In a cubicle, you are never alone

Yesterday I went to a former co-worker’s home to help him with his current programming project. If I had still been employed, it is a problem I would have been working on. But apparently I can’t be hired back, even temporarily, without screwing up my severance. Still, I want to maintain my friends and network, and it was an interesting problem. It was actually enjoyable to work with someone else for awhile. Most of my programming these days has been just me and it is feeling lonely.
I then had the interview for the job. It wasn’t done in the time allotted and had to be continued today. My biggest issue with this job is that it seems to require Lotus Notes. I was forced to use Lotus Notes in my last job and it seemed to be one of the larger barriers to productivity. It is enough of a bone of contention that it is making me doubt whether I want this job. Still, I’ll give it a try and see if I like it.
The multi-hour meetings are not endearing.
On my own programming I got source control up and running. Now I’m working on getting the saving and opening of files to work. I’ve got a few memory problems I need to contend with. Hopefully I’ll get those sorted out quickly. Then I might feel confident enough to post it on a website and accept comments from other people.
I’m stuck in my home all day. I’m finding myself starved for socialization. It’s making me moody and a little down. I need to find some friends who want to go out and do things. I’d like to go see a movie in a theatre, but I can’t think of anyone who would join me.

For Science!

I went running this evening. That is hardly news, but tonight was special. Instead of warming up in the weight room, then stretching before driving to the Running Room, I just ran there and then did the stretching. Again, I’ve done that before, but what was special about this time was that I had a backpack on which had my runners in it.
That’s right! I used the foot gloves to run the 1.7 km. This was my first time out running with them. It was an interesting sensation. The pavement was hard to start, but I got used to it. Still, once I got out of Whyte Avenue and into the residential areas, I mostly stayed on the grass next to the sidewalk. Occasionally I did step on something uncomfortable, and once with real pain, but it never slowed me down.
The magic moment came eight minutes in. Then the muscles in my foot started to ache. I was training new/atrophied muscles! Fortunately my run was over within two minutes; it would probably have been a bad idea (when has that stopped me before?) to keep pushing it.
I changed my shoes at the Running Room and then went on my regular run. The first few minutes of that, I could feel my muscles still aching, although the ache had migrated to my lower leg. It went away soon enough.
I’m going to try this every Wednesday. Although I would like to go to a park and take a walk in them. Would that help?

Oceans are implemented. Lakes and rivers are still waiting.

Okay, that’s better. I’ve finished off my list.
Well, all the features are there, but I am not especially happy with the performance of the drawing of the relief view. It is especially evident if you change sea level quickly. There is a noticeable lag. But I’m more interested in getting the features in, and later working on improving speed.
Next up is using source control. It isn’t a feature of the product, but I’ve been wanting this for awhile. Basically, once it is installed, any time I make a change to the source code, it is recorded. I can undo the changes and go back to what the files looked like before. Whenever I want, I can “check in” the changes, and they will be saved to a repository with a note. I can then go through the repository and see what changes I have made to a file, and why.
This is something that real developers use. Usually in a team environment where there are a lot of people changing the files. I’ve been negligent, because I’m the only one modifying the source. But it is a wonderful system for keeping track of the work I’ve done.
Tomorrow though I have two other projects. I’m helping a friend with a programming problem he is having, and I have an interview with a possible employer. Because my social network got me this interview, it is feeling like fait accompli, but that is probably not true. It will require programming in a language I am unfamiliar with (but is very similar to two others that I do have familiarity with.) It’s also contract work, and I have never done that. I’ll need to do some research on what I need to do.
In any case, I think I can get all three projects done tomorrow. Help friend, interview, implement source control.

Continuing productivity

I have not been that productive lately. All those real world chores ate up too much time, yesterday and today. I did get a better percentage of water coverage on a sphere, but I’m not convinced it is accurate. I need to find a mathematician to help. I did discover another problem with my sphere generation algorithm, mostly that despite taking longer, it does not create a sufficiently granular map. I’m wondering if there is anything I can do to improve that. At least not without increasing generation time.
I sold my Apple stock this morning. It jumped after yesterdays financial results. I was actually expecting it to drop, as it is wont to do after good results. But I’ve had a good ride, and the stress of when-to-sell-and-not-feel-stupid has been getting to me. But I’ll be happy with a 91% return on investment.
I’d like to get back on the wagon, but I’m sure something will happen that will cause it to drop.

