Saturday, July 25, 2015

Apparently This Is a 'Thing'

Confirmed...  Watching videos on YouTube of other people play video games is indeed a 'thing'.  My daughter likes Markiplier and my other daughter's boyfriend likes to watch videos from some other guy.

Seriously...  Watching other people play video games???  An activity (if one can call it that) for those techno-geeks too lazy to watch golf!

Disclaimer: I love my daughters and their boyfriends are part of our family, no doubt.  My opinion stands...  too lazy to watch golf...  sometimes.  :-)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Where DO All The Old Programmers Go???

My wife and I just happened to be doing a little shopping together last weekend in a little fabric store.  There by the front door was a moderately sized sign that advertised their "senior discount" program.  After a few moments, it hit my brain...  One more year and I could qualify!  I mean, 5% off is 5% off, but I sure as hell don't feel or act that old.

That little sign made me wonder...  What the hell does happen to older programmers?  Well, here's a few links that might explain where they go.  (and, no...  they don't dry up and evaporate, slowly curl up into the fetal position where they spend the rest of their lives or end up in rehab clinics for the chronically caffeine addicted.)

Where do all the programmers go?

Why aren't there a lot of old programmers at software companies?

A 55-Year-Old Developer Tells Us What It's Like To Face Homelessness In A Youth-Obsessed Silicon Valley

What happens to all the "old" programmers?

I've got about 20 years before retirement age...  One thing I can say at this point in my professional life...  Programming has never been, and never will be boring.

Monday, July 13, 2015

C# Battle - Dynamic Array -versus- Generic Collection

In a previous post I insinuated that using a dynamic array in C#, rather than a dynamic structure might show a certain lack of basic programming skills.  Well, after getting my daughter off to work early Saturday morning, a storm rolled in, throwing out my plans to perform a little yard maintenance.  So...  what to do?  How about a little computer play while drinking my morning coffee.

After all, drinking coffee while practicing my guitar has far too many times caused scares due to the possibility of spilled coffee!

So, I set out to prove that Dynamic Arrays are worse performers than Collections in C#.  Well...  For my tests, my presumptions were proven incorrect.  My little test showed that when loading image bitmaps from PNG files into a Dynamic Array, there is only a marginal difference loading into a C# Collection.

Machine Baseline...
CPU: Intel Core i3-3240 @ 3.4 GHz
Windows Version: 7 Ultimate 64 bit.
Hard Drive: ADATA SP920 512MB SSD drive
Number of images to load: 9727
Image size: All are 640 x 480

Read on for the code and specific results...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Basic Skills, Please People!


Programmers really should know the basics of a language and platform before coding something that is used in a production environment.  Knowing the cool tricks of a language is nice but not knowing how the basics work is just irritating.

Take for instance a little optimization I just finished...  A SQL query was returning about 800,000 rows where about 799,700 were duplicates.  Adding a distinct to the SQL made the page load about 80% faster.  Why did the programmer not use that distinct keyword???  Maybe because they didn't know the basics.  Maybe because the programmer was sloppy.  Maybe the programmer didn't completely understand what was requested.  Don't know.

Then, while looking at the rest of the code I saw several string arrays defined; arrays that, after populated, contained hundreds of items.  To build these arrays, Array.Resize was used to add items.  Now THAT just might be inefficient.  Array.Resize copies the entire array and adds another element.  The programmer probably should have used a List<> or some other dynamic structure.

Hmmm...  now I am curious...

Friday, July 10, 2015

Early Beer Friday

So, it's Friday...  How do you know this day is just right for an early beer?  Answer YES to more than three of these items and you just might want to crack open a cold one.

  1. Your daughter informs you that college shouldn't be so bad this semester...  $600 each month isn't bad, is it???
  2. Your neighbor is building a new back porch.  The contractors wake you at 5:30 AM with their power tools.
  3. You walk into the kitchen to make your coffee but fail to realize the dog spilled their entire food dish, efficiently distributing the entire contents across the kitchen floor.
  4. You wake up to find a hole in the back porch's screen and see all the house cats out roaming around in the back yard.
  5. You give more than ten minutes consideration to the possibility of building your own operating system, language, communications protocol, etc...
  6. You firmly think about changing professions; becoming a roadside mowing & snowplow driving person.
  7. You wonder why this month's family prescriptions cost nothing, then realizing you reached your family's out-of-pocket medical insurance maximum of over $10,000 and it's only July.
  8. You don't want to go outside, even if the weather is good, because putting on shoes and a hat requires too much effort.
  9. You leave your art piece on the easel overnight, only to find it perforated by cat claws the next morning.
  10. You find out that your boss is taking the next two weeks off, but then hear from the VP that she has 'just the perfect little project' for you to work on for the next three weeks.
  11. You had to interact with anyone from sales and/or marketing.
  12. You look in the refrigerator and giggle when you see that can of whipped cream you bought for 'happy-fun-time' with your special someone.  Then, you just hang your head and close the door after realizing you bought it three weeks ago and is still not open.
Ya...  Early beer day for me.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Here's how it works...

