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Good espresso in San Francisco chain coffee shop

It exists! Peets Coffee & Tea makes regular, non-flavoured, espresso based coffee. Still no flat white, but the espresso and Capacino is good.

As a good companion, the (badly spelt) SpecialtysDirect.com is a fine bakery on the corner of Bush and Market. Their Thai chicken sandwich is good although their rendition of a ciabata roll tastes rather bagel-like! I haven't tried their online ordering system yet.

04:28 PM, 13 Dec 2005 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

San Francisco at night

Sunday night I decided to walk to Fillmore to get dinner. If you know San Francisco you will laugh when I tell you that I'm staying on Sansome - it's a long way! Plus I walked there along California - right over the highest part of the hill...

On the way back I met Walter. Walter doesn't like alcohol, it makes people do bad things. He had a "particular agenda" that apparently required a five dollar bill - he even swapped me one of his one dollar bills in exchange.

Last night I met Michael "the map man". He gave me the good oil on what areas to avoid and where Tom Lee Hooker's old haunts are. He knows a thing or two about Australia ("@#$% Botany Bay man") and is mad as hell about T.J. Hickey. Now I know which weekly papers advertise the best gigs, and which combination travel tickets will save me the most money. That should help me save back the three dollar "tip" I gave him.

Tonight at the Golden Gate Perk I listened in to the table next to me discussing the business plan for a new travel website targetting "party travellers". Apparently they're going to "take it to the edge" and it's going to be "viral". It will feature a travel weblogging feature so that the public users will make them "mountains of content every day" which they plan to leverage by hosting Google ad's and cataloging email addresses.

Later on in the night, the Bay area's 137th homocide took place in Mission - shortly after the town hall cancelled a public meeting on violence.

David Letterman was just chatting with someone from San Francisco - according to Dave San Francisco is colder in the summer than the winter, I sure hope that's not true - it's not the height of winter yet and my hotel sheet tells me the temperature range tomorrow will be 30 to 60 (that's farenheit people).

This place sure runs to a different drum.

01:08 AM, 08 Dec 2005 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

Flat Merangue Gate

I am increasingly convinced that the "flat white" is an Australian invention. I saw no reference to it in Paris earlier this year (but why would you want milk in your coffee in a country where every street corner has such fantastic café aka espresso. I also blogged earlier this year about my attempt to get a flat white in London.

So here I am in the Golden Gate Perk purveyors of fine Coffee, lemon merangue pie and free wireless access, attempting once again. After attempting to describe the milk/water/froth combination of a flat white, the simplest description we could agree on was "something between a capacino and a latté". After stirring in the foam a bit more I have to say it's not a bad attempt! Certainly better than the "Special Blend" filter coffee I've been drinking all day to try and stay awake. In the end, CA autosys documentation was too much for me and I needed some real coffee!

09:44 PM, 05 Dec 2005 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

United we stand

Well here I am in the United Airlines "Comfort Club". It's no Qantas Club, but they do have a reasonable selection of beers and snacks.

The Optus wireless zone doesn't seem to quite reach this far, so you won't be reading this until I get stateside.

I also had a random bag search before checkin, which was new. Thankfully I didn't also have my checkin searched after the metal detectors. I have learnt by now not to take aerosol cans in my hand luggage. I'm not sure when that became an issue but it's probably a hazard just like smoking in the toilets. It always amuses me that you used to be able to smoke on the whole plane, but now it's a "fire hazard".

The other interesting United experience is that the flight is overbooked, and there was an announcement that if you were willing to wait for the flight the next day they would put you in a hotel and pay you 800 USD. If I didn't have to work on Monday it would be seriously tempting!!

Ok - flight boarding now.


Onboard United (which is where I am right now) is an unusual combination of experiences. Unusual isn't really the right word, but Tom Jones is singing "It's not unusual" on my iPod right now, so it's the word I'm stuck with.

