SiKing

August 21, 2015

hiking to the Hollywood sign

Filed under: cali — SiKing @ 9:29 pm
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While on vacation, we decided to hike to the Hollywood sign.

There are plenty of blogs out there telling you all about the hike, distance, bring water, etc. They all lie!!!

Here is what the hike could be like:


This is the “easy” route. Notice it says that it could be 3.2 miles. I found some blog that even claimed 3 miles round trip. Yea, maybe the second time, and only if you took notes along the way.

The problem is that while there, it’s like a giant ant maze, and none of the paths are marked in any way. The best you can hope for is to talk to the other tourists (they are the ones not crazy enough to be jogging here) and compare notes. “Is the sign that way?” “No, we came from there, it’s definitely not there! Where did you come from?” So you keep getting lost, going the wrong way, backtracking, all up and down hills. We were out there for good 5 hours. We actually got lucky in that more than half the day it was cloudy. We brought 3 litre bottles of water, several bottles of energy water, and some fruit. It was not enough! I have no idea how the tourists that were hiking there with one tiny bottle of water in their hand lived through it.

When you finally make it to the end, the sign is completely fenced off. This is the best shot you can get, up close:

Hollywood

Hollywood Hills


I’m not trying to look funny, I am breathing that hard!

Bring water, lots of water. Don’t bother with a map, they don’t help. Shorts, decent hiking boots not open ones, lather up sunscreen first, hat. This is place where you could die!

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February 1, 2013

Noki Déjà vu

Filed under: noki — SiKing @ 8:56 am
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After 6 years my phone finally died. People (some people) are freaked out that I have had a phone for 6 years. However, when I purchased it, I had all intentions of keeping it for at least 10! It powers on, however the keyboard is completely unresponsive. Actually for a few years I had been unable to reflash the OS. Unfortunately the phone took down my entire phonebook with it.

Getting a new phone was like déjà vu, or is that reja vu?

For like a year now I have been talking about getting a new (the?) phone, and actually trying to bid cheap on it on eBay. When my old phone died, due to some personal circumstances, I needed a phone like right now! I just went to Target and got whatever was the cheapest thing in stock. After a few days I decided that all I really need is a phone … that’s it! Just a phone that can make calls, and send the odd SMS text. So one last time I decided to have a browse through eBay, just to see what the current price point is on the N9. When I logged into my account I had a message … from a seller: “where the heck is my money for the phone you bought a week ago?!?!” That’s paraphrased, of course. This was a total surprise. I discovered that eBay completely redesigned their site! Auctions that you are either bidding on and have lost are easily accessible from the left navigation menu (even though the counts are updated correctly only after you click on one of the links). But auctions that you have actually won, are buried at the bottom of the “Summary” page. 😡

I apologized to the seller and paid for the phone right away. Since I am getting a new shiny phone, I even paid for the extra $20 faster shipping. Afterwards, on a whim, I decided to check the seller’s eBay store. The seller is from Hong Kong, and at the top of the storefront was a message: “tomorrow is the start of the Chinese New year celebrations, and so we will be shutting down for a month!” 😯

Update Feb.19: And it does not end there. The seller shipped it to the wrong address (someplace in California). USPS says they will wait 30 days and ship it back if it is unclaimed. 😦

Probably faith telling me that the cheapo is good enough for me?

February 26, 2012

Loop around Area51

Filed under: rides — SiKing @ 10:00 pm
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CeeJ and I have been mulling around riding the Extraterrestrial Highway for a while. This weekend we made it happen.

Day 1

The plan was to start early afternoon (after CutiePie’s swim practice). Unfortunately, CJ’s Shadow made it as far as the end of his street before it took a dump and would not start again. He had to push it back up to his house and change bikes, obviously moving everything he packed the nigh before from one bike to a backpack. We left Vegas probably around 3 in the afternoon.

The ride up the 95 went by pretty uneventful. CutiePie took some pictures from the back – of her gloves, her pants, the asphalt – and filled up the camera memory. Mental note: the camera memory is not a good backup storage. 😕 CJ reported that CutiePie was occasionally practising her synchro moves on the back of the bike – too bad we don’t have any video of that. Beatty was the first gas stop, next to The candy store of course. 🙂

Onwards through Goldfield up to Tonopah. Both of these are quickly becoming ghost towns, leftovers from the gold-rush days. I was actually very pleasantly surprised how well maintained the town centre of both towns was.

Day 2

I woke up the next day around 8 (we did say no rush, right!), with both CJ and CutiePie both staring at me like: can we go yet? After the continental breakfast (mmmmm bacon! :razz:) we took a short walk around Tonopah. One, we wanted to gauge the morning temperature, and two, we wanted to see the town in daylight. If you are going to stay, I recommend the Mizpah hotel – it still has the old charm to it. We did not get a room there (no vacancy), but did have our dinner there. Eventually opted for for the winter riding pants, since I brought them along, but not the extra sweat shirt.

