31 December 2002

There are a great number of strategies for avoiding jet lag. A girl at the bar tonight recommended Melatonin, and my mother-in-law studiously adjusts her sleep cycle by an hour every day leading up to the trip. Phil and I have another system altogether: never leave your native timezone. We're physically in Edinburgh, and having a great time, but we're still sleeping and waking as though we were back on the east coast of North America. As a side effect, we don't see really any of the 7 hours of "daylight" available at this time of year, but I think we can live with that.

The fireworks were, as Eric predicted, "stonkingly amazing". I'm sure my pictures turned out not at all, but I won't be forgetting them any time soon. Especially because we were close enough that we actually got firework debris raining down on us. We overheard some people — no doubt Australians — saying that the only better fireworks are to be found in Sydney, at this very time of year. So now we know where we're going next year.

I have kissed at least five times as many Scottish women in 2003 as I did in 2002, and we're only a few hours in. Bodes well!

It's now well past midnight, and Phil and Chris are going to play a little Age of Empires. I'd play too, but my laptop won't talk to their laptops, and we can't figure out why. Ah well. At least our sleep cycle won't be disturbed.

Happy New Year!

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
30 December 2002
blue skies squandered

I was right, and I didn't stay awake very long after dinner. Long enough to discover that our plane-patch, while awesome and clever, wasn't enough to get around this bug. So went to sleep, exhausted, hoping I wouldn't dream about it.

I have no idea if that worked or not, because I don't remember my dreams, but I did sleep quite well. Phil and I are still working, and Chris is off at a wedding-related party somewhere. He looks very dapper, and when he gets back and wants to be a slob with his friends, I hope we'll be able to oblige.

I think there was some blue Edinburgh sky today, but before we realized that we were witnessing a weather miracle, we had worked the afternoon away. Ah well. At least we got the primitive version of my Most Hardest Test Ever passing.

I think we're going to see the new Bond movie tonight, with martinis in hand. It's no torchlight procession, but everyone has to celebrate in their own special way. (The post-procession fireworks last night were amazing, though. I've gotta come back for Guy Fawkes Day — Chris says it sounds like the Operation Desert Storm reunion tour.)


We didn't make it to the movie, and we didn't eat until like 01:30, but we did pass that Most Hardest Test, and we're now hot, hot, hot on the trail of the remaining recovery tests. Phil is spitting out bug reports at me from the other side of the living room, and I'm giving him a new tree to update a few minutes later. We are in the groove, and the weather here is nice this time of year. Chris is finding us some wacky music, and all of the sudden, holy hell, it's 5 AM. We'll sleep when we've passed these tests!

We're going to sleep late again, but when we wake up we will be able to bask in the sweet glow of every-test-but-14.

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29 December 2002
never gonna get it

The red-eye is a great way to fly east. I get to sleep through the compressed night, which means that the flight seems shorter, and then I'm that much cheerier when I have to deal with airports and customs and immigration and security and taxis. The only way to go, if you're flying east and your schedule at all permits it.

It sort of falls apart, though, when one spends the majority of the flight being a complete hacking machine with one's boss. We made a great patch, and it worked basically the first time — I could tell you all about how this was the first time I'd touched the low-level filesystem, and how Phil and I had to figure out the inode allocation system from first principles, and so forth, but I won't because the punchline is all that matters: we are very smart people, and you should feel lucky to know us.

We are also very tired people, and fighting to stay awake. Phil has promised me twelve whole beers if I pass three tests tomorrow, but I don't think that'll be enough motivation to keep me awake that long after we get back from dinner.

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28 December 2002
in hot pursuit; fleeing the jurisdiction

Phil and I had a very productive day. He knocked a pile of tests down in a flurry of performance-testing blows. I fixed up enough of my embarassingly-naive multi-client recovery code — hey, it's tricky stuff! — to do some multi-client recovery testing. Good times, good time.

Then, of course, I ran into a classic case of invariants-that-aren't, and Phil and I went into planning-only mode. We're going to hack like demons on the plane, for which we must leave shortly. This is my first trip off the continent, so I'm quite excited. I'd be more excited if I could find my coupons for lounge access, but this is the terrible life I leave.

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27 December 2002
rinse and repeat

My day was spent rebooting computers, fighting with them to make sure that they started up properly, running a quick test (usually less than a minute, once the machines were all up and happy), spending minutes-or-maybe-an-hour scratching my head at logs, typing a little, and then doing it all over again.

It's not a bad way to make a living, but it is a pretty darned bad way to visit with your family. Tyla's contingent trotted back to Ottawa today, and my mother and sister are still around, but there's basically no way I'm going to spend quality time with them tomorrow. Bah.

