Documentation blues

I am currently in the midst of writing a software specification document and this is seriously draining my brain. ugh.

There is no doubt that specs are important to ensure we all agree to what we are developing, but writing them is oppressive. It would be easier to just sketch it out in a few narrative paragraphs, but that wouldn't be kosher. What is worse, is that it is for a GUI, which it needs even more details than usual, since it needs to interact with unpredictable users. sigh.



Non-conforming or non-conformant?

I have always prided myself on being independent. It comes easily and naturally to me.

Yet lately (okay, the past year or so – but I’m a slow thinker), I’ve been pondering if I am actually as independent as I think I am or if I am simply non-conformant. In other words, given the specifications for a human being, do I fall on the extreme edges or maybe even outside the normal parameters – like a widget that is the wrong shape or size or colour or consistency or whatever?

I have never met a person who thought they were anything other than free-willed and independently minded. I have never met anyone who said to me, “I am a sheep. I haven’t an independent thought in my head.”

Yet, from my vantage point, people behave in remarkably similar ways – like watching a school of fish swim in unison. I often wonder why did everyone just zig or zag? Obviously there is something (or many things) I am not plugged into.

This is more than simple preferences, for example, preferring grey sweaters over rainbow coloured sweaters.

Why do so many people claim to Hotel California – when it is clear to me that an hour of nails scratching a blackboard would be infinitely more enjoyable.

Yet, I can’t keep believing that people pretend to like it. I have to accept that they genuinely do.

So, back to my original question: am I truly independent? Or am I simply a non-conformant human being?

I prefer to believe myself as independent, yet, I act and react in predictable ways – just as other people do (although, my behavior is atypical and outside).

If I am non-conformant then my beliefs about being independent are an illusion – I am different not because I am independent, but because I am out of spec.

Image grabbed from here.

[Note: I am picking on Hotel California because I really do hate it, but I could have just as easily picked Elton John, Phil Collins or B.B. King. I love blues, but B.B. King has a characteristic guitar style that just irritates me. I once had to endure listening to Hotel California 6 times during an audio demonstration at the science centre – I thought I would go mad! Normally, I Would have left, but I had brought the kids to see an exhibit on sound not knowing the torture I would endure. Sigh.]



Meme about me

Borrowed this meme from Hotel Solace

1.What were you doing 10 years ago?
Working at my first job as a professional programmer and being madly in love with my future wife.

2.What were you doing 1 year ago?
Finishing up a project and preparing to take a 6 month sabbatical.

3. Five snacks you enjoy.
1) Chocolates
2) Chips
3) Cashews
4) Cakes
5) Cookies

I enjoy them all too much!

5. Five songs to which you know all the lyrics off your head right now.
None, I only know parts of songs.

5. Five things you would do if you were a millionaire.
1) Pay my debts
2) Buy a larger house.
3) Retire and work on my own projects.
4) Travel.
5) Give money to research and those in need.

6. Five bad habits.
1) Procrastinating.
2) Too much web surfing.
3) Over eat.
4) Exercise too little.
5) Get cranky when tired or stressed.

7. Five things you like doing.
1) Reading
2) Hiking / Walking
3) Learning
4) Spending time with the kids.
5) Spending time with Sofia.

8. Five favorite toys.
1) Computer
2) Lego (at least when I was a kid)
3) Kitchen stove / microwave
4) Star Fleet Battles (when I was a little less than half the man I am today ;-)
5) D&D (or most role playing games - again, when I was a bit younger)

9. Five places I enjoy hanging out at.
1) Dollarama
2) Science Centre
3) Museum of Natural History
4) Home
5) Anyplace green.

10. Five jobs I would take up if I had the skills.
1) Author
2) Lecturer
3) Actor
4) Film maker
5) Scientist

[Update 22-Feb-2006 to expand the jobs category to 5 from 3 - it just makes more sense that way. With a nod to Lunafish who took the meme from me and corrected this obvious oversight.]



40 is the new 30

You could say that today is my forte.

This is me when I was the old 30 (actually 29-1/2) - the new 30 doesn't look quite so good.

So what does one do now that more than half their life has passed? (A reasonable assumption because I know of no males on either side of my family who have ever made it to 80).

