Eyeball Thief

Ever since finding his new home in the Crypt hallway, my Wallmonster has been repeatedly defaced, requiring numerous repairs. Now, I am sad to announce, one of his eyeballs has been completely stolen.

It's time for a Wanted poster to help catch the thief.

Wanted: Grand Theft Eyeball

Posted on May 31, 2007
Filed under: General, Humor, Random Comments

Watch problem solved

Needlenose pliers: is there anything they can't do?

Changing a Swiss Army watch battery

Unscrewing a watch

Flipping a lightswitch

Turning on a light

Eating a cookie

Eating a cookie

Playing XBox

Playing XBox 360

Washing the car

Washing the car

Posted on May 26, 2007
Filed under: General, Humor, Random Comments

Dead watch battery

My watch battery just died after only a year and a half. The watch itself was not very expensive, but now I see why - they want to charge $30 to replace the 75 cent battery. It's like the printer companies and their $50 ink cartridge refill scam.

Supposedly the battery can only be replaced by mailing it to an "authorized technician" or else the waterproof seal will break and the warranty will be voided. I already tried getting it open but I don't have the right tool to unscrew the back. If anybody has a watch-unscrewing clamp tool, I'm in the market..

Dead watch

Posted on May 23, 2007
Filed under: General, Random Comments


By the moon

Venus By the Moon
Point-and-shoot cameras don't seem to work very well for astronomy photographs

Posted on May 19, 2007
Filed under: General, Random Comments


Prize for the first person who gets it


Posted on May 7, 2007
Filed under: General, Humor, Random Comments

New bank

I've been using a credit union for banking, but I never really analyzed it to see if it was the best deal. This weekend I took a look at it and noticed that I've been getting a pathetic 0.0-0.5% interest rate on my checking account, and 2-3% on savings.

I checked around and it looks like it's possible to get 5% on savings accounts with various banks like HSBC, EmigrantDirect, ING Direct, and E*TRADE.

Ultimately I decided to switch to E*TRADE because they also have checking accounts at 3.25%, and it'll be handy to be able to do stock trades from the same account. At these rates, I calculated that I "lost" several hundred dollars in interest on checking & savings last year, so switching definitely looks like the smart thing to do.

Of course, the higher rates are only possible because these are mostly online discount banks, meaning that they don't have physical branch offices anywhere - all customer service is done over the internet (the way of the future), or over the phone (probably in India or China). Credit unions and traditional banks earn their fees since they have to pay for lots of branch offices and people to staff them, as well as maintaining whole ATM networks (which has got to be expensive).

E*TRADE works around this by allowing you to use any ATM and refunding the fees the owner bank will charge you. If it works it sounds great, but it seems a bit unsustainable since if everybody switched to online banking, there would be no brick-and-mortar banks to maintain all of the ATMs. So the high interest rates might not last forever (or maybe electronic commerce will eventually evolve to the point where cash is not required for most transactions, and ATMs will be obsolete).

Next step on the way to smarter finances: get a cash-back credit card and stop using my debit card. I've been using the debit card almost exclusively for several years, and getting 0% back. Even with 1% cash-back, that's another couple hundred dollars "lost" per year. I'm looking at several cards but haven't found one that's clearly better than the others. Currently I'm thinking about going with the Amazon Visa Card (3% on Amazon purchases, 1% on everything else) since I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon, but it's administered by JPMorgan Chase (infamous for evil customer service), so that might not be the best idea..

Posted on May 6, 2007
Filed under: General, Random Comments

Jeopardy Typo

In yet another sign of the impending apocalypse, today there is a typo in my Jeopardy calendar.

Jeopardy Calendar Typo

Posted on April 30, 2007
Filed under: General, Humor, Random Comments

Locked Out

I recently learned an interesting lesson about the proper protocol for securing locks and shutting garage doors. On arriving home I drove into my garage and walked back out to grab a UPS note on the front door. Not wanting to have to go inside only to come back out the front door, I just reached into the garage to hit the close switch and walked off to get my package.

When I got back with the package, I unlocked the front door with my key and discovered that the "U" latch was locked from the inside (see picture below). I couldn't open the garage door again since my remote was inside the car in the garage, so I spent a good ten minutes trying to reach in the 2-inch gap in the doorway and somehow undo the U latch. Not surprisingly, they are apparently designed to stop you from doing just that, so I was unable to get it open.

