Monday, January 29, 2007

SQL> startup force;

Yes, after a couple of weeks away - I'm back.  Took some needed downtime.  Disconnected, just worked a day here or there for a bit. 

It was nice.  Something I plan on doing every now and then in the future.  Yeah, I did email - worked a couple of days (a vacation without going anywhere in particular).  But I haven't written a SQL query in days, if not weeks :)

Read a lot, visited people, hung out with my kids.  Did not get on a single plane. 

Even stayed away from asktom - went away for the weekend around the 11th of this month and just never got back on.  If I'm not careful - I could be on that site 24 hours a day.  It seems the more I answer, the more there is to answer.  I'm going to get back on it probably today.

Saved up a bunch of things I found interesting.  Yesterday I read this "Revenge of the Calculators" post.  I immediately related to it (even down to the Chuck E. Cheese reference) and it reminded me of an obscure story by Isaac Asimov - "The Feeling Of Power".  I liked that story when I first read it - reminded me of the "command line versus GUI" discussions I'm often part of.  The gist is in the future - people forget how to do simple math and rely on calculators for it all.  The ending of the story is funny - it becomes of strategic importance to be able to think/compute on our own again instead of relying on the machine.  A short story worth reading.

These next two articles go together.  One is about "developing patience".  Many people presume I'm fairly patient - and to a degree I am/can be.  When helping someone learn a concept or technology - sure.  But day to day - not so much.  For example, the first thing they list as an attribute of "patience" is:

Sit back and wait for an expected outcome without experiencing anxiety, tension, or frustration.

Nope, not me ;) Something to work on.  The related article I found interesting was "5 Ideas for Stressful Living".  I liked it as it was tongue in cheek "worst practices" for living. 

All in all - two articles that if taken together provide some good information.

A friend of mine recently said to me words to the effect of "if people could put their problems in a box and everyone put their box on a table - at the end of the day, after looking at every else's problems, we would chose to take our own problems back".  I believe that to be fundamentally true in most cases.  For example, if you are dissatisfied with your current job - you could see something like this exit interview - and instantly feel a bit better about your situation.  You should read that one - it is hilarious.

Ever wonder what would happen if you flew a fighter jet into a concrete bunker?  Now you know...

Have you ever wanted to link to a specific bit of a page - like say THIS BIT RIGHT HERE - to send to someone or post on a message board?  You know, instead of saying "go to this URL and then hit ctl-f and look for this text '......'".  I have - and now we can, thank you citebite.  I used that here to create the THIS BIT RIGHT HERE link above.  It not only jumps to the text, it hilites it too - pretty cool.

Anyway, we now resume normal programming here on the blog as well as asktom.

Lastly, this was a fitting thing to stumble upon as I begin in earnest the new book :)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Customer Service...

I was using the USAA website yesterday.  I use USAA for banking and all of my insurance (auto, home, whatever).

Anyway - I was trying to make an addition to something on there and got the infamous "I'm sorry, we cannot process that - please contact us" messages.  I thought "oh great, now I have to remember to do this via a human being later, get on the phone, get in the queue, bummer"

They called me today.  In order to ask about my failed transaction and whether I'd like to work through it right now, later or never.

Sign me up.

Busy couple of days/weeks coming up for me - It'll be "posting lite" for a while.