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April 30, 2003

Moving Conflicts

I'm taking the day off work tomorrow to supervise both the movers and the Ikea delivery. Unfortunately, I have no control over what time they're arriving, and it looks like they've both set their respective minds on 8:30am. This means I have to get to Seattle and be in the apartment waiting by 8:00, then hope there's no problem with them both trying to use the same elevator (and driveway). Luckily I don't have that much stuff or this could get ugly (which it still may).

Moving to into the new place is good news for you, my loyal readers. It means I'll have my own computer (assuming it arrives in one piece) and a high-speed Internet connection, which means more quality time for blogging (no more blogging at work and minimizing everything when my boss walks by. Just kidding, I stay late at work to blog. Now that's dedication!) I'll let you know how the move went (expect a rant sometime next week).

I just hope the total damage will be under $1000.

00:00 | Stuff

April 29, 2003

License To IL

Today I waded knee-deep into Microsoft's Common Intermediate Language, which is an instruction set for the Common Language Runtime. I'm still far from writing entire programs in straight IL, but I think I have enough general understanding to tweak existing ones (of course, I still need the 125-page specification by my side).

I have a feeling that in a few months I'll be more fluent in the .NET languages (IL, C#, VB.NET, etc) than I am in English.

00:00 | Work

April 28, 2003

Big Bills

My new roommate Andy and I went furniture shopping on the weekend. We got lost for several hours inside Ikea before walking out with a bed and couches.

We stopped for lunch at a burger place. My meal came to just over $7, so I handed the cashier a $20 bill.

Cashier: "Oh, a twenty. Don't you have anything smaller?"
Me: (looking in wallet) "All I have is a twenty and a one."
Cashier: (sounding annoyed) "So you don't have anything smaller?"
Me: "I have a one."
Cashier: (sighs as he takes the twenty)

I don't get it. He's the one with the register full of money, so why is the burden on me, the customer, to provide him with exact change?

00:00 | Rant

April 25, 2003

Bedless in Seattle

It's the first beautiful sunny day since I moved out here, so I think I'll go enjoy it. The movers should be showing up with my stuff sometime next week, and this weekend my roommate-to-be Andy and I are going furniture shopping (we both agreed that sharing a bed was in neither of our best interest).

00:00 | Stuff

April 24, 2003


Today marks the official release of Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Visual Studio .NET 2003. There was a small event in the cafeterias where they gave out free local music CDs and screwdriver sets (although Robertson heads were notably absent).

00:00 | Work

SARS Stars

Two Canadian bloggers describe the way people react to the SARS outbreak: one in Toronto and one in Beijing. It's interesting how differently the danger is perceived in each country.

00:00 | Stuff

April 23, 2003

I Like Red Pills Too!

There has been a lot of talk lately in the world of software developers who blog about some notable people who have "swallowed the red pill" and come to work at Microsoft.

Of course, I'm not on anyone's red pill list. This is probably due to the fact that no one cares what I have to say about software. But a few months on the .NET CLR team will soon change that! (tents fingers and laughs maniacally)

00:00 | Blog

Nobody Home

If it's 3:00am and you see my Messenger status is online, chances are I forgot to log out, so please don't take it personally that I didn't respond. I came into work the other day only to find a screen full of little windows greeting me.

00:00 | Nerd

April 22, 2003

Welcome To America

This was a lovely sight to see when I turned on the news this morning: possibly biotoxic powder found at a Tacoma mail centre! Tests later turned up negative, but what a scare. Tacoma is only about 50 km (about 30 miles) from Seattle, so my mail could have been contaminated by such an attack.

Welcome to America Chris Lyon. Don't forget your biosuit.

00:00 | America

April 21, 2003

Lovely Spam

I remember signing up for my free Hotmail email account back in 1996. Since then, the service's user base has grown to the tens of millions, and so has the spam. Over this weekend my inbox accumulated over 30 unsolicited emails for various products and services, most of which are inappropriate for anyone under 40.

