Thursday, June 30, 2005

Back with the Internetness

Forrest set up our wireless internet today, so we are no longer leechers. I wish to thank the NETGEAR network for their bandwidth while we were connectionless. We also got my server back up and happy; thanks go to Jerry for hosting my site in the interim.



Monday, June 27, 2005

Kurt Visits; Swimsuits Suck

Yesterday my high school friend Kurt (who has an internship with Boeing in the area) dropped by to visit. He brought over The Life Aquatic, which was interesting... but I think I liked it, overall.

Kurt, Forrest, and I wandered down to the clubhouse afterward. We showed him around, then chatted for a bit. It was drizzling off and on, so the clubhouse's covered spa was especially inviting. I rolled up my jeans and dangled my feet in the spa — so warm! Kurt had to go back home, but Forrest and I stayed at the spa.

Digression to how much shopping for swimsuits sucked earlier that day. I went to four different stores looking for a swimsuit that fit. One of said stores was a swimsuits-only store, with quite a selection. None carried anything that really fit, and the ones that were closest were really expensive — we're talking $60-80 here, for a freakin' swimsuit. It looks like if I want a swimsuit, I'm going to have to ask my mom to sew me a custom one.

Back to dangling my feet in the spa. Since the beginning of the day, I had wanted to go in the spa; hence the depressing smimsuit-shopping. And now with it right there, I was very tempted to just jump in anyway, fully clothed. I eventually talked Forrest into being ridiculous with me; we emptied our pockets and jumped in. Being defiant* and all, I enjoy doing such things that aren't normal per se by society's conventions. But we double-checked the listing of all the spa's rules (including a ban on anyone with communicable diseases using the spa), and in the whole long list, it said nothing about proper attire (or attire at all, really, so it doesn't necessarily ban skinny-dipping, either).

While in the water (sooo warm, mmmmm, may have to go back...), street clothes really weren't much less convenient than a regular swimsuit. It probably would have been more annoying if we'd been in a pool proper, doing actual swimming and such, but for lazying about in a spa, it was no big deal. And the walk back up from the clubhouse to the apartment was surprisingly non-icky. It was drizzling again by that time, but we were already soaked. Wind would have been bad, though, I s'pose.

All in all, I recommend the jump-in-the-spa-anyway method of spending a Sunday evening. :)

* My MSN project lead called me "defiant" after I made a wallpaper for my work machine that said — written in the shape of a flower — "no flowers." He had told me the previous day that I could do any sort of customizations I wanted to my computer... except that flowers were forbidden. Thus "no flowers." He's a cool guy. :)

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

MIT Blog Survey

I filled out a blog survey being conducted by MIT. They're looking for a larger sample size; go take the survey!

They have questions about you, your blog, your blog's links, other forms of online communication, the kinds of people you know, and how you know them. I'll be interested to see what their final data shows.

One thing I found surprising about my own answers was on the last question, asking about whether I knew people in a given profession, how I knew them, and whether we had met on- or offline. A large number of the professions I did know were family, and I met every single person offline.

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Big Update

So I'm now settled into my corporate housing apartment here in Redmond, rooming with Forrest and an acquaintance-becoming-friend, Shane. We don't have internet per se — I blog now via cantenna-stolen wireless. If I'd had more reliable wireless, I would have posted more detailed entries about the various goings-on of the drive up, settling in, and starting work as a Microsoft SDE intern. But I didn't, so instead I'll just give a brief overview of what's been happening.

