December 14, 2007

Encino man

Well, we are now working on our 5th day without power. It's cold, we've been staying with friends and family. I think we'll be lucky if we're turned on before the middle of next week. All the houses in our neighborhood are back online. All except our little street with 5 or 6 houses. You'd think something small like that would be a no-brainer and they'd just send someone over to get it going, but OG&E has a policy to go where they can do the most for less effort first, so five houses in the middle of Midwest City probably doesn't even make a ping on their radar yet.

Oh well, could be worse I'm sure.
Until next time
Les

----------------
Now playing: Foo Fighters - Times Like These
via FoxyTunes

November 13, 2007

What goes in must come out.

The key to good entertainment is a combination of a hook and a yank. Pardon the fishing analogy, but I think you can easily understand. My son is just now 6 months old and he has this down to perfection. For example...

We took Reid to his first basketball game; middle school basketball. I had a feeling it would be an experience the first time since basketball gyms tend to be very loud. To top it off we had had Reid's 6 month well baby visit earlier that day and he received 5 shots so he was already off his game.

Well, about 2 minutes after we arrived the crowd got loud and the buzzer went off. Reid started screaming. It wasn't just a cry, it was a loud, high pitched wailing sound. The hook. We decided that part of his continuing anguish could be partly attributed to pain from the shots he had received that day. So we decided to give him some children's Tylenol.

A bit of the medicine started dripping from his mouth, being six months old he drools a lot. Well I was about reach for a burp rag when it happened. The yank. I heard the patented "SPLURP!!", and at almost the same exact moment I felt warm, soured, regurgitated milk gush into my ear and run down my neck and shirt. And don't forget we had an audience since he'd pulled off the perfect hook earlier with his crying.

Ah, parenthood is strangely rewarding. Why rewarding? Because somehow in it all I didn't even feel a little embarrassed.

Until next time
Les

November 1, 2007

Countdown to Modern Warfare

Deploying November 6 2007



until next time
Les

October 24, 2007

Well, I called Xbox support last Thursday night. My 360 went on the fritz and stopped showing a picture, wouldn't you know the thing is almost useless without a picture.

Anyway, it's Wednesday of the next week and I just received the shipping coffin. I packed it and took it to the UPS store across town. It's a 3-day shipment and support told it will take 3-4 weeks to get back to me. I only assume that means 3-4 weeks after they receive it.

We'll see how long this one takes to get back. And yes this means I'll be late playing Call of Duty 4.

Until next time,
Les

September 20, 2007

Bioshocked: PTSD

Well I made it through Rapture. I fought my way past each and every splicer, security bot, and Big Daddy. I also did something I've yet to do with a game on my 360: I unlocked every single achievement for a whopping 1000 pts. added to my gamer score:It was worth the time (and I know Annette will be glad I'm finished with it). This is a great game. Good story. Nice plot. And as I mentioned in my first Bioshock post, the graphics are awesome.

Until next time
Les

September 10, 2007

Measuring Developers

I need to get back on track and talk about programming. There is a lot that has been on my mind lately but I've been to lazy to put it together. I've been thinking about developers and what makes one good and another one bad. In the end developers are people, and the nature of people is very obscure and random so no two people can really be measured with the same rules. Everyone has different strengths. Not everyone is going to be a quick study and natural tool-smith. So it isn't fair to say "so and so can pick up anything quickly, so they are worth more to my team than oh slow Joe over there".

I guess it comes down to responsibility. Sure you may not be the strongest Java programmer on the team, but how are you being responsible for what you do work on? How are you committing yourself to the tasks at hand? Can your team count on you or are you a quitter/winer?

There is way more on this and I don't have time right now.

Until next time
Les

August 27, 2007

Modern Warfare

This weekend I was lucky enough to get an early invite to the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Multiplayer Beta (wow that's a mouthfull). It's pretty nice, at least it kept me up a couple nights this weekend. There's 3 maps and up to 4 modes, although I only played free-for-all (every man for himself with respawn) since my gaming is rather recreational and low priority. Playing team games requires communication and time, I don't have much of either when it comes to gaming.

I've leveled up to Corporal II so far and unlocked a few perks and other goodies. Today (Monday August 27th) is the official opening of the Beta, so if you read this in time (2pm central time) and you have a 360 and xbox live Gold go to http://charlieoscardelta.com today and try and sign up under the beta section.

Until next time
Les

August 20, 2007

Bioshocked: Redux

So I've had time to sleep and think it over. I have to admit maybe I blogged too soon. Maybe I really just needed to finish the demo a few times to get a true grasp of the mood. After all this, I can't deny, I want to play Bioshock. I've decided that maybe what creeped me out the most is the setting. It seems to me that the devs did an awesome job of taking me into the depths of the ocean and leaving me for dead. The first time through the demo I really had a sense of hopelessness.

