For the second day in a row Annoying Cube Neighbour comes over to ask for the password of his VM for which he set the password to. Yesterday I told him what the usual password was. Today I told him that it was whatever he himself had set it to, when he remembered that we'd done this whole thing yesterday. Tomorrow I will just remember what he set it to and remind him.
Annoying Cube Neighbour just asked me for advice in talking to the boss. Do I have a label on me which says “able to communicate with peoples”? Because I personally find it quite a challenge communicating ideas to other human beings, and I wouldn't personally rate myself as good at this sort of thing. Anyway, I don't know the details of the forum he was talking about so I went with general advice on listening. Most people, I said are so busy waiting for the other person to stop talking so they can start talking that the forget to listen. It's kind of funny because while I was explaining this, he interrupted me.
Today I overheard Richmond Guy asking one of my fellow devs if we could start using a Restful API, since it is all the range now (is it?), and also proudly announced that he was using reusable grocery bags (on a related note, the company is going green so we have to throw out all of those styrofoam cups). The vibe that I get from Richmond Guy is that he does things because they look like the right thing to do and they will help the stock price when and if we become a public company. This is not always an entirely bad motivation for doing something, but I usually think about how easy or hard things will be to maintain in the future and things like system performance.
My favourite overheard thing today was when PHP Guy compared women and the perl programming language saying they were the “same”. PHP Guy, as I mentioned hates perl so by the transitive property PHP Guy is a misogynist. Anyone who has ever worked in an organization that is mostly men will not be surprised by this sort of language, and women do sometimes make generalizations about men. I think it's much healthier to have a more balanced mixture.
I disagree with PHP Guy though, there are many things that I like about both perl and women and they are nothing alike. I was going to insert a joke here about perl being easier for me to understand, and then deflect the implicit criticism by pointing out that this is due to my own limitations, but I actually interact quite well with women. In fact I would love to see more women in programming, not for gender equity (although I am all for that), but because I think it would make a better work environment. Work environments with mostly men tend to behave badly, but if you throw in even a few women, it tends to moderate the worst behaviors. On a smaller scale, whenever Lena comes down to Maryland to visit, it alters my behavior in a positive way.
For now of course, what I think is academic, until my Plan for World Domination proceeds a little further. For now I am tracking the character flaws of the people around me in case I need to use thing information in my rise to the top.
The server at the eating establishment where I had lunch today was new and totally ill-equipped to deal with the complexity of my order. When the order finally got through, he noticed that the total was $9.11 and there was a picture of an aeroplane on my frequent flyer credit card. Slightly disturbing, I suppose, if you place any stock in coincidences, but not nearly so much as my annoying coworker/cubical neighbor coming over and talking to me about social dynamics when I wish he'd stop pestering me and get the hell out of my cube. How about them social dynamics? I am a little too diplomatic to put it like that. At the same time as I am annoyed by his presence I wonder if his mastery of social dynamics is sufficient for him to realize I can't stand him. He then tried to explain to me the exact cause of schizophrenia and that people are completely and irreparably unchangeable at the age of 11 (I would estimate more like five, but whatever). Even though I still want him to get the hell out of my hair I somehow feel the need to explain to him that while certain factors seem to contribute to the condition, the exact cause of schizophrenia is the subject of much scholarly debate, and it is difficult to predict with certainty who will suffer from it. I also think that assuming people are doomed to be themselves for the rest of their lives is somewhat pessimistic, while at the same time I sort of believe there is a degree of truth to it. He doesn't want to hear it, he knew someone who had schizophrenia and he's read lots of books. I don't tell him that my girlfriend is a psyche nurse, because that doesn't really make me more of an authority on the subject but at least I understand the difference between data and an anecdote, and at least he isn't Kimbot.
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.
Re-watched Fight Club. I honestly don’t understand what I saw in that movie. It’s clever, and somewhat anarchic, but like Che it has more traction as a T-shirt than it does for its ideas. Ironically appropriate given the proclivities of Tyler Durden. The film reminds me of just about every frat boy I met at uni.
