Saturday, August 09, 2003

Van collision

Stardate 56080.9 (8-9-2003)

The van was in a collision last Thursday. I wasn't there, so I am not sure of the exact details. April was at a stop light, and a pickup truck hit the van behind her, which was pushed into ours. It's in the shop now. There was not much visible damage, but when I drove it home that night, the rear wheels vibrated badly. April said the electrical system winked off and on as well. I hope to get it back by next Wednesday for our trip to Yellowstone.

The AYSO under 6 boys soccer teams are finished, and I sent the list off to the coordinator, Doug Lawton. When I started this, I was told Doug was hard to get along with. He's an ex-F16 pilot, so he does come across as strict and bossy. On the other hand, if you have a problem with something, he is quick to help. So I can deal with the other. Lord knows I have plenty of personality flaws.

Patrick has been questioning me about when soccer is starting. It's good to see that he is still interested, even anxious to begin. I am coaching my daughter Rachel this year, too. So it's going to be very busy for the next few months. I read on theCaptain's log that his son is interested in sports. I might suggest soccer in the spring.

We dropped the second line and got DSL. It was finally hooked up last night. I have not really had much of a chance to do anything yet, but at least the web pages are much faster. The only problem is if I have to work from home, I need to use the primary phone for dial up. I might ask my manager for broadband access, but I don't think she will go for the expense.  

Rachel went to a Girl Scout camp at Weber Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week. She had lots of fun, but I can't see that she learned anything really useful. I went to pick her up on Wednesday, and arrived a little early. The flyer from the organizer said we needed to be there at 7:30 exactly, or our child would go to the Odgen police station. I sat in on the last of it that day, and they had a flag retirement ceremony. I'd never seen one before. They cut the 13 stripes from the flag one at a time, and each time the name of one of the original 13 colonies was mentioned. I wondered if it was in order of ratification of the Constitution, and this was confirmed when Rhode Island was the last one mentioned. I know they were the last one to ratify. 

The C# project is almost complete. It's been a fun little jaunt. Some things I tried did not work out as I would have thought. The problem this project is supposed to solve is the monthly testing. I need to sequence a growing number of items through a server program to check the results. But if the items are not done in a particular order, it shows up different on different OS platforms. I tried to create a thread pool queue in C#, but I found that the same item was being picked up by more than one thread. I then went to entering all the items in an array list, and having the threads pick up items out of the list. It seems to work pretty good, except the threads gradually die with database exceptions. If I can work that out, the project will be complete.

My carpool buddy had annoying problem. He is enhancing an old C application, one that I recommended redesigning 6 years ago. The testing went well for him, but another tester found a crash. The program was running off the end of an array, which in C is possible and always causes a crash. A coworker tried to run it in debug mode under Visual Studio.NET. It ran fine. After a whole day, he finally figured out that VS.NET was running the program on top of their Common Language Runtime (CLR), which is one of the centerpieces of the .NET framework. The CLR was detecting  the array overrun, and expanding the array. The program was not running on the CLR in release mode, so it crashed. We found a way to do the same thing he was trying to do without overrunning the array, and it ran faster to boot. I was not pleased that Microsoft decided to add things to a programming language that should not be there. 

This whole thing led into a heated discussion of language features, particularly automatic memory management. The point some made was that if C/C++ had memory management, this would have worked. I pointed out that the original approach was slow, and it would have been redone anyway. This just revealed it sooner. Automatic memory management is not a feature of a language I look for. It's ok to have, but there have been a few times when it got in the way. Last week I was reading similar topics on Bjarne Stroustup's web site. His opinion is that there is no one computer language that is best. I would agree with that. My C# project above was chosen because I wanted a language with multithreading support, and that produced an .EXE, and I wanted to play with something new.
April found a Time magazine article about how software development is moving offshore to India. It mentioned the same outfit that my company is using. A lot of developers have lost jobs over this. The whole thing has been the hot topic at work. It has people worried, and I think for good reason. A developer in India is paid $10,000, whereas one in the U.S. is paid $60,000. There is a movement to have the government put restrictions on it, but that will take years. I need to start taking steps to deal with the possibility.

I did find a couple of amusing Flash animations, Jedi Switch and Linux Supervillian.
Long entry this time, but it has been a busy week.
End of Entry

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