28 February 2003
six million dollars

I thought my changes were going to be a little invasive, but then Phil got into the game. Man. I hope nobody was emotionally attached to the old networking code. It's going to be wonderfully better when we're done, though.

I'm not going to Ottawa this weekend. You all knew that all along.

I finally read my birthday card from Mom last night, and listened to some of the songs on the CD that came along with it. *sniff*.

Tyla and Madhava and I went out for dinner, then brought back Army of Darkness. Neither of them had seen it, and I could not permit that to stand.

Where did February go? I mean, I know it's a short month, but this was just silly.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
27 February 2003
stay on target

Today was my father's birthday, so I took him out for lunch. We don't get together for lunch as often as we should, partly because I haven't been at the downtown office for a while, but mainly because we never seem to remember to call each other about it. A good time was had, though, and not just the usual two-beer-lunch kind.

I lost virtually none of my time today to IRC and email, instead piling it all into hacking like a machine. I cannot wait to land this branch, because it will make a lot of things work better, and it'll make some things work at all. The best part, really, is that every time I go to make a change it turns out to be less invasive than I expected, which is exactly the sort of treasure I want to be stumbling across at this stage of development.

Alasdair invited me out to a showing of Baraka at the Bloor, and I was gentleman enough to accept. Good flick. I might come with him to Ottawa this weekend, but I think I'll probably end up staying here, hacking my brains out — figuratively, Mom, don't worry — and watching Madhava sing.

Someone, you'll never guess who, scooped the photo out of the Globe's photo system for me. This one is even in colour! I think I was looking sceptical at Chester, who chose that point to climb onto the TV. He knows things, that beast.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
26 February 2003
care and control

Much of today was spent learning how to drive. In addition to the usual Wednesday evening in-class lesson — complete with another practice test full of frustratingly ambiguous questions and incoherent explainification — I got behind the wheel of an actual automobile. Went pretty well, I seem to be a bit of a natural with the whole standard transmission thing. A pleasant surprise, that, since I was very much not a natural when I last tried, which was on Mom's Cherokee 8 or 9 years ago. Can one become a natural over time? Hmm.

The Globe & Mail article turned out pretty well. The quotes are accurate, and while he inferred a few things that I don't quite believe, I'm quite happy with it on the whole. The picture in the print version is nothing special, and certainly not as good as the last time they ran a photo of me. Ah, the glory days.

Too tired to remember much else.


Late-breaking flashes of recollection:

  • This is spooky.
  • This is the best description of Libertarianism I could find in a brief search today. Chief among its virtues is that it represents Libertarianism as neither the saviour of all human endeavour nor the source of all modern evil.
  • This is such a huge frittering-away of goodwill that I can scarcely comprehend it.

Also, I found my keys. Goodnight.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
25 February 2003
i'm not crazy 'cause i take the right pills, every day

As I type this, and I mean that quite literally, there is a nice photographer from the Globe & Mail here taking pictures of Chester. Apparently they're doing a story on some study released today about mental health and "the tech workplace", which clearly includes my living room. Some people's cats are actually quite work-helpful, but ours is really just a pretty face.

I hadn't heard from David Akin since he was at the Post and I was at Zero, but we caught up quickly on the phone this afternoon and then exchanged thoughts about depression, emotional investment, work-life balance, the dot-com boom and bust, foosball tables, the usual stuff. I'll link to the article when it goes up on their site, I guess. Let me know if you see it first.

I actually had a very good experience — relatively speaking, of course — with the people at Zero-Knowledge when I had my last major depressive episode, but I'm sure not everyone is as lucky. The study in question was produced by Warren Shepell, which was — and may still be — the EAP adminstrator for ZKS. I didn't interact with them myself, but some co-workers reported, uh, mixed results. Your mileage will vary, I'm sure, but I did make the point that an EAP is really not a complete solution, and that you still need in-house people who understand some of these issues. Especially because computer people are all a bunch of big babies.

Zach and Alice sent me a birthday gift, because they're insane. I now have my very own princess hat. I don't have a digital camera at home — thank god that the G&M photog left before the the package arrived — so you'll all just have to imagine it.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
24 February 2003
a little less conversation

Tyla was apparently offended by my proportionate response entry below, for which I am therefore compelled to apologize. I certainly didn't intend to insinuate that you were not replete with the very essence of hospitality, merely that you got a little more freaked out by the idea of people coming by in the afternoon without explicit warning than I think was warranted. That was a crappy sentence, but I am so not spending any more time on this issue, and that includes editing.

I made more pieces of recovery work today, and wrote tests for them. I got a little excited about the whole test thing, and dumped some bugs on our intrepid QA lead about getting even more tests working.

Another in-class driving lesson today, and it was everything I had feared. The topic of this lesson was dealing with adverse conditions, including driver impairment, which of course requires amateurish video telling us all about how wonderful some random victim of drunk driving was. One of the videos was about — though we didn't learn this until after the segment ended and the instructor told us — someone who was hit by a car while playing chicken. I'm not sure what the lesson for us is there, unless the lessons are supposed to cover a much broader range of common sense than I had previously suspected. Maybe we're supposed to take away the fact that people can do crazy things on highways, but in that case it might have been good to a) hear from the driver, and not just the girl's classmates, and b) tell us that in the video. Lunacy. I think the whole notion that anyone paying a thousand dollars to learn to drive, in the year 2003, needs to be told that drinking and driving can kill people belies a fundamental lack of respect for the customer's time. I'm sure there's some provincial requirement that we be shown a certain number of tragic yearbook photos, though, so it's probably not all YD's fault.

We did spend some time on the notion of personal responsibility, though, which was unexpected and rather refreshing. Weather doesn't make cars go out of control, and cars don't cause cars to go out of control: inappropriate driving causes cars to go out of control. It is very difficult to end up killing yourself or someone else in a parked car, so make sure you know what you're doing, and be very conservative about your choices, if you decide to take a large, heavy, dangerous vehicle out of that quiescent state. (If I ever end up in an accident and blame the weather or the car — even tire blowouts — please come to my house and read me this entry until I regain my senses. Thank you.)

At least all the silly "hey kids, don't drink and drive" video time gave me a chance to design some solutions to the recovery problems that I came across today. Of course, I could have done that at home, without paying someone for the pleasure, but I'm not bitter or anything.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
23 February 2003
a tale in my bathrobe

My sleep cycle is broken like a drunken promise right now, and I don't really expect it to get better in the next few days. Ah well. It was a Sunday.

Last night's Honest Ed's Movie Night was a rousing success, featuring such cinematic abominations as "Gunmen" and Jackie Chan's break-out hit "Fabulous Bodyguards", along with a wide variety of junk food. We'll have to do that again, I think.

For my birthday, Tyla got me a wonderful cookbook, and while I haven't cooked anything out of it yet, she's been cooking up a storm. Yesterday, she made cheese. Unreal.

Most of today was spent in my bathrobe, playing A Tale in the Desert, which is really a fantastically novel game. The game world is a bit sparse, in that it's the size of Egypt and has but a few thousand people scattered throughout it, and you do end up doing a lot of running, but when you throw in the co-operative research paths and rich resource/production system, it all adds up nicely to a game in which there is a real sense of regional community. I guess it's sort of like Pharoah meets The Sims Online, but I say that more because it's easy than because it's true. There's a free 30 day/24-hour trial, a very active community, and you can download the client to get started. There's no combat at all other than some battles of wits and economic competition in the form of some opposed "tests", if that affects your decision at all.

I didn't do any work today. Not a sausage. Tomorrow, I'm going to finish testing the hot, dripping hell out of my latest batch of changes, and then check them in. You're welcome to do the same, but be advised that not just anyone can bring that move. It's a judgement call.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
22 February 2003
proportionate response

I got up late today, so I haven't hit Honest Ed's yet. And it's now after two o'clock. Apparently, this can cause the destruction of the very universe, especially when combined with having invited people over for the afternoon without informing Tyla of the exact time. I know, I was just as aghast as you that I'd invited people into my home without filling out my TPS forms.

Seriously, though. Untwist thy knickers, wench. People are always welcome in our house in the afternoon, and you know it.

If any of my guests actually show up before I get back from Honest Ed's — in the rain, I add for no particular reason — they are free to bitch at me for misrepresentation of my readiness. Please direct your comments to Chester, our customer relations specialist.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
21 February 2003
some people just can't be pleased

OK, Hixie, I took out the one fixed-point font thing. I hope you're happy. (But I don't think your complaint is at all related to "going on about standards", just for the record.)


I spent most of today on one problem with my new patch, which Phil found after approximately 90 seconds of review. I need to go to the Phil-well much more often, and sooner.

Mom's not visiting today, and neither is Phil. Such neglect.

This is a crappy entry, but the next part is important, so look alive out there: Honest Ed's Movie Night is a go. I'm going to go buy movies tomorrow at lunch, and people should feel free to call and/or arrive any time after around 2pm. There are some snacks in the house, but purists will agree that I need to get the bulk of our nourishment from Honest Ed's itself.

