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Out and about in Taipei, Taiwan

2011-12-31 Saturday | 07:03 pm

Back in Taipei after China was Sunday (4th December) so I slept - I wouldn't say I had jetlag, but certainly the previous 5 days had included 6 flights through 8 time zones, with not nearly enough natural daylight inbetween, and had worn me down. I did finally spot Taipei's tallest building (and for a while the world's tallest building) from my hotel room:

imgp2811 - Taipei 101
imgp2811 - Taipei 101

Then on Monday through to Thursday was booked up seeing a different customer on each day, including one best reached by a high speed train service which puts Britain's to shame. Are there many countries that don't have a better and cheaper train service than the UK? These 4 customers had a good mix of predictable questions and new questions; one of them wanted to know more about the compression scheme on our new chip as well as asking probing questions about reliability and end-user support. This last one also insisted visitors' laptops were covered in security tape before entering their site and checked again on exit. I think it went well!

My Taiwanese colleague Richard was an excellent host in Taiwan and as well as going to as many different local restaurants as possible he also took me up the tower:

imgp2825 - Taipei 10101010101 imgp2829 - Above the clouds

I was worried the falling light, low cloud and rain would be a problem, but it was just perfect that evening up on the 89th floor. The gift shop at the exit was full of weird things made out of local jade, including a giant cabbage. Wikipedia have a page on a small one.

On my second weekend I explored the local area where I was staying, miles from the tourist attractions. I finally found not one but two betel nut beauties after seeing many more warmly dressed (and some obviously male) roadside betel nut sellers. Speaking of dressing for the weather (17C peak day time temperatures), I was happy in a short sleeved shirt while the natives were wrapped up in puffer jackets and scarves.

On my last evening Richard took me to the 24 hour tearoom mountain and picked a tearoom he knew where you are provided with a kettle of fresh water, a teapot, fresh tea leaves, a tea tray (to catch the necessary over spill) and tea cups. I say tearoom - it was a partially covered terrace that would have overlooked the city if it wasn't for the low cloud and rain. I am not a big tea drinker, so I carefully sipped the hot green oolong tea to taste its different bitter flavours. The over spill of boiling water was so he could watch the level in the spout go down as the leaves absorbed, and this was the point he said it was ready to serve. When visiting customers I had been asking for just water which would then be presented to me hot. It turns out Taiwanese believe drinking cold water in winter is bad for your health, so they served me hot plain water. In summer they drink a lot of chilled tea as the temperatures soar over 30C.

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Sadly alcohol was involved

2011-04-10 Sunday | 10:50 pm

I used to live nearly Horley - I didn't think they were this mental: http://www.thisissurreytoday.co.uk/news/Kidnapped-goat-let-loose-pub/article-3390381-detail/article.html

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Writer's Block: Cold turkey tremors

2010-02-26 Friday | 02:56 pm

What is the longest, uninterrupted stretch you've stayed offline (without mobile access either)? How soon did you suffer withdrawal pains? Did you find it liberating?

Apart from the 18 years before I first got Internet access (at university), the longest stretches would have been various holidays, the last one being a week in Morocco in 2004. I still had mobile phone coverage - a recruitment agent called me to talk about a job!

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Debug It : Find, Repair, & Prevent Bugs in Your Code

2010-01-24 Sunday | 02:41 pm

bellanna's former colleague Paul Butcher has written a book all about debugging software. While some of the tips may seem obvious to those with even a few years experience (you do use some form of source control, don't you?), Paul not only helps find bugs after they have occurred but also before with tips about automated testing, the use of asserts, logging, etc. Reading all the obvious tips written down in one place helped me remember that all is not lost when trying to debug the thorniest of issues. While many of the of the code examples are Java, other languages are not forgotten. There is some Python, Ruby, and C and C++.

In the section on Anti-Patterns, Paul gives advice and tips on office politics, for example dealing with Prima Donnas and issues of code ownership. The tools section covers a wide variety, not just focused on digging out bugs, bug tracking them and, just in case you don't, source control.

The book is written in a very easy going style and I can imagine a talk by him being very well received at conferences like ACCU.

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Writer's Block: You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch!

2009-12-22 Tuesday | 03:47 pm

Are there any classic holiday movies or TV shows that you look forward to watching year after year? What are your all-time favorites? Are there any you simply can't stand?

There are no classic Christmas movies or TV shows that I look forward to watching year after year. I much prefer shiny new movies and TV shows, like Doctor Who :-)

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WLK 1.5 USB-IF Test Certification ID Check

2009-12-01 Tuesday | 12:15 pm

Are you having trouble passing the new USB-IF Test Certification ID Check introduced in Windows Logo Kit (WLK) v1.5? Hopefully I can point you in the right direction.

First, you need to read http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/connect/usb/WLK_USB-IF_CertReq.mspx which will explain why you need to get USB-IF Test Certification and what it might cost. Part of the "why" is WHQL requirement CONNECT 0093 - USB devices must be certified by the USB Implementers Forum (USB IF) to receive a Windows logo. This requirement also applies to the unclassified Windows Logo Program for devices.

Once you have your USB-IF Test Certification ID you need to go to your submission in the device console, right-click on the test, edit the test parameters, replace the Test ID zero with your Test ID, and then schedule the test.

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Before the storm

2009-11-14 Saturday | 07:12 pm

The country is taking a bit of a battering with a wet and windy storm, so here is a calm and relaxing photo I took a couple of weeks ago:

imgp9966 - Sunset
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Advanced warning: Red Dwarf and Doctor Who

2009-04-05 Sunday | 02:19 pm

Advanced warning: Doctor Who Planet of the Dead will be on BBC1 at 6:45pm on Saturday 11th April.

Meanwhile, the new episodes of Red Dwarf start on Dave at 9:00pm on Friday 10th April.

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Why Are Thin People Not Fat?

2009-02-03 Tuesday | 11:20 pm

I've just watched the fascinating BBC programme Why Are Thin People Not Fat?. They gave all sorts of reasons, and then concluded that fat people shouldn't feel discouraged about losing weight as even a little weight loss is good for your health.

I am fat because

I eat too much
I exercise too little
I have the fat gene
I have the fat virus
I've been fat before and those fat cells are itching to fill up again
I can't leave food on my plate
I don't know when I'm full
I have a sweet tooth
eating helps me feel less bored/sad/depressed, for a while
the doctor says my thyroid is out of whack
the doctor says some other medical condition (no need to go into too much detail in a public forum)
- Tick this option if you are not fat, i.e. normal or skinny


I have watched the the show
I have not watched the show
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New Doctor actor to be announced

2009-01-03 Saturday | 04:18 pm

New Doctor actor to be announced

I wondered why there was another Doctor Who "Confidential" (the behind the scenes show) on BBC1 at 5:35pm tonight. The TV listings guide says it's a retrospective of the 10 Doctors so far, so I'm guessing the announcement will be right at the end ...

For my friends not able to receive BBC1 live, I'm sure the news will be splashed all over everywhere (except bellanna's journal because she doesn't care) within seconds of the name being said.

Edit: It's Matt Smith.

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