Thursday, June 16, 2005
We stayed in two rooms at the Quality Inn of Eureka. Saw Batman Begins; while I don't think I've ever seen the entirety of any other Batman movies, I really liked this one. Interesting plant of the day: some unidentified, white, clumpy-flowered tree-shrub that grew decidedly horizontal.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Unexpectedly, all the hotels in our price range were full up in Newport. We ended up sharing a two-bed room at La Quinta Inn, just south of the Yaquina Bay bridge, a rather attractive bridge and one of the larger on the trip up highway 101. Interesting plant of the day: a red-berried tree that we looked up the name of and then promptly forgot.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
We arrived in Redmond to pick up our keys in the late afternoon. Shane had gone off with a local friend for the night, so we didn't see him at all. He had very nicely not taken the downstairs master bedroom, so I stole it before Forrest could. He would have done the same if he had scampered faster. ;) My master bedroom comes with a large bathroom (no tub, though) and a walk-in closet to complement the shelved closet in the bedroom proper. The total square footage is probably equivalent to Forrest's and Shane's upstairs bedrooms combined. Muahaha, I say. Interesting plant of the day: a purple and/or white flower, either lupin or foxglove (hard to tell when driving past at 60, eh).
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Errands' day. I left my cellphone charger at my parents' house, so I went to the Cingular store down the road to pick up a cigarette lighter charger for it. Stopped at Home Depot to get a lobelia plant to liven up my very white and empty bedroom. I also needed "business casual" (or so we were told) for the New Employee Orientation (wonder if it was called "NEO" before The Matrix?). I bought a pair of gray pants that I hand-hemmed to fit my shortness, and a button-down-the-front white shirt that I can wear to non-formal settings without feeling weird. Of course, during the orientation there was the guy in a T-shirt and flipflops, so business casual wasn't too strictly enforced.
Monday, June 20, 2005
This was our last free day before work started. Forrest and I went walking around the area to explore the nearby Marymoor park. We wandered through an industrial park before getting there, then hung out at a field meant for flying model airplanes (no one was there at the time). Interesting plant of the day: the Tall Oregon-grape, found along the road where we live.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
We had brainwashing orientation for the first half of today, then I went to my office building for the second half. My team is a "top secret" incubation team starting on a new project, which is exciting but can't be discussed, on account of my NDA. I'm not certain Microsoft will actually be able to crash into the market that they want to with this product, but we shall see. I spent the rest of the day installing prerequisite programs on my work computer.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
More installage. I missed the ASP.NET tech talk that a bunch of the other interns went to — I didn't get the email with its details until 5 minutes after the talk was over — but it's okay, 'cause that's what I'm working with in my team, so I'll learn how to use it anyhow.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Finally everything got installed, more or less. I started poking around at the source code for our project, figuring out how stuff works. Late in the afternoon the interns had an ice cream social, which I went to for a little while. But I got antsy and convinced Forrest and Shane that we should go home. 'Course, we were in separate cars... I decided on the way back to go south along (the huge but not gigantamous) Lake Sammamish and ended up at the Barnes & Noble we had visited the previous night. I bought Into Thin Air, having finished A Walk in the Woods that I borrowed from Forrest. (I'd recommend both books, by the way.) We also watched The Forgotten, which I wouldn't recommend.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Today mostly consisted of learning more about the source code and tinkering up small test page. We left work, went home, and tried to come up with something better to do on a Friday night than play around on the Internet and watch movies, as we had been doing the past couple nights. For a while things looked pretty boringly grim, but then Forrest suggested we investigate wtf was up with the Redmond Island (see the funny yellow rectangle with a notch cut out of the bottom right, center of the map? that's what I'm talking about), aka the Redmond Watershed Preserve. Turns out it's a very pretty, foresty chunk of land. We got there after 9 o'clock, though, so we didn't stay very long. We ended up watching The Village after all, which turned out not to be as much of a horror movie as I thought it would be. I'd only marginally recommend this one.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
This would be today. Shane ran off with his local friend (Kevin, methinks his name was), so Forrest and I went back to the Preserve to hike around. We think we did about 5 miles of level hiking through some 100-year-old second-growth forest. We passed up taking the longer Siler's Mill Trail on the return half of the loop, which I later discovered is supposedly the most scenic of the trails. We'll probably head back there to check it out.
And this concludes my massive update for the night. Hopefully I'll keep y'all more up-to-date for the rest of the summer.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Driving Plans

I set up the route Forrest and I will be taking up to Redmond, via the coast the entire way. At least, that's assuming and hoping that the coastal highway isn't too terribly nasty. I didn't like being a passenger on Highway 1 between Monterey and San Simeon, but this time I'll be the driver, so it won't be quite so harrowing. Following the road via Google's satellite imagery, it looks like it's not so cliffy as it is down by SLO. Good deal, as far as I'm concerned.

Microsoft is reimbursing us $70 each of the two nights we've been allotted to get up to Redmond, and $30 in meals per day. Not as insanely generous as the courting-the-recruits allowance we were given earlier (which added up to $75 per day), but still decent. I find I don't eat as much when I'm on the road, anyhow.