Phil's here now, and we watched some hockey, and did some of that first-paragraph dance. Making some progress, fixing some hard bugs — it's pretty satisfying, but it would be a lot more pleasant if we had another day or three for it, instead of just tomorrow.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
26 December 2002
attention split like a cheap infinitive

I got up pretty early this morning, because the cold hand of fear was clenching my heart. I have miles of recovery left to go before Lustre Lite can be put to bed, you see, and the debug logs are lovely, dark and deep. Phil was terrified about this stuff as well, as any good manager should be when I'm the long pole on a critical deadline, so I sent him a status report in the morning. It was pretty explicit about all the things that are needed to make Lustre Lite recovery sing and dance.

Happily — nay, joyously — Peter had enlightening news. It turns out that for the Lustre Lite acceptance criteria, recovery just has to hum tunelessly and shuffle its feet. That, my friends, I can do. I might even, if I'm just a little bit clever and a little bit more lucky, manage to get this test limping along by the time Phil gets to my place tomorrow evening. I shouldn't say that sort of thing "aloud", because I really can't cope with any more shame as regards this particular piece of software, but here we are.

I dove into that, while the various women in my life scattered to malls and museums. I found some great bugs, and Phil found some great solutions to them, and we're really trucking now. Coop's Lustre-independence grows by the day, so even if I really screw up this coding thing I might be able to get CFS to keep me on board as a recruiter.

It'd been a few weeks since I last read The Volokh Conspiracy, and I found this gem about infinitives and prepositions. Sweet, sweet internet.

Coop's Buffy CDs are great hacking music, if you're into that sort of thing.

And no, honey, I'm not hiding from your family, even if your mother did almost open up our save-until-2014 port today. It's all Phil's fault, I swear.

(Confidential to Jacob: this is the part where you either tell me you're joking about the ticket pricing, or you at least shut the heck up where my wife can see. Are you new?)

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
25 December 2002
the sweet tastes of victory and orzo

Tyla and I have some weaknesses. We have financial management skills that would make Greenspan weep hot tears. We're not very good at the whole Christmas card thing. On any given day, it is almost certain that one of us will forget a meal.

But never let it be said that we don't throw one mean Mister Falcon of a Christmas dinner. I was most nervous about the orzo casserole, because I'd never cooked it before, but Coop and his lovely wife steered me oh so right. Everything was pretty much perfect, right down to the timing of dish completion, and I'm a little worried that I blew all of next year's kitchen luck in one shot. Maybe I just had some extra saved up over 2002? Heaven knows I didn't cook enough this year.

The rest of Christmas was also pretty great, from the near-infinite gift exchanges and cookie overdose to the Buffy viewings and Chester's fanatical devotion to the destruction of wrapping paper. There are lots of people who don't celebrate Christmas — and they usually have better reasons for abstaining than I have for participating, all told — but I hope everyone gets a chance to have some family-rich day like today. I know that not everybody can, but I still have a lot of hope.

We had Joan grace us with her presence at dinner, which was very nice. She's great company, and I was thrilled that she could join us. I hope she had a good time too; our families can be a little overwhelming.

Tomorrow, the sisters are going to shop until someone loses an eye, and I'm going to work on recovery. That it still doesn't work well enough to pass Lustre Lite grates on my very soul, and when Phil gets here on Friday it may begin to cause more tangible physical distress. (I'm quite serious about the soul-grating thing: I've been having nightmares about it, I think, though the fact that I never remember my dreams clearly makes it hard to pin the blame conclusively on my huge bug list.) I might go into the office and take some of Coop's Buffy CDs for encouragement — if Tyla will let them out of the house. Maybe I should rip them tonight.

Unsurprisingly, the wire I'm waiting for didn't show up today, so Tyla will be able to cause only limited damage to my plans for eventual retirement. Not a bad silver lining, really.

And to all, a good night.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
24 December 2002
Mom doesn't think that drop

Mom doesn't think that drop cloths would have helped, but she didn't see the knuckle-sized chunks that had already accumulated on the plastic sheeting by the time I left. She can do renovation-shielding her way, and I'll do it mine, OK?

I've been trying, and failing, to find anything to corroborate the story of airport security abuse that I mentioned the other day. It doesn't help, of course, that not a single name is given in the article — not any of the TSA personnel, not the Director of Aviation at PDX, not the representative of the ACLU who turned his case down because he's not a member of a minority. I've seen enough incompetence at security screening stations to believe that there could be a fair amount of malice hidden there as well, but I'm still a little uneasy about taking Mr. Monahan's account at face value. You should probably read the word "allegedly" about fifteen more times in this diary entry.

A loyal reader also sends in this proof that "pregnancy" is not a guarantee of innocence. I am all for searching whoever they need to search, even though it means that I always get searched at least once per flight. If the Monahan article had just been disgust that they would dare to search his pregnant wife, I wouldn't have even finished reading it. The nature of the search bothered me a bit, as described — and it was totally unlike anything I've seen or experienced in my many, many searches; screeners have always been very clear about why ("the metal detector went off") and how ("with the back of my hand") they were going to touch me at any point — but it was the discrepancy between his description of events and the text of the report that really got to me. I really like checks and balances, especially when civil liberties are concerned, and supervision with the opportunity for the review of conduct and events is a big part of that. (And it might all be bullshit anyway, sort-of-sadly.)

