Friday, December 29, 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cold Weather

"Did you have to add any coolant to your car recently?" - MINI Rep.
"No." - Me
"Oh, I was wondering what these spots were" (pointing to the little white specs covering the engine) - MINI Rep.
(looks over) "Road Salt." - Me
"They do that?" - MINI Rep.
"Yeah, like I said, I'm from Chicago, it was snowing the day I left." - Me

"Oh." - MINI Rep

*laughing* - Me

*funny look* - MINI Rep

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Family History

On my last trip home I spent an evening with my Aunt and we talked about family history. Its disappointing how little my family know or keeps in contact with the other branches. Its a pretty *interesting* tree and I can see why it is that way. I have some notes I've compiled and I do plan on getting them together in some coherent form. We also have hundreds of photos and some audio and video. I think a project of mine in the near future will be to digitize and organize all these little things that describe my family.

Good Job

A good friend of mine is graduating in December and he's the first of my group ofriends to do so. Funny that he's 2 year younger than I am and two years ahead of me in school. Smart kid, let me tell you.

Another of my good friends is finally getting his life in order. Soon he'll figure out what he wants to do with his life. Working and school is tough and you have to balance what you can tolerate quite precariously. Spend the wrong amount of time in one or the other and both will suffer. Even if the ratio tends towards work thats okay because at least you're making progress. Congrats.

Some kids want to be astronauts or ninjas or doctors when they grow up. For as long as I've known this guy he's wanted to make games and he is finally doing it. Its great to see him legitmately happy about something and not just ranting and raving as people expect of him.

I have to give accolates to my brother though I've spoken to him so little as of late. He's getting had is act together for a while now (well better than in the past) and he's been a far better son to my Mom and Dad than I have in recent memory.

Props go to my little sister for going through high school with out a problem I can see.

My Mom is pretty awesome too -- She's gotten through cancer which though is something a whole lot of people have faced it is still a challenge.

My Dad's been hit by his share of problems lately and it seems that he's really good about keeping up his spirits and keeping focus on what he really cares about.

A hearty well done to everyone I know . . . we all face problems day to day and the fact that we're still around means that we're winning.

Bye Bye Chicago Part 2

I need to send out an apology . . . well not so much that as an explaination. First off, I'm happy to have been away for 8 months. I'm even happier that I'm moving away for a long time. I don't regret the former and expect to continue to be happy about the latter in a couple of year's time. I haven't kept in contact with people because I've been busy and a 12 hour time mismatch makes it difficult -- I'm lazy. There is another reason. I don't like talking on the phone all that much. I guess except when there is nothing else to do. So what I do is I send emails. People don't respond to them. Even people I would have expected to I get no reply or something filled with so little content that continuing a conversation is impossible. I guess it's my just reward since I should call people who abhore writing as much as I dislike chitchatting. I have to give special props to my dad who is as far from an acidemic as you could imagine and a technophobe to boot but who has regularly written me over the past eight months. Maybe being in California instead of Taiwan will make IM more viable and I can talk to some people I have been negligent in contacting. l can't say I will miss a whole lot when I move to california i I can say that there is not much I will miss when I leave Chicagoland for good -- As long its taken into account that I have friends who I keep in contact with who live an 11 hour drive away. A four hour flight is almost 1/3rd that time. I will always have my friends and family. I guess that can be a speculative statement afterall who says anyone will like me when I turn into a Californian. I think that my friends enjoy my company as much as I value theirs. I don't mean that in a pompus sort of way, simply that my idea of a friendship is a fully recirpocal one and I think we're all doing our part.

Bye Bye Chicago

This was written about 2 weeks ago on my return from Taiwan.

I'm on an airplane between SFO and ORD. I'm on 500mg of Vicodin because I sprained my ankle the night before last attempting to rock climb. I'm not listening to music right now because my iPod was swiped off my desk the same night I decided it was a good idea to try to climb up a wall. My attempt to upgrade to Business class failed. I lost my drivers license (then found it.) I lost my wallet (then found it.) All the halloween parties I had chances to go to are no longer valid because I can't drive into the City and I had to leave SF. My friends are busy all weekend long and a couple members of my family are seriously il. All in all this has been a poor couple of days. My car insurance isn't active so I shouldn't drive until Monday.

I guess I can't complain much more than that though. I just spent eight months in asia, I have only 2.5 pages left in my passport I've gone so many places. Japan, Taiwan, China (well, Hong Kong) and the US (it still counts!). I got a promotion and the transfer I've been dreaming about for two years. I (might) have found a great place to live in a pretty cool neighborhod in SF. In the past couple of months I've made some new friends who are pretty cool and I gained back one friend who I thought for sure hated me. I am going to have the chance to drive across the country (maybe) next week with some cool people too.

For me things are going amazingly well (sore ankle and stolen iPod aside). Unfortunatly the rest of my family is not doing so well. I don't really know how to deal with some of the things that are going on and some of the problems I wish would just finish: whether a good or bad outcome, knowing would have a large weight lifted off of a bunch of people's shoulders and would provide me with the capacity to be of some use.

In two weeks I'll be going to an Rx Bandits show that I'm super excited about but moving around at the show will probably be a pain (literally) -- its a fest with multiple stages.

Eight months in Taiwan has felt both like an instant and an eternity. It wasn't until I made my last trip to the US that I realized how much things were changing in the time I was away and made me realize how much I needed to get back on the same side of the planet as my friends and family. On the other hand, I scarely realize that i was in Taiwan for so long. Sometimes I think back to a couple of months ago and realize that I'm thinking of the end of 2005 and not summer 2006. Its a pretty odd experience trying to trace together a timeline everytime you have to jog your memory back to figure something out.

I'm still a fat ass. I tried to get off on the right foot in SF by eating reasonably (despite amazing food at corp) and by trying to get some excersize. Unfortuantly I fell on the foot and it is no longer right. Well, I guess it should be usable in a couple weeks and the daily mile walk to the shuttle stop should do well for my big fat belly.

Its going to be tough moving across the country but with intant communications available and sleeping schedules not totally reversed I'll be better able to stay in contact with people. Plus, everyone wants to visit California someday, I'm an excuse to get there.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rx Bandits

I went to see Rx Bandits at Riottt today, they were awesome but I could tell something was missing with out Steve Borth playing with them. I told Steve Choi that they performed a great set and told Matt Embree that I really appreciated the heart he puts into the music and I thanked him a lot. I felt like saying "oh my god! oh my god! its them! its them!" and the squeeling but I resisted.

In SF

There is a very good reason you'll be seeing me on Google Talk more often than I've been on in the past 9 months. I finished my assignment in Taiwan.

About one week ago Josh and I started an adventure that has now completed its first week. We drove across the country to move me to San Francisco. Its finally happened. I now live on thw west coast and I've even learned some new gang signs to signify my entry into the posse.

As far as writing goes, I hope this week will be the exception rather than the norm. I have a lot of things to say but moving has caught me quite strongly.

What have I done this week then?

Friday and Saturday were, of course, a wash. Josh and I drove . . . then we drove some more. Then I got a speeding ticket in Nebraska. Then we drove some more and found ourselves in San Francisco. Fancy that! The first night (and second even) we crashed at my friends' place while I did my best to show Josh the parts of the city that I alreday knew -- not much.

