Biking home today, on my regular commute.

Though, not really, because I didn't turn at the usual block.

So I'm biking a street off from the usual commute, and I wonder why I didn't turn.

And I come up and see a bicyclist on the left side of the street, biking against traffic. Wearing a helmet. In his mid-20s.

So I say, "Hey there."

He says, "Hey," in a friendly way. I slow down a bit to match him.

I say, "I hope you don't mind, and I'm not trying to give you a hard time, but did you know it's really dangerous biking on that side against traffic? Because the cars aren't looking for things moving at bike speeds on that side of the road. And that's really dangerous for you."

He stopped and looked confused. "But I thought we were supposed to go against traffic to see them better. For safety." He sounded betrayed.

I said, "It's safer if you're a pedestrian. On foot, you're moving slowly, it's fine to be on that side. But on a bike, according to law, you're a vehicle."

"Oh. Wow. Thanks."

"You're welcome. Yeah, I think a lot of people got told that in school a while ago, that they should bike against traffic, but it's really unsafe for you, and it's unsafe for bicyclists who are coming the other way. Nobody expects bikes to be there."

"Oh. OK."

"Take care."

"Yeah, have a good day."

And I biked on home, with a lump in my throat.


Today at lunch, [ profile] melted_snowball and I were talking about the condition of being a bicyclist or pedestrian in this town, or in many places in North America. And we agreed there is no reason, other than lack of public will, for car/bike/pedestrian interaction to be as fraught as it is (particularly car/bike, but also bike/pedestrian). d. mentioned a friend's post today considering his choice to bike on less trafficked roads and to back away from engaging motorists who are being dangerous. This is come up regarding a recent grisly Toronto road-rage altercation that left a bike courier dead, though it's mostly gotten press because the motorist is a former Attorney General of Ontario charged with vehicular homicide. That situation is sad, but the overall condition of culture around bicycles is pretty damn sad too.

I want to see a lot more public will toward educating both cyclists and motorists about the rules of the road. I want to see a police blitz ticketing cyclists without lights or bells or running red lights; I want to see a lot of blitzes. I want to see a lot more adult defensive-cycling classes. (A national program recently sent a trainer-instructor here, for companies or individuals who wanted to teach cycling classes; I have heard nothing about its success or failures. And only heard about the program in [ profile] take_the_lane's blog.)

But the status quo is deeply frustrating.


Wednesday, 17 June 2009 06:46 pm
My laptop is once again making a chirp sound every 60 seconds like the HD is trying to die.

I bought a new drive to fix this, just a few months ago. :P
da: (bit)
Apparently, cron is deprecated in OSX 10.5.

K, fine. But its replacement, launchd, is a crappy replacement. It has no concept of time ranges (Or does it? Any mac folks with insight to share here?)

I want to replicate this crontab:

0,20,40 8-17 * * * /users/drallen/bin/

So, run every 20 minutes between 8am and 5pm 5:40pm.

My preferred answer is to get my crontab entry working, but /var/log/system.log is reporting errors such as Mar 6 10:20:00 scsmac21[1] (0x1000000.cron[64942]): Could not
setup Mach task special port 9: (os/kern) no access

Googling finds reports of this same problem and error-message with no solutions offered.

[Edit to add: that error was actually a warning; hiding a $PATH problem that wasn't emailed to me as cron-job errors should be. :-P But it's working now, no help from the OS...]

Google also finds a pile of howtos for launchd from 2005-2006, saying "well, it's not as flexible as cron, but give it time, it's only 1.0." Apple, fix your software!

...I guess I'm stuck with dropping the "8am-5pm" part of it, and writing a launchd plist:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">

There, isn't that so much easier?... :-P



Monday, 26 January 2009 09:05 am
The weekend theme feels like "almost, but not quite." I'd like to see the positives, but right now, the negatives are bugging me. )

Quicken [arrgh.]