We got on the road probably just before 11. By this time I was sweating like a pig! About 40 miles out of town, I decided to pull over on the side of the road to zip up all the vents on my jacket and pants. The temps were getting below freezing, before the wind chill factor! A state trooper just happen to drive by, and pulled over to ask us if we were OK. On a whim I asked him if we are heading the right way towards the 375. He told us that we are headed exactly the opposite direction! We need to go back through Tonopah, and take the 6 towards Ely. The freaky thing is that about 5 miles back we passed a rest stop, where I was originally thinking of stopping to zip up, and where the trooper would have never seen us. By the time we were back in Tonopah, I had to gas up again, especially considering the next gas after that was going to be in Alamo – about 160 miles away; my bike has a range of 150 miles, riding 1up, down hill, with a good strong back wind. And off we were again, this time in the right direction.

The first stop we made was at the turnoff to the Tonopah Test Range airport – apparently this is where all the testing for the Stealth fighter was done. Half-way to Ely is the turnoff to the 375 – the Extraterrestrial Highway. As soon as we turned onto the highway, I remember seeing very tall mountains on the horizon, completely covered in white, and thinking that sure I sure hope that is not where we are going. 😮 The mountains stayed to the horizon all the way. 🙂 CutiePie kept up with her synchro workout on the back of the bike, and was freaking out the local Air Force as well as the UFOs: “What’s with the crazy air traffic controller chick?!?!” 😀

About half-way down the 375, in Rachel, NV, you actually come to the a sign that declares this to be the Extraterrestrial Highway, right before the Little A’Le’Inn – most people pronounce it little alien inn. As CJ said: you cannot pass up the opportunity to have lunch at a dive in the middle of nowhere! 🙂 This is where you can also find maps and photographs of the super-secret-illegal-to-photograph Area 51! The Eastern end of the highway even has some neat twisties – overall a really fun ride!

Last stop was the Alamo, NV. Brings back memories of bygone days, when I got almost abandoned by Bonnie and almost ran out of gas in the middle of the desert in the middle of the summer! This time I heeded the “No gas for next 75 miles” sign, a filled up.

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To find Groom Dry Lake on the map, where the actual Area 51 is located, is left as an exercise for the reader.

January 26, 2011

a lawn mower

Filed under: meatspace — SiKing @ 8:50 pm
Tags: ,

I got me a new lawn mower. I went all out, and got one of the fancy self-powered, fully automated models. Have a look:




Unfortunately, the “lawn mower” is constantly trying to get onto the back deck and into the house, and not taking care of the weeds in the back yard.

So I went down to the local hardware store to price out a chain around his neck (a dog collar is too short), and a 50ft. of steel cable (yes, the coated kind), and some connectors to hook everything up. Bottom line: that setup costs more than the goat, and a low-end BBQ is cheaper.

So I still have some decisions to be made… 😛

December 13, 2008

No good deed shall go unpunished

Filed under: canuckia,meatspace — SiKing @ 12:00 pm
Tags: ,

Good guys, honest people, always get screwed, and not in a good way. My life is usually SNAFU, so I am pretty used to life’s ups and especially it’s downs. But these past few months have had a rather high density of incidents, even for me.

Back in mid-August things started out pretty good. I got a transfer to California. I was thinking that I would cash in on the housing crash there. Some of the reports are way overrated BTW – it is not possible to buy a home at 10 cents on the dollar, but it is quite possible to buy a home at 40 cents on the dollar. The day after I put an offer on a house I got fired. Don’t want to get into the particulars right now; might air out the dirty laundry later. Basically, I spoke my mind, and my boss and I did not see eye-to-eye. If only I would have kept my mouth shut, and just kept on keeping on like the rest of the sheep, I still would have been gainfully employed.

While all that was going on, being in California, I had to get a car. As with the house market, the car industry was hit just as hard if not harder. So I was shopping round for a bargain. Found a nice 2002 Volvo V70XC, with little over 50k miles, for little over $12k including all taxes and registration. All the fixin’s too, you could still see the imprints of the child-seats in the leather back seats of the car – obviously a pampered mommy mobile. Everyone we spoke to told us that Volvos are very reliable cars, so we went for it. Being a nice guy, I even tried to make it before the end of the month so the dealership makes their quota. Two weeks later, the transmission fell apart! Almost two weeks and $4000 after that, we had a new transmission in it. The mechanic told us, that we had better drive it as much as possible, and bring it back after about 1000 miles for him to give it a quick look over. Only 325 miles later, that transmission started going! At least this time it was under warranty. However, by this time, we decided that the economy is not going to improve any time soon, and so we are going back to Canada. The landlord called from Hawaii to tell me she will not be able to refund me the $1500 deposit because I am breaking the lease, and so we were just holding out until the car got fixed, this time by Volvo personally, or until we get forcefully evicted, whichever comes first. The car won.

When crossing the border with the car, I got another shocker. I had once previously brought a car from the US to Canada. It was a while back, and I remember very little: I showed up, paid the GST, they filled out a bunch of paperwork, and I went along on my way. This time however they wanted me to prove that I am paying the GST for my car. I actually had to prove that I do not have some odd fetish about paying taxes for someone else’s property. The only way to prove that is with an original title. I had paid off the car only like a week earlier, and asked to have the title mailed to my Canadian address (the mailing, normally takes several weeks or months). So now I am screwed! I had to call my dad, luckily only 3 hours away, to come and pick up us and my crummy stuff, drive my car back over to the American side, get ridiculed by more customs guards, and park it in a field behind the nearest bar for $21/week. From the number of cars parked out there, I am not the only unfortunate. If I had instead told the customs officials that I am only visiting my parents for Xmas, everything would have been fine. I still had what definitely appeared to be a valid work permit for the US, along with all the necessary documentation to get it. I could have driven the car on American (cheaper) registration for another 8 months, thereby completely avoiding something like $1300 in import duties because I have owned the car for less than 1 year. A year later I could have saved some more of the $1200 GST (aka: Gouge and Screw Tax) as the car would have been another year older. I could have avoided all the hassle and more than half the costs, if only I had told a little white lie. The best thing is, that if I do honestly get a job down in the States again and take the car back there, I will probably not be able to get any of the taxes back!