Re-watching Ghostbusters. The effects are cheesy, but ahh... makes me all nostalgic for New York. Good times. This remains one of my favourite films.
New TV is a good excuse to revisit my DVD library.
Also watched my second demo (e) for the first time on my new TV, and also for the first time with my new amp. Looks and sounds really good :) I decided to skip watching my first demo Final Intensity on account of it being tainted by Kari’s contribution to the project.
Playing through Super Mario Galaxy. I am less than 15 stars short of the final showdown, assuming there isn’t an encore, which there probably is. Running both the Wii and the Mac Mini through the TV has got me to thinking that if the Wiimote worked as a pointing device for the Mac Mini it would be really cool. I still think about interface design issues, even though I am destined to work on server side stuff it seems. It’s a pity that nothing works with anything else. Yay for capitalism and free markets.
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
Wednesday I decided to come down to Canberra. I went to Dick Smith’s to get iPods for Tristan and Lara. I pointed at the merchandise and said “I will have a blue one and a green one” and the salesman responded “is that for different moods or different people?”
Thursday I did the rest of my Christmas shopping, including getting a gift for Secret Santa ritual at work. Usually stuff in Australia closes at 5 or 5:30pm, but Thursday before Christmas everything is open till midnight practically, if not in actuality. It was a mad rush! Friday we had Christmas lunch at work. The food was really nice and we had Christmas crackers and everything. Then everyone drew numbers and picked gifts and/or stole gifts from others. I never want to steal other people’s gifts because it seems rude somehow (I realize it is just a game meant for fun of course), but it is always entertaining to watch other people steal gifts. My gift was the last one to get unwrapped. Can I just mention here how awesome my new coworkers are and my new work environment is?
Friday I flew down to Canberra. The airport was surprisingly uncrowded for this time of year. The aeroplane was mostly empty. When I got to Canberra, Tristan had his earphones on listening to music, and I thoughts to myself, I definitely got him the right gift. Lara was excited about her iPod too, although I think she was more excited about the games and the possibility of putting music on it. Dad already has the DVD I got him, which was unfortunate.
The other day, someone at work asked me (not entirely out of the blue), if I “had anyone useful” in my family.
Without missing a beat I answered: “No, they are all scientists.”
Because it’s true, at least in the context of the conversation, which made the question more like do you have anyone with skills that are useful to ordinary people in your family. I mean, they contribute to the sum of human knowledge, and arguably do important things, but hardly useful skills, such as being able to cut hair (like Nina’s husband) or even fixing a Windows XP machine full of viruses that you stupidly downloaded (like me. er, the fixing part, not the downloading of viruses part).
“But wait,” I added, “it gets worse, because I grew up in a company town, where the ‘company’ was a federal laboratory, and everyone who lived in the town were also scientists.”
Later, when I was explaining this conversation to my mum (who didn’t seem to find it as inherently funny as I did), she pointed out to me that there are also engineers in Los Alamos.
“Well, they can be useful.” I said.
“Not those engineers.”
Mum seems to hold engineers in the same esteem as people who live in Melbourne (“seriously,” I can imagine her saying, “if you are in Australia, why wouldn’t you live in Sydney?”).
I know this attitude sort of filtered down to me, unfortunately, because early on when I met my friends in New York who also worked at The Company, I said with some disdain that I wasn’t an engineer, when one of them described us as a group of engineers. I have always preferred the term “programmer” or “coder” (which is actually different from what my friends do), although I do have to admit my job title was “software engineer” for those six years in New York.
They are pretty cool engineers though. They do things like make the processors that go into all of the next generation video game consoles. (When the dust settles from this round of the Console Wars, I don’t know if Sony or Nintendo will be left standing, but either way The Company stands to make a tidy profit either way). More importantly, they are cool people, who know how to have a good time and be good friends.