There may be a break in the movie-ing to watch the Leafs tear a strip off of Montreal, but it's subject to debate and bribery.

My lovely sister-in-law Sara and her lovely — though I mean it in a very masculine way here, of course — boyfriend Alan arrived this evening for a weekend visit, which should be lots of fun. All the more reason for locals to come for HEMN!


No, Jamie, let me assure you that he is not joking at all. Blizzard had some encounters with him in the past, and I probably have old email on the topic that I can post without feeling the slightest bit guilty.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
20 February 2003
all the cool kids are doing it

I woke up this morning to a call from Phil, after what must have been almost five hours of sleep. Seems that I'd rendered Lustre inoperative with a checkin yesterday — not the really cool one I wrote at 2am, but a little tiny change I made about twelve hours before — and he was quite reasonably demanding that I fix it. A little embarrassing, but Phil made me feel much better a little while later.

And now I've discovered that the working code I wrote yesterday is really only the tip of the iceberg for support of that scenario, so I've been talking to Phil a lot about the intricacies of the rest of those cases. Fun stuff. He's not coming to Toronto this weekend, in all likelihood, but that's mainly because he wants to avoid seeing my Mom, and not because he's too busy or anything.


I took a bath, which turned into a nap, and then I finished the nap in bed. So this means that I had a four-hour sleep starting at 20h00, and that in turn means that my sleep cycle has taken it in the teeth again. Ah well, I guess I can work for a few hours.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
19 February 2003
all that; you have to find your own bag of chips

I only got a few hours of sleep last night, but then I woke up with a complete and perfect understanding of my bug. Whammo. I don't remember my dreams, but it's not like dreaming about computers has killed anyone recently.

I was pretty tired in my driving class today, and only the combination of emergency-manoeuvre videos and a biggish latte kept me awake. When I got home, though, boy. Oh boy. Wired like a wiry thing.

I put that to good use, by writing some very sweet code, finding some bugs in other people's code, and passing my new test on the first try. Booyah, as the kids are saying. Makes me think that maybe mixing scotch and NNSA-controlled computers isn't the horrible plan that those policemen make it out to be.

Coop, my good man, you don't have to apologize for asking questions. I don't care how dumb they may seem, given a few months' or hours' or moments' hindsight, because when I answer a question for you, it stays answered. A little booyah for you, too.

Tyla's going to Europe to visit Emily, and — not to discourage her or anything — Jacob is talking about coming to visit then. I hope he brings Phil, and maybe even Joe or Chris. We would party very hard. I'm not sure we're actually zoned for that amount of party, but I can probably get a temporary permit.


And as if that weren't excitement enough, Phil might come into town this weekend, before jetting off to Calgary or something. I'm not sure where I'd bed him, so to speak, but I'm sure something can be arranged. I'd bat my eyelashes at Madhava now, but it really wouldn't help.

I have totally failed to organize this weekend's Honest Ed's Movie Night. Maybe I can blame it on Alasdair's guest-person, and bail for now. Bah.


And seriously: let's lay off the French. It's not like they're Quebecois or anything.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
18 February 2003

Slow, but steady, progress. That's how recovery is going to get finished. Both yesterday and today were spent doing a lot more thinking and reading than actual testing, but once I found the day-eating bugs they were both relatively straightforward to solve. Almost "duh" grade, except that the interactions are becoming so complex that I am very wary of initial "duh" reactions.

In order to track down today's bug — related to a scenario that will not often happen in real deployments, but which our test suite turns up with tenacious regularity — I pretty much cut myself off from email and other communication stuff. Other than calling Phil all the time, of course. So if you've sent me mail in the last two days — who am I kidding? Nobody still expects 2-day turnaround from me.

It was a good gaming-news day for me. I signed up for, and played a little bit of, A Tale In The Desert, which is quite a refreshing way to wait out the occasional cluster reboot. And later this evening, the NDA was lifted on Shadowbane, which means that I will be free to talk in detail about the state of the game. Except that, you know, I have no time.

Laugh or cry: you decide.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
17 February 2003
two suits' worth

It's my birthday, so I'm going to take a "diary day" off. I can do that, because in this one important way I'm my own boss.

A quick and inadequate thankyou to Mom and Kev, who took my charity request to their big hearts. It really does mean a lot to me.

(Oh, and to Alasdair, who finally got me the picture I'd been meaning to take for years. And everyone who came out to my little pub trip this evening.)

