Training and Rubberneckers

personal, net comments edit

I’m home tonight, posting through the ever-speedy dial-up connection I’ve got here, freshly out of training. As is the emerging standard, here is the play-by-play for the training and, in fact, the last three days. Monday, June 18

9:58a

I’ve been in the class for an hour and a half now and haven’t really learned a damn thing.

It’s supposed to be “how to write web services with .NET.” But the other two students here don’t have the prerequisites down and totally aren’t familiar with the stuff they’re supposed to be, so we’re doing review on basics (curriculum from a different class) instead of learning the stuff we’re supposed to be.

Oh, bother.

In the meantime, having gone to see The Italian Job again this weekend, this time with my dad, my locksmithing urges have resurfaced so I went to Amazon and put some locksmith books on my wish list. I’ve always been pretty interested, but I’ve just never acted on it.

10:27a

We’re back from break, and it’s time to actually start the class. Hot damn.

I forgot to mention - the receptionist now knows when I’m here because she recognizes my car in the parking lot. I wonder if that means I’m here too much. :)

11:38a

I have to poop, and I don’t think we’re going to break any time soon. Maybe I should take my PoopKnifeTM?

11:48a

Lunchtime! (Pooptime! I’ve got a turtle head poking out! :) )

1:01p

Back from lunch, and it’s time to get out of the theory portion of the class and into the implementation end of things. I’m much more pleased when we get to the implementation because, even though the theory is important, it’s difficult for me to learn when there’s nothing to apply the theory to.

I think that was my primary issue with the courses I took getting my CS degree - it was primarily theory, and there really wasn’t a lot of implementation.

1:05p

Okay, maybe we’re still in review. Right now its “an overview of HTTP,” which is a little more… uh… beginner… than I’d hope for. I think the meat of the course really gets going tomorrow. That’s okay. Review never hurt anyone. Yet.

1:11p

There should be a service that aggregates wish lists across web sites. For example, I’ve got wish lists at Amazon and ThinkGeek. If people want a single place to go to see the stuff I want, there’s no place like that (is there?). There should be.

1:45p

I think I need to redo my blog so that it’s CSS-based instead of table-based. I was looking at my disk usage the other day and it’s starting to get out of hand. That’s mostly because the blog is all rendered static - each page has the entire header/footer structure static inside it… which makes for loads of HTML pages with loads of HTML. I need to restructure this thing so it’s not only smaller footprint-wise but is also more easily changed on a global level.

Maybe I’ll work on that next week while I’m sitting in my hotel room in Bellevue after training.

2:18p

I should probably set up an RSS feed for my blog. Eventually.

2:26p

Break time!

2:57p

Okay, we’re finally getting to some good stuff. For the techies out there, we’re looking at SOAP envelope formatting, which is something I’ve used indirectly but didn’t really understand the internals of.

3:27p

We’re having to install Visual Studio .NET 2003 for the lab because the lab machines were only set up with VS.NET 2002 and that won’t work for the lab. I’ve had setup running for like an hour now and I’m only halfway finished. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be doing the lab today.

3:39p

About 75% done with the VS.NET install…

We’ve had a great discussion in the meantime on XML schemas and potential upgrade paths for web services. Not a waste of time at all, but crap. VS.NET is a SLOOOOOW INSTALL!

3:51p

VS.NET is done… documentation installing now…

4:00p

Fuck this, I’m starting the lab. Docs can just keep installing.

4:35p

The docs are still going, but my lab is done. I’m packing up and going HOME.

Tuesday, June 17

7:38a

The squeaky wheel gets the oil, OR, maybe people do listen when I’ve got something to say.

We filled out our first day course evaluations yesterday at the end of the class and I bitched about two things - one, the chairs we were sitting in sucked donkey (totally not adjustable, very uncomfortable); and two, the toilet paper hurts my fragile ass.

I came in today and we have new chairs! Woohoo! Like a gift for my back. Love it.

I haven’t tried the toilet paper yet. We’ll see.

Jenn and I have newly rediscovered the movie channels that come with our digital cable package. Normally we don’t navigate above channel 120 (Noggin, which shows Daria), but in a fit of despair this weekend we went up to the 500 range (we don’t get most of the channels between 120 and 500) and remembered that we get Encore and a mystery movie channel and a love story channel. No complaining there, right? Of course, it’s not the action channel, but beggars can’t be choosers.

So last night we watched The Hard Way and Pretty In Pink.

I hadn’t seen The Hard Way before and was pleasantly surprised. But I have always liked Michael J. Fox and James Woods, so I was sort of biased.

It had been a loooong time since I’d seen Pretty In Pink, and while it’s a classic 80’s John Hughes film, I’d have to say it’s not one of my favorites. I’ll take The Breakfast Club any day over PIP. Things I found interesting while watching it: Annie Potts, who plays the record store manager as well as Janine from Ghostbusters, answers the phone the same way in both movies - “Whaddaya want?” Annie Potts was supposed to be like 20 years older than the kids in the movie but I never got that impression. Plus, her outfits… some not so good, others totally hot. And, finally, I remembered that Duckie (Jon Cryer) didn’t get Molly Ringwald at the end, but I forgot that he ended up with Kristy Swanson… I’d take Kristy Swanson any day of the week over Molly Ringwald. You go, Duckie!

