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2009/10/30 Halloween at Google
π 2009-10-30 01:01 in Google
This year was a pretty quiet Halloween. The Google celebration was pretty good, they even made a haunted house that wasn't bad at all :)

A funny part was the dog costume contest :)







Unfortunately, I got sick on the 31st (again!) and missed Amy's great party, as well as AvB at Ruby Skye 2 days later. Those were both huge bummers :(

See more images for Halloween at Google
2009/10/27 Xgoogler meeting at Charlie's Calafia
π 2009-10-27 01:01 in Google
Some of my coworkers and ex-coworkers organized a gathering at our ex chef's restaurant: Calafia.
It was quite nice to spend the evening with ex coworkers I hadn't seen in a long time.





Thanks much to the organizers and Charlie for having us over.

2009/10/24 Skip Barber 2 Day Advanced Racing School
π 2009-10-24 01:01 in Cars
After doing the 3 day racing school, it felt like I just got enough to get a taste and wanted more, so I did the 2 day advanced racing school.


you can see my gopro camera taped on my helmet
you can see my gopro camera taped on my helmet

Unfortunately, I was sick all week just before the event, and while I was better the day of, I wasn't at my top. Adding to that that I didn't sleep well either the night after, day 2 wasn't much better: I had to dope myself up with energy drinks.
It mostly worked, but I did have some moments of brain fade, which isn't so good when you're driving a racecar. Not counting 3 spins including 2 track outs in 2 days (vs 0 on my 3 day school), I also almost rear ended an instructor because I kind of forgot to brake in 11... In the end, no harm done, but it wasn't stellar.

This gave for some somewhat more fun videos.

We also had some freak fog during saturday afternoon, to the point where I had to slow down and wipe my helmet visor to see anything. The video above shows some of this.



Anyway, back to the class: it was kind of the same format than the 3 day class, just faster. We got a quick intro/refresher on the cars and spent the morning autocrossing to refresh our memories with heel and toe shifting and oversteer control.


not much room between the brake and the gas
not much room between the brake and the gas

This time I brought old shoes where I had cut off the sides so that my wide feet did not push on the gas while I was trying to brake :)

Here's a short video showing the exciting parts of the autocross:

The rest of the time was spent on the track. Putting aside that I managed to spin out on the very first turn of the very first lap (triple doh!), the first day was mostly to practise threshold braking and the line, following an instructor. We got feedback from instructors standing at a few turns after each session. They were standing at vantage points like this one:





On the second day, we did some practise starts for those who were going to come back to race, and then we got 3 sessions where we got to follow instructors in race cars or where the instructors were following us. I did reasonably well within my group, getting only passed by one guy who was in the race series and just signed up for some track time, and the instructors of course who could lap all of us :)
That said, even if I got my laptimes below 1:50, I just wasn't consistent and by the one session before last I finally had an instructor who had time to follow me and give me some disturbing feedback on how I was basically doing it all wrong and being slow in the wrong places in turns. Also, I had some brain fades where I would just score a bad lap, forget to brake in time at 11, or spin in 5 (twice each :-/).
By the very last session, I had my time down in the 1:48's with a single lap at 1:47, strangely when I actually passed 2 cars in the process (meaning most likely 1:46 had it been clean track), and to celebrate I managed to spin out in turn 5 at the next lap :-/ .

In some ways I'm a bit disappointed with my performance since I got faster but not in the right ways, and either I was too tired/sick to be more consistent, or I'm just not good enough to be consistent like real racers... The other problem is that it took a while for the instructors to have the time to follow me around the track and give me feedback and by the time I got it (one session from the end, it was a bit late to improve all that much. That was disappointing too...

At least I got some good videos with the gopro camera on my helmet and used the opportunity to sample video editting software on linux and found that kdenlive is actually fairly decent and easy to use for piecing up video clips from multiple source and pasting them together with simple effects, which is really all I need.

Below are a few results of that work (and piecing video together actually takes way too much work, not counting that I had close to 3H of raw footage :) ).

By the way, the realism of iRacing is pretty impressive, although either the computer drivers are top notch, or the simulation is a bit over optimistic on speed, brakes, and/or tire grip. The video is worth watching just for the virtual rendition of the car and the track though:

While I was there, I also got Jennifer signed up for the 2 day car control clinic, and it worked out pretty well for her. She learned to drive more at the limit, where she wasn't comfortable being at all, how to countersteer, brake and turn at the right amount and in the right order :)
She did quite well during the 2 days and enjoyed them.



