Monday, August 6, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Geeks, like myself, however instead spend their time writing documents on lambda calculus to appear in their master thesis'. Or even more so, when they get tired of actual work, they decide they want to play some Xbox.
However, the router that my father-in-law uses to connect to the Internet is in a different room than the TV I get to use for my Xbox. But wait, I want my E3 downloads, how can I possibly download them if I cannot connect my 360 to the Internet?
If you're a non-geek you go out and fork over the $100+ for the Xbox 360 wireless adaptor. If you're a geek, and you have a laptop with an Ethernet jack and a wireless network adaptor, an old 10BaseT hub, and a few network cables, you jerry-rig your 360 to connect through your laptop. :)
I'm writing this while sitting in a small bedroom with my 360 hooked up to an old VCR which is hooked up to an old 22" or so TV. The 360 is also plugged into an old 10BaseT network hub, a hub which my laptop is also plugged into. I'm using all 4 sets of power outlets in the room (because there's A) so many devices I have floating around in here, and B) because most of them have big power plugs/adaptors which limits the ability to have more than one device in a wall outlet). There's wires all over the floor.
BUT, I'm also writing this blog entry, while downloading the Halo 3 E3 2007 trailer on Xbox Live. In short -- this is paradise!
When the holiday ends is in a half hour or so when my wife comes downstairs to watch her show (Men In Trees) on the laptop. "Sorry hon, but you can't take the laptop upstairs -- I'm downloading on the 360!"
Thursday, June 7, 2007
More importantly though I won my "bet" with my wife, which makes two years in a row that I've whooped her sorry NHL predictions. ;)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Since my wife and I had identical round 3 predictions my lead is unchanged. I'm still ahead by one point going into the final round. And if you see our final predictions here, you'll note that there is the possibility we could be tied after the playoffs are over. Of course as anyone who is married knows, you cannot have any bet, game, or competition ever end in a tie with your significant other. Thus in the event we are tied, the tie-breaker will be whoever predicted the winning team in the final round.
IOW, if Anaheim wins, I get to brag over my wife. If the Sens win, she'll hold this over me until next year's playoffs. :)
At any rate, click the link below for the breakdown of the results from round 3:
Round 3 results
Round 3 comparision with TSN
Stanley Cup Final
Anaheim vs Ottawa
This is actually a really tough one to call, as these teams are very evenly matched. I think goaltending is a tossup (I don't think Emery gets enough credit), scoring is pretty close (although slight edge to Ottawa), and both are defensively strong (although of course with the twin towers of Niedermeyer and Pronger the Ducks get the slight edge here). I really want the Sens to pull this one off so that we can finally have a Canadian champ, but I think the extra experience that the Ducks have combined with the extra long layoff the Sens have had will tip things in favour of hockey's favourite fowls. I hate to say it, but Anaheim in 6. Wife's prediction: Ottawa in 6.
Friday, May 11, 2007
So this morning I called MS's customer service, and I gotta say I was actually pleasantly surprised. It was one of the most positive experiences I've ever had with a customer service department. I was on hold for at most 5 minutes, and the person I dealt with (Auriel?) was very helpful (even if she was a bit hard to understand at times). I've heard some nasty horror stories, but mine (at least so far) has been great.
When my first 360 died I had to deal with the replacement via the store's extended warranty policy and *THAT* was a nightmare (took about a month from the time I took it in to the time I got it back, it voided the extended warranty, etc). For the record that was Future Shop (which is essentially the Canadian version of Best Buy since they are now owned by the same ownership group).
I am wondering though how alone I am, how many people out there have also had their consoles "brick" after the spring update?
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Anaheim vs Detroit
The Sharks broke my heart when they collapsed against the Wings (even more so than when the Canucks did the same vs the Ducks). They must go down for this. ;) Anaheim in 6. Wife's prediction: Anaheim in 6.
