Friday, June 27, 2003

Harry Potter

Stardate 56062.7 (6-27-2003)

The main event of the week was of course the new Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. April already finished it, so she can as she put it “get on with life”. I am about halfway through, and my daughter Rachel is to chapter 4. One of the challenges I gave her last year to encourage her to read is to finish the new book  when it came out. She’s doing well so far.

April’s campout with her Girl Scout troop went very well. I was home when they returned, and all the girls went on and on about how much fun it was and what went on. Rachel wants to set up the tent the next time the family goes camping.

My sister had Patrick stay overnight with her. Patrick has never been able to do it before. I told her what Patrick asked me while watching Nemesis. So she explained that there were four captains, Kirk, Picard, Janeway, and Archer. I had to point out after she brought Patrick home that she missed Sisko.

Work proceeds as before. My supervisor seems to be avoiding the subject of performance reviews. I’m not expecting much since the process was taken over by UHG corporate a couple of years ago. Their system limits raises and the money is set up beforehand to be spread over a whole department. Again, I always saw raises as a motivational idea, but I guess I am wrong.

I’m continuing to include Klingon words in the email when I send the weekly status report to my supervisor. The report itself is in English, although given my opinion of such things I might try Klingon next time. Today he grabbed a dictionary and replied with a phrase. I answered with another question, and he replied with another phrase that had no relevance to the question. I don’t think he knows what he is writing. I’m getting some practice, though. A little more and I might not get lost if I sign up on the KLI listserv.

The release last month was delayed a week to include New York state data that was late in coming. This means that this months regression tests are scheduled for the Fourth of July. I figure I will be dialing in Saturday the fifth to do it. 

I am still learning about Perl, although I haven’t done much with it yet. I see lots things I could do with it. I am impressed that there are versions for all platforms. I even have a version on my work laptop at part of some approved software. That’s got to be a first.

End of Entry

Friday, June 20, 2003

Bald Captain

Stardate 56062.0 (June 20, 2003)

I went to the library to pick up a book for April. While I was there, I picked up a few books on CGI (Common Gateway Interface) programming and Perl programming. I like the Perl language, and I see why it is so popular to do CGI programming with. A coworker made a remark that those things were passé. I replied that yeah, vogue style is to use web services. But if the ISP does not support ASP or JSP, it’s still useful. Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, not everyone uses IIS. This is not bad thing, considering that the company I work for requires any web server to be approved by network security. Apparently hackers attack the servers on a daily basis. I wish I had my camera to capture the look on the department manager face when she reminded us that this was corporate policy, and one of the developers told her that the time tracking server she had them set up was never approved.

On a similar subject, the captain added a link to my personal home page to the Seventh Fleet web site. This is kind embarrassing, considering there is very little here beyond this log and some old pictures. However, during a search for something else, I found a theme that I like, so I will try to find some time to update things.

April and Rachel went to a Girl Scout campout Thursday morning, so it has just been us guys. I put in the Nemesis DVD that night, and flipped through some of the action scenes. It warmed my heart to hear Thomas say “Whoa, cool!” when the buggy jumped into the shuttle. Patrick had me rerun the ramming scene quite a few times. I had to laugh because he asked me at one point if the bald guy was the captain. I said yes, that’s Captain Picard. He then asked if Captain Archer was on vacation.

End of Entry

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Father's Day

Stardate 56061.7 (6-17-2003)

Did you ever get the feeling… you were being watched? I enabled logging on both my personal web pages and the operations pages. It logs the raw HTML requests and the address of the requester with a date/time stamp. I made it public access; so if you really want to slog through it, click here. I was curious whether anyone actually looked at the pages here, and how often. It would also be useful to see what is popular, so I can save some space by removing things no one looks at.

Father’s Day went very well. April did have to work, but got up at 2 am so she could be home at 2 pm. My kids insisted on fixing breakfast in bed for me. It consisted of a micro waved frozen waffle and chocolate chip cookies (more on this below). The only mess they made was the plates and the sheet used to bake the cookies. I was impressed. My dad and sister came up for dinner. My dad is in his mid-eighties, and the rest of us swap counts on how many times each of us has heard the same story. I need to get some of them down, though. It would be a shame if they were lost.

About the cookies: One day last week, April called to say Patrick, who is 5, baked himself some cookies for breakfast. He turned on the oven, took some dough out of the fridge, used the oven mitts to remove them when they were done, and turned the oven back off April said they were good. The ones on Father’s Day were excellent. April usually burns them a bit, and mine go the other way and are undercooked. I was not thrilled that he was using the appliances, but in his defense, he did ask. April was still half asleep and didn’t quite know what he was asking. The nutritional value can be questioned, but since fruits and vegetables disappear as fast as the candy does, I don’t worry about it too much.

