Tetris Master!

Ah yes, Spring! I swear the weather can’t make its mind, last Friday it was barely above freezing in the morning and almost summer like mid 80 degrees in the afternoon. This week, it was pretty stable at a miserable 40 to 50 degree range. And gloomy. oh and tornado season is starting sometime soon. Can’t wait to put “tornado” next to earthquake and typhoon on the list of natural disaster I survived.

Things are going swell at the office. We are less than a month until the projects’ deadlines and suddenly everyone is productive again. It is quite refreshing at a couple weeks of relative sluggishness, it is quite refreshing. Both the projects I was working on are ready and hopefully no one will decide that maybe It would be a good idea to change everything at the last minute. Currently, my manager is having go through the team’s repository to see how much junk we have on the mainframe, and I found quite a lot of it. But then again, so of the stuff has been running since the mid eighties and some stuff were temporary fixes for Y2K. Yeah turns out there was a surge of clients in the eighties and nineties when they figured that thing would go down when the dates would overflow, and then went back to their own systems after the year 2000 and having fixed their own system. There are probably are still a couple of those systems are still in the mainframe’s memory. At least it will be busy work when II don’t have anything to work on.

I have recently started playing Tetris again and man is it addicting! I have been playing on the latest version on the Nintendo 3dsand it has some nice features like invisible tetris. It has an online leader board and I am in the top 500 in the US! I am either awesome at this game or relatively few people play this game… Either way, it’s really cool! Right? Right.

I'm even in the top 1000 in the world! Ohh Yeah!
I’m even in the top 1000 in the world! Ohh Yeah!

I also decided on cool little project to work on and received the first piece and should be receiving some more stuff in the next few weeks. I still have a bit of shopping to do but hopefully I will be able to assemble it before too long. I am probably in way over my head but it wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t a challenge!

Day 154: some life updates..

Second blog post this week! Woo! Rather then going on another rant like Monday, this more of a status update like usually do. Obviously, my life is fascinating and the whole of the internet needs to know! </sarcasm>

Here is a bit of a work update. Some weeks ago I wrote a post about how we needed a new test file for one of our project. I feared it would take for ever for us to get that file, but it actually only took a week. Sounds to good to be true? Yes. The file they gave us was not properly formatted and was 30 bytes to long… Now in modern operating system, 30 bytes is nothing but it is crucial in Cobol. The thing is that cobol can only process binary data, and a huge part of the programs is telling it how to interpret it. if the layout in the program does not match the actual data, the data might be misinterpreted and turned into garbage. So basically we could not use the test file because it would not be properly interpreted by the program. Thankfully, it only took one day for them to send us a proper file.

On a side note, we use this program call Lync as a Instant messaging app. If you ever used the old msn messenger, it is essentially the exact same program. anyways, I was pinged by the programmer who was supposed to be working on the test file. The thing that caught my eye was that his avatar/profile image was the Assassin’s Creed logo. Obviously, he is a proud gamer but it makes me question some of his work ethics. Leaves many things to the imagination, doesn’t it?

On the subject of things that would not work properly, I managed to break Internet Explorer to a whole new level. Some of the intranet website we have at the office only work on internet Explorer, so I occasionally have to use it. this past week I have been doing research to see how junk programs we have on the mainframe, so I had to use the online database and repository which only work on IE. somehow, I managed to break the back and forward buttons. Some pages would load properly and most hyperlinks would not work. The only way to fix was to it was to close the windows and start over. Really annoying.

What ever, let’s talk street racing. why street racing? Because I have growing suspicion that people are street racing on pacific street. Every so often in the evening, I would hear loud engine noise coming from the street. I was not sure if people were actually racing or just people on bikes or in muscle cars being idiots. However the other day, as I was walking back from the gym, I saw this supped up car, complete with lowered body and drag strip tires just roll down the street. I didn’t get the chance to snap a picture of it but it definitely supports my theory.

Talking about cars, I found some pretty beat up ones. Exhibit A: what do you when one of your tail light is broken? if you thought duct tape, you obviously are on the same wavelength as this guy:

From a distance, It might look good but that is probably still very illegal.
From a distance, It might look good but that is probably still very illegal.

Exhibit B: if your car gets t-boned, you probably either pay big bucks to get it fixed or consider it a total loss. This guys obviously disagrees:

Note the sensible amount of rust on the car. Magnificent...
Note the sensible amount of rust on the car. Magnificent…

Ahh yes… nothing like junk cars of  Nebraska…

In other news, I finally got around and got my self a bookshelf. Now my random stuff is neatly organized and tucked away. Not sure if it will fit the rest of my stuff that is still in New York, but also not sure if I’m going to get all that stuff here…

I also decided more or less on a whim to go see some Arena Cross racing last week end at the Mid America center in Council Bluff, Iowa just across the Missouri river. It was fun but I am not sure if it was more of a stunt show or an actual racing competition. The jumps were impressive and the pyrotechnic were cool. It is worth a watch but it is really loud.

