TechTalksTO with Ali

   11 November 2010, terribly early in the morning

I went to the Gladstone with a coworker and Tyler to hear Ali and Matt from talk about how they keep chugging along. They discussed the software development process at Well, the tools they use to get things done, and the corporate culture that facilitates the work they do. Ali’s one of the smartest people I know, so if you’re interested in starting a start up I recommend you copy what he does, more or less verbatim.

Since i’m new to web development I thought the talk was particularly interesting and informative. I learned about a few cool projects that I will share with you now:

  • Matt’s told the audience about an automation tool he wrote called doo that looks quite nice. It’s made out of surprisingly little code. Ruby is a strange beast.
  • Ali showed off a jabber bot called well-partychat. It’s an implementation of Partychat you can run behind your own firewalls. Partychat is a way to do group chats with Jabber, regardless of how shitty or not your IM client is. Since most everyone already has a Jabber account, this is a good way to set up a persistent chat room. Since it’s in something people already have open and running, I can see how it would actually get used over something like or Campfire.
  • have somehow managed to trick out Speedtracer to do all sorts of magic. Sadly, i’m not entirely sure how. Speedtracer looks like a seriously awesome project in and of itself. It’s a profiler for Chrome that can tell you all about your web application.

After the talk everyone headed over to the Rhino for drinks. How did that place become the defacto hangout for Toronto software geeks?

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Chennai (and a day trip) — Feb 1st - Feb 6th

   21 October 2010, mid-afternoon

How did I not finish posting about my trip to India? Anyway, the last portion of our time was spent back in Chennai. For the most part we just loitered around in the city. My pictures of Chennai on Flickr. (Or IMG VQVZ) We made one day trip to the scenic coastal town Pondicherry, and to the archaeological site Mahabalipuram. My pictures of Pondicherry and Mahabalipuram on Flickr. (Or IMG VQVZ) You can see all my photos from India in a collection on Flickr. I took these notes to myself on my iPhone, hence the strange change in tense, poor grammar, and what have you.

Read the rest of this post. (1249 words)

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Dave and Sarah's Wedding

    8 October 2010, early morning

This past weekend my friends Dave and Sarah were married. I got a slick new suit for the occasion. (I now own two suits. We are moving on up!) They were married at the Scarborough Golf Club. Scarborough, as you may know, is the best place on the planet. I was the best man, so l got to stand next to Dave while we waited for his bride. The entire bridal party were more or less in tears for the entire ceremony. It was very sweet, since none of the ladies struck me as criers. Well except for Sarah I suppose. The day was busy. There photos then a wedding then more photos then a dinner and a toast and then some games and drinking and dancing. Much fun was had. It’s always nice to have all my high school friends together in one place. The wedding feels like the last big event of what was a very busy last few months. It was a nice way to cap off the summer. A week has passed and I still feel very happy.

Dave and Sarah

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Quiet on the Home Front

   31 August 2010, terribly early in the morning

Have you found updates to lacking over the last several days. I know I have. The good news is I have a new job. I’m now a Django developer. The bad news is that I don’t really know much Python and even less Django. (I also need to learn more Javascript, figure out what the hell is up with jQuery, sort out how one goes about deploying web applications, and a whole host of other things.) My new company is quite small, so I don’t really have time to learn at a leisurely pace. I’m working on bugs and features from the get go. Gone are the days of going to work and banging out some C++ code in between bouts of web surfing. I spend my time in a blur of reading developer documentation and coding. I think the change of pace has been good for me. Unfortunately, my poor website suffers. Hopefully the few links I do post are extra awesome. Otherwise I’ll go back to posting short boring notes about my day.

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Art Space Tokyo

   21 July 2010, early morning

My copy of Art Space Tokyo arrived last night. I had actually forgot it was going to show up soon. I had donated to the project on Kickstarter a few weeks or months back: I am a fan of pretty books. I quite like Craig Mod’s writing on books and the future of publishing, so I thought this was a good way to indirectly thank him for his work online. I’m not entirely sure how useful a book about Tokyo’s art scene would be to me in Toronto, but hopefully one day I can take a trip to the city and check out some of these galleries. It would be interesting to see a similar book written about Toronto’s art scene — though it seems like many of our galleries come and go a bit too quickly.

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The Dirty Gut Derby

   14 July 2010, terribly early in the morning

Casey's Cottage

Casey invited me up to his cottage for a weekend long fishing derby. Being an organized young man, invitations went out almost a year ago. I guess that’s how you make sure people keep their schedules clear.

I started talking shit about my fishing prowess more or less a year ago as well:

My family is from a peninsula on a fucking Island. It almost seems unfair to compete. This is pretty much how I spend my weekends.

