I got nothing…

It’s been a long time since I posted.  I’ve been wrapped up in endless development cycles, dealing with real world stuff and generally had way too much going on to have the time to deposit any gems of wisdom on you.  Of course, that presupposes that at this point, I do.  Which I do not…

I’m not making any promises now, but I will certainly try to post more soon.  For now, that evergreen post maker, a list:

  • We’re moving to an Agile development process.  It’s painful.  Really painful.
  • The stripers and blues are in, but I haven’t had time to fish.
  • I did a really cool secret project recently that I’ll never tell you about.  Just look on me in awe.
  • I’m rocking a really cool 64 bit 8 meg i7 lapworkstation now.  I think it has more processing power than any of my webservers.
  • Sad to see Gil Scott Heron pass – check out some of his tunes, and also read his bio.
  • 51st birthday – my friends once again show me how utterly cool they are, and throw me a really cool party. Gerhard, Kim, Mike, Caroline – you guys are the best!

Hey, maybe I DO HAVE SOMETHING!

Oh, and GO BRUINS!

Thoughts on Completing a 15 Month Long Project

Team, it’s been a long project, it’s been a tough project. You’ve developed bravely, proudly for your company. You’re a special group. You’ve found in one another a bond, that exists only in engineering, among brothers. You’ve coded for long hours, debugged each others work in dire moments. You’ve seen error messages and suffered through full regression tests together. I’m proud to have served with each and every one of you. You all deserve long and happy lives in peace.

Paraphrased from Band of Brothers

15 months upgrading from Php 4 and Mysql4 to the latest versions.  This was a project previous engineers had been tasked with.  Some ran screaming out of the building.  None seriously attempted it. For us it only happened because our Senior Architect Brian Kirsten was smart enough to know it was possible, and because I was too dumb to say “no way.”

The key to this upgrade was that we couldn’t just shut down and do the upgrade.  Our steady flow of enhancements, bug fixes and general day to day operational tasks had to be maintained.  In fact we were able to release several major projects while this was ongoing.

I could go through the details, but they’re way too “inside baseball” to be of interest.  Let me just say this:  my Ukranian development team, Irina, Andriy and Artem are absolutely the best.

Over the past month it’s been a lot of long hours.  Obviously that left no time for blogging.  Now that it’s wrapped up, you’ll see more.

As far as projects, I’ve still got a little clean up.  I realize some of you are waiting for my help on some stuff, and I can promise I’ll be catching up quickly.  For now, I rest.

In Praise of Assholes

This piece is in honor of the most under appreciated among us, the assholes.

You know of whom I speak, perhaps it’s that boss that relishes dumping a 3 day project on you at 2pm on Friday, ruining your weekend, maybe it’s that brother in law who reformatted the disk on your computer losing all your file, or perhaps its that neighbor who keeps slipping into your now denuded garage to borrow tools which somehow never find their way back..  For the lucky among us, it may even be a spouse.

Think about it, if it were not for the assholes among us, how would we ever truly appreciate the truly good?

  • Could we really savor our moments of triumph if they weren’t standing behind us telling us that our zipper was down?
  • What would we talk about endlessly if it weren’t for their antics?  Let’s face it, our good friends are honestly boring by comparison.
  • How much fun would it be if our plans all came off without a hitch?  Without the assholes, who would be there to trip you up once in a while, there by making the achievement of your eventual goal that much sweeter?
  • Where would we be if we were allowed to become so full of ourselves as we basked in the glow of our unimpeded march towards perfection.

Could we truly savor sweet, had we never tasted bitter? Would we appreciate light so much, had we never seen dark?

Indeed, I think we need to embrace those assholes among us, to reward them for that great service they provide.  So the next time one walks up to you, as they walk up, open your heart, throw wide your arms, then kick them in the nuts.  Just so they will feel your joy in the same manner in which you experience theirs…

iPad/iPhone In App Purchases Are Today’s 900 Numbers

I got a bill today, or rather a receipt for a purchase already completed, from iTunes.  $20.93 for a variety of $.99 transactions.  Strange, as I haven’t  bought anything lately.

