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Chris, the Ramones, and the summer of '89

The Ramones

Sensory memory. I's when a sound, smell, taste, etc. takes you back to latent memory.

The CBC just played Teenage Labotomy and I was instantly transported to the summer of 1989. It was a summer that I hope most kids get: the indulgence of doing as little as possible.

I spent most of that summer with my best friend Chris.

Chris and I both lived on Pine Grove Crescent in Lisle Ontario. More accurately, Pine Grove Crescent was a "suburb" of about 50 people about a kilometre outside the metropolis of Lisle, population 300 or thereabouts.

Chris got me my job at the Sweet 'n' Spicy Restaurant in Alliston. We worked together as dishwashers. We worked hard, and we had a lot of fun. We weren't old enough to drive yet, and so we spent many nights together at 2am riding our bikes the 15km or so home, usually with a couple of beers under our belt.

Much of that summer was spend hanging around the neighbourhood. Chris was into skateboarding, the Ramones, and Thrash culture. He usually (willingly) dragged me along, and I even picked up a few moves on the quarter-pipe.

Most days included a bike ride into downtown Lisle (where the two roads intersect) to the the gas station/restaurant/movie rental place/arcade (all the same tiny place) to play pinball, video games and flirt with the girls.

Chris, if you're reading this, give me a call.


No, I didn't mean tampons.


There will always be someone who says that they can do it cheaper…

Oh google


Does your family know what you do?

A fictional conversation between me and a well-intentioned family members.

Them: I was telling Jim at work about what you do and I gave him your contact info, he's looking for a Web Designer.
Me: Oh. Ummm. I'm not a web designer.
Them: Yeah, but you do web pages.
Me: Actually, I'm an Integrated Technology Solutions Consultant. I solve business problems by engineering custom hardware and software to automa---
Them: ---BUT I've seen you do web pages, and you did that nice site for XYZ Inc.
Me: Well, yeah, but that was part of a bigger project, I was creating an extranet to expose an e-commerce component that I integrated with their legacy back-end information system.
Them: Yeah THAT ONE, that's what I mean, you made it look really nice.
Me: Actually I outsourced the design for that project, I just assembled their---
Them: ---AND you designed that site for ABC Ltd. and it looks nice.
Me: Yeah I guess, but that project had a slim margin and I just made do with my own---
Them: ---PERFECT. I'm sure that would be fine for Jim.
Me: I'm really trying to focus on Industrial Automation. What sort of business is Jim in again?
Them: I think mousetraps..., or maybe its metal scrap...
Me: Uh huh---
Them: ---It might have been house wrap... I wasn't really paying attention.
Me: Right.
Them: He was wondering what it would cost.
Me: Well, I usually don't touch anything for under $5000--
Them: WHOA why does it cost so---
Me: --- well, there are a lot of factors to consider, is it data-driven, there's the cost of writing a proposal, I write a project plan, analyse his needs, define the scope, stakeholders, risks, define metrics for success, I need to hire a designer and a photographer, the content needs to be written and proofread, I do A/B testing and penetration tests, there's documentation to be written, and of course I have to cover the overhead of rent, my assistant, insurance, etc.
Them: No, no, he just needs something simple, can't you just whip something up?
Me: Well, projects that seem simple have a way of bloating into megaproject---
Them: BUT he said a guy from the Yellow Pages called and said they'd do one for $70/month if he bought an ad, and it would have Flash, and---
Me: Well I've seen some of those sites... umm... if that's all he needs I'd say go for---
Them: ---But then he said his nephew was good at computers and he could do it cheap.
Me: Actually that's a great way for young people who are learning to gain experience, he should take him up on---
Them: ---but he wants it to look professional.
Me: Uh huh.
[awkward silence]
Me: Hey! I heard an ad for SquareSpace on TWiT -- it actually sounded like you can make some pretty nice sites from their templates and it's only like $8 a month.
Them: Yeah, I think his business is really going to take off. It's going to be BIG. You know, you need to take these small jobs to build up a reputation---
Me: Actually I'm really well respected among my peers. Remember all those articles I wrote and how well received they were? And I've never had to look for work since I started the business, my skills are actually specialized and there is a lot of demand---
Them: ---look, if you don't want to do it just say so.
Me: I don't want to do---
Them: ---I was just trying to help, and Jim's such a nice guy and I just thought---
Me: Fine. Tell him to email me.


AFI's 100 Years… 100 Movies

In 1998, the American Film Institute (AFI) unveiled a list of the 100 best American movies, as determined by a poll of artists and leaders in the film industry from a list of 400 nominated movies. It became a must-watch list for a generation of film buffs who had enjoyed the films when they were released, and a generation of budding film buffs who discovered these masterpieces for the first time.

This app encourages you to browse both lists, enjoy the original movie posters, make your own watch list, rate each of the titles, and learn about the directors, actors and writers of these films.

Candy Crush Saga Cheats

I gave in and I tried this Candy Crush game that everyone was talking about. I'm hooked.

Let me be clear. Five lives per day is a perfectly healthy number. It gives you some time for leisure, and then you are forced to assimilate back into society as a contributing member.

That said, I get just as much fun from taking toys apart as from playing with them, so I started tearing it apart to see what I could do about these limited lives.

These are notes, not instructions. A developer should have no problems here, but if you need step-by-step instructions you'll need to look elsewhere. Better yet, just buy some more lives/items.

The Save File

Your belongings in the gave are saved in a save file, called save_XXXXX.dat, where XXXXX is some sort of timestamp. This file is present in the app's sandbox once you have played the game. It is a binary file. If they used a serializer, I'm not sure which one.

For an iOS device you can read and write to the filesystem using DiskAid.

The process for reverse-engineering save files is no mystery. Copy the save file. Make a change. Copy the save file. Compare.

I used VBinDiff for the binary diffs and Fhred as my hex editor.

Here are my findings so far. Values are big-endian.

Item Byte Offset Bits Tested Bits Predicted
Disco ball 0x0050 32 32
Coconut ring 0x0068 16 32
Jelly Fish 0x005c 8 32
Wrapped & Striped 0x00a4 16 32
Lives 0x0290 16 32
Lollipop hammer  0x0074  8 32
Lucky Candy 0x0098  32

Music to my ears



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