Silent All These Years

I've been here

(no subject)
OMG I used to write stuff here? Rad.

Binge spending
Here's a list of (non-recurring) things I bought in the past month. Online shopping is my Achille's heel it seems.

Performance Bicycle
 - K2 ZED 1.0 2008 bike, $250

 - Bulldog 5010STD lock, $25
 - Belkin 4 port USB 2.0 hub, $10
 - Koss KSC75 earphones, $15
 - 4gb MicroSDHC card, $8

 - ThinkPad Ultrabay II Battery, $80

 - Corsair Flash Voyager 8gb drive, $10 AR

American Eagle
 - American Eagle fleece, $20
 - Pinnacle PCTV HD Pro Stick (USB HDTV tuner), $35

I am poor but happy now.

Thanksgiving shopping
The American thanksgiving is different from its Canadian counterpart in a number of aspects. The most readily apparent is probably that while Canadian Thanksgiving is held in early October, the Americans wait until late November to gorge on turkey and cranberry sauce. (Tangentially, the turkey they had at GCC was too dry, and the staff didn't know what I was talking about when I asked for dark meat...)

While Canadians stay home, drowsy from all the tryptophan they had ingested at dinner the previous night, the Americans are out in full force the next day to do Black Friday shopping. It's a day in which merchants, seeking to jump-start the Christmas shopping season, slash their prices. (This is somewhat of a strange phenomenon, since in Canada, the Christmas shopping season kind of just starts, no jumper cables required. But I shouldn't complain.)

This year the importance of Black Friday is probably more than ever, thanks to the economy which is in the dumps and digging even deeper. I decided to get in on the action, not because - as Lewis Black asserts, America is depending me buy stuff - but because I actually had stuff to buy. As it turned out, Black Friday shopping is a day full of lessons.

Lesson 1: Rich people are rich. I biked to Stanford Shopping Center Friday morning. Being more of an upscale destination, swarms of people were milling about, Nordstrom and Macy's and Bloomingdale bags in tow. Their body language said but one thing: even though everything's 40 percent off, you still can't afford it.

Lesson 2: Even rich people want cheap stuff. The McDonald's in the mall - the sole bastion of good old non-rich America - teemed with people looking expensive and carrying the aforementioned bags.

Lesson 3: There are more poor people than rich people. The next day we went to Gilroy, a town famous for its factory outlet stores... and garlic. We struck gold in a shop due to close down around Christmas time; they sold jeans for less than $10 a pair. As I held my three pairs of jeans, a pack of sock and a belt, looking yonder past the half-an-hour-long checkout line to the cashiers, I thought to myself, what a bargain.

The next thought: too bad the shop is closing, or I'd shop here every year.

The next thought: I don't think I'll manage to be very rich. For one thing, I'd never know what to do if I suddenly got a lot of money.

Bytestring manipulation in Java and Perl

So my job involves large helpings of byte hackery in both Java and Perl. It would be fine, except Java is determined to make my life miserable. Here are a list of complaints that Java is guilty of, and where Perl truly shines.

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The Vortex of Meme

OK, so this is how it works. If you're really, mind-numbingly bored, here are 36 questions for your consumption, in haphazardly written English with weird capitalization. I didn't write these, nor did I take the time to correct them for proper grammar and spelling; I am, after all, not that bored. You may comment to this post with your answers. If you're still bored after that (god, you must lead the worst life ever), make a post of your own with these questions.


IF YOU'RE ON MY FRIENDS LIST, I want to know 36 things about you. I don't care if we never talk, or if we already know everything about each other. Short and sweet is fine ... You're on my list, so I want to know you better!

On with the questions...Collapse )

MIT Mystery Hunt

So I haven't posted in more than a month. I apologise profusely for this; I have just come back from Boston, where for no adequate reason it's actually warmer than Toronto is, and it's made all the hotter for the reason I'm about to explain. (Or you will have already known if you read the title.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the MIT Mystery Hunt, it's a 48-(more or less)-hour continuous nerd orgyfest, where hordes of people with bad haircuts (for some, none at all) and far too much useless knowledge come together to gorge on pretzels, grape Kool-Aid and puzzles.

We got second this year. We last obtained this rank in 2006, when The Midnight Bombers What Bomb at Midnight snatched away our coin; Codex came in third. The top three teams were identical this year, except the puzzles were much, much harder. I was afraid that we wouldn't even be able to unlock all the puzzles when the hunt ended, so it was quite the surprise when I heard that we had, in fact, got second place.

List of favourite (and not-so-favourite) puzzles, in no particular order: (I'll put the links up when the puzzles are made public.)

Ad nauseum...Collapse )

Adventure in OSX land

... turned into an abject nightmare.

My intentions at the start were innocuous enough: I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about. With the herd of OSX worshippers prancing around the EngSci computer lab, I was not going to get an objective opinion easily (no offence to you all); my only remaining option was to actually install Leopard by myself.

But of course I wasn't about to buy a Mac. Oh no of course not. So how was I going to install it?

Reddit comes to the rescue - some helpful souls have posted instructions on exactly how to get Leopard up and running on your computer. It involves a modified Leopard install image, a SSE2-capable CPU, and luck.

It seemed, at least in the beginning, that luck was on my side. I successfully got Leopard to boot up, and I'll be candid and say that it was breathtaking. At least in the eyecandy department, Apple is leaps and bounds above Microsoft. Everything's ... beautiful.

Until I realised that I was running at 1024x768 resolution on my 1280x1024 monitor and the blurriness was making my eyes water.

And that there was no sound.

So I did what any sane person would do: I haxxored the kernel extensions according to a guide.

That failed miserably. Next time I booted, there was a kernel panic and I couldn't even get the bootloader to show. Leopard, in going down, took XP with it. Great.

I had no XP install media to repair the partition with... and no easily accessible Linux LiveCD.

... I had to install Vista.

An hour and much frustration later (UAC needs to go and suck something), I finally have Vista up and running; I run the boot editor and try to load the XP partition...

No go. When I try to boot to the XP partition the computer simply restarts. No gripe about missing ntldr; nothing.

So now I'm stuck in Vista, never envisioned when I started installing OSX believing that it would work. I guess that's karma for you.

Exam after exam after exam after exam

Literally. At least they're over now.

Not dead, just tired
It's been almost two months since my last post. A lot of things have happened in the last little while that I won't even try to summarise it. Good things, for a change. That is all.

Something I wrote for the GRE
The topic was just asking for it. I mean, come on. "Scientific theories, which most people consider 'fact', almost invariably prove to be inaccurate. Thus, one should look upon any information described as 'factual' with skepticism since it may well be proven false in the future."

And my response is here. It has not been thoroughly checked for spelling or grammatical mistakes, but I have enough faith in myself that I decided to post it here.

enjoyCollapse )


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