Happiness (two kinds of ice cream!)
Mood: busy
Posted on 2007-12-07 15:28:00
Tags: essay happiness
Words: 229

A common trap to fall in is to assume that you will be happier and your life significantly better after event X happens. ("If I could just get that promotion...", "If I only had a puppy..", etc.) I've always tried to not do this because it leads to not trying to either make things better or be happy with where you are in life. There's always one more goal over the horizon that will finally make you happier. I've been reading The Happiness Project for a while and in a post today she linked to an article that articulated this point nicely.

At the same time, the truth is that sometimes big events do make you happier. I'm, say, 50% happier now than when we were living in Maryland, both for job and people reasons. I guess the difference is that it was a really big change, and that I didn't just give up on "being happy" while we were up there.

I guess I've been thinking about this some because of our discussions about getting a PlayStation 3. (mostly for Rock Band) Money aside, I was pretty reluctant for a little while because it has a very rich-kid or yuppie vibe around it. (to me anyway) But honestly, it's just a stupid video game system, it's not a reflection of my life or anything similarly out of proportion.


random WTF
Mood: amused
Posted on 2007-12-05 17:50:00
Tags: programming links
Words: 51

I don't usually post stuff like this, but this is possibly the best programming WTF ever. Add() reallocates memory each time (although I guess maybe the C# Array class does the doubling thing for you?), and Remove()...ow, my eyes! O(n^2) FTW.

The explanation at the end, of course, seals the deal.


Mood: worried
Posted on 2007-12-05 09:45:00
Tags: politics
Words: 226

The big news two days ago was that the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) (PDF summary) said that Iran stopped their military nuclear program in 2003. The big news yesterday was that President Bush held a press conference (I'd love to see a transcript including questions, but can't find one) in which he said Iran is still a threat. Which, of course, is possible, given that our NIEs have been wrong before (e.g. the one in 2005 that said Iran still had an active nuclear military program), but it's scary that he seems to just believe this even when our "most authoritative written judgments on national security issues" go against him. (he said a few things in the press conference that really drove this home; he believes it no matter what anyone else says, it seems) Also, there's some weirdness where Mike McConnell (the Director of National Intelligence) said there was some big news in August but didn't tell him what the news was and he didn't ask and didn't find out until October. That's mildly frightening.

Totally unrelated (or is it?), Gmail released support for colored labels and AIM integration, so you can chat on AIM through Google Chat. Neat! You may have to sign out and back in to see the changes. (I think they're being rolled out a little bit at a time)

1 comment

weekend update
Mood: okay
Posted on 2007-12-02 18:43:00
Tags: movies music projects house
Words: 332

Friday started pretty crappily (as I noted), then we went to see Beowulf 3D with people. It was better than I expected - I guess 3D technology has come a ways since I last saw it. The movie was pretty typical action fare, except it was all motion capture CGI-y. It was pretty well done - you could tell most of the time that the characters weren't real actors, and some of the emotions didn't come through as well as they could have, but not bad.

The music was also surprisingly good - the few themes they used are pretty catchy, and the "main" song was sung during the end credits by Idina Menzel! (the original Elphaba in Wicked)

Saturday was spent being cranky for a large part of the day for various reasons. We did get to start Super Mario Galaxy which is a lot of fun, and hang out with wildrice13 in the evening. I worked on my arena rating graph which is coming along nicely - got some statistics to show. (did you know we are much better against teams with 0 mages than teams with 1 mage?) Next step is making it so you can choose criteria (say, matches where the opponents had at least one hunter and paladin that we played in Blade's Edge) and show statistics based on that. Should be fun.

