Vincent Cheung

Vincent Cheung's Blog

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Well, there's always Seattle...

Phone interview could've gone better. First one wasn't amazing. He didn't really ask many technical questions, but of those he asked, I didn't really answer them. On the plus side, he's old school buddies with Brendan and Nebojsa, ah, the joy of connections! Second one was better, though my brain kinda zoned out in the middle of it, but I managed to recover. Stupid cordless phone disconnected me, fortunately it was already after the time limit was up and we were pretty much done.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Girl jumps through basketball hoop

Crazy video...

Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Happy Chinese New Year!

I'd contemplate doing something for new year's, but it's absolutely horrendous outside. Pouring rain and it looks miserable outside. Not that I have anything in particular to do or family to visit.

Chinese New Year is much more of a family celebration, than with friends or random strangers. It's like how Christmas you spend with your family - have a big dinner, exchange gifts, etc. Chinese New Year, you also generally have a big dinner with family, but instead of gifts, you get cold hard cash in "red packets" (lei see), given by the married couples to the unmarried. This is in contrast to the New Year according to the Gregorian calendar, which I consider to be a holiday that you'd tend to spend with friends or even with complete strangers in a big party, rather than with family.

I never had much family back in Winnipeg, so Chinese New Year was never a huge deal. I would only ever get red packets from 3 families - parents, aunt+uncle on mom's side, uncle+aunt on dad's. If however, I was in Hong Kong, where my grandmas live along with most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins, I could imagine massive family dinners and just rolling in the dough (mom has 5 brothers and sisters, dad has 6).

As it stands, at least I have two red packets. My sisters brought them from my parents when they came to visit last weekend. I put them under my pillow when I slept last night. Apparently it gives good luck or something.

Strange IM conversations

First, someone with a Hotmail address containing the words "Jelli" and "Bean" adds me to their MSN. I was like weird, Jill opened a new account. Worse that she's doing this after opening her new Gmail account. I authorize the addition and see that the person's nickname is "anne bananae". I was like, weird, Anne opened a new Hotmail account and is now using 2 MSN messenger accounts.

I chat with "anne" for a while. Haven't talked to her in a while anyways. I'm told that she has a lot of reading to do. I inquire as to for what because as far as I know, she was done school. I was thinking maybe she had to prepare for teaching a class or something. She replies that it's for class in a way that suggests that it was beyond obvious. I don't think too much about it. She then tells me that she has to leave to go watch a volleyball game. Strange. I didn't know Anne liked volleyball. Apparently she was going to watch the varsity team play. I was like cool, I never did go watch the University of Manitoba Bisons play and they usually have a pretty good team. I figured that I'd inquire about this later.

Several hours later, it suddenly dawns on me that that was the Anne in Toronto! In which case everything makes sense! The classes, the volleyball! Man that was weird. I talked to her online later on and had a good laugh.

Lesson of the day: SHOW A PICTURE WHEN USING IM!!!

Fortunately I did not say more than I did and kept the embarrassment to a minimum.

My second instant messaging incident was also rather weird. Some random person messages me on ICQ (who uses ICQ anymore?!?!?). The person asks as to whether I'm Canadian. Strange. Anyways, cutting to the chase. She found me by searching for "Vincent" on ICQ (just a randomly searching a boy's name apparently). I find out that she goes to University in like the middle of China. We end up chatting for a while. When I mention that I might be in China in the summer, she gets really excited about the possibility of meeting me, but I won't be going that deep into China, just like Beijing and Shanghai. She's disappointed at this news. When I tell her that I'm gonna get ready for bed she begins to tell me how happy she was to meet and talk to me (I was just being nice after all), that she thinks I'm smart, must be good looking, and how her heart was comforted... Wow, umm... I'm flattered, but it seems a little much considering we just met and not to mention the age, distance, language, and culture difference... She kinda scares me. On the plus side, this could be the beginning of my first stalker.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Kneepads used every day this week and now my ass is sore

OMG you sick f*ck!!! The kneepads were for volleyball and snowboarding and my ass is sore from falling while snowboarding!

Snowboarding went quite well last night. I'm getting much more confident on the board and getting more control over my turns. Going down a blue run wasn't as scary this time. Next week I'll be able to carve down the blue's no problem.

So, Mimi ditched me for her tri-campus volleyball game (who has a volleyball game on a Friday night???). I would've done the same... I did however, find some people to snowboard with - my fellow novice snowboarders tearing up the bunny slopes.