This came as a surprise to me, since I had set up an elaborate system of filters (over 30) to weed out the spam. Occasionally some would slip through, but on average I could expect less than 5 a day. That was until this weekend.

It turns out Microsoft has now put a limit of 10 filters, in addition to its inbox size cap, for non-paying Hotmail members. Now, being that it's a free service with an exponentially growing user base, I can understand the need for these restrictions. The problem is, even if I start paying for the service (which I won't), I'll still get inundated with spam. So I guess I have two options:

  1. Stop using Hotmail. This would also mean I would need a new Messenger log-in, and the spam cycle would start anew.
  2. Empty my inbox of spam manually every other day, lest I go over my size limit.

I bet the guys who sold Hotmail to Microsoft are laughing all the way to the bank.

00:00 | Nerd

April 20, 2003


If anyone can help me make sense of the American W-4 form, I'd sure appreciate it.

00:00 | America

April 18, 2003

Lose Some

Microsoft employees get a free discount card, called a Prime Card. It gives us discounts to hundreds of restaurants, stores and services around the United States and British Columbia. Even interns are entitled to this great benefit. Last summer I happily used mine until my internship was over. Since I was no longer working for Microsoft, and I knew that the Prime Card was not accepted in Ontario, I threw mine away. Big mistake, it turns out.

As a new employee, I requested my shiny new Prime Card. Human Resources regretted to inform me that I was already issued a card, but I was welcome to purchase another. It didn't seem to matter that I had not been a Microsoft employee, nor had I lived in a Prime-friendly area for nearly eight months (at the time, it seemed indefinitely).

I know I shouldn't really complain, after all, it is a perk. Still...

00:00 | Work

Win Some

Today I found two particularly annoying .NET bugs, one of which causes Microsoft's J# compiler to crash. I'll post a link to the Knowledge Base articles if and when they come out. Not bad for day 5 on the job.

00:00 | Work

April 17, 2003

By David Bowie

I'm afraid of Americans
I'm afraid of the world
I'm afraid I can't help it
I'm afraid I can't
[Chris] is in America

00:00 | Quotes | Comments (1)

ETA: Unknown

The movers came by and picked up the last of my things from my parents' place this morning. My mom told me they had all my worldly possessions packed up and out the door in about an hour. It's kind of depressing knowing that everything I own is in a truck somewhere, vulnerable to theft, accidents and acts of God. It's also depressing knowing that my stuff didn't come close to filling the truck, and so the movers will have to wait until they can fill it with other people's stuff before they can move it here.

So I'm stuck with only the week's worth of clothing I packed for myself. I guess that means I can start spending my first paycheque on a clothing shopping spree. Either that, or do laundry.

00:00 | Stuff

April 16, 2003

I Shot The Sherrif

Last night's release party was fun. It was most definitely Western-themed complete with line dancing and a mechanical bull. No, I didn't ride it, but I did get to take home a cowboy hat and a sherrif's pin. According to the pin, I'm a Developer Division Deputy.

00:00 | Work

April 15, 2003


Ian started his own blog this week. I guess it's his way to fill the dark hole in his soul left by my departure. I encourage you all to visit Qatsi.

00:00 | Blog


I couldn't have picked a better time to join the team. Tonight is the ship party for the Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 (codename Everett), and I'm invited. I guess it's only fair, since I missed the ship party for Notification Services, the team I worked on during the summer. Tonight's party is rodeo-themed, which makes sense since both my manager and my officemate are from Texas. Yeehaw.

00:00 | Work

April 14, 2003

Born In The USA

Well I made it. The flight here was pleasantly uneventful and I had an enjoyable weekend meeting with friends and going grocery shopping. It has rained every day since I got here. I guess that's just something I have to get used to.

Today was my first day of my career. Most of it was spent in the new employee orientation, which was pretty boring. There were about 50 new hires who attended, and we sat and listened to presentations about technologies, benefits and employee perks. Then the surprise speaker showed up: Bill Gates. The room buzzed with excitement as he calmly walked on stage. He welcomed us to the company, gave a quick speech and then fielded questions (no, I didn't get to ask mine).

