Sunday, September 17, 2006

Life is Good

Life is good. I could qualify that, but it would detract from the simplicity of the statement.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Yikes, it's been a while

Hmm, it's been a while... it seems that life has gotten in the way of me updating my blog. No matter. Things are going very well according to plan. I'm starting working on my MBA (at the University of Houston, GO COOGS!) next week. (YAY!) Aaaaand... work is really great. I got back from the Dr. Dobbs Journal Architecture and Design World (learned a lot and met some interesting people). Umm... other than that, things are pretty much going steady and nice. My laptop battery (Dell 600m) is one of the recalled ones (kinda makes sense, the side of the computer where the battery is heats up a bit). Still, Dell is making it super easy, just type in your battery serial number, then fill in your address info and "voila" you will have your new battery (and instructions on disposing of your old one) within 20 days (ish). We'll see how long it REALLY takes. I'm finally starting to use Visual Studio 2005 (good grief, it's about time!). I wish Microsoft would hurry up and release their SP1 patches for Visual Studio 2003 and 2005. I'm also starting to learn more about web services and such. Very interesting. Oh, my abstract was accepted for the Baker Hughes Technology Forum 2006! Party on! I'm going to talk about how Inversion of Control can streamline the build / debug / test process. I'm also going to give a presentation for my group about all the goodies I learned at the Dr. Dobb's AD World thingy. I went to my last HDNUG ( (Houston Dot Net Users Group) meeting that I'll be able to attend for a while. I won a book (Test Driven Development (the NUnit book)), and a Best Buy gift card (shweeeeet). TDD is very interesting, I need to finish that book and send the HDNUGgers a review. I really want to start an independent project (been wanting to for a loooong whiles now). I'm thinking either an email-based game engine or perhaps a good subversion ( client for GNOME. Not sure yet. Both would be fun projects. The former would be a .NET 2.o project using Windows Forms (or GTK#) and the latter would be GTK+ and C/C++. Oooooh... tasty. But... alas. School will take up a lot of my time I believe (and I really want to make sure I have enough time to get back into running). At one time, I was able to run almost 3 miles straight... I need to work back up to that. I've been going to the gym on a very regular basis now so far this year. I need to get my run on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I can keep up the burn. My goal of being under 200 lbs by end of the year doesn't seem like its going to happen. But hey, my clothes all fit better and I can wear some brand size 34 jeans, so that's a huge step in the right direction. In Nerdage news... I'm toying with the idea of upgrading my computer to the behemoth gaming machine worthy of an uber-nerd. Mmmmm.... silicon wafery goodness. Vee shall see how that little plan goes... Ah... hopefully I'll be keeping up with this blog more. It is very refreshing being able to dump my brain out here for my own posterity.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Fun at Work