  • The scammer looks at real estate websites for properties that are for sale.
  • They find a house with plenty of pictures online.  All of the photos and property info is downloaded.
  • Then they search online records and find the name of the current owner.
  • With that information they create a Craigs List (or other on-line service) rental advertisement, posting all the pictures and property information.  All communications with this scammer is through e-mail or a burner cell phone.  (In our case, the scammer was using a Phone/text/SMS anonymizer service.)
  • Requests to view the property by prospective tenants will result in a response like, "I am not available to show it to you, but there are workers there that will let you in."
  • When the tenant feels it is time to move to the next step and put down the deposit, the scammer will e-mail customized lease documents (from a junk Yahoo or GMAIL account).  At this point, the scammer may say there are others interested in the property and that the prospective tenant should hurry the remainder of the process.
  • The prospective tenant will be asked to sign and email the documents back as quickly as possible.
  • Then, the scammer will ask for the deposit and first month's rent up front through a wire transfer or Western Union.

And... **POOF**  The prospective tenant is out about $1000!

All of the above happened to my daughter, except for the last two items...  The lease agreement looked fishy and that is what made us stand back and say 'whoa!'  Fishy how, you ask?  Here's a list...

  1. The lease asked for the deposit and first month's rent by the end of the day, but keys would be exchanged at a later date.
  2. The legalese in the paperwork looked OK, but having signed several leases myself before, there seemed to be many parts missing...  like where to send the monthly payment, contact information for maintenance & service, an arbitration clause, references to other documents not included in the e-mails, etc...
  3. The person's email signature looked like it came from a valid company in Tyler, TX.  I looked up the company and they didn't have an office in Tyler.
  4. The lease agreement had the "landlord's" signature with a Texas notary stamp & notary signature.  BUT!!!  The notary stamp had no notary registration number.

SO, I looked up the previous real estate agent's MLS listing for the property and called her.  Sure enough, she had received several reports of possible rental scams on that specific property.

Then, I called the Texas Secretary of State's office and asked them to confirm the notary's name.  No confirmation - that person was not a notary, and they confirmed there should be a notary registration number in the stamp.

The scammer sent two documents; a welcome letter (.doc) and lease agreement (.pdf)  I scanned them for viruses and after being sure they were clean, opened them up to find a different name...   The DOCdocument was last modified by "Philip Ijem".  The PDF document was authored by "Philip Ijem".

Heck, we are probably lucky the police weren't called or we weren't shot at when we went to look at the property last Tuesday.

All of you looking for something to rent, BE CAREFUL!!!  Check, check & check again!!!

I hope "Philip Ijem" doesn't come face-to-face with my daughter in the next few days...  She is PISSED!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

8 Reasons for a New Operating System

Many years ago you could find me sitting in front of my computer wearing one of my well-worn Linux t-shirts or baseball caps, just programming my brains out, secretly wishing the universe of computers ran on one flavor of Linux or another.  Today, well, I am happy to simply have my Windows 7 machines humming along in front of me for at least a week without pause or crash.  Anyway...  over time I believe Linux has migrated from an OS that performed well & was fairly simple to install and operate, intended to make any computer geek giggle with delight, to something somewhat sloggy and overly complex that now give those same computer geeks headaches and the occasional nightmare.

Anyway, not that I have the technical ability in my current state, I would love to write a new operating system.  Why?  Here are eight reasons:

  1. Performance gains from increased hardware capabilities have been severely strangled by poorly performing code and the belief that the faster hardware will compensate for less than stellar code.  A new operating system should centrally focus on core performance at the expense of general purpose functionality.  
  2. Malware...  Viruses...  Keystroke Loggers... Spyware...  One of the key reasons this crap is proliferating is because we have the same-old operating systems and code and utilities.  A new operating system should have some basic security in mind when designing basic low-level functionality.  And, simply by nature, a new OS would be impervious to these nasties for a while.
  3. Current OSs are COMPLEX!!!  They try to be the do-all, know-all solution to everything.  Someone (or something) that tries to do everything will never do anything specific very well.  A new operating system should focus more on doing computery things, rather than everything under the sun.
  4. Developer environments and tools for Windows and Linux are fragmenting so badly, researching solutions and problems, depending on the situation, can be a near-futile exercise.  A new operating system could provide a new & clean slate.
  5. The windowing OS paradigm is dying.  Yes, I said it.  Don't get me wrong, the windowing paradigm will be around far longer than I.  However, it is my firm belief that virtual reality, tactile and audio human/computer interfacing will be the future.  A new operating system should have a low level text base interface for baseline operations, maintenance and debugging, and perhaps a windowing interface for coding, but should focus at these newer human/computer interfaces.  And, just as a note, all functions capable of being performed by the computer, should be allowed through the text interface.
  6. The Keep It Simple and Stupid concept has been, for the most part, thrown out by most modern operating systems and development tools.  A new operating system should embrace the KISS concept.
  7. Ever notice the slow access to directories with thousands of files?  OK, there may be solutions but it just peeves me off when I have 10,000 or 20,000 files in a directory and handling this many files is so slow (in both Windows and Linux) I can take an afternoon of coffee & smoke breaks.  A new operating system should minimally have the ability to support fast handling of large number of files.
  8. Provide a more rich computer eco-system.  Sometime I think Apple and Windows and Linux devs are getting lazy, just hunting for and polishing the low-hanging fruit.  A new operating system that performs well, has a vibrant development environment will place pressure on existing ecosystems and provide evolutionary pressure.
What are you waiting for???