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June 19th, 2006

08:52 pm - travel, day 2
Why didn't I move to the management world earlier?

I asked something along those lines yesterday. Today, I don't necessarily have an answer. But I do have more...experience.

First off, today was *totally boring*. I got up a little late, but I didn't sweat it so much because the keynote addresses didn't begin until 11:00. My suit was pressed and ready to go at nine and I was ready to go by ten, so everything was fine. I got to the conference venue (it's held at the Shangri La, the hotel chain owned by the richest man in Hong Kong) basicallly on time. The keynote addresses happened. Yes, plural: 5 people spoke about really boring stuff. You don't want to know. Then it was lunchtime, which was disappointing. I expected yummy made-to-order food but I got basically buffet. I spoke to people who "had something to say," but had not real time to listen. The best part was waiting for the next sessions to happen, standing by the pool, watching bikini'd Asian women swim here and there.

In the afternoon I attended a session about voice-over-ip, VOIP, "voyp" as they say out loud, "void" as I say to myself. I mean, it's just packets, people! Just data! No, that's not true. I'm aware of it too. What about net neutrality? etc etc. There are issues. They will be worked out sooner or later. This was almost the most interesting part of the day. But not quite.

I came back to the 30-floor hotel. Much of the day I spent thinking "wow, I'm on the Top Floor." Ha ha I'm a sillly nut. But I get my kicks where I can. I had a little wine and some yummy snacks. Saan: I took some pics, no worries. The other "executives" looked at me funny, and so did the wait stuff, but I got some pics. There was a nice mixture of salmon and fish eggs, some goose liver and yellow tomatoes and good mayonaisse and very good pistascio mousse (sorry, I don't have a spell checker integrated into logjam here, so probably pistascio is spelled wrong). And decent Australian wine to boot.

I talked to this friendly Australian, Collin, and another woman, Lille. I wondered if the stores stayed open past eight o'clock. They both looked at me all crazy--"eight o'clock?! Are you from Germany or something?" Stores don't close here until nine or ten. So I took a taxi to City Hall. No joke--city hall, orchard lane, that's where you go here, if you want to go shop or go to bars or do other touristy things.

So I went shopping, because I like shopping ONCE in other countries. I just wonder what their shopping-mall experience is like. Yes, I'm weird. Shopping near city hall in Singapore (sorry, I would say more specifically what this mall was called, it was Razor or Rassor or something of that sort but I just can't recall), anyway shopping near city hall in Singapore is *just like* shopping in Europe. No difference at all. So don't bother.


But I met this fellow in a bookstore (I can't resist bookstores, at least I always want to browse whatever's on sale) among the books about being a manager, since I'm going to be a manager and all. This bookstore was full of "how to be a manager" books. Silly, silly stuff. Anyway, there was this funky fellow there. He was shorter than me (duh, but hey, I'm only 5'10) and, well, "colored", darkish skin or whatever. He walked up to me and asked where I was from, etc etc. The crux of the conversation was this, though: he believed the Government (any of them--Chinese or American or Russian) had taken his soul, his *cyber-soul*, and controlled it, and made it do things. He believed that there was this Force present on the Internet (naturally run and controlled by the military) that could control things in the external world. And he believed that everybody, I mean *everybody*, was nano-technologically enhanced--and hooked up to the global net. And he wanted to know all my opinion about that.

I'm cool with that. But it got a little funkier when he started talking about the face that he saw in his computer screen when, during the early 90's, he was programming too much. Like this spirit came out and talked to him. I asked him what the spirit's name was, but he wouldn't tell me. I told him that if he really believed that the government was controlling his cyber-soul, he should really go take it back. But I'm afraid my English didn't quite cut all the way through...

Then I went to a bar that Collin recommended. Nothing special. Singaporean beer ("Tiger") really isn't so good. After that, back to my 30-floor hotel and the bar downstairs. Watched some football, laughed and joked and rolled my eyes with Lille as we listened to Collin and Mike. That was basically it.

So now to bed, very very late. I don't really care. I realized today that it doesn't really matter, in any way, if I go to the conference tomorrow at any particular time, besides the time I need to give my presentation, obviously, which is at 1600. Otherwise, I'm free. Bwa-ha-ha-ha ha-ha! Sleeping in, in Singapore!

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June 18th, 2006

05:57 pm - travel day 1: Munich to Singapore to Bed
Why did it take so long for me to move over to management? Not that I'm dissatisfied with my tech career or anything--it's been awesome.

Here I am in Singapore at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, 30th floor. The top four floors (this is one of them) are a part of this hotel, but all the rooms are a part of some "executive club." I get free drinks, free breakfast, free suit pressings, and everyone is *very* nice to me. I have a special key that I have to use to get the elevators to take me up here. While on these floors I'm supposed to maintain a certain standard of dress. But I'm just hanging out naked in my room, waiting for the next world cup game, which starts in 30 minutes.

