Mike’s Dump

August 6, 2008

Hey You!

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 9:19 pm

Hey, you!

Ya, you.

Did you pull the batteries out of your toys as a kid and eat them? Maybe throw them at a sibling? Or maybe you shoved them so far up your… never mind. It drives me nuts that every time I have to change the batteries on one of my kid’s toys I’m forced to find a screwdriver.

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December 22, 2007

With blood dripping down my face…

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 1:23 pm

There I was, rocking “Barracuda” by Heart for an enormous crowd. As I play my last note who busts onto my stage; the one and only Tom Morello. He thought he had what it took to take me down. He thought wrong!

Fearing nothing I let him start to show what he has. I came back at him playing note for note and then some. When he saw the crowd turning in my favor he realized he couldn’t take down a Guitar Hero of my caliber so he opted for the physical attack instead. In a roundhouse fashion Tom swung his guitar over his head and he hit me right between the eyes. With blood dripping down my face I continued to play until Tom was booed off the staging.
Put simply, I ROCKED!

My wife, whose memory has never been that great, remembers the events differently. She claims that I was merely playing a game and I wasn’t up on a stage. There was no crowd and I barely broke 80% accuracy on the hard version of “Barracuda” by Heart.

When completing the song I went into the Battle Mode with Tom Morello. After several failed attempts I tried again to beat him. Feeling this was the time I would succeed I raised my guitar hard and fast to activate my last “Battle Power”. Focusing more on the TV than where I was swinging the guitar I hit myself right between the eyes (yes, actually drawing blood). The good news is I did beat Tom Morello on Hard.

There you have it. Two versions of what happen. One demonstrating the Rock God that I am and the other making me sound a little completely insane. I’m sure being the intelligent reader you are you’ll have no problem determining what really happened.

September 8, 2007

A Steaming Pile of Crap

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 9:02 pm

Some people have the ability to look at a steaming pile of crap and find opportunity.  I occasionally watch shows on TV like “Flip this House” and I’m amazed that people are able to turn a rat infested, run down, steaming pile of crap of a house into a place most people would be willing to pay good money for.  These people see the opportunity and are able to capitalize on it.

Lately I feel like I’ve been sitting in a steaming pile of crap. Load after stinky load is being dropped and I’m having trouble thinking anything except how much the situation stinks.  Part of me wants to run away screaming at the top of my lungs, “run for your lives the crap is coming”! The other part of me knows there is opportunity in this situation if I can only see past the crap.

When I get stuck in these mental states I try to step back and think about my former life as a mutual fund salesman.  Back then there were several times where I felt like I was neck deep in crap and thought I should just quit. Normally I would listen to some Tom Hopkins (http://www.tomhopkins.com/) and it would help get me back in the right frame of mind.

Being in the right frame of mind I believe is the key. In the right frame of mind “problems” become “challenges”. Problems are things we want to avoid but overcoming challenges allows us to grow personally and/or professionally.  I guess it is time to change my frame of mind or at least plug my nose.

A New Home

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 5:16 pm

I have had enough of Community Server and Webhost4Life. My site went down twice today and my renewal is coming up so I’ve decided to dump Webhost4life and try out Word Press.

I have imported all my old content but the links are all broken and the images aren’t there. Hopefully I’ll have some time in the near future to be able to fix that.

March 19, 2007

What the hell happened?

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 11:00 am

Maybe it is just me, but when a service that I’m paying for goes down for anymore than a few minutes I would like to know why. If it is a short amount of time it’s curiosity but as the length of the outage increases my attitude switches to “What the hell happened”?

I use WebHost4Life to host my blog and today the SQL Server it attaches to went down. Being a developer I know shit happens but if it wasn’t for a couple of friends letting me know it was down I probably wouldn’t have caught it (thanks Mike & Justice). What should have happened is WebHost4Life should have let me know SQL Server was down, what they were doing about it and when they expect it back up. You know, something that a professional organization would do.

