Saturday, June 28, 2008


Today I am 29. Last night, at dinner:

Galahad: "Congratulations on becoming a prime number again. You've now passed the longest stretch between prime numbers, for a while."

Omst: "There's a big gap between 29 and 31, because women turn 29 over and over again."

Me: "No, Sex and the City taught us that 30 is good."

Omst: [turning to me] "Is this the first time you're turning 29?"

Me: "Yes, of course."

Omst: "You're so good at it, for your first time."

Me: "I'm a natural. I was born to turn 29."

Tom: "29 is the new 23."

Doing hamachi shooters, for the first time. It is a combination of raw hamachi, a raw egg, and some other raw fishy materials. Much better than I expected.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

no, it was on Bebo

Today is my mother's birthday.

niniane: I sent my mom a flowering plant.
omst: On Facebook?


Monday, June 16, 2008


I have the travel bug quite badly. Later this summer, I'd like to go somewhere with museums and historical sights, and a laidback culture. It's a bonus if the destination allows me to get by in English or Mandarin (or high-school German).

I'm considering the following:

Germany. I could visit the Google Munich office.

Russia with my dad (who speaks rusty Russian):

Washington D.C.:

Cornwall, England.

Votes on which one will be most interesting?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

reading about other people's good times

I am very amused by this write-up about the making of Meridian 59. My friend is one of the original creators of that game.

Archetype is a virtual company. I have never met any of these people before, in person. I have only interviewed with one person over the telephone. Everything is surreal and dreamy. I live in total terror that maybe this is all a joke and I will be on the curb come rent time. Miraculously, a paycheck actually appears in my mailbox at the beginning of the month.
One of our new Guardians chooses the very original name ‘Gandalf’. When told by his coworkers that they were all going to start a tradition of having names that start with ‘Z’, he sullenly changes his name to Zgandalf.
Not to be outdone by 3dosucks, a new website goes live, detailing how Q will give personal favors in the game for oral gratification. This is accompanied by doctored images of his in-game character. The entire team is quite amused. Except for Q.
In a round of layoffs, I am forced to lay off my own brother. We rehire him a month later.
The entirety of server 109 gets bored, and raids server 108. They don’t player kill. Instead, they all choose names starting with clone, as in ‘clone1’, ‘clone2’, ‘clone3’, ‘clone4’, etc. They all use the same character model and they only speak in binary. One person, the master, does all the talking for the group. Server 108 freaks the hell out. They blame us. We try to explain that we aren’t that smart.

In an admirable example of the community defending itself, a player on server 108 starts a new character, calls it ‘Clone16’, and joins the game. Immediately, the other clones include him in the clone’s in-game chat channel, and start talking normally, saying things like ‘ha ha ha! I can’t believe they R so freakd!’ He quietly listens. The next day, he posts a log on the message board complete with a listing of which clone is which 109 player, and which clone guy is cheating on which clone woman with which other clone woman.
One of our Guardians parts ways with the company, muscled out for giving favors to his favorite customers. He is so popular that dozens of people write messages on boards that cover hot tech stock tips saying that 3DO is going down because they can’t keep their best CS people. Our stock actually dips that day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

you had me at "hello world"

niniane: "We could store section X of data in memory."

alipé: "Or we could use that memory to increase the overall cache."

[ ... various debate ... ]

alipé: "We're only speculating that X will be accessed more often than the rest of the data. Better just to rely on caching."

niniane: "That's a good observation."

alipé: "Show me the cache!"

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

My encounter with Star Trek celebrity

Google has brought in a number of well-known dignitaries over the years, and I've gotten used to seeing them around campus. But on Tuesday, in the bathroom adjoining the gym, I experienced a heart-stopping brush with celebrity.

I was washing my hands when a tall woman in a black sweater walked past me. She looked like Gates McFadden. Then I looked at her visitor tag and it read "Gates McFadden".

I experienced a jolt of adrenaline.

Gates McFadden is the actress who played Beverly Crusher on "Star Trek: The Next Generation".

This was very, very exciting for me.

I watched a lot of Star Trek growing up. Dr. Crusher was a fascinating character: cold and a little aloof, very professional, very beautiful, with an interesting past.

My friend Laura walked through the bathroom door, and I waved her into the locker room next door. Then I said, "OhmyGod, Gates McFadden is in the bathroom!!"

Laura said, "Who's that?"

I pulled us both back into the bathroom. As the Gates McFadden-like visitor headed toward the door, I stopped her and asked, "Are you the actress who played Dr. Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation?"

During my entire question, she peered down at me through large sunglasses, with no facial expression. I began to feel pretty foolish. Then she removed her sunglasses, and said, "Yes I am."

I should've realized the answer would be yes, because who besides an actress would wear sunglasses in the bathroom?

I presume it's to avoid being dogged by persistent Star Trek fans, like me.

She had read a flier hanging around, and she asked me, "What's a changelist?"

I explained.

She asked Laura about her work, and told us the reason for her visit. Then she said Google was a great place, and very "Star Trek-y". I presume the last part was to humor me. I enjoyed it very much.

Then she left before I could start in with, "Hey, in that epispode where you're psychically bound to Captain Picard and you discover your feelings for each other..."

great speech

I'm sure this will be blogged everywhere, because it's so damn good. But let me say how touching I found the J K Rowling commencement speech:

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

A or B

I decided upon this bedframe for my master bedroom:

Alas, it is currently out of stock. While I wait for it, I am going to satisfy my bedframe-buying needs by purchasing a frame for my guest bedroom. The room looks like this, without the rug or furniture (this photo was taken at the previous owner's Open House):

Which one is better?