Today was church and then house-hunting. After talking for a while about the way things work (helpful if a bit long), we looked at 6 houses. Unsurprisingly, our top choice was one that looked kinda OK on paper, and our #1 choice on paper was OK but not great (and is under contract anyway so we can't buy it). I took a ton of pictures that hopefully will help us remember the one we liked. It was pretty good but not super amazing or anything. I guess in the future we'll just get more listings from our agent and periodically look at more houses. It's a bit anticlimactic.


weird dreams
Mood: busy
Posted on 2007-11-29 10:19:00
Tags: dreams
Words: 245

I had some weird dreams last night (didn't sleep well). The one that just popped to mind was one where djedi and I were walking through a parking lot and there were some Boy Scouts. It was a busy parking lot (we were waiting to take a cab somewhere) and in a group were 5 or 6 Hispanics, and one Boy Scout called them "illegal immigrants", which really bothered me so as I walked by I hit him in the nose and pretended it was an accident. Then I felt really bad, because hey, he's just a kid. Later I 'fessed up to djedi.

Then we took a cab except there was no cab so it was a school bus and a 90 year old woman decided to drive all of us places. Then she drove 85 mph through a construction zone, swerved off the side of the road, and suddenly we were in free-fall. I said "I love you" to djedi before we were going to die, except at this point I was starting to realize that this was a dream and I "woke up", and then we went to a school class in this huge office building and everyone else was turning in their book reports and I had read my book but not written a report, so I panicked.

I've read somewhere that describing your dreams is pointless because it always comes out muddled and senseless. They can be kinda interesting though :-)

1 comment

Dear router,
Mood: irritated
Posted on 2007-11-28 18:47:00
Tags: rant
Words: 43

Yes, I know you cut out occasionally even though I haven't complained about it. Please stop. Lines like this:

Nov 28 18:22:31 cantor kernel: r8169: eth0: link down
Nov 28 18:22:33 cantor kernel: r8169: eth0: link up

are pretty darn indicative you're rebooting.


Dear internet,
Mood: irritated
Posted on 2007-11-28 18:44:00
Tags: rant
Words: 65

If you have a "Remember me" box to log in, please do so. It makes me more irritated to have it not work (and therefore wonder "Am I even at the right site?") than to not have it at all.

P.S. Yes, I know that these things work on cookies that can be deleted. I, however, am lazy and don't clean through mine. Excuse rejected.


i dunno, stuff and such
Mood: bouncy
Posted on 2007-11-27 13:17:00
Tags: music house worldofwarcraft
Words: 433

Busy week! Last night was a WoW raid (more on that below), tonight is game night, Wed. is a church thing and Thurs. I'm probably going on a Rice recruiting dinner thing.

The past weekend at home was nice, albeit a bit busy. And I could have done without the rain. We did manage to assemble a new grill for my dad. I'm getting a little tired of the drive to Houston - if you count the renaissance festival last weekend (you drive all the way to Brenham and then some more) and if I drive on Thursday that will be 3 trips back and forth to/from Houston in less than three weeks. Oh well.

We're going to look at houses on Saturday! Exciting stuff.

I finally broke down and bought the Beach Boys's (that's the correct punctuation, right grammar folks?) album "Pet Sounds". (I say "broke down" because we have very few magazines in our bathroom and the one that's always open is mental_floss and it's always open to the article about Masterpiece #98, which is that album) I bought it from the Amazon MP3 store which I'm starting to love for convenience and pricing. ($8 for the whole album!) Anyway, it has some catchy songs but overall I'm not as impressed...maybe my expectations were high after reading it was #2 on Rolling Stone's top 500 albums of all time. It's growing on me a little as I listen, but not as much as I would have hoped. Also, I have 0 of the top 25 albums on that list (well, except for "Pet Sounds" now). Shameful? Maybe.

So the last (and first) time we went to Zul'Aman, we had to take a PuG offtank, and so we wiped many times on Nalorrak (the bear boss), and finally downed him after like 3 hours. Since we had our real offtank last night, we thought we'd try to do it in 20 minutes. (for "extra" loot, meaning two pieces instead of one) We engaged him within 20 minutes, barely, but apparently you have to kill him within 20 minutes to get the loot...since it takes us 8 minutes to kill him, that will be difficult.

