Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Software Development

Stardate 60082.3
Picked this up on the web:
Werner Vogels: Yep, the best way to completely automate operations is to have to developers be responsible for running the software they develop. It is painful at times, but also means considerable creativity gets applied to a very important aspect of the software stack. It also brings developers into direct contact with customers and a very effective feedback loop starts. There is no separate operations department at Amazon: you build it; you run it.

This statement has generated a few comments. Some say, yeah, that’s a great Idea, and others reply, no, the compartmental organization is the only way to go. Me, I can see both points of view. I’ve sometimes dreamed of being locked away from all distractions and just CODING. But there were situations where this just went overboard. One in particular was with a new client. They needed a feature, so a group was formed to write documentation on how it needed to be done. I was called to give time estimates. The feature was that when a database field was set to a value, they needed another field in the same table set to ‘Y’. Could this be done as part of the server application? I replied that yes, it could, and it would be a few hours to code and a day to test. They could have it in a couple of weeks as part of the normal development cycle. OR, a trigger could be put on the table to do the same thing. If they didn’t have the knowledge to do that, one of several database admins we had could write it and send it to them this afternoon. The group was a little shocked by the simple solution.

The organization into separate departments is ok, but not when the communication is always formal. Informal chats can sometimes reveal simple and elegant solutions.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Public Transit

Stardate 60082.2
I received an email last week from UTA. About six months ago I decided to submit a rideshare request, just for fun. The email told me there were no matches for my request. No big surprise there. It went on to tell me that I was spending about $500 a month in gas, and added almost a 1000 miles on the car. I read through it and though, ok, wonderful info, but what’s the solution. Taking the bus requires 3 and a half hours one way. FastTrack, the commuter rail, does not offer any resolution either. I could move closer to work, but April works up here. I’d like to do the same, but there is not much here.

Rachel sprained her wrist in Pennsylvania (or New Jersey, I’m not sure exactly where she was). April said they tried to get on TV for the Today show, but President Bush held a news conference while they were there. Everything else seems to be going fine. They fly back tonight.

The kids all start school next week. I don’t think they are too excited about it.

The swim instructor called Friday to say she had an emergency, and had to cancel. I can understand, but it seems like every time we have a lesson scheduled, she has a problem and reschedules. She wanted to reschedule for Monday at 2, but I am still at work, so we pushed it back to 4. She does good work. Patrick is swimming underwater and Thomas can now float face down. Thomas told me he thinks the water is fun now.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Star Trek XI

Stardate 60081.8
Upset, I am. At least a little bit. April and Rachel are in Pennsylvania for the weekend. It’s a long flight, but it looks like they will be staying close to Trenton, where George Washington crossed the Delaware River and surprised the Hessians, and numerous other historical sites. At least I think so, I’d have to check Mapquest to Google Maps. Ah, well, the boys would hate it, so I can wait.

What has me in a tiff is a rumor going around about a source at Paramount. The source says the JJ Abrams Star Trek will be a reboot. This is in itself not bad, but the source goes on to say if long time fans are not happy, too bad. They failed to save Enterprise and Trek itself has been going downhill for the last 10 years. Another in the long list of executives blaming the fans. It’s strange. I’ve been indoctrinated in the mantra that keeping existing customers happy is far cheaper for the most part than losing the customers and trying to gain new ones. There was a big fan effort that offered to pay for a fifth season of Enterprise. They bring Manny Coto in for the fourth and best season yet, and it gets cancelled. I can’t see why the failure is with the fans.

I had an interview Monday. It was really fun, and almost across the street from where my company used to be. The ironic part is that I meet with a recruiter later that same day, and her husband worked with the same company I just interviewed with. Another long time employee quit this week, and another was let go. I despair at finding another job. I did apply at the IRS, but it will probably be months before I here anything.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Grant Imahara

Stardate 60081.2
Grant Imahara will not be attending Mountain-Con this year. That really disappoints me, because in reading about him on the web, he sounds like a fascinating guy. He created an account on the Mountain-Con forum just to explain why he could not come. That was very nice of him.

The Mountain-Con web site has been moved, for the most part, to a new host. It was supposed to be only temporarily on my account. The message forum and registration are still located here. It was kind of fun to have hit stats so high, but resetting the access log every month to conserve space was getting to be a pain. The new host allows better access for updates.

Thomas went to a friend’s house for a play date Thursday, and came home that evening with a jar of live fish. They are small, only a quarter of an inch or so. I put them in with the toads, and they seem to be doing fine. It adds to the menagerie; dog, cat, hamster, toads, and now fish.

Patrick has been involved with a soccer tournament this last week. It’s the same team as the last tournament, and much the same results. They played one game each on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. They lost all the games, although the last one was close. Patrick managed to score a goal in that one.

