<CharlieDigital/> Programming, Politics, and uhh…pineapples


Mortgages And Leadership

Posted by Charles Chen

I saw Thank You for Smoking over the weekend, a great movie, and I wasn't planning on writing anything specific about it, but an article that I read this morning (and I guess thinking about the current circumstances of my life) changed my mind.

In an article on SI.com, Chris Mannix discusses how Jason Kidd, perhaps the greatest point guard of this generation (even though Nash has more MVPs to his name), has made a career or making his teammates better.  The most interesting observation that Mannix makes is:

For his part, Kidd relishes the idea of not only making his teammates better, but also serving as a human lottery ticket.

Well, what exactly does this mean, "human lottery ticket"?  Quoting Jason Kidd, he writes:

"I loved playing with all those guys," says Kidd as he walks down the tunnel towards the parking lot. "Rex Chapman. Shawn Marion. Kerry Kittles. Scalabrine. K-Mart. When you can help a guy make a better life for his family, it's the best feeling."

To go off on a tangent, for a moment, at some point in the last year, I was considering leaving Zorch as there were other opportunities available to me with better compensation overall.  But of course, there isn't that satisfaction of being a core component of a small startup.  At some point, the CEO of the company came out for a meeting with a client and had some time to meet me for lunch.  Perhaps the most interesting concept that I took away from this meeting was his statement that he's not in it for himself, he's in it to build the wealth of those around him.

And indeed, our employees are all a close knit bunch with one of our developers having been with him for over a decade through at least two companies.

In a sense, he has a Kidd-esque quality about him.

In quoting Lawrence Frank on what makes Kidd so great, Mannix writes:

"He takes away the thinking process for his teammates. He gets the ball to them on time, on target, so they can just go into their move."

Similarly, I like to think that our CEO (and any good leader) does the same: he creates the conditions for success by taking away the barriers for individual success; he makes it easy to do what you know how to do.

Okay, so back on the topic at hand.  So what does Jason Kidd have to do with Thank You for Smoking?  Well, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), the protagonist of this movie, is asked how he can do what he does, knowing that the entity he fronts produces a product that kills thousands of people a day.  His justification?  He's effortlessly good at it and it pays the mortgage.

In a sense - and I know it's quite cynical - life in the modern world (especially for my generation) boils down to doing everything you can to make that monthly payment; mortgages are a painful reality for the vast majority of us. 

So what is the conclusion to draw from all of this?  I guess this is really a post on career advice: find someone to work for or work with that will be your "human lottery ticket" 😀


Photo Tour Of China

Posted by Charles Chen

Rediscovered an awesome photolog of a tour of China today.

Note to self: visit China.

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Washington Post Narrative On VT Shootings

Posted by Charles Chen

The Washington Post has a great narrative on the VT shootings.

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Politics…As Usual

Posted by Charles Chen

Something about the statements in a transcript from Bill Maher's show is really scary and yet it evokes a "HAHA WTF IS HAPPENING TO THIS COUNTRY...LOL" feeling in my mind.

New Rule: Now that liberals have taken back the word, "liberal," they also have to take back the word, "elite." By now, you've heard the constant right-wing attacks on the "elite" media and the liberal "elite," who may or may not be part of the Washington "elite," a subset of the East Coast "elite," which is overly influenced by the Hollywood "elite." So, basically, unless you're a shit-kicker from Kansas, you're with the terrorists.

You know, if you played a drinking game where you did a shot every time Rush Limbaugh attacked someone for being elite, you'd almost be as wasted as Rush Limbaugh.

I - I don't get it. In other fields outside of government, "elite" is a good thing, like an "elite" fighting force; Tiger Woods is an "elite" golfer. If I need brain surgery, I'd like an "elite" doctor. But, in politics, "elite" is bad. The "elite" aren't down to earth and accessible like you and me and President Shtt-for-brains.

Which is fine, except that whenever there's a Bush Administration scandal, it always traces back to some incompetent political hack appointment, and you think to yourself, where are they getting these screw-ups from? Well, now we know. From Pat Robertson. I'm not kidding.

Take Monica Goodling, who, before she resigned last week, because she's smack in the middle of the U.S. Attorneys scandal, was the third-ranking official in the Justice Department of the United States. She's 33 years old. And though she never even worked as a prosecutor, she was tasked with overseeing the job performance of all 93 U.S. Attorneys.

How do you get to the top that fast? Harvard? Princeton? No, Goodling did her undergraduate work at Messiah College. You know, Messiah, home of the Fighting Christ-ies? And then went on to attend Pat Robertson's law school. Yes, Pat Robertson, the man who said that the presence of gay people at Disney World would cause earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor, has a law school.

And what kid wouldn't want to attend? It's three years, and you only have to read one book. U.S. News & World Report, which does the definitive ranking of colleges, lists Regent as a Tier Four school, which is the lowest score it gives. It's not a hard school to get into. You have to renounce Satan and draw a pirate on a matchbook.

This is for people who couldn't get into the University of Phoenix.

Now, would you care to guess how many graduates of this televangelist's diploma mill work in the Bush Administration? 150. And you wonder why things are so messed up. We're talking about a top Justice Department official who went to a college funded by a TV host. Would you send your daughter to Maury Povich U.? And if you did, would you expect her to get a job at the White House?

In 200 years, we've gone from "We, the people," to "Up With People." From "the best and the brightest" to "dumb and dumber." And where better to find people dumb enough to believe in George Bush than Pat Robertson's law school?

