So, last week I went to Fort Worth for several days to work.  Overall it was a very good trip.  Quite a lot of work got done, but really nothing else interesting happened there.  I got to see Walker for dinner one night, which was nice.  He seems to be doing well at his new job.  I also got to have dinner down at the stockyards, which was very, very good.

Over the weekend [ profile] retcon came for a visit, which was great.  Friday night we did Pleasure Island, and at one point he was dancing for quite a while with a seriously smokin' hot chick.  Unfortunately her boyfriend showed up, which was a bummer.  I had already been making plans on sending him a text message saying "have fun, call me when you need to be picked up..."  Ah, well.  Saturday we went to Animal Kingdom and did Expedition Everest, which absolutely rocked.  We also did the safari and grabbed some lunch before going over to MGM.  Over there we did the Tower of Terror, which was excellent as usual - except for the part where it ate my cell phone.  We wrapped up the day at Epcot, with a spin on Mission: Space and dinner in Morocco.  The fireworks were particularly nice, since the park wasn't very crowded and Kris was able to see everything (she usually can't see over the crowd).  It was like our wedding night all over again, and that was pretty dang cool.  Sunday was more of a lazy day, although we did go out and do go-karts at one point.  It was damn cold (yeah, I know, Florida cold - but Riff was cold too, so I don't think I was being a wimp), so we didn't stay out long.  Early Monday morning I had to take Riff back to the airport, and that was it for the visit.  We are hoping that hie will come back again for another visit later in the year, perhaps in the fall when it is comfortably warm without being ungodly hot and humid.

The other big news is that not only is Ben doing very well in his new school, his new teacher has taken aim on the potty training issue.  For the past two days Ben has gone to school in regular underpants, and he has stayed dry all day.  The end of diapers draws near, and we are all deleriously happy about this development.
lokheed: (Default)
( Jan. 20th, 2006 03:48 pm)
So our air department has a data entry reduncancy issue.  They have to enter the same information in multiple unconnected systems in order to do their job.  It's not just a pain in the butt, it dramatically reduces the number of transactions they can complete in a day.  One part of this involves the printing of either the FedEx label or the USPS envelope.  FedEx has made available a web service for performing all kinds of transactions with them, including printing your own shipping labels.  To be able to use their system, however, you have to pass a certification process which understandably involves your printing a variety of test labels and sending them to FedEx to verify, so they are sure that they will be able to properly scan the barcodes.

I completed a piece early this week is basically wired so that the user just enters the record locator for the ticket request.  Once they have selected that record they just have to hit a "Generate Label / Envelope" button, which pulls up a form pre-populated with the Sending and Destination addresses and with the FedEx account number already entered.  From that form they can make any changes if necessary (almost always not), and click one button to create the FedEx ship request which gives them the tracking number and creates the shipping label to be printed.  Or, if the tickets are being sent by mail they can click one button to print the envelope.  Assuming the data was entered correctly into Sabre to begin with, the user never needs to enter any of that information again - the label or the envelope just pick up the existing data from the other system and print them out.

Now, actually getting the binary data for that FedEx label was a chore in and of itself.  It comes back from the web service as a string, which needs to be parsed through and then written one bit at a time to the final image file.  While parsing through that data you have to watch for an escape character, and if you hit that you have to read the next two characters to find the high bit and low bit in order to correctly write the escaped bit into the image.  Once you have the final image, then there is the challenge of sending it to the printer properly sized.  If the image gets distorted at all then the barcodes will not be able to be scanned.  It was a fun and interesting challenge.

The end result so far is that the users are very, very happy with the interface.  And just a few minutes ago I found out that we passed the FedEx certification on our first try.  This makes me very, very happy.  I have happy end users, I have happy team members, and that makes me a happy boy.
lokheed: (Default)
( Jan. 11th, 2006 10:58 pm)
So it's my wife's birthday today.  I hardly saw her.  I have spent the past fifteen hours straight coding so that I could complete my functinality before losing my broadband connection tomorrow morning.  My brain is numb.