I've been having some crazy fun at work! Our project is progressing very well and I've added some really sexy features to it. I found that I enjoy writing tools / scripts for developers more than writing applications for customers. (Unfortunately, the latter are more prone to paying for software than the former) ',;-) I am the resident build-master in my department. I manage the build scripts and make sure that people don't check in stuff that breaks the build. I could call myself a "Build Nazi", but that may carry the wrong connotation. I think of myself more like the "Soup Nazi", but with software builds instead of jambalaya. What is this commit? Huh? NO BUILD FOR YOU! Heh heh heh...
Yea, so. Fun at work. I think it's very important to have fun at work irregardless (not a real word) of anything. My modus operandi is that if I'm not having fun at work at the moment, I need to get up, walk around, and go bug some of my coworkers. After all, what good is having coworkers if you don't go bother them everyone once in a while to let them know you're still around.
I know there's some nerdage in this post somewhere... heh. Oh yea, the software I'm working on! Great stuff. I wrote a GUI framework a whiles back for this application and I'm finally getting some integration work done to pull pieces into it. Basically, you start with a skeleton application that has some menus predefined, a toolbar, a sidebar, and a main work area. You can define plugins via .xml files that exist in the distribution tree. These files are pulled in automatically when the application starts. I've been using Spring (for .NET) [linky:]. They still have some bugs in there, but it's coming along really well. I think I had a post about it before... [linky]. Anyhoo, Spring is an "Inversion of Control" or "Dependency Injection" container. You describe objects in xml files and how to instantiate them. Each object may require other objects in the container to be set in the constructor or via properties (this determines the instantiation order). Check out the website, they have links to some articles regarding the topic. I may even write a paper or something about my GUI framework... oooh... great idea. So yea, the nerdage part of this is that you can drop new pieces into the application by dropping a folder into any subfolder of the application and then restarting the application. It will automagically pull in the new pieces and fire up the application. My boss liked it, I did a short demo where I pulled in a few pieces and showed how they were in the app, then deleted a folder, restarted the app and showed that the features were missing. So, the great part is that when I do a "debug" build, it will pull in all our testing plugins that test the individual controls or features as well as the whole application. When we want to do a "release" build, it won't pull those folders in. If we wanted to update a feature, we could just remove the folder and put the new one in. If we wanted to add a new feature, all we do is push the folder into the filesystem. Sexy! My job satisfaction has been skyrocketing these last two weeks. I owe it to my overdue vacation in California. (Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't live there unless I got some crazy crazy job offer or something I couldn't pass up). I couldn't move there though... I would miss my family and my girlfriend. I dunno what it was, but after I got back from my vacation, my fingers had a mind of their own (don't think dirty thoughts, I'm talking about typing). I think I'm going to need a new keyboard soon... my old one at work is a biohazard area. I've spilled coffee, orange juice (both from an orange and from a bottle), milk, water, and random bits of food on it. It contains 2.5 years of hair, flecks of skin and boogers. I'm not afraid to admit that when I'm deep in thought, I pick my nose (I'm trying to pick my brain, but haven't been quite able to reach it). I have hairy hands and they like to shed. Back to job satisfaction... Yea. We have a really small group (4 developers) so I get a lot of freedom when it comes to what tools to use and I have a say in how the project goes programming-wise (15%... the manager has more pull than me, go figure). All this work on the build script and integrating into my GUI framework have been very invigorating. There's some thing beautiful about pulling a source tree, running one command, then firing up a working application. Mmmm... hotness. This high should last until mid to late June, at which time I hope to start up another high (with a new project). Ahhhh.... yummy.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Bowl!!! (in HD)

Hanging out in California at a friend of the family's house... I got to watch the Super Bowl on a big (BIG) screen in HD. It was nice! On one of the commercials, I could see the guy's contact lens, it was THAT detailed! Also... it seems that picking bad (really bad) movie rentals is a Korean thing. I have a friend (who happens to be Korean) who is notorious for picking terrible movies to rent (when they are out of the mainstream). We went to Blockbuster today to rent some movies and my friend said a friend recommended a movie called "Old Boy". It was a Korean movie (dubbed). It was very strange. Very. Strange. Strange.... Yea. It was like watching a Steven Segal movie. You don't really watch the movie, you just comment on it and make jokes about the main character's bad choice of lines and weapons. This movie had a common carpenter's hammer as the interesting weapon of choice. The first scene had the main character urinating in the lobby of the police station. Like I said... strange. Anyhoo, now we're gonna watch "Red Eye" with a bigger group (I think we should scratch the "Old Boy" disc as a service to Blockbuster and their customers). I'm fairly sure that the two guys working there laughed at us when we left with this particular movie. ',;-)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Cleaning out the closet

Maaaaaaaaaan... today I decided to clean out my closet, removing all the clothes that don't fit anymore. Last year I lost like 20 pounds and dropped two inches from my waist (party on Gar!) I didnt realize that I had 10 years of clothes in my closet. There were a lot of shirts that I hadn't touched in a long long time. In the end, I now have a two foot high pile of shirts and pants (many more shirts than pants) that are way too big for me. These are either going to get handed up to my dad or donated. We usually take our donation stuff to Katy Christian Ministries, and they either distribute it or sell it I think. I can see the back of my closet now, it's much more manageable. I just wanted to share that personal victory with the internet. ',;-)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Email Clients... revenge of the suck!