Anyway, we went ahead and tried Halazzi (the lynx boss). We wiped probably 20+ times trying it...we did make some progress, getting him to 70% once, but no better. Pretty frustrating, all in all. We discussed some strategies at lunch (wings!) that will probably help, but we might just try Akil'zon (the eagle boss) instead, whom we thought we were headed towards last night. He's supposed to be easier.


united way iPhone giveaway - bleck
Mood: blah
Posted on 2007-11-26 14:18:00
Tags: rant
Words: 113

I just got a second email reminding me that if you donate to the United Way now, you're entered to win an 8GB iPhone. Color me unimpressed. Doesn't it seem kinda backwards to entice people to donate money with a prize? Maybe McElroy Translation (who donated the prize) should have just donated the money it cost to buy it - it's not like Apple donated it or anything.

Worse yet, this sets up the idea that you're not donating; you're buying a chance at the iPhone. Will you be so eager to donate when there's no possible reward?

(I understand this is a cranky attitude about it, and probably it's not a big deal)


unsurprisingly, I don't actually have meningitis
Mood: full
Posted on 2007-11-22 23:26:00
Tags: health
Words: 11

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, yeah. My neck feels almost all better today.


oww, my neck!
Mood: pain
Posted on 2007-11-21 10:22:00
Tags: health
Words: 271

Apparently Monday night I slept on my neck funny and woke up with it stiff as all hell. Took some Advil to get me through the day, which helped a lot and it lasted all day, I think.

Yesterday I woke up with it feeling pretty damn painful again. Took an Advil when I got up and that helped for a good long while. I noticed the pain wasn't exactly in my neck but more in my left shoulder. Lasted most of the day until midway through our second Monopoly game, so I took some more Advil before bed. Sleeping with this thing is quite challenging, since very slight movement in my head sometimes leads to sharp pain, and it's unclear exactly which movements will or won't cause that.

Woke up this morning: it hurt. Oh, it hurt. Now that I took Advil it's manageable but I'm not sure it's actually getting better.

djedi pointed out that it could be meningitis, so I just did a little WebMD checking:

- A stiff and painful neck, especially when you try to touch your chin to your chest.
Hmm, let me try to touch my chin to my chest. Ow! OK, not doing that again.

None of the other symptoms fit (I did feel a little bit dazed yesterday, which might correspond to "trouble staying awake", but I don't really think so), so hopefully it's nothing.

Also, I like this bit of wisdom:

What causes meningitis?

Viral meningitis is caused by viruses. Bacterial meningitis is caused by bacteria.

Heading to Houston after work today. Hopefully if it is meningitis I won't infect anyone else...


house-hunting: part 2 of 5000
Mood: optimistic
Posted on 2007-11-20 11:01:00
Tags: house
Words: 136

So we've been emailing back and forth with our buying agent (thanks onefishclappin!) and she sent us a list of houses to look over. Observations:

- It looks like our price range is indeed reasonable.
- The locations of the houses are clustered in a few places: near 183 north of where it hits mopac, east of mopac south of 183, and a few out on 360 (too far away) and near parmer (too far north for my liking but possibly doable)
- It's kinda hard to get a good feel from a house from a bunch of words and a few pictures.

There are some promising candidates on the list but overall it's good to know that we can afford a house near where we want to live. I suppose we'll start touring houses next week or so.


iTunes rating analysis! Portal, TexRenFest.
Mood: uncomfortable
Posted on 2007-11-19 09:58:00
Tags: pictures music itunesanalysis projects links
Words: 322

I'm "officially" releasing the iTunes Rating Analysis after making a few last minute tweaks. Unfortunately you have to be at your home computer (or whatever computer your iPod is synced to) to use it, but you can at least see see my analysis, complete with fancy charts! Not being able to use it at work means it'll probably be significantly less popular than the WoW Frost Mage DPS calculator (currently the most popular page on my site by a factor of 2 or 3 or so), but that is OK.

