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June 28, 2002

Northwest Airlines: Making A 12-Hour Delay Feel Like An Eternity

It looks like Northwest Airlines has claimed another victim. He should have been reading this site.

00:00 | Stuff

June 27, 2002


Ang arrived safe and sound yesterday morning, and I had the pleasure of experiencing Seattle rush hour first-hand. Since there were two of us in the car on the ride home, we got to use the envied Carpool Lane. Only motorcycles and cars with >=2 passengers are elite enough to drive in this lane. It was so sweet. I passed dozens of singly-occupied cars and avoided stop-and-go traffic for miles. I made it home in half the time it took for me to get to the airport (wrong turns notwithstanding). But how does this marvel of modern road infrastructure work? I've seen Diamond Lanes in Mississauga that are ignored by everyone (including myself), so how does Washington state make it work? I'm glad you asked.

Anyone caught abusing this lane is charged $86. How are these people caught? Other drivers can report violators via a hotline: (206) 764-HERO. That's right, by ratting out single-drivers (or trucks with 3 or more axels) normal citizens become heroes in their own right. Stand aside 9/11 firefighters, here comes Johnny Snitch with his cellphone, a true American hero.

Shot of man with one arm on chest, the other clutching a cellphone. He's standing proud in front of a backdrop of the American Flag with a bald eagle soaring overhead. The Star-Spangled Banner plays in background.

00:00 | Seattle

June 25, 2002

Yet Another Update

Ang will in fact be spending the night in beautiful Minneapolis and I'll be picking her up at 9:00 tomorrow morning. Yay!

00:00 | Stuff

Another Update

Ang will be spending the night in Toronto, since NorthWest Airlines has managed to spill fuel all over the plane, forcing her to miss her connecting flight.

00:00 | Stuff


Ang's connecting flight has been changed and she hasn't told me the new flight number (or the airline for that matter). It's going to fun roaming around Sea-Tac Airport looking for her.

00:00 | Stuff

Angeloo, Where Are You?

Ang comes to visit me tonight. This is her first time flying by herself. She's a bit scared, but more excited than anything else. She'll be spending the next two weeks in the Redmond/Seattle/Vancouver area, trying to find stuff to do while I'm hard at work. I wish I could take the time off work, but I have to make money so I can keep living the lifestyle to which I've become accustomed (Faberge egg addiction).

I can't wait till she gets here.

00:00 | Stuff

June 22, 2002


I've begun the long and arduous task of permalinking my entries so you fellow bloggers can link to the exact entry you need without wasting valuable seconds scouring the archives, or linking to the ever-changing main page.

00:00 | Blog

June 21, 2002

Dav's Birthday

Happy birthdaaaaaaaay Dav!

00:00 | Stuff

All Play And No Work

Today has been a very unproductive day. I spent some time cleaning up the site, including reviving the Quote of the Moment, which will be updated whenever I feel like it. I also alluded to the fact I'll have a photo gallery soon.

00:00 | Blog

By James Lileks

Moderation and rotation. We have red meat once a week; we have ice cream once a week. Sometimes Daddy loads the cheese on the turkey tacos; sometimes we have curried lentils for supper. Moderation, rotation. Sometimes Daddy cuts the horse with Enfamil; sometime [sic] he shoots it pure. You have to teach your kid about balance.

00:00 | Quotes

An Honour

We had our weekly team meeting today, and were told that since beta 2 finally shipped (two weeks late), we would be celebrating with ice cream (to mark the first day of summer). After the meeting, the team manager came up to me and asked me if Canadians knew anything about beer. I thought he was kidding. He then asked me to help him pick out the beer for the celebration. I told him it would be an honour.

00:00 | Work

June 20, 2002


I got a digital camera today. UPS delivered it right to my desk. It's the Canon Powershot S30. Sweet. I'll soon be littering this site with photos of me doing stuff.

How do they expect me to get any work done now that I have my new toy?

00:00 | Nerd

June 18, 2002

Life At Microsoft

Ok, I've had several (!) requests for more entries about life at Microsoft. Ironically, most of these requests came from hard-core Linux users, so I guess they want to see what they're missing.

Like I wrote earlier, every employee gets an office, not a cubicle (with the exception of the new interns who are sitting in what was once the lounge). I share an office with my mentor, Jeanine. Every intern gets a mentor. A mentor is supposed to be a person who an intern can ask questions and turn to for guidance. My mentor is great, I can interrupt her anytime and ask her questions. Some interns aren't so lucky, and have mentors who don't have time to deal with them. I even heard of one mentor who said "Don't ever ask me the same question twice." Ouch.

