Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday funnies

I'm off to Charleston Lake Provincial Park next week. Here's some humour to tide you over.

1) I wonder why this wasn't working:
case "OrderNumber":
//TODO: Where can we get ORDER NUMBER from???

// if (!list.Contains(ORDER NUMBER))
// list.Add(ORDER NUMBER);

2) Don't worry...
catch (Exception e)
// don't worry, be happy

Debug.WriteLine(fn + e.Message);

3) FxCop says we aren't using the "messages" parameter to this method. It looks like there isn't a whole lot of value here...

public string CreateXml(ArrayList messages)
const string fn = "CreateXml(): ";
log.Debug(fn+"entering method");

return "";


Can you have too much passion?

The new buzzword these days is passion. You must have passion in your corporation. Microsoft has built a whole brand around the slogan, "Your potential. Our passion."

Passion is good, but you need to have the right kind. You don't want the bad kind of pseudo-passion, that Rory Blyth describes, where passion is faked simply for the sake of having passion. Rory says:

"It reminds me of a twelve year old smoking. If you’ve never watched an extremely young person smoking, then you should try it. They clearly don’t understand that smoking is about being addicted to something that smells awful and makes your breath smell like a rotting pig intestine. They very stiffly raise the cigarette, and then, with no soul or style, drag off of it, pretend to savor the flavor (since that’s what the cig ads tell us to do (which is like savoring having someone shit in your mouth)), and then exhale in the traditional fashion.

Understanding the process doesn’t count for anything if that’s the only reason you’re doing something."

I can't dispute the idea that passion is a good thing. I am all in favour of having passion. I used to have an assload of passion. In fact, on our old performance review system I used to grade myself as having too much passion.

A wise man, let's call him "Eric", once drew a picture for me. It was a triangle that looked like this:

At the top of the triangle are the people we were to be passionate about. The patients. Next were the physicians. These two were the reason we were in business. Next was the hospital, since they were paying the bills. Next was the company. Without any of the people at the top of the triangle, the company wouldn't even be here. Finally, the shareholders. The basic idea was that if we cared enough about the people that mattered, and made good software, everything else would sort itself out. The company and the shareholders (and the rest of us) would all do well.

Eric said that if we ever stopped caring about the people that mattered, if the company ever sold out, the triangle would flip, and look like this:

You can feel the passion melting. It's pretty hard to get all fired up about focusing on your core competency, or increasing shareholder value, or cost cutting. For me, at least, passion in software development comes from doing cool things. From helping people.

If triangles aren't your favourite shape, let's try another one - a sphere. In fact, there are two spheres - your sphere of influence and your sphere of concern. They look like this, where the sphere of influence is the red circle, and the sphere of concern is the green circle.

In an ideal world, the spheres are the same size. You are the master of your destiny. If you're living in an ideal world, you might as well stop reading now. In the real world, however, your sphere of concern is much larger than your sphere of influence. This is not good for maintaining passion.

There are two ways to fix this. You can shrink your sphere of concern, or grow your sphere of influence. Obviously, it's much easier to shrink your sphere of concern. In fact, the key to being happy is to care less. It's like a lobotomy, only cheaper. The recovery time is much shorter, and you don't have to ruin a good haircut.

You could turn to my friend Al. You might know him, Mr. Al Cohol? The thing is, I can't drink much more than I am now without hurting my liver permanently, and I don't really want to do that. And I just can't stop drinking - it means too much to me to give it up. It's become a hobby.

So the only thing to do is care less. Say with me, "Must. Care. Less." And exhale. Ahhhhh... I feel better already.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Lost Heir

The second show of the 2006 Blyth Festival season is Lost Heir, from Sean Dixon. I'm a huge Sean Dixon fan from way back, when I was the assistant stage manager for the premiere of End of the World Romance. He's come back to Earth since then. Lost Heir is much tamer, but at the same time much more appropriate for the Blyth crowd.

The set for the show was spartan, but a bizarre set design choice of having two rows of seats on the stage led to a painful half-hour of the ushers begging audience members to sit on stage. Finally they were able to find enough people to spend the entire show distracting the audience from their perch on stage. Terrible idea.

As for the show itself, the cast was a mixed bag. Layne Coleman is starting to remind me disturbingly of Ted Johns. The lead, Ingrid Haas was excellent, and an uncharacteristicly lucid Anne Anglin played herself quite well.

