30 June 2013

The Capital of Algorithmic Trading

Welcome to Chicago!

Some observations:
  • It's got the best features of New York City, Boston, and San Francisco: a quick and functional public transportation system, manageable population, and cleanliness!
  • There's a surprising number of Porsches. I counted seven Porsches (about half were 911s) while wandering the streets for most of Saturday.
  • There's not as many Old Man Cars (7/LS/A8/S/XJ) as in New York City. I however did see a Rolls Royce Phantom en route to the airport.
  • The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L lens is amazing. If I could only have one camera and lens, hands down I would use my 5D II with this lens.
Enough prose; what's a blog post without photos? Enjoy!

Night scene from the 58th floor. Underexposed by 2/3 stop.

No city is complete without a Trump Tower.


Crazy concert stadium in the Millennium Park.

Under the bean.



Navy Pier.

City from Navy Pier.

27 June 2013

Why hello there, Mac Pro

I bought a [single processor] Mac Pro on a whim (go figure). My intention was to see whether the Mac Pro 1,1/2,1 heatsink works in the Mac Pro 3,1 models. However, to my delight, the computer came with a magical second processor!

Turns out the computer was from a university. Maybe I should have waited for MIT to throw some out!

Feel free to scan the barcode.

Temporary setup. It probably should not live in front of my dresser.

That's a G5 carcass behind the Mac Pro.

Also, Apple certified FB-DIMMs are legit.

I <3 911s

22 June 2013

A Summer of Cars, Part I

As promised, I have test driven one (1) car a week every week I have been free. Here's a brief writeup of each:

Porsche Boxster (981): Wicked awesome. Great exhaust note, especially with the top down. Accelerates slow enough such that I could enjoy the exhaust note when merging onto highways, or accelerating from red lights. I was surprised that noise isolation was decent with the top up, in contrast to what I've read online. The interior fit and finish is good without full leather, but would be incredibly sumptuous with a special order two-tone natural leather with mahogany wood. I think this car could be a real winner (hey, it won a 10Best award from Car and Driver).

Porsche 911 Carrera (991): Unfortunately, I liked this test drive the least. I found the sport exhaust to be overwhelming; with it enabled while cruising, the exhaust is a loud, unpleasant droning noise. Sport plus mode was exceedingly scary, holding the engine at 5000+ RPM in second gear on the highway. I was also disappointed to find out that I could not fit in the claustrophobic rear seat with an extremely tall driver. So much for the #911fund.

BMW Z4 sDrive30i: Drove a pre-owned one since the dealer doesn't stock Z4s. More of a GT (grand tourer) than the Boxster. Engine roar was good, but quiet for my tastes. Lower quality interior materials than the Boxster, but not sure how a full leather interior would look. Steering was slow and light, unlike the Boxster's, which did not inspire confidence. The car also has poor rearward visibility with the top up. Also, to my horror during the test drive, the temporary license plate fell off when opening the hardtop.

Audi TT 2.0T: Drove a pre-owned one since the dealer doesn't stock TT's. The salesman said that I could "take my time" with the test drive, so I detoured from the normal route and drove on some smaller backroads. The steering was light compared to the Boxsters's, but had a tighter ratio than the Z4's. The accelerator was also very odd; it did not require any effort to push. The engine had unpredictable turbo lag (floor the car and the engine doesn't respond for a second), and did not sound as good compared to those of the Z4 and the Boxster (because of the turbo in the TT). The seats and steering wheel seemed unpadded and were very hard. I was delighted to learn that I can special order one with a manual gearbox to lease.

For kicks and laughs I test drove a Lexus CT200h. In short, it's Lexus's Prius, with the same lethargic powertrain, but considerably better fit and finish. Coming from the TT to a CT in Eco mode, the car was incredibly unresponsive -- pushing the accelerator halfway does practically nothing. Sport mode was marginally better. The car reacted to the throttle, but still moved relatively slowly. The engine roar was an irritating drone that I unconsciously blocked out. Steering was light, but somewhat twitchy. The brake pedal had a very short throw, which took a while to get used to. The synthetic leather feels really odd: it has a much finer grain texture than leather.

Some comments about the dealership experiences: I'm amused that I pass as a potential customer. At ze German dealers, the salesmen were not naggy at all, I think partly because I knew quite a bit about the respective cars. There was also a greater amount of trust: none of the salesmen came on the test drives. This was not the case at the Lexus dealer: the salesmen took every chance to ask if I needed help, and tagged along on the test drive. The Lexus salesman also seemed disappointed when I was "just looking," unlike the respective German marque salesmen.

Next up: Mercedes-Benz SLK and Lotus Elise!

17 June 2013

I have a computer naming scheme!

I finally thought of a viable scheme that even has implied hierarchy! The theme is:

First names of supercar executives!

The undisputed king: Ettore Bugatti. Ettore will be the name of my fastest, most absurd computer, currently my quad-processor AMD system. I highly doubt I'll get an eight-processor system soon.

Next, it takes two to tango: Christian von Koenigsegg and Horacio Pagani. Horacio is the name of my desktop. If I wind up with another comparable system, then it will be named Christian.

Then the not-absurdly-expensive exotics: Enzo Ferrari, Ferruccio Lamborghini, Roland Gumpert, Bruce McLaren (actually not the founder of McLaren Automotive, the road car subsidiary). I'm bummed that Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce aren't named after a single person. These will be used for weak dual processor or fast single processor systems.

Finally, the unforgettable: Ferdinand Porsche (Ferry, his son, is also viable). Since Porsches are the lowest rung cars in the supercar land, Ferdinand and Ferry will be used for my two laptops.

16 June 2013

Happy Father's Day

Me: Happy Father's Day!

Dad: It is? Thank you. Who told you?


Who's ``bing?''

The search engine.

12 June 2013

Carte Blanche

I am pleased that, for the most part, abstracting away problems with money works. Mostly logistical problems.

01 June 2013

Third time's a charm

Welp, I'm here on the east coast again, trapped in the heat and humidity. It's not all bad though; for the most part of the week, I get fed to watch money being printed. Unfortunately, that's only a good 50 hours a week, at best. What do I do with the rest?

Definitely planning on finishing my scooter and go kart -- I think I learned a fair bit about chassis prototyping to get my scooter chassis right on the first try. I guess I'll have to bear walking in 32ÂșC weather.

Powerlifting? Seeing as I'm walled around 100/120/135 (bench/squat/deadlift), and without a bench spotter, I doubt I can catch up to vchiu, the star female powerlifter at MIT (she's currently at 110/209/286). All figures in lb.

Learn how to drive a manual? There are no rental agencies that stock manuals! How unfortunate. I'll buy a beater from craigslist after I graduate this December and practice on that for a good half year.

As my consolation prize for not having a stick shift for the summer, I figured a good use of weekends is to sample as many cars as I can before the semester starts. Since there are 11 weekends during which I am employed, 9 of which I'll be free, I figured that I can sample a vehicle a weekend. In particular, here's the plan:
  • Porsche Boxster (981) -- 1 Jun
  • Porsche 911 Carrera (991) -- 8 Jun
  • BMW M3 -- 15 Jun
  • Audi S4 -- 22 Jun
  • Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 -- 13 Jul
  • Lotus Elise -- 20 Jul
  • BMW Z4 -- 27 Jul
  • Chevrolet Corvette -- 3 Aug
  • ??? -- 10 Aug (might ditch this one)
I'm seriously considering a Boxster or 911, not so much the rest. I'm going for as much sportiness without sacrificing too much luxury -- I want my wood trim :P

This summer just got so much better.