I had a nice anniversary post composed, about what motivates me to write, and how it’s somewhat similar to what motivates me to program, and what sort of things I wanted to do over the next year. I say “had” because it appears to not be here anymore. It’s not like the last time, at least according to my command logs. Huh.

Also, the anniversary is next week. Who sucks? I suck.

I wonder where the birdies is

I woke up today to two fantastic discoveries. First, last night’s run of The Test I Hate With All My Spleen blew the requirements out of the water, running longer and failing over more frequently than the acceptance criteria require. What a huge weight off my shoulders. We’re so close to passing the last test — and then, of course, re-running everything “for the record” — that I can taste it. And like tonight’s dinner, about which more below, it tastes great.

The second discovery was that it is definitely spring in Toronto. Perfectly timed, too, because Tyla and I needed to disappear during the landlord’s open house. We started by wandering down to Bloor for brunch, including some tasty huevos rancheros: a dish that Chris Blizzard will never eat, I predict. Tyla and I looked around briefly for a new joystick, because the one I’ve got right now generates random noise for the “stick rotation” output, which makes piloting virtual aircraft more challenging than it really needs to be. We came up empty-handed, but our failings on the computer-peripheral front were more than compensated for by our grocery triumph. I picked up some rib steaks and a pile of pork chops from a little butcher shop in Kensington Market, and then topped up with a bag of veggies from some random market stall. When we got back home, the open house was still on, so we put our groceries away and retreated to the park to enjoy the sunshine — and play with random friendly dogs, as it turned out — until the hockey game.

Alasdair couldn’t stay for dinner, which I think actually worked out for the best. If he’d been here, I’d have cooked two of the steaks, which would, I now realize, have been far, far too much food for three people. So Tyla and I split a only-slightly-overcooked steak — I’m still getting my grill-groove back — and some grilled baby bok choy, scallions, and tomato. The improvised garlic-jalapeño-lime sauce for the veggies was, oh, a seven out of ten. I’ll do better next time.

There’s a pretty good screaming match going on upstairs. Maybe one of my neighbours is an Edmonton fan who’s watching the replay of Turco’s heinous diving. I hope they fine the crap out of him, even if no EDM penalties were called as a result of his performances.

you can take the boy out of the browser, but

Apropos yesterday’s mention of wasted time and energy: a slashdot comment I didn’t have time to write. I never thought I’d be giving lessons in diplomacy, but here we are.

let’s all just relax and enjoy the crisis

The Firebird fracas continues to consume time and energy that should be spent elsewhere. I love people.

Coop passed two additional tests today, which made me very happy. Just 2 left now, including the one that I’ve been working on since the Carter administration. Some day I’ll be through this. Some day.

I torqued the setup of one of those tests, but I’m too weary to go back to it, now that hockey is over — along with the Islanders’ and Bruins’ seasons — so I’ll go play Battlefield 1942 with Phil and Jacob. I should dig out my joystick.

two steps forward, …

Phil headed back to Boston today, ostensibly to play some street hockey and get work done, but really because he couldn’t bear to watch the Leafs lose a heartbreaker in triple-OT. (Boston television was not showing the PHI @ TOR game.) I’m tired just from watching that much end-to-end-to-end-to-end hockey. What a fantastic series.

Actually, I’m also tired from grinding through logs all day, in search of little edge-case bugs that bite our recovery tests. Yes, I’m still trying to pass that test. Made a fair bit of progress today, including fixing an error case that has been plaguing us — or, at least, me — for literally months. Finally got a client to stop in a state that preserved the failure condition, and then it was just a simple matter of staring at code and logs for two hours. I wish they were all that easy, or something.

Mozilla is going through a name change for one of its projects right now, and it’s the usual hell that results when you do anything involving more than five people. I’ve done a little bit to try and calm things down, because I hate to see people waste energy like that, but there’s not much I can really affect. More later, when the dust has settled a bit.

The handymen came by today to start the repairs on the house, in preparation for the showing this Saturday. We really, really need to clean this place up, too, though the kitchen and living room are in not-terrible shape already. If I can figure out the current problem with The Test in the morning, I’ll be able to spend the afternoon cleaning in inter-test bursts and then watching hockey with Alasdair in the evening.

riding a thermal

Scarcely more than a week ago, it was snowing and hailing here, but today we had weather that I consider to be just about perfect: low 20s, mild humidity, sunny, nice breeze. I could handle another 6 months of this, but we’re apparently getting some more freezing rain later this week.

