Archive: February, 2005

Not like myself? Maybe a little

posted by Jeff | Monday, February 28, 2005, 11:47 PM | comments: 5

Stephanie asked me a couple of times today how I feel about going back to a job. I told her I'm good to go, and I think overall that I am, but at the same time I don't quite feel like myself. She asked me again just before she crawled into bed and now it's on my mind.

She doesn't like that I'm going back to work, even temporarily, because it's not really what I want to do. It's true, I don't really want to do it, but taxes are going to kill me if I don't. Overall the various things I've got my hands in (advertising, my book, hopefully my ad package) look financially good in the long run, but in the short term I need to generate more cash. Four weeks at this gig should be a piece of cake.

But I still feel funny. And what I hate about it is that I think the funny feeling stems from just not being able to sleep when I want, put pants on when I want, and hang out with the cats all day. I'm doing the grown up thing and like a big baby I don't wanna. We'll see what tomorrow brings...

On a bit of a side note, I was playing the other day with an idea for a new company logo. What do you think?

First time in an office in ten months

posted by Jeff | Monday, February 28, 2005, 7:00 PM | comments: 1

I started a one-month contract gig today, and it's the first time I've been in an actual office in about ten months. I agreed to take the gig because it's largely on my terms, and I still maintain a large degree of independence, aside from the fact that doing the work requires me to be there to interact with a very small team.

At first glance, I'm not sure if the project has a high chance of success, but since I'm not a stakeholder and it's so short-term, that doesn't really bother me. They understand that I have strong opinions and will give them if I think they're going to tank everything. They were so adamant about it being an at-will contract that it's good for both of us. If I don't like them, or they don't like me, either party can quit at any time. It's amazing how much more honest that seems to make everyone.

In the mean time, I need to finish up CliqueSite.Ads and get that out to the people that volunteered to test it (2 million impressions a day on crappy hardware, baby!), and some other little miscelaneous things. I also need to schedule my book launch party, although that might have to wait until April at this rate.

Oscar reactions

posted by Jeff | Monday, February 28, 2005, 12:13 AM | comments: 7

Thank God that The Aviator pretty much got snubbed everywhere that counts, except for Cate Blanchett for supporting actress (and she kicks ass, so it's OK).

I don't have a problem with Million Dollar Baby getting props, because given the people involved, I can't imagine it would suck. I think the important thing was that Jamie Foxx won best actor, and really, all else is right with the world.

Fashion was interesting this year, because being classically glamorous is back in style. Anorexia is out and curvy, real women are in, thank God. I don't know anything about the film she was in, but did you see Catalina Sandino Moreno? My God was she stunning. Salma Hayek, Scarlett Johansson and Kate Winslet also scored for curvy girls. Actually, the most beautiful woman there was sitting next to a guy nominated for best short film. She was Indian, wearing traditional clothes, absolutely beautiful.

While generally not my type in terms of overall package, Kirsten Dunst is so cute you could squeeze her, and she looked great with the uber-blonde bob and black dress. I'll never understand why I like her so much. It's also hard not to give Halle Berry a nod just for being so damn hot all of the time.

The thing that gets me the most about the Oscars is that the show makes me want to make a film. I had the same problem last year, and I wrote a mediocre screenplay.

Doing a one month contract gig

posted by Jeff | Friday, February 25, 2005, 6:09 PM | comments: 3

I met with the consulting firm and they begged me to take this job. It's about a month, full-time, and they'll give me $55/hr. for it. I'm a little nervous about the level of requirements they have for the project, which in the near term involves a lot of band-aiding of a Web app, but we'll see what happens.

I told the recruiter about my concern and we agreed that I'd try it out, and I'd split if it the project scared me too much. Projects with weak requirements are notorious for failure.

The other potential issue is that, while not seeing the code, it sounds like a rewrite job, not a band-aid. I'd go as far as to say that it might be faster to rewrite it.

I guess we'll see Monday!

If you want help, start by helping yourself

posted by Jeff | Thursday, February 24, 2005, 8:32 PM | comments: 7

I got an IM today from a guy trying to get POP Forums to work. At first he was just asking if I had the Visual Studio solution file to give him. I insisted he tell me what the problem was first, and after some coaxing, I finally got him to tell me about the error he was getting. One class or another was defined in more than one place, so I knew he obviously had the compiled assembly in there along side of the one he was compiling. Rookie mistake, no big deal. Everyone made it at one time or another.

Then nothing would happen, he'd only get empty UI. He again started asking me for a solution file. He was being persistant and kind of rude, but I told him to ditch the autoeventwireup="false" from the page, as I knew that was the problem. Again, rookie mistake, but also one mentioned in the readme.