Also, I took my minimag RC plane and took some shots of the track from the sky, as per the Minimag RC Overfly of Laguna Seca post.


2009/10/24 Minimag overfly and pictures of Laguna Seca
π 2009-10-24 01:01 in Cars, Rc
I took my minimag to Laguna to take some shots like I did at Thunderhill recently.
Unfortunately I didn't have the time during lunchtime so the sun was lower and showing in some shots.

Laguna was also harder to get because of how much bigger it is compared to Thunderhill where I can mostly overfly the whole track while being in a couple of spots. Laguna has much more track that just isn't visible from the paddocks. So, I ended up driving around the track (not on) and finding other vantage points that had better visibility. This mostly worked, except my 200+ shots taken around the corkscrew: I had a great vantage point, but my camera got knocked out of angle during a tough takeoff and all my shots were unusable :(

Anyway, here are a few of the good shots, and you'll find more in the link below










2009/10/16 TEAM event at Thunderhill
π 2009-10-16 01:01 in Cars
Timing didn't quite work out here, I got mildly sick the day prior to the event. After a good night of rest, I thought I'd be ok enough the day of, but that turned out not to be quite the fact.

Anyway, I went to bed early the night prior and got up around 5:45 for my flight to Willows.
Said flight there was mildly interesting due to a presidential flight restriction and special flight rules, but it was otherwise a nice flight up with sunrise.



My buddy John from BAMO had taken the car up, and I was able to do 3 sessions in the morning before deciding that I just didn't quite feel right while driving. At the same time I had managed to forget my spare pads at home anyway and I really didn't have brakes for much more than those 3 sessions either way.

nice hood
nice hood

My tech crew, thanks John :)
My tech crew, thanks John :)

keeping close track of my brake pads
keeping close track of my brake pads

It just felt like a wise choice to call it quits while I was ahead, and I just went back home around lunchtime and ended up putting in a mostly full day's worth of work.

I got a couple of laps where I set my GoPro to take a picture every 2 seconds. If you wanted to see all of them somehow, see the picture library below, but here are a few samples


It just feels wrong to take 12-13 through the 'straighter line'
It just feels wrong to take 12-13 through the 'straighter line'

turn 4-5
turn 4-5

The video of my 3 sessions are below:




Flight home was nice and quick. I was actually back at work by 13:15-ish.



See more images for TEAM event at Thunderhill
2009/10/13 @jbqueru: Why twitter and facebook suck
π 2009-10-13 01:01 in Public
What is it with twitter, seriously?

Facebook, I can see at least, they trick you into spending a lot of time on their site with flashy useless games, questionaires, they have reasonable features to share pictures with comments, and they silently hold all your data hostage, which no one really seems to realize or care about (they are happy to import your data, but try getting it out, like even getting an rss feed of your friend's updates. Not gonna happen, they want to force you to use their site for that).
Oh, and of course facebook also has the oh so mostly boring twitter like status messages about whether someone I know had one or two eggs for breakfast, or what they think of the day's traffic, or rain, something I really care about :)
(yes, some people do a better job of posting more interesting things overall, but unfortunately they seem to be the exception more than the rule)

But back to twitter: I've been reading jbq's twitter via RSS out of curiosity since twitter seems to suck so much that they make old tweets unavailable after a certain number of days (not unlike facebook which also silently drops updates from friends if you didn't come to read them often enough), and the only think I can see that's remotely useful about twitter is people saying
#footopic: what I think about it

so that you can quickly search #footopic amongst all people who tweet.
But twitter being used as a poor (and crappy) man's IRC by saying
@tweetname: my reply to your tweet

which is then for everyone to see and mixed up with maybe somewhat worthwhile tweet updates in the middle. WTF? Seriously, WTF???
And more generally, if there is some kind of barrier to entry on posts from people, you get better content overall. In other words, if you can tweet whatever goes through your mind with no effort at any time, the overall output is mostly random useless and/or incoherent thoughts from random people. It makes the random blog look good in comparison :)

Oh, and back to facebook for a minute, let's just say for a second that I wanted to put links to my blog posts on facebook for people who think that facebook is the new internet and don't seem to know what an RSS reader is for, 'Blog RSS Feed Reader' tells me "Allowing Blog RSS Feed Reader access will let it pull your profile information, photos, your friends' info, and other content that it requires to work."
Err, what??? That's the worst part about facebook, they share all your info and your friends info, even when it's clearly absolutely not needed like an rss reader that is bringing my blog into facebook. And of course, the worst part is that any of the people who are 'friends' with me on facebook have probably shared whatever little information I gave facebook without my consent.
That's just a crock of shit. I'm happy I didn't give any relevant information to facebook and lied about my birthday so that it can't be used for ID theft later.

