Thursday, March 30, 2006

I think it was one of those days when the weather had a visible effect on me.

I finished the write up for the magazine on Spring Break con and then went out for a little while to enjoy the absolutely gorgeous day. It was tempting to just take off for the day and wander around, but that would have been a bad idea since I have an interview tomorrow.

It would have been the prefect day to spend training. Hopefully this weekend will be as good so I can get some play time.

Current mood: happy
Current music: Melissa Etheridge - I Really Like You

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Walking through the great soul sucking mart today, I spotted a movie in the $5 bin that I’d been meaning to see and never got around to, so I picked it up.

Cabin Fever.

I admit it. I love cheesy horror movies (my movie collection is a favorite around the end of October). I laughed until I almost cried. I swear the best two parts were the Listerine scene and the hand biting kung fu kid.

Yes, folks, Listerine – for all those questionable hook ups with girls who have strange skin eating diseases. *giggle*

I spent half the movie with a WTF expression on my face and the other half almost falling out of bed from laughing so hard.

Oh man was that worth the $5.

Current mood: amused
Current music: none

Monday, March 27, 2006

Spring Break and new cards

I suppose I should probably give an update now that Spring Break con is over. I spent the last couple of days recovering (no real revelry, drunken or otherwise – just kind of worn out) so I’m just now getting around to the updates.

It all started Wed night with dinner with the presenters and some of the con staff. I have to say that I hadn’t had that much fun in a long time. It was just a bunch of technical people (and the girlfriend of one of the staff members) having dinner and shooting the breeze. Nothing really that eventful, just a fun night.

However, I still think it’s hilarious that the one guy was kind of puzzled at the fact that I both spent a fair chunk of my childhood on a farm and I fenced in college. Apparently fencers should be too snotty for that sort of thing. I come across as frighteningly down to earth to most people. Go figure. *chuckle*

Fast forward to the next day.

I got to the building where the con was being held at about 8am (set up was between 7:30 and 9) and didn’t see John, so I had a minor moment of panic since he said he was going to be there at 7:30 to set up. A mildly worried call to his office showed that he was on his way and that all was well.

Well, okay, not everything was well – the CDs that we were going to pass out didn’t turn out well, but that’s okay. These things happen. The banner, however, looked good and the fliers were good.

Most of the day was spent between my going to different talks and manning the booth (or should I use “personing?” According to the spell-checker, it isn’t a real word, but we must be PC after all *smirk*). There were plenty of cool people that stopped by the booth and, of course, a few that were hostile (whether it was to Rails, which featured in our banner, or to open source in general. I never will understand the hostility to a huge group of things thing).

Most of the talks I went to were really cool. In fact, all but one of the ones that I attended were given by people I’d had dinner with the night before.

The best of these was, by far, the last. It was also the least technical. The basic topic? How to actually have a life while being in the profession of software development. A lot of it was things that I’ve been saying for a long time along with a few things that I hadn’t seriously considered. It’s just kind of nice to hear that sort of thing coming from someone else. It sort of makes you feel like you aren’t either crazy or the only one.

All in all, things were pretty good. It’s just that I never knew how exhausting it was dealing with a conference full of people asking questions. It kind of makes me glad that I missed the deadline to be a speaker. I didn’t think I was ready for that anyway even though the people at the con wanted me to speak. At the moment, writing and coding are weird enough. Speaking may come in the future.

Oh yes. I can see it now. “And now, let’s discuss why it is that I have no problem ad-libbing in an informal situation (say, on the floor at a conference while speaking with vendors and my peers), but put behind a desk or podium I get nervous and trip over myself.” That’d go over really well. :-P

Actually, they wanted me to speak on Open Source, but the same things would apply. “The source – it’s open. Hence the name. Have I mentioned that I dislike RMS? The whole of the software world doesn’t have to be free. It should be up to the people who make the software (or who commission it) to decide what they want to do with it.”

In truth, I would probably be a lot better at it than that, but it is occasionally fun to lampoon oneself, though I do dislike RMS.

