Monthly Archives: January 2011

Pleasant Things Work Better – UX Magazine

Pleasant Things Work Better | UX Magazine

“There’s a vast difference between making a design that doesn’t suck and creating one that people will love to use.”

As usual, decent read on UX…

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Mom and Dad

“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”

— Agatha Christie

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”

– Jim Valvano

I am thankful for my mom and dad. They have believed in me, sometimes much more than I was worthy of at the time. They have valued me and shown love. I am so glad to have them. It is never without some regret that I think about the distance between us now that I have moved my family to Texas, but it is not something I can undo. But I miss them, and I know our kids miss them.

My mom has always had our back and while usually somewhat quiet, I have seen her in action as the momma bear and the quote above does her complete justice. Do not stand between her and her kids! Once when one of my sisters had mono and was sluggish in school, my mom came in to visit one particularly outspoken teacher who had given my sis a hard time about keeping up. My usually quiet mom stood up to this lady who was never soft-spoken, and the teacher backed down. Don’t mess with my mom when it comes to us kids!

When my Kathy got sick, mom was right there and provided help along with many others to get us through. Our kids found a second home in their house next-door to us. Sometimes you don’t think clearly enough about what you have until it’s gone…

Now family is more spread out than ever, and we have to work with video chat and only get home once every year or two. It is hard. I still feel her care for me even from 1700 miles.

Dad and I had a few good moments growing up, though neither of us would say it was great relationally. My dad was an angry man, angry from childhood junk, from his own choices, and I think he felt stuck. But he has in later years been working his way out of that and the edge of it has gone at least to a greater extent. I am grateful for this, as it has given us a chance to grow something. It has been in our later years that we have started to be friends and find common ground and conversation. But from day one, I knew he believed in me. He would brag on me to others saying I could do stuff that I’m not sure I could really do, but he was proud.

He worked for GE for years and was one of their best machinists. He taught me about working hard and that sometimes the best way to do something had to be discovered by your own effort. He is the only man I know who rode a motorcycle with a homemade steel cage side car all the way through the winter through snow / rain / etc. That got him on the evening news.

He rejected the status quo in his work, and worked to be the best. I do the same and my brain works a lot like his in that way. It is a genetic gift that has served me well. He proved that a dinner prayer could be heartfelt and 10 seconds long at the same time. His poems range from funny to serious, tho’ always not far from tongue in cheek, and always with a point. My not-so-well developed poetry and songwriting are apples close to the tree, though I could invest better in those talents.

Mom, Dad, I am thankful to have parents that feel the way you do about me and my family. I wish we were not so far. May God give us better and more frequent opportunities to be together.

“Once you eliminate the impossible…

“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” – Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr. (Scottish writer, creator of the detective Sherlock Holmes, 1859-1930)

Doyle was on to something. Something that I should know by now and yet it evades me is to methodically search out a thing sometimes when the pressure is on.

We recently had a run-in with a SQL script that was not behaving as it should. But we didn’t know that, what we knew is that records had disappeared. No trace that we could see immediately.

We looked for them and thought maybe there was some sort of deletion done intentionally by users. Nope. Corruption? Not likely – Other functions and data were fine. Then we looked at the most obvious script that could have caused the issue. It looked like there were improvements that could be made to the script, however, it looked impossible that it could actually perform the delete we were suspicious of without making a copy of them prior to the delete. This was a correct assumption, however, I continued to try and prove it wrong.

The simpler and more logical approach would have been to get a list of all of the scripts that would ever do a delete and see if any of them had the possibility of causing the issue. I had actually suggested this and then got stuck on this one.

The problem turned out to be a companion script that usually only copied out records to archive them after they were 90 days old. It has been in production for years running just as it does today. It can’t be that…?

Well the script happened to convert a date after subtracting 90 days from it into a string. This would be all well and fine if the string was in year/month/day order, but it was instead in mm/dd/yyyy order. So when it came to comparing to see if a record was old enough to be archived, and it compared the month of January 4th, 2011 (01/04/2011) to October 7th, 2010 (10/07/2010), it actually only looked at the first character to determine that the date starting with “01” was less than the one starting with “10”. So it archived the record, causing us a bit of a panic.

Doyle also said: “There is nothing as deceptive as an obvious fact.” Likewise, this eluded us. I spent a lot of time trying to see if a long shot was the trouble, when all along it was an obvious fact sitting right beside me.

It is worth it to take a breath and assess an emergency situation before running headlong into what you think may be a solution. A thorough assessment would have saved us an evening of trouble. Hopefully I remember this next time.