Monday, August 27, 2007

Why This Post Isn't About The Javascript DOM

My original title for this post was "Why The DOM Is The Best Lousy Thing We've Got". I guess I'm not feeling terribly creative with my titles tonight. To be honest, I'm not feeling terribly creative at all tonight. It was a terrific week, but a pretty lousy weekend. I had some unexpected work take up all my time, and it put me in a sour mood for most of the weekend.

It's strange how creativity is so dependent on mood. I'm not just talking about blogging, here; I'm talking about coding, too. When I'm doing well, I can code anything, start to finish, piece of cake. When I'm doing poorly, then even writing hello.c is a huge effort. The work I talked about earlier involved some coding at the end of it— nothing big, just a few dozen lines to shove some data around— but if it weren't for that, I probably would have had a really lousy weekend, instead of the merely lousy one I had.

Ok, now I'm just sounding needlessly whiny. If you start seeing emo bands show up on my weekly top ten chart on the sidebar, send help. Like a box of kittens or something.

Anyway, where was I. Oh, that's right, having a lousy weekend because of work. I really started thinking that maybe I made a mistake taking this job; maybe I was more cut out for the Juniper job than the Google one. Now, here's the irony. When I left Friday, I was writing a document that includes advice to people who feel that way... pretty much saying, "No, it's normal, everybody feels that way, you'll do fine". (This is advice I had previously given Cheryl, and also talked about more in my blog.) And then this weekend I get hit with this wave. Wasn't expecting it.

I did get some useful stuff done for myself this weekend, though. The office is in much better shape, with the bookshelf moved, lighting hung, and desk accessories connected. Even the living room looks cleaner for some reason. At the end of it, I wanted to relax by writing some code. I was going to learn some SVG. Still, as I sat down to work on it, nothing came to mind. I hate hacker's block.

If you haven't read Jhonen Vasquez's "I Feel Sick", it's about an artist who is suffering from artistic withdrawl once she takes a job at a big company. I hadn't read it, and didn't know what it was about, but picked it up tonight to read and forget about my bad mood. (Hint: the "Alice" soundtrack works well with Vasquez.) Y'know, that just didn't help me forget as well as I had expected.

Finally, I decided to write about a blog post I've been wanting to write for a while... I even alluded to it in a post from two weeks ago (when I refer to the "later, more technically-oriented post"). And that's what I've sat down to do here. Hmmm... I seem to have done a great job, haven't I?

Friday, August 17, 2007


We moved from upstairs to downstairs in the same building. I like the new crib, although now I'm back in a cube. Still, it's the best cube I've worked in, and there's plenty of opportunity for cube dressing. I'm going to go by the surplus store, hardware store, and toy store to get some supplies for a few ideas I have, and cube decorations from past jobs (which are still in the box I took home from Juniper) will also play a heavy part.

There was some discussion about airspace issues. There's 18' ceilings in this area, so the question of how to handle the airspace becomes relevant. Naturally, the discussion mostly involved us playing with Karl's RC helicopters, and trajectory arcs of Nerf guns.

Anybody have cube decoration ideas they want to throw into the ring?

SRE R00lz!

This was taken at a company picnic yesterday. We had a tropical theme going... steel drums, flower leis, etc. There was a climbing wall, human foosball, and, of course, volleyball. Since my knee has been giving me problems (I actually had to leave early to go to physical therapy), I stayed away from the volleyball pits and instead played frisbee.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Yesterday's Beans

Okay, yesterday's post was evidently more tantalizing than I meant for it to be. I started by saying that I wasn't talking about my new friend. Well, that seems to have been raising questions among my other friends, so I've been getting bugged to talk about it.

Well, not from all of my friends. Some of my friends were there, some of them are too polite to pry, some are so busy that we haven't talked since then, but this is not an exclusive partition of my friends. So m3tus, this post is for you.

The thing is, it's not like there's anything scandalous that would make Matt Drudge drool. I just talked to my new friend about some problems she's been going through. I thought those problems might make for an interesting post, but her problems are hers to tell the world, not mine. That's all.

Monday, August 13, 2007


All week now, I've been mulling over a blog post. It's about a new friend I made last weekend, and the interesting circumstances under which we met. But there's a problem: that would be a violation of her privacy. I spent a fair bit of the week thinking about this. For a while, I was considering writing a version that left out some parts. Finally, I decided that I should let her tell her own story to the people she wants to; it's not my place to do so.

This is the sort of thing I have to think about when I'm writing to a public audience. (Okay, that public audience is-- in the last week-- only 56, but ethics is not a numbers game.) I have to do this all the time when I write about work. Obviously, this is partly because I don't want to end up like Mark Jen or something. But moreover, it's because I have a responsibility to my employer, and don't want to disclose information when it might do harm.