Of course, none of my family can swim. Apparently Jaffna Tamils are too busy trying to get their children to become doctors to bother going swimming in the ocean. Last month I confirmed I was going to make it up to the cottage with the following quip:

I actually broke my leg on purpose to give myself a handicap.

Sadly, my trash talking didn’t actually help with my fishing. My first outing out on the rocks of the Ottawa river resulted in one broken bobber, and one lost at sea. During my second round of fishing, on the dock at Casey’s cottage, I managed to tangle the line of my rod and then proceed to tangle the line of Tyler’s rod. My third attempt at fishing in the evening resulted my fishing line getting tangled up in a tree. (I did manage to untangle myself from the tree, which felt like a real accomplishment.) Unfortunately, I tangled up my line the next time I tried to cast off. I’m not entirely sure how.

I was all set to retire from the competition when Matt decided to try and untangle my line. He decided that his new mission was to make sure I catch at least one fish. My line was so tied up he quickly moved on from trying to untangle it to cutting the line and getting me set up again. It was dusk so he quickly ended up covered in mosquito bites, but my fishing rod was ready for action. I cast off one last time, and moments later I saw my bobber dip in the water. I had apparently caught something. I reeled in the fish for what felt like a long time: it was a battle. At this point I realized that I don’t actually know what to do after you’ve caught the fish. Sean, who was currently building our camp fire, came over to see what was up. It turns out the tension on my fishing line was super low; he adjusted that and the reeling in process went a lot quicker. Sean was also there to actually pick my fish up out of the water, hang on to it while I snapped a picture, get the hook out, and throw it back in the water. I caught a cat fish. It was a team effort.

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The G20

   27 June 2010, late afternoon

So, who thought that would be a good idea? I’ll be glad to see the politicians out of the city, and the pillars of police off our streets. It sounds like things were particularly ugly over the weekend. No doubt loops of video of the burning police cars will be shown on television again and again, but the image that most sticks out in my mind is the following: protesters singing Oh Canada in front of riot cops, before the cops go mental on them. That is pretty fucked up. Here is a photo of protestors pinned in by cops at Queen and Spadina. A scene like that seems completely out of place in Toronto. This doesn’t seem like the best way to deal with an angry protester. Yesterday police response to people breaking shit seemed fairly restrained, all things considered. Today, it seems like they’ve gone off the rails. I suspect having so many out of town cops in the city is a big issue. The more sinister issue for me are the arrests of activists before they even make it to a protest. I’d like to think we live in a country where cops can’t snatch you up before you even get the chance to do something wrong. And then there are the arrests of journalists reporting on the actions of the police. This whole weekend has been a giant disaster, as far as I can tell. It’s also a completely artificial problem. Everyone knew something like this would basically happen. The Conservative government of Canada needs to get their asses kicked.

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Team North Korea

   15 June 2010, lunch time

It must suck to have to play Brazil in your first match at the World Cup. North Korea did surprisingly well, all things considered. Their defense in the first half was pretty solid; in the second half both goals by Brazil were pretty damn good: I think most teams would have been hard pressed to stop them. North Korea’s goal against Brazil was also pretty impressive. I’m happy that they weren’t shut out. On the whole it seemed like a very friendly game. When players were knocked down they’d help each other up. People weren’t faking fouls. (It will be interesting to see how this game compares to the one they will have to play against Portugal.) It was a very enjoyable game to watch. Now I can concentrate.

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Wedding Season

   14 June 2010, terribly early in the morning

My friend Ryan was married this past Saturday. Shima and I ventured back to Waterloo for the weekend. It’s always nice being back. We had wanted to go to Jane Bond, but it was sadly closed at lunch time. I guess i’m still glad it’s open at all. I remember scoping it out with my friends Linh and Tiffany a few days before Valentines to see if it was a good date spot: it was.

Ryan’s wedding was the first I’ve been to in a very long time where I didn’t have a camera on me. How did I forget my camera? You’ll just have to believe me when I say it was a very nice ceremony. They were married in Verses, which is a church that has been converted into a fine dining restaurant — which was converted back in to a church for the ceremony and then back into a restaurant for the reception.

So began our 3 weekends of weddings. (I remember when I thought 3 in one summer was a lot.) I’m excited. Who doesn’t like getting married in June? Two years ago today Shima and I got married. It doesn’t feel that long to me. I’ve enjoyed it all. (Even the broken leg doesn’t seem that bad.)

If you need advice on how to have a happy and successful marriage for at least 2 years, i’m your man.

