Aristillus

A large crater to dump my thoughts

Archive for January 2011

Naked and petrified with hot grits

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It’s a pity to see Wikipedia delete some of its lengthier articles about subcultures. My favorite, Slashdot trolling phenomena, has not survived the recent flood of deletions.

At least Toilet paper orientation (128 references and counting) is still alive and unedited for brevity.

Written by aristillus

January 31, 2011 at 17:40

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Late night hacking

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Of all the bad habits I’ve managed to rid myself of, this must be by far the toughest one. It’s 3 AM again, and I’m still coding.

It’s hard to leave a train of thought alone and get to sleep when you know you’re almost there. Tomorrow morning it’ll take a while to get into “the zone” again, and tardiness is nowhere to be found at the moment. And besides, there’s only one problem left to fix. Really. This bug is shallow. Just like the half a dozen that preceded it.

Sigh. I’m gonna regret this tomorrow. Future-self, I hereby apologize.

Written by aristillus

January 31, 2011 at 03:31

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Loner

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I have great colleagues and it’s been fun hanging out with everybody in person again, but after three intense weeks of hacking and booze I am desperate for some me-time. My inner geek demands that I stay at home for at least a couple of days to sleep and hack in solitude, accompanied only by some loud music and a good bottle of scotch.

See you next week.

Written by aristillus

January 27, 2011 at 18:59

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Seattle

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It’s my first time in Seattle, and also my first time in Washington state but I feel right at home here. It’s a lot closer to Canada here (both geographically and culturally) than e.g. Texas and the weather is almost as bad as in the Netherlands at the moment.

Oh, and there are even more reruns of Frasier on local TV than I was expecting. I have yet to be invited to a dinner party. Apparently they are not as common as the series makes them out to be.

Written by aristillus

January 23, 2011 at 17:57

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Credit cards

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In this part of the world, it is impossible to get by without credit cards. They’re probably one of the most flawed concepts ever invented for transferring money. Little plastic cards with a large integer on it. An integer that is supposed to be secret and personal but which, despite that, you are obliged to show to people you’ve never met on a daily basis. It doesn’t take a security expert to see the flaw in this magnificent scheme.

So – rather than actually trying to fix the whole thing from the ground up – banks have patched up the system as best they can. Useless (and optional) security measures have been added on top of the existing broken system. And transactions are being monitored for suspicious activity.

Trying to rent a car in Seattle this afternoon my bank apparently flagged my behaviour as “suspicious” and now declines all transactions. That is despite the fact that I have already used my credit card elsewhere in the U.S. this week without problems. What is so strange about me trying to rent a car? I have no fucking clue. And of course my bank is only available during CET office hours so I can’t yell at them to get my card unblocked.

To make matters worse, none of the rental agencies accept Meastro debit cards. FFS.

Update: Looks like buying coffee in Phoenix didn’t fit into my regular spending patterns. It’s not like I haven’t ever done that before. Of course the friendly bank employee I spoke to can not tell me why their algorithms flagged this particular transaction (“computer says no“).

Written by aristillus

January 23, 2011 at 05:28

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T for Texas

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I’ve spent the last two weeks hanging out in a hotel in the Dallas area with most of my coworkers. Despite the fact that Dallas is a pretty boring city it has been a very entertaining week. It’s amazing what meeting people in person does to your motivation and enthusiasm.

And Dallas is dull, really dull. Downtown doesn’t really exist (nothing significant, anyway) – it’s just one big suburban area. One thing that really surprised me was that despite the noticeable amounts of wealth, public infrastructure seems to be neglected – perhaps it’s the limited amount of tax that comes in? In a car-oriented state like Texas it is perhaps not a surprise that sidewalks don’t really exist but there also isn’t a lot of decoration in public spaces. It feels a lot like some of the neglected areas in Belgium – except that the private property actually does look neat and tidy over here.

The semi-vegetarian in me had a rough week. A lot of the meals were very meat-oriented. There were some new experiences there though. I had never tried soul food, but it was really good. Oh, and the thought of frying pickles never occurred to me, but it is actually quite tasteful.

One of my colleagues who is local was kind enough to invite us over for a BBQ at his house, and we spent some of the other evenings doing other Texas-y things: out to the gun range (I shot a HK USP 45 and some others shot rifles and uzis), to a rodeo, pubs and (okay, not typical Texas) the ice rink.

Written by aristillus

January 21, 2011 at 05:02

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Basta on media reliability

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I’ve ranted about the low quality of todays journalism before.

Television producers Woestijnvis in Belgium (known for – among other things – the excellent Neveneffecten) tested the Belgian media by sending out a few press releases about research they had pulled out of their ass. Only in a very few cases did journalists even bother to call for more information (and when they didn’t get a response, they would publish anyway). Most major newspapers simply published a front-page article based on the single dodgy press release alone. No callbacks, no further research, nothing.

Basta

Written by aristillus

January 19, 2011 at 15:47

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