This is a sort of self-restraint, which is a good thing. It suppose that in this context, it's similar to the legal concept of prior restraint, which is generally considered a bad thing under most circumstance. However, there's a big difference. Here, I'm avoiding talking about things on my own volition; in the case of prior restraint, it's from a governmental gag order.

This weekend was my friend's birthday. His girlfriend and I had planned out a birthday party for him, culminating with us seeing a performance of The Compleat Wks Of Wm Shakespeare (Abridged). But it started off with us playing Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. I've got Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II, and we have a blast playing them multiplayer. Unfortunately, we realized when we started playing that most tracks in multiplayer aren't available until you unlock them in single player mode. That meant that, for the time being, we only had eight songs available. Luckily, by the time we finished those eight, it was time for us to head up to the city.

Now, that all happened Saturday, so Sunday I had to myself. I took care of some personal errands, like laundry and groceries, but also played Guitar Hero for a while... y'know, just to unlock the songs. I normally play GH on Expert, but this time, I played on Hard. That way, my friend and I would be able to play the Expert level for the first time together. (I did unlock all the songs, by the way. If you want the track list, and have iTunes, I put together an iMix with the songs.)

I thought about some of the stuff I had going on at work. There's plenty that I'd enjoy doing, but I was keeping myself from doing work. I was bound and determined to make the weekend about myself, and NOT the shiny new job that's been occupying me for the last few weeks.

I got pretty bored playing Guitar Hero on Hard, but wanted to unlock the songs. So I kept at it. I played on Hard, and not on Expert. I unlocked songs, instead of doing some interesting work.

Why the restraint there? I have to wonder if at some times, I'm holding back where I shouldn't.

I feel like that at work too. I keep feeling like I'm marking time, slowly learning, waiting until I get to the point where I get to take off the kid gloves and really get to it. Thursday and Friday, I sat down and did some coding. I started on a program to help me maintain my calendar, and another one to give me a cheat sheet for a weekly meeting. The former is pretty mundane, but the latter was certainly fun. I'll talk about why in a later, more technically-oriented post.

For now, I'll have to think about when's the right time to hold back, and when's the right time to let loose.

Friday, August 03, 2007

I've been found!

Okay, this is a surprise. I've been writing this under the idea that I'd have some small portion of my friends and family reading. And maybe the occasional Google search. I figured that's where the one comment I've had came from. Then, today, I did a little log analysis.

Since I opened the site a couple of weeks ago, I've had 2,490 visits from all over the world, from Malaysia to Tanzania. The visitors are pretty telling of the type of audience: 49% have been using Windows, 29% using Macs, and 21% using Linux. The browser numbers are more optimistic: 69% Firefox, 12% Safari, and only 7.5% using Internet Explorer.

I will point out that these numbers may well be skewed. The statistics were only collected for about 2/3 or less of the page views. In other words, I know that there's been at least 6,000 views, but only about 4,000 of those had statistics logged.

How did all this come about? Well, somebody found my post about Sawzall, and posted it to reddit. There was a little bit of activity before that, but I haven't yet looked at what led them to find it.

Then again, I never did publicize Vigor at all (I just sent Illiad an email), and enough people downloaded it that I was getting dozens of emails a day. I suppose even the most trivial writings are still going to be found by the zillions of eyes on the Internet.

Carving out time

You haven't heard from me all week, and you're starting to wonder if I vanished into thin air, lost my password, or what. Well, I've just been busy.

All last week, I was wondering why I was having such a hard time getting anything done. I had so much stuff that I wanted to get done, but never seemed to be making any traction on it. Then I looked at my calendar, and it all became clear.

Okay, admittedly, that screen shot is from two weeks ago, when I still had a full schedule of training. But nevertheless, I've been going to a lot of meetings. Some of them are necessary, some aren't. I realized that I'd have to defend my schedule against meetings.

That's what I've been doing the past week: I was declining meetings that I didn't need to go to, and making time to work instead. This involved studying, coding, the usual stuff. This week, I was getting stuff done— but I was staying there until 11:30 PM at the earliest, 1:30 AM at the latest. I wasn't getting nearly enough sleep. On the upside, spending all this time in the office gave me a chance to learn about the laundry facilities at work, but overall, I think it was more of a bad thing.

Next week, I'm going to be defending my personal schedule against my work schedule. I need to make sure that I give myself time to relax, to take care of personal errands, to visit with friends, sleep, and do all of the rest of the things I have to do that don't involve work.

You may have noticed that my "Recent News I Found" sidebar has had a fairly high number of life organization articles. (Remember that it's a separate feed from my blog. To subscribe to that, click the "Read More..." in the sidebar, and subscribe to the feed there.) I suppose that, as I'm finding my feet in my new job, I've been thinking a lot about getting my life better organized.