Next he started getting an "object reference not set to an instance..." or something like that. I told him to fire up the debugger and see where it was happening. In the back of my mind, I think I already knew it was a missing element in web.config, but again he wanted me to do the work for him, and running the debugger wasn't an option for him. Maybe he didn't know how. Beats me.

Regardless, he then began telling me my install instructions suck and I have no pride in my product and whatever. What good is it if no one can use it, etc. I was more than a little taken aback, considering he got the code for free. I'll be the first to admit it's not something flawless, but a little basic ASP.NET knowledge should get you up and running pretty quickly. I get enough e-mail from people using it that thought install went pretty smooth, so I'm not inclined to think it's a lost cause.

I politely told him that he had a funny way of asking for help and that I was done talking to him.

As someone who has done a fair amount of training for other developers, even at the introductory level, I have a fair amount of patience for people who don't quite get it. Heck, that's why I wrote my book. However, the "teach a person to fish" metaphor certainly applies, and it's one I stick by. I've forged some really good relationships with people that want to learn and help themselves. I have literal tolerance for people that don't want to do the work though.

Anyway, speaking of the book, it looks like it will start shipping in less than two weeks, ready to ship to distributors on or around March 3. I'm really excited, as it will provide some much needed motivation and confidence. Please buy it. Tell a friend. :)

I'm a moron... again!

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, February 23, 2005, 4:12 PM | comments: 1

Once again, I've scheduled a CoasterBuzz Club event on the same day as my volleyball regionals. I thought I checked it like three times.

Someone will cover it, I'm not worried about that, but shit, I wanted to enjoy the event! If the tournament is done early enough, I could in theory get there in time for ERT, but I won't hold my breath. That's a long drive just for that. I suppose I could make it up by stopping at Hershey or something the next day, but still. I don't know if I'll be able to go at all.

Something really kick ass better happen this week because I've had enough of the downer nonsense.

Part-time gig?

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, February 23, 2005, 2:29 PM | comments: 3

I got a lead today on a part-time gig in the next town where I can easily bill $50+. Can you believe it? I was starting to wonder if such things existed. It's even in my primary area of expertise.

If I can bill even 15 hours a week, I will be one happy bastard. I even like the project. Did I mention it was in the next town?

Cats are driving me crazy

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, February 23, 2005, 12:45 PM | comments: 2

I woke up bright and early (after working until 2:30am) to Luna barfing. She's not doing well today. She also has come to realize that mommy isn't home during the day, so for attention she needs to come to me. I'm being patient with her, but she'd driving me nuts.

Then Cosmo, stupid fucker, is nonsense crying in the other room for God knows what reason. It's just an annoying pointless cry. She has food... what the fuck else does she need?

I'm a little wound up. I have a pile of bills and other correspondence to deal with here, I'm trying to debug a problem found during the overnight testing, I need to get my CoasterBuzz event flyers in order, shit needs to get in the mail, to say nothing of the cleaning I need to do around this dump... none of it is happening.

You're not supposed to get overwhelmed when you work from home.

Money woes

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, February 22, 2005, 11:05 PM | comments: 5

A source of continuous stress in our house is money. Stephanie gets more stressed about it than I do, but overall it just creates a lot of ugly feelings.

I've been working for myself now for about nine months, and the truth is that we're spending way more than I'm making right now. The biggest problem is that ad revenue is seasonal, and this is not the good season. Related to that is the fact that various taxes are due at the end of the quarter. That's no fun at all.

I decided I'm going to look for a contract job, hopefully something short-term. I wish more than anything that I didn't have to, but oh well, that's what being an adult is. I guess the most annoying thing is that there's a lot of cash later in the year from book royalties and improved ad revenue, but that's not going to help me right now.

Hunter S. Thompson dead by suicide

posted by Jeff | Monday, February 21, 2005, 12:04 AM | comments: 2

Crazy shit...

We studied this guy quite a bit in college as the father of "non-fiction narrative," also called "gonzo journalism," among other things. His thing was telling stories not as an observer, but as a participant. The line between fact and fiction was blurred enough that it's hard to say what exactly was for real.

Personally, I thought he was a narcissistic pompous asshole in his writing, but if he shot himself, he obviously didn't love himself as much as I thought. Some of what he wrote was interesting, but aside from knowing that he essentially created a genre of writing, I can't say I remember anything of his that I read. These days I'd think of him more for articles in Rolling Stone.

I hate suicide stories. Few things could be more cowardly and selfish.

I wish I was more into gaming

posted by Jeff | Sunday, February 20, 2005, 11:53 PM | comments: 0

Every once in awhile, especially when I read something in the online press about video games, I get the itch to play more. I used to play games a lot more than I do now (which is to say I barely do anymore).