The first thing that hit me was the seat. The best way I can describe it is as a silghtly upmarket version of the Qantas business class seat from 2 revisions ago. Not the one before the business bed - the one before that. Part of the seat makes the United website a lyer (on top of being disorganised) and that was the 15 vdc Empower power port. The United website told me that I would be able to use my laptop power supply without an adapter. That means I need to stop blogging and get coding because I still don't have the SkypeMenuX project linking under XCode 2.2 yet.

The second thing that hit my was a glass of water. My glass of water. Tim will be no doubt rolling around his government funded office guffawing with mirth, or perhaps a small smile will creep onto his face as he knows all is right in the world. I thought perhaps a new era had dawned as I successfully negotiated four international flights earlier this year without spilling a single drink but I returned to regular form when I managed to spill a glass of water on myself anD my seat before we disembarked from the gate.

I guess an airline that has filed for bankruptcy can't afford new seats. Ironically the things I am loving are probably what sent it bankrupt in the first place. In great contrast to the BCG-designed efficiency of Qantas, the onboard service is impossibly good. After the usual champagne/juice/water before takeoff and a really long taxi (thanks to Sydney's 34R runway) came a drink and nuts. That's pretty standard, but the bourbon and dry was mixed for me, very well too, and the nuts weren't in a cost effective foil pouch - they were in a small dish and warmed to perfection. I honestly don't think I have eaten better tasting nuts.

The rest of the food was nothing to rave about but the wine choices were above excellent (Australian, French and Californian) and the service was again well above par. I've probably never had better service on a flight. The detail and demeanor of the staff matched Qantas first class.

Back to the fitout, the tv screen is abysmally small (again comparable to Qantas business class screens from the early 90s). That doesn't matter because the only movies worth watching are all on ther return leg. Unfortunately the headphone jack is different to all of the airline headphone adapters I have so i can't use my noise cancelling headphones.

Which brings me to another great thing - I think the iPod and podcasting are probably the best thing to happen to air travel recently. I don't have to put up with the looped music channels and I can listen to both Adam Curry and Dr. Karl while well above the clouds.

So all in all a mixed bag. I really hope I will be able to swing Qantas or BA for my flight to London in January though.


I'm a good few hours into the flight now (sorry, I'm not tempted to use the in-seat phone to upload this blog, so you readers get this in one hit) and I have two things to rave greatly about. Well three really. The first is Aaron Hillegrass's book on Cocoa programming. The sort-of-third thing is that Cocoa programming is so cool in the first place, but then you already knew that ;) The book is well written, wastes few words or screenshots, and is massively helping my self-taught Cocoa programming no end, and I'm only up to chapter 5. The other thing I want to do is reiterate my earlier comments about the United crew's service. Every time my glass of Bourbon and dry becomes empty, my friendly cabin crew asks me if I want a refill and knows wxactlly what I am drinking. That would be easy on the upper deck but here in main cabin business class there are more seats per crew member and I am mightily impressed. I guess it's also a testament to the clarity of Aaron's technical writing that it is still making sense (and compiling) after quite a few Bourbons and some Savignon Blanc. Dehydration be damned ;) If I can add a fourth, the backlit keyboard on my Aluminium Powerbook is a lifesaver with the cabin lights out. I feel sorry for the sucker in 22H with a Lenovo laptop running Windows XP!

06:19 PM, 04 Dec 2005 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (1)

Tracking my cygwin emacs debugging

Emacs 22.50.1 (cvs) seems to crash randomly under cygwin.

I am going to keep a track of my research here. First backtraces fingers the garbage collector which would explain why it is somewhat random. I am keeping track of the stacktraces and other useful verbose stuff in the previous blog entry (cygwin emacs cvs stack traces) I have had the same backtrace a number of times now.

The exit is caused by hitting the default clause of a case LispCons in alloc.c which I am now printing to stderr. I know nothing about cygwin api's, but here goes nothing!

