tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Archive for the 'Real life stuff' Category

Blogging from Hong Kong airport

First leg of the flight was uneventful. The aircraft is a Boeing 747 so it has the older version of SIA’s inflight entertainment system…the one with Game Boy Color games.

I didn’t mention it here before I left, but I bought a new laptop in Singapore before I left, simultaneously dumping my five-year old Dell dinosaur. Before anyone asks, no, it’s not a Mac; it’s an HP Pavilion with a pretty decent graphics card. The last few days of my vacation saw many Outrun 2 sessions.

I don’t think I can use it on the plane, though…people have a habit of reclining their seats into your face when you do that.

Hopefully I’ll get some time to update again from San Francisco.

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2009 is upon us

In about…40 minutes, to be exact.

I’ve got a lot of things to say right now, but between my last-minute shopping, packing and watching random Daily Show clips, I’ve got a bit of a headache. I’ll pen down some thoughts later, but for now…

Happy New Year 2009 to all my friends and colleagues. Make the most of it.

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OMGWTF it’s Christmas

Damn you for sneaking up on me again this year. Not that it really matters since I don’t really celebrate it anyway. Besides, I’ve bought myself plenty of stuff this year already…I guess my iPhone can count as an early Christmas present to myself.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all, and especially to my colleagues and friends in Seattle who seem to be enjoying (?) their second white Christmas in three years.

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Lion City Chronicles

Got back to Singapore two days ago. The flight was uneventful, and I managed to gather more data to support my hypothesis that turbulence only occurs at mealtime. I watched Iron Man and judged it worthy of all the praise it got when it was released – that’s one I’ll have to pick up on Blu-ray or DVD at some point. I also watched Get Smart, and I only really enjoyed Steve Carell’s performance (and Anne Hathaway’s presence) – the rest of it felt a bit trite.

So what have I been doing for the past few days?

  1. Meeting friends for dinner and catching up
  2. Trying to get my ancient (vintage 2004) laptop to run Half-Life 2 under Wine and failing (it runs the first game just fine, but then again that game actually had an OpenGL renderer)
  3. Putting time into Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
  4. Trying out some iPhone games (I Love Katamari and SimCity – and I’m not really impressed with either one)
  5. Troubleshooting computer issues (as always)

I’m hoping to buy some programming books and spend some time programming. I’ll probably start with the OpenGL Red Book since the Graphics professor I had in college was pretty terrible, and I’ve always wanted to revisit the subject in a more competent setting. I’ve also brought my copy of The Ruby Programming Language with me, in the hope of finally getting down to writing that IRC client I wanted to write.

I thought about getting a gaming laptop to play TF2 and L4D, but then I remembered that I have a perfectly good desktop computer that does that already. No sense buying something I’ll only use for a few weeks. Still, my ageing Dell needs a replacement…time to go shopping. I guess.

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It’s snowing outside

God damnit.

I hope the I-5 isn’t a giant ice-skating rink tomorrow.

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Entering the age of perpetual connectedness

As some of you might already know, I purchased an iPhone this past weekend. In fact, I’m composing this entry on that very iPhone…Wordpress already has a client available for it, which, much like their ubiquitous blogging platform, is free.

Overall, I like it; if I had to nitpick (and I do) I would point out the lack of an FM tuner (that NPR habit is hard to kick). You can listen to Internet streams of radio stations pretty easily, but cellphone networks being what they are, the quality of the stream isn’t too reliable. On top of that, the fact that you can only have one set of email and contacts synced at once is annoying (though not a dealbreaker). There are a few issues with the way the calendaring system interacts with Exchange as well.

After having spent just three days using the device, I have to say that the amount of convenience it provides is truly…frightening. This morning I found myself checking my email as I walked to work. To put things in perspective, I live two blocks away from my workplace. I’m starting to understand the mentality of the anti-Blackberry crusaders who decry it as an intruder into our private lives.

On another note, this weekend I’m flying back to Singapore on vacation for three weeks. I don’t have a way to play TF2 or L4D during this period, so let’s see how long it takes for me to go mad.

