Gen Con Advice From A First Timer

This year was our first Gen Con, we got housing but only at a hotel by the airport. There is zero traffic so driving in was easy and parking if you got there around 9am was reasonable and available. I heard lots of complaints about the shuttle bus so if you are out by the airport if plan on driving in. Cost per night is way cheaper by the airport too, and there is always a game or five being played in the dining area.

Ticketed events is the real meat of Gen Con, that said everything in moderation! Try not to plan more than 2-3 events a day, and try and have a day that is event free if possible. On event registration day pick lots of things for your wish list then prune it down once you get spots — you will not get all of your choices! That said not everyone shows up for a game so if you didn’t get in an event you wanted you might still be able to play on the day. The dealer hall has so many game demos that you will not see them all even if you spent all 4 days doing that alone, make time for it, because you’ll discover something new and fun.

Gen Con is a lot of fun, just plan down time and enjoy yourself, plan on eating and plan snacks – no one wants to play with a grumpy gamer :)

Everyone has their favourite con, if you want to go to Gen Con, then go and make up your own mind.

Rant On Raising a Gifted Child

Note: This rant was originally posted to a mailing list about beer after a long thread of ill-informed and ignorant messages were exchanged on gifted children.

I’m a dad, and I have a gifted child. Its not a competition, nor is it necessarily a good thing.

My son routinely puts his shoes and shirts on backwards, its near impossible to get him excited to do things unless he wants to do them. He can out-read 99% of the kids in his gifted class, and math is so unnaturally easy for him its spooky.

Its hard for kids, even in the gifted program to understand him, he relates to adults or at least older kids much better. But in the regular program kids really don’t get him and thats when you get into bullying - I’m happy this program exists. That said, his grades are average, because school bores him.

Gifted is just a label that says your kid learns differently and has different needs than the average kid. Some skills you deem as dumb such as putting on clothes properly are just not at top of mind when your brain is going a thousand miles an hour thinking on so many other topics and levels.

Raising a gifted child is not easy, nor a guarantee to a successful life. Like everything its work, and if you love them you’ll do the work to help them. When I tell people my son is gifted they go “Oh great, you must be so proud!” but really I wish they wouldn’t because they dont know whats involved, but I nod and smile anyways because its just easier.

tldr; its not a competition, dads say it, and its not always a good thing. love your kids.

A Modern Programming Operating System [Part 2]

[Please also check out Part 1]

In this new post about a modern programming operating system I’m going to comment on what a flood of people gave me in the comments on the post and on Hacker News. I’m very thankful for the overwhelming support and ideas that came from those comments and has inspired me to keep thinking about this topic.

Running IPython with its shell seemed to be overwhelmingly a popular choice, though the shell needs some work I think its the closest match. I love using IPython, and I think it gives a decent interface for working with the code. With the shell option it looks like you’d get some OS commands as well, which may be more than what I want but I think its a solid starting off point. Python on Wheels was the major contributor to this method and even got it running on a Rasbery PI which seems to be the most ideal platform to get a project like this running on — lots of people in the comments seem to agree as well.

Some people talked about Python Notebook, and Although interesting, its still a webpage and with that comes all the distractions. Some others talked about Ruby and I like the idea, I’m not sure if a 7 year old needs to be concerned with indentation yet :) and Ruby is a pretty friendly language to code in, with lots of published examples and tutorials. Beyond that I’m unsure of what might be available to make ruby viable in this platform, does it have a IPython Shell equivalent that we can hack on to get the desired results?

Some people said why bother, why? because I think it would be fun, and I’m glad that most of the community seems to agree with me!

[HN Post, may have more comments]

UPDATE: Just ran across Kidsruby, which has a version that runs on a Raspberry PI, I think I’ll have to check into it a bit more.

A Modern Programming Operating System

I was reminiscing about my childhood and computers in comparison to what my own children have. How booting up the Vic20 and later the C128 and being presented with nothing more than a blue screen and a flashing cursor prompting me to type in some basic code. I could save that code to floppy or tape and play it back later. I remember spending hours going over programming books typing in line by line the code to make something cool happen.

Which takes me to what we have today, sure you can start programming on any modern day operating system, but I’ve always found creativity in constraints and I think a small OS that was dedicated to a programming language such as Ruby or Python would be good for kids to learn on and explore on. But nothing like this exists as far as I know.

I was thinking of a linux kernel, with python 3.0 as the shell. I’d keep the login system as it gives users a place to save their files to. The python shell would have to be an abstract of the python shell as you would need load, save, and run commands to reuse your existing code.

I there any interest in such a project, does one already exist?

UPDATE: Some great comments showing up on the post comments and on Hacker News! Thanks everyone for the feedback and info! I’ll post a followup post in a few days.

UPDATE 2: Follow up post can be found here

Postfix TLS Errors

Ive been seeing this in my local postfix log:

Dec 10 08:46:50 totoro.local postfix/smtp[59905]: Untrusted TLS connection established to smtp.gmail.com[74.125.142.109]:587: TLSv1 with cipher RC4-SHA (128/128 bits

It wasn’t harmful, mail still is sent. But annoying, yes! The fix is simple, I’m on OS X Mountain Lion but the fix is fairly universal.

