Older blog entries for northrup (starting at number 15)

3 Apr 2001 (updated 21 Apr 2001 at 00:16 UTC) »

I'm simultaneously reading Learning Python, Programming Ruby and Java in a Nutshell (though it's the first edition, not the third, but that's the only link I could find on their site. . . *sigh*). I'm in a sort of OOP Boot Camp. I've got folks at work telling me that Python is pretty cool, friends saying that Java is the one true way and a little voice in the back of my head that tells me "Ruby, it's the Perl of the new millenium."

I'm not a big fan of typed languages. . . This and garbage collection are the major reasons I use perl instead of C. Variables and functions being sprung to life fully formed from the head of Zeus is much easier for me than having to predeclare var types, function params and return values. . . If it's important enough and not patently obvious from the name sort_by_name that it's going to take an array of hashes (which all have a name key) and return an array of hashes all sorted by the name, then I'll put a nice comment above the code to spell this out for whoever happens to want to re-use my code after me. Besides, I've always thought making things easier for the user is what computers were supposed to do. From an aesthetic perspective, I don't like a language or compiler making me do work it should be able to do. Java annoys me because of this.

Python is nice, but has some irritants to it as well (all variables are class variables, not instance variables, unless declared inside a method. . . what's up with that!?!?!? I realise I can get around this with an __init__ method, but why do I need that?) I guess it just doesn't do things in the way I think it should (which isn't necessarily a bad thing if it does it better, but from what I see right now, it just does it differently). Oh well.

Ruby just seems right at the moment. The only bad thing about it is . . . it's new and is fewer places than Python. There isn't the wealth of software examples out there that there are for Java and Python (though I believe that will change).

Who will win. Who's language will reign supreme!?!?!?

The bad thing about taking the train into work is, while I have lots of time to read, I don't have a laptop so that I can actually use the time creatively (programming, writing, editing, etc). Pen and paper are somewhat useful, but it's not so good on the really bumpy parts of the tracks (which there are quire a few stretches of). Oh well.

So things finally blew up between me and PHB. The net result being I don't have to deal with her, but I had to find another place to work. Suits me. Things are better off this way.

In the meantime, I've been working on some movies. They're short right now, but I'm working on my Premiere skills to prepare for the time when I get a real video editing machine.

Anyway, back to reading proprietary and confidential information at my new company. . . I'm not a big fan of IP nazis, but at least these guys give me free snacks and soda :-)

It's always wierd getting calls from companies trying to woo you at your current company. There's that sense of at ease with taking up time that you're being paid for to talk to another person who is trying to get you to leave where you are. It seems dishonest in a way. I guess I could put down on my time tracking chart "Talking with recruiter - 30 mins", "Lunch interview at Company X - 1.5 hrs". Don't know if that would do more harm than good in my attempt to make my current working environment more amicable. It's so hard to make change in an environment with a passive agressive boss and a PHB. *sigh*

This job wasn't supposed to be this way. I was supposed to have fun, improve my unix-fu, master some new schools and be with friends all the while. It turns out that a) working for friends has inherent downsides and b) my immediate boss isn't who I thought they were going to be. . . at least I've learned that more information is always better and that it's worth waiting for the new info before making the rash decision to move across the country.

I've been back in California for a while. Got back on the 15th of Sept. Living in Gilroy sucks and doesn't. The commute blows dead donkey dicks. However, the town itself is reasonable, has stores close to the apartment for Jeannie (an important thing until we get her a car) and has a good pediatrician for Valen.

One saving grace for me is being able to find a good comics shop in Campbell to make up for the complete lack of a shop in Gilroy (serious oversight. . . dozens of antique shops, no comic shops. . . *sigh*)

I've been starting to do a lot of sysadmin stuff here (as opposed to visiting customer sites). It's annoying when customers aren't prepared and don't have their (gear|expertise|software|shit) ready and prepared for us to come in, install our software and test. Having to go back multiple times is a little annoying. Having a call scheduled for a day and having it pushed is more annoying. When I have to start driving in my car (as opposed to taking Caltrain) so I can go to customer sites and this sort of thing starts to happen, I can forsee me becoming filled with hate.

Caltrain is nice. I enjoy being able to work on my laptop while I'm riding in. Gives me an extra two hours or so to work on personal stuff without taking away from company time. I wish the office were closer to Tamien, though. As it is, it's about 5 miles away which is a pretty stiff bike ride (especially for someone so out of shape as myself . . . and yes, I know that riding 10 miles a day would get me back into shape, but it would also make me have to take multiple showers a day and I would have to find a place at work to be able to take a shower which doesn't seem bloody likely given our current building situation). I'm thinking about getting some sort of two-wheeled motorized conveyance and haven't settled on whether it will be a motorcycle, scooter or somewhere in between. I guess I'll make the decision when I've got more funds at my disposal with which to adequately purchase such a vehicle (or at least to bargain down by saying "I've got cash right now for $XXXX").

I'm going to go to a gaming convention this weekend. I'm hoping to hook up with some folks to play 7th Sea with as well as exercise some of my B5CCG decks.

So I went by MindLink today. It's a good thing I got all my mp3 files off of test2 last night. Otherwise, I'd be trying to figure out a way to get them from my Windows box through the Integratus firewall. It turns out that one of the brightest guys in the web hosting group left yesterday. It was amusing to find out that the acquisition of OneMain.com was being ammended so that the acquisition won't go through if Earthlink's stock goes below $8/share (something which looks pretty damned likely at the moment). My decision to leave is looking better and better each day.