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
16 February 2003
cowardice and insomnia

Tyla and Madhava went to Climbing this morning, but I stayed home and puttered with both Lustre and Shadowbane. Both putterings were equally fun, I think. I was really intending to go climbing with them, but I didn't really need to deal with a panic attack or some other overwrought reaction once I got to the top of a wall. I'll have to figure something out, but that figuring wasn't being done this morning.

I did manage to join Tyla and Madhava for post-climbing dim sum, though. Yummy, filling, social: a perfect meal. We considered going to see a matinee of Daredevil, but decided instead that we'd save that as a reward for Madhava finishing an onerous piece of schoolwork.

When we returned home, Tyla was very cold. To warm up, she got in the bath, and I played more Shadowbane. I tried to play this game of computerized Risk with Phil and Joe and Jacob, but I kept clicking in the wrong place and killing the game. (For the record, I think I was performing a perfectly reasonable interface operation, and the software is just stupid and fragile. So there.) We instead tried a few rounds of a new and very difficult type of multiplayer Halo, where the minute xboxgw-induced lag combined with my already-questionable aim to keep me firmly in the cellar.

I had salad for dinner, and sour cola-bottle candy for dessert. It's good to be an adult.

After dinner, I played more Shadowbane. Tried to sleep a little, failed, and played more Shadowbane. I'm really setting myself up for a doozy of a birthday tomorrow, what with the work and driving lessons and perhaps after-lesson drinks with some friends. And now the lack of sleep. It's good to be an adult.

If you're one of those crazy people who's been asking about birthday present ideas (or one of the even-crazier ones who would just go out and pick something), permit me to now exhort you in another direction. Pick a children's charity or food bank, and make a small donation. It'd mean a lot to me.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
15 February 2003
drinking to forget > forgetting to drink

It was Hockey Day In Canada today, which meant three all-Canadian games, varying filler from tiny towns across Canada (Iqaluit, Medicine Hat, Ottawa), and shameless automotive advantage-taking (of Alasdair).

After we finished our errands, which was in turn after I finished playing a decent pile of Shadowbane, Madhava arrived and we settled in for some Ottawa-vs-Toronto/vodka-vs-us showdown action. I'm not sure how much we drank, but these rules will let you calculate it from the box score:

  • ½ ounce for a minor (2- or 4-minute) penalty your team takes.
  • 1 ounce for a goal by the opposing team.
  • 1 ounce for a major penalty taken by your team.
  • 1 additional ounce (total: two ounces) for a shorthanded goal scored by the opposing team.

Madhava and I were on the Toronto side. Alasdair was on the Ottawa side. Alasdair didn't drive home.

I need to figure out why I'm dreading climbing. It's a weird sensation; the prospect makes me quite uncomfortable. Last I climbed, I had some serious fear issues with the descent, which issues I'm pretty sure are the result of my little free-fall episode months and months ago. I don't know why it gets worse with every passing excursion, but that's seems to be the pattern. And if it doesn't get better with practice, or with time elapsed from the incident, I wonder how I'm supposed to get that confidence back.

It's interesting, at least to me, to note that I'm really only bothered by the descent, after the climb has been completed — or, you know, aborted due to fatigue or incompetence — and that I don't really have any problem at all with fear when I'm actually climbing, or even when I fall off the wall onto the rope. Probably related to over-thinking, or maybe a trust issue. Or too much thinking about trust issues?

Sucks. I really enjoy climbing, but now.... Bah.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
14 February 2003
i guess it's different for some people

Today is Valentine's Day, which means that I'm going to watch a movie with Alasdair and my wife. A sort of PG-rated cinematic threesome, if you will.

I don't know about you, mpt, but it sounds from over here like Mr. Raskin has reinvented both sam's UI and emacs isearch. I don't have a Mac, so I can't really check out THE on my own.

I really do love you, Jacob, and not just because of the stylesheet cunning. Smooch.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
13 February 2003
what we've got here is...a failure to communicate

I need to stop sending email when I'm tired, or something. A huge amount of energy is being wasted on misunderstandings that are likely my fault, and it's a crying shame because we have very important uses for that energy.


That actually got mostly resolved today, because we're all grownups. I'm glad.

In case you were wondering, Version 7 Unix did have memory protection:

The system data is not addressable from the user process and is therefore protected.

(From UNIX Implementation, by K. Thompson.)


