Off the Top
Random notes and rants.





OtT Archives

Tuesday, July 31, 2001
The results from the first few snaps turned out quite nicely on the lowest quality setting. I am returning to Greenspun's photo tutorial as this more immediate mode of taking photos and viewing them is helpful in the learning process. The results (with only minor PhotoShop tweaking) Skeleton Toy, home furnishing store, tasty neon, and sunset.
I almost forgot, Garrison Keillor to head in for heart surgery. This gave me one of those weird feelings.
Today was a good day in that our new camera arrived today. Which means that I need to get moving on building a photo section and possibly plan how to incorporate photos into these pages. I may get the fine folks at v-biz to lend a hand or some resources (they are so accommodating).

My mom is doing well and should be out of the hospital tomorrow. It was nothing major, thank God.

In a side discussion today at work about popcorn and the fat content I found out that popcorn in India is often cooked in sand. Not only is popcorn cooked in sand (then sifted out), but regular corn is left in the husk and cooked in sand too.

Monday, July 30, 2001
Vander Wal is a Giant. This is John Vander Wal of course. I really was spooked the first time I heard his name mentioned while watching a game. I was still living in San Francisco (1993)and I think John Vander Wal was playing for Montreal and I was home alone and stepping out to head to the kitchen and I could not figure out who said Vander Wal.

A great resource for defining and explaining Web design elements put together by Martijn van Welie. (link found on iaslash) Martijn also maintains the The Amsterdam Collection of Patterns in User Interface Design, which is also an other good resource for understanding interface elements.

I have been looking back through Off the Top and I am getting closer to putting the content in to different areas, where work and personal components are separated out. The categorical tagging and selecting is appealing also, which may be easier to accomplish and to find items in the archive. This next step would most likely be part of a redesign planned for the Fall. This would also include the ability to search the OtT for items in the past (this is more for my own benefit than anybody else). Much of this posting to the Web is for my own purpose, so that I can find items and easily point friends to these items as jumping off points. I suppose there are others that enjoy dropping in for what ever other reason and for this I welcome you. I do not use this site as a display of my work, as I do not spend the time on this site to warrant that result. This site is just good enough to pass for a website that holds information that is useful in some manner to someone.

Also on the horizon is a photo section. I really would like to be able to share these online in a more organized manner. The Boston trip should be back from the photo store soon, which will entail scanning and posting. A digital camera will be helping to provide better visuals in the near future.

Sunday, July 29, 2001
The New York Times yesterday had a wonderful article about a film house in Pleasantville, NY, which brought to mind earlier thought of mine regarding the experience of a film house. The Washington, DC area could use a place like the one in the article. I found a wonderful line in this article, "Did you turn off your brain when you moved out of the city, when you crossed 125th Street?" This article also discusses the intellectual decay/void in the suburbs.

Today is New York Times day it seems... In today's Times an article on Lance Armstrong's training practices, which seem to be a large part of that separates him from the rest of the field. I really am missing my bike at this point, as it is tucked away in storage as there is not a really optimal place in the apartment for it (I could hang it over my desk).

I am thoroughly enjoying Cryptonomicon. I am understanding why many of my friends have been amazed that I have not read it and why they have suggested that I read it.

Today is a wonderful rainy summer day. Yes, the rain makes be happy to some degree as it reminds me of those youthful days growing up in the Pacific Northwest. Having a little bit of work to get done today this weather helps and hinders that process. I feel like reading for fun and taking in this wonderful day.

Friday, July 7, 2001
The Wall Street Journal has a great article, or rather interview, with A Librarian's Skills at Amazon, which provides great insight, for those unfamiliar with information structures, on categorizing and preparing information for easy searching and for categorical navigation through options. Organizing information has a great return for the users, which in turn provides ROI for the business. Who knew? (IAs did that is who).
Thursday, July 26, 2001
We found out that some personal information and purchasing tracking is a good thing. We received a notification in the mail that a child's toy we purchased at Costco as a gift was being recalled as it had lead based paint.

One benefit of living in an apartment building is that there are plenty of people to provide services too with only limited effort. The advantage is we now have two options for cable service, digital cable modem services, and local phone service. Choice is nice. Only problem is that the new folks from StarPower left their presentation 30 minutes early so that by the time I got home from work they were gone. I like my DSL provider and will not budge from them for a while (very happy customer). But the cable thing could be enticing, at least on price.

Wednesday, July 25, 2001
Today it came back to me as to why I enjoy and find interest in categorization and classification systems as well as thesaurus based navigation searches, I always had problems with the yellow pages. I never could find what I knew existed. Yahoo was a great blessing and it really endeared me to the Web and how enabling different methods of getting to the same information was easily achievable.

I used to love to alphabetize when I was in second grade. The teacher would call on me and ask what I wanted to do that day and it was either alphabetize or write stories on sky-paper so to draw a scene from the story. What? Yes, struck by the geek stick early. The organization of thoughts and things in logical patterns was enjoyable then as it is now. Systems that work for the user stems from this quite easily.

Tuesday, July 24, 2001
There are many wonderful things about summer. Peaches so sweet and juicy you nearly need a straw. Large bunches of fresh basil. Baskets upon baskets of fresh delicious raspberries and blueberries. The Tour. Spring Lake. The Giants.
Monday, July 23, 2001
Today brought a postcard stating Home Office Computing Magazine was no more and I would be receiving another magazine (which I already receive) in its place. I was bummed as I had been reading this small magazine for at least six years. It was a great resource for finding those small office tools and general business tips.

I have been enjoying Joel's pages on software development over the weekend. It is a great glimpse of a completely different environment, where things can get done properly. This would be a change from a place that takes away your root access on a development server that you are the only one working on, just because they did not want to have a meeting to find out who needed what access and why.

Sunday, July 22, 2001
This morning while taking a "leisurely" drive to the do the weekly shopping I was listening to NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday. This show included a finger-style guitarist that I had never heard of prior, Don Ross. I am very much a fan of finger-style guitarists and I am in awe with what they can accomplish on an acoustic instrument. This radio segment was done very well, as it was instructional and really showcased a wonderful musician. After grocery shopping I checked the Web site for the show and found it to be an amazing repository of a streaming video from a segment on the show that shows the finger and hand work that goes with the finger-style playing. The site also had great commentary that helped describe the show as well as provide a song not played on the radio showed and the requisite links. I was so impressed.

Along similar lines, as we have DSL at home I listen to and watch a lot of streamed content. I also listen to a lot of radio shows. Retaining the context of a discussion is important as it is with a web site. There are a couple of things that would greatly help context with live radio and streamed media and that removing the extensive use of pronouns. State the person or items name periodically as people tune in and out of a broadcast or scan through a streamed broadcast. Like today I really was impressed with the Don Ross, but going to a web site or music store and looking for "you", as the radio interview kept referring to Don Ross was less than helpful. Most long format (more than 15 second snippets) radio broadcast fall into this bad habit.

Streaming media could greatly benefit from either chunking the segments better for stored broadcasts. The other option is to provide some form of index or annotation so to scan to the point in the broadcast, which the user may be searching. The fine folks at Car Talk do this very well, by breaking the segments of the show out and labelling the contents of that segment. This is something I wish Marketplace would do, as I love the show, but often I am interested in, or only have time for, one or two segments. Providing a chunked version and a full version would require doubling the resources for storing both elements, but it is a great user resource.

Joy and I went to the Baltimore Orioles game today (the day game). Baltimore is a huge mess still from the train fire as MANY streets are still blocked near Camden Yards. We drove up with Joy's brother-in-law and enjoyed the game. Many of the others that we joining us at the game, it was an event for Joy's company, we very late due to traffic and parking problems. This problem of getting to the park was compounded by a horrible web site (thank you Major Leagues again for destroying great fan sites). The site used to have directions for multiple forms of transportation to get to the ballpark. Not only are there (at a minimum) no links to these forms of transportation, like light-rail or bus, there was no mention that the light-rail was back running on the site, nor any other form of traffic. This is how you ignore the users and how not to use a method of communication that is great for sharing this type of information with the fans of baseball. Major League baseball has made a debacle of the fan web sites this season, yet tries to cover over their inept skills with PR fluff.