Being the clueful, slightly smart-assed (when appropriate) guy chatting about random things with others and giving a talk that people are taking seriously are two completely different things. If I could only manage that level of comfort and rapport in the second situation, I’d be golden =]

Oh well, on to the other part of the topic.

I’ve been out of business cards for way too long. I kept meaning to order them, but things always came up. I finally bit the bullet and sent in the order for new cards on Friday. If you really want to see what they look like, you can look here. I’m not worried about stalkers. All of that contact information is available on my website anyway.

They should be here in a couple of weeks.

It’s kind of necessary anymore. I get too many people asking for my card. I find it kind of amusing that, if you don’t have one to give them, so many of them tend to take you less seriously. Oh well. That should be remedied here in the next week or so.

Current mood: tired
Current music: Aqua – Doctor Jones

Monday, March 20, 2006

End of an era?

I got an email today from Gael Duval, creator of Mandrake Linux (now Mandriva) with an updated set of contact information, notification that he and Mandriva have parted ways, and a heads up about his new project, Ulteo.

It wasn’t his choice – more like a Steve Jobs treatment. If you'd like to have a little more in the way of details, Gael's explaination can be found here.

Way to go, folks. Firing the founder tends to do wonderful things for the company. Look at how Apple was doing during Job’s absence.

In all seriousness though, I’d just like to wish Gael good luck in his new venture.

Current mood: contemplative
Current music: Cruxshadows – Eurydice
Here’s an amusing piece of news for you.

It seems that hosts a mirror of Fedora Core. If we start seeing photo shoots of the girls with desktops and laptops that display the Gnome or KDE environments, I’ll be really worried… *chuckles*

Current mood: amused
Current music: Fullmetal Alchemist – Ready Steady GO

Sunday, March 19, 2006

While joking around with a friend about the ranking of our pages for certain search engines, I came across this.

You know, I sometimes get the feeling that nobody ever reads my blog, but the fact that it ended up on a page like Hire Me, Google is just kind of surreal.

On the downside, I haven’t really heard anything else from Google since then, so maybe I’ve fallen through the cracks. *shrugs*

Current mood: amused
Current Music: Living Things – Bom Bom Bom
Of Amazon and storage media.

A couple of things came to my attention, and I do so love how foolish they both sound.

The first item on this list is the complaints that are cropping up around Amazon. It seems that they aren’t making the profits that Wall Street would like them make, so the stock market analysts are gnashing their teeth.

Their main complaint? Amazon isn’t focused. They look at the new sideline that Amazon is exploring of offering storage space online as well as their desire to market their search engine as a mistake because it isn’t the same thing that they’ve been doing (selling books, movies, etc). They’re also up in arms because Amazon is still in the investment stage – they’re still buying technology, infrastructure, etc.

The analysts on Wall Street don’t like this because it cuts into the short term profits of the company. Wall Street is also notorious for trying to kill new ideas because “they don’t make sense” (many of which work out quite well. The only people they don’t make sense for are the analysts looking for a quick buck.)

I’ve got news for the Wall Street crowd - they can go take a flying leap. Growing requires additional infrastructure and very few businesses survive with only one product unless it fills a very special niche. Guess what – book sales aren’t a niche business. With media companies trying to make the eventual transition to all-digital formats, it’s going to take new infrastructure to move them as well as other business models to make money lost from people like me who actually like physical media (paper books, dvds, cds, etc).

Of course, these are the same analysts who get up in arms with companies like Google who refuse to give them projections on what they expect to earn. They’ve tried threats there to get their way because they don’t want to have to actually think about what the company might be doing. I’m going to say that I’m quite happy that Google has told the analysts to go shove it, much like Coca-Cola did on the advice of Warren Buffet.

The best part of the Amazon thing? One of the loudest voices in this is also one of my least favorite because he Just. Doesn’t. Get. It. Who, you may ask? Nick Carr, author of “Does IT matter”.

Get over your fetish for short term profits at the expense of the future. Remove your head from your rear and actually think things out past how you’re going to pay for your next Porsche.

