Friday, December 16, 2011

That not so fresh feeling

So last night I decided that I had enough of Safari crashing randomly, and dying completely when I tried to upgrade it. I knew that somewhere along the line something had gone wrong with my system, and it was time to admit that the prudent thing to do was to wipe the system and install a fresh copy of Lion.

Now I had basically been running the same OS install since 2007, which was originally a (short lived) install of Tiger, followed by Leopard once it was released that fall, then Snow Leopard and finally Lion this year. People will say "oh, well, you really should do a fresh install when a new OS comes out, so that..." and then their train of thought goes off into some cargo-cult chicken-bone-rune casting mumbo jumbo, or at least the technological equivalent thereof.

The thing is, so long as the filesystem itself isn't corrupted, there should be no difference between a freshly installed system and one that had been upgraded from a previous install, no matter how long ago that install was performed. Any deviation therein is nothing less than a failure on the part of the developers, in this case Apple's OS division. And so, to Apple's MacOS release packaging team, I have one thing to say: Son, I am disappoint.

But my disappointment runs deeper than that. You see, on windows there exists a little known utility called "SFC", which stands for "System File Checker". As the name implies, it runs a checksum over all (or most) of the important system files and can replace any that deviate from expectations. As far as I can tell, though, there's no equivalent to this on MacOS X.

The sad thing is it would be dead simple to integrate into Disk Utility. There's already a framework in place, the ever so lovely "repair permissions" routine that seems to be the first line of action in every OS X tech support script. It would, in theory, be quite simple to extend this to record and verify checksums on all the vital files, and then, at the very least, indicate which files are damaged if not replace them automatically.

In the mean time, though, I'm at least glad that nuking the drive from orbit, reinstalling, and migrating the data, apps and settings back from my time machine drive is at least a reasonably seamless process.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Via a series of tubes, no doubt

Apparently G+ and Blogger have joined forces to allow automatic sharing of blog posts to G+.

I am trying this out now.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jet Airliners, Tractor Pulls, and Math

Recently a friend of mine made a post about the AF-447 crash and some of the human factors involved. One of the things he noted was that the thrust levers were not designed to indicate, by their position, the current thrust setting of the engines they controlled. At first glance, this seems an odd decision, but there is indeed a method to the madness.

Before we dive into that method, we first need to take a little detour through the deliciously redneck world of competitive tractor pulling. Yes, you read that right, tractor pulling...

Monday, October 17, 2011


So recently YouTube invited me to start putting ads in my videos. I figured I don't have much to lose since I can select which videos get ads, and switch it off whenever I like, so I'm giving it a try.

Since YouTube, AdSense and Blogspot are all under the same Google umbrella, I figured I'd enable it on my blog here too. Not that I get any hits here from anyone who doesn't use some form of adblock, but what the hell.

I initially tried enabling the suggested layout of sticking ads in the sidebar as well as between posts, but the between posts ones were a bit too much so I scaled it back to just the sidebar. I figure that's fairly unobtrusive.

I'd love to share with you all how this experiment turns out, but I think there's some crap in the agreement that says I'm not allowed to disclose revenue amounts. Even if it's 30 cents per year, it's still free money so whatever.

While I'm at it, I should note: don't spam-click the ads or I'll probably get my account suspended.

Monday, September 12, 2011

To California again...

Flying down on Tuesday and back on Thursday. Interviewing with Overland Storage (digital storage, not the other kind).

I'm also trying out the new google blogger app for iOS. So far it's very orange.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Oh bother...

So I've been drinking my tea for a few years out of a 20oz acrylic beer mug, which I've quite enjoyed. The downside, of course, is that acrylic doesn't tolerate heat well, and it's been slowly cracking ever since I started using it. This hasn't generally been a problem as the cracks started on the inside and have only slowly been working their way deeper through the plastic as the years have gone by.

Today, though, one of the cracks made it all the way through. It's not leaking, but I can feel the crack with my nail on the outside of the mug, so it's clearly time to look for a replacement.

