log  ->  quadium.net

Mon 2000-09-18 - 17:24

My sleep-to-code ratio has plummetted to ridiculous levels, since by the end of last week I was working close to 18-hour days (20 a couple of times, I think). Apparently customers will take great pleasure in the feature I am working on, which coincidentally has uncovered VM bugs, browser weaknesses, and of all things, completely brain-dead programming in several APIs on the part of Sun's programmers (imagine that!). I slept all day Saturday.

Yesterday I finally had my first good chance to work on a personal project of mine. It's almost finished and I should be ready to release it in a few days. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but it might have far-reaching political effects. Or no one will notice. Either way.

So I get to work today, and in the process of getting caught up on various things, I check in on the log of my DSL setup. It is then that I notice that Pacific Bell has decided to schedule the loop installation for today, and I need to let them in the building.

This irks me. Pac Bell did this before, on the 14th. At around 3 in the afternoon, they decide to notify Covad (and therefore Speakeasy) that they would be installing the loop that day. I work an hour's train ride from San Francisco, and the last train had just left. So I decided to see if the tech had showed up already, and if I could postpone the installation until later that day, when I might have a chance of being there. Here's what happened when I tried to talk to Pac Bell:

Pac Bell menu system: All our representatives are busy. We apologize for the delay. Since you're already on hold, can we play advertisements? We'll have the courtesy not to hang up on you if you say no. Press 1 to accept or 2 to decl...

<sound of me pushing 2 very very firmly>

Pac Bell: How can I help you?

Me: Yes, I have a loop installation being done for a Covad order. You guys didn't notify me until today, so I'd like to know if the guys already shown up or if I should try rushing home.

Her: I can't do that. If you're getting installation through another provider, you'll need to talk to them.

Me: No, you guys are responsible for this part. They only take control of the loop once it's been installed and tested. I need to know if your tech has been to my apartment yet.

Her: We don't have that information.

Me: But he's your guy.

Her: Yes, but by law we aren't allowed to have any information about external accounts. Our people do the cable installation, but we aren't allowed to know anything about your particular account, so we wouldn't know your account number.

Me: Okay, forget the account. Can you tell me if any of your technicians have attempted a loop installation at a certain address?

Her: I can't do that. We don't keep any information about external accounts, so we wouldn't know anything relating to your order.

Me: So your techs go out with absolutely no coordination from Pacific Bell, they magically get these orders and set up various connections, and never even check back with you on the changes they made, and you never know what addresses they've been to or what lines they've worked on?

Her: Yes.

Me: Um, okay then.

Let me also point out that the other time the Pac Bell guy was here (completely unannounced, and I was only home to let him in by sheer coincidence), the one free pair in the building had high voltage (There are at least five other DSLs in my building, and I get the bad pair. Go figure.), so he did a conference call with Covad and Pacific Bell's office. They had to run a new cable, which was what this new installation date was for. The installation date that no one has yet shown up for, despite the fact that I managed to catch a train as soon as I saw today's notice and I've been waiting at home for hours now.

My brain: loathe despise loathe loathe loathe

Sun 2000-09-24 - 21:39

Okay, so I haven't updated my site in like a week. So sue me. There are two reasons for this. The first is that I have been frantically busy at work trying to both write new features and fix bugs in existing code. This task is not made easier by the fact that several computer-illiterate people (I won't mention any names) submit numerous bug reports in which they didn't read the instructions, didn't have a clue what they were doing, and didn't stop to think about what those factors might indicate.

So instead they go to Bugzilla, select "P1, Critical", fill in the browser and platform fields (even though it's clearly not a browser issue and the documentation says to put "all" for such cases) and mention that "the solution" is that I "MUST" do blah. And then various sometimes-related, sometimes-not people complain about me needing access to the site in question. Um. How am I supposed to figure out if it's a database problem, a code problem, or (gasp) user error if I can't see the actual problem occurring. I think the engineers should automatically have full access anywhere and everywhere. Perhaps for my next weekend project I'll insert backdoors into our code. Anyway, I decided that the only way I'm going to get any coding done is to simply not fix bugs on certain days. Plus maybe build walls around my corner of the megacube.

The second reason is that it's not easy enough for me to update my site right now. Now, granted, it's just HTML files, and I've abstracted out all the layout into templates and style sheets, but I happen to be chronically lazy. This means that I'm going to have to spend hundreds of agonizing hours perfecting my Lisp server platform before it's easy enough. Speak not of "logic" and "diminishing returns" to me, fool! I'm going to download CMUCL sometime soon and start fiddling with actual code, and maybe see if CL-HTTP is fit for my needs or if I should start from scratch.

