A Trivia-l End

It’s always a bummer when good and fun things come to an end. For the past 9 or so months, I’ve been going to the weekly Geeks Who Drink pub trivia at Rock Bottom Brewery in Bellevue. I believe Eric and Chris were the first to go and then they recruited Matt and eventually me. I was initially a holdout because I wasn’t sure I’d like it or be good at it. Eventually I gave it a shot and was hooked immediately.

Now, I don’t have the best memory when it comes to most things. My strength did not lie in having a vast wealth of knowledge, that was more of Eric’s job. I was most useful by knowing completely random things and songs that the rest of the team didn’t. I may have only individually contributed a few points to the team each week, but given the top three teams were frequently separated by no more than two points, every point mattered.

Speaking of the top three teams, I don’t think there was any other team that consistently placed in the top three as much as we did.  Out of our 36 appearances, we placed 32 times (89%) taking first 13 times!  The first place prize is $50 in gift certificates to RBB, second place is $25, and third was some kind of merch usually beer glasses, of which we collected quite a few.  In total, we earned about $900 (which paid for or subsidized our dinner nearly every week), roughly 36 glasses, and countless bonus question free beers (guestimating two per week yields 72 free beers.)

Oh, and we played with four of a possible six every week – almost every team that beat us needed five or six players to do so!

My personal favorite moment was during one of the music rounds.  They had orchestral covers of music or something like that and we had to name the original artist and title.  There was one that rang such a vague bell that I was convinced it couldn’t be right, but it sounded familiar enough that we went with it, and sure enough it was Telstar by The Tornados.  The only reason I had even heard it before is because it was an inspiration for Muse’s Knights of Cydonia since Matt Bellamy’s father was in The Tornados.  I’m pretty sure I was either the only or possibly one of two people in the entire room to get it right which was a pretty awesome feeling.  Unfortunately I don’t remember how we did that night, but it completely validated all of those hours I’ve spent crawling Wikipedia!

There was also the night where we won by such a HUGE majority (12 points) that we could have not used our joker (which doubles points on a single round) and still tied for first!  Usually if you don’t joker there’s ZERO chance of being even in the top five.  I’ll probably blog about how Geeks Who Drink trivia works soon to explain how the night goes in case you’re thinking about finding one by you.  They’re probably the largest nation-wide pub trivia group out there and are really good at what they do.

It was always fun hanging out with the team every week while we ate dinner and waited for trivia to start.  Our waitresses were great and our quizmaster Brendan was excellent!  There was one week we couldn’t make our usual trivia so we tried one of the others and it was nowhere near as enjoyable.  I’ll definitely miss it!  …and also learning about the existence of stuff like this.

-Paul

Some more stats (please excuse any rounding error):
First: 13 (36%)
Second: 10 (28%)
Third: 9 (25%)
Top 3: 32 (89%)
Average bar dollars per visit: $25
Largest margin of victory: 12
Average margin between us and the highest score that wasn’t us: -1.5

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The Adventures of Dorian Few

As some of you know, I’m the bassist in a band called Dorian Blu which is a cover band of all sorts of rock music.

This past Friday we played at Issaquah Art Walk with the other Kaleidoscope School of Music rock class bands which is the program that spawned our band. At this show we were down a keyboardist and guitarist, hence Dorian Few in the title.

The second band apparently rocked out a little bit too hard because after their set the power went out. We scrambled to check the outlet figuring we blew a fuse but it turned out to be a wider issue than just us. Ultimately we found a streetlight with an outlet that happened to be on a different circuit and so we ran the extension cord and the next band played without a problem.

Eventually we were up. We got about halfway through the set and were in the middle of Spirit of Radio by Rush and our singer was about to sing, “All this machinery making modern music…” when the machinery failed to do just that and the power went out again.  After the band paused for a moment a few of us kept playing (albeit with much less volume than moments prior) for humorous effect before stopping.

When this amazing lyrical timing was pointed out to me I was so amused that I didn’t mind too much that the show had just come to a screeching halt. Luckily that second power outage was likely the power company cutting all of the power as they finished repairing whatever it was that caused the whole outage bringing the whole area back on a few minutes later. We only ended up having to cut one song which was already pre-determined to be cut if we were running behind schedule anyway.

Hopefully in the future our machinery will continue making modern music at the appropriate times.  Or maybe we should just start bringing a generator along with us…

-Paul

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Spotify Auto Pauser

For security reasons at work, we’re expected lock our computers whenever we’re away from them.  That’s totally fine by me.  What bothered me was forgetting to pause Spotify.  Whenever that happens I’m left with having to decide between letting it run thereby messing up my Last.FM stats and missing out on part of an album or sitting down to sign back in to pause it and then lock it again which is not ideal when trying to get to meetings on time.

I did a bit of searching to see if a tool existed to auto-pause/resume Spotify for me whenever I lock and unlock my computer.  I did find one PowerShell script but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work correctly.

So I switched from searching to researching and pulled together the necessary information to build a Spotify Auto Pauser tool.  It’s very simple, it just adds a ||> tray icon which when clicked will do a pause/resume, but more importantly whenever I lock my computer it pauses Spotify if it’s playing and then resumes it when I unlock it (assuming it was playing before.)  That’s about it.  I don’t really have any plans to expand it further unless people start coming across it (Hi, Bing, Google, et. al.!) and want more functionality.

I’ve also released the source on Google Code since there’s really no reason not to keep it secretly to myself.  I know I’m probably missing out on millions, but I’ll get over it for the good of humanity.

Enjoy!  Let me know if you’ve tried it and what you think!

-Paul

Posted in Tools | Tagged , | 4 Comments

C# Tuples (Think Python)

Recently I took a few courses with Udacity to brush up on my coding skills and to learn the Python programming language which has been a goal of mine for a while. I found myself really liking Python and its style of doing things. One of my favorite parts was the ability to return a tuple, or basically any number of variables, from a function. This eliminates the need for ref parameters or other workarounds.

While writing a tool in C# recently, I found myself wanting to return a tuple like in Python. Unfortunately I had no knowledge of how to do this and didn’t think it could be done. I did a quick search to amuse myself and what do you know, I found this. It turns out that .NET added a Tuple class after all! It’s not quite as clean because it’s templated but hey, the functionality is there.

public Tuple<Version, string> GetVersion()
{
    Version version;
    string download_url;

    // Code to download and parse version info/download URL
    
    return new Tuple<Version, string>(version, download_url);
}

public void DoUpdate()
{
    Tuple<Version, string> version_info = GetVersion();
    Console.WriteLine(version_info.Item1.ToString();  // Print the version number
    Console.WriteLine(version_info.Item2);  // Print the download URL
}

And there you have it. Let me know if you have any other neat tricks between C# and Python!

-Paul

Posted in Programming | Tagged , | 2 Comments