Starry Wisdom

Entropic Words from Neilathotep

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A quick word on avro schema definition

Avro vexes me every time I use it – and the documentation is helpfully only to a small extent. ┬áToday I was trying to add a field that stored a list (array) of strings and had a default value to an already existing schema. I tried a couple of things…

#doesn't work
{"name": "foo", {"type": "array", "items": "string"}, "default": ["bar"]}

#doesn't work
{"name": "foo", "type": {"type": "array", "items": "string"}, "default": ["bar"]}

Before I realized that the “type” required a list of types in this case, even if the list was one element long. So this is the working pattern:

{"name": "foo", "type": [{"type": "array", "items": "string"}], "default": ["bar"]}
posted by neil at 10:27 pm
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Friday, April 17, 2015


I met Noah at 4:07 AM on March 27, 2015. He’s pretty cute.

posted by neil at 12:33 pm
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Not very good at posting

It turns out I’m not very good at posting here. Maybe I should turn my keys in?

posted by neil at 10:08 am
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Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Sequestration and Me

A brief note to say that I got my tax refund from the federal government 10 days after I filed my taxes. Oh, and I filed on a Sunday. It only took CA 5 days to get me my refund.

This is a boring post, but you gotta take the good with bad folks. Or in the case of my blog, the worse with the bad.

posted by neil at 11:09 pm
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Jebus Crist!

Ok, it took an email from Dreamhost reminding me that a new version of wordpress was released for me to remember that I have a blog. Well, I remembered, but I’ve not been tending to it too well. The summer business I alluded to in my last post, about 6 weeks ago is still going on but slowed a little. The condo conversion is still going, but almost done (done with the city, in the midst of refinancing it into individual condos). Anyway the only point is, I’ll post more soon. Maybe. But also that I have a bridge to sell you.

posted by neil at 9:47 am
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Checkpoint

Oh man, I am lax, but I’ve been busy. The past month or so has been full of traveling, which I will write about when I get back from LA after this weekend – my last trip for several weeks. I’m excited because I’ll actually be at home next weekend, and be able to finish some projects around the house. Speaking of which, the condo conversion is still ongoing, but it’s at the *almost* done stage – the map for the lot split has been submitted to the county recorder, so once that’s recorded, it’s pretty much complete (will still need to do a condo conversion refi, but as far as the city will be concerned, we are two separate lots as soon as it is recorded). I’ll leave you with a photo of a good beer I discovered, which is impossible to get here :(.

posted by neil at 9:38 am
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer Travel 2012 Begins – New Jersey

For whatever reason summer seems to be the season when we do the majority of our traveling. This year traveling is mostly centered around events of friends and family – birthdays and weddings. The first trip was to my friend Scott’s wedding in New Jersey, June 1, 2012 through June 4, 2012. I’d been to New Jersey before, for work in 2002 or 2003 – Jersey City, which is pretty cool because it is right near Manhattan, and Piscataway/New Brunswick, which is probably closer to the rest of the state. Oh, we also went to Princeton for part of a day, which was nice, and the campus looks like Hogwarts.

Anyway, this time we were headed to Rockaway in North/Central New Jersey. And my number one impression of this place is – diners abound. We ate at a different diner each of the four days that we were there. They were convenient (open late or 24 hours, most of them), had decent foods and large menus so that they could satisfy the hungers of multiple people. The only one that was really of note was the Jefferson Diner in Lake Hopatcong:

This place was obviously recently remodeled, and as such the are a food network and such mainstay (based on their menu). They self-advertise a lot, both on billboards on the highway it’s on, and in the diner itself. There are video screens which show a mixture of local advertisements (for dog walkers or tutors or what not – the sort of thing that is often on placemats at other diners there) and clips from their appearance on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Personally, I would eat more comfortably without seeing Guy Fieri’s crazy mug, but that wasn’t to be. The food portions here were bigger than the other diners, which tended to serve more food than one should eat in a sitting, but were also more expensive.

The second impression is that New Jersey sure likes open faced sandwiches! I guess this helps get a bit more food on a plate, since you can have about twice the filling per sandwich, but it’s more of a pain to eat. Third impression – I really understand the state’s nickname now – this area of the state is incredibly verdant.

It was an OK place to visit, but I sure was happy to get back to California after 3 days there.

posted by neil at 9:06 pm
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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Another Kickstarter I Like (plus a weird bonus one)

Way back in the 1970s, when I was just a toddler, Steve Jackson came out with a little game called OGRE. The premise of this tiny little game (the original was pocket sized) was that one side played a giant robotic death tank, and the other side played an army composed of ‘conventional’ units (if you call levitating tanks conventional). The former tried to wipe the latter’s command post off the map, while the latter’s singular goal was to destroy the former. It’s very asymmetric, but fairly balanced in the end.

I probably first became aware of OGRE in high school, after Steve Jackson Games was raided by the Secret Service, due to a cyperpunk roleplaying game they were developing at the time. Or maybe it was from the cruddy computer game that Origin released in the late 1980s…

Now, Steve Jackson has turned to Kickstarter to release a new, huge version of this seminal strategic board game. I for one am hugely excited about the 14lb sixth edition! And unlike Wasteland 2, I should get my copy this year!

And, lest you think that the only things I support are games, I also recently supported Flint and Tinder’s premium made in America underwear.

posted by neil at 8:57 am
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

More on POPOS

Some of you might remember I wrote a bit about POPOS earlier this month. Today on the SF Chronicle website there is an article by John King on this very subject. The thesis of his article is that it easy for developers to hide the existence of these required open spaces with signs that are all-but-hidden within plain sight.

We have the list of these places on the door of our office at work, and while I haven’t yet managed to check out any of the several within easy walking distance, I intend to do so in the next few weeks, and I will report back on my experience when I do.

Also, quick note: we passed the building inspection on Tuesday and have our Certificate of Final Completion and Occupancy, so we are free to move forward with the condo conversion. Which yes, I still owe a real post on, but that’s a post for another day.

posted by neil at 11:01 am
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land review

Last year someone pointed out a Call of Cthulhu Advent calendar app to me. I, of course, downloaded it and ended up scoring 100% on the daily quizzes, but that is neither here nor there. The calendar was put out by Red Wasp Design. and late last month they released an IOS strategy RPG/Horror game – Call of Cthulhu:The Wasted Land. The original release was a bit buggy, as these things can be, but the patch that came out about a week later fixed the major problems and in the end it’s a very playable game.

The basic game play is turn based strategy with role-playing game elements. Your team of 4-6 ‘investigators’ are involved in a mission to save the Allies and the World from … well, unknowable horrors. In fact, that horrors are so unknowable that every time your characters interact with unnatural foes their sanity slowly ekes away. If sanity hits zero, the character will go insane, which sometimes causes them to freeze in panic, and other times allows them to go berserk. Either way, sanity can be restored, both before and after insanity, with a properly equipped character with the Psychology skill. See below for a picture of the intrepid investigators fighting various horrors:

This is a great game, compatible with both iPhones and iPads (in HD) for the low price of $4.99. Per the developers an Android version is in the works. I highly recommend this game!

posted by neil at 7:53 pm
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