Wednesday, June 29, 2005
moving day

I'm moving my blog over to so you might want to change your links (if you have them).

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 Monday, May 02, 2005
random tiger thoughts

I picked up Tiger on Friday. I went to a non-prime Apple Store (the one in Southcenter Mall, to be precise) because I figured that I would be able to park (parking is IMPOSSIBLE at the University Village Apple Store), and I figured that everyone would be elsewhere.

It was packed, but very few people were actually buying, so I was able to walk right up to the counter and walk out with my new copy of Tiger.

Random observations:

They moved the "Archive and Install" option -- the first install I did was an upgrade. I subsequently went back and did the "archive and install" method on Sunday.

My powerbook loses its wireless connection and has to be manually reconnected after it goes to sleep. Fix this one fast, Apple!!!

After the inital scan, Spotlight is cool. It's not going to replace QuickSilver or LaunchBar -- they are much faster -- but it's going to be very useful. I've already gotten addicted to it.

Automator is not as initially cool as I thought it was going to be. Right off, I hate the icon. I think it has too much detail and looks cluttered. My initial attempts to automate some processes didn't work, but I'm sure the full power of this tool will reveal itself to me through time.

I've played with Smart Folders in both the Finder and in Mail, and they do the job. I'm sure I'm going to be using them more and more.

I like the fact that network errors in Safari now result in error pages rather than error sheets. It was annoying to have to close a dialog everytime a link failed.

Core Data:

I've seen complaints that the features that Apple has been touting are somewhat superficial, but my thought is that Tiger is much more about the developer technologies, especially things like Core Data.

By day, I'm a corporate developer. I write applications that move and process very large amounts of data. To be able to design and produce applications to handle this data, we use expensive tools and packages that perform almost exactly the same service that Core Data is now baking into the Operating System.

This is exciting. This means that if someone has the flexibility to consider platforms other than Windows when it comes to business development, Mac OS X starts to look very inviting.

To me, the most exciting thing about Tiger is the sort of applications that Core Data makes possible. I think we're going to see an explosion of applications utilizing Core Data. Most of them will be bad, like the plethora of RealBasic applications out there (there are some VERY GOOD RealBasic applications, but there are a lot of "metal windows with many buttons" ugly-ass apps out there as well) but there will also be some shining star applications that will illustrate the sheer power we now have in our hands.

Oh, and as a side note, I'm very pleased that they added NSTreeController.

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 Thursday, March 24, 2005
quick recommendation -- Carbon Leaf

My wife and I have become big fans of a band named Carbon Leaf. They're a band from Virginia that has a nice celtic twang to their stuff. You might have heard their song "Life Less Ordinary" on the radio.

Highly recommended. Both their current album "Indian Summer" and the previous studio album "Echo Echo" are worthwhile listens.

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 Sunday, March 20, 2005
poker tourney

I played in my second real life poker tourney last night. It was with a group of friends, as was the last one. I lasted longer this time, but oddly enough, was out of the tournament in the same order as last time. Well, I suppose you could say I did better -- I was the third eliminated out of maybe 15 people, and last night I was the third eliminated out of 7. So if you count from first place, I did better.

Didn't really get any cards. The first hand I got worth playing was AK offsuit, which I was able to make pay when an Ace hit the flop. I don't know why the guy kept betting at me though. If this had been online, I would have folded, but the guy I was playing against had been somewhat loose, and I figured he had second pair and was trying to buy the pot. After taking roughly a third of his money (he was throwing the $100 chips at me), he seemed to give me a little more respect when I entered a pot.

The only other real hand I got was a pair of Queens that I had to fold when an Ace hit the flop and one of the tighter played started betting at me.

No other real hands happened. I bluffed the table off of a pot, and really enjoyed showing my cards, but that was really it. I had to make a move, and I did, and I got killed.

I need to learn how to change gears to a looser style -- the table was very loose, and I was just watching all of this money fly back and forth because I was unsure how to play it -- all of this online play has caused me to adapt a very tight aggressive style that works well online (it's all about patience and hand selection) but just didn't fly very well at this game.

In general, I've been pleased at my progress in learning how to play poker. Now if I could just stop my hands shaking. I actually couldn't count out my stack when I made my move (I had about a 50% shot at winning, and it was as good a shot as any) because my hands were shaking.

It was fun, and I hope we do it again soon.

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 Friday, March 18, 2005
Gran Turismo 4 Hints

(quick edit -- my friend has posted a description of his setup for using the Logitech Force Feedback Pro wheel. Check it out.)

I was talking to a friend about how far I'd gotten in Gran Turismo 4, and he suggested that I blog about it. So here are some tips I've discovered through the web and through my own experimentation.