I'm starting to get antsy about heading out. This should be a fun little adventure before the code-monkeying begins. I'll try to remember to take pictures along the way — the plan is to get out and stretch once and a while during the 7 hours of driving each day, so maybe I'll drag the camera out with me. We shall see.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Morning's Links

There's been a suggestion to hold a hot geeks contest. Amusing. As opposed to mildly disturbing.

In other linky news, there's a fairly detailed walkthrough of filming a LotR scene yourself over on Machinima .com.

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Visiting Home

I'm back home with my parents for the next few days, visiting and killing time until Thursday when Forrest and I leave for Redmond. Tomorrow I'm going with my mom to visit my grandfather, who's been living in an assisted living facility since his most recent stroke. I haven't seen him since before that, at my grandmother's funeral. Makes me think of the second-to-last line of the second verse of this one song...

Earlier tonight, My dad and I went to the grocery store to pick up some stuff, and I ran into an old acquaintance from high school that Olya had a crush on for a while. He never intended on going to college, and has instead been working for the past three years. Talk about a different life experience, eh? He looks just the same as in high shcool, down to the AC/DC t-shirt. Wonder if he's happy.

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Friday, June 10, 2005

The Amazing Self-Correcting Algorithm

I forgot that I had already started LCS, but that it wasn't 100% correct yet. I thought that perhaps LCS just needed optimizations, so I submitted the code I had to ETP, looking for whether the problem with it was "incorrect answer" or "ran too slow." Imagine my surprise when it tells me instead:

Your answer was graded automatically.
Your answer received a score of 100 out of 100.
You have completed this problem.

Well, damn. I like it when supposedly non-functioning code works perfectly instead. Two to go by tomorrow night — I might even make it! :)



Edit That Distance, Biotch!

So it took me, from starting in the 3-hour break between finals yesterday, until now to solve the edit-distance algorithm. That is: it only took me 8 measly hours to get the problem done. Now, if I had been smart and industrious, I would have taken those the 8 hours and done the assignment 8 hours after it was assigned a month ago. But no, I had to get a special exception from the prof to let me turn in my remaining 4 (3 now) assignments.

This leaves me with the scheduling algorithm to optimize, rank selection to debug, and LCS to do. By tomorrow at midnight. Or else flunk and have to retake this class. Gah! Stupid, stupid self...

Much thanks goes to my awesome friend and this class's grader, for putting up with my very-last-minute and past-last-minute questions. I owe you bagels!



Sunday, June 5, 2005

Joe's Canadian

Tim forwarded on to me Joe typo'dly being Canadian:

Joe: sounds aboot right
Tim: yer Canadian now?
Joe: eh?

And I was good; I didn't start in on a rant/discussion at Tim about the details of Canadian pronunciations! But, as it turns out, I did recently track down some useful webpages about it, because my mom had asked me for some details. The two sites are here and here, but I shall attempt my own explanation.

You'll have to play along and say words and notice how your mouth moves to form the words, for this to make the most sense. It also helps if you have the same dialect as I do, because then you don't have to read the IPA transcriptions of how to pronounce these words.

Say "about" [əbæut]. Focus on the "ou" part. Try to feel how your tongue moves throughout the sound, starting from the position that it's in for the word "at" and ending at the position that it's in for the word "boot". (This vowel sound, which you should be able to see is actually made of blending two vowels, is called a diphthong.) You'll probably have to try saying "about" ridiculously slowly to be able to see what I mean; that's okay. :)

The Canadian pronunciation is technically called "Canadian raising," so-called because they say their diphthong starting at a vowel higher in the mouth than our starting point. Instead of starting your diphthong at the vowel sound in "at," instead start at the sound of the first "a" in "ahead." End the diphthong at the same position as you normally do, and you should have a rough estimation of the Canadian pronunciation.

Now, you may have noticed that the typical way of imitating the Canadian pronunciation of "about" is to say "a boat," and that that mimickry never says 100% like Canadians, just close enough for mockery's sake. That's because the imitation is "a boat" [əbut], without a diphthong for the vowel. The actual pronunciation is something more like "a buh-oot" [əbʌut].

