Google is my new Microsoft.

Mike (seen here fondling beef) had a blog post about accidentally formatting the wrong partition and losing all his data. Then he went crazy and formatted his entire blog on purpose. What a guy.

In response to his non-existent post, I will engage in a tirade describing where computing has taken me.

First, there was my PC. My first real computer of my very own. At the time I was a poor teenager in secondary school and my options were limited. Gateway 2000 (still charging extra for Holstein-style cardboard boxes) and Dell were not the most affordable girls on 8th street. No, with only a lifeguard's salary and some babysitting money I was forced to be frugal. I needed Helga... on the darkest corner... with sweat pants on. Preferably those sweat pants would be two or three sizes too small and I could knock a few more dollars off. Do you know how little a lifeguard is paid?

And so, I invested in a little computer company with an ugly web page, terrible service and cheap parts. My computer was addressed with "SK" (for Saskatchewan), but without "Canada", and made a fun journey to Slovakia during the long months between my order placement and the eventual arrival.

But it did come. And when it finally came, I enjoyed a long and glorious marriage to Windows 95. That was not to last, however. As I grew older and bought more computers I had to keep buying software. Software I really didn't find that valuable. "Why does Microsoft Office cost $400?" I'd wonder. Word is basically Notepad stocked with fonts and tables. I'm sure I don't use Excel for anything VisiCalc couldn't handle. PowerPoint? I'd rather just draw on a whiteboard.

And so, as the years passed and my purchases turned to theft, I decided there must be a better way. Linux and OpenOffice was a short-lived affair. I still use Linux and it's pleasant, but I'm not going to pretend the open source world often provides me with software that makes me giddy.

Then, one day, Google quietly released Gmail. I say quietly, because most normal people (not you, likely, if you're reading this blog) still don't even know Google has an email service. Google doesn't advertise -- and it shows. However, Gmail quickly became the golden hammer that replaced every other application I was using. Search, it turns out, is really important; Google has a pretty good handle on that, I guess.

As more years passed I stopped using desktop applications. Full stop. I use Google Documents instead of Word. I use Google Spreadsheets instead of Excel. I use Google Mail for email. I use Picasa Web Albums to organize my photos. I use to bookmark webpages. I use Google Reader for the news. I use Google Calendar to organize my time. I use Strongspace to store my files. If someone forces me to create slides (barf), I'll use HTML; the browser is my operating system now.

It wasn't until after I'd made this change that I started traveling semi-regularly. I'd get on a plane and my laptop would be nothing but a husk, a corpse. Without the internet -- without my applications and data -- it was nothing but a $2000 Solitaire machine.

Recently Google released Gears as open source. Mozilla has Offline Events planned for Firefox 3. Things are looking up. With software this good, I'll never have a reason to get away from Google and that frightens me. Here's hoping The Wikimedia Foundation overtakes them soon.

Pair Painting

An idea which I've been meaning to try: Take pair programming. Remove programming. Add painting. Stir. Chill. Serve in 8 - 12 hours.

All the new co-workers I meet lately have this idea forced upon them. "How would it work?" "Who controls what?" "What does the navigator do?" "How does the team decide on direction?" This barrage of questions usually flusters and irritates those unlucky enough to engage in conversation with me.


Chris Hagan, one of our ThoughtWorks University attendees, didn't just answer my questions -- he blew them out of the water. Apparently he's pair painted before (under a different name, of course) and it works beautifully. As he described it, painting is iterative. One starts with a chalked outline, going over it in broad strokes and refining as the image comes to life. He had a bunch of other great points, but my mind dropped them so you'll have to discuss it with him yourself.

This is why I don't read. People have always thought of my ideas before I have a chance to tell the world how great they are.

6:00 AM

I breed cows!

Mikey sent me a link to The Hot Map recently. What was a world-renowned Internet superstar such as myself to do but plug in my name?

Apparently, I'm involved in Junior Hereford semen donation and a 4-H curling club. I wonder if I drive a Chevy or a Ford.

Chris's 18 Months in India

My friend Chris, who's moving back to India soon, has just posted a video of his previous stay.

Changing Domino Servers

Running Lotus Notes on Linux thanks to Ketan's fabulous HOWTOs? Great!

Did your sysadmin decide it was time for you to use a new mail server? Drat.

