Monday, September 15, 2014


1. Post a picture of myself with fake marijuana plants
2. waste officers' time

Monday, August 11, 2014

Today's Dilbert is spot on

I always assumed Dilbert was about a generic office, but Scott Adams has some surprising insight about politics specific to software development.  Sadly I am guilty of this one.

In this and other Dilbert comic strips, the complaints devs had about the code that was written before they arrived is usually thrown out as a casual personality quirk.  I'm not sure the author understands that there are very strong business reasons that the existing code is always shit, or that constantly rewriting different piece is the long-term scaling plan.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Quick Updates

Tao of the Gauntlet
Crazy time at work has finished.  We are in the middle of releasing to production with our most annoying partner ever and the idiots in charge fired the entire test team.  Also, my project is likely to be canceled.  Also, my project is likely to be uncanceled shortly thereafter.  I am neither surprised nor annoyed this time.  I am getting very bored, very fast. In order to not be a complete asshat (vis a vis the strings my boss pulled in order to let me move to NYC) I need to last another 5 months. One of those testers was put in charge of my project while I was gone, and having me back probably sealed his fate in the layoffs.  So try to image how he is gonna feel if I quit.  But don't get too many feels, because he's one of the apparently multiple people who didn't know you couldn't put mutable fields on enums in the java language.

The Social Dragon
My volleyball team kicked ass last week.  We normally aren't that good.  It was actually kind of this co-ed league the men are typically assumed to be stronger much so that there are not only rules about keeping men off the courts, but rules that disallow them from spiking in the back (guess how I learned them).  Being the horny misandrist that I am, I obviously don't mind, but what was truly interesting about our most recent game was the revelation that the girls are actually the strongest players on the team. Some of them can play all positions, including striker.  I may play with the same people again next season, even though I'd probably meet more people if I just signed up by myself again to be placed randomly.

On that subject, I've been told that there are a lot of book clubs here with hot girls.  Not even kidding; the girls on my team told me that.  A promising change from Seattle, where the book clubs literally bared men from participating.

The Purge
I have nearly reached the midpoint of my stay at this apartment I am subletting, and I still haven't unpacked all of the boxes.  At this point, I'm starting to think I should just leave them like that for the next move.  Having my shit lost by uhaul for so long and being forced to live without it gave me an interesting kind of proved just how shockingly few physical objects I actually need for my day to day life.  The rest of them...well is mostly all activity related.  Motorcycles, flying, climbing, skiing, guitars & recording equipment, and computer gear.  And legos.  You would think I could start getting rid of a few of those categories, but I can't bring myself to do it.  I have gotten rid of a ton of books and clothes though.

5 Stars
Learning to cook--for reals and not just ramen--has been on my TODO list for a very long time.  We are starting lite:  I do this new thing where I cut up an entire lemon or lime into slices and drop all of the slices into a glass of water.  Its pretty fucking awesome, because when you use the whole fruit like that, you don't even need to add sugar!

Aside from joining a shady gym that is probably going to screw me when I try to quit, I really haven't done much in the way of getting more fit, other than cutting out soda...again.  Except this time I actually cut it out (except for when I go out drinking).  Nevertheless, my weight seems to be dropping slowly.  My theory is it is simply all of the extra walking I have to do to get to work.  I do still want to learn proper weightlifting, but that is perpetually getting deprioritized.

Gnashing of Teeth
Getting a new dentist has been on my TODO list for a very long time.  I'm probably overdue for a checkup by long as I've been here.  So like 3 months.  If I had one, that might have been super helpful, because today, at Panera Bread, I apparently ate part of my tooth.  Didn't realize I was eating it.  I just reached into the back of my mouth with my tongue to check for crumbs and discovered a scary, gaping hole where the last tooth should have been.  There was no pain.  At first, I thought the entire tooth (other than the root) was gone, however after trying to look at it in a mirror (difficult) I'm pretty sure that I've only destroyed part of the tooth.  I had been telling my dentist in Seattle that I don't grind my teeth anymore.  Turns out I'm full of shit.