If you have not done this yet, go to the "Special Conditions" hall, and do the first series. It's easy to win, and the reward is a Cadillac Cien. Go to your garage and get in the Cien. It's good for winning the NA series in the Professional hall. But that's not where we are going.

Go back to the Special Conditions hall. Win the second series with the Cien. Take the car you win and sell it, you'll get over $200K for it. Now do it again. You should have close to $500K now.

Go to the German hall, and buy a top end Mercedes SL series. I think the SL66 will do nicely. Use the extra cash to max it out (always go for weight reduction first if you are short on cash -- it's the only thing that will improve power, handling and brakes all at once). Win the "Legend of the Silver Arrow" series with it (the race is in the Mercedes Only section). You will win a Mercedes CLK Touring Car in race form. Use your extra cash to pump it up a little bit.

Now here's where the real cash nozzle is -- Go to the European hall, and enter the German Touring Car Championship series (it's called the Deutsch something something series). Go ahead and run this series in b-spec, the hopped up CLK will walk away from it, be sure to use "Fast" and "Overtake" as your b-spec settings, stay away from "Push." You will win a car that you can sell for $700K. With that, and the money you get from winning the races, you will be clearing over $800K per series.

Since you know where to get the money now, you should be able to do whatever you want. Personally, I did the german touring car series twice, and got $1.6MM. I used $1.2MM to buy a Chaparral 2J, and gave it a tune up. The Chaparral will win all of the American hall races, with the exception of the Muscle Car series. For that, you want to buy and hop up a 1962 Buick Special. That car is a dream come true -- it'll break 200mph, and handles better than you expect for a muscle car. That same car will win the "Classics" series in the Professional hall.

Quick hints: I maxed out an SSR to win the truck race in the Beginner hall. I used a top-end Renault Clio to win the Compact Car series in the Pro hall. The Ford GT, with the right settings, will walk away with the Supercar Challenge, and most of the other races in the Pro hall. I maxed out an RUF to win the Boxer Challenge.

I made a run at the Gran Turismo World Championship, but the cars in that race are just scary fast, and the races are long enough that tire and pit strategy are needed. I'm currently working my way through the Japan hall, and will probably do the European hall next. I figure I need at least a Mazda 787b to be decently competitive in the GTWC, and I'll need $3.5MM to pick one up if I don't win one on the way.

And if I do win a Mazda 787b on the way, I'll know a quick way to make $3.5MM!

That's it for now...

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 Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I go through periods where I just don't post. I'm sure all of you know that by now, if you are even still paying attention to this minor blog.

I don't know why, I just run out of things to talk about, and instead of posting entries just to keep posting (which I probably should be doing), I just don't.

There are phases where I feel like a natural blogger, and times when it feels forced. It feels forced now, especially when I'm involved in a meta-post such as this one.

I suppose I could list the things that have distracted me, maybe that will knock something loose in my brain...

Poker -- I've been playing a lot of poker. I haven't been strictly winning, and I haven't been strictly losing. On the whole, I'm in the black, and have actually been able to take money out of the poker bankroll so that my initial investment has been paid back, so I guess you could say I've been winning. But not much.

Forth -- This language has had a hold on me for a while. I know what I don't like about it (the data stack makes all parameter passing implicit rather than explicit, and that means that it's pretty hard to tell what's going on unless the code is well commented). And yet, I can't let it go. It's fascinating. I'd love to get a Forth chip and play with it.

Microcontrollers -- This distraction is actually related to the previous one. I go through periods where the insulation from the hardware that high level languages provide is actually kind of grating. Sometimes I want to twiddle bits. And guess what language (other than machine language and C) that is popular with microcontrollers? Forth. It turns out that Forth chips have been on several deep space probes. I think that's cool.

Gran Turismo 4 -- Gran Turismo is a series of games for the Sony Playstation series of video game consoles. It bills itself as "The Ultimate Driving Simulator," and that's not too far off the mark. GT4 came out at the end of February. As a 40th birthday present to myself, I bought the Logitech Force-Feedback Pro steering wheel that's designed for GT4. It's fantastic, if a bit expensive. I've played every Gran Turismo release, and it just gets better and better. Ever wanted to do laps on the Nurburgring with a fully tricked out Ford GT? You can.

Life -- there have been many things going on that have no technical content. Sometimes I write about them, sometimes I don't. There are a few things that I'm not comfortable sharing, so I don't.

Why post now? Well, I've gotten some feedback, directly and indirectly, that my silence has been deafening. I'm sure that there are people that are going to read this and say "That's me!" Well, it's not strictly any one person, but a series of events. Yeah, that's a somewhat cagey statement, but it is what it is, and it's honest.

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 Tuesday, February 08, 2005
say hello to 40.

happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday to me.

Question: Do I have to pay anybody to quote that song?

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