And that’s all I have for this week. Catch you guys next time!

Some thoughts about Apple…

Today apple had a big conference about some of their new and upcoming products and I a bit saddened by it. Not because it was disappointing but because it was everything that I expected.

I use to like Apple products a lot, the original iPod were great and I will admit that the original iPhone was quite revolutionary. But things have changed quite a bit. I don’t think that Apple has released any truly revolutionary product since the iPod touch. One could argue that the iPad was a game changer but I disagree for one simple reason: the iPad is nothing more than a glorified oversized iPod. Sure the screen is bigger but that is about it, there nothing your iPod cannot do that your iPad can (other making you look like an idiot when you take pictures with it). Even the Macbook air is simply Apple’s entry in an already exist trend of Netbooks.

The main problem I have with Apple these days is their attempt at streamlining everything beyond stupidity. If you look at older operating system like Windows Xp, some menus and setting panels could be confusing for the average, non-techie user and Apple’s OSX was much simpler to understand and use. But now they are so streamlined that advanced options and technical information are disappearing. Last spring I downloaded the update app thingy to upgrade my system to the ‘Mountain Lion’ version but it would not work. There was a window where you are supposed to select what hard drive the operating system needs to be installed on, which should be easy considering my computer has only one hard drive. However, My hard drive was not recognize by the updater. All it said was “You can’t use this drive for the install”. I tried rebooting my system, re-downloading the update, but nothing worked. There was something wrong with my computer but it refused to tell me what it was…

I ended up bring my computer to one of the genius bar thinking that they might be able to access some hidden option or something and fix the issue. Turns out, no, they had no idea why it would work and, no, there are no hidden option/configurations. The only way my system would upgrade was after a clean swipe of my hard drive. Great job Apple…

Somewhat more recently, I noticed some applications were uninstalled from my iPod when I synchronized with my itunes. I went to the apps tab in itunes and set those apps to be installed when I sync my device. Plugged my iPod and let it sync. The apps had not installed and were were unchecked in the list of installed/synched apps on my iPod. There were no error message what so ever to tell me why those apps were not installing! Nothing! Turns out the newer version of those apps were incompatible with my old iPod which runs on an older version of IOS… Why won’t you tell me that!?

There are also a lot of smaller things like: You can’t use a custom ringtone on your iPhone/iPod (only the ones you can buy on itunes), there are few personalization options for your devices, they hide the application and configuration folders on you computer, can’t receive files via bluetooth from a windows computer even though you could send files to one… You get the idea.

Now onto the actual press conference. I did not watch it live but I have read several article on it but I have a good idea of what Apple had announced. It seems that Apple’s motto is now “Form over Function” and it pretty obvious.

They announced a new macbook air. It lighter and thinner that the previous version and it batteries are supposed to last longer than before (doubtful about that last claim but whatever). More importantly: it has only one port. A single USB 3.0 type C port For charging the battery, video output and accessories… How stupid is that? Well as long as you decide to charge your computer, you can’t connect your iPhone for example, or use a USB mouse. If you want to do a presentation, you have to run your computer on battery, which I can tell from my personal and professional experience is a terrible idea! Also their is no headphone port. If you want to listen to music, everyone else will also listen to your music. This is incredibly stupid! Edit: turns out this was false! There is an audio port. I guess people on Twitter were lying to me…

Finally, as far as i could tell from the picture posted of the internal components of the computer, there does not seem to be any fans to keep the computer from overheating (not that previous generation of macbook could do that anyways). Chances are, if you push the computer too much, it will overheat and become slow as sloth.

Oh, and it’s gold…. Great to look at, inconvenient to use at best. For 500$ less you can get a Windows 8 tablet that has more power and features than the new MacBooks. It is a real shame.

And then there is the Apple watch. I don’t have much to say about other than it is completely useless. The thing is that you can’t use the apple watch by itself, like most current smartwatches, you need an iPhone 5 or 6 to use it. Even then, it is nothing more than an extension of your phone. The only difference it make is that you don’t have to reach and hold your phone for some basic tasks. The battery life is a shameful 4 hours which means that you have to carry the bulky looking charging pod/cable/adapter thingy all the time. On paper, it is a terrible product and if one look at how the current market of smartwatches, it fair to assume it would fail like all the others.

There is single reason why it will not fail though: Because Apple made it.

It does not matter if it is better or worse than any of its competitor or how many glaring design flaws it has. People will buy because it is an Apple product. It not because it works but because it looks good. Form over Function. Apple has become the Lamborghini of tech devices: they look good and everyone wants one but they are expansive and mostly impractical.

Ps: This post is full of typos. Sorry, my dyslexia and spelling things correctly are not friends…