An Experiment In Scotch

I write to discover what I believe

Month: March 2008

Blue Kittens

Do you sometimes find yourself feeling like Woody Allen?

Yeah, me neither.

I Really DON'T Need All That Information

So some of you will remember that I made some Lenten commitments and here’s the point where I update you since I know you’ve been anxiously awaiting all my amazing self-discovery. Right. Anyway, I do feel like jotting down a little bit about the experience. We’ll start with the success first. For 40 days and 40 nights, I didn’t surf the web. It was damn hard. I never really go used to not reading ESPN or DallasNews.com or whatever. But I did it. I wasn’t completely off the wire since I can hardly do my job without talking to God daily but I wasted no time on mindless surfing.

What did I learn from that? That I really don’t need all that information. Monday night, I went on dallasnews.com and there were two stories about murder, one about a crooked politician and just a bunch of junk. It dawned on me at that moment that I really don’t need that stuff. I don’t remember any of it, it’s completely wasted time and it absolutely saps my focus, attention and energy. So I’m mostly sticking with it. I went through Newsgator tonight (after we set up a large chunk of this weekend’s garage sale-come buy stuff!!) and while there is definitely some quality there, there’s also a bunch of stuff I just don’t need to bother with. Scott Berkun was right, you just don’t need all that stuff and it’s making your life quality much, much lower. The things that are important are things that require complete and total undivided attention. Everything else is fluff and wasted time. I think K and I had more dinners together during those 40 days than the 80 days before that. We took up tennis (well “took up” is a tad strong but we’ve been twice in 3 weeks so that should certainly be considered a habit, given the participants) and I think we talked more about important things (though still not nearly as much as she would like, I am a guy after all).

So that’s the success. The failure is my meditation habit. I did it for about 10 days and then completely dropped it. I’m sad about that, I was starting to get somewhere with it and then it just went away. I’m trying to do shorter meditations more often but I miss the 20 minutes. I’m still trying to do it but it’s certainly not a daily habit.

Overall, I’m happy with how Lent worked out this year. I’m writing more, thinking more clearly which may or may not be reflected in my writing and I have more time for the important things. God must be happy with me.

Further Proof I Lack Self-Control

So much for the hiatus. Frequently when you’re working in a team environment using Visual Studio in general and Visual Studio 2008 for this specific example, you’ll start to get an error dialog when you open the solution file that says “Some of the properties associated with the solution could not be read”. This isn’t a huge problem but it is a medium level annoyance as far as I’m concerned. It got to be a scratchy enough annoyance this morning so I decided to ask God for the answer. As is the case in 98% of the technological problems out there, God knew the answer.

As it turns out, this comes from a corrupted solution file. Specifically in this instance, it comes from having two “GlobalSection(TeamFoundationVersionControl) = preSolution” blocks in the solution file (I’d normally make a comment about TFS at this point but in my new happy, non-caustic personality, I’m refraining and only making a subtle, snide comment referring to what I’d usually do, something my more astute readers will probably read as veiled caustic-ness wrapped in false sincerity. Whatever). To get rid of the problem, just delete the second section and magically, the dialog doesn’t pop up.

I’m not sure how two identical global sections related to Team Foundation Version Control could get into the solution file but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. Next time it happens to us, I’ll dig into it a little.

Non-Hiatus Hiatus

I’m toying with the idea of just blogging over at Blowing Sunshine Up Your Asparagus for a little while. There’s a ton of things to write about in the early spring here in Texas and my writing on this blog has been, well, caustic lately. I’m looking to return to a little more measured consideration with more of the quality I’d prefer in my writing, versus just one off riffs. So, while this certainly isn’t a hiatus, I plan to write more over there for a little bit than I do here. We’ll see how that goes.

The Saga Continues

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Running tests requires a checkout too. Sweet Mother, Mary of Unintended Consequences.