It is, shocking, I guess, to realize that I am stressed, perhaps mostly because the rational part of my brain thinks that I shouldn't be stressed, and therefore refuses to acknowledge it.  However, now realize that I have a terrible habit of teeth grinding, perhaps at its worst when I am awake, because I've been absent-mindedly trying (and failing) to grind my teeth all day.

The Pain in the Ass
I am losing motivation to work on this start up.  It is difficult to focus on two jobs at once, especially when both are demanding.  I do expect the day job to get easier, shortly, so perhaps I'll find a balance.

In other news, my business partner continues to confuse "important" with "urgent," and the importance of something seems directly correlated with how little this person understands something.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

[coding] Making the Enemy Come to You

Previously, I may have written about someone that I got in a fight with at work.  That, or I wrote an unpublished draft and then just complained in person at parties.  I do that a lot now.  Anyway.

The person I got in a fight with is kind of a big deal.  He is basically a manager;  that's not his title but that's the basic role he does.  One of the things he manages is an Android app that uses the thing I own.  We'll call his team "Partner #2."  This guy knows nothing about Android.  It got as far as him being on a call with a bunch of super important people, telling people in my organization that we should rewrite the WebView control.  In two weeks.


My real beef with him wasn't actually the stupidity.  I mean, stupidity by itself?  That's just like a normal Tuesday in the corporate world.  No, this guy decided to (or was told to) use the software my team owns in the android apps his team makes.  So I can understand if he's not happy about that.  I mean my team has literally spent a year and a half corrupting our code for partner #1.  However, instead of talking to us about Partner #2's needs, he had his team just take our source code and fuck around with it.  Then he did come to us, to tell us what we should to with our component, and also to tell us that we should use the same development tools as those fuckers, to make it easier for them to fuck around with our code.

Given that I'd had a constant stream of headaches and a six month project delay caused directly by Partner #1 fucking around with our code, I wasn't about to allow a second partner to do it.  I jumped all over this situation, trying to quash it.  Unfortunately, this guy was better at politics.  He called me defensive or embarrassed or something, so I gave him a list, from memory, of every single problem that happened because partner #1 fucked around with our code, and he ended our conversation.

That was then.  Since then, a bunch of bullshit with partner #1 happened.  We are, theoretically, shipping our crap to them a mere 6 months late.  I've stayed at the office past midnight on a number of occasions in order to make that happen.  I still don't believe that it is going to happen.  For example, those layoffs in the news?  Yeah, they fired the entire test team.  During the test pass.  For the release that is 6 months late and which will slip another two months if we don't get it out in a certain window.  Its cool, though, man, because...because "test automation."

So partner #1 is placated for the moment.  Back to partner #2.  According to the PMs, partner #2 was breathing down our necks for an early drop.  So I burn the midnight oil once more and get the feature working a week and a half ahead of schedule.  And this is where things get interesting, and this is how I accidentally learned a very specific political move.

One of the tricks I used to get the feature done earlier was to not use Test Driven Development (TDD) and, to actually not write any unit tests (yet).  I just coded the entire feature in one shot and  ran a few tests by hand to know if its working.  Without unit tests though, I can't check in the code.  I can only provide the built version by email (obviously since M$ didn't write Git we have to use a centralized source control system instead of Git, and this source control system is allergic to java, becomes a surprisingly key component of our build system).

Sounds like a simple detail, right?  It is.  But it becomes very, very important when you are dealing with a team that needs to stop sticking their fat fingers into your source code.  They need this particular feature I wrote, badly.  They need it more than all of the bullshit reasons they made up to fuck with my code without talking to me first.  And the only way they can get this feature is if they integrate with the thing I own properly, using the built jar file I provided.  This, my friends, is called leverage.  

And, sadly, I literally didn't realize that a strategy like this could exist until I did it by accident.

So, I doubt, dear reader, that you will ever need this exact strategy.  I am simply sharing it to add to the knowledge base that you will draw on for your own political battles.