On further investigation, it was an App called “Pocket God” that one of the girls apparently added.  That came for $4.99 and then all of a sudden a slew of in app purchases.  It reminds me of “The Eagle” in “Angry Birds” which allows a user to get past a hard part in the game, but costs $.99 every time you use it.

My best advice here is that for anyone who has kids, or anyone else that is using their iPad, be sure to change your iTunes password, and don’t let them have it.  Apple doesn’t have any interest in limiting this chicanery, as they are taking a 30% cut on it.  It’s up to you.

Also, I strongly urge you to shun purchasing any app for the iPhone, Android or iPad that allows such crap.  Apps should not have direct access into your bank account!

How to be a New Englander

It’s that time of year. When New Englander’s come into their own, and the cursed southern interlopers are forced to suffer.  Indeed, it’s winter in New England.

To help you get in touch with your inner New Englander, a list:

  1. Don’t complain about the snow.  You’re not a New Yorker, for God’s sake.
  2. If the storm drops less than 6″ of snow, make sure everyone knows “it’s not worth  shoveling, let alone plowing.”
  3. Whenever someone complains about the snow, grunt, and say something cryptic like “That ain’t snow, now ’78, that was snow…7 feet deep, heavy as concrete and harder than steel.”
  4. If the temperature is anything above -20 and someone complains about the cold, loudly profess that “it’s a fine New England day.”
  5. Dress in layers and only wear what you need.  Use suitably New England fabrics, like wool, or better yet, burlap.
  6. Find a hat that’s functional, yet completely devoid of style.  Extra points are given for real fur (that you trapped yourself) and plaid.
  7. Disparage anyone who uses anything other than “Bear Grease” to waterproof their boots.
  8. Insist that “Bear Grease” is only made with the finest of bears…
  9. If clam chowder is any thicker than milk, complain that “it’s not chowder, it’s wallpaper paste.”
  10. If clam chowder has any herbs at all in it, call it “vegetable soup”.
  11. If clam chowder is red in color, proclaim the cook “a heathen who ought not to be seen north of the Tavern on the Green.”
  12. If the clam chowder meets the above criteria, and is generally good, declare it “edible, but not as good as my mothers.”
  13. If presented with a “boiled dinner” be sure to complain if it’s got a ham in it, instead of smoked shoulder.  Refuse to admit that there is no substantive difference between the two.
  14. If someone stops for directions in a car with a Yankees sticker, or wearing a Yankees hat, feel free to give them turn by turn directions to the town dump…three towns away.

Thoughts on Joining the World of Android

Over the weekend I made the switch to the HTC Evo 4g on the Sprint network.  I still have the iPhone, but will be using it as a glorified iPod Touch after a serious run in with AT&T’s much Byzantine labyrinth of customer support.

The good:

  • Both front and back facing cameras
  • It seems like a more serious piece of technology
  • The screen is better than the iPhone
  • The camera is 8 megapixels, with built in flash
  • Turn by turn navigation
  • Tremendous integration with Google apps
  • Speech recognition that works – I can actually do things by voice now
  • Wireless hotspot – now my old iPhone and iPad can work in wireless mode
  • This seems like a much more serious piece of gear than the iPhone

The bad:

  • Lots of apps, but missing some of the ones I liked best on the iPhone, like Concert Vault
  • The battery life is incredibly short – seriously, an add on battery pack is needed here
  • I see a lot of error messages from the background
  • On error messages the buttons say “force close” which is a term that will be foreign to most users

For the record, the AT&T Customer Disservice guy I was talking to went the extra mile to make sure I’d have an extra hard time transferring my line.  Luckily, after my Twitter tirade,  the ATT social media crew helped to get me fixed.   This all on the same day that the WSJ reported Verizon was days away from having the iPhone.

For the record, AT&T should learn a few newspaper terms: “Churn”, “Retention” and “Honkin’ Big Loss of Revenue”.

A New Year

I’m back to the grindstone after a week off for the holidays.

Things to expect here in the coming year:

  • More tech/development blogging
  • More frequent updates
  • A netcast or two when the situation warrants
  • More cute and cuddly weasels

Enjoy…

  • Twitter Just Became Relevant

    I’ve got a long and storied history with Twitter.  At first, hated it.  Then loved it…and recently have been somewhat ambivalent.

