Friday, September 26, 2003

Star Trek: Enterprise

Stardate 57092.6 (9-26-2003) 

I sent the captain a link to a story about resurrecting Dr. Who, but he had seen a similar one and already included it in his latest log entry. He also had a link to an MSNBC story that echoed a TV Guide article back in March. I read it, and it did have some good suggestions. One was to add a catch phrase or two, like "Beam me up, Scotty", "Make it so", and "Resistance is futile". I wondered a couple of months back about that same thing. But DS9 and Voyager really didn't have anything like that, so I didn't think it would make much difference. On the other hand, it might help. Another good point is the lack of a character trying to find themselves, such as Spock, Data, Worf, Odo, the EMH, and Seven of Nine. These characters don't have a mold to fit into, so they have to try and make one. This gives a good mirror on humanity. 

Other points, though, made me wonder if the author watches the series, or just glanced at some scenes. The point about adding humor is one. My favorite episode of Enterprise so far is "Cogenitor". The plot is about a race with three genders. Trip hesitantly questions Dr. Phlox about how that works, and Phlox dances over to a monitor and gleefully announces, "I've got PICTURES!" Does the writer need a laugh track? The point on a crossover for an actor in one of the other series is good for one episode, but I don't see this 'fixing' anything. 

The idea of Trek being worn out or dying is dumb. I have reviews of what are now considered some of the best episodes of TNG collected off the net after the episode aired for the first time (and sometimes before I got to see it). They had themes common to reviews I have seen of Enterprise and Voyager, such as it's not as good as the series before, the writers don't know what they are doing, etc. The ratings for Enterprise are not as good as TNG, but then what other sci-fi show was on then? Having read Captain Stark's comments, I'll agree with them. There are good episodes, and bad ones (suggest watching "Justice" from TNG and I may get violent). And if they take it off , the fans and critics will be sorry. What will replace it is a cookie cutter medical or cop drama, "reality" show, or some stupid sitcom. 

Anyway, on to other things. April watches award shows, but I don't care for them. She had the Emmys on last Sunday, and I was pleasantly surprised. I may watch next year if they have the same format. In addition, if you every look at my links section, I am a fan of the Amazing Race. This show won an Emmy over Survivor and American Idol. Once every few years, a show I actually watch wins an award. 

Rachel, who has struggled with math quizzes every week, got 100% this Thursday. She has also lost her second tooth in two weeks. 

Thomas gives the impression he hates the preschool we have him in two days a week. But the the other night I put him and his brother to bed and I read "Ten Apples On Top". He got very excited and told me over and over again how they have that same book at his school. I think he has fun while he's there, but he hates going. 

There have been some changes at work. It has not been officially announced, but some people are being moved to other projects. One of them works with me. He's slow to understand things, and I have to spend a lot of time going over the same things every once and a while. My supervisor was worried about how his moving would impact my work. I had to bit my lip pretty hard. I can do the job by myself, but it's nice to have a backup for sick and vacation days. I haven't heard of any more layoffs yet. 

I started spending some time every day in the fitness room at work. For about 20 minutes, I lift weights and use the workout equipment. I did a mile and a half on the treadmill Monday. That leaves me sweating a lot, so I have to have a change of clothes. This week was not my turn to drive, so that was the only day. Next week I want to get back to it. 

The install problem with the Windows server program actually turned out to be interesting. It took me about six hours to find out what was going on (rough estimate, I get interrupted to look at other things and answer questions a lot). The install asks the machine for detail on the same server application already installed. The question was apparently translated into a remote procedure call (RPC) to the machine registry. There was a memory area allocated for the answer. The call failed because it didn't like the way the memory was allocated. I guess the fact the MS Blaster worm took advantage of the a bug in the same allocation made Microsoft get fussy about how it is done. Their documentation could have been clearer on the issue, though. 

Well, April has already read most of the stuff in this she is interested in. It's time for bed (or as my daughter put it at age 2, I go hide). 

End of Entry

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Stardate 57092.3 (9-23-2003) 

Rumors are flying that more layoffs are on the way. The latest is that 15 people will be let go on October 14th, after the turnover of the next version. Sales are way off, so if a critical one does not go through by then, they will go. I'm pretty sure I am not one of those, but you never know until it happens. The have a hard time when I am sick or on vacation, and I don't think anyone else has a clear idea of everything I do. The last quarterly meeting they told us we were making a profit. However, we are not meeting the expected growth, so the revenue is down. I'm not sure why that has to translate into layoffs.

Another bit of information. One of the people who worked there longer than me (and I've been there 14 years) was either let go or left voluntarily. Another will be retiring at the end of the year. So I am higher on the list of those who have been there the longest. Seniority doesn't count for much, though.

Rachel is doing better on the math quizzes. I think by next week she will be able to do the 30 problems in two minutes and get them all correct as well. 