The trip here was not particularly interesting--except it was the first time I've flown business class. So much room! The food is much better. The wine is better, and the attendants are extra nice. Something interesting I noticed was that people don't talk to their fellow passengers. (Sometimes) I think it's neat when the person sitting nexts to me wants to chat. But all of these business-class folk seemed rather closed. The seats were a bit trippy, with complicated remote controls that let you move the seat in different directions, extend the seat so you're lying nearly flat, inflate the lumbar support or whatever that's called. On the flight from Bangkok to Singapore I got to sit upstairs is this massive purple-tailed airplane. The seats in that plane looked rather space age. And everything on that plane was some shade of purple.

The only hassle so far was the flight booking from Bangkok to Singapore. The dorky travel agents reserved the hotel in Singapore from the 18th to the 20th, but they booked the flight for the 19th. Eh?? I was lucky there were extra seats on today's flight, and that it was raining because that made the plane leave an hour late. With the long wait I had in the ticket line, I wouldn't have made it. But hey, at least I'm here.

It's been a very long trip, so I think I'll turn in, zone out watching the game, wait for the Melatonin to kick in, and pick up my freshly pressed suit in the morning.

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May 20th, 2006

07:20 pm - mmmm sturgeon fries
The Chinese have successfully damned up the Yangtze river. "The dam is 2,300 meters long and, when filled, the reservoir will be 656 kilometers long." As you might know, many endangered animals depend on the river, including dolphins and sturgeon and apparently sturgeon fries.

From New Scientist: Flocking birds inspire information organisation. Each "bird" carries a document, which is automatically assigned a string of numbers depending on the words it contains. Documents with a lot of similar words have number strings of the same length and a virtual bird will naturally fly with others carrying documents with number strings of the same length.

What else can this be applied to? Software developers (open sourcers) listen up: here's some projects you might want to create:

  • Add a re-organizer plugin to Akgregator, or whatever feed reader you prefer.

  • Extend one of the firefox feed-reader plugins to include graphical, bird flock views of your feeds

  • Make a peer-production system out of this idea. How can this be mashed up with de.li.ciou.us?

  • Can this be used to automatically sort email inboxes?

  • Create a view of livejournal that organizes friends this way, and suggests new friends

  • Create an application that analyzes song lyrics and organizes the songs.

I think the peer-production idea is most interesting. I'm stuck on peer-production at the moment--my mind keeps returning to them, looking for new areas for their use--because of Benkler's Wealth of Networks. Read this.

In other news, I've safely made it home. The kitties are very happy to see me. They definitely had a good time with our neighbors, who love cats, but had to get rid of theirs because they weren't home often enough. The cats enjoy spending time in their house though. Apparently Ember figured out how to use a door handle and kept getting in to their bedroom. Their bedroom is in the same place in the house as our living room is, which is the cat's room, so it doesn't surprise me that they were very interested in spending time in there. How A fixed the problem with Ember was pretty funny: he took out the door handle (which is horizontal) and put it back in vertically. The neighbors took pictures of the cats, too, which was great! When Saan returns I'll see if she wants to post them in her album.

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May 14th, 2006

05:58 am - Brujo, Santero, Palero
Five years ago, just before leaving for Aachen--almost exactly five years ago, in fact--I happened across a newly opened Botanica just 4 blocks south of my workplace. There was only a small white sign that, as far as I remember, had something like "Botanica Chama" written in black permanent marker. I peeked inside, got very excited, and planned to come back with Saan later that week.

Only one or two days before leaving, we went to the botanica together. A woman, the proprietess, and a male child of hers were there. One wall was covered in palos, which are barks and roots and branches from various holy and powerful trees from the Mexican and South American jungles. There was a fantastic selection of special-purpose candles: 7 African Powers, Shango and Yemaya, reversibles, and more. Oils and powders, religious artifacts like Marias and various saints rested up a shelf. I don't remember the full extent of what was available, but I remember thinking, this is real. I'd visited the "real" ones before--in Dallas and San Francisco and Roswell (!)--but this was the first (and last) I found in Albuquerque.

I asked a few questions about the palos. The proprietess didn't know many of the details (or didn't want to tell me). Her husband, the Santero, arrived within a few minutes. He answered my questions knowledgably and, I don't know, somehow shined with honesty and there was just some kind of jive, some feeling I had about him--here my words fail terribly. We left with some palos intended to help us have a successful trip to Europe.

Jump to this week. We're back in New Mexico. Saan will here much longer than I; I'm going to San Francisco for a few days. We needed to visit a botanica again to stock up on supplies, so I found one in the yellow pages. When the Santero (let's call him "S") picked up the phone I immediately had this feeling: it's him. They had closed their shop--it required too much upkeep and hassle--but he invited us over to his house to buy our supplies directly from him.

He and his family live on a ranch south of town; you have to make many left turns to get there. There was a tall fence made of adobe, and two white metal gates about truck-size; one led to their front door while the other was obviously used by said trucks. Many dogs greeted us with healthy barks so naturally, we didn't want to simply waltz in amongst them. But there was no visible doorbell or other sort of noisemaker. Once again S arrived shortly after we did. He greeted us and led us around the house to the garage out back.