    Personally I think the short form blog, which is what Twitter is, appeals to some of the very things that are wrong with modern society.  It’s designed for the ADHD generation, feeds the growing cults of personality, and in general, is a prime expediter of the dumbing down process.  The whole thing was designed to be scanned, not read, a very fact against which the writer in me is compelled to rebel.  Beyond that, I attribute it to the ongoing decline of blogs and blog commenting.

    That was until I saw a new app for the iPad called Flipboards (free).  This app takes your twitter and facebook feeds, as well as just about anything else RSS and on the fly retrieves the summary data from the links which are embedded and constructs an online newspaper format for you to read it in.

    So now, instead of reading a limited 140 character post, with an unintelligible shortened url, the app pulls down all the content, pictures and all and creates a very user friendly representation of the data.

    That’s the point at which the world changed…

    Now instead of this:

    I get this:

    (Sorry for the blurry photo – it’s actually visually stunning, but I had to take the pic with my iPhone in my dark cubicle and with my hand tremor in full force today, that’s as good as it gets)

    Overnight, that makes Twitter (and Facebook) a crowd-sourced news clipping service which brings me all the news that’s fit to link.

    Oh, and by the way, RSS is dead as a reading format.  It’s now a cross-site content transfer language.

    Try it, I think you’ll be as blown away as I am.

    The Reinfather Trilogy

    <This post has become our annual xmas season special.  Enjoy…and may yoose keep ya’s noses clean, be good earners and stay in the good graces of the Reinfather for another year.>

    Last night was the annual broadcast of the classic Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer animation, which no doubt many of the parents in the audience had to sit through.  So today, I share the classic MadTV “The Reinfather Trilogy” with you…

    Warning: Extreme violence, incredibly vulgar langauge, blasphemy, poor table manners and in general none of these three videos should be played if you are prone to being offended, have small children near you, or will get in trouble for laughing out loud.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-qM78XinyE (embedding is disabled on this one…)

    Raging Rudolph – Goodfellas Parody

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEumZuJXqYM

    The Reinfather – Godfather Parody

    A Pack of Gifts Now – Apocalypse Now Parody

    How’s It Working for You?

    I don’t write about politics often, but the situation in Massachusetts just begs discussion.

    Since the election a scant month ago, Massachusetts has been rocked once again by scandal, evidence of blatant corruption and put us in a circle that seems it will land our 4th House Speaker in a row in jail.  The #3 guy in the House has already had to resign his position.

    Here’s the stone cold truth: right now there is a veritable avalanche of evidence depicting the horrendous corruption in our state.  Mob families have been brought down with less under the RICO statuate, which is unfortunately an apt description of our state government as it is today.

    Let’s review the bits and pieces:

    1. The Feds have empaneled a grand jury to look into allegations of fraud, extortion and conspiracy in the MA Probation Dept.
    2. The State Attorney General has a separate investigation into the Probation Dept.
    3. Tom Petrolati resigns as #3 man in the house.
    4. House Speaker DeLeo under fire for patronage hires, quid pro quo campaign donations.  State Senate Leader defends patronage.
    5. Middlesex County Sherriff commits suicide amid allegations of campaign fund misuse, payroll double dipping.
    6. MassDevelopment hires consultant to look into pay raises for management.
    7. Peter Blute on WCRN has recently mentioned several times that MA Court Clerks get 4 months paid vacation a year (can someone get a citation on that?).

    Perhaps instead of investigating the corruption in the Probation Dept., we should instead have a top down investigation of hiring practices in ALL the departments.  Do you hear me, MassDOT, Lottery, etc.?

    Our word for the day, ladies and gentlemen, is Kleptocracy (via Wikipedia)

    a term applied to a government subject to control fraud that takes advantage of governmental corruption to extend the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class (collectively, kleptocrats), via the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population, sometimes without even the pretense of honest service. The term means “rule by thieves“.

    Let me ask you a simple question: How well do you think single party control of the state legislature and senate has worked for us?