Archive for August, 2006

Cowpoke ‘n Family Folk

I’ve fallen behind my blogging, again. Been busy playing w/Python and acquiring new toys: rollerblades, printer, audio player, extra ram for my notebook. Details on those and their related hardships, later. Just wanted to say I’ll be going to the Flying U to ride some horsies with my family. I haven’t been there for a long time, but I’m sure it will be awesome, just like the other times! And it will be yet-another-thing to blog about. I’ll be back by September 1st. (Holy shit, school’s a comin fast.) 😐

Now, where’d I put d’em cowboy boots?

Python Workshop, Pets, and Salmon

Vancouver Python Workshop

Had a good (and very geeky) time. Met some cool people (including a local Summer-of-Coder)! Sweet. I was almost always in the “Beginner Track,” as I was completely unfamiliar with the language. Paul Prescod did an excellent job of offering a two-day introduction to the Python language, and Jim O’Leary had a great 45 minutes on object orientation. (I’ve never before seen anyone try to cover polymorphism in 5 minutes.) I wish most of it moved at a faster pace, but I understand that there was a large range of skills and backgrounds in the room. All the slides are supposed to be available soon through the website, for anyone interested.

Python’s really cool. I can see myself using it quite a bit. I even got a really cool idea for a project while going for a run, the other day! We’ll see how that comes.

Adopting Pets

Over the last several months, I’ve adopted a catch and release program whenever I find a spider in the house. I put it in a container and release it at the bottom of the driveway when I get a chance. Well, I do find these creatures quite interesting, and I found a rather large jumping spider[1] on the deck, which I found especially interesting! I’ve been reluctant to release him, cuz he’s so cool! The problem? Well, I have to feed him, of course. So far, he’s eaten a pill bug I found for him, and two other (smaller) spiders that I didn’t really intend as food….

Actually, I took the container outside with me , looking for “spider food.” At this point, it contained an ant, the large jumping spider, and a smaller spindly spider. For purposes of brevity, lets refer to the jumping spider as “BJ,” and the little spider as “Petey.” I released the ant because he was able to fit through one of the holes at the top (the spiders didn’t seem interested in him), so I just flicked him away. But when the spiders saw him crawl through a hole, they got really excited! I’m not sure if they saw it as food escaping or verification that it was possible. Both BJ and Petey crawled up to the top of the container and started feeling around.

For a couple of days, these spiders had been living together with no conflict, but when excited little Petey got too close to BJ, BJ lashed out at Petey. So Petey scuttled off, wounded, and now *really* wanting to get out. BJ just sat there watching… and waiting, I guess. Petey tried to squeeze through one of the holes, and managed to get two legs and half his body through. He pulled up and tried another one. All the holes are the same size, so he made about the same progress: 2 legs and half his body. BJ leaped on Petey’s helplessly stuck self, and that was the end of poor ‘lil Petey, his legs twitching. I felt pretty sad for the little guy, I was actually planning on releasing him right after the ant.

Anyways, I took lots of pictures of BJ and he’s been quite entertaining. I released him, today.

MMmmmm, Food

I cooked salmon, last night. It was very good, if I do say so, myself. Jesse declined the invite, but Kurtis was willing to come over for a late dinner. 🙂

Some Link Spewage

  • Synergy is a very nice way to use one keyboard and mouse to control multiple desktops, over the network. I just started using it for my desktop & laptop.
  • is fantastic. Join it. Add me as friend. I’m friendly. izm99
  • If you use Linux, I recommend last-exit as a player. (Of course, I may be toolkit-biased).

  • Excellent talk on how Google is getting people to want to work for them. for free.
  • Vancouver coffee shops that offer free wireless (with reviews!). Been told these weren’t terribly reliable, however.
  • The Fireworks are over. I didn’t go.
  • This looks interesting.
  • Google Browser Sync
  • Cheap domain names (according to a VanLUG newsgroup discussion):

Cramming the Snake

Yesterday, I had a nice time relaxing. Went for a bit of a bike ride to the park, played on the swings for a while (I friggin love swings!), got a venti coffee Frappuccino, took a look at Myung-Jin’s new camera (she is one of our current homestay students), did some blogging, and made hamburgers. And ate ’em! MMM MMmmm. Today, I got up late and went for a hike/jog up Quarry Rock in Deep Cove.

  • 10 minute jog from my house to the trail entrance, in Deep Cove
  • 18 minute jog/hike to the lookout point on Quarry Rock
  • It was SO NICE (as usual) up there, that I stayed for a long time. Took off my shirt and let the strong sea breeze cool me off. I didn’t want to leave!
  • 15 minute jog/hike back down to the trail entrance
  • and I mostly walked back, stretching and enjoying the scenery (well, I was mostly just tired)

I’ve since hydrated and showered myself. Now, I have to learn whatever I can of Python, as I’ll be going to the Vancouver Python Workshop. I’m looking forward to it!

I think I’ll have one of those tasty burgers for a late-lunch/early-dinner.

Catching Up

The presentation clogged up my blog buffer.


Making Money

Spent a few days power-washing a rather large driveway. I put on super strong sunscreen but I still got a little toasted. I’ll consider it nicely tanned. 🙂 The job will probably be the only paid labour I do all summer, which I’m fine with. I should have enough $ in the bank to last my school year and maybe even buy a couple geeky toys and enjoy myself once in a while. (Yay, for co-op.) I’ll still have my student loan, of course.

