Life Changes

Wow … so I guess a lot has happened since the last time I wrote a personal entry in here. I could only begin to describe how daunting the task of trying to cover everything that’s happened since then is, and more than likely, I’m going to end up writing pages and pages of mundane details, while still managing to overlook major events. Such is the life of an infrequent blogger, though. As always, I feel somehow compelled to give a disclaimer at the beginning of my post: this is boring. You don’t want to read it. I write way too much, and you really don’t care enough to waste the next 15 (?) minutes of your life reading about my uninteresting one. Get out now, while you’re still ahead.

Lost Time

No, I’m not talking about 8 PM CST on Thursdays starting in January (though, that would make for a better post). I’m talking about the fact that historically, when I’ve gone to write these major life recaps, I look through the calendar on my phone to figure out what I actually did way back at the beginning of the time period I’m attempting to cover, and I’m unable to do that now. To stray into the technical side for a second:

I set up my Palm Treo 700p to ActiveSync to my work’s Exchange server after learning that I could do that through the Outlook Web Access address. It was probably my own misconfiguration, but for a while, this seemed to be deleting anything from my calendar that happened more than about two weeks in the past. I did back up my calendar right before setting up ActiveSync, anticipating that things could go horribly wrong, but when things looked like they were working, I made no subsequent backups. So, my past was slowly being erased, day by day. I could admittedly probably restore my calendar up to whatever time I started the ActiveSync, but it’s only been an issue once prior to now, so the cost/benefit ratio isn’t favorable enough to bite the bullet and do so.

When I put it like that, it sounds a lot like like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), and to some degree, that’s how it feels to me. Sadly, I don’t take nearly as many pictures as I should, or as I retrospectively wish I did, so I don’t have much of a record in that form, either. Re-reading through IM logs would probably be my next best bet, but my IM conversations are massive. From December 2, 2007 through today (October 15, 2008), my IM conversations consist of over 41,000 lines, or 500,000 words. If you think reading a few pages of this blog is bad, imagine reading over 600 Letter-size pages of IM conversations (or over 800 if you didn’t let the lines flow together)! (Based on some quick research and an un-scientific experiment, I’m going to say the average number of words on an 8.5×11" page is 800, and 49 lines.)

My last source, before resorting to something ridiculous like my own foggy memory, is email. This provides a pretty ridiculous pinhole view of my life, since I have such little correspondence by email that relates to my personal life. I’ll give it a shot, though.

October-ish, 2006

I bought a computer! (Haha, off to a roaring start. See, this is the type of interesting things documented by my email records.) My old desktop computer died somehow around the spring of 2006, and, being unemployed, couldn’t really justify the expense of replacing it until I’d been working for a bit. I did hold off for a little while longer than the first chance I had that I could afford one, because I wanted to wait for the Windows Vista Express Upgrade program to become available. <aside>(Vista wasn’t scheduled to ship to retail customers until early 2007, but OEMs complained to Microsoft that everyone was going to hold off on buying a PC during the holiday season if they were anticipating the release of Vista. Microsoft then partnered with several OEMs (like Dell) to agree to give a free Vista license to customers purchasing qualified PCs and Windows XP licenses once Vista was actually released.)</aside> I really spoiled myself with the computer I got, but–knock on wood–it’s held up beautifully for two years now. I also bought a wallet, which I promptly lost while I played designated driver on Halloween. How unfair is that? The SOBER guy loses his wallet. <myspace>Life is sooo unfair.</myspace> I don’t typically get particularly into holidays, so my 80’s racquetball player costume (direct) was put together entirely at the last minute out of clothes and accessories Adrianne had around. Weird.

November ’06

I apparently had to start paying off my student loans in November. I’d been secretly hoping that the government wouldn’t figure out that I graduated a year early, so I wouldn’t have to start paying them back until fall ’07, but I guess the government knows everything, so those dreams were crushed. Oh, and I bought a vacuum cleaner, and went to Gregory’s birthday party (direct) … disappointingly unrelated events, though :P.

