Friday, July 25, 2003

Bruce Eckel

Stardate 56072.5 (7-25-2003)

I heard a bit on NPR during the week that IBM is moving more and more of their software development to India. My company is doing the same. Last wee the manager told us that she wanted to move the maintenance of the client utilities off shore to India. That way the developers could concentrate on a redesign of the same utilities. I'm sure that's what she intends, but I can't help picturing some exec higher up looking at the cost saving of the offshore maintenance, and wondering why we need to redesign something that already works. But then again maybe the Indians can answer some the the questions that go through three or four people, and then to me. I then answer what should be obvious to all. I mean, some the of these things are simple math or seeing what is in front of you.

So when I thing about my future as far as work, I can't see anything to look forward to. I have been doing the same thing for years. But I guess I should take the unspoken corporate message to heart, just be glad you have a job.

I have been working on one project in C#. It was not required to be in the lagnuage, and as far as the company is concerned it is not a real project. I went looking around the net for some resources, and decided to visit Bruce Eckel's site,www.MindView.net.It has changed since I was last there, and he has started a blog. One of the blog entries mentions a study that concludes that only 5% of software developers are effective. He went on to say that there were probably a number of developers in the field because someone told them it pays well, and not because it's something they enjoy doing. I think that could be said of a lot of professions. I personally enjoy doing things like the project above. I started it Monday morning, and when I thought to glance at the clock, it was afternoon. It's projects like this and the Perl stuff I mentioned in other logs, where I get to learn something new, that really interest me. A lot of the server program stuff is variations on things I have done a dozen times, so my productivity is not what it could be sometimes.

Bruce also mentions another study done in the 60s* that tracked 1500 some odd students going into college for a specific profession. It found that of these, 255 where there because the wanted to be, the rest because it would lead to a good paying job. Twenty years later, the same people were interviewed. About 101 were millionaires, and only 1 of those were not in the group of 255. So Bruce wondered what the world would be like if people could do what they wanted to. I immediately thought, hey, that Gene Roddenberry's vision in Star Trek. I can remember Captain Picard saying the the episode, "The Neutral Zone", as well as others, that the 24th century human works to improve himself/herself, instead of accumulating wealth. I have trouble picturing how that works, but it does sound good.

End of Entry

The other 90% by Robert K. Cooper, Three Rivers Press 2001

Monday, July 21, 2003

Disney Cruise

Stardate 56072.1 (7-21-2003)

I finally finished the script for the Visitors page. It was somewhat weird. The script worked fine on my machine, but when I tried it on the site, it refused to work correctly. I took out most of the regular expression syntax it was using to parse the lines in the log. I gradually added the rest of the expression, until it was back to the original. It worked fine. I have yet to figure out why this did not work in the first place.

It's been triple digit temperatures the last week and a half. The swamp cooler does not keep up when it gets this hot. I hope to have central air by next year. I have a hard time sleeping at night, because the house does not cool down until about 3 or 4 in the morning. 

I watched a helicopter tow something back and forth over the burned area near Farmington canyon and Francis peak. I was not sure what they were doing. The fire was started by some man wanting to go to jail. The Standard-Examiner ran a story about his family saying he had mental problems. I think every time I pass by, "well, DUH".  I don't normally use the phrase, but in this case it fits.

Rachel and my sister are coming back from a Caribbean cruise tonight. She sent us an email while she was gone, and she now thinks a cruise ship is the best way to travel. I hope to get some pictures so I can add a new scrapbook. (I did.)

I was the bearer of sad news today. Walter "Matt" Jefferies, the man who designed the Enterprise for the original series, passed away today. I would be grateful to see a mention of it in the paper tomorrow. Matt, I hope you knew how you inspired generations of fans to boldly go where no one has gone before.

I am thinking of added a Projects page. I keep thinking of new things, and this would help me remember them. For example, I was thinking a calendar marked with the dates of the log files would be a good idea. That would solve the problem of the increasing number of log entries running off the menu.  Of course, the projects page would need to have some way of adding to it from wherever I am. So the projects page turns into a project in and of itself.

End of Entry

Sunday, July 13, 2003

GS Camp

Stardate 56071.3 (7-13-2003)

Karl Malone leaving the Jazz did not surprise me. I expected it after John Stockton retired. His going to the L.A. Lakers did surprise me. But let's face it, in the years he has left to play in the NBA, I don't think the Jazz will have a championship team. If Karl wants the ring, then he should go. Better that then staying here where he doesn't want to be. I could have been spared the word for word conversation a tearful Larry Miller related to the press.

April dropped Rachel off at Girl Scout camp on Wednesday, and she said Rachel was not happy about it. I picked up Rachel Saturday morning.  She saw me and started to cry. Everyone asked her why, and she finally said she did not want to leave. She talked about it the whole way back from Park City. She learned how to do different knots, how to make a campfire, and lots of other skills I would like her to have.

I read an interview  Jonathon Frakes gave in Trek Today. He stated that the franchised was being ruined by all the TV series, and blamed Nemesis tanking in the theaters on that fact. He also stated that DS9 and Voyager did not measure up to TNG.  I imagine a number of fans would take issue with that. I personally like each series for different merits. With a couple of exceptions, the first two season of TNG were not all that good.  On the other hand, he said the crew would come back for another shot if asked. This is in contrast to an interview with Patrick Stewart who stated he has finished with the character of Jean-Luc Picard.

April picked up issue 145 of Star Trek: Communicator for me. I didn't like this magazine as much as Star Trek: The Magazine, because that one had much more treknology in it. However, the editor, Larry Nemecek, wrote that in order to cut down confusion with their now-departed friendly rival, Communicator will change it's name to Star Trek Magazine. And even better, they are adding a new column called Fleet File. I'll have to keep an eye on this, especially since the other has gone to the land of Perpetual Destitution. 