What helped take me there? Well I've already mentioned how I thought the visuals are great, so I'll leave that alone. The sounds. That's right. From the 1950s soundtrack playing to the eerie sounds emanating from around all corners. I feel like I am there, wondering if I'm going to run into some new impassable threat. I don't want to die here. That's what I feel.

Things I've found that I really enjoyed in the demo: hacking. You can hack any electronic security device. So I was able to make a security camera work for me (instead of constantly sending security bots after me it sends them to my enemies). I revived a busted security bot and it hovered around like a guardian angel warding off foes who would come after me. I didn't hack the turret gun, so I may play the demo once more just to say I did. To shanghai a device you basically have 2 options. 1) Hack it. To do this you get a simple version of a pipes game. Make the flow of energy get from 1 point to another by revealing tiles and arranging them to the proper flow. 2) Buy them off. You collect money throughout the game, you can use it to pay the device to work for you, so you don't have to chance hacking it (if you fail to hack a device in time it will blow up in your face).


So budget wise I still will not buy this game. But I have to retract my statement and say now that I am sorry I won't be playing this game this week. Maybe one of my friends will loan it to me when they're finished (Rainbow Six:Vegas is on the table). I do have to say though that I would try to open the achievement Little Sister Savior not for my conscience but rather for the hope of obtaining all achievements.

Until next time
Les

August 16, 2007

Bioshocked



I've recently played the Xbox 360 demo for Bioshock. The game is nice in the since of visuals. I'm a huge fan of games developed with the Unreal Engine and this one doesn't disappoint. The graphics are simply awesome.

The location is interesting. You find your way to a city enthralled in chaos hidden deep in the ocean. The scene is 1950ish and the setting definitely takes you there. All along the way you get hints and info on what this place is and what has happened.

I won't be getting this game. For one it doesn't fit into my budget (time and money). More importantly though, for me, is the feeling I get from playing this game. It gives me an eerie and creepy feeling. It's not so much the amount of visual darkness they submerse you into. It's the sense of: Something here is wrong and I'm going to have to do something wrong to survive. I enjoy the visuals, but the aftertaste of this game is creepy so I won't miss not owning this title.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all about shoot-em-up games. But I like a better defined line between what is and what shouldn't be. I have no problem battling the digital hordes of Locusts in Gears of War because I feel that the sides are well defined and I don't feel bad about the side my character represents (this only applies to campaign mode, multi-player is a non-issue for me). In Rainbow Six: Vegas I know I'm fighting for what I feel is right as I take down terrorists trying to do harm to American soil. So overall I don't have particular problems with digital violence in games, after all it's just digital images following the code's instructions. I just don't want to feel creeped out by what's going on. end rant

I wouldn't say don't play Bioshock, I'm just not going to get it.

Until next time
Les

July 24, 2007

"Travel well."

Watched Apocalypto yesterday and I must say that though I was a bit skeptical at first I really enjoyed the film. It was a bloody flick, but not in a way that I would consider it a gore-fest, but in that way that an ancient people without proper modern hygiene would be bloody. I thought the cinematography was excellent, I enjoyed the way the camera took you into the jungles of the Yucat√°n. I know it's not the first time that has been done, but as far as this movie goes I was pleased.

The story wasn't all that intriguing or even unpredictable, but it was entertaining enough that I watched it to the end. You do have to be okay with subtitled films to really enjoy this one though, because just like Gibson's Passion of the Christ it is completely spoken in the setting's vernacular and only translated into english in the subtitles (which by the way were easy to follow, some films do jump around too much with dialogue to be good subtitle films).

That's it for now.
Until next time
Les

July 17, 2007

Google Notebook

I decided yesterday that I would try using Google Notebook. It's a handy little way of keeping up with clips/notes/scratch while surfing the interweb. They have a neat little plugin for your browser (Firefox and Inferior Explorer) that let's you clip notes and addresses as you surf. This is really handy when you're doing research, as it helps you not have to copy/paste things from your browser to another window.

Until next time
Les

July 9, 2007

Most used firefox extensions

Others have posted their favorites so here are my most used Firefox extensions, I use many more, but these are my top extensions lately.

  • FoxyTunes
  • TwittyTunes (you have to be know twitter to get this one)
  • GCalQuickTab
  • IE Tab
  • ScribeFire (used to publish this and most of my blog posts)
  • Gmail Notifier


  • let me know if you have one that I should be using...

