Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Simple solutions to stupid problems

I just figured how to fix my startup brightness problem. A while back I posted about this, how when I start my computer the brightness gets turned up very high, and the only way I can actually see anything comfortably was to open up the colour tab in the advanced display properties and turn it back to where I like it. I finally figured out why it was doing it.

When you install Photoshop, you get a handy utility called the Adobe Gamma Loader, which I guess adjusts your screen so things you do in Photoshop look right on other people's computers. I don't know how useful that actually is, and I've never noticed a difference in pictures on my screen and other screens, but I digress.

When I bought my new video card, I didn't reinstall the gamma loader, so it was still trying to load the settings for my old video card. I guess these were completely incompatible, and resulted in the faded-out, 0 contrast display I've been correcting for over a month.

To fix it, I tried removing the gamma loader from my startup list. When I turned the computer on today, the brightness didn't change, and instead actually stayed at the level I had set it.

What a concept.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Amendment to my previous post

I just got an answer about the technical writer program, a bachelor's degree in computer science is an excellent credential to the program. I just need to get together some transcripts and apply, and I could be a happy camper.

I hope I can still log in to Qcard to order a transcript.

It's been so long since I got an email with good news in it that I barely know how to react.

Stuff to do

I need to write up a cover letter and then get down to Staples to fax it, among other job-related things, but instead I'm sitting in my room slowly sweating to death. I'm bordering on being too hot to care.

I sent an email to the coordinator of Algonquin College's technical writing course, asking if my degree was good enough to be accepted into the program (it's a graduate certificate program), but so far I haven't gotten an answer. I'd like to somehow be able to make a living off writing, and I know I haven't really been consistent enough to consider it so far. I figure if I have a reason beyond "I feel like writing this", I'll find some motivation to actually finish a project.

Who knows, maybe I'll get around to dusting off some of the things I've stopped working on. I have an alien invasion that needs to be concluded, and I really should write down some of those scenes that pop into my head when I'm nowhere near my computer.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Can it be true?

I got my cell phone bill today, and it was significantly cheaper than normal. I immediately looked at the details, and noticed this line:
"Text Messaging Services ........ Free"

You have no idea how happy this makes me. It seems to be the primary function of my phone, and in the past those message fees really added up.

Hot hot hot!

I hate summer.

It's gotten ridiculously hot again, and it's going to be unbearable until Wednesday at the earliest. Hot, humid, and the sun's shining with incredible intensity so I can't even go outside for long to enjoy a breeze.

And to top it all off, the pool is closed.

I hate summer.


This stems from a discussion I had with my brother on Friday, apparently I print all my letters wrong.

According to him, all letters are supposed to start at the upper left, no exceptions. No matter how cumbersome that makes it, that's how it must be done. The way I see it, if a letter can be made faster or more efficiently by starting at the bottom, then it's okay.

For example, I make an M by starting at the bottom left and making an uninterrupted stroke. Same for an N, one stroke, you're done the letter in no time. No doubled lines, no backtracking, just 1 line, 1 letter. Is this wrong?

We argued about other letters too. He makes an E by starting with the vertical line and filling in the horizontals from the top. I start at the top right and make a square C, then fill in the middle. He yelled at me for that, but I find making two strokes much more efficient than making 4. Kevin thinks I'm a freak for this too, seeing how he makes an L then fills in the horizontals going upwards.

Moving on to other letters, I make my As by starting at the bottom left, making the angle, then filling in the horizontal. For my Hs, I start at the top and make both verticals, then connect them. He makes both by making the left line, the horizontal, and then the right. Kevin makes his Hs like that, but does the As like mine, except he doubles the left line by starting at the top to make it.

I was talking to Kev about this, and my point of connecting the verticals was this: "The way I see it, if I have both of them there, it's a simple matter of making a line just long enough. If I was to make that horizontal first, my Hs would all be different shapes". I would seriously have no idea how long to make that horizontal line if I didn't have something to connect it to.

You wouldn't put up a support beam without something to attach it to, would you? Same deal here. Maybe I'm thinking about this a bit too practically, but I like some efficiency in my printing. If I can do it quickly and it looks right, who cares if I didn't follow your artificial method of doing it.

This from the guy who gets annoyed with web browsers that don't comply to standards. I'm invoking Kirkey's rule of being allowed to be hypocritical when it suits me. So there.

I noticed one funny thing I do. When I make a P, I start from the top and double the veritcal. When I make an R I start from the bottom and make a P, then trail a leg off it. I have no idea why I make essentially the same letter two different ways, none at all.