Here's the problem: These days I have a hard time doing anything that isn't both for pleasure and hopefully for generating some revenue. I'm really enjoying writing code lately, but part of my motivation is to make money (something I'm also not very good at right now). Aside from TV and volleyball, I don't let myself get lost in a good game.

Halo 2 was the last one I played all the way through, and boy did that end up being short. I've only fired up the online version twice. Meanwhile, I've got SpongeBob and Kingdom Hearts to finish, and I never even started Final Fantasy X, all three of which I picked up at the bargain price point.

Then I start to ask why I don't have a gaming site. At least common sense kicks in there. There is no way in hell any practical business plan will ever make that a good idea in that crowded market.

The Oscar better go to Ray

posted by Jeff | Sunday, February 20, 2005, 10:54 PM | comments: 2

I watched Ray tonight. Believe the hype. It's the best thing I've seen this year.

When we saw Collateral last year, I was a little surprised to see that Jamie Foxx was excellent. I mean, he was above average. I couldn't believe this was the guy in Booty Call. After seeing Ray, I'm in awe. He was really that good. I have a lot of respect for a lot of the guys in the best actor category, but if DiCraprio wins I'll be super-pissed. That guy is a fucking hack.

As for best picture, I haven't seen the other movies, but again, it better not be the DiCraprio movie. Anything is better than that.

I got to play middle!

posted by Jeff | Sunday, February 20, 2005, 10:08 PM | comments: 0

I was short on kids at volleyball practice today so I got to play middle for about 20 minutes. I've never, ever played the position (could have something to do with being 5'8" in shoes).

I learned all kinds of things. First off I noticed how best to track the incoming serve. I watch a lot of middles kind of ignore the ball since it goes over their head, and then they're not prepared. Truth is, I think it's pretty easy. You get the general direction before it even crosses the net (including whether or not it'll be short), and once you've keyed into that, you can look back and see who will receive it. Just about the time you turn around the ball has been passed and your attention shifts to the setter, and hopefully you're running plays. It's really exhilarating!

Being in the middle of everything, I also have a much better feel for how they work together that you just can't see from the sides. Among other things, I found that my setter is a much stronger personality that I thought. My two quiet swing hitters are also very complimentary to everyone, if not the loudest about it.

It was a neat peek into what goes on. I wish I could play with them some more, but you know, it's not about me!

In the zone

posted by Jeff | Saturday, February 19, 2005, 8:12 PM | comments: 0

Stephanie and I caught up mostly on TV this morning/afternoon, and we worked in a nap.

Now she's downstairs watching a movie with a friend and I'm up here coding. Yeah, I sure know how to party on the weekends. ;) Seriously though, I'm really in a zone, and as hard as it is for me to believe, I may actually finish a project in a week or so. After years of letting it sit half-done, I may actually get my ad server done!

The hardest work is already done... at this point I'm just working on reports. Actually, that's kind of a pain too when you have to adjust for time zones and such, but I finished one of the reports tonight and I'm ready to move on to the next.

Will it sell? I hope so, but it won't matter that much if it doesn't, because I'll have another finished project. That's an intangible feel-good kind of thing.

More on individual coaching attention

posted by Jeff | Friday, February 18, 2005, 10:33 PM | comments: 0

Tonight I had the second of three practices with a small group of kids. I originally set this up because there was no way I'd expect 17 year olds to miss half of their school's boys basketball season on four straight Friday nights. But gym time is what it is, and I didn't want to waste it.

Two weeks ago I had the two middles and my setter, then today I had my three primary swing hitters. Next week I've got the libero and the three multi-purpose players.

In tonight's case, my goal was to fix some of the mechanical problems in their hitting, as well as their passing. The first few minutes are always awkward because I need to feel out exactly what it is I want them to fix or change. But once I get passed that, it really is a lot of fun. The benefit for the kids is that they get very specialized instruction you can't possibly offer with the entire team there. The benefit for me is that I build a stronger rapport with the kids.

This kind of interaction is so ridiculously effective. My kids this year are so talented that they respond very quickly to the instruction too, which makes me wonder why they don't get this kind of attention in school, where they have a lot more time (compared to our twice a week practice). Tonight we had some real positive change, and I think I understand better what kind of criticism they respond best to.

Friday night practices aren't that convenient for me either, but I'm really happy about the outcome these have brought. I hope the last one next week is just as successful.

Hitchhiker's Guide trailer

posted by Jeff | Thursday, February 17, 2005, 2:13 PM | comments: 3, of all places, has the exclusive on the trailer for the forthcoming Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy movie. I can't wait to see it!