If you didn't know, search the net for how facebook does their best to keep your data hostage, and to force everyone to spend as much time as possible on facebook as opposed to reading outside text that had the gall of not having been published on facebook.

2009/10/12 Starwars In Concert
π 2009-10-12 01:01 in Public
I had no idea that this was going on, not that I am a huge starwars fan (I like the movies a lot, but I'm just not a die hard fan), however I've always much appreciated John William's excellent music in Star Wars. It's a shame that most people don't even know who he is when he's done excellent music scores for so many movies, many by Lucas and Spielberg, as well as others (Indiana Jones, Star Wars, ET, Supermans, Schindler's List). Just check out his imdb list. Anyway, one of my coworkers was selling her tickets to the event sunday afternoon and that's how I found out about it and got her tickets (thanks)
But back to Star Wars, I think that was some of John William's best work, and while I am not the kind of person to go see musical concerts (I enjoy the music, but not sitting in a dark room just listening to it when I can do it at home), and neither is Jennifer, Star Wars in Concert promised to make it more entertaining by telling the saga story with a narrator and giant screens while the music was being played live.

This was a great idea and it sure did not disappoint. The music was as good as I remembered it and the story, screens and visuals were great (in addition to the projection screen, they had some interesting LED based screens strung on the sides).


it's a big hall without the ice in the middle :)
it's a big hall without the ice in the middle :)

Anthony Daniels, the actor who played CPO in all 3 movies
Anthony Daniels, the actor who played CPO in all 3 movies






I also took a few videos (if you get no video, install the divx player if you get no video).

Ouverture (click for vid)
Ouverture (click for vid)

Anthony Daniels, talking about himself, CPO (click for vid)
Anthony Daniels, talking about himself, CPO (click for vid)

Anthony presenting the clip about Anakin turning to the dark side (click for vid)
Anthony presenting the clip about Anakin turning to the dark side (click for vid)

a few lasers (click for vid)
a few lasers (click for vid)

high res clip on Princess Leia (click for vid)
high res clip on Princess Leia (click for vid)

high res clip on the cantina, great music (click for vid)
high res clip on the cantina, great music (click for vid)

high res clip on ship battles (click for vid)
high res clip on ship battles (click for vid)

high res clip on Luke and his sister (click for vid)
high res clip on Luke and his sister (click for vid)

high res victory clip (click for vid)
high res victory clip (click for vid)

finale (click for vid)
finale (click for vid)

finale 2 (click for vid)
finale 2 (click for vid)

See more images for Starwars In Concert
2009/10/10 Laptop Warmer
π 2009-10-10 01:01 in Public
Is it the cat warming up the laptop, or the laptop warming up the cat?

2009/10/07 Olympics Not In Chicago
π 2009-10-07 01:01 in Public
One thing I did not hear from anyone here is that in my opinion the two main reasons Chicago didn't get the olympics were:
  • Chicago is in the US, flying to the US and US immigration suck ass, especially now that they take fucking fingerprints and pictures from everyone, even from legal immigrants with greencards for whom they already have 10 pictures, an FBI background check, and 3 sets of 10 fingerprints. This is actually one of the same reasons why lost of conferences don't happen in the US anymore.
  • The US gathered enough world hatred in the last 8 years that no matter how hard Obama tried, there is no way people have forgotten all and forgiven yet.
  • So, in my book this has nothing to do with Chicago, it has all to do because they didn't want to force people to have to go to the US to see the olympics, and I can't blame them.

    2009/10/01 ATT Park Baseball
    π 2009-10-01 01:01 in Google
    I had only ever seen AT&T park from the sky on one of my several bay tours, since I'm not exactly a baseball fan, but my team had an offsite there, so there we went.
    The game was both somewhat hard to see from our seats and boring as a whole anyway, but the offsite with my coworkers was nice, including the long talk I had with a coworker who is also into home automation.

    you could see them run but that's about it
    you could see them run but that's about it

    well, if my eyes had a built in 10x zoom, I might see a bit more :)
    well, if my eyes had a built in 10x zoom, I might see a bit more :)


    See more images for ATT Park Baseball

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