Blog-o! Notes from

Thu, 31 Jan 2008
Dear Rogers Telemarketing Guy

I am sorry I was rude to you. I know you are up in the middle of the night somewhere in India trying to convince irate Canadians to switch to your idiotic home phone service, and you are just doing your job and following a script, but honestly. Do you have to call twice a week? In the middle of naptime? Please just stop.

Thank you,
An Irate Canadian.

[Posted at 13:47 by Amy Brown] link
Tue, 29 Jan 2008
More retconned pictures.

The main tip-off that these are back-dated entries is my inability not to use 21:12 as the posting time.

The left-hand image is of a flower beside a river. The blue at the top of the picture is the sky. Only having one shade of blue is one of the limitations you have to work around when using a free drawing app on an MP3 player. Less of a limitation when you’re 4. The drawing on the right is a flower, and the sun. Or maybe it’s a sunflower. Heh.

[Posted at 21:12 by Blake Winton] link
Sat, 26 Jan 2008

I’m retro-actively posting a few pictures, so if you think you haven’t seen these entries before, you’re probably right.

Below you can see a flower. A black flower. Or maybe it was a cloud. The blue stuff is rain, anyways, I know that.

[Posted at 21:12 by Blake Winton] link
Fri, 25 Jan 2008
More fridge stuff.

The best thing about this is that I never have to take the pictures down because the magnets are running out of strength. (Just a sun today, on the default Etch-a-Sketch background, instead of the note paper background of yesterday.)

[Posted at 21:02 by Blake Winton] link
Thu, 24 Jan 2008
It’s like a virtual fridge.

There’s a program called Sketches on my iTouch that Delphine likes to play with before she goes to sleep. I recently found out that I could email the drawings to myself, and so here are Delphine’s drawings from today. The one on the left is obviously a flower, with the sun in the sky. The one on the right is, uh, just pretty with all the colours mixed together, I think.

[Posted at 20:57 by Blake Winton] link
Sat, 19 Jan 2008
Goodbye Mimi.

Today, at 3:20, Amy and I took Mimi to the vet, and had her put down.

It’s really hard, and I’m finding that I have to kind of pull back from it for a while, or I’ld be totally bawling all the time I’m writing this.

She was cranky, rude, ill-tempered, and maybe a little mean (although never to me). But I did love her, and she really seemed to be getting worse, and not enjoying life anymore, and so I think that it is the right decision, hard though it is. Heck, just looking at her, sleeping on the sofa beside me last night, I could totally see that she wasn’t right. She was in pain, and wasn’t happy anymore, and didn’t have much of a prospect of getting better. (Certainly not while we weren’t willing to spend $1000’s of dollars treating cancer. Chemotherapy seems like a cruel thing to put a cat through.) She’s also the first pet I’ve ever had to put down. I was sad when the rats died, but this feels totally different, probably because we’re doing it by choice, instead of it happening on its own time. I guess I just figured that she would disappear one night, and I could delude myself into thinking that she found another home, but it’s probably better this way. More of a sense of closure, and all that...

She went really quickly, (really really quickly,) which was a blessing, and the vet agreed that she was on her way out, and that we probably did the right thing at the right time.

I can also see why people believe in God and Heaven and stuff. I would kind of like to believe that Mimi has gone to some sort of better place, but I know in my heart that she hasn’t. That she’s just gone. And it sucks.

On a happier note, there are a lot of things I want to remember about her, both good and bad. The way her head smelled of ginger and cinnamon. The time she made Kathryn cry while she was babysitting for us. How loud and incessant her purr was. The way she would always hiss and swipe at Colin when we were all working in my living room. How soft she was under her chin. The way she let Amy (and only Amy) comfort her after spending a night at the vet. Heck, I even want to remember the way she would scratch her ass on the rug, and complain when I wanted to sit down on my couch. Damn stupid cat. I loved her.

[Posted at 17:34 by Blake Winton] link
Fri, 18 Jan 2008
More stuff on the iTouch.

Yeah, like I was done messing with my iTouch. Whatever.

I've been playing around a lot with the iTouch, and developing quite a few programs for it. The first one was by request, although I’m also finding it very useful. (And apparently a few other people are as well! Cool!) It’s called WifiToggle, and it’s a small app that simply toggles on and off your Wifi connection, so as to save batteries. The next thing I did was a port of the SpiderMonkey Javascript interpreter. It works, and it wasn’t that hard to get compiled and installed, which is really pretty cool when you stop to think about it.

The final thing I got working just tonight (which I was playing around with mostly to take my mind off of stuff. See tomorrow’s post for details), was a port of the Gambit Scheme interpreter. I know, Scheme is just like Javascript, only with an uglier syntax, but I still like it, and hopefully the lack of punctuation will make it easier to use on the iTouch. Heh.

Anyways, if you own an iPhone or iTouch, and have jailbroken it, be sure to add to your list of Installer sources, and geek out!

[Posted at 21:06 by Blake Winton] link
Wed, 16 Jan 2008
Two Things About My Brother

I was pondering, a few weeks ago, how great my relationship with Blake is, how he respects me and treats me as equal in every way, and I wondered when and how I developed an intolerance for men who behave any differently. I cannot and do not abide any kind of sexist comments or behaviour, and I think that's partially why I have such a good relationship with Blake; because I would not give him the time of day if he weren't the kind of man who treats women as equal.

