Capping Punch-Out!!

March 30th, 2008

Well, I finally got around to capping the two monitors on my Punch-Out!! game, and let me tell you, it is a serious pain in the ass!

It is bad enough that the Sanyo 20-EZ monitors are pains to cap in the first place, there are even more so when mounted horizontally in a narrow cabinet! Took more than three(!) hours for me to do the first (upper) one. The second one was a bit faster, clocking in at about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

A bit of hard work, to be sure, but the results speak for themselves:

Before: Top Monitor Before

After: Top Monitor Before

Also, note that there is screen burn from the collapsed line that was there before. This means that the game was in operation for a long time while it needed a cap kit!

While working on the monitor chassis boards, I was never more happy to have purchased a soldering and desoldering station a couple of years ago (shown sitting atop the Punch-Out!!):

Soldering/Desoldering Station
And here you can get a shot of how I had to work on the board – dangling out of the cabinet, wires everywhere:

PCB Hanging Out
Oh, and how do ‘ya like my nice little way of securing the PCB in the air while I work on it? 🙂

Much thanks go to The Real Bob RobertsTM for the cap kits (I purchased the 20EZ Plus kit, which has 9 additional chassis caps), and to Brien King (no, I did not misspell Brien), which has a step-by-step guide to getting the chassis PCB out of the Sanyo 20-EZ monitor at Arcade Restoration Workshop. I used the document for the first monitor, and tackled the second one from memory.

I also cleaned and changed the spring on the joystick. It is no longer as sticky as it was before thanks to getting all that old dirty grease out of it. However, it is still far too loose for my taste. It is playable, and I have played games in the arcade in far worse condition, but it still would be nice to have it a bit stiffer.

Also replaced the batteries in it so that the high score table works correctly again. Surprisingly, there is not a lot of corrosion in there.

OK – I think it may be ready to sell soon…!

Learn your history before you present yourself as an authority

January 2nd, 2008

When you read a book about something, you should be able to safely presume that the author is somewhat of an authority on the subject matter of the book. So when reading an e-book on C#, I was surprised to come across the following Author’s Note:

Author’s Note: struct is not a new concept. In C++, the struct is another way of defining a class (why?). Even though most of the time C++ developers use struct for lightweight objects holding just data, the C++ compiler does not impose this.

I find it interesting that the author of a C# programming book has to ask why “struct is another way of defining a class.” Tip: some things were done for backward compatibility and to make it easier to work with older code. Not to mention that in C++ there actually is a (small) difference between struct and class.

CString misuse #2

August 17th, 2007

Here is another one:

LPCTSTR cpString = _T( "This was some string message..." );
// Later On In Code...
CString str( cpString );
char cChar = str.GetAt( 0 );

If you write code like this, stop now and back slowly away from the keyboard – You’re Doing It Wrong!

The developer here is using a string object for a very simple operation. This is the kind of think people talk about when they say something like “using a shotgun to kill a fly”.

Extracting characters from a string (an array!) is a very basic operation – it is something we learn in our first C/C++ class or read about in our first C/C++ book. This is not something that you need a heavyweight class to help you out with.

Extracting the first character from cpString is as easy as doing one of the following:

char cChar = *cpString;
// -Or-
char cChar = cpString[ 0 ];

Remember – constructing and initializing an object always takes longer (i.e. has more overhead) than not constructing and initializing one. Think about wether or not you really need an object before you create one. If you can get along without it, see if doing so improves things.

For reasons mentioned in a previous post, in this case, the code is better without the CString.

CString misuse #1

August 17th, 2007

This is the first of many examples of ways to misuse and/or abuse MFC’s CString class. While this example (and following ones) are specific to MFC, they likely apply to all string classes (mutable or not). Here is the offending code:

CString str( "First Part Of Message\n" );
str = str + "Second Part Of Message\n";
str = str + "Third Part Of Message";

MessageBox( str );

If you write code like this, stop now and back slowly away from the keyboard – You’re Doing It Wrong!

First, the developer is adding (concatenating) strings together, but these are static/constant strings! They always add up to the same string, and as such can be made into a single constant string:

"First Part Of Message\nSecond Part Of Message\nThird Part Of Message"

So at a minimum, the start of the code should read:

CString str( "First Part Of Message\nSecond Part Of Message\nThird Part Of Message" );

Why not add up the strings separately like the original code did? Two reasons – overhead and exception opportunity. Each use of CString::operator+(…) can result in dynamic memory operations (allocation and deallocation). So you are looking at six potential heap operations (three potential allocations and deallocations including destruction, although in release builds of CString, the number of operations is less). Each operation has the potential to raise an exception and in the absence of per-thread heaps, can effectively bottleneck a multi-threaded application to the performance of a single-threaded one because the heap operations have to be serialized.

