Archive for December, 2007

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You know you have become an adult when…

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

…you spend more than $1k on lighting equipment for your home. I’ve made a few big home improvement purchases and yesterday added lighting to the fray. I’m replacing all of the lighting in the living room with theater style lighting as another step towards my eventual home theater living room. All this home improvement is very adult, very unlike me.

The new lighting will arrive in 2-3 weeks and consists of track lighting over the couch, decorative accent lighting for near the screen, and Lutron Maestro home automation switches to let my Logitech Harmony programmable uber-remote control the lighting for home theater macro’s.


Best part of it is this light, the Lightstik. The base is electrified (very weak current – you can’t feel it with your fingers) and the LED sticks just sit in there. The moment they make contact with the base unit they light up.

Feeling better

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Today I think I finally came around on feeling somewhat healthy again. I still have a sore throat, but for the first time in a long time I have some energy back and don’t feel like refried death. I even managed to go out and get my hair cut this morning so as to have a slightly less homeless vibe for the camera at CES.

Ahh, a lazy day of Traskpro coding, Photoshop sandbox play, and watching movies with Skype – does it get any better?

Refactoring is fun

Friday, December 28th, 2007

During the last couple of days I’ve been toying with Traskpro development tasks while I’ve been home ill. Until today I didn’t actually implement any new functionality, but rather spent my time re-factoring ‘old’ code from the 0.1 and 0.2 versions. Re-factoring is a low strain on my brain and a great task for idly doing while drifting in and out of sickly sleep – once I got the new architectures and designs on paper implementation of the new pattern happened on a feature by feature basis.

Most notably I took a lot of hacky if loops to select SQL queries and moved them into a net-new function which builds the queries based in inputs so the code is both easier to read and easier to maintain long term. I also moved a lot of in-line functionality to within functions which has made long term maintainability and new feature development a breeze.

Not only does this re-factoring provide more readable code, but having everything generalized into functions made adding a few new features a breeze. For instance I just added a capture feature to Traskpro for capturing more than one task (and tag array) at once. This makes capturing action items in a meeting brain dead simple and removes the need for a round trip to the server between each individual addition. Because of the functions for adding/editings tasks, or adding tags to tasks this new feature was developed in a far more efficient fashion – rather than building from scratch I could re-use code.

Simple stuff I know, but not developing for a living really does give me appreciation for elegant, maintainable, and readable code.

Dreaming of a sick Christmas

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

So here I sit at work, 8:30am on Boxing Day, feeling rather crap. Yesterday’s holiday festivities (a wonderful 12 hour HD-DVD marathon of the first 5 years of Harry Potter) were tempered by the fact that both Brien and I seem to have come down with a flu of some sort. Because Brien is already on massive antibiotics for a case of strep we are pretty sure that it’s viral so there is little that can be done about it short of drinking plenty of fluids and taking it easy.

Taking it easy I said? Not likely with being the only PM in over the holidays and some massive amounts of work to do! Hopefully I can make today short and get home to rest and recuperate.

Home at last

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

I just got home from quite the whirlwind weekend. It all started when Skype split one of his nails open to the wick Thursday night which necessitated a trip to the vet and a little anesthesia on Friday. After putting Skype under (pic below) the vet cut off the nail above where it broke and got him all bandaged up.

Skype on the table

With a little help from the veterinary technician we poured the still woozy Skype into the back seat of my car and drove down to Walla Walla where the rest of the family awaited. It was good to see them – it’s been a while since all 5 of us (mom, dad, my sister, and her husband) had been together.

Between his paw, the stress of being away from home, and the slight humiliation of having to wear a bootie Skype has been very high maintenance all weekend. Due to that and the fact that I have a ton of stuff to do at work and really should do some work tomorrow I came home today rather than on Christmas day.

The pass was kind of dicey on the way home but thanks to my A6′s Quattro 4WD we made it back safe and sound. Now I’m kicking back on the couch relaxing a little so as to be ready for being productive tomorrow.

Renewed and renowned

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Funny how getting my car detailed can kick my auto-passion into high gear. Tuesday evening I picked up my A6 from Mirrorworks from having a full detail and some paint work done. It’s shiny and like-new again – I’m swooning all over my precious car again!

Aside from the car life has been good. Traskpro has his a solid and stable 0.9 (and graduated from alpha to beta) and is rocking my task list right and left. I even have acquired a few other heavy users which is oddly gratifying. I’ve still got 31 remaining features/tweaks to make, but those can happen gradually over the next few weeks as I continue to ramp up on JavaScript.

Also in the world of good things Scott came over last night. He hadn’t experienced a proper viewing of Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End so we did dinner and a showing of that. As silly and overly-Disney as the film is I really do enjoy watching it. I really do hope that big budget swashbucklers never die – they are just so much fun to experience.

Right – back to work now. I have to finish up a ton of stuff today and tomorrow to be ready to take off a few days to be home for Christmas!

Productive and exciting

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

A clockwork fork

This has been quite the productive and exciting weekend: I’ve seen Alissa’s play again (this time with Jesse and Brenda), taken interesting makeup photos with Jessie (see above), learned bucket loads about SQL, and released an early alpha of Traskpro.

I’m feeling surprisingly good given that I didn’t have much downtime this weekend. Having a personal project like Traskpro has re-energized me. I’d forgotten how fun coding can be – particularly with tons of small rewarding features to work on. I feel like I’m using agile with a 2 hour sprint!

Traskpro is finally feature-complete enough to stand up to day to day use. I still have a TON of work left to do on it, but that can happen over the next few weeks. Go in and check it out – updates from now on will be pretty much transparent to the users. The temporary production location is at – I’ll be getting a more official URL for it shortly.

Update: Changed the URL above to the actual production URL. No more temporary URL’s for me baby!

Traskpro is conceived

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

The dev bug has bitten me again and I’m playing with code. This time it was prompted by a few missing features in Backpack and the brilliant idea to roll my own life management solution. Thus Traskpro (Task Tracking Pro) was born. Unlike most of my development stings in the last 5 years I actually sat down and did a little planning before I dived into it this time.

I have spent the last couple of days analyzing and designing my user scenarios and figuring out exactly how best to implement a task tracking solution so that it’s as flexible as possible and requires the fewest number of actions to operate. The Traskpro specification is now complete for version 0.1 and I started to dive into coding tonight. Having spent my first few days planning is making a huge difference – coding is easier this way and I suspect the end result will be a lot cleaner.

I’ve started my development with MAMP (PHP/MySQL on the Mac), but am toying with switching over to Ruby on Rails at some point. For now I’d rather stick to a language I’m more comfortable with given that I have a big learning curve ahead for SQL which I haven’t touched in ages.

More to come – I need to get a few more of my classes built out and then get to bed. I have two more days of ‘day job’ ahead before the much needed weekend arrives.

Something very small causing big problems

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

It’s amazing in this increasingly technical world how something so small can cause such big problems. My Thinkpad T61 laptop at work developed a single bad sector in one of it’s 2GB RAM modules (specifically a 6 byte range) which has caused endless random behaviors and blue screens. Funny how a single bad transistor, less than a trillionth of an inch across can cause an entire computing system to careen out of control.

Thankfully Lenovo was quite gracious about it and sent a new stick via 2 day air and I got it installed. Aside from perhaps an overly-aggressive feedback cycle they managed to impress me with their customer service. I just received and installed the RAM module and a quick 10 minute pass of MemTest86 revealed no errors and so far Vista seems much more stable. Here’s hoping that the stability continues – as best as Windows can provide.

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