Archive for June, 2012

Stat spying

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Checking my flickr stats on a daily basis always surprises me. When a new set of images is posted, it will displace the ‘regulars’ from their usual positions in the top-ten, but generally, in a few days, things have mostly returned to the expected pattern.

When things don’t fit the pattern, it sometimes is obvious why, but sometimes there’s nothing clear at first glance.

In the first weeks after this year’s Fremont pics were up, the long standing most-popular-naked-guy-pic was knocked out of the top-ten, and I was beginning to wonder if I’d see him again. Today he reappeared in the number 2 slot, with his usual number of views. But top spot is a generic image of a broken window at one of the bars in my general’hood. And however they are ending up at that picture, they aren’t leaving behind a useful referrer trail.

Curiosity.

Happy McFly Day!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Today is the day Marty McFly travels to, when he heads to the future.

Destination Time:
Jun 27 2012…

Learning Patience

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Yesterday, I went to the DMV (technically not it’s name in Washington State, but whatever =p) to get my motorcycle endorsement added to my license. For some reason, every other office in King County was closed, except for the downtown one, so the line was out the door by the time I arrived, after lunch. In the end, I was there for 2+ hours, before I finally made it out, all my business resolved happily.

Over the course of that two hours, I observed a lesson in patience. The staff at the office kept calm, no matter how foolish the question, nor how many times they had to explain the same thing over and over again. Their grace and humor in the face of an insurmountable workload is an inspiration to me, in my dealing with my co-workers. When next I am in a meeting, forced to listen as people as a question that they could answer for themselves by simply looking at the slide on screen…I will pause and remember, the woman who kept refusing to take the eye test, the man who was going to have to take all the testing over again, because he’d let his old license expire, and on and on. And I was just there for a couple hours on a single day. I suspect there are days that are even longer for those folks.

I should have ample opportunity to practice this lesson, as we have group training classes over the next few months.

Washington Basic Rider Course (BRC)

Monday, June 25th, 2012

After 20 years of just getting by with an occasional learner’s permit, or sub-50cc scooter, I decided to get my motorcycle endorsement. To be clear, I haven’t been driving for 20 years without the correct license; I drove a motorcycle in Missouri, legally, with a string of learner’s permits, 20 years ago, then a 15 year gap, after which I’ve been driving, legally, my sub-50cc-class electric motor scooter. What I was lacking was any sort of formal training in how to properly and safely operate a real bike.

I’d done some reading on the subject, back when I first got a bike, but have never been really sure if how I interpreted the written word, matched up with what I was supposed to be doing, in the real world. When I made the decision on which course to take, I went for the true intro course, rather than the experienced rider course, for that reason. I had a vision of getting out to the intermediate course, and having them say ‘no, that’s completely not how you do that’, and wasting my enrollment. I figured better safe than sorry, start at the start and work your way up, as all the practice you can get, the better.

I went to a two day session at South Seattle Community College, which by the way, has a really nice little free arboretum, and some sort of chinese garden (not free) that I didn’t have a chance to check out because it was only open during the class, whereas the arboretum was (I got there very early the first day, because I had to leave early to avoid the Rock’n’Roll marathon, and came back early the second day to take pictures…). The first half of both days was classroom instruction, some lecture, some videos, and the written test. It is a very easy test, that covers stuff specific to a motorcycle; it doesn’t repeat general rules of the road stuff you should have demonstrated knowledge of when you got your primary license. The second half of each day was on-the-bike practice and instruction.

And they were two very full days, 9am to 6:30pm, with an hour lunch in the middle (and reasonably regular bathroom breaks). When it started pouring rain on the first day, it change nothing, we kept standing and talking or riding, which I really liked, since riding in the rain has always been one of my nervousness points. Turns out my rain pants work very well; so glad I picked them up the day before class. The people who had just worn jeans and non-waterproof jackets were miserably cold by the time the rain stopped. Really, if you wore the right clothes, it was perfect. The rain to give you experience and familiarity with it, without the worry of being on the street, and just enough sun to dry everything out later in the day. Day two, there were a few sprinkles before we went into the classroom, but by the time we were on the range, it was sun and light clouds. I didn’t remember to slather my neck with sunblock, and I do have a fair bit of red there today. d’ohwell.

The class started out with 9 people, 4 women and 4 other men, but by Sunday, one of the guys had dropped out. I dunno why, since he wasn’t one of the people having a harder time. In one of those odd co-inky-dinks, two students and the instructor, were all from the same general area in Hawaii. Two of the guys knew each other before the class, and would come together in one car. One of the women was a Physicians Assistant, who does some sort of back related work, pestering me to lift with my legs, so she wouldn’t have to operate on my back some day, when we were cleaning up after it was all over (nicely and with appropriate humor). One woman was there to learn on a scooter.