Saturday, 16 August 2008 12:29 pm
I'm trying to figure out how much money each of dan and me have put toward our expenses since we moved here 8 years ago. In a rough sense, to the nearest thousand dollars. I'm drowning in a sea of data.

And I want to boot Quicken to the curb.

The first problem with Quicken: exchange rates. It doesn't keep historical rates. When we moved here, the US dollar was worth $1.50 CAD. I put a lot of money in then. Now the US dollar's worth $1.06 CAD. Quicken, amazingly, reports it all at the current exchange rate. OK, so between both of us there are only about 25 contributions in USD of a sizable amount. So I can maybe do them each manually outside Quicken, though I wish there were a way to do that and use Quicken as the authoritative data without setting up parallel "translated" transactions. Ugh how annoying and inelegant.

The next problem is partly conceptual on my part, but Quicken doesn't make it easier. I won't be offended if you skip reading this bit; my eyes glaze over when I try to think about it. My hope is that writing it out will help, and maybe somebody else will be clear enough on it to say "yes, that's right." Here are two simple situations and one that wraps my head in knots: [or, did, before I wrote it out...] [ack. but it doesn't work right. ack.]

We have a Cash account, which I've used if someone pays for a joint expense on a personal account (so, otherwise not recorded in our joint expenses). That's straight-forward and the reports Quicken will produce look sensible for our spending. I even realized I can do the Double Entry Thing and zero-out the Cash account by making a balancing entry to the Cash account but with a category of, say, "contribution by DA" so I can see that I made an extra contribution to the joint accounts.

Then we've got instances where one of us paid for something off the joint accounts that's actually a personal expense. So I can make a transfer from the joint bank account to the cash account; then a balancing entry in Cash with a sensible comment and the category of "contribution by DA" and a negative amount, so it's actually subtracting from my contributions.

[This doesn't work properly! Quicken puts the damn cash transfer the wrong way around! It looks like I would've needed to swap every single "Spend" and "Receive" in the Cash account to make transfers work, but then the first case above without a transfer fails!]

The third instance is where, say, dan pays for something that's my expense not joint. Such as when my health insurance was directly debited from his salary. This is a conceptual mess for me. (If I figured this out, I expect I'd probably be more useful when helping settle bills with friends at dinner, too.)

If this were double-entry accounting, I think it would be: a credit to "contribution by db" and a debit from "contribution by DA". It doesn't affect any other joint accounts. The money goes from him to me. That's accurate. Yes?

In Quicken, this looks to me like two transactions in Cash, one with the category "contribution by DA", as an expense, and one with the category "contribution by db" as an amount received.

That makes some sense. And the report comes out OK; but for some reason, for the last decade I've been doing it differently; and I won't even try to explain it because it sounds wrong to me now.

Which suggests what I wrote above helped me figure out that this is the right way to do it.


I considered just deleting the majority of this post, but I'm not, because it amuses me now.

[And I'm so not amused any more. I still need to know if my logic is correct with the third case; but I also need to know what I should be doing for the second case. Grrr.]

The Guelph Roll

Saturday, 19 April 2008 10:15 pm

Nachos, cheeseburger,
cheddar in sushi. One of
these does not belong.

Contemplations on the Guelph Roll, Fuji All You Can Eat Sushi, in (you guessed it) Guelph.

And I hope the next table over was as amused as we were when we realized we had to write haikus over dinner.


Friday, 21 March 2008 04:57 pm
I was charging my way through sorting a big pile of papers into smaller piles, but at some point, the meaning for the two biggest piles got switched. This is bugging me more than I think it should.

Also, either: my laptop screen's contrast has spontaneously reduced; or I'm having a vision problem; or I mis-remember what the screen should look like. I think I've ruled out vision problems, at least. Leaving the appealing possibilities of hardware failure or tricks of memory. Joy.

Thirdly, I had meant to write about last weekend's music adventures, but it's increasingly likely I won't. Boo.