Each team is divided into three groups: Product Managers (PM), Developers (Dev) and Test. PMs make design decisions, Devs implement them and Test makes sure Dev did a good job. I'm in Test, but it's not strict black-box testing. I write programs that test the product for me. Test is also supposed to be the customers' representative inside the company. Basically, we refine the PMs' design and give Dev more work.

Unlike my internship at Corel, I don't feel a sense of adversity between the teams. There is nothing personal about finding a bug, or criticizing someone's design. We work together to make a better user experience, instead of against each other to save face.

I sit in on a lot of meetings, and my input is both appreciated and expected. No one is too high on the ladder to listen, and no one is too low to speak their piece. There are also numerous "hallway meetings" where employees discuss work or whatever in the hall outside their offices.

So far this has been the most fulfilling internship. Both my teams at Corel and at AISoft had no clear direction, so I didn't feel like I was making any real contribution. Here, I know my product is important, and my work feels worthwhile. People care whether or not I get my work done on time, and before I leave, our product is going to ship.

What a time to be alive.

00:00 | Work | Comments (1)

June 14, 2002

How To Spell Shame

Mental note: Spell-check my entries before uploading them to save myself embarrassment when other sites quote me.

Yeah, like that's ever going to happen again.

00:00 | Blog

My Dirty Little Secret

I guess my dirty little secret is out. The folks at Mozilla now know why I haven't made my usual token contribution to the project in the last few months -- I'm working for the enemy.

Yeah, like they really remember who I am. I remember talking to one of the lead testers on IRC just before I came here. He welcomed me to the Mozilla project and asked if I had any questions. I told him I had been a member for a year already and I think I knew what was going on. Embarrassed, he pretended to remember me and told me what a great job I had done. Now I didn't start helping out with Mozilla for recognition, I did it for the hope of a better Internet (I'm so altruistic it hurts). I know it's hard when you have several hundred (thousand?) people helping out, and I didn't really expect anyone to pat me on the back and say "Hey Chris, good job finding that bug, and by the way, thanks for the hours of triaging you've done," but I had hoped someone would have at least recognized my name.

Life is hard, I know.

00:00 | Nerd

June 12, 2002

Free Soda Pop

If sure you've all heard about Microsoft's generous "free pop for employees". If you haven't, or if you care to hear about it again, here it is: every floor has a kitchen, and inside are two convenience store style display coolers, chock full o' pop, juice and milk. They have the usual suspects: Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Fresca. In the juice department, they have a wide variety: grapefruit, V8, apple, cranberry, and the mystery orange juice. It's mysterious, because it's really hard to identify, since the can has two large apples on the label.

They also have free coffee, and a large variety of free teas. They even have cold filtered water. Wednesdays are free specialty coffee days. That's the day I get my free latte instead of paying $1.75 at the Starbucks in the cafeteria.

Then there's Talking Rain. Worst pop ever. They're going for the whole "all-natural ingredients" which means it tastes like fountain 7up that has run out of syrup. Not my idea of a refreshing drink, but some people like it.

Unlike at one of my previous co-ops, the employees don't have to stock the fridges themselves.

00:00 | Work | Comments (1)

June 10, 2002

I, Microserf

I recently started reading Microserfs by Douglas Coupland. It's the story of a house full o' nerds trying to find the meaning of life while working at the largest software company in the world.

What's cool about this book (besides the fact Coupland is a good writer), is that I can relate to it in every way. Well, just about. While I don't have discussions with my girlfriend whether or not the universe is digital or analog, I do shop at the same grocery store, eat at the same restaurants and *gasp* work for the same employer. It's pretty cool reading about the main characters driving down 148th St, or buying makizushi at Uwajimaya.

Unfortunately the main characters are even nerdier than I am, going so far as to worship billg. Some of the cutting-edge 1993 technology they discuss (like the Email System, and the Information Superhighway), are commonplace today, severely dating the story. But maybe that's part of its charm.

00:00 | Entertainment

June 7, 2002

Nerd News

Mozilla 1.0 has been released. And there was much rejoicing.

00:00 | Nerd

June 5, 2002

The Old Ball Game

I've been to only three Major League Baseball games in my entire life: a Toronto Blue Jays game at Exhibition Stadium, another Jays game at the Skydome, and last week, a Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field. It was only last week that I realized America's favorite pastime had passed its prime. To quote Homer Simpson, "I never realized how boring this game is".

Peanuts And Cracker Jacks

Not only were the tickets paid for by my generous employer, but we were each given a $5 gift certificate to be used on food or a drink ($5 doesn't go far in a stadium). They have quite the selection of foodstuffs: Hotdogs, hamburgers, pizza, even Asian stir-fry bowls. I didn't see any Cracker Jacks though.