On Sunday morning after Josh and I helped my roommates move in we wandered. First we went to Haight/Ashbury what is widely regarded as the defacto hippie neighborhood in San Francisco despite havina a GAP and Ben & Jerry's store on said corner. We went to Ameoba which is quite possibly the coolest record store ever. Then it was time for lunch where we randomly stopped in at Asquew and had some tasty food.

Next stop was the ocean where Josh and I walked the beach and agreed that it was big, blue and somewhat cold. We did not agree about wearing shoes on the beach. I did. He didn't. I was the victor as I had no sand on my feet nor sand in my shoes.

The last stop before dinner was a visit near the Golden Gate bridge. Nothing interesting to report about that except that the view is pretty nice. Afterwards we got lost and ended up stopping by another friend's place to grab a suitcase I had left there a week earlier.

Dinner was quite aawesome too. We went to a tapas like restaurant Diana sugested but the portions were more like large appitizer size than tiny dishes like I typically know tappas as. The food was quite excellent though.

That was about it for the night. The constant moving and a lot of walking on Sunday pretty much burned us out at 10pm. We tried to watch a movie but we all fell asleep.

I felt like a zombie on Monday -- if only I had someone's brains to eat. We got bagels in the morning from my new favorite place Katz' Bagels then I drove Josh to the airport and we said or farwells to "Across the country in 1.5 days."

Later that afternoon I helped Francisco unload the truck, it was the least I could do: He did drive it with my stuff in it across the country while I was lucky in my Mini.

Its now Friday and there are many things I still haven't accomplished namely getting a bed, getting some shelves, doing laundry, scheduling a tuneup and much much more that I don't care to write here.

As far as interesting things I did during the week there wasn't much. Diana and I went to see Manhattan at the Red Vic movie house. That was fun.

Wedesday I went to Wal Mart to buy some mundane things and on Thursday I took it easy. Today is Friday and there is a party tonight, a concert tomorrow, and something setting-up-my-place related on Sunday.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Perhaps I'm not a Foodie

People have often laughed at my love of a good dish. My family will usually ask "Where are the food photos," as I update them on pictures from recent trips. Friends will laugh when I tell them one of the reasons I'm moving to California is the food that Google provides. Its true. I love my food.

I'm no foodie though. I just spent a long time in Asia but I come back and I have to say that the amazing dishes there were comparible to the amazing dishes here. I'm confident in this assessment and realize its folly to think otherwise. Just because you leave a big mass of land and go to another big mass of land doesn't mean your culinary skills go away. The challenge I'd have to say is finding the right ingredients and keeping up with the freshness of some parts that make a meal so exciting.

I ate at the Tsjuki (sp?) Fish Market in Tokyo recently and we has Tuna Sashimi. It was stellar. The temura prawns were great too. Hands down, the tuna was the best sashimi I had ever had but it wasn't that far off from a couple of pices I've had in the past. The prawns were excellent, but you can't do much with fried food to make it stand above the rest.

Probably the coolest meal I ate while in Tokyo was at Nakamura Gen and it was cooler then I expected. The place is on the second floor of a residential apartment building. On the first floor is a clothing cleaner and when you miss the entry and end up on the third floor you stare down a standard apartment hallway. We did that. So going back down the stairs we notice an unmarked door, the only door on this thing I wouldn't even call a floor. Matt and I are a bit scared when I start to pull the handle. Are we in the right building? We weren't positive we were. Would we cause a scene? Possibly, it was Simoneau and I . . . we like to cause a ruckus. Anyways, we open the door and there is what looks like a standard restaurant kitchen. Small though seated behind a perhaps 10 person red countertopped bar. To the right of the entry way were three five-person capacity tables also vibrant red. The hostess who was also the waitress and part time cook showed us two steps foward to the bar and handed us a menu. It was entirely in Japanese. Hard to pick what to order when you don't know what you can get. With a good bit of hand motions, broken english and a couple drawings we had come to the agreement that she would bring us Asahi beer to drink and some dishes for us to eat.

This is dangerous you might say . . . the terror, the horror! Who knows what would end up on our plate! It could be a cat so the joke goes. . . the joke by the way kind of offends me in a why-should-you-be-offended-sort-of-way. The first dish was a small plate of veggies and what looked to be a ginger-fermented-soy bean concoction. It was tasty! Another dish was medium rare chicken, well it was supposed to be. We figured out a way to say "Cook it a bit more," and when it came to us it was incredible. The meat fell off the bone and into my mouth. Another dish was simple. Just some cooked Eggs. I left that plate to Simoneau while I consumed another pint of Asahi. (I blame all the beer for my belly.)

Sheesh, its only been a week and I've forgetten the other dish we had. It too was delicous but I can't remember what it was. Perhaps its better that way. I can't feel nausiated about something if I can't remember.

In any case, we headed down to Shibuya for the night and walked around. We stopped in a bar for a drink and debated hitting the club scene. Neither Matt or I felt so inclinded so at 10 to midnight we hopped a subway train back to our hotel. This is where food escapade two comes careening back. We got up to the room and Matt was out in moments. I couldn't sleep so I grabbed a book ("On the Road") and my iPod and was off. I walked around for a while trying to find an interesting street we had found the night prior. I eventually made my way there and stepped inside the first of the bars for the night. 8 USD gone and a terrible GandT latter I exited that bar and found another.

This one was lively as close to to the type of bar we know in America as possible only asian and not an "american bar." This place was Japanese through and through - 60 different kinds of Sake on the wall and a menu full of unedibles but some very tasty looking dishes as well. I tarted off with a Sake. Much like the previous endevor; a variety of hand movements and broken English brought a cup of saki to me. It was pretty neat. It comes in a glass cup a bit smaller than a can of soda with a foil top. Pop the top, drink away. Remember, don't try and sit down. This place had no seats.

I started drinking, reading and simply listening and enjoying the atmosphere (there was a guy with a "The Clash," pin on). Soon the smells from the grill in front of me got to my nostrils and it was time for me to order. Luckily they had an English food menu and I told them I wanted a skewer of chicken. I twas tasty. By this point the saltyness of the barfood had me order another Sake. Surely I was getting a second because of the salt. Getting smashed was a bonus.I recieved my second Sake cup and placed an order for a second chicken skewer. Tasty but still not filling. After more pages of Sal's somewhat annoying admirationnn of Dean's adventuring debacles I ordered a pork/asparigus skewer and a grilled rice ball. Wow. Grilled to perfection with some spices I've not tasted before. Combined with a sweeter than before Sake I was totally revelling in the fact that I was there. Drinking, reading and eating. Not much more in the world I enjoy more.

Its odd. You travel to a country and your first thought is to try all the things you've had in the states that were just amazing. Well, my opinion is that you should skip that. The really good food in the states . . . is really good. If you've had an amazing spring roll at random restaurant Q in the states, getting one in asia isn't going to be much better.

After these experiences I've found that you really need to try the local cuisine when you travel. While you can get some duds at least you've tried something new. I suggest waving your arms wildly and trying to convince your waitress that indeed you are not crazy and that it *is* in the best intrest of both parties for her to go ahead and order for you.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The old ones are the good ones.

Thanks to a couple of friends of mine, I've recently changed the focus of my movie seeing to target more classical films. Though today's movies are good by today's standards and some are downright riviting its impossible to compare the in your face delivery of today's films with the suaveness of early filmmaking. I like both types but I've seen so many modern films that it is a goal of mine to broaden my horizons.

Does anyone know of cool theatres in San Francisco or would anyone like to attend a showing of something ineresting this week while I'm in Chicago?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

On Sleeping

I can't. In the past five nights I:
  1. 1. Went to sleep at 10pm, woke up at 4am.
  2. 2. Slept okay.
  3. 3. Went to sleep at 1am, woke up at 7am.
  4. 4. Went to sleep at 1:20am, woke up at: 1:54, 2:45, 4:10, 5:24, 6:11, 7:12, 7:34, 7:55
  5. 5. Went to sleep at 10pm woke up at 4am . . . after taking vicodin even.

On Bangkok

I spent a weekend in Bangkok recently. I stayed at The Lebua in the State Tower. Pretty nice place and awfully cheap. I would have to say the weekend was marred by the people we ran into in the city. To me it felt like everyone was out for a scam. There were few legitimate people I ran into and a large number of people trying to scam. It seems that people have been so abused there that instead of trying to earn a living honestly and with good work that they have to connive. I'm sure at some point the earnest hardworking people in Bangkok died off when tourists and a poor economy failed to give them the pay they deserved.

On the other hand, the food in Thailand was excellent. Though I was surprized. I will admit we used "The Good Book," (A Lonely Planet guide). The places we ate at ranged from pretty good to amazing but there was nothing aside fromm some gianormous prawns that I haven't had in the US. Some would say it is because I went to touristy places but it was simliar in Taiwan.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Shamu Day '06

Today was a good day for a swim and we decided that it would be fun to bring Shamu along with us. This is in front of the data center I'm working at in Taiwan.

Update! Shamu Day 2007!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

blogging about blogging.

Wow, September was a very active month for me, blogging-wise. It was also pretty fun. October is turning out to be better than September was even. I've been to Thailand and I am going to Tokyo this weekend. Then I'm leaving Taiwan for good and heading to San Francisco for a week. Finally I'll reach home where I'll take up residence for a week then head back to SF to find a place to live.

Exciting!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

lots of traveling

In about 130 weeks of working at Google, I've been out of Illinois at least 59 weeks.

Neat.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I'm moving to California.

So what does this mean?
  1. I will rapidly use up the 50k frequent flier miles I've racked up on these crazy trips to Taiwan.
  2. I will be living in a box in a city. I am hoping for a refrigerator size box and am looking at spending only around $2500 a month. Hopefully my loan request will be accepted so that I can afford the double layer cardboard boxes. If you know anyone in San Francisco who is looking for a box roommate, let me know; I'm interested. Said location needs to have a fast Internet connection. Preferably 15mb/s
  3. I'm going to be driving across the country in my car. I'm going to need some help. I'll cover: food, fun, drink, fun and sleeping and a flight home. My Dad already volunteered though. I'm thinking I'll need another two people if my moving doesn't sync up right with another Googler's (Francisco) move.
  4. I've never lived in my own place before. I will have to do my own cooking. This sounds like disaster.
  5. San Francisco has terrible weather. If you come visit bring pants and jackets, not just shorts and t-shirts.
  6. I'm moving in late November. Sorry its so sudden, I've only been talking about moving for two years.
  7. I will be selling/giving away things. Yay!
  8. Tech support from cali is almost as difficult as tech support from Taiwan.
  9. I will have more things to say later.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Harold and Maude

Interesting movie, very heartwarming. I recommend it. Good soundtrack. I liked how everything was presented so deadpan; it really changed my reaction to it.

Harold and Maude

Coming home October 27th.

The way things are looking, I will be leaving Taiwan for the last time the week of Oct 22nd. I will be in California for a couple days and then back home at the end of the week . . . for some amount of time not yet determined.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Following a "meme."

history|awk '{print $2}'|awk 'BEGIN {FS="|"} {print $1}'|sort|uniq -c | sort -nr |head -n 10
   5077 ls
   4821 cd
   3271 vi
   2689 sudo
   2340 ssh
   1731 while
   1639 echo
   1545 ping
   1248 while:;
   1034 inet

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Andy almost exploded.

Ever see an electrical explosion? How about caused one? Andy did.

Monday, September 18, 2006

i told you...

I told Francisco I was being an asshole. He knows. Now he knows again.

I'm an asshole today.

Sucka.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

So worn out

Had a killer weekend. In all I went to 4 different bar/lounge places in Taipei and they were all pretty fun. From the commercial and expensive Barcode )Friday night) to the All you can drink Indo-China (Saturday night and Sunday morning .. 5am) the alcohol was flowing. I'm going to blame that on my lethargy today. We woke up late, walked around Longtan, got dumplings. . . . twice and sat around and wasted the night away surfing. Great times.

I met some really cool people this weekend. I wish I had met them earlier in my stay I bet my trip would have been that much better.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

ETJA (Estimated time of Joe arrival)

My adventure in Taiwan is ending at the end of October, I expect to be back in Chicago after that but for how long nobody knows!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Preflight speech on Veritas

“GOOD morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to welcome you aboard Veritas Airways, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray-table is stowed. At Veritas Airways, your safety is our first priority. Actually, that is not quite true: if it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing. But then hardly anybody would buy our tickets and we would go bust.
Amazing article from The Economist on what it would be like if flight attendants told the truth

from Gridskipper

I need you to do this

Someone, Please do the following for me and I will give you a high five and dinner when I get back.
  1. Go to my house. Find my "... And the Battle Begun" CD in my car.
  2. Rip it as 192 bitrate mp3s
  3. Upload them to my server joelapenna.com
  4. Anticipate a tasty dinner.
Anyone interested?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Friday, September 8, 2006

Promotion

I got a promotion at work and as soon as I leave Taiwan I will be working on a new team! I'm so excited. This is something I've been waiting 1.5 years for!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Google Shuttle!

In an effort to experience San Francisco, I took the Google shuttle today. The ride is very bumpy and combined with an already upset stomach the ride was not that pleasant. Otherwise though, the interior of this bus is nicer than the interior of any car I've been in. Plush leather chairs, granity (looks like) tables. Hotness.

nice room

Very nice room. Fancy. Like the kind you'd take to spend a weekend at. Old. Its better than a Sheraton.

The Hotel Majestic

On gmaps

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Things to know when returning to America

These are some things you should know when returning to America after a three month break.
  1. Don't stay in Taiwan an extra day. As cool as it might be . . . Don't. I had no choice, otherwise flights would have been twice as expensive, but the stipulation that I cannot enter Taiwan without a real VISA is a pain. Good thing thats the reason I came back to the States (to get a visa that is).
  2. Don't buy tea with the intent to drink it at the gate before boarding the airplane. They make you throw it out before you're even near the gate.
  3. If you go to bed early the night before, try and wake up early. In this case, I woke up at 4am. My goal is to be tired by the time I get on the NRT->LAX leg of my trip.
  4. Pack multiple laptop batteries. Makes mouths happy.
  5. Mmmm.... Smoked Ham & Mozz w/ pesto sandwich. Del.iclo.us
  6. Thanks for the carry on Andy + Sarah!
  7. Who doesn't get jet lag? This guy! Who didn't kill himself the night before the flight so he didn't get jet lag? This guy!
  8. Going to see a show Sunday night. Interested in going? http://www.wearethedead.com
  9. When your final destination involves three forms of public transportation, find a different way. You may end up staying at the bus station for 2 hours.
  10. The Mt. View CalTrain shuttle is not a shuttle. It is a large bus. It goes in the bus lane not in the shuttle lane. Caution the sign is small (10 inches tall by 30 inches wide.) so its hard to miss . . .

