Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I must be crazy...

Among all of the other things that I'm doing (and all the things that I need to do) is now something that I have previously jokingly dismissed.

I've started writing a book.

It's not my top priority, and it's certainly not going to be a full time thing, but it is, apparently, going to be a thing.

Knowing me, most of the progress I make on it will occur at 3am since that seems to be when I get philosophical about things if I'm alone.

Why am I doing this?

It's been nagging at me.

I suppose part of it is the fact that, while talking to people about the general subject of life, I keep getting told that I should.

I have no idea if it will ever be finished or, should I finish it, if it will ever be published, but it seems to be something I need to do in order to get it out of my system if nothing else.

I can't promise that it will be "Chicken Soup for the Soul" material, but hopefully someone will enjoy it. All I can promise is that it will be influenced by my, sometimes nonstandard, experiences.

For all I know, I may only write six pages and then forget all about it. Only time will tell.

Current mood: drained in far too many ways...
Current music: Gary Numan - Angel Wars

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Toy

Yes, I'm going to do an entry about a programming topic. I know. I know. It's shocking. =]

As I've said before, I use Ruby on occasion. I honestly only use it for smaller scripting stuff - things that I used to use Perl for.

It's a handy language (not to mention a heck of a lot more readable than Perl). However, I've had a problem with it - the lack of a really good IDE.

Since I started using it, I've been using either a text editor or FreeRide, the IDE that comes with Ruby. Both of these things do the job, but they make my life harder than it should be in my opinion.

Of course, if you listen to some people, my life should be much much harder, but we try not to listen to them too often =]

Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, IDEs.

Flipping through the latest Dr Dobb's, I see a mention that NetBeans 6 now has support for Ruby, and a standalone version for Ruby if you don't want the whole package, so I decided to give it a shot.

I like it. It doesn't have *everything* I'd like, but it does have a number of things that are nice and, let's face it, it's free (as in beer and as in speech for the rabid Stallman fans out there. Now go back to your basement where you belong =])

On the positive side:
  • Auto indent
  • Paren matching
  • Highlighting
  • Auto insertion of closing parens and, I believe, quotes
  • Debugging
  • It's fairly snappy
  • Compared to FreeRide, it's rather easy on the eyes

On the negative side:
  • No Intellisense-like completion (or if it has it, it's realllly slow. I'd wager it's the former).
  • Requires a JKD (not a huge deal. Just a bit of a headache when you find out during install)
I haven't played with it a *whole* lot, but what I see so far, I like. It's certainly better than the setup I had been using before, and it's a whole lot more aesthetically pleasing.

Honestly, I'd love to have something like Intellisense on it, but it's not a deal breaker, and, for a language like Ruby (where everything is an object of basically indeterminate type), I can see how it would be a bit of a pain in the butt to provide.

Current mood: decent
Current music: Fastball - Fire Escape

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I'd like to see Miracle Max now, please.

It seems like Murphy, my friend with his own Law, has been kicking my ass (and by extension, the asses of people I care for) for the last several weeks. In fact, I think I've become his personal hobby lately.

Either that. or someone is tugging at the strings of my fate in ways that I don't like (I hope not).

Every time I turn around, something else has happened. It's nothing that I feel like going into because I really don't feel like unburdening myself on here.

Suffice it to say that I'm honestly just hoping that it's the world's way of burning off a lot of bad karma for me all at once so something more positive can come through, because I don't know how many more hits from the Cosmic Sledgehammer I can take right now.

I am, to say the least, a little frazzled lately from everything that's been going on.

The latest one came a day (or, rather, two now) ago when I found out that a friend of mine has been having some heart problems and is being monitored for it. She and her husband both think it's stress related, and I can see why since she never seems to get a chance to stop and relax.

I wanted to smack her for not telling me sooner, but I didn't think that would do wonders for her stress levels =]

Hopefully things with her straighten out soon. She's decent people and, as selfish as it is to admit, I'm really tired of losing friends lately.

It's just been sort of the icing on the cake for the events of the last few weeks.

Here's to hoping that things get better before long.

In the meantime, I just have to do what everyone else does - work with the cards you have and keep trying to move forward.

Current mood: tired
Current music: The Devlins - Alone in the Dark

Friday, July 04, 2008

One whose passing I will *not* mourn.

I've never understood the whole "I don't want to speak ill of the dead" spiel. Just because someone dies does not give them a free pass against criticism that they deserve for their actions in life. My take on it is that, if you were a bastard in life, that doesn't magically change once you stop breathing.

That said, I have to note a death here that I, for one, will *not* mourn.

Jesse Helms, former Senator from North Carolina died today, July 4th, 2008.

He was a man opposed to civil rights for anyone who wasn't just like him and a shame to the human race.

In fact, he had the following to say of the 1963 civil rights protests: "The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that's thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men's rights."

This is the sort of man we're dealing with here, and his legacy continues in a similar vein during his entire career as a public figure.

