7/31/2008

07-31-08 - 3

There're a lot of great coders out there who just insist on continuing to reinvent the wheel all the time. I'm certainly still somewhat guilty of that sin myself, but I think at least I'm aware of it. It frustrates me every time I have to interact with their code, and I just think it's a mistake.

Using existing libraries is just so inherently superior on many levels, that you need to have a really really good reason to not go with an existing standardized solution.

For existing libraries I'm talking about things like the C stdlib, the STL, and also open source libraries that are stable and old and very well tested such as Boost etc.

These things have a very low chance of bugs, the performance is generally okay, and the features are usually pretty complete. But what's more important is that the performance characteristics are well known, the feature set is the standard one so that you know you have the same features as everyone else, you can adopt improvements to the standard, other people's code fragments are interoperable with yours, etc.

Most importantly, they're familiar to lots of users. Familiarity has *huge* value. You may not like the way std::map works, but lots of people are familiar with its quirks, so you really should not make a better replacement. Familiarity lets me write code without reading through all your documentation, and your documentation usually sucks so I actually have to go and read your code and I waste a ton of time. If your code uses standard stuff and is written with the standard styles, anyone can read and instantly know what's going on without digging all over to figure out your system.

In fact, familiarity is so valuable that new interfaces that you make should be designed to mimic standard ones that people are familiar with. That means any container should be made to look and act just like an STL container. Simple string routines should mimic the conventions of the stdlib string functions. Doing it a "better" way is really much worse.

07-31-08 - 2

I'm trying to do a little thing to get the true size of the file on disk, and it's turning out to be a huge pain. Now, you can certainly easily enough get the cluster size of the drive and see how the file size rounds up to the nearest cluster size. The problem is that's wrong on NTFS for small files. Small files in NTFS sometimes get crammed into the MFT. There doesn't seem to be any easy way to tell if that's happened, though.

The only actual foolproof way is there's a low level function which will actually give you a list of where all the clusters allocated to a file are. You can walk the list and count them to get the actual size on disk, and you can see the fragmentation too while you're at it. Use the DeviceIoControl API with FSCTL_GET_RETRIEVAL_POINTERS. See good article here on the Cluster walk APIs .

What a pain.

Oh, and it's kind of an ambiguous question whether you should include the size of the MFT entry as part of the "size on disk" for a given file. Every file takes up 1k in the MFT, which may or may not include some of the file data.

07-31-08 - 1

Well I stole tabview from Casey and changed it so it does incremental treeview building. The problem is the Windows controls are so incredibly slow, if you try to populate the whole treeview up front it takes several minutes for big files. So my new version populates the treeview just in time. It starts with just the root, then any time you expand a node I get the message before it expands and I add the nodes. You can download the zip of tabview .

Also in ChukSH now is "tabdir" which does a recursive dir in a format that's nice for use with tabview. It's pretty decent way to check out what's going on with your drive. I haven't done the bit to count actual clusters used yet.

Oh, evil warning if you try to build any of this code : "tabview" builds on its own, that's easy. Newer chsh stuff depends on "cblib" my new library, older chsh stuff depends on "crblib", my deprecated library. You can pretty much tell the difference because ".cpp" = new and ".c" = old.

I sort of vaguely tried to make tabdir 64-bit correct but then got lazy and annoyed and started using "int" again. That's going to be a pain in the ass if that ever actually happens. Like if we ever have individual files bigger than 2 GB a lot of programs are going to crap out and eat their own ass. It'll be like the clusterfuck I just went through with unicode.

7/30/2008

07-30-08 - 1

I'm trying to do some reading to get myself caught up with the present in games. There are lots of game devs now with good publications online :

Valve Publications
Bungie Publications
Insomniac Publications
Naughty Dog Publication

Apparently people are pretty high on Lock-free / wait-ree synchronization for the theoretical future of many many cores; as usual the Wikipedia page is a good start with some nice links; I also found this nice page : High Performance Synchronization by Michael Scott which has lots of downloadable code for crazy widgets.

Somewhat off topic, but for the threaded future you want nice threading allocators like the pretty awesome TCMalloc in Google Perf Tools .

It would be cool if there was a game programming mailing list still alive. I scanned a bit of GDAlgorithms, it seems to be semi-alive still, but I don't see many real working game devs in there.

7/29/2008

07-29-08 - 3

The NYT really likes "Black Moth Super Rainbow" ; I should've known it would be pretentious unlistenable garbage ala Animal Collective.

07-29-08 - 2

It's kind of funny how much pop music plays to the opposite of the prevailing mood. Right now Americans are generally hopeless, worried about government, our economy, our place in the world, we see our priviledged status of super prosperity perhaps finally failing. What do we listen to? Pure exuberant candy pop, new-disco, electronic dance music.

In the 90's America was in an amazing stretch of super prosperity, there was largely peace around the world, we mostly liked our government and everything was roses. So we listened to grunge and emo and nine inch nails and metallica and all the rich white kids whined about how hard life was.

I guess if you look back at the first age of disco, which started around 1970, it was another really down time for the US. I'm sure someone else could fill in the gaps better, but a few things are obvious. It was near the peak of disillusionment with the Vietnam war (Tet was 1968, we were in 'nam roughly 65-73). Watergate was 1972 so there was much hate and distrust of government. We weren't too far off the Kennedy assasination and the Cuban missile crisis still, so there was fear of the cold war and all that. It was also a period of severe racial strife and unrest among the poor; it was the time of massive urban riots all over the US, mainly 67-69. From that you obviously get the most candy pop music fad ever, with a glorification of living fast and partying hard.

It will be kind of a shame if Obama wins and makes the country happy again, because the whole current youth movement of partying and sex and fast living will die. Fortunately, I'm quite sure that even if Obama wins the US is still headed for the shitter, so the fun new-disco is here to stay for a little while.

07-29-08 - 1

When someone is just outspoken and casual about quickly saying when they're unhappy, it really makes it comfortable and easy to be around them. It's not the actual statements that help so much - it's knowing that they would say something if they were bothered. Like if you have a roommate and they instantly just say "hey, whoah, don't do that" when you bother them, and it's no big deal, then you can just do what you want and not worry, because if you're bothering they'll say something, so you know the silence means approval. The worst roommate is the one who silently fumes and doesn't say anything for hours until it's a huge issue and then it turns into a big fight. It's not the fight that's so bad, it's the way it affects your every moment, you have to keep looking over and trying to read their body language to see if you're doing anything bad. It makes you anxious and on-edge every moment. Silence becomes a torturous uncertainty.

I can definitely be the silent fumer sometimes, but I'm working hard to be the quick casual complainer. Of course someone who complains too often is also bad. Life is hard.

7/28/2008

07-28-08 - 1

I guess I'm not going to Burning Man this year, and I'm kind of sad about that. In theory there could be better things than Burning Man, like a party on a beach somewhere tropical, with lots of chill gorgeous people all half-naked and dancing to some of the world's best DJs with amazing light and fire shows and lots of drugs. But that just doesn't seem to exist, or if it does I'm not invited. Anyway, I hope to go next year; I don't have too many more years left before I get old.

Some ideas I had :

It would be cool to build a Penny Farthing (aka an old timey bicycle), and ride around with a top hat and a giant handlebar mustache. BTW while searching for penny farthing sites I found this insane guy riding around the world on a penny farthing .

Get a real bear skin and wear it as a cloak. Ideally get one with the bear head still attached so you can wear the head on your head. Strap the arms to your arms, then you can get down on all fours and walk around like a bear too. Some hippie might give you shit about fur, but you can always lie and say you're an amazing artist and you made it from synthetics.

7/27/2008

07-27-08 - 5

I'm a much lazier programmer these days. When I was young, if I wanted to implement something and it seemed to require some really complex data structure, I would think "sweet, this is a chance for me to implement a self-balancing tree, it'll be fun" ; I was more inclined to take the more complex solution just for the fun of implementing it. Or maybe not just for the fun, but if some really complicated algorithm would perform better or be more elegant, I would go for it. Now, when I want to accomplish some goal, I think "how can I get the result I want with the minimum amount of complexity".

A lot of old people call this "wisdom". I think that's disingenuous. They pretend that through the benefits of experience they see the error of writing lots of complex code and can wisely choose to do less. I don't believe they're actually doing that. Neither the young over-eager coder, nor the old cautious coder are truly making a logical decision about how to solve the problem. Both of them are just following their illogical gut instinct and natural inclination. When the old coder chooses to get the job done with less work, it's really just fatigue and laziness.

Certainly, doing less is usually the right answer. Thus the old coder is more often right than the overeager young coder. But that does not mean he has actually made any progress toward true rational decision making.

You see the same thing with all sorts of decision making. eg poker. Young players tend to be too aggressive and too tricky. Old players often get very conservative and straightforward. They call this "wisdom", but true wisdom would be seeing that both ways have their benefits and you should be able to turn them on and off when appropriate.

07-27-08 - 4

If you're an expert-system aggregator, you take in advice from various experts, weight them based on their confidence and your own prediction of expert accuracy based on local conditions. In practice it's best to have experts that have very strong opinions which are very different from each other. You don't actually really want the experts that have the best entropy on their own, since they will tend to be very similar and their opinions are already well hedged.

For example, in data compression, if you want to weight two models, you should pick something like one PPM and one LZ so they are very different. In Netflix if you are weighting two models, you want to pick one that's very local (similar users & movies matrix) and one that's very global (low rank SVD).

I see the same thing in human life decision making. I don't really want to talk to a smart advice giver who will see the pros and cons and give me a thoughtful hedged answer, like "well, there's this side and that one" - yes yes, I know that already. It helps a lot more to just be able to go to an expert who presents one side of the argument very strongly. You can listen to that and consider it. Then you go listen to an expert who presents the other side. Then you make your own decision.