For some reason, the Notes client is smart enough to switch mail servers over automatically on OSX and Windows. If you can't connect to your old server anymore, reconfigure your client here:

File -> Lotus Notes Preferences -> Client Reconfiguration Wizard

Tada! All fixed.

Invert the Monkeysphere.

Pat sent me this article today. It made me smile on the outside and feel softwarmfuzzy on the inside.

Due to particular mental tendencies which cause me to think only about material I've recently consumed or produced, I'm temporarily convinced that I feel crappy some days because I've made my Monkeysphere too small. Lacking a sufficient Monkeysphere, I occasionally feel guilty and responsible for all the wrongs I see in the world.

Solution? Welcome to my Monkeymetainvertosphere. Excessive concern has been replaced by soothing apathy and a complete lack of preference for your personal well-being. I feel better already.


[ Disclaimer: If the age-old text of Everyone Poops makes you uncomfortable, skip this post. ]

Despite their best efforts, there are a few things my fantastic coworkers cannot make comfortable. Illness, however tame, is one of those things. I almost made it a full week when my first bout of discomfort hit. My first weekend in Pune was spent in the office reading blogs through squinted eyes and maintaining a safe running distance from the washroom.

Such afflictions tend to have a humbling effect. In essence, my behaviour while sick resembled that of a toddler: I thought about food a lot. When I wasn't thinking about food, I was thinking about poop. If not thinking about food or poop, I was probably probably pooping or sleeping. Or both.

Segue to my definition-of-sick diatribe: At its height, I was stuck in the office until 3:00 AM on Sunday night thanks to aforementioned illness. Why? Because I was sick. A number of people that night (on the other side of the Earth) asked me why I didn't go home if all I had was diarrhea. In short: Diarrhea alone does not a sick man make; I expect to have plenty of diarrhea while I'm in India. As a Canadian, that's pretty much all you know about India before you get here.

"Expect diarrhea!" they all said. "Ha!" was my brash response. I'm tough. I can handle the trots. I'm a man. "Expect to get sick!" warned a knowing few. "Sick?" I asked. "What is sick, exactly?" The answer came that weekend:

sick = incontinence
(or worse)

It sounds a lot worse than it is... compared to my 2006 trip this was a joyride. But that's probably more than you wanted to know already.


Visiting Bengaluru:

The water pressure here in Bangalore is terrible. This Paitava (mouth-rinse hose) barely even gets the toothpaste off my tongue. It's time for me to suck it up and use a glass, I guess.


It's come to my attention that I'm a 10-minute walk from some sort of crazy sex cult. Apparently it's well-known to Pune locals... and foreigners in the loop.

My hotel is the innocent and pious blue circle on the right. Osho International Meditation Resort is the red circle on the left. I've had various colleagues here describe the Osho resort as "a cult," but I didn't piece everything together until I was dropped off at my hotel the other night. On the last leg of the drive, my companion blurted out "Holy crap! You live right by Osho!"

"Yeah?" I responded. "It's just some cult or whatever, right?"

"Osho's usually the only thing foreigners know about Pune. People come from all over the world to have orgies there."

Ooooookaaaaay. I guess that explains why I keep getting dirty looks as I walk around the south side of the river. And it would also explain all the white people I see at German Bakery. (German Bakery is on the west end of North Main Road.) And it explains why, upon examining one of said tourists, he's dressed in robes with an I'm-so-enlightened-now-that-I've-come-to-India-and-found-myself look on his face; he's just spent the last three weeks of his annual vacation eating sushi and banging some random British girl(s). Good for Employee #37816. He deserves it.

Here's hoping he runs out of money soon. Or contracts syphilis. Though I'm sure when he's back in the States many weeks of autumn shall be consumed telling everyone on the 37th floor that there is more to life than Excel macros -- thus causing the next influx of tourists.

Watch the ad for Osho International Meditation Resort. Check out the resort's webpage. Visit Read Osho's thoughts on sex and AIDS. Now tell me you don't want to visit. I plan on checking it out next week. I mean... they do have a kick-ass pool.

A walk.

I went for a long walk in the rain. Gosh was it muddy.