Given my initial fears of incompetence, it was interesting to see how much difficulty some of the others were having with stuff that I don’t remember ever having problems with, and in contrast, the parts I had difficulty with that others mastered to perfection. One of the pair of guys guys had a devil of a time getting started in first gear, and would often stall out multiple times before starting a practice run, and a devil of a time trying to find neutral from first (he seemed quite grateful when I showed him how to more easily find it coming down from 2nd). The slow speed u-turn was my most problematic maneuver, with me having a hard timing fully committing to leaning against the turns. That and keeping my eyes up, instead of looking for all the marking on the pavement we had to follow. If they had nice floating hologram tech, it would have been easier =p

I definitely seemed to impress my classmates, who would often ask me for advice when the instructors were otherwise engaged, and during the breaks. I pointed out to those getting discouraged by my seeming ease at some things, that I had been driving a scooter for many years, and did have some experience on a full bike as well. In the end, several of the most timid riders at the start, ended up getting perfect scores on both written and practical tests, whereas I only got 100 on the written (94% on the practical).

If anything was truly annoying about the class, it was how the instructor would keep bugging me to not cover my brakes. While I understand the value of preventing nervous people from over-reacting during their initial learning period, it’s considered a valuable habit for driving in the real world.

This morning, I’m still feeling the effects of 10 hours driving over 2 days. It makes me wonder at how someone must feel after driving a bike on the trip to Sturgis, that spans multiple full days of driving. Now I just have to get my pass card down to the DMV and get a new photo, and I’ll be good to ride. When the weather improves =p

Interesting Walking

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Motorcycle course recap to follow, but in the meantime, the walk to dinner and back this evening.

3 people driving the wrong way on a one way street, 1 guy who smoked his tires from one light all the way to the next light, which stayed red a full 60 seconds after he got there, a bicyclist playing chicken with a bus, another driving the in the dark with her headlight pointed at her own front tire, some guy dumping a tub of water out his window, and what a first I thought was a cat, but turned out to be a raccoon.

The bartender at the Capitol Club was too busy counting his tips to serve me a drink, but it was so hot inside, it was just as well I left. The Pine Box, despite being basically a dead-zone, was almost as slow in service, but all the more worse because the bartender made eye contact, then went back to chatting with a friend, eventually moseying over to server a so-so drink and a menu lacking a single thing I wanted to eat. The Six Arms had a tasty burger though, made by a line cook with an awesome work style. Mostly a highly professional minimum of movement to accomplish a task kind of thing, but with an occasional flourish that was both functional and funky. And the food turned out right, quickly.

Bad ideas with good money

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

“Let’s take the best features of using the internet for our delivery system, and replace them with the worst parts of a physical club going experience, limited capacity and awkward hours for people who have jobs (and money)”

OK, to be fair, it is pretty unlikely that you will get a punctured lung in the mosh-pit, over the internet. Really, that depends on how excited you get about paying for a video stream that will force you to accept a degradation in quality, rather than let you decide for yourself that you’d prefer to wait for a high quality stream. Maybe watching blocky video with skipping sound is what gets you jumping. I don’t think that ‘hopping mad’ is the same as ‘moshing’ though.

Then again, someone bought Instagram for a billion frickin dollars, so what do I know about what people like, eh? =p

Second Thoughts

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

I was making a burger on the stove at home tonight, and accidentally opened the wrong side of the pepper box, pour instead of sift. I scraped off the worst of it, finished the cooking, and ended up with a perfectly tasty meal, and a bunch of wasted pepper, some of which came off the burger in solid sheets as I was eating it. D’ohwell.

I set the plate to the side as I watch a movie, thinking nothing of it till I see my cat jump off the table, drooling like a waterfall. The internet seems to think it won’t kill my cat, and after he drank some water, he seemed OK. But I suspect, in the future, he will think twice before eating something off my plate.

Then again, he has tried, and disliked, salsa before. Perhaps he is playing the odds; two out of a gazillion stolen bites might seem worth it.

Dance of Joy

Saturday, June 16th, 2012
DSC_0162 by Xymon
DSC_0162, a photo by Xymon on Flickr.

This kid was really feeling the spirit of the dance.

UTF-8 and od

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

One of the many challenges of my current job is trying to create tests that will function the same, across 30+ flavors of UNIX-y-type systems. There are lots of seemingly simple things that just don’t work the same way for AIX, HPUX, Solaris, and the various Linuxi we support. Sometimes even on the same OS family, changing processor architecture leads to unexpected issues. Eventually I figure most of them out, or at least a way around the differences that are irrelevant to my testing.

Today’s challenge, validating UTF-8 support for filenames. Not entirely unexpected, piping UTF-8 strings through STAF via Java, into local system grep utilities isn’t providing consistent results. Entirely unexpected, the octal-dump program, ‘od’, is returning different results for the same source file, depending on the host machine, completely independent of my STAF issues.

Balance

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

I am finding it difficult to maintain the balance between the stitches on my back, which tweak if I lean too far forward, and the stitches on my belly, which tweak if I lean too far back. But there were entire weekends I looked tan, 20 years ago. =p