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

m'fin wifi on a m'fin plane

Wouldn't that be grand?

July has 31 days

For those of you who travel on exempt visa status, this is good to know. I was kicked out of Taiwan today. I can only go back if I get a visa. I was kicked out of Taiwan . . . how funny is that!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

2 O's of a well rounded breakfast

Burning

I'm not sure why but the past two weeks I've felt pretty burned out. At work i get bored, at home all i want to do is sleep. I cant wait untill i come home next week. Its hard to believe the summer is over already; I miss my family and friends in Illinois.

I haven't done much programming as of late and even at work i struggle to concentrate; this is especially bad because im heading to Mountain View to work on a big project and thy to transfer teams.

On another note, I just finished reading Cryptonomicon again and I think as a result im going to go to manilla next month for a weekend. I picked up On Intelligence again and will finish it this weekend. Then when i get to the states i have a $150 amazon books order waiting at my doorstop. On the plane home i think i'm going to "sprint" a project and see if i can get a demo together for one of my project ideas.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Google just released Music Trends, so if you use GTalk, you can set it to track the music you listen to and then see the results on Search History. Of course this is no where near as cool as last.fm, but I'm sure that soon enough it will have enough data to compete statistics wise with last.fm . . . a bad thing: last.fm is one of those services that I think is quite amazing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Social Networking site with an API!

Considering the only social networking site I've found the least bit usable is facebook it comes as no suprize that they've released an API for their site. I haven't taken a look, but I'm excited at the prospect of integrating facebook presence into my expanding realm of really-easy-to-get-in-contact-with Joe tactics I've been trying to implement. More news at 10!
Posted w/ n770

Hi... I can blog on the road now.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

interweb.

Molly: haha
youre actually in the jungle with an internet connection made from tin cans and string
me: No, i needed full duplex connectivity, so I ran 2 strings. ... The connectivity here blows.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Google Talk Shared Status

One of the more interesting but unknown features of Google Talk is "Shared Status." This allows multiple signons to have the same status message, so if you're logged in at home and at work both of your sign-ons can say "Hey! look at me." An added bonus though, is that if you set one of your clients to "Listening to Sinatra!." all of your clients will change.

The result of which is the ability to automatically change the status message of your normal signin with some automagical pythony goodness.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

I'm a fat ass

Its true. Excercise needs to be in my future. Taunt me please.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

MySpace Ninja

Someone registered one of my email addresses with MySpace yesterday. I deleted the account. They re-registered.

With access to the site, what do you think I should do to it? I was thinking of just modifying their profile to say silly things.

I can also put up incrimeninating photos of them dressed up as pirates (they registered an email address with ninja in it.)

I am going to think of something funny. Oh oh! I got it. Hundreds of google video videos. Thats it. I'll get right on that.

The Guy

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Friday, July 21, 2006

Monday, July 17, 2006

FVWM Fun!

Terminal Menu List

When I find that I'm frequently doing something like opening a terminal, then sshing into a specific machine, I'll usually add it to my terminal quick menu.

Key T           A       M       Menu MenuTermList
DestroyMenu MenuTermList
AddToMenu MenuTermList
+ "Terminal" Exec exec urxvt
+ "chibox" Exec exec urxvt -e ssh chibox
+ "joelapenna.com" Exec exec urxvt -e ssh joelapenna.com
+ "dexter" Exec exec urxvt -e ssh -fN dexter
+ "Python" Exec exec urxvt -e python2.4-ipython

I used to have Key T dedicated to opening a terminal window. I changed it up so that I am presented with a menu of different terminals I can start. This is so I can do something like: Alt+T,t and start a regular xterm; or Alt+T,p and start an ipython session. Say I wanted to add another menu option to the pop-up, opening a root window for example:

+ "Root" Exec exec urxvt -e su -

VIM keybindings

I use vim, so I'm used to the hjkl keybindings for fvwm too.

key h A M GotoPage -1p +0p
key j A M GotoPage +0p +1p
key k A M GotoPage +0p -1p
key l A M GotoPage +1p +0p

This says move down with j, left with l, h with right, and up with k.

Koolade man alt+tab

DestroyFunc WindowListFunc
AddToFunc   WindowListFunc
+ I WindowShade False
+ I Iconify off
+ I FlipFocus

Don't move the mouse cursor when I alt+tab to a window. I like my cursors moving around without my permission about as much as I like my kool-ade wearing tights. WindowListFunc is the function that deals with responding to an alt+tab selection.

Because using a mouse is so 1999

Key V           A       CM      FuncPasteXBuffer
DestroyFunc FuncPasteXBuffer
AddToFunc FuncPasteXBuffer
+ I Current (!HasPointer) WarpToWindow 50 50
+ I FakeClick press 2 wait 10 release 2

Fake a middle click via keypress. Press middle button, wait 1/10th of a second, release middle button.

Pretty Wallpapers

Colorset 10 TiledPixmap $[fvwm_wp]0.png
Colorset 11 TiledPixmap $[fvwm_wp]1.png

DestroyModuleConfig FvwmBacker: *
AddToFunc StartFunction I Module FvwmBacker

*FvwmBacker: RetainPixmap
*FvwmBacker: Command (Desk 0, Page * 0) Colorset 10
*FvwmBacker: Command (Desk 0, Page * 1) Colorset 11

I can't make up my mind about which wallpaper I want to use, so instead I have two wallpapers. One for the top row of my desktop and another for the bottom row. The Colorset lines allow fvwm to keep the pixmap of the background in memory so that its just a bitflip to show the wallpaper when you cange pages instead of a reload. . . . MUCH FASTER.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Title: Snippets

Since I missed the past few weeks:

  • Choke, by Chuck Palahniuk: Pretty cool idea, gets a little screwy about 2/3s in but redeems itself at the end.

  • Upgraded to Ubuntu Edgy, now my laptops broken

  • Went to Hong Kong

  • Ate some really really salty bad Hakka food

  • Tried squid eyeballs

  • Got puked on

  • Went to Luxy, Room 18, B1 and 9%. Room 18 and Luxy the first time were the best times out since I got back.

  • Spent a night at work. (Ugh, so busy)

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Hong Kong

It had been 30 days and my time was up in Taiwan. Time to head someplace new: Hong Kong. The trip was planned by one of my coworkers, Ray who along with Bill and Abe; accompanied me to the land of good Dim Sum, bad night life (well, the kind that we found) and sore feet. And some other things.

If you go to Hong Kong, it does not matter how many people you have. I would suggest that you do not under any circumstances take a taxi cab to your hostel. It costs about 90 USD and takes ninety-seven years.

We stayed on Hong Kong Island in Causeway Bay at Hong Kong Hostel. Our four bed room actually consisted of three beds and a cot so that was unfortunate. Luckily people were drunk enough that sleeping on it was not a problem.