I should wrap Tyla's present now, and prepare the stocking-stuffer bits for tomorrow morning. The rest of the family will be arriving at some point today, and then I'll really be into the game. Man, it is so good to be here at home for Christmas.

Coop's test now works, and we pass it, so yay for everything. His Christmas gift to Tyla and me — first he takes over QA so that I can breathe again, and now he sends us goodies; what a sweetie! — arrived today as well, scarcely 24 hours after he dropped it off at the postal outlet. I think he should go sit back and relax now, because we're going to be hustling through the next two or three tests as soon as he gets back from Boxing Day shopping.

I booked travel to Boston and the Bay Area, so I'll be off to a fine travel start next year. I think it's actually cheaper to fly to Boston and watch the Leafs there than to catch a home game. For shame.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
23 December 2002
thanks, I'll have another

I headed into the office at about 11 this morning, better-rested than I probably deserved — I think Tyla and I are both fighting something off, and it's going pretty well so far — and full of Lustre ambition and energy.

When I got to the office, I discovered that someone had secretly poisoned my grand plans and enthusiasm with a huge pile of suck. Coop and I thought that the construction workers had just "accidentally" kicked the power out again — no mean feat, considering that I had to use both hands to get anything out of that extension cord, but these are trained professionals — but instead it turned out that the power supply had blown. I'm no level 3 CSI, but I think the huge pile of drywall dust and pebbles that came out when I applied a quick gust of breath might be involved. Or maybe it's just because when they plugged my computer back in after the last interruption they skipped the UPS thing entirely, and I just took the brunt of a surge? I was not really in for an extended session of "why?", and Fixy got me back on track with a new power supply in no small hurry. He's such a champ.

The drywall dust, of course, was not confined to the interior of my computer's case. My laptop case was covered in dust as well, and my laptop, and my keyboard, and my chair and ... you see where I'm going with this. I know they had drop cloths, because I insisted they dig them out before standing over my desk with a trowel and plaster, so I have no clue what sort of incredible manifestation of incompetence was involved in the previous days' activities. (I also had to make it clear to the intrepid saboteurs that they should make a list of all the people in the world with whom they could have an "it's OK, we'll be careful" conversation, and make sure that my name appeared dead last. If at all.)

I think the compressed air got most of the drywall dust out of the gaping PCMCIA bay in my laptop. I'll find out later, when I'm brave enough to try the wireless card.

When it became painfully obvious that "just a few minutes" of ceiling reconstruction was going to turn into several hundred thousand dollars of opportunity cost, I packed up my laptop and headed home. (This was the part where I discovered that someone had helpfully tried to wipe my laptop case off, thereby scratching the living crap out of the front of it.) Once I got settled back at the house, I realized that my fury had been concealing the fact that my eyes had been sanded and left to bake in the sun. Tyla's eyedrops helped a lot, and then I stopped wanting to call in an air strike on the office. (Seriously, though, guys: drop cloths for invasive drywall work. This is not a lot to ask.)

I'm working from home tomorrow, inlaws or no inlaws.

Tyla was at least as cranky and tired as I was, so I took off to do the remainder of the Christmas grocery shopping by myself. Maybe they have some sort of Stepford Spray at the entrance, but I don't really care; Whole Foods put me in a wonderful mood.

I got precisely nothing done at work today, and no doubt impeded Coop's productivity to no small degree. I don't think he should be worried about his first check-in; I think the test I checked in for mine is still broken. If I don't do some work tonight, Phil and Peter are going to sober up and fire me. So I either have to hack like a demon, or send them some wine.

(I have no evidence other than my own experiences at Peter's that they've been drinking.)

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
22 December 2002
going it right on the wrong side of the 401

Because Tyla is hoarding our computrons, and because sleep calls gently to me, I must provide only a brief description of the day's events. Happily, a day like today needs little said about it.

We had a perfectly wonderful pre-Christmas with Dad and Lisa and the girls (including Steph). The girls seemed to quite like their new Game Cube, and Dad and Lisa were appropriately enthused about the cookbook. (Giving a cookbook isn't like giving deoderant, we decided. They've been Bittman fans for years, by proxy, and just didn't know it.) Dinner was great, even though Lisa let me make the gravy. "Is it supposed to look like that?" From the mouths of babes....

Now we're home, with our lovely gifts in tow, and I'm going to go to bed. After a nice warm bath, it's the only reasonable choice.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
21 December 2002
once more into the breach

I would like to do a few things today. I would like to play a little bit of Shadowbane. I would like to fix some bugs, maybe. I'd like to finish reading my book, and maybe start on the one Deb got me. I'd like to clean the house a little, in preparation for Christmas. I'd also like to spend a lot of time visiting with Mark and Anna, and perhaps watch tonight's hockey game.