07-27-08 - 3

The DFA mixes from some MoMA party are pretty cool ; DFA is a NY DJ label that specializes in new-electro-disco. We saw Holy Ghost on Friday and they're pretty solid; they spin italodisco-influenced dance music. I haven't listened to the other mixes yet, dunno if they're any good.

07-27-08 - 2

One of the amazingly cool things about San Francisco is that the tourists and horrible people do a real good job of sequestering themselves in little undesirable parts of the city that I wouldn't want to go to anyway. The whole Union Square shopping disaster is mobbed with tourists, but it's just a gross mall over there, they can have it. Fisherman's Wharf and the Fort Mason area and North Beach are mobbed with the disgusting cruise ship people, hey, go nuts, have fun over there. It's like impossible to get from the Mission to the north side anyway, I don't want to have anything to do with that part of the city. The sweet yummy best part of the city down here is blissfully untouched (mostly - the gentry invasion of places like Tartine and Delfina and whatnot is creating a mild vacuum that pulls in some human flotsam, but it's not too bad yet).

07-27-08 - 1

Household tips from auntie Charlotte : Salt stops red wine from staining. When you spill red wine, immediately run and grab your box of salt and dump the whole box on the spill. Tons and tons of salt so that it is just light pink and only slightly damp. Blot very gently. Let it sit until completely dry, 12 hours or so. Vacuum it up. There will be no stain.

7/25/2008

07-25-08 - 7

I saw this Giorgio Moroder Promo Video on Disco Workout and it gave me much happiness. I love the classic promo voiceover guy who mostly does like industrial manufacturing promos, I love that Moroder's wearing business clothes like he's at work at Texas Instruments or something, and that he does the cheesy singing himself.

It's widely said that the classic Donna summer hit I Feel Love (music by Moroder) is one of the most influential tracks on modern dance music. That may be so, but there's a more direct correspondence between Moroder's solo work and the new indie-disco music; the Donna Summer score is just part of the history of people like Eno or Timbaland doing cool techno backup for pop songs, whereas the Moroder solo stuff is a direct correspondence with the modern dorky white guy who can't sing fronting a solo disco dance group.

It reminded me of this video I found a while ago that's also great : Herbie Hancock in the studio with Quincy Jones ; the old electronics are fascinating. (Okay, I wasn't going to do it, but I have to link the RockIt video cuz it's like the most awesome video ever made)

I feel obliged to link in this too : Jean Michel Jarre guides you through his instruments ; this is a bit after the fact when the stuff is already retro.

I'm like no expert in musical history or music or anything so I'm way out of my element. Obviously the old stuff is all very similar because hey they only had Moogs and a few types of synths and sequencers, everyone was on the same gear trying to figure out what they could do with it, and the easiest thing is making pretty spare repetitive sounds.

So I'm not an expert at gathering these examples, but I thought it would be fun to play a new vs. old listening game :

Glass Candy - "Life After Sundown"
Trilogy - Not Love
Cut Copy - Saturdays
Dance Department - Paradise
Chromeo - Fancy Footwork
Moroder - From Here to Eternity
Moroder - E=Mc2
Chromatics - Lady
Eurythmics-Sweet Dreams vs Glass Candy - Beatific
New Young Pony Club vs Pat Benatar

I could get really distracted and link in the whole other veins of old vs. new electronic music and waste a lot of time and not contribute anything because I suck at this. For example you could get into the whole Kraut evolution, I started to link these : Krafterk - The Robots , Depeche Mode - Shake the Disease , but that's really a bit off topic.

Sort of unrelated, but it's awesome how the Chromeo - Bonafide lovin' video plays off the classic Dire Straits - Money for nothing video ; I like to think he's also winking at the fact that Dire Straits was so clever about making songs that were sort of sarcastic and perhaps making fun of their audience, and Chromeo is doing the same thing; you're not quite sure how serious he is or whether he's mocking.

Also semi-unrelated, I realized the other day that Junior Boys - In the Morning is the musical soul mate to Zombies - Time of the Season ; the basic background sound with the breathing is the same, just a bit slowed down, and they both have the same kind of syrupy boy singing that's sexy and a little bit creepy. Okay, maybe more than a little bit creepy. You're too young, who's your daddy?

07-25-08 - 6

Household tips from auntie Charlotte : WD40 will take duct tape residue off of car paint. Do not, however, use it on walls, because the grease soaks in and stains them permanently.

07-25-08 - 5

There's this Mitch Hedberg joke :

I like baked potatoes. I don't have a microwave oven, and it takes forever to bake a potato in a conventional oven. Sometimes I'll just throw one in there, even if I don't want one, because by the time it's done, who knows?

I keep thinking about it when I think about having an electric stove. When you get home from work, you should just turn the stove on high even if you're not planning on cooking, because by the time it gets hot, who knows?

Adjusting temperatures on an electric is hopeless; what you can do is just turn on all 4 burners to different levels. Then only cook one pan at a time and move it around the stove to get different amounts of heat.

07-25-08 - 4

I kind of want an iPhone 3G, but the whole Apple system of "fuck you, no you're not allowed to do what you want with your own product, you're locked into our shitty universe" is just so evil I don't want to get sucked in. Yes I know you can jailbreak the phones, but Apple does their best to brick those and I don't want to have to be careful about what I do with the fucking thing. Everybody should really boycott Apple, they're just such a bunch of cockmunchers, they shouldn't be able to get away with this nonsense iTunes shitty software quality and DRM nonsense.

Unfortunately, their hardware is really good. Somehow they managed to hire some really good hardware guys, but their corporate directors are still doing their damndest to make them fucked.

I guess I'll wait for the Google phones.

07-25-08 - 3

I often try to "let things slide" because I figure the trouble of getting all annoyed and getting in a confrontation is greater than just suffering through the infraction. I think in theory that's actually true, the pain caused by most of these little sins is not really that great, they don't really hurt your day that much, and the way I get all in a huff and get all riled up by confrontations does in fact screw up my day a lot. The problem is that I can't just let things slide. It eats at me in various ways. First I sit and fume about what they're doing and debate with myself whether or not I should confront them. Then, if I choose not to confront, I sit and fume about the fact that they got away with it and what shits people are, and then I also get mad at myself for being such a pussy and letting them get away with it. This self-anger at saying nothing can linger for a long time, which is a pretty bad price to pay.

Of course this fantasy that confrontation would somehow make it all better isn't real either. I've gotten into a few confrontations recently and they rarely satisfy, you just get all angry yelling at the person, and they aren't apologetic or anything for being an ass, and you can't do anything about it, so you feel just as frustrated and the anger lingers just like if you did nothing.

The best thing to do, (as Thatcher recently wrote), is to immediately say something in a casual joking way, like when someone tries to cut in line, say "hey, nice try cutting there, I like your moxy, better luck next time" or I dunno, something better that someone less awkward than me would say.

Recently I've been often in the gloom about wanting to do something and not doing it. I don't think that doing it is actually any better, but you kind of have to just do it so that you can feel okay about yourself, and so you can be a person who does it. Is that vague enough?

I wish we could just cold-cock somebody who's being an ass the way that childish macho fantasy character on Californication does.

07-25-08 - 2

Pitchfork is the official place to go to get your hand stamped with indie music credibility, but the better mega music site is Coke Machine Glow ; (an unfortunate name because people call it CMG, which means a million other things and you can't google it).

CMG is also full of amusing sarcasm and biley wit. I was just reading their list of Top 15 Steve Albini Records ; part of the Listravaganza ; in it I discovered that Albini is the engineer behind my beloved Songs Ohia and also Will Oldham ; WTF , the Breeders, Nirvana, Pixies, stuff I was expecting, but the modern indie-blues-country stars was a big surprise. (As another example of how awesome CMG is, one of the lists is "Top 5 Sub-Par Beach Boys Tracks That Are Still Better Than Any Song by Wolf Parade").

I think CMG's taste is far better than Pitchfork's, but it's even more obfuscated; that's partly intentional, CMG is intended for people who get all the referential jokes, but it's rather forced most of the time and becomes tedious.

07-25-08 - 1

We stopped in Urban Outfitters today in my ongoing futile quest to find some decent Asics Onitsuka Tigers in my size. Yes, yes, I know Zappos & whatnot, well those fucking sites don't carry most of the Tigers styles and the good ones they have, they don't have in my size. Fuckers. WTF this is the fucking internet age why can't I see every style of fucking shoe and every size and get them from the fucking distributor. Retarded.

Anyhoo, Urban Outfitters is a really good barometer for what was super cool like 2 years ago, and what is no longer cool. Something I noticed in particular this time were all the hats. Lots of fedoras and shit like that. Funky old school hats (on men) have been big in the hipster crowd for the past 10 years or so. Urban Outfitters is now pushing them, so your dentist who is 50 and white and dorky but likes to think he is "with it" will soon be wearing them, thus they are no longer cool. An occasional check in with UO is pretty valuable, it lets you know what to give away in your next Buffalo Exchange swap.

ps. yes, I know Tigers are very 2002, but they fit my feet well and I really hate shopping for shoes, when I find a style that fits I want to keep buying the exact same shoe for the rest of my life.

7/24/2008

07-24-08 - 1

Gah plays are just awful. The writing is horrific, so mannered and exaggerated. I would never go see a play, but sometimes I accidentally rent movies based on plays. The latest such debacle was "The Big Kahuna". Almost immediately I start thinking "WTF? Why are they talking so strangely, my god the acting is awful, WTF is up with this screenwriting?" and then I smell it "OMG, this is a fucking play!", and yes there it is "based on the play by ..." ; bleck, get it out! get it out of DVD player before it taints my whole system!

7/23/2008

07-23-08 - 2

Disco Workout is a blog by some SF kids who are DJ's and into this new electro indie pop thing that's the current craze. It's a pretty great introduction to the music and the whole lifestyle of the SF indie club scene.