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Threadless T-Shirts

Stumbled across Threadless T-Shirts, a site that runs a continuous T-shirt design contest, voted on by site users. They print and sell the winners in limited-run batches. My favorite is Dark Side of the Garden, but alas, they've already sold out. Good thing is that you can request a reprint and if enough other people are interested, they'll print up more of the shirt.

Two other good designs are We're Toast (which I may buy) and Ah Munna Eat Choo, unfortunately also sold out.

Dark Side of the GardenWe're ToastAh Munna Eat Choo

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Homework Status Report

For those of you on the edge of yours seats about how I'm doing on catching up with my algorithms homework, I'm down to ten problems with four days to go. Three of those problems should be quick to finish, but another four are programming problems and another two are on a subject we were never lectured about. So we'll see.



Saturday, June 4, 2005

Does This Look Like a "Q" To You?

*mutter* Creating new algorithms, my head wants to do BFS like the computer.... *mutter* Needing to use alternate data structures... *mutter mutter*

That'd be one more down, and homework #4 completed, finally.

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Minus a Foot

After the choppage.

Tim's left for D&D, so I can't post a photo yet. But my hair is minus a foot! (This foot of hair is not to be confused with the condition foot in mouth, which other people suffer from. Other people who insinuate — wait, no, come right out and state — that certain other people have large posteriors. Which they don't.)

Believe you me, it's very weird to halve the length of your hair, when said hair has been at a constant length for more than a decade.

Update (Sunday, 1:35 AM): Tim's home now, and here's the pic!

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Hair - Before

I haven't had my hair cut, other than for trimming, since first grade.

I'm out the door to get my hair cut now. Plan on seeing it next at just past my shoulders. I'm actually a little nervous about this, which is silly, but whatchya gonna do.

Will post again in maybe an hour or so!

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Friday, June 3, 2005

The Salt Mines

Still slogging away at algorithms homework, here in the salt mines* this fine Friday night. Five problems down, "only" fourteen more to go. Need to be done by Thursday, which really means by Wednesday because I have finals from 10 in the morning until 10 at night Thursday (with a 3-hour break in there). Four of the remaining fourteen are programming problems. :( But if I can keep up the pace of finishing five a day, I'll just make it.

So when are the scientists going to stop piddling around with trivial things like, say, cancer, and get to work on a cure for procrastination and easily-distractedness? Maybe they all figure they'll start working on it tomorrow...

* This is a relatively random link, but interesting history nonetheless.



Going There From Then

Even when I've holed up in my apartment working on algorithms (required to be 100% completed and 100% correct, or else I get an F — it's very all-or-nothing grading), my life is still touched by my friend's drunken antics. We'll leave aside for the moment discussions of his liver's plots to kill him before he does likewise to it, and move on to the phone call with him.

As I said before, I was alone in my apartment doing homework this Friday night, chatting intermittently with my friends online. Some time after talking with them last, I went to send them an URL for a 5-page Serenity comic preview, but I discovered that they had all logged out. Suspicious, I tried calling them.

Two of them didn't answer their phones. The third picked up, but then hung up, making much fumbling noises in the process. I tried calling him back, but I got his voice mail that time. Ten minutes later, he calls me, but he can't hear me over the noise in the background. He hangs up on me, but then calls me back a minute later.

Apparently The Gang plus Joe is seeing Star Wars III, which explains why no one else was answering their phones. And Aaron is drunk, as he announces to me, which explains why he did answer his phone in a movie theatre. ;)

Hanging up, I told him to go enjoy his movie. He replied that he wasn't understanding what was going on, but that "we will go there from then." As if that makes any kind of sense. Is this some drunken way of trying to use the phrase "let's not go there" or something, and failing miserably? Drunken Linguistics might be an interesting field...

Update (Sunday, 1:53 AM): Linkified my post.

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Thursday, June 2, 2005

Removing Blogger's Navbar

So if someone wanted Blogger's navbar to go away on all blogspot sites, one might install Greasemonkey, save some code that looks like

// ==UserScript==
// @name          Blogger Navbar Removal
// @description   hides the Blogger navigation bar
// @include       http://*.blogspot.*/*
// ==/UserScript=

function() {
   var navbar = document.getElementById('b-navbar');
   if (navbar) {
as blogger-navbar.user.js, install it with Greasemonkey, and see the navbar no more.

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