The alternative title for this post is "I get older, the girls stay the same age". The problem is that I'm just too old for frosh now and all the cute girls in the ski and snowboard club are apparently 1st years and at Chestnut nonetheless :p. You know, with John turning 25 yesterday and hanging out with all these frosh, I'm really starting to feel old.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Blood, it's in you to give

Proud to say that that I donated blood for my 3rd time today! Not a huge number, but I'm averaging once a year since I started. I got a fancy little pin to mark my 3rd donation. Apparently my next "pin milestone" is 10. Here's what I've gotten so far:

I felt pretty good this time aside, from feeling a little light headed when sitting up right after donating. I even went and played volleyball tonight (about the 8 hours after rule that they suggested). Probably not the best sport to play after getting stuck with a needle considering my arm was getting hit with balls. My wound did bleed a bit b/c of volleyball, which obviously isn't a good thing, but it wasn't too bad. I was hitting pretty well though. I was actually trying to hit hard. I'm usually hesistant to hit as hard as I can because I'm not confident in my consistency, so then I end up using like 50-75% power. But lately, I've been getting quite consistant - getting my timing right, not hitting the net, and hitting well within bounds. So today, being just pick-up, I tried to swing harder and it worked quite nicely :). Next is to really go at it, really swing as hard as I can and get those ab muscles involved. My goal is to get the ball to bounce back over the net (bounce off the ground, off the backwall, and back over the net in the small GSU gym) or to knock someone unconscious.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

$250 - $500???? Umm.... no thanks

The girl on the phone was nice and all and she brought me up to speed on what's been going on at the U of M. When asked if I could give back to the University and that they were asking for a donation between $250 and $500, I was like, ummm... how about I get out of school first and above the poverty line :p

Is this haircut worth $50?

I decided to go a little higher-end than my regular $12 haircut at Topcuts, in which I order my haircut by number (#3 on the sides and back and short on the top). I basically jumped across the spectrum of hair salons and went to Toni & Guy on Bloor in Yorkville (you know, where Gucci, Tiffany's, Chanel, etc. set-up shop). A few of my guy friends have gone there for successful haircuts. I went on the low end there and got a junior stylist, which still set be back $50.

I went in wanting something a little different done to my hair and this is what I told the stylist. I guess it was hard to tell what I had before as it's been about a month and a half since my last cut and it was rather long. I came out with basically the same hair style as I had before, but the cut is nicer and more natural than my regular cut. Well, I'll see what happens after I style my hair myself.

Well, you can see for yourself if my haircut was any good. Excuse the crappy pictures. The photography was an idiot.

That last picture makes me look like I'm balding. I'm not. Honest! The stylist even commented that I had a lot of hair. I think her hands were getting tired of cutting :p. Ya, so I just have a funny bald and flat spot and my hair back there does weird things.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The difference a day makes!

I'm in a much better mood today!
  • Stayed at home in PJ's instead of going into the office

  • Fences mended

  • New web page launched (finally!)

  • Painlessly reactivated my cell phone, keeping the same number and not paying any extra fees

  • Borrowed a hammer and had a nice talk with the hammer lender (and found out some really interesting things about her)

  • Built my shelf and cleaned up my closet


    After: (look in the bottom left)

  • Great volleyball game (smoked them 25-9 in the 2nd game!)

  • Reached >$200 in pledges (but still short of my goal of $300)

  • Watched the newest episode of How I Met Your Mother, which was a nice feel good episode, made even better guest starring the incredibly cute Ashley Williams, of Good Morning, Miami fame (a recent sitcom that ran from 2002-2004).

Webpage redesign

I finally finished redesigning my webpage (3rd time in 3 months)! Here's the progression of my webpage:

~1999 - Oct. 2005Old, old, webpage
This is before I knew about CSS.

Oct. 2005 - Jan. 2006Old webpage
My first CSS webpage. Was never satisified with the background image, which is a rip-off of Apple's default desktop image for OS X 10.4.

Christmas 2005:  Unreleased
Redesign attempt that never got released. First time using Photoshop to design a webpage. Also the first time I was using one of the online colour scheme tools. I was close to releasing it, but I never finished converting all my webpages to the template. Plus, I wasn't too pleased with the way it looked and colour scheme.

Present - FutureBrand spanking new webpage!
New webpage designed over the past few weeks from scratch. CSS, Photoshop, and colour scheme tools. Finally put it all together and converted all my pages. Now that it's been built, I'm waiting for them to come.

I'll be looking into redesigning my blog soon. This ubiquitous template has run its course...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tiggy dressed as my iPod

It's my blog, so I'm going to post pictures of my cats. Why? Because my cats are cute and they cheer me up. I have way more pictures of my pets than anything else. They are also more loyal than people and don't piss you off like people do. Plus, they don't steal your hammer, wrench, or umbrella condom! Ok, well, if you left an umbrella condom lying around, they might play with it and scatter it around somewhere, but it's cute when they do it.

