Learning experience

While I was in the States, I purchased a 12-pack of Vanilla Coke. I prefer regular Coke, but every so often a change is nice and I can’t get them in Canada.
But a word of advice, don’t pack in a rush with barely any sleep. You might not put enough padding around delicate items.
My suitcases came out or the luggage carousal with a slight vanilla smell.

Overview of a vacation

I had a good time but I am still leaving disappointed.
On my last vacation to Jamaica I connected with someone, and it made the trip so much more awesome. I felt good about myself. I want that to happen on every vacation. I was hoping for the same thing this time; to be with someone who really does like me and shows it. (I’m probably going to get called on that last sentence, but I don’t have the energy to thesaurus-ize it. Please keep a clean mind and I do have friends who like me.)
So in comparison, I’m feeling lonely.
The trip started very well. When the shuttle to the hotel picked me up at the airport, it was already filled with friends I knew. We started catching up immediately. Poetically, at the end of the trip, I left totally alone in the airport shuttle. Apparently to sit in an airport and do nothing for two hours.
Now, if you can’t be with someone flirty, being with friends helps a lot. And I spent a lot of time with them. I saw the sun rise twice. There were several times where I only had one meal in a 24 hour period. (I may in another one of those right now.) The sun was blazing hot, and I got a bit of a burn at a great pool party. This morning/late last night, I met a group of Australians and got to know them as they analyzed my life for me. It meant a lot to me that when a friend was leaving, she called me up because she wanted to say goodbye personally. (Leaving me with one and a half hours of sleep today.) And I made people around me happy. I like that.

Early morning/late night

Okay, aside from the aforementioned typing problems, I really didn’t get a buzz this time. And I drank about the same amount of alcohol. But sleeping and eating have really improved me. I had no trouble staying up late. Or dare I say, early, because I do believe that is the sun rising over there.
Wish I could share this lovely day with someone.

Stupid brain

It’s a bit sad when the highlight of your day was figuring out a programming problem. Well, it is sad when it happens on vacation. I’m continuing to assert that I like myself better after I’ve been drinking. Socializing with strangers is actually possible. Whereas after I’ve sobered up, it is just embarrassing.
And look, I’ve become introspective. All this, and my moody attitude, is probably because I have had barely any sleep. My vacation flight left at around 1:00 AM, on Friday. So I’m going to go to bed now and try to become a better me.


The flight map indicating we were near Orlando. I looked out the starboard side of the plane and I saw something I recognized. Cape Canaveral! Over two years ago my family went to a beach near there and we saw the shuttle in the distance. That was enough to spot similarities and I was pretty sure I had it right. The pilot then came on the speaker and confirmed.
There were two rockets ready on the launch pad. Nearby was the landing strip where Atlantis came in for its final landing a few days ago.
Unfortunately I didn’t see anything take off.

Off again

Okay, off to Fort Lauderdale.
Didn’t I mention this?
While I was still employed I arranged to meet some friends down in Florida for this weekend. Plane ticket was already paid for, so I’m not going to back out now.
I really don’t know what I’ll be doing while I’m down there. I haven’t been planning this well. So far, my plan consists of staying out late and going to parties. I don’t know what to do during the day. I probably should go swimming on the beach.
I wonder if I can go running anywhere?
The last time I was there I came to the conclusion that Florida has the worst orange juice in the world. I mean it was really bad. I’m going to give the chamber of commerce a chance to change my opinion.

Squares into round holes

I had success today.
A few days ago I got great circles working correctly and displaying a bounding box. The big problem was that the corners weren’t hitting each other. There was either extra line or the lines weren’t meeting. I started doing hacks to get the lines to meet up better; the code got uglier and uglier.
I assumed the reason for the problem was that the computer wasn’t precise enough and the vectors and unit circles were getting a small rounding error that was turning into a very big, very visible line problem.
Today I found out the real reason. Once again, hidden in the low level code, I was using the wrong kind of number. An integer when I should have been using a real/floating point number. With that out of the way, the “square” is showing up quite nicely. I still need to clean up the code and make it more efficient, but that was a big hurdle.
A bigger hurdle is going to be to take that “square” and project it onto a plane so that I can actually make another map out of it. A lot is hinging on the square I used being the correct shape to project as a square. I hope I chose wisely.

Canines to the left. Felines to the right.