Update 12-01-09: Got the paperwork for the car last Thursday. It came in an envelope that had a return address to the bank and not the DMV. ❓ It has to be faxed to the Americans 72 hours in advance; did that. Went to pick up the car today. No problems on the American side. They made me go get the car first; didn’t even have to dig it out of a snow bank, and it started on the first try!!! 😮 The Canadians were A-holes as usual. 👿 At the drive-through window they asked me how much the car was. I could not remember, pulled out the bill of sale, and scanned through the half-meter long (I am not exaggerating here) sheet, written in size 9 font. I picked one of the numerous “total price” values and rattled that off to the cute chick. I was then told to come in, to fill out the paperwork and pay the import taxes. Inside it’s all guns, bullet-proof vests and too much testosterone – sheesh. The best thing: the chick running the cash register – no gun, no vest! 😕 The guy is scanning through my paperwork, and asks: “How come it says here that the car cost [names some number that is about $400 higher]?” Note that this is a $400 difference on a 12-thousand-dollar car. I told him, that I was not sure. “Well, you need to tell us exactly.” I looked at the paper, and told him that I am sorry and I must have made a mistake, “there are, after all, a lot of numbers on this paper,” I pleaded. The 25-year old kid looks me straight in the eye, and says: “You need to know exactly what the car cost. When you gave us the price the first time, that is the only chance you get. You basically lied to us. I could now reposes the car, you could be fined $10,000, and you could be jailed for 10 years!” 😯 I wanted to smack him upside the head for being rude to the elderly, but I realized that that would have been more of an insult to me than to him.

As far as I can tell, the world’s longest undefended border works only for terrorists. Every time I cross it, I feel nervous, and all the people wearing bullet-proof vests and guns at their hip are far from friendly. On our recent “visit”, my daughter noticed a bunch of them standing around a computer laughing. She asked me what they are doing. I told her that they are probably watching some funny movie on the computer. She said that maybe she could do a job like that when she grows up. I did not want to tell her in front of the dozen or so armed officers bored out of their minds, that she can already do a job like that at 9 years old! The North America Free Trade Agreement is some lunatic’s work of fiction, as there is nothing free about it that I can see. The only benefit, is that Canadians are allowed to go work there at a cost of $50/year, as opposed to something like $450/3 years for other nationalities. As for moving goods back and forth for free, or some layman going down there (or coming up here for that matter) to just get any job – forget it!

I often ask myself: Am I actually doing my children any justice by teaching them to be good, law-abiding citizens? Would I not be preparing them better for that cruel world if I were to teach them to lie, cheat, and steal at every opportunity?

Update 16-01-09: I have been corrected. It’s not “lie, cheat, and steal”, it’s apparently called “being diplomatic” and in that case it’s OK.

September 21, 2008

I want a job at AT&T…

Filed under: cyberspace — SiKing @ 9:16 pm
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AT&T
…testing, because they don’t have to do squat! Here is a transcript, paraphrased, of a conversation I had with a couple of computers the other day.

“Hello valued customer. This is a computer programmed by a mumbling idiot. If you would like to add credit to your account, please press 1, …”

“1”

“Thank You. if you would like to use a credit card press 1, if you would like to use a gift card press 2, ….”

“2”

“Thank You. Please enter the huge long number on the back of the card.”

“1234567…………890”

“Thank You. If you entered 1234567…………890, please pres 1.”

WTF? I dunno, either I’m gonna get lucky, or you’re gonna make me do it again, no? 1″

“Thank You. Now please enter you phone number.”

Say what? I just got this phone, I don’t have the number memorized! And anyway, are you telling me you can’t even figure out the number that is calling you?

“I’m sorry, I did not understand. Please enter you phone number.”

There is the 611 number that always not only knows what my number is, but that I am also getting short on credit, and is always so helpful.” hang-up, dial 611

“Hello, this is a computer programmed by a complete moron! But at least complete moron programmed me with voice recognition.” pause “I see that your credit is low, would you like to take care of that?”

“Yes.”

“Great, would you like to use a credit card, or a gift card, or …”

“Gift card.”

“That’s great. Please enter the extremely long number on the back of the card.”

“1234567…………890”

“Thank You. Did you enter 1234567…………890?”

🙄 “Yes.”

“Oh wait. I just realized that I can’t recharge your account from here. But I can transfer you to the computer programmed by mumbling idiot. Please note that he will require you not only to re-enter that gigantic number again, but also to enter your own phone number.”

😯 😥

August 7, 2008

My Last Days of the Celtic Tiger

Filed under: eire — SiKing @ 2:03 pm
Tags: ,

Apologies if you’re expecting some summary of the play, but I thought the title fitting for my situation.