Tomorrow morning the land line and broadband get shut off here, and the satellite and broadband connections get hooked up at the house.  I'll be basically moving all of the electronics tomorrow, plus whatever else I can fit in my car.

Friday is the main move, getting all of the furniture and whatever else is left up to the house.

The remainder of the weekend will be cleaning out the apartment and handing over the keys, and settling into the house.  I expect to be offline basically for the next two days at least, and probably until late in the weekend.  So if you don't hear from me, it's not personal.
Spent last night mostly sick.  I'll spare you the details, but I didn't really get to sleep until around 3:30 am.  I tried to work today, got some work done in the morning, but by lunchtime I just couldn't concentrate anymore.  I wound up emailing in sick and taking the afternoon off.  I spent a solid hour just soaking in a hot bath with my ears under the water and a washcloth covering my eyes.  I didn't even hear Kris come home from work.  I felt progressively better as the afternoon wore on, which was nice.  I don't know if it was stress, or a very mild flu, or what it was.  I'm just glad it's mostly gone now.

In the evening we went to check out the Ice! exhibit at Gaylord Palms.  It was pretty dang cool, an exhibit of ice sculptures kept at nine degrees.  The ice slide was pretty sweet.

After that, we went over to Downtown Disney and caught the evening showing of King Kong.  I loved it.  Lots of nice references slipped in, both to the original and the 70's remake, but my favorite was the empty "rat monkey of Sumatra" cage in the ship's cargo hold.  That and the part where Kong went past St. Patrick's Cathedral and I thought, "hey, that's right where we stayed for our honeymoon!"

Oh, and we're buying a house the day after tomorrow.  Did I mention that?  I can't remember if I've mentioned that before....
I don't know if I have mentioned it here before, but we are buying a house on Friday.  You know how it is, trying to find that perfect Christmas gift.

So the final insurance paperwork got processed this morning and we are good to go.  We close at noon on Friday, but the one piece of information we are missing is *where* exactly the closing is happening.  I've called our realtor something like six times in the past two days and have not yet heard back from her, which is just a wee bit frustrating.  I don't know what's going on, but given that she is going to be making at least ten grand off of the transaction, you 'd think she would return a phone call.  I'm just sayin'.

Yesterday Kris drove home from work.  By "drove home" I mean that after work she drove to the new house.  (Embarrassing full disclosure:  when she got home and told me she had driven home from work, my first response was something along the lines of, "well I didn't figure you'd walked home..."  So yeah, I'm a goober.)  Anyway, the driving time for her to get home was about thirty minutes.  That's compared to the hour and ten minutes in regularly takes her to get home currently.  The morning and evening commutes tend to be very different, but it looks like on average she will get back an hour of her life every day just because of the move.  So that's pretty dang cool.

Work-wise things continue to crank along.  I finished up my web service work today, and also fixed some new issues that had come up with the conference system.  Tomorrow I get to tackle another facet of the air project.  Fun, fun.  And I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically.  Which is pretty cool.

Did I mention how much I love my wife?  She made fudge tonight.  Well, she cooked dinner too, and it was good, but she also made fudge.  Fudge is good.
lokheed: (Default)
( Nov. 30th, 2005 11:51 pm)
It's nearly midnight, and I am just now getting back to my hotel room. I walked out the door at 7am. I'm too tired to write much of anything coherant aside from again saying how much I love my new team. Raf and Amelia were givens, and Ronnie has been very good to work with face to face. On paper he is my boss but we are working very much on a peer level, which is exactly what the team needs. There is not an ego to be found in the room, just four people whose only focus is to just get the job done. I'm definitely in it for the long haul.

