Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Emotional Rollercoaster that was My Day

Chapter 1 - Frustration

So, today I spent the majority of my time migrating my project intranet pages to a content management system. Well, okay, it is now a blog, but what sounds better in my activity report? Dealing with the skins, the templates, the database, and the scripts to figure out how they all interact to produce a web page was not a straight forward task for those uninitiated with the intricacies of blogging engines and/or content management systems. Did I mention that I was uninitiated with the intricacies of blogging engines and content management systems?

Chapter 2 - Relief Crescendos to Excitement

So, towards the end of the day, I finally get the little bastard to do the majority of the things I want it to do. I start getting the pages looking more like what I had in mind than the initial templates, and each task seems to go a little bit easier. I get the content of the old website migrated over much more easily than anticipated, and the website is finely in a workable state. Now it supports syndication (read RSS/Atom), searching, and hell of lot easier means of updating the site. I start to realize how freaking cool this is. I anticipate the value of the website to increase several fold, as new content is displayed on the front page, and old content gets pushed aside but is still easy to access via the search.

Chapter 3 - Straight Giddy, Yo!

So, I am driving home to start five days off work. It is the closest thing I have had to a vacation in over two and half years, if you don't count the work I missed as a result of my car accident. I am rocking out to Cursive's Domestica, singing along like a dork vomit in my off-key baritone not caring who sees. I pick up some Bud Light Beer to drink with Buzz Light Year on the way home. Oh, I pick it up on the way home, not drink it on the way home with Buzz Light Year. Whatever. To Infinity and Beyond!

Chapter 4 - Sympathy and Sadness

So, I get home and I am just about to have a refreshing coldie at the end of day in which I struggled, yet emerged victorious, when the doorbell rings. I haven't even taking my badge off yet, so I start panicking thinking one of my neighbors has been watching my house so they could give me a piece of their mind over my yard or hedges or some other form of banal minutia. As I walk to the door, I decided this probably isn't the case since the shadow is all of about 4'6". I open the door and the young girl asks me if I have seen her sister. She has a flyer that reads "MISSING" with a picture and vitals, the whole bit. I don't recognize her. I haven't been out much in weeks, so there is little chance I have seen her. I tell the little girl no. She begins to describe her, something about a hair accessory. I continue to look at the flyer and see her sister is 22. I try to convince myself she probably ran off with a guy or something. The little girl's continued description after I said no was socially awkward, but she's a little girl whose upset about her sister missing. She's allowed to be socially awkward. Sort of the story of my life... I make valid reasons for everyone but me to behave socially awkward and beat myself up over it when I do it, but I digress. True to form, I tell the little girl "I haven't been going anywhere but work, so I don't think I have seen her." I don't think my logical explanation eased the little girl's disappointment. I followed with "Well, I haven't seen her, but I hope you have good luck finding her". Well, that is a nice thought, though awkwardly phrased. To make matters worse, it came out cold, stale and insincere although I meant every awkward word of it. It was one of those remarks you want to pull back out of the air before someone can respond because it came out SO wrong. The little girl thanked me and walked away. I watched her as she did, and noticed she walked through my yard. Then it really hit--she was walking door-to-door through my neighborhood by herself on a cold and rainy November day two days before Thanksgiving trying to find her missing sister who could be dead, kidnapped or just never heard from again or who the hell knows what else. My problems seemed less significant, and my good mood distant.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Oklahoma City MSDN Event Fall 2004

So, I just returned home from attending my first MSDN event. I had read some mixed reviews on the topics, so I thought I would offer my take.


This topic was not of the most interest to me. When I first heard this was one of the topics, I expected a more conceptual talk which eventually led to the VB syntax. I didn't really think Microsoft was the best source for information regarding the concepts of OOP. I mean, you can pick up any number of books that cover these concepts. When I hear someone from Microsoft speak, I want lowdown, dirty details about their specific technologies that would be difficult or impossible to get elsewhere. However, the guy sitting next to me still did VB6. He was a petroleum engineer. My guess would be that he doesn't go out and seek a lot of other educational sources. I think there were a lot of other VB6 programmers there in the same boat.

There wasn't too much conceptual talk really. Quick and pragmatic the way I like things. The presenter, Ron Cundiff, showed the code and then explained the implications. I am not completely sure I would have followed everything conceptually if I weren't the OOP pimp that I am. ;) Honestly, I think this topic was more effective evangelizing the migration to VB.NET rather than to teach OOP. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. For me, the topic kind of got me into a groove of listening and understanding. It had merit.

Programming with MapPoint Web Services

This was kind of neat, but not very applicable to my particular responsibilities. It was covered pretty fast. So was my coverage of it.

Optimizing ASP.NET 1.1 Web Applications

I had read an honest, fair, unflattering review of this topic. Well, either OKC had a better presenter, or Microsoft read the review as well. The discussion of caching was still kind of glossed over, but it was mentioned, some simple strategies were suggested, and its importance was strongly emphasized in the conclusion. Now, I am a self-taught database guy, and I have never had to create/maintain a database that was of interest to more than five users, so I found the SQL optimizations that were offered were pretty valuable. I haven't done ASP.NET, either, but the optimizations seemed valid to me. I enjoyed the performance and stress testing demo as well.