I have only a few days left in Dublin and last night I took one last stroll on the Boardwalk along the Liffey. I thought about past two years of my life. On the personal side of things, completely unrelated to Ireland, things did not work out as I had hoped or even anticipated; but life is like that sometime – that’s what keeps it interesting. Overall I am very glad of my time in Ireland, but after two years it is time for me to move on. Ireland is beautiful, but it’s a country that “only a mother could love.” :mrgreen:

One thing that I must clear up. Lots of people have mentioned that the weather, specifically the rain, is what forced me out. That is not true. I must be probably the only person on this island that did not mind the weather. I actually like a cooler climate. I like that once in a while it rains, it gives you constant green grass and (afterwards) clear blue skies. Joking aside: my top three are at the bottom of the following list.

Things I will miss

  • Guinness! Unfortunately, the black stuff does not travel. Just as I no longer drink Sam Adams outside of Boston, or Staropramen outside of Prague, I don’t think I will enjoy a Guinness outside of Dublin. It’s not just the local atmosphere, it actually tastes different.
  • Irish people. I am normally no good with people, but Ireland was the easiest place for me to make new friends – I don’t know what that says about the Irish. 😆 They are some of the most tolerant and friendly people that I have met anywhere.
  • Lots of very kool things to see. I thought it was great, that most (not all!) of the historic sites have free admission and you can actually climb all over them. The kids especially loved this.
  • The country. Dingle peninsula, Wexford, Giant’s Causeway, and others. Apparently I have seen more of Ireland than most Irish. 😀 Sorry I did not make it out to Achill Island, but I guess I gotta save something for next time?
  • For their size (of the country, not talkin’ ’bout obesity here) the Irish will not be just swept under a carpet. The recent Lisbon Treaty vote in Ireland proved that they are a serious contributor to the EU, and they will voice their opinion.

Things I will do without

  • Bulmers – sorry Paul, but this stuff is mangy.
  • Irish drivers. One thing that the Irish are very bad at, and they will be the first to admit it, is driving. Horse and cart, not a problem. Once you remove the reins, and replace them with a wheel and pedals, that becomes a huge conundrum. The department of transportation tries to help them out a bit, with things like putting traffic lights at roundabouts, which only confuses the heck out of foreigners. Even parking is a mystery to the Irish. As far as I can tell, the rules are as follows. No lines on the road: it’s a free for all. White lines along the side, usually painted in the shape of a box: paid parking. Once you pay, do not let yourself be restricted by the white lines, be creative, see if you can cover as many lines as possible with the car, after all you paid for it! Single-yellow line along the side of the road: no parking. Double-yellow: seriously, no parking! OK, you can park here, but only if all the available space designated by the single-yellow line is already taken up by parked cars. Zig-zag yellow: this time we really, really, really mean it, please don’t park here … for too long. Exemptions are: mamys wielding an SUV who really have talk to their girl friend about the fabulous new sweater they just saw in the store for sale yesterday when coming home from a Mary’s house oh and did you see how much weight she gained….. Rich snooty people driving expensive Mercedes. Anyone who would be inconvenienced by walking the extra distance. And lastly, anyone who is just plain lazy.
  • Constant wailing of alarms in the background. Several people tried to convince me, that house and car alarms are a theft deterrent, while standing in front of a bank, alarms blaring, police cars idly driving by as if nothing is happening. They were unsuccessful at convincing me. Alarms in Ireland, or at least in Dublin, serve only one purpose that I can see: very effective noise pollution.
  • Dublin sidewalks. They actually created concrete tiles, that are slippery when wet (did I mention it rains here often?), and they build the entire sidewalks in Dublin centre out of this stuff!?!? Not sure what is wrong with pouring concrete on the spot and then ruffing up the surface before it sets, but someone in Dublin apparently thought they could invent a rounder wheel. 😕
  • Irish cost of living. It’s an island, it’s out of the way, it is expensive. Buying a new house here today, is simply out of the question.
  • Irish medical system. Don’t get sick here! You will be worse off coming out of a hospital, then going in. Visit to a GP: €50 on the spot. Visit to a specialist: €150 just to see you; don’t forget that a GP had to refer you … for a €50 of course. The Irish think it’s a good deal, when the insurance kicks in €30 for that visit! I actually got given out to about bringing healthy children to doctor for an annual checkup! “We don’t see healthy children here, we don’t have time to see all the sick children!”
  • Irish school system. It’s the 21st century people, there is no place for the church in a public school system! Schools are overcrowded and underfunded, staff is young and inexperienced.

Slan agus beannacht

August 1, 2008

Bus Átha Cliath – bring a crash helmet and swim trunks

Filed under: eire — SiKing @ 5:24 pm
Tags: , ,

Bus Átha CliathSo I recently moved a little further away from the DART (and a little further away from the coast). The choice was financially necessitated, not a voluntary one. By coincidence, although anticipated, my work office moved as well, also further away from the DART. The total physical distance between me and work now is approximately the same as it was before, however I am forced into a new form of transport: the Dublin Bus. I won’t even get into the three months I have left on my DART annual pass. The DART is like VIP Royal treatment compared to the Dublin Bus. My commute to work used to take approximately 1 hour 30 minutes door-to-door, out of which 1 hour was spent walking (by choice, ’cause I do need the exercise). Now my commute takes approximately the same 1 hour and 30 minutes, however my Slí na Sláinte is now less than 10 minutes!

