pphaneuf: (Default)
Ok, so that was my first ride in some kind of snow. It's wasn't the best thing ever (imagine having your face, hands and front of your legs doused with water barely above the freezing point, then hanging out in the wind outside), but it wasn't the worst thing ever either. Icing snow accumulating in my glasses and my brakes having less and less effect (the pad themselves weren't gripping, the tires seemed all right, surprisingly) was probably the worst, but I guess that's more a factor of the precipitation. My gloves are not nearly resistant enough to wind and water, I'll have to see to that.

And I still have to go to the bike shop before the end of the month for a free tune up.
pphaneuf: (Default)
Today, I apparently felt very optimistic.

You see, Monday I went to Cycle Technique and asked them if they had some used bikes, having in mind of getting a rain/winter bike. Turned out they did, their summer rental bikes, they were pretty nice, and (allegedly) they had a large one that would fit me. I figured I'd give it a thought, then decided it was a good idea, and went on the Tuesday. I figured I'd walk there, pick up the bike, then ride to work. Except that large was actually a medium. So I walked to work instead.

Today, I figured I'd head over to Beaudry metro, check out Vélo Espresso and Revolution Montreal, for sure I should be able to get a decent used ride between the two of those, right? Well, no. Well, maybe. But mainly no. I had forgotten that Revolution mainly does custom built bikes, meaning that, no, they did not have anything for sale right there. Vélo Espresso had a used bike, but while it could have done, it was quite used. On their main floor, they had this rather weird bike, a Norco VFR 3 Internal. It's a fairly sporty frame, although not too aggressive, and it actually has space and lugs for fenders and racks (although I hear that it's not always the best fit ever), but it has an internal hub and a chain cover. An internal hub and a chain cover, but no fenders? I keep seeing utility bikes that have fenders, racks and lights, but no chain cover nor internal hub, and this bike has the reverse? Well, uh, it so happens that this is the exact set of things that you can't add, so I guess that's cool? I tried it out around a few blocks, and while it's not nearly an upright riding position, it's still surprisingly relaxed. It also comes with clipless pedals and clip-on platforms like those I already have?!? What a weird bike!

After that, I went to ABC Cycles & Sports, but it was closed (only on Wednesdays, argh!). I stopped by Brakeless, since it was just down from it, but they only had the one fixie, it seems more trendy than a place I'd actually want to get a bike from. I then headed over to Le Yéti, where I had a rather informative chat, and saw a ridiculously fancy German bike (I think? don't remember the make/model), which, while complying with pretty much all my requirements, and piling on disc brakes on top (because I really like brakes that work well), is also almost three grands, although it's now on sale at a bit past two grands. Uh, tempting as it is, I'll have to pass.

After that, La Bicycletterie JR, Sport Dépôt, and Pignon sur Roues. The latter had an interesting bike, the Louis Garneau Cityzen One, but is oddly missing just a chain cover (even though a blurb about the bike in Vélo Mag claims there's one?). Why is there almost no bike with chain covers?

I ended up going back to Sport Dépôt, and after some pondering, getting a Marin Belvedere. I had already spotted that bike from some research on the web, and while I knew they had Marin bikes there, turns out they pretty much only had this one, 20% off, so it was a happy coincidence. But... Their mechanic was off today, so they couldn't prep the bike, so I did not ride to work, once more.

Tomorrow, I shall ride home on my new ride! There's no stopping me! They may try, and Jeff might try to jinx me (I beat his Space Invaders high score to ward it off), but I'll be riding back tomorrow, rain or shine, and there'll be no stripe down my back if it's raining!
pphaneuf: (Enlightened)
Damn! I wanted to see Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, coming to the Metropolis in October, but it's sold out! Oh well, I'll be trying to go to more small shows, I think. It's been too long I have been to La Sala Rossa, for example, and places like Zoobizarre merit being visited again. Oh, and going to see Miss Kittin & The Hacker on the 27th at SAT! Awesome!

All those shows, I'd like to bike to them, but I've been finding my quest for fenders to put on my bike rather frustrating. It's a weird bike, rather easy to ride with its straight handlebars, but the rest is done in a racing style. Which means that there's basically no clearance anywhere between the tires, the frame, the fork, and the brakes, not a lug in sight for anything (well, except water bottles), and so on...

I'm also pondering a winter bike, as I'd like to try (to some degree, I always have my CAM in my bag!) to ride for at least part of the winter. I'm pondering what to do, as there are many parameters...

I'd like to have a city bike, that would fill in the role a car does for most people. It would have to be practical, something I'd be able to ride day in and day out. It shouldn't be a hassle to ride all the time. I do not want to be hardcore. I'd like to just dress normally, as if I had a car, and arrive maybe a bit rained on at best, as if I was parked a bit far, but not drenched, and no wet line along my back! It could be aluminium, to keep the weight (and the rust) down, but it wouldn't try to be super-light. I think an internal hub might be good, to minimize maintenance as much as possible. Chain cover, to protect my pants. Everything bolted on, so that locking it is easy and quick. Lights, possibly with a generator (but it shouldn't be awful like those against-the-wheel generators).

