Archive for the 'geek' Category

Frank Frazetta (1928 – 2010)

Monday, May 10th, 2010

If you came into science fiction or fantasy in the mid-70s, there was no escaping Frank Frazetta’s art (esp. the Death Dealer… how many vans was that painted on?). To say that he had an influence on my youth would probably be an understatement. A number of my grade- and junior-high classmates were semi-talented Frazetta wanna-bes, and I envied their drawing skills mightily.

I can look at his work now and cringe at the sexist and racist tropes he employed – but to a pre-teen boy, his work seemed like my internal visions brought to light.

Dear Dr. Dobb’s Portal and Rally Software

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

A two-page PDF of what is essentially two glorified PowerPoint slides does not count as a whitepaper. No, not even if you give it a title like “Build Release Plans That Deliver Customer Value.”

Please stop wasting my time with this shit.

Congenially yours,


I find myself vaguely disappointed…

Friday, March 19th, 2010

…that the newly-arrived spam titled “Fwd: New bachelors for you” is not an equal opportunity variation on the particularly clumsy and stupid “I [Name of Allegedly Hot Russian Women] Need To Talk To You Again” spam I’ve been getting lately.

Diploma mill and mail-order bride spam is boring. Mail-order groom spam would be a welcome relief to the monotony.

Don’t these guys watch Mythbusters?

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

After all, they’re what you call… experts.

Oh. Wait. So are these guys: Los Alamos National Laboratory Researchers Accidentally Blow up Building with a Cannon.

Whoops. The Mustache of Disapproval radiates disapproval.

(via Mother Jones, via… TPM‘s headlines/news aggregator, I think…)

YADM (Yet Another Developmental Milestone)

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Behold: The Boy’s first programming book. Which he requested by name.

Scratch Programming for Teens

My feelings are… mixed.

The hobgoblin of little minds

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

A few thoughts about consistency, of course (Pace Emerson. let’s not limit ourselves to merely foolish consistency…).

Ahem. Programming geekery ahead…


Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

How I wonder what you’re at:

On Sunday, the shuttle had a stowaway attached to the external fuel tank, and although NASA was sure the little animal wouldn’t be a debris risk, the bat remained attached to the shuttle, apparently stuck in place. New details have now emerged about why the bat didn’t fly away before Discovery launched…

This can't end well...

Ouch. Like a teatray in the sky, indeed… If I’m their idea of a solution…

Friday, March 6th, 2009

…I have to call BS on the IQ part of their name!

When we first moved to Seattle, I submitted a resume to a local staffing firm, SolutionsIQ. They’re one of the big dogs in town, particularly when it comes to getting contract work @ The Beast of Redmond. I may have updated it for them when I got laid off five or six years ago, but still… five years is a pretty long time in the tech world. Periodically, I get semi-spam from them looking for MS SQL developers, which I delete. But today… today I got a doozy:

Job Description:
An Application Support Analyst III has in-depth experience, knowledge and skills in an application support discipline (Message Processing, Mediations, Provisioning, Billing, Web, Middleware, Retail Activation Systems, Payment Processing, etc…). An Analyst III is able to work independently on escalated issues and prioritizes, investigates and resolves them with minimal guidance from others. They function as the technical leads of their teams. Occasionally an Analyst III will be given opportunities to lead teams and projects to resolve complex technical issues.

• Telecommunications experience required (4 to 6 years preferred).
• Strong experience working with Oracle on Unix using command line and GUI SQL tools.
• Strong knowledge of relational database design and support, including the support of large carrier class enterprise software systems.
• System Analysis experience in the support/operation of a of large carrier class enterprise software system, preferably in a wireless environment.
• Experience in testing, quality and change management methodologies.
• Previous experience in 24hrs/day, 7days/week systems support capacity.
• Experience in troubleshooting customer related issues and managing customer relationships required (4 to 6 years preferred).
• Extensive experience with revenue reporting and accounting.
• Business systems analytical experience required (4 to 6 years preferred
• 4 year degree (In Information Technology related field preferred) or equivalent work experience
• Schedule Hours: M-F 8 – 5, some weekends and nights

If one were to draw a Venn diagram of ‘My Skills’ and ‘This job spam,’ the universe of overlap would be, at best, a single point: SQL. And it’s the wrong dialect of SQL, to boot. Oh, and I’ve developed some middleware components. That’s all. No telco, no Unix (I hadn’t even noodled around with Linux when I last updated my resume with them), no Oracle, no ‘support of large carrier class enterprise blah blah blah’, no 24/7 support, no revenue reporting, no accounting, nothing.