Also, my body's not being terribly cooperative- neck, shoulder. I should be doing my shoulder exercises, but I'm lazy. Boo.

What's balancing these out is that I'm expecting some good news next week. Also, I'm going to my Grandmother's 100th birthday party next weekend. And, and, and.

Happy Spring, anyway.


Thursday, 6 March 2008 11:25 am
Things were going so well this morning.

And like in a movie, I sat back in my chair, with my arms behind my head, and stretched.

And there was a loud "tick" in my neck and it hurt like HELL.

I've got an appointment tomorrow with my physiotherapist (I hope; she wasn't supposed to come in, but she might be able to). And I've taken Tylenol and got myself a cold-compress on my neck. I think it's hurting less, or else I got used to it. But this really wasn't my intention for what I was going to do next today. :(
Our mailbox was stuffed with newspaper ads (delivered by our local paper).

Anyone want to guess how much paper?

3.5 lbs. 1.5kg.


Leaving aside that I called them on Monday to tell them once again to stop delivering these ads to us, I'm aghast at how much paper this is. It's over 2 1/4 inches (compressed) tall.

My office is next door to a mechanical closet. This morning there's a *loud* furnace hum that's driving me bonkers. It's very much like a dial-tone with the phone held up to my ear.

I'm listening to loud music, and I'll probably switch to earplugs at some point, but the plant ops folks can't get here soon enough.

[11am, ETA: a mechanic was passing through and said he'd look into it (I wonder how long before they'd have sent someone out?) He's looking upstairs, because he thinks it's not actually caused by anything in my ceiling or next-door. Gah, soloud.

11:20am: yay, he found it; a sump-pump next door was busted. No more noise!]


Monday, 5 November 2007 08:42 pm

5 Day Forecast from Environment Canada

Cloudy. Periods of rain beginning early this evening and ending this evening then 60 percent chance of showers late this evening and overnight. A few wet flurries over higher terrain overnight. Wind south 30 km/h becoming light this evening. Low plus 1.
Showers except a few wet flurries over higher terrain early in the morning. Wind southwest 20 km/h becoming northwest 30 in the afternoon. High 9.
Tuesday night
Rain showers changing to flurries near midnight. Local snowfall amount 5 cm. Wind north 50 km/h gusting to 70 becoming light near midnight. Low minus 3.
Cloudy with 70 percent chance of flurries. High plus 3.
Cloudy with 40 percent chance of rain or snow. Low minus 8. High plus 3.
Cloudy with 70 percent chance of rain or snow. Low minus 1. High plus 3.

Monster Problems

Friday, 31 August 2007 08:07 pm
Security breach at Monster likely involves sophisticated personalized attacks on hundreds of thousands of customers, now likely millions. (Yesterday's Reuters article). The scary part of this is that the Ukranian thieves of Monster user data apparently weren't performing identity theft using that data; they were grabbing user info in order to custom-craft recruiter emails, which, if the job-seeker clicked on the links, would install malware on their computer (which would then perform identity theft).

So- if you've ever been associated with Monster, be very careful about any recruiter emails, even if they don't say they're from Monster; make sure your email reader won't run executable programs from links in the email.

I'm grumpy about how stupid this is, that thieves were able to get all this information; and expect they could go and do more fishy things with the data, besides sending these fake recruiter emails.

Of course I'm also grumpy about this since I do have a Monster account, but the particular scam seems less likely to cause problems for me since I did use a unique email address for Monster, and I also read Monster email in a non-GUI non-windows mail-reader.


Still sick

Tuesday, 12 June 2007 06:20 pm
I took a sudafed at 3:45. I hope it wears off by bedtime, because I'm feeling wired. It did help my sinus pressure, but boy does it mess with my brain. Yech.

bagels, bell, and banks.