Buffalo vs Ottawa
This is it. THE series of the '07 playoffs. The two most exciting teams in the NHL squaring off for the Eastern Conference title. Should be an awesome series, and close, but the Sens looked very impressive vs the Devils whereas Buffalo squeaked past New York. Besides Ottawa is the only Canadian team left, so I gotta pull for them. Ottawa in 6. Wife's prediction: Ottawa in 6.
So there you go, I'm predicting an Anaheim/Ottawa final. When I was still thinking the Sharks would make it past the Wings I was predicting them to take the Cup, but now I'm starting to think that maybe, just maybe this might be Canada's year, and Ottawa will be the first Cup champs north of the border since Montreal so many years ago (wasn't it '93 that they last won?)
Sunday, May 6, 2007
So my wife and I broke even on this round which means I'm still ahead by 1 overall. Click the link below for the breakdown:
Round 2 results
Friday, May 4, 2007
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Just to be clear for those unfamiliar: Digg.com is a user-generated content news site. What this means is that users (like you and me) post links to articles on the site, and then other users rate them (ie "digg" them up, or "bury" them down). The idea is then the really cool stuff ends up at the top of the most popular links list so you only get the good stuff, and the crap is filtered out by the users themselves.
What happened: A user posted a link to a site which revealed one of the secret decryption keys for the HD-DVD format of movie discs. What this meant is that anyone with this key could (in theory) decrypt the contents of a HD-DVD disc, and freely make copies of the disc. Fearing legal reprisal from groups like the MPAA due to violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the executives at Digg took down the article and posted a message explaining their reasons. What then happened was that Digg users flooded the site with links to stories containing the key essentially disabling the site. Digg executives conceded and a message from founder Kevin Cloud was posted stating:
"We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code .... But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you've made it clear. You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won't delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be. If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying."So essentially they caved under the pressure of their users. Now the interesting question remains: was this a triumph of democracy, or another disaster for user-generated content sites (another event that many feel falls into this category is the legal battle between Viacom and Google/Youtube).
I wonder if this is a problem inherent in user-generated content sites. So long as there is no "peer-review" or committee that filters out content, sooner or later somebody will post something that will be in the interests of the worldwide community, but not in the interests of litigation-happy corporations interested in protecting their secrets. Digg might try the "but we have no control over it" defense, but that certainly didn't work for Napster, so one wonders if it would work for them.
It will be interesting to see the fallout from this event. Will Digg start censoring stories more often, or have they learned their lesson? Will users flock to other sites due to a lack of trust, or will Digg weather the storm? Will the MPAA and other groups with very deep pockets seek legal action against (the rather small) Digg?
Some interesting links to summaries:
Unhappy Digg users bury site in protest (CNET)
Digg's DRM Revolt (Forbes)
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
Anaheim Ducks vs Vancouver Canucks
As I write this my boys from Vancouver just finished off the Dallas stars. So I'm still riding the high of winning game 7. Having said that, Anaheim looked like the best team in the west for most of the season, they're well-rested, and as great as Bobby Lou is, he's gotta be getting a bit tired with all the hockey he's played. I hate to pick against my team, but I don't think the 'Nucks will be able to get past the Ducks. Anaheim in 6. My wife's prediction: Vancouver in 7.
Detroit Red Wings vs San Jose Sharks
Well, I still like the Sharks in the west. They played well, and the time off I'm sure will help to heal some of those wounds incurred during the Nashville series. At times Detroit looked extremely impressive vs the Flames, but at other times seemed to struggle. Should be a very close series, but I think the Sharks have the grit to put them over the edge. Sharks in 7. My wife's prediction: Sharks in 6.
New Jersey Devils vs Ottawa Senators
This one should be interesting, the high flying Sens vs the defensive Devils. Certainly the edge in goaltending will go to New Jersey although Emery has proven to be a very capable goalie. I hate to admit it, but Daniel Alfredson was pretty impressive against the Pens and if he keeps it up Ottawa could go far. Tough one to call, but I'll go with the Canadian team: Ottawa in 7. My wife's prediction: Ottawa in 7.
