April 10, 2014

Once upon a time, I’d write post after post on this site, ideas flowing like beer in a Milwaukee tavern. Then, it kind of petered out. I’m not sure what “it” was that did the petering. Some may call it a “muse”, but that sounds a tad high-minded and artistic for my blatherings. It may be that I just got tired of it, or found other things to occupy my time.

Facebook, Reddit, and the internet in general really started to eat a lot of my time a few years ago, particularly after getting a smartphone, which allowed me to immerse myself in it. Some say that all this input coming at you 24/7 results in a sort of ADD - the inability to concentrate on - hey, look! Rob Lowe’s doing an AMA on Reddit!

Okay, that was cheap.

I wonder sometimes if I ran out of crap to say, if I’d gotten everything out, or maybe I just didn’t need to write any more. I went through kind of a hard time a few years ago - my first marriage tanked, my business went not far behind, and I lost my Dad, all within a couple of years of each other. I started around that time, writing furiously for a while. I rediscovered guitar, and played the hell out of that for a few years - something I hadn’t done in a while. I also drank a little bit more than is good for a person - not enough to really destroy a life or the larger parts of a liver, but… too much.  

After a while, things got better. I found a new love, and became part of a family. Things smoothed out on the professional end. And I played guitar less, wrote less, and drank less. Then my first iPhone happened, and everything got short shrift.

Now, I’m working hard to find balance. Play guitar here and there. Write a blog post, or maybe an article now and then. Love my family. Drink a little scotch. Play a little golf. Get down tonight.


October 23, 2013


Make a Wish

May 21, 2012

I've spent a good deal of my life programming computers. And by "programming", I mean "conjuring and cajoling them into doing a fair approximation of what I had in mind".  It's an endeavor that I've usually found to be enjoyable and easy enough for me to support myself with. There are computer languages and such to learn, but that's arguably much easier than learning english, german, or how to talk to teenagers.

If there's anything I've learned about computers, it's that the best thing about a computer is that it will do exactly what you tell it to. The most frustrating thing about a computer? It will do exactly what you tell it to. It's kinda like genie jokes. You know, where the genie is asked for something, and interprets the wish in an unexpected way. Like this...

A 60-year-old man and his 60-year-old wife are walking down the beach and discover an old oil lamp. The wife picks it up, rubs it, and a genie comes out. He tells them he will grant them each one wish. The wife says she wants to travel around the world. The genie waves his hand and poof -- the wife suddenly has tickets in her hand for a world cruise. Then the genie asks the husband what he wants. He says, "I wish my wife was 30 years younger than me." So the genie waves his hand and poof -- the husband is suddenly 90-years-old.

You see? The husband got exactly what he asked for - even though it wasn't what he intended. Programming computers is a lot like that. You have to be very careful and very specific about telling it exactly what you want. For this reason, programmers - when hired to accomplish a task - ask a whole lot of very specific, very annoying questions. Most normal people find this really difficult to deal with, and bosses especially so, thus will usually dispatch some underling to deal with the programmers. This is where the problems usually start. Because now you're playing the telephone game.

You remember the telephone game from your childhood - that's the one where one person starts with a message and whispers it to the person next to them, like I purchased an avocado today. That person then repeats it to the person next to them, and so on down the line, so when the message comes out at the end, the lady at the end gasps, slaps the man next to her, and screams that she'd never do such a disgusting thing with a bowl of guacamole.

Now put this scenario into a corporate environment. Some CEO gets the idea that his company's website should do some magical thing for customers. He tells a vice president, who in turn tells some director, who in turn tells one of their middle managers. This middle manager will most likely hire a programmer, but, being a boss himself, can't tolerate all those annoying questions, so he turns to his underlings, who answer all the programmers' questions with their watered-down, fourth-generation version of the CEO's vision. 

So now you've played the telephone game with a genie at the end of the line. Fun, eh? That's what programming for a living is like. So the next time you try to pay a bill with your bank's online bill-pay system, don't be surprised if it shows you a dirty picture featuring guacamole.