I miss the dust here, the red brown dirt, the smell of it, even the taste.

You know a Palero has power when he speaks in a language you don't know and half an hour after leaving you can't exactly see straight, you are left spinning and wondering, "what did I learn? When will I consciously learn it?" He showed me a layout for an altar, how paleros use cowrie shells for divination, then he opened the family temple. We stood at the door and could do nothing but gawk.

I'd like to say more, but I'm feeling a bit reserved--and a bit dizzy.
Current Mood: spin span spun

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February 19th, 2006

01:48 pm - Lazy Sunday
OPML: I've heard about it before, but until today never understood its usefulness. Though the acronym stands for Outline Processor Markup Language, you might call them reading lists. For instance, this article has Best Food, Best Wine and Best Food Porn reading lists in OPML. Compared to the open source reading list from the same site, OPML rocks.

The music collection: our loss was tragic. I like that Saan has started using AudioScrobbler. You can mash up Upcoming, a community-maintained events calendar and Audioscrobbler, for a particular user.

James Governor's MonkChips is one of my favorite blogs. IT analyst stuff: it's led me to most of the interesting links I've found today.

Declarative Living: "Declarative Living is about publishing preferences to the web cloud, in the form of metadata that can be aggregated to create models of interest.

Services like flickr, audioscrobbler, and allconsuming are good examples of the trend towards web users making their preferences and interests public." He goes on to note that Declarative Living is similar to declarative programming: the programmer states a bunch of facts and relations, then teases truths and proofs from the computer. Tell me, O Oracle, what music would I like to hear today?

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January 7th, 2006

11:20 pm - grrr computer
I think the schools feature is pretty nifty. So I tried to add a few of the schools I attended to my schools list. All of the schools already exist in the LJ school list, so I figure it must not be very complicated--not much room for error, right? Ha! Shows how optimistic I am.

I find UNM, for instance, then click the button "Add" next to my name. Logically, this should add the school to my list. It takes me to my schools page which says, "You have not listed any schools. Browse the school directory to find and add schools." No matter how many times I click "Add", regardless of which school I use, this keeps happening. I've tried it in Konqueror and Firefox, but that has made no difference. I cleared my browser cache, as suggested on the support page. I just cannot add schools. Strange.

But wait, it gets better. Saan suggested I open a support request. So I go type the request in, click "submit", and what do I get?

One or more errors occurred processing your request. Please go back, correct the necessary information, and submit your data again.
As a security precaution, the page you're viewing requires a POST request, not a GET. If you're trying to submit this form legitimately, please contact us.


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January 1st, 2006

01:52 pm - The coming plague
Woman dies from bird flu but never got near poultry

This is the first bit of news like this that I've seen. I don't want to jump to conclusions: is this evidence that that dreaded event--the virus, traveling from human to human--has already happened?

"According to mathematical projections used by Washington, everything begins with an epidemic that breaks out in Thailand in a small village, where the H5N1 virus has hypothetically mutated and acquired the ability to transmit among humans." (from Turkish Press)

By the way, did you know that the last flu epidemic was probably, initially, a "bird flu"?

"Now, researchers Jeffery Taubenberger and Terry Tumbe (ph) say they have found a frightening similarity in the genetic make-up of the 1918 virus and the flu now sweeping birds in Asia. That avian flu has already killed more than 60 people. Taubenberger said the 1918 flu was almost certainly another avian flu that came from birds and somehow acquired the ability to pass quickly from person to person." (from CNN Transcripts)
Current Mood: morbid

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12:51 pm - 2005 - year of the environmental catastrophe?
New Scientist, along with 5 bi-zillion other content-makers, apparently perceive significant demand for lists about 2005. The BBC lists 100 things we've learned this year (rather full of silly brit stuff, funny sometimes). There's top tech 2005, top music 2005 and so on.

This year, New Scientist's 2005: The year in environment is worth reading. Take a trip through Scary Storm memory lane! Fondly remember watching large pieces of an Antarctic ice cliff fall into the ocean. Breath deep and sing praises as you are reminded how some certain countries keep denying the Kyoto agreement.

Sigh. At least the U.S. now officially recognizes that global warming is an issue.

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December 26th, 2005

03:02 pm - why Windows sucks, #13567
Windows cannot be installed on an extended partition; it must be installed on a primary partition. Crap crap crap crap crap!

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02:43 pm - wireless network for audio streams
I wish that some search engine would let me weight terms. Say I have a list of terms: "wireless home stereo system linux". I'd like to say that if it has all the terms except "linux", I'd like to see the results, but if "linux" is there in addition to the rest, even better--please put that result closer to the top. That would be nice.

The reason I'm wishing this right now is, I want to build an audio network in my house. The overall quality of audio in the house right now pretty much sucks. how much does it suck? Is there hope for non-suckage?Collapse )

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