But where does my insistance on respect come from, I wondered? Definitely not from my parents' relationship, which is really just kind of weird. Then I realized it was from my relationship with my brother. When we were growing up Dave and I were best friends; in each others' pockets, confidantes and pals, and Dave never ever suggested I was less capable, less intelligent, less anything because I was a girl. I don't think it even occurred to him; he always had female friends and he's one of those men who simply treats women as human beings. That set the bar pretty high for every other man on the planet, and so while I don't have many male friends, the ones I do have are golden, because they have to pass the "Dave Brown Don't Treat Me Like A Idiot" test.

I was listening to my iPod Shuffle and it gave me "So Far Away From Me" by Dire Straits and it took me back to one of the happiest memories of my adolescence. I used to spend countless hours and countless evenings in my brother's room just hanging out; I played games on his computer, and I guess we must have talked, although I don't remember about what. I remember it as dark in his room, and warm, and full of that teenage boy funky smell which to this day I still rather like. We used to listen to Dire Straits and Elton John and The Eagles and Don Henley and Travelling Wilburys and all that old man music that Dave favoured at the time and has probably grown out of by now. (I haven't! Love me some old man music.) I don't remember how often I was in Dave's room or for how long, but looking back it seems like I was there all the time, just enjoying his company. How many teenage brothers and sisters can say they had a relationship like that?

So there are two things about my brother (known about these parts as Uncle Dave). It was his thirty-fourth birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday Dave!

[Posted at 14:40 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 14 Jan 2008
Those Damn Paparazzi!

OMG! How did they get these pictures of our wedding?!?!!!1!

I know, it's old, I'm not all hooked into the celebrity gossip.

[Posted at 14:54 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 13 Jan 2008
New Pictures Up

Well, apparently I will never have time to actually blog, but there are three pages of new pictures (November, December, and Christmas) up at the pictures page, so let's hope a picture really is worth a thousand words.

[Posted at 21:50 by Amy Brown] link
Mon, 07 Jan 2008

Well, it’s official. I just cancelled my cable service, effective January 23rd. I found that for the past few weeks, I really haven’t been watching anything worth while, and $96.22/month is a lot to spend to have the only thing on be the HD version of American Gladiators. (No, seriously, that’s what I’m watching right now. Pity me.) I’ld like to say that it’s the writer’s strike, and the resulting lack of decent shows, or that I’m getting smarter and the shows are appealing to me less and less, but really it’s just gotten too expensive for the value I’m getting out of it. Heck, maybe I’ll take half of that money, and buy a couple of DVDs every month. But we’ll probably use it to pay down the Line of Credit that financed the deck.

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have cable of some sort, and so I’m not really sure how I’ll be occupying my time. Reading books? Reading the Interweeb? Programming? It’s a blank slate. It’s all up in the air. And if I end up spending all my time at my sister’s house, watching her TV, then we’ll know I’ve got a bad addiction, and should seek professional help.

Oh, I should also mention that the person on the other end of the line was really nice. She tried to figure out a way for me to pay less, and still get the channels I wanted, (the best deal was $19.95/month for channels 2-28 and 59-70, but that was only for 6 months, and it’s still $20/month I would rather spend elsewhere,) but totally wasn’t pushy about it and was fine with me cancelling the service outright. I picked up the dial phone when they called me back for the customer satisfaction survey, and so couldn’t complete it, but I did want to make a mention of how helpful she was, and how well it all went.

[Posted at 21:05 by Blake Winton] link
Sun, 06 Jan 2008
Sprinting on DrProject.

On Friday and Saturday afternoon this week, I took some time out of my day to go down to the University of Toronto and participate in the DrProject Code Sprint. It was a lot of fun, and I managed to fix a couple of bugs, and get a better understanding of one of the hairier parts of DrProject. At least I hope it’s one of the hairier parts of DrProject, since if the whole codebase is as ugly as the wiki parts, we’re in some serious trouble. To be fair, it’s a not-entirely-deterministic parser for a not-entirely-deterministic language, so when something goes wrong, it’s kind of, uh, tricky to figure out what’s just happened. For example, after parsing a link surrounded in square brackets, the following character seems to be treated as text. Why? Who knows. As someone new to the wiki parser, I’ld love to have the code be simpler to understand, but I’m starting to suspect that the complexity is inherent in what it’s trying to do.

The two bugfixes/feature additions I did, although they seem sort of unrelated, both work together to let people create a bibliography/set of footnotes to pages, which is something Greg said that he’s been wanting for a while, so that was kind of cool. It’s nice to be able to go somewhere, be surrounded by smart people, and concentrate on making something better without interruptions.

Speaking of the bugfixes, they were:

  • adding support for dl/dt/dd in the wiki syntax, which turned out to be surprisingly hard, since it seemed to be the first bit of syntax that wanted to either return more than one tag or insert a tag into the already-generated stream, so I had to figure out which option to go with, and how to get it working, and
  • coming up with and implementing a wiki syntax for creating and referring to anchors in a page, which I think I did a pretty decent job on. The syntax uses [wiki:#foo] as an anchor, and [wiki:MyPage#foo] as a link to that anchor

[Posted at 21:14 by Blake Winton] link

I’m watching a video on my new iTouch about how to break web applications, and it presented the idea that Javascript is the same as stack overflows which are also the same as getting free phone calls by whistling a note into a payphone…
They're all examples of bad things happening when you intermingle code (javascript/return addresses/command tones) and data (html/arrays on the stack/your voice). I guess it’s sort of expensive to set up two connections for every connection, but that seems to be the only way to avoid stuff like this, which has apparently been happening for years.

I don’t think there’s a lot I can do with this new idea, but it seemed interesting, so I figured I’ld record it for posterity.

[Posted at 20:25 by Blake Winton] link