I saw a little girl whipping herself and begging for change. A sick, touristy part of me wanted to take a picture of her. An even sicker part of me wanted to borrow the whip to see if the sound it produced was representative of the pain it inflicted. She tugged at my arm as I walked by; I shrugged her off as politely as I could and continued.

I saw a donkey bouncing around the road on three legs. The fourth was obviously injured badly enough to prevent him from putting weight on it. For some reason, this scene filled me with sadness. A few years ago, I probably would have laughed.

I saw an unhealthy old woman sitting in the mud, begging for change with a dish outstretched. I ignored her.

I saw a child receiving a beating from her father. I wondered how often such things went on behind closed doors in Canada.

I saw a bloated dog sleeping in the middle of the road. I wondered if it was sick, dying, or just gassy.

I saw a crazy man. Standing-in-the-street-half-naked-with-hands-full-of-mud-screaming-obscenities kind of crazy. It dawned on me that I saw a great many more crazy people in the streets of Toronto and New York, even within my first day of visiting those cities, than I have in the two weeks I've lived in Pune. I wondered what the implications of that fact might be.

I saw some shacks:

I wondered what it felt like to live there. I work in a building near the complex in the background.

I pondered these sights while walking the remainder with no additional incident. Why did it sadden me to see a donkey with an injured leg? Why did a starving child have little impact on my conscience? Did I temper my emotional responses in anticipation of the latter? Or am I simply used to seeing poverty in the West? I've certainly never seen an injured animal in Canada. Maybe a bird or a squirrel, at worst.

Remembering that this neighborhood is quiet and wealthy, my curiosity has been piqued: What emotions do the other, poorer neighborhoods evoke? The rural communities? The sprawling shanty towns?

A better question might be: Could I even handle seeing such things? I might implode. My greatest curse was winning the lottery of life with an incurable God complex. I have enough money saved for my return to Canada to feed an impoverished child for years. I have the resources and capacity to save an injured canine or donkey. Will I do these things? Probably not. Self-preservation trumps such behavior and may very well prevent our species from progressing beyond the hive-dwelling hairless monkeys we are today.

If I've really flown halfway around the world to write software (a depressing thought, really, when presented so succinctly), what might I do with the rest of my time? Mojo (Avishek) continues to bring up the Lord of the Rings quote "All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you." An all-encompassing high-level scoping statement for life? Sure. But it does make one thing abundantly clear: Not deciding what to do with one's time is considered failure under this constraint.

So. What shall I do with the rest of the afternoon? Perhaps I'll go for another walk.

As the years pass, cartography will become a global popularity contest.

Future foreigners in Pune (ThoughtWorkers, in particular), observe! Click the image of the map to view my custom Google Map of Pune:

I will continue adding to this as I find other useful things. So far the map provides the reader with directions from the Hotel Lotus to the ThoughtWorks office and the nearest ATM.

Ketan also pointed out a link to Pune on Wikimapia. (Look for Hotel Lotus in the centre.) It's a great deal more useful than the corresponding map of Calgary.

Tightpinkproduct: The Mouse.

The mouse for a tightpinkproduct need not look particularly cool. The ovular characteristics of the Mighty Mouse are visually appealing, but an ergonomic nightmare. I own one. I use it. I'm still undecided.

Frankly, a $15 Microsoft IntelliMouse is still the most comfortable mouse I've ever owned, even if it's ugly as sin.

But we are not talking about shapes today, my friend. No, not in the slightest. We're talking about cable! Yes, cable. Specifically, why don't wireless mouses have cables? Because they are wireless, you say? Ah, yes. But wireless devices need electricity, and that electricity comes from batteries and those batteries run out. What then? You switch batteries or...
This! Notice that little hole in the front? That's a mini-USB port. Although this mouse (RadTech BT600) is -- in all other respects -- probably the worst mouse ever built*, that one little feature earns it a place in my heart. Why the Hell don't all bluetooth mice have a mini-USB port on the front? I've been asking this question for years -- long before the BT600 ever graced my sight. It angers me to no end that mouse manufacturers haven't figured this one out yet.

Mark my words: The mouse you buy with a tightpinkproduct will have a hole.


* By "worst mouse ever built," I actually mean it doesn't function as a mouse. When held, it feels as though you are gripping a turd. This uncomfortable sensation makes it difficult to focus while you're using it.

Oh, and it doesn't click. That might be an issue for some people.