Tuesday, August 31, 2004

the new job begins
I've been at my new job for two days now and so far it's been very good. I still feel a little useless, but I'm learning quickly and will soon be able to compile the projects myself. I have my own office, installed the software I wanted on my PC etc. I still have to get my speakers in here though - I'm not at home until my music is playing here :)

The drive in and back home is the biggest difference so far. DSS was only 5-7 minutes away, ScriptRX is about 30 minutes. It's a little strange driving in thick traffic and through downtown which is all one-way streets and construction right now. Driving home last night I totally screwed up and went south out of town instead of north. After about 15 minutes I realized I'd made a mistake and reversed direction, and got on the highway north. I screwed that up too - I was in the wrong lane and had to exit when I actually wanted to stay on, and it took about ten minutes to find a way to turn back around, get on the highway and get home. 45 minutes in all, but hopefully I'll get the journey home right tonight.

Patch is suffering a bit because now I can't pick him up at lunch at take him to work. I'll ask if I can bring him in here occasionally if he's not going to be OK at home.

I made two more good fractal images last night - see the link to "Brian's Fractals" on the right. I'm going to start bringing the camera in to work and take pictures of the new digs and the downtown area - it's quite pretty.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I've made a fractals page to show off what a even a talentless hack like me can do with a good bit of fractal software. I hope you'll give it a try too - there's a good mailing list to support new users too. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The Wedge available online
My hobbies all seem to have hit me with good progress at the same time. Curt Stewart's short film, The Wedge, is available online for a week or so. I wrote one of the pieces of music in it - it's the part where the girl is introduced. Curt edited it together from stock footage and provided the voiceover - a mini horror story !

My fractal explorations (see below) are rocking along nicely and I'm going to post a page with my best results. Stay tuned !

Deanne is out of town this week, and I've been saying my goodbyes at work. There's been nothing but nice comments and I think I'm having another two farewell lunches ! It's a sad thing to leave a job you love, but I'm really excited about the prospects of the new one.

Monday, August 23, 2004

A picture I made with UltraFractal 3.0. It was only my second or third try, but since then I've improved a little with practice. It's a great program and you can try it free for 30 days. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A'ash al-Iraq !
That means "long live Iraq" and it's a phrase I learned from reading the excellent Iraq The Model website, run by three brothers in Iraq. The news came today that two of them are running for office in the new Iraqi government ! Their accounts of daily life, their observations of politics in the new Iraq are very enlightening and I really recommend you read it and I really hope they do well in the elections this December.

I've also been reading Chrenkoff's blog, especially his Good News From Iraq series. Its a roundup of all the good news stories you might find if you looked hard enough. He castigates the "liberal" media for ignoring the "good news" stories, but I think he's a little unfair here: nobody reports on a daily trickle of good news. Everybody reports the "if it bleeds, it leads" stories about death and destruction. This is the same for any subject, not just Iraq. But whatever his motives it's great to read about steady, unstoppable progress being made on issues like international trade, commerce, security, education etc.

I was especially moved by the work done by Spirit of America who buy what is needed in Iraq and Fedex it out there. Bam ! It's fast and effective and it produces good results, quickly. I donated to the program that supplied good quality tools to a program that teaches Iraqi men about construction and carpentry. I've always thought people donated to children a bit too much, and didn't think about donating to the parents. Yes, the children are the future, but if you help their parents today, the children will be fed, clothed and educated by their own families !

Sunday, August 15, 2004

dont' be that guy
The hurricane missed us completely, and thanks to friends and family phoning and writing to see if we're alright. We survived ! Through gusts of up to 15, maybe 16 miles per hour, and enough rain to form small puddles in the driveway, we drank a couple of beers and watched telly, bravely braving braveness bravely :)

It was a total non-event in our corner of Florida, though 13 people died elsewhere, including the man who died when he went OUTSIDE for a ciggy ! Yes, this man was dying for a smoke (I had to say it and I won't be the last) and he did when a palm tree fell on him. How did he light the cigarette ? Who makes a lighter that works in 140 mph winds ? Or who makes a cigarette that can stay alight in a bloody hurricane !?

A word of advice, kids. Don't be that guy who's death is reported in the Odd Spot column of the newspapers. Don't be the guy who's the subject of "Hey, did you hear about the idiot who..." conversations around office watercoolers around the world. Death is coming for all of us one day, but for sooth's sake, don't make it easy for him to find you ! "Hey Death, I'll be outside under that palm tree IN A GODDAMN HURRICANE !"

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Financial Analyst's Holiday
Just listening a story on the radio about the toy store Toys 'R Us possibly splitting up and spinning the Babies 'R Us into a seperate business. The Babies stores are doing much better than the others (and having seen the prices, I can see why) because "people buy for babies year round, but only buy for their kids on birthday and during the 4th Quarter Holidays."

The 4th Quarter Holidays ? "Happy 4th quarter, Johnny ! If you've been good, CFO Santa might bring you fiduciary instruments at 1 point above the prime rate !" HAR !

No, I know, he was being a nice guy and including all religions who have a different holiday at that time; but it took me by surprise and sounded utterly heartless, which is how economists sometimes seem.

