by our own creation, but soon questions our humanity and reflects on how we live in our current civilizations. The characters make the show and they are amazing and the character development is really deep. The characters are real people. The script is clever and well written.

I implore you to give it a shot. Watch the mini-series. It's only the length of a movie. Otherwise I'll force you.

Also, it's not just a show for guys, to my complete utter surprise, I met several females over the weekend who watch Battlestar Galactica, and one of them is not a techie at all - she works in HR and was not at all impressed by my binary joke.

Here's a wiki about the show. And for the guys (and girls who swing the other way), here's a very convincing argument, my current obsession, Grace Park, who unfortunately does not wear such outfits on the show (for the girls out there, she's quite clothed on the show).

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Played Xbox 360

Oh, and around 3, this girl that's on the Xbox team goes to her car and brings in an Xbox 360 :)

It's not even out until the end of the month! All (zero of) my friends on the "Internets" are gonna be so jealous!!!

It was pretty fun. I was told that I can't disclose any information or share pictures.

Actually the UBC engineer and one of the Waterloo girls are both on the Xbox team and they were like, it's not a big deal to them b/c they play with it every day and see people playing on it all the time. The rest of us were like, hey it's cool and wanted to check it out, but none of us were huge gamers or anything. You know, only 3 people got punched and 1 guy got knifed in choosing who got a controller. The strangest and funniest thing was that me and another guy were playing this one game (can't disclose which game) and the two girls were telling us what to do. It was just the strangest feeling...

Not like they were geek girls, ok, well, everyone there was geeky, but they don't appear or act geeky, like you wouldn't pick them out of a crowd as such. It's cool that way though. Geek is chic.

Careful, you may mistake me for having a life

I picked a great day to go to the Hot Sake dragon boat practice. It was like the coldest day since I've been here (high in the single digits), plus it was raining pretty hard. I don't have any rain or snow/cold weather gear with me here. I scraped together any clothing that was almost suitable for the weather and managed to keep warm. As nothing I have is water proof, what I did was just layer like crazy so that it'd take the rain a while to seep through all the layers :p. T-shirt, long sleeve, sweater, wind jacket, life jacket. Fuzzy pants + track pants. Two pairs of socks + runners. Hat from the company meeting + hood from my jacket. Crappy stretchy wool gloves. Surprisingly, while I could see my breath and anything exposed was completely wet, I was really comfortable. Didn't even notice the rain or cold, but it might have been the pain that drone it out.

I had a good time and the company was really cool. This group of people just doesn't do anything small, which is awesome. 20-something people showed up to paddle in the rain and we took two boats out. It was pretty hard as they were doing like 22 min. of continuous paddling on each side and my muscles don't nearly have enough endurance to do that right now, considering that it was my first time dragon boating. I'm pretty sore today - upper back is pretty bad, my butt has got to be seriously bruised or something, and my side muscles are sore.

They had an end of the year meeting later that day and I crashed the party after the meeting. They had it in one of the peoples' house. I get inside and there's like this massive group of people.... Everytime I see them, it's a big gathering. They have like 40+ people in total, not sure how many were actually there, but quite a bit more than at practice. The group is really cool, it's an interesting mix of people - ranging from around my age to undisclosed ages, good balance of guys and girls, people of all colour, and as typical of my experience here, few Americans :p. A bunch are from Microsoft, but there's also representation from Amazon, Starbucks, and the unemployed. We had good representation of engineering from across Canada too - a girl from computer engineering at UBC, me from comp. eng. U of M, and two girls from systems design engineering Waterloo. Aside from dragon boating, the other common denominator that I see that strings them all together is that they all act as if they're in their 20's :)

Not too late in the evening, we shifted over to another couples' house back in Bellevue. Apparently the convoy of cars is quite typical. We lost some people, but still had something like 20. House party where the people throwing the party actually owns the house, that's new :). There was some indoor volleyball going on :). It was a pretty late party, didn't end until 4 in the morning :p.

The only bad thing is that I only met all these people like a week and a half before I'm leaving. Just as I met some people that are cool to hang out with and fun to socialize with...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The only people in Seattle are Canadians

Every fracking person I meet in Seattle is from Canada! (frack is from my current tv show obsession and is freely substitutable for it's more common 4 letter word, including all its derivatives)

I went to the University of Washington Huskies women’s volleyball game against Stanford last night with some people from volleyball (Huskies are ranked #2 and Cardinals #4, so it was a good game and the Huskies won). Little did I know that they were going as this massive group of 22 people. I later found out that their connection is dragon boating and I’m going to their practice tomorrow/later this morning. The guy that organizes this volleyball watching is like a crazy fan of women's college volleyball. He knows all the players on all the teams by name and their stats and histories, etc. It's sick. A bunch of these people are pretty regular viewers of the Huskies games, and it’s good volleyball to watch. The Huskies haven’t lost a game this season and have only dropped 3 sets out of like 30 or something. So anyways, after the game these guys (and girls) go to the “Ram” for food and it’s kinda funny because I guess their two reasons for going are because it accepts the Microsoft prime discount card and that the volleyball players often go to this place after the game. We saw 3 of the Huskies players there last night, they were sitting at the table on the other side of the glass from us. Gawking ensued.

