Browse Month: January 2003

01/29/2003

… So I’m helping a client (well, actually a client of a client) set up a web site on a new server. I talked directly with the service provider so I could get the technical lowdown about what the server supports and so on. My favorite answer was when I asked him about the type of server:

Me: “So this is a Unix server, right?”
Him: “Yes sir.”
Me: “What kind, exactly? Sun, Linux, SGI?”
Him: “It’s Unix.”
Me: “I know; what operating system?”
Him: “One moment.”
(long pause while he consults with the IT gurus)
Him: “Sir, it’s a Unix system. We support all your Unix software.”

Uhh…

01/29/2003

It would be funny if it wasn’t so painful.

This afternoon I was hacking away, furiously trying to write some code to help a client import database files into his web system. Smoke flew from the keys as I slapped out PHP– I was in a hurry because he was waiting to upload his data.

The phone rang, and it was another client who said she needed me to make some changes to the reports her web app generates. She was running financial reports, trying to plan next year’s budget, and she needed those numbers by the close of the day so she could submit the budget.

As I was talking to her, I got an e-mail from a third client who had just learned that an e-mail was going to be sent to 20,000 people this evening, inviting them to go to her web site. I needed to put some new stuff on a certain page so they could access it, and (you guessed it) it had to be done right away before 20,000 people got sent to the wrong place.

Man, I wanted to scream…

01/29/2003

Tonight, just before dinner, Alex peeked in the oven to see what we were having. We’d been at parent-teacher conferences, which went a little long, so Laralee had commented that maybe the dinner would be burned.

Alex looked inside and yelled out, “Whoa, those potatoes are really burned all right! One of them is so burned that it changed shape and looks all yucky!”

It was a sweet potato.

01/27/2003

I’m about to head out to play some volleyball. I haven’t played for over a year (couldn’t find a league team that needed an extra player) so I’m excited to be back in the game.

A couple friends of mine invited me along, but I’m a little hesitant because they invited me after telling me how disappointed they are in the team and how the captain is a bit strange. Whee– that’s inspirational!

Hopefully it’ll be fun nonetheless, and I’ll be able to meet up with some people who might provide me a way to get back into the scene…

01/26/2003

Today I gave Kyra her lunch and then tickled her prior to sitting down. She reprimanded me for tickling her:

“Dad, when you do that it makes me feel playful. But I need to feel eatful.”

01/23/2003

Now that Zack is sleeping in a real bed (albeit low to the floor) he has a tendency to wander the house late at night. Apparently he’s sleepwalking, because I’ll find him walking around downstairs– which is completely dark– looking kind of sad and lost. For whatever reason, he bypasses our room, scoots down the stairs, and wanders until I come down and get him.

Strange stuff.

01/20/2003

Alex and Kyra officially rode their bikes on the street for the first time today! Both of them have been practicing in a grassy area in the neighborhood, and today they went out on the road and managed to get down the street (albeit with a bit of wobbling).

The neighbors were cheering– it was funny. Kyra got frustrated a little early, but Alex managed to learn how to start by himself (without anyone holding the bike) and even did a few nice smooth turns.

Now both of them want to know when we’ll go up in the mountains and ride the trails there… I told them it might take a little bit of practice first.

01/19/2003

The article about me showed up in today’s issue of the Longmont Times-Call. It turned out really good, although I was (sadly) not the “top” story. Still, the three other companies featured in the article all had several employees, had been around for many years, and had done millions of dollars in business. The fact that I was in such company was certainly good news in itself.

Now I have to try to capitalize on the “media coverage” I’ve been getting. This marks the third time in six months that I’ve been featured in an article somewhere– first a page in the UMR alumni magazine, then a quick blurb in the Rocky Mountain News, and now an article in the local paper. I spent a little time tonight scanning each article, cleaning them up, and getting them ready to post on my (new and improved!) web site; in addition, I’ll probably convert them to PDFs and send them to a few clients just for fun.

Today’s stuff was courtesy of Stef, my friend and “PR agent”. She’s thrown my name around a few circles, and she’s (obviously) good at what she does, so I’m getting results like this. Hopefully my popularity– if you can call it that– will continue to spread and the work will start to pour in.

01/18/2003

Alex was playing “hot and cold” today. The twist was, he was playing against himself. As he wandered around the downstairs, his chatter went something like this:

“You’re getting warmer…”
“Warmer…”
“Oh, now you’re getting colder.”
“Oops, warmer.”
“Now you’re getting really warm.”
“Hot!”
“Ow! You’re burning up!”
“I found it! Yippee!”

01/17/2003

Today’s client moment is something you don’t hear much as a consultant. This quote is taken from an e-mail message I received:

“I have $2000 to spend before the end of March on web upgrades or additions. What should we spend it on?”

Whee!

01/17/2003

A great Darwin Award candidate:

“When his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California, would be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder: He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.”

01/16/2003

I’ve heard it said that we all demand justice, but ask for mercy.