Confusing Causation With Correlation The Completely Unrelated

Let’s say you’re reasonably mechanically inclined and you decide that you’re going to start changing your own oil in your car instead of taking it down to the Kwiky Lube for their $50 special. So you go to Wal-mart, buy all the necessary items such as oil, filter, ramps, pan for the old oil and some rags. You then set in to change the oil in your car. You drain the oil pan, take off the old oil filter, put the new one one, close the oil pan and start to dump the new oil into the engine. About this time, a voice that sounds like God but is really Charlton Heston begins to emanate from the bowels of your car and tells you that the action you have just done requires you to get new tires. God (or Charlton Heston) would then get in your car and drive it down to Firestone and have four new tires put on it without even asking you to come along. Would that make any sense to you? Would you think that was just a tad presumptuous of old Charlton? Shouldn’t you have control over actions that are completely unrelated?

TFS (and by very close proxy, Microsoft) doesn’t think you should. Yes, the TFS rant continues which is completely meaningless to 85% of my readers but it just drives me insane. Getting latest should NEVER require a checkout of the solution. These two actions are as unrelated as changing the oil in your car and getting new tires. You should be able to control them independently and yet, here I sit with a checked out solution that I’ll now have to undo because I have no idea why it checked itself out in the first place. This goes back to the tight integration between TFS and Visual Studio and tight integration is almost always a bad thing (except to Microsoft who can then sell you more stuff – it’s really all about Microsoft anyway) but it’s infinitely more bad when it comes to source control.

As usual, TFS gets in the way. It’s a ham-handed attempt to steal market share from Rational and it’s just as painful to deal with. I never knew how awesome Perforce and Subversion were until now.

You Can Tell It's A Bubble By The Idiots

I’m gonna give you a quote I just read on Money.com. You just let it sink in for a minute (emphasis mine):

“At $2 a share, you might as well just let them go bankrupt,” said Fred J. Wallace, a Houston retiree who owns 1,500 Bear Stearns shares, which he bought last month. Wallace, 62 years old, said he bought the stock with his retirement money when he heard a Bear Stearns executive on television saying the company was sound financially. “If I get contacted for a class-action (lawsuit), I’m interested in being involved,” he said.

Ahem. Let me get this straight, Mr. Fred J. Wallace, you bought 1500 shares of a company’s stock because said company had an executive who said the company was sound financially?!? Faulkner couldn’t come up with words to express my level of amazement. People in Houston must be bloody idiots after Enron and now this guy. Wow. Just Wow. You bought a stock that had to have been priced in the $80s that was so overexposed to the subprime market, any idiot with a stock screener could have found it, and you now want to join a class action?

We’re in for some bad times economically speaking, folks. This is the exact kind of crap that happened during the last bubble when Enron and Tyco and Global Crossing blew up in our faces. It’s going to get uglier and IMNSHO, it’s going to be a long recovery. I really hope I’m wrong but when you have average investors like Fred J. Wallace showing up in the articles, I don’t think I can be. I’m no expert but I can tell you that I sure wouldn’t want to be too exposed to the market over the next 12-18 months.

Writing In Molasses

Events in scotch-land have come to a grinding halt of late, deserved rants on TFS notwithstanding. I haven’t been doing much writing for public consumption lately for a variety of reasons, most of which include some level of laziness and alcohol intake. I’ve had the TFS rant jumping around in my head for a little while but other than that, there just isn’t much going on that I’ve felt like putting into thoughts, much less words. I am doing a lot of writing for private consumption, i.e. it’s not worth putting out in the public eye. I bought this book quite awhile ago but like many things, it ended up on a dusty shelf collecting more dust.

In an effort to revive my rusting creativity, I picked it back up and in a fit of madness or maybe drunkenness, I decided to commit to doing the exercises each day for the next 366 days. Now, 7 days in, I realize the folly of my ways. Discipline isn’t something I’d ever try to convince anyone I was an expert in and already I’m wondering what in the hell I was thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I’m doing it and much like training for a marathon (another activity spawned in madness or drunkenness), once I commit to something, I tend to at least sort of follow through. But I can tell it’s not going to be easy.