Anyways, back to the central theme of this post - I have yet to meet anyone from Seattle!!! The stupidest thing is that one of the guys last night grew up in Winnipeg and graduated from the U of M in computer engineering. C’mon!!! Can I never escape these people??? Then there was this girl from Toronto (ok, Etobicoke) and like half the people were from Canada.

I guess the first sign was orientation when I met this girl from Toronto who ended up knowing some of my older sister’s friends who were in Seattle that were originally from Winnipeg. I met up with all them when my sister was in town. Chalk up a couple more Winnipeggers that I met in Seattle….

Then all these interns. None of them are American. These winter interns are worse because they’re all from Waterloo. When I went hiking at Mount Rainier, out of our like group of 10 or something, there was like 1 American. I went to this Fright Fest thing last weekend - Halloween theme at the local Six Flags amusement park, i.e. haunted houses and roller coasters. Anyways, the Six Flags here blows, the rides are all crap, but that’s because it was bought by Six Flags, not built as a Six Flags. The Six Flags over Texas is still the scariest. My pants are still wet from the longest and highest wooden rollercoaster in the world, which was incidentally my first rollercoaster and I was 10. But now all the rollercoasters are just elevator rides. I digress. Half of our group of 6 was from Waterloo, I’m from Toronto/Winnipeg, that makes 2/3 Canadian. The other two were from the Netherlands. They were pretty cool and I spent most of the evening talking to them. Europeans are cool.

That reminds me, I’m famous to the point of getting recognized on the street! Soon I’ll no longer be able to go to the grocery store without disguise. Ok, fine, that’s not going to be a problem. Anyways, one of the Waterloo guys was like, did you write a cycle stealing program that got passed around? I was like no. Then, I was like, umm… wait, I did write such a program, but I didn’t pass it around. Well, a while back, my supervisor told me to send an e-mail to the HPC (high performance computing) guys about my distributed computing system b/c I might need to use their resources to run some stuff. Apparently the e-mail got forwarded around the group and that intern was from HPC.

I digress again. So, when people ask me what it’s like in Seattle. I answer that it’s quite similar to Canada, but my view is skewed because every goddamn person I meet is from Canada!!!!

Oh wait, now that I think of it, I have met some Seattleites. Of course, from volleyball. Everyone I know I met through volleyball. But these Seattleites do not play at the Pro Club – those are all Microsoft employees and none of them are from around here, and many are not from the States. I’ve gone to a school in Redmond a couple times for pick-up volleyball and as that’s more local, I’m quite sure that at least some of them are from Seattle. At least the kids. There are some guys that I’m pretty sure are high school players, so there, I have met some people from Seattle. Of course, conversion is limited on the court and mostly I’m just screaming for help (the passing’s not so great there).

Irreversible democratic decisions

This topic came up over one of those 2 hour lunches with my supervisor and my fellow slaves here. I don't quite remember how we got onto the topic, but I started educating the Yugoslavian, Mexican (not Mexican’t), and the American about the whole Quebec separation thing. It’s a strange thing because supposedly, if the majority votes for separation in a referendum, then Quebec would separate. The kicker is that there’s essentially no limit as to how many referendums there can be. There’s already been 2 and there’s talk of a 3rd. One majority of “yes” means separation, regardless of how many “no” referendums there are. But once you get that “yes”, then that’s it, there’s essentially no going back. So, in the limit, you’re basically guaranteed to have separation…

Now, is this how irreversible decisions should be made? Repeated attempts at doing something, with basically no consequences of failure, but a success is final. Seems rather strange. If you get a bad sample (i.e. strange voter turnout), then this could skew the results. I guess maybe that’s why Jean Chr├ętien was saying that 50% + 1 vote is not enough…

So, the reason I thought of this recently is the whole digg thing. My most recent attempt at getting onto digg worked, but after appearing on the front page for half an hour, I was unceremoniously removed. There are mechanisms built-in so that stories can be weeded out by the people. Not sure if a story is removed if it gets a certain number of “bad” votes or it’s a thing of say, “if more problem reports (or some fraction) than diggs, then kill”, but once it’s gone, it’s gone (I asked). Now, this is a strange way of dealing with things. People may report the story for the wrong reason or out of jealously or whatever, or maybe you get a bad sampling of the population. But, it’s one of those irreversible decisions handled by some sort of “voting public” where the vote can be done limitless number of times, but once you reach the breaking point, there’s no going back.