I noticed that the latch was held on by two screws, so I got my swiss army knife screwdriver through the door and started to unscrew one of them. It was actually working, although very slowly, and I had one screw about halfway out when some neighbors walked by. Not wanting to look like I was trying to break into an apartment, I took my hand out of the door and pretended to be looking at my UPS package. As I did that I accidentally dropped the screwdriver inside the door and it bounced inside and out of reach.

Now I was really stuck, so I went to get the apartment maintenance guy. A bizarre conversation followed:

Me: "Hi, I locked myself out of my apartment"

Him: "OK, what's the number? I'll get the spare key"

Me: "1072, but the spare key won't help, see I have my key here"

Him: "Then how are you locked out?"

Me: "The U lock is shut from the inside, so I can unlock the door but can't get it open"

Him: "How did you shut the U lock from the outside?"

Me: "Well I went out the garage"

Him: "So why don't you go back in the garage?"

Me: "It's shut, and the opener is in my car, which is inside the garage"

Him: "How did you shut the garage door?"

Me: "I hit the switch and ran out before it closed"

Him: "Mmm... this doesn't make any sense. Let's go look at it"

We walked over to the apartment and I showed him that I was indeed completely locked out, even though I had the key.

Me: "Can you program another remote to open this garage door?"

Him: "Yes, we can do that. But we need the serial number of the opener, and it's inside the garage."

Me: "Don't you have them all written down somewhere?"

Him: "Hmm... no I don't think so"

Me: "What do you normally do in this situation?"

Him: "Nobody has ever done this before"

Me: "Uhh..."

Him: "How about I just kick your door in and then patch it up?"

Me: "OK, but won't that mess up the door frame?"

Him: "Nah, these U lock things aren't really secure anyway"

Me: "Ah well that's nice.."


The trusty U latch and the crack where the door frame was kicked in

Posted on April 8, 2007
Filed under: General, Random Comments

Easter Monkey

At work I won a squeezie-monkey in a contest to write an array-shifting algorithm.

It's very cheapo, made in China, and the packaging has pictures of painted eggs and describes it as an "Easter Monkey" in broken English.

I can think of 3 possible explanations for this:

  1. In other parts of the world they celebrate Easter very differently than we do.
  2. There was a gross mistranslation of "bunny" somewhere.
  3. They only have a limited number of squeezie-doll molds, and rebrand them according to the time of year. So you might see the same product as a "Christmas Monkey" or a "4th of July Monkey" depending on when you bought it.
Easter Monkey
Posted on April 5, 2007
Filed under: General, Random Comments


I used the golf gift certificate this afternoon with Eric L and Andrew. The weather was pretty good, although it had rained in the morning so it was a bit damp. As for the actual golfing, well.. I got par on one hole at least 🙂

Golfing 1

Golfing 2

Golfing 3

Posted on March 25, 2007
Filed under: General, Random Comments

How to open a Windows Vista or Office 2007 box

I nearly cut my hand while opening my copy of Office, and my brother just sent me a string of angry emails after banging on his Vista box for 5 minutes trying to get it open. So to prevent further pain, I present this guide about how to open your Windows or Office box.

First, rip off all the little plastic seals from the sides (This step updated 4/2/07 with a picture sent in by Erin (thanks!)):

Peel the sticker off
Next, you need to cut the circular sticker across the top using your trusty Swiss Army knife. Note: don't try ripping this sticker off, or else it will probably rip the 'certificate of authenticity' off the box as well. Pic:

Cut the sticker across the top

You might have to cut the sticker on both the front and the back if it covers both sides.

At this point you might be tempted to push in the tab things on the side of the box and pull it open:

Don't pull the box tabs

Don't do this, however, because these tab things are actually supposed to hold the box shut, so if you grab them you prevent the box opening at all. The trick is to leave the tabs alone and find the little recessed grip thing on the top of the box and pull on it:

Box top grip

The center of the box slides outward radially, so you actually have to pull up on it, which might not be what you expect. Once you do that the box pops open:

Vista box open

Alternatively, you could also read the little visual diagram of how to do this that's on the first little plastic thing you rip off, but that would be too easy :).

Posted on March 19, 2007
Filed under: General, Humor, Random Comments

Rattlesnake Ridge

Went hiking at Rattlesnake Ridge today. It was pretty cloudy so we didn't get a very good view of either the lake or Mt. Si.

