Thursday, September 11, 2008

How I got started in Programming

I've read a couple of posts on the Object Mentor Blog (home of Brett Schuchert) and thought I'd do the same.

In high school (1977-1980), I heard that the other high school in town had a computer class. I wasn't much interested in computers and definitely didn't want to go to a class across town.

I wanted to get out of the house after graduation so bad that I went to summer school at NSU. (I had it really good at home, I was just ready to be on my own). In the Orientation class, one of the things we did was go talk to a representative of the college we were interested in majoring in. I knew I wanted to do something in business. I really hated accounting, marketing, managing, and sales so I wasn't sure what I was gonna do. The representative that talked to us we Gene Kozlowski. He taught computer science classes. He talked about the different majors in the business college and then started talking about computers. It sounded pretty good. That is when I decided to major in Computer and Information Science with a business emphasis. I figured I could eventually make $30k to $40k which sounded really good. :-)

My first computer class that fall was Basic. We used HP-3000 Basic and I sucked. I don't remember the grade I got but I had a really hard time understanding what to do to get a program to work. That spring I took Fortran and it clicked. I did pretty well in Fortran and gained a lot of confidance. I eventually took Cobol I and II, AI (Lisp), Data Structures (Pascal), and a database course where we used Condor.

My first job out of college was at a really small shop in Garland, Texas. I was the computer operator on an HP-3000 series 68. I also did some programming when I had time. They were using Quiz/Qtp/Quick (a Powerhouse/Cognos product) and RPG. I got pretty good at the Powerhouse stuff. Eventually, I became a programmer and helped with operations when necessary.

When that place closed, I found a job at the Dallas Times Herald using Powerhouse.
When that place closed, I found a job in North Carolina at Revlon using Cobol, Powerhouse, and eventually SAP.

I got tired of spending my 2 weeks vacation driving home to Oklahoma so I found a job in Okc doing Cobol, some Powerhouse, and now Java.

I've been out of college 21 years now and have been lucky enough to be employed for all but about 3 months. I still love to write code.

Large Hadron Collider Funnies

I've been sent, and found, several funnies dealing with LHC so I thought I'd post them:

Since the LHC runs from Switzerland, into France, and back again, do you have present your passport when enter France and then when you re-enter Switzerland, when you travel the length of the tunnel?
(this site has some really awesome stuff (be sure to view the source on this)

music video about the LHC:

from my brother, Paul:
An old friend of mine from my graduate school days is quoted in the press release from CERN regarding last nights activities. I think he captures the gravity of what many of us are feeling as we anticipate what might lie ahead... a journey inward, but just as far and just as fantastic as that day in 1969... we hope!

“As some might say: ‘One short trip for a proton, but one giant leap for mankind!’” said Nigel S. Lockyer, Director of Canada’s TRIUMF laboratory.

Friday, September 5, 2008

UsbConnect with AT&T

There is no wifi provided at Haskell Indian Nations University, so our internet options for Susan were: dsl, cable, cell phone/blue tooth, cityWireless, cell phone, and cell phone/usb.

dsl: Since she will be moving to another dorm next semester, I really didn't want the hassle of dsl or cable. I don't know what the fee's are for starting/stopping service but I assume it's at least $20 each time we start, move, or stop service.

cable: Same stuff as with dsl.

cell phone/blue tooth: I also didn't want to make her use the blue tooth connection from her cell phone to the pc. It just seems like a pain in the butt. I didn't really look into the costs of this either.

cityWireless: this is what I really wanted to get. But her dorm room is too far from the tower to be usable. It's interesting stuff though. The problem with these city wide wireless things is that your pc doesn't send a strong enough signal to the tower. So you can see the connection on the pc but your pc needs to yell at the tower "hey - go to! or - upload this picture to picasa". You end up having to get a signal booster. Best Buy had one of these boosters that was like a hub. So several people could hit the booster for their internet access. I thought that was pretty cool.

Cell Phone: My brother, Paul, suggested she use an i Phone or some other phone that she could surf with. I think I'll wait until cell phones are more like laptops before we go down this route. In a few years, cell phones will probably hook up to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor via bluetooth or whatever. Basically replacing the need for laptops. Ok, maybe the laptop will be just a screen, keyboard, mouse, and battery which you dock your phone into.

cell phone/usb: I ended up getting Susan the UsbConnect service from AT&T. It's $60 a month (ouch!) but it's unlimited access[1], faster than dial-up and slower than dsl. She can get on the internet anywhere she has cell phone service. There was a $30 setup kind of fee (ouch again). The UsbConnect device is around $150 but we got a $100 mail-in rebate.

We hooked it up at the store to Susan's laptop and it started loading the software needed to get this working. It probably took an hour for this process to complete. We ended up leaving the store with it running. It was done about the time we got home. I think it's kind of cool that we were able to drive around while it was connected to the internet and downloading/installing.

So far this seems to work pretty well. New she can take her laptop just about anywhere and get on the internet.

LoJack for Laptops: Now I need to get her lojack for laptops which is $30 a year. This service is supposed to ping their servers whenever the pc is on the internet. If you report the laptop stolen, they can track down the IP and contact the ISP so the police can go arrest the thief. Someone at UCO had this service and they found the laptop within hours. Pretty cool. I wonder if the police would be able to find the laptop if someone was using UsbConnect. It depends on how close AT&T can pinpoint the signal, like they are supposed to do for 911 calls.

*[1]AT&T says it's unlimited access, but while I was researching this, I found out that there is a 5gig a month limit (I believe the limit is on the download side). I asked about it at the store and was told she wouldn't use that much but we probably wouldn't be charged unless she went over the 5gig limit more than 2 months in a row. I'll believe it when I see it.

Looking at our bill, she has used 38mb out of 5120mb over 4 days. Looks like they will charge us $0.00048 per kb over 5gig. This is around $0.5 per mb, I think.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Struggles with 'our' architecture

After reading Mark's blog entry Practice makes perfect, I decided to try and write more.
I've spent the last couple of weeks dealing with multiple projects (security, hibernate, spring, common, etc..). I think I've got the hang of Maven pom files and their 'hard' versions and snapshots. But I'm concerned with getting multiple versions/snapshots of the same project in my local maven_repo when I do the 'clean rad6' script. This script goes and gets all the stuff a particular project needs and loads it into the maven_repo.

My main project may need 5 other projects. These 5 projects might need the same 4 core projects but each might be pointing to different versions of the core projects. The projects are generally component type things so they should be fine. I guess it will all work, just seems wrong.

The dependency tree script does a good job of showing me what projects depend on what versions of projects which depend on what versions of projects..... argh. It gets convoluted pretty quick here.
Another one of the tasks I struggled with was trying to figure out what Cobol fields in legacy map to our domain objects. Usually it's pretty easy (map the Cobol field from legacy to the buffer we get then map that to our 'Cobol-to-domain' properties file which tells me what object it is in and what it is called) but no1club was not. The property files were in common, the domain objects were in another project and the Cobol names didn't match. Richard is having fun with the same stuff. I hope his head doesn't explode.
Using Working Sets in Rad has made working with our projects easier. But I've noticed that when I go to edit a Working Set, sometimes projects get unchecked. If I don't notice it while editing the Working Set I have to go back and add it back in when I do notice something missing. As usual, I haven't dorked around with it to find a pattern. I thought at one point that if I had a project selected/highlighted that it would drop off the list but it doesn't happen all the time (if ever).
Your reward for getting this far:
At my funeral, instead of people saying how great or terrible a person I was, I want them to say, "Hey! He's moving! He's still alive!" (plagiarized from a Hustler magazine)