The first thing that you will notice when getting on the bus, is the attitude of the driver. As I have stated many times before, the Irish IMHO are a wonderful people, extremely friendly, helpful, and generally very polite. The Dublin drivers (I don’t have experience with any other Irish city) are a major exception to this rule. These are some of the most bitter people you will ever meet. I am not sure if new employees have to go to special training to become assholes, or if during the hiring process they hand pick the most caustic people they can find, and then brainwash them to absolutely hate all of humanity. These fiends are then given a massive double-decker, and ordered to drive it as fast as possible skimming along the sidewalks crowded with pedestrians that have no sense of self-preservation!

As an added union benefit they have no timetable and no strict route to follow. Yes, they do have something published on their site. But in the morning on my way to work, like most other tax contributors, I’m not checking the Internet. Majority of the bus stops around Dublin are only marked with a yellow pole with the company emblem at the top – no indication of what bus actually stops there, where it goes, or what time it may get there. That’s because they get to make it up as they go along! If you want to see Dublin, screw the local travel agencies. Just take a bus someplace and (try to) take the same one back. In both directions you will get to see completely different sites. After doing a little research to find which buses go to where I now live, I discovered that “heck, the 41 goes up there.” There are, all together, six 41’s. However, besides the number they do not have much else in common. The plain 41 takes the longest route, and because it goes through the airport where there is a good possibility of meeting first time visitors to Dublin, this route has the most vile of the drivers. Then there are the 41a and 41b; after a month I still have not discovered where they go or where they stop. But I have seen both of them drive by, and with people on board, so I can only assume they stop at some point somewhere. Then there is the 41c, which actually ends up being the most convenient one for me as it often stops closest to my house. It also has the distinguishing feature that most of the passengers do not speak English. In Dublin this means it is frequented by cute Polish chicks, and nackers who may be Irish but certainly do not speak either of the official languages. At least to make things fair, the drivers on this route do not speak English either. Then there is the 41x, the XpressO. This is suppose to be the fastest way to get to Dublin centre; an assumption based on the restriction that this route must go through the Dublin tunnel, other than that the driver is actually actively encouraged to “make it up” as he goes. Unfortunately, the tunnel dumps the bus out on completely opposite side of the city centre then where the bus must go. The morning commute traffic ensures, that although the buses depart 10 minutes apart, they all get to the destination at exactly the same time! On the way back this bus does not take the tunnel, so it is actually faster getting home. To offset this, there are fewer 41x’s in the evening than in the morning. 😕 Lastly there is the 41n, the Nitelink. This bus takes all the drunks home after they get ejected from the pubs. It is the average of all the other 41’s in terms of its route, but the sum in terms of its cost to board. Also, volume discount tickets cannot be used on the Nitelink routes.

The other day, though, I had the best experience. My day started off with me sleeping right through my morning alarm … and continuing right through lunch. But I also slept through the heavy morning rainstorm. When I got on the bus I immediately noticed that the floors are particularly wet, significantly more so than the sidewalk outside. OK, so maybe the sun outside is drying the sidewalks faster than inside the bus? As I made it onto the upper deck, there was actually water running, not dripping, down the stairs – fuck, some idiot must have left the windows open overnight. By this time the bus was already moving along the road at a pretty good pace, so I did not spend too much time pondering the situation and made for a seat, unless I find myself on the floor as the driver dodges another cyclist. Sat down, the bus was almost empty, so I got a nice window seat. However, as the bus came to a stop at the next red light, a torrent of water washed over my feet from behind. I swear, there was double-digit inches of water on the upper deck! “Well you need to take one of them new buses, they don’t leak as much!”, a colleague told me afterwards. Now first off, I did not even realize that one has a choice of what model bus will come, and second this was a new bus. The floor of the upper deck is nicely convex shaped so that all water will stay upstairs and pool along the walls, and not go down the stairs except in the case of really creative manoeuvring on the driver’s part. To prove I’m not pulling your leg, I am including a short video I shot.

Warning: we apologize to our viewers for the poor quality of the upcoming video. It was shot by an incompetent amateur using his camera phone for the first time. 😛

May 13, 2008

Just another day for Iarnród Éireann

Filed under: eire — SiKing @ 12:20 am
Tags: ,

Iarnród Éireann logo

That’s Irish Rail. First a little background for out-of-towners. The Dublin public transport is one of the worst in the civilized world: it’s expensive, inefficient, and unreliable. With the unexpected population boom due to the Celtic Tiger economy, the public transport system was caught off guard and is completely unable to cope with the volume of daily commuters. Now that the Celtic Tiger is dying, and foreigners are leaving the country, the system upgrades are finally getting caught up. However, it’s a work in progress.

A map of the stops should help with the following tale.

