Massively Useful

I had an amusing realization when I left the house this morning.

Some background:

– I don’t like clutter.
– My car holds only essentials.
– There is only one item visible in my trunk when I’m not transporting something.

That item is a towel.

Nerd Heaven

Stopped by SF Japantown this afternoon to purchase the following stamp, which I discovered last Monday and didn’t realize I had to buy until I described it to Aaron later that evening:

It’s a girl wielding a hatchet riding a bear wearing a shirt with my last name on it.

It’s also my new signature stamp.

As I exited the stamp store I came across a yo-yo tricks gathering. These guys (and gal) were really good! Some of them were tricking while having conversations, not really looking at what they were doing.

They were standing in front of Aube Creamery, a soft serve place I wanted to try. The verdict? It is hands down the smoothest soft serve I have ever had. Would eat again!!! … Preferably while watching live yo-yo tricks 5 feet in front of me.

After that, I wandered some more, exploring the most bestest books and stationery in the land. I eventually found myself perusing a selection of portable pencil sharpeners.

Despite just having purchased a KUM Masterpiece, I couldn’t leave without the Alvin 9866 Brass Bullet. I mean, look at this thing:


TEDxBerkeley 2018

Went back to TEDxBerkeley yesterday. Picked up a few more things to chew on:

Derek Luke on… I’m not sure what. Acting? Teaching? Learning?

You must be a student before you can be a teacher. You need to understand your students’ process and what it’s like to be in their shoes.

His friend Christopher Emdin‘s talk immediately following put this into action with the concept of being RATCHETDEMIC. Why should kids have to choose between being hip hop and educated? They don’t. Understand that and let them cast their own mold.

Dean Ornish on… I don’t actually know what his talk was about either, but:

Peace and well-being are already there inside you. Meditation quiets us down so we can see it. I like this much more than the idea that we have to find peace to make it a part of us.

Doniece Sandoval on how we ignore the homeless:

No one dreams of growing up to be homeless. Picturing a homeless individual when they were kids is incredibly powerful, and immediately humanizes the individuals we have hardened ourselves to ignore.

Being seen is a human need. Food, shelter, safety, not feeling invisible to the world.

Jennifer French on the disabled:

Our infrastructure often still treats the handicapped as “separate but equal”. She really drove this point home by pointing out how often she has to enter buildings through the rear service entrance.

Daria Musk on advice from her mom:

When you fall don’t aim for the rung you fell from. Aim higher. Onward!

Tyrone Hayes on Atrazine, with a quote from Albert Einstein:

Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act. Why have I not heard this quote before? Maybe I have but it didn’t resonate with me like it does now? It’s about time!

Dónall Ó Héalaí on learning to appreciate his heritage:

Sometimes in life you have to leave home to come home. Truth. Even if we are conscious in the moment of what we are, who we are, and where we are, there’s no equivalent for the perspective from afar. IMO, this is why we need to continually shake things up, keep moving, be uncomfortable. Even if you decide to return to where you came from, you’ll appreciate it in entirely new ways. (Interestingly, I felt this about Berkeley as I walked in and around campus yesterday. Living in the relative calm of the Peninsula has given me an appreciation for never-ending color, flavor, and pace of Berkeley.)

Marianne Williamson on the current national climate:

More of us love than hate. The problem is that people who hate, hate with conviction. We need to love with conviction. She gave a great example of love vs. loving with conviction: people who declared themselves to be anti-slavery vs. abolitionists. Love with conviction. Act. Move the needle.

If you’ve read this far, you’ll notice many of these talk shared left leaning ideas. My friend Alissa raised a great point at the end of the day: What would a TED conference be like outside of the Bay Area?

Let’s go on a trip!

Hey Google, You Did Good

Came home just now and found the Google Home sitting there with one LED lit. I’d never seen that state before. My first thought was that our WiFi went down again.

“Hey Google,” I asked, “What’s going on?”

“Just wanted to let you know that you have one reminder for…”

Whoa, it’s hooked into my Inbox tasks now. Cool.

Pleased that I could talk to it like another person in the room and it responded in kind.

My First Simon

At lunch yesterday we talked about some of our very first programs. People lamented over how they’re lost forever.

Except mine aren’t lost. I have a thing about data. I’ve kept every bit I’ve generated since high school*, backed up in triplicate.