When we got to the hostel, the attendant asked us if there was anything we were interested in doing that night. He suggested some area points randomly over there where we could watch Football. None of us were entirely excited about that prospect and one of us exclaimed that that was true. Instead, he asked the attendant if he knew of any places for dancing, "you know, girls music..." Now in most circumstances we're accustomed that could probably be a good description of a club. I don't think this is what the attendant interpreted our compatratiot's decription to mean and unbeknownnst to us we were soon on our way to (as per the corse when I'm traveling) the red light district.

When we arrived it was all too apaprent to us where we had found ourselves. We dropped into the most reputable bar we could find and started asking poeple and were directed to Wan Chan (XXX).

This place was pretty cool. Take a full city block, all four sides and have sit on a hill so that each side seems to sink lower and lower towards the bottom. We spent the majority of our time in a "Braziilian" place where I sucked down a few pretty decent mohjito.

Then it was decided that "we" were done with that place and it was time to find a club. When we found a place as per the usual people were apprehensive about going in. When I decided to break the "should we, we shouldn't" debate I approached the entryway and enter but I was far too uncool for them. In any case most of us (me at the peopel, others at the lack of dance clubs.) were ready to call quits on the evening.


Sleep


I woke up around 9am and spent the next few hours trying to get myself a VISA for mainland China so that when I go I'll be able to get in without worry. This didn't happen because I didn't have the right documentation although I did get to see 4 different China Travel Services offices.

I spent the rest of the pre-lunch-after-failed-visa-attempt time walking around without aim. My feet weren't even hurting yet at this point.

to be continued . . .

Monday, June 19, 2006

Don't drink too much

Drink too much?

Miss the fun

Thursday, June 15, 2006

hot prompt action

Don't you wish you had a bash prompt just like me?

Its in my .bashrc

Thats hot with two w's.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Going to China?

Chinese security personnel may place foreign government officials, journalists, and business people with access to advanced proprietary technology under surveillance. Hotel rooms and personal computing devices for these categories of visitors may be subject to search without the consent or knowledge of the traveler.
So says: US Citizen Services - US Embassy Beijing China

I'm going to China in a few weeks. Neat huh? I'm going to get spied on. Cool!

Maemo 2.0

Maemo is the software platform the Nokia 770 runs on. It is based on Debian and gtk with lots of great modifications for a handheld device. Nokia just recently released a beta version of its new software on maemo.org. There are a great number of detailed reviews already written.

The most prominent new feature of OS2006 is the inclusion of IM and VoiP capabilies through jabber by way of Telepathy and Galago. This is old news to anyone who has followed the development of 2.0.

There are screenshots in the above links for people looking at seeing the apps in action.

I am very pleased to see how well integrated presence/IM is into the existing functionality of the n770. For starters, I think the presence interface in the menu was a stroke of genius. It has an easy factor, which will make signing in not a chore. Though, I would like to be able to set available ("On") messages though in addition to Away status messages.

I also like the integration of contact management into the side menu.

Having been using the IM client (haven't tried voice yet) for the past day I would have to say that the following are my most desired features.

Although maemo integrates all my jabber contacts into my contacts database it does not populate that data with vCard information, which would be amazing. Instead I have to manually type people's names into the contact window. When you have hundreds of contacts this becomes quite a burden. Additionally, the left hand column in the chat view should contain all contact details for that user, their status message and other pertinent information.

Snippets

-Worked . . . A LOT! -Bike Ride! Sunday I took a morning ride for a couple hours around the area I live. I've never really explored it before. -Maemo 2.0 . . . Starting futzing with my n770 again -Read: Started reading On Intelligence, by Jeff Hawkins. Cool insight about how the brain works! -Action Figures! I bought some!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Fermat's Enigma

It's hard to imagine someone writing an interesting book about math. Everyone is used to dull text books, fall asleep lectures and the unending hatred of a subject so complex that no other topic in the world has more students screaming "I'm never going to need this in real life." (Please excuse me, the preceeding statement is incorrect; there are people who enjoy math and don't find it incredibly frustrating but ask just about anyone and they'll say they will never need it in real life. wink).

Two years ago, while on a trip to Virginia, I read "The Code Book". by Simon Singh. It was a fascinating read about cryptography through the ages. When you have subject matter covering ancient greece, war, esponiage, royalty, politics and the future, its not difficult to imagine someone injecting color into a subject generally discussed in terms of prime numbers, diffie hellman and keys.

Tonight I read another of Singh's books: "Fermat's Enigma". The book is a tale of dedication, history, mysticism and even some P.T. Barnum circus antics all leading up to the 20th century's most important mathematical theorem solving the 17th's century most intreging mathematical hypothesis.

I'll spare the details of Fermat's theorm a^n + b^n = c^n, n > 2: No Solution, and instead jump inside the book.

What I liked most about this book is its willingness to both simplify mathematical concepts that most people (including myself) will never fully understand while always provoking the reader to go examine things on his or her own at every chance. There are numerous appendicies elaborating on a number of tricky concepts including Pythagoras's Theorem (a^2 + b^2 = c^2) through the proof that there are an infinite number of triples satisifing the previous equation. Singh's carefully crafted explainations continuaully led me to diverge from the book and take a look at some of the things he presented in just enough detail to make me do a little thinking on my own. Like in "The Code Book," Singh engages his reader and succesfully implores them to go out and learn on their own.

Another strong element in "Fermat's Enigma" is history. Again, like the last book of his I read, Singh prints a good picture of history covering mathematics over the ages while always converging on Andrew Wiles' quest to resolve Fermat's taunting suggestion.

I will assume that like myself reading "Nudist on the Late Shift," or other internet history books, Mathematicians may find Singhs analysis not nearly stimulating enough and at times wrong but for me, reading "Fermat's Enigma" definatly broadened my understanding of math, made me appreciate the work those smart people do and expaned my understanding of history. I would definatly recommend this book to anyone even minimally interested in mathematics from either a numerical/theoretical aspect or as an interesting thread of human progress.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Lawrence Arms - Brickwall Views

all charades go on forever.
hands tied with fools pride.
in a slowly fleeing summer.
empty rooms don't have pictures to talk to.
brickwall views demand uninspired afternoons.
the days are flooding into months.
the nights are staring into centuries.
i've got some older pictures of people i see once every couple years.
intrigued or unamazed.
"you were so much different back in those days." and now this smile has a bitter curve.
now these eyes are unenchanted.
and all we see is a faded image of what we used to be.
how can we relate when we don't know a thing about each other anymore?
is there a gesture i could use to clearly express i'm at an utter loss for words.

I've frequently seen people post to their blogs, random lyrics to random song, by random artists. If anyone really wanted to have this information, I bet they could type "lyrics" into Google and waste tons of time. To you out there, that person who randomly posts song lyrics onto your web site I offer you two suggestions:

  1. STOP!
  2. Write why you're posting said lyrics. The lyrics mean nothing if you can't put up the effort to write about what they mean to you, why you like them or why the band who wrote them sucks.

With that said...

I was driving to work today and in my CD player where I have: three Lawrence Arms, one Nekromantics and one Benny Benassi CD, track six of The Lawrence Arm's "Apatthy and Exhaustion" album came on, excepted above. I felt it really captured a lot of what I was feeling in Chicago when I visited last.

