Tag Archive for guy

Programming Consistency

Sometimes I just feel like if I could get my hands on certain programmers I would slap them silly. Or perhaps kick the living crap out of them.

I’m working with this legacy application. In one table there is a column that is a string. Its an ID number stored with leading zeroes, like: 005, 016, 548. In another table, the same ID is stored as an integer, no leading zeroes. And they are key values in both tables. I am not allowed to correct the tables due to the effect it would have on existing applications.

Its so irritating to have to constantly convert back and forth due to some long ago idiot’s lack of planning. But what really irks me is that these tables were created about six years ago. The guy who did it hasn’t worked here for five years. In all that time, all the expansions and upgrades and applications, no one has been allowed to fix it. This mismatch of data, over five years, has probably resulted in hundreds, thousands of lines of additional code, to the point where fixing it will now cost the company a small fortune to fix. So they don’t fix it.

So, here I am, writing a couple extra lines of code per function, every page of code, probably three or four hours per week of my time, because one guy six years ago made a stupid error.

Ugh.

7 Days In Memphis

Peter Gallagher can sing.

Wait? Who’s Peter Gallagher? Perhaps if I called his new CD, 7 Days in Memphis, Sandy Cohen Sings The Blues instead you might recognize him. Yeah, the dad guy from The O.C.

Peter has been around a long time, and he’s done broadway… Guys & Dolls, Hair… and so when he busted out the vocals on The O.C., people who knew his history weren’t surprised. However, him winding up with a record contract still is a little bit out of left field. 7 Days in Memphis is a collections of old blues and soul songs, mostly lesser known, infrequently covered tunes. And the man can sing. Oh, he’s not going to win any Grammys I don’t think, but he does know how to work the microphone. To be honest, I put this on my Christmas list on a lark, not thinking anyone would get it for me… I mean, Anthony Stewart Head’s Music for Elevators has been on there for two years and no one has put that one under the tree yet. Anthony Stewart Who? Giles, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Anyway, I figured Peter’s album would rot there on the list too, but wonder of wonders on Christmas morning I unwrapped this little gem. Since then, I’ve listened to the album about a dozen times, and I really like it…

Here’s to hoping he goes on tour during the summer break for The O.C. instead of doing some movie or something…

The Last Seat on the Bus

I ride the bus to work, and I really enjoy it. I get to read, or listen to music, all the while not having to worry about idiots in traffic. It doesn’t really take any longer than driving myself did, and with gas prices these days it’s a hell of a lot cheaper. At last tally, I’m saving myself over $200 a month by riding the bus. But there is one thing that bothers me…

I get on the bus as the main transit center, which means the bus is empty or near empty when I get on. Now, traditional society dictates that since all seats on the bus are in pairs, if you get on the bus and there is an open pair, you sit there before sitting next to someone else. Women are allowed a bit of leeway, it’s okay if they sit next to another woman instead of taking one of an open pair if she doesn’t want to risk sitting next to some random man later on. As the bus drives, we pick up more people, and always by the time we reach the transfer station to the train, the bus is full.

In the city of Atlanta, we have a large population of blacks and hispanics. So, its not unreasonable to believe that often I’m the only white guy on the bus. Sometimes there are a couple of white women, but not always. As a white guy, I also have a shaved head. My hair line is receeding, and I look awful when I grow my hair out, so I shave it because it looks better. I have a goatee. So, I’m a white guy with a shaved head and a goatee. I’m also a nice guy… I’ve got no visible tatoos, no scars, and I wear business casual clothes (polo shirt and khaki pants most days). I sit and read my book (science fiction, fantasy, classic literature, mysteries, the odd other book here and there) or I have my headphones on listening to MP3s from by PDA phone. Every single day, the seat next to me is the last one to get filled.

I don’t know what’s up… should I feel slighted? Discriminated against? I don’t stink, I’ve asked. And I’m not wearing any internationally recognized symbols of hatred. I’m just a guy reading a book and/or listening to music. And yet, once it gets down to the last seat available, the next person to get on the bus will look around, scanning the entire bus looking for a chance hidden seat, before finally fixing their face in a downtrodden look of defeat and resign themselves to being forced to sit next to me.

I just don’t get it.

Kill and Kill Again

You are not supposed to laugh wildly in a martial arts action flick, not most of them anyway. But watching the 1981 classic Kill and Kill Again, I just could not stop myself. First, there is the cheesy opening sequence… Steve Chase is being awarded at the “International Martial Arts Convention”, only for some silly reason he is fighting like four guys who accosted some random girl. Then it turns out the random girl was looking for Steve. Her father is a scientist who has gone missing. This scientist was making huge advances in… wait for it… potato based gasoline. “There would be enough gas to drive all the cars to the moon!” Now, while you can get gas from other sources, I’m not sure anyone has ever gotten gasoline from a potato. But wait, the prospect of completely renewable gasoline resources in the form of french fries isn’t why the good scientist was kidnapped… No… See, while producing his potatoline (gasatoes?), the process creating a side product… a chemical that allows complete mind control over another person! Dun-dun-dun!

