Thursday, May 31, 2007

cc:Mail lives!

I got this in my Inbox as a result of a forged sender:

Message is undeliverable.
Reason: User "" is not found in the cc:Mail Directory.
Received: from by (ccMail Link to SMTP R8.00.00); Wed, 30 May 2007 18:39:55 +0530

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Kevin Federline in is new job...

New Music: Linkin Park, "Minutes To Midnight"

Diehard fans of LP will either love or hate the band's third CD because both the sound and songwriting are totally different from the previous releases. I was tremendously disappointed. The raw edge of Hybrid Theory and the incredible mixes of Meteora are conspicuous in their absence. Mike Shinoda actually sings lead on a few songs, and rapping is only present in small portions of two or three tracks. Chester Bennington's trademark visceral screaming is also only on a couple of tracks, and Joe Hahn's mind blowing mixing is also kept to a minimum.

Taking out all that made Linkin Park a groundbreaking band and the best-selling debut act of all time, what's left? Unfortunately, not much. There is only one standout song, "Shadow Of The Day" with its incredible bass line that hits at about 100 hertz. There is nothing about it, though, that marks it as a LP style or sound. It could be just about any boy band.

Monday, May 21, 2007

a week with Outlook

Last week I was thrust into an Outlook environment for the first time in 10 years. I never was a fan of the Notes UI and I was excited to try Outlook 2003.


Apparently there is a lot more to setting up an Exchange user than Domino. Or maybe it's simple, but like Domino, you have to know what you're doing. Anyway, it took two days for IT to get my e-mail functional.

First Impressions

At first I thought Outlook was spartan, and I welcomed it. Then I started trying to figure out all the toolbars and quickly became frustrated. Some toolbar buttons have pictures and text, some are just text, others just images. You can't set a preference, either. It gets annoying to have to hover your mouse over everything and wait for the tooltip to pop up to see what the button really does. I'm sure I'll learn it eventually, but for now it's frustrating.

Getting To Work

By the end of the week I had participated in some e-mail exchanges and had some useful data to work with. First up was trying to construct a mail thread. Outlook calls this "Conversations". It works, but it's only messages in the current view. I haven't found a way to create a full message thread that spans Inbox, Sent and other folders, which I used a LOT in Notes.

I'm running dual widescreen LCD's, and the Reading (preview) pane on the right works for me. However, not everyone has been upgraded to dual LCD's yet, so they tend to use terse subjects that fit in the space they have on their screens. I've received e-mails whose subjects are a mix of text messaging abbreviations and acronyms and deciphering them can be tricky.

The biggest functional difference is that I no longer have a single interface to the custom applications I use. They're each individual icons on the desktop, and for some reason this is just jarring to my sensibilities. I keep looking for the bookmark bar in Outlook. There is a Shortcuts section, but that's only shortcuts to things in your mail. I don't get the point of that.

I always said that for all its warts I still mostly liked Notes and Domino. That feeling is getting stronger as time goes by. This week I get to start doing ASP.Net 2.0 development with SQL Sever 2005. We'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

moving on

Friday, May 11th will be my last day at my old employer. I started there in November 1998 as PC Specialist, moved on to IT Manager, and ended my run as Business Systems Programmer. When I started with the company they had a single AS/400 running everything. They used the NetServer service to provide Windows file sharing and all network printers were likewise connected to the AS/400. In 1997 they had upgraded their 10 PC's (two were smoking hot Pentium 60's!) from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 and deployed a batch of 40 new PC's. By 1998 they realized they needed someone who could move them to the next level.

From these humble beginnings I plotted a course that eventually led to 12 locations networked together; over 120 PC's spread across them; 50 laptops deployed to outside sales reps; centralized anti-virus, spam filtering and content filtering; Windows-based file and fax servers; a VoIP phone system; and Notes, Domino and Sametime as a collaboration platform, first on an AS/400 and now on Linux. Windows Terminal Services was deployed to replace aging PC's and facilitate user mobility. A wireless network and handheld barcode scanners were deployed in all warehouses to better track product movement. By 2004 the IT staff had grown from me and a former AS/400 system operator who knew a little about PC's, to myself and two network admins with plans to add a third admin.

I'm proud of what my team and I were able to accomplish. Unfortunately my boss wasn't as impressed. In October 2004, with no discussion or explanation and while I was actively interviewing for my third direct report, I had all my direct reports reassigned to another manager, my decision-making authority was also moved to this other person, and I was told my new role would be simply to do development. It was spun as a good thing; this was a role I could "grow with" and "move the company forward". I didn't buy it.

