It's always an adventure…

Well here we are, another wonderful day in the Valley. Ever notice how bad things travel in packs? Well Jeff from the store was over here at Château D’Isaster working on the decks for some extra cash and a whole herd of bad things happened…

See, Jeff is getting ready to move to Reno and needed some extra cash for the trip. Larry, the fellow who owns the shop where I work and the house I live in, offered to just give him some cash – which Jeff would be honor-bound to repay even if Larry said it wasn't required… Well Jeff isn’t sure he’ll be making enough money to repay him later and insisted on doing some maintenance around here and Larry has wanted to stain the wood decks for a while now.

Ok, Jeff is in a bit of a panic with this move and isn’t exactly “all here” if you know what I mean. He’s been forgetting things, loosing things; in general he’s in a bad way. The other players in this story, Larry and his wife, are off in San Jose for a few weeks and so I’ve got the place to myself.

Anyways, yesterday Jeff is up on the third floor finishing the front deck when he steps backwards into the tray of dark brown oil-based stain… In slow motion the tray flips though the air, spraying the white stucco of the house with brown on the third floor and as it lands and spills it’s remaining contents onto the deck. The stain falls though the slats onto the second floor deck, spattering the front of the house with more brown stain.

Jeff freaks out and runs though the house and down the stairs to get to the hose so he can wash the stain off before it dries, and tracks brown oil-based stain across the custom fitted light grey Berber carpet. He notices this right about the time he reaches the middle of the stairs, freaks out again and calls me at the shop…

Well, just after all this happens and I assure Jeff that things will be ok because we’ll just get it cleaned up over the next few days, the home rentals place calls and says they’d like to show the house this morning… See, we rent out the house on occasion during the ski season as we can get around $2000 a night having 7 bedrooms, being walking distance from the Beaver Creek ski resort, and about 5 miles west of Vail. But this time, just to add to Chaos’ humor, someone wants to rent the house now rather than the ski season.

Well, to make a long, agonizing story short, this morning at first light I was out repainting the front of the house with Kilz and the carpet guy is here trying to get the stain out of the carpet. Fortunately he’s having some marginal success at it, thanks be to the carpet cleaner god.

I managed to put the rentals lady off till this afternoon.

For me this is all just another example of no matter if it’s good or bad, it’s always an adventure. 🙂

On the code again, just can't wait to get on the code again…

This morning I’ve decided to work a little on the ecommerce code for the store’s web site and once again the ability of the average user to break things astounds me. I’ve been reading some of the horror stories out there in regards to this and it’s pretty amazing.

Kind of reminds me of a few years ago when I was writing the code for the StickerStation, aka “The World’s Most Advanced Vending Machine” which you’ve probably seen as they are everywhere. We would bring in children to test the interface of the machine, making sure that it was easy enough to understand for children and robust enough to handle a 5 year old. Well we got it to the point that none of our test kids could do anything to the machine other than put in their money and get their pictures when the project manager came in stating, “I don’t know what I did, but it’s hung.”

You probably know this project manager and some of you have probably worked with him. He has many shapes and sizes, many first and last names, but he always manages to advance to his highest level of incompetence. He makes twice your income yet has half your knowledge and does a quarter of the work. He’s usually put there by the board of directors against the better judgment of the dev team… Yep, I knew you’ve worked with him.

Anyways the problem turned out to be static electricity. The leather soled $400 loafers, expensive silk shirts and slacks he wore in combination with the new carpet and his $1000 leather office chair imbued him with about a billion volts of electricity which would shut down the bill validator when he touched the machine. Of course this would only happen when it was unusually dry there in Alexandria Virginia so recreating the problem took about a month.

About six months later we discover that the board of directors put this guy in charge to prep the company for sale. His goal was to ensure that the Generation 3 machines never made it to market thereby violating shareholder agreements and opening the company for acquisition by a rival company in New Hampshire. To the team’s credit we not only got the prototypes done but we got about 100 of them out in the field here in the US and almost as many in Europe. The machine was featured on the 1999 MTV Tour and I have a picture of C3P0 standing next to one for the opening of 1999’s Episode 1 where the machine was a key piece for their marketing. We had acquired image contracts with Warner Brothers, Disney, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Toys ‘R’ Us… It was a pretty amazing thing.


One of the Gen3 machines in England being set up for the Star Wars promotion.

