- 11 January 2009 05:36pm: Beach in January is hot, wet, windy and sandy.
- Yesterday at 11:28am: I'm feeling as though much of my work before hols was a bit sloppy due to my wanting to get the heck out at that time.
- Yesterday at 11:30am: I just noticed that there is an overgrown graveyard across the street from my new windowd cube.
- Yesterday at 12:07pm: I need to better organise my digital photos. Right now they are spread over six computers. At least if one dies I only loose a fraction.
- Yesterday at 12:21pm: Arguing with Kim about digital vs. film. Well. She's arguing I don't give a flying...
- Yesterday at 12:38pm: Also: it must be nice to be so sure of everything. Seeing the beauty in things that everyone else seems to have discarded is exhausting.
- Yesterday at 02:05pm: Not hungry, so for my lunch hour I took a stroll through the creepy overgrown graveyard.
- Yesterday at 02:17pm: Realising camera set to ISO 3200 after taking pictures during sunny 16 weather irritates me.
- Today at 10:01am: Narrowmindedtwat er... I mean Kimbot is not at work today.
- Today at 03:59pm: Haven't been able to see season 2 of This American Life yet... anyone know when it will hit the iTunes and/or DVD?
- Today at 04:00pm: Andrew decides to tone down his snarky comment when responding to a client. I'll be glad to see the backside of this project.
Kim was arguing with Andrew last week about something pointless and I had a sense of utter joy at the fact that it wasn’t me having a pointless argument with her. The more that I think about it though, the more I realise the reason Kim irritates me so much is that she is a computer. She was carping to Andrew about this silly “fun factoid” billboard on the way to work isn’t precise enough for her. “People should be more precise!” She was saying. Andrew was arguing that people don’t have to be so precise when they are talking to other people because they can understand the meaning through context. The reason this pleases me is that for a long time I believed that there were significant advantages to working with computers over with people. Computers tend to do exactly what you tell them to. This is both their greatest strength and their greatest weakness. People are more flexible, and as a result tend to do exactly what you tell them not to do. In Kim I have finally met someone who is more like a computer than a person. What pleases me is that I finally enjoy much more working with people.
At work yesterday, I got into this drawn out argument with my boss about an API that I had designed (and implemented). It was a respectful argument and in the end I think we came to a compromise that we were both mildly happy with. It is a funny thing because this one little function call seemed pretty uncontroversial when I wrote it, but it has somehow managed to draw the most criticism (Gordon suggested a change which didn’t get made weeks ago).
I hate arguing with people because whenever I look back on arguments I see how I was either too zealous in arguing my point, or give in too easily. On Friday I was arguing with Kim about macro lenses. Short version is that I made an assertion that, while true if explained correctly, I didn’t feel like arguing the point. That feels like every argument (read: every conversation) that I have with her, as she is totally unable to see my perspective, as a result I sort of intensely dislike her.
Yesterday was also Russian and I was going to bring my computer with me so that I could go to Potts Point after class instead of home (Potts Point is closer). Only when I left work I realised my computer wasn’t in my backpack and I panicked. I remembered closing the lid to my computer so that it would go to sleep, but I couldn’t remember if I had actually put it in my backpack. The only time I hadn’t had my backpack with me was when I left it at work briefly to go to the bathroom and if it had been stolen that would have meant it would have been someone at work. I was relieved when I got home and it was sitting in its place, asleep, but unmoved. I felt weird that I could have thought that someone at work could have taken it, because it is a smal company and everyone knows everyone (not that people don’t steel in those situations, but it is somehow worse when they do?).
I usually make it a rule not to get to close to my co-workers. I was hoping this might be an exception, but days like yesterday remind me that there are reasons that I have those rules. Nothing really terrible happened (in the end), but events leave me vaguely uneasy.
I was in a tall building the other day riding the elevator from close to the top all the way to the ground floor. A guy who worked in the building was already in the lift and seemed flustered and was very apologetic because only one of the two lifts was operating. I make it a policy never to be in a hurry so I wasn’t bothered. Then this lady got on somewhere (let’s just say level l0 for good measure). This seemed only to make the man even more flustery. She kept telling us that she needed to get off on level 5, in the same manner that someone reminds ones self something by saying it over and over again because it is something they are likely to forget. I was sort of torn as to whether or not to suggest that pressing the “5” button might help. When we got to the ground level, she was all “oh my gosh I missed my floor.” Again the man was apologising for wasting my precious time. I thought it prudent not to mention that I wasn’t even supposed to be in the building in the first place.
This week at work my boss responded to a client that he would pass their provisioning request on to the “Provisioning Team”. He then poked his head over the cubical wall and said “Graham, you are now officially our Provisioning Team.”