I had been eyeing up this set of glass beer mugs on Amazon as a suitable replacement; I'd planned to get them once I moved south, but things being as they are I decided to try to order them up today instead.

They don't ship them to Canada. Arg. Seeing as it's not really worth going down to Pembina to pick them up, I'll need to find some other solution.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Delicious Tea

On a more upbeat note, compared to the previous entry, I've recently been experimenting with tea. You see, I've always been somewhat fond of tea, but finding the perfect method of preparing and serving it has eluded me in the past. I find drinking it straight to be nice, but somewhat unsatisfying; it always ends up tasting a bit plain and dry. I've tried loading it up with sugar, but that really doesn't improve things much, and isn't the healthiest thing in the world either, especially as I've made this recent move in an attempt to move away from drinking juice and all its unneeded calories. I've tried adding a bit of milk, but besides changing the colour it never seemed to add much to the experience, and certainly fell far short of delivering on the promise of adding richness and creaminess to my freshly brewed drinking experience.

Of course, I contrast this with tea experiences that have been wholly satisfying, namely those times I've had a chai latte at a coffee shop. It wasn't until a few days ago that I finally put the pieces together and came to a revelation: I was using far, far too little milk.

While watching a barista prepare a chai latte this summer, I noticed that the ratio of tea to milk was close to 2:1, rather than the usual middling teaspoons added to a standard cup of tea. I didn't think much of it at the time, as I assumed they were using a much stronger mix of tea than I might hope to brew at home, but on a lark I decided to try it.

After a bit of tinkering, this is the winning algorithm I came up with: In a 600ml mug, brew approximately 400ml of tea with a single tea bag per the package directions. Spiced teas work especially well, and herbals might also be nice though I haven't tried yet. Once the tea is brewed, chuck the teabag and immediately top up the mug with 200ml of whole milk, fresh from the fridge.

This results in a deliciously creamy tea beverage that's at a drinkable temperature immediately upon preparation, which is another bonus.

Even with the whole milk, a mug full only adds up to about 120 calories or so, which is about half of what I'd get from a glass of juice. There's also a lot more of it in a mug, so I can easily get by with just one or two per day, rather than 3 or 4 glasses of juice, to sate my thirst. That said, it's quite a bit more than the roughly zero calories I'd get from plain tea, but I think it's definitely worth it.

With all this calorie talk I should mention that I'm not freaking out about weight or anything. It's just, on the balance, I'd rather spend my daily calorie intake budget on delicious things I enjoy eating, rather than waste it on things that bring me no joy.

Please DIAF, Flash Plugin

So last night as I was settling down getting ready for bed, I decided to watch a few youtube videos to close out the day, as I often do. Additionally, as is common for these late night viewings, I hit the "full screen" button on youtube's controls.

Now, for most people, clicking a button marked "full screen" would imply some sort of desire to watch a video in full screen perhaps. Not according to Adobe, though. For them, hitting "full screen" means "crash the computer and force an instant reboot". Thanks, Adobe.

As a result of this, my root drive became unrecoverably corrupted (I'll put some of the blame on Apple's FS team for that part, journaled filesystems should never die like that). Thankfully my Time Machine backups came to the rescue and I didn't lose any data, but all the same it was a pain in the ass and kept me up well past my intended bed time.

On the bright side, when I logged in to post this I noticed that Blogger has added mobile device templates, which I took the opportunity to enable. As such, my blog should now be much easier to navigate from handheld devices. Now if only they could do something about improving the mobile posting experience...

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mystery Solved

As I completely forgot to mention in a previous blog post, I retasked Bob's old desktop PC into my server, as my old server was getting a bit flaky due to a damaged DIMM slot.

The new hardware worked quite well, except that, very rarely, I'd come to find that the system had mysteriously rebooted. There was never any crash log or any instability leading up to the reboot, it'd just suddenly, every few weeks, reboot itself.

Then, this afternoon during a particularly strong gust of wind, the power flickered and my server rebooted again, and finally the lightbulb went on. I trudged my way downstairs to inspect the matter first-hand, and was at first a bit stymied as the UPS, which had been my first guess as to the culprit, was not showing any signs of distress from either overload nor from worn batteries.

