It is funny how a couple of hours can really change your frame of mind. It almost didn't happen. I could have kept my head buried in the sand, eagerly optimistic as ever. When I clicked a link and filled out a form last week, the conversation I had tonight was the farthest thing from my mind. I was thinking, "gee it would be nice if I could cash out some of my virtual credits and get a PS3, or maybe an EeePC".
Instead I got a wakeup call.
The complexity of virtual commerce came crashing down around me as I heard exactly what kinds of nightmares the people that take my virtual money and give me real money have to put up with. What was a fun pass-time for the last few years now seems like a really bad delusion. Its the kind of thing that can really shake a person up. On the one hand, it has helped me reaffirm my commitment to some things, but makes me really question others.
It makes me wonder if there was anyone in the tobacco industry that did a complete 180 the second they realized the evils they were unleashing on the world. After tonight I have to question whether I want to be one of the actors making virtual commerce look glamorous. I have a good day job, I do the other stuff for fun. Its really easy for me to shrug and say, "eh" when things go boom.
I also have a lot of other questions weighing on my mind now. Fortunately for me it is after midnight and the real world calls. I have to be up and at work in the morning.
Oddly, despite being a pretty good birthday yesterday my mood was out of sorts.
It could be that I was just off schedule. I stayed with my parents Saturday/Sunday/Monday night and for some odd reason woke up at 6:00am on the actual day. I had already put in to take half the day off, so I didn't really start work until after lunch.
It could also have been a total sugar crash... Had doughnuts, coffee (for the first time in 4 weeks), and sweet tea all before 1 and then decided that was entirely enough sugar for the day.
It could also be a number of other things, but I don't want to get into that too much less I have a repeat of the last time I aired certain forms of discontent over the blogways. I don't need the drama ;D
I finally have office space with natural lighting, on the down side the new commute situation means that I spend 11 hours a day in the general work vicinity not including the interlaced Lunch/Dinner times. That will be less of an issue once I get around to getting gym access, and find a gaming group that will fit into the schedule.
I got this book for my birthday.
So, after playing Mabinogi for a few weeks I have come to a few conclusions:
1) Despite low production quality it has some great design choices.
2) It is relatively easy to get past the MMO addiction.
3) I'm sad I haven't found anyone else all that interested in it because as with many games you are rather limited in what you can do with solo play.
4. Lack of content is the game's main shortfall, but at least they make regular updates.
The two things about Mabinogi that make it a bit different are the way the system emphasizes strategy (though this is hurt slightly by less than stellar controls) and the fact that progress is focused on building skills rather than leveling. You can (and need to) level, but the biggest boost to stats by-in-large has to do with the way you develop skills. You gain skill points by leveling, but you also gain them by aging and you don't have to play to age!
And, though I hate to admit it... it is remotely possible that the supposed Xbox port of Mabinogi + My Beautiful Katamari + The Catan/Carcasonne online games _might_ compel me to buy an Xbox 360... but that would require that the Mabinogi port has good controls. My Beautiful Katamari on the other hand has received less than stellar (but not bad) reviews.
And aside from games I've been spending way too much time on work related projects. I'm trying to bring a little more balance into my life, but I suppose I might as well take advantage of motivational forces while I have them. I built a (NCSU) Sysnews twitter bot (http://twitter.com/sysnews
) by cobbling together twitter, the RDF feed out of sysnews, PHP/Curl and Snipr. It still needs a bit of work, but I got the OK to put it on one of our production servers as a croned script once it is ready. I also got the go-ahead to work on a similar project for publishing out new books available in the library through twitter, but since it is a 'weekend' project I'm going to plan to do it in a couple of weeks since I am trying to get back to more of my non-work projects ;D
I should probably post more often, it seems like only a couple of my friends still post regularly... I have been posting quite a bit on twitter. It just seems to fit my life style better.