Waaaaaaaaah... ok. I'm really frustrated with email clients right now on Windows. On Linux, I use Evolution (which is not perfect, but close). On Windows, I don't use an email client, but my mom does. She needs an email program that's easy to use and also a calendar application. Outlook 2000 She used to use Outlook 2000, but she had a lot of problems with spam. Outlook 2000 has a really stupid spam filter that just filters the sender (which is totally ineffective since spammers swap out their from addresses frequently). Outlook 2000 also has some inherent problems in how it deals with messages. If you get an email with images that are pulled from the internet, it will automatically display those images (suck!). If there are hyperlinks in a message, there is no way to see where they point until you click them (suck!). When you are composing a message and you want to select addressees, there is no clear way as to how it generates the autocompletion list. I have yet to figure it out. SUCK! Yea... Roadrunner email We have roadrunner and I set my mom up with a roadrunner email address a long while ago. Back then, GMail didn't exist and Yahoo had a really cruddy interface. What I wanted to do was let her use Outlook which she was used to using. Little did I know the entire valley of suck that awaited my mom in that email account. No spam filtering, 20 MB limit, an absolutely excremental webmail interface. Boo. So, many spam messages later, I decided to try and be creative. I got her a GMail account (which is great, by the way) and set up roadrunner to forward all mail to GMail, then set up Outlook to pull messages from GMail. Yay, it was working great! Except... in a few days, her roadrunner mailbox filled up and started bouncing messages. Apparently, roadrunner email doesn't believe in deleting messages that it forwards (even though EVERY other email service will remove / archive / trash messages that are auto-forwarded to another email account. SUCK! So, that idea was shot down... which leads me to...... Thunderbird Mozilla Thunderbird is hotness. 1.5 RC1 was out and I installed that. It was updated to RC2 and that becamse the final 1.5. Great, party down. Thunderbird has integrated spam filtering, a sane address book, a sane message composition system, and a nice simple interface. It detects phishing, doesn't automatically show internet images, deals with attachments in a totally sexy way. Thunderbird is great. Except... when it comes to dealing with messages sent from Outlook. Most of the people who send my mom mail (or at least the source of the chain mail, jokes, funny attachments, whatever) use Outlook (2000, 2002 or 2003). Outlook viciously mangles messages when they get forwarded by everyone. The HTML messages get totally messed up with the tables in tables in div's in tables in div's in whatever. Clicking "forward" makes Thunderbird cry. Sometimes, when Outlook forwards an inline image, it doesn't show up in other email clients. Also, when you try to forward an email with an inline image in Thunderbird, it doesn't send the image along. For some reason, the IMG tag has a "moz-do-not-send=true" attribute which tells Thunderbird to not send the image (even though I told Thunderbird to always send images instead of just linking them). Hmm. Apparently this is a known bug in Thunderbird and will be fixed in mid-February when is released. Hmm... waiting sucks, and I don't want to subject my mom to nightly builds that may cause her to grumble curses in my general direction. Also, Thunderbird doesn't have a built-in calendar (yet) that works well. Sunbird is still a ways off (still very unstable). Mozilla Lightning (Thunderbird + Sunbird) is something I'm really looking forward to. But... alas, I needed a calendar too... which leads me to.... Outlook 2003 I decided to bite the bullet and put Outlook 2003 on my mom's computer. Installation was easy (a few hundred megs for an email client does sound a bit excessive, though). It has email, calendar, tasks, the works. Sounds good. However... I quickly realized that Outlook 2003 is not a big jump from Outlook 2000. It had a few of the nasties fixed such as blocking messages from the internet and showing hyperlink destinations. But... without installing Microsoft Word, the email composition is dismal. Entering addressees sucks as bad as in Outlook 2000. In fact, it is exactly the same. The whole application looks like a patchwork. There are pieces that look new and flashy, and there are a lot of pieces that look like they were left in there from Outlook 2000. Suck. Suck. Suck. I was thoroughly unimpressed. Suck. It has a few nice features in the email component, but nothing that Thunderbird didn't do (except for dealing with messages sent from Outlook well). On the bright side, my mom is now able to forward all the messages she wants without incident. She also has a decent calendar app that she can use to set reminders and stuff. But... she's stuck with a substandard spam filter and a clunky interface. She got used to Thunderbird's hotness and going to Outlook is like jumping 6 years into the past. Suck. Chances are that we'll put Thunderbird back on there sooner or later... then I'll be happy again. Or, we can wait until Evolution gets ported to Win32 and she'll have the hotness of Evolution (with calendaring as well). It will be a happy day for me when I can share the hotness of Evolution with the Win32ers. I don't know why this whole episode got me all worked up... I guess it's just that I get so frustrated with bad software. I'm a bit of a selective perfectionist when it comes to software, you could say. ',;-) />