I'd will see Mark and Anna, because lives hang in the balance. The rest, though, are in serious jeopardy of being pushed aside by today's Christmas errands. Ah well. At least we're not travelling this year!

My good buddy Kev — now that I'm replying to his mail more than once a season, I can say that without choking to death on the lies — sent me a very strange picture. That is indeed my handwriting — the Sun Microsystems post-it and the book it was found in date it to about 1996, I expect — but I have no earthly idea why I would have written those words. Not a clue.

I go now to hunt a tree.


We haven't found a tree yet. Tyla and I are fighting about the Christmas meal and vegetarianism. My work computer crashed, because:

<BiNT|WoRK>i think the construction ppl kicked the power out by accident

'Tis the frigging season.


We found a tree. We resolved our dinner woes without resorting to Tofurkey — or, as Tyla points out, its duck-based cousin "Tofuck". We bought wine and other booze, and grabbed some yummy roti on the way back, as we passed Hey Good Cooking. Anna called, and she and Mark are on their way.

So I was feeling pretty good, until I read this, and now I just want to curl up into a ball and die. All I want for Christmas is for it to be a work of fiction.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
20 December 2002
hittin' 'em where they ain't

5 days to Christmas, amazingly. I am not yet panicked, but if I don't get the vastest of majorities of my Christmas shopping done today and tomorrow, I will have panic to spare.

In other panic-related news, I still await the wire for my last invoice. I am breathing deeply and practicing patience. Also, I'm digging out the line-of-Christmas-credit, just to Be Safe.

Asked by agents if he had anything else to tell them, Cusack responded: "Yes, I've got monkeys in my pants."

I'm going to go shopping now, because I can have the malls largely to myself while real people do their final pre-Christmas work. So cunning!

After that, I will fix not one, not two, but three bugs. Watch me!


We fixed a lot of bugs today. Not just the three I mentioned above, but probably a half-dozen more as well. It was wonderful.

Alasdair and I tried to see a movie, but the web site had lied to me, so the movie wasn't showing when we got there. Sucky. So we had dinner instead, and I came back to do some work. Instead of actually working, I played a little Shadowbane — holy crap, it feels like a real game now — and now I'm going to bed.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
19 December 2002
now, to find the TPS cover sheets

Part of the unrelenting joy that is working on Lustre is filling out the maze of forms required to access our development and test clusters. Coop is currently starting the search for cheese, poor thing.

Jamie wants a palindrome debugger. Back in 1999, Michael Elizabeth Chastain created one, and wrote a heartbreaking email about it. It broke my heart in 1999, and it breaks my heart every time I re-read the mail.

George called my attention to the fact that I broke this page lightly for IE6 users, back when I fixed NS 4.x. So I tidied that up today, and also made it look even prettier under 4.x. All that while waiting for some tests to complete.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
18 December 2002
divide and conquer

So much fun today, I can hardly stand it. I got to spend the morning getting Coop up to speed on the basics of building and running the Lustre bits, and he's now off and running on some test-development tasks. He's a pretty quick study, so it went rather smoothly. If my ramp-up experience in July was any indication, he's feeling totally overwhelmed right now. Tee hee!

(Still, though. Best. Hiring. Process. Ever.)

After lunch, I popped over to Paramount to watch a a little indie film with Tyla and Andrei and the folks from the office. It was great fun.

After dinner — meals are not primarily sources of nourishment anymore, but rather critical timekeeping events — I came back to the office and worked on some bugs and tests. The usual.

I'm tired, and I've been enjoying getting up early of late — I kill me! — so I'm going home now.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
17 December 2002
on feet, on floor, good to go

Against all odds, I slept very well last night. Let's hear it for total intellectual exhaustion! With a little bit of hustle, I can be at work before 9:30, and well on my way to breaking new parts of Lustre by 10.


Asa is a sweetheart, encouraging people to vote for me in the mozillaZine "who would you like to have over for Christmas dinner?" poll. He's no conversational slouch himself, I must say. I won't take it personally if I lose, of course. I know I'm better than Pav, deep down inside.

Deb helpfully points out that I give no way to actually vote for me, or anyone else (I voted for Blizzard, because I already get to have me around for Christmas, but also because I miss my Bliz). The main mozillaZine page has the poll on the right side, about halfway down. I don't know how to link to just the poll, but you're all smart folk. (If you followed the link to Asa's page, the button works too. Please vote only once, even if it's for someone silly like Pav.)


Gotcha. But really, when did I burn you? Even NGR wasn't that bad. (OK, maybe it was. Sorry. I promise this'll be better.)

I spent most of today in meetings about test status, and only a vanishingly small part of today actually fixing bugs that block tests. Now that just ain't right.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
16 December 2002
exhaustion is another word for fun

I have four bugs to kill (at least) before we're done with Lustre Lite. I believe that I'm the only one left with any bugs that block this major, major milestone. If you can't be the best, be the last!

