Photo noob


I hate to admit this especially after I watched this YouTube just last week.

Driving over to Coal Creek I realized I committed one of the noob mistakes. I forgot the flash card at home. We were about half way to the park so we decided to just soldier on without the camera…

Hey, at least I was good enough to realize before I touched the camera so I didn’t have to drag the camera along on a five mile hike.

Small condolence. Big shame.


The reason was I switched camera bags. I normally have a spare card or two in the bag, but I hadn’t transferred those over to the backpack bag. The primary one was sitting idle next to my computer in the office.


It would’ve been too high contrast anyway. I’ll just keep telling myself that.


Ennie and I watched a documentary last night that we just stumbled upon on Netflix: Tiny.

It’s an interesting idea that I don’t think I can handle for myself for a long period of time. The idea is to whittle down what you need down to the bare minimum. These are folks that live in a house that’s usually less than 200 square feet. Some are much smaller still; the smallest that was on the show was 84 square feet — or about the size of my bathroom.

I guess I get my fill of this when I’m on my motorcycle camping trips. Narrow down everything that you need to just what I can carry. I think I wind up with around five or six cubic feet of stuff.

I can manage that for a little while. But I don’t think that I can sustain that for a long period of time. For one I have more tools than can fit in the tiny houses of the show.

While it’s not for me, it certainly is an interesting thought exercise.


Ennie, Holly and I were shooting the breeze last night hanging out on the deck behind the house and the concept of jealousy came up.

Jealousy is an interesting notion. In many ways it’s something that is mostly foreign to me. It’s not something I feel. I occasionally feel envy of other people, but not really jealousy in the way that you commonly think of the work. I can’t really explain my that it. It unnerves people though.

What is it anyway?

In terms of relationships it’s a suspicion of someone and their faithfulness. It’s also a sense of protecting what — and who in the case of relationships — you perceive to be yours.

I guess the thing with how I’m wired is that people aren’t something that can be had. It’s something that you don’t have to think about because the concept of “who is yours” isn’t something that is possibility. Everyone is their own person. Everyone makes their own decisions.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t consider others in your own decisions. Those decisions are your own. They can cause problems if you make them wrong. But the responsibility for those choices are owned by you yourself. In many ways this is taking the idea of the now-going-on Burning Man of radical self reliance and applying it to relationships.

If you take the idea that you are protecting, or conversely being protected by, someone the responsibility for those decisions are assumed by the protector. This adds stress to the “protector” and absolves responsibility for the “protected.”

I guess the thought that one isn’t responsible for their own actions is something that I can’t wrap my head around. Conversely trying to control someone is equally foreign to me.

This is something that I guess I need to contemplate further and maybe figure out why this is for me.


I read today’s XKCD and I learned that James Joyce was a dirty, dirty man.

I had no idea.

I had to google it. I googled “my dirty little fuckbird.”

My sweet little whorish Nora I did as you told me, you dirty little girl, and pulled myself off twice when I read your letter. I wish you would smack me or flog me even. Not in play, dear, in earnest and on my naked flesh. I wish you were strong, strong, dear, and had a big full proud bosom and big fat thighs. I would love to be whipped by you, Nora love!


He continued on a bunch more too.

There’s a bunch more here by a more people too.


I’ve been looking at virtualization of OSs. No big surprise there… pretty normal stuff.

No. I’m not doing EC2. Hell, it’s not even about what it is I’m doing.

It’s widely known that the software that is used in the EC2 virtual machines is Xen. (Source: Wikipedia) I started looking at some of the spec pages for Xen and it just blew my mind.

One of the features is being able to move a VM from one physical host to another. While it’s running.

Holy crap.

You get a delay of 60-300ms at the end while the underlying hardware gets switched out from under the VM.

This, to me, is mind blowing.

I understand how this is done. I know roughly (ok, pretty specifically… copy-on-write memory pages and tracking clean vs. dirty pages) how this works. But actually implementing this in practice is another thing altogether.

I’m impressed.

Apodments and parking

The City of Seattle has a thing recently for approving “affordable” living spaces like apodments and apartments with essentially no parking.

The excuse is always that “since these are built in a high density, high walk score neighborhood, the residents don’t need a car (or two) and therefore won’t have one.”

This is a recipe for disaster.

Invariably the streets around the new structure are inundated with all of the un-needed and not had cars of the residents. This happened to my friend Holly in West Seattle (part of Seattle proper FWIW) — the street she was on with her old place was an absolute nightmare to park on. You could be left circling the block just looking for someplace to park. This was because of the super-high density build-out with no parking to match.

Now, I’m not saying that matching not-car-having individuals with these places is a problem. Nor am I saying that the notion of an apodment is a problem. What I am saying is the there is a problem and let’s look for solutions. This is really another manifestation of the tragedy of the commons. In this case the landlord takes more than their share of a limited (and generally public) resource. Parking in this case.

Brainstorming on our way back from dinner we came up with a list of potential solutions:

Simple solution: Permit-only parking. Lots of Seattle neighborhoods have it. You get a window sticker for a zone and you need one to park in that zone. A structure could be eligible for a certain number of permits, and once those are issued, you need to get in line. The downside is that it starts limiting things like visitors from outside that neighborhood since they wouldn’t have the requisite sticker.