After the orientation, I was introduced to my team and shown to my office (which I share with another teammate). I'm excited to start work, which is a good thing according to my manager, because he has lots for me to do.

00:00 | Work

April 10, 2003

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

My time here is just about up. I've said goodbye to my closest friends and family, I've packed and I'm ready to go. I wonder how this blog will change once I get settled in. Will it become a chronicle of a lonely Canadian living in America? Will it become a more tech-oriented site, due to my work at Microsoft? Will it be the next Talking To Americans? Meh, it'll probably be more of the same crap I usually write.

I don't know when I'll have the opportunity to blog again, so until I return check out some of the fine webloggers I have in my links section.

00:00 | Stuff

Big Canadian Flag

Big Canadian Flag Thumbnail I spent the week of Canada Day (July 1) in Vancouver with my girlfriend Angela. Above the Vancouver post office was the biggest Canadian flag I had ever seen. Since I'll be leaving to go live in the United States this month, I thought I'd put up a little reminder of my home and native land.

00:00 | Banners

April 9, 2003

Now Showing

Now showing in downtown Brampton, Ontario, Canada: illusionist David Copperfield reads the mind of The Sopranos' Edie Falco!

Mural of hair stylist and customer

This is actually a mural on the side of a hair salon in Brampton. Why these characters resemble these two particlar celebrities is a mystery only a TV-magician can solve.

00:00 | Stuff

April 8, 2003

Last Days

Well it finally happened. The ungodly tangle of logic and red tape finally became unwound. I am booked to fly one-way to Seattle on Friday April 11, 2003. From there I will be staying in Microsoft temporary housing until the current tenant of my new downtown Seattle apartment moves out. I start work Monday at 9:00 am.

I plan to spend my last few days in Canada packing and last-minute visiting.

00:00 | Stuff | Comments (1)

April 7, 2003

My Own Catch-22

One of my favorite books of all time is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. A black comedy and biting satire, it's best known for it's ridiculous characters and cyclical bureaucracy. For example:

Why bring up my literary preferences? Well, today I got in contact with Microsoft and the moving company hired to move me out. Here's the situation:

Yossarian had it easy.

So what now? Well, Microsoft is going to contact the movers themselves and straighten this thing out. But that will have to wait until tomorrow because the contact person at the moving company here in Canada couldn't make it into work today due to the season-defying blizzard we're experiencing here.

00:00 | Rant

April 6, 2003

Quelle Surprise!

Today I was treated to a surprise going-away party by my parents. It was at Bassano's, an expensive Italian restaurant here in Brampton. With the help of my sister Alexis , my parents invited Angela, Ryan, Ian, my Uncle Brian and Aunt Diane, my sister's boyfriend Derek, my brother Matt and his roommate Christian. I didn't suspect a thing.

The meal was excellent, and I even got some going-away gifts (the majority of which were gags). There was even a mille-feuille going-away cake, that had to have been the tastiest cake I've had in recent memory.

I should be leaving sometime this week (date to be announced), and it was really nice to see everyone one last time. Personally, I wouldn't mind my trip being delayed a few more weeks in the hopes that there will be yet another going-away party for me.

00:00 | Stuff

April 5, 2003

Have Plow, Will Travel

It appears that arriving a whole hour early to the train station is not sufficient time to secure a ticket to Kitchener. So I missed the Maple Syrup Festival. No boiled tree sugar for me. Luckily Ang braved the newly-plowed roads and came here.

Speaking of newly-plowed things, here's a few tips for drivers who are obviously unaccustomed to driving in Canada's April Winter conditions (this seems to include everyone in my neighbourhood):

If you can do these few things for me, then my final memories of Canadian winters won't be filled with hate towards my fellow man.

00:00 | Canada

April 4, 2003

To Miss Or Not To Miss

Everything outside is encrusted with a thin layer of ice thanks to the all-night hailstorm nature had in store for us. One more reason to not miss southern Ontario.