One of the problems I'm having in this quest is that most bikes fulfilling these criteria (that I can find here) tend to go for a vintage look and have some of the features I listed only because most bikes in the fifties had them, not because they're sensible bikes. One bike having all those items also had things like a seat with big springs (heavy if it useful, sure, but those are heavy and useless!), and a back wheel cover (so that my longcoat doesn't get stuck in the spokes). Stylish, yes, but practical? I live just at the foot of the hill between René-Levesque and St-Antoine, if my first experience when I take out the bike is consistently having this feeling that I'm going to die, well, uh, I don't think that'll be encouraging!

Batavus seems to have some interesting models, and while I haven't seen much of them in Montreal, they have a Canadian site, and there are some resellers in Montreal (I've been there before, but I don't remember seeing them, I guess they can order them, in the worst case). Some details are a bit off still, like the integrated horseshoe locks, which are pretty nice, but require replacing all the inhabitants of Montreal with Danish people first, so it's a bit impractical.

Another thing that's causing me some grief is the parking space. I don't think I want to give up my fast FCR for this hypothetical new bike, you see? On nice days, I don't see why I would deprive myself from the fun of zipping down Ste-Catherine at almost 40 kph! But at the moment, my spot in the basement is just big enough for one bike, maybe two if I could hang then (but it's a temporary setup, and I can't). And maybe I'll be wanting a crappier bike for the winter. And after trying out phython's fixie, I'm still longing for one myself (soooo smooooth!). Where am I going to put all of this bikery? I have my eyes on the mezzanine at home, but it's not very practical, so it might be good to put the winter bike in the summer and vice-versa, but getting stuff up and down there is rather annoying.

Ah, what to do, what to do...


I think I'll deal with the winter first, and get myself one of those cheap-ish Marin hybrid/commuter bikes...
pphaneuf: (Shades)
So last Saturday, we embarked on a bit of painting. You see, the paint in our apartment is some sort of "priming basic paint", which isn't totally awful to look at (unlike primer), but isn't quite awesome either, it's prime quality being that it's easy to paint over. After we recently discovered that this quality also made it a fairly hospitable surface for mold, we decided we'd paint the bathrooms with a more appropriate type of paint. While we were there, we also wanted to paint some of the doors a darker shade, a bit like the cupboards.

Unfortunately, after sleeping at [livejournal.com profile] azrhey's parents and going to [livejournal.com profile] liberation_now and [livejournal.com profile] tygrbabe's brunchwarming (where several attempts to make us explode with delicious food were made!), we came back and saw that there was actually a number of screw-ups we hadn't noticed the day before that piled up to make it downright disastrous.

So there has been episodes of peeling off misapplied paint, sanding down some defects, putting in some spackle in places, and repainting some insufficiently covered areas. The bathrooms are more or less back under control, although the doors still need work.

That's combined with finally getting the delivery (albeit a bit later, and taking longer than expected) of the custom wall unit we had ordered a while back for the living room. It's very nice, although it has some of the warts of a one-off, such has just about zero cable routing and the very stylish smoked glass door apparently messing with the PVR's remote control. There was a small mistake in the design, but we actually like it better than what we wanted originally, so there (we'll be able to have a small bar in it!). Still, a fine piece of furniture. Now we just need to get more DVDs to stuff in its gigantic drawers!

It seems like I'm the worst bike mechanic in the world. For a few days now, I was hearing a bit of a metallic noise when I was going over potholes and cracks in the pavement, as if a screw was loose and a washer was bouncing around on it. I tried to locate the origin of the sound, grabbing my cables, derailleurs, and various other mechanical parts, all the while going along Notre-Dame (not the safest plan, by the way). No luck. So I stopped by Belleville Cycle Co-op on the way to work, worried that this might lead eventually to something more serious, like a broken chain or whatnot, and the guy there put me to shame. One of the unused bottle cage screws was loose, and the spacing washer was bouncing around on it. Duh! I swear I checked those guys, but there's four of them, and I as I was doing that while riding, I guess I skipped the culprit... Argh.

[livejournal.com profile] azrhey and I took a small break today to go to the Akoha, uh, thing. We've both left wondering a bit about where the money is going to be coming from (but you have to admit that you get to wonder about that for most of what you see on the Internet, and yet, it's there!), but it's a pretty cool and generally positive idea. I'll try to do well as a tester. :-)

Coming back from there, I saw a pretty sweet bike locked on St-Laurent, a Specialized Langster Seattle. I guess that for a fixie, getting it all done like that is kind of cheating, and I'm not entirely sure of what I want yet in a fixie anyway, but it looks damned nice (the Chicago colour is very nice, but the Seattle handlebars are more to my liking). The Seattle one has a coffee cup holder? Uh, anyway...
pphaneuf: (Shy)
Went to the Montreal Pride Parade last Sunday, which wasn't all that much to speak of, this year, in my opinion. There were some good floats, but they were few and far between, and there's a lot of ads, it seems. Some of them have a decent float, like that bank one, but some were so utterly boring and out of place, it was stunning. There was a juice ad, and really, there's no other way to call it, that was just one of those trucks with ads on the sides. That's it. Nobody walking along with it giving out samples or flyers, or even just waving, and, you know, being alive. Nope, just a guy driving a truck with big signs on the side. Nice. Thankfully, the company was much nicer, and [livejournal.com profile] liberation_now led us through some very nice alleys, good to know!