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Totally Subjective Guess Who

   11 June 2010, lunch time

We used to play this game at my friends cottage. It makes the game Guess Who far more interesting. The rules remain the same with one exception: you are only allowed to ask questions that have subjective answers. So, asking a question like, “Does your character wear glasses?”, would not be allowed. Instead, you would ask questions like: “Does your character look like a communist?”; “Does your character look like a pedophile?”; “Would you hang out with your character?”; etc. This makes the game a lot more difficult. It also makes it far more likely no one will win.

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BOOM Goes the Dynamite

   31 May 2010, mid-morning

And so my experiment with Facebook ends. I deleted my account today. Shima actually deleted her account first. Now I apparently have to wait 14 days for Facebook to actually delete things, whatever that means. I suspect they keep your information around forever, but who knows. I’m not sure what I’ll miss on the site just yet. Certainly I have some friends and family who only share stuff via Facebook. I’ll just have to go back to shunning those people, like I used to in the good old days.

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New Jeans

   27 May 2010, evening time

APC Jeans are vanity sized, so a size 28” is probably a size 30”. When I got into my accident I was wearing a pair of black size 26” APC New Standards. I had just recently washed them, after breaking them in for half a year. The paramedics cut those jeans up the moment they arrived on the scene; the nurses at Toronto Western finished the job. I asked a friend to grab me a replacement pair while they were in New York recently. APC has actual retail space in the city. You can get all sorts of jeans you can’t find here. I asked them to get me the smallest pair they make: size 24” Petite New Standards. They gave them to me today. I may have overestimated how skinny I am. These things are tight. I’m hoping they stretch out over the next few weeks. My last pair certainly did. I’m surprised there is a market for these jeans. I guess it’s just me and those heroin chic supermodels that make teenage girls want to stop eating.

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   12 May 2010, early morning

I was told by my surgeon I can put weight on my leg Monday morning. He said I should probably transition from walking with two crutches, to walking with one crutch, to a cane, and finally walking all by myself. Walking with crutches looks ridiculous, and I don’t own a cane, so I just started walking instead. I haven’t broken my ankle yet!

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Coke in the Afternoon

   28 April 2010, mid-morning

I get pretty tired if I don’t drink a Coke in the afternoon. Well, any pop really. When I was at work I’d usually buy a Dr. Pepper from the convenience store in the lobby of my office building. Now that i’m home I usually drink a Coke. A friend mentioned that getting tired when you don’t drink a pop is probably a sign of physical addiction. I wonder. This coke tastes pretty damn good, anyway.

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RIP Loose Change Louie's

   22 April 2010, early morning

I probably should have written this when Louie’s became Fubar. Or when Fubar became Tabu. Today Tabu, and most of the buildings in that complex, burnt to the ground, which I think officially marks the demise of Loose Change Louie’s. Louie’s was the first bar I went to in Waterloo. I skipped some frosh event to meet up with my friend Alex and his friends from Applied Studies. I remember that night so clearly, even now. I went there almost every Tuesday with my roommates Gary and Damon during the my first term at Waterloo. When Fed Hall was closed or too busy, we’d also go on Thursdays. We’d complain about the shitty music and overall skeeziness of the place, and then head out. It was a dump; and the DJ did suck. Still, it had a vibe to it you couldn’t beat. Louie’s was the first place I kissed Shima. In hindsight we probably should have picked a better location. RIP Loose Change Louie’s. You were a beautiful bar.

I should also say something about Mel’s. They were open super late and served $3 breakfasts to drunk-as-fuck University students. It was also pretty damn awesome. Waterloo lost a lot of history today.

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Discharged! 6 Weeks in a Cast

   29 March 2010, evening time

At Toronto Western.

Read the rest of this post. (1585 words)

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Opiates and Opioids

   16 March 2010, early morning

Ratio-Oxycocet is the generic version of Percocet. Its a small white tablet with TEC marked on one side and a groove on the other to make it easier to chop in half. The tablet is a combination of two drugs, acetaminophen and oxycodone. Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol. It relieves pain and gives you liver damage if you take too much. It’s a very common drug, found in almost everything — for example, Percocet. You’ve probably had acetaminophen many times in your life. Oxycodone on the otherhand is something you hopefully haven’t had to take before. It’s a fairly powerful opioid, similar in strength to morphine. In the TV show House the lead character is addicted to Vicodin, a weaker pain killer. Ocycodone was developed early in the 20th century with the hope it would be less of a disaster than Bayer’s very powerful painkiller, Heroin. At the time Heroin was being taken off the market because it was Heroin. (Heroin is apparently 16 times stronger than morphine! What? It’s also apparently still prescribed under the name Diamorphine.) Oxycodone doesn’t work as quickly as either drug, and its effects don’t last as long, which is why it was thought it would be less likely to be abused. The time release capsule version of oxycodone is sold as OxyContin, which you may have heard of. I was given Oxycotin when I had my wisdom teeth taken out. OxyContin is apparently one of the most abused prescription painkillers in the US. (Abusing Percoet is probably a bad idea because of its acetaminophen content, though I don’t doubt people do.) The moral of the story here is that it’s hard to make an opioid people won’t try and freebase. Me? Not so much. I’m so sick of taking Percocet I spend my mornings reading about opiates and opioids.

