Monday, October 31, 2011


A steady stream of monsters and princesses are ringing my doorbell tonight. One little girl came up with her sister still in mom's arms. I put some candy in her bag and then some in her sisters', and she looked at her bag, then me, and said "Yum yum".

I agreed -- after all, it's candy and it's yummy. However, clearly I was just a someone dense adult and didn't really get it, because she held her bag up and a little bit closer to me, and said in a more insistent tone, "Yum yum!"

I'm slow but I can take a hint. I gave her more candy and she walked away happy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rialto Bridge

This shot shows the main canal taken from the Rialto bridge. The main canal is the highway through the center of Venice, and carries most of the motor traffic which goes through the city. Smaller specialized delivery barges go through the side canals to drop off and pick up goods and supplies.

Venice is a bit of a contradiction - many parts of it, such as the buildings, gondolas, and pedestrian walkways, seem unchanged from what they would have been two hundred years ago. On the other hand walking down one of the main thoroughfares feels like walking through a modern mall - all of the modern shops and brands are represented, and you can get anything from Ferrari logo wear to cell phones to Prada.

We mostly walked around the city but also used the Vaparetto to get to and from out hotel and take a tour of the city. The vaparetto is the city bus/ferry system, which stops at points along the main canal and the outside of the city, as well as a couple outlying islands.

We also met a number of Italian-speaking Filipinos, who seem to have a lock on the Venice hotel industry.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Living at the Airport

Due to an unfortunate pair of connections, we have a seven-hour layover in the Rome airport. It's just long enough to be tempting to leave the airport and do something else, but not actually long enough to go somewhere. So we have some time to kill here. Thanks to a data plan purchase for the iPad, we have Internet access at the airport, but I am approaching "the end of the Internet". I've read up on all my email and current news items, and sadly forgot my barnes and noble password to buy new books with.

Joahnna and Luc both have the right idea, as they spent the last couple hours sleeping. Of course Jo is small enough to curl up in an airport chair and Luc travels with his own portable sleeping bag, so they did have a bit of an advantage on me.

Doug is supposed to land in a few minutes, and my mom arrives a couple hours later, after which we have a short flight to Palermo. Should be more driving and less walking for the next week.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Driving in Rome

JR and I rented scooters last night and took a quick moto tour of Rome, which also gave me an opportunity to experience Roman traffic fifs-hand. Thanks to prior experience on a race track it wasn't too hard to get used to, but it bears little resemblance to driving in the US or Australia.

Unlike the US, there are no lanes. Every square inch of pavement is fair game. Whoever is in front has the right of way, so if you can get your nose in front of the other vehicle. There do not appear to be any speed limits other than prudence, however Rome is congested enough and there are enough pedestrians and obstacles to effectively limit speed to about 50mph. This is just a guess, I didn't look at my speedo at any point during our ride.

That said, there are rules to driving here. I'm not sure how they are enforced; certainly the Carbinieri are far too busy smoking cigarettes and looking cool in their Armani uniforms to do anything as prosaic as write tickets, but nonetheless rules are followed. Pedestrians are yielded to, although only if they walk in front of your vehicle, red lights are obeyed, and cars do not drive in the opposite direction lane (some fudging is allowed on that last one).

Traffic is heavy during commute hours but there are lots of back streets and alternate paths. You can get stuck on back streets because they are frequently only one car wide, and parking in the middle of the street (thus blocking the entire street) is fair game for delivery trucks, or anyone wishing to have a quick chat with a friend.

I gave the scooter back at the end of the night unharmed, and with no perceptual gas usage. Fun trip!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

At Home

Just had a chat with Adam and helped him diagnose an electrical problem on his motorcycle. This is a new first for my phone-support checklist. While we were talking we joked about Luc having his own twitter feed. I realized it would go something like this:

08:35 -- Woke up, fed, pooped.  Took nap afterwards.

10:02 -- Woke up hungry. Looked for boob, didn't find it. Cried.
10:08 -- Found boob. Yay! Yummy lunch and nap afterwards.
10:15 -- Forgot to pee after lunch so did that. Cried for change.
10:18 -- Been crying because of wet diaper for ever now. Where the heck is mom?
10:20 -- Dad finally got up off the couch and changed me. So sleepy...
11:45 -- Time to feed again!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I'm killing some time between flights at the Dallas airport. Like everything else in Texas, this airport is big - seven runways, five of them parallel.

Inside is the usual airport amenities - Starbucks located between my arrival and departure gates. Had over an hour this time so enough time to get some breakfast.

There is a kiosk at my gate with power and free Internet, provided you have a cat5 cable. Sadly my little ipad has no ports on it whatsoever so I'm left to post this from my phone.

Only one more flight to go!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Shana's House

I arrived at Shana's house (minus luggage) and Mina promptly investigated my foot.

Shana's Graduation

I am queued up to board the plane, having been warned multiple times that this aircraft will run out of overhead space. No worries for me, my only carry on is my ipad today.