I stuck it out for two years, and in September 2006 I brought it to my manager's attention that I wasn't very happy with how things were going. I had been moved from an office near executives who were often gone or in closed-door meetings to a noisy cube beside the call center. Projects were being scheduled so tightly it felt like I was in a pressure cooker. I was doing purely Notes client development and web development was being outsourced. I was told I was more valuable cranking out Notes client applications and didn't have the time to slow down and learn anything new.

My boss admitted he was seriously concerned since he knew if I left a tremendous amount of business knowledge would be walking out the door. He committed to hiring another person to take some of the workload off me and keep him from being in a desperate position if I did decide to leave. He also committed to addressing the working environment issue, and freeing up some time for me to get involved in building a more modern skillset.

I reminded my boss again in December of his promises, he agreed to get on it. I reminded him again in March. A couple of weeks ago we had virtually the same conversation from last September, only this time I had a resignation letter in my hand. He was genuinely surprised. We did come to an agreement that has me finishing up some projects and providing transitional training to current IT staff and whomever the hire to fill my position. I didn't say "replace me" because they could never do that. ;-)

Soon I will be settling into my new job and will provide more specifics shortly. The big change is my new employer is purely a Microsoft shop, and I'll be doing mostly VB, Access and SQL Server work. The last time I used Outlook was in 1998, so this should be interesting. I'll be sure to keep a list of the "but in Notes I could..." moments, and share them.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dining With Friends: The Morning After

The final tally:
  • 50 RSVP's, 100 guests in attendance
  • More food than I care to calculate at this point. We were in the kitchen for two very long days.
  • 64 beers, 8L of Cuban Sangria, 4.5L red wine, 3L white wine, 1.5L rum, 1L vodka, 6L bottled water
  • Total collected: $3,448
  • And one mountain of dishes to clean (the dishwasher is running)...


Another two hours in the kitchen and the dishes are finally done. Funny how I made it through two frenetic days of chopping and slicing only to cut my thumb while washing a pot lid. Here is the food and leftover tally for anyone who cares:

Dish Qty Made Qty Left
Marinated Meatballs 120 10
Moussaka 3 pans 3/4 pan
Spanikopita 68 pieces 10 pieces
Greek Salad 20 pounds 2 pounds
Plaki (baked fish) 3 pans 1/2 pan
Dolmades 80 10
Marinated Olives 3 cups 1/2 cup
Lamb with orzo pasta 9 quarts 2 quarts
Baked Lima Beans 9 quarts 3 quarts
Greek Potatoes 15 pounds 1/2 pound
Greek Chicken 20 pounds none
Beet Salad 10 cups 2 cups

Overall we're extremely pleased with the turnout and everyone's generosity. I only had one snippy semi-meltdown yesterday, after grilling chicken for three hours, which is a tremendous improvement. With everything else positive going on right now I just couldn't get too upset about the things I couldn't control.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Crazy cool technology: IBM pokes holes in chips...

The CPU advancements from IBM keep on coming. Now they've come up with self-assembling nanotech plastics to provide better insulators inside CPU's. Read all about it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

hardware upgrades...

I'm really not much of a geek, as those things go. I don't have a wireless network at home. I don't dismantle security tags for the fun of it. Twice. However I did build my own computer, and I am very proud of what I have achieved with my SFF cube computer I built it September 2006, then upgraded the monitor and video card in December.

I'm running a Dell Precision 470 workstation at work with dual Xeon CPU's and the performance difference between that an my Athlon 3500+ at home is tremendous. I'm going to be doing more work from home soon, so I need something that doesn't bog down quite so much. Currently making its way to me: AMD ATHLON 64 X2 5600+. This, combined with the new car, and another soon-to-be-announced surprise, and I'm a very happy camper. :-)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Where is the love?

Whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness and equality
Instead of spreading love we're spreading animosity
Lack of understanding leading us away from unity
That's the reason why sometimes I'm feeling under
That's the reason why sometimes I'm feeling down
It's no wonder why sometimes I'm feeling under
I gotta keep my faith alive until love is found

Excerpted from "Where is the love" by the Black Eyed Peas

out with the old, in with the new, Part 2

A couple of days ago I got this in a fortune cookie. A good time indeed. Watch this space. :-)