Here's Tiggy dressed as my iPod:

This is an older picture when I was back in Winnipeg before Christmas. Mi-mi (cat, not person) doesn't like Tiggy, and is only resting so comfortably because she doesn't know that Tiggy is there :p. Yes, that is the same blanket cover as the one I have here in Toronto for my extra blanket. It was on sale at Ikea...

Really not having a good week

It's only Monday and I've managed to piss off 3 different groups of people. That's gotta be some sort of record. In my defence, I inadvertantly did hit two with one stone. Fortunately, things have been mostly mended regarding the volleyball tournament.

Sigh, and all this time I thought Canadians were smarter than Americans

Looks like we're gonna go back to being the 51st State with Harper.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The only good thing I got going for me

Damn it all!

I'm so not in a good mood...

The person(s) responsible for taking my tools will be severely punished. First my wrench went missing from my toolbox. Now I can't find my hammer, which is supposed to be in the tool cubby, to build my new shelf. Oh, and my umbrella condom is missing as well. I AM NOT PLEASED. Return these items now or suffer the consequences.

Plus, now I'm majorly wedged between a rock and a hard place. Just got word that the indoor beach volleyball tournament has no spiking or overhand serves in our division. So basically it's not volleyball. It's almost as bad as water volleyball, which by the way in no way resembles volleyball. It's akin to software engineering.

Now I'm stuck. I can either disappoint my friends, or disappoint my friends. Lose-lose situation. If we play, half the team will be grumpy and mad at me b/c it's not volleyball and we're paying quite a bit to play a lot of something claiming to be volleyball. If we don't play, then I disappoint my friend who's organizing it, no one gets to play, and I have to refund all the pledge money that I've already collected, and ditto to the others who've already collected pledges. Sigh. Things might fall apart without my control once the others get word of the "rules" and back out. It might not be that bad to play, we just have to have the mindset that we're not playing volleyball and that the money is going to charity. I'm ok with that. I don't know if the others are.

It's a good thing I can't find my hammer right now, or I'd be bashing in someone's head, or at least the wall...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I see dead people

Went to the Ontario Science Centre today and saw the Body Worlds 2 exibit.

Real bodies

It was pretty creepy. Real bodies on display. Paritally dissected. Enough to make your stomach churn. In the science centre itself, people were talking loudly, kids screaming, running around. In this exibit (separated from the rest), people were eerily quiet. Barely whispering if they were talking. Everyone was a little edgy being around dead bodies...

After the initial shock, it's really amazing to look up close to the displays. Brings back all that stuff I learnt in grade 11 biology. Hi, Mr. Madison! *waves*

The whole exhibit's half art, half science. The bodies would be put in different positions, like skateboarding, skiing, figure skating, throwing a javelin, kicking a soccer ball, yoga, and more. For the most part, the skin was removed, perhaps organs were exposed or removed, muscles opened up to reveal the bones and tendons below, etc. The different poses were used to highlight different parts of the body or different views of it.

The picture at the top is like a guy holding his own skin. There was one where all the muscles were removed and it was put right beside the skeleton so it was as if the person walked away from it's skeleton. Pretty creepy. There was a guy that had 6 toes on each foot and 6 fingers on each hand. They called it hexa-something disease.... it was weird to say the least. One display showed this fat guy sliced into like 10 vertical slices and the slices were separated and hanging. Another took all the muscles, bones, organs, etc. apart and strung each separately so it was as if the body exploded and you could literally see the ins and outs of the person. There was a pregnant woman and you could see the fetus inside the womb. Several other fetuses were displayed. Quite sad. Another had embryo/fetus at 5, 6, 7, and I think 8 weeks. Grows quite fast. You could already see little hands, head, and feet.

There was a camel and a baby camel who's stomach was opened up to see inside and skin was removed on most of the body to see it's muscles and how it compares to humans. The camel's head was really creepy. It was cut through the head and neck parallel to it's body and split into 3 slices and it was made as if the camel had 3 heads - one drinking off the floor, one looking forward, and one looking up, except that you could see it's brain, eyes, teeth, etc., but in slices. There was also a colt that was de-skinned.

After a while you sort of forget that they are real bodies. It's really weird after carefully examining a display as if it's a piece of art, then really realizing that it used to be a real life living breathing person. How do they feel being stared at and scrutinized so intently?

There were also all these display boxes highlighting the different organs of the body and diseases that the organs can have. If you smoke, you should see the real life lungs of a smoker compared to a non-smoker. Literally black vs white. Pretty disgusting.

The scariest part was looking at the little pieces in the display, like some bones with the muscles still attached, and thinking that it looked edible. Looked just like any other kind of meat... Really creeped me out.