And I came home one day to find out a neighbour had called me twice. Someone I never usually talk to over the phone. They had just bought a router and were having trouble setting it up. “Yah, sure. I’ll take a look at it, tonight.” I walked across the street, spent 30 minutes leisurely setting stuff up, and said don’t worry about any form of payment. I emphasized it. A day or two late, the husband came over and gave me $30. I’m available for work. My new rate is $1/minute. 🙂

Rails and the Ruby that’s on it

Went to a Ruby-on-Rails workshop at UBC, last night on July 26. Met Shirley and her friend, KC, there. The presenter obviously knew his Ruby. And his Rails. But there was so much covered in 90 minutes that it was impossible to move along with the presenter. After being told to setup and bring a laptop to do exactly that, I found it a little strange. I was doing ok, until I encountered a problem. He even went over how to solve my problem (on OSX), but I didn’t catch what he said and he alt-tabbed away from the solution (jumping into the next step) before I could spot it. A video was made, and I think it will be a better resource as a video – with pause and scan.


Got my graduation checklist reviewed. All they did was add check-marks to all my credit tallies. After spending so long verifying everything and then waiting a month for a review, six red check-marks is somewhat of a disappointment – even though, it’s a good thing. But, as it turns out, I don’t need all the courses I’m registered for; I could drop a 400 level comp-sci, if I want. So I probably will. It’s nice, because it makes my last terms fairly manageable. Also, I’m taking world history to fill my arts requirements, so that should be interesting.

It’s funny, though. I was thinking I would be one upper level elective short. I was going to try and weasel my way in to a Directed Studies, because I thought that would be an awesome experience. But I’d have to find something I want to work on, talk to various professors, and write up a proposal… it would be a lot of work just to get into it. I still think it would be an awesome experience, but since I actually have an excess of credits, I probably won’t do this. Lazy, I know. Hi, my name’s Steve. 🙂

Spending Money

Futureshop is selling Casio Exilim S500’s for $200 (reg $350) and refurbished Canon ELPH SD400’s for $250 (reg $350). These have been tempting me for a long time. Well, over the last few hours, at least. I love my Canon IXY Digital 400 (or ELPH S400). The primary reasons why I would want another camera would be for pocketability, and more capable video. Both of these cameras would satisfy those desires, I think. The SD400 is about 5 mm thinner than my S400, and the Casio is about 5 mm thinner than the SD400 (1cm thinner than my S400). But the SD400 has better video and produces better quality images. However, neither of the cameras will work with my underwater housing (which I’m not ready to part with), so either way, if I got one of them, I’d still have my S400. This makes me lean towards the Casio. But I might just let this impulse slide by… then, of course, there’s the DSLite… hmmm.


Congrats to Ben! I hear he’s officially old. Just kidding, Ben. 🙂 Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the party. :'( We shall meet soon….

And congratulations to Ben & Juliette! This Ben’s a neighbour of mine (not the router one). It’s so neighbourly, around here! I attended their wedding on July 29th.

Open Source Software (in Vancouver) part 3

OSS Presentation

On Wednesday (Aug 2nd), I finally went to UBC Robson Square and did my presentation for VanDev. It went okay, I guess. And I’m certainly relieved it’s over! But I think some people were expecting to learn more about free (and open source) software. If people get what they’re not expecting, they’re likely to be disappointed. This was difficult for me, because I had barely started working on the presentation when a description was required.

I wanted to create a non-technical/fun presentation, and I think many of the experienced people wanted something more technical. There was a huge spectrum of knowledge, from people completely unfamiliar with FLOSS to experts (and much more versed than I, but that’s not saying much). I think the less experienced people probably got more out of it.

I know I was looking at my laptop screen a lot, but I just hadn’t memorized everything. Also, I may have mumbled or spoke too fast, at times. I have to work on these things, but I am getting better. I don’t know if I ever really “finished” the presentation, as I was working on it until the last minute, pretty much. It would have been nice to have a sense of “conclusion,” at least, with the actual slides. heh.

Presenting in Linux

Amazingly, I successfully used Linux with the projector! This required coming in a day early and doing some tests. The room I was testing in was right next to the System Administrator’s office, and they noticed me fiddling at the front, so almost as soon as I arrived, there were two guys helping me out. Of course, people doing presentations on Linux is not common, so it wasn’t so smooth. But they did find me horizontal sync and vertical refresh rates. You only need to specify these in the xorg.conf if X has trouble detecting them, but for the Epson Powerlite 7600p projector, it did. For reference, I put these values in the xorg.conf in the “Monitor” section:

HorizSync 15-107
VertRefresh 43-120

and I used the proprietary Nvidia drivers, with TwinView enabled on “clone” mode. I would love it if this “just worked.” 🙁

I used Impress to create the presentation, but wasn’t terribly happy with the performance when actually stepping through picture intensive slides. I remedied this by exporting the presentation to PDF and using Evince in presentation mode, which worked great.

Lessons Learned

  1. In the summary, be as concise about the content of the presentation as possible. This is most easily done if the presentation is already complete. 🙂
  2. Finish your presentation two days before you have to do it. (I was working on mine until the last minute.)
  3. Rehearse at least twice completely, and once the day of. I found it really helpful to record myself and play it back.
  4. Test the presentation setup you will be using (the exact computer and projector) preferably two days in advance. I did it the day prior, but was fairly lucky with the results.


Overall, I’m satisfied with how everything turned out, and it was a good experience!

I recorded the audio of the presentation and will look into combining the audio and a video recording of the slides to release later. I just have to go through all the images and check copyrights…. *sigh*.Can anyone recommend any good FOSS tools for creating a video from slides?

Ubuntu 6.06 LTS CDs

I used Ubuntu’s Shipit to get some CDs for the presentation, and I still have lots of Ubuntu CDs left. If you want a CD, let me know. Breakdown:

  • 16 PC (had 28)
  • 3 PC 64bit (had 5)
  • 3 Mac (had 5)

Oh, and I got stickers, too! :mrgreen: