I just heard that NetCon made a big sale to The Company, my first real employer out of college. Apparently we beat out Lucent in making this sale, which is funny because before I started at s-mart, they had just beat out Lucent for their biggest contract a top tier ISP in Australia. It's funny how the world is all connected.
- 22 January 2009 07:31am: There exists a person named Kevin Howard. This amuses me.
- 22 January 2009 07:42am: Ira Glass is sounding increasingly desperate for donations :( hope they don't axe the podcast.
- 22 January 2009 11:58am: The universe still works... even when you forget to notice. And other trite observations by yours truly.
- 22 January 2009 09:05pm: Wonderful. RAW files from a Nikon D700 are unsupported under CS2.
- Yesterday at 08:53am: My Australian hosting provider proves yet again that they suck. If there were alternatives.
- Yesterday at 10:21am: Layoffs at The Company once again makes me nervous for my friends, and glad I'm not there any more.
- Yesterday at 10:57am: While looking at the graveyard through my viewfinder and waiting for my tea to cool, a coworker told me a ghost story.
- Today at 11:13am: Camera running low on battery juice. This wouldn't happen on a mechanical camera.
- Today at 02:28pm: High is only thirtynine today. Happily I am in an air con restaurant.
I wonder why they bother teaching concurrency in computer science. There is this funny problem they teach you, involving n philosophers and n forks and a big pot of spaghetti which, if you solve it wrongly, could cause n philosophers to die of starvation. It's a well understood problem, and there are tones of tools to address it properly, most of which have been around for decades on every platform imaginable.
When I was working on parallel abstraction and timing at The Company, I went to a lot of effort to make sure that it worked concurrently. This put me in conflict with people who were too lazy to make sure their code worked properly in parallel. I even tried to make tools to make it easier for them to make code parallel safe, but no, that was too much effort, even though it mostly amounted to using a different class with the exact same interface.
In my current job at s-mart we use a locking mechanism which has an inherent race condition. Which means if something goes wrong it might corrupt data. Admittedly, the odds of that are quite low, but I don't understand why we don't use proper locking (ie. flock), which isn't conceptually any more complicated than the "simple" locking scheme that we use. In my last job at Company 2, we had a similar locking scheme, but it was hand coded, they didn't even bother to re-use the "simple" locking scheme provided by perl for systems that don't have flock.
I found this list of the The Thirteen Greatest Error Messages of All Time. I can't help but wonder if a bit more time thinking about concurrency could have kept some of these from happening often enough to make the list.
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.
Yesterday I had lunch with Adil, Ed, and pretty much the rest of my old work colleagues in EDA. It was really nice to see everyone and a pleasant surprise that pretty much everyone wanted to see me. After everyone else left Adil and I had a chat and I got to meet his kids, which was quite nice. Adil, don’t forget to send me that picture!
(click to see in Google Earth)
As promised (or threatened) I did the long loop of Breakneck Ridge after lunch. I did it in the afternoon, so it was a lot hotter and a lot harder than last week. I ran into lots of people this time. Most of them asked me for advice or how far it was going to be to the turn off. I suppose I looked like I knew what I was doing. I had this conversation several times: “Are you from around here?” “I used to be. I used to live in Beacon.”
Upwise it is like the last Breakneck Ridge hike except for more up after the saddle where you turn off for the short loop, and a more gradual descent. It is also about a mile longer. I feel like I left this hike as unfinished business when I left Beacon a year and a half ago. I’d hiked it a million times, but I left in a state where I wasn’t really up to hiking it anymore. Now that I’ve come back and hiked it again I feel a lot better about it.
After the hike I met up with my friends at Boscobel for As You Like It. I was disappointed that I missed Richard III, because it is one of my favourites, but As You Like It was really funny and definitely worth it. They presented it using a Western theme that accentuated the humour. Joe said it was his favourite Boscobel Shakespeare yet. I’m not sure that I would go that far, but it was quite good. If you are ever in the Hudson Valley during the summer I highly recommend seeing one of the plays that they are presenting that year. They usually do two plays each summer, they present them outside at Boscobel, where there is a lovely view of the Hudson.
...and with that, my Hudson Valley adventure draws to a close, as I head back to New York City, and prepare for my next big adventure in New Mexico.
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.
And all of this... ls_slbd_dtop_pmac and DoubleThink II will be little more than a memory and something which I won't have to worry or care about until March.
I really shouldn't have had that one glass of wine at Joe and Cicely's tonight at Action Tuesday (now scheduled weekly on Mondays). I really should have had two or three. Now it's making me tired and I have to submit some jobs to prove that Parallel Abstraction actually runs faster than Serial Abstraction. One would hope. I should really work on getting DoubleThink II up and running as well, but my mind isn't clear enough to focus on that right now.
They must have uploaded a trojan into our download stream to counteract the hexadecimal code rectifiers.
I was watching that trashy show 24 over at Joe and Cicely's and the bad guys were using massive amounts of bandwidth to hack into the nuclear power plants across the country. All these years I thought it took talent and knowledge to be a hacker, and here I found out all I need is a faster computer! I need to upgrade to a Pentium 4 so that I can hack into the CIA and download Adobe Acrobat and Micro$oft Word. At least they weren't abusing the term virus tonight. No, they instead decided to use trojan incorrectly instead. It really irks me when ever they start using computer techno babble on TV. Now I know how physicists feel when they have to listen to Data or Geordi drone on as they are oft to do.
They must have uploaded a worm into our download stream to counteract the hexadecimal code rectifiers.
I checked in a whole heap of code today. It's the first time in months. I am now hoping that I don't break the build. Lint is useless. It flagged a whole heap of non errors when I checked in my code. This for example is not a syntax error in ANSI C :
... for(int i=0; i<max; i ) ::printf("%d\n", i); for(int i=0; i<max; i ) ::printf("%d\n", i*2); ...because unlike earlier versions of C , each i is scoped for just its loop, not the entire code block.
Dude, my bastard child of Bill Gates and Debian burned this trojan virus to this cheesy media; have you checked it out yet?
Update: Sure enough, I broke the build.
I've never gone on business travel and I have never had to expense something while working at The Company. The only time I did have to expense something it was when I worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory and I asked my boss if we could have another camel for the office. My boss told me to go to R'Books and use the department charge code. When I got there, I didn't have to provide any proof that I had the authorization to use that charge code either.
I suppose that was before all the procurement scandals though. Things would be different now.
It's going to be an AMD64 which means I will gain experience with that platform. It comes with only 512MB RAM, which may not be enough. Paul just reminded me that the pointers are all going to be twice as big for any application running in 64bit mode (and of course the kernel). Still, I used Starscream for years as a web server, and that was an underpowered 64bit machine by today's standards with a staggering low128MB of RAM.
I will christen the machine Doublethink II, and decommission Doublethink I. It will probably then be destroyed so that The Company can depreciate it for tax purposes. Kinda sad really.
Funny thing about this new machine. They are going outside of the normal procurement procedures on this one which means that it will cost a fraction of what it would otherwise. Those of you know which company I work for know how often they give us a computer without The Company logo on it.
For me, the year started out as a bleak one in the coldest New York winter I have ever experienced. My mother came to visit me for her birthday. We stayed in Manhattan and it was bitterly cold.
|Lowel and Johanna|
( Read more... )
In Short, 2004 was A Great Year and I have high hopes that 2005 will be even better.