So I found my BASIC files from freshman year of high school. This morning I tried to view them.

Crap, they’re not text files.

ff87 1205 008f 2020 5649 5649 414e 204b
414d 2035 2d38 2d39 3200 9012 0700 b920
fe94 009c 120a 00c0 203a 20c9 20dd 00d3
120f 00ca 200f 192c 0f1a 203a 20bf 2018
2c11 203a 2091 2022 5072 6573 7320 616e

Luckily, I had saved a copy of GWBASIC.EXE alongside the files.

But it wouldn’t run on Windows 10.

DOSBox to the rescue! After a quick install, some time with the GW-BASIC manual, and a small edit to the code, I could once again play My First Simon**:

I couldn’t have told you what this game looked like yesterday, but it was sooo familiar once I got it to run.

I didn’t remember this, probably because I hadn’t yet experienced more modern alternatives, but editing code in GW-BASIC makes Notepad feel ultra advanced.

This code is a quarter of a century old. It’s pretty cool that it’s still mostly runnable on a home PC.

* Sadly, I never got to take my 5th grade Logo code home on a floppy.

** My Second Simon looks like this.

Rest Day

Revisionist History

I’m starting to realize that more than three of you read this, so here’s something I’d like to share with you.

A couple weekends ago, I ran into a hockey friend I hadn’t seen in a while. We got talking about traffic and podcasts, and she excitedly shared with me a new podcast she’d started listening to, Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell. He’s the guy who wrote The Tipping Point, Outliers (which I quite enjoyed), and Blink (which I’m reading now).

I love this podcast (as much as I love Radiolab, which is saying a LOT). I’ve been telling people about it and they love it too. So if I haven’t already told you about it, consider yourself told. If you like podcasts that teach you all sorts of interesting stuff, give Revisionist History a go.

RAID to the Rescue

When I built my desktop ~7 years ago I set it up with two RAID 1 drives for my data.

Last week, I noticed one of those drives was dead. I have no idea how long it’s been dead.

I also kept seeing something about a SMART event. I figured it was about the dead drive.

Today, I replaced the dead drive. The SMART event? It’s about the functional remaining drive. I think it’s been trying to tell me it’s getting ready to die.

I can’t decide if this was a total RAID 1 win, because my data is all there, or a total RAID 1 owner failure for letting things get this bad. Either way, I’m pleased at how easy it was to replace the dead drive. Shut down, replace, boot up. Done.

*easy button*


I went to TEDxBerkeley, oh, gosh, almost 3 weeks ago now. I’m bad about writing things up here, but pretty good about taking notes. I finally went over those notes earlier this week. TED is an ideas event, and for me the ideas that stuck are the following:

Naveen Jain on solving problems:

Instead of trying to solve a problem, think about what kind of resource scarcity is causing the problem, and look for creative ways to make that resource abundant. I love how this turns a problem on its head and makes us think about it from a completely different angle.

Ellen Leanse on design:

Design starts with empathy. What’s the best way to know what will work well for a user? Imagine yourself in their shoes.

Amandine Roche on working toward world peace:

You must have inner peace before you can effect world peace. Remember to take care of yourself, center yourself, before you try to help others.

Deborah Johnson on forgiveness:

  1. Freedom and anger cannot occupy the same space. You must let go of your anger to forgive. And when you do forgive, you will feel better.
  2. Forgiving frees us. Forgiving is something you do for yourself, not for the person you’re forgiving.
  3. Our experience is not what happened, it’s how we name what happened. Your perception is your reality. You get to choose.

Anand Giridharadas (video) on America:

America is fractured into a Republic of Dreams vs. a Republic of Fears. Immigrants come to America with Dreams. They work hard toward those Dreams. At the same time, many who are born in this Land of Opportunity are born into conditions so bad they know only Fear. I find this talk very fitting in this election year.

John Koenig on I’m not sure what:

  1. We are the main character in our minds, but extras in others’ minds as they are in ours. Something to remember to help combat self-centeredness.
  2. Words are not real. We make them real. Every word is made up. Some manage to catch on.

Dockerizing Hockey

Two things I’ve been spending a lot of brain cycles on the last few days:

1. Getting subs for our Sunday game. Un-possible!
2. Dockerizing everything at work.

Last night I created a hockey sub Docker image, then launched enough of them to fill the bench. Problem solved!