I got some good work done today, with a handful of test fixes and some good design discussion with Robert, but Phil’s bitter that we interrupted his work for a walk to lunch and a handful of errands. Actually, I don’t think he’s all that bitter.

The hockey orgy continued today, with a mediocre-Buffy-episode intermission. Phil was very tolerant of our fannishness, especially Tyla and Beltzner’s. A fine dinner of pasta and sangria and pie kept us moving, and Phil and I continued with some hacking after all the hockey dust had settled.

Earlier in the day, the landlord was outside trying to clean the spray paint off his signs, and some random guy was standing in the street yelling and swearing at him. I guess we’ll be on the lookout for further vandalism. I have to say that I’m glad we won’t be here when they start sabotaging the construction site.

Apropos of which, we accepted the new apartment today. The lease numerology works out quite nicely, since we have a five day window in which to move our stuff a block. What could go wrong?


I hadn’t realized that Beltzner was at the Matthew Good concert along with us. I wonder if he was as entertained as we were by the guy running around with white LEDs all over his jacket, dancing like a fool. I also wonder which hypocrisy he thinks Matt was pointing out. I recall him talking about Operation Playmate deciding to continue with non-nude photos to avoid offending various Islamic nations — as a rather contrived segue into a description of US troops kicking back with a Bud to relax after a hard day of slaughtering women and children — and his mention of Ernie Eves’ claim of wide-spread Ontarian support for the US military action. (I keep hearing that Canada-wide support is in the mid-70s, which makes the Ontario-vs-Canada dichotomy even odder, but maybe he’s not had time to keep up with polling data while on tour.) Neither of those seem like pointing out hypocrisy — an activity for which I offer nothing but unbridled support — but there might be something else I’m forgetting. I don’t agree with all of Matt’s politics, but he’s at least well-spoken, even if I think the random anti-American cheap shots are beneath him. I don’t know why that previous sentence is there, since it really doesn’t flow from the thought before it, does it?

Mom visited yesterday, and we all had a good time. She was even nice enough to not object to Phil and I taking brief naps. Sounds like she might come back next weekend to coordinate a visit with my cousin, which will be a nice break.

Disabling the page cache yesterday helped, but then I had to fix a few other gotchas in our debugging infrastructure — it’s like a fireman arson party, the way these tools keep getting in my way. Some semi-routine maintenance on the large test cluster apparently didn’t go so well, so instead of being ready for dataset creation on Friday night, we’re now thinking tonight will be the night. Or tomorrow, maybe. I fixed some bugs today by inspection, since running tests was foiled in various uninteresting ways.

And now, hockey.

Oh, the hockey. If the hockey were any more exciting, I would need to wear a diaper.

The landlord came by today to ask about the signs he’d put on our front yard advertising the newly-approved townhouse development, and which had been vandalized some time last night. We hadn’t seen anything, or we’d have called the police, but it was sort of surprising. I don’t usually imagine a large overlap between the neighbourhood reactionaries and the spray-paint crowd.

Those wacky guys from IBM UCD are at it again:

IBM tells us that the absence of Windows key is a result of internal ergonomic and usability studies which determined that putting a Windows key on a keyboard alters the normal typing pattern and makes the unit less ambidextrous.

Not that I’d really ever buy a Thinkpad, but it’s nice to know that they’re still innovating in the space. And so is Shuttle, who I may reward with a purchase the next time I need a computer. (Even I’m not fooled by that use of “need”.)

third-degree nomadism

Tyla and I are moving again. The place we’re in now is being sold as part of a condo/townhouse development, and we’re not really looking to buy it. So we get to embark on a grand moving adventure again, which I approach with the sense of childlike glee usually reserved for cleaning suck-starting septic equipment. At least we’re living in the “target” city this time — HELLO MISTER RCMP, NOTHING TO SEE HERE — which can only make it easier.