Sharing solution: Partner with a company like Zip Car to have a subsidized rate for cars and have a few parked in the building. Really encourage your residents to not have a car because it’s cheaper to not have one.

License-based solution: Like the permit-based solution but actually forbid registration of more than x vehicles for a structure. Or perhaps have car-free units that get zero registrations. Feel free to buy a car, but don’t expect that getting a license for it is a right.

Loading GPX data and getting it ready to process in Mathematica

Loading GPX data and getting it ready to process in Mathematica

First the easy part: load the GPX file itself. We’re only interested in the Data subset of it so we initially limit it to just that.

rawdata = Import["/Users/gburgyan/Dropbox/Blog/AdventureMapping/Adventure.GPX", "Data"];

Next, we want to gather the information that we’re interested in. In this case I’m really interested in the Geometry (which is the raw data points {latitude,longitude}), the PointElevation (in meters), and the PointTimestamp (which is stored as the exact right input for AbsoluteTime)

joined = MapThread[ { #1, #2, AbsoluteTime[#3] } &,
   {Flatten[Lookup[rawdata, "Geometry"][[1, 1, 1]], 1], 
    Flatten[Lookup[Lookup[rawdata, "LabeledData"], "PointElevation"]],  
    Flatten[Lookup[Lookup[rawdata, "LabeledData"], "PointTimestamp"], 3]}];

This is where it gets trickier. We want to figure out the speed along with the time deltas between points. The difference between two AbsoluteTime objects is, conveniently, seconds. In a slightly annoying twist, the return of the GeoDistance, is a Quanity object that has units. Given where I am it’s defaulting to feet. The reason it’s annoying is that computations with united quanities is slow. What we do with all the contortions is just convert it to meters and be done with it.

result = MapThread[
   Join[#1, {#2, #3, #3/#2}] &, {
    Prepend[Differences[joined[[All, 3]]], 1],
        UnitConvert[GeoDistance[#[[1]], #[[2]]], "m"]] & 
      /@ Partition[joined[[All, 1]], 2, 1], 0]

Finally, I just write it out to a file so I don’t have to do this again. :-)

result >> "/Users/gburgyan/Dropbox/Blog/AdventureMapping/preproc.m"

Here’s the file that you can play with yourself: Processor.nb

Lifehack: Buying batteries on eBay

A quick one for today. This started for me last week when the wheel sensors for my tire pressure monitoring system gave me a warning that the batteries in them were low.

No problem. I checked the manual and they took BR1225 batteries.

At work I wandered into the Bartell’s in the adjoining building looking for them and the answer came back negative. I checked online and the going rate was on the order of $4-6 per cell and I needed two of them.

Enter eBay.

I got 5 for $4.99 shipped.

While it wasn’t the instant gratification of walking out of the store with them in hand, it’s worth the wait. And for next time I already have the replacements.

I did the same thing when I needed some calculator batteries. (Or they were for something… eventually some found their way into a calculator) Instead of buying three for $6.00, I got a flat of 100 for the same price. Even if they go bad quicker… I’m still way ahead of the curve!

Proper packing part 2

Today I learned that U-Hauls stores all over the country (at least according the one in Auburn, WA) have a bin of boxes that have been dropped off to reuse. The boxes in this box (meta… whoa) are free.

I also learned that the magic foam stuff from Sealed Air is damn fast stuff.

I wish I had this on video, but I remembered that I would wish I had this on video after I had already packed things. From the moment you pop the thing under the “A” label and the time that things start working is around 10 seconds. From the time it starts working and pops the second inner bag to the time you have to have gotten things set correctly is around 15 seconds.

And it gets hot. Like steaming hot. It has steam vents hot.

Then in around three minutes it’s set hard. You get a steaming hot, custom molded foam packing material. It’s pretty damn nice stuff.

I also learned that just taking boxes to a random shipping store that handles all the carriers is the right thing to do… FedEx was around $20 cheaper than UPS.

So I wound up saving around $50 from UPS’s quote to pack (boxes were free, and I used ~ $30 of the magic foam), and a further $20 on shipping. Win.  :-)

Proper packing

I took a stereo receiver and some speakers to a UPS store to ship to my brother today.

First, let me say that the notion of a stereo receiver is very much a strange thing now. It’s not stereo (though it has that mode) nor does it really receive. It’s a glorified switch from inputs to outputs and an n-way amplifier.

But I digress.

It turns out that UPS stores have no idea how to pack one of these things. Not only that, but they want to overcharge for the privilege of not packing one of these things.

An amplifier like this is a big and heavy thing with corners. What you don’t want is to have all the weight land on the corners. What you get if you just use bubble wrap and packing peanuts is a shifting load that will eventually do just that.

Oh, and you’ll get charged 80-odd dollars for this.  :-O


A 20x20x20″ box is not $12.80. You can buy these one-off at U-Haul for $4. In quantities of 10 they go down to $2.20 from ULine. In bigger quantities it’s even cheaper from random sources.

Proper packing in this case is something like InstaPak expanding foam packaging. I wish I didn’t have to buy a carton of these, but at least I can pack things correctly to get it there in one piece.

It’s nice I have a ULine nearby to get this stuff.

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