I also found out that my awesome new mini U-lock is only bare millimetres too small for those parking markers that replaced parking meters. The problem seems to be that plastic covering. Argh. But I think this is still vastly good in its lightweightness and ability to fit easily in my mini-messenger bag (or my jeans back pocket, in a pinch). It works just fine with "no parking" signposts, and there's no shortage of those around Montreal. ;-)

The after-parade barbecue at [livejournal.com profile] archdiva was much more fun than the parade itself, in fact. Met some fun people from as far as England, and apparently managed to have a conversation about where Ubuntu is going these days. The latter doesn't sound very surprising for me, but considering the locale, it was rather unexpected. There was burgers, and as per [livejournal.com profile] archdiva's requirement, big fat sausages.

I spent most of Monday cursing at the sky for being so sunny when I had left my bike home because of severe rainstorm warnings, but no worries, I got the rainstorm all right by the end of the day, just as I had to walk home with a heavy piece of hardware. How convenient!

But the weather was good yesterday (even took some detours, blazing down University and taking in the view along the Lachine Canal), and it looks very promising today as well!
pphaneuf: (Default)

Tour de Fat
Originally uploaded by Pierre Phaneuf.
After my recent trip to San Francisco, which included attending Tour de Fat (I won't say "participate", because neither [livejournal.com profile] morethanreal or I could wake up early enough for the ride proper), I've been re-energized about cycling. Going up the Wiggle in the middle of a foggy night, and still having other people riding the same route, seeing all of those fixies and also the pretty city bikes, it's quite the sight.

So when I came back, I decided to reconfigure my bike slightly, to make it more practical. I got safety skewers to replace the quick-release ones, so that I wouldn't have to disassemble my bike anymore, got myself a mini U-lock that is just enough, small enough to easily fit in my bag, and lighter than my big one. I want to get fenders, but apparently, that's rather tricky for my bike. In any case, the point is that I want to remove any friction to my bike being a day-to-day vehicle. And I think it's going well.

I did get a flat by accidentally riding on broken glass on Ste-Catherine Friday, which I got fixed at Belleville Cycle Co-op, and after getting that fixed, I figured that I'd go check out Revolution Montréal. On my way there, on Maisonneuve at the corner of Aylmer, a mother and her daughter were crossing on a red, not paying attention to either cars nor bikes, while I was going on a streak of green lights at 40 kph. I braked hard enough that my rear brake cable snapped (I think it was iffy already), after having left a good deal of rubber on the pavement already. Stopping about six inches from the daughter, the only casualties were thankfully only my right ring finger and the cable, of course.

I should get myself a cycling icon... :-)

And, finally but not least, we celebrated [livejournal.com profile] ayria's birthday and triumphant return to Montreal! It was quite fun, although it is weird observing my own behaviour. I seem to be much less expressive about my feelings (not just with [livejournal.com profile] ayria, but in general) than I used to be. I think I might have said this before, but being away for a while seems to have hardened me in a way that I don't really like. Maybe I was too expressive before, I don't know, but this is certainly too much the other way. In any case, I did enjoy myself a great deal, even if someone's definition of "footsie" seems to be "stomping on my toes vigorously"!
pphaneuf: (Enlightened)
So I went for a weekend in San Francisco... I was planning on that already, so I had packed a light raincoat and a few long-sleeved shirts, so I wouldn't look like a tourist, but as it turned out, I forgot them in Mountain View and looked like a tourist anyway! After obtaining a lender bike for the weekend (thanks Noé!) and deciding to leave my laptop at the office so I could travel light, I hopped on the Google shuttle and managed to get the wireless Internet they have onboard working on my iPod touch. This was already kind of cool, but I was totally amazed when I thought I would consult the map and I pressed the "go to my location" button, just for the heck of it, and it actually got it! I was then further amazed at how it seemed to do a kind of pseudo-tracking, updating my position every ten seconds or so... So I didn't feel quite as lost as I did the last time.

After getting together with [livejournal.com profile] morethanreal, dropping off my stuff at her place and inflating the bike's tires (I quickly found out that the brakes were not working well at all either, which was a bit worrying, considering how hilly San Francisco is!), we headed to some show she had heard was recommended that night. It was in a small but pretty cool art gallery, where they had a good number (maybe a hundred or so?) of speakers embedded in wooden sculptures, hanging by wires from the ceiling. The curator later told us that this is an art installation and that they are actually operational, seemed like this could be pretty cool in itself, but as it turns out, the main attraction of the night was a DJ. He was pretty competent, I have to say, and enjoyed his set, despite the fact that we had just missed a part of his performance where he donned a dinosaur suit and hugged everyone in the audience, I was a bit disappointed having missed that! It's funny how people recognize my accent, including in particular the bartender, whom I was asking for a beer. He pointed me at the menu with just two beers available (this was a temporary setup), and I told him that, well, I had no idea what either of those were. So he apologized quickly, asked me if I knew about Unibroue, to which I responded in the affirmative, and he then told me that I would find the first one horrible, and that the other one, well, wasn't nearly as good as Unibroue, but would probably not offend me too much. Heh!