Coincidentally in unrelated searching, I discovered "The Black Ghosts" ; they're pretty rad. Hmm.. apparently they're another manifestation of Simian. They're the more indie-poppy Simian, as opposed to the Mobile Disco which is more techno/housey.

addendum : we saw the Black Ghosts live show and it kind of sucked. Do not recommend.

07-23-08 - 1

Cheese gives me searing gas pain and much stinky farting. Every time I eat cheese I say to myself "never again!" ; sure it's delicious but it's just not worth it. Then a few weeks later I get this brilliant idea to make a quiche, or a croque monsieur, or a carbonara, and I say fuck it, I'll just eat the cheese, and then I regret it again. This is some kind of metaphor or something.

7/22/2008

07-22-08 - 9

I use Google's "I'm Feeling Lucky" for my autocomplete in the Firefox address tab. That mostly works okay, but it's really not what I want. I want a search that basically matches just the addresses or titles of pages. Like when I type in "sf going" I want sanfrancisco.going.com , and it gives me www.sfstation.com ; that's a reasonable result if I was doing a regular web search, but not for the address bar.

07-22-08 - 8

In the epinions for moving companies, United is the highest rated major mover and gets 3 out of 5 stars average. Most of the other major movers get 2/5 , and a few get less. Yay movers. I definitely would never trust them with anything valuable or fragile. Fortunately all my posessions are pretty shitty.

Won recommended "Moovers" - they look pretty good. They're the only mover recommended by MovingScam . Actually if I had a bit less stuff I would use ABF U-Pack ; they get glowing recommendations, and the only way to make sure your stuff is packed right is to do it yourself.

07-22-08 - 7

I use KeePass for my passwords. It's kind of retarded. It has all this illusion of client-side security, like somehow it's protecting you from keyloggers. Of course that's nonsense. To get your password from KeePass into Firefox or whatever, it either has to send keypress messages or use the clipboard, both of which are trivial to hook and any keylogger would be grabbing.

But it's still valuable. I'm not really too worried about client side security, I keep my machine on lockdown, I use ProcessGuard for example so that no app I don't tell to run can ever run. I am, however, worried about the security of the places that have my password. Even retards like Visa that you would think should be really secure are incredibly incompetent about computer security and are constantly losing everyone's account info to the Russians.

To slightly protect myself from host-side security breaches, I use a different password on every site. I used to just keep track of that by hand, but that's a pain in the butt (and most of my random passwords where turning into asdlkfgj - only slightly semirandom, you can see the left to right hand swipe). So what KeePass is actually good for is generating random passwords and remembering all the damn passwords for all the damn sites for you.

One thing it doesn't have is automatic entry generation when you register for the first time with a site. That would be pretty easy to code and make it much nicer to use.

07-22-08 - 6

So I've been vaguely considering trying to set up a propane gas stove indoors in the new place.

Ignacio told me that in Spain lots of people have butane cylinders and cook with that. I've read it's quite common all around the world outside of the US, particularly in poorer countries where they don't have gas lines.

"Butane" and "Propane" are both not actually butane and propane. What's called "butane" in most of the world is a mix of butane & propane, what's called "propane" in the US is another mix. The more correct generic name for both is LPG for "liquified petroleum gas" , but the colloquialism is just to say "butane" in the rest of the world and "propane" in the US. The exact mix depends on the temperature - hotter places sell you more butane in your LPG mix.

You can get little single burner LPG ranges for $10.

Propane is totally safe to use indoors. There are a few things to be careful about though.

Propane needs a lot of O2 to burn fully. If it burns with enough O2 it produces only H2O and CO2. That's good. If it doesn't get enough O2, it produces CO. That's bad. Make sure you open a window in the kitchen. It wouldn't hurt to buy a CO detector too, they cost like $30.

Propane is heavier than air. Natural gas (methane) is lighter than air so even if you have a leak it diffuses and goes up through vents and gets out of the house and you rarely get a dangerous concentration. This is why even if you leave a gas burner turned on and not lit you don't get a huge explosion when you light it. Propane on the other hand will pool up on the floor around the stove. This creates a dangerous explosion hazard. It's generally recommended that you keep the cylinder outdoors so that if it leaks there's less risk.

In the US it's illegal to have a 20 pound cylinder or larger inside your home. Many people in the country in the US have a 100 or 500 outside and get deliveries. You could also keep a 20 outside and run a gas line through your window.

Apparently propane cylinder theft is quite common in the US. WTF, people are such hooligans. Cylinder owners lock them. Personally I'd be more worried about someone fucking with the valve or the line if I had my cylinder outside.

Almost all gas ranges can be set for "LP" (that's LPG, which is propane, recall). It's a slightly different gas/air mix so don't try to use LP on a gas range without setting it to LP.

You can get propane-burning range tops (no oven) that are made for RV's for like $600. These could sit right on top of your counter or your old oven.

I haven't completely found a happy solution that I think would be safe and legal, but this is all sort of interesting.

07-22-08 - 5

"Made in Spain" is pretty shitty as a cooking show, you're not really going to learn much about how to cook or any useful recipes. As a food-tourism advertainment show for Spain, it's really great. I had no idea that Spain had so many distinctive regions with their own specialized products and cuisines. It really makes me sad about America. God we're retarded. The US has tons of microclimates and distinctive cuisines, but we've rejected them, and every part of America tries to cook everything. It's much much better for each region to focus on a specialty, to work with their local produce and craft specialized dishes that maximize their local ingredients. Also the poor average cook is more likely to make something great if they just focus on a few dishes and really perfecting those. Instead every part of the US makes shitty versions of Thai and French and standard American crap that has nothing to do with the local skills.

Just seeing the caves in Asturias where they age the Cabrales cheese - natural caves in the mountains, with the perfect humidity and temperature, over time the Penicillin has taken up residence and they put the cheese in there and it naturally does its magic - that's where I want to live, I want to be around that.

We think of Spain as being part of Europe and the 1st world, but really it's quite unique. It certainly isn't 3rd world, but it hasn't been democratic for very long at all; it's still very poor and rural. The evils of the rich civilized western world still haven't really fucked up Spain even today (though the popular tourist spots where the UK chavs weekend are fucked).

07-22-08 - 4

Back home in SF after being in Seattle makes me realize how much I love this place. I always knew I loved it, but my god, this place is really fucking great. Hottie hipsters on their bicycles riding everywhere. I left my car at the repair shop and walked to get a haircut at a Mexican haircut place; my haircutter spoke good english and helped me practice my Spanish; es importante de practicar para no olvides; si! I walked to the produce shop and got some amazing mangos for 0.99, pineapple for 1.59, oranges for 0.59/lb , walked by the beer shop with great selection, lots of people on the street, everyone looks happy. So they're not really friendly, but they're also not rude like New Yorkers. Tons of great dance nights this week, lots of burning man crews trying to raise money. What a fucking great city this is.

07-22-08 - 3

The hard thing about working too much and fucking up your relationship is that you don't realize you're doing anything wrong. When you're working like crazy, you're stressed, you feel like you're contributing a lot to the couple by working and making all the money, you just want support and affection. You don't realize that you're totally unavailable, you're giving zero energy and time to the relationship, you're not contributing anything to your joint life. Your partner is unhappy, and that just pisses you off; you're tired, stressed, and just want some peace and relaxation when you get home, not someone you have to cheer up. Of course it is your fault; working like crazy to make a bunch of money is a voluntary choice and you chose it, you are the one putting this strain on your relationship.

On the opposite side your partner has a very hard situation to deal with. They see you're working hard and you're stressed, but you come home and just want to be left alone, you're snappy and easily annoyed and they get scared away from you. They also see you keep working or messing around on the computer in your free time and think that you don't really need to be doing that and could have more time to spend with them, but you're choosing not to. They don't understand your brain is stuck in computerland and can't just switch over to the normal world so easily.

For a relationship to work you have to both be working to make each other happy. If one person isn't putting in effort it doesn't matter how hard the other person works. It's a partnership, an agreement to have fun. Hell, most ways of "having fun" are like that. If you go to any event - a parade, a party, whatever - just going is not really much fun, you have to go in as part of the group that is cooperating to be a fun group; you're sort of becoming part of a performance group pretending that it's more fun than it is really is. If you all go along with it, it's a blast.

For all you geeks out there, it's like playing D&D. The party and the DM are making a social contract to try to get into the spirit of the game and enjoy it. If you just follow the rules and go through the motions, it's no fun. If you get into the spirit but everyone else doesn't, it's no fun. You need the DM to try to give you interesting scenarios, and you need to give him feedback that you are pleased and amused by his storytelling, and then you also need to contribute mirth and creativity in your actions.

Something that I often fail to do is give enough feedback that I'm enjoying what someone else is doing for me. The pleased reaction is just as important as the original kind action; by being a couple you're agreeing that when your partner does something nice, you will reward them by being happy because of it. If you are hard to please or inscrutable, it's no fun to try to make you happy, and you can't have a relationship. The relationship must be a series of back and forth mood enhancers. I do something to make you happy, and you show you like it; you do something to make me happy, and I show that I like it; back and forth forever. ))<>((

07-22-08 - 2

I don't quite get the cold butter thing. I mean I get it in pie crust or streusel or something like that; in that case you don't actually want the butter to mix in, what you want is for layers of butter and flour to form that are not mixed until they cook. But with liquid mixing applications they still say you have to use cold butter, like making a beurre blanc or a lemon curd or such. The first thing the butter does is melt and then you whisk it in, so why do you need cold butter? I don't get it.