I told my photography teacher what my friends did once, and she thought those GPUs The Company was making were a waste of resources that could have been more appropriately allocated. Seriously though, who is she kidding, she is a professional photographer. What is she contributing to the world that is so awesome that she can go around judging other people? There is nothing wrong with being a photographer, but there is everything wrong with being judgemental and condescending.
Went to a “Japanese” restaurant with some co-workers. If I were in the states and with my friends or family I would probably call it a “Sushi” place, but that didn’t seem to be the term used here. This place had a conveyor belt and you just picked up the stuff that you wanted as it went by. This concept has always seemed cool in theory, but also a little bit sketchy in terms of health, but the fish turned out to be quite fresh, and I would probably go back again.
There are many things that I miss about working at The Company, but Jeff is not one of them. I do miss my collaborations with Adil, Tiffany, Ed and Ed a lot.
I was excited yesterday because my iPod finally came back to me. I wasn’t sure they would actually do it, but they replaced it, so this is actually my third iPod (I checked and it has a different serial number), my second replacement by the same warranty, so that extended warranty was actually worth it for once. Would I get another iPod? I’m not sure, I mean I love having the thing and it is super simple to use, but as far as reliability it doesn’t score well. My friend e and her husband both have iPods and both are giving them trouble at the moment (one sounds like it has died, the other is having the same sort of problems that mine did before it finally died). Theresa’s died recently too. In my own experience their ability to fix things appear to operating at only about 66%, and you only get a good result if you call up and yell at them. I was actually super courteous both times because Theresa used to work in a call centre and people who work in places like that don’t deserve to have abuse hurled in their general direction, you do (however) have to be insistent when block your path with red tape. On the other hand when I actually have a working iPod it is hard to imagine life without it! I think I would actually get another iPod, but I’d get the AppleCare Extortion Plan up front this time, because although there was more hassles than there should have been, they did fix things in the end. That does count for a lot.
Here is an old photo that reminds of the days when I would get up earlyto capture the morning light. Brrr. I think it was cold that morning!
Today, in contrast was quite nice! Weather wise I mean.
Today was the farewell lunch for Rory (not sure about the spelling), which I was sort of not looking forward to on account of having to be social and stuff, but it actually went pretty well. After ordering my lunch at the bar I got to the tables reserved for us, and all of the seats were taken at tables that had people so I had to colonize a new table. Sitting alone in a group like that is pretty disturbing, especially if you are mildly
socially phobic antisocial. Some office folk with mildly recognizable faces came over to my table shortly after and introduce themselves. I think I talk too much in those situations. I can't think of anything to say so all sorts of irrelevant stuff starts to regurgitate without my thinking about it. I had this theory that it would be easier to deal with my shyness in a place other than New York, and I think I was right, or maybe I'm just getting older and more able to deal with this stuff.
Ah, but the really good news is that Cicely, Joe and (allegedly) Brian are coming out to visit for New Years Eve! NYE is, quite simply, the best time of year to be in Sydney, and Sydney is, quite simply, the best place to be for NYE. I was just thinking this morning that I really love Sydney and I am fairly certain that Sydney is the greatest city on earth (no offense to my friends in New York, which I also adore), but of course I miss my friends! I am super excited about having some friends out and being able to show them around and hang out with my friends.
Yesterday my new 23" Apple HD monitor arrived and I am using it right now. It looks really good. It's a new toy that is yet another reason for me to despise the inferiority of my work equipment. My friend e was
telling reminding me that most places are like "that" ... and she's right to an extent (but at least she can IM from work!), but I think I will continue to complain about work anyway. It beats complaining about my personal life!
Not much else to report.
( possibly more detail than what you care about )
Anyway, to make a long story short, the interview went extraordinarily well to the point that I felt like for the first time ever I hadn't shot myself in the foot in a job interview, and that my poor interview skills for the first time wouldn't be the weak link in my overall application. For the first time, I felt if I don't get the job it is because there is someone out there who applied who is technically more qualified than myself, and I am pretty comfortable with that possibility.
