Getting Exited Over Small Things

So I'm kind of pleased with myself.

There is a web site that I am a user of called Server Fault, where people post questions regarding corporate-type computer issues. I've been a member since they opened it up to the public, and since then I've kept reasonably active.

It has a mechanism called "reputation", where you get points assigned to you by the rest of the community based on how the community views your contributed questions and your answers to other questions.

So yeah, it's a game. But as a side-effect of the game, you frequently can get high-quality answers to questions in a short period of time.

It's an addictive game too. My first boatload of points came fairly quickly, and since then I've set myself the goal of keeping my reputation above 10% of the total number of asked questions. This means I only have to score one upvote on every 100 questions because you get 10 reputation for each upvote.

The operators of Server Fault have decided to mail out some promotional stickers to the top 70 users of each of their sites. And wouldn't you know, as of today I am the 55th top user of Server Fault. Not quite top-50, but I've gone up in the rankings over the last couple of weeks, so top-50 isn't out of reach. But it means that I do qualify.

Up at the top there is my "reputation" for ServerFault as of today; the link is to my current page.

It is a silly game, so not really much of an accomplishment in the big picture. I couldn't keep up the same rate of progress on SuperUser, which is another site they run. Although I think that is more due to the questions being of a subject that I can't answer, plus the sheer volume of the questions asked on the site.

But still, there are only 54 people of the 19362 registered on this site ranked above me on this site.



The best part about Subway used to be the bread. They made great bread.

Then two things happened: first, they decided to do a side-cut for loading subs (link unavailable, holy cow, was it really 2001?), and then second, Quizno's convinced everyone that a sandwich wasn't a sandwich if it wasn't toasted.

While Quizno's makes a fine toasted sandwich, the problem of "making a fine toasted sandwich" is different from "making a fine sandwich". The key is bread.

Originally, the Subway bread was beautiful. The guys in the back would have to seriously screw up for me to not get excellent, excellent bread; and such screw-ups were very rare. I have no idea how they continued to make such good bread, but they did.

Then along comes Quizno's. The Quizno's sandwich is optimized for toasting -- it is a different kind of bread, one which takes the toasting very well. Now as a side-effect, I really really hate the Quizno's bread once it has cooled off, but when it is warm, it is excellent.

Subway looked at this and decided that the 'hook' was the 'toasting'. So now all the Subways have got these quick-toaster ovens where they can quickly toast the sandwich prior to final assembly. It is part of the process which is bolted on to their formula, and it shows: it doesn't flow the way the old process did.

Subway bread doesn't toast well. Well, it toasts OK, but at a cost of driving out anything that is good in the bread. Instead of moist, soft bread that makes you think "fresh out of the oven", you get dry, toasted bread that makes me think "fresh out of the four-day-old cupboard".

So I never get my sandwiches toasted at Subway.

...wow, that went on a lot longer than I thought it would.

I did the stupid 15 Films Meme on Facebook

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen movies you've seen that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag fifteen friends, including me because I'm interested in seeing what movies my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules in a new note, cast your fifteen picks, and tag people in the note -- upper right hand side.)

(I'm not going to tag people. Except Mike, 'cause he kinda asked for it.)

1. Ocean's Eleven
2. Pump Up The Volume
3. Hackers
4. Sneakers
5. Minority Report
6. Tron
7. Unbreakable
8. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
9. The Killer (1991)
10. Matrix Revolutions
11. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
12. 2010: Odyssey Two
13. The Real McCoy
14. Undercover Blues
15. Star Wars (IV - A New Hope)

Update: Damn, I knew I missed something: Star Trek. One of Mike's buddies picked Star Trek 2 for his list. I'd pick Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country instead, but yeah, it's missing. I'd probably drop Minority Report off my list to make room for it.



Stormtroopers Drinking


Traffic Tickets Are Good

As Ottawa tries to nag drivers into complying with local road laws, Slate reports that traffic tickets have their good side:
From 2001 to 2006 (in New York City), the number of fatalities in which speeding was implicated rose 11 percent. During the same period, the number of speeding summons issued by the NYPD dropped 11 percent. Similarly, summonses for red-light-running violations dropped 13 percent between 2006 and 2008, even as the number of crashes increased.
The article describes that in Paris, the opposite dynamic is taking place: more citations issued, while crashes decrease.

Traffic law enforcement in this city is a joke. With all due respect to the brave officers out there on the front lines, there is a nearly universal disdain for traffic regulations in Ottawa.

A lot of it is peer pressure -- if I see someone blow through a stop sign or fail to signal or whatever, there is an increased chance that I will do it myself.

Now to be sure, the laws themselves don't help their own cause. Coming west on the 417 past Moodie, this is an alleged construction zone -- four lanes of freshly laid and painted blacktop climbing the hill to Kanata. The limit here is 80 km/h. It will be raised to 100 km/h once the "construction" is "finished" (whenever that happens). But even before then, you'll routinely see people doing in excess of 120 km/h here. What you won't see very often is any traffic enforcement.

Traffic enforcement is a can't-lose proposition:
  • increase revenues
  • increase respect for the law
  • decrease crashes and associated costs and injuries
If we decide that the laws are too draconian, then it is the laws which should be fixed, legislatively, and not with the "discretion" (read: lack of enforcement) which happens today.


Welcome To Ottawa, Mr. Ignatieff

As predicted, the Conservatives are about to announce reforms to the much-maligned Employment Insurance scheme. This move comes shortly after the Liberals announced the intention to force an election, and walked out of the non-productive "working group" set up over the summer.

By doing this, Mr. Harper hopes to force Mr. Ignatieff into an unpleasant choice: either defeat the government and kill the very reforms he was rattling sabres over in the spring; or back off on the election posturing and look indecisive.

My view: let the Conservatives bring forward their proposals. It is likely that these proposals will go further than anything the Conservatives would normally bring forward, in that they are effectively bluffing, counting on the Liberals to steam more towards an election than actually getting things done.

However, if the Liberals let the EI reforms ride, then the joke is on the Conservatives. While it would mean that the Conservatives would then be able to point to EI reforms as something done on their watch, at the end of the day it should be about getting results for Canadians and not taking the credit.

I would much rather see the Liberals call the Conservative's bluff, perhaps forcing them to call an election on their own rather than pass their own proposals.

But given Mr. Ignatieff's total failure to be anything other than "not the Conservatives", I suspect he'll go for the election anyways.