The book is one of the few that I can say I've read more than once. In fact, I've read all four books in the trilogy more than once (if you have to correct me, you don't get the joke). I have to say that it takes some balls to develop a well-known book into a movie (Lord of The Rings included), so it'll be interesting to see how it plays out. Arthur appears to be a Brit, but I find it odd that everyone else is not.

I had the text-based Infocom game back in the day on my Apple II+, and I wish I still had it. It came with a piece of pocket fluff, a microscopic space fleet and a button that says "Don't Panic." Oddly enough, you can play it online now here.

Software development is fun!

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, February 15, 2005, 10:41 PM | comments: 0

I think I'm finally getting over the general malaise I had been feeling toward writing code. Aside from the revamp of CampusFish, I haven't written much in the last two months, mostly because of that damn book. Fortunately that is finished and out of my life unless they decide to do a second edition at some point down the road.

I had written an ad serving algorithm about, I don't know, three years ago, when I scored a direct-sold campaign for Cedar Point on CoasterBuzz. The goofy thing about it is that it had no front end at all. I had to set stuff up by manually adding records to the database. That's pretty much the way it stayed until a few weeks ago.

I got enough of it done before the start of the month to start serving a new campaign, but it still lacked reporting and the ability to edit a lot of other stuff. It also wasn't "pretty," but it's typical that I don't do any actual design stuff until it's mostly done. In many cases, I do some design stuff mid-project because I'm more inclined to finish it when it looks like an actual product.

Since last night I've made some pretty good strides, and I've essentially got the reporting stuff and user administration to do. The reporting stuff is a little more tricky because the system has to aggregate tons-o-data into something more easily searched. Data warehousing is not my strong point. I also can't seem to find the SQL I devised to do some of that reporting work. Bugger.

Anyway, I'm finally regaining focus, and at least I've got something here that I can sell. There's no telling if anyone will buy it, but just the feeling that I finished something for a change will be nice.

Fun with taxes

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, February 15, 2005, 1:07 PM | comments: 2

I talked to our accountant today to get at least what I expected to be the initial bad news. Surprisingly, it wasn't that horrible. Our remaining fed liability is in the area of $380, state around $450, plus our city tax. I have to get her some data on our house, because she said I absolutely have to deduct part of the house and utilities since I work at home. She thinks that'll have a fairly positive impact.

The bottom line is that it's not as horrible as I expected. If the little marketing effort with PointBuzz doesn't work out, I might have to sell a little more of my FUN to pay for it, but I'm not going to get kicked in the nuts.

Believe it or not, I'm kind of relieved!

Too much funk (the wrong kind)

posted by Jeff | Monday, February 14, 2005, 10:55 PM | comments: 1

I woke up in a serious funk today. I got up and went back to bed for another 90 minutes. I just felt like I didn't want to do much of anything. It was like a crazy ass depression or something.

Stephanie was home today, not feeling well at all, so I continued the sleeping trend by taking a nap with her. After that, I wasted some time on the Internet a bit, and eventually started to feel a little more motivated. I managed to get through all of my game tape from yesterday's tournament, and even got an ad up for my book on uberASP.NET.

Looking at my project list here, it certainly is shrinking. Most of them are on track, but I'm starting to reconsider doing CoasterBuzz Club event registration online. If the majority of people were to buy tickets that way, it would be more expensive for me because my new credit card processor is more expensive for bigger ticket purchases. I could raise prices, but the PKI event in particular is priced the same as last year, and I'd like to keep the pricing the same.

In other news, like a fucking moron, I left my ball bag at the tournament in Hiram yesterday. I'm going to have to go back out there and get it.

First tournament... done!

posted by Jeff | Monday, February 14, 2005, 12:41 PM | comments: 0

We had our first tournament yesterday, and we ended up placing third in Gold. Not quite the finish I had hoped for, but not bad. Since it was a "power tournament" we still get 10.857 toward our rank. I won't complain.

We won our pool, coming down to a three-way tie of teams that went 2-1, with matching game percentage, and it was decided on points. In that gold semi we just had a few bad breaks in the first game, and the kids kind of shut down in the second. They were clearly disappointed. For me, "disappointed" is probably too strong of a word, but I will say that I expected that they could pull through and win.

Now that I've seen them in action, I can start to build a more clear vision of what my expectations for the team should be. In comparing them to previous teams, they're certainly the most talented, and my initial guess is that their mental ability sits somewhere in the middle. For that reason, I need to figure out a way to push them in the right direction.