I need to do hill/stair training. I try and do that on Tuesday mornings, but I skipped it this week because it was too hot. I figured I would make up for it this evening. I changed, got ready, and stepped out the door. But between the front door and the exit to my building I got distracted by a neighbour.
It would have been a nice run except for the cats and dogs. The raining of them.
I still tried, and was out for about 25 minutes. I got thoroughly soaked. I almost thought it was hailing. By the time I came to my senses and turned around, puddles had grown exponentially. I didn’t even bother trying to avoid them; my shoes couldn’t take on any more water.
I thought I wouldn’t be needing my electric blanket for awhile, but it was a nice way to warm up after that debacle.


One of the disadvantages about not working at an office anymore is that there is no air-conditioning. So, when it is in the upper twenties, I have to sweat it out. In other words, I’m not that productive these days.
But, if I ignore the 9-5 schedule, I can do better. It is nice and cool right now. (At least it is outside. The outside temperature hasn’t migrated to the indoors yet. But it is not baking.) In other words, take a siesta during the day and work late at night.
My contract job has been oddly silent and not giving me anything to do, so I’ve been working on my own program. There I’ve been struggling.
On Friday I talked to a gaggle of mathematicians and I got a good perspective on what I’m trying to do. The goal is for every map to allow a rectangle to be selected as either a new map or a sub-map. The problem I’ve been faced with is that spheres aren’t that happy about having squares on them. I’ve been using a Rubik’s puzzle of a sphere/globe to organize my thoughts. (Which I cannot find mentioned anywhere on the internet, so I have no way to easily solve it.) There is a sort-of-square on it, and so that is what I’m trying to replicate. The mathematicians were able to point out that the “square” is bounded by great circles. With that, I had a direction to go.
I started doing research with the graphing calculator that comes with every Mac. It’s been invaluable as a testing platform. I don’t think it is happy with me though; I’ve been bringing it to its knees.
Just now I finally got the math working and entered it into my program. It is correctly displaying a great circle going west to east that goes through the two points I wanted.
This whole project would probably have been easier if I had done it in second year university when I was taught about planes, dot products and cross products. I still have my text book from then, but it was a used one and has been very marked up. I’m also not that happy with the production value. It was published in, let me check…1976! Okay, updated in 1988, but still… That might explain why I had so much trouble finding out about dot products and cross products. I don’t think they were invented back then, at least not by those names.
Basically, the internet has saved me a lot of trouble.

Out and about

The semi-job that I have is continuing. A lot of the time I am waiting for information from my employers about what exactly they want me to do. When I get it, I can usually be fairly efficient in finishing it. But that does leave me with time on my hands.
I have a policy that I have to get out of my place at least once a day. But I think I may have to amend that. Yesterday, my one time out was to go do some stair-training. (I think it will help with the Death Race.) But by the end of the day, I felt rather squirrely; there was absolutely no socialization. So today, after the usual Wednesday evening run club, I made sure to join my fellow runners for dinner at Royal Pizza. I feel much more mentally balanced now.
Of course, yesterday, I didn’t even talk to anyone over the phone. In fact it was pretty much a day off for me, because I didn’t even work on my own program. Instead I played a game of Railroad Tycoon 3. I purchased the game a year ago, but never got around to playing it. When I finally did, I found it wasn’t exactly working with the latest operating systems and/or processors, and there were no official updates. Six year old game. Fortunately I found a torrent that had a version that did work. It even waived the requirement that the CD be in the drive. I don’t know about the ethics of this, but I did legally pay for the game.
Speaking of ethics though, the game doesn’t really promote good ethics. There is a separation between the player and the company he is running. Both have their own money. But there is absolutely no penalty for insider trading. In fact it is encouraged. One of the best ways for your train company to buy another company is to use the player’s cash to buy a lot of shares in it, so that when your company tries to buy it for an inflated price, the stockholder vote is more likely to go correctly. And then the player makes a good profit at the expense of his own company. And always buy stock in your own company before you make the company buy back its stock. Yeah, I feel like I’m with Goldman Sachs.

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.
-Theodore Roosevelt

But I am continuing work on my own program. My current issue is that when I have the program fill in more details of an existing map (increase granularity, I call it) there are changes that don’t look right. I found a small peninsula was disappearing in the test map I was using. The increase in granularity shouldn’t be doing that. After adding in some debugging features I found the problem was that I was changing the heights of everything to be more within a set range, but I wasn’t including the sea level in that change. I have an idea of what I need to do to fix it.