Am I bitter? No. Am I disappointed? A little, but I’m over it now. Just ranting about the oddities of the world. Do I have a better solution? Not really, but it does seem like some educated and intelligent higher power, leader (i.e. not Bush), or committee/judge panel should be calling the final shot on things like these.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

My original quote of the day


People don't change, they just become better liars.

  -- Vince

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Jumping higher

The good news is that I'm jumping higher. The bad news is that I hit my head on the ceiling!

Dammit, my head hurts. I'm about 5.5' tall and the ceiling's about 7.5'.

I have to stop doing plyometric exercises indoors :s

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

6 promotions from Bill Gates's job

The great thing about the hierarchy in a company is that it gives you an instant view of your position in the company and your power. It also serves as a great measure of your worth and importance compared to your fellow employees.

For example, I am just a measely intern, but one at Microsoft Research, not just a product group, and I am 6 levels down from Bill Gates (who remains the symbolic leader here, as even Steve Ballmer is below Bill).


This may seem quite far down, but I've seen product groups go down to more than 10 levels, as they're strangled in significantly more hierarchy and faced with more scrutiny from the (many) higher levels.

OOF - out of the office

What's got to be the silliest practice over here is peoples' incessant need to mass mail about their absence from the office.

longish lunch break
I am going to Pro club…


oof for most of AM
Some non-reschedulable errands.
Will show up closer to lunch time.

NO ONE CARES!

As much as you like to believe in your own self-worth, no one's going to miss you. There is NO need to mail the whole group. I don't even know who you people are!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Real life bumper cars

Funny thing about the car rental that Microsoft gives me. I didn't have to specifically sign anything regarding collision damage or insurance when I rented the car. Presumedly, since Microsoft handles so many car rentals for its interns and new employees that they have their own insurance policy or something.

Anyways, I got into a bit of a bump the other day. It was pretty dumb and it was the first time that I've ever damaged a car, and I've been driving for almost 9 years. I was working late here and when I was backing out of my spot in the parking lot, I saw that there weren't any cars around me or behind, so I looked back and reversed pretty quick, because it's fun going backwards. Next thing I know, I'm jarred back and the car had smashed into something. Hard. I thought I hit the tire on something. There was a concrete post to my left that I had neglected to see and the front side of my car had smashed right into it!

It was a pretty good dent and there were large scratch marks on the car. Fortunately the car still worked fine (didn't hit the tires or whatnot). The only thing was that since the metal side got bent pretty good, the door made a large creeking sound when I opened it.

I remembered reading on the interns mailing list about people having accidents with their cars and just exchanging them for new cars with no repercussions or costs. One girl said that she made 3 car exchanges in one 3 month internship! I recall one guy also saying to bring the car back low on gas b/c they didn't charge for it :)

So, I kept using my car until the gas was down to about a quarter before taking it in for the exchange (that was yesterday). The service guy was nice and noticed the tank but let me off saying that it was going to be serviced anyways. If it wasn't for the guy at the desk inside, I would've gotten away with it too! He made me go fill up the tank (US$40). But, in terms of the accident, all I had to do was put down my info and a description of what happened. No questions asked. He did ask whether to just charge it to the company and I nodded my head. I think they handle a lot of car accidents from Microsoft employees at that location as that's the closest Avis place to the main Microsoft campus.

So, the car I've got now is a metallic blue Chrysler PT Cruiser. I'm not a big fan. I think the PT Cruiser's a pretty damn ugly car. Seems like such an old person's car. Though the colour's not bad - it's the same as my little sister's beatle. It's not that quiet, doesn't show the name of the song on the radio, and I don't like the way it drives, but at least it's smaller than the boat I was driving before (Chevrolet Impala). Oh well, I'm only going to be using it for two weeks and I don't drive that much.

Consequence free car accidents, now that's the way to live. Wonder how much tolerance they have? Who wants to play bumper cars? Meet in the middle of the freeway at 6 ;)

Why anyone cared about my blog and how my post got famous

What started as a simple blog post about my take on sleep and how I wake myself up in the morning, along with a simple desire to garner a little bit of web site traffic and attention through a submission to digg.com, has turned out more successful than I ever would have thought.