Driving is particularly treacherous, but hopefully the trains are still running so I can get to Waterloo to visit Angela and to see the Maple Syrup Festival in Elmira (a small Mennonite community outside of Waterloo). Two more reasons to miss southern Ontario.

00:00 | Canada

Roll Up The Rim To Lose

According to the Tim Hortons rules and regulations, the odds of winning their Roll Up The Rim To Win contest are one in nine. The contest opened one month ago yesterday, and I've only won twice: a muffin and a cookie. Now I know I've had more than 18 cups of Tim's coffee in the last month. Hell, I've had at least 18 this week! It think this means I'm due to win the big-screen TV any day now.

00:00 | Stuff

April 3, 2003

The Under-Privileged

Please forgive this short nerdy rant.

So-called computer security experts advise running one's day-to-day computing activities in a low-privilege account. This makes sense because, as we all know, viruses have all the privileges of the infected user. Also we don't want to be accidentally trashing some important system directory. What's funny is most CS people who run, say Linux, would be horrified at the idea of using the root account for daily work. Yet these same people shamelessly run Windows with administrator privileges (despite the fact that Windows viruses outnumber Linux viruses by about a billion to one).

But I'm not about to rant about those people; my beef is with software developers.

My parents recently bought a new computer. I thoughtfully set up five user accounts on the new computer, one for each member of my family. I heeded the security experts' advice and gave myself the only admin, password-protected account. I taught my parents how to use Windows XP's "Run As" command to perform those tasks deemed admin-worthy. I figured I had thought of everything. I thought wrong.

They also bought an HP Officejet v40 all-in-one fax-scanner-copier-printer. Everything seemed to work fine, until you tried to fax a file directly. A weird, "no connection" error came up. Puzzled, I tried from my account. The fax was sent flawlessly. I tried again from my dad's account: error. Not even the celebrated "Run As" command would work. I checked the manual: nothing. I went to the website: nothing. I scoured the web and newsgroups: nothing. Finally, in a moment of desperation, I phoned tech support, who told me that faxing was one of those holy tasks that only admins could perform.

What is so important and dangerous about faxing that only admins are trusted with the privilege? The tech support guy couldn't answer that, and gave me some bullshit about the registry before suggesting I make everyone admins.

I'm shocked and appalled that software developers, my brethren, are designing software so shoddily. I've seen stuff like this in other pieces of software I use, but there's usually an alternative. But here, it's not like anyone else makes drivers for HP's products.

So I don't know what to do. I've given their tech support a scathing review in an email survey they sent me, so hopefully they'll wise up and update their driver, or at least send me an acknowledgement that their software is to blame, not the fundamental nature of faxing.

In case any of you were wondering, I run as administrator on my own Windows XP machine. Yeah, I'm a hypocrite, but you love me anyway.

00:00 | Nerd

April 2, 2003

Worth 1000 Words

I finally decided to update my photo gallery page. It's a little plain looking right now, but I plan to eventually pretty it up and add more photos.

I have also finally finished my foray into C# and .NET. I give you Shashin, the photo gallery generator I used to generate my photo gallery. Anyone with the Microsoft .NET Frameworks is welcome to try it out.

Can I program as well as I can rant? Only time and my site logs will tell...

00:00 | Nerd

April 1, 2003

The April Fool As It Were

Today Canada showed me once again what I'll be missing by moving to the US: snow in the spring. It's nature's April Fool's joke. The constant rain I'll be experiencing in Washington state will come as a sharp contrast to the unpredictable southern Ontario weather I've endured for most of my life.

I've decided to replace the banner image with something a little more patriotic. Just because I'm going down the states, doesn't mean I don't still love Canada, or think myself any less Canadian. One of my fellow classmates once implied that by taking this job, I was selling out. So I asked him to find me a job at the Canadian company he works at. He told me they weren't hiring. Well if selling out is choosing a job in the states over unemployment in Canada (having not worked in Canada in the last 52 weeks, I don't qualify for EI), then I guess I'm just a big sell-out.

00:00 | Canada