The exibit's here until Feb. 26th. I highly suggest that if you haven't gone to see it that you go. I also suggest that you buy the tickets online beforehand because there was probably a line of about 40-50 people just to buy tickets!

I couldn't believe how busy it was there. You couldn't just go into Body Worlds either, you had an assigned time b/c they didn't want over crowding. We got there a little before 4 and our time was 7:30... We watched/slept-through the Mystery of the Nile at the Omnimax at 6 after the science centre closed (I was really tired after blogging really late at night, not getting much sleep, shopping, and walking in the science centre, and the chairs were comfortable and really reclining b/c it was the screen was on a dome ceiling). Oh, and I almost got to ride a segway, except that the museum was closing... maybe I'll get to do it at Google b/c I hear that they have a few :p

Saturday, January 21, 2006

I've got two girls sleeping in my bed right now

The population in here has doubled and there's tons of crap in my room. Sisters got into town today and went shopping at Vaughn Mills and all I saw when I got back was them disposing of numerous shopping bags.

Big mistake of setting the precedent of letting my sisters sleep on my bed and me taking the futon because I couldn't reverse it this time. So, here I am, kicked out of my own room, on the futon, not that the futon's bad, I slept on it for like a month or two until I got my bed. This goes to show those of you contemplating a visit to Hotel Vince, the futon's even good enough for the CEO.

Don't expect the same treatment when visiting Hotel Vince, unless you're female and I'm also in my bed. And you're naked.

First time snowboarding and I'm still intact!

Tried snowboarding for the first time today! I had a good time. Conditions were much better than last week. Well, anything other than rain on the slopes is an improvement over last week :p

We had some informal lessons by a guy in the ski and snowboard club. I think I caught on quite quickly and managed to carve on both edges within an hour on the bunny slopes. Balance on a board took a little getting used to since I've never really been on a board of any kind before.

I was able to go down the beginner slopes quite well, and then craving a beaver's tail, tried to get to the village. Big mistake. I can't do intermediate runs yet. It was actually frustrating going down it because I was like, I could easily do this if I was on skis! I think I was just too scared. Scared of going too fast and getting out of control. When this happened, I just lost my technique and stopped putting my weight on the front of the board. I'm not sure if it's taking me longer than skiing or not. I don't think I was able to do intermediate runs until the second day of skiing.

The jury's still out on whether I like skiing or snowboarding better. I'll give it a couple more tries. Going down the beginner slope pretty fast and reasonably in control is a lot of fun. One thing's for certain, snowboarding boots are a lot more comfortable and look nicer.

Oh, and I had no idea that it was Mimi's birthday today (the person, not the cat). Happy birthday Mimi! Not that you read my blog...

Why won't you work???

Damn you blogger! Why you gotta be like that? I'm trying to post here...

(shut-up princess, I don't need my own server)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Visit me so that my room gets cleaned

Finally unpacked from Seattle. Only took me 2 months :p.

Nothing motivates me to clean more than guests coming to stay. My sisters are arriving tomorrow, so that means I washed my sheets, the futon cover, and towels, put away all my clothes, cleared off my floor, wiped down the bathroom counter, swept, vacuumed, took out the garbage, and general cleaning and tidying.

Didn't have time for mopping this time. Also didn't get around to cleaning my desk, but that's ok, they don't need my desk. And let's not forget the mighty mail pile, which is unfortunately still at full strength.

Not too bad for a quick last minute clean-up (i.e. between the hours of 1 and 3 am). All that floor you see in the pictures was covered like a week ago.

CV and resume critique

Went to the career centre to have my CV critiqued. I tried before Christmas, but they wouldn't do it b/c I wasn't registered for that semester, but I was at school and was registered this semester. Whatever...

Anyways, I highly recommend that if you're in a position where it's possible, to go to the career centre and have your CV or resume looked at by one of the people. If you're no longer at school and don't have access to a career centre, find someone else to look at your resume and/or CV. Obviously, someone that's seen a lot of resumes or CV's would be the best to have look at your document(s).

I had my resume looked at twice at the U of M and they helped a lot with formatting, organization, and pointed out some important things that I overlooked, eg. I put my GPA on my resume, so I put down 4.49, but someone looking at my resume would go like, 4.49.... out of what??? 9? B/c some schools do it out of 9, others out of 4, maybe some people would assume it's out of 5, but who would think (outside of people from U of M) that some school would use such a weird system out of 4.5??? Best to leave no room for ambiguity.

Today was more of the same. I hadn't had my CV looked at by anyone before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Everything I know, I learnt from the Internet :p. The guy was really nice and carefully looked over the document with me. He suggested changes to the flow of the document, some things to add, etc. Very helpful, and at the very least, reassuring that the document generally makes sense and there are no glaring mistakes.

