Bike to Work Day

Posted in personal at 11:25 pm by danvk

btwd07_150px.gifToday was Bike to Work Day in the San Francisco Bay Area. I celebrated appropriately, along with many, many other Googlers. My commute is about 10-15 minutes by bike. It’s almost respectable, but nothing compared to the 45-mile San Francisco to Mountain View commute that a surprising number of people undertook.

There were some fun activities organized around the day. The coolest: I got to ride a brand-new Conference Bike, a seven-seated, three-wheeled beast of a bicycle. There were also free chair massages. I heard Larry’s unmistakable, gravelly voice during mine, so at least one of our founders participated. I can only assume that Sergey was still on his honeymoon.

Google has a program to encourage self-powered commuting. The company makes a donation to a charity of my choice each day I bike in. So how have I been doing?


I made the commute 16 times in Q4 before the winter cold set in. I remember that November 30 bike ride pretty vividly. It was freezing cold, dark, and I didn’t have a long-sleeve shirt. Brrrrrrr.. it was enough to keep me off my bike for another two months. I hit 20 in Q1, thanks to a surge in March. My goal is 40 this quarter. I’m at 17 as of today, hopefully 18 by tomorrow. That’s a little off-pace, but it’s definitely doable. I’ll need to bike in 3/5 days two weeks and 4/5 days four more weeks to make it. That’ll be tough.

The main thing reason I don’t bike in every single day is racquetball. If I’m going to be playing in the afternoon or early evening, it just doesn’t make sense to bike in, bike back home, drive to the racquetball club and back.

And speaking of racquetball, I’ll hopefully have some hardware to show off in a forthcoming blog post…


Say Hi to Jasper Vanderkam Conway!

Posted in personal at 10:48 pm by danvk

A friendly welcome to the world to my new nephew, Jasper Vanderkam Conway! He was born 2:15 AM on May 16th, and weighed in at 7 pounds 8 ounces.


Let’s see that face!


Baby and mommy


And Daddy


Long ago, Bob Dylan wrote about seeing “a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it.” Things look turbulent with mom in that picture, but he looks pretty happy and doll-like with Daddy. Wolves? I think he’ll be OK with those two. I’ll get a chance to meet little Jasper the weekend of July 4 when I visit the fam in New Jersey.


Movies to see, movies to not see

Posted in movies at 5:03 pm by danvk

200px-fogofwar.jpgGoogle took everyone to see Spider-Man 3 on Friday. This one fits under “movies to not see.” My favorite moment was “Spidey” swinging across a nicely-backlit American flag rippling in the wind. Seriously, what were they thinking? Close seconds for favorite moments: every time a character opened his/her mouth. Ugh.

To get the bad taste out, I watched Errol Morris’s The Fog of War, an Academy Award-winning documentary about Robert McNamara. This is definitely a movie to see. McNamara narrates the story of his life and offers some lessons he’s learned along the way. His discussion of the Vietnam War is especially fascinating in light of current events. McNamara gave me the impression that most people in the White House had realized by 1967 or so that Vietnam was a lost cause, but that it was politically impossible to withdraw. Fewer than half the total U.S. casualties had occurred by 1967. Let’s hope we’re not still in Iraq in 2010.

Then there’s The Room, by this stud. Let’s just say that Rocky Horror is so eighties. Wikipedia’s summary is pretty good: ‘After a brief run in Los Angeles, the film went on to develop a cult following in the city, because of its perceived unintentional humor. It continues to have monthly midnight screenings. Wiseau promotes the film as a black comedy and insists that the “unintentional” humor is intentional. Most people who have seen the film doubt this claim.’ Here’s two choice clips from the film. This review is also excellent.


JRuby Performance, Yowch!

Posted in boggle, programming at 10:58 pm by danvk

I took JRuby 0.9.9 for a spin with the exceptionally-inefficient Boggle program from a few months back. Here are the numbers:

$ time ruby short.rb c a t d l i n e m a r o p e t s
ruby short.rb c a t d l i n e m a r o p e t s  241.95s user 1.20s system 97% cpu 4:08.35 total
$ time jruby short.rb c a t d l i n e m a r o p e t s
jruby short.rb c a t d l i n e m a r o p e t s  1178.86s user 40.84s system 108% cpu 18:44.44 total

I’d heard JRuby was slow, but this is spectacular. Four times slower than the already-slow Ruby?

I’d always thought that the point of JRuby was to run Ruby programs on the JVM, and hence get the benefits of the JVM’s JIT. I guess not. With that kind of performance, the only possible justification is the ability to use Java libraries.

Barack Obama Myspace Gaffe

Posted in politics, web at 7:35 pm by danvk

I’m generally a big fan of Barack, but this gaffe really bugs me. It’s so incredibly heavy handed. The asking price was a pittance for his campaign.

I doubt Barack himself had much to do with it, but it makes me sad to see his organization strongarming an ardent supporter like this. Or, as the Daily Kos article puts it, “Shitting on your biggest supporters is generally not a wise thing to do.” Ugh.

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