Six years ago, we were all very different people. Some would say we weren't people, or that we're not very good people and even that we were terrible caricatures of grown ups. Thats what happens when you're a teenager. You're this funny looking creature created by a street artist taking aspects into your own of all sorts of messed up big nosed, giant forheaded, crazy eyed wierdness. We all were ignorant of this fact and went about our lives.

In this time we found in eachother companionship and compassion, as time progresses we all change and a lot of us have changed in vastly differing ways. We found solstace in our assocaites and friends. There are people who years ago I felt I couldn't live without whom today I feel absolutely disgusted with seeing. This is not a fault of those people . . . entirely, nor mine . . . entirely. We change, and as the story goes the glee from ages ago is being replaced by bitterness and anger. It sickens me to see things this way and I don't want anything to do with it. I won't even ask if "its too much," that people can spend time in the same universe as one another without bitterness, hatred and cruelty soaking up every last iota of worthwhile conversation, debate or discussion. There is no question about it. Sometimes people are human and those are the people I like to spend time with.

I don't want this to seem like a jab against anyone because all I am doing right now is writing about an observation I saw while spending 7 days in Illinois. This does not make anyone a "bad person," to anyone but me. Everyone can continue about their lives, unhappy or not and choose whether they want to let their lives be defined by the hours they spend holed up in a bitter, uninspired and unworthy corner or if they want to suck it up and find ways to enjoy life. When you'r enjoying life, that is when I'll want to see you, even if life isn't entirely happy as long as you have something besides the various forms of "I hate my life," I'll be happy to make conversation with you. Hell, if you want to grab a pint, a coke or a slushie and watch a movie I'm game.

Back to the Chicago trip.

Thanks to everyone who I had a chance to hang out with, too long or too short I'm quite sure it wasn't the ratio I wanted. To the people I didn't see, sorry about that. Next time! Next time! Thanks to everyone for taking time out of their schedules to see some crazy guy from Taiwan who was visiting Illinois for an odd spell. The movie was cool, not drinking at a pool hall was fun and man-o-man, I didn't think a not-a-picnic could be so awesome. By the way, there are still over sixty architecture tours in Chicago I haven't been on, so if you're interested feel free to sign me up as long as I'm in the state. De will attest that it is fun to walk around the city and look at interesting buildings! Special thanks goes out to my family for not minding too much when I spent too much time with my friends and not enough with my blood.

P.S. There is another song by The Lawrence Arms where they sing a haiku. It is quite clever and I dare you to find it out!

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Snippets

I skipped last week's snippets just as I did for work . . . What have I been up to the past two weeks?

  • Read 1/2 of "Nudist on the Late Shift," Not good, find something else to read
  • Started and finsihed "Fermat's Enigma"
  • Flew on a plane, landed in America . . . many action packed hours later found myself back on a plane, with a free Sinus infectin to go with it.
  • Worked hard (tonight is the second night since I got back to Taiwan where I left work before midnight)
Not too much hacking, mostly 1 liner fixes to some of my code, not published yet though.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Where Wizards Stay Up Late

I just completed Where Wizards Stay Up Late, by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon. I found the book entertaining; interesting; a bit confusing and at times, a little insulting.

The book starts out a little slow, spending a lot of time explaining how budgets contracted and expanded over time in government agencies and I think it focused too much on the "big thinkers," in government upper management while relegating the engineers involved in the background until the book begins the BBN story.

Above all, the thing that irked me most about the book was its lack of attention to technical detail. Odd you'd say, in a book about the creation of the internet, but its true. The authors in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience made sacrifices in explaining the technology of the day leaving me confused when my (limited) understanding of the past conflicted with the terms and conventions Hafner used in writing the novel. There was at least one occasion where an acronym went unexplained that I understood because of my technical background, it would have left the reader in a dazed state. I was disappointed with this whole aspect of the book, but I suppose I can always look at the RFCs to see the things I had wanted to see in the book.

Another thing that irked me was the authors' frequent attempts to show that the wizards were eccentric and unique. Haffner frequently mentioned that there were members of the arpanet team that would do such drastic things warrenting multiple mentions like . . . wear sneakers.

I felt that I lost out on a lot of personal insight into the project by there being so little self-reflection from the teams involved in making the internet a reality. The author tried to create this feeling by elaborating on the behavioral ticks of the Wizards but without ample quotage I felt distant from the sitation.

In the end, if you're interested in the origins of the internet and are not very technical, I'd suggest you pick up this book. Learn about the great people who allow us to everyday communicate with, share with and help the multitudes of people all over the world connected to the internet.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Blogger in VIm!

Last summer I spent some time putting together a Python API for blogger utilizing their ATOM publishing support. Its sat dormant for the most part except for a small script I threw together to post entries I wrote.

The problem with this approach was that the writing-posting-editing-posting sequence looked like this:

  • Open VIm
  • Write post
  • Exit VIm
  • $ cmd_blog.py path/to/entry
  • "Shoot! Its wrong!"
  • Load Firefox
  • Go to blogger.com
  • Clickity Clickity
  • Load just posted article
  • Edit
  • Click submit.
As you can see, that was majorly lame so this week in my few spare cycles away from work, I started reading about VIm's python support. Within an hour I had a basic UI working. I could load up the entry list, and view each entry by double clicking on the line.

Much thanks goes to TagList for which I did much learning with.

Tonight I spent some more time on it and have the following working:

  • Entry List - When you first load up the script, it will connect to blogger.com and download the articles stored in your blogger account. The limit is about 100, per blogger.com's limitations.
  • Load Entries - Double Click on a line in the Entry List and a window on the right will open allowing you to see the xhtml contents of the entry, properly highlighted.
  • Edit Entries - After you double click on an entry, just edit it to your heart's content and then (figure out how to easily do this, keybinding?) go into command mode and type: :python UpdateEntry()
  • Post new entries. Open a new buffer, type away, then type: :python PostEntry()
  • Fame - Be the envy of your vim or blogger using friends!
It looks like this:

Not pretty, but who ever said vim was pretty looking?

Still haven't done anything else with this but to get it to load (a reminder):
  export PYTHONPATH=~/src/code:./:$PYTHONPATH;
  load vim
  :so vim_blogger.vim
  

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wayne Ma, Film Reporter

My friend Wayne Ma is at the Cannes Film Festival covering the event for his paper. Check it out! Wayne's World, but not really.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Read

  • Read: Candide, by Voltaire
  • Wrote Python: top secret
  • Ate Food: Mmmm Thai food in Taiwan. (please note, Thai == Thailand, not Taiwan) Chinese food, American food (pizza!), beer: Asahi!
  • Taipei! Went to the National Palace Museum, 3rd largest in the world, 1.5 hour tour.
  • Correspondence: Wrote people emails, I had bad response times, at least worthwhile things to say though

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ninja vs Pirate

Ninja vs Pirate, a Googly Answer Google's new "Trends" experiment allows people to put search terms up against eachother for dominance. It looks like for the past almost 2 years, pirates have been more *popular* than ninjas, but the aggregate difference in popularity between the two puts Ninjas in the true lead. Trends is really cool. I think you should go look!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

More feeds!

This is directly for you, my audience of four (if that).

If you are interested in what I write about, you might be interested in what I read. I've mentioned the "Reading" bar on the side there -> but I bet you didn't know that if you use Google Reader you can add those articles to your list via this link: Joe's Starred Items. If you don't use Google Reader but use some other sort of news aggregator, like MyYahoo or Bloglines, the ATOM feed for my reading list is available.