Friday, July 20, 2001
The Code Red virus seems to have killed the server that this site is hosted on yesterday. The site was up and down most of late yesterday. The traffic really dripped yesterday on the site.

I have been digging out information on synonymous search tool development for the past few days. I had found a lot of articles and sites discussing this approach, which is very well suited for the next phase of the project. I have had the toughest time finding this info again. I have built quite a few categorical/classification navigation systems in the past, which has been a great step when building the thesaurus based search tools for sites. I have turned to search tools over to others to build and finish. The thesaurus based search tools are great for catching all the stray parts of a site that are not caught with site indexing tools. As much of the site for the project is driven from a hand-rolled content management tool it will be easy to tie the results from that content to the thesaurus queries. Building the thesaurus and tying each of the components to the proper place can be a long process, depending on the depth of the content. Our project is not too deep at 120 to 200 items at the most. That would be about three or four days of making the connections. This may not even be that bad as the category structure and ties will already be made for the navigation system.

Thursday, July 19, 2001
Looking of a fantastic representation of the interconnection of those that lead the corporate world. This is only missing the media portion so to show Ben Bagdikian theory in easy to understand terms.
Wednesday, July 18, 2001
Another instructional article on using PHP with Java Servlets and EJB. I have been hearing more about the speed and efficiency increases on servers using PHP rather than JSP to serve information and take advantage of the best of Java. This article points out the downsides of taking these measures, which most importantly comes down to watching your variables.

Jobs show off Apples new wares.

I have been really enjoying eleganthack this week as Christina hits on some good issues.

As Joy has learned, it means nothing until the mountains.

Tuesday, July 17, 2001
I have been following the Tour de France Diaries - Weblogs off the Velo News site. They are offering a pretty good insight in the Tour. They are also a pretty good showcase for weblogs. (Nice to note the logs are done with PHP).
Good news on the home delivery front as Peapod is pulled into grocery chain parent company

Jay post a good overview on the wireless web.

Monday, July 16, 2001
Fast Company has an article titledFour Ways to Become a Better Teacher, which focuses on learning through team building and project work. The article's main points come down to...
  Many of the lessons mirror real market realizations: Successful 
projects have clear mission statements. They maintain focus from the
beginning. They understand their customers and their marketplace. They
capitalize on their team dynamics. And in the end, success comes down to one
thing: people.
This seems to be a lesson that is continually lost.

I was very bummed to learn of the decision of HannaHodge, a User Experience firm. I have been rather perplexed by this announcement of closure and still bummed by the closure of Argus. There is a plethora of work needed to improve corporate sites (see the Business 2.0 site redesign, which incorporates the eCompany content or see the new TechWeb site that has dropped many of the other CMP publications with out notice or explanation). Not only do corporate sites need the help but government and non-profit firms need help connecting to their users. I know companies are bringing the work in-house and not relying on consultants as much, but these have been two great firms. - Sigh -

Rick discussed his new bag that is on the way from Timbuk2 and now I, never even having heard of them, am quite interested in building my own too. I have been doing the backpack thing for quite a while, and I am ready for something a little more back friendly (I know I could use both straps on my backpack, but it is so damn hot here and my shirt would be soaked by the time I got to work).

It seems I missed the Sunday Boston adventures. Sunday was a short day as we packed and grabbed coffee before heading out on the T from Boylston to Kennimore. We walked around Fenway Park then over and down Marlborough Street and over to Newbury then to near the hotel to have lunch at Pho Pasteur for some very good Vietnamese food. We had hoped to get dim sum in Chinatown but the long lines on Sunday made it too close to cut before catching our plane.

The big news in Boston, other than the big dig, was the Chandra Levy case. That is seems to be the big news everywhere.

One of the things that fascinated me about Boston was the T. It was intriguing that there were different train types as well as different station types. Some of the oldest stations remind me of the London Tube with the relatively small platforms and narrow passageways. I liked the maps used, but some of the station signage was not very clear, particularly at Park Station. Not only did it fool me once on Friday, but it got both Joy and I on Saturday.

