Wednesday, August 30, 2006

And now for a pointless, silly semi-rant that nobody should take too seriously:

Pardon me while I put my sarcasm hat on.

I love working with Swing.

Okay, I can take my hat off now.

Went to add some of the last functionality to the toy program today (the rest of the work needed is basically UI tweaks), and ran into a problem.

The frame was showing two copies of what I wanted to display.

Okay, let’s make sure that I told it to remove everything from the panel in question. Indeed I am. Let’s invalidate it and revalidate it. Still having the problem.

That’s weird. Time to reach for the nutshell book.

No, I’m not missing anything that could possibly help remedy the problem as things are set up now. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided to try something stupid.

I added the pane that I wanted to erase the contents of as the only component of another pane and then just told the program to erase that pane instead.

It worked. It’s stupid but it worked. I am rapidly learning that so much of dealing with Swing is nesting things in one container after another. It’s kind of silly, frustrating, and amusing all at the same time.

Oh well. It’s not like it’s a big deal, and it works now.

Current mood: amused
Current music: Garbage – Fix me Now

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ever have one of those days were it seems like simple tasks become major undertakings?

Yesterday was one of those.

In an effort to actually do something coding-oriented, I decided to make a fun little program. It should have taken an afternoon to get most of the functionality working (polishing the GUI is another matter). Instead, it ended up taking all day and just would not work.

I ended up stepping back for a moment and decided to start out again, this time with a simpler version of the project and then abstract away the needed parts to expand it to what I wanted in the first place. Doing that, I found my problem (and it was a fairly silly one, but I’ve been distracted and a bit stressed lately, so I can understand how I missed it).

It’s now roughly to the point where I wanted it before I start polishing the user interface and it only ended up taking me a couple of hours.

While it’s not a professional project, I will be posting it on my site when I finish tweaking the GUI so people can play with it. I figure that it should be up by the end of the week.

It’s not that it needs *that* much polish. It’s just that I have a lot of other things that I need to take care of as well.

Current mood: happy
Current music: Anggun – Snow on the Sahara

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It’s been an interesting last few days.

My email address seems to have gotten listed as being that of a spammer. Again. On a good day, I might send out about 24 emails. A spammer I am not.

Thankfully, that’s been cleared up now.

I got contacted by two companies this week that I actually responded to (read that they were for full time positions and weren’t looking for things that were blatantly not me. Though I have to admit that more places seem to actually be looking at my website before they contact me).

One’s a company about an hour or so from here, and the other one is Amazon.

I’m interested in interviewing with both of them, but I’m also a bit nervous about the Amazon interview since the position includes, among other things, something I haven’t really done in two years (and that’s explicitly stated on the profile they used to find me, so I’m hoping that it won’t be that much of an issue).

The phone interview with Amazon is supposed to be a technical one, so I’m basically expecting to get hammered to the wall with it. The other one I don’t know much about yet.

I find it amusing that I get so nervous before some interviews. I know that if it goes well, it goes well and if it doesn’t then it doesn’t, but there’s just something nerve wracking about them for me. I think it’s the fact that so many of them try to grill you on things you did ages ago, trip you up just to see if they can, or ask you impossible questions (yes, some people like to ask impossible questions to “see how you will react. I consider this to be BS) so I end up sitting there trying not only to give the correct answers but to feel out the people who are interviewing me and their intentions.

I have largely become of the opinion that interviews aren’t much fun for the people on either side of the table, and there is something wrong with the people who actually enjoy them. =]

It’s funny. Interviews make me nervous, but being thrown into the sparing ring with someone doesn’t at all. I also don’t tend to get nervous when working on actual problems unless I’m running up against a hard time limit or someone is badgering me. It’s the whole “put him in a maze like a lab rat while we act smug, superior, and all knowing” thing that gets me.

Unfortunately, I’m not kidding about the acting smug, superior, and all-knowing part. I once interviewed with a company that gave me a test they had supposedly just re-written, labeled it as a C++ test and it was really just a straight C test. I got it and noticed printf statements (among other things) everywhere. I later asked the dev manager about it and basically got yelled at, stonewalled, and then told that it didn’t really matter anyway because they were porting everything to C#.

If it didn’t matter, why re-write the test? If you’re migrating from one language to another, would it not be a bit important to know the difference between the language that you say you are migrating from and the language you use as a test for prospective employees? Furthermore, why jump down a candidate’s throat who asked a rather pertinent question?

I wasn’t smug or snotty when I asked. I genuinely wanted to know. But the whole interview ended up being pretty bad, so I doubt that I would have accepted their offer if they had made one.

Hopefully neither of those interviews end up being like that one or worse. Please let me meet an at least somewhat sane company that wants to hire me. =]

Current mood: tired
Current music: Deadsy – Brand New Love

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I do so love the “experts” that insist on showing their faces on Slashdot. They amuse me at times.

In case you didn’t know, Sun is open sourcing Java. I have mixed feelings about this. I hope it works out well, because I like the language, but I just can’t shake this nagging feeling that people are going to try to do lots of stupid things to the language (add things to the language that don’t belong there, break up the libraries into separate downloads, etc).

Call me paranoid, but Microsoft already tried it once. I don’t put it past other groups to try again.

The greatest suggestion I’ve heard yet? That the deprecated methods should be removed.

Pardon me while I repeat myself – someone suggested that parts of the language that have been deprecated (don’t use these, there’s a better way now) should be removed from the language outright, and people were AGREEING with him!

This is such a bad idea that it’s not even funny.

There’s a lot of old production code out there and a lot of it uses methods that are now deprecated. The same is true of almost any language that has been around long enough to have parts of it deprecated.