It is a daily, pitched struggle to figure out what exactly is wrong with Lustre that will prevent sign-off, because reading some of these bug reports is sort of like trying to pick lottery numbers based on the writings of Nostradamus, but I've narrowed it down to the aforementioned four bugs. I think they probably represent 15 days of work. I wish I had 15 days.

I also wish I could run the tests on my own, in order to get first-hand knowledge of the failures, but now I'm just talking crazy.

Phil and Peter are being very supportive, which is wonderful, but I still feel kinda crappy about being so far from done. Who knew recovery would be this hard? Probably everyone who'd done it before.

I had a nice dim-sum lunch today, and a mediocre-or-so Indian dinner. Both featured good company, though, which brightened my day.

I was going to work through the night, but I'm too tired to do good work right now. After a restless night's sleep, following hours of tossing and turning while my brain churns through recovery minutae, I'm sure I'll be much more productive.

I think Deb would agree that today was fifty kinds of Monday. I did get to help Phil fix a nasty bug, though, just by playing Chewbacca.

15 December 2002
cheating gets it faster

I don't know if this is a normal phase in the development of climbing prowess, but my technique has gone to crap in the last little while. I guess I need to climb more often or something, but that's hard to do when I spend almost phil-like quantities of time away from home. Also: am I doing something really wrong, or does everyone end up with numb and/or shredded fingertips after climbing?

I had to back out a patch that "should have" had no effect on our tests — and I'm sticking to that story — but I managed to land my branch in preparation for an upcoming release. Let me revisit that initial issue: I have no idea why that part of the patch had adverse effects — OK, fatal effects — on our software. I hope that even the least-technical of my readers understands why that scares no small amount of living crap out of me. I must maintain complete mastery over my code, or we're all in deep trouble.

Halo Capture The Flag doesn't work so well three-on-two, in case that was keeping you up at night. In the words of my teammate, "it's like they have an extra person". So true.

Did you ever work with someone awesome, and spend much of the rest of your career scheming about ways to work with them again? Yeah, me too. (Sadly, some of our finest work has been largely forgotten.)

The Google World Domination clock ticked a minute closer to midnight this week, I think, with the addition of Froogle.

I think it's time to go to bed, because my wife is trying to kill me.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
14 December 2002
the facts would bear that interpretation

Man, it's good to be home. Hilary was a sweetheart — a lead-footed sweetheart, the best kind — and drove me back from Kingston. We arrived in Toronto around 9:30, just in time to fall asleep in the arms of my wife. Bliss.

We chatted a little when we woke up this morning, and I was invormed that Tyla had a "bone to pick" with me. Never a good sign, but I bravely asked for more details. Apparently she'd gone to Video 99 down on Bloor to rent, of all things, The Saint, and discovered that we had nearly thirty dollars in late fees. Apparently we've had these fines sitting on our account since we last lived in Toronto, and have been consequently, and reasonably, considered to be rather delinquent in the interim.

"Wow," I thought. "That does suck. I should apologize to Tyla!" But then the rest of my brain engaged. "Wait, wait, wait. Also, wait." How, I asked, was this necessarily my fault? We both rented movies from there, and it could just as easily — ignoring, perhaps, more than the usual amount of historical analysis — have been Tyla who failed to return the movies on time. Her defense to this line of questioning was ultimately not very compelling, so my nascent guilt evaporated pretty quickly. Close call, though.

Deb got me a cool-looking book for Christmas, and it should receive appropriate attention during the flight to Edinburgh, if not sooner.

I'm not going to Portland this month. I can't believe I even considered it.

In yesterday's necessarily-incomplete list of the bright-yet-unemployed people in my circle of friends, I somehow forgot Ian. Ah well, we all know that I suck.

I have so much work to do today. Sweet god, would I rather be playing Halo.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
13 December 2002
nothing ever shames me

Today's class was pretty good. I managed to actually consume a three hour lab session with software-related blather, and everyone had the courtesy to stay awake.

The afternoon class — a bunch of hardware folks who were apparently nonplussed-or-worse at the prospect of a software guy's life story — was a complete, zero-for-twenty-odd no-show. At least I got to come back to Mom's place and work. Why is it that only the hard bugs are left?

Also, why is it that so damned many smart people are looking for work? And why can't I hire them all? Oh, for the glory days of the boom, when I could just wave my hands and conjure up a half-dozen reqs.

Coop mailed me today, since he knows full well how long it will take for me to get around to it. Why am I such a dork?

Back to Toronto soon. I hear there's a beautiful woman there who hasn't totally given up on me!

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
12 December 2002
future of the nation

I bored Mom's 3rd-year OS class for an hour today, though some of them asked questions that supported the flimsy pretense that they were listening. Sweet that they even tried, really.

Apparently we're allowed to have babies now. Who knew?