None the less, when I pulled the plug and the UPS cut over to battery power, my server instantly powered down and started spasming as it attempted to power back up again. During this time, the overload warning on the UPS remained silent, indicating that it was still well within its design load.

With this new information, I was able to narrow it down to the power supply inside the server itself. When I upgraded the system, I had only moved the old drives over along with one of the ethernet cards; I hadn't bothered to swap out the power supply as it seemed to be a perfectly serviceable 500w unit, and the one in the old server was only 550w, though it was a high quality aftermarket unit.

Since I still had the power supply from the old server, I swapped it in. I powered up the system (worked first time!) and pulled the plug on the UPS and... nothing! It just kept chugging right along as if nothing had happened.

I am looking forward to not having any more random reboot troubles from my server.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The final final grade

Finally got around to checking and I officially scored an A- on Art and History. Huzzah.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

C's get Degrees

But sadly I did not get a single C grade in my entire university career. I wonder if I still qualify for graduation? ;)

What I did get was one final B grade for Probability Theory. I'd say that's pretty good, all things considered, and was about the best I was hoping for after my poor showing on the midterm exam.

I don't technically have the grade yet for Art and History, but I'm expecting an A in that course.

I'm just glad it's done.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More Marks

Got an A in Human-Env. I don't have the full mark back from Art and History yet, but on the final test I scored 94% so I'm not too worried about it. Should get an A there at least.

That just leaves Probability Theory. Ugh.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Google interview

Went very well last week. Had a splendid time chatting with the engineers there and enjoyed a delicious free lunch. I'm hoping I might hear back from them next week or so.

In the mean time Barnes and Noble has shown a bit of interest in dragging me in to work on the Nook products, so we'll see if that goes anywhere, and I'll be keeping my resume spread around just in case none of these current opportunities pan out.

On the less job-searchy side, the flights down and back were a huge pain in the ass. A broken plane and subsequently cancelled flight saw me arrive in San Jose very late, and a delay on the way back had me almost miss my connection in Denver. The flights themselves, once we were in the air, were quite nice though. I sat beside some lovely folk, including, by random chance, Chris Wiesehan, the receiver coach for the Blue Bombers, who was a very nice fellow and quite enjoyable to chat with.

The hotel was splendid, though slightly less scenic than the one in Saratoga that Apple had me in. Visits with friends went quite well, much sushi was eaten, and good times were had by all.

I'm really looking forward to getting this all taken care of so I can move down to California and get myself settled and comfortable.

Oh right, those exams

Forgot to blog about my last two exams last week. They went well enough, plenty well enough to pass at least, and at this point that's all I really care about.

I also got my course mark back from Intro Japanese, and scored myself a nice healthy A (pending approval of grades by the senate and blah blah blah).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Travel arrangements to the Opt-In Village

I'll be heading down to the Opt-In Village in April for an interview. I'll be flying down on the 21st at 1:30 and arriving at 7:30 in San Jose, and then flying back from San Jose on the 23rd from 11:45 to 7:30. Going through Minneapolis on the way down again, and Denver on the way up instead of Toronto.

Got a hotel room in Mountain View near El Camino and 85 this time, which is a very familiar area for me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

So, what is it you *do* here?

Sometimes people ask me what it is I do. This is the answer, roughly speaking. (scroll down, for some reason the second video is at the top, but they're in the correct order below that)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Guess not

Looks like the iChat position at Apple is a no-go. Oh well. We'll see if Google goes better.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Exam Schedule

Intro Japanese: April 11th, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Art and History: April 13th, 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Human-Env Interactions: April 18th, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Probability Theory: April 20th, 9:00 am to 12:00 pm

Not a bad schedule. The 6pm exam for Intro Japanese is a bit odd and/or annoying, but I'll live. I might have wanted an extra day between the two pairs but at least nothing is stacked back to back.

Of course, all of this will probably turn into a complete mess if the faculty strikes.