I'm not using my CV or resume in particular right now, but it's good to keep it them updated. For one, you'll forget what you did in a job/volunteering position or forget to include information if you delay. Second, you never know when you'll need it. Maybe there's a job posting or a career fair. Opportunities can spawn out of nowhere. Best to be prepared. Finally, writing it all out, you'll see where your strengths and weaknesses are, then you can take action to fix those weaknesses, eg. not enough volunteer service, inadequate computer skills, no job experience, etc.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Day 12.5: Keep off the grass!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Day 11: Another day, another few cm

Caption this picture.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Bring me sun or bring me snow!

Rain is not an option. Especially when I get bamboozled rolling outside in my rollerblades about to run some errands requiring my wheels (MEC, groceries), only to find that it's pouring. Stupid window in my office that I can't see out of. With no food, I've resorted to delivery. Going with Thai today. Not my typical food, but that's the point.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Day 10: The rain dance worked

The Gods have blessed us with much needed rain! I tried not using camera flash this time and it didn't turn out all blurry! I still need more light though...

This was gonna be a much more interesting post, but I actually have homework! *Gasp* I'm sitting in on a Machine Learning for Computer Graphics course that requires me to read 3 papers for each class! That's 6 papers a week! Plus, I'm supposed to have something written up for my meeting with Brendan and other factorgram people tomorrow....

The all-candidates debate for Trinity-Spadina was pretty cool, though an actual debate, as opposed to just Q&A, would've been much better. Lots of talk on tuition, student loans, student bankrupcy, etc. since it was on campus. Frankly it doesn't really apply to me. The Conservative guy was a weenie. Tried to act all hip and cool and half his age, but came across as fake and looking just like a dweeb. He didn't even know the party platform... Then another guy (from some random small party) mentioned that he was against privatization of R&D, which I totally didn't like. That's likely the reason I won't stay in Canada b/c of the lack of really good (oh and high paying) industrial research labs in my research area. Tony Ianno (Liberal) mentioned R&D several times and I was like yeah, the Liberals gave me my scholarship :D. Of course I already have my scholarship, so voting Liberal doesn't matter in this respect, but I generally agree with their platform more than the others.

A princess told me that I am not a typical student (who would have cheered really loud and brought signs for Olivia Chow, the NDP candidate). I'm just "special", at least that's what people always tell me.

Day 9: The grass is always greener on the other side

Turn your back for a second and the neighbour erects a frackin' fence! At least the grass on my side is finally starting to grow... For those of you who haven't caught on, maybe this picture will explain what's going on:

In an informal experiment in light conditions, I put the grass in my bathroom with the fluorescent light on for the past 24 hours to see how it would grow in my office. It grew quite well :)

In other news, the mail pile more than doubled in size as I consolidated the two mail piles I had - mail I got when I was in Seattle and mail I got since. The picture is blocking the pile of chocolates and candy I collected over the holidays, but you can see the edge of it to the right.

I procrastinated cleaning my room until 11 pm, but I got a significant amount done - put away clean laundry, cleaned up shelves, floor, and unpacked the suitcase from Winnipeg/LA/Mexico. All that remains now is to clean my desk, sort mail, file documents, and unpack the clothes from Seattle. Oh, and the floor could use a good cleaning. Can you tell that my sisters are coming next week?

I thought about taking a before and after picture, but my room was embarrassingly messy before. Now I can actually walk in my room!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sponsor Me! Charity volleyball for SickKids

I'm playing in an indoor beach volleyball tournament in February to raise funds for the SickKids foundation.

Tax receipts will be issued for all donations of $10 or more (if you won't do it for the kids, do it for the tax rebate!)

If you are interested, e-mail (vincentcheung+icewave (a) gmail), IM, call, etc. me and provide the following information:
  1. Name

  2. Mailing address

  3. Phone number

  4. City

  5. Postal/zip code

  6. Tax receipt (y/n)

  7. Donation amount

Cash is the easiest, but if that's not convenient we can do cheque or paypal (contact me for details).

I need the pledges before Feb. 18th. The sooner the better!


Day 8: The power of parallelism and distributed systems

The complexity of nature completely boggles my mind. Ever try sketching a real-life tree? It's impossible to draw all those leaves. Each leaf is complex in itself, and there's tonnes of them. You can only just get the general shape that the leaves make. It's absolutely incredible how such a thing as a forest can even be created - all those trees, each with hundreds or thousands or leaves, not to mention the smaller bushes, animals, insects, bacteria, etc.