(At long last, I upload the last few days' entries. Huzzah.)

I just finished spending hours talking to people at HP to make sure that crappy bug reports like this didn't happen any more. Pistol, please.

destina.ca called, to tell me that they needed signed authorization from Phil, because I used his credit card to pay for my Denver flight. Given that I've already finished with that itinerary, it seems like they're getting to it a little late, but I passed on the message. I wonder what they'd do if they didn't get authorization from Phil. He's not going to contest it — he'd damned well better not, at least — so I don't know what they could do to me. Probably not worth finding out.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
11 December 2002
the space between

There are no fewer than five distinct ways for me to fly between Denver and Toronto, on the airlines with which I currently hold tickets for that specific purpose. But because Expedia booked my travel as two separate round trips, neither airline will break off the autoproctophrenology long enough to get me home a few hours earlier, by filling seats that would otherwise be empty.

I love air travel.


Made it to Toronto uneventfully, but I won't make it to Kingston until something like 1AM.

Tyla has a job interview tomorrow. I'm excited, and she must be beside herself with anxiety and hope. Wish I were there, hon!

My battery is about to die, having valiantly given its life to send the sounds of Dave Matthews to my ears during this almost-over bus trip. Also, my headphones are killing me. G'night.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
10 December 2002
under the circumstances

Let's get a few things straight, right off the bat. Colorado is really, really, really dry. Like nosebleed-for-breakfast, dehydration-headache-for-lunch dry. Someone ship these losers some humidity, already.

My hotel didn't have internet bits, but that's OK. I can feel the email accumulating back in the real world, but since our major development partner's labs don't feature actual internet access, I can't do jack about it. If someone has a problem with my email responsiveness, someone should stop sending me to Denver on 8 hours' notice. I'm just saying.

I assumed complete, cosmic control of the test-plan review meeting. Acceptance Criteria Dictator For Life. Good thing, too — there was crack dust all over the original one, but then I guess we can't really expect everyone involved in developing the system to understand anything about it.


After a four-hour clue transfusion, and a nice long phone conversation with Phil, I'm on a bus back to the Denver airport, whence I will then travel to my hotel. If I'd remembered to install an MP3 encoder on my laptop before I left, I could be listening to my new music now. Or, I suppose, if I'd accidentally stumbled onto a network.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
9 December 2002
just don't

5:00. I'm up, and headed to the office for my laptop and whatnot. Of course, the subway isn't running yet, and won't be in time for me to make it to the airport on time, so I'm going to track down a taxi. Please don't get me started.

I just know it's going to be cold in Denver.

My email response over the next week or so is going to be atypically dismal. Sorry.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
8 December 2002
suspiciously punctual

I got up at 7AM today, and it's a Sunday. I'm sure I'll still manage to be late for climbing — I can waste three hours without even breaking a slacking sweat — but I can feel like a good person until then.

Tyla's still in bed, because she was up late last night trying to give me nightmares and warring against the anti-Spike legions on the Buffy forums.

And I just realized that I didn't publish yesterday's entry. Ah well.

Least anticipated lesson from a reality TV show: Fox vice-president reports that their upcoming "marry-a-fake-millionaire" show will let viewers "find out whether [contestants] are really doing this for love". In unrelated news, "Who Wants To Marry A Really Sweet Guy?" was cancelled before completion of the pilot.


Climbing was fun, though I didn't manage to complete any of the 5.8s I tried. Madhava was very impressive, with his 5.10b-ing and whatnot. I went to work afterwards — "afterwards" obviously meaning after lunch, as well — and worked on some tricky locking-replay stuff. Phil helped me, by being smart and making noises into a telephone hundreds of miles away. Yes, he's that good.

Uh, it looks like I'm going to Denver this week. By which I mean, "for an 8:30AM meeting Tuesday morning". By which I mean flying out tomorrow night, flying back late Wednesday, hopping on a bus or something to Kingston, and then presenting to a class on Thursday morning. How does this stuff happen to me?

And, to add injury to insanity, I think I'm going to end up flying on Continental. Whichever airline it ends up being, I expect to be able to hear the last-minute ticket drooling when the booking is made.


Minor travel adjustment: Air Canada, flight is at 07:35 tomorrow — I'm going to Denver on 12 hours' notice! — I get back about 20:45 on Wednesday to catch a 22:00 bus to Kingston. I arrive there at 1AM, and speak to Mom's class at some point in the morning. Or, at least, that's the plan. Stay tuned.

And I wanted to see a movie with Alasdair this week!

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7 December 2002
we can't rewind, we've gone too far

So after I booked my Edinburgh travel, I found Phil on IRC and discovered that he was, in fact, going to be travelling to Edinburgh via Toronto. In addition, he ended up on a different itinerary, such that we shared precisely zero hours of travel, out of our twenty-odd hours of isomorphic vacationing. That sucked.