07-22-08 - 10

I've been thinking about getting a WRX Wagon for a while. I'm debating whether to get it before or after the move, so I checked some prices. 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon :

In San Francisco, average price is $11,000

In Seattle, average price is $16,000

Maybe I'll start a side business driving used Subarus from SF to Seattle. Presumably the CA cars are also in better condition because we have no weather to mess them up. Actually the lack of depreciation for used Subarus in the Seattle area seems pretty nuts. 2004 WRX Wagons are going for $20k which is insane.

WTF, I don't get it. 2004 WRX Wagons for $20k, brand new 2008's for $24k.

07-22-08 - 1

My internets is going really slow recently; I assume it's fucking Charter throttling me for doing too much torrenting (pun intended). On the other hand, the internet is such a retarded mystery box, it could be some problem in my computer or my router or the "tubes" and I would have no idea.

7/21/2008

07-21-08 - 2

In Mendocino I was wondering about why there were such nice old houses way out there in the middle of nowhere. It's not a good place to farm, it's too isolated to be a useful port or for any trading traffic. Of course the answer is logging.

I found a cool site about Logging on the Big River, Mendocino . There are lots of great old photographs on that site, visit and click them.

Mendocino was incredibly prosperous from 1860-1900 as the lumber barons cut down masses of redwoods and made a fortune and built the fancy houses there. We read yesterday that the entire coast from Big Sur up to southern Oregon was entirely covered with redwoods back in 1800. Today less than 4% of that land has redwoods on it (and hardly any of that is original growth). There are a few little redwood parks around Mendocino today, but for the most part it's barren bluffs with a few Monterey Cyprus type things, wind swept and imposing.

07-21-08 - 1

I've been puzzling out in my head how I'm going to manage this whole working thing again. It's a little tricky. To commute to work across the 520 I absolutely must avoid rush hours. So that means either shifting later or shifting earlier. Now the vast majority of game developers shift later, but that really blows. That means working from 10 to 7 or so. When I do that it means I just putter around in the morning until going to work, and then when you get off work in the winter it's already dark and you just eat dinner and go to bed. That life is misery.

So I was thinking about trying to shift earlier. That means working like 6 to 3. You get off and still have the late afternoon with light to go play in the park, have dinner, watch a movie, then go to bed. That sounds pretty sweet. I'd love to be able to do that, but there are a few problems. One is all other game devs are probably shifting late, so you're out of sync and not around when they are. The other problem is that waking up at 5 AM is totally cool right up until you have a late night out partying, and then it screws you all up.

I'm not quite sure what to do. I remember when I was managing I didn't like the early guys. They weren't around in the evening when the shit hit the fan (and the shit always hits the fan in the evening as most people screw around all day and then try to cram near the end), and I'm pretty sure the early guys worked less because they were working real 8 hour 7-3 days unlike the rest of us whose 9-5 usually turned into 9-7 or 9-9.

I'm also concerned about trying to leave reliably before rush hour. It seems like any number of things could delay leaving - a meeting, just being in the groove working and not wanting to stop, helping a client with a problem. If you miss that pre-rush-hour departure time then you have to wait 3 hours or so until your next allowed departure time, which blows.

7/20/2008

07-20-08 - 2

The retarded way that fancy places make breakfast reveals what fucking awful chefs they really are. Good pancakes should be simple and taste like pancakes; the quality is in perfecting the little details of the recipe, how you mix, exactly how you cook them (fluffy, cooked in the middle but moist, brown on the outside but not greasy), and of course serving them hot. You do not make good pancakes by serving "Multi-grain pancakes with organic oats, corneal, whole wheat flour and seasonal fruit, served with orange pecan butter and papaya syrup". Well done plain pancakes are amazing and very hard to find; good food is about executing a dish and making it sing with its true essence, not jamming in a bunch of shit that doesn't belong that just muddies the main notes.

Side note : Alissa makes great pancakes; I've always sucked at them, so hopefully I will learn a thing or two. One of the biggest tricks aside from the batter recipe that I've learned is the super minimal amount of grease (butter) and the moderate heat; you heat the pan well, but not super hot, and you butter the pan, but then wipe it out with a paper towel; you aren't trying to make greasy fried cakes, but brown fluffy cakes. The other big thing is to use a heavy pan; cast iron would be best, non-stick is very bad no-no. When the pancake hits the pan it sucks out a lot of heat, a thin pan will go cold and not cook right.

07-20-08 - 1

We spent last night in Brookings OR; there seem to be a lot of sad run down seaside towns like Brookings. Lots of people on vacation with a vague air of disappointment. Oregon seems to be full of rednecks outside of Portland. Some rednecks had a bonfire and set off fireworks on the beach near our hotel, that was kind of cool. I swam laps in the hotel pool, and a German family came in while I was there; I hope they spent most of their time in the US somewhere better than Brookings!

There are tons of historic bridges all down the Oregon coast. I'm a bit of a bridge nut so it was quite a treat. Oregon is really cool in that they provide scenic view points for most of the bridges, so you can pull over to the side a bit and see their profile. Near the CA border lots of the bridges have little short trails (a few hundred feet) out to a cliff edge view point, definitely worth it.

Drove down through CA today. Humboldt is full of hippie pot-heads on the side of the road trying to hitch hike. "Get a job you stinking hippie!" I yell as we scream past. Pretty much the whole drive on the 101 from Oregon to Santa Rosa is gorgeous, through valleys full of trees and hardly a touch of civilization; in many places the 101 becomes a windy mountain road and snakes right past redwoods.

We stopped in Redwood National Park and did the short Lady Bird trail to see some big trees. It was foggy as hell and the Redwoods were doing that thing they do - grabbing the moisture out of the fog and condensing it into drops of water - so it was raining near the trees but not away from them. I read that the Fern Creek hike in Prairie Redwoods Park is amazing, but it's a rough drive to the trailhead and I didn't want to put my car through that.

We're spending tonight in Mendocino. What a ridiculous place this is. It's like all the cheezy pretentiousness of Napa moved to the coast in their Audis and Priuses. The shops remind me of Carmel. Stuff like crystal dolphins, jeans for old ladies with elastic control tops. The restaurants are all way overpriced and mediocre, but everyone says they're great because they're supposed to be great, and nobody has a real opinion of their own.

All the old buildings in town here are actually super cute and unusual. I bet it was nice here 30 years ago.

Today we drive back to SF. I'm relieved to finally get to sleep in my own bed, but sort of sad that the road trip is coming to an end.

7/19/2008

07-19-08 - 3

Crucial questions to ask when booking crappy hotels along the highway :

Has the room ever been a smoking room?

Is there construction in the building or next door?

Do you allow pets? (if so, the place will fucking stink)

Crucial thing to do when first walking in the room :

Find the clock-radio and make sure the alarm isn't turned on for 3 AM.

Hotels are really one of those things where brand new is much better; I also realized that the quality of brand new hotels is actually a case of free added value. The room rate at a brand new hotel is not that much different than an old one - pricing in hotels is heavily driven by location and capacity, not room quality. With a chain like a Holiday Inn or whatever, it costs a lot to make a hotel, then it takes many years to make back that investment, and then after that it's pure gravy for a while, and then you gut it. During the gravy time, the old hotel is subsidizing development of new hotels. When you stay in a new hotel, you are being underwritten by people staying in old hotels.

There's a certain pressure to just not ask questions, come in, do what you're supposed to, book a room. Good people, players, alphas, they just smile and go right ahead and ask the question.

07-19-08 - 2

Mt. St. Helens was totally worth the side trip. We got a late start so just went down the 5 and took the detour over to the front side. The scenery all around it is very weird. First it's all private Weyerhauser land on the way up where they grow trees and clear cut. There are huge forests of trees that are all exactly identical. We don't realize when we see a normal forest, it's all broken up with variation. These forests are full of trees all exactly the same time, the same age, and they grew up in the same lighting environment so they grew their branches the same way. It looks fake, it looks really geometrical, it looks like a bad videogame where someone just duplicated one tree model all over the hillside. Then you get closer to the blast, and the river valley below the mountain is like a sea of ash; it's still all gray, and the river has cut a new very young channel through the soft debris. There are tons of wildflowers of many varieties, taking advantage of all the open sunlight since the land is still unforested. Of course the big mountain towers over the landscape, a huge chunk blown out of it. I thought it looks like a mound of mashed potatos, you know when you dig a hole in your potatos and fill it with gravy, and then the gravy busts out one side and flows out, leaving you with like a horseshoe crater.

07-19-08 - 1

We drove down the Oregon coast today. Just the drive out to the coast is quite scenic; we took the 20 (probably a poor choice, very slow), and you quickly get into these shady country lanes, cut through deep valleys, with dense vegetation all around, and occasional breaks for pasture land. Often the trees are so dense and close they form a complete tunnel of canopy over the road.

The coast drive down 101 is very slow; it's one lane so you get stuck behind RV's and such and are constantly passing. God I fucking hate people who resist being passed. They've been driving slow the whole time, finally we get to a passing lane and they slam on the accelerator. Cockmuncher! It's so retarded; just let me pass and then I'll speed off and we never have to see each other again, it's better for both of us, instead you just prolong this annoyance.

Lots of the Oregon coast is very boring. There are a few isolated spots that are quite gorgeous. The good parts are a lot like Big Sur, big rocks, pounding waves, fog and cold wind, pine trees, steep cliffs. The good parts are : Cape Perpetua, Devil's Elbow (and the Heceta Head lighthouse), and Humbug Mountain (and south of there). We got out a few times and did some short hikes around.

Just south of Humbug Mountain there is a pullout onto a patch of gravel. There are no signs. On the north side of the pullout is a trail which leads north to a 4x4 road. The 4x4 road leads out to a cluster of huge rocks in the ocean. It's the windiest place I've ever been in my life.

7/18/2008

07-18-08 - 3

We got stuck in a shitty hotel near the Seattle Center because the whole town is booked solid right now. Seattle has crazy festivals all summer long while the weather is good, and it's mobbed with tourists. Anyway, since we're right here we went up in the Space Needle last night. It's actually kind of cool to do in the evening, there's no line and not much crowd at the top. You can look at the city lights and see how bizarrely empty the city is.