The only thing that I can figure is that the people spewing this crap are either just hobbyists or students who have never actually had to maintain anything. It just hurts my head.

Updating production code is NOT cheap. It takes a lot of time, can introduce a whole lot of problems, and it’s not something that you usually want to approach lightly (and some of us hate approaching it at all). You have to know the system really well to even try, or you could cause a lot of unseen problems.

If they want to remove those parts from Java, let’s see them suggest the same thing for their darling C and C++. Watch how fast that blows up in their face.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Smith, but your account shows a balance of $0.”

“Mr. Jones, the insurance company says you do not have an auto insurance policy with them. Yes, I know that you have a piece of paper that says otherwise, but the computer never lies. You are under arrest.”

Etc etc etc. The examples could go on and on.

Deprecated methods are left in there for a reason. They are tagged as Deprecated and generally throw compiler warnings, but they are left in. I don’t care if *you* don’t understand why. Just realize that they are. In time you might learn why they are for yourself. In the meantime, stop biting at our ankles. We’re trying to get things done.

Current mood: my head hurts
Current music: Savage Garden - Violet

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Checking my email, I got an email from a company in Louisiana. This one was rather neat, because the person who wrote me said that he “spent waaaay too long down in the rabbit hole that is your website.”

Apparently he found me fascinating.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t an opportunity that I was interested in, but that’s okay. I hope they find someone good to fill their position.

Other than that, I felt moderately unproductive today. Returned a few calls (I’ve been screening the heck out of my calls this past few weeks. Otherwise, I’d run out of minutes.), did a little planning for a couple of programs that I’m going to start working on, and then wandered around the local shops for a while.

I got things done, but it just doesn’t feel like I actually accomplished much. It’s just sort of been an off day.

I’ve decided to start doing some light training again (if the neighborhood kids will leave me the heck alone. I’m sorry, I don’t want to show them “something cool” and I most certainly don’t want to teach them – they don’t have anything even resembling discipline), and have learned the joys of not being able to see because of sweat running in my eyes. However, in my idle wanderings this afternoon, I found something that I had been looking for since I started playing with the OU fencing team back in 2001 – plain, solid-color bandanna sized handkerchiefs.

Nobody carries the bloody things. You can find print ones all over the place, but never the plain ones. I found them in the local hobby store of all places, so I picked up a couple. I’m semi-ashamed to say that I also picked up some junk food while I was out, but at least it was fairly healthy junk food (sunflower seeds and oatmeal cookies).

Hey, I can’t be completely healthy. =]

At least I’m starting to get back on the right track.

Current mood: calm
Current music: Smashing Pumpkins - Perfect

Thursday, August 03, 2006

James the Grumpy Software Developer
Why my Resume no Longer Lists my Home Number

Yesterday, I updated all of my posted resumes on the normal job boards. Since then, my phone has been ringing off the hook. Normally this would be a good thing. In the case of most of these calls, however, it’s a pain in the rear.

I plainly stated that I am only interested in full time, permanent positions. Most of the calls I have gotten so far are for short term contract positions, and most of those are located across the country.

(As an aside, it seems that my complaint that companies are hiring, or contracting out to, foreign HR people with *really* thick accents isn’t just isolated to the one company. I got several voicemails from different numbers that were absolutely unintelligible. If, on the other hand, they are having these people call me because they think the accent would be closer to my own, they should realize that my surname comes from the British Isles and not from more Asian locales despite my martial training.)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Previously, I had listed my cell phone as my preferred means of contact though I listed my home number just in case. That changed today. Most of the callers today decided that calling the home line would be a much better idea despite my wishes. One of them (who also failed to read the full time, perm portion of my posting) was so rude as to call my cell, leave a voice mail and then immediately call the home line.

There is now basically no mention of the fact that I even have a home number. It’s even been removed from my website. Now the only methods of contact listed are my cell, email, and snail mail. All of this trouble is because people don’t have the decency to use my preferred method of communication.

However, the fun and games did not just stop there. I got one person who called four times in about five or six hours, leaving the same voicemail message every time. I admit that, after about the first hour of being hammered by calls (I was literally getting a call about every 10 minutes or less), I decided to screen everyone that wasn’t in my address book. Otherwise, I would have burned up all of my minutes for the month on the second day of said month just so I could tell people I wasn’t interested in a six month opportunity in Texas.

Top it off with the fact that, when I informed the people I did not screen today that I was not interested in a short term contract halfway across the country, they didn’t listen and simply kept trying to talk me into the position.

I said no thank you. That should be enough.

Then again, so should calling and leaving a message once.

Have some tact and decency, people.

Current mood: annoyed
Current music: Tinnfed - Immune

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It’s official. I’ve started to turn into an organization freak again.

For the longest time, I just kind of kept things in a loose “sort of together” way. Projects had their own folders, but that was about it. The important ones were in version control, but my own stuff was just kind of there.

Last week, I finally kicked myself into “cleanup” mode and started making subversion repositories for basically all of my projects. Everything from individual pieces of software to my website. I even made a repository for my scripts and a repository for my samples CD that I take to interviews.

About the only important thing that isn’t in subversion at this point is my cat. Somehow, I don’t think that he’d enjoy it. =]

While I was at it, I cleaned up the directory structure for my website to make it easier to grow. I hate to say it, but before I did the overhaul of the backend, almost everything was just in one directory. It was a huge mess to keep track of. Now it’s much nicer.

The next step for it at some point is moving it all to PHP, but I’m not going to do that just yet. There are other things that I have to work on first.

The important thing is that I’m organized again. It makes me amazed that I ever stopped having things arranged in an orderly manner.

Current mood: tired
Current music: London After Midnight - Kiss