What didn't suck is that Travelnow.com — the power behind the meagre throne of cheaptickets.ca — let me void my non-refundable, non-transferable, proctology-grade-change-fee ticket. The nice customer service man sounded apologetic that he would have to charge me the $10 processing fee, but I really, really, really didn't care. Really. I'd never used Travelnow.com before, but I won't hesitate to use them in the future.

Tyla has been playing 80's music all day, while fiddling on the computer, but I've now taken it over for a few hours so that I can play Halo with Phil and Jacob. I'm going to get my ass handed to me, but it'll be a fun ass-handing.

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6 December 2002
there are root foreign nationals

We had our kernel upgrade and reboot this morning, and it went quite well. Even AFS is working, though it had been my intention to disable and uninstall it, since it had gone a little bit awry. But when, after the reboot, it was just there and working, I decided to let it live.

Then I had to set up the magic networking for the Mozilla FTP staging server, which featured me turning off bitchcake's networking, while I was connecting over the network to make the changes. Yes, I'm that smart. A lot of swearing was followed by a rapid shower and then a run to the subway station, with a pause when I got there to talk Fixy through saving my butt. (He'd returned from lunch to my frantic begging for server-room assistance.) When I got to the office and actually engaged my "brain", everything came up pretty cleanly.

Worked on some bugs today, whined about bad bug reports, talked to Phil, the usual. Things are starting to settle down on the storage-system recovery front, so I'm going to be getting back to metadata recovery next week. I'll have to test on real hardware, because we discovered that my "impossible bug" was caused but a quirk in User-Mode Linux's I/O handling, and that will likely mean sharp drop in productivity. I've been doing pretty well at fixing bugs by inspection this week, but that's only because I didn't have to. When the pressure's on, it'll be totally different.

I booked my travel to Edinburgh today, apparently missing a "partial business class" fare — at a slim, slim $30USD premium! — by a matter of minutes. If I hadn't tried, vainly, to figure out what "partial business class" actually meant, I think I could have nailed it. Ah well.

And on Wednesday evening, I head to Kingston to visit my Mom (and maybe Hilary?) and speak to her first- and second-year classes about some of my software experiences. (Phil said I could go!)

There had been talk of a trip to Denver in the near future, as a representative for CFS at the design review for the upcoming performance phase, but since that meeting is only 5 days away, it's looking unlikely. Probably for the best.

Looks like I'm going to just miss Aeroplan Elite status for next year. Maybe they'll be nice and overlook the few thousand miles I'll be short. (Less than 10%!)

The Penny Arcade guys hadn't heard of Equilibrium until it opened, and I only came across it in passing — checking out IMDB's list of Emily Watson oeuvres after watching Punch-Drunk Love, if I recall correctly — but the trailer makes me want to grab Alasdair by the scruff of the neck and march him down to Paramount tomorrow. Not that it appears to have opened in Toronto yet. Bah.

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5 December 2002
some dissembling required

I did manage to pick up the advent calendar last night, so I got up this morning at 6:30 to assemble it. The box said it'd take 25 minutes, and they were only off by 200%. Tyla seems to really like it, though, so it's all worth it.

Now I get to go to the office and see my new desk. Maybe I'll even pick up breakfast on the way, like a grownup. I wonder if Phil has seen my other glove.


My desk was there. My mouse and phone weren't, though, and my chair was broken. It's mostly sorted out now.

I installed OpenAFS on bitchcake today, and it didn't go so well:

<shaver> bitchcake is now a mess of lost afs kernel threads
<shaver> but it doesn't seem to be affecting things
<phik_> jesus christ!
<phik_> he's doing this on _bitchcake_?
<shaver> well, I'm doing this on bitchcake
* phik_ swoons
<shaver> zab thought it would be fine!
<phik_> get back to work :)
<shaver> seriously.
<zab> fine? I said fun! :)

I say we needed a kernel update anyway.

Joe isn't helping.

<joe> Why is afs running on bitchcake anyhow?
<zab> it'll be fine!
<shaver> hey, look at the time
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4 December 2002
when two become one, and furious

Tyla had a crappy day today. I don't quite know why, because I had a crappy day too, and I really didn't think I could handle having her vent at me, so I refrained from asking.

It's probably not because our cable is screwed, or because her Christmas lights have blown bulbs in a most analysis-resistant way, or even because she couldn't find the new bulbs. It's probably because her husband is a dork and busted her new email address.

For what it's worth, the wine helped. I've almost totally forgotten that I spent my day waist-deep in mediocre-or-worse bug reports. (I'd link to them, but I don't want to face them again today.) And Tyla's almost totally forgotten how to speak English (she's a bit of a lightweight).

Phil had a crappy day too, I think, but then Jacob brought him cookies, so I can't really imagine that he's suffering too badly any more. Jacob: I like Oreos.

Tyla and I are going to go out for dinner now. When I come back, I expect a new batch of bug reports to have landed in my lap. With any luck, some of them won't suck.