On my way home from work today the DART stopped somewhere between Grand Canal Dock and Pearse. It was an unusually sunny day, 19°, and as is usual most of the windows in the car were closed. After a few minutes wait, the friendly voice of the driver came over the PA telling us there is a problem with the “points” (that’s DART-speak for electrical system) and that it will be a few more minutes. After the few more minutes, the same voice announced that it will be at least another hour, and that immediately the train is changing from a Malahide train to a Bray train (essentially turning around)! Back at Grand Canal then, everybody got out of the train. Grand Canal is not one of the bigger stops, and it is not capable of fully-loaded peak traffic train being unloaded there. After several minutes, all the one available exist was completely blocked. In the meantime, a Drogheda Commuter arrived. More information for out-of-towners: the DARTs are cheaper, non air conditioned (why bother in Ireland), short distance, slower, electric trains; compared with the Commuters which are more expensive, air conditioned, long distance, faster, and most importantly diesel trains. We, along with a fully packed platform, figured that the diesel train can get through Pearse which has no electricity, and hopefully on the other side at Connolly all the Malahide-Bray DARTs are being turned around and going to Malahide again. So everyone, including the poor souls which genuinely needed to take the one-per-hour Drogheda train packed in. The train moved about as far as the previous DART and stopped. Obviously there was a DART stuck at Pearse, with no electricity, thereby leaving only one track available for two way train traffic. At this point, it is worth revisiting the previously mentioned benefit of air conditioning. Since the train is air conditioned, unlike the DART, it has no need to have windows that open, unlike the DART. Unfortunately, the air conditioning is able to effectively cool the air only during Irish winters and only if there are people comfortably seated. In this case, it was an unusually warm Irish summer day, and the train was absolutely packed wall to wall. The air conditioning was simply not coping. People were calling loved ones at home, with news that they have no idea when or if they will be home. Some even joked over the phone, with gems like: “Hunny, please have the squeegee ready for my face when I get home.”

Eventually we passed the work crew, which consisted of five guys in glow-in-the-dark vests leaning on one shovel. After about half an hour we reached Connolly. Malahidians stumbled out of the train, while the Droghedians immediately filled the gaps between the remaining bodies. We chcked the red LED signs for hints of where to catch the next train headed to Malahide. As it turned out, Irish Rail in their kindness added an extra stop to the train that we just got out of: Malahide. So we rushed back into the already overflowing train. After several warning beeps, a stern warning, and couple of pokes from a cattle prod, the driver somehow managed to close the door. Even thought the train was going non-stop from Connolly to Malahide, it was moving along rather slowly. Someone pointed out that the driver was probably being careful and making sure there were no leaves on the tracks – referring to an earlier incident, where trains in the morning had to move at a snail’s pace, due to “tracks being slippery because they are covered with leaves.” I’m not making this up! Anyway, this got a light-hearted chuckle out of everybody, easing a tense situation. Once the train picked up speed, people again started calling their loved ones at home again, that they might not be home as late as they originally thought. One gentleman, however, announced to his wife: “I will be in Malahide in about 10 minutes darling. Yea, I just happen to catch a travelling sauna that was going that way!”

This is what I love about the Irish – everything with a sense of humour and a grain of salt!

June 21, 2007

Managoři – kotva vývoje, vrchol pitomosti

Filed under: meatspace — SiKing @ 1:16 pm
Tags: , ,

Dostal jsem v $JOB nový task. Docela jsem se těšil: task byl postavený na jedné open source hračičce, bez jakéhokoliv zadání, a bez jakéhokoliv časového omezení. Takže nemůže být neúspěšný. Mýlil jsem se, a hodně!

Nainstaloval jsem si novou hračičku. Jak už jsem zmiňoval, je to open source, což znamená s mizernou dokumentací a z nedokončenými featurami – nevadí, větší důvod se v tom pohrabat. Tak jsem si s tím začal hrát, co a jak to tedy vlastně dělá. Za dva dny přiběhl $BOSS^3, a jak to prý to jde? Mile mi překvapilo že vůbec ví že existuji, a řekl jsem mu, že jsem si to zatím nainstaloval, a že pátrám co to tedy vlastně dělá. On na to, že to nestačí, a že mu budu muset dát nějaký seznam menších kroků na kterých budu pracovat spolu s cíli které dosáhnu, aby se mohl sledovat pokrok a on se každý týden mohl chlubit před $BOSS^4. Přidal, že „hrát si s tím“ není ani úkol ani cíl! Zasedl za klávesnici u svého nového laptopu, který je o dvě generace výkonnější než můj desktop, otevřel nový mail v Outlooku a jako co. Podotkl jsem, že jsem doposavad čekal na nějaké zadání právě od něho. On se začal rozčilovat, že on není technik a neví co vlastně chce, a že mu to musím dát já. Začal si vymýšlet pitomosti, které jsem rychle pochopil směřují úplně jiný směrem než moje představy, a hlavně než je hračička schopná splnit. Když jsem mu začal vysvětlovat náročnost úkolu a schopnosti hračičky, začaly se mu oči glazurovat a pomalu upadával do bezvědomí. Jediné co ho vzkřísilo spět do reality, bylo když jsem trochu omylem upustil, že kód našeho softwaru vypadá jako že byl vyvíjen metodou vzít klávesnici a hodit jí ze schodů. Za to jsem dostal deseti-minutové kázání, že s takovým názorem se daleko v téhle firmě nedostanu. Odbyl jsem ho, že mu tedy něco dodám do konce dne.

