Kommandeering Developers Everywhere

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Aaaand I'm number two

Like many of you, I get to be tech support to my friends and family. As far as most of my family is concerned, I work with computers. And stuff. Probably technical stuff.

Well, that all changed recently.

My aunt is going to be remarried this summer, and I've met the incoming relative-to-be, and he's quite nice. Apparently he also works with computers. And stuff.

I'm lucky enough to have some relatives from Scotland visting this week, so I got to see my family last night. In talking with my aunt, I got to learn that her new beau works at IBM. And not scrubbing urinals or shoveling out the parking lot.

No, something a tad more technically sophisticated: The Blue Gene project.

That's just cool. I can't wait to see him to 1) talk about when I get to take a facility tour and 2) turn over my "Tech Support" badge to the New Guy (tm).

Oh, and I'll probably ask if WebSphere Application Server starts up in under 5 minutes on it.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


As some random dude mentioned in a recent blog entry, there was some scheming, teaming and daydreaming recently on the #kde-promo channel.

Was this group brought together by a meeting notice? No. Was there a grandoise plan to accomplish a specific set of tasks? Not really. Did we have user profiles and marketing materials and a unified vision of branding? No. Was it really anything more than a bunch of people together blurting out ideas and joking around? Nope.

But that's the beauty of that episode. We had 15 people active and joking around. An IRC channel (#kde-promo) and a mailing list (kde-promo@kde.org) that continues to undergo rebirth. That day, we didn't have to necessarily accomplish anything - having a group of people kick around ideas and enjoying each other's company was more than enough.

The good news? Diversity. You're just as likely to meet talented marketing types (Tom or Claire) as you are someone from the Oxygen team (Nuno or Ken) as you are someone from Plasma (Aaron or Matt or Ryan) as you are someone who helps with documentation and articles and everything in between (Jes Hall) as you are new talent (Henrik) as you are KDE celebrities (yes, you Tink) as you are someone from KOffice fame (Inge).

What's not important is that we had 15 people discussing KDE 4 ideas, it's that we had 15 people discussing KDE 4 ideas.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Simple Math

Being a math major, I've always gotten away with ridiculous stances and opinions about how numbers work. One simple, expensive sheet of paper allows me latitiude to adamantly declare such facts as derivatives being invented by the drummer from ZZ Top; or possibly that in advanced math, you learn that there are exactly 2.718 imaginary numbers recorded thusfar. All fascinating, and meticulously documented.

Why do I bore you with boring stories of a boring undergrad degree? To reiterate two of my well-known discoveries:

1) Telecom = fraud. A simple equation with profound results. Ah, to have the power of a monopoly, the integrity of a boxing promoter and the care for self-improvement of a heroin addict. The good news: No matter where you are in the world reading this blog, your situation is probably similar...

Your local communications behemoth spends most of its day bribing poorly paid government officials with bad comb-overs, counting its money, and making life hell for local ISPs.

No matter where you live, I doubt that your local telecom has conference filled with comments on their whiteboards such as, "We can always do better!" and people working long into the night trying to figure out "how to pass savings along to the customer."

Back to the equation: Can you imagine me in some dimly lit classroom furiously scratching chalky equations and muttering, "Ok, move world peace over to that side, the starving cildren on each side cancel out, divide by the second coming of Christ, subtract the year of Tom Hanks last good movie.." and the finally stepping back as the results of years of work ended in "Telecom = fraud"? It's a great vision. Too bad I spent most of my time in a bar.

2) Law of Simplified Statistics: "It you have a bag with 3 green balls, 6 blue balls, and 4 red balls, what is the probability that the second ball selected at random will be blue, given that the first selection was not red?"

Such inane questions led me to my most important discovery: that there are only two probabilities in life: 100% and 0%.

If you have keys in one jacket pocket and reach into a pocket to grab them, what's the probability that you put your hand in the right pocket? 0%.

If you remind yourself 32 times one night to mail bills out before leaving for work in the morning and leave 17 notes on your keyboard, what's the probability that you actually mail those letters? 0%.

If you know you'll be receiving an important call at work around 10am and never get it, then go get a drink of water at 6pm, what's the probability that the person called during that 30-second period? 100%.

And so on. Why am I telling you these two discoveries?

The scene: 2 weeks ago, I cancelled my cable TV, but vehemently reminded my cable TV company that I did *not* want my business class cable modem disconnected. "No problem Mr. Olson! They are, as you know, two separate accounts. It doesn't even make sense that you'd bring that up, since we have no control over that account and it's all done at the facility. We'll just switch off your TV service and everything's fine. Sleep easy Mr. Olson."

Fast forward two full weeks with cable TV. Today at 3pm, everything goes dead. Why you ask? Becuase what is the probability that working with a cable company went as expected? 0%. They apparently sent a tech to my house to physically disconnect my cable line. Several calls to the customer support line trying to explain that my residential "Time Warner" service has wrecked my commercial "Time Warner" service only got me a promised return call from...."a modem specialist."

Several episodes of incompetence and indifference later, and I've got guy#2 up on a telephone pole at 9:30pm reconnecting me...and complaining that this is the second consecutive customer that's complained about having their cable TV service whack their business class cable service.

So I'm back online for the meantime, and I apologize to all the poor souls that sent emails during this time, only to have them bounce back. And sorry for the long blog, but everyone's allowed a rant from time to time without leaving their frustrations under a "Read more" section, right?

Now, what are the chances that guy#2 reconnected everything (including cable TV) and I'll be charged next month service for service I didn't want and didn't use? 100%. Why? Because telecom = fraud.