Posts Tagged ‘Personal’


I stepped out of the office to get the mail this afternoon and realize it is hot outside. In fact it is officially 79F outside and less than 70F in my office. I was sitting in the office wearing a sweat shirt. So I opened up the windows and let in the noise of the birds chirping, the buses braking, the children playing, and the cars racing down the street.

I have declared it is too nice to work. Unfortunately I have a pile of work to get done today and cannot take the afternoon off. The boss here at White Light is a slave driver.

Spring has officially arrived in Michigan, but winter will be back as I am sure we should get one good snow storm before May 1st.



Seattle got a “pineapple express” storm Sunday while Igor and I went sightseeing around Washington state. If you are not familiar with this weather term – it refers to a powers low pressure storm that has much of the energy flowing from the tropics near Hawaii.

So we observed lots of clouds around Mt. St. Helen’s and around Mt Rainier. The roads were closed as I expected. We did see part of the crater at Mt. St. Helens from 24 miles away. Nothing impressive, but fun any way. Igor was impressed by the massive forests and the different number of trees. He told me the Czech Republic harvests their trees and replant so they never get very big and the number of varieties is very low.

We headed up to Mt. Rainier to check out more clouds around the dormant volcano. We stopped to get some food for lunch and talked to some locals about the roads. We found out the entire park is closed because it was hit by a storm last November that wiped out an entire campground and the roads near the southwest entrance. Naturally we were bummed. We thought we would head up anyway to see what might be around. Good thing too, because while the park is closed it was open to foot traffic and we could hike in and see the storm washout. It was impressive. I felt bad for the locals because their businesses have been hit really hard because no one is visiting except for a few morbid observers.

So we observed the clouds around Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier and headed back to the Olympia peninsula. It started to rain (what a shock in Seattle). We stopped to take some pictures of a suspension bridge under construction which was cool. We took a ferry back to Seattle which was fun and allowed us to observe more clouds over the city and the sound. Lots of pictures.

A very nice day indeed. Now off to work at the MVP Summit.



I am waiting for Igor Vit to arrive here at Sea-Tac so I thought I would check out the AT&T; Wi-Fi. It works great and since I am an AT&T; customer for my DSL at home I get to use it just by logging in. Nice.

While in Seattle this weekend I will be going down to Portland to reduce the states to visit to two.
Igor and I are hoping to visit Mt. St. Helens and a quick drive by Mt. Rainer tomorrow if the roads are open. Fortunately I stopped by my local AAA office before coming out here or I would not have known the roads into both National Parks are often closed in the winter by the heavy snow. If we cannot get into the parks we will drive up the peninsula to see another part of the state neither of us have visited.

Then back to Seattle tomorrow night to join up with the rest of the VFP MVPs for a fun week with Microsoft. I doubt I will be blogging much about the MVP Summit, because I likely signed something saying I can’t.

Have a good week.


I have a tradition about Super Bowl Sunday for the last four or five years, maybe more of watching the commercials, and usually kicking out some code or do something techy as I listen to the game (occasionally watching the replays). This year was no different.

I purchased a new laptop before Christmas. I am typing this blog entry with my old laptop. Goofy for sure!

The fact is I have been too darn busy cranking out VFP code, running conversions, doing sales calls, and preparing for conferences that I have not had time to load 100+ apps and configure everything to make the screaming ThinkPad Z61P anything more useful than a boat anchor running Windows XP Professional. OK, maybe it only takes 50 apps to make it useful, but I think I will have close to 110 apps loaded when I am done later this week.

I started out late in the afternoon recalling where I left off. Last I left the machine I finished installing IIS, and uninstalled all the unnecessary apps like Norton Anti-virus and Google Desktop Search and a few other cycle stealers.

I joined the White Light domain, installed AVG Network Anti-virus, installed the firewall on my server, installed ZoneAlarm Pro, upgraded to IE v7.0, and of course installed FireFox v2.0. I figure any one of these apps could take out the machine so if I have to rebuild, now is the time to destroy {g}.

Next was Office 2007 Enterprise. I have been a little reluctant to load it only because I probably don’t have the time to get adjusted to it at the moment. I was pleasantly surprised how fast it installed and I installed everything (2 GBs of everything). I opened up Word and activated it and started typing the paper log I was creating to a document this process. So far I am really liking the ribbon. Microsoft has made some subtle changes to it since I last saw it demoed and it looks like they were reading my mind on some of the things I disliked from a discoverability perspective. I am hoping the rest is going to be so pleasurable.

The next thing I installed is Visual FoxPro, starting a VFP 5 all the way to VFP 9 SP2 CTP. For some reason the Visual Studio 6 (VFP 6) install barfed and won’t let me install the Visual Studio 6 .0 SP5 disk. Not a big deal since I can just copy the VFP 6 directory from my old machine. I am a bit worried about the InterDev implications, but it should be okay.

I am probably 33% of the way to productively using the machine. A couple more nights this week should do it. It is not installing the apps that is a pain. It is the configuring them and getting data moved over for SQL Server, setting up all the ODBC connections, and getting all the Web sites up in IIS that is time consuming. I cannot take the new machine to production until I can certify my presentations work for OzFox and I can remotely support customers while in Australia in a couple of weeks. I am already bordering on breaking the new app installation rule so I will have to see how things go over the next couple of days.

Speaking of traditions…I was really disappointed in the Super Bowl commercials this year. Very little humor, and very little creativity. Nothing really stands out except the FedEx “outer space”, which I enjoyed the theme of going opposite of the dinosaurs, but still had one of the astronauts getting whacked like they did with the caveman getting whacked last year. The animated Coke commercial was good because of the pay-it-forward theme.