I mentioned to Kim on Friday that I was taking Russian. She asked why, in a manner, dare I say it, that might sound a bit like surprise.
I am trying to get my head around the Vista thing. Fortunately my workplace has been smart and all the windows client machines are still XP. Several of the business apps that we use, like Office and Outlook, are of the Vista generation (by which I mean completely baffling from a user interface point of view). Was there something wrong with the XP generation of software? I think personally the best feature of XP was that it was relatively easy to make it look and act like Windows 2000. I’m reading in an open source rag (so, obviously not a balanced point of view) today about how the demise of Microsoft due to Vista was a forgone conclusion because their model for software development is “wrong”. Is that really true though? I mean I remember MS-DOS 4. That turkey was a real stinker. Everyone just kept using version 3.3 until 5 came out. The stakes in the computer industry are a whole lot higher now of course, but history is not really about progress it is about cycles.
Today was my first “quarterly update” at s-mart. The very first slide had a bullet that read: “Graham xxxxx Developer Extraordinaire!”; as one of last quarters events was me starting at the company. It was nice to get the recognition. We used to have meetings like this all the time at The Company, but they were always less interesting because I was such a small cog in such a big machine. Now I am a slightly larger cog in a much smaller machine :P When I was working at Company 2 I wasn’t even invited to these meetings. It’s nice to be a person at work again.
- Signed up for Russian 1.
- Got tickets to go to Canberra next weekend, which is dead this time of year.
- Went to a really nice Spanish restaurant for dinner and ate many delicious things. They had pretty good margaritas. I took some pictures with my phone, but I think the memory card in my phone got erased or something. I need to start photographing for real again :/
- Saw an interesting play about the Spinifex people. It was deeply personal but not at all bitter.
I’m sorry I left myself logged in to IM for like two days but had been so busy that I didn’t sit in front of my home computer for that whole time. Sorry if you sent me messages I wasn’t ignoring you! Promise! I will endeavour to log myself out next time, and actually be in front of my computer when it says that I am.
Kim at work told me that I could never do or say anything to surprise her. At first this made me angry, but now I don’t really care. It occurred to me that nothing she has done so far has been terribly surprising. meh.
I had an epiphany this morning about how to reorganise the provisioning code. I was glad that I had left work early yesterday rather than agonising over it, because apparently all I needed to was to get a good night’s sleep and a fresh perspective. I realise though, that I love my job, but in some ways it isn’t as challenging as when I was working at The Company, especially that period when I was working on parallel abstraction. It’s hard to compare with accomplishing the impossible.
Today we had lunch at the pub, which was fun, except they forgot our order and then pretended that they hadn’t. There is this girl who is always flirting with Andrew. I can’t remember her name.
I’m looking forward to special visitors in March.
Today right before I left work I asked Kim how her vacation was. Not good, she answered. Not enough excitement, she said. Only one amazingly beautiful sunset, she said. My instinct was to point out that some people live their whole lives and only get to see one amazingly beautiful sunset if they are lucky.
I was leaving (mentioned) and I was just trying to be friendly. The America in me wants people just to answer in short positive statements regardless of actual mood. The rest of me doesn’t like that, but it is hard to deny that it is there.
SOAP::Lite is like a mule. You can often coax it into doing what you want it to do, but not without a lot of headache. SOAP::Lite reminds me that designing good APIs is not easy. The Perl community, despite a lot of good work, has unfortunately produced some turkeys; there are warts everywhere. Boxing Day this old lady declared that if everyone just did as she said then the world would be a better place. I think anyone writing an API is something like that: either arrogant or deluded. Usually both.
Needless to say I spent the whole day coaxing SOAP::Lite
In four years in Tucson, I remember it snowing exactly once. Actually I don’t even remember the snow itself, but reading about it the next Monday morning in the Wildcat, because I had slept through the snowing (and immediate melting) and it having snowed was newsworthy enough to be on the front page. Not that the front page had to be terribly newsworthy when it came to the Wildcat. Although I think the Wildcat probably had more content and journalistic integrity than mX does, and I always pick up a copy of mX if I am going through Town Hall station at the right time of day. The price is right.
I have been rewriting bits of my website in PHP in order to improve my PHP coding skills. It’s painful because Perl (on which most of my website is already written) is about a million times more powerful in almost every regard. It’s sticky to configure I guess, and is horrible to maintain if written by someone who is unskilled in the ways of the Perl. This is why companies that do OpenSource web development tend to stick with PHP, which bundles itself with everything and dumps everything (including kitchen_sink_faucet_on()) into the same global namespace. Hence the need to brush up on PHP and the loathing of said PHP.
