Fun ways to get from Richmond to Downtown Vancouver on transit

I commute from Richmond to Downtown Vancouver every day for work.  Normally I take the Canada Line, which is a quick and reliable way to and from work.  As much as I like trains, some days it just seems boring; after all, the majority of the ride is underground.

So I tasked myself to find five different ways to get to work (potentially one for each day of the week), if I wanted to take a break from the Canada Line.  Let’s assume we’re commuting from Richmond Centre to Waterfront.  Obviously we’re not optimizing for travel time.

Option 1: 403, 480, 44

A nice ride to UBC then along 4th Avenue, Burrard Street Bridge downtown.  If you’re lucky, you can complete this entire route on articulated buses.

Option 2: 407, 22

I’d probably consider this one the most unscenic one, but it only involves one transfer and is a bus-only route.  Probably a good one for napping.

Option 3: 430, Expo/Millennium Line

An express bus to Metrotown, then a ride on the SkyTrain downtown.  If you’re extremely lucky, you may find a seat at the front of the SkyTrain.

Option 4: 410, Expo/Millennium Line

Kind of the same as the previous option except this one includes a highway run along Highway 91, but no express through the city.  This has a longer SkyTrain ride too, which also includes passing the SkyTrain yard.

Option 5: 407, 480, 17, 50

And finally the crazy bus-only route.  Almost guaranteed to ride four different types of buses – a New Flyer 40 footer on the 407, an articulated bus on the 480, a trolley bus on the 17 and most likely a Novabus on the 50.

Of course these options aren’t exhaustive; there are many other combinations that can loop through all parts of town.  But these are the ones off the top of my head that balance being interesting and getting to work in a reasonable amount of time.

Basic ‘ZFS on Linux’ setup on CentOS 7

Here is a quick guide to getting a plain ZFS partition working on a Linux machine using the “ZFS on Linux” project.  I was playing around on a CentOS 7 virtual machine trying to set it up as a replication target for my home FreeNAS box as a backup.  If you are unfamiliar with ZFS, it is a filesystem for a storage environment, having features such as data integrity protection and snapshots; I came across it as it is used in FreeNAS.

Here is the procedure I used:

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VMware ESXi Scratch Space

If you installed VMware ESXi on a USB stick like I did, the “scratch space” (used for storing logs and debug information) is stored on a RAM disk.  This takes up 512MB of memory that could otherwise be provisioned to virtual machines.  In addition, it does not persist across reboots, which explains why I was never able to find any logs after a crash. Also I was seeing random “No space left on device” errors when I was trying to run the munin monitoring script for ESXi.

The solution to this is to simply create a folder on a disk, and configure ESXi to use it.

  1. Login to the console or SSH to the host.
  2. Go into one of your datastores in /vmfs/volumes/
  3. Create a directory for the scratch space.
  4. Login to the vSphere Client.
  5. In the Host device, go to the Configuration tab, then find the Software category on the left menu and click Advanced Settings
  6. In the Configuration parameters window, find ScratchConfig on the left.
  7. For the “ScratchConfig.ConfiguredScratchLocation” box, enter the path to the folder you created in step 3.
    ESXi Advanced Settings Window
  8. Reboot the host.

It’s as simple as that!


Seven years after Youth Leadership Millennium

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the graduation ceremony of this year’s S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Youth Leadership Millennium (YLM) program.  I participated in the same program seven years ago and since then have been volunteering there.

Although I have attended many of the graduations as a volunteer over the past years, this was the first time I was invited to speak in front of the audience from my perspective as an alumnus.  Writing the speech gave me a chance to reflect over the past seven years and how different aspects of YLM have been part of my life.

Much of what I wanted to share with the graduates included learning and applying what was learned to life.  The first point was to get the graduates to reflect on what they had learned in the program.   I learned a lot during the seven-month program, hard skills like running meetings, and soft skills like working with others.  I was also exposed to different things that I wouldn’t have tried on my own.

The second point was to keep learning throughout their lives.  The motto of my elementary school was “Be a Learner for Life”.  The program can’t teach you everything there is to know about leadership within seven months.  It’s up to each individual to put in the effort to better themselves.

The final point was to apply what they learned in their lives.  I think much of the benefit of YLM wasn’t really within the program but what came afterward.  The opportunities of applying what I learned in YLM Council and further developing the things that I learned in the program was what I found most beneficial.

I’m including the text of the speech I drafted below.  For the actual speech, I did cut some parts out to save time because the other speakers also covered about some of the things I had planned, however I stuck with the three main points.

This was my first time speaking at an event like this as an alumnus of the program.  Again I learned a lot from this particular experience both when reflecting to write the speech, and giving it on the day.

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How did advertisements get on my site?

I should probably pay more attention to my own site.

While I was working on my blog last week, I noticed that there were advertisements showing up in the Related Content links at the bottom of all my posts.  I was quite shocked as I never added them intentionally.  I feared that my blog was hacked.

Digging just a little deeper, I quickly found the culprit: the Shareaholic plugin.  I used it for related content and the social sharing buttons for the posts.  It turns out a few months ago they sneakily added in monetization options in their plugin update without having blog owners explicitly opt-in.  That means once you updated the plugin (if you’re using the WordPress panel to do this, there’s pretty much no changelog or notice), ad links would spontaneously spawn on your site.  I guess if you’re a better blog owner you would have caught it sooner than I did.  I understand developers need to make money too, and I’d understand forcing advertisements on the admin panel, but having advertisements enabled by default on the public site is a very sneaky process.

Needless to say, Shareaholic has since been removed from my site.  If you’re still using Shareaholic, you should really review its settings to make sure it’s doing what you want it to do.  For me, I’ve found other plugins to replace the functionality including Floating Social Bar and Contextual Related Posts.