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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Things I Dislike About FFXIII


Last time, I dug deep to write about the things in FFXIII that I like and hinted that next time I’d flip that around and write what I didn’t like. Here I go:

The story has failed to be compelling and is told poorly. Even FFX managed to have something compelling happen in the first hour — after which I spent the rest of the game wishing the main character would just disappear… But anyway, FFXIII has failed the first-hour story test I usually apply to RPGs. At the same time, it seems the game thinks it has so much story that it can’t even tell it all in the cutscenes! Square-Enix has somehow forgotten that it’s better to show something than to tell it, especially when that telling involves asking you to once again go to the menu and click through all of the bits that have been marked as “NEW”. But if I wasn’t doing that, I would have even less of a clue about what’s going on than I already do, as characters often drop names and terms without any explanation whatsoever.

The story telling is so bad that this post actually rags on it twice. Read the rest of this entry »

Communication Shutdown? Get Real!


The “I Like It” meme to promote breast cancer awareness, in which women posted cryptic updates stating where they liked to set their purse — and this without actually mentioning the word “purse” so that for all the world it looked like a whole bunch of women posting about places they like to have sex (e.g. “I like it on the counter”) — was patently stupid. It managed to be even more backwards than the campaign that preceded it in which women posted updates stating only the colour of their bras. At the very least, that one managed to somehow involve breasts.

Today, a global fundraiser for Autism called “Communication Shutdown” kicked off. The idea? Encourage people to pay for and download a “chapp” (charity app) and shut off Twitter and Facebook for the entire day. Read the rest of this entry »

Another New Chapter


Today is my last day with the Society.

After this, I’m packing my things and moving to Kitchener/Waterloo because I will soon be joining my good friend and perfect pair (programmer), maplealmond at PostRank. I’ve got a place to stay temporarily but will be starting a very serious apartment hunt soon after my first day at the new job.

I’m excited at the opportunity to further expand my current Ruby/Rails skills and learn even more new ones while working on a team that is strongly dedicated to producing top-quality code. This new gig will also give me a chance to apply my skills to problems surrounding social media, a topic I’ve become deeply interested in since I’ve been networking with many social media professionals in Toronto.

That all said, I have liked working on this project with the Society and I will miss the people who I’ve been working with these past 11 (or so) months. Particularly, I will miss my manager, who has been excellent to work with. Together, we have achieved a lot in a relatively short period of time. I will miss many others in Toronto, including my family, my friends, and various social groups that I have met with from time to time. I may find myself unable to attend Rails Pub Nite; I will miss every single one of you!

Last Friday Karaoke shall continue, but there will be a special session this month. I’ll be at Anime North on the last weekend of May so I’ve decided that Last Friday Karaoke will be on the second-last weekend of May instead. It turns out that will be the weekend just after my birthday, so Last Friday Karaoke will become Second-Last Friday (or Saturday?) Karaoke, Birthday Edition.  ;)

The Japanese Learner continues to pod-fade, even after PodCamp TO 2010 got me so fired up to do it again. Hopefully I can find some people interested in recording the show with me in Kitchener/Waterloo. With commuting to/from work eating up way less of the hours in my week, I can squeeze in some more Japanese study and podcast work.

I have also been working on a new secret pet project. Hints: it involves Rails 3, GitHub, and has prompted some contributions to Wynn Netherland‘s octopussy, a Ruby wrapper around version 2 of the GitHub API.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: where one adventure ends, another begins.

Why I curse the TTC


It’s a quarter past 9 in the evening. I’ve just arrived from my office, which I departed from at not too bad a time: 6 PM. My commute on the TTC subway and bus from work to home, which typically takes an hour and a half, has taken me three hours. For that amount of transit time, I probably could’ve paid my good friend maplealmond a visit in Kitchener. But I don’t live in Kitchener. I live near Finch and Islington.

My subway ride was smooth as usual. Having left the office later, the subway cars were not as crowded and almost halfway through the trip I managed to snag a seat and sit comfortably for the rest of the stops leading up to the north end of the Yonge line, Finch station.

This is where the fun begins.

A large crowd waits for 36 buses at Finch Station on the Yonge line

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Context Switching

(Miscellaneous, Programming)

One of the reasons this blog is called “Live & Code” is because Computer Science (and by extension programming) is one of the lenses through which I view the world. There are often parallels between the way we think and the way computers work. I don’t think that this is an accident; the term “computer” used to refer to a human being whose profession was computing values. These people would sit and work through algorithms to calculate values that would be used in scientific research.

One of these parallels between humans and computers is the way that we multitask. Computers only seem to multitask by switching between tasks rapidly, with the exception of new multi-core and multi-processor systems, which can run as many tasks in parallel as there are cores or processors. So it was interesting to read recently that the prevailing theory is that humans multitask in precisely the same way!

