Had a Bad Day

I was reading this software trade rag. There were a lot of ads in the magazine. I guess that's how they give me the thing for free. One ad in particular stood out. It was irreverent. It was fun. The thing had me hooked. So I went to the company's web site. I read a few blogs on there. Left some comments.

A few days later I got an email from a blogger that works for the company. He offered me some free copies of some software from the site. Here was their proposition. They make it easy to produce reports using their add-in to Microsoft Word. Now we got some complicated reports that took a lot of programming on our project. However the blogger asked me to give their products a try and let him know what troubles I had.

I had some troubles figuring out their product lineup. There were some reporting engines. And there was the add in. Should I install them all? Tried to go read up some docs on the company web site. Trouble is the links on the site did not work. Damn. Well I decided to install the Word add-in and see how it worked. Setting up a database source was not intuitive at all. I struggled through it and got it to work.

After running the template provided with the install, I got the Word document to pull in some data. It was not the data I wanted to see. So I logged into the database, made some updates, and committed the changes. Then I ran the report again. However it did not show the new data. Ooops. I reported back my troubles to the blogger. This piece of software sounded interesting. But it was too much trouble for me. We probably don't need the thing on our project anyway.


I am unit testing a bunch of scripts that normally run off the UNIX cron. Luckily they output their status to a log file. However the log keeps saying I have an SP2-0750 error. The text of this error is "You may need to set ORACLE_HOME to your Oracle Software directory."

Well I set my ORACLE_HOME. I can run SQL*Plus fine from the command line. Then I thought maybe the process I am spawning to run the scripts is not inheriting my environment variables. Nope. That can't be right.

Finally I try running the script in a different way. I make sure any changes the scripts make get reflected in my own parent environment. Wouldn't you know it? Somebody is resetting my ORACLE_HOME to an invalid directory. Further investigation shows that the scripts initially source a profile that has the wrong ORACLE_HOME.

I knew a little bit about what was going on. However all signs were pointing in the wrong direction. It took a high level of debugging skills, coupled with a lot of test time to figure this one out. I get the feeling that I am going to be having a great challenge testing out these scripts.

Archos 7 Home Tablet

Dont you hate that the cool iPad costs at least $500? I know I am. Luckily there is a cheaper alternative. The Archos 7 Home Tablet has a retail price of $199. In fact, you can get it for $189 from Amazon including shipping. That's the same price of an iPod Touch, not an iPad. Let's look at this economical device.

The Archos 7 has a 7 inch screen, is 5 millimeters thick, and weighs less than a pound. It has a kickstand to prop it up. There are no buttons on the thing. It has a resistive touch screen for user input. The thing is similar to the smaller Archos 5 Internet Tablet.

Inside the Archos 7 has 128MB of RAM and 2GB disk space. An 8GB model runs for $240 retail. The display has a 800 x 480 pixel resolution. Built in speakers are very powerful. It supports 80211b and 802.11g Wifi. The battery let's you watch video for 7 hours before needing a recharge.

Loaded on the Archos 7 is version 1.5 of the Android operating system. It is good that they have an open operating system. But the version is an old and outdated one. There are 5 apps preloaded on the system. You do not have access to all apps written to Android. But you can get apps from the AppsLib store which boasts about a thousand apps.

The Archos 7 comes from a French company. It supports many video formats, including High Definition ones. There is no Flash support, just like the iPad. It is good for reading eBooks. You've got to love the free Android apps that are out there waiting to be downloaded by you. I think I just may have to go out and get myself one.

Communication and Leadership

I was packing up my bag to get ready to leave work today. The guy who leads my old team dropped by and had some bad news. He said I needed to attend a long meeting later this week to work through some bugs with the customer. Then he said I needed to stick around today to help the team prepare for this meeting.

When asked to do some work that is not my official role on the project, I always start making calls. I immediately called up my manager. I reminded him that I moved to another team over a month ago. I also said that I had a schedule to keep with my new team. I asked why my schedule was getting loaded up with work from my old team.

I ended up conferencing a bunch of developer from my old team. I spent an hour walking developers through the problem resolution process. Now I do not normally care about incompetence. But I do care when it means I have to do somebody else's job. Don't try that mess with me.

Lack of Review

I have recently taken over the maintenance of a back end job. It communicates with another system. Most of the business is written in Oracle PL/SQL. There is also a mixture of Korn and Perl scripts involved. My first task was to implement a new change the customer wanted.

Luckily I inherited a pretty detailed design document. So I updated the thing with the new changes that the customer wanted. I asked my boss what I needed to do with the document. He said to give our internal team a day to review the thing. Then publish it and schedule a walk through with the customer.

Got no comment back from the internal review. Nobody read the thing I guess. My boss asked a few questions. That led to some changes. Then the document went out and I headed to my meeting to go over my design changes. The meeting was held at our customer's building. I knew a guy who worked at the building. He signed me in. I got dropped off in the room where the meeting was to be held. I practiced my intro a couple times so that it would be smooth. Also jotted down some notes on the sections I wanted to hit. Nobody was showing up at the meeting though. My boss said all types of big shots would be there. I guess my design passed. Wrong. More on this next time.