The boring rants of a lazy nerd

Friday, September 30, 2005

Work - New Year's

For the third time in my department, the smart, dependable, funny, pretty girl is too good for us and leaves for officer's training. It is very sad to lose E.C, and I hope she'll get a decent assignment.

I got First Sergeant two weeks early, for the Jewish new year. Considering the 16 hours long work days and working on the weekend, it really is the least they could've done.

Hurt my finger on the Uzi's magazine holding thingy. Still scored 100% day/night and 12 dead (simulated) Arabshostiles. Yeah, in the IDF, even the software developers are tough! ;-)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Work/Life - Down again

It's true that it's the little things that affect one's mood.

During my night shift I've left a poor impression on an interesting female colleague. I feel like I have no influence on my room. My boss and I disagree about schedules and the exact nature of my job. A friend whom I've met in training is getting discharged because his outfit can't afford him and for the next two years he'll be earning roughly three times more than I'll be earning comes December.

Is aimlessly reading about Prosody a waste of my time?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Life - Moving

Tomorrow I'll be moving about a kilometer north-west, and consequently won't have internet access for a few days. Here's hoping the move will be as painless as possible!

Edit: Well, I had internet the next morning, hurray for the national telco provider. Everything is more or less alright.

Oh, and now that the money is back in the bank where it belongs, I can say I've seen close to a hundred thousand US dollars in cash. Looked like a drug deal right out of a Hollywood movie. Wacko Russians!

Hardware Shopping - Dual Core!

Dual core is all the rage now, and with AMD's entry-level dual core processor killing the competition, one can buy one heck of a machine for quite a reasonable price, when you think about it.

partmake & modelUS priceUS price in ILSIL price in ILSmarkup
cpuAMD Athlon 64 X2 (939) 3800+ 2x512KB3651678.21225034.07%
moboMSI nForce4 Ultra (939) K8N Neo4 Platinum125574.7384046.16%
ramOCZ/Corsair/Kingston 2x512MB PC3200 CL2.590413.8178088.49%
videoXFX GeForce 6600GT 128MB150689.68105052.25%
hddWestern Digital SATA 160GB 7200RPM 8MB Caviar SE85390.8247020.26%
exchange rateUSD to ILS14.59784

Prices in US are rounded up and include shipping & handling, and don't use rebates (20$ and 25$ mail-in rebates are available). Prices in Israel include 17% VAT.

I chose AMD over Intel because of price/performance, but if Intel's hardware virtualization technology lives up to its hype (together with the rest of the cool new stuff that comes in the designed-in-Israel due-in 2006 next-gen Intel chips), I might reconsider.

Personally, I'd want to get a motherboard with integrated graphics (a GeForce 6150 + nForce 430 based solution sounds promising) because those 1000NIS on a a video card I'm not going to use are bugging me.

Compared to last time I did this, I've upgraded to CL2.5 RAM and swapped a WD for the Seagate hard drive because of availability issues.

We are still being ripped off on RAM.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Work - @#$%^&!

I don't want to name names, but yesterday I've had a surreal experience that exemplifies how badly IT projects are run and why I think it's a disgrace and a waste of money and why a project my outfit working on is going to fail. Again.

As part of my training I've interviewed a development team from a neighboring project. The team lead was a female coder promoted to officer to hide the fact she's a bad developer. Naturally, she became an even worse team lead. The team members themselves are all very inexperienced and have very naive notions about how stuff works in real life, especially concerning QA (especially unit, integration, system and acceptance testing), SCM, performance benchmarking, verifying scalability, deployment, user training, support, debugging in a production environment, maintenance, etc (basically everything other than churning out bad code). They all live in this dream where they release a version 1 in December, when what they had to show me looks nowhere near anything I'd show a client as "ready for release". To find out how bad it really is, I've turned to the systems people: I've managed to interview G.B., who is a team lead of a dedicated group of DBAs who support the project. We've shared war stories like one DBA to another, and man, she has revived my faith in females in IT. The place is full of great people, if only the fucked up institution could inspire them all to work!

Every time I think I'm too much of a "Rosh Gadol" for my job description and how big the gap between what I'm supposed to be responsible for and what I feel responsible for, I get the feeling I was wrong to decline officer training and yet I still believe I'm not the right person to be a great officer (INTJs are simply not leaders. I'd want to strangle people who are slacking, and that's not allowed). Problem is, it might've been better for me and my outfit if I were one. I'll see, maybe I'll change, maybe the environment will change.

God, how I hate "Rosh Katan" people who don't care about their craft!

