Pat's Log
Mon, 30 Aug 2004

Car Work + Cleanup + School
20040829 Over the last little while a lot has happened. First, last week the front of the car got straightened. The hood and bumper still look rough, and there is no grille, but the underlying structure is as straight as it can be. Additionally, the hood sits flat. I also managed to get a lot done on the driver-side door patchwork over the weekend.

It's amazing how much traffic my Celestia announcement to generated. On Thursday alone, there were 970 visits, which accounted for 20541 hits, and over a gigabyte of traffic.

The weekend was largely spent doing very little. It's my last free weekend before school starts. I spent most of it catching up on bill payments, organizing financial records, cleaning out eMail, planning my new computer, etcetera. On the subject of bill payments, I paid tuition today, now that I have my baroque music elective approved. It came to $6149. It did not go up from last year.

After having my fourth year project idea rejected by the professor last week for being too complicated as a one-person task, I've been getting increasingly worried, as time is running out. Then, yesterday, it hit me: earlier in the year I was hypothesizing about how the X-box would make for a decent in-car computer. So I fired off an eMail to another prof asking if he would supervise that. If he does not, I will find someone who will, because this project has good potential. The X-box already runs Linux, and there are already good programs designed for car use. The project would be to integrate and extend. I intend to get this out of the way soon.

Funny story of the week: in this house, we often have alcoholic beverages using Coke as the base. with drinks like that the kids aren't left out because the just get the same thing minus the alcohol. Well, yesterday evening my dad screwed up: he accidentally took the non-alcoholic drink for himself and gave my little brother the one full of gin. He didn't notice this as he got distracted playing some computer game. My brother got quite drunk and it was very funny. The poor kid couldn't stand. End of story.

[] | posted @ 03:24 | link
Thu, 26 Aug 2004

Celestia 1.3.2 Released
20040825 Celestia 1.3.2 was released yesterday evening. I didn't get all the changes in that I had wanted for my Gnome front-end, but I feel better about maintaining stability than rewriting core functionality directly before release. To make for a better release announcement, I made a Gnome Celestia web site. The main point is to have screenshots so that people on the various news sites can have something pretty to look at.

Two nights ago I spent a lot of time ungluing the lenses from my broken headlights and applying them to intact ones I got cheaply, but which had the 1992 square fronts on them. It was very painful, each of the four units taking about an hour. Today, a body shop straightened all the parts that needed straightening. Things are starting to come together.

Today is the fourth anniversary of Pixeloid. I forgot to mention that to Markus when we went drinking last night.

[] | posted @ 03:51 | link
Mon, 23 Aug 2004

20040822 This Saturday was spent gliding as a fundraiser for EngFrosh. I went last year to the same event, and it was a great new experience, so I went again this year. It felt more "normal" this year; that is, the feeling of flying without engine power. There's a certain grace to flying that is significantly increased in the silence a glider. Side-slipping still feels strange. This is the ability of the glider to actually fly more or less sideways with one of its wings pointed fairly sharply toward the ground. It does funny things to the airspeed indicater, and feels completely bizarre to anyone used to forward-flight-only/powered aircraft.

In the evening I watched The Godfather. It wasn't quite what I expected. I actually expected to be a little more touched by the character of the Godfather, based on everything I've ever heard about the movie. I may have to watch it again at some point to pick up the finer details of the story.

Today was spent cleaning the EngSoc office. It needed a little work "here and there." It's a little better off now.

The professor I approached about my fourth year project wants more information before deciding whether or not to supervise me. He referred me to some very interesting research by a professor at Lakehead. I'm going to respond to his eMail now. I can't believe there are only ten days of work left before school starts.

[] | posted @ 03:32 | link
Thu, 19 Aug 2004

Power Problems
Today was less productive than the last few days. No reason, really. It just seems there were more problems than solutions.

I tried going to the gym tonight for a swim, and as I'm still a little sore, I was hoping to just float in the water a little. The pool's filter pump was broken, so it was closed as a result.

On my way home, there were broken traffic lights and cops all around Lebreton Flats managing the situation.

Continuing on my drive, I nearly ran over a skunk. I managed to stop in time, and it slowly wobbled off the road. That's a first, I've never seen a live skunk crossing a road.

Finally, shortly after getting home, the power went out. It just came back on a minute ago. Thankfully, this laptop has a "built-in UPS." The NetWinders bore it well also, since they're on the UPS I got for Christmas. The Crusoe NetWinder still has an uptime of 208 days. The power situation has been getting worse and worse over the last few years. This evening our house suffered a longer power outage than during the whole ice storm.