I have one final thought before I start rambling more than I usually do. Why does this matter? Why do we find each other's ways of making letters weird? I said it about my brother's, he said it about mine, Kevin said it about mine, I said it about Kevin's, but why does it bother us? Is it just because we can't stand something so familiar being made in a different way, or is it something deeper?

I'd like to know.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I'm exhausted

Golf really took it out of me today. After shooting a respectable 50 on the front 9, I completely collapsed on the back and wound up shooting a 111.

The front 9 was awesome, I was making phenomenal shots with my wedge, I was driving almost decently, and all my fairway shots were at least decent. I punched it around trees, snuck through gaps in trees, and even my putting was good.

None of those things happened on the back 9, aside from my drives still being not too terrible. I lost a lot of balls, so that hurt, but aside from that my game just completely went to hell.

We were playing at Brockville Highland, which contains one of my most hated holes. The 13th is a hilly affair, the only hilly hole on the entire course. 505 yards of climbing a giant hill, descending a giant hill, and then climbing another, much steeper hill. You can't see where your ball lands if you shoot it from anywhere below the top of the hill, and there's a lot of area to cover in that case. It's completely out of place on that course, which is generally pretty flat (aside from some smaller hills). I think the grounds crew just got lazy when they were building the course and didn't want to bother levelling off the hill.

I improved over last time, and if I can recapture the magic of the front 9, I think I could really get better at this golf thing.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I got better

My feet are feeling much better now. I guess the blisters weren't actually blisters, but were something completely different and I couldn't even begin to describe them. Good thing too, I'm playing golf tomorrow.

My mother made us a tee time at 1:16 in the afternoon. Right in the middle of the peak heat of the day, and it's going to be hot tomorrow. Add to that the fact I'm already sunburned (lousy sun), and that sunblock probably won't stay on too long because I'll be sweating. I'm going to be crispy by the end of tomorrow.

Changing topics slightly, we bought some packaged beef kabobs last week, and finally got around to making them tonight. They were awesome. Absolutely awesome. They're made by Maple Leaf, but I couldn't tell you what they're named without digging through the garbage. I'm not going to dig through the garbage. They have them in pork, chicken, and possibly turkey varieties too, but I can only vouch for the beef.

I've found I'm getting bored with the meals I make, but I have no incentive to get more creative in the kitchen. I used to be able to look at a cupboard full of stuff and pull a decent meal out of my ass (probably not the best expression to use here), but now I don't want to put that creative thought process to work. I think it might be because I cook for my brother too, and I don't want to feed him an experiment in case it goes horribly horribly wrong. I've never had one go too badly, but there's always the possibility of it, and I don't want my first one to be a shared experience.

I've noticed I've been posting roughly every other day, and I think I'm going to try to go daily. I usually think of something to say, but then forget, so from now on when the inclination hits me, I'm going to write it down.

Friday, June 24, 2005


I just remembered why I don't walk far in my sandals. I walked down to the bank to deposit a cheque and get a roll of quarters, and now I have painful blisters on both feet.

Right in the middle of the foot, just behind the toes. The one place you can't avoid stepping on. This rough carpet doesn't help matters either.

I'll survive, hopefully.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cleanest bathroom I've seen all week

I just finished washing the bathroom. Let us never speak of it again.

Now I don't feel like making dinner, and my brother's not home anyway, so maybe I'll hike down to Subway and see if Duong's working, and if he is ask why he hasn't been playing Guild Wars.

Or maybe watch Jeopardy and make some crap. The choice is mine, I have the power.

Well that was disappointing

The PIN that fate was opposed to turned out to be a loser.

Lousy false omens.

Trials and tribulations

Last week I got an invalid PIN on one of my Coke labels. They're supposed to have 15 digits, but this one had 16. I complained, and Coke got back to me today, telling me it was a misprint and if I leave off the first digit it'll work fine. Good stuff.

I tried it just now, but the website crapped out on me. I got an error trying to enter one of the side contests, and then it wouldn't let me log in to try the new PINs I have. I hope it'll be fixed tomorrow.

I suddenly have a good feeling about this PIN. If there's been this much resistence to me entering it into the system, then it's almost guaranteed to be a winner.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Old-fashioned hedonism

This entry will not be pretty.

Kevin called me Friday evening to tell me he was going to be in town for one night only, and asked if I wanted to do anything. I'm a sucker for fun, so I agreed, and we made no plans.

