Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Orkut lawsuit

I saw this news item: Lawsuit: Google Stole Orkut Code. In summary, Affinity Engines is claiming the Orkut (the engineer responsible for the social networking service that bears his name) stole or re-used source code in the product he created for Google.

I found this interesting for several reasons; one is that I'm an Orkut member.

I'm also on Friendster, but I never really did anything with that beyond barely filling out my profile. I don't remember discussion boards on Friendster, so there wasn't very much to do. Actually, I just now logged into Friendster to double check, after going through the "what was my username again? And what was my password?" gyration. Friendster looks very different that what I remember - now the page has a small section of sponsored links (i.e. ads) around the page. Other than page layout, everything is the same... just profiles connected through friend networks.

But Orkut does have message boards (called communities), which are interesting enough to draw me back to the site. Topics covered include... everything. Essentially there is something to do on Orkut besides look at other people's profiles, and that is post or read in the communities. I find both profiles and communities complement each other nicely: you can read somebody's posts and get a sense of what they think or what they are like, and then also read their profile. Orkut has similar friend networking as well - I sent an invite to my friend who invited me to Friendster but so far she hasn't signed up on Orkut.

The timing is awkward for Google as they are planning an IPO soon and a lawsuit now looks bad. Maybe that is Affinity Engine's strategy - sue and hope for a settlement. The article reports Google has offered to show the disputed code to a third party but Affinity Engines refused.

Maybe Groklaw will pick up the story and add more info.

The other reason this story is interesting to me is the intellectual property angle. I'm a software developer, and workers in my industry are always faced with NDA's (non disclosure agreements), non-compete clauses, and other legal restrictions. Whether or not any of these would truly be held up in court is an open question - the rules vary state by state. As I understand it a restriction of this kind is void in California, and possibly elsewhere. Fundamentally, you can't require somebody "forget" information they learned, or wipe their memory Paycheck style, or deprive them of their chance to earn their livelihood doing what they know how to do. Obviously, stealing code is illegal - it is one thing to learn something at one job and then do similar work elsewhere, and another to outright transport code between employers.

This should be interesting to follow.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

24 character quiz

One of my favorite TV shows is 24. When I saw a link to a "Which 24 Character Are You?" quiz I had to take it!

My result is:

You are MOST like TONY ALMEIDA. You pride yourself on being stable, fair, loyal and staying true to yourself no matter what, and you value the same qualities in others. You may come off as brash or cold at first, but once people get to know the real you, they realize you are quietly passionate, extremely trustworthy, sensitive and ethical.

Redeye flights

I booked an overnight flight to the east coast because I know that is best for me.

That's because:

  1. I easily fall asleep on planes. Sometimes before we even take off!
  2. I'm a nightowl - I find it natural to stay up late.
  3. It is a 3 hour time zone shift later.

If I flew during the day, I'd sleep most the way there (#1), which means I'd stay up to 1 or 2 a.m. my time no problem (#2). But, that is really 4 or 5 a.m. in east coast time (#3) and as a result I would be a total zombie at work.

I've fought jet lag better on flights halfway around the world than I have on flights to the U.S. east coast!

Work Travel

My boss finalized the dates and I'll be visiting Florida from July 12th to the 23rd. It makes sense, because we get Monday off as a holiday, and my boss will be out of town later that week.

So, I'll get to participate in Hagg Lake after all. However, I'll miss a few other things - the first two weeks of Japanese class, and the BoDeans concert I was planning to attend. Japanese will be fine, as I can study in the evenings. Actually, it is perfect since I haven't done any review yet, and can spend a good hour or so every night studying. Missing the BoDeans is a bummer but what can I do, work calls. ;) Also, I need to figure out what I can do as far as swim/bike/run training.

I used to live in the hot and humid conditions that will greet me in Florida. But it has been quite a while, I moved away from Houston, TX more than seven years ago. Back then, I found I lost my heat acclimation in a mere six months of being away - after moving in January, I returned to visit in July and was shocked at how miserable I felt.

One thing exciting will be planning out something to do on the weekend of July 10th - July 11th. I've visited Universal Studios and Kennedy Space Center, and I suppose I could see one of the Disney attractions. If I have the time, I'd like to take a tour of the Everglades!