I've heard back from the president of the company about me leaving - he asked me why I was going, of course, and wished me luck. He was nice enough to say I could come back if it didn't work out, but I told him I was pretty confident that ScriptRX had answered all my questions about stability, future prospects etc. So it's a done deal, and now I wait to say goodbye to the friends I've made over the past two years. I should take some pictures too.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

storm's a comin'. Yyyyyup.
I have some news. I've been sitting quietly on this for a while but I sent the fax today and made the phone call, so there's no changing my mind. I've accepted a position at another company, ScriptRX and will be leaving DSS at the end of the month. I've had a great two and a half years here, but ScriptRX have made me a great offer that I simply couldn't refuse.

They have a project they've been working on for a couple of years but recently their development team all left to form their own software development shop. Scriptrx needs someone in-house to oversee the source code, develop and design new features, manage any other programmers brought on board or manage communications with other contractors. They work in downtown West Palm Beach, right on Clematis Street and they've made me a very sweet deal.

Document Storage Systems has been a great company to work for and I'll miss it. I'll miss the respect and friendship I have with everyone, and the excellent feedback I've had about the software I've written there. It's a place that's given me a lot of confidence, and also experience in the medical software field, which while I was in college I swore I'd never do, because bugs in medical software can get people killed ! Well, here I am, moving into medical software for the second company in a row, and it seems like there's a great future in it. Very few hospitals have electronic medical records systems, and what I've seen at the VA, which has the best in the world, will help me greatly at the new position.

It's a pretty wide-open scenario which kind of reminds me of what I walked into when I joined Sausage Software in August 1995. I was the second employee and was hired at the kitchen table of a man who is now worth 70-80 million dollars :) Ah, the Internet boom; wasn't it great !? I got a big ol' house out of it, but I foolishly turned down the opportunity to become project manager of HotDog, our flagship product at Sausage. I figured that I liked software design and programming too much to get involved in management and didn't want to be held responsible for other people's work. I was probably right at the time, but over the past few years I've learned a hell of a lot about software design and become a more confident person.

So I'm stepping off one boat and boarding another train, happily mixing metaphors in the airport of life. Thank you to everyone at DSS, hello to everyone at ScriptRX !

Friday, August 06, 2004

New Stuff
We got a series 2 Tivo and I have it set up to play the music from my main computer. It's really cool to be able to turn on the TV, hit the remote control and choose any piece of music from my huge collection of music. Deanne and I have about 1000 CDs between us, so it'll take a while to rip it all to my computer.

Deanne has been away for a couple of days and I've really missed her - I don't sleep well when she's away...though that might be because I bought a Tivo and spent hours getting it set up, then walked the dog, shot some pool with my friend Scott, and couldn't sleep till 3AM. She's going away again on Sunday, so I'll try and get to bed at a better time...I can only do one five hour sleep per week :) But there's a Farscape marathon, the XGames, West Wing episodes....damn you TV !

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

tired of news
The news about the execution of the Turkish truck driver really turned my stomach. I've heard about all the others, of course, but this one really hit me, because the poor bastard was shot right after he read a statement urging all other Turkish drivers to stop working in Iraq. Then one of those disgusting thugs walked up and shot him in the head. I hope these animals get run to ground and feel some terror of their own before they're.....do I want them dead ? Do I want to see them erased from the face of the earth, or treated like any other criminal. I honestly don't know. But I do know that I've reached some point where this same thing has happened too many times. Iraqi people, on the whole, want free and happy lives, but a few thousand thugs can threaten that, and it's not fair.

Y'know, I liked most of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, except the part where he tried to paint the Iraqi insurgency as freedom fighters, or some kind of noble movement who are resisting American aggression. It's total crap - they're power hungry control freaks who's Daddy was kicked out of power and they're terrified of having to make decent, civilised lives for themselves and work with other Iraqis instead of being handed everything they want. Moore has this image totally wrong. The war was the right thing to do, and it's wrong that the rest of the world didn't take Saddam's government down a long time ago. Not because of the War on Terror (you can't do with that with guns - you need good schools and tolerant societies), but because he was a brutish dictator who slaughtered his people and kept his country in fear. And shame on the Arab media for filtering all information through a "America Is Bad" filter. I think Mahmood (see a couple of posts down) said it best - I won't even try to match what he said.

Iraq will eventually be a prosperous democracy because that's what the majority of it's people want. If it receives support from the rest of the world, it'll happen, no doubt in my mind.

Looking back to South Florida though, we're still waiting for our fridge to be repaired (3 months now). I got tired of being ignored by Fisher & Paykel's office in Jacksonville, so I called Australia and ordered the new fan and motor myself, and will have a local repair guy try and install it. Apparently I have the only F&P fridge in the whole USA and I totally broke their heads trying to get a part sent over to replace the dud one. They were so paralyzed they couldn't even phone me back...I hope they recover soon so the healing can begin. Bastards.

Curt Stewart told me that my piece of music "A Good Beginning" is the most prominently featured music in his short film, The Wedge, and that he'll try and send me a DVD of it soon.

Mercury Mailroom is nearly done - we need to set up our ordering page, but lots of the other little tasks are done and we'll start our publicity blitz soon !