I guess I should put the key team members here so years from now I’ll remember this and find out what they’re all up to:

William Miller: Design, Front End Programming, and Interface
Scott Ogden: Design, Systems Engineering, and Acquisitions
Ken McCleaft: Design, Systems Engineering, Back End Programming, Telemetry, and Blue Screen Algorithms
Ronnie Jones: Art, Art and More Art

There were several other people involved, of course, but the above were the ones who put in the sleepless nights, long hours, plane flights, endless arguments with the project manager, and who really made the system go. Thanks guys. I still think, even though the company was sold out from under us, that we set a standard in the industry that few have managed to reach and none have surpassed. Heck, the company who bought us *still* can’t get chromakey to work! (grin)

It's the end of the world as we know it…

Today was pretty cool. Did a little geocaching down near Eagle with Aryntha and Rai (and no, we didn’t see anything dealing with Kobe Bryant) which resulted in the finding of a very old 50’s telephone hut half buried in a hillside. We then trundled around the mountains a bit on gravel roads till we’d run into a private property sign and be forced to turn around. It’s amazing how much of the wilderness out there is owned by someone. Aryntha took lots of pictures for posterity then we had dinner over at Fiesta’s in Edwards.

The major topic today was the job market and the economy, which both suck in ways that words alone cannot describe. The comment on CNN was to the effect that layoffs are increasing because sales are decreasing because no one is buying anything because they’re all unemployed… How does one fix this? Can it be fixed? Is this the decline and fall of the American Empire? Is King Bush playing fiddle as Washington burns? I don’t know, but I hope not.

My idea involves the fat cats at the top of the corporate food chain taking a little hit in their 6-7 figure incomes and keeping their employees from hording their meager $500 paychecks and waiting for the axe to fall. Will this happen? Will the RIAA admit that MP3s aren’t the source of their money woes? The answer to both is pretty obvious.

Speaking of MP3s, the BBC did a report recently in regards to the RIAA and their war on Joe Consumer. In this report the BBC points out some interesting facts such as: RIAA members for the last ten years have been making a *lot* of money on vinyl to CD re-releases but now the catalog has been drained and that cash cow has run dry. The RIAA members have halved their yearly releases over the last 5 years. And above all let us not forget that people are simply buying fewer CDs because the music released today *SUCKS*. (Asterisks and caps added by this author)

So, lo and behold we have some data pointing to the fact that yes, MP3 file sharing has impacted record sales, but it’s only a small leak in a ship full of holes.

What does the RIAA hope to do with their Gestapo tactics and “we spend more on lawyer’s retainer fees per month than your entire neighborhood earns in a year” bullying? Will this make people buy more CDs? Will it ensure they start making “enough” millions in pure profit again? I don’t know, but I doubt it.

Anyways, the crows circling the job market and the economy, which both lie in smoldering ruins, has got me a bit worried; though I’ve been though this before. When I got out of the Navy I got a job with a laptop hard drive manufacturer called “Prairie Tech” then within weeks was laid off due to the tech crunch of 1990-1991. I spent the next few years working my way through different job fields weathering the storm till the economy improved.

Well, Aryntha and Rai headed back down the mountain about a half hour ago. They’ve got cats to care for and Jag is driving in tonight on her way from Wisconsin to California. Tomorrow my week resumes with another day of being tech support for the Vail Valley and all will once again be right with the world.

An evening in the Cannibal Special…

Aryntha and Rai are up here at Château D’Isaster for a few days to get away from all that is Denver and to reaffirm their faith that the world doesn’t completely suck.

They’ve had nothing but trouble down there; cars getting broken into, gas siphoning, extremely rude neighbors (the folks downstairs smoke so much it seeps though the floor and stains the windows and the people upstairs own one CD, 50-Cent, and play it 24/7 with enough volume you can hear the change jingling in the rapper’s pocket clearly from anywhere in Aryntha and Rai’s apartment.)

The sad thing is they live in a “good” part of Denver, specifically South West Denver.

So, after an excellent meal over at Narayan’s Thai in Avon (If you’re looking for *really* good Thai food and are in the area, email me and I’ll send you a map), we opted to just hang out in the hot tub for a few hours where we talked about the future of digital audio formats. Aryntha is a bit of an expert in the field and the topics ranged from the backwards compatibility of SACD2 to the latest reports on the movements of the RIAA’s jack-booted thugs.

This is where the title of the post comes in. The hot tub here at Château D’Istaster is a large, octagonal stainless steel job set flush into the back deck and looks amazingly like a people-sized stew pot…

When I get all the pumps running and its sitting at about 110 degrees, steaming, one can easily imagine dicing up a few carrots and potatoes to round out the boiled human stew.

Right now I'm waiting for Aryntha and Rai to stumble out of the guest room so I can find out what they'd like to do today.

In the beginning

In the beginning all was dark and without order.

No words graced the formless void of the Journal, no witty prose skittered about the web page in vain attempt to clutter its seamless background. It was then, in a flash of white hot inspiration that a great whirling and bashing of keys arose and words spewed into the perfect blankness…

Hello and welcome to my LiveJournal!

Sit back, relax, and peruse the dimly lit alleys of my mind. Don’t be worried, what you find here is… mostly… harmless.

Thought for the day: Eagles may fly, but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines.