Sunday, September 30, 2007

Zombie Monitor

So today I come in from cycling, wake up my G3 and... the monitor isn't working.

Now, that's not to say it wasn't displaying an image; it was displaying it just fine, except about twice as bright as it ought display it, which is no good. In fact, I could quite easily see the retrace lines, which you most definitely shouldn't be able to see under normal operation.

Being the handy guy I am, I went and ate dinner. After I was done my dinner, I cracked open the monitor and re-adjusted the primary brightness setting on the flyback transformer, all while managing to resist the temptation to lick the big red wire (it's important to not lick the big red wire when working inside a monitor).

Of course, what I neglected to do was to check and adjust the focus while I was in there, as the brightness change drew it slightly out of focus. Perhaps if I'm feeling impish some other day I'll crack it open again and give it a tweak. It's not all that bad, really.

I'm just glad I don't have to buy a new monitor right now. All 3 of my current crop of monitors are on their last legs, but they'll hopefully hold together until next summer.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I spent some time out on my unicycle this afternoon, seeing as it's probably going to be the last nice weekend of the year, and practised my backwards riding. It's coming along nicely, but I'm still pretty wobbly and haven't gone more than 10 feet or so. I think with a few more days in the saddle I should be doing ok.

I wasn't feeling 100%, though, and I'm not entirely sure why at this point. I wasn't feeling sick at all, just a little bit out of it. Maybe I just didn't get enough sleep, what with being out partying late last night.

Vancouver Photos

I finally got around to sorting and organizing my Vancouver pictures. I moved them out of the vacation dump and into their own gallery.

There's not any new photos, so if  you looked through them before there's no need to look at them again.

Relatedly, I really need to upgrade my server. Sloooooow!

Party Time

Went to Tyler's birthday party yesterday. Much fun was had, cake was served, and I got to meet his newborn poop-machine.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


So today in the mail I got my free CIRA 1GB USB drive.

In an interesting coincidence, I was up in one of the computer labs this afternoon checking my email, and I randomly discovered that someone had left their USB drive stuck in the back of the iMac I sat down in front of. I skimmed through the contents to see if there was a "please return this to..." file on it, but all I saw was a bunch of fruity arts-student type papers. Figures.

I dropped it off at the Lost and Found and left a sticky note on the front of the computer, so that should its owner show up in a panic, they'll know where to go to find it.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Too sexy to be legal

So apparently I'm so sexy that I can cause traffic accidents just by walking down the sidewalk. This was proved without a doubt on Thursday afternoon.

I was walking home from the bus, going across Henderson at Hespeler. The cars turning right politely stopped for me (it's a strange Canadian custom, for all you American readers) and I continued across the street to the far sidewalk. Just as I looked up, I saw a car run right into the back of one of the ones that had stopped. Not a hard hit, but a hit none the less.

So there you have it, there's no denying it: I'm just too sexy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Idling wheels are...

Well, someone's playthings, at least.

I've put about an hour and a half of practice into idling on my unicycle so far and it seems to be coming along well. I haven't got to the point where I can sit there and idle back and forth until the cows come home, but I'm at least to the point where I have some decent control over it.

It's one of the few unicycling skills that I can practice indoors here, so by the time spring rolls around I'll probably be able to idle in my sleep.

I suppose there's some other skills I could try if I get really bored once the snow flies, like hopping. I'm not a big fan of hopping, though; it's a unicycle, not a pogo-stick.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cycling season is getting shorter

So I decided to take my unicycle out for a spin today. This isn't very exciting, but I wanted to try out the embeddable google maps thing:

View Larger Map

Of course, it doesn't work real well for mapping out a cycling path since it doesn't include back lanes, going the wrong way down a one-way street, going through parks, etc.

Anyway, I went about 3km in total, and took roughly 30 minutes to do it. That's 6km/h if you're counting. Not exactly the fastest mode of transportation. A bigger wheel would help (mine is just a 20 inch).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


So Just on a whim I counted up my audio CDs today. I haven't bought any for about 5 years or so, and it's always been a little question in the back of my mind, wondering how much I actually spent on all of them in the first place.

Now of course I don't have all the receipts for each CD, so I just took a wild guess that I spent an average of $20 per disc. Multiply that by 70 CDs and that's $1400.

Add to that the 80 or so CDs on my wish list, costing roughly $1600, and that's a whole $3000 in music.

That's a lot of money.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Kicks

My last pair of Etonics have had a hard life. The inside of the heels wore through, so I had them patched up last year. Then this summer I walked well over 5km per day in them and managed to wear right through the sole. It's time for me to put them to rest.

So mother phoned this afternoon and let me know that the particular model of Etonics I've been wearing are no longer sold, but a different brand has a similar model shoe that happened to be on sale.

As I was going out grocery shopping anyway I decided to take a look. I also apparently decided to get rained on, but that's another matter entirely.

I had a look at the new shoes, and they certainly looked to be similar to my old Etonics. But it occurred to me that my shoe needs have changed over the years, and perhaps I should be looking for something new. Specifically, I've started unicycling.

Now, they certainly don't make shoes specifically designed for unicycling, but they do make shoes designed for skateboarding or BMXing, and the requirements of the two overlap quite a bit. As a bonus, all the skateboarding shoes were on sale for 2 pair for $50!

In the end I took home a pair of Dragons. I don't know why they're called dragons, but they fit and they've got lots of padding and a nice flat sole, so that's all that matters.

Also, on the way home, I happened to run into my old boss at Wheelchair Service of Manitoba (not literally, thank goodness. His van is a lot bigger than my car). Had a nice quick chat with him.

I also got rained on a lot. I wasn't quite so fond of that part.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Fun with math

First off, let's get this video link out of the way.

Now that I've scared you all off, I'll get to the meat of this blog post, which is the oft-ignored 5-function pocket calculator.

I'm sure you're all familiar with what a 5-function calculator is. It's those really simple calculators that do addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square root and percentage (and if you're paying attention, you'll notice that's 6 functions).

Everyone is pretty familiar with the basic functions. You press "1 + 2 =" and get 3, you press "5 x 6 =" and get 30, etc.

But what about the square root and percent keys? Or those "M+, M-, MRC" keys? Most people might never think to press those buttons, so let's take a look at what they do.

First up is perhaps the simplest key on the entire calculator: the square root key (that's the one that looks like a checkmark). It takes one number as its input, and spits out its square root. Let's try to apply that...

Let's say I want to mount a webcam in the top corner of my wall, but my computer is all the way down on the floor at the other end of the wall, we can use the pythagorean theorem to find out what length USB cable I need.

Since my wall is 12 feet wide and 8 feet tall, we punch in "12 x 12 =" and write down  "144", then type in "8 x 8 =" and write down "64", then we enter "144 + 64 =" and hit the square root key to get 14.4 and change, and resolve never to touch a calculator again because that was a royal pain in the ass to punch in.

But we can do better, if we use the calculator's built-in memory. First, we make sure that the memory is clear by examining the display for a little "M" icon that would indicate a stored value, and we begin. This time, we type in "12 x 12 M+" and the display indicates "144 M" showing us that it has remembered this value. Next we type in "8 x 8 M+", and the display shows "64 M". Next we hit the "MRC" button and magically the calulator shows us "208", which is the sum of 144 and 64. We hit the square root key and get the answer 14.4 and change again! Hooray!

But wait, we can still do better. On most 5-function calculators, the multiplication key has a hidden function: if we press the keys "12 x =" we see that the display indicates 144 without having to enter in the second 12! So now all we have to type is "12 x M+ 8 x M+ MRC" and hit the square root button and magically the result 14.4 is there plain as day!

Moving on, let's say you're out for dinner and you want to calculate what size tip to leave. The cheque comes out to $23.81 and you want to leave a 15% tip. How much money do you leave? Well just whip out your trusty calculator and press "23 . 81 + 15 %" and we can see that we should pay a total of $27.38.

Alternately, let's say you're shopping for a new TV, and you know that your friend can get you an 11% employee discount. You look at a model costing $1199 and you whip out your trusty calculator again, punching in "1199 - 11 %" and get $1067.11. But wait, what about the 13% combined sales tax? punch in "+ 13 %" and we see that the grand total is $1205.83, without the extended warranty. How much did that 11% save us? Punch in "1199 x 11 % + 13 %" and we get $149.04 (alternately, you could punch in "1199 + 13 % x 11 %" and get the same answer).

But let's not stop there, how about reciprocals? Like, what's 1/16th in decimal? As a percentage? Punch in "16 ÷ =" and you get 0.0625, punch in "16 ÷ %" and you get 6.25%. What percentage is 19/32nds? Punch in "19 ÷ 32 %" and we get 59.375%.

It's really worth spending a little time to get familiar with your calculator. You'll find that only having "5 functions" isn't very limiting at all, and you never know when knowing a few calculator tricks might come in handy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First day back

First day of classes got off to a rough start when I ended up in the wrong classroom; seems I had written the room number wrong on my schedule! I had to scramble to find a computer with a network connection to get the right room number (twice, as I read the room number for the wrong section the first time) and only ended up 5 minutes late and a bit tired from running around in a tizzy.

Of course, my confusion was compounded by the fact that some classmates from last year were waiting in the same classroom. I thought this was rather odd as I was waiting for Classical Mythology, and these classmates were people I knew from taking Discrete Math. It turns out they were taking Linear Algebra, which I had already taken last year (well, I took Linear I, I'll have Linear II in the winter term).

My professor was glad to see me when I eventually showed up, though, as we had met last year due to the fact that she was teaching the same course right before my calculus course.

The next moment of grief came when I was killing a bit of time surfing web in one of the computer labs and noticed the clock tick over to 11:15. For a moment I thought I'd missed the start of my next class at 11:00, but a quick check of my schedule reminded me that it wasn't until 11;30.

The rest of the day went a bit smoother. Saw a few more classmates during the day, discovered that I'm taking intermediate calc with a few of them.

I also found out that apparently the lab portion of my Atmospheric Science course is somehow vitally important, though exactly what was to be covered in the lab wasn't really elaborated on. I suppose I'll find out soon enough. Apparently it's important enough to even have a lab exam scheduled for it.

Speaking of exams, I was informed that a few mid-term exams wouldn't be happening, all of which happened to be scheduled later on in the December exam period, which means I'll be done my fall term exams on December 6th and won't have to hit the books again until January 3rd.

As for next spring, my exams should be over and done with by April 11th.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

And I named him... Merida

Ok, so I didn't name my mini "Mini Me". I did get it delivered yesterday, and spent the afternoon setting it up (mostly copying data from my old G3 and lugging my old Octane and monitor out of the way).

I posted a few pictures of the experience on my gallery.

There's only one thing I can really say: this computer is awesome!

Only hiccup I've found so far is that the driver for my Kensington Expert Mouse doesn't let my Mini go to sleep, but that's a Kensington problem, not a Mini problem.