After getting back to [livejournal.com profile] morethanreal's place, there was some inevitable discussion about music, of course, and I introduced her to the new Apple Remote application for her iPhone. She fell in love at first sight, it would seem, she even moved her iPhone dock to put it beside her bed! We were pretty tired, but she had put on Black Eyes's eponymous album, and it is quite good, we just had to finish it before going to sleep.


Tour de Fat
Originally uploaded by Pierre Phaneuf.
The next day, I wasn't feeling too sore from sleeping her couch, which was good, because we were heading out to Tour de Fat! There was a brief stop for chocolatines and cappuccinos, of course, it wouldn't have been civilized otherwise. There were crazy bikes, crazy bands, and crazy beer! Much fun was had, including bouncing around with (very) limited success on a pogo-stick. I then accompanied [livejournal.com profile] morethanreal to a tattooing session (hers, not mine!), which was pretty cool, including a pretty classic Californian laid back surfer artist. I then headed back with her to pick up my stuff, had some (spicy!) burrito on 16th, then headed to [livejournal.com profile] jbdeboer's place, where I elected to stay that night (thanks, by the way!). That place is up. Very, very up. Like, on top. Yowzer. I had some idea of taking a cab from there to the DNA Lounge, but I was too wiped and gave up (fail!).

On the upside of being at the top is the good view (hmm, there's the view to Lafayette Park, which can be interesting according to the "near here" feature of some random iPod Flickr app!), although it was a bit cloudy. Biking down Gough was mental, though! I realized at some point that with the intersections being flat, that I couldn't see past them! All of that while going upward of 40 kph, of course. That led me eventually to a nice breakfast at Cafe Petra, since there was too many people at Ritual (and I don't think they have food either). I biked around the Mission, dropped by Good Vibrations (got myself a book), then back up around Market and Stockton, where I resisted the siren call of the Apple Store. I managed to get some excellent coffee at Bluebottle Coffee, once more, and then eventually got lost in the Tenderloin without realizing it, while I was taking photos. It was very sketchy, especially with my big SLR camera hanging from my neck.

Monday, the excitement level was much lower as I went to Barefoot Coffee Roasters with a team-mate who is a fan of good coffee. It is also very good, although I preferred Bluebottle's. As it is customary in Mountain View, we were back home before 10pm.

The next day, we went for dinner on Castro (in Mountain View) at an Italian restaurant with a very colourful owner, who seems to be a big George Michael fan. Excellent service, though, setting up a table just for us (my other team-mates are known there, it would seem), and of course, singing at the table by the owner. There was some ice cream after, and some of us were rebellious and went home past 11pm!

Now, I'm about to be taken out to In-N-Out, which I'm told I just have to go to. Sounds questionable, but hey, I've done worse.
pphaneuf: (I Like Beer)
So I went for a ride last Sunday with [livejournal.com profile] cpirate and [livejournal.com profile] dfcarney. I'm not sure fate didn't really want me too, with a series of bad lucks that culminating with the aluminium sole of one of my biking shoes to let go. But it was fun, ice cream was had, and it all ended up on the roof terrasse with a beer. :-)

Monday, as it was my birthday, the lady [livejournal.com profile] azrhey took me out to PortusCalle, which was quite nice! There was some white Port, some rosé, fine food, lovely fondant au chocolat, and, of course, a nice espresso. We then headed down to the Katacombes for a few drinks with [livejournal.com profile] liberation_now and [livejournal.com profile] tygrbabe.

Wednesday, [livejournal.com profile] azrhey, [livejournal.com profile] slajoie and I went to play some pools at iStori, followed by a demonstration of my awfulness at Rock Band. At least, I didn't sing, or else we'd have been in trouble with the police, I think.

Yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] slajoie and [livejournal.com profile] fuzzyila joined me to attend Nista and The Human Kind, at Zoobizarre, which is a pretty cool venue (it's kind of weird, a stone cellar on a second floor?!?). The bands were pretty good, I think, worth getting the CDs for, although Nista doesn't have a CD at the moment. There were a few of my co-workers (and their friends) there, as Nista's guitarist is also a Montreal Googler. There was a song about angst at the supermarket, allegedly inspired by the Super-C near my place, heh!

Tonight, the grand celebration for my birthday! There's a number of people who have been making special efforts in order to be there, so I'm quite flattered! It should be awesome. :-)
pphaneuf: (Enlightened)
We moved into our new office this week (photos courtesy of MAD, thanks!), and it's pretty damned awesome! Considering the small size of the office (in number of people), it is extremely nice, the food is great, and so is the view (we had a nice view from the 24th floor, but now we're more "in the action", I like that better). Plus, we can easily reach the wifi from the pub nearby, hehe!

While the move was ongoing, we had an off-site activity on Île-Ste-Hélène that was pretty cool, involving, among other things, geo-caching, which I had never done before and is a lot of fun. It can be surprisingly difficult to find a small item, even when given the location within 10 feet! I bike there from home, and it was particularly nice, hitting 40 kph for fairly long stretches and all. On the return trip I was pretty confident that I'd get to the dinner's location first, but when I found out that the likely reason for my swift arrival was a wicked strong headwind, I wasn't so confident anymore. I did arrive first anyway, but I'm told they took a brief detour in a sketchy St-Henri bar first. Crazy people!

