Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Thank you Hooters Air

I had to go to Atlanta for work yesterday.  Normally we must drive to Dayton to fly instead of coming out of Columbus because of a $4-500 difference in air fare between the two major airports.

That is, until Hooters Air arrived and began to fly out of Rickenbacker Airport south of Columbus. 

Hooters Air went for about $30 more than a Dayton flight...But that's okay considering the 140+ mile round trip to Dayton that gets charged at .36 a mile.  So instead of dealing with the 75 minute drive to Dayton and back, I dealt with a 25 minute drive to Rickenbacker, which is generally a freight airport, but has some charter flights out of a small terminal.  I walked 100 yards from my car to the terminal, through the non existent line to get on a plane with 80-90 others to head to Atlanta.

The Hooters flight was professional, and had real food!  We got a sausage and cheese biscuit for breakfast on the way down, and got celery, carrots and grape tomatoes with veggie dip on the way back!  Who needs peanuts!

I don't know what some of the other discounters are doing...But Hooters is doing it right.  Currently they aren't targeting business travelers like me, as in general they look for people who want to go to Myrtle Beach or Nassau connecting from Atlanta.  But there's no question the addition to Rickenbacker was done for two reasons.  To get use of a great facility, and to try to get some of the traffic that is heading west on I-70 to Dayton to get to Atlanta. 

Hooters Air has won my business as long as it makes business schedule sense for me to go down there on their limited flight schedule.  I'm only hoping it becomes successful enough for them to add flights on every day.  Even if the big guys drop their fares at Port Columbus, little Rickenbacker is so convenient that I'd pay the $20 "service charge" in a higher fare to be able to show up 45 minutes before the flight is going to leave.

Friday, July 23, 2004

J2SE 1.4 Programmers Exam

It's finally over!

At high noon today, I began taking the J2SE exam. I started studying for this thing over a year and a half ago. The only problem back then was that I really hadn't done nearly enough Java programming, so although the concepts seemed easy enough, I didn't have the experience to do well. So I never took the test and laid low on it for about a year

Then in December and January we started to study using a guide at work. It started off as a rather large group, but as time went on the numbers dwindled, as more and more people ran into the same issue that I had almost a year ago.

Once the study group was over, work happened, and eventually in May I started studying with Ryan at work. Eventually we got through the chapters again, and again work happened.

So finally over the past month I decided to really work at it, and go nuts on the mock exams, and everything. The thing was, I wasn't doing well on them. I was passing with 55-60% scores, which isn't what you want at all. But I had set the date for today, and I just went in there armed with studying this tutorial this morning and getting about half the 1.4 questions correct on a "really hard" mock exam.

And what happened? It paid off. I scored a 75%...better than any of my mock tests! I got 46 questions correct out of the 61. The fact that I got a 62% on operators and assignments doesn't bother me so much as those were the really tricky questions on the exam. I'm estatic that I got 87% of the Threading quesitons right!

In the end, it doesn't matter. Some claim that this exam is worthless. It's not. What this exam tests is:
  • Your ability to write good syntax so that you do not have to waste hours upon hours debugging poorly written code or designs.
  • Your understanding of how to use the special objects provided by the language to handle things like threading, data storage, and OO designs.
These are things that many people think they know, but really don't know. I know many Java programmers who have not taken this exam, and they are good coders. But since I began prepping for the exam, I have learned much in terms of good design, and I see mistakes that are made. You will become a better developer from taking this exam, and I disagree with the assertion that this exam isn't that important.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Time Warner Suckage

Boy is TW Columbus on my s-list.
On Sunday, I'm watching The Open, and right before the playoff starts, everything goes static. 
After about 5 minutes of swearing, I began to watch the playoff through the over the air channell, which basically just gave me sound.  I then proceeded to call TW, and got a message telling me that there was a service outage in the Upper Arlington area.
That's pretty close to where I live, so I figured that I was part of the outage, and when the TV came back online at 4pm, I was happy.
At 8pm I was not so happy when it went out again.  Again I called TW around 9:30pm, and heard about a problem in UA, but decided this time to tell someone about mine.
I come to find out that the issue was not impacting me, and no one knew why my cable and internet access was f-ed.
All yesterday, the service went in and out, sometimes good for 10 minutes, sometimes unbearable.
What was really odd, however, was this morning, service was perfect.  No static on the screen, no fuzzyness, just perfect.
Now I've got the service dude showing up at 5pm, and there may be nothing wrong.
How are we supposed to solve a problem, and find root cause, if no one is willing to come out when an issue occurs.  Basically TW has said, don't listen to the outage messages, make sure you pound our Customer Care department with calls, which makes the outage message worthless!!
On top of that, I was treated like an a-hole by the 1st rep I called on Monday.
If Wide Open West offers service to my neighborhood, I'm gone...this crap isn't worth it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

When will the small DLP TV arrive?

So I've been daydreaming about DLP TVs. It appears to be a better technology than Plasma or LCD. I've heard mixed things about Plasma, and I use LCDs at home on my PCs. I like LCD, but I don't like the fact that they can have pixels burn out.

DLP, however, should rock. You just replace the lightblub every 4-5 years for $250 and you're good to go. The issue is this. I've got a nice Armoire that I'm not getting rid of. Not only does it look nice, but Lori likes it, and well...that's got to be part of the deal, you need to make the TV go away when company is over, which is what the Armoire is for.