Nature's power comes from an incredible amount of parallelism and distributed systems that result in a hierarchy of complexity. Let's ignore the parallelism and hierarchy of electrons, protons, subatomic particles, atoms, elements, compounds, molecules, etc. Cells, which in themselves contain smaller components, perform relatively simple functions (in that we can study and understand generally what's going on) that don't seem to do much in isolation (eg. just creates some proteins or move ions around), but working with other cells, you suddenly have a single strand of grass, or a tree, or a lady bug. It's like an impressionist painting. Look at it closely and all you see are blobs of colour. Take a step back and all of a sudden, you see how the blobs work together to form something remarkable. This complexity from the combination of very simple things is really remarkable.

As if a single organism isn't complicated enough, nature is capable of replicating this complexity many times simultaneously. It's like a huge distributed system. It's easy enough to keep track of the growth of one piece of grass by measuring it with a ruler, but suddenly, there's maybe a hundred pieces of grass and our simple way of tracking grass growth is completely overwhelmed by the distributed grass growing. Each piece works relatively independent of the rest, each piece doing its own thing. 100 things doing their thing at the same time is an amazingly efficient way of doing things.

Here is where computers fail miserably. They generally just do one thing at a time. They just do that one thing really fast, then go on and do something else in an attempt to overcome its single minded nature. One person can't plant a forest. 20 people can. 100 makes it even easier. One ant can't survive on its own. A whole ant hill can thrive. The future of computing is doing many things at once inside one computer (multiple cpus, multiple cores) and spreading the complexity across multiple computers, mimicking the hierarchy of complexity, parallelism, and distributedness of nature.

Stacey and Seattle (or San Francisco)

Stacey was in town from Seattle as she was recruiting for MS at some conference for students. Pretty cool meeting up with her. We were supposed to go snowboarding today, except that she couldn't duck out of the conference. We went to Bubble Tease around the corner with her sister who also lives downtown. They had Chinese New Year's dinner updown with fam after since Stacey was in town (it's really not until the 29th).

I want the old guy who used to work at Bubble Tease back! He was awesome! He remembered me b/c I'd always rollerblade in and he'd give me a discount! He also made the drinks better than the woman that works there now.

Talking with Nebojsa on Thursday, he's actually serious about having me go back to do another internship. When I was about to leave MS, he asked if I would do a back-to-back internship, but I said I couldn't b/c I had some stuff to do in Toronto and I was gonna go on vacation, etc. Then he asked if I could come back in a month or in Jan. and I said that I had like a thesis proposal to do and my scholarship requires me to be at school for at least a semester in between internships. This time, he asked if I could go back like right now :p. I haven't talked to Brendan about this yet. I'm not sure what I'm going to do.

I did enjoy working there and I liked my Seattle social life. I would at least want to finish off the volleyball season here before leaving, but I'd miss the kick-ass summer volleyball here. But the summers in Seattle are quite nice, plus I'd have a (rental) car and would be able to go hiking, whitewater rafting, etc. I guess I'm not really tied down to Toronto right now, socially or work-wise (after say April). I donno, I'm thinking of doing another internship this summer regardless, but I want to wait until I hear back from Google, as a different experience would be nice, but a Google internship might not be as research based as at MSR. I'm kinda on the fence here.

A surprisingly productive day

While others would have been deterred by waking up at 1pm, I had a surprisingly productive day and managed to accomplish the big two tasks I wanted to complete.

First, I changed the firmware on my Linksys WRT54G wireless router. This is an interesting router b/c it runs off Linux (well all except the version 5 of the router) and as a result, Linksys had to release their firmware code under the GPL. People then hacked the code and came up with their own firmwares that increase the performance of the router and add features turning the cheap consumer grade router into something that rivals a much more expensive commercial grade one. I installed tofu's HyperWRT firmware. I also put in a script for improved performance and stability with p2p programs. It's working great! I'm quite pleased with the router, unlike the shitty D-Link one that I used to have.

My second big accomplishment was the construction of an improved ping pong table! Last week's makeshift ping pong table served it's purpose well, but after talking with Josh last night, I decided that I needed something semi-permanent and better constructed. After several design sketches (I had paper handy, otherwise it would've been on napkins), I came up with this:

You can also play against the wall!

The little triangles on the sides slide in through an interlocking connection - absolutely no tape required! Building this brought back a lot of memories from my childhood when I'd build all these things, mostly for my cat, out of cardboard (the most plentiful and easiest to work with material). I would build beds, houses, dog barriers from the litter box and cat food, and other things, all using cardboard. I remember having the hardest time cutting cardboard with scissors. My hands would get so tired and sore. I'm now old enough to use a blade to cut it :)

Let's hope tomorrow is as productive. The big goal is to clean my room... ok, well at least unpack from Seattle.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

First outing with U of T Ski and Snowboard Club

Friday the 13th, what'd you expect? Sometimes you just have to find the humour in the situation.
  • Retarded bus driver who didn't know the directions, got lost several times, and took an hour and a half to get out of Toronto!