Today, we also obtained a vacuum cleaner at home. You're probably thinking that this doesn't really sound all that exciting, and normally, I'd agree with you, but that was before I met the Dyson DC20. As far as box-opening experience goes, relatively speaking (let's face it, it's still just a vacuum cleaner), they're taking lessons from Apple, it looks like. One of the selling points is how it can fit into a small space, and when I got the box, I was a bit worried that it'd be missing, you know, maybe the whole thing?!? But no, it was all in there, and even when assembled, it packs into almost no space, and is very cleverly engineered.

Tomorrow, a rather late in the making haircut.
pphaneuf: (Tongue)
I talked about how the weather was great for biking recently in my previous post, when I left the office, it started raining hard, and it stopped just as I arrived home.

A sign? At least, it's not too cold...
pphaneuf: (I Like Beer)
Uh, there was a traffic jam on my small street today when I left for work?!? Complete with no less than two city buses, trying to work around the cranes and other construction equipment currently cluttering the street... Weird.

Oh, man, I've been meaning to post for exactly two weeks, yet didn't. I did this thing where I thought about hypothetical posts that I'd be writing while on the metro and biking, then forgot to actually post it.

It helps that there has been a fair deal of biking going on, beginning with what I called the Weekend of Doomed Awesomeness for a bit (if only in my head). This started by going to Mutek's Nocturne 3 with [livejournal.com profile] tygrbabe on the Friday. Then, went to the Mondial de la bière with [livejournal.com profile] azrhey in the afternoon, after which [livejournal.com profile] tygrbabe joined us to go to Mutek's Nocturne 4. How to follow this best? Sunday, I showed up at [livejournal.com profile] cpirate's place almost in time (9am-ish, after going to bed at 5am!) for, you know, a little Tour de l'Île (with [livejournal.com profile] scjody as well), after which we stopped for well-deserved poutine at La Banquise (and a coffee, so I could stay conscious). Then (the same day!), [livejournal.com profile] azrhey and I met with [livejournal.com profile] rezendi for a quick pint before catching Le Salaire de la peur at Cinéma du Parc. In case I might have survived, [livejournal.com profile] tygrbabe invited me to see She Wants Revenge for my birthday (got me brownies too, woot!), on the Monday evening (we were joined by [livejournal.com profile] fuzzyilla too, ahoy!).

While I thought Nocturne 3 was quite excellent (Millimetrik and Modeselektor were awesome, Kid Koala very good, although I've seen better sets from him, and the other bands were quite fun too), Nocturne 4 let me a little bit down. Most of the bands didn't "click" with me much, and the whole programme was running late, which combined with the act I wanted to see most (Deadbeat, was excellent!) played last, made for leaving the place extremely late. Still, it was nice too, I just wish I could have slept in the next day!

I'll have to agree with [livejournal.com profile] tygrbabe, She Wants Revenge was good, but they'd have to put out a killer album for me to go to their next show. Some of their opening bands were really wacky and not all that good either, including a "punk" band that sounded like Avril Lavigne on speed.

So after that, I, uh, didn't do much for the two last weeks, as you might have guessed. I did bike to work a lot (for which there was tremendously good weather!), played with my own early birthday gift to myself (a new top-end 24" iMac, Core 2 Duo 3.06 GHz and GeForce 8800 GS, smokin'!) and coded (mostly on Quadra, more than 20 commits just this weekend!). There was a visit from [livejournal.com profile] musicdieu and [livejournal.com profile] cpirate, watching of Euro Cup games, and Munchkins.

[livejournal.com profile] azrhey and I went out on the city last Saturday, was quite nice, and I got myself a nice watch (Danish design and titanium? sign me up!). We ended up going to the cinema and watching You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Yes, I know, I know, but it's actually pretty funny, mostly due to the weird cultural references (fizzy bubbles and hummus, baby!), and was saved because I have a small idea of what's going on in that culture, and would probably have been even funnier if I was actually part of it. I don't really expect it to do well, although there's a fair share of stuff that a lot of North American would find funny (silly fight scenes, sexual jokes), but I laughed really hard at the hacky sack, fish and hummus jokes, myself.

On a closing note, I've had a weird email recently from OkCupid (which I do find entertaining, for various reasons). I often get the "come back to our site so you can see and click ads" emails, but this one was different, telling me that there was one particular user I should message where there was some sort of category 5 crazy outlier match. Apparently, the love of my life is in New York state, which is too bad, because I'm not, ha! It then showed the usual "you might be interested in those people" bunch of people, but as opposed to the usual, this morning it was a bunch of my friends, so, well, I guess it sorts of works? I do like my friends, they're nice and everything. :-P
pphaneuf: (Default)
It was extremely brief, and you had to pay very close attention, but the sugar season's passed now, and thankfully, [livejournal.com profile] azrhey and I managed to catch some sugar shack action, thanks to my dad inviting us over to his annual thing (which went better than the last time, as I wasn't dying this time!). It was what, [livejournal.com profile] azrhey's third time in a sugar shack in her life? How do they manage over there? ;-)

I went for a lightning trip to New York City, where I thought it'd be a good idea to get a room at the Hotel Chelsea, since, you know, the office is in Chelsea, that'd be convenient, no? I did listen to punk music, but I don't remember stabbing anyone. I didn't write a novel either, but I did write a small piece of code, related to my most recent ranting, where my hack gets similar latency on event handling as busy waiting on the event queue, while using less CPU (and much lower latency, by multiple frames!) than SDL's built-in SDL_WaitEvent.

