journal meme

Make a comment on my journal, anything will do. (Registration required. I then burn your email address as a sacrifice to the Goddess of Anti-Spam and forget it ever existed, unless you ask me to keep a copy.)

  1. I’ll respond with something random about you (probably an inside joke of some kind)
  2. I’ll challenge you to try something
  3. I’ll pick a color that i associate with you
  4. I’ll tell you something i like about you
  5. I’ll tell you my first/clearest memory of you
  6. I’ll tell you what animal you remind me of
  7. I’ll ask you something i’ve always wanted to ask you
  8. If I do this for you, you must post this on your blog/journal/do it with a friend over beverages

(originally from gavv on livejournal – who’s indirectly reminded me that the occasional journal meme can be a whole lot of fun!)

disagreeing is ok

I’ve had a lot of problems recently expressing something simple. I’m gonna take another crack at it:

  • I don’t really like most anime, but there are some genres I like. I’ll gladly watch anime, live action, play, musical, or whatever to get my dose of genres like random/sketch humour and twisted sci-fi.
  • I’m not a huge convention person. I prefer getting to know people one-on-one, and I find if you do that at a convention, you tend to alienate a lot of people. That said I can function at a convention when required as a speaker or attendee, but I tend to keep to myself.
  • “Alternative lifestyle” stuff is just great. I’m finding I’m happier doing things more mainstream-y, while maintaining an affinity for the unusual, an affection for those who involve themselves in it, and my own brand of quirkyness which is somewhere inbetween cheese and schlock.
  • I don’t enjoy programming big software projects, especially OO stuff and new languages. I respect all you language geeks and coders, especially because of my own past in it, but I’ve just lost the desire to learn new languages, or to actually program anything. I’m pleased to just take off the shelf OSS/COTS and go from there. I’d rather focus on the problem and describing it, working the requirements managing the project, and so on — y’all can enjoy putting that in code any way you like.
  • I’m still happy doing plugins, little projects, customizations, scripting, and what have you. I tend to prefer lower level stuff – microcontrollers, Verilog/VHDL/FPGA work, assembly, C and the like. I understand objects, used to teach courses in them, and can help design an architecture — but I’ve officially jumped off of the programmer bandwagon.
  • Design is good. I do recognize good design. I enjoy it and revel in it. I dislike designer elitism. I still am terrible at designing elegant things myself. I work best with creative folks who can turn my extensive requirements and logic into something aesthetically gorgeous.

Why has this been hard for me? Primarily because my own choices that some things are “not for me” has ended up coming across as disdain for others. Those who know me really well know that I don’t have disdain for anyone or anything, or any action. My housemates have been great in this regard. They know that when I get bitchy about something, that it’s really just about what I’d do if I were in their situation…not my judgement that their way of doing something is wrong or inappropriate.

“Separate but equal” gets far in this world, especially when extended to include cross-pollination and mutual acceptance, not just tolerance. I hope those of you who still read these pages accept my apology for any times I’ve made you feel uncomfortable, or for any who felt I was ever elitist in any way. I’m not better than you — I’m just better at making me happy than you are at making me happy! :D

biker chiq

I am now a fully-licensed motorcyclist, with a fully-licensed bike, a 1978 Honda CB750 Supersport (more pictures).  I’ve fixed up the bike a bunch since these photos were taken; expect new pictures by the end of today.
Big, big thanks to Cat, who taught me everything I know about wrenching bikes, and Chris, who helped us fix it and built the shed around it (and even made us cocoa at 2AM on a late Saturday night while we replaced the chain!)

Now, where should I ride to?  Any suggestions for good day-trips within reach of Toronto?

Also, seems Atlassian picked up my previous post about their awesome tools, JIRA and Confluence.  I’m just tickled pink about the functionality, as is everyone at my former employer.  Though they have their own free license, I’m pondering shelling out a bit for a 50-user license to run my own project sites, such as the ircd-hybrid stuff, and the Voyetra 8 and Andromeda A6 synthesizer sites.  It’d pay for itself in no time…maintaining HTML lists by hand is so early-1990s.  ;)

a week of accomplishments

This week I have:

  • passed my Gearing Up course, certifying me for an M2 motorcycle license (and a substantial insurance discount!)
  • with a substantial dose of doozer’s help, finished constructing the bike shed (photos to follow)
  • completed the remaining fixup required to my 1977 Honda CB750 (photos also to follow)
  • finished off a bunch of interviews
  • got promoted to Officer in Training with my crew in Puzzle Pirates, and received my officer training
  • got out of the house more than last week
  • cooked a lovely meal
  • helped a lovely woman and her 1 year old move into waynemanor
  • spoke with my advisor at OISE/U of T and feel hopeful about advancing into the Ph.D. program there

I feel…..fantastic!

i am not an artist

A very good, old friend of mine passed me this article today. Having spent time as a developer of software, and plenty in technical customer serivce, I agree with the sentiments expressed completely.

Where the author’s analogy to most corporate development breaks down is when the development organization actively ignores the requests of the customer to suit its own needs. Occasionally this takes the form of preventing the customer from doing what they want to do. This is sometimes a necessary evil. The effort required to alter some software behaviour is often disproportionate to the gains to be realized from the work. But to actively reject suggestions from customers for convenience, or because “you can get away with it” seems to be the ultimate betrayal of a marketplace.

Even worse is when this is done in a captive market. Witness Home Depot – arguably the single source provider of home improvement and renovation supplies in North America today – and the home building/renovation industry around them. Ever since my second blog entry in 1997, when I complained of cheapo building materials, it’s gotten worse. Two-by-fours are now one-and-a-half-by-three-and-a-half inches, with rounded corners. Delivery of wood often results in timber that is barely usable, including precut studs that are warped beyond recognition and split halfway up the side. There was a time in recent memory when you could go through the wood that was delivered to you, and send back any timber that wasn’t up to snuff – and the lumber company was on the hook to replace the bad wood. Wood is dried so quickly now that fully 1/4 of the studs we recently used to construct a shed in the backyard started to split when nailed up in a frame. And the nails! These hot dip galvanized twelve-penny (12d) nails are so soft that you can straighten them by whacking them on the side with a hammer! (This is not a reason why they are good, quite the opposite.) These were the only 12d nails available at the store, as well. You couldn’t even buy the old type if you wanted to.

So why am I ranting about Home Depot in a post about software development? Because both are indicative of the continuing trend for companies to deliver substandard solutions wittingly, because they can get away with it to improve profitability (in Wal-Mart speak: “to keep prices low for you!” I’m not an artist, to be sure (read the article, will you!) but I do believe in doing the best possible for the ultimate user of a component, be it embedded, traditional, or support technology. Service is just good common sense.

Let me give praise to one company who seems to have gotten it right. It took nearly a year during my employment at SOMA Networks to complete selection and justification of Atlassian‘s Confluence (wiki) and JIRA (issue tracker) systems for use as external document and issue management solutions. These are exceedingly well written tools, with a robust code base, a broad community of plugin/extension contributors, attentive support technicians, and a snazzy user interface. They’re not written as trendy web-2.0 applications, but rather are something you can toss on a box you maintain yourself, keep the total cost of ownership fixed, and tweak to your heart’s content. And the functionality out of the box is astoundingly good.

Don’t believe me? Go get your own free personal license of Confluence and experiment. Then use it in your next project if you like it. There’s even 50% discounts for academic use. And the license fees & maintenance are exceedingly sensible.

Disclaimer: I don’t work for them, but I’m a satisfied customer.