Vacation is all I Ever Wanted

I like taking vacations to recharge from the hectic life at work. In the past, I have found it difficult to schedule a week off. I would call my boss requesting time off. He would tell me to give him a week. A week later I inquire about my vacation, and he acts like this is the first he has ever heard about it. He asks for a week to think about it. Then a week later, he says he needs a week to think about it.

That cycle got old after the first week. This is a problem that needs to be solved. Perhaps I am getting ignored because my boss is too busy. Simple. Now I call up my boss, follow up with an email, and state that if there are any problems let me know within a week. Then I also state that if I don't hear back within a week, I will consider the vacation approved. Works every time.

Now there is one more caveat to this techinqiue. I cannot be irresponsible. I must ensure there is coverage for my absense. However I wait until my last day at work before the vacation. At that point I remind everyone that I am going on vacation the following week. There is usually a mad dash to get information from me. There are also cries about how I am an essential employee, and that it is a bad time to take vacation. The sad thing is that this happens every time I take vacation. So I cannot be too bothered by it.

The good news is that I am taking next week off from work. So today there are people crying about how we have so much to do next week. Not my problem. I already got my vacation approved. I just try to focus on the main things I need to get done before the day is out. I will be on the beach by Monday.

Poor Performance

I needed to duplicate a strange problem in our application. It involved large volumes. So I wrote a script to simulate 17k records. My first test hung the app. After 4 or 5 hours, I gave up. Me and my boss split the work between us. I handled the database optimization, and he took care of the stuff in the app.

The database piece turned out to be terribly inefficient code in one of the database triggers. I was surprised at some of the findings in the app. One problem was the sorting of the records. This used a bubble sort implemented by a developer no longer on the team. Turns out he ran the bubble sort on the data twice in order to sort by two columns. That was just too slow. Who doesn't use quicksort these days?

Another issue was the population of our spreadsheet. This is accomplished by adding data one cell at a time. At 17k rows by about 10 columns, you know we are in trouble. We might be capped because we are using a third party spreadsheet. I got to think there is a way to bulk load up large spreadsheets. I hope when we put all our speedups together, this 17k records loads in no time at all.

Visual Studio and HTML

I have been having a problem editing HTML files with Visual Studio. This happened on my work and home laptops. I knew this must be a configuration issue since I just reinstalled Visual Studio 2010 Professional on my home machine. Every time I open an HTML file with Visual Studio, I get a blank page. What the heck? Opening the same file renamed to a ".txt" file works fine.

I tried setting some options. That was no help. Then I started playing with the File Open dialog. With the HTML file selected, I clicked the drop down box on the Open button. Then I chose the "Open with..." submenu. The HTML Editor was the default program used to open HTML files. That must have been the fail. As soon as I selected and made the Source Code Editor the default program for HTML files, I can now see my code.

The strange thing was that when I googled for solutions to this problem, I got no help. Sometimes you got to get in there yourself and do some hacking to get your tools to work correctly. I still think Visual Studio should be able to edit HTML text straight out of the box without any such hacking.

Management Not Helping

We had a trouble ticket come in the other day. It did not get immediately worked as the development team was busy. The customer upped the priority of the ticket. A manager asked me for some insight on how we could work this ticket. I said the functionality was one that was complex and not familiar to most of development. So I put down some estimates on how long it would take a developer to get familiar with the functions, how long it would take to ramp upu some test data, and how long it would take to replicate the problem.

I thought that was good enough. Later the same manager said we should go ahead with the investigation. What? I figured he might be confused. So I emailed him with the list of other high priority issues I was working. I told him I would work the new one when I finished the other high priority problems. Again I thought that would be the end of the issue.

Next I get some questions from the manager inquiring whether anything had changed since last year. I said that there was a higher volume of data. That statement confused another manager on the email chain. He wondered when we deployed this "higher volume". Then the first manager piped in saying he thought an entire redesign was in order here. Huh?

All of a sudden, all kinds of managers are brainstorming ideas on how to do a redesign. Some of the ideas are downright wacky. Luckily none of this conjecture is being sent to the customer. Eventually we find a new guy to start getting familiar with the code. Finally someone is starting some real work on the problem that will actually result in a fix. Crazy i tell ya.