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Looking Forward to 2010


2009 has been a year of turbulent change for me.

Near the beginning of the year, I decided that I needed to switch gears in my career. I made a very dedicated push towards becoming a full-time Ruby developer, leaving my comfortable position as a J2EE web content management and identity management specialist. My leisure time was consumed with sharpening my Ruby skills and learning new technologies. I made Rails Pub Nite a monthly ritual and networked like crazy on just about every networking site I could. I followed a number of job site feeds and sent out many cover letters and resumes.

Finally, my break came from a very unlikely source: Facebook. I posted to a Ruby on Rails group on Facebook to advertise my skills and experience and offer my services. This was seen by the Systems Manager at the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants, who asked me to send her my resume. I did so gladly and not too long after that I was asked in for an interview.

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Rediscovering my music


Years ago, I was torn between two passions. I had loved tinkering with computers and other electronic gadgets since I was as young as 10 (possibly younger!). But I also played the piano, taking lessons with my sisters and playing around with melodies and chords on the keys when I wasn’t practicing my lesson pieces.

That love of music carried into high school. I had stopped playing piano but in music class I picked up the clarinet quite quickly. I transferred to another school after grade 9 because the school I was in was planning to cut their music program entirely and I could not imagine being without it. At my new school, I was blown away when I heard the excellent performances of the senior jazz band and ensembles. I was fiercely determined to play with them but not many modern jazz arrangements called for a clarinet. So I learned to play saxophones.

At the same time, I continued tinkering with computers, teaching myself how to program because I wanted to program video games one day. An exhibit at the Ontario Science Centre featuring the “new” graphical web browsers, Netscape and Mosaic, inspired me to try my own hand at web publishing as soon as we were able to get connected to the Internet. In high school programming classes, I was well ahead of the curve, frequently finishing assignments meant to take hours in a matter of minutes.

And so, when I graduated from high school and decided I wanted to go to university, I had a difficult choice to make: which of these two things would I choose to focus on?
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Creepy Rails Error Message


Below is a screenshot of an error I received from my day job Rails app while I was testing it yesterday. I think it might be trying to tell me something…

Could not find workitem with ID=666

Could not find workitem with ID=666

I got this when I was following a link to open a work item that no longer existed in the database. I caught it in time to make a screenshot and circulate to everyone in the office before moving on with my work.

Happy Halloween, everyone! =D

In other news, I’m being asked to look over the Japanese translation of Radiant again, which I will find some time to do in the next week or so. I think I’ve found a new place to record my podcast so I’m looking forward to producing episodes of The Japanese Learner again early in November.

“Where did Enrico go?”


You might all be wondering where the heck I’ve been the last couple of weeks and why there isn’t yet a blog post on how to do LDAP groups-based RBAC with declarative_authorization and ActiveLdap. There is a branch in my authlogic_example fork for that, but I haven’t had time to write new content for the blog because…

I’m moving. Moving day is tomorrow and I’m still scrambling to get everything ready. The logistics look like they’re going have very little room for error but I think we’ll be fine; we’ve got lots of help!

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Things I Want for My Android


Here’s a short list of things I’d really like to see for Android that I haven’t found yet.  Maybe some of these exist, but I’m experimenting with the SDK to see if I can’t fill some of these holes myself.

  • Facebook Contact Sync:  There’s an application for downloading Facebook profile pictures and associating them with Google/phone contacts but I wouldn’t mind being able to synchronize contact data too.  There are so many people whose phone numbers and e-mail addresses I can only retrieve via Facebook that this kind of application would save me a lot of time.
  • Facebook Application: As I wrote in my previous post, there’s no decent Facebook application for the Android.  I’d be happy with a fairly lightweight interface that just allows me to follow my friends updates, access my inbox, and browse profiles and photos.
  • Freshbooks Time Tracker:  Freshbooks created one for the iPhone, but there doesn’t seem to be one for Android.  Just the basic functionality of being able to select a project and task, start/pause/stop a timer, and submit the hours to Freshbooks would be plenty for me.
  • Package Tracker that works with Canada Post:  I’ve seen package trackers for other carriers but none for Canada Post.  Android has only just been released in Canada, so maybe it’s just a matter of time.
  • Things (Cultured Code) Sync:  Cultured Code has a Things for iPhone, but there is no Things for Android.  I’ve sent in a feature request but have received no answer as of yet.  I imagine that they probably don’t care, seeing as it’s a Mac-only app.  =(
  • A Real Japanese IME:  There are a number of applications that serve as an IME for Japanese but none are integrated into the Android Input Method Framework. Instead, I must open the application via an ongoing notification, enter my text, and then copy and paste it into the text box that I was intending to type into.  I’ve also recently noticed that this interferes with the software keyboard that I recently downloaded.  I can’t use “Touch Input” and one of these programs at the same time because Touch Input helpfully corrects my romaji into English words.  >_<