I have also been introducing Tristan 賢 to some of my music. Some of it seems to be taking. I have this dream that he won’t be as conventional in his approach to things artistic as my dad is. He has to figure out what he likes on his own though, and he will do that, but it is fun to show him things that he might not otherwise see or hear :)
So, allegedly we got an extra hour of sleep last night (it’s fall back right?). Only all of my clocks are also some sort of computer device, and I didn’t have to change any of them, they just report the new time. This makes me nervous, as it could all theoretically be an elaborate CIA plot to make me think I am more rested than I really am. I wouldn’t put it past them.
brothers and sisters
Today I realized that I decided to take the week of ANZAC day off. That means that I am taking a day off that I was already getting off! Oops! Part of the time I will be spending in... Canberra. So exciting (not). I want to spend more time with my siblings though. This makes up for it.
I was having this conversation with Tristan the last time I was there, and he used my own dogma and bias against me. It was pretty awesome. I was so proud of him for thinking critically and not just regurgitating what other people say. I would like to have more moments like that. I can’t believe he is going to be 14 this year. I can still distinctly remember when he was a newborn. I was a lot younger then too.
the write [sic] and wrong of it
Nobody is ever on AIM anymore. I mean, they are sort of on, in that their computers are connected to the network, but they aren’t on in that they are actually asleep. It must have something to be on the wrong side of the planet. Just like most of them also drive on the wrong side of the road. And yes, by “them” I mean the giant ants. Why is it that they seem to come up so often?
In Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, Stephenson presents a world in which churches are a franchise operation. (The book in general makes all the logical conclusion of the application of rampant free market principals as they might occur sometime in the near future; for example, the CIA of this future buys and sells information to the highest bidder, and the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) is sold off and becomes a personal yacht). The Economist has an article (“A marriage made in heaven?”) about the possible merger of Catholicism and Anglicanism [sic] from a business perspective. It’s amusing, but I am not sure which disturbs me more, the ease at which big religion fits into the language of big corporations, or the fact that capitalists find it so easy to talk about nearly anything using their dogmatic vocabulary.
Back in high school my friend wingated and I used to totally snow Sean “Little Man” O’Dork (also known as Sir Spawn the Mediocre) with our computer jargon, which mostly consisted of real terms, but was strung together to be meaningless. On the Thursday edition of the Report, Colbert had an amusing rant on the new Apple iPhone, which reminded me of those days:
“Computers aren’t supposed to be easier or cute. They’re supposed to be intimidating punch card reading hulks of metal that take up an entire refrigerated room and force you to manually implement recursive procedures and abstract data types in FORTRAN 77.”
—Stephen Colbert 1/11/07
I’m clearly a computer dork though, because while I enjoyed the “uphills both ways in the snow” nature of this rant, my first thought was but you can’t do recursion in FORTRAN 77.
I was watching the Daily Show and the Colbert Report about Time’s lamest person of the year award ever: “you”, and today I walked past the newsagent and saw the cover which confirmed it really was as lame as I suspected. It also reminded me of an episode dating back to the New Mexico Super Computer Challenge...
When I was in high school, there was this thing were computer nerds got together from all over the state and competed to write scientific applications on the super computer hardware available at the national labs in New Mexico. It was sort of an academic decathlon for computer nerds, so it was the über in überdorky.
So there I was having lunch with my computer geek friends at the “challenge” and I says to Ellen (more or less out of nowhere), “did you hear what Jeff said about you?”
Nick thought this was hilarious, for reasons that I couldn’t fathom, but instead of admitting that I just nodded and agreed like I knew what was so funny. I mean, I had meant it as a joke, but it wasn’t that funny.
Then Ellen threw a piece of pie at Jeff, not because she was particularly mad at Jeff (who had not, in fact, said anything about her), but because someone had dared her to. That’s what wonderful upstanding young citizens we were in those days.
Later, I figured out that Nick thought that I was making a pun based on this Chinese girl that we knew whose name is a homonym for “you”. Still not very funny, but the joke became legendary for some reason, and I never admitted to anyone that I hadn’t intended it that way and anyway I didn’t even think it was that funny.
“You” was one of those classic over achievers. She was taking all AP classes, but did that make her smart? I saw what she did for her AP Computers final and it showed a complete misunderstanding of the technology that she was supposed to be learning. I also saw what the computer teacher wrote about her in his recommendation for her (pesky Unix permission bits). I don’t think she deserved the praise she got from him. I could see her being smart in English or Math or Science, because I didn’t see her perform in that capacity, but on the other hand, I could just as easily see her being good at taking tests. That would actually describe most of the people that I knew in high school.
My point is, I am much happier thinking that Time chose “You” (the person I knew in high school) rather than the second person plural as there Person of the Year.