This last item results in myself restraining myself very hard from going off and making a high-performance game library. Add it to the list of things I could do very well, but that I shouldn't be doing because it's useless. Argh.

[livejournal.com profile] azrhey and I went to see Iron Man, which was pretty damned good, I think. I think that it was a good introduction, although the battle at the end was a bit contrived and short on time. I think Justin Hammer might have been a better choice, with multiple supporting bad guys, but Iron Monger does make for big badaboom. I liked the hints at War Machine, and the small (in that movie, at least) involvement of S.H.I.E.L.D..

I'm now about to register for the Bike Fest, which inconveniently overlaps with MUTEK. The day ride doesn't pose a problem, but I really like the night ride, and that will obviously mean that I'll be missing out on something else... We'll see.

Old Fogeys

Apr. 25th, 2008 12:21 pm
pphaneuf: (Default)
I've become a member of Communauto last week, and combined with getting my bike back, means that I'm at what is going to be my peak mobility for the next little while.

Used Communauto a couple of days later to go to a Quadra hackfest at Rémi's, with [livejournal.com profile] slajoie as well. I've had a surge of interest in Quadra, but it is a delicate thing to do: we need to release a new stable version before we can hack on the "next generation" version, and while we're getting very close now, there is definitely a momentum thing that can be lost just too easily. And now the kind of things left are packaging related, which isn't the most exciting (so help us out, [livejournal.com profile] dgryski!). We've got interesting ideas for future development, but we can't really do any of this for now, since it would make merging from the stable release very annoying (and it already isn't too wonderful at times)...

Getting my bike back meant going to work on bike, and that is ridiculously quick, on the order of six to seven minutes. That's faster than the metro, by a lot (that's only a bit more than the average waiting time, and I don't have to walk to Lionel-Groulx). In my opinion, that's not even good exercise, I hardly have time to break a sweat even if I go fast, so I might end up taking detours on good days (the Lachine Canal bike path is nearby).

Related to Quadra, I've been looking at SDL (which the next version of Quadra uses instead of its internal platform) and SDL_net. It's funny how game developers are so conservative sometimes! I don't know much about 3D games, but in 2D, people seem to develop more or less like they did on DOS more than 10 years ago, which was very limited back then, due to DOS not having much of a driver model. Because of that, since anything more than page flipping and waiting for the vertical retrace (using polling PIO, of course) is specific to every video chipset. A game wanting to use accelerated blits had to basically have its own internal driver model, and when a card was not supported, either the game would look bad (because it would use a software fallback), or would not work at all. In light of that, most games just assumed a basic VGA card (the "Super" part is made of vendor-specific extensions), using 320x200 in 256 colors (like Doom), or 640x480 in 16 colors (ever used Windows' "safe mode"?), with maybe a few extra extensions that were extremely common and mostly the same.

Then, DirectX appeared and all the fancy accelerations became available to games (window systems like X11 and Windows had their own driver model, but could afford to, being bigger projects than most games, and were pretty much the sole users of the accelerations, so they existed). What happened? Game developers kept going pretty much the same way. Some tests by Rémi back then found that using the video memory to video memory color key accelerated blits (with DirectDraw), getting hundreds of frames per second, where the software equivalent could barely pull thirty frames per second on the same machine. About an order of magnitude faster! You'd think game developers would be all over this, but no, they weren't. They were set in their ways, had their own libraries that did it the crappy way, and didn't bother, overall. The biggest user of 2D color keyed blitting is probably something like the Windows desktop icons.

Then, 3D acceleration appeared, and they just didn't have the choice. The thing is, this hardware still isn't completely pervasive, and especially for the target audience of a game like Quadra, who like nice little games and won't have big nVidia monsters in their machines, so using the 3D hardware for that kind of game would leave them in the dust. Nowadays, DirectDraw has been obsoleted and is now a compatibility wrapper on top of Direct3D, so oddly enough, we're back to 2D games having to avoid the acceleration.

Thankfully, in the meantime, the main CPUs and memory became much faster, so you can do pretty cool stuff all in software, but it's kind of a shame, I see all of this CPU being wasted. Think about it: Quadra pulls in at about 70% CPU usage on my 1.5 GHz laptop, so one could think it would "need" about 1 GHz to run adequately, right? Except it worked at just about full frame rate (its engine is bound at 100 frames per second) on my old 100 MHz 486DX! Something weird happened in between...

Game developers seem to be used to blocking APIs and polling so much, it spills over in SDL_net, which uses its sockets in blocking mode, and where one could easily lock up a server remotely by doing something silly like hooking up a debugger to one of the client and pausing it. Maybe unplugging the Ethernet cable would do it too, for a minute or two, until the connection timed out. How awful...
pphaneuf: (Default)

We're at the right place
Originally uploaded by Pierre Phaneuf.
After a smooth flight, [livejournal.com profile] azrhey and I arrived in Copenhagen Wednesday evening, greeted by [livejournal.com profile] skjalm, who's kindly keeping us safe from the elements, even kicking himself out of his own bed! Not to mention use and abuse of his Internet, booze, food, and what-not! He made us a very nice dinner of home-made lasagna, accompanied with some of the tasty mead that he's made himself. And a solid eggs and bacon breakfast the next morning.