For a year and a half, I’ve shown mercy to Mango– the client who has refused to pay me for work I did. I’ve tried to work things out, tried to reach an arrangement, tried to be patient as I heard (week after week) that surely next week the money would be there. At last, my patience gone, I sued in court, won, and now find myself in the frustrating process of collection.

And yet, even after all this, I was willing to show mercy. I didn’t want to disrupt Mango’s business, and I didn’t want to approach their clients to explain the situation and demand the money. It just seemed mean-spirited.

Today I interviewed someone for a potential position at my company, and in the course of the conversation I learned that he was doing contract work for Mango. I asked what sort of PHP development that involved, knowing full well that the PHP expertise of that company was extremely limited. He explained that he’d been tasked to enhance a slick back-end web administration tool that Mango sold to clients. Hmm. I asked him the name of the software.

“Forge.”

My response? “I wrote that!” Yes, two years ago I wrote Forge from scratch, and explicitly told Mango that it was for that particular project, and reselling it was out of the question without my explicit permission. My files contained very clear legal instructions to that end, and I know they were aware of those restrictions.

And yet, two years later, it turns out that (1) they haven’t paid me for my work developing the software, and (2) they’re reselling it for a profit to their clients… and certainly marketing it as their own. As I thought about it, I was absolutely beside myself. Unbelievable.

So no more mercy. They shall have justice.

01/15/2003

Yesterday evening a reporter from the Longmont Times-Call came over to do a brief interview about my work. He’s writing an article about a few businesses in the Longmont area have managed to do well despite the dismal economic conditions. Apparently most of what he writes for the Business section isn’t terribly happy news.

He was here for an hour and a half, which is far longer than I had expected. The interview went great, the conversation was smooth, and I was able to show off all sorts of fun and interesting things about my company and the work I do.

Now I’m waiting with great anticipation for Sunday’s edition of the paper, to see how it all turns out…

01/14/2003

Today I was driving and saw a truck that had, emblazoned in huge letters on its side, the word BIMBO.

Apparently it was some Hispanic company– the rest of the test was in Spanish– but I thought that was sort of an unfortunate name for a company.

01/12/2003

Laralee: Kyra, can you go and pick up your toys?
Kyra: No, but thank you for asking.

01/11/2003

I just read some articles about online book publishing. Very interesting concept, and one which may be taking off. Apparently some authors (and publishers) have decided that making texts available– for free– on the internet is a way to generate free and rampant publicity, and also a way to potentially boost printed sales because people who enjoy the online version may go out and buy the printed version.

It’s a wonderful thing to see, particularly in a day when digital rights management has become a bunch of big companies blustering about how their multi-billion-dollar business is doomed because a handful of people are swapping files. The enforcement of digital rights has degraded into threats of legal action and other bully tactics.

Soon we may see music artists moving their wares online as well, and as the movement gains momentum we’ll start using the global network the way it should really be used.

01/09/2003

Last night I posted a job “opening” for a PHP/MySQL developer to help me in my busy times. I made it very clear that I wanted experienced PHP/MySQL programmers, and that I don’t have any steady work– just intermittent projects.

The posting has been sitting out there for a few hours, and not surprisingly I’ve been inundated with resumes. Many of the people are well-qualified, and I’m trying to sort through the ocean of mediocrity to find the gems who would be exactly what I need.

Several interesting responses:

* A Romanian company who says I should consider using Romanian developers because the pay rates over there are much lower. (This guy also called and left a long message in broken English.)

* Someone who said, and I quote: “In your list of absolutely required skills you list MySQL, which I lack…”

* Several people who are new to PHP but seem to think “absolutely required” somehow equates to “just learning”.

01/08/2003

Laralee: “Hey Kyra, Dad’s home!”
Kyra: “Was he gone?”

Ouch.

01/07/2003

For the second time ever, I decided to read Slashdot. It’s one of the most popular geek news sites around, and if I want to stay on top of the not-quite-news stories I should probably expand my reading horizons.

I was amused to find someone had posed the question “What would ‘The Lord of the Rings’ be like if someone besides Tolkien had written it?” The responses were riotous, with one of my favorites being Dr. Seuss:

Gandalf, Gandalf! Take the ring!
I am too small to carry this thing!

I can not, will not hold the One.
You have a slim chance, but I have none.

I will not take it on a boat,
I will not take it across a moat.

I cannot take it under Moria,
that’s one thing I can’t do for ya.

I would not bring it into Mordor,
I would not make it to the border.

01/06/2003

Either I have plain bad luck with Windows, or Windows just plain sucks.

Today I spent about four hours trying to install Windows 98 on two sort-of-old computers from my friend Kindra. She needed ’98 so her kids could play their little educational games (which don’t run under the NT family). It seemed like a simple request, but turned into a nightmare of reformat-install-fail repeated again and again.

After four failed attempts on one, I finally gave up, wiped the hard drive, and gave it to her in the hopes that some CD she had at home would be adequate to the task. The second computer failed twice before it reluctantly accepted the OS.

Don’t even get me started on how much easier and faster it would’ve been to install Linux on both of those machines…

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