Buffalo Sabres vs New York Rangers
Remember what I said in my round 1 predictions about the Atlanta/New York series? That it didn't matter who won, as they'd be out in the second round? Well, I'll stick with that. This one shouldn't even be close. Buffalo in 5. My wife's prediction: Buffalo in 5.
Also as well, I didn't mention this in the blog post relating to my initial predictions, but every year my wife and I compete to see who has the better predictions. To resolve this argument we needed some sort of quantifiable, mathematical evaluation scheme. How this works is we award 1 point for predicting the correct winner of a series, and another point for predicting the correct number of games. So each series is worth a maximum of 2 points. There has long been disputes between us (as is often the case in marriages....) as to this scoring, she thinks predicting the number of games should count for more points (of course because she lucks out on the number of games more than I do) whereas I think they should count for less (as it's basically a crapshoot predicting the correct number of games). Click here for a breakdown of the results, but to summarize, I got 12 of a possible 16 points, and my wife scored 11. So I'm off to a good start, leading the way by 1 point.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Detroit vs Calgary - I'll go with the masses and agree that if there is going to be an "upset" then this will be the series. However, it's difficult to think of a team as strong as the Flames as an underdog (even if they limped into the playoffs). I think this one's actually very close, but I'm going to go with the Wings in 6. My wife's prediction: Calgary in 6.
Anaheim vs Minnesota - This is one of the series I'm really looking forward to. I really like the Ducks, and the Wild are a much more fun team to watch this season than seasons past. I really think Anaheim will be very tough to beat with the strong defence, goaltending, and tenacity the team has. Ducks in 5. My wife's prediction: Anaheim in 5.
Vancouver vs Dallas - Ahh, finally my homeboys get to return to the postseason. As much as I like the Nucks, this is going to be a tough series. Turco's got a lot to prove this year, and Dallas is a very strong team. I think this one will be the closest in the west, Vancouver in 7. My wife's prediction: Vancouver in 7.
Nashville vs San Jose - San Jose was my pick at the start of the year to win the Stanley Cup. Thornton is an awesome player, and (like Turco in Dallas) has a lot to prove in regards to playoff performances. The Sharks went far last year and I think they're on the verge of having a breakout year and winning it all. Still to early to crown them the champs, but I'm definitely picking them over the less experienced Preds. San Jose in 6. My wife's prediction: San Jose in 6.
Buffalo vs New York Isles - Buffalo is the best team in the East. Nuff said. Buffalo in 4. My wife's prediction: Buffalo in 5.
New Jersey vs Tampa Bay - Brodeur is the best goalie in the game today (sorry Bobby Lou), and goaltending makes all the difference in the playoffs. Tampa's got a lot of scoring and experience, but goaltending is still a question mark for them. New Jersey in 6. My wife's prediction: New Jersey in 5.
Atlanta vs New York Rangers - This one's tough to call. Both are pretty evenly matched. Either way, I think whichever team wins this series will be knocked out in the 2nd round. I'll go with the Rangers, but you could flip a coin on this one. New York in 6. My wife's prediction: New York in 6.
Ottawa vs Pittsburgh - This should be the best series of the first round. Crosby vs Heatly. Malkin vs Spettza (sp?) Fleury vs Emery. What a series this should be. I'll go with Ottawa as they should be the hungrier team, but it really could go either way. Ottawa in 7. My wife's prediction: Ottawa in 7.
Monday, April 9, 2007
- 100 straight day of playing
- Passed the 17K gamerscore mark
- Another 1000+ gamerscore change day (I played through TMNT, as well as got a couple Gears achievments)
- Completed a retail game (TMNT), which should give me the 10 retail games completed badge for 360Voice
- New personal high for most achievements in a day (26)
Anyways, quick link to my 360's blog:
And for those of you with Xbox's, go sign up for a blog for your 360, it's a hoot to read!