We bought and played through Portal this weekend, which is a first person puzzle game and pretty darn fun (and pretty short). The end credits song is extremely cute and catchy, and it's sung by the passive-aggressive computer who's talking to you for the whole game. The song was written by Jonathan Coulton (here's his blog post about writing the song) who happens to have lots of music available for download! So I'll probably check that out this week. Edit: live version of Jonathan Coulton performing "Still Alive" - there's cake!

wildrice13, abstractseaweed, quijax, djedi and I went to the Renaissance Festival on Saturday. David and I were going to see the Bolton's renewal of vows (here are the few pictures that I took - we participated in the ceremony so I didn't want to interrupt too much :-) ) which went well except for their not letting us do it at the festival proper (the words used were "unauthorized wedding" which I found amusing), so we went out to the parking lot and had a nice ceremony. The trip back wasn't so great - we got stuck in the parking lot as everyone else was leaving and then there was an accident 10-15 cars in front of us just as we were about to get to 290, so we didn't moved for half an hour or so. Ugh.

I slept on my neck funny. It hurts.


charts and tables and stuff
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2007-11-15 13:03:00
Tags: itunesanalysis links
Words: 228

Your results:
You are Derrial Book (Shepherd)

Derrial Book (Shepherd)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Inara Serra (Companion)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
River (Stowaway)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
Even though you are holy
you have a mysterious past.

Click here to take the Serenity Firefly Personality Test

I've added a few things to the latest iTunes Rating Analysis, the most of exciting of which is the Summize-style charts! Now for each artist and album you can see at a glance the distribution of ratings. (and mouseover for the exact number) I also added the average rating of playlists, which in my case is pretty boring since most of my playlists are based on ratings. I still have some tweaks to do before it's done, but the charts make me really happy. :-)

Some links:

- The Nerd Handbook - not all of this is me, but some of it definitely is. ("The joy your nerd finds in his project is one of problem solving and discovery. As each part of the project is completed, your nerd receives an adrenaline rush that we’re going to call The High.")

- How to Win at Monopoly - tables and numbers! Partially based on more Monopoly tables and numbers. (via kottke)

- Funny headlines.


fun with cell phones
Mood: confused
Posted on 2007-11-12 14:19:00
Tags: phone
Words: 201

The last few days my cell phone alarm hasn't been going off in the morning. At first I thought we were sleeping through them with no memory of the alarm, but three days of that seems pretty improbable. Luckily we use djedi's cell phone as a backup, so all was OK. This morning I decided to "reboot" my phone (a Nokia 6010), after which my new message icon started blinking. It normally just show up un-blinky-like when I have a new message, but I checked the text messages and couldn't figure out how to make it go away. Finally I figured out that that meant it was full of text messages (why this didn't show up before I rebooted I have no idea) and deleted a bunch.

The fun part - the alarms I set for the past few days went off today (one at 9:30, one at 11:30). I guess it kinda makes sense that if the internal memory was full, it couldn't store the alarm (although wouldn't it just set aside a memory location for an alarm?), but clearly it remembered at least two of them. So the internal memory being full => can't fire an alarm? I have no idea...


when there's a smoke detector...
Mood: tired
Posted on 2007-11-11 14:54:00
Words: 620

djedi woke me up at around 5:25 this morning, asking "Do you hear that beeping?" Somewhat groggy, I listened, and indeed there was a soft but definite beeping coming from somewhere. We walked out of the bedroom and the noise got louder, and finally out on the balcony when it was pretty darn loud. It seemed to be coming from a building across the parking lot, and it was definitely an alarm from a smoke detector. We looked and didn't see any smoke or anything, but of course that doesn't mean that nothing was happening. Apparently it woke him up and had been going off for 5-10 minutes by this point.

So, we debated what to do. djedi reminded me that our complex has a number for after-hours maintenance emergencies, which seemed like a reasonable compromise between doing nothing and calling 911. I called the office number and listened to the various options for residents - there was "report an after-hours maintenance emergency", but there was also a "report a disturbance or loud noise", which seemed to fit the bill. I hit that option and it said to call the police. Hmm, OK.

Calling 311 seemed like the right thing to do, since it's the non-emergency version of 911 and useful if you're not sure whether to bother the "real" 911. (912?) I called and explained there was a smoke detector alarm going off for 10-15 minutes by this point and she straight away connected me to 911. Which made me feel better about the whole thing; I said "fire" and explained the situation. The guy said they'd send a truck out and to call back if we saw any flames or smelled smoke, etc. So I threw some clothes on, went downstairs to meet the truck and try to find the source of the noise. It turns out a high-pitched noise like that is fairly difficult to locate (the principle behind the ThinkGeek Annoy-a-tron), but eventually I found the apartment, which was indeed across the parking lot. Oddly enough, the sliding door, a window, and the water heater closet were all open.