My assistant coach a couple of years ago used to tell me, "You can't make them play." My club director jokingly said, "You can lead them to water, but you can't necessarily make them drink." I think I've come to accept that to a certain degree, but I won't let it be a total cop out. Certainly as a coach there must be some way to get them to feel the same intensity that I do when I play. I haven't played competitively in years, but when I practice, I go all out. Teaching how to be that way is the most elusive thing for me as a coach.

I saw some little victories here and there with certain kids. I feel really good about that and hopefully my feedback to them made them feel good about it as well. I encountered two minor attitude problems, not show stoppers, but I think I can deal with those.

On a side note, I had nice chats with several coaches and officials, and got their signatures to run for the region's board of directors this year. I partly just want to get more involved, but I also want the region to have more meaningful and widespread discussion about the way our seeding system works, because I feel it's broken and inadvertently causing the cannibalization of local tournaments at the higher age groups.

Celebrity Poker and American Casino

posted by Jeff | Thursday, February 10, 2005, 10:19 PM | comments: 5

It's poker night on TV tonight. First I started watching Celebrity Poker Showdown on Bravo. It's a fun show to watch. I've been watching it or more than a year now. Lacey Chabert was on tonight. She sure did, uh, grow up. She's 23, and kinda hot now. Scott Wolf was also on, and he just looks old. Bonnie Hunt looked good for an "old broad," while Robert Wagner seemed kind of frail looking.

I've also been watching American Casino on Discovery for about just as long. It's not the most exciting reality show, but I guess that's why I like it. It's actually more of a documentary without being a big setup like every other show. One of the more interesting "plot lines" is that they lost their VP of hotel operations (they never indicated how or why he died), and in the wake of that you keep wondering why they didn't promote the manager under him to the job. On tonight's show, they hired a guy from out of town, and she gave the company line saying she was supportive of it and still had her eye on being a VP somewhere down the line. It kind of bothers me that they didn't consider her at all.

Green Valley Ranch, the resort in the show, looks kind of nice. It's off the strip about four miles, and appears to have a nice casino vibe combined with a more relaxed resort feel.

I really want to go back to Vegas. I'd like to spend three or four days there and relax a bit. I loved our 36 hours there, doing as much as we could with as little sleep as possible, but I felt we needed more time.

More on the DVD issues

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, February 9, 2005, 10:45 PM | comments: 2

My DVD burner issue has not improved. It's not very useful to have a DVD drive if it can't read or write files.

I'm quasi sure it's the drive itself, but I guess I can't really know unless I pop it into a different machine. I was theorizing that it was the motherboard, which I replaced a few months ago, but I don't think that's it.

Even though new drives are under $60, dual-layer even, I just hate spending money on something like that, but the truth is, I need it.

Adventures in plumbing

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, February 9, 2005, 2:44 PM | comments: 3

Last week our kitchen sink started to leak, and I narrowed it down to the hot side. It quickly started to outright run, so I had to clamp that side down until I replaced whatever was causing the leak.

So I start searching the Moen site, which is too fucking slow to be usable. I can't ID the faucet that I have for sure, but I was able to determine that the bulk of the faucets they've made in the last forever all use the same "cartridge" down the middle, a brass, plastic and rubber contraption.

The problem was that I couldn't figure out how to get the damn thing out to make sure it was really part 1225. You can't get it out because you need this little plastic thing that comes with the replacement to get the old one out. Lame.

I took the chance and bought the $20 (!) part, and fortunately it was the right one. To Moen's credit, this same part seems universally accepted in most of their product line. Home Depot, in fact, only stocked one other Moen model, which was a lot different from some of the other brands.

Speaking of Home Depot, Steph complained a lot about having yet another Home Depot here in Brunswick, with stores less than four miles away in either direction, but we sure do end up going there a lot.

My DVD drive is sucking ass

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, February 9, 2005, 2:20 AM | comments: 1

I decided I would backup my gig of downloaded iTunes files to a DVD. So I pulled out the DVD-RW I used to do this last time. I pop it in, and it can't even read it. Ditto for a couple of other discs. Pop them into the iBook and they read just fine.

So here's a WTF? I've been fucking with this for like two hours. Look at the time!

Tits are bad!

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, February 8, 2005, 8:14 PM | comments: 6

Did you happen to see the ad for during the Super Bowl? If you did, you saw the cut version. You also didn't see it in the second half because Fox decided to ditch it.

Personally I thought it was hilarious. However, in America, boobs are an evil and indecent thing, even when they're in a TV spot covered and clearly making fun. It's OK though, because you'll see some nice movie trailers and show promos with lots of gun fire and violence instead. Whew!

National bid allocation posted

posted by Jeff | Monday, February 7, 2005, 11:05 PM | comments: 0

USA Volleyball posted the bid allocation for this year. This is how I explained it to my kids and parents...

There are three tournaments: National Open, National Club and American Club. The National Open tourney has only 28 bids, and to get one, you need to compete in the open division of a qualifier. With only 28 teams making the cut in the entire country, that's why we don't play in the open division at Baltimore.

Each of the club tournaments have 39 bids allocated to the various regions. Each region gets one bid for the National Club tournament, while the 39 bids for the American Club tournament are divided up according to region size. Small regions don't get any American bids. Ohio Valley Region (OVR) is the largest region, so we get four. Nine more bids for each tournament are spread out at the qualifiers (Baltimore, Indy, etc.) for a tournament size of 48 teams in each (that's 96 bids total between National Club and American Club).

To clear it up... the bid tourney in Columbus will have 1 National Club and 4 American Club bids. The tournament will have a maximum of 24 teams (there were 22 last year). We would need to finish top-5 to get a bid. Last year in Baltimore in the 17 club division (the division we're registered for), there was one National Club and one American Club bid for around 70 teams.

So how did OVR teams do last year? OVR was well-represented with 8 17's teams...

National Open (28 teams):
Team Z 17-1: 10th place
Cincy Classics 17-1: 15th

National Club (48 teams):
CVC Black: 13th place

American Club (48 teams):
Premier: 1st place
Dayton Jrs.: 5th
Team Z 17-2: 13th
Cincy Classics 17 Black: 17th
TVC 17-1: 26th

List for a racing mind

posted by Jeff | Monday, February 7, 2005, 1:36 AM | comments: 2

OK... since I can't exactly sleep following last night's bout with a bloated stomach and the discomfort that kept me up most of the night, I need to write some stuff down so at least my mind can start to rest.

First tournament is in a week. I can see Friday and Saturday night as being relatively sleepless.

I've got a lot of code to write before the end of the month. PointBuzz needs a new module to handle an advertising program we're selling. I need to get an online registration system rolling for CoasterBuzz events. I should be getting hardcore into the forum rewrite by now.

I need to post the code samples from my book before it gets onto store shelves.

I need to follow up on a coaching lead. Also follow up on lead to alternate publishers.

I need to get my tax junk all together and get it to the accountant, and that needs to happen Monday.

I need to get an oil change and wash my car. It needs an oil change too. While I'm out, I should probably get whatever I need to fix the kitchen faucet. It's leaking on the hot side.

I need to write some short screenplays so I can shoot something. Dammit I want to write, light, shoot and edit.

I need to cut a check for myself so I can pay the mortgage.

There are other things on my list up in the office, but those are the things on the brain.

Earned points as a volleyball metric

posted by Jeff | Sunday, February 6, 2005, 9:02 PM | comments: 0

I was thinking today in practice how my kids, when scrimmaging against the 18's, were scoring most of the the 18's points for them. On the flip side, they were earning their own points.

That has been on my mind quite a bit... the concept of earned points. I noticed that frequently the difference between winning and losing last year came down to the number of non-earned points by the opposition. I can deal with a loss when the other team has clearly dominated you in terms of strong kills. Those are earned points. No one likes to lose a game like that, but it's certainly easier to handle.

What's tough is when you score the other team's points by making critical mistakes. I saw a lot of that in practice today with poor passes, bad tips and sets into ambush blocks. In all fairness, it's not "normal" for them given what I've observed so far, but without a tournament it's hard to say if they're hot and cold in practice and an always-on tournament team.

I've never had a talented team that could consistently get it done in tournaments. I honestly feel that an average team that can push hard at all times is better than a talented team without drive. The year before last I had a very average (and short) team that did pretty well despite being horribly under-powered. They won three tournaments and placed 19 out of 54 at the Northeast Qualifier. Compare that to last year when I had a talented team that lacked drive, won one tournament, and we were in the 30-something range at the NEQ.

Will this team be talented and driven? I know they're talented, and a week from now I'll know the answer to the second part.

A crappy day turned around

posted by Jeff | Saturday, February 5, 2005, 10:40 AM | comments: 1

Yesterday started out kind of crappy, when I learned that my publisher didn't care for my second book proposal. I was kind of pissed.

However, it turned out to be an OK day in the long run. First off, the sun was shining. I had lunch with Stephanie in Kent and met a new friend of hers that is absolutely adorable. Then I got a call from an advertiser that is in for the campaign that I stuffed envelopes for earlier in the week. Steph came with me to volleyball practice where I had scheduled just three of the girls to be there for more individual work. That went fabulously well. Steph was shocked at my vertical leap and complimented me on it (first time anyone has ever complimented my athletic ability). The girls made meaningful progress.

It was quite a turn around, and in the end, it was a really good day.

No go on second book proposal

posted by Jeff | Friday, February 4, 2005, 10:43 AM | comments: 1

I got word from the publisher of my first book that they're not interested in the proposal for my second. That's a real bummer. They say it wouldn't stand out enough, despite the fact that it had an endorsement from someone inside of Microsoft.

I partly think that maybe the marketing folks just aren't in touch enough to understand why they're wrong. That's not so much their fault as much as it is mine for not pitching the concept in terms they would understand. The book is essentially an end-to-end case study book that follows the development of a product from idea to publication, including requirements, design, how to do test-driven development and solutions to at least a half-dozen problems that you encounter in practically every app.

Oh well... I'll keep pitching to other publishers and she what happens. One way or another, I'm going to get it "out there" even if I have to publish it myself. It's a natural next step to my first book.

I am a grumpy bastard

posted by Jeff | Thursday, February 3, 2005, 11:17 PM | comments: 5

I have no idea why, but I am one grumpy bastard tonight. I can't figure out what put me in a foul mood, or if maybe I just need to be grumpy for awhile. You ever get that? I mean, I run into people that are grumpy 24/7, so certainly even Shiny Happy People feel a certain need to be that way from time to time, right?

I'm too short to be a Blueman

posted by Jeff | Thursday, February 3, 2005, 5:36 PM | comments: 2

Yep... they require you be between 5'10" and 6'1". Bummer.

I could be a production manager at the Las Vegas show. I've been a senior manager in my various jobs. When can I start? :)

I don't like being tested

posted by Jeff | Thursday, February 3, 2005, 12:47 PM | comments: 4

I talked to a developer today that was checking me out for a recruiter. Unfortunately, he was one of these jerks more interested in trying to establish his superiority than finding out what I can do. Don't quiz me about some obscure design pattern that you read about in some book. I'm not impressed.

I'm a problem solver, not an academic. I make things work, and acquire knowledge as it's required of me. That's how I roll, and so far it has served me pretty well.

After encounters like that, I don't think I can go back to cubicle hell.

Take a job? Tough decisions

posted by Jeff | Thursday, February 3, 2005, 1:03 AM | comments: 2

I was just looking at some old posts I made a year ago, and one in particular stood out. I posted it the week I started at Progressive.

Funny how things turn out. I made a ton of money from that job, and I hated it because I ended up never really having anything to do. Today I talked to a recruiter that wants to get me back in there, for a totally different group, and I've agreed to at least talk to them.

I don't know what the hell I'm thinking. I mean, if this were something five minutes away, I'd be more inclined to jump on it, but I don't know if I can do the hour-each-way thing again for The Man.

We're not in a financial pickle or anything, not yet, but I could benefit from extra cash right now. Book royalties are a long way off and taxes are coming in a few months. If my little sales venture and envelope stuffing doesn't generate a little money, I might have to withdraw more from my Sharebuilder account to pay taxes, and I totally don't want to do that.

It's time to take that corporate bullshit lingo to heart and come up with some "action items" to make some shit happen now. I've been talking about it for years and not doing anything specific about it. There are specific things I can do to get that ball rolling. All of that sunshine energy needs to be directed into making things happen.

Besides, I want to go back to Hawaii this year, dammit!

Fate of the Union

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, February 2, 2005, 10:05 PM | comments: 4

Let me start by saying that I can barely stand to watch any State of The Union Address, regardless of who the president is, because of all of the dick sucking between every other sentence. There seems to be less of it this time, but maybe that's because even his own party isn't 100% behind him. I even heard some loud groans.

For the most part, he didn't say anything useful or impressive. He wants to cut the deficit in half by 2009, but yet we had a balanced budget just a few years ago. The largest deficit ever happened on his watch, and it was already headed in that direction before we went to war. Moron.

He did say one thing I agree with... "nukeular" power is something we should be all over. What he fails to bring to the table is that we're still living with Carter-era rules that prohibit the reprocessing of spent fuel (only 5% of the stored energy in our fuel is used when it is discarded). We'll continue to have stupid debates about nuclear waste as long as we can't recycle the fuel. (Good article from Wired.) It's a shame the illiterate bastard can't even say "nuclear."

He alienated half of the country with his stupid "I support a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage" comment. That's the stupid kind of shit that divides people, and it should be the least of your worries when there are so many fucked up things going on in the world and your back yard.

Bush is still trying to make the "war on terror" the same thing as the war in Iraq, which is not surprising since most of the people in this country actually buy that anyway. I loved the Baghdad street interviews on TV where people remind us that there was no terrorism in Iraq until we got there. I'm still waiting to hear about that exit strategy for a war against a nation that posed no threat to American citizens, had no ties to international terrorists, had no weapons, and has resulted in the deaths or our neighbors and friends and thousands of Iraqi civilians.