Among many other things, he opposed desegregation, gay rights of any sort, and a woman's right to chose what to do with her own body. He even opposed the creation of a holiday for Dr Martin Luther King Jr, a man which most of us will agree tried to do more than a little good during his all too short lifetime.

He was notorious for using race not only in his own campaigns, but also the campaign of United States Senate candidate Willis Smith.

From wikipedia:
While working on the primary campaign against Frank Porter Graham, Helms helped create an ad that read, "White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories? Frank Graham favors mingling of the races." Another ad featured photographs Helms doctored to illustrate the allegation that Graham's wife had danced with a black man.

In short, I think the man was a piece of scum that should never have bothered the world with his presence. However, I am not the only person with an opinion on the matter as he is being lauded by members of his party as a great leader. Apparently they don't know what a great leader really looks like (but then, considering the person in the White House, I am somehow not surprised).

Personally, I find it fitting that a man who worked so hard to keep rights away from others died on the anniversary of a group of rebels standing up and saying that THEY deserved many of those same rights. We can only hope that at least part of the hatred, bigotry, and ignorance that Senator Helms espoused dies with him today.

Jesse Helms, you will not be missed. I am tempted to say that I hope you come back as a minority and homosexual born into a non-Christian family so you could hate yourself as much as you hated others and be subject to persecution by idiots like yourself, but that would just be petty. =]

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Current mood: tired
Current music: Disturbed - Inside the Fire

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Computer Haiku

These were actually written right after I logged off the night I wrote the 3am Haiku entry, but I just haven't bothered to put them up here yet.

Enjoy (or cringe. Whichever you prefer.)

Program is not flawed
It's a feature not a bug
Users never learn

Microsoft asks us
Where we want to go today
Answer's not Vista

The program compiles
A pointer is left dangling
Seg fault, dumping core

Code is like Neo
It learns that there is no spoon
But there is a fork()

You wrote the program
Others much maintain your code
Leave comments, damnit

Current mood: tired
Current music - Vanessa Carlton - Paint it Black

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Pass by reference.

I got a call yesterday from a company that wanted to do a reference check on a friend of mine.

Of course I gave him a good reference. We've known each other and worked together for a number of years and he knows what he's doing (not to mention being a great guy).

After it was over, I called to let him know that I had been contacted and joked that I gave him a horrible review. =]

The thing that surprised us is that the company even *called* me. It's been our experience that almost nobody does reference checks anymore despite almost always asking for references.

Does that make sense to anyone else out there in Internet land, because it doesn't to me. Maybe there's someone reading this who works in HR that can tell me why so many companies ask for something they never check/use.

Oh well. That's life for you.

I'm just glad I could give a friend a hand.

Current mood: not bad
Current music: Rise Against - Paper Wings

More Proof That I'm Evil

I was sitting here a little while ago, taking care of one of my swords and looked over to where my gloves were laying.

As some of the people who have trained with me over the years can tell you, I tend to get attached to my gear. After a while, it sort of becomes a part of me. It's true of my swords, it's true of my armor, and it's true of my gloves (whose smell I admit that I find intoxicating and a powerful memory trigger. There's just something about well-worn leather).

Part of the reason I am so attached to a simple pair of gloves is the time that it takes to break them in. The current pair I use, I've had for almost 8 years now, and it took over a year to break them in.

That's right. It took a year of fighting 2-3 days a week for 2-3 hours per day to break in a simple pair of gloves. For that year, until the inside of the gloves were cured by my sweat, my hands would be blue at the end of the night from the dye leaching out of the leather.

This is where we get to proof that I'm evil.

Among other things, I was in charge of training the problem fighters - the ones with too much aggression, too little aggression, poor control, etc (this is what growing up training will get you: more responsibility). The result of this was that I dealt with a lot of slaps to the hand area. It's a good thing my gloves have padding across the back of the hand.

One of the problem fighters was Karyl.

Her problem was that she had too little aggression, so I pushed her. I made her hit me. I taunted her into it. I demanded it. I actually yelled at her to hit me harder because she wasn't even hitting hard enough to score a fatal hit (which doesn't take a whole lot of pressure). I even whacked myself in the mask repeatedly with my sword to make the point that she wasn't going to hurt me.

She finally started to hit harder. However, being a beginner, she was still a bit sloppy so there were more than a few slapping shots to my hands (I wasn't allowed to train them the way my sifu trained me. They should be glad for that, but their control would have been a whooooole lot better lol).

Now, remember what I said about the gloves? Well, they were still leaching.

At the end of the night, she's standing there when I pull off the gloves. Both of my hands are bruise blue from the black dye in the gloves.

I can NOT pass up a joke like this that falls into my lap.

I look down, pretending to notice my hands are covered in "bruises," and she follows my glance.


Karyl promptly freaks out, falling all over herself apologizing and looking like she's torn between running away and passing out while I nearly fall over on the floor laughing.

Hi. My name is James, and I'm an evil bastard. =]

At least she laughs about it now. lol

Current mood: amused yet frustrated
Current music: Billy Joel - I go to extremes