Monday, June 28, 2004

Vancouver, BC

Yesterday I road-tripped to Vancouver with some friends (Eric, Krisanne, Francesca) to meet up with some others (Gail, Dan, Scott) we had met online via Orkut. It was beautiful weather, and we explored the city a bit in the afternoon until all of us met up for great food and drink at a restaurant named Steamworks. We eventually moved on to play pool at Soho and chat until the early hours in the Atlantic Trap and Gill bar. Finally, we returned to our hotel and fell alseep, exhausted.

Vancouver/Seattle Group

That's (from the left) Scott, me, Francesca, Eric, Krisanne, Dan, Gail.

Sunday afternoon Francesca and I rented bikes and rode around Stanley park, while Eric and Krisanne enjoyed Stanley park in a more leisurely fashion: walking and napping. Again, the day was spectacular and we left town after an early dinner and delicious dessert at Mondo Gelato.

Vancouver From Stanley Park

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Mariners vs. Padres

My friend Krisanne invited me to attend tonight's Mariners game versus the Padres. Usually at a baseball game I chat with my friends and pay half attention to the game. Tonight was no different - the weather was great, Krisanne and I were just chatting away, and before we knew it we were at the seventh inning stretch! For a moment in the ninth inning a rally seemed possible: Bocachica was on second base, Edgar Martinez hit short infield and was safe at first (just barely), but Bocachica ran past third, hesistated, and wound up thrown out at third. Final score was 3-2 San Diego, another close one.

Sky Over Safeco

Friday, June 25, 2004

Bev's birthday

Today is my friend Bev's birthday. We met in 1994 when we both lived in Houston and worked at Compaq. She was in the office next to mine, and through that good fortune I made an excellent friend. Bev is indirectly responsible for getting me into running, and other things like taking Japanese lessons. We've traveled to Europe and on ski trips to Breckenridge and Lake Tahoe.

She and her husband moved away to the Sacramento area, and I moved to the Seattle area. I visit occasionally - for three years (1999 - 2001) I timed my visits during the first week of October in order to run in the Sacramento half-marathon. My favorite story about Bev is from the 2001 half-marathon.

I got into town and had to pick up my race packet, so Bev drove me to the small expo. While we were there, she mentioned that she had been thinking of doing this event with me... which came as a huge surprise because she gave birth to her second son via C-section a mere 11 weeks prior to the event, and obviously hadn't been training at all since!

She did sign up and we started the race together. She immediately said I should go ahead while she kept a slower pace. The Sacramento half-marathon is an out-and-back (the marathon is a double out-and-back) so I saw her as I was on the way back and we waved. I finished just under 2 hours, which seems to be my average time for a half-marathon. I waited, and after 20 or 30 minutes passed, I got concerned. I picked up a banana and a water bottle, and walked backwards along the course looking for her. I found her around mile 12, walking and chatting on her cell phone! It seems she felt like calling up all her friends to talk to them during the event.

Still, I was impressed - from a C-section birth to participating in a half-marathon on basically no training 11 weeks later!

After the race

Bev and me after the half-marathon

Afterward, all of us (her husband Ben, their two kids Dylan and Sammy, and us) went to gorge ourselves at her favorite Chinese restaurant in Sacramento.

I talked to her briefly today, and found out she is interested in doing another half-marathon with me. She has probably trained like crazy over the last year and wants to crush me at the next one. ;) She'd like a half-marathon that is scenic or one with tons of crowd support - crowd support might be more important. I've heard San Diego's Rock-N-Roll marathon is a huge block party, but I don't think they have a half-marathon. Same thing with Portland - great marathon, but no half.

I'll look around more, there has to be a nice one on the west coast somewhere.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Hockey Tickets

I enjoy watching a live NHL game from time to time. Since I live in the Seattle area, that means driving up to Vancouver, BC to the see Vancouver Canucks. For the previous two seasons, I obtained a few tickets from a friend. This year, I'm entering the hockey ticket pool as a full member. Assuming of course a collective bargaining agreement is reached and that there will be a 2004-2005 NHL hockey season.

The two basic options are: split a pair of season tickets four ways, everybody gets ten pairs; or split a pair of season tickets two ways, a friend and I each get twenty pairs. Obviously, I'm not going to make it to twenty games, so I'll put leftovers up for sale (I've been told it is easy and convenient to do this via a website provided by the Canucks). Which of the two options will happen depends on how many other people enter the ticket pool. Ideally we'll split evenly and everybody will get ten pairs.

