April 2005 Archives
April 29, 2005
A friendly man on the street greeted me with "hola" this afternoon. I was totally caught off guard and by reflex, I responded with a "hi!"
A little further down the street, I saw something that left me completely speechless. Fully automated "touchless" car washes are quite common in Toronto. You drive onto a conveyor belt, turn off your car and let the conveyor belt drag your vehicle through a series of mechanically controlled jet sprays, spinning brushes and dancing towels.
On El Camino Real, there's a car wash like no other (that I've seen.) It had a conveyor belt that pulled vehicles along slowly, just like the car washes I know. But in place of fancy car-washing machinery there were no less than 12 Hispanic men assembled in 2 lines, each standing on either side of the conveyor belt, wielding hoses, sponges, rags and squeegees, cleaning cars as they rolled by. The juxtaposition of such a business operation in the heart of Silicon Valley completely blew me away.
April 26, 2005
It's been 3 days since I arrived in California. The weather has been absolutely beautiful. I get intermittent (stolen) Wi-Fi internet access from someone in the same apartment complex every afternoon. I can't wait until Mike's DSL line is activated.
The apartment is in a state of disarray; there are moving boxes and unassembled furniture strewn all over our living room. Mike is still in the process of moving in, but my 3 suitcases of stuff have already found their way to their proper, permanent places.
I suspect that I still have jet lag. I wake up at 6:00 every morning, but going to bed by 11:00 every night might have something to do with it as well. The lack of lectures and exams is screwing up... errr... fixing my biological clock.
I'm also eating healthier. Mike's kitchen is stocked with hippy food. All-natural this, organic that, whole grain whatever. I'm temporarily suffering from MSG withdrawal, but I could get used to this. :-) I'm not much of a health nut, but there must be some benefit to cutting down on the intake of overly-processed food.
April 18, 2005
I will no longer be making a trip to Shenzhen when I'm in Hong Kong. Civil unrest is a bad situation to get into, and it's also my little way of protesting against China's underhanded approach in dealing with the current issues at hand. China should have acted more diplomatically, because they're sending so many easily misconstrued messages to their own people and to the rest of the world.
This is a big leap to my simplistic conclusion, but encouraging (or not discouraging) its citizens to attack Japanese people and assets en masse has the danger of incubating racism, and quite possibly, even terrorism.
I'm not saying that Japan is right. Neither am I trying to imply that China should just forgive and forget about the war crimes committed against Chinese people during WWII. That's a different issue altogether. I just don't see how China's mob tactics can be justified. I'm quite disappointed that China didn't take the moral high ground in this situation, especially when they have other more powerful and less shady/questionable political artillery that can be deployed. Thank goodness the people of Hong Kong are civilized enough to hold peaceful protests.
April 11, 2005
You may remember my very lame post about the Party Train. I really wish I had a video of it to show for the hilarity that ensued, but Goggle Boy's newest music video (9.3 MB .wmv, save file to disk for best viewing experience) just arrived in my mailbox, and it's just as good, if not better.
The entire video was shot in and around my hippy co-op residence by my classmates in a single day. There are even some real (no special effects!) martial arts scenes.
These guys should have been studying for their finals instead.
April 8, 2005
Hitachi's educational flash cartoon about their new perpendicular recording technology is reminiscent of Schoolhouse Rock. This is how all computer engineering courses ought to be taught!
After being blown away by the entertaining presentation, make sure you take the time to realize what this really means. 20 GB Microdrives are definitely something to be excited about! I can't wait for the day when something as small as an iPod shuffle can hold as many songs as a regular iPod.
April 7, 2005
Disappointed with the quality of the class composite? Let Jostens know!
Dave Smith at Jostens in the SLC:
(519) 888-4567 ext. 7539 and
Jostens Customer Service:
For reference, here is a copy of the complaint I sent.
To: Jostens Canada
I am a 4th year computer engineering student at the University of Waterloo. First of all, I would like to thank you for the great job you did in capturing some of the most special moments during this stage of my life. My graduation photos and the class photo both came out great, and my grad ball portrait was fantastic!
Unfortunately, I am writing to express my disappointment in the quality of the class composite that I received as part of my graduation package. I have seen class composites from previous years and they have traditionally been of good quality. However, the composite for the Computer Engineering class of 2005 happens to be very grainy, which obscures the distinctive facial features of those who are pictured. It appears as though a digital image of inadequate resolution and colour depth was used to print the class composite. I originally had plans to frame the class composite, but the print I have received is not of suitable framing quality for the aforementioned reasons.
I understand that the Computer Engineering class is quite large, thus making the class composite difficult to compile, but in speaking with students in smaller classes from other departments, their class composites seem to suffer from similar quality issues as well. I also recall that my graduating class in high school was even larger, yet the class composite (also done by Jostens) was of exceptional quality.
I would like someone to address this issue, as this problem is not consistent with the quality of images for which Jostens is known.
Update - a quick response:
I agree. For an unknown reason (so far) there were some problems with printing the composites this year. I have yet to get to the bottom of it but, be assured that when I do I will have the composites that are questionable reprinted. Thank you for your kind words and I hope that I can reclaim your faith in Jostens and myself.
April 6, 2005
Any one going to Fanime in San Jose this year? It runs from May 27 to May 30 (Memorial Day weekend.)
April 2, 2005
Last night at the Bomber, a burly lumberjack comes up to me and asks, "Jackie? Jackie, right? Is that you, Jackie? Aren't you Jackie?"
This is the worst pick up line ever used on me... quite possibly the worst pick up line ever. Period.
It eludes me as to why he didn't pick a more popular name from the 80's like Jessica or Jennifer, unless I actually look like a Jackie.
April 1, 2005
I originally saw the story of how 4 high school students beat out MIT in an underwater robot competition featured on Slashdot and then again on m00se's blog. After finally having read the entire article, I feel inclined to make a donation to their scholarship fund, and would like to encourage others to do so as well. It's really unfortunate that in addition to these 4 bright young men being unable to get student loans, they must also pay out-of-state tuition (up to 3 times more than in-state tuition) because they are undocumented immigrants.
I'm also wondering why co-op education systems similar to the one that is in place at the University of Waterloo have not been more widely adopted. Although this probably isn't the solution for the team from Carl Hayden High School - I suspect that US immigration laws also prevent them from being legally employed - alternating study terms with paid internships benefit both students and universities. Because half of the student population is always off-campus during their work terms, enrolment rates can be doubled without having to double the school's physical handling capacity or degrading the quality of the student experience.
It's true, I have sacrificed having summer vacations at a 4-year undergraduate program for a 5-year program with no breaks but that is a small price to pay for graduating debt-free, and with enough saved up for a trek across the globe. The alternating study and work terms not only allow students to pay their own way though university, they put students in a better position to find higher-paying employment upon graduation because they've gotten a head start on gaining valuable experience in the world beyond academia.