December ’06

Christmas happens in December! I don’t even need my calendar or email to remember that detail (though, there are about a dozen emails from my mother about Christmas, etc, just in case. Bleh.). Before folks left the cities to visit families, etc, the crew at the Elliot house threw a Christmas party I attended, which I don’t really remember, but there are photos, so it must have happened. (And no, I can say with complete confidence that it’s not because I was blackout drunk … apparently just didn’t make a big impression on me.) Adrianne went back to Milwaukee to be with her family that year, so I did our traditional Christmas Eve with my mother’s side of the family [by myself], where I think my highlight was giving Nerf guns to my little cousin Jack, and then getting to play with them / him afterward.

I’m pretty sure that I worked during three days that the office was basically closed around Christmas this year, because we were under a tight schedule, and I had nothing better to do, since Adrianne was out of the state. EFI (my employer) has this concept of CTO (Company Time Off?), where it’s not a paid company holiday, but unless you’re under a tight deadline and required to work, they basically don’t let you work. You’re either required to use personal time off or take unpaid time off (which then also screws with your monthly insurance premiums or some crap). Since I’m a newbie at the company, I accrue time off at the lowest rate possible, so I feel like I really need to hoard it, so I can use it for something big (on my own terms). Being told that I have to use three of my personal days when I don’t have a vacation planned irks me, so I was actually pretty happy to work those days.

January ’07

Happy New Year! I went to Kalin’s Birthday party, got snowed on (just slightly) (direct), and partied at the Elliot house once everyone was back in town (all those slackers who didn’t graduate in three years still got winter break :-P). It appears that I also replaced my then-3.25-year-old Treo 300 (cell phone) with the Treo 700p mentioned above (which I’m still using, at the time of this writing). I guess I get my money’s worth out of phones!

It also looks like I was doing a lot of work on my second big module I’d been tasked to write on my own at work around this time (as opposed to minor changes, bug fixes, etc. in existing code). I remember how genuinely exciting it was to be solving some real problems, and planning and implementing new features. I was even excited about documentation! I’m going to get technical for a second again, sorry.

The project I was working on at the time was Balance 4.0 aka Fiery Central 1.0. It basically lets you take a number of printers and add them to one (or more) group(s) on our server, and we create a virtual printer to represent the union of these devices, which we can then use to divide up the work of printing lots and lots of pages or copies. To create the virtual printer for each group, we have to process the PPD for every printer in the group, do some translation/normalization, and then do some intelligent work to generate a new PPD that’s the union of the useful PPD keys/options. Once a user tries printing to our printer, we have to figure out which printer(s) we should send the job to, and then occasionally resolve constraints placed on any options the user has selected for the job. For instance, if a user has selected an option to staple their job, some printers require that we explicitly specify that we want to send the job to the stapler output tray, too (but others might not, or they might call it something else). So, I wrote code to connect to each printer, and ask it about the restrictions it has for the specified options, and then I try to find a solution that will work, without actually altering the user’s intentions/output (e.g. they might be pissed if I told the printer to fold their job and they didn’t ask for it … but they probably don’t care if I flip the job over to be face-down before it comes out, or something).

Basically … I got to make something new from the ground up, and solve the problem from start to finish on my own. It was enjoyable. It works. It’s still in the code and in use by customers as of this writing :).

February ’07

This appears to have been a very boring month. No photos were taken, a total of about eight emails were sent, and less than 20 were received on my personal account. I filed my taxes. I ordered two pizzas. Oh, I guess that was the month I bought Adrianne a computer (direct) for no particular reason, other than being a good excuse to get a new monitor for myself as part of a good combo deal.

And at the very end of the month, I apparently bit the bullet and bought the airplane tickets and hotel reservation for the vacation to Los Angeles, CA we planned for March.

To be continued…

It’s 3:07 AM on a Wednesday night. I’m supposed to be waking up in 3.5 hours to get ready for work, so I have to cut this short. Tune in next time for March ’07 through … LATER!

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