It's a good thing I check these things

While I was waiting for my Prob Theory class to start this afternoon, a classmate of mine brought up the subject of the academic proficiency scholarship, noting that he'd finally been credited with his. I checked the website to see if I'd got one myself, but it came up blank.

After the class I headed down to the awards office to see if I hadn't qualified, or if they were still churning through the list or whatever. It turned out that I hadn't got it because my program was still listed as "general studies" rather than indicating that I was in the 4 year honours program. After a quick trip to the records office to correct that oversight, I was awarded the scholarship.

Yay, free money.

Also, the full-time faculty is threatening to go on strike, which might throw a monkey wrench into things. I contacted the convocation office about making a contingency plan in case a regular graduation would be delayed, but it seems that they don't yet know what might happen in that regard, so while I'll be keeping on top of the situation, there isn't much to do at the moment except wait.

There and back again

The trip down to Apple went pretty well. The flight down was reasonably uneventful, the interviews went splendidly, and then on Saturday everything went to hell (sort of).

It started when I was packing up in the morning: I managed to chip my thumbnail. This was the first in a series of annoying events.

Next up, I managed to get a speeding ticket going to the airport. Got clocked at 88mph while the official speed is 65. Of course, none of the traffic goes anywhere near 65, so the actual speed differential between myself and the rest of the vehicles was fairly negligible. All the same, speeding is speeding. I just hope the fine isn't too huge.

Following this, I arrived at the airport to find that my flight to Toronto was delayed, but that they'd make up the time in the air. This wasn't too terrible. I also had to go through that idiotic porn scanner at the TSA checkpoint.

What was terrible was that my flight from Toronto to Winnipeg, which was already scheduled to arrive in the wee hours of the morning, was delayed by 4 hours due to a little flaky white stuff sprinkling ever so delicately from the sky.

Luckily Pearson has free wifi, so it wasn't a total loss, but rolling in at nearly 5am after a long day in the air wasn't exactly how I was expecting to end my californian visit.

But, all's well that ends well. At least I picked up (with employee discount) a shiny new iPod dock for my Touch while I was down there.

I haven't heard back from Apple yet, but I'll be sure to blog about it when I do.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm leaving on a jet plane

I keep promising myself I'll never fly again, but here I am, jetting off to California for 2 days. It's for a good cause, though: an on-site interview at Apple.

Google also dropped me an email and indicated they're interested in an on-site, but I won't have any time in my schedule until April, and if Apple comes back with a decent offer before then I'll probably just go with that. It's kind of a shame they didn't contact me a few weeks earlier or I could have doubled up. Such is life, I guess.

Onward and upward...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Midterm madness

Got a 90% on my Japanese midterm, with an overall score for the first term of 92%.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A little good news, a little bad news

I woke up this morning and dragged myself through the cold and snow to reach school, only to find that my first class (Japanese) has been canceled. I could be laying in bed nice and warm right now, but nooooo. So, now I get to waste an hour sitting around waiting for my other class to start. Zzzzz.

On the bright side, I got my marks back from Kinesiology, and I scored myself an A. Go me! Almost a quarter of the class (19/81) got an F, and I must say that's pretty sad.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The bloody aftermath

So, I moved my server this evening. Finally got all the essential services off the homebox and out into the cloud. Mad props to Linode for not sucking!

Only thing that isn't working quite right is my Jabber server, but I'm hoping that it'll sort itself out once the DNS refresh percolates out through the tubes. I may have to poke at it a bit tomorrow, but it's not a big deal. There will probably be a few glitches with delayed emails until then too, but that's just part of the game.

It took a bit longer than I expected to do the switchover as I waited until now to copy over the spamassassin databases without realizing they're about 100-120MB each. Takes a few minutes to squeeze that through a 512kbit uplink.

It's good that I check these things

First day of class is the 5th, not the 6th.

Unfortunately, the U doesn't open until the 4th too, which means I couldn't go in and sell a textbook I want to get rid of and buy a bus pass while I was out today. At least I figured this out beforehand rather than wasting a trip going out there.

Sadly there wasn't the option of postponing my shopping until tomorrow, as I was fresh out of milk after breakfast this morning.