Sunday, January 22, 2006

School, Flash, and Everything In Between

School started this last week, I'm back in the thick of it again! I'm taking a marketing class this semester, which so far has proven quite interesting. I'm starting to learn there is a lot more to marketing than trying to get people to buy things they don't want or need. I'll be sure to post my key learnings at the end of the semester.

This weekend I visited my Dad to celebrate his 52nd birthday. It was interesting because he and his wife are currently taking care of her mother, his mother in law, who is 98 years old. She is in good health and able to move around on her own, but has trouble getting around in the winter so she stays with them for the season. Anyway, it just got me to thinking about how in as little as 20-30 years my Dad could be in a similar state and how that doesn't seem that distant anymore. It is strange to think it might be that close. I have this childhood image of my father, a guy in his late 20's/early 30's who is big, strong, and unstoppable. I think that will always be the image I have of him in my mind.

It is kind of funny how we remember people like that. Either wearing specific clothing, at a certain age, or doing a certain behavior. What is it about that person that makes us remember that? For my Dad I can only assume I remember the strength of his youth because I looked to him as my childhood protector. Similarly, when I remember a friend it is typically of them doing the one activity that best defined them or wearing the one shirt I always saw them in. Interesting.

Well, that is enough time dedicated to an aside, here is the rest of the dirt my current happenings...

I'm leaving for NYC this Friday to visit my girlfriend. I'm thinking this time I should be at the airport at least 24 hours early to catch my flight. There is no way I'm going to miss this flight after what happened last time. It has been a month since we last saw each other. I know I've said this before, but going a month in between visits is killer. At least this is a temporary assignment for her. 5 months down and only 19 to go before she moves back.

I've been playing with Flash on my own time lately. It is pretty cool stuff. Although ActionScript from what I can tell is the worst language on the face of the planet (a tainted version of JavaScript) and the IDE Macromedia provides is junk compared to nearly any of the other programing environments (most notably Visual Studio), just about anything can be done with it. The program I wrote is a simple scrolling menu with some drag and drop functionality, but it forced me to learn many of the basic concepts and workings of Flash. Anyway, it was a fascinating little project to do before school geared up again. It is always good to have something new to learn to broaden my experience base.

Finally, for all you coders out there, Krista posted a link in this post about this hilarious site. Every day it highlights a new abuse of basic coding principles as witnessed in real life.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Real Programmer

A friend of mine emailed me a link to a story about a "real" programmer. The story is from 1983 and it is funny how little things change. I remember back in college some students would brag about how they wrote all their code in notepad because they were just that good. Or that C++ is the only true way to program because you can control your memory usage, unlike Java or .Net. Of course they were also very unproductive.

Similarly, this story refers to Fortran as a crutch in favor of machine code. Granted, it is a little tongue in cheek, but it tells a interesting story and gets its point across. If you don't code, you may not appreciate it as much.

Here it is:
The Story of Mel

Monday, January 02, 2006

Christmas Week Adventures

What an awesome week! I took the week off work to spend with family at various Christmas and New Years events. My girlfriend was a saint to put up with it all for 10 days straight, I am amazed she is willing to put up with all of it. We spent a couple days at my Dad's place, all the steps were in town so we ate too much, slept too much, and played cards too much; all the things that need to happen over holidays.

Christmas with my mom's family was a blast too. Every year for the past 5 years my uncle and I have been exchanging Potted Meat Food Product in unique ways including encasing it in cement, building a cage for it, and creating a potted meat 8 Ball. This year it was my turn and I created a toy pet out of it, and titled it "My Pet Meat." The idea was to make a children's toy so kids could play with their food. Despite this being kid friendly food, I strongly recommend against feeding this to your kids. One look at the ingredients would explain why. Out of respect of the reader, I will not list them here, however the previous link contains the highlights. It may not seem overly complicated, but it is crazy difficult to spray paint cardboard and coat it such that it solid white. Cardboard soaks up paint like Homer Simpson soaks up Duff. On top of that, Elmers glue doesn't stick to smooth aluminum very well. Still, I think the finished result was worth the effort even if it looks a little rough. Needless to say, my uncle got a good laugh out of it.

My girlfriend's mom and her mom's husband came and stayed at my place for a couple days. They drove all the way from Nebraska for a little Christmas with us. It was great to have them around, it gave me an excuse to try my hand at a little cooking, something I never do any more. We were able to get in some ice skating with them and checked out the Narnia movie. My mom and her husband even had a chance to come over for dinner and meet everyone. Very relaxing time, and a lot of fun.

My step brother's wedding reception was New Year's eve. It was about a 40 miles from my Dad's place, so afterwards we planned to spend the night at his place. The only problem was that the spare key was not where it was supposed to be, I think it fell and buried itself in the snow. Lucky for me a friend of mine who lived near by didn't mind a 1:30 a.m. phone call and unexpected visitors. Talk about saving my butt. Now that is what you call a friend.

Happy New Year!!!