So, our hero, Steve, gets together his buddies, after securing a nice five million dollar price for his service… His buddies, of course, are Gypsy Billy, Gorilla, Hotdog, and The Fly. Five men, in a martial arts movie, and not a single one of them asian… four white guys and a black guy from Jamaica. Gorilla, the Jamaican, who is introduced having a tug-o-war… him versus ten other guys, he wins… comes along pretty easy. Gypsy requires a nice fifteen man brawl, one of the more watchable parts of the movie. Hotdog is found playing a sort of Russian Roulette… a bunch of guys are inside a metal hangar, they load a gun and then throw it, it goes off and the bullet ricochets around, last man to chicken out wins the pot. The Fly… well, he’s some sort of mystic or something… he levitates, and so does Steve, and if you haven’t turned off the movie yet, you should.

Then we meet the bad guy… Marduk! Ooooh! A scary name! Too bad he looks like a high school chemistry professor from the late 60’s stuffed into a military uniform. And his right hand woman has pink hair, and calls him cutesy names even though he asks her to stop. I stopped laughing at this point and started crying. If I only I could have found the remote…

Have I mentioned that this wasn’t the first time I’d seen this movie? I think it explains alot. Really.

The worst part about this movie, though, is that this is a sequel. The first Steve Chase movie was called Kill or Be Killed, and you shouldn’t watch it either. Lucky for you, its not on DVD yet so its much harder to find. Don’t try.

Everyone hates the new guy

Its just a simple fact of working in the Information Technology field. New guys suck. One, they introduce change into what may be a well oiled machine of work. Two, they never know enough of the specifics to be much help for a while, and the slow you down asking silly questions. And three, they get a better computer.

See, technology moves pretty fast. What was a standard computer last year is this year’s slow model. And this is really what bugs tech guys more than anything. A new guy comes in, and he gets a better PC that the guy who’s been here a while.

Me, I’ve never been the new guy. I’m always the replacement guy. I’m much worse off than even the old guys because I’m replacing someone who has quit or been fired, and I get his junky busted equipment. So, not only do I not get the new guy benefits of a spanking new PC, but when the company does decide to spend some cash and buy new stuff for old guys, I’m not high enough on the totem pole to get one.

Bah!

Appearances can be Deceiving

I read on the bus to work every morning. This week I’ve been reading ‘Lamb’ by Christopher Moore, an excellent book thus far (about half way through) and its looking like it will get a very good recommendation out of me. The book happens to be a semi-satirical look at the life of Jesus Christ, Joshua, through the eyes of his never-mentioned-in-the-Bible best friend Levi, who is called Biff. Anyhow, as I’m riding the bus, I notice the guy sitting next to me. He looks ‘normal’, and I mean that in the “We never suspected anything because he was just a normal guy” sort of way. He wore typical business casual clothes, khaki slacks, a polo shirt, and nice shoes. His hair was an average short but not too short guy hair cut. He wore glasses, had a watch on (a nice gold colored one that may or may not have been actual gold) and a wedding ring. As he sat, he was flipping through some papers and highlighting as he went.

A brief aside here… If curiosity kills the cat, then I’m glad I’m not a cat. I have an insatiable appetite for looking at things that I shouldn’t. As a child, one of my favorite pastimes was sneaking into my father’s closet to take a gander at the Playboy magazines that he kept hidden there. I was like eight years old. Eight year old boys don’t really understand looking at naked women, but I did understand that I wasn’t supposed to look at naked women, so that’s why I did it. At jobs, I’ve always poked around the networks to find files I shouldn’t see, also because I believe that if you really want to keep something secret you should take the proper precautions to ensure that it can’t be seen. So back to where I left off, a guy sitting next to me highlighting papers.

I’m pretty good at misdirection and that sort of thing, so I’m pretending to read my book and stealing glances with my eyes only over to his work. This ‘normal’ guy is reading through and highlight passages in satanic texts. He’s flipping through pages of books by Crowley and others, making special note of referenced texts. Of course, you might be wondering, “How do you know what satanic texts look like?” And I might answer, “Umm… because I’ve read most of them myself.” but you might think less of me, so instead I’ll say, “Because all the pages were printed from a website, and when you print from a website the URL appears at the bottom (unless you disable that in Internet Explorer) and it has ‘satanic texts’ written in it!” But even if you choose to believe the former, at least I have my head shaved and sport a goatee, and have had a number of people tell me I look evil (when I’m not, I’m really a nice guy), while this man looks like the poster boy for Suburban Living Monthly (which, ironically, is the same look and acronym for Sociopathic Lunatic Monthly, both of which I’m pretty sure you can pick up at your local Kroger). I can only hope that he was doing research for something he’s writing, like a novel or a screenplay, which, I assure you, is what I was doing when I read the same books, and not researching quotes for his manifesto swearing his faith to the one true lord which he’ll have on him as he sacrifices teenage girls and he’ll include copies of with the video tapes he sends to the authorities of his deeds.

Some days I wonder if my imagination is too active, or if I actually see things that other people don’t… Time will tell I suppose.