I fired off a terse WTF email in response – any matching algorithm worth its salt should have left me out of that one, unless they’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel for candidates. And to scrape quite so low as me with these particular requirements strikes me as bordering on malpractice.

In short, SolutionsIQ would appear to provide neither. Discuss.

Silly String Bleg

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Anyone have any idea why a Java Swing GUI would be displaying “é” as a “Þ”? I’m guessing it’s an encoding issue of some sort… .NET is displaying them all as “é” but not Java.


On rings, and hats, and the throwing thereof…

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Hats, that is. Not rings…

Recently, I was asked to provide a specification and estimate for a project at work. I’m not a software architect, so I’m having a hard time with some aspects of the spec – I think I know what we should be doing, and I think I have a grasp on best practices for what we’re trying to do, but I don’t know for sure… And estimates? Forget it. Remember how Scotty lets McCoy in on his little secret of multiplying everything by three so he’s always done early and looks like a genius? Yeah. I appear to have a knack for dividing by three and using that for my number.

So I picked up a book and started to read. How I spent my Christmas Vacation…



Friday, January 2nd, 2009

So I’m test-driving NDepend, and I find the following, um… non-standard keyboard shortcut:


My inner 12-year-old was amused all out of proportion and promptly posted a screenshot @ The Daily WTF.

(The funny thing is that this isn’t exactly no-name software… It’s in use in many large .NET shops to monitor code quality. I reported the bug and got an email back from the lead programmer/company owner in under an hour. He’s fixed it for the next release, and seemed kind of surprised that no one had brought it to his attention since it’s been there for months.)

Typical programmer error

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

In the grand programming tradition of ‘off by one’ errors, yesterday was the birthday of Charles Babbage.

On two occasions I have been asked, ‘Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?’ I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

How little things have changed, eh?

(and yes… I expect that regular blogging will resume shortly…)

Happy birthday, Hugo

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

From the Pacific Science Center’s Calendar of Science for August:

August 16, 1884 – Birthday of the American author Hugo Gernsback, who invented the term science fiction and who edited the first science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories.

…and in the process, changed the lives of geeks forever.

(via PacSci’s Calendar of Science Twitter feed)

New commenting system

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

At the prompting of Toast, I’m mucking about with a new, threaded commenting system: Intense Debate. Among other things, Intense Debate allows you to follow someone’s comments across all blogs that have this system installed.

All comments to date have been converted to this system. The most any of y’all should notice is that the comment user interface is slightly different; for instance, it supports Gravatars, something this blog’s theme didn’t do. So far, the only thing I’ve noticed that it adds a little lag time when the page loads.

Feel free to treat this post as a testbed for the new system. Or not, as the fancy strikes you.

[Update @ 31 Jul 2008 2143 PDT – officially, the following tags are supported in comments: <a>, <b>, <i>, <u>, <em>, <p>, <blockquote>, <br>, <strong>, <strike>, and <img>. Some appear to be supported better than others (I’m looking at you, <p>…).]

[Update @ 1 Aug 2008 2032 PDT – I was requiring ‘first’ comments to be approved; unfortunately, it seems that I.D. doesn’t recognize previously approved comments. Sorry, y’all. I’m turning that feature off. The verdict so far? Meh. I don’t know that threading and reputation are worth the somewhat lackluster feature set and the performance drag… I’ll give this a little while longer, but I’m also going to take a look @ Disqus. I suspect I’ll find similar issues there, whereupon I return to the standard, plain vanilla WP comments. It’s an interesting idea, but the platforms aren’t mature enough – at the very least, this one isn’t mature enough – for my liking.]

When company presidents go trolling

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Welcome to the intertoobz, boys and girls. Web 2.0, and all that bullshit. Let’s step into the Not-So-Way-Back Machine, shall we, Mr. Peabody?

Seven months ago, in my part-time, volunteer role as webmaster for the Seattle Sea Kayak Club, I got an email from a web entrepreneur asking us to join his community. I sent him back a polite email detailing the issues I saw with his site (including pointing out a potential IP/copyright violation that his development team committed), and then wrote a snarky blog post about the experience.

Well, guess who came trolling tonight? (more…)