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User Journal

Journal Journal: How To Jump Out of An Airplane Pretty much like that. Eeh, not the best exit but in my defense it was the first one where I've been "on my own" at the exit. All previous times, someone's been holding on to me.

The second video is my 10th jump. I'm running out of levels to fail, though! I'm much rather take it slow and be sure I have it right than rush through the program.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Jmeter Does Not Have Access to Environment Variables?

Maybe not, but if you "set > workspace/" and pass your Job Path in to jmeter as a property, you can read the damn things back out with a beanshell sampler later on. Handy for grabbing variables from your Hudson parameterized build. Just don't forget to define JobPath as ${__P(JobPath,)} in your user defined variables.


String response = "";

try {
      BufferedReader in = new BufferedReader(new FileReader("${JobPath}/workspace/"));
      String nextLine = in.readLine();
      while(null != nextLine) {
              String[] keyval = nextLine.split("=");
              if (2 == keyval.length) {
              response = response + nextLine + "\n";
              nextLine = in.readLine();
} catch ( e) {
        response = "Unable to locate properties file for environment; using defaults.";


User Journal

Journal Journal: Emacs ruby-mode font locking

If you want ruby mode to do syntax highlighting, make sure to have (global-font-lock-mode 1) before you load the ruby mode library. This will save much misery.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Obama Needs to Bring Chicago to DC 1

Invite the top Democrats in for a spaghetti dinner and give them (verbatim) the Al Capone teamwork speech from "The Untouchables." Baseball bat at all. You know the guy he stops at when he gets to the end will feel pretty damn uncomfortable...

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal Journal: My Regime

In a number of posts I've talked about my regime. When I become Dictator for Life (through an open election process) things will be run a bit differently. I thought I should get this all down in one place so that people will not be confused about my regime's stances on various topics.

My regime would bring back impaling. It worked for Vlad the Impaler -- in the height of his reign you could leave a bag of gold on the street and no one would touch it. They were afraid of being impaled. I'd get rid of most victimless crimes, and would need to work out for the rest of them where exactly the impaling would start. Drunk driving, I think, would be an impalable offense. Murder and rape, definitely impaling there. Monetary fraud etc... impaling... Needless to say the prison population in my regime would be a LOT smaller.

My regime would require mandatory reversible sterilization of all citizens at puberty and a license in order to reverse it for breeding. After all, currently you need a license to buy a car or a gun but any jackass who can figure out how to stick a penis in a vagina can make a baby with no government regulation. Needless to say, breeding license applicants would need to demonstrate financial stability and a degree of minimal competence for parental obligations.

If you're not breeding, gay marriage will not only be legal, it will be mandatory. This will encourage people to be competent enough to pass the breeding license exam and everyone else will be happy with it. Or else...

My regime would mandate samurai honor code for corporate officers and public officials. Bring dishonor to your office via fraud, ineptitude or corruption and you will be allowed to kill yourself, or you'll be impaled. The events of the past few years make it painfully clear that this is necessary.

My regime would ban organized religion except for the state-sponsored one, which would involve Smurfs. Non-smurfy behavior will be punishable by impaling. Heresy will be punishable by feeding the offending people to Garganel.

Oh yes and my regime will have public health care. My regime would not tolerate insurance companies feeding on the corpses of my citizens, no. My regime puts its citizens first and will work to insure their well-being. Any other attitude would be completely non-Smurfy.

The Almighty Buck

Journal Journal: Trend in the IT Industry

I was just talking to a fellow I worked with a couple years back. He was (somewhat) forcibly retired from the company he worked for after 35 years of service to them. It wasn't a performance issue, rather he was "retirable" and the company was downsizing. They lost a lot of very specialized knowledge when they got rid of him, from a project that was a pretty big component of their sales process a few years ago.

There's a trend in the industry to treat employees as hot-pluggable resources. One person is viewed as just as good as another with no consideration of experience or ability. If you can get rid of one person and load twice the amount of work on someone else in his team (And let THEM figure out how to complete it all on time) that does fine.

This makes the industry a shitty place to work, drives the more experienced people out of the market and encourages the 90s style job-hopping that let a lot of people with no business in the industry inflate their salaries to outrageous levels without actually doing any work. I've had to clean up after a few of those people.

It takes a while to learn a job and the business practices and processes of the company you're working for. From what I've seen, most people need three to six months to get comfortable in the environment and learn their way around a code base if they're programming. After that the productivity goes up dramatically. The current practices of the industry makes for a lot of turn-over before you hit that point and views someone with years of experience in that position as being easily replaced by a fresh college graduate. This, in my view, is a mistake.

So what to do about this? I think eventually the market might sort this out. If it's a bad thing, I think that any company that comes along with different attitudes could end up out-producing and out-maneuvering its more clueless competition.

If anyone works for such an enlightened company I'd love to hear your views on the subject. And... um... are you guys hiring?


Journal Journal: Greyfox's Solution to The Health Care Issue 1

New Law: No member of the legislative, judicial or executive branches of the US government may enjoy any federally funded health care plan that better in any way than the plan of the lest privileged United States citizen.

That ought to sort things out pretty quickly.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Oh For Fuck's Sake 1

Just arm Franken and Coleman with bricks and lock them in a room. The one that emerges should get the senate seat.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Worst President Ever

I really wish Nixon had lived to see this administration. I think he died feeling really bad and thinking he'd be remembered as the worst president ever, and after this he could say "Well... you know... I may have been bad but at least I wasn't that guy!"