Thursday, 17 May 2007 05:35 pm
Our favourite bagel shop (Rise and Shine) is likely closing at the end of the month. Brian, the owner, made $6k profits on $30k sales last year. That's not a business, it's a labour of love. And he ain't got the love any more, that's for sure. Sigh.

Change can be so annoying. Except when standing still is more annoying. Cases in point:

Our Bell long-distance plan (since 2004) has been outdated for a year and a half. I just switched us to a plan that costs half as much per minute (5 cents) and cheaper international calling rates. The agent was surprised that none of the other Bell agents I've had to speak to in the last year happened to mention our stale plan, as convenient as it was for Bell. She also reminded me too much of Brian from Office Space. She started the conversation with, "How may I make your day?" and it went downhill from there. Perkions begone!

This morning I had to talk to too many bank representatives, because the acceptably useful system between my US investments bank and my Canadian bank has crashed in a series of mergers. Three entities with "TD" in the name. Now, two of them (in the US) aren't particulary cozy, and one of those two has my US investments (hopefully soon to be CAD mutual fund investments). I think I got this particular mess straightened out, and it's just a roadblock costing a few days' time and hopefully not money. Hopefully.

But enough with the grumpy.


Tuesday, 17 October 2006 06:48 pm
Today started with a whimper, and built to a headachy whine.

Orange juice? got a fruit-fly in it, just as I was settling down with the paper.

ipod? totally out of juice, just flat dead, when it was fine yesterday.

Weather? pissing rain.

First thing at work? $person who I'm training on some hand-off tasks decided to start without me and do something totally differently than my boss asked *us* to do *together*.

Afternoon? fire-alarm. Then, huge swatches of time tracking down what it was that $person did in the morning.

Then I missed my bus home, which was a problem since I was on the hook for dinner, and dan had a rehersal to catch.

But I got home, made some burgers (tuna, from Zehr's.) Ate dinner with Dan, saw him off to rehersal... I've taken lots of headache drugs, and I'm going to spend some time with the dog.

Dykes to Watch Out For is wonderful today.

A certain irony

Wednesday, 27 September 2006 09:29 pm
After my post yesterday, I was miffed to discover this morning that I can't apply for citizenship yet, after all.

Math error. Arrrrgh!

I got through being grumpy, though, and now I'm mostly a bit amused at my inability to add.

Warning, arithmetic problem ahead )

'fraid I don't have any good closing to this post. But I figured I'd give y'all a nice big bowl of schadenfreude. Mmmmmm.... schadenfreude...
da: (bit)
I'm going to rant about Windows just a bit.

Why it is that the Windows (XP) search facility is so awful? Did their UI testers hate them? Did they ultimately not care, because they were behind schedule?

I want all files on the disk that match the name "calendar". So I chose "Search" from the explorer toolbar.

So it says:

What do you want to search for?

Pictures, music or video
Documents (word processing, spreadsheet, etc)
All files and folders
Computers or people

[...and so on with other choices.]

To start with, a cheap shot: the grammar is wrong, and I don't even care about ending the sentence with a preposition. Given these choices, it should be "What do you want to search". If I search for all files, there will be 50,000 matches and I'll never find what I want. But I'm OK with that really.

I choose Documents, because I know I'm looking for .pdfs, probably even in "My Documents." It asks: "Last time it was modified:" with the choices of "in the last week" through "1 year ago" or "Don't Remember." You must choose. It must be within a year or "Don't Remember".

Sigh. I know what they meant, and I guess I'm OK with that, too. I pick "Don't remember" even though I do, and search, and... it can't find anything.

It gives me a long string of options for refining the search, quitting and making future searches faster, or not making future searches faster... which I ignore and hit the "Search" again from the explorer toolbar.

Which turns out to be a toggle, and it shows me "Other Places" instead which is apparently a code for "we don't know where you were when you started searching." No, please, take me to other places... (How about... Tahiti?)

But there's still text in the right-hand part of the window that says "To start your search, follow the instructions in the left pane". Which is totally inaccurate since the search is gone.

