Pat's Log
Tue, 27 Jun 2006

Mobile Office
20060626 As ye olde parents are away on travel to Italy, it has become Pat's responsibility to taxi around the kids. While some events are long enough to justify two trips, others are short enough that it doesn't make sense to come back home in the meantime.

Enter the mobile office. My car has already proven itself to be a useful place to sleep when everything is folded down. Half folded-down, it makes a great place to set up "base camp." Hook the laptop up to the inverter, use the handy-dandy sound system remote lying by the seatbelt buckle to control the music, and it becomes a useful hacking-mobile with tons of leg room.

In fact, most of my latest project, the NetworkManager Editor, has been put together on the back seat of my car waiting for tae-kwon-do to finish.

[] | posted @ 03:39 | link
Mon, 26 Jun 2006

Beautiful Day
Today was really nice. I took the opportunity to force my brother (and myself) to bike all the way to Parliament and back. It was a great ride. About 50 km total. Then I mowed the lawn. Now I'm sore and bright red from the sun. Proud that my brother made that trip, I didn't think he had it in him. Glad that the gym made this excursion much less painful than it used to be in years past. Well, there is a good chance that my opinion will change by whenever I try waking up.

As an aside, I came across the old video camera fisheye lens that came with our old family Sony HandyCam in 1992. Interestingly, I could look through it and see properly. So, I tried holding it right in front of my digital camera's lens. Surprisingly, it works very well. Will try to take some interesting photography in the next little while.

[] | posted @ 03:26 | link
Sun, 25 Jun 2006

Bimmer Time?

As I was coming home from the gym on Wednesday, two kilometres from my house, the Protege's engine gave a loud pop, followed by uneven operation and zero engine power.

The problem ended up being that one of the spark plugs had wiggled loose and eventually was blown out of the socket by engine pressure. This resulted in no pressure in the engine block, meaning no power.

While fixing it took all of two minutes (thanks to the handy toolkit in the trunk), it is what was going on in my head that was surprising. My first thought after instinctively shutting the engine off was "time for that new BMW?" I would have expected something more along the lines of a more logical "I wonder what rattled loose?" The mind is a strange thing.

So, no, it is not time to get a Bimmer.

[] | posted @ 03:48 | link
Sun, 04 Jun 2006

Ten Years of Web Pages
20060604 Last month marked the ten year anniversary of my very first web page. Hosted on National Capital FreeNet, it was one of the things I might not have gotten into if it were not free.

I recently opened up the page to do a screenshot, and was happy the HTML still worked. Most of the graphics were from the then-popular "web page collections," though I was smart enough not to fall into the animated-GIF craze. The text is corny, at the very least (hey, I was 14). I had an interesting choice of navigation menu: I would literally make .ico files in Windows, take a screenshot, and make an image map. I think I did this until there were too many icons to make it practical. It predates the Netscape-Internet Explorer war. Perhaps the most surprising discovery is that the counter is still active.

Looking at the page also reminds me that my high school was the first one in the (then) Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton to be "on" the internet. The school was brand new in late 1992, and it was immediately outfitted with an ISDN connection powered by a Gandalf box. In the pre-Mosaic and pre-Netscape days, it was actually mostly used with Gopher, though I'm too young to have witnessed that. The school board provided a Unix machine to host web pages for all of the schools. As far as I know, Trinity was the first on there as well.

Speaking of ISDN: this page was created in the short time between when I first started dialing up to FreeNet via a 14.4K modem, to when Corel provided 28.8K dial-up access. Shortly after, during the summer, Corel provided an ISDN line. That was really fun; up to 15K/s on a good day. Of course, it was only used by my father and only for business purposes (wink, wink).

Anyway, unlike most things in my life, the ten years has not flown by too quickly. It actually feels like at least a decade with this one. Maybe it's because the internet has grown and changed so much that it would be difficult for any shorter period of time to have passed.

Now, a full decade later, I still have a site. Being a minimalist, the content of the site is not a big ball of bloat. Rather, it's neatly organized and contains only original content. Part of that is a blog that's already pushing a quarter of a decade this month! The site has gone from being an overly-coloured and cliparted page, to one that was far too graphical (with mouseovers!), to one that was part of the DHTML craze, to today's relatively simple stylesheets. I wonder what the future will hold?

[] | posted @ 18:08 | link
Thu, 01 Jun 2006

It's been nearly a month since I've written here. Time really flies. Maybe it has something to do with keeping away from computers once I get home from work. I think I will get back into it once the current (and absolutely insane -- by that I mean fast) product cycle at work is over. That should happen in the next couple of weeks.

I just finished watching Serenity. It has a much better storyline than I anticipated. Back in the fall I borrowed the complete Firefly series, watched the whole thing while sick; came to really like it. It's uncanny, fun science fiction. It's real "cowboys in space". Had I known about the show while it was still on, they would have had another viewer. The movie really wraps the storyline up very nicely. There are spectacular practical and computer shots, sad parts and funny parts. It's far more than just an extended episode. Summary: excellent flick.

Elsewhere in my life, I've finally installed Ubuntu on my laptop. There was nothing specifically wrong with Gentoo, except that with my recent "keep away from computers" attitude Gentoo was too high-maintenance. Portage has also become unbearably slow on anything short of a SATA drive. Gentoo is still on my desktop. Congratulations to the Ubuntu folk for making a very decent distribution.

Regarding keeping away from computers, I'm still managing to stick to the gym three times per week. I have some muscle to show for it. There is no appreciable weight loss, but there is no gain either, and I feel strong. Back pain is a thing of the past.

The rest of my time these days is spent building models. Before messing up the precious Enterprise-D, I was hoping to try some of the techniques out on a simpler model. I started building something I thought would take just a couple of weeks. Turns out it's a very rare and valuable piece of styrene, significantly more so than the Enterprise, so I'm going to take my time on it. I still entered it into Starship Modeler's Model-in-a-Month contest, but I don't know how well that will work out. As a vacuformed kit, this thing has its own set of challenges! Such is life.

[] | posted @ 05:09 | link

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