On a completely unrelated note: E.P. has invited me to his birthday, day after tomorrow. I can't believe how excited I am! Don't have a clue about a present, though.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Books - Mark Haddon - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

So, I've read it a while ago and never reviewed. But first of all, let's establish my bias: Not only am I a depressed overly talkative introvert, I'm a fascist as well. I've known it for a while, I get it from me mom. I don't like people who like to avoid work (and especially people who boast about it, a very trendy thing to do in modern day Israel) and I don't like stupid people. I'm working on the latter, as I realize why I'm wrong to do that.

Personally, I have zero experience with autistic kids. Any modern book about the subject must stress they are no worse than any other kid: they can grow to become productive members of society, all they need is love and patience, like any other child. That's all great, and the lesson "if you try hard enough, you can be anything" is important in encouraging children to apply themselves in school etc., but I disagree with the conclusion about the kid himself, as I understand it from the book.

The kid fantasizes about all normal people dying and he having the world to himself, never again being forced to interact with human beings. He carries a knife and pulls it on people seemingly at any available opportunity. He has no respect for police officers or authority of any kind, if he feels he is in the right. He has no compassion for human beings, as creatures who possess a soul and the right to live, but rather treats them like computers that walk. He taught himself A-level math.

I don't know how his arrested social development is connected to normal hormonal changes during puberty (if any), but he's supposed to be fifteen and has shown no interest in girls (or boys, for that matter). I don't know if he'll grasp the intricacies of courting, but I foresee problems on that front, as no one can explain for him in detail what constitutes "sexual harassment" these days - it can be anything, depending on the other person's feelings, a concept he doesn't quite grasp.

I guess that years of kind and firm treatment with a psychologist can help him improve his social skills, and he probably can do well in some scientific endeavor (though mathematicians working alone is a rare thing indeed these days, Andrew Wiles being the exception that proves the norm), but I think he's a disaster just waiting to happen. I can't help but feel sorry for his parents, adulterous as they may be, for at least they qualify for "human". Am I heartless?

Another thing is that I noticed I share some of my nerdier qualities with the main character. For example, he disaproves of euphemisms for the same reason I do. I think it is a warning to us nerds: behave, or people will treat you like they treat autists. And no, simulating asperger-syndrome is not cool, and does not make you a hacker.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Work - More ranting

So, free training. Two years after initial training all coders get an upgrade where they learn about architecture. Actually, the idea is to try and make the coders think outside their projects, technologies and environments and learn broadly about modern IT. Among other activities there are introductory lectures on topics like n-tier, UML, interpersonal communication, database tuning, datawarehousing, design patterns, networks, QA, SOA, dotNET vs. Java, ERP, storage with backup & recovery, security and lots of others. Three weeks total, by the best consultants available. A bloody dream come true for anyone wishing to get any sort of clue about the industry.

The first lecture was given by Eyal Rubin (I think that's the name; anyway, he's a big boss there or something) from 2Train4. Right at the start he got so many blank stares the level very quickly dropped to kindergarten. He had to review OOP, TCP/IP, RDBMS… very, very basic stuff. Someone asked what's a proxy. People didn't know about the existence of stored procedures. He used euphemisms for HTTP, XML, SOAP, SOA to avoid using the terminology after he had to explain "port 80". It took him a while to explain "application server" and how come scalability is not always linear. I was so ashamed I took off my pin.

I know about the five different worlds, and I realize that hadn't I been a huge computer geek, I wouldn't have known about EJB's either, but some of that stuff was covered in the initial training! A bloody TCP socket, for crying out loud, and SELECT statements! Gah.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Work - Need to vent

Our new resource turned out to be a big fat "no hire" with no skill set, a big head and an attitude problem. The guy has never seen any OOD in his life, has no respect for coding standards, no experience in team work, no understanding of PC hardware, doesn't know what "K&R" or "Stroustrup" are. Basically, he lacks all skills the company paid for.

But my main problem is that his motivation for getting the job was completely different from the rest of us: You see, he is fit for combat duty. So, nearing the end of his senior year of high school (when he was already a full year older than his peers, for reason unknown), he had several choices:

  1. Enlist, serve three years in infantry, armor or artillery.
  2. Go to college, get a degree, serve six years as an engineer (three years paid).
  3. Stay in school for an extra year, get an associate degree, serve four to five years (a year or two paid).

He probably decided real military service is for suckers and college is hard, so what kind of associate degree to get? Mechanics, electronics, software. "Computers" sounds like "money", so a year later here he is.

Now, his goal successfully met, he has no motivation to work hard or learn anything.

And his fucking Israeli attitude! @#$%^&*!

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