So by manually putting the strings together we have reduced heap operations from 6 to 2 – one allocation and one deallocation. That is a pretty good improvement, but we can do better!

The MessageBox(…) function does not take CStrings, it takes pointers to constant strings (LPCTSTR). So why is a CString needed here at all?

MessageBox( "First Part Of Message\nSecond Part Of Message\nThird Part Of Message" );

This final version of the code is simpler, will execute faster, and is more robust. Sounds like a winner to me!

Note: Some of you may be thinking about the preprocessor’s ability to automatically concatenate static strings. Yes it does, but it cannot automatically coalesce the above strings because they are separate – they are being passed (separately) as parameters to a function. If the + operator was not present in-between the parts of the string, they would be coalesced to a single string, but the unnecessary CString would still be there.

You’re Doing it Wrong!

July 31st, 2007

Having been inspired by the amount of photos on the internet showing various forms of spectacular failures (, ranging from failed bunny-hops to the most graceful faceplants, I thought that a coding-equivlent of it might be worth trying out.

To that end, this section will cover little snippets of “wrong” code found in the wild. Unlike the photos, where the failure is usually fairly obvious, the failures present in the code snippets are not always as obvious, so a small discussion explaining the failure will always be present.

OK – enough of the BS…! Let’s get started!

Sprint 2 – Stiff Steering and Hard Shifting

May 23rd, 2007

Problem: Stiff spinning steering modules and hard shifting between gears

(Quick little story – while bringing this beast into its location, I fell and got pinned under it for a few minutes. It is amazing how much having your chest compressed effects your ability to call out for help! 🙂

OK – onto the next issue… Its steering wheels were pretty stiff, and if you tried to give them a good hard spin they would come to a halt within a couple of turns. Removing and disassembling them was easy. Turns out the problem was that the old grease in them had coagulated/thickened so that it was about as viscous and sticky as cold honey!

Getting the grease out of the barrel and off of the shaft and sleeves literally took ~10 minutes (for each module) with some rubbing alcohol, elbow grease and rags. I had a friend helping me (Sean) and we each tackled one sterring wheel each.

After getting that old gunk out, a quick application of some light lithium grease on everything solves that problem – the wheels will now spin for at least 10 turns easily.

For the shifter modules, I just applied some powered graphite to the shifter “ball” at the opening of the shifter and after a few shifts to get it all around, the shifts are much easier now.

Solution: Cleaned and lubricated the steering modules, lubricated the shifter modules.

Note: One of the steering modules has a broken shaft/cone, which caused the wheel to be off-center, and it was being held in place strictly by the force of the retaining bolt that goes through the entire assembly. I managed to get it a bit straighter than it was before, but it still is broken internally. Not sure if I want to go through sanding down the two halves to try to get them melded or epoxied together – I am afraid of shortening the cone too much and causing problems. The wheel works and the game is playable, so I might just leave it as it is.

Punch-Out vertical foldover/overdraw

May 21st, 2007

The Punch-out that I recently obtained has a monitor issue (a monitors issue, really). Both displays are bring drawn starting ~2″ from the bottom of the monitor, and the upper few inches are being overdrawn on the same horizontal plane.

In other words, the beam is scanning left/right correctly but is starting too low and is not going high enough (vertically) to complete drawing the image correctly – the beam stops going up and keeps trying to draw the rest of the screen on the same horizontal line, causing a higher-intensity line to be seen (images below, apologies for their quality – I guess I shoulda taken off the Plexiglas first).

Top Monitor Overdraw Bottom Monitor Overdraw

The overdraw is visible in the image, but it is not obvious from the images that the bottom of the image is ~2″ higher than it should be. The overdraw looks like a classic capacitor problem to me, although I admit that I am not that familiar with the “starting too high” problem and I am guessing that the two are related. At least, the two things being related kinda makes sense in my mind…

I have cap kits from The Real Bob RobertsTM (highly recommended for all kinds of arcade-related parts, BTW!) for the monitors and will be capping them shortly.

More to follow…

Sprint 2

May 20th, 2007

Problem: Static garbage on screen

Purchased a Sprint 2 in non-working condition. Saw a picture of it, monitor worked – it showing what appeared to be static garbage on it. Got it home and confirmed that yes, it is showing static garbage (first image below). Turning it off for a couple of seconds and then back on again keeps pretty much the same garbage display, but sometimes gets some sounds out of it (engine and/or screeching sounds). Moving the self-test switch does nothing. First suspect that CPU is not running, because the screen is static (i.e. not changing while the game is on).

Sprint 2 - Before

After checking the usual suspects (voltages, loose wires, harness/wire burns because this is an older Atari game…), I yank the CPU to see if I get the same results (to narrow it down to the CPU). This causes a different effect, a screen filled with a single character and I get sound, so I presume for now that the CPU is working and the problem lies elsewhere.

Read the rest of this entry »


May 20th, 2007

Problem: Dead

Purchased a Punch-Out in dead condition.  Got it home, still dead.  Rocking the game and/or whacking the sides a bit got a brief flash of light on it so I went in and reconnected all connectors.  Game then came up right after that.

A little adjustment to the micro-switch arms and the game is playing nicely.  Still need to rebuild the joystick as it is stiff and sticks a bit.

Solution: Re-tighten/reattach all (power?) connectors

A death close to home…

April 24th, 2007

This past Sunday evening (04/22/07) a teacher at my child’s daycare died from a stroke.  Her name was Klara S. and she was a very nice woman and a kind soul. 

While on a prior contract, I had arranged to spend some time once a week with my kid while at daycare.  Klara was one of the teachers that was taking care of my daughter during that time.  I found her to be an excellent teacher for the room as she was very attentive and had great kid-sense, meaning that she was able to keep her eyes on everything while still getting things done.

To my knowledge, she is survived by a husband, a daughter, a son and one grandchild.

All of our best wishes for her family and friends.

Amazing thing with Test Driven Design (TDD)

April 2nd, 2007

At my current place of employment, we had someone come in to talk about some Agile development processes.  One of them was Test Driven Development.  As an example, the presenter explained how scoring works in bowling and then asked the audience to create the code used to implement the scoring.

To make a long story short, both he and the audience started with a brief design phase(!) to design something to do something as simple as keeping score.  I thought this was very interesting, even when hearing some of the other developers as they started to design a multi-level hierarchical design for KEEPING SCORE!

I was reminded of an older idea/post that I had regarding the problems when you combine too much formal education with too little practical experience and throw the resulting person into a production-level software project.  Just like when you give a small child a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  When you give a lesser-experienced developer the task of designing something, you are more likely to get an over-design of something that does not reflect reality and tries to attain perfection instead of practicality.

(That post can be found here:

What scares me is that some of the developers that were helping along this heavyweight, over-engineered design may now be responsible for new development efforts. I have always thought that you need to be a coder before you are a developer.  That you need to understand how and why things work in order to make better use of them.  As such, I shudder at the thought of having a group of lesser-experienced developers hitting everything they see with the same design hammer.  Especially having seen first hand what they are capable of with something as simple as a scoring system!

And people wonder why I believe that managed environments contribute to the dumbing-down of the modern software developer…

What is “good software”?

March 28th, 2007

As I am reading a thread on WorseThanFailure (Our Dirty Little Secret), I see a post by “VGR” that states that companies do not recognize “good software”, but rather “finished” or “not finished.”  This is an interesting point.

But a question I would like answered is this – what exactly is good software?  How does one decide that this bit of software is good and that one is bad?  More to the point, since software starts with source code, how do you decide that this code is good and that code is bad?

I have grappled with this question myself, as I am sure others have as well.  I believe I know what good code is.  My education, experience and wisdom are my guides.  But what I believe to be good code is different from what another developer believes to be good code.  Another less seasoned developer may think something else, just as a more seasoned developer might.  So who is correct?

I believe that part of the problem with software today is that there are no common (or otherwise shared) standards for what constitutes good software (or good code which is where good software starts), excluding obvious things like “does not crash” or “does not corrupt data.”

So what exactly makes good code?  Is it…

  • Code that just works, or code that works well?  And what is the difference, if any?
  • Code that is Declarative, Imperative/Procedural, or just well commented?  Is it a combination of the two or all three?  And to that point, what exactly does “well commented” mean, anyway?
  • Code that uses encapsulation as much as possible, because (of course) encapsulation is “a good thing”, or is it code that selectively decides when it is advantageous to do so?
  • ??? What else?  I am sure that many other developers have other criteria…

For each of the items above, you can find developers that will argue for one thing or the other.  Worse, you can also find academics with relatively little to no real-world development experience doing the same, cultivating other future developers with the same thoughts!  This is good or bad depending on your point of view.

So how do we solve the problem?  I am not sure that it can be solved.  Software development is both art and science, and that art part is the killer.  Art is very subjective, and one person’s Picasso is another person’s misaligned jigsaw puzzle.  We may have to learn to all just get along here.

Why Performance is Important

January 20th, 2007

When discussing topics like optimization and performance, there are far too many developers that either believe that performance is not important(!) or that the things taken to optimize the performance of something somehow magically results in making that system less robust.

For the first point, I can not image any developer that has ever uttered the words Damn, this thing is slow regarding their computer or a particular software application running on it, ever thinking that performance is not important. By the fact that you are complaining about somethings performance, that means that performance is important. Or at least, important enough to complain about.

For the second, there are lots of ways to optimize something, and none of them have to directly result in reduced robustness. One of my favorite examples, which is to prefer stack memory over heap memory, can actually improve the robustness of software – it reduces the possible places where exceptions can be raised and thus lessens the chance for exception mis-management to cause problems.

One of the things to remember before opening your mouth to say that performance is not important is to remember that your compiler still optimizes things to the best of its ability. Newer generations of compilers often offer more and better optimization capability as well. Why is this? It is because performance is NOT important, and the compiler writers wanted to just waste time?

When a new processor architecture is made available, manuals that detail that architecture are produced that often specify the best way to utilize that new architecture. Cache utilization, multiple execution engines, out-of-order execution, register allocation, store/load stall scenarios, etc are usually covered in great detail so that all of the capability of that new architecture can be used to its fullest potential.

Again, was that material written just to waste time, or does someone out there know something that you do not – that again, performance is important.

One of the things that today’s developers may often forget is that while their software is running on better hardware, it is also running along with other software applications. For you Windows users, have a quick look at your Task Bar, and SNA area (often mistakenly called the tray). How many applications are you running? Have a look at the process list in Task Manager and see how many processes are really running.

Now compare that value to how many applications you were running simultaneously on previous versions of Windows – 2000, NT, 9x, or even Windows 3.1. As our hardware gets better, we expect to be able to do more with it. But when that many applications are competing for shared resources (CPU, memory, etc.), the specter of performance once again rears its ugly head.

Just like writing device drivers takes a different discipline than writing desktop applications, writing software that has to execute in a shared environment is different than writing software that runs in a dedicated environment. The average desktop developer cannot forget that their software will not be running in an ideal environment, and that just because it works great on the clean demo system, or the developer’s multi-CPU box with 4GB of memory does not mean that its performance is good enough when it hits the target user’s system.

Premature Optimization may not be premature…

January 16th, 2007

There is an interesting thing I am noticing with younger developers – anytime someone mentions optimization, the first words out of their mouths is something about how how the optimization is premature optimization, and is only going to cause more harm than good.

These developers lack a certain wisdom that comes with years of varied experience – once you have experienced something that inefficient, you know how to spot it in the future.

Optimization is about simplicity. Think about it – whenever something is considered optimal, it is usually simplified somewhat from its original incarnation. An optimized interface is usually a simplified one. Optimized code usually takes less steps to do something, and thus is usually less complex; hence – simplified.

From the first Computer Science (or programming) class, the KISS philosophy is hammered in. Keep It Simple, Stupid. The art of optimization is the ultimate application of the KISS philosophy.

Never underestimate or disregard the benefit of simplification, of which is nothing but a better word for optimization. Simple is easier to use, understand and modify in the future. What could possibly be wrong with that?

I want to meet the developer(s) of Sybase SQL Advantage…

December 5th, 2006

Version: 10752 IR/P/NT (IX86)/OS 4.0/Wed Jan 15 12:59:30 2003

Why? Because I want to ask them why it takes SQL Advantage ~16 seconds to process a query that returns 674 rows of ~70 columns each and display them in Grid or Text output, when I have written an application that goes through two additional API layers above the CT libraries, and can do the same thing (even in a Grid) in less than 2 seconds?

You actually have to go out of your way and TRY to write code that slow – that kind of lousy performance does not happen automatically. That is the kind of stupidity that has to be cultivated through bad practices.

I just want to know how someone could write such an app, and consider it suitable for release to the public. I need to know the mindset behind that, so I know what questions to ask potential employees during an interview so that they can be weeded out. I do not even want to sit next to someone like this, for fear of them making be dumber via osmosis.

I can only hope that the GUI developers are not the same ones that implement the underlying libraries or the RDBMS itself…

Just not getting it…

December 5th, 2006

I came across a poster some time ago (I think on /.) that had an interesting signature. It read something along the lines of:

When someone says: Lead, follow or get out of the way, get in the way!

I remember thinking at the time that the poster could likely use some more experience in the real world and that (s)he suffered from a fundamental misunderstanding of how the world works. I was thinking that if you are ever in the above situation where something important is going on, or there is an emergency, getting in the way is the absolute last thing that you should do. I felt that situations like that are perfect times to apply the Universal Assumptionassume that they know something that you do not.

Now, it is a year or so later, and I have concluded… That I was exactly right. There is no reason why anyone in their right mind, when faced with a Lead, follow or get out of the way scenario, would assume that becoming an impediment would be the right thing to do.

Now, there are times when you should get in the way. But the prerequisite for that is actually knowing what is going on, knowing a better solution, and having a means to implement the solution. Otherwise, getting in the way is a sure way to get knocked on your ass.

Best WTF Moments – Correcting the Test’s Answers

November 6th, 2006

In talking with a friend I was reminded of one of my favorite WTF moments – correcting the answers on an interviewer’s tech questions. Once, while taking an interview for a position, the interviewer was going over my answers for the tech questions and happened to mention that one (or two?) of them were incorrect.

When I asked about them it turns out to have been questions regarding the size of C++ objects that have no data members. For example:

class CEmpty { };
class CEmpty2 { public:  void MyFunc( void ) { return; } }; 
class CEmpty3 { public: virtual void MyFunc( void ) { return; } };

So what is the size of CEmpty, CEmpty2 and CEmpty3? My answer was that it was basically implementation defined. The interviewer’s answers said that CEmpty and CEmpty2 had a size of zero, and that CEmpty3 had a non-zero size.

I had answered that CEmpty and CEmpty2 will have a implementation-specific/defined size (IME, a size of 1) and that CEmpty3 will have a size due to the vtbl that will be added to the class, and added that the size of the vtbl will not be added to the implementation-specific/defined size given to otherwise empty objects. (In other words, if the size of the vtbl pointer is 4 bytes, the object size will be 4, not 5.)

The interviewer, being a/the senior developer that I would have been working with or for, did not agree and we ended up with some code snippets being compiled and executed in the VC++ 6.0 IDE. Wanna take a guess who was correct?

It turns out that the company’s CTO decided not to accept me for the position. I was never told why (I otherwise aced the interview, of course), but I was told that the CTO created the interview questions (and answers). Go figure…!

More Stupid Code…

November 3rd, 2006

Here is another example of code that demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of how things work, or at least of MFC and/or the RTL…

char value[256];
::GetPrivateProfileString("section","ValueName", "OFF", value, 256, INI_PATH);
CString temp(value);
if (temp != "OFF")
{ ... }

Now, I can understand the need to do a case-insensitive compare of an INI file value.  But we have functions designed to do that!  Never heard of stricmp(…) and its variants?  OK – even if you do not know about the available RTL functions and all you know is CString, never heard of CString::CompareNoCase(…)?

Code like this just demonstrates ignorance, plain and simple.  Oh, and how goes that exception handling for situations where CString fails to allocate memory?  Oh, yeah…  THERE IS NONE!

Yet another real-world example of useless allocation.

Worst… Spam… Ever…

October 28th, 2006

So while browsing through my spam-basket I came across an interesting message that was caught by SpamAssassin.  The headers from that message follow (edited slightly to remove addresses and to emphasise details):

Subject: §Ú¬O¤@­Ó·Å¬Xªº¨Ä¨Ä¤k«Ä.·Q´M§ä¨ë¿Eªº­ô­ô±z³ßÅw¶Ü?¡ð20·³
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 2038 11:14:07 +0800
X-Spam-Flag: YES
X-Spam-Level: **************************************************
From Tue Oct 24 16: 43:51 2006
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.1.7 (2006-10-05) on
Message-Id: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="----------=_453E7B09.452041D8"
From: mailto:¼ÐÃD¡G¡m¥¨¨Å°Ï¡n·s¼W¡m»a¤«ªÅ¡n±j¥´·s¤ù¡A¤ù¤¤¦³¦o¸g¨åªº¼é§jÃèÀY¡I³ôºÙ¥L§@«~¤ºªº¤W¤W¤§¿ï%20(¡m¥¨¨Å°Ï¡n·s¼W¥i·Rµ£ÃCÄ_¨©¡m»a¤«)

I can honestly say – that has got to be the worst message I ever received.  Most of my spam emails never get above a spam-score of 20!  What gets me is that the sender of the message somehow managed to completely mess it up.  So this is an example of the fourth (I think) rule of software development – always test what you are doing (or trying to do)!

I mean, come on now… If you are stupid enough to construct a message that sets off that many spam-traps, you really are an idiot!  It is things like this that give me hope that we will eventually win the war on spam.  Hell, look at the kinds of people we are fighting! 🙂

Some people just do not get it…

May 30th, 2006

While looking for additional backup hardware, I came across an item that displayed an image that had some red text across it stating “YOU STOLE THIS IMAGE FROM XXXXXX XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX” (company name changed to protect the stupid). Now, anyone that has been on eBay for at least a few years has seen images that have been switched or show a hotlink warning because the seller was pointing to someone else’s image instead of their own copy.

Being the nice guy that I am, I sent a little note to the seller telling them that it appeared as if they were using a “stolen” image. Here is the email exchange (with edited headers and content):

>>>> Question from xxxxxx
>>>>> (xxxxxxxxxx)
>>>>> This message was sent while the listing was active.
>>>>> xxxxxx is a potential buyer.
>>>>> -------------------------------------------------------
>>>>> Might want to check the image you are using (tip: view it
>>>>> from ebay as a buyer would).
>>>> From: Jay X. Xxxxxxx []
>>>> Yeah, and what is the problem?

>>> From: xxxxxx
>>> Well, if you actually take a look at it, it has the following text on it: “YOU STOLE
>>> -Which does not exactly inspire confidence in a seller…

>> From: Jay X. Xxxxxxx []
>> Well *GENIOUS* My Seller name is *Xxxxxx Xxxxxxxx Xxxxxxxxx* This is for the idiots
>> who STEAL my images because they are too lazy to take their own pictures! Are you new
>> to eBay? I remember my first time!

> From: xxxxxx
> Mind yourself!
> Have your hosting provider implement “hotlink prevention” to help deter theft of images.
> A quick view of this eBay account will show how long it has been active (slightly longer
> than yours with this particular ID).
> Again, my observation was that it appears that the image used in your listing was stolen,
> not that you are trying to prevent theft. It was the only thing (up to this point, at least) that
> stopped me from taking a serious interest in the item. A semi-transparent watermark
> with “Xxxxxx Xxxxxxxx Xxxxxxxxx” would be a better way to go, IMHO.
> Take it or leave it – but save the attitude.
> Lastly, the word you were looking for is genius, not GENIOUS. First time speller, perhaps? 🙂

From: Jay X. Xxxxxxx []

Well I really do not invest much time in worthless FUCKS, did I spell that right? Like you wasting my time none the less you can not afford the 10 dollar item any way. Not to mention you are blocked from buying any thing from me just on principal. And Genious was a joke; GENE-E-US enunciated you know like moron!

Well folks, that is the kind of talent you can get from Bellbrook, Ohio these days… Tip for the locals – be careful who you work with. Getting involved with amateurs like this guy will only cause problems in the long run.

Take the Advice you are Paying for

May 3rd, 2006

After you have been doing something well for a number of years, you begin to gain experience and wisdom regarding it. Generally, this translates to a higher salary and/or rate, as it should of course.

Companies pay this higher salary/rate because of that experience and wisdom. But it makes no sense to have that wisdom ignored by the people you work for. When that happens, it is nothing but a waste of your time, their money, and is demonstrative of complete ignorance of your experience.

And as usually the case, when other people come from a position of ignorance, they tend to inflict the problems it causes on others, instead if correcting their own problem (i.e. their ignorance) first.

The moral – if you are paying someone $167K (or more) a year, you are paying for their knowledge, experience, wisdom, and advice. Time to start getting your money’s worth – take the advice you are paying for; do not unnecessarily question it, and realize that despite your age and position, this person might know something that you do not.

