From non stop Chaos back to Humdrum life…

Oh, what a week, full of exciting… Uhm… Excitement!… and of twist and turns and… nothing much actually.

So apparently, one of my colleagues decided that the free coffee we get at the office was not good enough for him and got himself a Keurig machine all for himself. I don’t really blame him, the coffee we get is bottom shelf stuff, but I am not sure the stupidly expensive K cups actually make better coffee.

Yes, I know, that is some hard hitting news right there, but when you don’t get to do anything exciting because you are on-call, well, there is not much to write about. Thankfully the only issue I was called for were in the test environment, but gee, nothing ruins the weekend like getting called for nothing. Fixing bugs before they hit production is important, but I wish people would not make stupid mistakes like the one I had to keep fixing over and over this past week.

In other news, next month is July, which means the next big national Holiday is Independence Day! It will be my first 4th of July as an American citizen, and I have been trying to come up with ideas of what is the most american thing I can do.  Now unfortunately, the traditional overthrowing of foreign governments and invasion of middle eastern countries for their oil resources is a bit beyond my budget, so my maybe something on a smaller scale. Some of my friends have suggested buying and setting off fireworks and eating hot dogs… Not all that imaginative or all that exciting. Maybe someone could leave some suggestions in the comments. All I know is that whatever I end up doing, I am going to get my self a pair cowboy boots first.

There has been some mildly interesting development at the office. Some one from Upper management decided to get curious about the state of the our dumpster fire of our project and the middle management lost their mind! the small cosmetic issue that we were fixing suddenly became major problems! Endless email chains erupted between the business side, our analysts and the project directors. Major questions were raised about pointless minutiae and whether or not we did enough testing!

What was really happening was middle management putting up a show to make themselves look strong, and assertive and in charge of the project for the upper management. Now that the guys from New York have looked away, no one could care less about our bug fixes. What a bunch of self important idiots. The same thing happened last December when we nearly crashed the economy.

Anyways, that is all I have in my brain at the moment, and I should probably post this before the storm outside takes down my internet…

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Crawling out of the pit of the soul sucking project…

Well, It has been a while since I last wrote on this blog… Almost two whole months! Sometimes life just sucks you dry of enthusiasm, and I just could not be bothered to write on this fine blog. Sorry, I hope you did not miss me to much.

So what has happened since last time? Well, it is not winter anymore, as a matter of fact temperature were as high as 99°F yesterday! My Air con has been running non stop the past week, and going outside, even for short walk to the local Trader Joe feels like an expedition through the desert. At least the air con is working properly unlike last time.

The apartment has received new carpet in the corridors, a nice grey carpet to replace the old red one, which is nice but the smell of the glue is awful. Even after week, you can still smell it, though I suppose it will go away in another couple days. I think the humidity in the building is amplifying the smell. It is no that bad in the morning but once the afternoon heat rolls in and I come back from the office, you can really smell it.

I am still playing D&D on Wednesday, where I have solidified my place as the coward and running joke of the party, which is more fun than it may sound. I died while fighting a hydra, that was less fun, but I was resurrected, resulting in many joke about my Tabaxi character having nine lives… It also did not help my character’s reputation that when he was woken up by screams coming from the room of one of the other party member, he elected to jump the jump and make a run for it rather than investigate what happened.

Our Starfinder game has also been chugging along nicely though we just got ourselves into a fight with a fire, a water, a wind and and earth elemental all at once, which was not the brightest idea ever, but because I am tanking like crazy and I deal 1d6 electric damage every time I get hit by a melee attack, I might just win in a battle of attrition…

Many strategical error were made in this campaign….

The real news however is that I finally feel like the project that I am working on is coming to an end, a month and a half after it was suppose to. It is so close that I can practically taste it. It only took fifteen revisions to the same two programs but we are getting there. I swear that because I have seen the same line of code so many times that I can visualize the entire program in my head right now. All the stupid tables, the stupid input and output files, the over complicated signage logic, the stuff of nightmare I tell you.