  • Left at 1:30, got to Blue Mountain at 5:00, a trip that usually takes 2 hours.

  • Organizational problems for the rentals. I'm going to blame it on the Blue Mountain people b/c they told the organizers different stories. I sympathize with the organizers as only 2 showed out of the 7 that said they would, and a friend of theirs came to help out and she was the one around us members the most, with the execs dealing with the passes, rentals, buses, etc. Fortunately we were all calm and knew that all the shit wasn't their fault.

  • A stupidly warm 7 or 8 degrees. At least there was machine snow from a few days ago, albeit, wet snow.

  • Raining pretty hard. I'm very glad that I got my new jacket last week. Worth the $300 as it kept me completely dry. Unfortunately, my snow pants weren't really waterproof and I was starting to feel the water creep in especially when sitting on the chair lifts.

  • Throwing all our stuff into one bus and having to dig through it all to find my bag and blades.

  • More retarded bus drivers who's buses broke down and others who had no clue where Blue Mountain was in order to pick us up.

  • Got back at 12:30

I'm glad Mimi (the person, not the cat) was on my bus. We ended up skiing/snowboarding together. I had planned on snowboarding today and was all psyched up for my first time, but then we were told that the lessons were cancelled b/c of the rain. Since I had NO idea how to snowboard and the conditions weren't amazing, I decided to go with skis as I hadn't gone in a while anyways.

Coming off the ski lift with Mimi is rather harrowing. I swear that hair was ripped from my arm through my jacket one time. Watching Mimi fall over and over again on the slopes and elsewhere provided great entertainment. My favourite is when she fell flat on her back :). It was like watching a tree falling after being chopped down. Mimi hasn't learnt how to use the toe edge yet. Oh, and remember to bring your gloves next time!

This was the first ski trip that I didn't fall! I was a little apprehensive about the slush as I tend to get my ski's caught in them when carving. However, we only stayed to the blue runs. I wanted to go on a black diamond, but didn't have time. There'll be plenty of time in the future, especially when the snow's better.

Beavertails were amazing. Like flattened out mini-doughnuts :) Calamari and wedge fries at the pub and grill hit the spot as well. We totally wouldn't have made it through the bus ride home without it!

Funniest moment of the night was waiting for the buses to come to drive us home. A guy was talking to Diane (the friend helper) about all the bus problems and then this old guy was like saying that the bus company was horrible and completely disorganized, and then I added something like ya, bus #2 had no idea what was going on, got lost, took like 3.5 hours to get here, it was retarded. The other guy mumbled something about the old guy and bus #2. I found it strange that no one said anything after that. I glance over at the old guy, notice his toque, and it kinda hit me. Looking over the Mimi, she's trying with all her might to keep a straight face. The old guy was our bus driver!!! (he was there b/c that was the bus that broke down) Laughter ensued for a LONG time :D. Our stomaches were in so much pain. In my defence, I never really saw our bus driver's face and there was at least one old guy that was actually skiing, and I thought it was cute that he had a friend...

Day 7: It's like the grass is listening to me

I tell it to grow more evenly and suddenly the growth spreads! My current request is continued growth spread and increased thickness.

I have removed the little piece of paper I had on the side as I had labelled it wrong (got the sides mixed up at some point).

Friday, January 13, 2006

Day 6: Growing like crazy!

Amazing progress was made today! I'm really suprised how fast the grass is growing. I can literally watch it grow. I'll go play volleyball and when I get back like an hour and a half later, there's noticeable growth!

The grass headed my warning and started pushing through the soil and growing like real grass. I'm not however liking how the grass is just growing in that one area. Did I like accidently feed that area super growth hormone or something? Here's my next proposal - how about growing evenly!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

New laundry machines

Weird, they replaced all the washers and dryers in my apartment. The washers aren't as deep, but are wider and the dryers seem smaller. Price remains a pricy $1.75 for a wash and $1.50 for dry.

Day 5: VICTORY!!!

Yes!!! The grass has grown, the flowers have bloomed, and the birds are singing! The sad thing is that the same thing is happening outside. Hello?!?! It's the middle of January, not spring. Why is it like 8 degrees outside?

My little guys are cheating by growing up at the edge and not taking it like real men and women by pushing through the soil. I'll forgive these ones for now, but I expect the rest of them to do it like real grass.

Who knew watching grass grow could be so exciting!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Day 4: I really thought today was gonna be the day

Alas, it was not meant to be. I'm crossing my fingers for tomorrow! The soil's drying out quite a bit. I'll probably water it tomorrow.