After seeing it down half an hour after I was informed I decided to submit a trouble ticket. A few hours later I receive the following response:

Would you please give it a try on your site now? Please let us know if you have any further enquiries or concerns. Thank you.

After seeing the response I didn’t really care if the site was up or not because there was no explanation to why the service I pay for was unavailable. I did check my site and noticed my last post was missing so I sent the trouble ticket back.


Mike 1:59:37- Has the system been restored from a backup because it appears I am missing some data?

Staff 5:34:57- Yes, there was actually a large scale disk corruption last night that was recovered by our technicians. Unfortunately, we had to revert back to the backup from the day before. I apologize for the inconvenience.

As a customer I would expect things to break from time-to-time. Unless outages are happening all the time I wouldn’t question a service provider’s ability on this point. What affects my confidence is how well the service provider responds to outages including their communication.

Working for a company that provides online services it sure made me think on how well (or not so well) we have responded to these types of situations in the past.

March 17, 2007

Life.Rollback

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 4:19 am

Transactions are pretty cool. They allow a group of changes to be applied as one unit. If anything goes wrong during the process the entire set of changes is rolled back to the initial state. I’ve often thought this would be a useful thing to have on life.

There a lot of decisions I have made in my life that have been questionable. Most of the decisions I can look at now as great learning experiences and have allowed me to grow and get to where I am now. Other decisions I’m still waiting to realize any benefit.

Then there is another group of decisions that you really aren’t going to learn anything from. You either get them right or wrong. They might affect you, people around you or both. It is these decisions that I could use a rollback on.

If anyone develops a rollback feature for life that I can install I obviously have some room in my head because parts of my brain aren’t being used!

February 17, 2007

Question Everything

Filed under: Home,Work — mikesdump @ 5:18 pm

I hate standards, process, and architecture (referred to as process throughout) or just about anything else formal that says, “We should always do it this way”. I cringe every time I hear, “we need to define a process for that”.

I’m not saying defining a process is a bad thing. Documented processes can help raise overall quality and give a consistent approach as a company grows. What is bad is when people believe they can stop thinking for themselves because there is a process that addresses a concern. What is worse is if the process fails and people don’t take responsibility for the failure but blame the process (AKA “blaming the Methodology”).

Then there is the opposite side of the spectrum. People that disagree with a process may decide not to ruffle any feathers and quietly not follow the process. Too often, people feel a process is written in stone and impossible to change. The problem with this belief is the process isn’t challenged when it should be.

I believe standards whether they are your own, your teams or the companies need to be questioned on a regular basis. Is the process still valid? What is the risk of removing the process? Is there still a benefit to keeping the process?

My general rule, when in doubt, question everything.

January 29, 2007

Money

Filed under: Home,Work — mikesdump @ 1:18 pm

I received an e-mail today from someone I have never met. This person lives in Ontario working at A & W, and from the sounds of it he is unhappy. He is unhappy with his wage, with the training he has received (to be a trainer) and his manager. This gentleman was looking for more insight to my experiences at A & W (he came across my post here). I responded to his e-mail but got me thinking about my current and past jobs.

When I was finishing collage all I cared about was getting a job and experience as a professional developer. The salary didn’t matter too much to me at the time because I figured over time that would come. As time went on the salary issue became a larger and larger until I decided I had to find something else to make more money (funny how things worked out. I ended up getting laid off and had no salary).

My next job I was hired at $5000/year more than my previous job. I was really excited about this opportunity. Within 3 months I was reclassified as an intermediate developer and received another increase in wage. But after two years without an increase the salary didn’t seem adequate and I started to look elsewhere.

In both of these jobs my salary not being where I wanted eventually got me thinking about leaving. When I think about it now salary was definitely a factor but not the only one. My first job sucked. I spent lots of time doing on-site and telephone support, installing third-party applications, and maintaining programs written in languages I didn’t want to work in (Visual Fox Pro and MS Access).