Also, I thought I would share this little tale of craziness:

<eeb>anyone want a laugh?
<eeb>the Vendor Widget driver is binary compatible with a bunch of linuxen because........
<eeb>It has some tables of assembler to try to match against likely places in the kernel
<eeb>which it then uses to get hold of unEXPORTed entrypoints
<eeb>and noodle with the protocol tables!
<coop>that's not funny 'ha-ha', is it?
<shaver>sounds like the old RIMOS message-API symbol-finding hack

It's OK if you don't understand that, but it's better if you laugh along.

I didn't get as much code written today as I'd hoped I would, but I did manage to design away two nasty problems with what I was about to implement. That's the right thing, I think.

Booked my first in-car lesson for the 26th. Heard back from Air Canada, who are quite reasonably letting me purchase the tiny number of status miles I need for Elite in 2003. Got my hair cut; looks good now.

Phil might come to Toronto this weekend, for our hockey and related gluttonies. That would be neat.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
12 February 2003
now that's service

Some minor release fumbles caused a bit of a fire-drill this morning, which was a nice team-building experience if nothing else. Phil barks orders in a really friendly and classy way, in case you were wondering. (I don't think the problems were my fault, because I haven't really been productive enough to get anything into the release in question, but, you know, historically...)

Once that was all settled, I tucked into a second course of the recovery-surgery feast — I like my metaphors shaken, not stirred — and made pretty good progress. I think the best part is that I was again passing basic filesystem tests before it was time to stop for the night, which means I didn't lose critical debugging state during that loserly sleep process.

Robert is starting to really know his way around my recovery code, which means that Phil and Peter will be free to fire me soon. He ran into a few snags, and we discovered that he had, in fact, already tried the things that I was going to suggest. Nice to know that we're on the same page, but it meant I wasn't as helpful as I'd hoped to be. Tomorrow, I'll try to do better.

Second in-class driving lesson today, and now that it's behind me I can book in-car sessions. Might be a good week to stick to public transit, if you're in the Toronto area, and keep an extra eye or three out if you're on the sidewalk. I'm a little bothered by what seems a reasonably important inconsistency between two of the "CollisionFree™ sub-habits", but attempts to get some coherent explanation from the instructor were fruitless, so maybe I'll just sleep on it instead. And ask my in-car instructor, I suppose. On the whole, the lessons have been pretty good so far. I know a fair bit about the rules of the road, and the way traffic works — I did drive legally and otherwise for about 18 months on my various learner's permits, after all — but it's already been pretty educational.

Now, I could live without the constant use of items from Jay Leno's Tragic Accident Clippings, Volume 5 to illustrate the importance of, you know, doing the things they're telling us. I don't really see the point of that: does anyone in the room not know that people die in car accidents? The instructor also has an easy laugh that's part of his "filler" when speaking, and that makes for some morbid moments. Good thing none of the family of Ahmed, the 8-year-old that "wasn't smart enough to stay away from parked cars", were in the class tonight, I guess.

My friend Gavin had a poker night tonight, and they ordered pizza from 2-4-1 (no link, they don't get my help). Didn't go so well:

<Gavin> Man. I'm still mad about the pizza thing tonight.
<Gavin> A 2-4-1 pizza arrived a few minutes late, they wouldn't give it to me free.
<Gavin> I phoned the headquarters to talk about it while the delivery guy was there. He kept getting upset that I was talking about a few minutes.
<Gavin> (they say: "40 minutes or free", he hears: "43 minutes or free!")
<Gavin> then he ran into my apartment, picked up the pizza from my kitchen, and ran away with it.
<Gavin> Anyway, so when the alarm was over when he came, I knew it was late. The guy on the phone said something like "I guess we didn't anticipate people who didn't have something better to do with their time than set a timer"

I think that kinda speaks for itself.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
11 February 2003

All that talking and thinking and muttering really started to pay off today. Phil and I tore through the implementation of our latest design like ravenous code-wolves after a season's fast, and everything worked on the first try. That's what I'm talking about.

Alasdair's birthday today, so I took him out to Young Thailand for some yummy Thai food and quite a nice conversation. I know Jacob would approve, at least of the Thai food part. Among other things, we started to plan this weekend's hockey gluttony, and next weekend's Mike and Alasdair's First Invitational Honest Ed's Movie Night. More about that later, but Toronto-area hockey fans should feel free to drop by on Saturday any time after noon.

Jane Jacobs really likes Toronto, and so do I. Right now I can hear the gentle scrapes and slaps of shinny being played across the street, so I'm going to go lie down in my bed with my shiny new copy of Pattern Recognition and catch up on the sleep I didn't get last night. (Madhava would never tell you this, unless you paused for breath or something, but Jane Jacobs lives on his street, a mere two blocks from us.)