Additionally, I have another feed, my "Link Blog," also there -> that has articles that I've already read but found interesting for some reason or another. You can view that list or use the feed elsewhere

Snippets

At Google, each week people are expected to turn in a quick end of week report on the things they've done in the preceeding days. Its a great way to keep abreast of things going on outside your day to day interactions. It also serves as a great way to keep track of what you've personally worked on; things that were/are/is important but not gigantic enough to warrent remembering.

I've been ultra lax out here in doing these snippets, so in an effort to make sure I actually do this for work, I'm going to start doing it here too, but related to my free-time excusursions of the mind, body, soul and beer.

Batman is cool.

Remember that time you were wearing all your clothes backwards and were like "I missed the bus?"

That was wiggidy wiggidy wiggidy wack.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Squid Caching

I've finally set up squid caching on my server. After trying to set it up for my dialup connection five years ago and failing miserably I pretty much put squid to the wayside. I've never considered myself paranoid enough to want to tunnel all my traffic over a secure connection but living in a house with curious networking/security geeks makes me a bit nervous so I set up squid on joelapenna.com. Right now its not opimized to do anything special aside from do some basic adblocking and to get it that way was amazingly simple especially compared to when I last tried setting squid up so long ago.

  1. (on server) apt-get install squid
  2. (on client) ssh joelapenna.com -L 8888:localhost 3128
  3. Works now. The end!
  4. Adblocking (optional! but recommended)
    1. add to crontab
      10 * * * * wget -O /etc/squid/adservers 'http://pgl.yoyo.org/adservers/serverlist.php?hostformat=squid-dstdom-regex&showintro=0&startdate%5Bday%5D=&startdate%5Bmonth%5D=&startdate%5Byear%5D='
      
    2. edit /etc/squid/squid.conf to do some adblocking:
      acl ads dstdom_regex -i "/etc/squid.adservers"
      http_access deny ads
      
  5. All done!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

How to speak Mandarin.

This title was a bit suspicious. I don't speak Mandrin so this is not going to help you any and it seems that my time here in Taiwan hasn't helped much either. You would think after 60 days here that I would be able to do more than simply count to ten, say Thank you and say hello.

I really need to stop slacking on this. I've been learning a bit more this past week, and I've even attempted to communicate once or twice with my ultra limited vocabulary.

Today I found online a free chinese dictionary I could download. Now I have a good reason to learn python + Hildon + gtk. This way I'll be able to have a dictionary right at my fingertips at all times. The use of a Nokia 770 is endless!!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

All I got was this stupid T-Shirt

I flew to Hong Kong today to fulfil my VISA requirements. Because we were having some difficulty getting semi-perminent work visas for us we instead recieved 30 day visitor VISAs. When you are staying longer than that this limitation poses a problem. I along with two others have been making monthly trips outside of Taiwan in order to reset the clocks on our 30 day visitor VISAs. (Fixed now, this is my last trip for VISA purposes.) Today was my send 30th day in Taiwan so it was time for me to leave.

I woke up this morning and packed for the trip. Made sure the eseentials were in my bag. (laptop, passport, power cables) and took off to work. When the work day had nearly ended I took a taxi from Taipei to the airport, borded a plane and promptly took off. The flight to Hong Kong was only an hour and fifteen minutes so no bother really.

When we landed I sprinted to the China Airlines service desk and quickly explained my situation: I have to get my passport stamped so that I can return to Taiwan. Normally, I think, people do this with a stayover in Hong Kong: A day or more. I on the other hand had a flight to catch in 45 minutes. After some confusion, and LOTS of running. (Up the terminal and back down) I hopped on the same plane and made my way back.

/I/ went to Hong Kong and I didn't even get a stupid T-Shirt.

On this topic, if things like this can be so easily circumvented, and so often are (there were at least 5 other people doing the same thing I was), why even make it a consideration? Is it to support some sort of airline economy? To harass people and be able to laugh at them from behind security monitors? Even in a government as new as Taiwan's the system it seems is plagued with those off-kilter practices and rules that we see so often in the States. I think we should all just give up this restricted travel thing and just open up all the borders.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

How to attend a show in Taiwan.

  1. Notice a large crowd, at least 1000 people standing in a line waiting to enter a building. Hear the loud noise eminating from inside.
  2. Approach said commotion with curiousity and confusion.
  3. Find yourself in the VIP section of the show, drink free beer.
  4. Take good pictures.

As Saturday evening was ending early due to an exiting Friday night and Andy, Ray, Maarten and myself were heading to our car near Taipei 101. Despite our lack of energy when we heard the loud bassline eminating from a building nearby we approached. In front of us were at least 1000 people in line trying to get into what seemed to be a big concert.

Being confused Americans we approached the event trying to figure out more. It turns out that the famous MC Hotdog was playing a show. There was no way to get inside to check it out . . . or was there?

We stood around outside for a few minutes trying to figure out what we could do to get in and came up with a solid plan: Look confused and try and go in the front door.

That didn't work.

We stood there a few more minutes and as we were about to leave one of the prettiest girls I've ever seen in Taiwan asked us if we wanted to get into the show. Stunned we all stammered a resounding "yes." She grabbed Andy by the wrist, I followed and we were in the front doors. The bounces though rejected Ray and Maarten. That would simply not do.

We stood inside for a minute and tried to figure out a way to get them back in. We couldn't just leave them there so we decided to leave, and see if we could get wristbands to get back inside. When we went to the banding booth, Ray and Maaren came up from behind the attendant and we told the attendant that they were with us and had just exited the show too. As a result, they needed bands too. The four of us, now equipted with bands walked up the the first door we tried to enter. After waiting a few minutes we were admited into a swarm of people; Asians as far as the eye could see! We were now inside the show, it was nice, but well with the luck we'd already been having it was time to infiltrate the VIP area.

Again we huddled, again we made a daring plan. Andy would squeeze between the barrier's bars and would try to pull us into the vip area via the door trying the oh so typical "they're with me approach."

Andy didn't fit. New plan. Break in. Rip the barier apart and enter. I first scouted the area looking for a set of weak links in the barrier and upon finding one I queued the guys to follow me.

The gates being well stuck together budged but not enough in my first attempts. It was the person standing to my left that was causing the lack of movement. I tapped him on the shoulder and did my best to communicate using grunts, hand gestures and eye movement. Luckily the guy understood dumb american speak and knew what I meant.

Lift, pull, sneak. . . FREEDOM!

We were in and security was fast approaching. Luckily we had evaded detection and although there was a guard standing there until the end of the night, we were in the VIP area at a show that until 30 minutes prior didn't even know existed. Girls were dancing on bars, people were dancing and there was free beer.

Not bad for a band of Crazy HWOps-Ren walking around Taipei.

Pictures coming soon!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Net Access!

I didn't know it but iPass supports hinet! It just takes a bit of guessing to know where to login.

At the airport

Using wireless

Free for me. HOT

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006

How to do text and XML parsing with Python

Parsing Wikipedia is going to take two steps. The first of which is parsing the XML for the wikipedia datadump.