The food in Boston was a great pleasure. I did not have a bad meal and we did not hit the high end places. One restaurant that piqued my interest was No. 9 Park, mostly what drew my attention was the exterior and the display from the windows. There was incredible attention to detail and contrasts. The menu looked wonderful as well and had prices to match. Next time.

One final note on Boston food... the local Mac Donalds have lobster rolls. We did not get one from there, but it was tempting.

Saturday, July 14, 2001
We went everywhere again today. The first trek was back to Cambridge, but this time to the Harvard area. I spent some time in WordsWorth bookstore and was impressed with the breadth and and depth in a relatively small space. We wandered around the Harvard campus after getting a lobster roll and chowder for lunch. We stopped at Harrell's ice cream and I had a fantastic raspberry ice cream. I stopped in Harvard Books and was rather disappointed in their selection in all but fiction and politics. Joy ducked on the T and I met her in Harvard Square where I was watching a friend from Arlington, Virginia perform on the street. I did not know that Leah Siegal was in Boston. I was quite impressed with her songs. I stepped up and said hello and she was as shocked to see me as I was to see her. I had not seen her in three or four years. As I was talking to her Joy walked up and I introduced the two of them. It is such a small world. Joy and I stooped into the Harvard Coop, which was a great bookstore and soooo much more.

We hopped back on to the T to head over to Back Bay to go catch the Boston Duck Tour. This was a wonderful way to see the city and get history and insights in to this city filled with gems. After seeing tiny bits of Beacon Hill we decided to walk down to the Public Green and take pictures by the "Make way for Ducklings" statue and then saunter down Charles Street. We were heading to North End to catch dinner, but as Boston is so very walkable it was nice to just keep going.

The North End was hopping with couples out on dates and with groups of friends going out for a night out. We wandered over to the Old North Church as we were trying to make a decision about where to dine. We decided on Maurizios which had a rather short line and the Zagats review which was in the Vindigo Boston guide I have been using in my Handspring. We shared a very good Bruschetta, had mixed greensalads, and I had a fantastic lobster ravioli with sweet potato in a tomato with corn and cream sauce and Joy had a very good linguini ai frutti de mare. We were happy with our choice. After dinner we walked back down to the harbor then across to Tremont Street to get back to our hotel in the Theater District.

Friday, July 13, 2001
I have a refound respect for those that have to live with dial-up Internet accounts. Logging in from the hotel in Boston has been a pain. I also did not find an Internet cafe in my travels today (I hope this was an oversight on my part and not the result of a lack of these cafes.

I have had a blast here in Boston. It is a wonderful city that is very walkable. The weather was wonderful today as I split my time between Boston and Cambridge. I should have photos from this trip sometime in the near future, which will be after I return home of course.

Boston seems to have a Duncan Donuts on nearly every corner and all of them have long lines in the morning. Many grown men have crew cuts or flat-top haircuts. The Starbucks have a butterscotch scone that is very tasty and goes great with coffee.

Today's adventures started out heading up Tremont street along Boston Commons and roughly followed the Freedom Trail which took me to see Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock's graves, among others. Other Boston stops included Faneuil Hall and the Market Place.

I hopped on the T and head over to Cambridge which included a wonderful view of the Charles River. I hopped out at Kendall to wander around MIT. The first stop was the MIT Press Bookstore, which was not as large as I expected, but offered a great breadth of books from their press as well as others publishers. I added a couple of new books to my wish list, which will get updated later or I may return and pick up one or two tomorrow. The next stop was Quantum Books a tech bookstore. Their labeling and discounts reminded me of Reiters in Washington, DC. They had a plethora of Microsoft Press books, which were not of interest to me today. They did have Object Modeling and User Interface Design by Mark Van Harmelen, which contains a nice overview of User Interface development and related UML.

Next it was to go to the MIT visual design museum, which was under renovation and will reopen in September. Bummer. I wandered through the campus and buildings and ended up near the Administration building, which had food vans parked nearby and long lines to get their offerings. I was quite hungry and the food looked edible. Figuring the people in the long lines knew something I stood in the quickly moving line and ordered Ginger Scallion Chicken lunch box, which turned out to be some of the best Chinese food I have had in a long time. It was not greasy and was served with mixed vegetables and a serving of steamed cabbage. I went over and sat on the steps of a large building and dug in, just like the locals.