    Until next time
    Les

    June 29, 2007

    UPDATE: Google Maps

    I just learned that you can now reroute your directions on Google Maps just by dragging the blue line... awesome!!!



    Until next time
    Les

    That's not how it's done

    Growing up as an aspiring guitarist I used to take my acoustic to school and play on the lawn during lunches. It was fun. I always enjoyed playing. Trying to tackle new riffs or old ones, it kept me busy. Sometimes the funnest thing to do was take a song I'd been hearing a lot of and make my guitar play the same notes. Of course there were always tabs which were a very easy way to learn any song. But sometimes it was more interesting to work it out just by ear.

    One song I learned by ear was a popular one from the Goo Goo Dolls. When I was playing it at school one day a friend stopped me mid-intro and said.... "That's not how it's done." I stared for a second and asked what he meant. He informed me that he had the sheet music from that album and the way I was playing wasn't the way that was written in the book. I asked the rest of the group what song I had just been playing and they all agreed it was the song in question that was coming from my guitar, but my friend wasn't interested in what it "sounded like", he was learning to play based on the exact way the artists themselves played. Forget music theory or the fact that there are multiple variations of the same notes/chords across the fretboard of a guitar (same as any other instrument). He wasn't really interested in understanding music or the instrument, he was only interested in understanding the way the artist played it.

    Exit the world of rock guitars and enter the world I'm currently in: software programming.

    Many coders don't have a grasp on what it is that a programmer does. The funny thing about that is that in many businesses the 2 types are paid pretty much the same compensation. For the coder it's only relevant to know that a piece of code is written in comparison to any other code they can find to copy from. Their only true requirement is that it meets user requirements. A programmer is more of an engineer. It's not good enough to just borrow code that meets requirements. The programmer has to know more. Why does the code do what it does? How does it work? Can it be made better?

    Oh yes, the coder will take pride in the claim that they know the business requirements but they can't explain why they can't deliver successful products in a timely manner with quality rock solid code. By knowing the business requirements the coder can easily find other code that meets those requirements and voila they've written a program by use of a few right clicks of their mouse.

    What does it take to separate yourself from these copy/pasters? For one, have a growing knowledge of your tools. By tools I mean the platform you're developing for, the language you're using (including libraries and the way the language works with the machine), and even the IDE you'll be using (i.e. Eclipse). If you're going to work in this industry you have to be a nerd and that's not as bad as it seemed when you were in high school. Now that we're in the real world a really good nerd can bring home a way better bottom line than the most popular jock in your high school (who's most likely working in a local factory pulling in just over min. wage or working at his uncle's auto dealership). So don't worry, be a little nerdy. Spend some time reading technical books and articles that help you immerse yourself in your craft (although don't forget to take the time to do other things you enjoy, like spending time with family and friends, because nerds do have friends here in the real world).

    end of rant
    Until next time
    Les

    June 27, 2007

    For the record

    I don't know if you are a Harry Potter fan or not, but I've been sucked into the series like a trailer park into a twister. So in 2 weeks the 5th movie hits theatre and yes we're going on opening night... and we're going to the Cine Capri in Bricktown. But really what I'm anticipating is the release of the final book, The Deathly Hollows.

    Image:Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows US Full.jpg

    I just want to go on record, until I read the final book and am determined incorrect, that after the details given in book 6 I believe that Harry himself is the final horcrux and must either die to defeat Voldemort, or he could possibly have some loop hole of salvation which provides that if he sacrifices himself willingly for the better good then he saves his own life... a Christ-like twist that I'm sure isn't overlooked by any other person willing to make a guess.

    There, I said it, now to wait for the truth.
    Until next time
    Les

    June 26, 2007

    Which are you?

    a blogger named Danah Boyd has made some serious observations regarding social networking and the 2 major camps (Facebook and Myspace). She's taken a lot of flack for her words...



    check it out here:



    http://www.danah.org/papers/essays/ClassDivisions.html



    Which are you more prominently on?



    Until next time

    Les

    June 21, 2007

    New systems of management

    I found this little post pretty humorous yet frighteningly accurate:

    @$$hole driven development

    Whatcha think?

    Until next time
    Les

    June 11, 2007

    Memories

    Isn't it funny how the human memory will work. For instance I always associate music with an event or time of my life. I don't ever remember trying to associate things... it just happens.



    If I listen to any music from the album Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park I'm instantly reminded of Syphon Filter on the Playstation, I clocked a ton of hours on that game in my dorm and jammed that album while doing so. When I hear anything from August and Everything After by Counting Crows I'm reminded of the journey of Jack Sawyer in the novel The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. It's wierd how fresh those memories are just with the sound of that music.



    So, what reminds you of those memories past? A sound, a smell?



