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Wheelman

Filed under: Fun,Games,Spain — Thomas @ 9:53 pm

2009-4-18
9:53 pm

I finally went out and bought Vin Diesel’s Wheelman. It is set in Barcelona, awesome!

At least, some weird Frankenstein version of Barcelona. The map is a bit screwy, things are slightly out of place. I had read the game designers claimed they did so to make the game more dynamic, which is weird – Barcelona has one of the best city plans in the world, but these guys think they can do better than Ildefons Cerdà. So far it’s just confusing.

The first mission didn’t allow me to stray, but as soon as I dropped off the woman thief in Raval, I drove straight to work, to the World Trade Center. I wanted to drive underneath the hotel building, to the north building, up the stairs, and jump straight off the side, onto a ferry.

But they put FENCES in front of the World Trade Center!!! I can’t get through!

I guess I’ll have to take an actual plane and take the subway to work again on Monday…

Still, I already like the game. The effects are awesome, if comical. I already smashed 15 police cars into bits.

What is up with that casino just smack next to the World Trade Center though ? Hello ? It’s not like it is that far to the two towers….

near death experience

Filed under: Belgium — Thomas @ 2:50 pm

2009-4-4
2:50 pm

Yesterday Kristien was crossing over, with a bus stopping for her on the one side, and another car coming from the other direction. She was crossing over with her bike in her hand. While she was passing the bus, a motorcycle was racing past the bus, with no intention to stop. In a reflex, Kristien jumped forward, so the motorcycle only hit the back of her bike.

The back of her bike was completely squashed. The motorcycle slowed down a little, looked behind him, then raced away, even as other cars were trying to block him from fleeing.

The car that was stopped in the other direction originally pulled a U-turn and pursued the motorcycle. He was able to write down the cycle’s license plate before the guy fled.

On the one hand I’m incredibly relieved Kristien’s fine, beside a broken nail. On the other hand I want to make sure the guy that did this is taken off the streets. I have little hope of the police finding him, from what the police is saying, even if someone did give them the license plate.

If anyone knows how I can track down the owner of a Polish license plate, feel free to let me know. Irresponsible scum should be taken off the streets.

The witnesses, and the people that chased the bike to get the license plate, where all incredibly friendly and helpful. This kind of thing restores my faith in humanity. All of them where what people sometimes euphemistically call ‘New Belgians’. Thank you all.

best medicine

Filed under: Spain — Thomas @ 10:25 pm

2009-3-16
10:25 pm

after a hard first day back at work: the Holy Triad at Ciudad Condal. montadito de solomillo, brocheta de langostinos and mini-hamburguesa con cebolla confitada. All for the bargain sum of 8.50 euro. This Holy Triad will probably be a valid reason forever to come back to Barcelona.

Getting Things Done

Filed under: Hacking,Life,Work — Thomas @ 10:50 am

2009-3-2
10:50 am

GTD has saved my professional bacon on a number of occasions. There’s lots of reasons why this methodology of handling your tasks has fit me well, and I’m sure they’re different for different people. For example, one thing that it definitely has helped me with is helping me make good use of those days where I’m lacking energy, creativity, and/or just generally feel too tired to be productive. On those days, I work through tasks strictly by the book, picking those that even in my lower productivity I can manage just as well. In fact, I tend to save those tasks for those days, making sure I don’t waste my high energy moments on them.

I know I could do much better at following the system, but it is definitely something that is already paying off in its current form.

One thing I felt I was lacking though was a way to measure my progress in getting through these tasks, as well as my INBOX. I wanted to add a game element to it that would challenge me to stick to the process. Especially the zero INBOX policy is one that is easy to lose on if you let your guard down.

So, in my little universe, gaming means graphing. After some futzing about with scripts that – sadly – go into Evolution’s IMAP cache dirs to count mails in inboxes and folders I specifically keep for GTD stuff (apparently evolution python bindings don’t allow you to ask Evolution for mails in your folders), as well as grepping my todo.txt (managed by yagtd), and setting up some RRD files and scripts, I now have halfway-decent graphs:

The first one shows my inbox in my two main mail accounts (work and private). The second image shows how many tasks I have in each ‘urgency’ level (Urgency and Importance are two concepts from Stephen Covey’s book that yagtd incorporates into the GTD stuff). Roughly, for me personally, U:5 is ‘today’, 4 is ‘this week’, 3 is ‘this month’, 2 is ‘these 3 months’, and 1 is ‘this year/this life’. 0 is the next life. (I realize that this may be frowned upon by GTD adepts; feel free to share why if you are doing any frowning).

I had to put the second graph on a logarithmic scale to make sense, otherwise the more pressing tasks (U:5) would hardly show up. It’s not ideal; I’d prefer the axis to scale differently somehow but I don’t know yet how I want them.

Anyway, these scripts give me a nice goal to work for, and some numbers to fight against and help me decide whether I should spend the next weekend slacking or hacking.

On the bad side, this made me realize I have over a 1000 identified open tasks!
On the good side, when I told a friend about this, he said ‘See, there’s the difference between men and women. If my girlfriend would realize she’d have a 1000 unfinished tasks, she’d go berserk.’ Sexist ? Surely. True ? Possibly, statistically speaking. Motivating ? Definitely – the fact that I actually have all these things identified allows me to sleep at night (I can’t believe I used to try and keep all this stuff in my head), and I’m convinced I’ll never lack for things to do.

Now *that* is quality

Filed under: Life — Thomas @ 11:03 am

2009-2-20
11:03 am

I ordered some shoes on Tuesday from a store in London (I had bought a blue pair on sale in Barcelona, and went looking on the net for other colors). The store they originally came from, S***R-LONDON, had that model in grey, also on sale. around 40 euros shipping included.

I ordered them, got a mail within 5 minutes saying the order was received and the next morning that the shoes had left the building. The mail gave me a tracking link and the link said I would have the shoes today. Yeah, right, I thought.

Five minutes ago the doorbell rang. My shoes are there, delivered by a hasty UPS man. (He actually gave me two packages – the other one was the hard drive from my dad’s hard drive recovery process, a drive that had gone to Spain and back even though the company seems Belgian – but that’s a different post).

I open the package, inspect, everything’s fine. I go back to sit at my computer, and one minute later a mail arrives from the shoe company saying that their records show that the order has been delivered. Should I be checking my building for planted wires ? The mail includes a link to use in case I’m somehow unhappy with the delivery.

I think I’m going to use that link now to say how impressed I am.

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