The mail pile grows as I get more useless mail from the banks.

The Internet is for Porn

This video's hilarious! It might be old news, but how I'm embedding it right into my blog is new (Google Video just started letting you do this).

For all you worry-warts out there, there is no nudity or pornography in the video. And there's less profanity than on this blog. Sorry guys.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Day 3: Now taking bets

I'm now taking bets for when you think the first grass sprout will appear. Crappy prize goes to the winner.

The soil has dried up even more. No additional down blanket fluff to report.

In other developments, we see the backside of the card and find that the kit is actually made by Toysmith. The plastic bag on the right has been removed, as the camera lens inside has been given to Brian. The mail pile also has some new additions. Some of the packaging of the kit can be seen off to the right. Very exciting!

How I Met Your Mother

I think this is my favourite show on TV right now. Absolutely hysterical! It's a mostly goofy, geeky, awkward comedy mixed with a some hilarioulsy "extreme" comments (from Barney), while also giving you that warm fuzzy feeling on the inside. Plus, the title song gets stuck in your head *ba, ba ba ba ba, ba ba ba, ba, ba ba, ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba baaaaa*

It's all about this guy who is telling his kids in 2030 of the story of how he met their mother. 2005: Ted is single and we meet his friends Marshall, Lily (Alyson Hannigan), and Barney. It's a sitcom of Ted's quest to find love with some commentary by his older self.

I first started watching because of Alyson Hannigan, perhaps more familiar to you as band girl, or Willow. I think she's an amazing actress, she pulls off that geeky girl role very convincingly and if you wanna see funny, just watch American Pie. Anyways, I decided to give the show a shot, like I did with Bones starring David Boreanaz (Angel), but that show didn't really appeal to me. I was pleasantly surprised by the show and was instantly hooked. I can identify with the characters and they grew on me quite quickly.

Oh, and actress Cobie Smulders provides eye candy. She's the reason for a lot of awkwardness comedy in the show, as Ted as a thing for her, but future Ted tells us in the first episode that that's how he met "Aunt Robin" :). She's pretty unknown. She had a few guest spots in The "L" Word last year (which has just started it's 3rd season!). She's also Canadian, which is a plus :)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Day 2: Exciting new development!

Day 2 is turning out to be almost as exciting as day 1!

We see that the true origins of this grass growing kit is in fact from the Microsoft Company Store. The final destination for it being my cubicle.

The soil level has dropped dramatically as the water has been draining and evaporating and the soil is settling.

While the little white speck off to the right may seem like exciting mold growth, it is in fact just fluff from my down blanket.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Blogger comment feed and comment posting improvement

To serve you better, I've made some significant improvements to how you comment and read comments on this blog!

A comment feed is now available!!! This should make it much easier for all you readers out there to follow the comments made on this site. A comment feed is analagous to a site feed or rss thing-a-ma-bob, but for the comments posted to this blog, instead of the posts themselves. You can now subscribe to this feed (it's on the sidebar on the right) in Google Reader or something similar and you'll be able to read the comments like you'd read an e-mail. New comments will automatically appear in the feed, so you don't have to constantly check my blog's web page to see if there are new comments.

I've been wanting to do this for a very long time, but hadn't figured out how to do it. Then it occurred to me (after chatting with an elf) that I get all the comments by e-mail and if I could only make a feed out of the e-mails... Searching around, I found MailFeed, but didn't like how it doesn't accept html mail and there's not much customizeability, etc. Then, I saw this post about a comment feed hack that uses Google Groups. Being a Google groupie myself, this was a great solution.
  1. Create a new Google group

  2. Forward the e-mails with the comments to the google group

  3. All Google groups automatically have a feed!

I also decided to use a pop-up window for when you post comments. As much as I hate pop-up windows, I think this is a good solution when combined with the show/hide comments that I have, as now you never have to leave the blog page. Ideally you'd to be able to post a comment right from the show/hide comments thing, but with the CAPTCHA thing, it's not easy to do.

Makeshift Ping Pong

Makeshift Ping Pong

Josh and the ultimate makeshift ping pong table and racket.

Josh was over, and having failed in our recent attempts to play ping pong at Claire's, I jokingly challenged him to a ping pong game. The problem was that I didn't have a ping pong table, but that didn't stop us. In true engineer fashion, we used the available resources to arrive at the best possible solution.

Yes, that's my kitchen table. And Josh is holding a cd case. And yes, that is wrapping paper held up by salt and pepper shakers. Fortunately I had one racket and a few ping pong balls. The set-up worked surprisingly well. We even managed to have a few games.
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