Anyway, the Armoire I figure can fit a TV that is 38" wide in the front of the box, and it can taper to about 37.5 inches about a foot back and we would be OK. The problem is, the DLP TVs are too big. Samsung makes a nice unit, that got a great review. The problem is, it's 40.5 inches wide, for a 43 inch set.

The nice thing about it though, is it doesn't waste space on the sides of the screen like a lot of LCDs, and doesn't contain the speakers there, which makes the screen better. I figure, if they decide to make a 40" DLP TV, it would be under 37.5" wide, and it would fit in my armoire, no problem-o.

So, I guess what I'm waiting for is for them to take the good DLP technology and shrink it to compete with the 36-32" TV tubes. DLPs weigh about 100 lbs, while the 36 inch tubes are over 200 lbs sometimes. Gee, I wonder which one I want to move?

Maybe someday soon, we'll see it. Because as much as I like LCD, it will make me have a smaller screen, and I will always have the pixel issue...and I don't feel like fighting the warranty people on those issues for a TV. A $500 monitor is bad enough, let alone a really expensive TV.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Java Weenies and the Real Work

I've been hanging out a lot at The Server Side reading about the latest goings on in the Java community. I soon realized that I am about 2 years behind on technology, and that apparently everyone is up and using the latest and greatest tool.

When I first started this blog, one of the things I was looking to do was to get back in touch with the technology world and get involved again. But I needed to take a step back and learn what the heck was going on in the technology world again.

When I took a few years off from hardcore geekage, to meet my wife, get married, get the advanced degree from SMS, I had a pretty good idea that I would be behind. I knew this for several reasons...when I did that I was without a technology. Perl/COBOL didn't seem to be a tech path at the time...little did I know that it could be...but I digress. I went to school without a technology, starting a new job, etc.

When I finished school, the wedding, assloads of work and everything else kept me from really learning about Java..you know...life. So for the past 6 months...and really hardcore over the past 2 months...I've been trying to get caught up. Not an easy task.

Unfortunately, it's complicated by Java Weenies. These tools are so caught up on standards, doing things the "right" way, that they can't possibly have real jobs, or they'd never get anything done. They talk about standard this, standard that, yet they don't appear to have worked with the technology in any capacity. Meaning, they don't get involved with the data of business. They build cool tools, talk about frameworks, try to make things look pretty, but don't get involved with how to make the data dance.

There are some tools out there...like Hibernate, that do object persistance on databases. The problem with this idea, is it's next to impossible to migrate your data to a new database in a piecemeal fashion. Everything is an all or nothing proposition. I've dealt with IBM's VAP...same issues.

Yet, bring these issues up, and Java Weenies think you're on crack. They talk about that's why they went to work for tool vendors. That's why they speak at conventions, to bring their wisdom on how to do things to the clueless.

Java Weenie...here's a clue...if you're building a tool...remember your customer. I'm your customer. Not other weenies. The customers that keep you employed are the ones actually being used in mission critical systems...not the ones that are building another cool toy to play with.

If you don't find ways to make migration from one platform to another easy...then you're shooting yourself in the foot. No one's going to use your cool new toy if it's too costly to get started in using it. Remember...cost is not just "free software"...it's support costs and migration costs.

The Open

Ben Curtis returns to the British Isles this week to defend his Open title.

A repeat winner is highly unlikely.

But I don't think Curtis will do poorly. He'll make the cut....The Open suits his upbringing.

In 2002, I played Mill Creek Golf Club in Ostrander, where Curtis learned to play. It's public golf at it's finest. Fairways that are somewhat well manicured...yet are long enough to be the first cut of rough on the PGA Tour. Rough that is 2-3 inches high...unless they didn't cut it that week. Greens that aren't fast.

Many of the top US pros have grown up on courses that are very well manicured with lightning fast greens. Mill Creek is not that. It's got a few really good holes...#1...well, OK, just #1 is really good, with a challenging drive that you must fade. But otherwise, you've got to put the ball in the fairway, hope you don't land in a divot and try to put it on one of the small greens.

What did Curtis encounter at the Open? Greens that weren't fast...fairways that bumped you into rough that played like the fairways he saw at home. Small greens that weren't all that fast in comparison to what they normally play on.

This championship was made for his style...he'll do well at the Open. Hopefully prove his showing last year wasn't a fluke. He doesn't even need to win to prove that point...contention on the weekend and maybe a top 20 finish would do that.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Batman at 7 months

Here are some pictures of Batman as he hit 7 months of age. He's now been declawed and can go around the whole house when we are home. He really likes our bedroom since it's become his "den".

Thanks to All

I wanted to take a minute and thank my friends and family for writing to me after I told them about the message to Lilly. I really appreciate it.

It is very difficult to go through something like this. And you never really understand until you go through it, or something quite similar. Makes you think differently about life and what's really important.

I need to get more skilled at figuring out customizing the templates for Blogger. I don't think it's too hard, but I just need to find the way to put the permalink to Lilly's message on the "menu". At some point over the next few months it will fall off of the list as more posts appear. It's part of the reason I haven't posted in over a week. I wanted to keep it up there for a while, in the spotlight.

Anyway, I've been emailing a lot...but to those who haven't and are reading this...it's cool, you're reading this...don't worry ;)