Yesterday I returned home to Detroit from a business trip out west. I returned to Michigan to find ice and snow had glued my windshield wipers to the windshield. As I scraped the ice off one of the wipers ripped. No problem since they were wearing out and I had the new ones in the trunk. This is where my “I am not an idiot” story starts.

It was cold but sunny yesterday so I decided to drive home and not worry about the wiper. I figured it would be easier to change the wiper in the garage than in the middle of the airport parking lot. No problem getting home, but I wanted to catch up on email, and one thing led to another and I forgot about the wiper until this morning. So I look at the wipers and try to figure out how to remove them. It was not obvious so I cracked the user manual. The index and table of contents were very helpful, but this is where it ended. I turn to the page to change wiper blades. Step one is to turn your key to the accessory setting. Step two is to turn on the wipers. Step three is turn the key to the off position when the wipers are up in the middle of the windshield.

Sounds easy, right. No. Every time I did this the wipers parked themselves down at the bottom of the windshield. I am not an idiot, but..

So I tried again and again. Each time worrying the metal of the ripped wiper blade would scratch the windshield. What engineer thought this was a good idea? You need to turn them on to change them? Stoopid. Plain stoopid.

I decided to take it to the dealer and let them explain to me how you change a wiper blade. The service person was nice, but her face was revealing her thoughts something to the effect: “Another male idiot who can’t simply change his wiper blades. I bet he has an I.Q similar to the rock he crawled out from under this morning…”

I mentioned that I followed the instructions in the owner manual and the blades would not stop in the middle. She told me the owners manual is “useless, and should not be followed.” I agreed with her, but it was the only thing I had to go on because the user interface to change them was not intuitive. I revealed to her that I am a software developer to hopefully get her to think my I.Q. level was higher than the rock I crawled out from underneath this morning {g}. I believe this did not affect her perception of me one bit.

She offered to educate me on the finer points of wiper replacement and then failed miserably. The words out of her mouth as she battled the steps to not reproduce the problem made me want to laugh, but I figured this would only worsen the situation. Long story shorter, it took a couple of mechanics to wrestle with this and finally get the blades replaced. Sadly, they did not teach me how to do it, but it does not matter since my lease is up in a few months and I will get two new blades with my new car.

So the lessons learned are simple:

  1. Update the manual with the reality of changing the wipers to include a free visit to the professionals at your local dealership because our engineers are not bright enough to make it easy. In fact, just include one piece of paper instead of the book, the one page could be a list of dealers in your area. This would be a huge time saver for all of us.
  2. Reengineer the problem so end users can perform the simple task and not waste the professionals time and save money for the car company. This does not have to be hard by design.
  3. Improve the help interface for cars. I suggest voice activated link back to the central office call center. Any time the car senses you are swearing or cursing at it the call should be placed. OnStar, are you listening to me? This would actually make it worth the US$17 I pay you bozos every month.

Did I mention I hate hardware and cars?


I have not played tag since grade school, but Alex Feldstein caught me on the virtual play ground. Nobody told me where the “safe zone” was so I got caught. I am innocently working hard on three client’s projects today and now someone wants me to write about stuff people may or may not know about me. I have actually enjoyed reading some of these over the last month this meme has been going around. Guess this is someones way of telling me to take a break. OK, here it is…

  1. I have had more than 125 stitches in my head at one time (doctors stopped counting) when I dove through a plate glass doorwall when I was 8 years old. I am sure this explains a lot for those of you wondering {g}). I was sleep walking/running/diving at the time. I had a swimming test the next morning that must have concerned me at the time. According to my grandpa who came over while I was being stitched up, it was a near death experience because the remaining glass at the top of the doorwall shifted down, but got stuck. Otherwise I likely would have been fatally wounded. The largest scar is along the right side of my head. It makes for interesting conversation when I get my hair cut. I usually tell them about a gang fight I was in years ago {g}. I lost a lot of blood that night, but did not require a transfusion. And for the record: this is not my only near death experience.
  2. My dream job is being an astronaut, but sleepwalking is something they frown upon so I took up my second favorite job instead. I almost blended the two while I worked at EDS. EDS had a job opening for systems engineer on the shuttle maintenance software. I wanted to apply for the job, but Therese did not want to live in Titusville for a couple of years. It had nothing to do with Florida, and everything to do with living more than a short drive to visit family. I love my wife more than my work so I turned down the opportunity.
  3. I did horrible in my first computer science class (CIS 101) at Oakland University. I finished with a “B”, but I was use to all-”A”s in high school, and it took a near perfect score on my final to get the lowly-”B”. As my first semester was ending I went to my grandparents for lunch since they were close by. I was telling my grandpa (who never finished high school) that I was thinking about moving over to the business school. He talked me out of it and before lunch was over I knew I was not going to give up so easily. He gave me some of the best advice, and in this instance he told me school is where you make mistakes and learn from them. He also told me to go into a career where I was going to have the most fun. Turns out he is one of the wisest people I have ever known and I wish he was still alive today to benefit from his guidance. I believe I caught the pay-it-forward mentality from this great man.
  4. I live in the motor city and have no interest in cars. In fact, I don’t like them because they cost a lot and lose value quickly. I don’t like working on them, have no interest in fixing them up, I hate when they breakdown, and pretty much would do without them if there was a better mode of transportation available.
  5. I rarely drink alcohol as most of you know, but I use to collect beer cans when I was younger. My dad would occasionally let me taste the different beers when I got a new one that was not yet opened. I still have an unopened Billy Beer, which is the beer President Jimmy Carter’s brother’s labeled back in the 70′s. I threw out most of the collection years ago, but kept some of the more unusual cans.

Hope you enjoyed this. Hmmm, who to tag next…

Andrew MacNeill
Kevin Ragsdale
Kevin Cully
Mike Feltman
Randy Jean