To be fair to the Bush administration, they were left holding the bag that was started in the 80's when the Reagan administration started deregulating everything. And to be fair, the Clinton administration continued that trend. And hey, imagine our surprise when, realizing that they were no longer accountable to "laws," companies victimized the American people. Had Congress noticed, in the past two decades that lenders were coming up with new and elaborate schemes to treat the American people as their personal piggy banks, perhaps the trend could have been reversed. They were too busy whoring out the law to the highest bidder. More than enough blame to go around, here.

Meanwhile, when corporations couldn't meet their unrealistic growth goals to keep their stock prices propped up, they had to resort to their own shenanigans. Even after we noticed that, we didn't do much about it. That would have required evil regulation. God forbid we have that, we much prefer the current system where companies regularly sacrifice their own employees to the god of the almighty profit.

No the Bush administration is simply the poo cherry on a giant turd sandwich that has been years in the making. Had things gone just slightly differently they would only be remembered as a mildly ineffective and inept administration. But as they say, the buck stops at the top no matter how much you might try to point the finger of blame elsewhere. You can say "But... it wasn't my fault!" That's OK. We'll blame you anyway. Nixon would be happy to know that he'll go down in history as the second worst president ever.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Who the Fuck is Cerberus and Why Should You Care?

Bush cronie John Snow and Chrysler? No matter how much bleach we apply to this administration's taint-stain of failure and ineptitude, I don't think we're ever going to get it clean.

Question is, does Bush bail out the auto-industry because he gives a damn about all those workers who are going to lose their jobs, or to help his former cronie recoup his losses and jettison the company?

User Journal

Journal Journal: On The Erection Of Imaginary Structures

I was listening to NPR on the way in to work today and they were talking about how justice in Afghanistan is still largely handled through tribal councils rather than the shiny new judicial system that we've put in place over there. That got me thinking about how difficult it is to erect an imaginary structure. A judicial system is an imaginary structure that people agree to respect. If the system is overly flawed, ineffective or even if people are just not comfortable with it, its chances of survival are low.

The judicial system in Afghanistan probably closely resembles ours back when the country first started out. We've had a couple hundred years to tweak our system and adapt it to our needs. The problem in the case of Afghanistan is that a parallel structure exists which people are more comfortable with, and so people continue to prefer the tribal councils over the one we've put in places. If the judicial system we put in place is to survive, it will most likely need to integrate the tribal councils in to its functioning in some way. If people are willing to use it then it can improve to meet the specific needs of the Afghan population. We should not be surprised if their judicial system ends up looking nothing like ours.

Countries are not the only places that have imaginary structures, though. I've worked for a lot of different companies over the years, and they all have their own way of doing things. The internal processes and procedures of a large company also comprise an imaginary structure. A structure which is nearly impossible to change. Most people don't look at the structure as a whole and instead prefer to keep their heads down to stay focused on their own job. I think that companies that encourage this behavior miss out on a lot of productivity that could be obtained from people actually working together. They often call this understanding the big picture.

Unfortunately the big picture is remarkably complex. What we need is a way to break this picture down in to understandable chucks which we can look at individually. Those chunks could be then used to build the big picture. Or perhaps just "a" big picture, after all a company is also just a bite-sized chunk of the big picture that is our society. In that context, perhaps we could apply some of the concepts of object-oriented programming and design patterns to corporate (or international) process. After all, each team has some inputs and some outputs. What happens inside the team is not really important as long as the outputs happen in an expected time after the inputs.

If the inputs and outputs of each team in the company are documented and understood by all the team members and all the people that team interacts with, things become much more orderly. Ask any person what their job is and what is expected from them and they will actually be able to tell you. It is then up to the lead of that team to insure that the team is adequately staffed to do all the work assigned to the team.

Could this process be applied to the Afghan justice system as well as to a business process? Certainly one of the problems facing the new judicial system which we've put in place is that many Afghans do not know anything about it. Like our business process, the Afghan courts have inputs and outputs. The ultimate goal of both is produce something of value for the people involved. Broken down in an understandable fashion makes it easier to tweak any little piece of the puzzle that doesn't quite fit correctly. Both systems should be allowed to evolve toward perfection.

Now if only I could find a company that's willing to let me experiment on them with my "object-oriented business process." Or a country willing to let me experiment on them with an "Object oriented judicial system." Hmm...


Journal Journal: Aspiring Expectations 1


The charges leveled against Illinois Gov. Blagojevich could not have come at a better time for the Democratic party. Since the election of Obama there has been an unprecedented optimism about our political system. To hear people talk, the moment Obama takes office magical fairies and unicorns will fly out of his butt and fix the economy, global warming and our political system.

The accusations against Blagojevich should go a long way toward restoring American cynicism toward its political system. We are forcibly reminded that politicians are by nature corrupt and inept. This is because humans are by nature corrupt and inept. When someone is elected to office they do not shed their humanity. They and their opinions do not become any wiser or smarter than the people that elected them.

Which brings us back to Obama. The hype has taken on a life of its own. Obama is not the second coming of Christ. No magical fairies will be appearing to magically fix everything when he takes office. What Obama needs to accomplish will take a tremendous amount of work and no small amount of time.

If the hype had continued to grow, it would have resulted in a lot of disillusionment of a lot of Americans. We're not well-known for our patience or our attention span, after all. This good old fashioned corruption scandal is doing a wonderful job of shutting down the hype machine. This may actually give Obama the time he needs to demonstrate some actual results, since all the USA's problems will not be magically solved the moment he takes office.

Ultimately we need to realize that our leaders are only human, and we need to make it difficult for them to abuse their positions. We should not tolerate a culture of corruption and ineptitude when the fate of our nation is at stake. I am hopeful that Obama realizes this and will use his mandate to push real reforms to our system.

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