Around 10:30 or 11 or so, he showed up and brought me some fancy East Side Mario's pizza (it was awesome, thanks), then we went out in search of beer. He was wearing his Queen's jacket, so I decided to wear mine. It was chilly too, so that helped the jacket decision, and the fact that I was wearing it is important.

I don't normally wear it anymore. I feel weird being the only person aroud wearing one, especially now that I'm not actually a student anymore. I can't quite put my finger on what the problem is, but the expression "fish out of water" comes to mind as being tangential to it.

Regardless, we set out across the Experimental Farm to meet up with his friend Andrea, who lives somewhat close to me. As we're walking we discuss some things, and he asks if I've ever slammed my jacket. Jacket slamming is a proud tradition carried on by engineers in which the jacket is gripped by the collar and swung into the ground in an overhand motion. When done right it creates an impressive amount of noise, and when done in large numbers is a bit scary. Normally only engineers slam their jackets because they're made from a stronger leather than the other Queen's jackets (or some reason like that), and because they're the only ones stupid enough to pay over $300 for something, dye it purple, and then slam it on the ground repeatedly. But I'm editorializing.

He slams his jacket in the grass, and it does make some good noise. I decline to do the same, and he tries to slam it on my back. I'm not sure what did it, but something managed to wrap around and hit me in the face. It stung for a bit and made my vision blurry for a bit, but somehow it straightened my glasses out.

Eventually we meet Andrea, and go to some place called the Pendragon. It's on Merivale near Clyde, and it was a fairly awesome place. Small and cozy, but not cramped. Good beer on tap, but not expensive. It was just about the perfect balance of factors I like, and if I ever start drinking again, it'll probably be my favoured hangout.

One look at the waitress reduced my brain to a puddle of goo, and Kev and I split a pitcher. We reminisced, brought up roughly 500 inside jokes (all of which still made us laugh), and watched some guy get his lights punched out (boxing match on tv, not in the bar). More beer, more stories (including the Flight of the Kevinbee, which tells of Kevin's fateful top-speed run over a retaining wall) were told, more jokes referenced in varying degrees of detail. Eventually we'd drank enough, settled up, and left.

Normally I feel bad mooching off people, but I had absolutely no problem letting Kev pay for the beer. I figure he owes me for all the dishes I washed the second year we lived together, and I told him that. He's going to comment about this, I just know it, so I'll tell you flat out that anything he says about him washing dishes has an 80% chance of being a flat-out lie. Obvious lies include "I did too wash dishes" and "my hands made contact with dishes in soapy water more than twice all year".

When we left, Kevin and I sang some songs we know. Officially they're rugby songs, but we know them from somewhere else. I'm not sure if I can reveal the source, but rest assured, we know some nasty lyrics. Which we proceeded to sing very loudly as we walked up Merivale.

In the interest of internet decency I won't post any lyrics here, but we were wishing all the ladies were in the North Atlantic Squadron, if you feel like doing some google detective work. There are two songs merged there, so have fun. You probably won't be able to find most of what we sang (I used to be a dirty songwriter), but you'll no doubt get the gist of it. Instead of getting the whole of it, loudly, in public.

We split off from Andrea (she was going home, I wanted to get some coffee, and Kev wanted to keep singing before he slept at her place), and we kept going up Merivale. The singing petered out not long after we separated, and I took a leak behind the dumpster at Harvey's, and we continued on our merry way.

I can say without a doubt that if not for the jacket, I wouldn't have been singing dirty dirty things in public, nor would I have considered the dumpster a good place to go to the bathroom. There's still some magic in that jacket, some aura that infuses one with the mindset of a student. I hope that never fades, and I think that might be the real reason I don't wear it anymore. Not because I don't like it, because I'm afraid of wearing out the magic.

As an aside, the pens I finished my last exam with are still in the pocket, and I'm instituting a rule for my circle of friends. All unimportant items contained in your jacket the moment you finish your scholastic career can never be removed except to use them. Ever. Those pens will still be in the pocket at my 60 year homecoming, and if I can still drink a pitcher and remember the words, I'll be singing along wherever the opportunity presents itself.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Barroom Hero

Kevin showed up in Ottawa quite randomly. We went drinking, but I'm too tired to describe the night right now.

Details tomorrow.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Web design supergenius

I fixed my problem with centred images in Opera div tags.

Thumbs up for web standards!

And it still works in IE.

More fun with HTML

I got the new windows opening at the right size with JavaScript, and now anyone looking at Barrel's photo gallery without it won't get new windows, but that's okay.