$ wget https://www.geotrust.com/resources/root_certificates/certificates/Equifax_Secure_Certificate_Authority_DER.cer
$ openssl x509 -inform der -in Equifax_Secure_Certificate_Authority_DER.cer -out Equifax_Secure_Certificate_Authority.pem
$ sudo cp Equifax_Secure_Certificate_Authority.pem  /etc/postfix/CAcert.pem

Next you want to check to make sure you have a line in your /etc/postfix/main.cf that points to the CAcert.pem file

smtp_tls_CAfile = /etc/postfix/CAcert.pem

once this is done, you should just need to reload postfix using “sudo postfix reload” and the error should go away!

My Top 12 Albums of 2012

Here are my top 12 albums for 2012, they are no in order as I consider them all great for varies reasons :) I also included a couple of bonus items that came out as an EP or a single.
  1. Lana Del Rey – Born to Die
  2. Ben Folds Five – The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind
  3. Jack White – BluderBuss
  4. Tennis – Young & Old
  5. The Raveonettes – Observator
  6. Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror
  7. Grizzley Bear – Shields
  8. Purity Ring – Shrines
  9. Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles (III)
  10. Beach House – Bloom
  11. Best Coast – The Only Place
  12. Mumford & Sons – Babel

Bonus:

  1. Dum Dum Girls – End of Daze [EP]
  2. Wild Belle – Keep You [EP] & Keep You [Single]
  3. Icona Pop – I Love it [Single]

What were your favorites?

Binders Full Of Women

Truth be told, I haven’t kept too much on this US election as I have previous years, but between the big bird thing and now “Binders full of women” comment from Mit Romney, this sure is shaping up to be the funniest of them all.

Once again, McKayla is not impressed.   - Binders full of women

Once again, McKayla is not impressed.

Re-blogging

Decided to restart the ol’blog. I’m getting kind of fed up with Twitter and Facebook isn’t the right platform for posts on a technical level. I thought of using Google+ but the thought of maintaining yet another social network didn’t sound like the right thing either. So I imported my old blog that ran from 2003-2009 and picking up from where I left off. My flavors site is still live on this domain, but now located at social.slakinski.com

Watson :’(

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RIP Watson

?-2009

As some of you may or may not beaware of, one of our dogs Watson got very sick about 6 days ago and was not eating and we got very worried about him. The new Mahalo Answers community rallied around him when I posted a question on wether or not I should take him to the vet or to wait it out for a bit to see how he does.

Once we took him in they ran some tests, and we got the results yesterday afternoon. He had lymphoma, and had it bad. We opted not to treat it, and only keep him comfortable until such times as we felt that his quality of life was not good enough to keep it going. We had no idea that would be the very next day.

This morning Watson, despite the pain medication he was on, looked bad. He had a hard time eating, walking, even sleeping. So we made one of the hardest decisions in our lives, to put him to rest. We just couldn’t see him in that much pain any more, and without the medication he would have starved because it hurt too much to eat… we just didn’t feel right keeping him alive just so he could be with us one more day, even if that one more day was painful for him, we much rather him go peacefully and as in little pain as possible.

We called his vet, despite it being a practice Watson only sees one vet because he’s so good with him and Watson likes him. We got put in a special room, where he could lie with his head on my lap on a couch and we said our final goodbyes.

We love you Waton, you will be forever missed and in our hearts forever.

Poor Aidan’s Appendix

On Saturday at 7:45PM Aidan buckled over in pain which we dismissed as bad gas pains and just watched him carefully through the night. On Sunday we took him into emerg where he didn’t react to any physical exam and blood, urine and xrays all showed up negative so we were sent home and told its a stomach bug and will develop into vomiting and fever soon. On monday that didn’t happen, instead the pains which came in waves started to separate and during the calm periods Aidan appeared 100% fine and then sever pain for a few minutes. We took Aidan back to emerge to be dismissed by nurses saying he was fine because he looked fine most of the time. When we finally got to see a doctor she thought it could be intussusception and booked us an Ultrasound the next day.

On Tuesday Shannon took him to ultrasound and the results were very surprising, while checking for intussusception the radiologist noticed that while scanning that Aidan was uncomfortable when they went by one area of his stomach, so they took a look at his appendix and sure enough it was inflamed. Also to boot he did have intussusception! So off to McMaster Children’s Hospital. At this point we had a highly skeptical intern, very friendly nurses and a great doctor! After a second ultrasound it was determined that the intussesceptoin reversed itself but we had to operate to remove the appendix though he wasn’t sure if it needed to come out — blood and urine tests still came back negative, but performed the surgery anyways based on a gut feeling that it needed to come out.

After the operation, 3AM, the doctor came up to me and said we caught it just in time, that it was indeed ready to burst but had not. Moral of the story, trust your gut and keep pushing if something doesn’t seem right.

Anyways, he is resting comfortably at McMaster right now, he may come home late today or early tomorrow morning.