So I click the search toggle again and this time I choose "search all files", and it finds 12 filenames, in relatively short order, that is to say 20 seconds. And what do you know, they're in "Daniel\My Documents\".

So, what was wrong with the previous search? PDFs aren't documents? I have a corrupt database of filenames? I don't know.

Give me linux's command-line "locate calendar" (1 second) or mac's Spotlight (4 seconds, but it also searches file contents and helpfully prioritizes for most likely matches, which is usually accurate).

Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I was curious how long it would take XP to search file contents as well. 12 minutes. Then, I asked it to do the same thing again, to see if it cached it. "Unexpected error. Action could not be completed."

And it seems to not cache the results, unless you explicitly turn on search caching. Oooookay.

Rant: over. I feel better now. :)
A second-class annoying way to be woken up is to have a cat skritching and scrambling on the roof, trying to get inside through the attic-fan vent 4 meters from your head. I can say this from personal experience after last night. But how do I know it was a cat?

A first-class annoying way to be woken up is for your partner (me) to scream at the top of his lungs, at a cat-sized head appearing in the bathroom window when he's still mostly asleep, just after he was woken up by a skritching and scrambling on the roof.

Leading to high heart-rates all 'round the house, presumably including the cat's, but not for Rover, who slept through the whole thing.

Then, to add insult to... more insult, the cat didn't bugger off right away, but started monkeying with the attic-fan vent again five minutes later.

Neither d. nor I got to sleep for a while. Me, an hour; d., a bit longer.

Stupid cat.

Upgrade Paths

Monday, 21 August 2006 09:10 pm
Grumble. I had hoped that getting a mac would make everything easier.

I want an accounting program for Mac that will download transactions from my Canadian bank. I have accounts for my small-business and personal accounts going back to 1997, in Quicken format.


  • Buy Quicken Home and Business for US, Windows version, under an emulator such as Parallels. I've not investigated this thoroughly; I've gone this route with Quicken and Linux and it wasn't much fun.

  • There is no current Quicken for Mac, Canada Version. There is for last year's version (2006, I suppose like cars), but that stopped being sold three weeks ago. My understanding is that stores don't carry it. Perhaps I could find it somewhere. I'm not inclined to, though, since it's been discontinued.

  • Buy Quicken for Mac, US version. Theoretically, there is some Canada support. But not enough that Quicken's list of supported banks includes any in Canada. Also, support for importing from an old version of Windows Quicken is terrible. Also, I understand that new versions of Quicken ('06 on) won't import .QIF files, so there is no migration path back to Quicken if you migrate away. I do not want to support that kind of non-support.

  • Flee the annoyance that is Intuit software and buy moneydance. It supports import from .QIF, it's written in Java and supports win/mac/linux. It doesn't support Canadian institutions either. Possibly, I could import QIF files. For that matter, I could write a plugin myself, since it's got a Python interpreter.

  • Stop the race, get off, and balance my checkbook on paper. Hm. Looking more appealing, at least at the moment.


[edit, oct. 15, 2006: added tag for mydreamapp, since that's where this discussion took me.]

I got a bleb.

Wednesday, 9 August 2006 08:26 pm
...or a vesicle. Or, an "over-eager pliers bite." As in, pliers: 1, daniel: 0. Serves me right for not using the correct tool for the job; that would've been the "security screwdriver" which was one floor and one building away. Anyway, it hurt, now it doesn't, but it sort of put a crimp damper on my afternoon.

Right now I think I'm going to go lie down in a dark room and listen to music, because mah head hurts a bit too.

Whine, whine.

Putting things in perspective, at least my computer didn't die overnight, like a certain [edit: computer of] someone I know; and also, I wasn't nearly squashed by a car-transport dropping a MPV right in front of one's own car (on Fairway Ave., I think) as happened to the wife of a friend, today. (She's fine; she swerved into the oncoming lane, which happened to be clear.) Yikes.

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