Chasing the ever moving goalposts…

Somethings mildly interesting  have been happening in the last couple weeks at the office. We seem to have lost any understanding of “project management”.

My boss was breathing down my neck to get something done by Wednesday the 27th of June. It was very important, like “We need this done by Wednesday, or our client is going to be really pissed!”. Alright, fine. I can do Wednesday. I actually manage to rush it for that Wednesday, but then, the people that were pressing for this thing to happen all decided to take an extra long lunch and there was no one left to actually approve the thing to go in!

What is the point of pressuring me into rushing this supposedly “important” project/functionality if you are not actually going to make sure that it actually goes through? Also turned out that the client was not even ready for the new file, and still isn’t after two weeks. What a waste of my time…

Now, the next Monday, my boss comes back to me and asks for another one of those “can this be done by the end of the week?” deals, to which I emphatically said “No, it cannot.”. “OK, The client still wants for next Monday, so do your best.” he replied. Damn it!

What happened to the whole waterfall project management scheme where we took the time to figure out how to properly design and implement things instead of blindly rushing into things? I guess this is the company’s way of testing agile development…

Needless to say that I wasted most of my weekend to get it done on time, only for my boss to confide to me that the client would probably not like what they asked for and have us revert it… Ugh…

I honestly like my job, but sometimes, I am not sure I like the people I work for…

*****

But Hey, Good News! France got into the Final of the Fifa World Cup! I think that France has good chances against either England or Croatiabut who knows, this world cup has been very unpredictable. Japan did not make it but at least they managed better than Germany, somewhat shockingly I might add.

It would be hilarious if the finally was France vs England. So many historical jokes to make, so many Monty python references…

I really want France to win, all they need to do is not headbutt anyone.

*****

I hope everyone had a great fourth of July last week. I unfortunately did not do as much as I hope, namely because I got suckered into covering on-call for someone else. I did not get called thankfully but possibility of it did prevent me from doing some of the stuff I wanted to do, like driving down to Lincoln. I did get myself a proper pair of leather Cowboy boots that I paired with a tasteful shirt:

mde

Also despite all of my friends recommending that I buy Fireworks, I didn’t. There were more than enough fireworks going off for a week before the 4th that I did not feel like putting myself in any unnecessary danger.

I did go to a gun range! That is much safer right? plus that sort of counts as fireworks right? Powder goes boom = Firework in my book. My aim is far from perfect but I did not do too bad I guess. the instructor said is was my trigger control, whatever that means…

cof

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The end of an era…

Something extremely tragic happened last week, something that shall be remembered in the annals of history: my first D&D Total Party Kill….

Yes, after a couple months of cheating death and running away, there was no escape this time. There we were, thrashing the place of a drug dealer looking for the bastard, when the barbarian decided to rush ahead by his lonesome. He was the first fatality. The cleric and I mounted a brave defense, while the warlock decided to take a strategic retreat to heal a bit and do nothing useful. After battering the demonic drug lord for a while, the dwarf cleric succumbs to a fateful slap to the face. It was down to the wire.

Due to a spell that can only stun when a creature had less than 150 hit point being successful, I knew that mathematically we could take down the fiend in two turns, even maybe just one. All I had to do was lend a solid hit with my sneak attack, and the warlock could easily finish him off with eldritch blasts. I made the run for it! the fiend was within movement speed! Alas, The beast was prepared and unleashed Acid Rain and promptly killed us… What a shame… To think of all the things that my character had yet to accomplish… Like that jacket he had just ordered from the tailor… or that expensive bottle of booze he stole…

Yes, sometimes things just do not work out in your favor. On the flip side however is that we will start a fresh campaign with new characters. I am building a Bard this time around, so more of a caster type than a fighter.

Speaking in rhymes? maybe not all of the time.

It’s Sport Season!

Ahhh, yes indeed! So much Sport going on this week! Between the NCAA College world series going on downtown and the Fifa World Cup on TV, there is almost too much to watch!

I did go to several of the baseball games last year but I don’t think that I will this year. I could go but I would need to choose between playing table top RPG with my friends in a nice air conditioned building, or seating under the beating sun for a couple hours (or under a thunderous downpour, it is rainy season right now), and none of my friends really care about college baseball anyways. Maybe if the weather is nice and I have some spare time, I might just go for a game on Saturday.

I usually do not care about sports but The Fifa World Cup is the only sport event that I can sincerely say that I care about. The Olympics are nice and all but I do not feel the same national pride that the World Cup inspires in me. I think the French victory in 1998 really left an impact. So far the Group matches have had their fair shares of surprises and excitement. Switzerland tying with Brazil? Never saw that coming. Germany losing? Spectacular. Hopefully France can actually pull themselves together and go the distance. They did win their first match which should be a good sign.

Speaking of the World cup, ever heard of Panini stickers? They are big in Europe! For every world cup (and other big sport tournaments) they release an album that you have to fill with stickers you get from packs. I remember as a kid that trading duplicate sticker between kids in the schoolyards. Getting one of the rare foiled card was going to be the best day ever.

Feeling very nostalgic about said sticker collecting hobby while watching Peru vs Denmark, I decided that why not just go an pick up an album a few packs for old times’ sake. However, much to many disappointment, it appears that Panini stickers are nowhere to be found in the whole of Omaha! I went to every sports store I could think of, I went to Target, Barnes and Nobles, CVS, Walgreen, and Walmart and could not not find the slightest evidence of the World Cup goodies. I even asked the greeter at Walmart if they had anything for the Fifa world cup and he just looked at me like I was some sort of alien creature asking about laser pistols… I was able to find a list of official retail location that was supposed to carry Panini Stickers but the store did not have any!

But Fear not, by the power of the internet, and simply ordering directly on the Fifa website, I shall have my much sought after Stickers and album! I might even try and pull some of my friends into getting their own.

While we are on the subject of sports, I got myself a rowing machine. Here is some context: because the company is too cheap to pay for over time, we have an internal system of reward points. If you do something noteworthy or beyond the call of duty, your colleague can nominate you for a number of points, which can be redeemed in a rewards catalog. If you bother to do some simple math on hours work/ points awarded and how many points are needed for the good stuff, it is not worth putting the effort trying to get all the points necessary. Anyways, I had some points laying around because I worked several weekends in a raw a couple month a go and decided to redeem them for a rowing machine.

It is about as entry level as it gets. It has a hydraulic shock and lever to create the resistance rather than a fly wheel and a chain. The shock does not provide a lot of resistance and if I set it to highest level, there is not enough throw in the lever for me to do a proper movement. I guess I must be a bit too tall for the machine… At least I did not have to pay for it. It may not be the best machine but it is better than nothing. Just drag it in front of the TV and row while watching a world cup game or listen to a podcast. It better than just sitting on my ass…

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…

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.

oznor

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.