Read more... )

Photos from that trip can be found here.
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Ah, catching up! On the 5th, I went to a show, Razorlight (with The Tatianas). There was a strange event, where a girl from Toulouse found out I was going to that show through last.fm, and asked me to go with her, but she ended up sick and unable to go anyway. This would have been the closest to an Internet date I would have been, which is pretty weird, particularly as it was completely out of the blue for me.

The show itself was fun, but left me unconvinced of buying their album. There's a bit between Franz Ferdinand and The Hives, and they had some pretty good songs, but others were rather weak. But they were still entertaining (with the singer climbing to the mezzanine via the stacks of speakers at one point, for example), though, and I had a good time. I only caught the last part of The Tatianas, and in a way, they were better, catchier songs, but they were not really my style.

Going there and back was an adventure in itself, actually. I was initially hesitating to go, because it's about 7-8 kilometres away, and I had to bike there in the dark, on the bike path along the Canal du Midi. It went okay on the way there, despite missing a small bridge that would have kept me on pavement rather than hard-pack (which isn't too bad, but remember I'm on a road bike, for all intents and purpose!). When I came out of the show, though, it was raining. Not too hard, but 7-8 kilometres later, I was pretty completely drenched. Biking in the dark on a narrow bike bike right next to water (no handrails there!) when it's raining and slightly slippery, it's good for your heart. ;-)

On the 9th, [livejournal.com profile] azrhey and I went to the Toulouse Carnets, a gathering of Toulouse bloggers, and had much fun. There was pondering of going to a bar downtown after, but we decided on going to the Dubliner, the other Irish pub close by our place. The place turns out to be super-friendly, reminding me a bit of the Mad Hatter back in Montreal. There was a bunch of people, probably students, where the guys were cross-dressing, in that "ha-ha, I'm dressed like a girl" way, and seemed to be enjoying themselves a great deal (I got several offers for sex!). At some point, two girls arrived, seemingly the only ones also cross-dressing, but they didn't go at it the "ha-ha" way. They had quite nice suits, one of them especially tack-sharp (in that cross-dressing 1920's pimp kind of way). I'd say something about how I like butch girls (not that this generally works out, ha!), but [livejournal.com profile] azrhey would quickly correct me and say that I like girls with a pulse. Heh.

On the 14th, I took [livejournal.com profile] azrhey out for BURGER. Except it was crappy Quick burger, which is a kind of Belgian McDonald. I kept seeing them and wondering about them, maybe they were something that could be like a Arby's to me, but no, turns out it's just awful. Seems like it's really hard to get decent, tasty burgers around here, say, like we had at the Old Dublin or something...

Last Wednesday, we went to see Taxi 4, along with [livejournal.com profile] muadda. That was pretty funny, as far as the Taxi movies go. It featured the marina of Monaco, where I expressed the idea of, one day, going in a rowboat. That would be awesome. :-)

And finally, last Sunday we had two co-workers over to introduce them to the spirit of Montréal, through watching Bon Cop, Bad Cop, followed by a dinner laid out by [livejournal.com profile] azrhey. There was salmon with olives on it and stuff, so you can guess that I didn't have much to do with the food!
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I went to see Nouvelle Vague (with Mansfield Tya as the opening act) last Wednesday, in Tournefeuille.

In traditional [livejournal.com profile] pphaneuf style, I had barely any plan on how I'd get there or back. I biked from work to there, and figured I'd have dinner there. Turns out Tournefeuille is confusingly small village, with nary a café or small restaurant. I managed to get a sandwich from a bakery. After this happened for the second time in two shows, I'm now getting the message: the hour listed on tickets here is not the time the show starts, but the time doors open. They, of course, start the show whenever they feel like it, in classic French style.

The show was pretty damned good, including the opening act, which kicked some vigourous dike ass (seriously, when one of the three girls in front of me turned around to the other two and made a "OMG, she's so hot!", I literally laughed out loud, it was so cute!). They did a duo "chanson française" type of show, with one of them singing, playing guitars, piano, portable organ (!!!) and drums, and the other playing violin, piano and the portable organ. They had some wonderful stage presence, with the singer coming right at the front of the stage and singing without the microphone, still managing to be heard well. I'd certainly look forward to picking up a CD from them.

Since I'm silly like that, I own Nouvelle Vague's newest album, "Bande à part", but still haven't opened it. So I had surprises at the show, which is nice, when they're good surprises. And they were! For example, their take of Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead", with appropriate scene theatrical, of course. But I'm afraid Nouvelle Vague might be a once, and maybe twice kind of thing, not an ongoing thing. In that sense, the opening act did a better job of seducing me, getting me to think about what else they have done, having a future. Oh well. I had a good time, that's what counts.

I returned home thanks to bumming a ride with a guy I chatted with at the show, leaving my bike in Tournefeuille. I was a bit worried for a while, but was relieved to find my bike still there and in one piece on Friday, when I returned to pick it up (I attempted on Thursday, but failed due to the lateness and darkness).