The truck showed up in around five minutes (just as it rolled up the beeping stop and I thought we would be made fools of, but then it started again), and I pointed them to the source of the beeping. At that point I kinda wondered how they had gotten through the gate (do they have some kinda magic clicker that rotates through frequencies? doesn't that mean that gates are pretty insecure?) and how they would get in the apartment. Awesomely enough, a guy pulled out a big ladder and climbed on the roof and stepped over to the balcony, then went to let the other people in (there were 5 of them total). They seemed to be searching the apartment, then came out to the balcony again and fiddled with something and the infernal beeping stopped! Hooray!

The guy explained that the apartment was undergoing renovation, and the smoke detectors (two of them) were sitting out on the balcony, and the dust and drywall particles must have settled on them and set them off. (smoke detectors detect particulate matter, not smoke specifically. News to me...) They left and we returned to bed, although it took me a while to actually get back to sleep.

The surprising thing was that that there's an apartment below them with a car parked outside, so apparently people were there and slept through it? I mean, that thing was loud - can't imagine honestly not being woken up by it. Although I guess they probably knew that there was no one in the apartment above...but there still could have been a fire, dagnabit!


arena rating graph
Mood: bouncy
Posted on 2007-11-09 14:51:00
Tags: netflixprize math projects worldofwarcraft
Words: 234

Went out to lunch today with WoW people and we talked about this neat idea for an Arena rating graph. So you start at a 1500 rating and every match you play you gain or lose 1-29 points, and it would be neat to see the progression of that as the season goes on. Also nice to see what composition of teams we're good against and which we're not, and the ratings of the teams we win or lose to. I'm having to try really hard not to just start writing down ideas here since it's not work-related :-)

My first thought was to do the graph in Flex, but I forgot that Flex Charting is a separate package that costs money. So I did some research and there are lots of options for this sort of thing (found this excellent article on interactive charts and graphs via del.icio.us). AmCharts looks like the best option, with FusionCharts Free close behind. I'll have to download and try them out at home; of course the hard part will be figuring out how to display all that data in a useful way.

Here's an excellent article on how Simon Fink's team got into the top 10 for the Netflix Prize - lots of juicy juicy math. Makes me want to get back into that sort of thing, which would make three active projects at once, which is too much.


the router "saga" continues
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2007-11-08 10:02:00
Tags: worldofwarcraft links
Words: 142

(it's much less of a saga than the stupid washer)

Anyway, the wireless cutting out problem keeps happening with our Linksys 802.11n router, so I'm returning it today for the apparently more reliable DLink one. Here's a nice review of 802.11n routers that fartingmonkey found - it also mentions weird cutting out issues, which makes me feel a little better.

destroyerj mentioned this neat 2D portal-ish flash game which is neat.

This plot of Japan's Phillips curve (unemployment vs. inflation) looks like Japan itself! Similarly, from the comments, a chart of annual tobacco consumption that looks like Virginia! So awesome. (via kottke)

Mage buffs coming! Hypothermia's back down to 30 seconds in 2.3, and apparently Ice Block will be trainable(!), some sort of buff for mana gems and maybe some more mana-related issues. (which are a real problem for me in longer fights)


I am incapable of finding colors that look nice together
Mood: blah
Posted on 2007-11-07 10:11:00
Tags: color itunesanalysis
Words: 75

This is a known issue ever since I'm growing up. I'm not actually color-blind (although people who kept calling my red shirt "pink" might disagree!), I just have no sense for color. "Queer eye" my ass. Anyway, here's my latest attempt at colors that look reasonable together. (the fact that colors look very different on my Linux box at home from my Windows machine here doesn't help) I used this color scheme generator to help.


iTunes ratings analysis - what looks nicer?
Mood: loved
Posted on 2007-11-05 10:37:00
Tags: pictures itunesanalysis projects poll
Words: 81

quijax and Todd and djedi and I went to Enchanted Rock on Saturday - here are pictures. I am sore and out of shape, but it was a fun hike.