Oh, and there is a wicked dueling piano bar in Fort Worth. I drank (a little), sang (a lot), and just generally had a great time socializing. You wouldn't have recognized me.
I have to say, overall today was a very good day. I like the Fort Worth office, it just has a generally more friendly and open atmosphere. It was great to start off the day seeing Raf, and I spent the bulk of the day sharing an office with Amelia. I fixed three problems in production related to the conference system, and also put in some solid coding time on the air project. Beyond that I chatted with Pam in HR (nothing earth shaking there, just a social call) and spent a solid hour talking to David Hansen (which was very productive as well). I came away from those two encounters feeling much better about the long-term outlook for the tech department. Aside from that I was able to put a few more faces to names (a phrase I heard a lot was, "oh, you're Ron Miles....") The only downside to the day was that Ronnie was not there, since his house was finally closing. He spent the entire day dealing with the closing and with moving issues. He should be in tomorrow, but the cynical side of me figures his wife will go into labor tomorrow. Seriously, though, I am sure I will get plenty of face time with him before the week is out. We have to get this Air project cranked out before the first of the year, and we're both fired up to get it done. I can't even begin to explain how nice it is to be back on a team where the entire vibe is "What needs to be done? How do we get there? Ok, let's do it."

After work I went out to dinner with three co-workers, and had a very good time. I have never had much of a chance to get to know Todd, and he seems like a good guy. Much of the dinner conversation was about wedding proposals and honeymoons and such, so at least I was able to hold up my side of the conversation without feeling like a complete idiot. Plus it's not often I hang out at a nice steakhouse and order a $36 steak. So that was cool.

So yeah, it was a good day. Aside from the "missing Kris" thing. She had a sucky day, and I wish I could have been home for her tonight. I know she doesn't sleep well when I am gone, and I surely don't sleep well when I am away. ("...and he wonders aloud why a feeling so strong makes the body so weak?")
lokheed: (Default)
( Nov. 29th, 2005 06:43 am)
So, we had a very nice long weekend. On Thanksgiving Kris and I had my mom over for dinner, and we had boundless quantities of food. Enough that there were leftovers to take us all the way through the long weekend. We also went out and saw the new Harry Potter (good movie, and Barty Crouch Jr. is the new Doctor, yay!).
Read more... )
lokheed: (Default)
( Nov. 18th, 2005 12:22 pm)
The theme of today's mandatory three hour staff meeing is "Moving from Good to Great".  Thus far we are twenty minutes past the meeting start time.  The Live Meeting conference is not working, and is telling everyone the meeting is full.  To compensate for that, the CEO has had to email a copy of the powerpoint presentation to the entire company.  Now the dial in phone line is also full.  The New York office has thus far not been able to join at all.  I am burning cell minutes just sitting here listening to the inane chatter of people from all around the country.

Boy am I motivated.
The exodus continues.  We are losing the man with the most intimate knowledge of our legacy systems.  We are losing the woman with the deepest knowledge of our database design.  We are losing the super-star developer who has essentially re-architected our entire system for the better in the past year. We are losing a very strong QA person.  We still have no business analysts.  We are still short a director.  And tomorrow we have a three hour staff meeting that carries the strong odor of "Who Moved My Cheese".

I still have no intention of quitting, but...  good god, when is somebody in the upper echelon going to take notice and stop the bleeding?
We released last night.  A critical fuction failed today (the ability for agencies to opt consumers out of a particular piece of marketing), with today being the deadline to complete that opt out process.  Significant business impact.

After some mad scrambling, and general confusion because none of the relevant code had changed between the last release and this one, we discovered that the problem was completely unrelated to the new release.  It was just a coincidence of timing.

No, the problem was entirely a logic error on my count.  I handled for when the commit deadline is later than today.  I handled for when the commit deadline was earlier than today.  What I failed to handle for was when the commit deadline *was* today.  That's a rookie mistake if ever there was one, and I am thoroughly embarrassed to have made it.

The immediate fix in production was to change the deadline to tomorrow.  The proper code fix is being compiled right now for a rapid hotfix deployment.

I'm going to go crawl under a rock now.