I am back in the throws of MMO addiction. This time it is a game called Mabinogi (vague references to the Welsh mythical literature by the same name... very vague). It is a free to play option game, but within about 6 hours I was convinced that I wanted to run out to target and get a 10$ Nexon card so I could have a cooler looking character and plan to go the monthly service route if I can get any of my friends interested in playing with me. The game is no World of Warcraft, but it is one of the better "free" games I have seen. I like the graphics, game play is pretty good, though the controls are actually lacking. It has a pretty decent amount of content as well, but most of the available content has not been release on the US server yet (they just started the first expansion a month or two ago and release the second within the past few weeks). The expansions are free, you just pay a one time fee to get more character appearance options and/or the ability to 'rebirth' your character. You can also elect to buy a selection of monthly services that enhance (mostly make easier) the game play experience. I think there are also individual items you can purchase but have not run into that yet.
Aside from that, I have been doing more gaming lately. I had quit the D&D group I was in, but schedule is shifting so I might be looking to get back into that again.
Work is ok. Been doing more developing lately, but that is starting to drag out. I decided to make everything as object oriented as I could and as usual that has been a mixed blessing. It takes more time, but will probably pay off in the long run if I can get everything off the ground. I'll be glad when this week is over, got lots of changes looming, but they are not going to be happening this week. ._.
Everything is going way too fast.
We did a departmental re-org a week or so ago, so now I am part of a "team" rather than being a lone developer (which is good). I also am technically no longer as closely associated with "desktop support" and more so with ILS and business process support. Aside from that I am admittedly not crazy about the way we are structured, but it is passable given the limited nature of org-charts.
Our department lost some positions, two though one was vacant at the time. We also got to unload some projects along with those positions. My project list is now looking a little less daunting.
Hopefully all the reading I've been doing is going to pay off. I feel like I have opened a few mental doors. One of the ideas I'm wrestling with right now has to do with database structure. I want something highly normalized (DKNF, or as close as possible), and I want to try to not break the basic tenants of relational databases. I think that there is perhaps some understanding I have gained from reading (light) on aspect oriented programming. I have in my head ideas for "database" aspects, cross cutting tables. So far it is nothing that violates DKNF, so it should be fine. I know that we will probably run into issues in the way of MySQL feature support. It is nothing that can't be overcome with PHP/MySQL really easily (in fact I did the same basic thing with a design feature in developing TOTM), but now that we have agreed to use the ZEND framework, I guess I'll have to make sure what I'm doing can be implemented there without a kludge.
So far the aspects I am looking at are notes, tags(keywords), history, role, and specialization/generalization. The long term benefit to Aspect oriented databases should be abstracted optimization. If the DBMS is aspect aware, it can reconfigure the DB's aspect tables automatically to scale with the needs of the system.
Time to ask the magic 8-ball about an MIS degree.
Also, Domokun is no longer lonely. Companion Cube came in the mail yesterday.
It is interesting how the thing that helps you achieve such clarity can blind you.Kind of like a moth and a flame I guess.
So I've been in the Library for almost 6 months now. That alone is surprising. Time just really flew by. I knew some things were going to change, and I knew the focus of this job was drastically different than my previous position. What I didn't plan on is letting myself get so wrapped up in it and losing sight of my goals again.
It is great to work in a place where you're needed to solve problems, not come up with ways to force people to accept your help because they are too stubborn to adapt to change.This new job is liberating because the librarians really need help, and they are not ashamed to admit it. The few that are are not really a problem... I arrived at a count of 23 distinct projects this week. With that kind of need, those that don't want help clearly won't have to worry about turning it away.
When your boss says, "Wow, I guess we need two of you", that's job security.
So I did the leg work, I've been working on the projects I could tackle while analyzing the onces that would take significant time. I have been making connections, reading up (uh, it's a Library, Hello...), trying new things. Some other personal projects slid because, lets face it, I'm not all work and no play, but I had this weird dream right before I woke up and I wasn't sure what it was about until I sat down with a pile of 20 some books I checked out this week on things ranging from extreme programming,to RUP.
In the dream I woke up naked, on my own property, and Donnie was there, but nothing else was. No house, no stuff, no neighbors, just trees and rocks. It was like everything man-made was gone and I was starting from scratch. No big deal, but then I start to think about water (I live like 900 feet from the Neuse) and food. Water wasn't so hard, the only thing is...if all the man-made stuff was gone then were the pollutants? Would just boiling the water make it safe? Fire is easy, but would I be able to make a bowl out of rock?