I'd hoped to have that project done by this weekend so I could post it, but unfortunately I've been busy all week, and today I decided to clean up the cruft that's accumulated in my apartment, so I didn't get around to building Linux 2.4.0-test8. This is necessary because my code requires a fully operational network, and for some reason my existing kernel won't do NAT. Additionally, the one kernel that I've got USB working with won't connect with PPP at all. Odd. Anyway, as a consolation prize for anyone who cares, I'll try to post some network monitoring code I wrote for Sun later tonight.

Oh, the Covad guys are coming by on the 29th to finish up my DSL configuration and give me my router. Yay. But it turns out I apparently didn't need to be home the other day when Pac Bell came by, because I didn't hear a peep from them all day. Late in the evening I got suspicious and went to the basement. Sure enough, there were new wires with a "COVAD" tag on them and my voice number. So I rushed home for nothing. Boo. Of course, this makes one wonder why they canceled the previous installation.

I'm going to see The Watcher now, which leads me to my other Important Thought. Why do people ignore those automated ticket dispensers at AMC? There's like 9 of them, but there was absolutely no one using them, and it took me maybe 10 seconds to purchase a ticket, while the 50 people waiting in line to buy theirs from actual people hadn't budged an inch. This furthers my argument that technology is a completely foreign concept to most people, and they should have the decency to admit that and leave the operation of computers and other such devices to me. Or at least people like me.

Thu 2000-09-28 - 00:13

Time for a Muni rant. Spencer, Jenn, and I all took the same train back to the city today, and then we took the N-Judah to get closer to our various apartments. The Muni train was making hissing noises before we got to it, so we skipped the ticket machines and rushed on board. Then I went to the front of the car to pay.

I put the dollar bill in the machine and it beeped, which is the cue for the driver to give me my transfer. But he didn't, so I tried to get his attention. "Excuse me? Could I get a ticket?" He didn't respond, so I repeated myself, and finally he turned around a little.

"You should buy it at the machines outside", he said, relaxing back into his previous position.

Um, since when? "Okay", I said, "I'll try." I waited a second and decided he needed some more encouragement. "Could I have my ticket now?" He ignored this, as well as my next 2 or 3 attempts, so I decided to forget it, and sat down with Jenn and Spencer. I was only slightly nervous that I didn't have proof of payment, since I had never once seen the inspectors the signs kept making dire warnings about.

Several stops later, of course, the inspector popped into our car and wanted to see proof of payment. Both Spencer and Jenn had passes and so had avoided the whole issue. When she got to me, I started to explain. "I paid when I got on, but the driver wouldn't give me a ticket."

This idea didn't seem to faze her much, because she just asked for my driver's license. I handed it to her, and mentioned that I had paid when I got on board. She said something about there not being a station at 4th and King (I was going to point to a zoomed-in section of the big map, but the idiots at transitinfo.org used POST instead of GET for it...), and asked for my current address.

I started with the street address, but she didn't seem to need my apartment number and skipped right to asking me my ZIP code. I took this opportunity to once again explain that I had in fact paid the driver when I boarded. "I'm going to have to issue you a citation for not paying", she went on with her speech.

"Ma'am, I paid when I boarded. These two saw me, right?" and they nodded. Apparently the concept got through this time, because she suddenly came up with the novel idea of talking to the driver.

We went up to the window. "Excuse me. Did he pay?" He ignored her, so she said "Excuse me?" until he turned around. I'm pretty sure it took 2 or 3 tries. "Did he pay and you didn't give him a ticket?" He blinked. "Did he pay?" The driver sat there and finally shrugged. Before this moment, at least, I had never felt the urge to throttle a public servant. "If he paid, give him a ticket." Apparently this sentence was rather a complex one to parse, or it had some kind of special Zen meaning that the driver wanted to contemplate. "Give him a ticket!"

The inspector handed it to me. "Next time you need to be sure you get a ticket." This was quite funny, but I didn't have time to share the joke with her because she got out of the train. On the way home, the three of us thought it was pretty funny that he was apparently driving the train stoned, and I thought it would be pretty funny to mess up this guy's career.

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Last modified: Thu Sep 28 00:51:06 PDT 2000