Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel


It’s the end of my second day at Crytek, and I have to say, it’s been a pretty cool start. There’s only one small downside, which is that I’m currently without internet access at home. FOR THREE MONTHS.

So these blog posts might be a little more sporadic. I’ll see if I can buy a 3G card for my laptop for a few euros, or a few nights with my body. If you know anything about 3G internet, specifically how to avoid paying through the nose, please let me know.


Austria 4 – Graz

September 25, 2008

We had planned to spend the day hiking on top of a glacier, but the weather report (which is always clarified by altitude in Austria) showed rain on the ground, snow at the cable car, and more snow at the summit. We cancelled our sunset dinner above the clouds, which leaves me something to do on my next trip to Austria.

We turned tail and headed back to Graz. We rendezvoused with a few friends, grabbed some burgers the size of your head for €4, and spent the evening at a local spa. The water in the spa was heated by volcanic vents to feel like a warm bath.

Relaxed and carefree, we spent the rest of the evening lounging around the house. Annina, who spends her days at the hospital training to become a doctor, tried her hand at Trauma Center, a surgery game for the Nintendo DS. She quickly used her professional skills to put us all to shame. She somehow found it less thrilling than real surgery, though. I guess some people just don’t like video games.

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Austria 3 – Ice Caves and Salt Mine

September 24, 2008

This morning started with a visit to the Höhlenwelt ice caves in the Dach Stein. We rode a cable car above the cloud line, coming to a stop about 1500m above sea level, above the first layer of clouds.

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The German Toilet

When my high school band traveled through Europe, I noticed that something was fundamentally different between European and North American culture. The shock has stayed with me for years, and it’s only been recently that I’ve reached out to the online community for comfort. I’ve found that I’m not the only one who’s been traumatized by these stark differences in behaviour.

A few European countries, particularly Germany, Austria, and apparently England, seem to be eternally visited by the ghost of sewage past. A wise man wrote a brilliant essay in which he coined the term the German Poo-Shelf Toilet (GPST), although Wikipedia refers to it as the Flachspüler, Washout, or shelf toilet.

Washout Toilet

Whatever you call it, it’s horrible. I had close encounters with 6 of them in just 10 days in Austria. My kingdom for a properly designed toilet.

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Austria 2 – Monastery

September 23, 2008

I spent most of my second day in Austria driving with Felix and Nina to the tiny Austrian village of Obertraun. We stopped in Admont along the way to visit a monastery called Benediktinerstift Admont. The abbey contains a massive library, the biggest monastery library room in the world. It was built in 1074, and it comes fully equipped with fake bookshelves that cover hidden windows that doubled as emergency exits in dire times. We also saw books that were more than 1000 years old. It turns out that the scribes of old doodled as much as we do today.

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An Ode to a Dog

As far as Higginses go, he wasn’t the most famous. He might’ve been the smelliest. But if he goes down in history for anything, it’ll be for his laziness. He was right at home in our lazy family. Read more


Austria 1 – Arrival

September 22, 2008

Waking up to catch a flight at 02:30 is even worse when you have a cold, but that’s a small price to pay to spend the next 10 days visiting my Austrian friends, Felix and Annina.

Felix and Annina whipped up an awesome walking tour of their hometown, Graz. Like any good tour, it started and ended with chocolate. I saw an alien which commemorates Austria’s 2003 title of European Capital of Culture, climbed a rope maze on a metallic river-island, and gazed out over the beautiful rooftops of the city from the top of a once decimated castle:

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A Polish Welcome

My flight plan had a stopover in Poland. I guess this is normal there.

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It’s all gone

The one thing I didn’t have backed up before my emergency laptop reformat was my RSS feeds. I’ve rebuilt most of what I’ve lost, but if you happen to know my reading habits, or if I’ve sent you links, please hook me up.


Generating a stack trace from an ELF.

As fantastic as asserts are, sometimes a vanilla assert leaves a programmer wanting more. Wanting for what, you ask? A stack trace. Preferably a human-readable one. And it’s surprisingly easy to do.
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