Pat's Log
Sat, 27 Oct 2007

Bye Gentoo. Hello Ubuntu.
20071027 Gentoo is pretty cool. As a self-compile Linux distribution, it has inspired more to learn about how things work in Linux than any other distribution. Aside from people reporting bugs when they set their compiler optimization to a gazillion-and-one, it has probably had a generally positive effect.

I've been using Gentoo since early 2002. I had it on my laptop until it became clear that the hard drive was far too slow to handle the ever-growing Portage tree. I still kept it on my desktop with the intention of always having the latest versions of software as it's released. Unfortunately, time has been short in the last few months, and more often than not I just had a broken system.

The solution has been to completely free myself of Gentoo. I now use Debian at work and Ubuntu at home. In truth, it would be nice to follow Debian unstable at home as well, but a relatively slow internet connection coupled with a frequently updated pool of packages would still be a big strain on time.

For now, the "just works" option is my preference.

[] | posted @ 21:13 | link
Thu, 11 Oct 2007

20071011 So, here I am nearing the end of my visit to Taiwan. I meant to write more about this rather spontaneous trip, but an unbelievably busy schedule kept me from it.

Taiwan is not at all as I expected it. Most things are as "normal" as anywhere else. Indeed, it's supposed to be mainland China that is truly "different"; even the locals consider it so. Still, many differences exist between the cultures I am familiar with and those over here.

The most striking difference is the food. Acknowledging that I'm a picky eater, I truly cannot believe the kind of things they eat here. It really shocked me how different the food is, from the pig ears, to the shrimp, to the "smelly to-fu", to cow stomach, and bits and pieces that lack identification. These are all considered delicacies by the locals. To me, they constitute a source of apprehension. It wouldn't be so bad, except that these items and those containing all manner of fish (which I avoid) make up about 90% of the menu. There is a McDonald's every other corner, but going to one of those would be considered rude. Some dishes are excellent, many are not. Food has been a problem during this visit.

Typhoon. As luck would have it, we arrived in Taipei just in time to witness a category-4 typhoon, the largest anyone here has seen in years. My first tropical storm. Winds well in excess of 100 km/h. Magnificent power.

Women. Spending time at a high tech company, I can't help but notice the ratio much closer to 50-50 of men-to-women than what we have in North America. There are a good number of downright hot women in engineering positions here. A gorgeous woman handling a soldering iron? Unexpected.

History. On National Day, we took a trip to the National Palace Museum. This museum contains artifacts and treasures, taken from mainland China at Taiwan's birth, that date back all the way to Chinese cultule of 5000BCE. I found the meticulously crafted jade the most impressive. Some of the pieces are undoubtedly the result of entire lifetimes of work.

Driving. Insane. Between cars screaming by every which way and people on scooters flying in between, it's a wonder the country maintains the population it has. I've seen entire families on a single tiny scooter. Drivers need to pay attention here. The average taxi driver is very sharp. Some people on scooters are downright nuts.

All in all, this visit has been enlightening. I have been given the opportunity to explore an entire culture that is new to me. While much of it remains beyond my comprehension, this trip is a change of routine that is, as walways, very much appreciated. Doing this sort of thing in the name of business is far easier than doing it in the name of vacation. I had good (busy) times, and met great (busy) people. Perhaps I will come here again some day.

[] | posted @ 22:33 | link
Tue, 02 Oct 2007

Boston Gnome Summit 2007... Taiwan?
This weekend is Thanksgiving, Columbus Day in the States. That means I would normally be attending the Boston Gnome Summit. This year, my travel schedule has been plentiful enough that I decided to spend Thanksgiving with the family.

Of course, as soon as that was firmly decided, work decided to send me to Taiwan. Ha! I leave tomorrow.

[] | posted @ 23:21 | link

OPP Looking Sharp
20071002 This afternoon I came across an Ontario Provincial Police car like no other I had seen before. Apparently, the police force is using at least one Honda Civic SI, with the new paint scheme. Nice cruiser! There were a few things that struck me as interesting.

First, the car is not an American brand. Unusual.

Second, a quick peek in the window indicated that it has a stick shift. Very unusual. In fact, I never thought I would see the day when a public service vehicle in North America would not be an automatic.

In the past, the OPP has had a donated Mercedes, a Ford Focus, and a Dodge Caliber. But those were single cars. Maybe this Honda is a sign of more to come?

[] | posted @ 23:20 | link

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