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Gentoo Linux Laptop

Yay! My new laptop is in and it's HOT! I spent the last 24+ hours (awake and asleep) setting it all up. Now it is built up and stable, party on! I'm running Gentoo Linux built from Stage 3, but I had to rebuild everything because GCC 3.3 was on the LiveCD but it doesn't support a Pentium M architecture directly. I had to build stuff with GCC 3.3 to get it to boot on its own, then I upgraded to GCC 3.4 and rebuilt everything with the proper optimizations. It runs like a dream! I'll post some screenshots later...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sinus Infection

Blah. Sinus infection sucks... but I'm on Z-Pac (sp?) It's some good stuff. It is a 5-day antibiotic, so by Sunday I'll be totally clear of little critters. In practice, I'm usually cleared by day 3 (sometimes 4) but you gotta make sure you finish up the prescription. I get these sinus infections whenever the weather changes. 2005, however, has been a very weird weather year and the last time I got hit was March. To add insult to injury... my insurance changed from a copay system to a deductible system, and I didn't have my HSA debit card yet, so I had to pay for the doctor's visit out of pocket, more so than I would have about a week ago. Ah, but life is good, I took a sick day and stayed home from work. ',;-)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Back to work...

Well, the holidays are officially over, time to get back to the daily grind. I'm looking forward to it, actually. That means I'll have more nerdy things to report on! (When I'm home, I try to nerd out as much as possible, but the holidays are usually very busy with non-nerdy things) ',;-) Right now at work I'm working on a GUI framework based on the Spring Framework for .NET ( It's an "Inversion of Control" (IoC) container that is a port of the same framework for java (which seems to be popular). It allows us to develop software in parallel and forces us to take a component-oriented approach to development. I'll post some more juicy bits about it later, right now I need to get to bed because I'll be waking up at 4:30am tomorrow... gnight!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Ok, it's now 2006 for all US time zones (I think). Happy New Year to everyone! I wish you all the best in the coming year and may it be as good (if not better) than 2005! New Year is a great time to reflect on the past year and see how you feel about it. Yes, that's a bit cliche, but it's just one of those things that people do. This year has been an incredible year for me! Let's do a quick recap...
  • I had a new year's resolution to lose weight last year. I ended up losing 20ish pounds and dropped two inches off the waist. I'm fitting in my size 36 pants now and most of the clothes in my closet don't fit me anymore.
  • I'm in a great relationship with a great girl! Our closeness has only increased over the year (does that make any sense?) We're always finding things that bring to light just how alike we are in our ideals, dogmas, and methodologies. It's great to be able to talk to someone about a situation and have them say "Yea, I feel exactly the same way!" That's a cool feeling.
  • My work has gotten more fun. I have been given fairly free reign over how I do my job (programming). I can pick my tools and feel free to explore new things. We have new and interesting projects that people want to use and are itching to use. We're making our company oodles of cash money and they are compensating me fairly well. (I could always use more money, though... that goes without saying).
So yea, it's been a great year. But now, time to think about 2006. I have made some resolutions that I plan to keep for 2006. I'm gonna put them on the internet now to make them permanent!
  • I want to push my weight below 200 lbs. I plan on being more consistent with my running regiment. I have been going to the gym on a very regular basis (3x a week), but I want to start taking the aerobics classes to do some fat burning.
  • I want to keep more in touch with my extended family. My cousin is getting married in February and I feel like I don't know him anymore. I haven't really been as close with my cousins as I would like. I plan on hanging out with them whenever I can and plan some family outings and such. Also, I would like to get closer to my brother. We don't really do much together and it would be nice to just hang with him.
  • I want to learn to read and write Armenian. I can speak (well enough). But my vocabulary sucks and I can't read or write very well. There are some great websites that have lots of good info... I'll post some links later. One comes to mind: Armeniapedia. I would also like to at least attend one Armenian youth function / gathering / party.
That's about it. Not a long list, but it has all the important things. These are goals I feel I can attain. This year I also plan on starting on my MBA. I have a GMAT study guide now and I just have to schedule my GMATs, then fill out my application. That should be interesting. I think I will need to start working from home a bit (instead of going all the way down to the office) to make sure I don't burn myself out. Ah, so yea. I'm ready for 2-double-oh-6. How about you?