    Until next time

    Les

    May 31, 2007

    Who's the expert?



    Google is taking their online office apps offline... plus it seems like you can use this tool for other sites of choice (if you have proper access). Could be interesting...

    (check out pics of Reid at my picasa photo album).

    Until next time
    Les

    May 9, 2007

    The time has come!

    Well, we've been checked into the hospital and sometime tomorrow or later I'll be able to hold my son!



    Until next time

    Les

    May 7, 2007

    Additional Update

    I've recently taken to using Digg.com, it's actually been informative and entertaining. So I've added "Digg This" buttons to my posts just in case any of you peeps who read this do the digg thing.

    end of update

    Update

    So lately I've been busy.  Just random stuff, but mostly getting the house ready for the baby (we're at DEFCON-1).  I've been playing Rainbow Six: Vegas, I finished the story mode, which is fairly short but fun.  Now I'm working on what they call Terrorist Hunts, which are basically games setup on the multi-player maps where you have the objective of clearing the entire map of enemies.  There are 10 maps to clear to get the achievements, and I'm doing them on Realistic mode which will bag me 2 achievements, I've got 4 maps left to clear.  Here's my gamertag as is:







    Recently watched The Departed.  I was really impressed with this flick.  I liked the parallels presented with the snitches on both sides of the law enforcement camps.  Not a flick for the kiddies, but if you've got a night to waste check it out, you won't be disappointed.



    Work is work.  Still just plugging along on the point of sale system using Java.  No complaints really.  I'm ready for a break, but with the kid on the way I'll get what I ask for there, then I may want to get back to work.



    until next time

    Les



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    May 1, 2007

    Rant #{random}

    I know I have deadlines and so much to do, but I have to rant about this. My therapist says it's good therapy, or at least if I had a therapist that's what I would pay them to say.



    So we've been given a very strict end of year deadline on our project, you know, the whole 5 gallons in a 2 gallon bucket bit. Anyway, this morning I'm checking my email and from one of our managing Business Analysts I received a note regarding something that just blows my mind. This person is wondering why in some functions in our web app the text box for the login ID is bigger than in other functions...



    Yes you heard me correctly. They are pushing a goal that is unreachable and they want to penny whip us with stupid discussions about textbox size. UNBELIEVABLE!



    until next time

    Les

    April 19, 2007

    Perspective

    Have you ever been around any of those people that seem to see the bad in everything?  Just the other day it was announced at our company that the vacation policy had been revised and for the most part there were across the board increases in vacation.  Along with that they added an accrual policy for our yearly vacation earning.  Simply put, each time your vacation year starts you have accrued zero of your vacation days, each month you work that year you accrue a percentage of your vacation.  You can still use as much of your vacation right off the bat if you choose, the way the accrual comes into play is if you quit or get terminated for a reason.  Which means the company only owes you vacation you have accrued for that year and if you used over that you owe it back to the company. If your job is terminated due to layoffs the accrual does not apply and the company will pay you for all your annual vacation days.



    Now don't forget that first I told you that this policy increased all employee vacation time across the board.  The other day I actually heard someone say:  "Did you see how they screwed us on our vacation?" And I thought "what the crap?".  How on earth did the company screw any employee in good standing by increasing vacation days? 



    These people don't look for positive things.  Whenever something happens they immediately go into defensive mode and try to find how they are getting screwed.  I feel sorry for them.  That kind of living can only lead to paranoia.



    Until next time

    Les





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    April 18, 2007

    Quick statements

    Groceries

    The other day I was getting some essentials at my friendly neighborhood Walmart.  at the checkout there was one lady in front of me.  When she reached the register and the lady was ringing her up she informed the cashier that she would be using her food-stamp card and if she had enough she would add a bag of potatoes that she had in her cart.  Well, she did get the potatoes, but she did have a bag of green bell peppers in her cart that she didn't announce.  Then I noticed it wasn't an over site, once she got some of her things bagged she cleverly placed the bags over and around the produce.  Observation: it's not enough that she has to use government assistance for her sustenance (which isn't bad if it's a true need) she also has to steal for it



    Gaming Trends

    Gears is getting more fun online.  I'm still not boss, but I can hold my own if I don't run head first into the enemy.  Rainbow Six Vegas is still fun, not much to report there.



    Technical

    I've decided that to be truly agile in your day to day workings it has to be like learning a language, i.e. it isn't enough to just know a ton of German words and phrases, you actually have to think in German in order to be able to use the language.



    until next time

    Les





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    March 22, 2007

    Currently Reading: Practices of an Agile Developer

    Recently picked up this book.