The constant back and forth between spending a couple days coding and testing, spending an hour and half for quality insurance meetings (“No, me fixing typos in a comment won’t affect Wells Fargo…”), only for the business side to seat on their hands for three day and come back saying “Well, we looked at our horoscopes, and we decide to reinterpret the requirements, and we need you to just start again.” (only slightly paraphrasing here), it has been a draining month. However, in the past couple weeks, the business sides has finally accepted the changed we have been making. Oh my! They actually stopped running in circles and settled on something they think was correct! What breath of fresh air…

Too bad the next big project is another one of those “project so dreaded people are retiring to not work on it”, but hey such is life. We can’t always have it easy.

 

This project has no breaks…

It seems liked the weather decided to pull an April fool’s in Nebraska because it is annoyingly cold outside. With the winds picking, the windchill was probably close to low 20 today. to be honest, it not the thing that is annoying me the most.

I know that I talked extensively about it last time, but wow, the project I am working on is mind-numbingly frustrating. It is not that what we are doing is complex or hard to implement. It is just that it appears the people in charge of this whole non sense are complete and utter idiots, to put it mildly.

We are less than two weeks away from our April release. On a normal project, we would have finished the documentation of the changes over two month ago, we are this working on it for this project. On a normal project, the code changes would have been finished and thoroughly tested for over a month ago and only bug fixes and minor code cleaning what we would be working, for this project we are not even close to having finished developing and you can forget testing.

The application architect I am working with (the guy who hands me the specifics of what needs to changed and how) told me to create a whole new program to reformat a brand new file. WHAT? That amount of work is usually considered it’s own project for one of our quarterly releases, and they want me to do all that in less than two weeks? They must be out of their minds!

Pretty much everyone I have talked to agrees that what we are doing is a terrible idea, but that there is little that we can do because it one of the credit card association’s initiative. We need to be able to support that new functionality no matter what. I wonder why the project manager did not have the same amount of conviction and drive back last August, when they were supposed to be working on it, back when it would have been most productive. Maybe their job is on the line this time… probably not, I do hope it is though.

This project is like quick sand, the more effort we put in it, the deeper we sink in, and we are already neck deep. To quote Macbeth: there is something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

On a more positive note, for those who are worried my life is miserable, I have joined two Roleplaying game groups. One to play Dungeon and Dragons fifth edition and one to play Starfinder.

There is nothing like pretending to be an alien mercenary or a self indulging rogue to escape reality. Reminds me a lot of the time my friends and I would play the Warhammer 40k game of Dark Heresy. Starfinder and D&D are quite a bit more forgiving than Dark Heresy but I will miss the trepidation of having the psyker roll on the ‘Perils of the Warp’ table, or just blaming “Heresy” for everything.

Since Joining a D&D group was one of my new year resolution/goal, I guess I can say that I already accomplish something this year! Yay! Positivity…

The never ending grind of annoying projects…

Sometimes you get assigned an exciting project that challenges you in interesting ways, sometimes you get a boring project that is just dull and menial, and occasionally you get assigned someone else’s problem. You know, that project that you kept hearing for months but knew no one that worked on it, the project that everyone grimaces and sighs at the mere mention of its name. A project that has been rotting away for month before someone remember it existed and hurriedly tried to sweep it under the carpet, only for it to keep getting more and more rancid. In other words, the one I am working on right now.

From what I have been told, this project was originally due to be installed last October, but the business side kept “forgetting”. It also went through five different project managers, none of whom will be blamed when this whole thing inevitably go belly up. We were a week away from integration testing before the first draft of the design was “finished”.

What could possibly go wrong…

Needless to say I am not having a lot of fun, and from the way things look, we are not going to be done with this thing even after the “official” install date.

So how do I stay positive in the face of never ending frustration? Simple, remember that things could be infinitely worse. Cue my new favorite Youtube channel: The Great War! A week by week documentary of the first World War. I cannot think of anything more miserable than the prospect of futile trench warfare, and that really put my current problems into perspective.