In other news, we received the visit of Pat this week (our first guest!), as he was in Toulouse for some business. We went to the Qjelt, chatted, drank szarlotka (was the first time I tried that, it's quite nice!), walked around Toulouse, visited a museum (where there were pieces from the Romans living in Toulouse two thousand years ago), took nice photos, and other such things.

I hear the couch is decently comfortable. I might just try it tonight.
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Was supposed to do a bunch of things outside the apartment last weekend, ended up staying home the whole time. Oh well. I did manage to do some of the computer related cleaning up I was meaning to do, and finished watching Babylon 5.

I cut back on biking a good deal recently, for no particularly good reason beside "it rains often" (but not nearly "always"), and I didn't get to do any fast riding since I got myself a bike computer. So I went to go out for a ride yesterday, after dinner.

I stopped for some a bit of hacking in a café. This time, it was in Europe and I do have the hip Powerbook, but I wasn't dressed to kill, went inside rather than the terrasse (kind of chill in the evening), didn't have my own music (but the café's music was decent) and there was a bus station in front. Well, I'm getting there!

Then, I proceeded to get lost, after leaving from the café.

When I recovered my bearings, as I was crossing the Place du Capitole, I heard a solid Québec accent as I biked past some people. I just turned around and said "hey" to the two girls . Clearly out of character for me, I must be going nuts or something. They had landed the day before and are planning to bike across Europe, more or less, pretty cool. I even got invited out for drinks, which I found rather flattering, but had to turn down, being rather late with all of my being lost, work the next day and everything...

Seems like that bike is pretty damned awesome. I'd say that for a given effort, I can go about 20-25% faster than with my old bike, and I didn't even put in the clipless pedals yet! 25 kph is effortless, and I clocked in a hair under 50 kph on a flat straightline on my way to work (where I try not to sweat too much). It's pretty sweet. :-)
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Took a sick day today, for the silliest of reasons. Monday, I really didn't feel like lugging myself to work, but today, I was doing all right, other than a sore throat. Walking out the door, it started raining a little. Nothing serious, just a little pleasant rain, and I hopped on the bus quickly anyway.

You see, the bus system in my area is pretty simple. I go the Grande Rue St-Michel, there's a bus stop, and all of the buses stopping there go to the train station. Simple enough, right? It soon started to pour, and quickly after, the bus took an unexpected turn. Seems this bus was temporarily redirected. I figured I'd get off at the next stop, and walk to the station, but it just kept going for a good while first, to join its normal route.

I quickly got lost, running around in the pouring rain, trying to find my way to the train station. I managed to find the train tracks in time to see my train pass by. Ugh. After finding another bus headed in a more convenient direction (AKA "somewhere I've been before"), I decided that maybe I'd better cut my losses and go home, instead of going in the freezer they call my office (although it did get better).

To think I was actually looking forward to work today, and would have rather stayed in bed yesterday... Ugh. Well, I get to write about a few recent things, I suppose.

Thursday, I went to the QJeLT of Toulibre. I'm trying to reverse-engineer how I went from knowing nearly no one when I arrived in Montréal, to see what I could be doing now. I guess starting meeting people from one field of interest and jumping around to other subjects is one way.

Friday, I went to see Matmos, as part of the Printemps de Septembre. As [livejournal.com profile] azrhey wasn't feeling too well, I hooked up with one of my co-workers. I took some photos. Some interesting conversation too, although it was a bit one-sided (on my side). I blabbered a lot. ;-)

[livejournal.com profile] azrhey's bike had a slow leak on her rear tire, so Saturday we headed out to have it fixed. We each bought bike computers, while we were there, decently priced German little things. I got myself a small rear-view mirror, so I can check my six when I'm doing my thing in the streets of Toulouse. Then, we biked back, stopping at the fair for a ferris wheel ride. I took some more photos, once more.

Sunday, we rode our bikes along the Canal du Midi, tasted the wonders of Quick's sundaes, then watched The Devil Wears Prada.

It's been four weeks since I ordered in the battery for my laptop, and they said "four to six weeks". Where's my battery now? WHERE IS IT?

Fall?

Sep. 22nd, 2006 10:27 am
pphaneuf: (Default)
It's odd how the climate difference surprised me in a way this morning. I woke up, and it was almost dark outside. But it's also still warm. The oceanic climate makes for a more uniform weather than in Montreal, but the reality is inescapable, the days are getting shorter: it's fall.

Didn't take my bike to work for the first time since we moved into our apartment, taking the bus to the train station instead. It's a gloomy, overcast day, with light rain, definitely gives a "fall" kind of vibe. Took my camera and decided to take some photos, I'll be putting some up.

I'm getting rather annoyed at my lack of non-exploding battery for my laptop, as it would be perfect to read my mail and feeds, update my journal and such. I read instead, but I'm in a moment where I'm full of ideas, theories and plans, and I want to try them out, talk about them, discuss them. I will probably mention some of them very soon, actually.

In other news, some stuff is just horribly bad. I really wonder how an entity manages to pull that off. It's a wonderful world indeed, just not always the way Louis Armstrong meant it.

February 2016

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