Today is the first day that I would have gone to work if I hadn't signed those papers on Friday. My last day I felt oddly detached. I was immune to things and people that ordinarily bother me, like my manager and Jeff. On the other hand I went around and said good-bye to people. It's harder to go wrong with that.
My going away party was on Saturday at Brian's house. I will be seeing people this week, but it is probably the last time that I will see "everyone" together. (Not that it could really be everyone without Sherry, Megan, Joanna and Padraic). I got to say goodbye to Sherry over lunch a week or so ago, and I hopefully I will get to visit Joanna and Padraic in California before I leave.
Everyone should come out and visit me in Salt Lake City for a ski holiday (I'll be there about 6 February to 8 March, with a short trip to New Mexico sometime the week of 22 February), or in Australia (anytime starting May 2006).
When we were walking back to the building after lunch, people had bunched up into smaller sub groups, and I noticed that because of my pace I was sort of between groups, off by myself. I thought to myself: here I am the guest of honor and my anti-social tendencies have still taken over.
As I type this I just realized that I forgot to have Adil invite that cute Indian girl (the one that always seems to smile at me) to my farewell lunch.
Today when I got out of my car, I realized that I had left my badge in my other pants, and was about to give one of my co-workers a call when I saw two people in the parking lot. One of them was that cute Indian woman who I'd like to get to know better, and the other was my arch Nemesis Frank W. I asked if they could let me in. People at work don't even answer that question. Security is so lax that you can assume the answer is yes.
Walking in, we started talking about snow, and then skiing and then...
Brief intermission here: it is so obvious that this conversation arc was going to lead to my proclamation about how much better the snow, and therefore the skiing is in the southwest. I just can't help myself. Every time I start talking about snow or skiing with someone I just have to tell them what they are missing (if they are missing it) or commiserate with them if they know what they are missing by living on this quarter of the country. Why do I do that?
...I tell them about how I am used to the white fluffy snow we have in the southwest, as apposed to the awful icy crap that they have around here. Frank tells me that he went to school in Arizona (which I already knew), and I say: "So did I." He asks me where, I tell him, and then he told me that he went to NAU.
All the while I am being coy, pretending that I don't know. Only I didn't know. I always thought he went to ASU, and now it turns out he went to NAU and that means he can't be my arch-nemesis anymore! As arch-nemeses go, he was benign. Though I realize by definition, one's arch-nemesis is not supposed to be benign.
When I was in grade school, my arch-nemesis was Brad Green, and he was a good arch nemesis, because we used to get into fights. I can't remember exactly what they were about. In high school, my arch-nemesis was Bird Boy. He nominated himself president and founder of the GTO haters club (GTO being my initials). As such, he was more of a thorn in my side that I really great arch-nemesis. I don't think I had an arch-nemesis in college. Tyler: If you are reading this, can you remember if I had one?
Now I need a new arch-nemesis. I will be accepting applications immediately.
 Apparently this is the plural of nemesis.
I didn't even ask to administrate this ridiculous server, it was thrust on me when they got rid of Wayne. When they gave me the job, they didn't give me the resources to run it, they just expected it to work. When the machine goes down, it's an emergency, but when I ask for anything I'm ignored.
Lou is the guy who is supposed to help me move the server software to the department web server. There is actually something worse than refusing to do your job. That is saying that you will do your job, but then never doing it. That's Lou.
To: Frank, TomI'm tempted to pull the plug on my computer right now and take it back home and let them deal with it.
I talked to Lou, as you asked.
He told me there was zero chance of getting new hardware and that he will instead look into moving the server software to the department web server.
and he does what he usually does which is he says that he will get back to me tomorrow, and then he never does.
This has been going on since last year when I originally asked for new hardware and he originally suggested moving the server software to the department web server.
I still know nothing at all about the department web server, and thus I cannot honestly say if the server software on DoubleThink can be moved to the department web server.
On Thursday I started a remote desktop on Adil's machine. The machine is named New Mexico, so I gave the desktop the id of Land of Enchantment. I suddenly became very homesick. So much so that I closed my door and contemplated the place that I grew up for a few minutes.