Moving to San Francisco

The word is on the street: I’m moving back to San Francisco around Dec. 1st. Several of my friends heard the news through the grapevine and are wondering if I’m not telling them in hopes of pretending I still live in Portland and can’t come over to watch their vacation slides. The reality is that announcing the move is fraught with implications and knotty social problems. To wit:

  • What do I say when people ask me why I’m leaving Portland only a few months after I went?
  • What if something horrible goes wrong and I don’t actually move?
  • What if people are tired of invitations to my going-away/house-warming parties and want me to stop emailing them about my moves?

My plan was to wait until I got an apartment (courtesy my wonderful roommate-to-be, Lina), but that’s taking a little longer than anticipated. Man, the rental market in San Francisco is tough! They want all THREE versions of my credit report!

Anyway, I’m moving to San Francisco, I’m mildly embarrassed about it, and you’re still my friend. Announcement of going-away/house-warming parties to follow.

Truth in advertising

This morning, the phone rang (a rare occurrence in my household). I picked up my VoIP phone with caller ID, and saw:

PROMO OFFER
1408(don't remember)

Wow! A telemarketer with a descriptive caller ID and a valid-looking 408 phone number! It’s like receiving spam entitled: “SPAM: Unsolicited commercial mailing” with a valid From: address. The apocalypse must be near.

Naturally, I didn’t answer.

Lazyweb: Laptop acceleration chirper

Dear Lazyweb,

I would like a program that checks the acceleration sensor on my laptop’s hard drive. When it experiences especially intense vibration, as of being slapped on my hip repeatedly as I run for the train, it chirps the PC speaker or plays a sound clip or otherwise audibly notifies me that my laptop is not, in fact, suspended. (At least modern hard drives no longer die when I do this.) Alternatively, it can chirp periodically when the lid is closed but AC is not connected. (Yes, I like to close my lid without suspending – sometimes I compile kernels while driving.) Something with a nice applet front-end for XFCE would be ideal. Thanks!

-VAL

Overheard in Portland

Scene: Busy Portland coffee shop, Sunday afternoon. VAL, a workaholic programmer transplanted from the Bay area, is typing intently on her laptop. Enter four middle-aged men, talking loudly. They choose the table next to VAL and engage in much good-natured (and loud and annoying) shuffling around and unpacking of laptops. Their leader finally calls them to attention.

LEADER: Okay, let’s get started. So, should we hire more salesmen in Paris? Or wait till next quarter?

MAN #1: [European Spanish accent] Well, I don’t know. What’s our budget?

[VAL perks up and casts an interested look, as she comes from the Land of Start-ups and such conversations are relatively rare in Portland.]

LEADER: I guess it really depends on whether we ship both business softwares.

[VAL looks slightly affronted. How come these, er, average guys have a startup with international sales offices and they don’t even know the correct plural of software?]

MAN #2: [mutters as he struggles to pull out his laptop] I hate this laptop. As soon as I get a real job, I’m giving this to my son.

LEADER: I talked to the professor, and he says that we should focus on the markets that our competitors are doing well in – follow the leader, you know.

[VAL looks somewhat impressed that they are consulting with distinguished academics.]

MAN #3: [unidentifiable Eastern European accent] Should we have a cushion for unexpected costs?

LEADER: I don’t think the professor’s going to dock points for exceeding our budget that way, no.

[VAL makes “Oh!” face as she realizes these people aren’t in a start-up, they’re in business school. Immediately feels better about herself for having zero sales offices in Paris.]

Overheard in D.C., random sighting in Albuquerque

On Monday, I was running the StorageSS ’07 workshop, held just outside Washington, D.C. While riding in the conference hotel shuttle, I overheard two grad students talking:

“So, have you seen any of the sights yet?”
“No, but I want to go see the man in the chair.”

And today, I’m in a coffee shop in Albuquerque, and I randomly see a dreadlocked dude browsing through the books who is wearing, of all things, a Solaris 8 t-shirt. It asks if your company is “dot com ready.” Looks brand-new, too.

Amusing cryptography apocrypha – the Rip van Winkle cipher

While writing an article on cryptographic hashing for programmers, I stumbled across the Rip Van Winkle Cipher in Applied Cryptography:

James Massey and Ingemar Ingemarsson proposed the Rip Van Winkle cipher, so named because the receiver has to receive 2^n bits of ciphertext before attempting decryption. The algorithm, illustrated in Figure 17.10, is simple to implement, provably secure, and completely impractical. Simply XOR the plaintext with the keystream, and delay the keystream by 0 to 20 years – the exact date is part of the key. In Massey’s words: “One can easily guarantee that the enemy cryptanalyst will need thousands of years to read the plaintext, if one is willing to wait millions of years to read the plaintext.” Further work on this idea can be found in [references].

Fittingly, I have a Bruce Schneier sticker stuck to the lid of my laptop, courtesy [info]mjg59 .

Wine selection algorithm

All my wine knowledge was acquired “on the job,” so to speak – if I drink a wine enough times, a vague impression of the label sticks in my mind and I can sometimes find it again. But when I moved to Oregon, the wine selection leaned heavily towards Oregon pinot noirs. For a girl raised on California zinfandels, this was pretty tough.

I am happy to announce, though, that I have a promising new heuristic for choosing Oregon pinot noirs: Pick the one with the dog on the label. For a sample size of two, it’s been working quite well. The first wine I found this way was O’Reilly Pinot Noir. (Okay, I admit I partly bought it for the O’Reilly name, too.)


Kramer Vineyards Pinot Noir was quite nice too.

What next? Perhaps the dog-on-the-label rule extends to other varieties.

For your drinking pleasure, a list of the wines I do remember being good. For the most part, they are wines that Jeff Bonwick introduced me to, so he deserves the credit.

  • Ridge, Lytton Springs zinfandel
  • Ridge, Geyserville zinfandel
  • Sonoma Cutrer chardonnay
  • Ferrari Carano chardonnay
  • Frog’s Leap merlot
  • Cakebread (all whites)
  • Veuve Cliquot Brut champagne