Near the end of the second job I was much more aware of the office politics and the environment was changing for the worse. There was much less talking and laughing at work and some people were vocal in their disapproval projects continuing that made no immediate revenue (I was working on a no money project). Many of these changes resulted because the company was in financial difficultly and could no longer pay the staff on time.

I would be lying if I said I have never thought about leaving my current job. We have had many talented developers leave over the last 18 months and I’m sure they are all making more money than I am. Money, yes, it is on my mind but it isn’t the only thing. There have been several issues eating away at me from office politics to business decisions that make no sense.

Something I read a while back on leaving a job can be found here but the key points are:

It is important to differentiate the need to move on from a false view that the grass is greener somewhere else.

Need to move on:

  • You do not feel like you are growing.
  • You do not see that this will change in the near future.
  • You do not feel that you work is challenging.
  • You have interests that cannot be explored with your current work.
  • You want to make a career change.


Grass is greener:

  • If you leave, you would seek the same job at a different company.
  • Your complaints and frustrations are pretty common.
  • You have felt the same way at other companies.
  • You are drawn to an idealistic picture of a different company. If your desire to move is more about the company than the work, I would urge caution.
  • You have been in your position less than two years.

When I read the “Need to move on” section my answers are:

  • Nope, I still have lots I can learn
  • I believe change is coming that will resolve some longstanding issues
  • There are challenges and some of them I like 🙂
  • From a development point of view there is a wide range of options at my current job
  • Not yet but I have been thinking about being an electrician 🙂

Overall I am still pretty positive about my current place of work. At every job I have ever had there has always been a certain level of crap that I have to put up with. If there is no crap you wouldn’t be paid to be there. As for money, odds are, as long as I’m working what I’m paid will never be enough. There is always a reason I “need” to make more. If you have a job and your only complaint is the money then it is probably a hell of a good place to work. If money isn’t the only complaint and you can’t change it, well that’s another story.

December 18, 2006

I fought the spam and the, spam won…

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 1:41 pm

almost.

After writing my first post in a couple months I decided to go through the comments on my blog and I found I have been getting killed with spam.

I know there are different things that I can/should be doing to guard against spam but for the most part my blog has been pretty clean for the past 1 1/2 years so I haven’t worried too much about it.

Being lazy, I wasn’t going to go through and delete a few hundred comments by hand because that would be crazy! I logged in through SQL and started going through the Community Server schema. I was pretty sure I was in the proper table and I started looking for patterns and deleting records.

I was alternating between:

SELECT * FROM CS_POSTS

And

DELETE FROM CS_POSTS WHERE �bla’ AND �bla’

Not too worried about blowing up my “production” blog I wasn’t being too careful. I was about 10 deletes in when I dropped the �WHERE’ clause from the above statement and clicked execute to see the remaining entries�

Whoops, that leaves�

DELETE FROM CS_POSTS

Damn auto-commit!

Luckily I had set up a backup process long ago.

After the restore I was a little more careful.

You know your blog is inactive when…

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 1:06 pm

your newsreader asks you if you want to disable your blog.

I have been using Great News as my newsreader for close to a year now and the other day it asked me if I want to disable my blog because it is inactive. Not that I read my own blog but I have always had it in my aggregator to make sure the site is working.

I’m not sure why I haven’t posted much the past few months. I guess part of is that I have been busy at work. There is always a lot to do around the house especially with all the shoveling lately. With Isabelle now in grade two she is bringing more home to read every night and now math too so I spend a fair amount of time helping her.

Another reason is what to write. I generally end up writing about things that drive me nuts. Things so stupid that all I can do is shake my head. You’d think I’d have all kinds of things to write about but the closer those things are to my everyday life the harder they are to blog about. Actually, they are pretty easy to blog about but they might limit the career a little 🙂

Anyways, this should be enough rambling to appease Great News.

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