I received a new copy of my book on web development in C#. It’s a study guide to help pass the Microsoft exams. I copied the ebook PDF, so I should not lose it this time. I keep expected to find the other copy now that I have a replacement, but it hasn’t turned up yet. One point that occurred to me is this is the only coding I am doing. All of my work is documentation. I don’t feel very productive that way.

John pointed out the stardate is wrong on my blog. I'd fix it, but I guess it would mess up the calendar.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Roman Golf

Stardate 60080.8
Romans played a game with a bent stick and a feather ball that may have been a source to the game of golf, according to the Encarta ‘Fun Fact’ feed I subscribed to a few days ago. There’s no mention of holes, sand traps, or water hazards; but I can picture Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon because of a bad slice and creating the metaphor for passing a point of no return. You can look it up on Wikipedia. I’ve never played the game except for the mini-golf version. I’ve thought about taking it up just to smooze with execs and get corporate scuttlebutt, but I never did.

John Barnes created a new blog on Yahoo for his position as chief engineer of the Ticonderoga. I think he may be letting the power go to his head, LOL. His old blog went under the sobriquet of KlingonWriter. This prompted a bad idea. What would happen if I blogged to my Windows Live Space in Klingon? How long would it take for someone to figure it out?

April and Rachel are out of town on a Girl Scout trip. They left yesterday morning. I picked up some fried chicken for dinner last night. I took the sitter home, and after dropping him off (and admiring his brother’s new car, an Eclipse. It’s a replacement for the Altima he brought from us), I realized I had left the bag sitting on the kitchen counter. Add in a yellow Lab who can easily reach it, and you get the picture. Sure enough, there were only a few shredded remains of the bag, and the dog was trying to hide behind the couch.

Matt Smith invited me to play chess with him on ItsYourTurn.com. We are only two moves in. It’ll be interesting to see how the game progresses.

“What did the Romans ever do for us?” - Reg
“The aquaduct? The roads? Public heatlh?”
Monty Python’s Life of Brian

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Animal groups

Stardate 60080.7
Last Tuesday I was caught in the deluge of rain. I was debating just waiting it out in my car, but I knew someone was waiting for me to get in. I get soaked on the way in, just 15 seconds. If I had an umbrella, I would have been much drier. But storms like that don’t come here often, so I end up losing the umbrellas.

Folding laundry Sunday, I turned on the radio on the clock to NPR. The IPod plugs into it, so this is the first time I used the radio. They had a story on people who dress up as animals. I was caught by the comment that sociologists, who talk about how Americans isolate themselves and don’t gather in the neighborhood anymore, don’t look at groups like this. Moreover, they don’t look at the trend of going to the net to find groups of people with similar interests. In some ways, it’s like the demise of printed technology magazines. When I got out of school, magazines such as Byte, Dr. Dobbs, CUJ, and others were a staple. All are gone now, because more information is available on the web, and it’s easier to find. It’s funny that tracking is done on society, but the trends are often missed.

End Of Entry

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mike and Carrie

Stardate 60080.3
Congratulations to Mike and Carrie on their engagement. I hope they have as good a marriage as I have had, and hope to continue.

Last week we put the van in the shop to repair the damage from when I hit the deer. I got a rental, a Mitsubishi Infiniti. Nice car, but it felt like you were getting into the cockpit of a fighter plane, as in really small. I did like the way the dashboard lit up with a soft orange.

I had a phone interview Friday. It didn’t go well. The guy asked a few odd questions, such as how would I go about programming a maze, like the ones kids have to find a path through on children’s restaurant menus. I told him I’d Google for a solution. A former manager used to ask candidates how they would know if the sun in a picture of one of the conference rooms was rising or setting. He wanted to find out how they think. He was looking for something along the lines of finding out the name of the picture, which would give you the clue. This interviewer was evidently not looking for that type of answer. He also asked about arrays, linked lists, hash tables, and binary trees. I was not prepared for such a CS-101 interrogation.

I also found out I was probably a number 2 choice for another job. The deciding factor was that I did not have enough knowledge of .NET and C#. So I had the notion to hit the books again and try to get a certification. The problem is I can’t find the C# Web Applications book. It’s huge, over a thousand pages and big as a phone book. What really irritates me is that it came with a CD. The CD had a testing program, source code, and the COMPLETE contents of the book in a PDF file. I didn’t need to be lugging the tome around.

I did load Apache Tomcat on the desktop, and have been playing with Java Server Pages from a book I got at the library. I’ve got Eclipse (a Java IDE) loaded as well, and I think I’ll get JBoss going. Java positions are far more prevalent right now, and J2EE technology does have some interesting things.

MSN has launched Windows Live Spaces. I got a number of Welcome messages. I have, or had, an MSN Spaces account although I never used it. I think sometimes of integrating it to use as my blog, but I’d have to find some way of putting in 200+ past entries, and backdating them. It would give me an automatic RSS feed. It’s something to look at.

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