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I'm not writing to comment on Rosie or her views, nor am I interested in debating whether or not 9/11 was "an inside job" (quote from various users on the Digg forums). What I am interested in talking about is the impact of the Internet and "web 2.0" sites like Digg on freedom of expression and society at large.
As some people reading this know, I live in Canada. Canada, much like our southern neighbours, puts a very high importance on the freedom to express what we want, how we want, when we want. So much so, that we enshrine it in the highest laws of the land.
However, there is a pricetag attached to that freedom. There has always been, and always will be, people who fall victim to "popular theory". "Everybody says this is the case, therefore it must be the case". There's even a name for this form of reasoning: "Argumentum ad populum", which is latin for "appeal to the people". Sounds nice, doesn't it? After all, aren't the "people" the best decider of truth, justice, and what's right and wrong? Isn't that what democracy is all about?
I am a very big proponent of freedom on the Interent. I believe very strongly that regulation of content online is a very bad idea. I believe everyone, whether they are the Prime Minister of a country, or a "bum" living in the streets, has equal right to express him/herself as they see fit.
However, seeing stuff like what is becoming increasingly common on sites like Digg, really makes me question the wisdom of that position. Flaming has been a part of Internet discussion for as long as I can remember, but it seems to me that the world is increasingly becoming confrontational in argument. The goal in most online discussions now seems to be to silence the other guy, rather than make your points in a reasoned, logical manner.
Digg takes this to a new level. For those unfamiliar with Digg, how it basically works is that stories are posted, and people either "digg them" (ie vote that they are good), or "bury" them (vote that they are bad). The same digg up/digg down scheme works for comments in the forums. The idea is that rather than having a central, authoritarian, heirarchical entity telling us what is good and bad, we now have the "people", that arbiter of truth and justice, telling us what is good and bad. No longer do we have Fox News telling us only those stories which fit its republican-biased views, now we have Joe Blow truly empowered to tell us what's really important. No more censorship of the stories that should be told.
The problem of course is that in practice, it only takes a small minority of people to essentially silence the opposing view. Reading the forum attached to the Rosie O'Donnell story, most of the comments which are "dugg up" are ones which support Rosie's position. The ones that are "dugg down" are those which don't support Rosie's position.
This seems to fly in the face of what most philosophers and academics believe is the way to arrive at truth -- reasoned debate from both sides. Since the "anti-rosie" comments are dugg down, nobody sees them, thus only one side of the issue is represented. While I suppose this is democratic, it is far from ideal, as essentially you have "Argumentum ad populum" again, which if you clicked the Wikipedia link, you'll know is actually a common fallacy in arguments.
I sometimes wonder what effect this will have long-term on the political landscape. Will elections in the future be decided by discussions that take place on Internet forums? Will those politicians who can best make use of web technology have a distinct advantage over less technically-saavy (but more reasonable) opponents? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Okay, I guess that's enough of a rant for today. As always, comments are welcomed and appreciated (after all, I want to know what the "people" think).... ;)
Monday, March 26, 2007
I was very critical of the show this season, particularly the post-xmas break episodes were very slow, doing little to either build characters or convey the main story arc.
Having said that, last night's finale was absolutely awesome, and January 2008 can not come soon enough. Man, I thought Heroes was being cruel leaving us with a cliffhanger for 5 weeks, BSG leaves us hanging for almost a year!
I know for myself as a student I would still attend the classes, but OTOH I know a *LOT* of students who would fall into that trap of "well, if I can download a recording of that lecture later, why should I go to class?" I do think that there is something to be said for actually attending a lecture over just hearing the audio of it, as things such as body language and the like convey almost as much as what we say. Additionally, you lose the benefit of whatever overheads & the like the lecturer used (unless they are made public as well). Besides, you can't interact with an MP3 recording by asking it questions (or at least not last time I checked). ;)
OTOH, as a student I would very much appreciate the ability to "review" for exams and such by re-listening to entire lectures again. Like podcasts, it would be convenient to be able to listen to lectures as background noise when I'm doing other work, or walking to school, etc. Just seems like it would be an excellent way to reinforce information covered in a class.