Now, they've lost one more of their really good admins, but at least they have an administrative assistant. That's right, they can't hire sysadmins, but at least the ones still left have an assistant. *sigh* Anyway, I was able to get the last of my files off test2 before Chris moved into my old cube and turned it off. Someone finally noticed the box lying under the desk of a recently departed employee. Not that I should complain, it was handy to have a backup copy of my files until I could move them all over to Integratus.

I finally got an HA web server pair setup in my guest bedroom (because you never know when they'll come in handy :-). Now that I've got a handle on the UHA software, it's time to start learning Veritas File System and Volume Manager. The fun never stops!

Valen's been a little sick recently. His temperature has been between 101 and 102.5 for most of the day. I read some of the baby books we have and they say it's normal for a child who's teething to have a temperature. However, it's unsettling to have him running a temperatur so high that it would have fried my brains had it gone on for this long for me. We're trying water soaked wash rags and turning down the thermostat to see if that helps. The bad thing is he really wants to cuddle right now and I hate to see him cry, but I know that if I hold on to him for very long it will raise his temperature.

I've built my home network to the point where I can start doing practical HA testing. I was shocked when I found out how much CAT-5 TP cables actually were. 14 feet for $25!!! That's highway robbery! I should have taken this as an opportunity to spend some money down at Graybar, but didn't feel like spending more time away from home than I had to considering how Valen was feeling and how nervous Jeannie was.

I haven't had much time to think about the package management stuff I'd been mulling over just after Usenix. I'd start working on it, but don't want to erase Linux from the laptop I have to install FreeBSD on it to have a machine I can do package work on anywhere I go. I guess I'll just have to keep working on fixing the bugs in my search engine. At least I'll have something to keep me occupied and to help me stop thinking about how bad Valen feels.

Back in Atlanta. I stepped off the plane from CA and realised a) how cool the weather had been in San Jose and b) how hot and humid the weather is in Atlanta. It's amazing how your tolerance for warm weather melts away so quickly when you're somewhere nice.

I finally got a nice set of speakers for my home system. It's amazing the difference having a subwoofer makes. Also replaced my DSL Router and picked up a few things for what is becoming my home office. I'll be in ATL for the next 6 weeks doing telecommuting back to SJC and learning the software I'll soon be installing at customer sites (Veritas stuff and our HA product). Mike, the only company employee with less tenure than me, is setting up a couple of Sun boxes back at the office for me to play around on and learn the Veritas stuff. I'm in the process of setting up a couple of Linux boxes to play around with our UHA stuff.

Working from home is better and worse than I thought it would be. It's nice to have a quick commute (30 seconds from finishing getting dressed to sitting at the office), but it's easier to get distracted by the wife or my son. It's difficult for me to say "I'm working, please go away" without sounding like an ass. I'm getting a little better at it as well as getting better at working with the distraction of a wife or son talking in the background.

I'm lucky my son is easily distracted by extra power cords and old mice. He likes them almost to the exclusion of other, proper baby toys. Perhaps the geek genes are getting expressed early.

Now, time to read some documentation, install some Red Hat and set up some HA web servers.


I finally found an apartment complex that didn't mind that my credit sucked and actually looked at my rental history and current salary. What an amazing concept. . . judging someone's ability to pay their rent on time by looking at how well they've previously paid their rent on time. I guess that's the sort of radical thinking you get out here in the Valley of the Geeks. . . but the funny thing is my place is actually south of the Valley (in Gilroy). The commute will suck to a certain extent, but the rent is less and I don't have to deal with a bitch for an apartment manager (like they have over at Woodleaf) . . . the apartment manager I will have is actually pretty cool.

Finally, I've got that off my mind, and I'm planning for my trip back to Atlanta. Gotta make sure that I'll have enough to do to justify collecting my salary :-) However, it's hard to do some of the training I need to do without having the proper hardware to work on. I figure I'll be filling in as the sysadmin for a while until I get back and can lay hands on some real software.

It sucks that I'll be away from SFO and SJC for a month and a half, though. There's lots of things to be happening, I'm sure and it's too bad I'll have to miss it. C'est la vie and que sera sera I suppose.

Went to the new Staks in Campbell. This place rocks. Excellent breakfast food (I split the Apple Sausage Omlete and a stack of Blue Germ pancakes with Jack) and nice service. I'll definitely have to treat Valen and Jeannie to breakfast there once they get out here.

I have an open house tonight. I'm sort of depressed at the whole prospect. Nobody wants someone with bad credit even if they have a good rental history. I make almost six figures, haven't been late with a rent payment in over two years and I can't get someone to give me a bloody place to live! What the hell is that about? The landowners out here in the valley are simply insane. . . they have everyone by the short and curlies and there's not much people can do about it. The San Jose mayor says that rent control measures aren't necessary and that the market will take care of itself. That's all well and good for her. She likely either owns a house or gets a nice mayoral pad gratis. I doubt she's had to look for a place for weeks at a time with her husband and son across the country while crashing on the couches of friends while getting rejected left and right by greedy landlords who hold a captive audience hostage to their whims.

Right now I'm at the point where I'll have to take the first available place and have that be that. I'm trying to be a little picky in where I go, but there's not much choice. Either I have to listen to Jeannie on the phone every night and the "I wish you were back here in Atlanta and why the hell did you take a job in the Valley where we can't be together and when is this goin to end" sound in her voice or I find a crappy place and listen to the "What a shithole we're living in now and you should have found a job in Atlanta and we could have stayed in our same apartment and things would have been better" tone in her voice. Scylla and Charybdis sound like appealing options.

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