Unless you work in one of those places where all you do is write software.

They should really make a version of the office, but for jaded corporate programmers....

Monday, July 21, 2014

[fiction] Damaged Goods Part 4

There were a number of horse drawn carts in the street that night.  Fog swelled up from the banks of the river, spillover over railings of the bridges and choking the torches that attempted to light the streets.

It was through this murky scene that a dark red kawasaki ninja 650 burst.  It flew along the ground at unbelievable speed, approaching carriages stuck in mud and careening off the path and onto the frozen river, which made for a much less crowded method of access.

The rider wheelied and slammed the vehicle down in anger.  There was fireglow on the horizon.

Many leagues away there was a castle under siege, its outer walls broken by hellish engines, its battered, starved, and tired knights bending under the blows of ugly, foul, and green skinned but humanoid monsters.  The inner keep, once unassailable, was decorated with assault ladders and potmarked from stone projectiles.  It was only a matter of time.

The captains rallied their troops, falling back, back, back from the hellish green tide.  But then something happened which they did not expect.

The previously mentioned sportbike shot through the outmost gates.  Something had upset the delicate two-wheeled vehicle, and both machine and rider were flung tumbling across the flagstones.  The rider, however, caught the upswing of a trebuchet and, by letting go at just the right instant, modulated the force propelling him in order to fly over the inner walls and land at just the right spot in the courtyard.  He landed, rolled, and skidded to a stop, ripping of the motorcycle helmet and bashing it into the face of a nearby monster.  The man underneath worth a strange, silly hat that looked like a money with white patches.  Pom-poms danced around as he whipped his head around, aiming a shotgun at the far wall.  The first blast leveled three of the invaders at once.

The rider ran up the steps to the inner keep, firing his gun three more times to clear orcs out of his path.  He reached the next level and saw an orc standing over a soldier in plate mail, about to strike a killing blow.  The rider blew that monster away and ran.

Above, he could hear the scream of a dragon.

The rider dove into the thick of the battle, engaging the enemy at point blank range, occasionally parrying a black axe with his shotgun.  Over and over again a pack of monsters would turn a corner and be leveled, one or two or three at a time, until the last remaining would  have hit skull blown apart less than a meter from the business end of the shotgun, body in the air and arm still swinging some melee weapon.  The rider fired again and a again, reloading on the run, until he was out of shells.  Moonlight gleamed off of his motorcycle armor as he pulled his sidearm out and began shooting with that.

The dragon flew around a tower and bathed combatants in flame, not really caring which side they were on.

"I'm coming for you," said Snow Monkey.

He ran, up, up, up, through the inner keep, to its roof, up more stairs through towers, more stairs, more towers, and then up to an impossibly high and long bridge.  His quarry was ahead, occasionally appearing out of the black smoke, only to disappear again with the beat of its wings.  He had it.

Snow Monkey reached the edge of the platform.  He readied his gun, sprinted, and prepared to leap, until--

An enormous bright glow ushered out of the clouds, accompanied with a ringtone--10 notes of a poorly synthesized flute.  It was a giant cell phone, and the screen said "Incoming Call ... Dave."

Snow Monkey slipped falling backwards, but he had too much momentum.  The gun flew out of his hand moments before he slid off the end of the ledge, falling face first into the black-


Snow Monkey burst upright in bed, nearly colliding with Nika's head.  Outside, a storm raged and rain poured down the windows.

"Are you ok?" asked Snow.

"Me?  You were practically screaming in your sleep."

"I was just chasing a dragon."

Nika looked at Snow with that mixture of disbelief and ambivalence that he knew so well.

"If you're having trouble sleeping," he said, "we can cuddle, but you take big spoon."

Nika slapped him, hard.  Then she pointed in his face.  "Go the fuck back to sleep, and be ready tomorrow.  I want top five."

"Good night pumpkin," Snow Monkey called out as Nika left his hotel room via the adjoining door.

One day, he told himself, he would catch that fucker.