Item number 2 on the list – The “reincarnated floppy disc” being offered by Memorex and Verbatim.

“Reincarnated floppy disc?” you ask? It’s a USB memory stick shaped like one of the old 1970’s tapes.

I have to be honest, they look moderately nifty. You pull it apart and the USB dongle is revealed. Why, then do I think these are silly?

They only hold 16MB. That’s right. A whopping 16 megs and they look like they are about the size of three standard memory sticks laid side by side.

While they look cool, I can’t justify the bulk for only being able to pack 16MB around with me. I currently have 2 USB sticks (a 64 and a 256) and together they’d take up less space than this.

I just really can’t see these ones doing too well. They’re physically too big and too small storage wise.

Current mood: I love people
Current music: Duncan Sheik – She Runs Away

Friday, March 17, 2006

Just a note for those of you in the Ohio area. Next week, on March 23rd I will be at Spring Break con in Athens, Ohio.

I’ll be making the rounds to listen to the talks and gather material for a one page summary for the magazine. I should also be spending a bit of time at the booth.

If you’re in the area, stop by and say hi. If you want to attend the con, the cost is $25 and that includes lunch. I’ve gone every year that it’s been held and I can say that it’s worth the money.

It’s mostly Macromedia/Adobe centric, but there are also some good general purpose panels too.

Current Mood: neutral
Current Music: Fullmetal Alchemist - Ready, Steady, GO!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

*tosses the books onto the table and closes the IDE*

Ever have one of those days where it felt like you had the attention span of a caffeinated hamster?

Yeah, it’s been one of those. Stuck somewhere between tired and stir crazy. *chuckles*

Oh well. This too shall pass

James.hyperactive = true;
James.attentionSpan = 3;

Current mood: whatwasthat?ohlook!somethingshiny!where’dIputthatthing??
Current music: none

I guess it’s time for an update.

The interview Monday of last week was amusing. The HR and IT portions went pretty well. I actually liked some things about the company – one of them was that they actually seemed to value teamwork.

Then we get to the programming portion of the affair. Tell me something – who uses visual basic 6 as a dev tool and then does everything programmatically? The whole point of VB was to hash out things like database style apps without having to touch that much code. It’s a largely pointy clicky language.

If you want to do everything programmatically, there are much better tools for the job. Visual C++ and C# come to mind…

Oh well, there was a cool moment though. While I was waiting for the interviews, I saw someone I hadn’t laid eyes on in two years – Mo from fencing. That kind of made the whole trip worth it.

Current mood: tired
Current music: none

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I am so very tired. I’ve been burning through a language I haven’t used in forever for the last two weeks.

Tomorrow is the moment of truth. The on site interview is tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully it goes well and I get an offer that I can accept. It actually looks like a decent company.

But, for the moment, I am a bit nervous. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – I really dislike the stress of interviews. It’s like the weirdest kind of blind date even when you *do* research the company (and I have). You never know quite what to expect. *chuckles*

Current mood: restless
Current music: none

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

You know, I started thinking about random and assorted things today, and it occurs to me that I’ve worn a lot of different kinds of clothing. There is, however, one thing that I have never worn.

I have never worn a tux.

I’ve worn the normal assortment of casual, business casual, etc.
I’ve worn a kilt.
I’ve worn jester’s motley.
I’ve worn clothing from several periods of European history.
I’ve worn Chinese fighting robes.
I’ve worn a Keikogi and Hakama (traditional Japanese clothes for training. Non-karate)
I’ve even worn a Chinese breastplate. Yes, plate armor.

I have not, however, ever worn a tux. It’s weird, but with all of the situations that I’ve been in, none of them have been the place for a tux.

I realize that most of the clothing on this list will get some weird looks from most people, but there are reasons for all of it – I swear =]

Besides, you have never seen comfortable clothing until you’ve been in a set of fighting robes or a keikogi and hakama. I’d say the kilt was alright, but the whistles and “misplaced” hands were a bit much after a while. *chuckles*

Current mood: amused
Current music: Matthew Sweet – Silent City