Hike pic 1

Hike pic 2

Posted on March 18, 2007
Filed under: General, Random Comments

Golf time

I'm the proud new owner of the most suspicious-looking gift certificate ever:

Gift Certificate

Despite the fact that it's already expired and the amount has been crossed out multiple times, it's supposedly legit. We'll see if the golf course accepts it..

I won it in the weekly office happy hour competition. This week the challenge was to write an implementation of a function with the signature "void ArraySort(int[] array, int length)" that has O(1) memory usage. This was my entry:

void ArraySort(int _array[], int _length)
push _mysort
push 4
mov eax, [_length]
push eax
mov eax, [_array]
push eax
mov eax, [qsort]
call eax
add esp, 16
jmp _done
mov edx, [ebp-8]
mov ecx, [ebp-4]
mov eax, [ecx]
cmp eax, [edx]
jle _le
mov eax, 1
cmp eax, [edx]
jge _ge
mov eax, -1
xor eax, eax

I particularly like this implementation because the code for the qsort callback is embedded inside the ArraySort function. I was sad that not everybody else appreciated the sublime beauty of this as much as I did.

Posted on March 17, 2007

Corporate Matchmaking

Recently I've been thinking about an idea that was jokingly brought up at lunch at work a few months ago. At the time it sounded stupid, but now for some reason it sounds a tiny bit less so. Maybe I'm just crazy, so I decided to write up the idea to see if anybody can point out obvious gaping holes that I missed.

The basic idea is to write some simple "matchmaking" website software, specifically designed for internal deployment at large corporations, for use by employees who are looking to meet other single people in the area. The software itself would be simple to write since it's basically just a web front end for a database. The difficult part is to determine which features it should have (and whether it's even a good idea in the first place).

Before you laugh your way away from this page, allow me to list a few reasons why this might be a potentially interesting idea.

It might actually be feasible
Let's make up some assumptions out of thin air and assume that the target company has 50,000 employees, two-fifths of which are single, and 50% of those might actually sign up for the service if it's well-advertised and becomes popular. If it's just a simple casual profile-listing site, I think that last number might not be too unreasonable, given the success of similar sites like Facebook or MySpace on college campuses. So we're left with 10,000 potential users, or 5,000 potential matches for each person if for the sake of the argument we make some egregious assumptions about everybody's gender expression & orientation. Now let's cut out 90% of those matches to account for things like age differences, physical distance, personal preferences and any gross errors in the preceding assumptions. We're at 500 potential matches, which is roughly the number of matches returned from a match.com search for single females aged 20-26 in Seattle. So the basic idea isn't too far out there.

Most of the infrastructure is already in place
One of the main advantages of the fact that the software would be restricted to internal corporate employees is that we get tons of infrastructure for free. Namely, identity & authentication. Everybody already has a corporate username & password, so nobody has to sign up for an account. Depending on what kind of information we can pull out of the directory, the only thing a user might have to input would be their gender preferences & age. If the IT infrastructure is properly managed, the users just need to go to the page and the NLA will take care of authenticating them and signing them in automatically. We also get trust and verification for free: assuming security policies are enforced rigorously, you know that the person you're looking at is really who they say they are and that they work for the company. Since it's impossible to create new accounts (except by getting hired) you don't have to worry about scamming & fake profiles, among other things. It also becomes possible to ban misbehaving users much more effectively. The main downside to this is the loss of anonymity (see discussion below).

No financial pressure
The other main advantage I see is that unlike other matchmaking sites, money isn't involved and there's no pressure that it needs to make any money (from advertising or subscription fees). It's free for all users, which is a huge advantage since the one common thing among all people is that they don't want to pay for anything. It also allows for interesting possibilities on the management side since there's no pressure to maximize the number of active accounts at a given time. You want to remove your profile? Great: one click and it's gone. No "are you sure?" games. We could also do things which commercial dating sites would never have the guts to do, such as enforce gender load-balancing across the system by temporarily preventing members of the over-represented side from signing up until balance is restored. One of the biggest problems with regular internet matchmaking sites is that there are usually way more men than women, which isn't good for anybody. This sort of enforcement would be difficult to get right without killing the whole thing before it can grow due to over-restriction. Perhaps a 'voucher' system where you can get a free pass to sign up if you convince one of your female friends to sign up would work.