    Info



    So far it isn't a bad read. I figure if I'm going to chat about things such as agile in this forum then I should at least educate myself a bit.



    Maybe I'll do the whole book report thing on it.



    Until next time

    Les

    March 19, 2007

    Feeding the Machine Part 3: buzz words and tech speak revisited

    Sometimes my grumblings lead those around me to believe I may not be a person who is very agile-friendly. I know I come down hard on terminology at times, and for good reason: terms don't a finished product make. Now, I know that I've talked on some of these subjects before, but as long as blogging is cool the topic should be ripe.



    My biggest concern with the whimsical world of agile practices is that in my time (which is a limited base of experience I know) I've seen more preachers than practitioners. This is probably just due to my lack of experience and such, but it still keeps me skeptical.



    Take the example of a small town church having what is referred to as a "Revival" (common term to those raised in small town churches). Usually you bring in some big name preacher who knows how to put on a show and really entertain the congregation. He usually goes over his interpretation of evangelism and instructs accordingly in a way that just wows the audience. Then in a week he goes to his next venue (or back home) and he's done. He came, he preached, he left.



    That's what I see a lot with agile and related topics. Many sensational people stand on their many platforms and evangelize for the cause. Most of which are consultants. And at the end of their contract they move on and spread their teachings to the next victims clients. Their words were all well and good and actually could lead to a good thing, but there was no practice, and usually when they go their methods go with them.



    So I guess really my pretension isn't with the process of agile or becoming agile, but with the evangelists who go around preaching the good word but not doing much in the way of practicing what they preach. Since I'm a practitioner of learning by doing I need a doer to come in and do so that I can join in, not so much a teacher coming in to tell me how it should be.



    Until next time

    Les

    March 13, 2007

    Can you reason?

    My wife recently wanted to get a logic puzzle for her classroom, just a little something for the kids to mull over. In her Googling she found "The Zebra Puzzle" (quite often referred to as "Who owns the zebra?"). You can Google it and wikipedia it if you wish to cheat, but for those out to sharpen their minds here are the clues we were given.



    Supposedly only 1-2% of the population can figure this puzzle out. I doubt that is valid, but for what it's worth we figured it out in less than a half hour of joint work while watching Futurama.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    • There are five houses.
    • Each house has its own unique color.
    • All house owners are of different nationalities.
    • They all have different pets.
    • They all drink different drinks.
    • They all smoke different cigarettes.
    • The English man lives in the red house.
    • The Swede has a dog.
    • The Dane drinks tea.
    • The green house is on the left side of the white house.
    • They drink coffee in the green house.
    • The man who smokes Pall Mall has birds.
    • In the yellow house they smoke Dunhill.
    • In the middle house they drink milk.
    • The Norwegian lives in the first house.
    • The man who smokes Blend lives in the house next to the house with cats.
    • In the house next to the house where they have a horse, they smoke Dunhill.
    • The man who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.
    • The German smokes Prince.
    • The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
    • They drink water in the house next to the house where they smoke Blend.

    So, who owns the Zebra?



    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    enjoy

    Until next time,

    Les

    March 7, 2007

    Best Practice

    I won't be the first to offer argument against doing things according to so called "best practice". I feel that if a methodology is adopted as a "best practice" then it probably would be worth my time to follow. I would however put my 2 cents in and say that if all else fails, do something right.



    Best practices are exactly what they claim to be: practices. Sometimes we (especially as software developers) get so caught on following the latest best practice that we fail to deliver the most important thing: the product (and yes I am insinuating that these best practices change and often).



    It's not so much that best practices aren't worth their salt (it's an expression, look it up) that they are constantly replaced, but practice can only be based on current knowledge (scope if you will). You can only practice what you currently know, and as you practice you may learn better or quicker solutions that you can practice later.



    But while I'm honing my skills as a master methodoligist I need to remember that at the end of the day I still have to deliver a product (in my case software) and even if I'm the best at perfecting a practice if I don't deliver software then I don't pay the bills.



    this rant brought to you by the letter b



    Until next time

    Les





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    February 15, 2007

    What I'm doing (revisited):

    Since I have nothing else to report, here's an update from last post:

    • Final Fantasy III - completed, all characters at level 99, and all characters mastering at least 2 jobs -

    • Crypto-Nomicon - um... call that a false-start -

    • Final Fantasy V - decided to wait a while until I play this -

    • Mario Kart DS - I think I lack 3 unlockables now. -

    • Big Brain Academy/Brain Age - fell off the wagon, my poor brain -

    • cleaning the garage (work-in-progress) - cleared off enough space for the wife's car, no more accomplished -

    • writing Java code - still going. -

    Until next time

    Les