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My Leg, Feb 8th 2010

   21 February 2010, early morning

This is what my leg looked like a few weeks ago. A car drove over my right leg. You can see where my Fibula and Tibia snapped. Now I have all sorts of metal under my skin holding everything together. It’s all kind of gross.

An x-ray of my broken leg

An x-ray of my broken leg

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I Walked in to the Side of a Moving Car

   12 February 2010, early morning

My original plan upon returning from India was to spend the next few weeks posting pictures and stories from the trip. I think i’ll still do this, but I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to mention that I walked into a car when crossing the street on Monday and broke my leg fairly badly. If you follow my inane postings on Twitter you might already be aware of this. If not, well, now you know. In India it was actually fairly stressful crossing the street. There are cars and bikes all over the place, and none of them look like they give a fuck that you are trying to cross the road. By the end of the trip Shima and I had got quite good at crossing the busy streets of Bangalore and Chennai. Walking into a car in Toronto is pretty stupid. I can blame my giant winter hood and jet lag to some extent, I suppose. I have a cast on my leg for the next 6 weeks, and am on crutches for the next 3 months. I’m lucky my wife is so lovely.


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Toronto, I Missed You

    6 February 2010, mid-afternoon

You can drink water out of the tap here. That’s how we roll in Toronto. I think it’ll take a few days to get back into the swing of things. Shima is passed out. I’m pretty tired, but am trying to stay up as best I can. Carvill and Mezan are supposed to be coming by shortly with sandwiches from the Stockyards. That’s a good way to start a weak of meat.

Update the Next Morning: Shima and I walked to Starving Artist for an early brunch. It’s strange being back. Toronto has never felt more sparse. The roads are wide and empty. There aren’t people everywhere you look. I’m the only brown person on the street. No one has a moustache. We crossed the road with ease. We got to walk on real sidewalks. The air is clean. There isn’t garbage on the ground. The weather is brisk. Brunch was good.

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Chennai and We're Out

    5 February 2010, terribly early in the morning

We’ve been back in Chennai the last few days. This time around we’ve really explored Pondy Bazaar, the area we are staying. To say it’s hectic would be an understatement. We fly out in a few hours. The flight is at 5:00AM, and we have to be at the airport at 2:00AM. We travel for more or less 24 hours when you add it all up. I think it’s going to suck. India was fun.


Bangalore Scooters

   31 January 2010, late at night


We have one more day in Bangalore. My parents are visiting some family friends. Shima and her dad are taking naps. I’m surfing on the Internet, something I haven’t been able to do in ages. While we were here Apple announced a giant iPod Touch, and JD Salinger died. I’ve snapped several rolls of film, which will hopefully survive the flight back to Canada. I’ve taken a ton of photos with my digital camera, some better than others. There is almost too much to see here. India continues to astonish.



   29 January 2010, terribly early in the morning

Alive and well in Bangalore. Have been for the past few days. It looks like I probably had heat stroke, since once I arrived in the cooler Karnataka state I started to feel much better. Who knows. Bangalore is nuts. Busier than Chennai, with unbelievable traffic. People who can’t shut up about a ‘war on cars’ in Toronto need to come here and see what too many cars does to a city. It’s an absolute mess. Attended a wedding. It was hype. Going to Mysore tomorrow. Was in Puttaparthi the day before. Then back to Chennai to close out the trip.


My Poor Stomach

   24 January 2010, terribly early in the morning

Cross your fingers that I’m not totally wrecked tomorrow. Kerela would have been more fun if not for the … sickness. Today I did manage to leave the house, and saw an elephant, so it’s not a total wash.

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   21 January 2010, early evening

We spent the first 3 days of our trip in Chenna, formally Madras. The city is absolutely insane. There are people all over the place, and cars and motorbikes and auto-rickshaws everywhere you look. The place is pretty dirty. I guess it’s hard to keep a city like that clean without some serious infrastructure spending. The food is good: hot and mostly vegetarian. I don’t know how people don’t get ulcers here. You go for breakfast and get fried bread (poori) to eat with some hot curries. That seems like a bit much so early in the morning. Driving here is incredible. There are basically no lanes, people just drive where they can fit. Everyone uses their horn to signal they are near by. At first I thought people were being ridiculous, but it’s clear there is a method to all the madness. At around 6-7 you start hearing all the car horns, and it’s non-stop till late at night. In Kerela now. And we have to head out.


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