My next project will be smallish - sprucing up my iTunes ratings analysis and letting people do it on their iTunes libraries. I'm starting with the sprucing up part - here's version 1 and version 2 (for reference, here's version 3 which is the same as version 1 except with darker alternating background colors):


Mood: calm
Posted on 2007-11-02 10:53:00
Tags: quiz
Words: 70

Your Social Dysfunction:

You display social deficits and oddities of thinking. Your perception and communication are similar to those of a schizophrenic.

Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

Please note that we aren't, nor do we claim to be, psychologists. This quiz is for fun and entertainment only. Try not to freak out about your results.

To be fair I'm sooo close to normal! Oh well. You win again, "science".


Halloween pictures, etc.
Mood: busy
Posted on 2007-11-01 11:20:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 251

I put pictures from the Halloween party up. (they start at the bottom of that page)

So we bought a new router after suspecting problems with the old one. So far the wired connections don't drop, and it had the bonus of now I can access my website from my computer at a normal speed! (so the pictures took like 5 seconds to upload instead of the usual 10 minutes (no exaggeration!)) That makes me happy.

Making me less happy is that every 90 minutes or so the wireless will cut out and take a few minutes to come back. (the router is a Linksys WRT300N) At Fry's yesterday (when destroyerj was looking for a router) the sales guy said that Linksys's 802.11g routers are good, but he's gotten a fair amount of returns on the 802.11n ones. (like mine) I played with some wireless settings and it might have fixed the problem though - we'll have to see. Meanwhile I'm lusting over this Belkin N1 Vision which looks awesome. Luckily I'm not crazy enough to buy a extra router even if I'm infatuated with it :-)

When I was walking in this morning, I didn't see anyone around and thought about LJing how sometimes when that happens I think that I'm missing a meeting when that's almost certainly not the case. Lo and behold, when I got to my cube I had a note that everyone was in a meeting. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you...


things are already better!
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2007-10-30 12:52:00
Tags: work
Words: 80

I had a little trouble getting to sleep last night but I'm thinking that's because I unwittingly had a cup of caffeinated tea like 5 minutes before bed. (unwittingly referring to "caffeinated" here) Anyway I'm making some progress today which is better than yesterday, and I just feel more like I can do it. Plus I've been listening to good music, and I went to Tacodeli for lunch which I really missed. And they have Maine Root Beer on tap!


clue solver done!
Mood: proud
Posted on 2007-10-28 16:59:00
Tags: projects cluesolver
Words: 185

So we played another game of Clue yesterday with wildrice13 and abstractseaweed and despite the fact that the clue solver declares it inconsistent, I'm going to be optimistic and assume I wrote something down. Also fixed a few bugs and added a special case for a weird situation that came up. (I knew David had Conservatory or Ms. White, and Andrew had Conservatory or Ms. White, so no one else can have either of those cards) Thinks like that would have made using first-order logic or propositional logic nicer (since it would have presumably taken care of them automatically), but oh well.

Thus, I am declaring the Clue Solver done! Put a few example games up so you can load them and see how they work. (and the pretty colors on the simulation tab!) Been working on it for a while so it's nice to have it done. I'll take a little while off (what with starting work and all) and see what I feel like doing next. I do feel like I got a decent handle on the Google Web Toolkit, so that's nice.


more washer fun
Mood: annoyed
Posted on 2007-10-25 14:42:00
Words: 123

So last Saturday finally the Sears guy came and quickly diagnosed what was wrong with the washer (incompetent movers unhooked the drum somehow and it fell on all the electronic stuff below it. So it'll cost a few hundred to fix, fine, whatever.

He had to order parts for it and so made the earliest possible appointment to come and fix it, which was next Friday, November 2. That day didn't work for us so he said to reschedule when we got the parts in.

Parts came today, I rescheduled for the earliest Saturday they had, which was November 10. That makes a total of 32 days from calling in service to (God willing) repair. This does not make me a happy panda.


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