(Yes, Andrei, I'll send you those links tomorrow, when I find them again.)

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
10 February 2003
go time

Phil's and Peter's messages arrived, just as I expected they would. Instead of continuing to read diffs of raw TEX source, I'm going to generate a new PDF and print that at Kinko's today. I already said things about Phil's mail, but they weren't all that smart.

Grown-ups did that. Never forget that.


Went downtown to drop off a book at the office, and forgot to take the book (sorry, Leandro!). Had a nice sushi lunch with Ken, then came back and wrote kinda-smart things in response to Peter's email.

Took a driving lesson today (classroom), while Tyla was off swimming. Was pretty decent, for a first-lesson-in-a-classroom. Might miss next Monday's lesson, because I arranged tickets for a test screening of Crime Spree in observance of my birthday, but I could probably find someone else to take them off my hands. Otherwise I have to wait until March to take that lesson over — including a test! ooh! — and that seems like not a lot of fun.

In that I've started thinking about my birthday, I have yet again come to the annual realization that I totally forgot my good friend Mehmet's. I wonder how many times I can do that before I stop being allowed to use the phrase "good friend". At least he didn't have to remind me this year! The guilt is all mine!

Oh, and I think it's Alasdair's birthday today, but I'm not completely certain. I'm such a loser.


Now I'm completely certain: I'm a loser.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
9 February 2003

Boy oh boy. All it takes is a little article about Digipen, a few hours talking about really cool game design stuff with Andrei, and catching up on my mud-dev mail, and now I'm all interested in working on games again. I guess I sort of had my chance before, but after I become an expert on recovery, I'm sure I'll be that much better suited for it.

Alton Brown will tell you to brine things, and Phil will tell you to brine everything, but today I learned an important lesson: if your brine is a standard salt-and-water brine, and you are brining shrimp, 18 hours is too long. I ruined a perfectly nice dinner by not knowing this before, and trying to feed my lovely wife food that only Zach "Kidney Failure" Brown could bear. She wisely declined, ate the salad, and made herself a fried egg on toast. Oh, the shame.

After that, Jacob and I held our own against Phil and Joe in a few spirited games of Halo. Joe and Phil have some small cause for complaint, in that telephony provided semi-private conversation for Jacob and me, and I did have a whole TV to myself, but I think at the end of the day we all know that Jacob rocked, and I struggled to not hold him back. Our victory was your victory, Jacob, and I'm honoured to have been by your side. Sniff.

Any moment now, email is going to land on my inbox from Peter, detailing the upcoming week of insane recovery rearchitecture, and from Phil, about our branching and release-management strategy. I will be expected to say smart things about both of those topics by pretty early tomorrow morning. So I sleep now, after reading the very last pages of my book about the gadget.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
8 February 2003
circadian anomaly

I stayed up far, far too late last night talking game design with my good buddy Andrei, so I didn't get out of bed until late o'clock today. Happily, it's a weekend, and there isn't too much that I really need to do.

One nice surprise was the discovery that Phil has published his January entries. He's getting dangerously close to caught up, and then the very universe will tremble before his punctuality. It largely stands without comment, but I hasten to point out that I don't really blame him for the mild disaster that work made of our Edinburgh vacation. I mean, the code that was sucking too much was my code, after all.

Revisiting that period does, though, make me feel all guilty and sad inside, for subjecting Chris to our loserly ways in such disappointing fashion. I understand that Phil will be involved in a return engagement in the next little while, which should make up for it. Especially because I'm going to steal his secure-ID dongle so that he can't work. (Attention Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Security Personnel, Yes You With The Machine Gun: this is a joke.)

My next nice surprise was the outstandingly pleasant conversations I had with customer service representatives from both destina.ca and Aeroplan, which now leave me quite confident that I will be granted Elite status for 2003, even though I technically don't qualify. (I am a whopping 600 miles — of 35,000 required — short, and everyone involved seems to think, as I very much do, that I should get a break here. Did I mention that I already have nearly ten thousand miles this year? Yes, I did, in my formal request for status review, sent by email Just Now.)

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
7 February 2003
no, but are you sure that's the right question?

As a wise man once said: "From elementary group theory we see that computing conjugates of the transformations is the relevant operation to perform." Yeah, it was that sort of day. Peter and Phil and I have been redesigning recovery, which involves a lot of detailed discussions with ever-increasing senses of confidence and accomplishment, followed by a body-blow of "hmm, crap, what if this happens?" This is the good stuff, though: pushing the technological limits of my field to produce maximally reliable systems, while working with people who are terrifyingly smart. This is why I'm in the game.