All that said, I am starting to feel like the groove is coming back to some degree. I’m having ideas during the day that I’d like to write about and I’m a lot better at keeping up with a day-to-dayish journal. Now I’ve just got to find some way to sleep less that doesn’t involve cocaine so that I can write more. Maybe I could try it during the hour commute to work each day. Wouldn’t be the dumbest thing I’ve seen people do on the commute.

TFS

I’ve been working closely with Microsoft Team Foundation Server on the project I’m currently on and one thing that I’ve come to really appreciate about it is how much it sucks. It’s truly remarkable the level of suckitude that ships with TFS and every day that goes by just increases my awestruckedness at its suckiness. I’m sure that’s completely intended too. Look, if TFS worked like a decent source control tool, we wouldn’t even know it existed. If it just blended into the background like a mature SCM tool, it would be really hard to sell it to tons and tons of unsuspecting corporations. By moving source control out in front of developers, even in front of development itself, Microsoft guarantees that people will talk about it not to mention buy support contracts.

I should have known not to trust the people who gave us Visual Source Safe 2005 but I had some hope that they had learned from their past mistakes. Of course, they still operate under the mistaken assumption that a source control tool should be tied closely to the Visual Studio IDE and the very idea of solutions and projects which is such an unbelievably crappy assumption that it in and of itself strikes awe in my puny little heart. Instead, source control should be just that, a version control system completely and totally independent of the type of file. One of the beauties of Subversion or Perforce is that files are files. On top of that, since those types of tools have no knowledge related to the file type, there’s no chance that they’ll decide what’s best for you when it comes to check-ins, check-outs and merges unlike TFS which consistently checks in the most ridiculous things. Not only that, say you want to change some code but you don’t have latest. TFS, like that doting old aunt that always gave you underwear for Christmas and farted at the most inopportune times, just knows what’s best for you and forces you to get latest before checking out the files. Really TFS? What if I don’t WANT latest? Jeebus.

TFS is like VSS took steroids but forgot to work out and just got fat and disgusting. Please, Microsoft, for the sake of those of us who think source control is a foundation of solid software development, pretty please got out of the source control business. You just don’t do it justice. Source control should be painless, invisible and lightweight. Anything else is a ridiculous waste of time.

The Caucus

So yesterday was primary and caucus day here in Texas. As far back as I can remember, the primaries never were particularly important in Texas because the candidates had all pretty much been chosen by the time we had ours but this year was different, at least for the Democrats. Because that wimp Fred Thompson dropped out and McCain was the de facto choice for the GOP, I decided to vote in the Democratic primary for the one I think is the lesser of two evils. K voted for her too.

Then last night, I left work late and decided that since this was probably the only time in my political life that the caucus in Texas would be meaningful and worth seeing that I would attend. I called K up and she decided to tag along as well. It was a fascinating experience, one I’m glad I participated in even if I wasn’t doing it with exactly the best intentions. We showed up at our polling place about 7:10 and they still had a line with about 100 people in it just for the primary voting. Because the caucus can’t start until everyone votes in the primary, they put all of us (I estimated 4-500 and K thought maybe 200 but it was a lot regardless) in the cafeteria.

There were people there of all types but the crowd was definitely pro-Obama. It wasn’t particularly well organized but given the fact that the Democratic party has probably never had to run a caucus of this size, I think that can be forgiven. In the end, it was about 9 before all the primary voters made it in and they lined us up to sign our names and cast our caucus vote. We didn’t stick around for the choosing of the delegates which happens after everyone has voted but I think if we would have, we could have been a delegate to the county Democratic convention which might have been interesting.

Overall, I was thrilled to see people turn out in the numbers they did at 7:15 on a Tuesday to do something they clearly believed in. We spoke with several people including one guy at length and it was obvious I didn’t politically agree with much of anything they did but it’s important that we live in a country where this can happen. No one got shot, there weren’t any bombings and it was a very satisfying experience. With all the talk of how our civil liberties have been so infringed over the past 8 years, it’s nice to see that really isn’t the case. We live in a wonderful country where we have rights that are the envy of almost everyone else on the planet. Last night reminded me of that and for that, I’m thankful I participated.