Update: my c is rustier than an outback dunny! case is the match point of the switch construct (I was thinking the other way around) so my stderr print was silly! Of course since the breakpoint hits before the process exits I was able to just walk one level back up the stack and use pr to dump the lisp object. (If you're trying to debug emacs, make sure you at least browse etc/DEBUG in the emacs source). The problem is that the lisp datatype checker has no idea what it is:

(gdb) pr obj
#<EMACS BUG: INVALID DATATYPE (0x07) Save your buffers immediately and please report this bug>

So it's no wonder the garbage collector is having trouble.

Update: gdb + google = easy debugging! It seems to be the same problem as this thread: http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/emacs-pretest-bug/2005-01/msg00301.html
and this one: http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/emacs-pretest-bug/2005-09/msg00079.html

Update: well none of the threads I found helped me any, they are all inconclusive... Since it's *just* garbage collection, I can run crash free by just eliminating the abort, but that leads to a super phat memory leak. Open 20 frames and you've use 88Mb. Close 19 of them and you are still using 88 Mb!

Update: Seems ok in normal usage (and with plenty of VM to soak up the objects where garbage collection fails) but I would really like to get this bug fixed as I will be using emacs on cygwin for some time.

Update: Bug is still there as of 2006-12-15. See this entry for a current patch.

08:35 PM, 01 Dec 2005 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

cygwin emacs cvs stack traces

Breakpoint 1, abort () at emacs.c:461
461      kill (getpid (), SIGABRT);
(gdb) bt
#0  abort () at emacs.c:461
#1  0x200efb11 in mark_object (arg=536989607) at alloc.c:5613
#2  0x200f048f in Fgarbage_collect () at alloc.c:4955
#3  0x20104673 in Feval (form=541751997) at eval.c:2116
#4  0x20103398 in internal_condition_case_1 (bfun=0x201045d0 <Feval>,
    arg=541751997, handlers=539968089,
    hfun=0x200a2aa0 <menu_item_eval_property_1>) at eval.c:1506
#5  0x200a2b32 in menu_item_eval_property (sexpr=541751997) at keyboard.c:7176
#6  0x200aeece in get_keyelt (object=540125025, autoload=1) at keymap.c:811
#7  0x200af523 in access_keymap (map=539900333, idx=539933345, t_ok=2,
    noinherit=0, autoload=1) at keymap.c:643
#8  0x200a37fc in tool_bar_items (reuse=566309892, nitems=0x22dcf8)
    at keyboard.c:7631
#9  0x2001d18f in update_tool_bar (f=0x212c4400, save_match_data=0)
    at xdisp.c:9193
#10 0x2002b080 in prepare_menu_bars () at xdisp.c:8899
#11 0x2002bd2e in redisplay_internal (preserve_echo_area=7) at xdisp.c:10584
#12 0x200a7011 in read_char (commandflag=1, nmaps=2, maps=0x22e920,
    prev_event=539912193, used_mouse_menu=0x22e968) at keyboard.c:2535
#13 0x200a99f7 in read_key_sequence (keybuf=0x22eac0, bufsize=30,
    prompt=539912193, dont_downcase_last=0, can_return_switch_frame=1,
    fix_current_buffer=1) at keyboard.c:8840
#14 0x200ab511 in command_loop_1 () at keyboard.c:1523

08:06 PM, 01 Dec 2005 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

One million miles in 56 days - just in Canada!

I could make it up, but I may as well just quote the guy directly.

I just sort of moved it to a new level

Marc Tacchi, part time commercial pilot, set about to clock up 1 million miles of air commuter travel armed only with a C$7,000 Air Canada North America Unlimited Pass that allowed him unlimited travel within Canada during October and November.

He did it literally with days to spare, as journalled in his blog Marc Tacchi - The Great Canadian Mileage Run 2005.

Reuters have a nice summary article Very, very frequent flyer hits 1 mln goal.

That guy is a legend! 1 million miles in a month - It's the stuff of dreams :) Although I would hate to do it on domestic flights!!

06:12 AM, 01 Dec 2005 by Mark Aufflick Permalink | Comments (0)

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