I was tired, but in a good mood, so I decided to take my wife on a date. Dinner, movie of her choosing, public displays of affection, holding of doors, the whole deal. We dined at Tiger Lily's Noodle House, which was very good — exceptionally good for the price. One especially nice find was Nigori sake, which was one of the finest I've ever had. Recommended, highly.

Tyla's movie of choice was Shanghai Knights, in no small part because she has a thing for Owen Wilson that's sort of like my thing for Emily Proctor, only with less squirming in the chair. The movie itself was quite a bit cleverer than I'd expected, and I rather enjoyed it. I'm glad they retained the sense of fun that made the first one so much, well, fun. Jackie Chan is a great dancer, and I totally forgive him for the painfully faked house explosion at the end of Mr. Nice Guy.

At the end of the movie, after the credits had finished rolling and the house lights had come up, things got a little weird. The guys in front of us stood up and one of them asked, loudly, "has anyone ever punched you in a theatre?" At first I thought he was talking to his buddy, but then it became apparent that he was talking to us. Before that shock had fully subsided, it became clear that he was talking to Tyla. Apparently, he'd asked her three times to stop kicking the back of his chair, none of which times were actually heard by us (and I only saw him turn around once, not that facts were really of interest to anyone at this point). I'm not sure Tyla could have been kicking his chair, given that my legs were crossed over hers for the majority of the movie, but before I could actually figure out what I wanted to say to this guy Tyla had pretty much defused things. I even resisted the bait of his "I didn't threaten you, I just asked...", though part of me wishes that I'd just hopped a seat and smacked him. I mean, what the hell? (I haven't been in a fight worth the name since grade eight, but I had about a foot and fifty pounds (thirty or so non-fat, ahem) on him, and if you can't throw down when someone threatens your wife — sorry: asks a threatening question of her — then why bother learning to form fists in the first place?)

I was still pissed off — mainly at the loser, but also at myself for not even saying anything helpful, let alone defending Tyla's honour in a more traditional fashion — by the time we got to the office to pick up my laptop, but I'm feeling better now. More brain-bending with Phil and Peter helped settle me.

Tomorrow, I'm going to explain to Air Canada how their inability to properly credit my flights shouldn't affect my status with them in 2003. And if I fail to do that, I think I will become a devoted United customer on the spot. I don't think it's an unreasonable request I'm preparing to make, given my track record with Air Canada — including nearly ten thousand miles flown with them in January of this year alone — but we'll see if they see it my way.

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6 February 2003
i'd like to see you try

I woke up this morning to find Coop gone, but at least he left a note. His help with yesterday's dining extravaganza — roast lemon chicken, scallion-horseradish mashed potatoes, mildly-overcooked broccoli, strawberries and just a teensy bit of wine — was much appreciated. I'll have to drag Tyla to Ottawa in the near future for a rematch.

After I dragged myself out of bed, I spent a little while looking at a bug that turned out to be a false alarm — note to would-be bug reporters: if you say you're using the "latest" tree, and you are in fact using a tree that is 3 days and ~70 checkins out of date, you may find me at your door with instruments of torture. I compensated for that by talking briefly to Peter about the next stages of recovery support, and then followed up with a highly productive conversation with Phil. The latter conversation was so informative, and I am so forgetful and easily confused, that I immediately transcribed our findings. I invite you all to digest that information, so that you can explain it to me when my brain melts over the weekend.

Madhava has shared with us news of an event that is right up my alley, and I mean that in the least proctological manner possible. Also, he reminded me that I wanted to say that Clone High is really quite a funny show. Especially if, like one of our Buffy Night guests, you appreciate Ghandi with a C cup.

I was sure that Anatole would have something poignant and compelling to say about the Columbia explosion, or perhaps about space elevators. Heck, I'd settle for a good story about goats or rabbits with bread on their heads.

Lest there be further unwarranted worrying, I should clarify that my previous mentions of resumé-writing have precisely nothing to do with plans to change jobs, largely because no such plans exist. I won't name names, worrying-person — though I am flattered to count you among my readers! — but I'll give you a hint for future reference: if ever you suspect that I'm intending to leave CFS, you need only look for signs of incredible relief in our CEO.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
5 February 2003

Coop and I shopped and Alasdair came over and Coop and I cooked and we all drank quite a bit and the food was good so you should always brine your chickens and I think that it's best for all concerned if I just give up and go to sleep now because actually touching the code that I work on for a living would result in some dramatic failures down the line and so I bid you good night.