Oh, and to clear it up, this is my point of view on the differences between knowledge, experience and wisdom:

  • Knowledge is what you get from schools and books, magazines, articles, training, self-study, etc. (e.g. learning C++, VB, COM and Java)
  • Experience is gain you get by applying that knowledge in real-life situations (e.g. using C++, VB and Java to solve particular problems)
  • Wisdom is what is learned from the results of the experience (e.g. learning when to use C++ over Java, Java over VB, and what things should and should not be a COM object, etc.)

Dumbass Masshole Driver

February 22nd, 2006

   OK – here is a little tip to drivers out there that have not yet figured this out: WHEN BRAKE LIGHTS COME ON, IT GENERALLY MEANS THAT THE VEHICLE IS SLOWING DOWN!

If you are behind said vehicle, it means that YOU will likely have to slow down as well. RIGHT NOW.

Today while driving in in I93 Northbound, a male Masshole in an SUV (which was much too big for him, BTW) rear-ended a pickup truck in front of him. It was light impact; looked something like a 20MPH difference to me.

The Stupid Masshole part is that this accident was completely avoidable. Traffic was coming to a stop, and the woman driving the truck was coming to a stop due to the other vehicles stopping in front of her. Pretty simple idea, huh?

However, the dumbass in the SUV, who could clearly see the brakelights in front of him (both on the truck and the other vehicles in front of that truck), seemed to be completely ignorant of the fact that brakelights generally mean STOP!

This Masshole, true to sterotypical form, continued to close on the truck until it was too late and then *BAM*!

So here is your little tip for the day. Generally, the further you are from an object, the harder it is to detect that you are closing in on it. As such, if you see brakelights on, SLOW THE PHUCK DOWN! Better to come to a stop a couple of car-lengths too soon than to end up in someone’s trunk.

Sometimes getting your options is not so great…

February 8th, 2006

One of the downsides of getting your company acquired by another larger one is that you may find yourself in a new culture and/or process model that conflicts with your way of life.

A new dress code, new time tracking for everything, new and more complicated ways of doing simple things like parking expenses…

It is kind of like death by a thousand tiny annoyances

Agile Alliance

February 3rd, 2006

Agile Alliance :: Article Library

Site about agile dev processes.

Agile Alliance

February 3rd, 2006

Agile Alliance :: Article Library

Site about agile dev processes.

Agile Alliance :: Article Library

February 3rd, 2006

Agile Alliance :: Article Library

Page that includes some info on SCRUM.

Carrie Skipper and Siouxsie And The Banshees

January 19th, 2006

As I surf around the channels available on Sirius before and after Howard Stern is on, I am finding all kinds of new artists that I might be able to get into. For example, Carrie Skipper’s Time Goes By and Siouxsie And The Banshees’ Peek-A-Boo all have something that interests me. So I will be buying some of their CDs shortly…


November 21st, 2005

Problem: Board boots but does not complete POST. Halts with some on screen garbage displaying BAD ROM 5 on more often than not. ROMs were clearly marked on the board, so I yanked ROM 5, read it and ran it through ROMCMP. It came up as unknown. Sounds bad to me!

Located a replacement ROM image and burned to a new EPROM (uh, after finding a replacement EPROM that would erase and burn correctly – that took a good hour and change). Verified the new EPROM was correct, loaded it into the game and…


OK… I pull the board and start a visual inspection. Notice a section of the board with about 5 or 6 scratched traces. Two of them are broken (no continuity). Jumped them with some wire-wrap wire and the board comes right up! I do not yet have a way to test inputs yet, though…

Solution: Reburned ROM 5, jumped two broken traces. (Inputs unknown.)

Finger Injury

October 7th, 2005

While cutting carrots with my favorite knife (serrated and sharp as hell), I cleanly sliced off a small part of my index finger on my left hand! It did not hurt too bad – anyone that has cut themselves with something really sharp (or been cut by something really sharp) can understand. It is a strange feeling, not really painful. The pain… well, that comes after.

The bleeding was not severe, but I could not stem it after applying pressure for several minutes, so I had to revert to a little silver nitrate (looks a little like a matchstick). Now, that effing hurt! Never felt anything like THAT before.

Anyway… I had to keep my finger wrapped up for a few days, and one of the things I got used to rather quickly was typing without it. Now that it is almost healed over, I am trying to start typing with it again, and it takes conscious effort to do so! I type with it for a little while, and then I start keeping it lifted and hitting its usual keys with my middle finger!

Amazing how quickly our bodies and/or minds adapt to things like this…

Political Correctness is wrong – yer feelings do NOT matter!