In python, as is in most other langauges, there are two approaches. The first, DOM is typically characterized as an object model for access where you parse the document, and the result is an object that contains other objects representing onodes in the XML structure. You must be able to parse the entirety of the XML tree and store it in memory. When you have a 5GB xml document this becomes rather impossible. The second approach, consists of handlers that are called upon reaching a particular node, attribute or property of the xml document. The benefit to this method is that you don't have to store the entirety of the document in memory, making this process ideal for text parsing on the wikipedia scale.

In order to process the amount of data found inside wikipedia, I'm trying to follow the MapReduce approach to data processing. In a nutshell, you pass a Map function some data and it yields a set of key value pairs. Then you Reduce the key/value pairs into a smaller subset of data and return a composite value for each of the keys you generate. A good example is finding student grade averages. You take a series of scores from a series of students to compute the average like this:

John, 67,
Sally, 50,
Jim, 88,
Jim, 9,
John, 86,
Mike, 63,
Mike, 61,
Joe, 100,
Mike, 11,
John, 31,
Sally, 64,
Sally, 83,
Joe, 15,
Jim, 96,
Jim, 4,
Jim, 15,
Mike, 41,
John, 18,
Sally, 33,
Jim, 77,
Mike, 27,
Sally, 27,
Sally, 86,
Joe, 36,
...

In the map phase you create a series of key/values where the key is the student's name, and the value is the grade. So the map could produce a series of keys like this for each student.

('Joe', 57)
('Joe', 23)
('Joe', 58)
('Joe', 67)
('Joe', 0)
('Joe', 93)
('Joe', 33)
('Joe', 55)
('Joe', 39)
('Joe', 16)
('Joe', 57)

Then lastly, in the Reduce phase, you aggregate the data such that you get one value, in this example, the grades of each student.

In [23]: sum(fs)/len(fs)
Out[23]: 56

Tada!

So in applying this idea to wikipedia, the source data is the entire Wikipedia XML doc. The key/value pairs emitted by the first map would be ID to article content mappings, the reduction would would the number of links inside the document. . . . something like that.

This is a new concept to me, so I dont' quite know exactly what I'm going to do.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Looky

I've added a number of things to my website. As you can see on the right hand column, there is a variety of little modules to let you know a bit more about my current state.

The first module is "Looky," which should be the newest image added to my blog from my cell phone camera. Everybody is doing it, I had to too.

The second thing you'll see is Music, if I've been listening to music at all recently, these are the songs I've heard. If you see a little speaker icon next to the song, you can probably listen to it if you click on it.

The third, reading, is a list of blog entries that I'm currently or just about to read, or that I'm keeping a list of for future reference. Click on an entry to read what I'm reading.

Fourth, Location is a not-live Google Map pinpointing my exact location on the globe. Clicking on it will take you to http://joelapenna.com/whereami.html a page with at the moment, simply a bigger version of that map. It will contain cooler things in the near future.

Last, I have a Links module. These are blog entries I've tagged as something you might be interested in looking at that I have run across already.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Coming to a state near you.

After successfully traveling to three different countries and eating more great food than I could have imagined, I will be returning to Chicago for a limited engagement, May 20th through the 28th whereupon I will be traveling back to the other side of the globe for another three month stay in Taiwan. See everyone real soon! This film has been rated NP, Not appropriate for pirates, only ninjas.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Sunday - Tsujuki

I awoke refreshed Sunday morning hungry for some Sushi. Following the suggestion of wikitravel, I made my way to Tsujuki. It probably wasn't the best day for me to go there; afterall the Fish market is closed on Sunday; thus the best sushi places were closed. Nevertheless my trip to this region of Tokyo was not disappointing.

I think that this palette was trying to say something about NZ.

After emerging from the subway I turned left; there was a sign which told me the Hama-rikyu Gardens. A long time ago, this was the personal gardens of 17th Century shoguns, sitting right near Tokyo Bay. This garden, like the shrine in Harijuku was quite an interesting contrast of modern versus historic. As you cross a bridge to enter the gardens skyscrapers stand tall over the tree line.

Even inside the garden, you see the buildings peaking from every angle.

But even with the surrounding modern buildings, the first part of the garden was serene and the 400 year old pine tree I saw was quite a competetor for the area's-coolest-big-thing award.

I would suggest going to this garden when its a little closer to summer, I could only imagine the beauty that this big field would have with the right amount of sun.

If you didn't already know, I like buildings. I can appreciate a cool bridge when I see one, in this part there were a few. One of which was the Tokyo Bay bridge:

But, if you turned around, there was another pedestrian bridge crossing the little salt water pond that flowed through parts of the garden.

The destination of one bridge was a little teahouse, where you could pay a small fee and get a cup of tea and a small piece of a cake or something. Still excited over the prospect of sushi and fearing making a fool of myself by not knowing proper ettiquite, I skipped this event.

QUACK!

Sometimes, when you looked at the right place, the modern world just disappeared.

I found this site interesting, it is a "Duck Mound," a shrine to show respect for all the souls of dead ducks, lost in the creation and subsequent use of the gardens. If you turn around though, you'll see the duck hunting field. Quite Ironic.

It was time to leave at this point, having seen most of what was avaiable in the gardens.

I left the garden and began walking. 45 minutes, I found Sushi:

It was heaven. I was pleased. Afterwards I did more walking around, stopping in a store for some shopping. (Some of you are getting gifts from there) I also walked past this building it looked old, and pretty cool so I took a picture. There was another guy trying to take a photo too. He also almost got hit by a car.

Shortly after this picture was taken I was assaulted by a 12 foot talk blue and white inflateable beer can. I did not get a picture of the perpetrator, I was simply too stunned to think about it. Needless to say, it was quite windy.

Some people will celebrate St. Pat's day even in Tokyo.

And some people will dress in wierd costumes and stand on the street corner.

And other people will dance to some happenin rockabilly:

I watched the rockers for a little bit, it was quite a trip and probably the highlight of my day. I continued to walk around the park that was near by and saw a number of street performers. Some were good, some were bad. One I even bought a cd from: the band had horns, I'm a sucker for the brass. I also saw a band of teenagers covering the Rolling Stones. The lead singer was doing a good Mic Jagger imitation and they didn't sound half bad. There was also a young girls dancing troupe. It kind of reminded me of the scene from Donnie Darko where his younger sister peforms a dance to a Pet Shop Boys hit.

There was also a crazy man spinning CDs on a portable turntable and doing paitings while dancing a little bit. Fun to watch.

It was pretty windy and kind of cold at this point, I bet if I went there with nicer weather the place would have been packed! On the way back out of the park, there was a fight! It looked like one of the rockabilly folk got into a tusle with a man wearing a cape and a tiger mask. No, i'm not kidding. A man with giant hair attacked a man wearing a tiger mask in the middle of a downtown park in city of 12 million people. A FONZ LOOKALIKE ATTACKED A MAN IN A CAPE. weird.

After this fiasco, it was time to do some shopping. I wanted to buy a hat. I started wandering and found myself in a sea of people, including spiderman.

I walked and walked and found a hat. I bought the hat, and I am glad I have th ehat. But this didn't stop me from going back to the hotel for a spell before heading out to Odaiba.

Disappointing to say, but my Sunday evening ended on a not so exciting note. Odaiaba was neat looking, but was void of people. It was pretty chilly, and VERY windy so I can understand why. I did get a picture of the statue of liberty though.