Posts belonging to Category Random Ramblings

Move Aside, Let The Man Go Through

Thanks to a commercial for the Chrysler 300 I’ve got this song stuck in my head. So I’ve decided to share the misery with you. Be careful, that hook is sticky…

A Matter of Taste

There was a Cabela’s circular in today’s mail touting their big gun show/sale this weekend.  While they had the usual complement of regular and synthetic-stocked hunting rifles, there were also a few in camouflage, such as the Remington Model R-15 VTR:

If there’s an aesthetic trend that I can’t stand, it’s camo on a gun.  It’s the ordnance equivalent of nails on a chalkboard to me.  I generally prefer wood stocks, although I don’t mind synthetics (and in some cases, some guns just cry out for synthetic stocks).  But as far as I’m concerned, camo is right out.  The only way I’d have a camo gun is if someone gave it to me.  And even then I’d probably have to think about it for a bit.  raspberry

Compare the above to this Remington Premier Competition STS:

I can’t help but find the STS much more pleasing to the eye.

Language Peeve

I was watching one of the local TV stations this morning.  Their reporter was reporting on the current DISD funding crisis and he was trying to explain that the district was $64 million in the hole because someone didn’t record the costs of hiring a large number of teachers last year.  He kept saying that the teachers were hired to reduce “classroom sizes” when he should have said they were hired to reduce “class sizes.” 

This really grated on my nerves, because unless the teachers were busy building new walls to reduce the sizes of the classrooms, they really weren’t reducing “classroom” sizes.  The unnecessary addition of ‘room’ to the word ‘class’ changes the meaning of the sentence such that it no longer makes sense.

Language matters, people! 

No Longer Flying Blind

My mother’s phone company has been offering DSL for about a year now.  Other than satellite, they are the only option for high-speed internet where she lives.  I’d been contemplating getting high-speed internet for her for a while, but the costs bothered me:

I suppose I’ve been spoiled by the options that are available here with Verizon FIOS and with the cable company.  But when you consider the subscriber density between the two areas I suppose it makes sense that it’s a lot more expensive to provide DSL out in the country.  So after the last visit when I was unable to ever completely download all of the Vista updates that her computer needed (130MB) I decided to go ahead and pay for her to get DSL (the 128/128 package) from ETEX. 

They completed the install last week, and it was active when I got there on Saturday.  I have to say that while it certainly can’t compete with FIOS, it was certainly much more usable than dialup, and I did verify that we were getting the full bandwidth that we’re paying for. 

Most importantly, though, is that I can now use remote support tools to help my mother when she calls with a problem.  The first thing I installed on Saturday was UltraVNC.  And it’s already paid off.  She called me yesterday evening complaining that something didn’t look like it used to.  I was able to connect back to her PC and take it over and fix the problem in a couple of minutes.

Those of you who have ever had to do tech support for a non-technical relative will appreciate just how handy VNC is in diagnosing and fixing problems.  If you try to do it just over the phone it’s a really frustrating experience.  It’s kind of like trying to fly an airplane where you can’t see the instrument panel and the person at the controls doesn’t know what anything is or how it works.

Transfer Ready

The files are checked into the source code control system, the build/config document is finished (I hope) and the handoff meeting is scheduled for tomorrow.  The code that I’ve been working on for the past nine or ten months is being transferred to a more-dedicated developer to finish up the last few odd and ends (finish implementing a couple of ‘nice to have’ methods and packaging it for a production deployment).  It’s kind of sad, though, because this will probably be the last bit of code that I get to write ‘officially’ on a project.  But it’s not unexpected, because my job has changed to the point that it’s impractical for me to write any significant amount of code.  My schedule is no longer my own, it seems, and I spend all day talking to other people about requirements and code, rather than actually getting anything done. 

For example, this is what the current week looks like:

Every one of those little boxes represents time spent talking to somebody about something unrelated to the project I’m handing off tomorrow (yes, technically I’m writing this from inside one of those boxes; in this case I got lucky and one of the key players never showed up, freeing up part of an hour, which I just used to check in the last of my files before starting this entry).  Without all those meetings I could probably have done the code in a third (or less) of the time it actually took.

From now on, any coding that I do will be for personal projects and it’ll all have to be after hours (which doesn’t preclude doing stuff for work; it just means that it can’t be on anyone’s official schedule or anything).

Gettin’ Schooled

I’m currently in Austin and I just finished day one of a two day seminar on the Agile software development methodology and how it might be applied in my company.  It’s an interesting idea, and there are some good concepts in it, but I’m not confident on how well it will work out in the long run.  We seem to have a nasty habit of always adding new processes and methodologies and never getting rid of the old ones.  It’s going to take some serious culture change to make it work. 

We’ve been promised a module on estimating and planning for tomorrow, which I am particularly interested in with regards to how to estimate an overall cost and date for a given project.  Because no matter how much upper management clamors for agile development, they still think in terms of “When will it be done?” and “How much will it cost?”

Random Thoughts

I don’t know why this happens, but sometimes strange thoughts just seem to pop into my conscious mind seemingly from nowhere.  Just recently it occurred to me that while the Matrix was certainly interesting for its scary distopian view of a future where humans are used by machines to generate energy, I couldn’t see how the whole setup would generate more energy than it took in.

While humans are endothermic, they require energy in the form of food to produce heat energy.  Further, they require a climate-controlled environment (neither too warm nor too cold) to thrive.  It would seem to me that the process of growing the food and maintaining the human in a comfortable environment would use more energy than the human generated.  And that’s not even considering the amount of power required to run the stupid Matrix itself.  Or for that matter, the energy required just to monitor the human in its pod.

Or perhaps I’m over-thinking the whole thing.  Not that I spent a lot of time on it, but obviously some part of my brain thought it of sufficient importance to chew on it for a while before surfacing it.

Toy Guns

Sebastian’s entry today about Politically Incorrect Toys brought back some old memories:

Interestingly enough, my neighbor worked for this very toy company, and they made all manner of politically incorrect toys, which we got to play with.  One, which I got to take home with me, was an automatic firing water pistol in the shape of an IMI Uzi.  It took batteries, because the stream was propelled by motorized action.  But it would fire as long as you held the trigger down, or until the (detachable) magazine ran dry.

I had one of these, too.  I can also confirm that it will shoot beer, although it tends to gunk up the mechanism if you don’t clean it out right away…

A Picture Being Worth 1,000 Words…

This is the story of my mornings:
song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

Don’t you just hate it when you’re *almost* there and all it will take is one tiny little adjustment but the stiction of the knob causes you to overshoot into one or other of the death zones?

Not Abandoned

I have over the past several months been experiencing a Writer’s Block of prodigious proportions.  Or perhaps it may best be described as a sort of blogger’s ennui.  Every time I saw something that might be of interest, some little part of my brain would pipe up with, “What’s the point?  Didn’t you write about that two years ago?” (an Imp of the Inert, perhaps?).

Regardless of whether it may be pointless, or repetitive, I fear I may go mad without an outlet for the anger and annoyance that I seem to live with daily, so you will being seeing more of me in the near future.  If for no other reason than for me to stop yelling out loud at the TV and the newspaper (thereby scaring the dogs). 

Have no fear, this blog has not been abandoned.