I’m not sure why it is, but Star Wars is like lube for my wallet. I am compelled - like at the soul level - to buy Star Wars toys. Not just any old merchandise, mind you, but action figures and vehicles.

I’ve seen episode III twice since Friday. This weekend I bought like five figures and two of the vehicles. I’d probably have bought more had the store carried the rest of the vehicles. And to be honest, I have no idea why. It just makes me happy.

Just seeing the opening Star Wars logo and hearing the fanfare makes me smile. I think that, combined with the fact that I never really had any Star Wars toys growing up (and those that I did have got sold out from under me at a garage sale) sort of adds up to me buying toys I probably don’t need but really, truly want.

I saw more on Amazon that I want but I realize I should probably not indulge much more. Jenn’s already told me to stop buying the toys. But I’m an addict! Just one more figure!

Last night Jenn and I decided to try out this little Chinese restaurant that’s kind of close to our house. We’d seen it, but we’re not terribly adventurous folk, so not knowing the type of food (Cantonese vs. Szechuan - we like Cantonese better… lots of deep, lots of fried…) or quality made us wary. We decided to take the jump last night.

It was actually pretty good. The fried shrimp was different than I’m used to - it had a flaky breading with some sweetness to it instead of having been battered. The pork fried rice had (gasp) actual, visible pieces of barbecued pork in it (and it was very tasty). I had the General Tso chicken and it was tasty - the spiciness was just right.

The experience, though, was in the environment. The place is very obviously a house that they tore the inside out of and converted to a restaurant. You order at what looks like a fast food counter, with a giant color menu behind the register. The dining area had four tables of mediocre quality - our table had absolutely no stability to it, and the table diagonal from us was held together with cardboard and aluminum foil. There were these random posters of Chinese women on the walls… like fashion models or something. Fake ivy plants hung at intervals along the wall, with plastic fruits coming out of them (bananas, oranges, apples). I was previously unaware that ivy bore fruit, but I guess I was misinformed. A small TV/VCR unit was mounted in the corner of the dining area playing a rerun of Malcom in the Middle.

The whole thing was very surreal. The food was good (and reasonably priced), the environment interesting…

I’ll totally eat there again.

My fortune (all spelling and grammar exactly like this): “Today it’s up to you to created the peacefulness you long for.”


We’ve gotten to that QA stage in the project where for the last several days all I’ve done at work is fix minor typographical errors and, like, the alignment of columns in tables.

Somehow, that’s not too exceptionally stimulating. Particularly when the errors are all in bits of code that I had no part in writing. Fixing a small thing becomes a painful ordeal - search through the code to find out where the errant bit is (keeping in mind that each developer on the project does everything differently, so there’s no real consistent pattern to any of it), make the update, fire up the app and verify the fix, then do the “paperwork” of filing the defect resolution and such in the defect tracking system.

All that means a 15 second fix takes half an hour.

In the meantime, my mind is totally wandering because it’s about as exciting as data entry. There’s no problem to be solved, there’s no new code to write (and in many cases, it’s not a code fix at all, but a resource file fix - so it’s updating XML, not code).

I’m having a pretty difficult time. I think it’d be a little better if I was fixing defects in my own code, but I’m not - it’s other peoples’ stuff. (At this point there are no open defects filed against my stuff, otherwise I’d be doing those.)

As I go through this, I’m realizing that once a problem is solved - even if the code isn’t totally written - I’m done being excited about it. My fun is in solving the problem. Sometimes that ends with the solution architecture. Sometimes it involves coming up with a slick way to implement the thing. But the nitpicky stuff - no joy there.

Now, that said, I’m almost as big on closure as I am on problem solving. I like finishing things. When a significant module is done in a project or when the project is done, I’m pretty stoked about it. That drive for closure gets me through the rote parts of the bits I’m working on.

The problem I’m having here is that fixing typos neither offers problem solving nor closure.

Perhaps I am not caffeinated enough. Maybe I should address that.

downloads comments edit

I was messing around the other day with ASCII text generators like this one when I thought I’d combine that with the power of MSN Messenger. But how to address the font kerning issue? ASCII text art needs a fixed-width font.

The solution? Draw in emoticons! The Emotifier was thus born.

Let’s use, for example, the word “JAM” - Emotify it, paste it into MSN Messenger, and you get:

Emotified Jam

How crazy is that?

Here you go - try it for yourself:


A couple of notes: First, due to the max length of a Messenger message, it turns out you can really only get four characters in there, so I’ve limited the above demo to four characters in length. The script itself will do more. Second, it only supports letters, numbers, and space, and the following punctuation: !@\#\$%\^&\*()

One other (sort of important) note: The recipient’s chat window needs to be opened wide enough to see the whole width of the message or it may come in garbled because of line wrapping. Sorry, guys, there’s no “nowrap” I can throw on this one.

Like it? Want it? Get it.

Get it: emotifier.js

blog comments edit

I’m looking at different blog packages and trying to determine what people like and don’t like about their current blog software. If you have a blog (or if you would like to have a blog), please take a sec and fill in my six-question survey to tell me what you think is good or bad about their blog packages. What do you like? What don’t you like? Old survey has been removed.