Now, he gave me a lot of pictures which I've assembled into a sort of action shot gallery. He didn't want description for these, so I decided to put 3 per row, keeping the regular left-right configuration I had with the other galleries, but with a third image centred between them. I modified some of my div boxes from the earlier galleries to remove the left-alignment, hoping that that would centre the middle image.

It works fine in Internet Explorer, but in Opera the middle image is pressed against the left one. I can't figure out how to fix this without doing a lot of annoying margin and padding work, unless I redefine the centre image div into filling the entire available width, but I don't really want to do either of those.

I know some people will tell me to not bother, because it works in Internet Explorer and nothing else matters. Personally I hate this line of thinking. If it doesn't work in all browsers, it doesn't work at all. There are web standards for a reason, and IE doesn't conform to them. In any other industry they'd be in trouble for that, but on the internet they're rewarded with being the dominant browser. People take the easy route and write code that works in IE's broken rendering engine while any standards-compliant browser chews it up and rightly rejects it, and they get punished for it.

This has the potential to veer off into territory I'd rather not tread, so I'll leave the topic alone.

Come to think of it, I never tested the site with Firefox or Netscape. Guess I'd better find some testers.

Screw it, I'll just redefine the middle div.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Storm of the week

As I write this there is a thunderstorm raging outside my window. Pouring rain, flickering lightning, deep rumbling thunder, the whole 9 yards.

I just went out to the living room, and the rain is making it tough to see details on the street. For the minute r two I was out there, I don't think the lightning stopped for more than 5 seconds, just constant electrical flicker. It looked like a constant transformer explosion, without the blackout those usually end in.

Even the thunder is good. It's deep and rumbly, loud but not too loud. Thunder that lets you know it's there, but that doesn't overpower you. So far there haven't been any thunderclaps, and that's fine by me. Those hurt my ears, while thunder like this is rather nice.

I'm hoping this storm will wipe out the humidity we've been stuck with for the past few days. I don't think I can take any more heat like that. I'm not a fan of heat to begin with, and when I get stuck in temperatures above 40 with the humidity, I just feel like dying. My computer chair has sweat stains that may never come out, and it was so bad today I actually had to wipe myself off in the middle of the afternoon.

But enough of my awful sweatiness. Kevin's looking at the radar, and apparently this storm stretches from Val d'Or to Watertown. That's an impressive distance, and an impressive storm to match.

Seems to be calming down now, sadly. No more thunder serenading me, no more lightning catching my attention as it flashes to the ground. The rain's still there, but rain is common enough to not get a vaguely poetic line dedicated to it.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Cover letter, revisited

Yet another cover letter has me somewhat stymied. It's another job I'm seemingly perfectly suited for, so I want to make sure the letter is as perfect as I can make it. I wrote out a list of the requirements I matched (all of them except for 2 or 3 of the assets), and I'm following a cover letter style guide. It says 3 paragraphs, with all the info about how my experience matches the requirements in the 2nd, but that's going to make the paragraph really long. I'm trying to tie multiple requirements into a smaller list of experiences, so that's going to help.

My thesis alone covers at least 5, so that's huge. Couple that with 2 or 3 others that directly tie into my work experience (manual labour finally helps me out), and I'm sitting pretty.

Or so I would be, except I'm having trouble actually writing it. The first part went perfectly, but now I'm stuck trying to bring up the two points I just mentioned. I have to make a segue mid-paragraph, and that never works out nicely. If I tie the thesis into my regular school experience, I'll still have to segue into my work skills, and I have yet to figure out a good way to bring in my interpersonal and communication skills.

That last part might be a stretch based on my difficulty with the spoken word, but I'll figure it out.

On another note, I might change the tagline on this blog. The current one still makes me chuckle, but it feels like it's almost time for a change.

Reading a book is not an accomplishment

I finally finished reading A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe. I say finally because I started reading it at Christmas, lost interest for a while, then regained interest and finished it off an hour or so at a time before bed. Good book, but the beginning doesn't quite flow into the end as naturally as I'd have expected. I'm not sure how it could have been done better, if at all, so I'll stand by my good book judgement.

One thing that bugged me was the constant writing in accents. I can understand occassionally using one to show that a character has one, but if you have to write each line twice (once in the accent, again translated, such as pretty much anything Five-O says), then maybe there's something wrong. Perhaps use a descriptive line to tell us how a certain word sounded and provide sound descriptions when needed (which is done sometimes), or give a general guide the first time that character says something and let us puzzle it out, or have another character translate.

I'm sure it was written the way it was for a reason, and I've probably just missed it. Regardless, it's worth a read.

