Email Link

You will notice that the author of news articles is now highlighted. Clicking on it will allow sending email to the author. (Admittedly, this would be a more significant feature if there were more than one person posting news, but it’s still kind of cool.)

Happy Belated Anniversary To Me

Yesterday was the first day of my second year at, ahh, Cerebral Locomotion. In the one entire year that I’ve been there, exactly ONE new software module has been released (out of four planned). This module was released at the end of January and consisted of seven sub-programs. Each sub-program was an ActiveX DLL written in Visual Basic 6, consisting of no more than several thousand lines of unique code each. (Which is to say, this was not rocket science.) Significant changes were made to the launcher application as well, though again–it was not rocket science.

Why has only one out of the four planned modules been released you ask? Each program consists of 45 “levels” of game play, and each one of these levels has to be tediously constructed and approved by the boss. Building each level is done through the construction of a “config” file, which is a very long text file (often longer than the source code for the program logic!) consisting of an enormous number of key/value pairs. The boss is quite picky about the formatting of these config files, and he insists on duplicating comments and variables to the point of absurdity. The reason for this is that he likes to edit them himself from time to time, so they need to be clear enough to be understood by a casual user. Unfortunately, due to the enormous complexity and redundancy of the config files, it takes the boss quite a while to pour over them and modify or approve them. (Typically months.)

Another large complication is the complete lack of forethought and planning in the design goals for the programs. Essentially, I am made to construct the programs by trial-and-error. That is, I build a version based on my best guess of the boss’s goals, and the boss then tells me if it is close to what he wants or not.

How would one fix this? 1) Spend the time to design and layout the software beforehand! 2) Stop hand editing the silly config files and create point-and-click “level builder” programs. 3) Observe the enormous increase in productivity. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Too bad Cerebral Locomotion is not interested in creating solutions to obvious problems.

I would be willing to bet that Cerebral Locomotion has spent more for my salary for one year than they have made by selling the one new module that was released.

Dentist

I’m going to the dentist this morning! This may not sound like cause for celebration, but at least I won’t have to be in prison–I mean, at work for a few hours.

By the way, apparently my web server is in the central time zone, so all the dates you see are an hour earlier than when I actually enter the news. So don’t be thinking for one second that I’d be up at 6:30 adding news to the ol’ web page.

Site Administration Improvements

Before accidentally deleting the news database, I was going to report how great my new web site features were. While the new features are still great, they are somewhat diminished by the huge blank pages where the news used to be.

The new features btw are all nifty site administration functions for me (adding, editing, and deleting comments and news from a simple web interface).

Oops

To paraphrase a song, “I feel stupid, oh so stupid…”

In my infinite wisdom, I managed to accidentally delete most of the news database with a single misplaced semi-colon. Anyway, I’ll be working to rebuild it in the near future.

Ashland Parade

Cynthia and I went to the Ashland 4th of July Parade on… the 4th of July. The parade can be summed up like this: A large number of (presumeably) Ashland natives walked down the street in the searing heat, while a larger number of people watched them and cheered.

My personal favorite moments were the Kazoo Band and the Croquet Mallet Brigade. The train that smashed through the panicked crowd was sort of cool too (a portion of that sentence was exaggerated for comedic effect). After the parade, several dogs had to be rushed to the hospital suffering from heat stroke after being made to march on the hot pavement. The dogs were treated and released.

[Pictures removed due to broken links. Sorry.]