Overall, slightly better than Stompin' Tom, but not good enough to recommend.


The Ballad of Stompin' Tom

The Blyth Festival is celebrating the 100th premiere of a new Canadian play this summer. They've got a fantastic track record, with thirty years of telling compelling Canadian stories.

This season kicked off with a tribute to Stompin' Tom Connors, The Ballad of Stompin' Tom. For Stompin' Tom fans, it's a great show - lots of music, with a three piece band behind Randy Hughson as Tom Connors. If you're not a fan of this music, you'll probably come away from the show wondering what all the fuss is about.

Randy Hughson is as good as ever, but he doesn't have much to work with here. The script is weak. It's a series of loosely connected flashbacks to young Tom's life, with songs sprinkled throughout. The supporting cast is weaker, something for which Blyth is not normally known.

Not the best show I've seen in Blyth, but by far not the worst.


This week in the News of the Weird

A strangely familiar tale, from the News of the Weird.

A 25-year-old American from Boston, in Hanover, Germany, for World Cup matches, was forced to report sheepishly to police that he had no idea which hotel he had checked into or where it was. According to a Reuters report, the man, reportedly sober, remembered being driven past a park and a Mercedes dealership, but since there are several of those in Hanover, police had to drive him around town for an hour until he finally recognized the building. [Reuters, 6-23-06]


Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday funnies

1) Someone should explain to these guys what this really means...

//The mouse is no longer down.

_leftButtWentDownInHeader = false;
_controlOnWhichMouseWentDownOn = null;

2) Ok, this is in a testapp, but still...
//Great name isn't it. This has to be a nice looking color.
this.BackColor = System.Drawing.Color.PapayaWhip;

3) Ahh, cvs.

// Revision 1.79  2000/11/23 21:49:55 
john // bã€rrœkÈW|lkUu)ttûœltôœ_œfaí]aêùgò4/u)ttûœltôœ_œfaí]aêùgò4

4) So THAT's why the sort never worked!

public void SortList(SortDirections sortDirection)
// TODO: Add implementation
// be careful with threads

5) Don't you hate it when a comment stops in the middle of a

public enum UseContexts
/// Only to be used


Jobseekers Doing Online Background Checks On Employers, Too

Here's a newsflash. Job seekers are searching online for information about their potential employers. Well, duh! :)

It would be irresponsible for a job seeker to ignore what the online community is saying about the company they are looking to get into. If you're thinking of applying to Microsoft, you should get an equal dose of Scoble (or whoever replaces him) and Mini.

If you're looking for work in the high-tech sector here in Waterloo, you've got plenty of options.

If you favour a startup, you can try the Waterloo Technology Startup Network, WatStart.

If you want the big picture view of what's going on here in town, check out Gary Will's excellent site, and be sure to sign up for the Tech Digest.

Another nice site, although not that busy these days, is Waterloo Tech Jobs.

Finally, don't forget to check out these guys, just in case.

This all reminds me of the time I was looking for work, and thought I'd look pretty spiffy sporting a Blackberry on my hip. I searched for "RIM jobs". Not a wise move...


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The madcap laughs no more

Syd Barrett died a couple of days ago. More news here.

Today's playlist:

See Emily Play
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
Arnold Layne
Jugband Blues
Shine on You Crazy Diamond

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fun trailer accessory

I picked up a jar of ball grease today for the trailer hitch. I'm going to slather on a handful tonight.

And also next week, when I pick up the trailer again...

Quote of the day

From Scott Adams:

My favorite conspiracy theory is the one that says the world is being run by a handful of ultra-rich capitalists, and that our elected governments are mere puppets. I sure hope it’s true. Otherwise my survival depends on hordes of clueless goobers electing competent leaders. That’s about as likely as a dog pissing the Mona Lisa into a snow bank.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Arrowhead Provincial Park

Just back from five days at Arrowhead Provincial Park.

Arrowhead is hidden in the shadow of Algonquin, just past the Highway 60 exit, but it's a fabulous park. Very private campsites, tons of deer - we saw deer every evening while biking. My wife almost ran over one on her bike.

We biked around the lake one day. The trail was quite hilly, with a couple of muddy sections, but my five year old managed the 9km trip ok. She said her new adult tooth kept her going.

There's a great lookout spot on the far side of the campground. You can see 12,000 years into the past in the sandy hills.