$BOSS^2 se na to celé díval, a snažil se všechny uspokojit. $BOSS, klasický přizdisráč, tam byl také, ale vzhledem k tomu, že už byl pátek a blížilo se k 5 hodině, jediné na co ten myslel bylo jak co nejdříve zabít co nejvíce mozkových buněk. $BOSS^2 se nade mnou slitoval, nemluvě o tom, že jeho task je hlídat že všechny úkoly na celém projektu se plní včas, a tak jsme něco spolu sesmolili do 6 večer. V pondělí mi poslal jeho chápání mých vysvětlivek, a jestli bych byl tak laskav a doplnil tam nějaké časové odhady a vyznačil jasné cíle. Chvíli jsem se mu snažil vysvětlit nekorektní chápání převážné většiny úkolů, a on i chvíli předstíral upřímný zájem. To ale vedlo jenom k většímu plýtvání mého času, takže jsem to do půl hodiny vzdal. Stále bez jakéhokoliv jasného zadání, jsem si vymyslel čeho bych tedy chtěl docílit, rozhodil jsem si to na asi další tři týdny, a nějak jsem to napasoval na fiktivní představy $BOSS^2. Další den mi to poslal zpátky, že prý jejich plánovací software, a tedy korporátní metodika, nepřijme aby kterýkoliv jeden úkol byl delší než tři dny, a jestli bych tedy všechny úkoly mohl rozdrobit na menší kousky! Rychle jsem vyhodnotil za bezcenné mu vysvětlovat, že tohle jsou jenom moje představy jak obdobné hračičky fungují, ale vzhledem k tomu, že nevím jaké mouchy má tato konkrétní hračička, tak nevím jaké problému budu muset řešit po cestě a jak dlouho budou trvat. Začal jsem tedy rozvíjet děj této sci-fi pohádky dále, když on přilétl, jak prý na tom jsem, že za 30 minut potřebuje na meetingu podat status jak daleko jsem postoupil s těmi úkoly které on si minulou noc vymyslel. Řekl jsem mu, že na tasku už pracuji dva dny, a tak asi první dvou-denní úkol je už splněný. Spokojen a s úsměvem odhopsal pryč. Zatímco on na meetingu podávat správu jak ta fantazie pokračuje, já jsem rozvinul děj té povídky a poslal jsem mu ho zpátky.

V tom přišel mail od $BOSS^3, že by potřeboval status update. Normálně vážně použil slova: „state of play of the task list“. Prý by si tohle přál jednou týdně, pokud možno pokaždé ve stejný nespecifikovaný den. Šel jsem za $BOSS, že už musím podávat status třem úrovním managementu, a jestli to takhle bude pokračovat, tak si každý týden přidám do odhadů jedno-denní úkol „podávat status managementu.“ On odvrátil pozornost od své práce natolik, aby mi vysvětlil, že mám špatnou attitude, a jestli takhle budu pokračovat, tak mi brzy vyhodí z práce. Hlavně bych si měl uvědomit, že $BOSS^3 ovlivňuje výši mého budoucího platu, který by se měl rozhodnout někdy během dalších pár týdnů.

$BOSS^2 přišel, že nová korporátní metodika praví, že ode dneška veškeré úkoly nesmí být větší než DVA dny, a budu tedy muset upravit můj plán. Uplatil mi tím, že se postará aby mi $BOSS^3 přestal otravovat. Nejnovější verzi činohry jsem mu odeslal do hodiny, a krátce po tom přišel zase s prosíkem. Prý se můj celý task časově nevejde do jeho představ, kde by chtěl aby můj závěrečný cíl byl hotový než on odjede na dovolenou, a jestli bych to mohl někde zkrátit. Úplně v klidu jsem mu odpověděl, ať vyhodí úkoly 3, 6, a 15. Samozřejmě jsem vůbec neměl tušení co úkoly 3, 6, a 15 jsou, ale začal jsem si vzpomínat na zkušenosti z $JOB-1 kde meetingy na téma „potřebujeme tvořit plán“ vůbec nebyli o tom co budeme dělat, ale o tom jakou barvou vybarvíme nepřehledné a nesmyslné omalovánky které si v Excelu vymyslel nějaký $BOSS^n. Myslel jsem, ze mám vyhráno.

Právě mi přišel mail, že jsou velice spokojeni s mým řešením tohoto cvičení, a za odměnu můžu chodit na denní meetingy, kde budu osobně podávat status o mojí pohádce!

June 8, 2007

Neškodná destrukce

Filed under: etanol,linux,meatspace,thetao,windows — SiKing @ 9:45 am
Tags: ,

Win XPx64 install CD

Tak jsem se zase jednou dostal na blog. Nemám nic zvláštního, jenom pár drobných novinek / historek. Dejte si .

Tento týden jsem trochu povolil uzdu mého duševního pyromaniaka. Doma používáme svíčky, spíše pro efekt než hospodárnost. Jedna konkrétní svíčka je asi 15cm v průměru, 15cm vysoká, má tři knoty, a je obalená kusem břízové kůry. V úterý knoty už dojely do konce a svíčka naposledy zhasla. Anebo? Zrovna dohořívalo v krbu, tak jsem tam ten zbytek hodil. Během asi půl minuty se 100cm3 vosku transformovalo na 10L hořlavého plynu. To byla prdel! Hukot komínem se rozléhal klidnou nocí. Jak se studené a permanentně provlhlé zdi kolem komínu moc rychle ohřáli (a roztáhli), začal cely barák praskat jako by se připravoval zhroutit, a viditelně se začala vypařovat vlhkost. Vyběhl jsem podívat na show z venku. Při zemi byl docela dost hustý čmoud jak se začali spalovat saze v komínu – odhaduji, že od postavení baráku na začátku 70 let, komín nikdo nikdy nečistil. Z komínu lítali ven rozžhavené kusy hořícího materiálu, a čas od času i plameny. Krásně to rozsvítilo zahradu a okolí. Celé show trvalo asi tak čtvrt hodiny. Teď mám sice zákaz cokoli přikládat do krbu, ale stálo to za to!