Now it was off to the MIT Museum and for $5 you get to see many of the robotic projects that have been developed at MIT. There are a lot of videos, interactive displays that bring science and technology to life. The robotics section has an area for kids to build their own robots using Legos and get guidance on what the electronic Lego elements do and how they may be used. I walked through the rest of the museum with a grade school or junior high school aged group. There were displays of how MIT helped develop elements for space exploration that helped NASA get men on the moon. To many of these kids the moon landings are ancient history (arg). In all I spent about 20 to 30 minutes going through the museum and playing with things and learning too. It was a great geek experience.

I wandered back down Main Street and not only saw the NECCO plant, but smelled and saw a door that lead to a Tootsie Roll factory. Along this same street were Polaroid offices and labs, Cambridge Technologies, multiple Biogen offices, Technology Square, which lead me back to the Charles River. I walked along the Charles up to Harvard bridge to walk back over to Boston and back down through backbay.

This evening Joy and I met Kim, my roommate from San Francisco, and her beau Jim. It was great to see Kim and catch up with her and as well to meet Jim. I had heard much about Jim and he lived up to the good words spoken about him.

Off to bed as tomorrow there is more ground to cover and more photos to snap.

Thursday, July 12, 2001
Groove with XML article provides insights to bringing in components.
The Travel Blog was build with PHP and MySQL on my development server. It was about two hours of work, even with interruptions, which was not too bad in my book. TB is currently very simple, but should I switch hosts and add the functionality to do what I really want it to have this could become my true Blogger replacement.

Bob Lewis has an interesting article on motivations for decision makers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2001
I am off to Boston for the weekend. This is a temporary item to allow for me to post while I am away. I will incorporate these items in to my regular log when I return.

At some point in the future this may become the foundation for building my own log. Hmmm.

While I am pondering the meaning of life in the tropical resort of Boston, please visit my Travel Blog, which is a kludgy way of allowing me to post while on the road (should I have that desire).

Off to pack.

Michelle offers a good place to start when trying to visually explain Monday Night. It is metaphotograph back at you Michelle. The only other recognizable eyemodule photos were of Missy and Jenn.

You ask eyemodule? Or, ask why is he waving his Palm/HandSpring thing at me? I have just one request for the next gathering... flood lamps as the eyemodule needs light (yes another selfish request).

Christina points out a relatively comprehensive guide to managing Web projects (PDF).

Those looking for the handful more (maybe three at the most) eyemodule photos from Monday night may have to wait until at least this evening. I got a little sidetracked playing with Groove last night.

I also should have been playing with my remote posting system, which I was thinking I may finish before heading to Boston. Thinks may be a little quite this weekend as a result.

Tuesday, July 10, 2001
I am playing with the idea of "Web Physiognomy", which is the role of the Web site or browser based application is predeterminate of the experience will have using that site or application. The idea is not new as it is the centerpiece of experience design (XP). I have been thinking about the correlations of the physical world and the digital interactive world as I spend time reading Nathan's site and "experiencing" his book.

Compare Amazon and a local DC bookstore that is also a favorite of mine, Reiters. The visual weight of the sites is different as Amazon is more open and relies on colors to draw one's eye. Reuters is a little more technical and business-like, which is much of its focus.

The sites that really triggered the Web Physiognomy idea was when I visited Lands' End and L.L. Bean websites back to back. The base color is the same and is neither companies' corporate colors. The strong use of white space is similar also.

I am more coherent this evening than last evening. The DC Weblog group was a kick last night. I am still so happy to find new friends. You see the Washington, D.C. area is very transient. The joke is if you have lived in this area more than five years you are a native. Actually, Don is a native. I am looking very forward to the next gathering. I am still also very impressed with the "out-of-towners" too. Web people doing cool things with their lives and their personal sites. There is still hope.

As a result of last night I signed up for Photographica and will be adding a link under fun things and also some of my Eye Module photos.

N2S:: At some point I need to address photos on this site. I have stacks of print photos to scan in my swift-o scanner of varying quality.

A great essay about If Clients Treated Architects Like They Treat Web Designers (thanks to LGF).