07-18-08 - 2

We're leaving Seattle today; we're gonna go around the back side of Rainier to Sunrise, then maybe around the back side of St. Helens but probably not, then head out to the Oregon coast, down the 101 all the way, maybe swing off it to hit Mendocino the last night. We've been in hotels apartment hunting and driving an awful long time now, I'm not really looking forward to more of it, I'm tired and miss my bed.

07-18-08 - 1

I remember Dave used to wear shorts in SLO on ridiculously cold days. I would say "WTF Dave" and he would say "STFU". There's definitely a NorthWest attitude of pretending that the weather is better than it really is. It's a collective denial of reality, everyone walks around in the rain without umbrellas, if it gets even slightly warm the shorts and tank tops come out. It's as if no one actually acknowledges the fact that the weather is shit, maybe it's not.

7/17/2008

07-17-08 - 1

Well, we finally found a nice place in cap hill with a gas stove, but it's awfully small; looks like maybe 750-800 square feet. Otherwise it's perfect. We found another place that's a gorgeous old apartment, 1000 sqft with leaded windows and fancy molding all that, but the kitchen is awful, it's tiny and has an electric stove. So now we have to decide which bitter pill to eat. - addendum : we took the bigger place with electric stove. sigh. I guess I'm going to do some research into setting up a propane cooktop.

For almost exactly the same money, we could rent a whole house in Green Lake or Ballard or even Madrona. The little craftsman bungalow houses are going for about $1800/month.

Bleck, it's one of those things like the job choice where no matter what I do I'm going to regret certain aspects of it. It's actually even more frustrating because here I know that the ideal place is in fact out there, I just have to keep looking and maybe I'll find it, though when you keep looking it costs a lot of time and money, and you lose the ones you've already found because they disappear. Bird in the hand and all that.

For the record, let's do cbloom's guide to Seattle apartment hunting , in the city that is.

WalkScore map of Seattle is pretty cool. Even if you ignore the walk scores it's a pretty good boundary map of the neighborhoods for people trying to learn what's where.

So obviously you start with your craigslist apartment listings . Seattle craigslist doesn't have neighborhood filters like SF does (WTF) but you can search by neighborhood names, though not all posters mark their neighborhood right, so YMMV. Unfortunately, not everybody puts their junk on craigslist.

A lot of people just put "vacancy" signs outside their building and don't seem to list the place at all. Yay. You have to just drive around the neighborhoods to find those places.

There are other sites with listings, but they are mostly garbage. For example, NWSource has a big page but it's super out of date which makes it worthless. Places don't go quite as fast as SF here (in SF they go within an hour of showing, generally if a place has an open house you need to be the first one to show up) - but they do generally go within a few days, so you can just ignore old listings. If a place is listed for more than a few days and hasn't gone then there's something wrong with it.

SeattleRentals has okay listings that are semi up to date.

There are a few big apartment manager companies. They are :

RPManagement.net - broken awful page
NW Apts - useful
Cornell & Associates - listings are copied to craigslist, not useful
Alliance Apts - broken awful page

The NW Apts listings are updated by the individual building property managers and generally pretty up to date. (BTW don't confuse NW Apts with the "NW Apts" at NWSource - that's garbage).

Most buildings here seem to have an individual property manager who may or may not live in the building. They usually have other jobs which makes them pretty hard to reach; many of them are only reachable after 6 PM and don't return phone calls. You have to keep calling these people, it's annoying. They will also only be able to show places in the evening so you have to schedule carefully.

In my experience, you can pretty much ignore anything under $1200 ; there's just always something horribly wrong with it for that price. There are a lot of disgusting buildings around from the 70's that you want to avoid. You either want a "vintage" or "classic" building, or a brand new one.

The other tricky thing at the moment is all the construction. You want to be away from the massive condo construction, not just the construction site itself, but also the path that the trucks take to the construction site; it's a never ending stream of semis and dumptrucks that screw up traffic and create a huge racket. This pretty much rules out all of South Lake Union (not that it was in contention anyway).

A quick neighborhood roundup (assuming you want an urban life) :

Capitol Hill : easy access to the 520 for commuting east; walkable, plenty of restaurants and such though most of it is pretty shitty; lots of bums and gross hippies and such on Broadway. East of broadway gets very quiet and residential and nice, it's pretty sweet over there but hard to find availability. West of broadway there are many streets full of apartments, some of them are nice, most are nasty, and there's projects and halfway houses and stuff mixed in which add some unsavory characters. The south end of Broadway is actually the happening part these days, around Pine/Pike you've got the hipster bars and some good music clubs like Neumos. There are various busy artery streets around Cap Hill that are undesirable, the tree lined streets east of broadway are ideal. Cal Anderson park is a bit like Dolores.

First Hill : the actual main first hill area which is around the medical center is horrible. There's no life and there's also a ton of construction right now. Some maps consider the Pine/Pike area west of Broadway to be part of First Hill, and that area is pretty good, but not a lot of rentals available.

Belltown : giant condo towers; the units in these are outrageously expensive and super tiny, one bedrooms are generally 700 square feet or less. The good restaurants are generally around here, but you can just cab in to them, no need to live here. The people who live here are mostly douchebag frat boy prep types and trashy girls. The streets feel super dead and weird. It's weird, there must be a ton of people down here in all these giant condo buildings, but they aren't on the street.

Fremont : Kind of a cute little neighborhood; feels very isolated, though it's not very far from downtown by car (it is too far to walk). Somewhat rough commute to the east side from here. There are new condos popping up, but they're smaller buildings and it's mostly still houses and townhouses; rentals are much cheaper here, you can rent duplexes and such easily. The actual strip with restaurants and such is just really really tiny, it's like 2 blocks. The crowd is old, lots of kids and strollers. There is a nice organic market.

Ballard : too far.

Lower Queen Anne : one of the days we came over here we ran in to some ridiculous traffic due to some event at the Seattle Center. That's a huge problem with this neighborhood and pretty much rules it out. It took us about 30 minutes to go the 2 miles from I-5 to LQA. I also just never liked the hood for some reason; it's got a small strip of a few restaurants and bars and grocery stores, but just walking around there I don't get a vibe that appeals to me. Shrug. Anyway, there are actually a lot of huge and nice vintage buildings here with nice big units. Mainly you want stuff that's on the lower slope of the hill.

Some other random notes :

SeattleRentals FAQ is actually okay. They detail most of the stuff I've mentioned, and the notes on the market seem right to me.

WA Tenants Union where you can learn about how little rights you have here, other than the right for your landlord to fuck you.

WSDOT traffic maps important for commuters; or just use Google.

RentalGuide Rental Application (PDF) - I find it really useful to print this out and fill it out before going to rentals, so that I make sure I have all the info I need to fill out applications.

Questions to ask on the phone before bothering to see a place :

What kind of stove does it have?
What floor is it on? (out of how many?)
How many square feet? (850 is the minimum for two people really)
Is there laundry in the building?
What year was it built? (you want old or new, not 60's-80's)

Other minor factors :

Is there parking?
Is the unit away from noise sources in the building like the front door, mailboxes, laundry, etc.
Are the windows double, quiet, or drafty?
What kind of heat does it have? Radiant is best, space heaters are the devil

7/15/2008

07-15-08 - 2

I officially give up on finding a gas stove, they just don't exist here. WTF. cbloom is sad. :( Apparently it's another one of those subtle ways that SF is enlightened and the rest of the damn country is still in the dark ages. You just take things for granted when you're surrounded by smart liberal people all the time. Like the fact that smoking is disgusting and nobody around you is doing it.

Also, I forgot my check book. Fuck. Some of the landlords here have some very cruel rules here. They take a $500 deposit with the application to prevent you from applying multiple places. If your application is rejected, or if you take the place, you get the money back, but if you're approved and choose not to move in, they keep the deposit. Pretty whack. In SF landlords just take a bunch of applications, if one person pulls out it goes to the next person, they don't lose any rented time. I suspect it's because Seattle has shit for renter's rights protection and no decent renter's union.

So many of the landlord sites use Yahoo maps or Mapquest. WTF Yo, Google maps is da best !

07-15-08 - 1

Capitol Hill Block Party is pretty incredible; if you live in Seattle and like good music and hipsters, it's a must-go. And it's crazy cheap, like everything here. Cool.

7/14/2008

07-14-08 - 4

It seems like a good time to buy real estate in Seattle. I don't know if the prices have actually come down much, but there is a glut of availability. Even just with existing units, I'm seeing "for sale" signs everywhere. Tons of condos for sale, houses for sale, and tons of people renting out their condos or homes. All of Queen Anne seems to be on sale, it's a Queen Anne liquidation - everything must go! Then you add in the fact that there are still a ton of huge condo complexes under construction, presumably left over momentum from the housing boom, and they will be completed one by one over the next few years and even more units should push prices down.

07-14-08 - 3

Veraci Pizza tows a wood fired clay oven to farmers markets around here and bakes up pizzas to order. It's super ridiculously yummy. It sort of raises the bar on market food, like hey you can actually get totally authentic super high quality food, fast and cheap.

Next I'd like to see a Vietnamese cart with an actual charcoal grill, the kind they squat down to on the street and the grating of the grill is like 1 inch off the coals, and they sear up the skewers of tasty meat at super high heat.

07-14-08 - 2

Fucking lamp has its on/off switch down at the base. Dumb. I'm in the dark and can't find the switch. Yes, putting the switch next to the bulb is fucking retarded because you have to reach up inside the lamp shade very awkwardly, but it is the standard place, so when I'm in the dark and need to get a light on, it's where I reach.