To date, I've gotten 2,300 digs (26th most dugg article this year), over 45,000 hits, almost 500 del.icio.us bookmarks, a mention on the 18th Diggnation podcast, and almost 150 links to my post. All this seems a little absurd for a blog post by some random guy.

Jump to the end of this post for a detailed look at the web traffic that digg caused.

So why did a blog post get this much attention? There are thousands of blog posts each day, why this one?

For one, I submitted it to digg and people "dugg" it. But how did a blog post neither about news nor technology get on a "technology news" website? My story doesn't once mention Google, Microsoft, Apple, Linux, digg, or Slashdot (typical of dig stories). Alarm clocks can hardly be called technology. So seriously, why did anyone pay attention to my blog?

Here are my theories:


Original content

While my story was not news, it was completely novel material. Written from my very blood (my keyboard needed cleaning afterwards). In short, it wasn't just another blog entry. Here is one of my favourite comments that was on digg (thanks wildjohn999):
"This is a blog, marked as LAME."

Nope because unlike other blogs this is orginal content not some douche linking to another site with a single sentence saying "Click this link to see the doucheyness I found at douche.com"

Many blogs just link to something else or regurgitate material. Conversely, I don't use my blog to just link to other stories. If I want to bookmark something or tell someone that I found something interesting, I use del.icio.us. I use my blog to rant about whatever I see fit and sometimes I gather up my thoughts sufficiently to write something almost comprehensible in an attempt to share what limited knowledge I have.

Of course, I don't have enough material on any one topic to rationalize an entire website to it, so that's why I just mash it all together in my blog… amateur writing and random organizational skills at its best.

Universal appeal

My story was about sleep. What could be more ubiquitous than sleep? Aside from the crazies who claim to never sleep, my story potentially affects everyone; crossing all types of boundaries – gender, race, nationality, age, sexual orientation, knowledge, intelligence, education, interests, geekiness, l33tness, social status, appearance, fitness, and wealth.

The vast majority of people that have Internet access have to, at some point or another, wake up at a specific time, whether to go to school or work, get to an appointment, run an errand, or make it to the airport for a flight. We are all slaves of the clock.

The title, "Alarm clocks are bad" catches peoples' eyes because of their ubiquitous use and the shocking statement that what they're using could be bad for them. Many people are also sleep deprived and wake up grumpy and feeling horrible. "Wake up and feel better" gives them hope that they can improve their lives.

"Free lunch" self-help

People love self-help. Why wouldn't you want to improve your own life? The problem is that people want change, but they don't want to change. Ultimately, people want results without the price – no effort, cost, or change in lifestyle.

What I offered was a "free lunch" – the potential to feel better, maybe have more energy, all without having to spend money, go to the gym, change your diet, or change what time you go to sleep. All you had to do was change what you did with your existing alarm clock. Simple. Effective (?). Free.

Not (complete) bulls*t

I started the post by offering some very general and basic science about the sleep cycle. Many people may not have been familiar with it, for the rest, a brief refresher didn't hurt. This helped to meld in the readers' mind the basic premise that my system was based upon; a system that would then seem sensible, reasonable, and had a shot at working.

I referred to two commercial products that worked on this basis of the sleep cycle and targeting when you wake up. But of course, people want self-help for free. I offered similar results without the cost, humility, or hassle of having to use these products.

I gave no evidence that it works aside from my own anecdotal evidence from the past 7 years. I was however, later backed up by a number of readers who had been doing something similar and those that actually tried it out for themselves.

Bookmarkable and shareable

The ironic thing is that while my non-news story was submitted to a "news" site, it is its lack of "news" which may have helped it succeed. People don't bookmark news, or at least I don't bookmark news stories. What's the point of reading old news that you've already read? People bookmark things that they will want to refer back to at some point. Self-help is exactly the kind of material that people would want to save.

Approximately 1 out of 90 unique visitors that viewed my post bookmarked to their del.icio.us page, for a total of almost 500 del.icio.us bookmarks. I think that's a fantastically high number. Considering that relatively few people use del.icio.us (although my traffic would have definitely been skewed towards the technologically adept crowd), I must have had a few thousand regular bookmarks. That's incredible to me that anyone would save my page, let alone hundreds or thousands.

The number of del.icio.us bookmarks made my post the most popular bookmark for a short period and in the second spot for a good day. This in turn, gave me more hits.


The kind of post that mine was, also lent itself to be told to others by word of mouth, hence my almost 150 links (according to Technorati) from other blogs and webpages. Who knows how many e-mails were sent (at least a couple as I saw some hits from gmail, yahoo mail, hotmail, and aol mail). Word of mouth is a powerful thing. That's very much how digg works.