Or, not so ideally. Last year, as far as home games, the Canucks had five games on Sunday, seven on Monday, six on Tuesday, five on Wednesday, five on Thursday, two on Friday, and eleven on Saturday. (Yes, I printed out last season's schedule and counted it up!) If we evenly distribute the tickets based on a similar schedule, everybody can expect four tickets from Thursday through Sunday (generally the most convenient games to make), and six from Sunday through Wednesday. So ten pairs really means four games that are easier to attend, and six games that are harder to attend.

Splitting a pair in half means my friend and I get a much better selection of games, but it is also more risky if tickets we can't use or don't want to use don't sell. Here, we'll be motivated somewhat to sell tickets to better teams, after saving a few for ourselves of course. This is fine with me as I don't really care who the opponent is. Sure, division rivalries are fun and so would watching a top team, but what day they play and if the tickets are likely to sell will be the dominant factors.

The final split will become clearer later in the summer, when people start committing by placing deposits.

Grass Pollen

I've never thought I had allergies, but my general slight stuffiness this year leads me to believe otherwise. After clicking around on and following the "high pollen forecast" link, I see my home area is in a high grass pollen season from mid April to late August. Argh!

Well it isn't too bad really. Only twice this year have I had to resort to over-the-counter medicine to get to sleep. But as someone who never had to do this previously I find it really irritating.

It's been drier and drier each of the seven years I've lived in the Pacific Northwest, and my allergies have only surfaced over the last two or three years. Perhaps rain helps keep the pollen down.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Homemade Ice Cream

My friend and coworker Tom invited me over for dinner - and let it be known I generally accept all dinner invitations! The menu included salmon, recently caught during a family fishing trip to Canada. Tom grilled it up to perfection. Yum! Tom's wife Carol added steamed broccoli, potato salad, and part of dessert - a peach cobbler.

I made the other part of dessert - homemade old fashioned vanilla ice cream. Homemade ice cream is the best, and I only make it for other people because otherwise I'm stuck eating 4-5 quarts of ice cream by myself.

Ice Cream Ingredients (not shown: 1/4 teaspoon salt)

Their daughter Grace was very eager to assist. Here she is stirring the mix after the final step of adding the vanilla extract. Later she helped me add the ice and rock salt, and finally volunteered to be the first taste tester of the final product.

Grace stirring the mix

Grace stirring the mix

I left all the ice cream with them for consumption during the week. I figure between the two adults and three kids it will last at least 3 or 4 days. :)

The recipe makes a ton of ice cream. Next time I make it I will halve all the ingredients.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Sunny Day on Mercer Island

Today was a beautiful sunny day, and warm for this area (upper 80's). I decided to bike the Mercer Island loop, and snap a few pictures. Mercer Island has a nice hilly loop around the edge of the island, which should be good training for my next triathlon since it has a hilly bike course.

Seattle from Mercer Island

Southern View

Saturday, June 19, 2004


It's summer in the Seattle area!

How do I know this? Is it because the calendar says so? That the summer solstice is just days away??

Almost, but not quite. My own method of determining when summer starts is: when I take the flannel sheets off my bed.

It is still cool well into June, so I leave them on. Sure, we'll get a few warm days in April and May but that is just a tease. I knew summer was close last night because I had trouble falling asleep since it was so warm. It was 82 degrees F earlier in my house so I finally put my down comforter away and got out the lighter linen.

In the beginning...

I've decided to try to blogging thing and see how it goes. I know several people who keep one and it is always fun to read their sites, so I thought I would give it a shot.

I want a shorter title but couldn't think of anything good.

One title I considered was Karl's Deck, which is a double joke: 1) A friend Gail's blog is titled Gail's Balcony, so my title would play off her title; 2) Some other friends (hi Krisanne!) might laugh at the reference to my housewarming party in August 2003.

Another title considered is Double Happiness, which has a nice optimistic ring to it. It also happens to be the name of my favorite bike jersey, and would thus tie into sports topics that will be a recurring theme.

Yet another option is lifting some referece from a favorite book, e.g. Miraldra from Jack Vance's Lyonesse series. But then I would feel like I had to tie most posts to that fictional universe.

For the launch of this blog I settled on Evergreen Eclectic Musings for the state I live in, and the various topics that I will cover.