Food was a worse proposition. I can't remember the last time I've seen naturally occurring food that didn't require hunting. Hunting is all fine and well, but not something you get good at over night. Very few people garden these days, I haven't seen an apple tree or a grape vine, or a pecan tree since I was young.
At some point another dream, a musical about zombies, interjected. The back to nature dream stuck with me though. I eventually dragged myself out of bed, too the dogs out, and sat down to read. I started on "A Practical Guide to Extreme Programming" (Astels,Miller,Novak 2002) which is much less popycock-commie-bullshit than the book by Kent Beck I read Thursday night.
Then I realized, I kid you not as corny as it sounds, "I'm not farming my own IT garden."
I tend to think it really stupid analogies like that. Sometimes they come out less silly sounding, sometimes they are really good metaphors. Despite being an awkward turn of phrase, it pretty well put the dream in perspective. I've always been a grass roots technology advocate. I'm helping the Library get there, but I'm not really cultivating it. I'm going to the technology grocery store of organic-source solutions and making healthy meals for a junk-food addicted crowd, but I'm so busy trying to get them off the crank that I'm not making time to plant some seeds.
One of my projects is working towards that goal, but it is a veritable holy grail. I don't really know that I'll ever see this one to fruition. I'm certainly going to give it my best shot, but if it is that hard I'm not convinced it is really grass roots. If someone had started framing this idea 60 years ago (it is based on technology principles that go back at least that far) then it might be, but It feels like hunting with my bare hands. The direction technology has gone is so at-odds with this idea most of the knowledge I had wouldn't cut it. I've read about 40 different books trying to relearn technology to better frame the idea. I feel like I'm on the right track, but with another 20 books to dig through I have to wonder if I am barking up the wrong tree. I'm on the verge of being able to implement a prototype, but that could take another few months.
So without realizing it I just kept on hunting, naked, with my Ubuntu spear, trying to get some food for the technologically malnourished. But in the meanwhile, the garden still went unattended. I can't hunt and farm at the same time. The best I can do is switch them out, do a little of one and a little of the other.
So one way or another, this coming up week I am going to do three things:
Get back into the communities I have neglected,
start working on the Library Technology project I'm supposed to be doing, but haven't been able to make time for,
and form an on-campus community.
I was recently (a few months ago) approached with a pretty high-up job opportunity.Not an offer so much as a green light that would have put me in the final selection. I expressed interest (more like appreciation) but made it clear that it wasn't the right time for me. I am definitely looking to climb. My first 5 years of working I didn't really think about job advancement. Then I got passed over a couple of times and decided not to wait for hand outs. Now I'm struggling with considerations. I want to be a manager, eventually, but not if that means abandoning my convictions.
Family is number one for me. Everything I do, I do for the betterment of people in general but also to ensure that I have job security, the kind of usefulness that means I will never have to hunt and peck for a job. I want to be able to adopt soon and start a family and I don't think one has to invest all their time in work at the expense of time with family if time is invested wisely.
I also feel strongly about the appropriate and mindful application of technology. I know that managers trade off a level of technical expertise to get to where they are, but I don't think they should sacrifice technical competence.My biggest struggle right now is finding time to pursue a masters which juggling everything else. I don't see how I can consider myself to be gardening if I don't however.
Lastly, and pardon my French, but a spoon full of sugar really does make the fucking medicine go down. IT sucks, because the real world sucks.In every job that must be done, however, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and, snap, the job is a game (of sorts).There are two distinct skills that have to be cultivated for this approach to be valid: finding the game, and being good at the game. Thank you, Mary Poppins.
Now, back to the garden (after I drag my husband out of bed before his company arrives).
Well 2007 was a total bust for livejournaling. To be honest I was just not invested in the technology, not invested in the process, and had way too many other things going on. I guess that is what happens when you have an imperative project thrust upon you, a pet project you really want to see to fruition, and change jobs all in the same year.