Day 1 of supervised programming

Things are looking up. I was much more productive today.
One of the things that helped was to play with parental controls on my computer. Those controls allow me to block certain websites and prevent me from wasting time with random browsing. I know the password to get around it, but usually the request for it is a good reminder that I shouldn’t be going there. Unfortunately, because it is PARENTAL control, it feels the need to block me from any adult sites, such as Facebook, YouTube, and LiveJournal. I just wanted to block, which I find to be my biggest nemesis for productivity.
But, in programming I finally got the sea level control window up and running acceptably. It failed its first UI test with an end-user, but I got valuable feedback. Thanks S.! I want to mull over the opinions and figure out the best way to implement them.
Tomorrow I have a few real world chores to do, but I also have a list of some features I want to get done:

  • Get a correct percentage of ocean cover on a planet that is a sphere. (Yes, I realize that is most planets, but I do most of my testing with planets that are either flat or cylinders. They make better pictures.)
  • Allow water to appear in shades according to depth, instead of a constant blue.
  • Support the appearance of water in the relief view.

I think I can get those three things done. And if I can, I’ll feel good about starting to use version control.
I’ve been wanting to get to using that for awhile.

Need a better plan

have not been that productive. I haven’t been looking for a job.
I had bigger plans. I was going to do my own programming so that I can start to like it again. But I have no deadline and no one asking for it, so motivation has been lacking. I’ll make excuses: I do better later in the day; I’m feeling ill; Just one more episode of TV.
This is not the way things should be going.
I think I need to start logging what I’m doing in my program. Dare I even say, put the application up to be downloaded? If people know (even if they are theoretical people) and are watching me, I’ll feel much more accountable.
Let’s see if this takes.
I did do an interview last week with a major New York company. They found me, not the other way around. They weren’t exactly interviews, but tests to see how well I knew programming. The first test I passed, but it was mostly basic stuff I learned/forgot in University. The second test I did not do nearly as well on; they asked hypothetical programming problems and asked the best way to implement them. I gave answers, but I thought of better ones five minutes after it was over. They haven’t called back.
I fear that I am rusty in my programming. My last job was mostly about fixing bugs instead of implementing new code. And new code is where I want to be. I need to get back in practice.

My so called vacations will soon be my death

That was a horrible trip home.
I got up at a reasonable time for someone with a day job. A completely unreasonable time for the unemployed. I packed up and got into the car. I had time, so I decided I would go to a grocery store and find some Vanilla Coke to take home (not available in Canada. I’m not even sure if it is available in the States either.)
And because I don’t know the area that well, it was not easy. It was also not successful. In the end, I got to a pharmacy and just grabbed a 12-pack of regular Coke. At least I’ll be able to do a controlled test of America Coke versus Canada Coke. I believe they use different sugars.
I then drove to the airport, although by this time it was two hours until my flight left. I promptly got lost in the airport streets. I had to pick up gas, and drop off the car. Both were harder as I kept having to make left turns. Did you know that gas stations demand a valid zip code when you try and pay at the pump? Did you ales know that there are two Fox Rental places? One for renting cars, and the other for dealers.
I got to the WestJet counter an hour and fifteen minutes before flight departure. Things went fairly well from this point. There were few lines and I got through them all quickly and efficiently. Stress was relieved and I enjoyed the flight.
Aside: While flying over Nevada, I noticed an interesting lake to the left. What got me was that I could see a river clearly going into it, but I could not see any way for the water to exit. No outlet? I drew a picture so I could look it up later (I like flying over land with topography so I can learn about what I saw during the flight. Heaven help me if I ever get internet access while flying.) I found out that it was Pyramid Lake and it IS an Endorheic basin, which means I was right. No outflow.
I got to Calgary, and passed customs with no trouble. The luggage carousel was reporting my luggage wouldn’t show up for 25 minutes, but it lied. Two minutes later and I was out of there.
I had a five and a half hour layover. (A drive to Edmonton would have taken two and a half hours.) Fortunately, my parents are in the area, so they picked me up and we spent the afternoon together. Then the spring storm happened. Snow was going sideways. They got me to the airport on time, but it wasn’t a good sign that all the lights were out. (Power was out over all of northeastern Calgary.) Security was continued, but with them going through every piece of luggage and doing a body search. Then I got to the terminal and proceeded to wait. Along with a lot of other people.
There was an older couple with a dog that needed to go outside. Eventually security let her outside with the dog so it could relieve itself. They still searched her and the dog when they came back in.
Facebook was nice as a way to keep people up to date. Eventually the power came back on, and I got information. My flight boarded at 9:20 in the evening. Two hours later than expected.
The 40 minute flight didn’t take off until an hour later. I think there was a line-up for de-icing.
Edmonton airport, shuttle bus, walk in the cold to my building. Enter the building and find the elevator is out-of-order. Stairways up to the top floor. (Remember, there is a 12-pack of Coke in my luggage.) And I’m home.