It's important to be aware of the inherent value of keeping things the same. Changes should only be made when there is enough of an improvement to outweigh the disadvantage of loss of familiarity. In this case the designer was far too "clever".

07-14-08 - 1

When the aspiring junior executive tries to hand you his business card, you cannot refuse. Protests of "no thanks, I already have your info" fall on deaf ears. No really, I don't want another piece of trash that I'm just going to throw out. To them, giving their business card is like marking their territory, it's like they're ejaculating their contact information all over you, and it leaves them with a strange satisfied glow. Just take the card. But don't swallow.

7/13/2008

07-13-08 - 3

Well, I'm feeling a bit more positive. My rag on Seattle stands - there really is no happening neighborhood. Fremont is way smaller and quieter than Noe Valley, the quietest of all neighborhoods in SF. Somehow SF manages to have neighborhoods that feel homey and vibrant and local, but are full of life and things to do and people.

Anyway, there are good things about Seattle. Trees are good. Greenery is good. Great hiking nearby which we may sample this week. Nice residential neighborhoods with actual houses and lawns very close to downtown, that's pretty cool. I love the cozy tree-lined streets back in the residential part of Cap Hill.

But the really great thing is the chill attitude up here. Everything is a little slower, people are less pretentious. The restaurants aren't all about image. Everything is a bit cheaper, more honest, more authentic. You can get in to a great restaurant without a reservation (weeks in advance in some places in SF).

It's actually nice in a way that it's smaller. San Francisco has a feeling of being unknowable; you may get familiar with your hood (after several years) but the next hood over is a whole new pile of mystery. Seattle you can actually get to know all the nooks and crannies over a few years, and that's not so bad. It makes things more comfortable and familiar.

People are very defensive about where they live, it's hard to have a rational conversation about it.

07-13-08 - 2

The apartments I'm looking at are like $1500. You can rent a whole house in an amazing neighborhood here for less than $2500. Something is way off with that. There must be a lot of rental pressure from stupid kids like me. I guess CA is broken in the opposite way, mortgages in CA are like 3X to 4X rent, which is pretty whack, they should be 1-2X rent.

90% of the apartments here seem to have electric stoves. Electric stoves are fucking garbage, you simply cannot cook properly on them. There was a brief retarded period from '50-'70 when people thought they were this cool newfangled technology that was better than silly old gas. Thank god that's past us. I think now they might put electric stoves in apartments because gas stoves are more of a fire hazard. Lame.

Fucking electric! Everything is electric! Fuck! Maybe I can just get a tank of propane and put my own range on top of the fucking useless electric range. The fucking fume hoods in apartments are worthless too, maybe I should just get a good gas grill and cook everything on the balcony like a Vietnamese street merchant.

07-13-08 - 1

Why is that the people who have never run on a track in their lives are the ones who walk around in track suits?

There should be words for people who live on the coast (mainly in the big cities) vs. the trash that fills the middle of the US. I dunno, it's not popping into my head, so send in suggestions. Maybe "coasters" ? "midopotamus" ?

7/12/2008

07-12-08 - 3

I'm trying to scope neighborhoods around here, and the online resources really suck. Like I want to know general things about neighborhoods, and then I also want to know what individual streets are like. We have all that info, it's in Google and Yelp and etc. but you can't see it. I was thinking about what the ideal view would be like and I think it's something like this :

Start with something like the Google Maps building view like they have of downtown SF where you can see the outline of every building. Color the building based on what type of thing it is - restaurant, shopping, residential. That way you can just visually browse around a neighborhood and see - oh this street has the shopping, this area is really residential, etc.

Actually the maps that WalkScore makes are kind of decent, but they'd be so much better if the businesses were color coded and packed together by size instead of just icons plopped on top of each other. You know side of the street and you can estimate extents from the address range. The pop up icon tab things they use gives you a really false idea of what's going on in a neighborhood; it can look really rich with shops when it's not.

BTW that reminds me; I don't get why Google Maps isn't using the census data yet; that stuff is really cheap and would let you make really sweet population density maps.

07-12-08 - 2

Bleck, Seattle kind of sucks. I'm spoiled by the pure utopia that is the Mission District. The Mission is full of gorgeous young people being funky and friendly. It's full of locals walking around all the time. Seattle has no neighborhood like that; the residential neighborhoods seem eirily empty, and the busy neighorhoods are jammed with horrible tourists. The Mission is an ideal 23-30 demographic of hipsters and artists and aspirers. It's packed with restaurants and bars and clubs, good grocery options, you can walk everywhere, plus a cool mix of working poor and all the shops catering to them, which provides nice cheap options and balances the fetid stench of gentrification. Then you've got perfect public transit in both the J and Bart lines which take you in to the city. The weather in the Mission is pretty perfect year round, sunny and warm.

However, your connection to a neighborhood is drastically different when you're unemployed. When you're basically gone all day every day, it doesn't really matter that much what's going on in your hood. Your priorities are totally different; you're busy, it becomes more about convenience, you want to be able to do your shopping or go someplace to eat without headaches. You spend your time mostly at work or inside your home, only a tiny fraction in the hood. I realized that most of the shops in the Mission that I love close at 6 PM ; if I was working I would never ever be able to go to them, so it wouldn't matter that they existed.

I'm really sad to be leaving the idle life in the Mission, but it was unsustainable, and I'm getting too old for the demo there anyway. Sure I could move back there some day, but it would never be the same, I would be old and disconnected from the cute hipsters biking around in their ridiculous outfits.

07-12-08 - 1

Fucking hell, the Web 2.0 reviews are so worthless. A good half of the reviews of Seattle hotels complain about the parking charge. For example :

3 stars : "parking should be included in your stay. the extra charge is a joke!"

2 stars : "I felt the $10 parking charge was too high"

Umm, no. Go back to the fucking country, you bumpkin, you obviously don't know the first thing about the real world. The W here charges $35 for parking. Now that is a fucking ripoff that you can complain about. An extra $10-15 parking charge is totally standard.

7/11/2008

07-11-08 - 1

Just got to Seattle. Northern Cal is burning, yikes; the sky was full of gray, even mighty Shasta had trouble poking through the smoke. Shasta in summer is pretty ugly, the snow melts and it's a big barren pile of dirt. Hood is gorgeous, the perfect cone, and Rainier is the most imposing of all, towering in the distance of so many views. Northern Cal was blazing hot, dry pines, lots of hicks. Southern Oregon is gorgeous, so many rolling hills, pastoral valleys, rivers; Northern Oregon was not so great, the big plains of the Wilamette Valley are just like the plains anywhere else. Eugene was surprisingly shitty; I always heard it was nice.

7/09/2008

07-09-08 - 3

Alissa and I are going to drive up to Seattle real soon, like probably tomorrow. The main point is for Alissa to see the town. I'd like to check out some neighborhoods; I guess Capitol Hill is my leading candidate due to ease of access to the 520 and some urban walking life, but I never really liked Cap Hill when I lived in Seattle before because it does have that shitty feel like the Haight; the "shitty feel" is a mix of broke poser hippie kids and "neighborhood tourists", that is yuppies from other neighborhoods who come in for restaurants/shopping. A good neighborhood has a bunch of young professional types and artists, not too yuppified, with restaurants & bars that cater to locals. I've always been fond of Ballard but it's a bitch to get to the east side from there. Another option might be the Wallingford-Fremont area, and I hear South Lake Union is much improved since 2000 when I moved away. I also hear Lower Queen Anne is pretty cool now, and it's not a ridiculous nightmare to get to the 520 from there, except when something is happening in the Key Arena; though I guess the Sonics are gone so maybe that's not a problem any more.

On the way back down here I'd like to do some site seeing. Somehow I've driven WA - CA a few times and never really taken it slow and stopped in Oregon. I'm thinking maybe spend a night in Portland, check out the Columbia Gorge, maybe Crater Lake, maybe Mt. St. Helens ? Dunno, we'll see how it goes I guess.

It's weird, I usually get around and take a lot of road trips and check things out, but when I was in Seattle I somehow didn't really get out of the city much. Never went to the Olympic Peninsula, never went to the San Juan Islands, never got close to Mt. Rainier, never went to North Cascades or Mt. St. Helens. There's a lot of cool stuff to do around there that I missed. I guess I was working a lot, and when I wasn't working I was obsessed with writing code for personal projects.

07-09-08 - 2

I'm watching the Nova on microraptor. It's vaguely interesting. The main thing I'm learning is that paleontologists are absolutely retarded. They seem to have no concept of the scientific method, clean room methods (keeping the analysts separate from preconceptions), or computer technology (WTF hello, you should be modeling the 3d skeleton on a computer and doing simulated crushing and fossilation, then optimizing the 3d model to match the found fossils).

07-09-08 - 1

Hmm.. I'd like to have a way to interact with the computer purely through the keyboard 99% of the time. Mousing is just horrible for your body and it's feeling really bad for me recently. The big things I still mouse for are copy-paste and moving the cursor, and for interacting with web pages. It seems to me that a kind of incremental find should be able to find those things by typing in text matches. Like say I'm on the google results page and I want to pick one of the results, I press the macro-start key then start typing a match; as it's ambiguous multiple buttons are highlighted in one color, once it becomes a unique selection the color changes, I hit macro-end and it selects that guy, then I send the message for a left click. Etc. - I could do that for buttons in any window; seems pretty easy and good. You need to have two modes, one for just selecting buttons, where the macro program finds only active buttons, and one for selecting any text so that you can define copy-paste regions.

7/07/2008

07-07-08 - 2

Seattle-SF Neighborhood Equivalents :

Belltown = Marina / South Beach
Upper Queen Anne = Nob Hill
Lower Queen Anne = Tender Nob
Capitol Hill = Haight
First Hill = Hayes Valley
Ballard = Mission
Fremont = Noe Valley
Downtown = Downtown
U District = U District
Green Lake = Richmond

Or something.