Most hilarious was that he had the nerve to say that rogue states are trying to acquire WMD's. Really? You mean like Iraq? Where do you suppose they are?

Bush goes on and on about "ending tyranny." Remember the Nazis? Everyone said we can never allow another bout of genocide like that, but yet we continue to let it happen in places like Rwanda and Sudan. What the fuck is that about? How can you have a such a double standard?

It sucks that we have to deal with eight years of a bullshit president. A lot of people, in response to that comment, are quick to say that Gore or Kerry wouldn't have been any better. What difference does that make? Just because I think this guy is a moron doesn't mean I think either of the other guys would've done a better job. I sure hope both parties can do better than this in four years.

HD production is already here for common folk

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, February 2, 2005, 12:47 AM | comments: 2

I noticed that Avid is offering a $50 upgrade to the HD version of Xpress Pro instead of trying to hit you for the full $1600+. I don't even have anything that can shoot HD, and yet that's tempting.

I also noticed in DV Magazine that the HD cameras are now well under $5k. That's insane. We don't even have a widespread consumer HD format to distribute on yet (i.e., HD versions of the common DVD), but we can shoot and edit already. Maybe you had to have worked in the business and purchased a lot of gear, but that's insane in terms of the time to market for these products. I worked with those damn 3/4" U-matic machines for the better part of a decade and suddenly every indie film nut can cut a movie on their computer in HD. That's nuts.

I need to write some short screenplays. Five minute episodes should be a piece of cake to write, I just need to think of some characters and give them a world to do stupid shit in. I've got lighting already, so I could probably score some decent audio gear to use with my aging Sony DV for under $500. I've already got Avid, so I'm straight with editing. I could distribute on the Web and sell DVD's once there's a collection.

Marketing old school: through the mail

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, February 1, 2005, 11:29 PM | comments: 6

I just finished stuffing, sealing and stamping a promotional mailing to some businesses that server the audience of one of my sites. The fun part is that doing a mail merge and using windowed envelopes made it a breeze, and the color laser printer has shown that it was a good investment. Now I just need the paper cuts to heal!

It kind of feels good to do dumb shit like stuff envelopes for your own business. I don't know if it'll generate any serious revenue (a grand would be nice), but at least I'm thinking. It's not that I can't successfully live off of my own business, it's that I don't have much of a business plan. I keep waiting for the next thing to happen or for ad revenue to pick-up. That's no way to grow the business.

Granted, I'm distracted by some bigger picture things, like trying to get another book proposal sold and leading my kids to a successful season. It's just a pain that the things that really feed my soul aren't big revenue generators.

But who knows... maybe an idea for The Next Big Thing will come to me tomorrow?

Feeling like the benchmark of productivity

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, February 1, 2005, 1:31 PM | comments: 2

Wow, I've had two days now where I've been a busy bastard. I feel like I've been in a funk that last two weeks, not really accomplishing anything. Maybe it's the blue sky, maybe it's the exercise at volleyball practice, but I've been checking things off my to-do list with great frequency.

Yesterday I finished proofing the book, so it's off to the printers, and should be on shelves in six to eight weeks. I finally got my ad serving software in a quasi-usable state, and it's serving a campaign on CoasterBuzz right now. I've almost got the order form for another ad project ready to be mailed. I've managed to tear through bills, do a little vacuuming, cleaned the shower. I finished a couple of video encoding projects.

I cranked up Deee-Lite in iTunes and just let it play (World Clique was a great party album in the 90's), and have subsequently moved through Deep Forest and now to Def Leppard. They were everything that was right about arena rock in the 80's (which is why everyone wanted to sound like them). Looks like Depeche Mode is next, but that might be a bit too mopey for me.

Heading toward specialization

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, February 1, 2005, 12:28 PM | comments: 0

My team is at the point now where it's starting to become very clear what roles each individual player will start to fill. Beyond the two middles, libero and setter, I can say with confidence who will be my primary right-side hitter (opposite the setter in a 5-1) and who will fill the other two swing hitter spots. I've even got the subs pretty much figured out.

It all worked out pretty well this year. I ended up keeping 10 kids, against my better judgment (I've usually had only nine), but it works. One setter, one libero, two middles, six kids that can operate to varying capacities as swing hitters, DS's and all-arounds. For the first time ever I've actually got a capable bench. I can play the best kids and sub them out for rest or when they're having a tough time.

From this point forward, practice is going to be more specialized. I'm comfortable with what everyone is capable with now, so there's no point in having DS's spend a ton of time hitting or having everyone hit on the right side.

Twelve days to the first tournament...