Full day of flying to get out to Raleigh for sis's graduation from vet school. I had no reading material so I bought three books at the barnes and nobles online site while waiting to board; battery should last all day. If I'm lucky I'll be able to take a nap and it won't have to be my sole source of entertainment.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Turning 27

Today I turned 27, at least if you count in hexadecimal. The numbers don't seem that big this way. I don't think I'll make it to FF unless medical science churns out some real miracles in the next few years.

This morning Joahnna took me out for a birthday breakfast at our local diner before packing me off to work. Planning on having a quiet dinner out this year, although my parents have said that they are planning something big for next year.

We went in monday for our most recent exam, and listened to baby Luc's heartbeat. She also gave us a kick-counting chart for measuring how long it takes him to kick, which we have failed to do with meticulous consistency. I'm sure we'll get to it tomorrow.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Caesar and Shana

Caesar found a new best friend - sacked out on the couch watching movies with Shana.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The blue mosque

Another trial for post by email, this time from my phone. This is from my recent trip to israel.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sample post from email

Trying to figure out if I can create posts from an email with pictures in them.  To figure out if it works, here is a post with a picture of a train from the train museum in York.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Using git for revision control

As a hardware engineer, I spent most of my career designing chips using CVS for version control. It was free, simple, and workarounds for its more obvious warts were well-understood. It left me with a few side-effects, such as a pathological fear of branching, but was otherwise OK.

A couple years ago, I decided to try "git", the revision control tool used by the Linux kernel development team, and see if it had any benefits over CVS. Two years down the road, I don't think anyone on my design team would switch back if they had a choice. Fear of branching has been abated, although likely we will carry the scars of CVS for some time, and we no longer need to muck with the respository or have detailed meetings about directory structures due to a directory rename. In short, it's a good thing.

The biggest problem we have had with git migration is that git is relatively unstructured. It does not force a central repository to be used, and allows engineers to pull directly from another engineer's repository. For a small design team, we found that this was a drawback rather than an advantage, because it broke the central-repository model we were familiar with, and created confusion about what the "master" version of the code was. We tried electing one member of the design team to be the master, but this caused problems if the team member was unavailable for some time, due to travel, etc.

So we changed to using a central repository for git. Now everyone pushes and pulls from the central repository rather than from each other, and there is no confusion about what the mainline source code tree is, or who has to resolve a merge conflict. The CVS model may not have been fair (he who commits first, wins) but it was understood, and the central git repository brings us back to that same place. By looking at public repositories such as Github, it seems that this is now recommended practice for small teams.

It turns out setting up git to work like this is not straightforwards. Just as for CVS, there are some magic commands which must be issued to get a properly-functioning central repository. The main requirement for using a central repository is that all members of the design team must be members of the same group. With that in place, the repository can be created by doing (as root):

mkdir proj_name
cd proj_name
git init –bare –shared
cd ..
chown -R proj_name

Replace proj_name by the name of your project, and "group" by the name of the group which all engineers are part of. nobody is a predefined user on Unix, so that repository files are not owned by root.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Don't put near hard disk

I just read a teardown article on the new iPad 2. Apple has integrated a bunch of magnets for its "smart cover", which made we wonder how this new version would fare in the cockpit.

The iPad has recently been certified as an EFB (for those non-pilots, this means it can replace the briefcase of printed charts you see airline pilots pulling around behind them in the airport). However, magnets are not a good thing in this environment. Already the iPad has a strong enough field to cause a compass to mis-read when it is within a foot of it; magnets could make this even worse (then again, maybe they are no worse than it is already. Someone want to loan me an iPad 2 so I can find out? :).

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Trek to Manila

On Thursday we rousted the crew out of bed dark and early for the first part of our bus trip to Manila. We manage to get moving within 20 minutes of our 4AM scheduled departure time. Soon thereafter we learned a practical lesson on taking long road trips in the Philippines - fly. Our plan was originally to drive to manila and then to Bataan, but after a full day of getting pounded by a combination of patched pothole roads and our bus' extra-stiff suspension, we revised the plan to spend some extra time in Manila and skip Bataan.

We stopped halfway to Manila at Villa Escudero, where we had a nice lunch under the waterfall, and spent two nights at the Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay, which was a very nice hotel with a beautiful view of the Taal volcano. The volcano is recursive - it is a volcano in a vay of water with a lake in the caldera, with another volcano coming out of the lake. Yesterday we took a quick day trip to the "Castle in the Sky", a palace built on top of a mountain that was partially constructed by President Marcos.

Today we loaded up the bus, took a quick stop for Jaiden, Mila and Joey to ride ponies for a couple laps, then made our way into the city to get to our hotel. We switched hotels because our original choice didn't have enough rooms for our party, and ended up instead at the Lotus Garden Hotel. We are in the old part of the hotel, which has beautiful hardwood floors and staircases. An unexpected benefit is that it is located in the red light district. Apparently these would be the Lotus Flowers.

Tomorrow we are gathering up early (again? Why do I keep getting up early on my vacation?) to go to Corregidor, the site of some of the fiercest fighting of WWII.