Here's the funny or not end to the entry. A Father-Son Legacy

End of Entry

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Soccer, DataGrid Girl, and Microsucks

Stardate 57092.1 (9-21-2003) 

Rachel's soccer team put in an excellent showing this weekend and the weekend before. The weekend before was a hard game for both teams, and proof of this was the game ended in a 2-2 tie. Rachel came close to scoring another goal. She was right in front of the goal when time ran out. I was very proud of the girls, every one of them played as hard as they could. The game this weekend was a breeze. It started with one of the forwards getting the ball, running it down to the goal and scoring. The whole first quarter was an endless repeat of that. I think the other team scored one goal. AYSO doesn't keep score or standings, but I think we have one of the best teams in the age group. Another St. Joe's coach wants to do some scrimmage between his team and mine. I think mine would dominate. 

 Patrick's game the week before came with it's own surprise. One of the kids we carpool to school with signed up, and I put him in the last open slot on the team. He played for the first time with no practice. He went in the second quarter and scored twice on fast breaks. His older brother plays, so I think he learned quite a bit there. He did the same this week. Patrick had some trouble early on with fast breaks by the other team. I explained that he needed to get in front of the other player. He did this, and the result was the other team scored less. I did notice that the new kid is thin and wiry, so he is fast. Patrick is not quite so fast, but he is strong. He plants his foot in front of the ball to stop it, and the other kid goes tumbling. 

Patrick has been having trouble at practice with fits of anger. I now think doing both the girls and the boys on the same day is just too hard on both Rachel and Patrick. By 7 o'clock both are whining badly. I am going to have to move Patrick's practice to Thursdays. 

Work has been busy. They decided to update from Oracle 8i to 9i. The server program wouldn't run because of what appears to be an incompatibility. I recompiled the Windows version under 9i, and it works. I tried the UNIX version, but 9i is 64-bit only. So this will take a little more work. IT also put service pack 4 on all the machines. A day later on of the DBA's came over and reported the install program quits without doing anything. Another incompatibility. Combine this with numerous client issues and I have not had time to do the programming I wanted to get done. Part of this is my fault. I changed permissions on my login to check the install, and could not change them back. This prevented me from doing the normal setup for the new cycle for a few days. 

The URL I sent around last week that stated Microsoft replaced their Windows DNS servers with Lindex got some return fire this week. One of my coworkers sent another article that said Linux has three times the number of attacks Windows does. This make me wonder how may firewalls and DNS servers are running Linux versus Windows. The article didn't say. Maybe the number is 3 to 1.

Someone needs to tell DataGrid Girl that Microsuck.com has been around a long time. She complained that what's bad about Microsoft had incorrect and outdated information. When some the info was put together, it was correct. The attitude at Microsoft is slowly changing, at least according to some the the developer blogs. They used to dump new features into products without thinking to much about them. One manager now thinks some of these should never have been implemented.

Rachel is having problems with math in school. She really doesn't like math now, but I think a lot of that comes from the problems. The school is making the students do 30 problems (2 + 4, 5 + 3, etc) in two minutes. I'm not sure I agree with pressuring the kids like that, but I could be wrong. 

 The captain made a quick mention of my reviews at the last activity. I haven't checked yet to see if anyone else has read them, but if not, oh well. I enjoy going to watch them with the regulars at his house every Wednesday. I miss Ray Meyer being there, since he has moved to Boston (or Leominister, pronounced LEM-inster). I did appreciate the captain's comments at the senior officers meeting about my keeping the ship website up to date. 

 No humorous end to the entry again this week. I just have not had the time to find anything. 

End of Entry

Thursday, September 11, 2003


Stardate 57091.1 (9-11-2003)

The RIAA has sued 126 people this week for downloading and sharing copyrighted music. Downloading the music is stealing, and wrong, but I tend to think this is the wrong approach. The problem is that the industry failed to take new technology into account, and the failed to deliver on promises. I believe that the philosophy of an eye for an eye leaves a bunch of blind people, but I will admit to some satisfaction the music giants are having so much trouble over this. I am old enough to remember when CD’s were new. I saw a number of sales people purposely scratch the top of a CD, and then demonstrate that it still played perfectly. Now I have older CD’s that have bad skips in them, even though I cannot see any damage. The recording industry made promises of cheap $1 to $4 discs. I have not seen anything less that $8. I can’t count how many times I have wished to get a single song, and was stuck with buying the whole CD. The industry failed to keep up and take advantage,  and now everyone pays. The software industry has struggled with this for more than a decade, and the solution is still elusive.

On Wednesday, I looked out the window to see white on the tops of the mountains. It’s been a long time since I have seen snow at this time of the year. It occurred to me during the big influx of people into Utah during the early nineties that the biggest problem areas were going to be power and water. If I were a Ferengi, I would have found some way to profit off of this.

