Oct 13, 2010

First day at the office was wonderful. It's probably just due to the fact that everything is different. I love the more modern looking office. I actually, for now, enjoy the nicer dress code. I love the opportunity to learn a lot in a short time frame, and a lack of distractions in the way.

We haven't quite worked out all the Feng Shui of the office Josh and I share. I haven't figured out how to get quality coffee. I haven't figured out exactly what machine I'll be using for work (Still hoping to upgrade to a 15" macbook pro). I have been really impressed with the performance of the macbook thus far, and in fact, a new cable and a new monitor somehow equaled no lock-ups today.

Very excited, will post more tomorrow, with pictures, and hopefully after doing something closer to real work as today was pretty much paperwork and fighting to set all the stuff up on my computer.

Oct 12, 2010

Today I had an encounter with greatness. Not a life altering one, not God style greatness, just pragmatic and capitalistic greatness. I called Apple technical support.

I've only had my Macbook Pro for about 1 month now, and for the first 3 weeks, it functioned flawlessly, as I had hoped. As I sit and type on it from home, it continues to amaze me in its simple, elegant functionality and beauty. But then I hooked up an external monitor and it turned into a temperamental child.

It turns out I'm far from the only person struggling with this. Forums abounded with people claiming the exact problems I saw, and described them as intermittent, possibly the worst description of any bug ever, and certainly the most frightening. So I've been fighting this for a couple days and decided to call Apple about it.

First, I actually initiated a tech support request online, which yielded a human answer in less than 1 minute, which was impressive. She was fluent in English, friendly but respective of my time and concerns. Her suggestion was one I was skeptical of (connecting the external monitor to a different power outlet to ensure no fluctuations in power consumption by the monitor were affecting the laptop), but she was knowledgeable enough to describe it in a way that sounded worth trying, and made it super simple for me to follow up. Which I did 15 minutes later when my laptop locked up again.

Again, less than 1 minute from my dialing a number, I'm on the phone with another English speaking gentleman who mentioned that he'd seen different displays behave differently, to which I responded that I'd be using a different monitor starting tomorrow, which would likely be the one that matters. He still brought on a higher level tech to advise, and he advised having the cable inspected at an Apple store. So although I had purchased a knock-off cable, which they never asked about, I purchased an official cable from Best Buy today to make sure the blame cannot lie with third party adapters.

All this to say, I'm thinking about actually paying for Apple's nearly legendary, and also stupidly expensive tech support. For a machine that is to become my daily driver, I need to know someone is covering for me. So far, so good. Now let's see if Apple can deliver a laptop capable of driving an external monitor. :-(

Oct 2, 2010

We went to see The Social Network this weekend with the 4's and Matty. This movie got me thinking, and reading, about the value of ideas.

Jeff Atwood's post regarding this is one of my favorites. I feel like I agree, and although I probably suffer from at least a bit of the American obsession with coming up with "the next big idea", I think my priority right now needs to be on perfecting my execution. It seems likely to me that this involves not just discipline in every new task, but also practice and dedication to learning new concepts. I want to become a better developer, and this movie was a little bit inspiring in that way.

I also find it interesting that so many reviews of the movie bring up the fact that the portrayal of Mark Zucherberg is of someone to be pitied, an unlikable anti-hero. I don't know this guy, or anything about him, but I watched the movie and was motivated, at least in part, to try to be a little bit like him.

People are describing him as an SOB who thinks he's smarter than everyone else. Newsflash, if you think you're smart enough to create something that grabs 500 million people's attention, do it. Accidental billionaire is such a lame title, betraying petty jealousy, from a lesser contributor seeking significance. It's interesting to talk about the character, or even the real life person's capability to connect personally with other people in a non-threatening, non abrasive way. It's not interesting to hear your description of how that guy that accomplished more than you've ever dreamed possible is only a legend in his own mind, propelled by some fortuitous alignment of the stars.

In the middle of writing this, I've read some more reviews bringing misogyny into the equation, which is funny to me. They describe how unfair it is that there are no positive female characters in the movie. Cry me a river, which female creator of Facebook did they leave out? Was there a substantial financial contributor that was removed because she was female? Is it truly misogynistic, or even racist to tell a story based on real life without checking our race and gender cards to make sure it's a full house (and yes, race jumped into a bunch or reviews as well).

I read my own post, and I'll admit it's not that facinating, and not particularly entertaining. What I'm severely disappointed by is the fact that I rarely hear anyone besides Ayn Rand and her proponents lifting up the concept of hard work anymore. I read and hear so many people talk about unfairness and playing fields, and circumstances, blah, blah, blah. Nobody seems to take seriously the concept that they need to step it up a bit. There are people who can be admired for what they accomplished, without idolizing and wanting to emulate every mistake they may or may not make.

