Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Viva Las Vegas

Went to Vegas last weekend with a big group of friends to celebrate Nate's birthday. Unfortunately, in addition to my baggage and some cash, apparently I packed a virus to Vegas as well.

The weather friday when everyone was leaving was bad -- it was pouring down rain in San Jose, and more importantly, as we would later learn, it was also raining at the Las Vegas airport. Apparently, because it never rains there, their ILS is a little on the antique side, so it severely limits the number of planes that they can land. To make it all work, they assigned each plane a time slot it can land in, and the planes were held at their take-off airports until their slot came up.

Which meant that Mike, Ash and I spent two and a half hours sitting on the floor in SJC playing poker with Ash's candy supply. At one point I knocked out both Ash and Mike with one really good hand and ended up with all the candy, but those commies nationalized my candy and divided it back up.

The flight was quick, once they finally let us on the plane, although the takeoff was a bit rough as we climbed through the storm.

We met up with everyone who managed to get in friday night, had dinner late (10:30), then went and partied for the night. Up to that point I had a minor cough, but I was pretty tired after dinner, so I "rallied" with a couple Vodka RedBulls. This may have been my downfall. RedBull can keep me awake even when I'm dead tired, so I didn't sleep well that night, and by saturday I was decidedly sick.

Saturday night was the big organized dinner, which around 25 people showed up for. I was not one of them, as I was in the hotel sleeping. I'm such a party animal.

As for the Imperial Palace, where most of us stayed, I misquote Winston Churchill: "Never have so many paid so much for so little."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

RSA Security Conference

Went to the RSA security conference yesterday, which was pretty interesting. Lots of vendors selling basic stuff, like stand-alone firewall boxes and whatnot, and management software to tie security devices together. Big trends for this conference were two-factor authentication (some sort of keychain-like physical token, combined with either a biometric -- fingerprint -- or password), VPN over SSL for more firewall-friendly VPN, and intrusion prevention systems (blocking virus-like behavior instead of scanning for specific viruses).

From a consumer product standpoint, the hot giveaway this year was an iPod -- every third booth had some sort of free drawing for an iPod or an iPod mini. Coolest giveaway I saw was a chance to win a ride in a MiG fighter.

The NSA also had a booth there, presumably for recruiting. They had one of the enigma machines recovered in WWII on display on loan from the museum of cryptography (another booth also had an enigma out in front of it, so I'm guessing that the machines aren't terribly rare).

Most annoying part about the conference is that there was no free wireless available -- apparently the Moscone center charges an arm and a leg for internet access over their gold-plated wires. Ironic when you consider that San Francisco is planning on putting in free wireless over the whole city... Are these two run by the same government?

Science Proves What You Already Knew

Recent research showing that there are structural differences between men's and women's brains. Fun example:

"That doll becomes life-like to that girl, but you give it to a two-year-old boy and you are more likely, not all the time, but you are more likely than not to see that boy try to take the head off the doll," he said.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Take A Hike

Had a nice relaxing weekend. On saturday I took a hike with Keith, Katie, and Jon on a short loop trail off of highway 84. Took some pictures which should make their way on to my website one of these days.

Had hockey games on both saturday and sunday, which is unusual, and won both of them, which is even more unusual. Didn't score any goals in either game, which unfortunately is not unusual -- I'm thinking I may try my hand (stick?) at defense instead. I can skate backwards most of the time...

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Middle East Peace Summit

Interesting op-ed piece talked about the situation inside Palestine and some of the internal tensions. One thing the article pointed out was this:

The fact remains that according to international law people living under occupation have the right to use any means available, including armed struggle, to resist occupation.

Although the article goes on to say that any "military adventurism" would be counter-productive at this point, because it would undermine Abbas' authority.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Superbowl Sunday

It's that day again -- the day when all of America, save for a few oddballs like me, gets really excited over the chance to see Janet Jackson bare her boob ornament on national TV. And, in between the commercials and the halftime show, maybe watch a little football.

Most years I have to create and excuse to not hang out at someones house for 5 hours watching a football game that would be much more entertaining to watch on fast-forward on my Tivo in about 30 minutes, but this year I have been spared that ordeal, because my hockey league has scheduled a game for 4:30PM today, smack dab in the middle of the superbowl.

A couple people I talked to about this were horrified, but for me it couldn't be better -- I can show up at Katie & Keith's party, hang out for an hour or so, then just about the point that the boring football part is starting up, I have to leave to make it to my game on time. Not only that, but I'm sure a bunch of people on both teams have bailed, so I should get lots of ice time, too.

So, everyone enjoy Superbowl Sunday, because I'll be enjoying mine -- if for an entirely different reason.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Dinner with Katie

Spent an evening shopping and having dinner with Katie, who was on the verge of a breakdown. K&K just put an offer in on a house this afternoon, and she was anxiously awaiting a phone call to see if the offer was accepted. Actually, "anxiously" is a wild understatement. To put things in perspective, shopping just barely took her mind off checking her phone every 10 minutes...

After dinner at Pizza Antica we headed over to B&N to pick up Gwen Stefani's new album. She got the phone call just as we were walking through the door, and she was deliriously happy after that (Not that I don't understand -- it's a really cool house).

On the way back to my house, we popped the CD in the player, and listened to track 2 -- "Rich Girl". 'nuff said.