Get Carter

You know… I’m not exactly sure what the heck I was expecting. I mean, first off let me make clear, I’m not talking about the original, I’m talking the Sylvester Stallone remake. The story is pretty good… a guy finds out his brother has been killed, so he comes home for the first time in a long time to find out who did it. Mickey Rourke is pretty good as one of the bad guys, and Michael Caine makes an appearance (he was the star of the original). It even had one of my favorite B-listers John C. McGinley, and Rachael Leigh Cook… but it was just… ehh. Sly is a pretty good action star, but he just doesn’t have the facial expressions to be able to pull off anything dramatic (except in ‘Copland’, somehow Stallone managed to summon every ounce of acting ability he possessed and pulled off a monster performance in that one). In fact, he looked quite horrible in this… like he’d just had some bad plastic surgery or something, either they intended him to have sacks under his eyes and look both tanned and pasty all at once, or the make-up artist on that flick needs a new career.

In the end, it was moderately entertaining, but if you have a choice, spend the time doing something else…

Collateral

Tom Cruise as the bad guy. That was the big selling point of this movie. And I think he did a very good job of it.

The story is that Jamie Foxx plays a cab driver who picks up a passenger who turns out to be a hired assassin who forces Jamie to drive him around town while he does his work. Tom plays the assassin, of course. The movie is very beatifully shot, and everyone does a good job playing their parts… but the story did drag a time or two, mostly drawn out by the cinematography.

In the end though, it was a decent movie. Worth the watching.

Crossing the Great Divide

There is a joke I love to tell… “One of the worst things while driving is when some guy gets right up on your bumper, you know, right in your tail pipe, and he just stays there. You are driving over the speed limit already but this guy is right on your ass. Burns me up. Worse than that though are those people who drive so slow, I mean, you have to get right up on their bumper to get them to move!”

The funniest thing about that joke is that everyone laughs, and at the same time a good 75% or better of your audience is only laughing to cover up the fact that they know they are guilty.

Because of jokes like that, and my desire to avoid as much irony in my personal life as I can… hey, irony is great when you catch other people, but being caught in an ironic situation yourself just blows most of the time… I try to avoid tailgating people, people who tailgate and other like situations while driving.

One that I cannot avoid though are the people who block intersections. First off, when you take the driver’s exam, one of the rules you study and one of the questions you have to answer covers this. Don’t block intersections. Now, the main reason for this is if an ambulance, fire truck, or police car need to go through and you are blocking it… well, lets just say you wouldn’t like to get to heaven and find out that the reason you died was because some schmuck blocked an intersection and delayed EMS in reaching you in time… nor would you like to die and go to hell and find out that you are there because you causes the death of some very nice people because you needed to get to the mall 30 seconds sooner than if you had just waited through the next light.

And that’s the crux of what I don’t get… most traffic could be avoided if people just stopped thinking about themselves and thought about the bigger picture. Traffic sucks, but its a fact of driving. By blocking the intersection all you are doing is making it suck more because while you hang there all the cross traffic can’t go. You might think to yourself, “This traffic sucks so I need to take every advantage I can to get where I’m going.” But do you know why the traffic sucks? Its because other schmucks are blocking other intersections.

So, to rectify the situation… step 1, learn your car. Is your car 10 feet long? 20? step 2, learn to spot length from a distance. You know, you don’t have to be spot on, but if your car is 20 feet long and there is only 6 inches of space on the other side of the intersection, 20 feet clearly does not fit into 6 inches. step 3, don’t pull into the intersection until there is enough room or traffic movement to accommodate your car. It’s actually pretty simple, if the cars aren’t moving and there isn’t enough room, don’t go. If there is enough room, go. If the room is a bit short but you can clearly see cars moving and the light is green, go. And just because the car in front of you can make it doesn’t mean you can. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose… and sometimes you have to wait a whole minute for the next light. Turn up the radio and enjoy the wait.

Paycheck

I had wanted to see Paycheck in the theater, but somehow I kept missing it. It showed up from Netflix this week, so I finally got to see it.

The basic plot is this.. Ben Affleck plays a guy who excels at reverse engineering. He gets paid alot of money to reverse engineer a product and then design a product that is similar but better. And when he’s done the job, he has his memory of the time erased so that there is no proof that the reverse engineering (or technology theft) has occurred. Normally these jobs are up to 2 months in length, during which time he’s usually secluded so the only memory he loses is the time working. However, he takes an eight figure job that is going to be three years in length.

After the three years is erased, Ben’s character is broke, arrested, and his personal items have been switched. He manages to escape and realizes that he switched his own personal items, and this envelope of 20 things is going to lead him to what happened during the last three years, and exactly why someone is trying to kill him.

I had heard alot of bad things about this movie.. but honestly, it was good. I had fun watching it, considering the plot twists they avoided the clear cliches and plot holes it could have brought up, and the fight and chase scenes were excellent. Oh, I forgot to mention, John Woo directed it.

I give it a hearty two thumbs up. Its not a movie that will save the world, but its not a waste of time either.