August 23rd, 2005

As I write a post on Code Project Here, I think about how being PC has turned many of us into a bunch of wimps.

These days, you cannot even finish telling a joke without someone interrupting saying that they are offended by what you are saying, and after acknowledging them and then trying to finish the joke, they continue to interrupt you: “I don’t think I am comfortable with the content of this joke.

Well then… If the problem is that you are not comfortable with the content, then the problem is that you are not comfortable with the content, and you (not everybody else) should maybe do something about it… Like… Oh, I dunno, maybe


-And leave the grown-ups alone so that the joke can be finished and someone can get a laugh from it? It is completely OK if you cannot take the joke. And for the most part, other people will be comfortable with your limitation(s), as well. However, it is inappropriate to steal the enjoyment of the joke just because you cannot take it.

Here is a little fact: it is OK to be offended! Really! If you are walking down the street and see a billboard for a movie that shows a little too much skin for your taste and you get offended, all you have to do is BE OFFENDED, stop looking at the billboard, and just keep walking down the street minding your own business. No need to call a press conference to bitch about it. Something on the radio or TV that you do not like? Fine, STOP LISTENING, WATCHING, or just get off your butt and change the channel/station. You will be OK… The world will go on. Really. Trust me. It is OK if you cannot handle anything, but try not to involve others in your limitations.

IMHO, Political Correctness is based on a flawed assumption: everyone’s feelings matter. Why is this a flawed assumption? Because it fails to take into account one very simple and all-too-true concept: some people are just too sensitive. Sometimes, you just have to learn to deal with it, and not expect the rest of the world to change for you.

Parents of small children understand this. Just because your son took a toy from his big sister is not a reason for her to start screaming and crying. It is not that big of a deal, and it does not require all that drama. So while we correct the son so that he learns not to steal things, we also teach the daughter that some things are just not worth crying about. The old saying about not crying over spilled milk comes to mind. As the daughter grows up, we hope she learns which things are worth crying over and which are not.

If your child got upset and started crying each time someone spilled something on the table, would you go out to a restaurant and instruct all patrons sitting next to your family not to spill anything while your daughter is around? Of course not! You would teach her that spilling (or having something spilled) it is not a big deal, and not worth crying over. Political Correctness does the opposite – it not only requests, but REQUIRES that no one spill anything while your daughter is around! Does that not sound a little stupid to you?

Here is a little-known fact – I am generally offended by organized religion. Actually, I find most forms of religion greatly offensive. But I do not go around work demanding that people stop wearing crosses and/or remove pictures of Jesus from their workspaces. Trust me – if I can handle seeing crucifixes and the Jesus Fish everywhere, YOU can handle the crude joke!

The worst thing about the concept of PC is that far too many people are naive enough to believe that bring PC is the same as being professional. This is just plain stupid. Here is a small example – assume you have someone suffers from mental retardation. You can refer to them them in a few different ways:

  • As ‘Tard
  • As special
  • As Mentally Retarded

Calling someone that suffers from this condition “‘Tard” is not professional, nor PC, nor even close to correct. In fact, it is idiotic. That much we can agree on. Moving on.

“Special” is the PC or nice way to put it. But as far trying to provide proper assistance to this person, it does nothing! Why? Because it fails to correctly identify the condition that the person has. And if you do not know exactly what is wrong, you cannot render proper assistance.

“Mentally Retarded” is the professional way to put it. It does not sugar-coat the truth, nor does it obfuscate the underlying problem. As such, it puts the problem right out in the open, where it can then be addressed correctly.

You do nothing for this person by calling them special. If anything, you only do something for yourself by making yourself feel better about how you address that person’s problem. That is a bit selfish, if you ask me. Additionally, you actually might end up hurting them by doing so, because they may not get the assistance they require. Imagine having a school called Foster’s Institute for the Special. If you had one child that suffered from Asperger Syndrome and another that suffered from mental retardation, can you tell if that school is able to help either or both of your children?

Now, some people with limited facilities actually consider it derogatory to identify someone that is mentally retarded as “Mentally Retarded”, or someone that has autism “Autistic”. Where does it end? Does short become “vertically challenged“? Do those that are bullies become “nice challenged“? If you cannot type, are you then “keyboard impaired“?

This is not the fault of the words themselves, it is the fault of those that would use them in a derogatory fashion, and those that are too sensitive to handle it. But as is the case with many things, the solution is education, so that these people better fit into the world. Not trying to change the world to accommodate those people. After all, it is a great big world out there.