Weekend Update

Shelley and I rented a car on the weekend and headed up to Lacombe for the easter weekend. We originally had Greyhound tickets, but we couldn't use them on Friday or Sunday on this weekend, which didn't fit with our plans. So we looked elsewhere and found an awesome deal for a car rental of $18 a day. It was nice to have the freedom of a vehicle as we were able to finish off weeks worth of errands Friday morning. With such a cheep rate I was a little miffed at the final bill. It turns out that the cost of gas and insurance put the total cost well over the cost of bus tickets. We did enjoy our short time of freedom, so it still was money well spend, it's just that we won't be renting a car every weekend.

A couple of days ago we received a gift from the health and wellness group in our company. Each person received a plastic toy to help stimulate the mind and relieve stress. I however, received a stinky, sticky plastic ball that will stain everything but glass (the warning label tolled me about the staining). You have to wonder how someone would go about marketing such a toy as the similarity between it and feces is just a little too close. Perhaps children like playing with leaky bags of crap? Fortunately I was able to exchange mine with Mark's since he was away on holidays. I'll tell him of my treachery when he returns... if I remember.


We'll Miss You

I found out today that I am being transferred to another team. It is the end of an era and I should be happy about this. For the most part I am happy, I can finally stop whining and complaining about having to work in C and having to answer questions from our support team. I love the fact that I am going to be apart of a extremely talented team, which will allow me to grow my skill sets immensely. I do think that things will be difficult as the new team is under a lot of pressure to deliver on a major milestone that will determine the future of the product. The managers on this new product have said that they expect me to make a significant addition to the team and to help them meet a deadline that is just barely a month away. This obviously doesn't sit well with me since I have no idea if I will be able to meet their expectations, which probably are a little too wishful. The new team feels like they are in a do or die situation: If they do not meet their financial targets, then the company may decide to go in another direction and disband the team. Our company has already expressed a desire to incorporate offshore outsourcing into the fold, so it is critical that our current software developers continue to demonstrate their worth by meeting its targets. And so I've made the entire fate of all of the developers in the company lie on my shoulders because I am an egotistical and self centered. Yup, I have figured it all out, so it is time I forget all of this and erase all doubt and self loathing from my mind.

Along with the move to a new team, I am celebrating the end of a project that was mothballed. I have been working for the last 2 months on a data card project. This would have presented summarized information to the user in a series of grids and panels. I coded up a very interested data access layer that retrieves data through an existing large and complicated dll. It dynamically created the code to access the dll and return the data, which is all driven off of configurable xml files. I used reflection and code emitting from the .NET framework to accomplish this. I'm quite satisfied with myself with this clever way of adapting our data access model to match that of another teams so that we can share code. It is because of the pride and satisfaction in this task that I now have to morn its death. Time of death was some time in the afternoon of April 7th 2006. The coroner did not give me specific details, but told me that it died kicking and screaming at the hands of a blood thirsty product manager.

In loving memory of the data card project,

Corey Stewart


Just a bunch of negativity

Oh yes, I really have grown to hate C programming. I've been away from it so long now that I've grown lazy and unappreciative of how good I have it coding in the managed world. Recently, I've been trying to solve a performance issue in some contouring code for our GIS app. The problem has been traced to a thousand line function with a while loop encompassing the whole thing. Somewhere in this mess is an overly expensive operation and it took me a half a day to find it. You'd think that I could just use a perf tool to tell me where the issue it, but sadly the tools out there don't work with our extremely large mixed managed app. I find it hard to believe that I am working with a product that is so different than everything out there.

Yes, the users of the application I work with hate me. At first it was just a suspicion brought on by their hatred for all things new and different. Now I see they are deliberately screwing themselves over to make my life more difficult. A few users have been calling in claiming that their files just magically altered themselves into an unusable state. I know our app didn't do it, so I can only assume that they did it themselves.


Web Comics

Shelley and I are in dire need of new comics to read in the morning. I need something to read as I eat my morning cereal, and the back of the box just isn't stimulating enough for that time of day. It seems like all of our favorites are disappearing. I know that there is a huge variety of comics out there, but it's hard to judge a strip from looking at just a few comics. Even the great ones like pvponline and penny-arcade have their low periods. I need to solicit people for their top ranked comics so I can eliminate time spent reading the crap that's out there. To get an idea of where my interests lie, here's my thoughts on the comics that have occupied my bookmarks in the past.

Sinfest has to be the most under appreciated comic out there on the net. The jokes focus on gender roles, religion, philosophy and rantings about the establishment. God making fun of the devil with a silly sock puppet would have to be the epitome of Tatsuya's work. Unfortunately, Sinfest now seems to be only updated roughly once every two weeks, which is sad because that would have to be the top ranked in our list. It's not the traditional comic which duals as a personal blog for the author, so we don't have any idea why Tatsuya has abandoned us. Maybe I'll buy one of his books on amazon and give it away for a birthday present, I'm sure that will make all the difference and we'll be back to the daily comic submissions.

Angst Technology had to be one of the better comics out on the net. It was composed largely of gaming, and IT related jokes but it also mixed in a healthy dose of substance abuse (caffeine), office politics and slapstick. I thought that it disappeared two years back so I axed it from my bookmarks. Now I find that in 2005 a whole schwack of new strips had been created. Even though the strip hasn't been updated in 9 months, I think I'll continue to check back on it. It amazes me how often I see those strips taped up to cubical walls around Calgary offices.

Foxtrot finally got the axe today. I really don't know why I ever bothered to bookmark it in the first place. I really don't think that I have ever laughed at one of the strips. Perhaps a half chuckle once in a fortnight, but nothing to ever warrant bookmarking it. The sight hosting the comic strip is quite interesting, you have to wonder what is going through the heads of the advertisers when they riddle the site with pop up and under, and annoying flash adds that blare sound and flashy images. Oh well, I'm going to suppress all of my memories of Foxtrot. Hopefully with time the memories will disappear to free up space for other bits of information that have slightly more value than a family circus comic.

You'd think that if the ucomics site bothered me so much that I'd steer clear of it, but sadly Calvin & Hobbes keeps me coming back. I'm really surprised that that type of comic could be so popular as the jokes tend to be a little too high brow for the Sunday morning comics. Great way to learn new words though, how does that 6 year old know so much? Too bad the authors been in retirement for almost a decade now.

Sluggy Freelance has kept my attention right from the start. This comic has been around since '97 producing a descent comic 6 days of the week. This one definitely takes the award for most consistent. Oddly, I don't remember ever laughing at any of the comics, but somehow it keeps my interest. The value of the comic is more in the character development and story telling that is perfect in the mornings like Saturday morning cartoons used to be. I don't recommend this one to anyone unless they are willing to read through nearly a decade of comics.