Heads-up PHP comrades a must read on PHP security.

I added a link to Web Word yesterday. The interview section of contains an interview with Steve Krug, which has a great quote...

  But it's always seemed to me that if you don't understand that it's
important for people to be able to use whatever you're selling, you're
probably unlikely to succeed. And personally, I like working with people who
know what they're doing. Fortunately for me, all of the people who call
me in to help already know the value of usability.
Now this is someone I could work with for a while as I really need a break from believers of the converse.
Monday, July 09, 2001
Ah... It was a very good day. I worked on functional flow diagrams and detailed descriptions. It was so nice.

To continue with the good day I met up with the DC Webloggers near Du Pont Circle. I knew Mike and Dineen in Austin and they filled me in about the group. I brought my Eye Module, which is in dire need of a flash, so the neon lights turned out the best. It was good to meet Fred, Rick, Missy, Jonathan, Don, Derek, Michelle, and Jenn plus the special guest Dan and extra secret guest all the way from Canada Jayme. It was an evening of great fun. I introduced myself as Tom, which some knew was the person who slept through the last event and others relayed was known as vanderwal on MeFi. It is good to put people behind the sites and stories. Now I am ready for bed.

I added Web Word to the IA section of the links.

Began playing with Morpheus late last night. More on this Napster on 'roids later.

Saturday, July 07, 2001
I refound the Apple OS X Human Interface Guidelines. This is what I call documentation. It may not be perfect, but it is better than anything I have been around in a long time. It is also a good perspective on documenting the understanding of HCI.
We saw Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion this evening out at Wolf Trap in Virginia. It was fantastic to see the show live as you pick up things that you would not just listening to the radio. I have been a fan since Garrison's first book Lake Wogegon Days. I was fortunate enough to meet him at his unrecorded presentation at the Commonwealth Club of California in 1989 or 1990. The show this evening included a story about how his computer died last Sunday (which he discussed a little prior to the show starting) and a sketch with him calling a tech assistance service. This included the line, "I don't understand, I want the computer to serve me not having the computer wanting be to serve it." This received a large applause and cheering. It seems the listening audience seems to understand it is ALL ABOUT THE USER. Garrison mentioned he thought that about Wednesday he was over stressing about not having e-mail. He even though that maybe he could live the rest of his life with out it. He is a brave soul or a much better man than I (if this is an idea of virtue).

My passion was restored at Garrison Keillor (actually it was never lost). Building applications and sites that are usable and make communication a breeze is a worthy goal.

HP does a decent job of providing on-line support for their products. I wish their inital effort was a good as their follow-up. Much of my problem with HP is not their doing but it is Microsoft's driver issues. MS's lack of QA and late to the game stability is making OS X look so much more enticing. Yes, I know OS X is still not fully up to speed, but the UNIX relationship and Apple's understanding of the user and interfaces has be believing this could kick the sh#% out of MS. Besides most everything I develop could run natively on an OS X machine and I could carry it with my in a Ti.

Friday, July 06, 2001
Jon Udell digs into Groove with Ray Ozzie and also interviews Ray Ozzie.
I knew I had seen at least on article on using PHP to connect to Java servlets.

From the Kult of Jakob - Design for Process, Not Products or how to forget the users when developing for users. (thanks to Xblog)

Also helpful is the Principles of good GUI Design. (also from Xblog.

John Udell of Internet Groupware and Byte adds his comments and understanding of cluttered GUIs.

Udell comments on new collaborative options.

Word to the wise: When building an information applications you need to understand the information. What the information is, what the users will want to do with the information, and how (and if) the information is capable of providing this output.

An analogy that may help with this... If you have a data repository of single words, want to write an essay, are trying to use a word processing application, and you do not understand the words (perhaps they are in a language you do not understand), nor do you understand the subject that you are writing about, the problem is not the application. Off the shelf applications can not provide this functionality of writing what you do not understand. A programmer no matter how terrific anybody thinks she (or he) is can not help you write a program that would work (they may for a one off solution, but it will not be applicable for other solutions). One of the first steps of implementing an information application is understanding the information or data you are going to be working with. This is also not a new concept.