Sep 29, 2010

So this week I've started the transition from the only job I've had since graduation to my first full time developer position. My job with MTSI has been awesome, and I've really enjoyed working with such a large group of friends, with flexibility and low stress for a majority of my stay.

What I feel has been missing has been challenge and accountability. While I love the fact that my input carries weight here, I have stagnated in my development by not having someone holding my feet to the fire, reviewing my work with an eye to proper procedures and potential for improvement. I have been able to try my hand at a number of different things, for which I'm grateful, but I'm excited to finally be in the deep end of large(larger) scale development, working with someone who knows way more than me.

My decision was also influenced by a need for uninterrupted time to work. Right now I freeze and tense up every time I hear the overhead paging system kick on, knowing that it's likely to bring me a new interruption.

I will miss my cubicle with a view. I will miss my collection of friends at lunch. I will miss my boss Kevin. The 13th will begin a new phase for me, and I can't wait.

Sep 23, 2010

Stack overflow had the first piece of the puzzle, one I'm still putting together one piece at a time. 32 bit to 64 bit conversion is proving to be quite difficult, especially since I was heavily relying on the class we downloaded to enumerate and connect to our HID. It's time spent learning, and working on code, which I always appreciate.

I was also approached today, in regards to one of my least favorite projects of all time. This project was one of our infamous "T&M with a CAP", which if you're not familiar with billable projects, is a nonsensical way of saying "We'll take our cake, eat it, and make you pay for it." Did you finish under your estimate? Great, we pay you less. Did you go over, great, finish the job for free.

I understand the thought process, there's a desire to stop the bleeding of a project gone bad, and to hedge your bets. But that's the problem with the whole "services" business model. You're trusting that the people you hire can get the job done in close to the amount of time they say, and you budget accordingly. But in any undertaking, there is risk, and to force one side to assume all the risk with none of the reward, seems both unfair and unreasonable. With such a past history, I'm not entirely optimistic about our future dealings. To say the least, I'd like to see it in writing, another one of our weaknesses.

In the meantime, Shannon leaves us tomorrow, Shain is the new Shannon. A new era for the Lynx department begins, as the old one fades into the sunset, or some such nonsense. And the training begins anew.

Sep 22, 2010

A lot is happening, and yet there's a lot of waiting. Today was more of the same. I confirmed today that the USB panic button software is not working on 64-bit Windows, which is becoming a larger share of our clients with Windows 7, especially since most of our clients skipped Vista altogether.

Late in the day I found a Stackoverflow question that seems to have the exact answer I need, though I didn't bring the USB button home, and really don't wish to work on it all that much tonight. I'm reminded quite frequently just what a great resource Stack Overflow is, and as I hope to be doing significantly more .NET work in the near future, I hope to become more involved in the community of developers.

I played briefly today with adding my laptop to my collection of monitors, making 4. One for the Mac mini, two for my PC desktop, and the display of my MacBook Pro. It's a bit much having to traverse the wide expanse from left to right, and moving my head side to side is hardly desirable. I'd also like to see an increase in screen real estate in the near future, but I feel that's probably much less likely.

Jacob was adorable again tonight, though quite delirious by the time I got home. He's communicating alot more now, even with few full words at his disposal. He clearly understands what we're saying, making discipline finally necessary, and unpleasant. He's a very strong willed boy, as I'm sure most parents describe their kids, but he's so sweet and even obedient most of the time I see him. Makes the crying when I scold him all the harder to take.

I'll post more when the other shoe drops, but until then, I wait.

Sep 20, 2010

Ever since having Jacob, I've noticed I'm about a million times more sensitive to all the smarmy moments in movies and shows involving kids. Brooke and I have both noticed this, all the more ridiculous in the case of District 9, where the involved father and son were aliens. All the same, nearly cried. Don't remember being emotional about The Patriot until I saw it on tv again recently. His daughter not wanting to talk to him, then running to him not wanting him to go to war, classic corn. Turned me into a teary mess.

So I take it becoming a father has weakened me, at least in the sense of controlling emotional response to depictions of parent/child interactions and separations, but I find a renewed sense of purpose that I'm unsure how to feel about.

When I'm curious if anything I'm doing has any value or permanence, I think of Jacob. I think of the impact I'll have on him, and that he'll have on others, and it makes me think that somehow all the stuff I do has more meaning than before. I suppose it could just be some built in genetic quirk, but I will say it's been quite calming, and emotionally balancing. I'm not saying I all of a sudden feel like I'm making this big difference in the world, but I do think I worry less about what the point of every day is. That's something I suppose. Thanks Jacob.