Plus, it is a very educational series. There is so much stuff that was never taught to us in school it is embarrassing. It is not just all the different fronts I never heard of, like the ones in Gallipoli, South Africa or in Mesopotamia, but all the wonderfully cartoonish characters like Conrad Von Hotzendorf (crazy Austrian general and his Capetian offensives) or British general Haig (whose plan all hinged on a glorious cavalry charge against machine guns). Heck I though U-boats were an innovation of the second World War, but sure enough, Germany was already torpedoing boats indiscriminately back in 1915.

There is so much depth and stupidity going around that I understand that you cannot teach everything that happened but I feel like It would have made history lesson a lot more interesting.

Anyways, now that I have reevaluated my current situation, what else has been happening?

I discovered something interesting the other day. While walking by the TDAmeritrade building, I heard this heard this strange alarm. It did not sound like a car alarm or a fire alarm. It was in fact a strange security drone/roomba thing that kinda looks like a Dalek.

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It slowly rolls around and occasionally bleeps at things. I am not sure if it is remotely controlled or if it is autonomous. It stopped beeping at me after I waved at it, which would make me lean toward the first, but I was clearly on the public path, so who knows. It looks stupid to me, and easy to tip over. I wonder, do they have more than one? How it charges itself? Does it dock into a station or does it just park itself predetermined spot and someone has to plug it in? So many questions….

Oh and then I saw wild turkeys!

oznor

It was a good day.

A much needed break…

You know that feeling where you feel nothing is going your way? Spending a lot of time on a project that is going nowhere but needs to be finished by the end of the month? Apps on your phone constantly crashing for no reason? Weather being stupid and very cold? I know that feeling, because that was exactly me not two weeks ago. I needed a vacation.

Conveniently, I had one planned just at the perfect time, taking two extra day days after Presidents day and met up with the rest of the family down in Miami Florida. It is always nice to get a break from the cold weather and go somewhere warm (though arriving in Miami with a big winter jacket is hardly practical).

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I have technically been to Miami before. Back in the summer of 2007, coming to the US for the first time for a language exchange program, we landed at Miami Dade international before flying up to Orlando. Almost all of the other kids in the program had never been in such a hot and humid environment, while my sister and I, fresh for seven years in Japan, felt quite at home.

So what does one do in Miami? Well, if partying is your thing, there are more bars, restaurant and clubs than I could count, and they start early. We were walking down Ocean Drive at around 2 in the afternoon on Saturday and most of the bar were already pretty full and one hotel had their go go dancers out and about! Also I am pretty sure that some of the party goers would have drunk more alcohol in a single day than I would in a month or two.

Miami also has a very interesting architectural side to it. You might think that, after watching a lot of CSI Miami, that there is nothing but giant condo towers and malls for tourist but the truth is that there is a lot of preserved Art Deco building, especially on Ocean Drive and Collins avenue. Those building also get some really cool lighting during the night too:

But of course, the real reason to go down to Miami is the food. Holy mackerel, the food is delicious down there! Very expensive too! Oh I still dream of the food…. Between ceviche, steak, and Cuban food, the choice was endless. I definitely took on some weight during this trip!

We did try to stay active, as we usually like to, going kayaking in the everglades, paddling and snorkling in the keys off Biscayne bay (where we got to see a lot really cool wild life like sting rays and sharks!). It was not as intensive as the 9 mile treks we were doing last summer in Utah, but you know, there are no mountains in Florida.

Coming back to Nebraska was not to harsh, the weather was not as bad I though it could be, though it did snow pretty bad the day right after, but now it’s full on springtime! The project I was working seemed to make more sense to me after not looking at it for five days, though the deadline is still looming over our heads… Finally, my phone decide to update to the latest version of android and my podcast app has stop crashing when I lock the screen on phone!

See! All my problems were solved by going to Florida! Sure, going that had nothing to do with it, but hey, it make for a better story…

Snow terror…

I thought I knew what it meant to drive on snow, but I guess I was wrong, for I have experience true terror on my way back from work.