Thursday, July 05, 2001
Great news about The Perl Journal being picked up by CMP. This makes me very happy as many of my favorite magazines are CMP productions: Sys Admin, Web Techniques, Web Review, Dr. Dobbs Journal, Software Development, and Intelligent Enterprise.

Joy and I had a wonderful meal at Blue Point Grill on Tuesday when I picked Joy up at the airport.

I really enjoyed AI, but I could have done with out some of the Speilberg handholding the viewers that can't follow the plot and miss subtle foreshadowing. Over all I really enjoyed the view into the future. After we left the Uptown theater where it was playing it seemed so very quiet, it was rather creepy how quiet everything seemed.

Wednesday, July 04, 2001
Happy Independance Day!! BC comics wishes the same... I really have not read the comics much since Calvin and Hobbes stopped running. I am not much of a Dilbert fan as it is a reminder of the frustration from work. This is just one of the minor hazards of doing for work what you do for fun.

Today is also AI day for Joy and I.

Tuesday, July 03, 2001
Ah, Joy is back home. My head feels bruised from battling JavaScript the past couple days.

I am tired of fighting as we try to do things not just the right way, but anything but the wrong way. The last of experience on many fronts is astounding and the less experience is balanced with more demanding to do things in correctly because, "I say so". I have become my own caustic waste dump in this environment. I am really wishing I had accepted the other job and not been talked out of leaving so that I could feel proud of what has been accomplished. Speaking up to help the situation get threats of punishment and I don't know that people want to be proud of what they accomplish. It almost seems like if we keep failing and demanding the route to failure they think they will always have a job.

There are two views on consulting and/or contracting. One view is to measure success by getting in the door then growing the group providing "support" and keeping the large number on the project for an extended period of time. The other route is to come in the door with a team of professionals assess the situation, build a solution based on that assessment while focussing the solution on those actually using the final product, train the users, document the maintenance and up keep, and have the team leave with one person or so needed to provide support. This last approach fits my mind set very well as providing technical solutions is finite not continual. Yes providing successful solutions that provide a solid ROI, are usable, maintainable, reliable, and repeatable is the ultimate goal. This success can lead to more work for the team. As a client this is what I looked for, as a provider of services this is my goal. Unfortunately I am not in an environment that expects this approach nor rewards it, well not yet any way.

Monday, July 02, 2001
The v2 (an IA group that has insightful essays/long posts) has been undergoing a redesign. The work is being done and documented by Metronymous. This discussion is a decent overview of the process (well it looks that way from a perusal).
If you want comedy you hire developers and have them build an application without knowing who the users may be and with out having an understanding of the information or data you will be using. Apply the application to some data or information and try to figure out why it does not work correctly. This leads to drama, which then leads to an educational film about processes and how important processes are to doing things properly and even know nothings can get it right, or largely right following processes.

It takes a Monday evening to wind down from the weekend. But best of all was todays cool weather in the mid-70s with low humidity and a gentle breeze that whispers across the cobalt sky spotted with white puffs. All that was needed was a large body of water to watch the sun ease it self down.

Sunday, July 01, 2001
This past week the annual summer kick-off began, fire flies. They are the wonderful creatures that bring a wonderful start to summer. I was stopped stunned the night of the O.J. run-away as I saw my first fire flies.
This was a tough few days of losses with Chet Atkins, Jack Lemmon, and Mortimer Adler. All were greatly skilled in their fields and all will be greatly missed. Of these Adler in a very distant way had a great impact on my life. Adler developed the Great Books idea for learning, of which St. Mary's College in California has developed a major as well as an over all curriculum. The turning to the fountain head of knowledge and to build upon that through time has impacted how I view the world, daily life, and continual learning that adds depth to life.

It was a nice day for golf with some of the guys from work. One day I may actually find the time to improve.

I really can not believe how poor the Giants site has become this year. The coopting of the site by Major League Baseball has created a completely unscalable site that constantly crashes. The live radio feeds for the game, which I paid the $10 to hear also are completely unreliable. Not only is it bad for baseball it is bad for technology. The Giants went from a competently run site that had local content the Giants fans cared about and a solidly built site. Arg!!!

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