So, big ups to Dave Donaldson. I think you had a hand in making my MSDN event experience better.

ASP.NET 2.0 Membership and Personalization

This demo was rushed because we were a bit behind, but WOW! I don't know a whole lot about membership and personalization, but this demo sure made ASP.NET 2.0 and Whidbey look like the shizzell. I was blown away with how much functionality Ron implemented with very little code writing. It got me super pumped about the controls in Whidbey.


I had a great time. It was cool to talk to some local developers I had never met. I got a T-Shirt, some cool bits I am dying to try out, and paid for it (I went on company time). I would suggest going if you have never been to one.

Friday, November 12, 2004

All You Need Are Hubs To Start a LAN Party

So, the devil machine axed me the other day if I wanted to go see The Weaker Thans with him. I wasn't too familiar with The Weaker Thans, but the devil machine is always good company, so I told him I'd go.

Later in the week, he called me and told me that Piebald was playing as well. I like Piebald quite a bit, and I had never seen them, so I was super pumped.

We got to the show and found out it was all ages. This means I was the oldest guy there that didn't look like the black sheep brother in Santa Clauses family.

The thing about hanging out with the devil machine is that he owns/operates a restaurant, and has many young, attractive girls in his employment. As it turned out, several of them came to the show.

I lose sight of the devil machine, so I decided to just watch the show and worry about finding him afterward. One of the afore mentioned subordinate hotties comes up to me and says, "You know they got kicked out, right?"

No. No, I didn't.

So I follow her outside and the whole crew is out there. I ax devil machine what is up, and he explains that a girl of legal age let an underage girl drink out of her beer, but he got the blame and they kicked him out.

All in all, I had a pretty good time. I was about ready to leave anyway, so their getting kicked out was not a big deal. I got to shoot some pool, drink some beers, hear some tunes, and talk to some people, so it wasn't a bad night. Piebald did let me down a little bit. They did play three of the top five songs I wanted to hear, but they did it like they were in a hurry to get the hell out of there. Maybe I am just a dick. I haven't been impressed by a live band in a long time.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Haircut Awkwardo!

So, after several disappointing haircuts, I decided to try to find a new stylist. My roommate had advocated a small barbershop that is much closer to my home than the place I usually go, so I was down to give it a try.

I show up at this place and enter. There's not a soul in sight. I walk around towards the back, ready to yell for some service, when one of the stylists/barbers appears. She was about 5'4" and appeared to be in her mid-30's. Her hair was a big yuppie, soccer-mom-of-yesteryear do. It looked to me like it had been inspired by a MadTV wig worn when one of the females is playing some middle-aged lamer.

She asks if she can help me, and I explain I need a haircut (actually, "explain" might be too strong of a word since I flatly said, "I need a haircut."

We communicate enough that I *thought* she knew how I wanted my hair cut.

Awkward silence falls.

I notice she is leaving me facing toward the mirror as she does her "magic". I watch her. She doesn't seem to notice. If she did notice, she was completely devoid of all social skills. If her facial expressions were representative of her emotional state during my haircut, her demeanor seemed to randomly change between challenged, frustrated, confused, remorseful, and gassy.

I began to ponder if she and the other "stylist" that eventually emerged were really holding up the place and thought it would be easier to give me a shitty haircut and send me on my way than to try make their grand getaway with me there to witness.

I figured my theory, as entertaining as it was to me, couldn't have been true due to my stylist's just-barely-adequate skills with the shop's customer database.

"I am very tired today", she says, breaking a uncomfortable silence with something I found less comfortable (i.e. small talk).

"Yeah, me too," I reply. Ooh, that's good. I am such a people person.

"Trick-or-treat is over", she says.

"WTF?!", my internal monologue blurts. I think in reality I made some kind of guttural noise and trailed off. Like I said, people person.

"Do you have any kids?", she politely, yet awkwardly inquires.

"No", I say flatly, as I am not particularly interested in hearing about hers.

She doesn't speak to me again until it is time to pay her. So I am back watching her weirdo facial expressions.

I begin to notice a familiar annoyance of eighties music, but I am not placing it right away.

Oh, shit! Not that! It was "Hip to be Square" by Huey Lewis.

My brain was being overrun with sound bytes from David Cross's bit on "Shut Up, You Fucking Baby" about marketing companies making up products we don't need.

The example he gave was Squagels. That's right, square bagels. David's story had the Squagel commercials set to the Huey Lewis song.

It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud and making this weird interaction several times weirder.

I manage to compose myself and weather the rest of this ordeal. I pay. I leave.

The next morning I get up for work, and during the part of my preparation ritual that involves doing something with my God forsaken hair, I realize "Yup, this sure is the shittiest haircut I have ever had." She had butchered me. It was way too short on top. She cut my cowlick short, even though I told her to be careful of it. She managed to blend my sides and the top so nicely, that I constantly look like I spent that last several hours wearing a fucking visor on my forehead. Like, low forehead. I have a fucking line circling my head about an inch underneath my hairline.

I think she was fucked up. Oklahoma does have a lot of meth labs, you know.