The testing over the weekend went all wrong. A couple of updates I did to the server program caused it to crash. This is normally not a big deal, since this is one of the things the testing is designed to uncover. But combine that with getting knocked off the dialup and locked out of the Windows server, then the frustration sets in. Add the fact that the amount of data to test has grown so the full thing takes 16 hours, and I nearly lost it. I'm still working on the full test now.

To end on a happier and somewhat related note, I am once again in contact with Master Zog. He returned an email after many years of leading me to believe he had run afoul of a temporal anomaly. It relates to the last paragraph because it was he who cursed (he always says the word is 'hired') with the job I have now. Contact with him is always interesting. He wrote to say he liked the web site. My reply was 'It's an ongoing project. Half my time is spent on it, and half on the Operations site for the USS Ticonderoga. And due to a accident with the transporters during a beam up with an away mission in constant search of beryllium spheres which involved spilling a cup of tea (Earl Grey, hot) on some bioneural gel packs, there is another half of me to give a prompt "Aye, sir" to Captain Stark when he wants the main site updated." The trick is to pack as many different genre references in as possible.

End of Entry

Wednesday, July 09, 2003


Stardate 56070.9 (7-9-2003)

I am almost finished with the perl script to process the hits on the site. When I downloaded the latest log to play with, I noticed a few new hits since redoing the site. Then I noticed they didn’t’ go anywhere but the three links under the first menu. I guessed that the format was confusing. Carl Stark confirmed it when I asked him. I made few changes that should help. So much for being an avant-garde. ;)

Participating the Clearfield parade was fun. Rachel said she had a lot of fun, and Thomas was not happy about it until we got started. When he saw all the people waving and yelling at us, THEN it was fun. 

The BBQ after was good. Tonya Wright put out a ton of food. Galaxy Quest was put in the DVD player, and we went through the special features. I might have to rent or buy the DVD just to see how long I can stand the movie with Thermian dubbing. The planet scenes were filmed in Goblin Valley. The family was there on Easter, so Rachel recognized some of it. 

I walked to Layton Commons Park to watch the fireworks. They did a good job this year. Thomas loved it, except he fell asleep halfway through the show. I did get some excellent pictures.

April and Patrick went camping with a friend, Kim, and her son Hans at Tanner Flat the 3rd and 4th. They had a lot of fun, except on the 4th Patrick fell asleep early in the evening. Hans can’t understand why anyone would sleep. Thomas is the same way. Pretty much every weekend he walks into my bedroom and tells me that it’s morning, and I need to get up. I disagree at those times, but when I think about it now, he’s right. Why waste a day staying in bed?

Sunday we went to see Sinbad at The Gateway. It was good, and after we ate at the Samba grill. Then we went down to the other end and played in the Olympic fountains for a couple of hours.
I finished the Harry Potter book. It was good, but it could have been less wordy. I am almost finished with another book called Digital Fortress, by Dan Brown. It’s techno-thriller about a new unbreakable encryption algorithm of the same name, and the National Security Agency’s efforts to prevent it from being used. It’s a good book, and I would recommend it to anyone into these types of books.

 End of Entry

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Reg Ex

Stardate 56070.3 (7-3-2003)

I put together the new format for the web site last week. I like it, although I want to do a bit more before I am satisfied. There is also some content messing. I am struggling with some regular expression parsing on the log files. This is not one of my fortes. To most people this would look like the stuff used in comics when characters use profanity. What I am working on looks like this:
/^([^\s]+)\s          # site
([\w-]+\s[\w-]+)\s     # users
\[([^\]]+)\]\s          # date
\"(\w+)\s               # protocol
(\/[^\s]*)\s          # file
([^"]+)\"\s          # HTTP version
(\d{3})\s               # return code
It doesn’t quite work yet, but I’ll get it.

A friend of mine forwarded an article to me about the Trusted Computing Initiative. As defined by a consortium of corporations, it means that future hardware may be designed to prevent unapproved software from running on a home computer. If you are curious and want to find out more, search for the terms “Trusted Computing” and “Darknet” on Google or another search engine. I was thinking this is a good topic for a soapbox entry. I suppose something like this will eventually happen, given how importance of the Internet is growing in business.

I mentioned in the last entry that this month’s regression testing was on the Fourth of July. It turns out I was looking at the old schedule, and it’s next week. This means the weekend is more open than I thought. The ship is participating in the Clearfield parade. I did walk in a St. Patrick’s Day parade when I was a teen. This will be the first parade with a float that I have been in. I hope to have some pictures on the OPS website after the event.

I finally got my performance review. I scored an excellent, with the only note that I need to share more of my knowledge with others. This comes up every year. And every year I throw out a bunch of documents on the processes that I follow, flowcharts for the operations of the applications, and ideas on changes. One of the things I can’t communicate is the problem solving I do. I know its frustrating for others when I walk up and say “There’s the problem”, but I don’t know how to describe the process. There is also the thing I call “The Cardboard Cutout Syndrome”. It happens when someone calls me over to look at a problem, and it disappears. I always say if they had a cutout of me to stand in front of the computer, it will always work. :)

I received an email from Chuck Allison. I worked with him for a short time a couple of years ago. He’s really bright, and a very nice guy. Anyway, it was a notice to everyone in his personal address book that he is changing his email address. I get these occasionally, so at first I did think much about it. I idly looked at how large the addressee list was, and then it clicked. Here were the names of the Who’s who of software development. Names companies pay thousands of dollars to send employees to hear them lecture. I could print this out, frame it, and put it above the shelf holding the books I have that were written by these people. I feel a little in awe, and the phrase “I’m not worthy!” pops in my head.

End of Entry