Since I was at a baseball stadium in the United States, I decided to eat like an American: I ordered a hotdog. Ordering was a challenge. I had no idea the Americans took their hotdogs so seriously. There was the normal hotdog, the Minor League Dog, the Major League Dog, the Veggie Dog, and of course, the Kosher Dog. Since food was on the company, I went for the Major League Dog. It was a little longer than a normal hotdog, but about three times as thick. It had been a long time since I had eaten a hotdog, and as I bit into it, I remembered why. It was disgusting. It was extremely juicy (not a quality I usually like to associate with meat products), and the mushy inside tried to leap out of the confining hotdog skin and stain the front of my shirt. I gobbled it up quickly, not at all relishing the moment (get it? Relish... hot dog. Meh, you suck).

The drinks were even worse. Since the management is afraid of surly fans lobbing glass bottles at each other (or worse yet, onto the field) all beer is served either on tap, or in plastic bottles. Nothing says "class" like watery American beer in clear plastic bottles.

The Wave

I find The Wave to be a perfect example of how boring baseball is. Here are hundreds, nay thousands, of spectators who would rather watch other spectators than watch the game.

Announcer: "And it's a home run!"
Child #1: "Hey Ma, look at them there people standing and sitting a like human tidal wave!"
Child #2: "Oh no! It's coming our way!"
Mother: "Shut up and pay attention! It's almost our turn to stand."

Bottom Of The Ninth

We've all seen it before: it's the bottom of the ninth inning. The visitors are the lead, so people decide that instead of watching the thrilling conclusion, it would be better to pack up and leave to beat traffic. What other sport is abandoned by fans before the possibly climactic finish? Do you ever see soccer rioters pack up and leave when their team is down 3-1? Of course not. They want to stay for the bloodshed. Maybe that's what baseball is missing: full contact. Have the basemen take shots at the runner. Encourage the pitcher to hit the batter. To score, you have to tackle the catcher. We could call it XBall have it run by Vince McMahon... oh wait a minute, they already tried something like that, didn't they?

Mr. Baseball

Maybe it's a little unfair for me to rant so harshly about baseball. After all, baseball was the only bit of tv I watched in Japan that I completely understood. Well, besides reruns of Beverly Hills 90210 and various Learn To Speak English shows with contrived scenarios:

English student: "Can I bring a pet to live in the apartment?"
Japanese Sensei: "Of course. What is it, a cat or small dog?"
English student: "It's a 2m long python."
Japanese Sensei: "P-pp-p-python?!"
Sensei falls over, apparently fainting due to the thought of living with a giant snake. The other students point and laugh as the credits role. Another productive English lesson draws to a close.

But back to baseball: Japanese baseball plays with the same rules as American Major League, but with a third the number of teams and twice the number of errors. It seems the only games televised are games involving the Tokyo Yomuri Giants. And they always win, which I guess is why their games are televised. They have standard american-sounding team names like the Giants, the Tigers and the Hawks, but they also have less ferocious names like the Carps, the Swallows and the Bay Stars.

Well that's my rant about baseball. I know I'm not the biggest sports fan in the world, but I do enjoy watching an exciting hockey playoff, or the occasional basketball game, but somewhere along the way baseball lost it, and I fear it will never get it back. Unless Disney makes a movie about a homerun-hitting monkey. They could call it "Chimp Hitter" and star Emilio Estevez as the team manager.

4 stars!

00:00 | Misc Rambling

Baseball Uniform

Do you like watching baseball? I don't, and here's why.

00:00 | Blog

June 4, 2002

My New Best Friend

I've been getting some flak lately about not blogging enough (see my pitiful 8 entries for the month of May for proof). I promise to do better this month. Also, I was reprimanded by one of my readers (I guess that means 20% of my readers) for not mentioning him. My deepest apologies Kenneth, and congratulations on getting a job at Microsoft.

Kenneth stumbled on my site while looking for Microsoft interview questions. He read my MS interview rambling and sent me an email, asking for any other advice I could give him. Being the generous and kind-hearted person I am, I didn't respond for a couple days, just to make him sweat. Actually, I helped him as best I could, and when it came time for the interview, he wowed them, and got 2 job offers. Now I can't take all the credit, but I think Kenneth knows how to spend that first full-time paycheque. Hint hint.

MS flew him to Seattle from Toronto and while he was here, he and his friend Alim (please forgive my spelling) gave me a call and we went out to dinner. It was nice to meet someone who reads my site, even if it is only for their own self-serving purposes. To my other 4 readers: let Kenneth be an example to you.

If you really like my blog, then you too will take me out to dinner.

00:00 | Blog

June 3, 2002

Stupid Loonie

It's like the Canadian Dollar waits for me to leave the country before skyrocketing to a nine-month high of 65.53 cents US. When I left it was at 62 cents or something. The same thing happened when I left for Japan. The Loonie is watching. The Loonie is waiting.

00:00 | Canada