WalkScore map of Seattle is pretty cool.

07-07-08 - 1

Climbing some famous mountain like Everest or the Matterhorn is pretty fucking retarded. It's a fucking traffic jam these days, you spend the whole time around a whole mob of other people trying to do the summit. Of course you're escorted by a bunch of guides, you're practically being baby-sat and half carried up. There's no sense of isolation and wilderness; there are huts built all over, ropes nailed into the mountain, fixed spikes all over for you to hook into.

If you have some creativity or sense you can craft your own much more genuine accomplishment by going trekking somewhere out in the wild where a mob of tourists don't do the same path every day.

7/06/2008

07-06-08 - 4

I put up new versions of DeUnicode and MakePlayLists in exe section . DeUnicode can now optionally also get rid of underscores and change "The X" to "X, The".

I keep finding more apps that don't work right with unicode. The old version of zip that I use doen't work (2.1). Windiff 5.1 doesn't work. So I just fucking DeUnicode everything. It would be easier if those crazy foreigners would stop putting goofy characters in their file names. Don't they know that the universal language of computing is English !?

07-06-08 - 3

The perfect cocktail is just not quite sweet; you mainly want the liquor to show through, with just a bit of extra sweetness and some fruit or other complimentary flavor. In general I prefer whisky drinks because of the smoke and spice and all the interesting flavor notes in whisky. For fun you can make bourbon and rye and scotch variants of any whisky drink.

My Old Fashioned :

2 Oz whisky (1 Oz = a small shot glass full)
5 square inches of orange peel, bruised with muddler
1 full circle slice of orange, mashed
3/4 tsp of simple syrup
3 drops of bitters
optional : tiny tiny splash of soda (1/2 Oz, 1 tbsp)

My Manhattan (no cherry) :

2 Oz whisky
1/2 tbsp sweet vermouth (= 1/4 Oz)
2 drops bitters
1/4 tsp simple syrup or maraschino cherry liquid (but no cherry)
2 square inches of orange peel
Combine and shake with great vigor to produce ice chips

The unifying character of all variants of whisky is the aging in charred oak. You really are not tasting the fermented grain; the beautiful golden color and the rich flavor come from the charred oak barrels that whisky is aged in. American whisky is a mix of wheat and barley and corn. Bourbon is mostly corn, which makes it sweeter. Rye is mostly rye (except Canadian Rye which is just a name for whisky in Canada and not necessarily made of rye); rye is another type of grain similar to wheat and barley, it produces a slightly dryer more bitter whisky. Rye is actually the classic whisky for use in these cocktails; if using real rye, reduce the amount of bitters.

Rye and barley pretty much look exactly like wheat. If I saw a field of any of them, I wouldn't be able to tell them apart. So they pretty much all produce your basic grain alcohol. The difference between your basic hillbilly moonshine and whisky is just the aging in oak. In fact Scotch originally comes from the rural peasants; in every country the peasants have their own tradition of taking some of their product and sticking it in a corner of their barn to ferment and make alcohol.

I encourage you not to be overly seduced by the mythology of scotch which has sprung up due to massive marketing in the last 30 years. The truth is it's plain grain alcohol, aged in barrels, and then they add water and artificial caramel color (some of them do, anyway). The big difference is the large proportion of smoked malted barley which provides the smokey flavor; also they use grains and no corn which reduces the sweetness as compared to american whiskeys.

There are blended scotches which the average drinker would rate higher in a blind taste test than the coveted single malts. The average drinker prizes things like balance and smoothness which are really not related to quality at all. The same thing is true of wine of course, but wine snobbery has so pervaded society that it's hard to fight. The true appeal of a single malt (or a non blended wine) is the ability to taste the distinctive character and unique flavor notes that come from the region of the product. Also, just like wine, longer ages are not necessarily better. With scotch, anything over 20 years is highly questionable. Somewhere around 15 years is generally optimal, though the peak age depends on the exact character of the original spirit.

With delicate, simple delicious products, we must remember that the details are incredibly important. The finest scotch is produced in almost exactly the same way as an average/cheap american whiskey, but the difference on the tongue is quite profound. Something I've been noticing watching "Made in Spain" - he tours a lot of cheese makers, since cheese is quite important in Spain, and the funny thing is - every cheese maker looks exactly the same to me. They add rennet, seperate out the curds, press it into rounds, salt it and age it. Every single cheese in the world basically goes through that exact same process, and yet there are so many unique and beautiful flavors that come from the minute differences in production. Certain things, like cheese and whisky, are much like creatures and their DNA - the instructions for making a man and the instructions for making an E.Coli are 99% identical, and yet the product seems very different.

When I was in college I decided I should learn about all the things a "man" should know. I wanted to be educated in the ways of the world, capable, never at a loss. I taught myself to cook and fight; I read about drugs and sex; I tried different types of cigarettes and cigars, and booze. When it came to booze, mainly I taught myself about whiskys, partly because they are delicious and I enjoyed them, but also because I thought it was particularly manly and sophisticated and impressive and it would make me a real qualified grown up.

07-06-08 - 2

For a long time I've been meaning to convert this page to Blogger or something, mainly so that I could accept comments, since I think my readers often know more about a topic than I do and they could greatly increase the value of the content. Recently, reading more of various friends blogs, I'm not so sure.

Most blogs fall into two categories : 1) hugely popular with mass readership; these tend to be bombarded with absolutely retarded comments from the general internet community, and the comments often turn into flame wars between various readers and are just generally useless; 2) intimate, read mainly by friends.

This latter one is a little weird. If the comments are public, or even if they're friend-only and you're one of the friends, you get to read the very personal notes that are left between friends. This has an addictive appeal - blogs in general are largely interesting as voyeurism, and seeing intimate friends' comments about posts just makes you feel even more like you are getting a sneak peak into someone's life. It's weird to me that people act almost as if this isn't happening. Most people who write comments on blogs write little notes directly to the author. Why don't they just email the author directly if it's a personal note? Why don't you write as if your audience is the anonymous internet reader? (a similarly bizarre phenomenon exists with the Yelp Compliments, which are public, and yet people shamelessly send desperate pickup attempts to girls through the compliments, and the girls go ahead and approve them for public viewing; I don't get it).

So I think I like things the way they are. I like getting into email conversations with readers. When people send me things that are corrections or useful extra info, I often post it back here if I think it is interesting and appropriate for the general readership.

07-06-08 - 1

What's New Pussycat should be the new rickroll. This song is so fucking secretly great. At first it seems absolutely horrible, but if you listen to it like 20 times you just love it more and more. Or maybe I'm just falling under Tom Jones' seductive spell.

Everything about this video is amazing. For one, there's the way he's ridiculously coked out and spazzing all over the place. Then there's the audience reaction shots, especially the fat old lady around 1:46 that looks like she's about to faint. There's the line "big little" (did he just say "big little" ?). And of course the miming out the body parts like this is some kind of perverted hokey-pokey.

There's also something really weird about the song structure; it jumps abruptly to faster tempo in the chorus, or I guess it stays at the same tempo but picks up a hard accent on the half beat which makes it feel like double time. I don't know how to describe music shit.

7/04/2008

07-04-08 - 2

EveryBlock shows the SF police blotter in a nice map interface. If I was a scared old lady sitting home alone all the time, I could see obsessing over this.

07-04-08 - 1

Nope, can't do it. I hate Californication. You cannot be a pretentious superior snob that condescends to everyone, and at the same time glorify a childish macho womanizer.

Dexter is pretty good so far. I don't really like the way the bad guys he kills are like so ridiculously obviously evil; there aren't really people like that in the real world, real evil people are more just like ordinary douchebags that are just slightly more callous and selfish. It would be a lot more morally interesting if the people he was killing were more like real ambiguous criminals.

7/03/2008

07-03-08 - 4

I like this Lino Miele Yoga Video ; he's really smooth and elegant in his movement and it looks like a nice hard workout.

I've always liked the Yoga that's kind of like gymnastics; a lot of the related stuff on that page is cool too.

I've wanted to be able to L-seat for a long time, and I'd love to be able to "flag" but that stuff is pretty far away for me still. The definitive site for this stuff is Beast Skills - all bodyweight feats of strength. Very inspiring. I'd much rather be able to say I can L-sit or flag or do a full rollout than say I can bench whatever number.

The first time I saw Cirque de Soleil, they had the standard two strong men act, where they do planche moves and balance on each other and all that, it blew me away, I got goosebumps. I think that shit is just gorgeous and so inspiring. The strong men act never gets much applause. Some stupid clown gets all this applause for being dumb, but oh two guys doing amazing hard beautiful things, meh, yawn.

Browsing Youtube for circus strong men acts, I find two interesting things. First, most of the clips of strong men seem to be posted by the duos themselves looking for work. Don't worry boys, when I get rich I'll hire you to perform at my crazy parties. The other thing I notice is that the strongmen duo acts have been embraced by the gay community. No surprise there and I certainly don't blame them, but the video of flames is a bit too on the nose ; and Les FarFadais are just one accidental slip away from gay porn. Now this is a good old standard manly strong man duo; I love the T planche they do around 3:00

On a semi-unrelated note, Cirque Berzerk used to do a lot of shows in SF but they disappeared for a while and have now resurfaced in LA. If you're in LA, definitely check it out. It's like a cool cirque with great acrobatics, but a bit younger, less cheezy, a bit more fun and edgy, not nearly as professional as something like Soleil but that's part of the fun, it's more intimate.

07-03-08 - 3

Low Carb Friends is a forum for disgusting lazy fat old women to discuss horrible foods that have slightly less sugar, and generally just be slovenly and have bad taste and be lazy and love fast food. America is full of revolting semi-human organisms.