Confidential to Alasdair: let's do something this week, if I stay in town. Also, don't tape over this week's West Wing!

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
3 December 2002
the faintest illusion of progress

I didn't get the expected call last night, and when I called the Toy Shop to ask, I was told that the calendar in question had been paid for, and that I should call back in a day or so. Very disappointing. I did manage to find another place that claimed to have two of them, but it was just closing when I talked to the nice man there. So I was going to go out this morning and pick them up.

First, though, I had a conference call about Lustre testing. Lots of good discussion about the state of various bugs and tests, and I think I got a bunch of the HP testers straightened out with respect to how recovery works. I also managed to cough up some advice and quick patches in response to follow-up emails, so things are looking nicely productive on that front, once again.

After all that was sorted out, I finally got a call from the original person I spoke to at the Toy Shop who informed me that the other person was lying — her words! — and that, yes, I could have picked it up while I was out freezing my buns off last night. Alas. I'll head over there tomorrow, I suppose, since they were nice enough to hold it for me.

I bought my first Xmas present of the season today, for my friend Deb. She's not much of a Christmas freak, but she just finished the launch of a new site at work, and is a little stressed. Hopefully this will cheer her up.

My desk at the office has disappeared, a side-effect of recent merger-y events. I will get a new one soon, but for now I will stay at home and annoy Tyla.

My good friend Anatole sent me some very odd, but promising, mail today about this year's incarnation of a conference he attended in Switzerland last year. Maybe I'll get to go this year? Only time will tell!

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2 December 2002
total waste of foresight

The trick to oracular success, of course, is a combination of studied vagueness and liberal application of the Texas-sharpshooter fallacy. But I can't resist pointing out that, in the frequent words of my wife, "I'm soooooooo smart".

Apparently McDonald's didn't see the full range of possibilities that they were unleashing when they signed up for virtual McDonald's restaurants in The Sims Online. But I knew it all along. Naomi Klein must be loving it.

I wish I were that good at predicting bugs. Would be more useful today.


Just as I was about to head out to a toy shop, I thought to call and see that they actually had the calendar I sought. They do have one left. It's on hold for a guy named Alan. If he doesn't claim it by 6pm, it's mine!

Of course, this guy could be my dad — in which case his name would properly be "Allan". I'm not sure if that would change my position on missing the 6pm deadline, but it would sure make for some entertaining conversations at Christmas.

Tyla wants me to find and assemble a second one for her sister, as well, upon which quest I shall embark shortly.


It's going to be really damned cold here tonight, for Toronto. Seventeen below zero, in our fancy Celcius degrees. Twenty-seven below, with that nasty wind chill stuff. I'm in my long underwear in preparation for the trek to buy toys — T minus 5 minutes until Alan's right to that calendar expires! — but not everyone in this city is as lucky. So I've got the number for the Street Helpline programmed into my cell phone, in the unfortunately-likely event that I come across someone who needs help finding shelter while I'm out and about this winter. Boy, I'm feeling that middle-class guilt pretty seriously right now.


Tyla has a web site of her own, now. I don't know if we're going to get a real Alan/Telsa thing out of this, but I guess time will tell.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
1 December 2002
a celebration of failure

The thing about climbing is that you have to keep doing it. My technique and muscular capabilities degraded a fair bit during the month-or-more that I was absent from the gym, so I stuck to some simpler climbs. For the first time, I was able to complete a climb with a significant overhang component, though, so it wasn't a total loss.

I'm starting to think that I need tighter shoes, since my toes are basically straight when I put them on, and I have a fair bit of trouble getting good support on the smaller holds. Ken's new shoes are hella tight, and he's doing quite well for it. I wonder if MEC will do trade-ins.

After climbing, we ate. After eating, I napped. (We stopped on the way home to pick up this year's Playmobil advent calendar, but it hadn't arrived yet. I bet the prices come down pretty quickly after December starts ticking away.)

After my nap, I puttered a little bit with Lustre. Andreas thought he'd found a fix for my impossible bug, but it didn't turn out to help. We're now starting to suspect that it's a problem in how we handle committed-to-disk notifications, which means that I get to spend a big chunk of tomorrow fiddling in the deepest recesses of our filesystem. (I think I can explain the nature of this bug in layman's terms, but I'm too tired right now, even though I napped.)

I didn't write a single line of code today.

I also didn't send email to my good friend Coop, with whom I have not corresponded in a shamefully long time. I'm not coherent enough to do a decent job now, but I might try anyway before I go off to bed.

Tomorrow is going to suck a little bit, because I think I've missed my end-of-November deadline in ways that will be a little tricky to conceal. I don't feel that I was slacking or anything, and there have been a fair number of out-of-my-control issues, but still — I said "the end of November", and here we are in December, and that stuff isn't completely done yet. Not a good scene.

We have Zach on our team now, which sure makes the future look brighter.

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