I've really enjoyed the change of perspective this new job has afforded. Supporting librarians and supporting engineers really are like day and night (in no particular order or connotation). Giving up perk technology was also an interesting experience. It is fascinating to observe coping mechanisms operate from the inside. I substituted a Wii for my Powerbook for a while, contemplated getting an iPod touch until I realized they don't come with blue-tooth yet (which the iPhone does), and finally settled on trying to make shoestring computing one of my pet projects at work.
My sense of technology has really changed. I suppose it helps that the direction I am going is a lot closer to my roots in c64 and Amiga than most of the computing I performed in my early adult life. I had gotten comfortable on Mac when suddenly I was faced with not having one any more I preemptively bought a Mac Mini for home. I have to really think hard to decide if it was a functional technology decision or brand loyalty.
One of my friends said something earlier this year that really struck me, referring to someone rather high up on the university IT totem he said, "[that person] has no clue what technology is for."
So what is technology for? I somehow doubt there is a finite set of prescribed uses that are appropriate. Maybe he meant that this person has a penchant to abuse technology, or reading into the context more likely to advocate the abuse of technology. So then are there a finite set of applications of technology that are universally inappropriate?
I was talking to another of my friends at lunch this week and really felt like we (society in general) are almost to the breaking point where computers in their current form are no longer special. They are just another tool and pretty soon people are going to care about operating systems, manufacturers, and flavors of implementation about as much as they care about car makers or tool brands. We (again society in general, of which I will take this opportunity to remind you I am a meticulously begrudging participant) already seem to make a lot of decisions based on fashion over function.
I have the makings of another book stuck in my head now. I'm not sure if this one will make it out before it fades but time allowing I'll certainly try.
So I guess 2008 is going to be about trying to wrap my head around some sort of unified theory of structured data and workflow, and on the power of ideas, and how not to use technology. I still want to present "Fabulous IT", but I think I want to do it as an actual presentation and not a prank.
IT can be pretty damned fabulous when done right, and the great thing is there are lots of different ways to pull it off. I have a pretty good idea of what my role in the library is going to be now, I'm just trying to think of a way to articulate it that doesn't involve comparison to some other celebrity, because, let's face it, they all suck.
Well, new job is going great. Halloween party was a blast. Live is busy.
Oh, and I have a Wii.
Posting a lot more on Twitter these days. 140 character limit is a blessing in disguise :D
Been busy. Work was rather crazy for a while (like all year). I am however switching jobs at the end of the month (on the 24th actually). There are a lot of reasons for the move, and I don't think that any one really stands out. I've enjoyed working for ITECS for the past 7 years and have not entirely written off the possibility of working there again at some point.
If I am to ever become one of the campus IT barons however, I think it is imperative to start my climb to power now ;D
My work for the next two weeks is focused on positioning. I'm not going to let the work that I have shouldered for the past 6 months to go to waste. It was largely work that I did not want to take on and by golly someone else is going to suffer ;D Honestly, this summer has been really good aside from the finger breaking code scramble. I think the program is my best work yet, and as with everything I do, it's beauty is the seeming simplicity of it. It pretty well culminates what I have been trying to accomplish since I started working at ITECS, a solid solution to a really modern problem: the web.
Let's face it. The web sucks. Sure, it's fun to play on and visit now and then, but working on the web isn't really any more or less pleasant than sanitation work (but thankfully it pays well). I don't say this because I dislike working on the web, but rather because the stupidity that can come along with it is maddening. I am reminded of something someone said to me recently (though I am not reminded of whom said it...) "The more people that become involved in anything, the more stupid it becomes." This proportional relationship pretty much epilogues my year to this point.
I know understand why people change jobs. I certainly don't see myself becoming a career frog.
Somehow the other half of my six pack of Kirin seems to be calling my name... but I think I'll have a fruit pop instead. They are damn good, especially the strawberry ones.
And I need to get one more watermelon milkshake before the season is over. :D
Of course, you wouldn't want to see the whole gallery of wedding pictures
. Duh. I'm a moron.
I know I do.