Friday, June 10, 2005

This is me smiling

I got a call yesterday from the OpenText HR department. It was job related, but wasn't quite an interview. Sort of a pre-interview screening process I guess. I think it went okay, but I'm not a very good judge of these things.

On another front, I heard back about the first batch of business card ideas I sent to Barrel's old boss, and the word seems to be he wanted a background. I came up with some other ideas, and I have to remember to send them out. Details were a bit tough to figure out, but I think I came up with something.

If anyone reading wants a business card designed, email me.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Voice activated

I bought a microphone. Not a big deal, but it means I can now actually use Skype for its proper purpose, talking to people over the internet.

If you have it, add scottv7 to your friends list and we can chat sometime

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Shooting myself in the foot

There was an interesting classified in Saturday's Citizen. A new wholesale company was looking for people in every department, and I thought I'd be good for that. I could work in the office or the warehouse, and I like wholesale.

I debated it for a while, and with some encouragement from my dad, I decided to call. I had to work up the confidence first, and eventually I called.

After 7 or 8 rings I got their voicemail. I wasn't planning on this, but it didn't throw me off too much. I left my name, phone number, told them I was calling about their ad, and then I decided to add a bit more because that seemed too short.

I think I was going to ask them to let me know what positions they still had available. I'm not sure, because as soon as I started I lost my train of thought. Complete cessation of brain activity. I don't even remember what derailed it or why, but I wound up leaving a good 20 seconds of silence on that message while I tried to remember what I was saying.

Finally, I blurted out something like "I don't know" and hung up.

So I went from decent message to total goddamn idiot in the span of 30 seconds. I'm going to kick myself for the rest of the day, because there's no way their going to even call me now.

I need to get a personal assistant who will punch me in the face every time I think I need to say more. It always bites me in the ass, and I'm sick of being my own worst enemy.


Monday, June 06, 2005

I need some HTML help

Hey folks, I need some advice. I'm writing up a photo gallery for Barrel's website, and I have a nice setup with thumbnails that open in new windows. Now, I want to make it so the popped-up windows are only as big as the pictures.

I did some looking around, and all the ways I found to do it have been using JavaScript. I want to keep the site as simple as I can, and although JavaScript is fairly standard these days, I'd rather do it in pure HTML. Google didn't give me any indication that it can be done, but I'm hoping there will be a way.

If it's mind-bendingly obvious, then we'll all share a laugh about it.

Taking back the balcony

We've had enough. We don't have a balcony so that the pigeons have a place to sit and coo and crap. No, that balcony is for us to have a place to sit and gaze out over creation and look in other people's windows.

We have a plan. A master plan, if you will. A plan to block off access to the annoying pigeons while still allowing us to use the balcony for what it was intended. Today was the first phase, measuring and sweeping. We got measurements of every aspect of the balcony, from the width to the spacing of the railing.

Then came the least pleasant part. Pigeons aren't mindful of people's property, so they crap wherever they feel like it. Often this is in inconvenient places, like in the middle of a balcony. so I took the little broom and swept up a hundred or so little crusted-on bits of pigeon excreta, in what was one of the lousiest ways to spend a Sunday afternoon ever conceived by man.

I eventually got what I really hope was all of it, and disposed of it in the proper manner. I was tempted to just sweep it over the edge, but I didn't.

Soon will come the purchasing of materials and then construction of a great bird-blocking screen that will still allow us to see out nicely. There's even a groove in the balcony ceiling for such a screen to fit into, which makes me wonder why the apartments don't come with one in the first place. I guess it's a test of some sort.

During the sweeping I made a rather unpleasant discovery: a skeletonized bird leg. It was a full leg, with foot, just sitting on the balcony. I stared at it for a full minute before my brain would let me believe it.

I ask the biologists in the audience, are pigeons known to bite each other's legs off?

Thursday, June 02, 2005


My brother mentioned that I should make up some t-shirts and posters of some of the random stuff I come up with during the day (no examples because I can't think of one right now), so yesterday I decided to actually do that. I got a copy of Illustrator a while back, and I had actually made one shirt design with it, so I almost know what I'm doing with it.

I opened it up and was presented with nothing but a blank canvas. No tools, no option boxes, just a menu bar and blank space. It seems that nowhere in any of the menus is there a "show tools" option, and because I couldn't select a tool, I couldn't draw anything on the canvas to work with.

I decided to check the help file, and lo and behold it didn't work. I don't remember Illustrator being such a pain, so I guess it either got corrupted or my not-quite-legitimate copy destroyed itself.

Maybe I'll get CorelDraw instead.