It seems to me that there is always a trade-off facing instructors in regards to how much material should be made available to students outside of the class. Too much, and nobody will attend class; too little, and students will artificially struggle with material that perhaps they otherwise wouldn't struggle with.
I sometimes wonder what other instructors think of voice recorders and the like as well. Do instructors have problems with students recording lectures themselves? I personally couldn't care less if a student wants to record what I say in a class (of course, that's probably a dangerous attitude, as sooner or later I may say something in a class which I will later regret saying). I've never seen any students walk into a class and plop a voice recorder on their desk to record a lecture, but I would actually be quite surprised if it never happens (given the proliferation of MP3 players, cell phones & the like with voice recorders built in).
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Saw an interesting article off of Digg today talking about how most programmers can't write code to save their lives. You can find it at:
(it's currently been dugg, so you might have to check out diggmirror.com) While the article was interesting, there was an interesting comment left on the forums about what makes a good programmer.
It appeared as the following:
"It really all boils down to the fact that, as I see it, there are two types of us programmers.
Type 1: Career Programmer
This is the guy who, when asked what his job is, he says "programming". When you ask what he does in his spare time, he might reply with "I bungee jump, party, get drunk, party, etc etc". Programming is strictly a job, and when he comes home he might not even have a computer. Or he has a computer that is basically used for accessing MySpace. This is the guy FizzBuzz trips up, and he sees no value in it.
Type 2: The "Programming is an Art / Science" Programmer
When you ask this guy what his job is, he'll say "programming". Ask him what he does in his spare time, he might reply with "Well I just finished skimming through the Rails Recipes book. I use .NET at 'work', but I like to learn new languages and technologies when I have some extra time. Oh, I also spend my extra time keeping my blog on .NET Tips & Tricks up to date! By the way, have you read Getting Real by 37signals? It has some great ideas.".
You see, Type 2 is not just a programmer from 9 to 5, he really enjoys what he does and makes it his passion. He's also not simply a person who just likes to bang out code and go home. He takes the initiative to learn new languages. He reads books about the SDLC and methodologies.
This is the guy you want if you want quality. He excels in smaller environments. He's not simply a body filling a position. To find Type 2, ask the candidate what books he's read related to his profession in the last year or so. Ask what tech sites he visits, and why."
I actually disagreed with this description of the "two types". This is one of the most common misconceptions I hear all the time amongst collegues about programmers and what makes a "good" programmer. In my experience type 2 tends to be the stereotypical antisocial computer "geek" who is standoffish, and writes code that is wildly effecient but horribly difficult to maintain and that tends to be viewed as "good enough". They often have difficulty working with others, and just tend to "do things themselves". They have little balance in their lives.
I think there's also a type #3: the programmer who enjoys being challenged with new problems, and while he/she doesn't read an O'Reilley book or learn a new programming language every week, he/she isn't afraid to broaden his/her horizons. He/she often has varied interests away from computing (perhaps has a wife/husband and family). Because of the balance in his/her life, he/she is often able to interact well with others. Takes pride in his/her work, and often while not a prolific code writer, produces code of the highest quality and is always looking to improve code even further. Puts an emphasis on dividing a problem into smaller divisible tasks and has no reservations about handing them out to others.
I think it's type #3 that is the ideal programmer, yet it's type #3 that will tend to be hurt by the common types of obscure questions that are asked in programming job interviews (What's the dynamic_cast operator in C++? What's call by value-result semantics? What's your favourite data structure?)
Programming skill has little to do with acquired knowledge, but rather the ability to problem solve and think critically. Yes you need familiarity with the language in question, but if you cannot break a problem into manageable chunks then you'll never come up with a great solution to it irregardless of how familiar you are with the language.