Zase jsem se dal na čtení. Poslední roky dost málo čtu, a už tomu bylo hodně dlouho co jsem přečetl něco opravdu dobrého. Našel jsem stránku kde je mnoho odkazů na různé knížky po Internetu, a na jeden typ se pustím do Accelerando.

Začínají se mi formulovat plány na léto. Vypadá to, že asi budu v Čechách na přelomu července-srpna; posledních pár dní bych mohl dostat i vycházku. Je dost lidí kterých bych rád viděl, a nevím jestli všechny stihnu. Doufám, že problém se zmenší nebo vyřeší tím, že lidi už budou sami na jejich dovolené…

No a taky něco o mích mazlíčcích.

etanol měl hard-drive crash – jeden ze tří jednotek zapojených do RAID0! Samozřejmě jsem neměl úplné zálohy. Ztratil jsem pár důležitých dokumentů, několik mailů během posledního půl roku, asi 5GB programů, asi 15GB knížek, kolem 100GB filmů, a přes 50GB opravdu dobrého porno. Shodou okolností jsem alespoň den před tím udělal kompletní zálohy všech fotek. První věc jsem si vylil zlost na instalačním CD pro WinXPx64 – viz obrázek. Vadný disk jsem tam zatím nechal, a přehodil jsem to celé na RAID5 – špatný disk je takhle alespoň částečně použitelný. Pak jsem komp upgradoval z WinXPx64 na Win2k – tedy z rychlého ale nefunkčního systému, na pomalý ale skoro funkční. Zvolil jsem tentokrát jednoduchou instalaci: celý systém na jedné partition, jeden super-uživatel, jeden administrátor. Nainstaloval jsem všechny ovladače (zvukovka ještě dělá problémy), poslední Windows opravy, samozřejmě antivirák a firewall, během třech večerů. Potom jsem zapnul Internet a automatické opravy: přes jednu noc se tam objevilo asi tři stránky dalších oprav. Taky jsem se zklamáním zjistil, že Linux 2.6.19 nemá správné ovladače aby přečetl disk v této konfiguraci.

Instalace Gentoo na thetao zatím čeká. Mám za prvé hodně jiné práce (v práci), a za druhé jsem se nějak poslední dobou vrátil ke staré lásce: Knoppix. Určitě s tím strávím nějakou dobu. Pohrávám si i s nápadem, že bych zkusil být contributor pro Knoppix. Už delší dobu plánuji přepálit si svojí verzi Knopixu a mám několik nápadů co na něm bude. Potom určitě chci přepsat asi dva Knoppix hacks: 21 a 36.

Asi měsíc se flákám s překladem pro DistroWatch. Až (jestli?) to jednou bude, tak to bude tady. Potom si chci přepálit W2kSP1 CD na W2kSP4, jen tak jestli to zvládnu. Přemýšlím, že bych chtěl začít být trochu víc aktivní (a taky produktivní ve volném čase) ve FOSS projektech, no a tak zase přemýšlím o laptopu – něco levného, hračka, starší P3. No stále co dělat.

Lidi, hezký víkend!

September 26, 2006

User guide to humans – anyone?

Filed under: meatspace — SiKing @ 9:11 am
Tags: ,

mother nature has a sense of humour

What a freakin’ lousy Monday yesterday!

So I had someone ask me another one of those innocent questions this morning, and my knee-jerk reaction was to answer with my “what answer would you like?” The question was: “So you’re from Canada?” The answer that I selected, from the numerous possible correct answers, was: “Sure.” I thought if the guy was genuinely interested, he would pursue it. This got a couple of uncomfortable laughs around the office, so I though I’d better correct it and not alienate the person on his first day. I gave him the (slightly) expanded correct answer; by the end of it, he lost interest.

After that morning, things only got worse in the afternoon. Someone asked me over chat if I had any idea on how to fix their non-functional e-mail. So I needed to know what we’re dealing with: “What program are you using?” “I don’t know.” “Well that sucks. So if you wanted to check your mail right now, what would you click on?” “Internet Explorer, but if you’re going to be annoying, then just forget it.” I have no idea what happened there, but I do admit that I get these sorts of reactions often. The odds are, therefore, that the problem lies in the transmitter and not the receiver. After that, I tried to apologize and recover, but the discussion only got worse.

I spent majority of the day with headphones on, whipping code. This little gem of bash-gibberish took me only three hours of trial-and-error. Man, I gotta stop reading depressing shit like the Unix-Haters Handbook.

The events of the day reminded of the many times that I referred people to “How To Ask Questions The Smart Way“, after they did not like the answers that I had provided to them. Almost everyone of those misguided souls today still thinks that I am an A-hole. I started with precise, correct, and unfortunately (for me) very lengthy answers. People did not like those. Now I try to restrict my answers to single-words. Still can’t seem to win. Next week: grunts. Am I too old to start experimenting with designer drugs?

To top it off, in Ireland everyone drinks whiskey, so I can’t get decent rum and I was out of cigars!

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