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4 February 2003
put it in your face hole

Coop and I worked from home today, because we had a conference call to deal with and the office at work, well, it's a little cozy for that. Went OK, and I got to sleep in a bit, so everyone wins.

The conference call itself was about plans for the next phase of Lustre and, as I expected, my team's job is to just keep stuff working while others make changes underneath us, and keep our recovery requirements out of the hair of people who are working on the actual performance improvements. Given that "my team" is presently "me", that could be a fair bit of excitement.

I fixed a bug today. It was a dumb bug, and I don't know how that code ever, ever worked. And yet, I know that it did work not that long ago. The wondrous mysteries of my life.

Coop participated in his first Annex Buffy Night this evening, and I'd guess he enjoyed it. More than he enjoyed Rollerball last night, I'm sure. Egads.

Time for bed — I have to fix a bug tomorrow morning before a big debug run on our large test cluster, and besides that Tyla wants me off the computer so that she can, you know, save the world.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
3 February 2003
the sweet pseudotaste of progress

I sort of suspected it was the case when Japanese schoolgirls started sending pictures across the internet on their cell phones, but now I'm dead certain that we're living in the future. I wonder if that'll take all the fun out of cooking. Probably not.

I had to wrestle for about 45 minutes this morning with the hard drives in my work machine, so that Coop had something to, well, work on. Seems that it needed some screws tightened, a few plugs secured, and a lock — for which I have never seen the key — returned to the "it's OK, you can use your storage devices" setting. All better now, though.

Tonight, Coop and Alasdair and I are going to go watch the movie that dare not speak its name (around Tyla). In fact, we're doing that in just a little while, so I should get ready to travel.

I was going to write something about the post-Columbia-disaster eBay runs, but after thinking about it some more I'm not sure I still hold my original position. Hmm. Such are the rhetorical perils of sober second thought.

On Saturday, I started doing my weight routine again. I'm still sore, but it's a good sore. Tomorrow morning will probably be a great sore, because I'm due to do some weight work tonight. This is the price I pay for being a slackass for two months, and I can already feel it building character.

I don't know if I'd have gone with this naming choice for the upcoming Matthew Good Band tour, given recent events, but that's not going to keep Phil and me away. No siree.


We're living in the future, and Phil is no longer living in the past! Huzzah!

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
2 February 2003
Last night Tyla and I

Last night Tyla and I went to a birthday dinner for my good buddy Ken, and had a wonderful time. We're trying to eat out less, as a shot-in-the-dark way to manage money a little more like the grownups we're supposed to be, but this sort of occasion is definitely an exception. Citron had yummy food, and very nice service. Recommended.

This afternoon, we went to see Madhava's choir group perform at the ROM. Nice concert, and we should really get to the ROM more often now that we're members and stuff.

Now Coop is here, so of course we had to watch a cinematic masterpiece. Ahem. At least Coop's here!

Phil meant to write in his diary about the fact that the Indian astronaut on Columbia wasn't part of the Indian space programme, and that it wasn't her first flight, but he slipped and sent it in email instead. I'm sure he'll fix that up soon, though.

Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)
1 February 2003

Everyone is by now aware of the accident that claimed the lives of everyone aboard Columbia this morning. NASA has a good summary of what's known so far, and is minimally sensationalist; I hope they'll keep it up to date. It's quite possible that more people have died driving to work at NASA over the last 17 years than perished in the Columbia and Challenger accidents combined, but there's still something tragic — and perhaps even oddly beautiful, though that sounds more morbid than I want it to — about people losing their lives in pursuit of human knowledge and exploration. The space program, for all its too-human faults, has been of tremendous symbolic and practical value to the cause of scientific discovery for more than fifty years now, and there's still a twinkle of "hero" that I hear everytime I come across the word "astronaut".

My heart also goes out to the supporters of the Israeli and Indian space programs; what a shame that their first in-flight contributions would be such bitter sacrifice. I hope that they don't lose sight of the larger dream, as the US will not (according to comments today from President Bush).

Since the dawn of mankind's quest to "slip the surly bonds of Earth", space travel has been a fragile balance of risk and adventure. Happily, Richard Nixon never had to deliver the speech written for him in the event that Apollo 11's crew were lost, but William Safire's words seem appropriate for today:

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man. [...] Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied.
Posted by shaver at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)