The new Dove commercials make me want to puke. The old ones were the ones that just showed semi-naked fat chicks to advertise Dove products. Okay, whatever, that's fine. But it's pretty disingenuous and manipulative; the reality is you're selling products based on making people feel like they need your products to be beautiful, rather than actually do what it takes to get attractive, they hope it's in a tube and that's how Dove makes money. It reminds me of the old Sprite adds where they would say "don't listen to some advertisement, don't trust a celebrity, obey your thrist, drink Sprite!" ; ummm... you do realize that you're advertising Sprite to me, right? so you're disparaging yourself? and you are a celebrity hawking this product? (it was usually some basketball player).

Anyway, that's the old Dove adds. The new one is about their program of seminars for children to help little girls build self esteem and think of themselves as beautiful. They show this kid reading the line "I promise to think of myself as beautiful every day". Dear god I hope not. You'll grow up to be one of those ugly fatties that wears spandex and a sports bra to walk around Las Vegas because she has no concept of how revolting she is. Or maybe one of those "sassy" girls that does burlesque because she's "big and beautiful" ; well you are big, that part is true...

The vast majority of people are ugly. That's just by definition. The way we define hotness is relative to the average, so by definition something like the top 5% are "hot". It's just the same way with wealth; it doesn't matter how many dollars you have, it's relative to how well others are doing, only the top 5% are "rich".

The message to all the hopelessly ugly girls out there should not be that they are somehow beautiful. It should be that beauty isn't everything. Hey, you're ugly. Tough shit, move on. You might still manage to be funny or smart or kind or have some other redeeming feature. The problem with these girls is that their self-worth is 100% wrapped up in being cute, and when they fail to be cute they're crushed. But no, you are not beautiful, and you should stop buying Dove shit and hoping and pretending that you are beautiful.

Oh, and BTW, it doesn't matter how smart or self-confident you are, guys will always just want the hottie, and they'll make you feel bad, and the hot chick will get all the breaks, easier access to everything, tons of favors. Better start building a deep well of bitterness.

Aside : Hock vs. Hawk (verb). To sell is "hawking your wares". To spit and cough is to "hawk a loogie". To sell something to a pawnbroker is to "hock". Basically it's always "hawk" unless you're talking about pawning or the ankle of a quadruped.

07-03-08 - 2

I suck at making fires, repairing cars, parallel parking, and everything that I consider important for a man to do.

07-03-08 - 1

Some cool shots of SF fireworks + GGB ; these must be taken from the Marin Headlands somewhere, a hilltop off Conzelman Rd I guess.

If I was alone or with other biking people I would ride to Crissy Field for the fireworks. Driving over there is madness but it would be fun to bike. I hung out with a biking crew here for a brief while; it was really fun biking around the city to do stuff; unfortunately they were nut-job losers.

I suspect that the secret and little-known "Jack Early Park" might be a good viewing spot, but I haven't tried it so I'm not quite sure.

7/02/2008

07-02-08 - 5

Ever since my bike crash I've been scared of fast descents. I used to really enjoy them and go balls out and try to go as fast as I could and get down without touching the brakes at all. Now I'm white knuckles on the brakes the whole way. Making a long descent braking the whole way is physically exhausting and also very nerve racking. I no longer enjoy that feeling of being slightly out of control and taking a risk and the adrenaline rush. Anyway, now I find myself not really wanting to do the long climb up to Skyline (about 2000 feet straight up) mainly because I really don't want to have to do that fucking descent to get back down. Sigh.

07-02-08 - 4

Paul Brians' Common Errors in English Usage . Wow, this guy is more of a dick than I. It's a pretty damn good page though, it's quite an encyclopedic compendium of retardation; he's got one of my biggest pet peeves : misuse of exponential . I love the way he writes about "orders of magnitude" :

Many pretentious writers have begun to use the expression "orders of magnitude" without understanding what it means. [...]
If you don�t have a firm grasp on such concepts, it�s best to avoid the expression altogether.

Unfortunately he has diluted his pearls by cluttering the page with many simple mis-spellings, and entries that are just plain foolish, like his silly suggestion for the cake line

07-02-08 - 3

I really need to swim. It's so good for me, it would really help my back and shoulders. But I fucking hate swimming in public pools so fucking much, it's just misery. It's so boring, the chlorine is unpleasant, some fucking lifeguard is staring at me, damn slow people are blocking my lane, and fast people are passing me, I run into the fucking lane line, some dick swims into me, I swim into someone by mistake, god damn its boring, I'm going back and forth over and over, I have no view, no music, no scenery, ugh.

On the other hand, swimming in nature is pure joy. Especially in a big lake where there are no boundaries, scenery, the smell of woods, no one else around, sun shine, no lanes, no pressure. You can just swim out as far as you can, then swim back. Go exploring, try to swim to the other side.

It would be pretty sweet to have my own pool, a huge pool big enough to swim laps. It would be retardedly expensive and wasteful but fuck it, that's what money is for. With good tree protection from the neighbors I could swim naked and lie around poolside drinking cocktails and reading in the sun.

Sometimes I think I could be happy as a kept boy.

There are no fucking swimming lakes around here, even though there are plenty of lakes, they're all forbidden (except stupid little swim lagoon areas). Fucking laws. I've been thinking about going up to Kent Lake near Fairfax. It's a fucking drinking water reserve or something so you're not supposed to swim in it, but I figure if I bike out to a hard to reach section I should be able to swim without disturbance. People should be fucking glad that they get to drink water that's touched my body. They should pay me for the privilege.

Swimming in a pool is like riding a stationary exercise bike. Bleck. That's inhuman.

07-02-08 - 2

I can never memorize junk. I've always struggled with the cursed "standard" measures, but I finally now have tricks for most of them.

I can remember cups and gallons thusly : "A quart is a quarter of a gallon and also a quartet of cups". Thus there are 16 cups in a gallon.

Similarly, tbsp:cup as cup:gallon, or "the gallon's cup is the cup's tablespoon". So there are 16 tbsp in a cup.

In a system of powers of two this all sort of makes sense. Powers of two makes sense because you can combine two of one measure to make the next measure. 16 is a nice place to put the major divisions. If you like, 2^8 tablespoons is a gallon. A gallon is a byte, a cup is a hex digit, and a tablespoon is a bit.

Two tablespoons are an ounce. If you like you can remember this in a weird way : first of all "a pint's a pound the world round". There are ounces of volume and ounces of weight, but they are the same for water. Since a pound is the fundamental unit of weight, 16 ounces make a pound, since 16 is our primary division and the ounce:pound as cup:gallon. Thus since a pint is double a cup, an ounce must be two tablespoons.

Three teaspoons are a tablespoon. This one is trouble.

07-02-08 - 1

There's an annoying quirk with the system stat() call that I haven't seen documented. I'm not sure if this is an MS quirk or more global :

stat() on most dirs will fail if you stick on a trailing slash, eg. stat("c:\windows\") is no good, you must stat("c:\windows");

However :

stat() on the root dir of a drive will fail if it DOESN'T have a trailing slash. eg. stat("c:\") is good but stat("c:") is not.

So, you can make your own stat() wrapper that removes the trailing slash if strlen is > 3. I guess you should probably also look for len 2 drive root specs and add a slash.

Hmmm .. Jon pointed out this is bad on Xbox 360 since I'm relying on drive names being 1 letter. You can do the same thing without explicit lengths by working off the colon; ending with a ":" is bad, ending with ":\" is good, otherwise ending with "\" is bad.

int __cdecl mystat (const char *spec, struct _stat *st)
{
	size_t len = strlen(spec);
	if ( len == 0 )
	{
		return -1;
	}
	else if ( spec[len-1] == ':' )
	{3
		// add trailing slash :
		char * temp = (char *) _alloca(len+1);
		memcpy(temp,spec,len);
		temp[len] = '\\';
		temp[len+1] = 0;
		
		return ::_stat(temp,st);
	}
	else if ( spec[len-1] == '\\' && len > 1 && spec[len-2] != ':' )
	{
		// kill trailing slash :
		char * temp = (char *) _alloca(len);
		memcpy(temp,spec,len);
		temp[len-1] = 0;
		
		return ::_stat(temp,st);
	}
	else
	{
		return ::_stat(spec,st);
	}
}

BTW there is a bit of ambiguity if somebody tries to stat something like "c:" - did they mean the root, or did they mean the current dir on c drive in that DOS way of tracking current dirs on each drive?

7/01/2008

07-01-08 - 7

I do not get the point of ultra-thin or ultra-light notebooks at all. It seems like just a retarded way to one-up your neighbor with no actual benefit. An 0.7" thick notebook is not any easier to carry than a 1" thick notebook, and yet its capabilities are severely crippled. In any case you need some giant briefcase or bag to carry the thing in, so small changes in size don't matter. Once you can fold it up and put it in your pocket, that will be a big difference. There is a certain weight that you need to get under, maybe 5 pounds, but below that doesn't really help. The way to be actually user friendly is low heat, low noise, and ergonomic keyboard.

Anyhoo, the HP Voodoo Envy 133 is a worthless brick, but it does bode well. Maybe their next model will be a less trendy slightly larger system that's actually usable (eg. a 15" screen, a 7200 RPM drive, you know, at least as good as my notebook from 5 years ago).

BTW the fact that they keep making notebooks where the keyboard is inset and only uses a small portion of the possible available space makes me so furious. First of all, making the keyboard bigger is not a technical difficulty - the keyboard circuit is literally 1 millimeter thick, it doesn't get in the room of anything else. The big flat spaces on the sides of the keyboard are not there by necessity, they're there due to pure retardation. The cramped keyboard is a big problem, it needs to be absolutely as big as possible. (BTW putting a fucking numpad on is even worse; now my hands are off to one side of the fucker!? WTF!) It seems like they always use the same 13" keyboard regardless of the size of the laptop.

old rants