Garter snake

I attended a wedding of a friend today. The church ceremony was nice, although I discovered I was an usher upon arriving. I had been warned this was a possibility, but I didn’t know for sure until I had crossed the threshold. On a good note, I didn’t burst into flames when I crossed that threshold; always a worry for me with churches.
The reception was also nice, but I didn’t know that many people there, mostly my running friends. Which of course meant we got stuck on talking about running. We are rather focussed on our hobby.
There was a single girl who I spent some time with. She arrived with someone else, so nothing was going to happen. Interestingly, when it was time to throw the bouquet, it came towards her. She didn’t catch it, and it landed on the floor. She looked at it like it was a dead fish. A small child picked it up instead.
In other news, I caught the garter. I’m not sure what that signifies.


Lazy unemployed person or focused on growing facial hair. A little of column A, a little of column B.
I haven’t shaved my face for a week and a half. It started out as being lazy which I’m wont to do when I’m at my parent’s place. Then I figured I would try out facial growth.
I’m mainly wondering if I look good with facial hair. I can’t tell. I see pictures of men with a bit of growth, and since they are in magazines I assume there is some call for that level of scrufiness. But after this long, I am down to just a scruffy beard.
I polled my friends tonight on whether I looked good.
The results indicate I will be shaving it off before the wedding tomorrow.

Granularity in, garbage out

Okay, I found the problem with my program. You know, the one about increasing granularity instead creates garbage. Stupid mistake. First-year-university kind of mistake.
Essentially I was putting a long into a short. For the non-programmers reading this, let me explain. Integer numbers can (mostly) be stored in in either of two ways. They can be stored in a short, which means you are only allowed about five digits, or they can be stored in a long, which allows about ten digits. (This is GREATLY simplified.) If you try to put a ten digit number into a five digit place, it lops off all the higher digits. In other words, it becomes much smaller.
This problem didn’t really show up until I started quadrupling the size of a map by doing the increased granularity. A low level function was getting the size of the map and going through every height-point on it and converting it appropriately. Except it thought the size of the map was 257 times smaller than it actually was due to the long/short problem. So instead of doing the conversion, it was only operating on a small part of the map. The rest was unconverted and looked effectively like garbage.
Because I knew what to look for, I found a similar problem with my function that calculates the percentage of ocean coverage. (Probably because I copied the code from the first function.) Except in this case, it was only telling me the percentage of ocean coverage in the top few rows of my map. Not the same thing.

Whole lotta movies

I spent most of today looking at my computer, programming. Then at around seven o’clock I went out and rented two videos. I didn’t event bother going back home and instead drove to the theatre and saw How to Train Your Dragon. (Which I’m thinking may have been better than Avatar.) After it was over, I waited in line for over two hours and saw a midnight showing of Iron Man 2.
I think I’m movie’d out. And I need sleep.

Continued coding

So much for regular updating…
Last week I travelled to my parent’s place in the greater Calgary area. While there, a snowstorm hit and the power failed. This seems to be a recurring theme for me and that city. Power came on six hours later, but the internet was down for the entire day.
I find it harder to update my journal when I am at my parent’s place. It is out in the country, so there isn’t much happening. And less so if you are snowed in. I did do a lot of my own programming and have been steadily improving the application.
I did take a few wrong turns. I started working on getting waterflow calculated, but I later decided it wasn’t time yet. I think I need to create support for sub-maps first. It is something I should have implemented earlier, because they affect everything else. So I’m working on that for now. But there is something else in the way; sub-maps are useless if you can’t do any operations on them. So I am working on a feature to increase the granularity of a map or sub-map. Problems are showing up in that the images created are garbage if the original map was too large. I still need to figure out if this is a problem with the image generating code, or if the newly generated map has become defective.
I’m also working on my new job’s code. Right now my wage with them is fairly low; until I get over this probationary period. But because I’m only a contractor, I don’t feel emotionally involved with the code. I see parts that need rewriting to be improved, but if it isn’t something I’m told to work on, I don’t feel like sticking my neck out. Maybe that attitude will change later on, when I feel some ownership. We’ll see.