August 9th, 2007

love, cuddle

Apartment downgrades, computer upgrades

Rakeela and I are in our new apartment now! For definitions of "in" that involve an air mattress borrowed from my boss and a large number of cardboard boxes in the living room and dining room. (That's shrinking every day, though- and the bookshelves I brought are getting more and more full.)

This apartment is less nifty than the one Aboda provided; there's no air conditioner, for one. (I'll probably buy a floor unit before next summer.) One bathroom instead of two, but it's enough. I discovered that apartments don't come with shower curtains, which is obvious to everybody who has already had an apartment, but not to me. I've corrected that, although not in time to avoid needing to towel off the bathroom after my first shower in the place.

As might be expected, I've got lots of bookshelves, and they're being filled at a good clip. It looks like I've got enough space, though, and some to expand in. The movers damaged some of my furniture, but it's nothing I can't fix, and if it isn't, that's what insurance is for. Importantly, my desktop computer is as good as it was when I left- which is to say that it is still mysteriously refusing to recognize the optical drive sporadically, but I'll get that troubleshot eventually. I've got phone and Internet with Comcast (bleah, but they have a monopoly here), and no television at all because I can't get a good antenna signal. (Aboda provided basic cable for the month of housing I had with them. Rakeela and I decided together that it's worth nothing to us; Mythbusters DVDs are cheaper and I can probably convince someone to record The Amazing Race and DVDify it for me at work.) Not to say we aren't media hogs; this computer is meeting its ultimate destiny, a general multimedia center. It's just that television doesn't factor into our plans.

I have a Media Center remote control, which goes nicely with the upgraded sound card. It was on clearance from Office Depot for $40. I was resistant, but Rakeela convinced me that it would be a good idea given our plans to make the computer a multimedia station, and she was of course absolutely correct. I did not believe these cheap crappy speakers were capable of sounding so many different kinds of awesome- but we can still hear their limitations, and hearing what the card does to my music suddenly justifies a much better (and more expensive) speaker system. Recommendations?

It's also a gaming center for old games. Between the two of us, we have all three of the last-gen console systems: a PS2, an XBOX, and a GameCube. We've got a large enough library to keep us entertained, and most of the games are available used and cheap. Who needs the most recent? Throw in GameTap alongside it and the only thing this computer was missing was an overly-high-res gaming mouse with pointless glowing LEDs. A quick trip to the Microsoft Company Store has, of course, fixed that oversight.

Unpacking boxes is harder than it should be. First, we've got a circular definition problem: I need plastic shelving to unload junk onto, but I can't set up the shelves until the boxes are out of the way. The same goes for the major computer workstation, which has a few pins missing and extensive screw thread damage by the moving crew that ripped it apart despite their assurances we'd already disassembled it enough. Duct tape should fix it. Book unpacking, despite the presence of bookshelves, is also slow. This is probably because we keep stopping to read. I'm having better luck with preventing myself from doing so than my mate is, of course... Rakeela hasn't read most of these books yet, and the temptation is therefore stronger!

Computer science has practical applications. I've been keeping the shelves alphabetized by author within their categories. (Sci-fi, kids' books, CS reference, humor, everything else.) Sorting books was frustratingly slow until I realized I was using insertion sort, and even with binary search to seek targets it's pretty slow to implement physically. Merge sort, however, is quite efficient; it turns an unsorted pile of books into an alphabetized pile shockingly quickly, and then they're in order so it's easier to insert them on the shelf. (It reduces how far I have to look for each.) To those familiar with merge sort at all: apply it to more than computers.

Work has been busy and cool both. Insane recently because a deadline got kicked up two weeks with little warning, but I seem to be learning quickly- Jason and Yang are freaking out less than usual because they're actually able to dump a good bit of the work off on a third person on the team...

Oh, and Jason and I figured out a couple totally new approaches to a really big theory problem that's been nagging the team for years, and I came up with something really promising- if not on its own, as a strategy to use. That's always fun.

And I'm already an hour overdue for bed. I've switched to a morning schedule, becasue I'm more productive in the morning than in the evening- it's just a schedule that works well for me, so I'm following it. At least my coffee machine is installed and working... Especially given how much extra energy getting all this stuff unpacked is going to take! And yet, somehow, I'm keeping myself to one cup of coffee per day, and no soda. Hard to do with those refrigerators full of free corn-syrup-laden beverages at Microsoft, but I manage- and I feel healthier than I did last summer for it.

But I'm alive and well, and enjoying myself out here. Maybe in a few weeks we'll get a chance to explore beyond the local malls required to get the supplies we've needed so far... we haven't even been to Seattle yet, brief ride through it from the airport notwithstanding. At least the 545 bus goes right there, and it runs every half hour every day...
  • Current Music
    Tyler Heath- Pirates of Dragon Roost Island (Overclocked Remix)