I decided to try reviewing the season three episodes of Enterprise. I removed the Soapbox item, since it has been there for months, and I have yet to do what I intended to do with it. I might move the reviews to the Ops site, but first I need to tear it down and rebuild the site. There is just too much maintenance involved it the LCARS interface, at least the  way I did it. I might come up with a new way to do it, but for now I think I will go with a simpler format. There are a number of things I’d like to do with the site, including a discussion forum, possibly a Wiki, and some games.

I received an email today from one of the web development people. He wanted to reboot the server, and noticed that I was on it. I told him no, I had some intense testing going on. He wrote back to complain that we were always blocking his efforts, and he had deadlines. He also pointed out that he had cc'ed the department manager. He wanted to know if these things were going to continue. I replied that in the past seven years I had happily shared one Windows server after another, only to get kicked off a few months later. I told him I had filled out the request to purchase this machine, waited nearly two years to get the machine he complained about. I also wrote that the people he was including had told me I had priority on the machine. I also included a few more managers. I really don't like it when someone tries to intimidate me. 

Usually I like to end these entries with some humor. But today is 9/11. Two years ago this morning things in the world changed. I am not happy with this change, and I doubt few Americans are. But the nation can deal with this, as it has with past crisis such as Dec 7, 1941. Things will not return to the way they were. I like to think that in time, I can write how this time strengthened our character, and made humanity better. In the meantime, pause a moment to think about the people who were in the WTC towers, in the Pentagon, on the planes that hit them, and on flight 93. Think for a moment of those in the Bali nightclub, and of all the other places where death has occurred at the hands of a single fanatic. Think a moment about the soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq, and overseas bases who are separated from loved ones. Think for a moment of the children of Israel and Palestine, who live with fear of a suicide bomber daily. Now wish for the time when I write about all of that as a bad memory, never to occur again. Who knows, it may come true.

End of Entry

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Brownies, games, and such

Stardate 57090.7 (9-7-2003)

It's been a longer delay in log entries than it has been the last few months. The primary reason is the new format. You're reading this, so you know I have removed the log entries from the sliding menu, and put them under a calendar. The calendar has links on the days where there is a log entry. There are still a few things to work out, like formatting the text around the calendar, and the fact that if you click on an entry in previous months, it goes back to the current month. But it basically works the way I want it to. The other thing this saves me is renumbering the array entries for the sliding menu each time I added a new one. The script looks for a particular format in the file names, and appends the appropriate one to the page.

Another project I have up and going is the Troop 25 Brownie site. It's pretty basic, but the CONTENT is what is important. The feedback has all been positive. I also notice my hit stats went up sharply after putting the site up. 

Rachel does not like the fact that her teacher, Mrs, Jefferies, yells at the class. She is not yelling at Rachel, but at other kids in the class for talking. Rachel is just sensitive about adults yelling. Both Rachel and Patrick are still adjusting to the long days at school. Patrick caught a cold. More and more this causes asthma-like symptoms. He is also complaining that the other boys at school do a lot of running at recess, and he can't keep up because he has trouble breathing. He is on a steroids and some anti-cough medicine so he can sleep at night. I am seeing a marked improvement today. 

I occasionally play with plastic lightsabres with my boys. Patrick has recently developed the technique of hitting high, then switching low suddenly. About one of three times he can get a touch on me this way. He pretty proud of that. I keep thinking I should enroll him in fencing classes, but you need to be eight to start at the local classes. April would object as well.

The first soccer games were yesterday. Everything went well. The biggest complaint I got as a coordinator was that the grass was too long on the U6 boys field. Rachels' game was strange in that we only played three quarters instead of four. All of the parents were a little surprised when the game was over. It makes it a little hard to play each player half the game when they do that.

The bad part of coordinator is that I have put two girls on the U6 boys teams, and I missed one boy altogether. So there are some lessons to learn. The first is to start earlier building teams. The second is to enter all the kids in the spreadsheet, so any boys too young can be found early. Third, check the gender of each entry. Fourth, backup the spreadsheet each time I make changes. Fifth, have only ONE copy on the machine. 

Work is pretty busy. The testing last month was never completed, so I have not had a chance to try the updated procedures that will speed it up. This months testing turned up a problem in the Windows version. Dave North has been trying to install Oracle 9i on the server, so the environment keeps changing. At the division quarterly meeting, they told us we were a half a million behind projected revenue, mainly due to acquisitions not  performing as well as expected, and a slow sales pipeline. So they are falling back to cutting costs, which means layoffs. There have been a few more middle managers laid off already, and there are probably more on the way.

The captain went up to Island Park, Idaho, last weekend. This is just outside of Yellowstone Park. He and his family visited Yellowstone. The new season of Enterprise starts this week, and he is having viewing parties at his house. I'll have to ask them how they enjoyed it and if the fires were still going in the east end of the park. This also means the stardate at the top goes from 56 to 57.

End of Entry