Of more concern to me is the possibility that the snow forecast for this weekend will mess with my travel plans, either by delaying my flight or by making it impossible for me to get to the airport. The latter occurred back in 2006 when I was here interviewing with Microsoft…an encore would really not be appreciated at all.

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I’ve been a little busy

This past week I was on call for my team. This past week was also Thanksgiving, and since I work for a company that is in the business of selling things to people, it was more than a little hectic for me.

In other words, being on call for a critical service at Amazon + Black Friday = PAIN.

I’ve been paged more times this week than any week I’ve worked at Amazon so far, and I spent most of the week working on an urgent fix requested by another team, one which necessitated that I load test our software to make sure that the fix didn’t affect performance adversely, and then spend hours on Saturday deploying the fix to our production boxes. On top of that I’ve had to attend early morning conference calls for high-velocity sales events (some of which you may have heard of). So yeah, I’m pretty worn out.

Still, while it does sound like I’m whining, I’m pretty happy that I was able to get through the week without any major problems on the site. The Amazon philosophy is to have all employees think like owners of the company, and given that we got through Black Friday without any major problems, as an owner, an employee and someone interested in customer experience I’m pretty happy.

I would be happier if we could ensure that sort of thing without driving the on call engineer nuts, though…

On a somewhat related note, I did manage to score 4GB of Corsair DDR800 RAM for the awesome price of $50 plus a $30 mail-in-rebate, and a copy of the PC version of Fallout 3 for $30 (both off Amazon, of course). I haven’t finished the first Fallout yet, but it’s already pretty clear that the third game is a vastly different beast from the first (and I’m not sure if it’s in a good way, either).

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My blog looks really squashed up at 1024×768

Vancouver is pretty gloomy this time of the year. I haven’t seen a single patch of sky yet.

I got to the embassy 30 minutes earlier than my appointment time but there was already a queue waiting for me. All things considered, it was a fairly anticlimatic experience; a 40-minute wait in a queue followed by a 20 minute wait to have my fingerprints taken, concluding with an uneventful interview. I was told my passport would be ready to be picked up the next day.

I met Oro for lunch after finishing up at the embassy, and had what I can only describe as a fun afternoon. After lunch he took me by train to an arcade located in the suburbs, where I finally got to play King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match. Needless to say, I really liked it. I got my ass kicked a whole bunch (mostly by a pretty good O.Yashiro/Rugal/EX Yamazaki player), but it was fun. It’s been ages since I stepped into a real arcade (2006 was the last time I stepped into Einstein’s in Austin), and it was awesome.

They also had a couple of Street Fighter IV cabs, and rather amusingly a Sengoku Basara X cab (which was naturally deserted). I didn’t try either of them, but SF4 looks pretty smooth in motion.

Tomorrow I hope to do a bit of sightseeing before picking up my passport. I wonder if the pub downstairs will be having an election night special or something…

(Oh, and the post title? I’m typing this from my old (circa 2004) laptop whose native res is 1024×768…the lowest resolution in which my blog is even readable)

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Leaving on a, uh, shuttle bus

I’ll be heading to Vancouver next week for what will hopefully be a brief trip to get my US work visa stamped. And before you ask, yes, I have to leave the US in order to get my visa stamped. No, it doesn’t make sense to me either.

I’ve heard horror stories of people who get stuck for weeks waiting for their passport to be returned to them…I have my fingers crossed that my interview goes smoothly.

This has pretty much been the only thing on my mind for the last month or so.

Otherwise, not much else is going on. Playing TF2 every night with Perfect Stranger and his friends, going to work as usual and otherwise pretending that my continued legal status in this country is not down to the decision of one guy in a building in Vancouver.

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I turned 24 today

Not much else I can say, really, other than to thank StyLe for the stuff he got me, and to thank my colleague Corey for the delicious cake she brought to work yesterday.

I’ve kind of fallen out of the habit of celebrating my birthday, because it always came around when I had midterms during college. In particular remember that I spent my 22nd birthday cramming for a Microsoft interview and an Econometrics exam at the same time.

(Yes, I know this post has nothing to do with KOFXII, but I’ll get to it next time)

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