The problem here in America isn't that the country is being run by "elites." It's that it's being run by a bunch of hayseeds. And, by the way, the lawyer Monica Goodling just hired to keep her ass out of jail, went to a real law school.

Wow...this actually explains a lot. I mean, a certain level of cronyism is to be expected. But I would have much rather have seen appointees from Yale instead...

Perhaps one of the best comments I've read on this:

That totally reads like an Onion article. Pat Robertson School of Law?

Indeed, our government is becoming even more like satire.

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Enterprise Library 3.0 Released

Posted by Charles Chen

I just noticed moments ago that the final release of Enterprise Library 3.0 released recently.

Unfortunately, after a quick glance at the documentation, it seems like ObjectBuilder has been left off the table (link goes to online documentation for ObjectBuilder, which at the time of this post, is "under construction")...again.  I'm gonna have to dig a bit deeper and see if there's more info to be found.

Filed under: .Net 2 Comments

Updating Reporting Services 2000 Connection Info

Posted by Charles Chen

If you're running Reporting Services 2000 and you accidentally change the password or remove the original account used by Reporting Services, you will have to update this information.

With Reporting Services 2005, there's a nice GUI utility that you can use to do this, but for Reporting Services 2000, you'll need the rsconfig.exe command line utility which can be found, in a typical installation, at: <drive>:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\80\Tools\Binn

To update the account or password information, the following command will probably do:

rsconfig -c -s servername -d ReportServer -a sql -u username -p password -t

Useful to know...odd that with all of the RS development I've done in the past, I've never had to use this utility once until today.

Filed under: SQL Server No Comments

More Buffoonery From The Music Industry

Posted by Charles Chen


A panel of judges at the Copyright Royalty Board has denied a request from the NPR and a number of other webcasters to reconsider a March ruling that would force Internet radio services to pay crippling royalties. The panel's ruling reaffirmed the original CRB decision in every respect, with the exception of how the royalties will be calculated. Instead of charging a royalty for each time a song is heard by a listener online, Internet broadcasters will be able pay royalties based on average listening hours through the end of 2008.

Why does the music industry insist on treating the consumer like an enemy?

It doesn't make sense to me and I don't see how it can make sense to the artists.  Many of these internet radio sites play tracks which otherwise would get no airtime on radio, which otherwise I would never have heard, and from artists which I would have never discovered.  Zero 7, Air, Bebel Gilberto, Susumu Yokota, and on and on...

I know this isn't the case for everyone, but at least in my case, internet radio has led to the purchase of almost all of my CDs in the last 4 years and these are albums which otherwise would have little mainstream exposure at all.

I just don't get the logic that the music industry is operating on...

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Liviu Librescu: Hero

Posted by Charles Chen

The story of how Liviu Librescu, a 76 year old professor, sacrificed his life to save the lives of his students is a must read for anyone following the Virginia Tech shootings.

Students of Liviu Librescu, 76, an engineering science and mathematics lecturer in at Virginia Tech for 20 years, sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said the son, Joe.

He will be remembered as an honorable and courageous man.

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Random Developer Rant

Posted by Charles Chen

I have to say, one of my big pet peeves in terms of software development is evangelizing by "senior architects" who haven't written code in years.

I'm not against evangelizing a product or technology in general, but it seems so much less like bullshit when it comes from people who are in the trenches, dog fooding the technology they are evangelizing.

The real problem arises when some developer who's been out of the loop evangelizes without having used the product in a real world development environment. Or even worse, sometimes, you get guys that evangelize about practices, architecture, and design. Bleh! These guys are the absolute worst! Lots of things make sense in an ideal world where software deadlines are always met ahead of time 🙂 (I love those Walgreen's commercial) but the reality is, no one lives in that world.

But in any case, one of our codebases at Zorch recently underwent a code review. As a part of this code review, the team at our counterpart ran some code analysis tools against our codebase. Of course, I have no objection to this in principle, but what did bother me was that they didn't really even analyze the results of the code analysis output. They skimmed for "reds" and basically just took a look at the count of warnings. To make matters even more asinine, the individuals performing the code review took at least 3 minutes trying to find out where the code analysis utility was located.

Okay, I must at least give a disclaimer: in general, I like the idea of code analysis and good practices. I like the idea of general guidelines in terms of coding conventions. But I'm not a Nazi when it comes to policing code - I was at one point in my career, but these days, I figure that as long as it's not terrible (i.e. lots of misspellings, inconsistent patterns, well known bad practices like massive string concatenation), I'm not one to harp on these small details.

Just as each writer has a different style, just as directors have different styles, and just as a painters have different styles, I realize that developers have different styles as well. I try to point out obvious bad mistakes when I see them (like using DataSets without really using DataSets), but I think otherwise being too anal about this stuff is counter productive because, you know, this stuff can always be cleaned up later - it's way more important to get the product to work first.

Now with that out of the way, what kind of bothered me the most about this whole event was that after the output of the code analysis was generated, we didn't review a single warning that was generated to validate whether there were flaws with our codebase. I suspect that even if we did, these guys wouldn't have known what half of the warnings meant. What a waste of time. I could have ran the review and emailed it to them if that was it.

So, that's my rant for the week 🙂

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Posted by Charles Chen

I'm making this post just because cephalopods are awesome.

Filed under: Awesome No Comments