Camping Gears

Chris and Ponzi are having a world of pain fun getting camping gears together for Scoble's FU-Camp.  If you are just starting to get into camping, my advise would be to get as little as possible.  Part of camping fun is learning about what you need for the next trip.

If you get too much stuff out of anticipation, you'll waste too much time packing and unpacking.  And chances are, you won't make the second trip until years later.

My list of starter essentials for drive-in camping:

  • tent(s) – easier to put up the better.  Make sure the tent is big enough to accomodate air-mattresses.  Don't waist money on hammers and stuff.
  • a couple of large tarps – these are useful in many ways.
  • sleeping bags – spend most of your money on this.
  • air-mattress – I can't live without this.  There are some good ones out there that you can inflate and deflate silently in a few minutes.
  • comfortable foldup chairs
  • 2 lanterns and 1 flashlight
  • an outdoor stove
  • lighter and some firestarters
  • a water bucket with a good handle
  • a large plastic pan
  • some thin ropes
  • some protection against bugs (I like burning kind).
  • ice chest(s)

That's it.  Oh yes, you'll need a bigger car.

As to pots and pans, just take throw aways from your kitchen until you know what you need for your choice of camp food.  And don't touch that glistening wood chopping axe unless you don't mind losing a toe.  Campsites or stores near them have firewood and they burn just fine without chopping them into smaller pieces.

If you enjoy hiking, you would already have the right shoes and cloths.  If you don't, don't get any so you won't have to hike.  When I go camping, I use my 15 year-old pair of sneakers (due to very low mileages logged) and a pair of slippers.  I use the sneakers to drive and unpack.  Then I switch to my 'thinking man's slippers', aka high-on-food gear, and that's that until it's time to pack again and drive away.

California Geek Camp?

Scoble is organizing a Geek Camp in the Washington area.  Sounds great to me except there is no way I am going to drive from the Bay to Seattle to camp out.  Not without a super-deluxe RV.

I am up for a California Geek Camp though, hopefully somewhere in the northern half of the state where there is hot shower and restroom that won't freak out my wife.  I am addicted to hot shower before campfire and camping pigout plus disgusting restroom paints a grim picture.  But I think it's too late to get large enough camping spots though.

Not Smoking…Again

Starting this morning, I am not smoking.  Instead, I am doing the niccotine lozenge called Commit.  The candy looks like a small alka seltzer tablet and, as expected, tastes chaulky and tingles as it dissolves.  It's less convenient than niccotine gums because I am not suppose to use it within 15 minutes after eating or drinking.  So no more mixing niccotine with coffee or full stomach for me.

I have no idea whether this will work.  Longest smokeless run for me was six months.  We'll see.  Hopefully, lozenge won't bring vivid dreams like patches did.

Please don't wish me luck.  I can't smoke luck.

Emulating Errors for Tag Convergence

One possible solution I see for the Tag Divergence problem is errors.  When people communicate verbally, mistakes are often made and miscommunication results.  What if such miscommunication is possible in a tag system?  What if services like Flickr or Delicious are capable of confusion?  This idea sounds crazy at first which is a good sign.  😉

Let's see.  What if similar tags (in terms of edit distance or some other aspect) were merged randomly?  Tags like dog, dogs, dag, and dig would get confused (aka merged) into one.  It doesn't matter which tag is chosen because more common tag will eventually emerge.  Problems stemmng from intentional tag confusion mechanism needs to be minimized but I don't think they are serious if they are constrained appropriately.

Accumulation of confusion over time has a kick on it's own so I think confusions have to be soft.  I am still trying to figure out what soft means so don't feel bad if you don't understand what I am saying.

Tags and Divergence

I've been looking at the way people are using tags (not XML tags but associating words with text or pictures) and, so far, concluded that some form of focusing mechanism needs to be introduced to limit divergence of tags which leads to the Tower of Babel.

I think one of the weak areas is exposure.  Lacking exposure to common tags causes people to invent their own.  But exposures out of context contributes little to convergence preceeding emergence.

Hmm.  I think I'll wait for the flower to bloom in its own time instead of screaming at it.

Anime of Despair

I am not into sad movies but, if you are, you should watch Grave of the Fireflies, a japanese anime about two war orphans.  It not only has a sad ending, but the anime starts with both of the orphans dead.  Just reading the storyline was enough for me to require tissues and a stiff drink.  I am a chicken when it comes to sad movies because they tend to crack me open like an oyster.

Dokdo and Kunibiki Legend

It turns out that Shimane Prefecture has a legend called Tale of Kunibiki according to which gods created Japan by pulling lands from far over the sea.  So Japan was created out of scraps stolen from other countries?  This shameless legend is interesting from engineering point of view but also offers a glimpse of the mentality behind Shimane assemblymen who, no doubt, grew up with the lengend.

I better alert Homeland Security Department to watch out for ropes around Hawaiian islands.

Dokdo and Kurile Islands

An interesting Russian news article about Dokdo.  Also, Korean fighter jets had to scramble to warn a Japanese military jet away from Dokdo on the day Japan's Shimane prefecture passed the Takeshima bill.  Apparently, Japan's ultra-conservatives are keeping themselves busy fighting not only Korea but also China and Russia.

I forgot to mention that 2005 is the Japan-Korea Friendship Year.  As the popular saying goes, who needs enemies when you have friends like this?

Blooming Cactus

One of our cactus plants started reaching for the sky sometime last year like a slow motion firework.  After taking six months to reach 10 feet in height, the firework finally started exploding.  Cactus flower buds are visible but haven't fully bloomed yet.  I've seen some trees with charismatic presence but this is the first cactus that impressed me.


I am playing with AJAX myself but I see many problems with AJAX as the next generation DHTML application platform.  AJAX applications are more expensive to build, test, and update than traditional DHTML applications.

Frankly, I am not even sure whether current crop of popular web browsers can support AJAX because they weren't built with the expectation that a signle web page might stay up for as long as GUI applications.  When even small carefully written DHTML apps can cause enough browser resource leaks to require frequent browser restarts, I think good stable AJAX applications will be rarer than the picture recent hype paints.

And by the time engineers discover the cost of AJAX first-hand, .NET-based ClickOnce applications will look much more attractive than AJAX-based applications can ever be.