"They say that age is all in your mind. The trick is keeping it from creeping down into your body." - Unknown

"You're not 40, you're eighteen with 22 years experience." - Unknown

"I still have a full deck; I just shuffle slower now." - Unknown

"Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened." - Jennifer Yane

"Forty isn't old, if you're a tree." - Unknown

"The "I just woke up face" of your 30's is the "all day long" face of your 40's." - Libby Reid

"The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity." - Seneca

Music Video Codes By HotGet.com

If the the video doesn't play, try hitting refresh.



Have you eaten yet?

Coming back from watching Jason do a ballet recital (only boy among 11 girls) I stopped off at the local second hand bookstore.

I bought some books - pretty predictable, given that I am something of a bibliophile.

Anyhow, I was struck by a sign in the window that said, "Help Needed - Apply Within." It filled me with that eerie, yet comforting delusion of karmic opportunity. I automatically suppressed the urge to inquire then and there.

What better place to work than be surrounded with dusty old books a few hours per week (I have no idea what sort of help they were looking for, since I didn't inquire).

When I got home I called Sofia to let her know that I found a job in Montreal I would be interested in doing. After the initial silence, she asked "Have you eaten yet?"

Of course, it would be foolish ... or would it? Yes, I would be losing a great salary, health benefits, pension plan, and experience in my profession - to be clerk in a bookstore earning minimum wage with no benefits. Go from a prestigious job to one with no prestige. Sofia suggested at least working for a library.

Interesting how we chance across things in our life and are somehow irrationally taken by it - whether it is love, moved to buy the winning lottery ticket, or given a chance to take sweet fortunes preordained path. Even within me, there lurks the foolish romantic.

Image originally from here



Studs from Microsoft

Seeing as today is Valentine's Day, I figured people might like to watch a reasonably relevant sketch called Studs From Microsoft performed by Almost Live.



Make your own posters

Did you ever want to make a large poster out of a picture?

A little program called PosteRazor will do the trick.

As a bonus (maybe) it saves the output as a PDF file.

As a test, I printed out a picture of Tania and JJ as a poster over 9 sheets of 8-1/2 x 11 paper.

It looks pretty good, although I still have to trim off some borders and actually stitch everything together - but, at least it saves me spending money on a bigger printer.




Got this in my e-mail today. Maybe you have received it (or some variant) at some point in time.

Do you know what a family is?

Do you understand the meaning behind the word Family?

It surprised me to learn the answer. I never realized I didn’t know the true meaning of family.


WHY does a man want to have a WIFE?

WHY does a woman want to have a HUSBAND?

Do you know that a simple HELLO can be sweet? Especially from one you love (not necessarily your boyfriend or girlfriend).

(H)ow are you?
(E)verything all right?
(L)ike to hear from you
(L)ove to see you soon!
(O)bviously, I miss you

So, HELLO! and good day to you!

Not that I necessarily agree with the definitions, but I do like the one for HELLO.

So, a big HELLO to all of you reading this!

Take care.

Image grabbed from here. (warning, big fullscreen popup along with a few others)



"They are so young ..."

Today I was chatting with a mother who has two kids the same age as mine - our daughters are in the same grade and our sons go to the same Montessori school / daycare.

Her boy will be going to kindergarten this September. Jason is not eligible because his birthday is on 02-October-2006, 2 days after the cutoff date of 30-September-2006 mandated by the province of Quebec - children must be 5 by this date or they go the following year.. This is a real irritant for me, because in any other province in Canada, he would be eligible for school (the cutoff date in other provinces is 31-December). The only exception is getting an exemption from a psychologist which states Jason is mature enough to go to school. I took him for such a test last week. It was a disaster, Jason simply would not cooperate with the psychologist, he was much more interested in doing his own thing and not listening to the psychologist. I knew this would happen - JJ takes after me a lot. Nevertheless, I feel JJ is ready for school and that keeping him out another year will be detrimental - he needs the stimulation he will get from school.

Anyhow ... back to my story. I asked this mom if her boy was going in September, she said yes because his birthday is in September. I told her that JJ was not eligible because he was born two days too late. I also mentioned that I am seriously considering taking him to Ontario and enrolling him there. She looked surprised and said, "They are so young."

Yes, they are young, but this does not stop her from sending her kid all day to a daycare despite the fact she neither works nor studies. She is a stay at home wife - like most in this particular part of Montreal. When people find out Sofia is working (outside the home) they act surprised as if to say, "Your husband doesn't make enough money to let you stay home?"

[Yep, yet another shameless pick of JJ. Image copywrite belongs to me.]



A dark and stormy night

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

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