End of Entry

Friday, June 13, 2003

The Geek Test

Stardate 56061.3 (6-13-2003)

April had her Girl Scout troop over last Sunday for a backyard campout. It was a lot of work to get the house and yard ready, but it was successful. The only hitch was the rain guard blew off one of the tents in the middle of the night, and some of the girls had to move in the house. Rachel made a comment to April the next day that this was the best time she had ever had.

The good and bad of the week is that April has been working most nights. The good in that is her income for the pay period was better than mine. The bad part is we play tag-team parenting a lot. We never get any time alone together. It’s going to be that way for a awhile, so I just have to suck it up and live through it.

Chief Ray Meyer set up a meeting at Captain Stark’s house on Wednesday to go over web site updates and maintenance. I decided to dust off my bicycle (literally) and ride it down there. I did good on the way there (it was mainly downhill). The way back was much harder, and I was only able to ride about halfway. It was dark and I didn’t have any reflective safety gear on, so I think it was for the best.

I took The Geek Test the captain had in his log entry for 56060.7. I only scored 32.5%, so there’s room for improvement. I did send the link around work, and so far I have outscored everyone. My boss was amused by the entry for studied an artificial language (Esperanto, Klingon). I make it a point to include a Klingon phrase in my weekly status reports.

Work continues with the dire warnings on raises. I’m trying to figure out when the subject went from a motivational topic to this. Actually, it was two years ago, when the parent company assimilated all accounting. The money for raises is part of the budget planning the year before. Essentially, this means you expect some people to do worse. I guess I would not make a good accounting troll (see 
The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams), because I don’t understand why it’s done this way.

End of Entry

Friday, June 06, 2003

Stardate 56060.6 (June 6, 2003)

Yay, school is out for summer! You would think that since I am not in school, this would mean nothing. That would be WRONG! Every morning, 5 days a week, I drag my kids and my wife out of bed. May is a very hard month for this. The sun is up until 8:30 – 9:00 each night. I hate to try and put my kids to bed in daylight, especially when there are other kids still out playing. Moreover, I want to get out and do things around the yard. So the result is the kids go to bed at 9 or 10, sometimes 11, then are back up at 6. The cumulative lack of a full sleep gets to them. They fight and cry increasingly. Now they can sleep in a little bit. Thomas still tends to get up as soon as the sun is up, but oh well.

The end of school coincides with the end of the TV season. Strange how that works. I don’t watch that much or as least I don’t think so. The one show I watch every week is of course Enterprise. I watch The Simpsons and Spongebob Squarepants when I can catch them. April tries to hook me on ER, but I find it depressing. There are some other shows I am interested in, but I agree with Captain Stark, if I can’t remember to watch or tape them, they aren’t worth the time. The Amazing Race 4 has just started, and I am actively watching that.

When I arrived at work after attending Patrick’s end of school party, I had more good news. This was somewhat mixed news, though. The release scheduled for next week was delayed because the state of New York mandated changes at the beginning of the year, but just released the data to us for it. State and federal legislations do not seem to have the same concept of time the public has. Anyway, the mixed part is that we were on schedule to do regression testing during the workweek, instead of the weekend as has become the norm. But this means that will happen during the middle of next week. At least there will be a slowdown for a few days to catch up on some side projects.

I turned in my Performance Evaluation on May 30th. What in the past was about 3 or 4 pages, is now 7 to 10. I have started saving all the proposals, tasks, and other stuff so I can build a nice chronology of accomplishments for the last year. As far as next year, the least satisfying, as they put it, is the lack of professional progress. I would like a chance to use the newer technologies and languages. But I will try and push the current project in that direction.

Started to carpool with a coworker the last two weeks. I live in Layton, and work is in West Valley. The commute is 20 miles each way. 40 miles a day adds up very quickly in wear and tear on the car, and in gas. So far, in the last two weeks, I have filled the car with gas once. Before this, I would have filled it three times.

We went to see Finding Nemo on Thursday, June 5. The movie lived up to what I expected. It was good. The only compliant I have is not with the movie itself, but with the advertising. By the time a movie is out, the promos and trailers have shown the best parts, and sometimes half the movie. I was not surprised by anything except the seagulls, which I found very funny. (Mine? Mine?)

For the department meeting, we watched Nemesis on DVD. I liked it a lot better this time around. When I saw it in the theater, the soundtrack was a little messed up, and the picture was slightly blurry. One guy went out several times to complain, but they did nothing. When I pay $7 to see a movie, I really expect it to be at least as good as in my home, and hopefully much better. My son Patrick came in a few times to watch when the battle scenes were on. His one question was “Is the bald guy dying? Not that bald guy (Patrick Stewart), the other one (Thomas Hardy).” Anyway, now I am intent on buying the DVD.

One goal is to write these a little more often, so they are not as long.

End of Entry