As luck would have it — or perhaps luck would not have it this way, but was beaten in a Spanish Train-esque bet by some more helpful force — our landlord has an apartment on the top floor of the (enormous, beautiful) house he lives in, a mere block south of us on Brunswick. Further endangering my karmic balance, this apartment recently became future-vacant, as the current tenants gave notice of their intent to flee the jurisdiction, as of June 10th or thereabouts. So we wandered over this morning to check the place out, and were pretty pleased with the prospect. The apartment layout is fairly different, with a combined living-dining-cooking area and a very large master bedroom standing out as the dominant differences. The total living space is comparable, the rent is the same, the hunt would end early, the neighbourhood is perfect. I’m pretty sold, but I’m sure Tyla will have some good questions to ask.

Mom’s coming into town today, at some point, so I guess I should get some work done first. I’d really rather be playing BF1942, though.


We had planned to get to dim sum for breakfast this morning, but Phil and I got up too late for that to really work out. The Blizzards had to return to Boston early-ish today — with their camera, though there were some tense moments! — so an early start on siu mai events was requisite. I think I had some chocolates instead.

Phil and I worked during the afternoon, as we are oft wont to do. Phil is working on the parallel-RPC code that we started together in Boston, and I’m fighting tooth and nail to just get one bloody set of proper logs out of this test, please please please, is that so much to ask, I’m not too proud to beg. Current thinking: disable the Lustre page cache, which we don’t need for these tests, and which Zach will absolutely not want to repair on this rapidly-aging branch, when it’s already largely repaired on the main development tree. Such drastic measures are even being considered only because the current state involves a massive, system-wide lockup right after the arrival of the bug I’m trying to get logs for, which means that I can’t get the logs. And the crash-dump tools in use on this cluster don’t provide a means for forcing a crash, and getting a dump to analyze. (Not that it would tell us much, because I already have a pretty good handle on the lockup, but it would at least be something.) Bah.

Alasdair joined us just before the second hockey-viewing of the evening, wherein the Senators tied up their series, but really didn’t put a lot of hustle in their bustle for much of the game. I guess they can get away with that against the Islanders, but if they don’t smarten up in a hurry, it’s not going to be a long post-season. The last game (STL at VAN) was fantastic hockey; archetypal playoff stuff. It was sort of sad to see Cloutier’s shutout broken so late in the game, but it doesn’t really diminish his excellent performance.

I didn’t think we’d get a chance to play Battlefield 1942, but it turned out that Phil and I didn’t have concrete plans for the four-hour period beginning at 2am. That’s a pretty fun game, right there, though a training mode wherein one could learn to effectively pilot various vehicles would be a welcome addition. It took us about half an hour to figure out how to open the gate on the landing craft, which was not the most exhilarating part of our gaming experience.

an important part of the computer

The test cluster was down for much of today getting some extra disks welded on, so Phil and I ran some quick errands in the afternoon: lunch, pickup of concert tickets, and acquisition of video games that we will likely never have time to play.

When the cluster was returned to service, I got another afternoon’s worth of frustration chasing logs and “good” test runs — by which I mean “representative and well-instrumented”, not “passing”; I am ambitious, but not insane. Coop did some good work on my behalf chasing people and running tests, for which I rewarded him with some fixes to test bits and actual bugs. I hope he’s happy with the trade, because we’re going to be making it over and over again until we pass these tests.

The Matthew Good concert was pretty excellent. The first opening act (“Pilate”) was pretty good; I might search out more of their music on my own. The second group, “The Dears”, is part of the whole Matthew Good tour, and they sucked so hard my ears popped. The keyboardists were pretty hot, though. And speaking of hot, I should clearly have been spending more time at Matthew Good concerts when I was younger and singler. Aye carumba. I don’t know how Phil left that place without at least two wives.

Matt also replaced the “super-size” rant from the album version of “21st Century Living” with the inevitable war commentary. Not really my political take, but I can generally handle opposing viewpoints pretty gracefully; that’s the flavour of “liberalism” to which I subscribe. I did think that his description of US troops kicking back with a Budweiser to relax after “taking pot-shots at women and children” was out of line, though. Someone appears to have spilled some Michael Moore in my rock star.

Phil and I had planned to watch the Leafs game on tape after we got back from the conference, but some dork-head announcer at the concert told us that they’d lost 4-1. Kinda took the wind out of our sails. We’ll save up our hockey time for tomorrow, when Alasdair comes over to watch the Sens try to regenerate some dignity.

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