Good for the company (?)
This may be the weakest argument, so it comes last. It could be argued that if a company's single employees were provided with a matchmaking site that actually worked, they would all get matched up and would be happier. Their newfound happiness would lead to increased satisfaction and work productivity. The higher employee productivity would lead to rises in revenues and profits, which is what the owners (shareholders) want. Thus it would be good for the company, and it wouldn't be motivated to squash the service. Admittedly, the argument has a tenuous chain of inferences, and who knows if the time wasted by employees using the site would actually be greater than any savings due to increased happiness. I think this one could really only be determined through experimental testing.

Now let's take a look at some of the downsides:

Matches are restricted to the same company
This one's obvious due to the nature of of the thing, but it could be a big disadvantage that you couldn't get matched with people outside the company. Out of all the people in the world, what are the odds that the one person you will eventually marry works for the same company you do? Those odds might not be so good. Either way, it might still be a good way to meet new friends nearby, and you could grow your network out from there.

Loss of anonymity
Since the system works on the basis of corporate username, anonymity is lost from the beginning. Depending on your point of view, this could be a good thing since you gain trust and verification that people aren't pretending to be somebody else. But anonymity is important to many people, at least in the initial stages of dating, so this could be a deal-breaker. The system could be configured to present profiles anonymously, but then the users have to trust the administrator of the site, because he/she will have access to everything. Perhaps a hybrid model of selectable levels of anonymity would work.

The company itself might be gender-imbalanced
Even with a gender-balancing algorithm in place, it's possible that we would hit the problem that the input data (that is, the company's employees) is imbalanced in the first place, and thus we could never make everybody happy. For example, consider your prototypical high-tech software company, whose gender balance is 75% male, 25% female (and that's including sales, marketing, HR, etc). In this scenario, even if every eligible woman signed up, two-thirds of the men would be prevented from signing up at all if a gender-balancing limit was in place. This, combined with the fact that in such a situation many of the females might not be single in the first place due to the existing overabundance of males, might kill the idea. I haven't been able to think of any solutions or workarounds for this problem yet. Bad ideas that come to mind might involve some sort of Hot-or-Not ranking system where the 'top' 33% of the males are bubbled up to the top and allowed to join, while the rest are not (obviously, that would not work).

The whole idea is lawsuit-bait
I can easily envision a scenario where the Legal or HR department finds out about the system, squashes it like a bug, and fires the employee who hosted the server in his office. It would probably be a good idea to make sure to get buyoff from the appropriate management, HR & IT people before attempting to do something like this.


So those are some of my thoughts. It'd be interesting to see what other people think. Is this just another case of me being a programmer, so my first solution to any problem is to write an algorithm or program to try to solve it? (probably... see: hammer & nail analogy)

Posted on February 25, 2007
Filed under: General, Random Comments

This week in Google

I'm always amused by the things people type into Google and find this site with. Here are some from this week:

  • seattle yuppie - Apparently I am the #1 search result for "seattle yuppie" (why.. why?).
  • bomb threats advice - My advice: don't search Google for random blogs if you get a bomb threat!
  • bugs in cereal - For some reason this one gets a lot of hits, which is scary.
Posted on February 11, 2007
Filed under: General, Humor, Random, Website Comments

New Wii

Mini-Mii is in color and happy again:

Happy Mii

Amusingly, when I first took the picture "I" blinked:

Blinking Mii

Posted on February 9, 2007
Filed under: Games, General, Random Comments

Emergency Resource Guide

I just got this Emergency Resource Guide in the mail from the "Washington Military Department Emergency Management Division":

Emergency Resource Guide

It contains lots of useful info, such as what to do when you cough, in case you dropped out of school before kindergarten:

What to do if you cough

It has 41 pages of advice about how to deal with everyday dangers such as:

  • Terrorism (advice: "Be aware of your surroundings")
  • Accidental Poisoning
  • Pandemic Flu
  • Radiation Exposure
  • Bomb Threats (questions to ask: "Where is the bomb?" "Where are you?")
  • Chemical Agents
  • Anthrax
  • Botulism
  • Pneumonic Plague
  • Smallpox
  • Tularemia
  • Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers
  • Methamphetamine Labs (wtf?)
  • Earthquakes
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcanoes
  • Government fear-mongering

Oh wait, that last one wasn't on the list 😛

Posted on January 23, 2007
Filed under: General, Random Comments


Power LED

I came home from work today and my power came on. Wooo!! I thought it might get fixed tonight, because earlier in the day I noticed that they had some of the streetlights on my street working again and were making their way up towards me.

