Monday, July 31, 2006

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Seriously, grab the first book you see. Not the most impressive book you see.
In the Visualization Toolkit, we call this collection of graphics primitives polygonal data. The polygonal dataset consists of vertices, polyvertices, lines, polylines, polygons, and triangle strips. The topology and geometry of polygonal data is unstructured, and the cells that compose that dataset vary in topological dimension.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wow. I don't even want to think about how much money I lost today.

Channeling Dilbert

Last Monday...
Program manager: We promised our client feature X, and discovered it doesn't work. How come?
My team: Um, because you never told us about it?
PM: Ok, well, we're really in a bind here. How soon can you do this?
Us, grumbling... Well, let's see. If we stop everything we're doing and put Dave on the task, we can hit August 9th with 80% confidence.
PM: Hm... how about August 2nd?
Us: Not really, that's awfully tight. We might pull it off, but there's less than a 50/50 chance. You should tell [client] August 9th.
PM: Well, ok. August 9th it is.

Last Wednesday...
Me: Ok, I've gotten the changes made and have a sample available on my desktop. Can someone verify this?
Other teams: Hm... there are a few issues we didn't expect as a result of this. Can you fix those, too?
Me: Ok, I'll look into them.

This past weekend...
Me: Issues resolved. Can you re-run your tests?
Me: Hello? Hello?

Other teams: Yeah, ok, verified that the issues are resolved. Thanks for working on this over the weekend, even though we weren't willing to sacrifice our free time to help with this urgent feature we needed.

PM: Why isn't this out to QA yet?!!
Us: Um, because today's the 26th, and we're still packaging things up to get it to them by Friday.
PM: But... but... you can't! You have to do it today!!!11!1one!!eleven!!!
Us: Why?
PM: Because it has to be out by August 2nd!
Us: No... we told you August 9th. August 2nd was if a miracle happened.
PM: But... but... it did! You got it working already! And I sorta promised it to [client] then.
We fume, steam comes out our ears, etc.
My manager, cc'ing our VP: Gee, that's too bad. Good luck explaining that to [client].

Monday, July 24, 2006


For those who don't care about chips -- silicon, not potato -- skip this post.

For those who do, you've probably heard that AMD has agreed to purchase ATI for US$5.3 billion in a deal which has been rumored to be in the works for a few months now.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I've been advocating the need for tighter integration for awhile now. Having a full computer-in-a-package -- processor, memory, and even magnetic storage -- where the only ports are power, video/audio, and human interface device ports will enable a wide variety of devices we've only started to think about.

On the other hand, why did it have to be ATI?

I've found Nvidia's offerings much more interesting in this area. They got the idea right in the first place: they made GPUs, then chipsets, then chipsets with GPUs in them. (Admittedly, these were low end and many people reading this have probably panned them, but I'm not focusing on the power-user market here.) In some respects, the only things left were the processor, memory, and storage. Perhaps AMD felt threatened by them?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ferry security announcements

You'd be surprised at the frivolous things people complain about. (Yes, I'm guilty as charged, here.)

Recently, the ferry system here changed the security announcement which is played over the public address system at the beginning of every run. Instead of having an unnotable voice read through it unemotionally, they're now recited by local celebrities, and in such a manner that their personalities come through.

You can't help but notice them -- which is the point.

Mariner's play-by-play announcer Dave Niehaus is generally regarded as the most annoying. I've tried to ignore it and focus on my work -- it's darn near impossible. Local radio personality Ciscoe Morris is amusing; he finishes the announcement with, "Enjoy your trip, and don't forget to eat your Brussel sprouts."

Governor Christine Gregoire's tape doesn't have her actually read the announcement itself. She gives an intro (in a strangely depressing voice) about how the Washington State Ferry system is one of the safest in the world and asks you to heed the security message, which is read by an unnamed assistant.

At any rate, the announcements are the subject of more conversations (that I overhear, at least) than the major world crises. Still not as prevalent as the conversations about Dilbert-like working conditions, though.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


They say you can get around in Victoria without a car quite easily. What they meant to say was, "You can get to all the tourist traps in Victoria without a car quite easily."

We were rather disappointed. Don't get me wrong; it's one of the prettiest towns around -- nice harbour, seaplanes landing every few minutes, gardens, nice architecture, etc. Underneath, though, there's just no substance.

The Royal BC Museum was a letdown. The First Peoples gallery was rather dry (mostly fact after fact); the modern history gallery was amusing for all the wrong reasons (a display on life in Canada in the 1990s...). The temporary exhibits (think: games with a thin veil of education applied) were a strange sight, as they were on loan from the U.S. The "Speed" exhibit used imperial units and bits of U.S. history everywhere. The "Fore the Planet" mini-golf game was non-location centric up until we got to the part about the migratory path of some bird. The map of the Americas you putted on omitted Canada entirely.

Ah, well. Vancouver should be better, from what I've been told. And Toronto, Montreal, and Charlettetown (PEI) were all quite enjoyable.

Everything has gotten more expensive, though, with the C$ up near US 90¢.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Making a run for the border...

With my wife and parents-in-law, we're infiltrating deep into Canada this weekend.

Ok, not exactly that far beyond the border, and parts of B.C. which are south of the 49th.

Hm... we insisted on carving Point Roberts out of Tsawwassen, yet we let them keep all of Vancouver Island?

Monday, July 3, 2006

Grr. I have managers up my ass this morning, asking me to help get this nasty bug fixed. We've proven it's a compiler bug; I've shown it can be fixed by updating our compiler from its 1998 vintage to something a tad more recent, like 2002 or 2003 . We're now trying to write code which does nothing, but coaxes the compiler into doing the right thing.

In the meantime, the entire Amazon build infrastructure is conspiring against me.
  • "Your password is about to expire in 37 seconds. Change it on this page -- oops, sorry, we broke that page!"
  • "This host isn't bootstrapped for builds -- oops, sorry, you don't have permission to bootstrap it."
  • "You haven't deployed the build infrastructure to this host -- oops, sorry, our deployment servers aren't responding."
This wouldn't normally annoy me to the point where I'm posting about it except for the aforementioned managers in my ass. I don't really like anything in my ass, thank you, let alone managers.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

For those who are feeling that sense of rejection...

From FOUND Magazine.