[] | posted @ 03:49 | link
Tue, 17 Aug 2004

I am Broken
Yesterday was a little too much for me. I biked to work for the first time in about a month. Then I went to the pool and did a bit of swimming followed by some diving. There weren't very many people at the pool, so I decided to try something new: a flip from the 3m diving board. Looks like I ended up doing half of a flip, and landed flat on my back. That was very painful.

So, my crotch hurts from biking, my arms hurt from swimming, my left knee is aching, and my back is quite stiff this morning. I feel pretty bad.

[] | posted @ 13:44 | link
Sun, 15 Aug 2004

Family Back
20040814 This week went by quickly. This is especially so, since I had to take care of the dog. I can now see why single people generally don't have dogs: they tend to take all of your spare time. I'm actually happy people are back so that she's not my responsibility anymore.

Thursday evening had a superb sunset enhanced by some interesting rain clouds. There is another really good photo where the sky is an awesome orange-to-blue gradient. It's too similar to the one with the power lines posted a while ago.

The work week was extremely productive. I finally got packages working in a reliable fashion. Things are looking up there. Too bad school starts in three weeks.

Regarding school, I finally pitched a decent fourth-year project. My idea involves making a 'floating' platform, where three or four downward-pointing fans make it hover 5 to 10cm off the ground. The point of the project is to design the hardware and software to keep the thing level and steady. It will use gyros to know which fans need to be sped up or slowed down to maintain level. Assuming it gets accepted, it will be quite a challenge to design and contruct.

I spent some time today playing with Celestia. The new release is supposed to be this weekend. An interesting discovery was that the GL problems everyone on ATI cards is experiencing might be caused by the server rather than Celestia or the ATI drivers. The latest snapshop from looks promising, but the ATI drivers don't seem to be able to run any GL programs without crashing X. Hopefully those issues can be resolved.

[] | posted @ 03:43 | link
Mon, 09 Aug 2004

20040808 I've been meaning to write for quite a while now, since quite a bit has happened over the last week or so.

Most notably, registration for university courses has opened up, and ~ I've been trying to choose a set that will work for me. It's been almost a week, and I'm still not quite there. This is because, for once, I actually have a large selection to choose from. There are just so many interesting Engineering courses to pick from. There are also loads of complementary study electives, from which two must be selected; unfortunately, Latin isn't one of them.

The movie of the week is Collateral, with Tom Cruise, which I was lucky to see a day or two before opening night. The movie is actually very entertaining, and I'd have to say it's Cruise's best part to date. Upon leaving the theatre, my heart was pumping harder than usual, and my mouth was dry. There was a woman just outside the theatre puking into a trash can. The director used interesting approaches to a lot of the shots. Overall, he filmed using very high-grain film, probably because there are a lot of very dark scenes and he wanted high exposure on them. The pace was very effective. The music was fairly impressive as well.

The weekend was dedicated almost entirely to the car. Saturday was spent at three junkyards looking for parts with Kamil from work. In the end, I didn't get anything useful. I was hoping for a cruise control unit, but it turns out that my car doesn't even have the wiring for it (though it has wiring for many other things that didn't come with it). A few hours today were spent grinding open the rusty patch-of-death that every Protege has on the driver-side door frame. It's much, much rustier inside the top layer of steel than can be seen from the outside. Much of the metal inside disintegrated upon gentle prods from a screwdriver. These rusty parts are what caused the problem to recur after it was last fixed. Consequently, a large area had to be cut out, and I'll probably spend the week cleaning it and patching it up. But it's necessary, since by next year the rust would have been uncontrollable.

I've taken an interest in photographing reflections. The photo is a reflection from my mom's laptop's screen.

This week I am family-less once again. This time, the dog has been left under my care. Hopefully it won't die or something...

[] | posted @ 03:53 | link
Mon, 02 Aug 2004

Shit. It's August already. All the back-to-school signs are popping up. I've got to get moving on the fourth year project. I came across an interesting article that I feel provides me with some insight into fundamental differences between Muslim civilization and the so-called "Western" world:

The instituting of a national law that incorporates both civil and spiritual laws is one of the principles that makes it difficult for Americans to understand Islamic nations. It is even more difficult for the people in those Islamic nations to understand a government that does not enforce morality as well as civil law. Since they do not understand the principle of the separation of the government from the religion, when people in Islamic nations see Western nation's magazines with nudity or near nudity, they believe that what they are seeing is Christianity! After all, they are told that the United States is a Christian nation. When they see a satellite program that originates from Playboy, they think that is Christianity! When they see a television commercial for any kind of alcoholic beverage, they think that is Christianity! They do not understand the separation of government and religion. They cannot understand why those who produce such materials are not punished by the government.

It never occurred to me before, but this separation of law and government that feels so natural to me must be very foreign to Muslims. While our laws are based on Christian attitudes and values, we see no room in government for God. This fundamental difference explains so much.

[] | posted @ 03:59 | link

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