There was a big snow storm a couple years back and I drove around without any issues, but the thing was that no one was on the roads and it started snowing early in the morning. All the snow was crisp white snow and that has good traction if you have snow tires.

Thing were different today, it started snowing around 10 O’clock and the city had not had the insight to salt the road preemptively… That meant that there was a lot of people on the roads making the snow this annoying slushy dirty snow that has no traction what so ever. It was rather unnerving when my car decided to plow straight forward when I had the wheel spun all the way left! At least it is fairly easy to tell when you lose traction, the steering wheel stops to resist your input.

The traffic was predictably terrible, as a couple cars got stuck trying to go up hills. Hopefully, the plow will have done their job and have the roads cleared.

 

A very interesting weekend…

There has been this pattern in the weather recently. It gets really cold in the first half of the week, everything freezes, then it gets really warn, almost spring like even, and everything thaws. While that means you get a nice couple day to do something outside during the weekend, it also means a lot of potholes!

Water leak into the porous road surfaces, freezes and expands, creates nasty cracks, and Baam! The roads opens like the gaping maws of a Lovecraftian horror. I swear that there are a couple ones of west bound pacific street that are at least a foot and half long, maybe 7 to 8 inches wide and  4 inches deep. Unless you are driving a Humvee, I would recommend keeping a sharp eye, especially on the curb side.

*****

There was a gun show this past weekend and I actually decided to drop by Sunday morning and see what that was about. It was a fairly low key type of deal. There was maybe just over dozen sellers and maybe maybe 50 people looking around.

War… War never changes…

With the exception of one seller who kept everything locked in a display case, everyone else let you handle the guns, which gave the chance of handling the big scary rifle that keep anti-gun people awake at night, The AR 15!

While I have never handled a real gun before, the AR definitely felt intuitive to handle. It was actual not that heavy (some of the shotguns were definitely heavier) and simple enough to operate. At a show special $500 – $600 price tag, I have to say they were very compelling products, though I had no intention of buying.

I got to handle a bunch of handgun as well, and most hand guns are denser than they appear. One of the first handgun I pick up was a Glock of some description and was quite surprised as I pick it up, those have quite a bit of heft to. There was some neat pocket pistols, though some of them were price higher than some of the AR and AK rifles…

At the end of morning, the only thing that I bought was some beef jerky and a couple raffle tickets. I was tempted by some cool metallic ammunition boxes at just $20 each but I did not have any really use for them.

OOOOooohhh, bazookas!

*****

After a nice morning at the gun show and quick lunch downtown, I took a stroll down to the convention center and took a look at what the auto show had in store. Unsurprisingly, it was mostly cars, and for some reason, there was also a stand for a martial art school.

I got seat in bunch of interesting and expensive cars, which is way less exciting than handling guns by the way. The most exciting thing that happened was that I nearly locked myself into the back of a Chevy because the child safety was on and the handles did not work. Thankfully, the window on the passenger side was open so I could reach and open the door from the outside.

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This is what happens to your car when drunk driving…

A number of the of higher end sedans started to include either a tray or a slot for smartphones in the center console, which is a really neat feature. Most slots design were too tight for my phone, though it would fit most if I removed my phone case.

Out of curiosity, I went to the Toyota booth and asked about their hydrogen car initiative. Basically, unless you live either in California or in the north east of the United States, you be seeing Hydrogen cars anytime soon. When asked if we would see them by the end of next decade, they said “maybe”. If you are an enthusiast for cutting edge technology, get a plugin electric car.

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Obviously, the best car of the show!

There were fewer pickup trucks and SUV this year compared to the last time I went but other that the Chevy Bolt, there were no all electric cars, and few hybrids (mostly Prius unsurprisingly). I suppose that it was representative of the current market in the Midwest.

It was fun going around a taking a seat in corvettes and Mustangs, but at the end of the day, I did not see anything that really tickled my fancy. I am definitely no going out to sell my car to upgrade any time soon.