Final thoughts

This was not an attempt to write a guide about how to get your blog on digg and get a lot of diggs and hits. I doubt the repeatability of this even for myself, at least on a grand scale of which it happened this time. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a one hit wonder.

I would say that original content on blogs will get you more traffic than just links to other webpages. Blogs can serve as an outlet for amateurs to present to the world some novel material. How to get the world to read about your fantastic post is the difficult part. For me, I found digg to be quite successful, but your mileage may vary. In comparing Slashdot and digg, introducing new content was something that came up. Maybe blog posts is part of the solution.

As a final "final thought", are "diggers" really digging the best stories? Well, they dugg my story and that's cool and I really appreciate it, but it's a funny system when a random blog offering advice based on little more than anecdotal evidence and a sketchy bit of science can beat out (get more diggs than) articles like these:


Traffic analysis

I had no idea that my post would be as successful or as well accepted as it has been. My intentions were to get a bit more traffic to my recently reincarnated blog. I hoped for maybe a few hundred diggs and a couple thousand hits. I got an order of magnitude higher than my highest expectation.

The thing that caught me off guard was that people were actually bookmarking my page and linking to my post. At one point, I was the most popular bookmarked site on del.icio.us. Approximately 1 out of 90 unique visitors were bookmarking my post on del.icio.us. I don't know what the typical numbers are, but I thought that this was quite high considering the relatively few people that use del.icio.us.

Without further ado, here are the rough numbers during this whole fiasco. I submitted to digg on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2005, at about 5 pm (PST), so all the following data considers this as time "0". The stats for the first little bit are a little rough, as I wasn't tracking the stats very carefully at the time and I was out playing volleyball. For all intensive purposes, my blog didn't get any traffic before.

Here's the total number of diggs and hits that I got in the first 48 hours. Things obviously slow down the further you are from the front page. It's a shame my post was on the front page for such a short amount of time. Things really start to crawl after 24 hours. I hit exactly 2000 diggs after 48 hours.

 


Here are the total number of diggs, hits, and del.icio.us bookmarks my post got over the first week.


  


Finally, here are the numbers for each 24 hour period over the course of the past week. I got onto the diggnation podcast (episode 18) during the 6th day. It gave me a little bump in the number of diggs and hits. Funny thing, they didn't actually talk about my post because Alex forgot to read it and just made up shit, laughed, and drank. I wonder if this actually gave me more attention?...


  


Initially, all my traffic was coming directly from digg. After about 12 hours, I was already on page 2 of digg, but I was getting about 10 – 15% of my traffic from del.icio.us's popular page. After a brief stint at the top, I was delegated to 2nd for the good day before dropping like a rock and falling off the popular list. del.icio.us itself has it's own snowball effect since other sites create their own lists based upon del.icio.us bookmarks, such as populicio.us, LiveMarks, Daily Mashup, and Spiderous. del.icio.us copycats, such as Spurl and Furl, also helped to spread the word about my post, but only had a fraction of the impact that del.icio.us had.

With word spreading around the Internet, other places began to link to me and also served served as sources of traffic (the snowball effect). Some of these places gave upwards of 20% of my traffic at times.

I would like to thank digg and all the diggers out there. I appreciate all the comments that people have left me both here and on digg. All I wanted was to share some information and if people found it useful, then that's absolutely fantastic. And lastly, I would like to thank you if you've made it all the way down to the end of this post.

Digg this article

Friday, October 28, 2005

Strange search results on Google

Even more entertaining than googling yourself is to "image google" yourself.

My search results unfortunately doesn't give the picture from my webpage, but does show some different aspects of myself that you may not be aware of.

This image is of me from 2003 in my orange prison jump suit after being convicted of a double murder. I was sentenced, at the age of 40, to life in prison with no possibility of parole. As such, today's post is coming straight to you from behind bars.

This is a picture of my boat. I'm throwing a party once I get out of prison.

This picture is a little embarrassing. The lighting really messed with my skin tone and the camera didn't catch my good side.

Finally, while this picture is not of myself or related to me, it caught my eye because she was pretty cute.
It was later brought to my attention that looking for pictures of girls when searching for your name is a little creepy.


I was uploading some research videos onto Google Video the other day. While I was at it, I did some random searches . I searched for "cats" and came up with this little gem entitled "Funny cats video". I had seen the video several times before, but it's still hilarious :)

I searched for "dogs" and got the complete opposite - an absolutely horrible, gruesome, and disturbing video. The video is called "Shooting dogs for sport" and it's a video of American soldiers in Iraq shooting dogs when they got bored of shooting humans. Just to warn you, it can make your stomach churn.
« Newer Posts Home Older Posts »