Bye bye

Tomorrow morning I head home. This trip has been quite the experience. I had expectations that turned out to be wrong. I had hopes that did actually happen. I’m tempted to say this has been my best trip here. Yes, there were things that went horribly wrong, but that is what makes great vacation stories. (Although I think I better keep some of these to myself.)
There are a number of things I never got to do, like the Getty museum. But I did get to be myself, which is more important. Let’s face it, I’m not that much of a museum person. Instead I went to Santa Monica beach and went for an 11.5 km run. I did go the wrong way, down the boring part, but I had never gone that way before. Lesson learned.
And really being myself, at one point I just lazed around and read comic books at my host’s place. That is what I would probably do in Edmonton.
I had a good time.
But I don’t think I could live here. The people here are cynical, and occasionally mean. Something here gets to people and makes them selfish. I think they realize they are changing into people they don’t want to be, but there is nothing they can do about it. They are actually put off by someone who is nice for the sake of being nice.
Which is why I never really looked for a job here. I did do a bit of networking with my friends, and there is a lead that may help another project. It would be nice to be here for longer, but I don’t fit in this town.

Run like you stole something

I’ve tried running here. My host is a bit into running, but we didn’t get very far the first time. I totally confused my Garmin Forerunner. It took several minutes before it gave up trying to figure out where it was and asked “Have you travelled hundreds of miles since your last use?”
Today running went much better.
I’ve been partying a little too hard, and for the longest time I wasn’t getting adequate sleep. Strange bed, strange hours. It finally caught up with me yesterday evening, and so we collapsed in bed instead of going out to a party. The party would have been at a semi-outdoor venue, and it is (relatively) chilly here. So last night I finally got a decent night’s sleep. Which meant that when we went for a run this morning, we felt good.
I have to keep slow because my host is not at my level of fitness. (who is?) But it is a beautiful run around here. We headed towards the Hollywood hills, AKA Hollywoodland. I’m glad I had a local guide, because otherwise I would have gotten lost. It’s a maze. Anyway, we encountered a garage sale and my host wanted to buy stuff. I’m glad we were able to come back with a car because I wasn’t looking forward to running back carrying a big pot. That would have looked like we had just stolen soup from someone’s home.
We got close to the big Hollywood sign, but I don’t think you can get right up to it. I’ll have to try and get a better view later.

First day L.A.

I’ve been in L.A. for a bit over a day now. Plane arrived, I rented a car, then drove to my friend’s. By this time it was late and I was rather hungry. We walked to a nearby Thai restaurant and had a lovely meal. Then I just spent some time relaxing.
The hi-light was the late night party. We didn’t get there until around midnight, but there were a lot of people I knew. Great to see them all again. Some I hadn’t seen for years. Some I hadn’t seen since I was last in Jamaica. I don’t actually recall what time we got back home.
But I do know I didn’t get out of bed until 1:30.
We’re going to another party tonight, but my host tells me that parties don’t really start until midnight. I’m glad I’m in the hands of a professional. I feel like the small-town boy confused by the big city ways.

At the airport

So I’m off to L.A. For a wild two weeks. Hoping for a wild two weeks. But part of me is thinking of spending some days doing nothing except maybe some programming.
I got up far too early (after staying up far too late) to catch my flight. Of course it is delayed an hour. So I get to wait here and pretend to sleep.
I did get to try the full-body scanner the Americans like to use to make themselves feel safe. It’s not as fun as advertised.