So I was out of power for a total of 5 days and 5 nights, which was longer than I have ever seen for a power outage. I have a flight to Denver tomorrow morning, so it's nice that it's on so that I can do a laundry and get all ready to go without freezing to death in the dark (again).

When I turned on my computer, the first email I got was "You have a new bill from Puget Sound Energy!" Weird coincidence? Hrmm... 😐

Posted on December 19, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments


On Thursday night Seattle had the worst windstorm in recorded history, and millions of people are out of power for "days" (including me).

Supposedly about half of the customers have had their power reconnected as of Saturday afternoon, but my neighborhood is still out.  I wouldn't be surprised if it's not fixed until Monday or later.

Yesterday I hung out with friends who were also stranded without power, but today my hot water was all gone so I had to come in to work to take a shower and get internet access.

Smashed car

Trees and fences are down all over the place.  A car across from me in the parking lot got smashed.

Redmond Traffic

Finally, an answer to the question, "Redmond rush-hour traffic: could it possibly be any worse?"  Answer: "Yes, the power to all the streetlights could always go out."

Car Battery Light

Cooking dinner by the light of a car battery at Dave's house.

Filesystem Corruption

Ah, the joys of filesystem corruption

Posted on December 16, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments

Weird places to split an encyclopedia

I'm sure they do it just by page count, but some of these make me wonder if the editors weren't having a little fun:

Menage Ottowa

Say it real fast, it sounds like 'ménage-à-trois'

Chicago Death

Well, they do have the highest per-capita murder rate..

Decorative Edison

"Ooh, what lovely little Edisons you have around the tree"

Education Evolution

We could use a little more of this..

Excretion Geometry

Cylinders, perhaps?

Pre-Columbian Saint

I don't think they had those...

United Zoroastrianism

The avowed enemies of the Zoroastrian Alliance, I'm sure

Posted on December 12, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments

Time for a bigger monitor

It must be time to get a bigger monitor.. All the junk on my Desktop is approaching 30% of the visible area again. Maybe another fix would be to delete some of the stuff, but what fun would that be?


Posted on November 28, 2006
Filed under: General, Humor, Random Comments

More news about false religions

I got back this week and found this on my chair.  Looks like one of my co-workers was concerned that I didn't get the message :).  The usual suspects claim it wasn't them, so I'm still figuring out who it was...

In other news, comments are re-enabled.

More False Religion

Posted on November 17, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments


I think I have OCD. Now that I have them all lined up, right side up and facing the right way, I am annoyed that I forgot to sort them by color...

JPG Starbursts

Posted on November 9, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments


Well, I didn't get invited to any parties for Halloween night (boo), so I decided to throw my own! (at work).  It was pretty good.

Here's me as Darth Vader vs. Igor's son Peter as Luke Skywalker:

Darth Vader

Special thanks to Erin for taking the pic!

Posted on October 31, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments

The End of False Religion is Near!

Some Jehovah's Witnesses rang my doorbell this morning and woke me up, apparently just to let me know that "The end of false religion is near!". If nothing else, they demonstrated firsthand the power that false religions still hold over people, even today. The irony was clearly lost on them..

Them: (standard blah blah blah..)
Me: Why do you believe that?
Them: See, here are the Bible scriptures that prove it, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Ezekiel 18:4, blah blah blah
Me: So it's true because the Bible says so?
Them: Yes
Me: Why?
Them: Because the Bible is the infallible word of God
Me: How do you know?
Them: Because it says it is
Me: The Koran says it's the infallible word of God, too
Them: Well obviously it's not
Me: Why is that obvious?
Them: Our church says so
Me: So you believe what your church tradition and teachers tell you to believe?
Them: Well, yes..
Me: But here in your booklet it says that one of the hallmarks of "false religions" is that they rely on "traditions and commands of men as doctrines"? Isn't that what you just -
Them: You're obviously going to Hell, we're going to the next house
Me: Huh?

The End of False Religion is Here!

[Edit 11/04: Disabling comments on this post since JW's keep finding this page through Google and leaving insulting comments for me and I'm tired of clicking 'Delete Comment' :). Since when is harassing and insulting people a good way to convert them to your religion?]

Posted on October 28, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments



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