The boring rants of a lazy nerd

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

HP Fandom - Elsha's D* Theo/Anne series

I don't know if there's an epilogue, but this is the last chapter. Good for Elsha, finishing it before HBP. It is a story about the girl next door and the Death Eater's son, but though this description makes it sound very kitschy, it's actually very good.

ETA: That wasn't the last chapter. That only closed the plot for Harry & Co. The next chapter is closure for the fic's main characters, and an epilogue is promised. Also, she's fixed the character encoding problem.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Personal - "School" Trip

The people at my workplace have a tradition to go on a trip together. It's good for building teams etc. Anyway, since the Golan Heights is a beautiful place and we're never sure whether it will still be in Israel next year (Assad being who he is, it looks like it will, but you never know…) we chose it again. This time we've covered Brehat HaMeshushim and Nahal El-Al. Pics will be added when available.

It was a nice two day trip, sleeping on the beach of the Sea of Galilee (21°C at night, no tent/sleeping bag needed). It was a bit too hot (35°C in the shade, with no shade during most of the ~4 hour hike) and the planning committee have miscalculated the logistics somewhat (too much meat), but everyone has enjoyed it (or so it seems). Seeing one's team lead (or, if you prefer, commanding officer) pissed drunk hitting on girls is a positive experience.

I've come to realize someday soon I'm going to be very angry at myself for completely missing the opportunity while being practically surrounded by reasonably clever very good looking teen girls, the same way I'm angry at myself for basically missing the whole high school experience. It seems a motif in my life, discovering late how I've missed out on something or other. Reminds me of this great quote:

"You don't appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older. Little things like being spanked every day by a middle aged woman: Stuff you pay good money for in later life." — Emo Philips

Monday, June 20, 2005

Monday, June 13, 2005

Hacking - Java

Now, I don't know Java. I have zero work experience with it and have never read a book about it (that's not what I'll write in my c.v. of course). I have seen some J2EE code in my life and were able to deduce how it supposedly works, but I really should reserve judgment till I know more. I do work with C# on a regular basis, and though I haven't actually learned it "properly" (i.e. methodically) either I can usually fake it.

Reading smart people's blogs about programming language design (they're usually quite academic types, buy Python is real) I keep feeling their derision of Java coming through very strongly, as the COBOL of our times. Comparing it to readable dynamic languages (meaning those which are not Perl) I tend to agree.

One of my email sigs at work is a quote I can't locate now that (completely paraphrased) says "When in the first example I saw cout left-shifted "Hello World" times, I despaired of learning C++". Another is Marx's "History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce". Well, I ask, how come the situation described in Tim Bray's recent rant on Java 1.5 is better than C++? And I hear C# 2.0 will be like that too…

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Personal - This week

I've attended DBA3 (free training provided by the employer) with my future team lead M. He didn't know I'm in his future team till the last day when I told him over launch. Was a bit funny - I told him a bit about the project, the organizational chart, the team members etc. Of course he'll get proper introduction (and a lots of links to stuff he has to read) by my boss' boss when it gets closer to his transfer. He seems okay, considering I kind of demanded a geek for my next boss (since I've been completely spoilt by my current boss). No, I'm not one of those superstar people who interview their own boss, I'm just (unfortunately) the most seasoned programmer on staff who hasn't been pushed into a management role (yet, anyway) and the boss' boss decided to tell me who they chose.

Another funny thing that happened is my mom asking what was the strange new belt I have and then showing me the weapon strap when I looked puzzled. I usually keep it in the backpack so she just didn't recognize it or something. And it looks kind of like a belt (except for the fastenings) and is an unmarked olive green model that doesn't scream "guns! death!". Strange, my service is.

Oh well, off to study pirated OCP 1Z0-033 exam kits for the test next week. I'm thinking of actually spending the money on certification when I'm discharged, although I don't really want to be a full-time DBA…

ETA: today I've found out I got 94% on that test. For some inexplicable reason, I feel more confident with my SQL skills since I've done it.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

TV - Alias Season 4 Finale

Wah. This guy is right. Such a waste of bandwidth. I might try Lost now, but it will probably be ruined too after a season or two, like every other thing that got popular and didn't have an ending already written (like Babylon 5 and Harry Potter). Is 24 any good?

In other news, a girl talked to me today, of her own free will and for free I might add. Yes, this is a joke.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

TV - Alias 4x04 Ice

I sure hope the episodes improve in this season, but I just had to say I love Kelly Macdonald's accent (or was it only Kiera MacLaine/Meghan Keene's accent? I can't really tell how much of it was real).

ETA: 4x13 has a spork!!!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Web Tech - Markup

Blogger doesn't feature any built-in privacy. You can't mark posts as being private or "friends-only". The FAQ apologetically suggests you publish to your own server via FTP and manage security there (why would you use Blogger if you pay for hosting I have no idea. It's not like the wysiwyg editor or the template system are that good…).

LiveJournal is much more of a social software than Blogger's "push-button publishing for the people". Userpics, f-lists, communities, privacy, FOAF etc. make it very clear. Heck, the Harry Potter Fandom practically lives on LJ!

Personally, I can live without that, but I must be in control of my posts, at the lowest technical level. I want to be able to submit pre-arranged xhtml pieces to post. I want to be able to include any tags I wish (even scripts!) and know my markup won't be tampered with by the editor or the spell checker. And I must be able to just type up some stuff and let it generate sane markup for it, not force me to write my own <p>'s when I don't want to! Why in the name of Marshall McLuhan is the "convert line breaks" setting global???

ETA: So yeah, the point was that now I'll have to add markup to some of my posts and that would make them appear to be updated, although I won't change anything. Sorry for the inconvenience (It should only affect syndication users, though).

Work/Personal - Developers' Attitude, Inspiration, Competence

A recent thread on JOS forums is so apropos it's scary.

I'm a very "Person B" type of guy, having issues with time management and juggling more than a few tasks. I'm also frequently under-motivated because my superiors are unable to control my work environment enough to help me be more productive or even reward me properly. I'm getting increasingly frustrated with some aspects of working slaving for the government and feel like a pat on the back is not enough for me to work like I'd do in a startup. The classic "the reward for good work is more work" approach might work (for me) when one's work saves lives. Mine can only save money, money I see wasted all around me while I wait literally years for upgrades to my workstation I need to be able to do my job.

We've all read Peopleware, and we all know the issues, but it seems like the constraints of obligatory military service are too hard to mitigate. Like in Communism, you are expected to do your best but everyone with the same job description gets essentially the same treatment (and don't get me started on the secretaries). You can play on people's pride and ambition, but I guess I'm just a whiny quitter who calls everyone fake and doesn't want to play their games.

I care deeply about my country, and I care personally for my clients' work, for which my products are crucial, and I take pride in my craft, but next month it'll be two years in this position and I feel disillusioned.

A big head and a low self esteem are a really nasty combination.

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