8:30a

Well, I’ve checked and followed up on email via the various webmail interfaces provided for my email accounts and I’m all set to go. (No, I don’t always have access to webmail in training, but I do this time.)

And now it’s time to start class. As Ramblin’ Rod used to say, “Here we go!”

9:21a

Need… caffeine…

10:44a

Finally got a break to go get something to drink. I’m back on my Vanilla Coke kick, and that’s fine with me.

We’ve been working since 8:30a on the same module - “Consuming XML Web Services.” It’s interesting and all, but there’s a lot to it. It’ll be nice to get to the lab and use some of this stuff.

11:23p

Lunch until 12:30p, then it’s lab time.

You know, I should figure out if I can parse the web server logs and see if anyone is actually reading my stuff. I think I’ve got like three regular readers and that counts family members. I wonder if there’s something I could do to boost traffic… or maybe people just aren’t interested in what I have to say (which wouldn’t surprise me in the least).

12:24p

I’m back, and the other guys in my class have already started the lab. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Technically, I’ve got six minutes before I have to start, but then, they’ve already started which means I’m going to be the last one done if I don’t hurry up - not my favorite position to be in, the slowest animal in the herd.

Maybe I should shut up and get to work.

Or maybe I should play Game Boy for another few minutes.

Decisions, decisions.

1:01p

Either I’m really fucking fast or these guys are slow.

Okay, I’m really fast. Who’s kidding who here, right?

I guess I’ll check my email and maybe play a little GBA.

1:56p

Sidetracking a little on IIS configuration for the uninitiated (reads: the other two students).

Hey, I found out that we’ll be getting the latest and greatest version of the printed material, so that’s good. Monday that’ll be in… but I’ll be in Bellevue, so I’ll have to stop and get it after that.

On another note, I need to do some looking around at TweakXP.

2:10p

We’re on page 11 of the module that we’ve been working on since 1:15p. That means an average of five minutes per page. We’ve got to get to page 60 before the lab starts. That’s 49 more pages, at five minutes per page… or 245 minutes, which is four hours, five minutes. Class being over at 4:30p, I don’t think we’re getting to the lab today unless this guy speeds the hell up.

I mean, we’re getting some good under-the-hood style information here, but we sidetrack a bit beyond the scope of the class at times, and in a three-day class, that’s not so great.

2:42p

Page 18. 32 minutes, seven pages… still holding that ~5 minutes/page average.

3:07

Page 27. 25 minutes, nine pages. You may think we’re picking up speed… but we’ve been on pae 27 for a good five minutes now. It’s become an ADO.NET class, which I think I have scheduled for next month.

I need an aspirin.

3:33p

Page 49. We’ve picked up the pace a bit. Two hours and 18 minutes for 49 pages is about… a little less than three minutes per page. Better than our five minute average from earlier, and there’s a lot of info to cover.

I still need that aspirin, and now I need to pee, too.

4:05p

Page 61, and lab time. That was a looooong section.

4:09p

I just took a leak and it smelled like chicken. I wonder if that means anything.

4:56p

Lab’s done, and I’m beat. Time to go home.

Wednesday, June 18

7:36a

I’m in early again, to do a little web surfing and so forth. So far, I’ve decided that at some point I need some of these Lockergnome photos.

When it rains, it pours. Last night on the way home, I was heading down the slow-as-usual Highway 26 and there was an accident in the middle lane (of three lanes). The traffic was reasonably parting around the accident, and long about the time I got right up next to the whole thing, the lady in front of me stopped suddenly (because apparently the person in front of her stopped for no particular reason) and I didn’t stop as suddenly as I’d like to have. So, rear-ender. Great. No injuries, only some minor cosmetic damage on her rear bumper, and my bumper looks pretty good except for some abrasions and a small ripple about an inch long. I was probably only going 10 or 15 mph at the time, so it was totally minor, and I’m glad no one was hurt. But just one more thing to have to deal with that I really didn’t want to have to.

Which means that today the insurance adjuster person is going to come out and take a look at the damage while I’m in training so I’ll have to duck out for a bit while that’s going on.

I guess I should be thankful that it was so minor - and I am - but it is still pretty stressful. I’ve got a trip to Bellevue on Sunday which means that I’m going to have to put off getting the car fixed for a week. No big deal - you hardly notice the damage - but still a pain. Plus, I am curious now how much my insurance is going to increase. As it is, it’s not cheap and I don’t have anything prior on my record. Now what’s it going to be?

Sigh.

Here’s to hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

8:48a

Well, here’s some light in the face of darkness.

My favorite auto body shop, Chris and John’s, is now part of the Progressive family of repair shops, so they’re able to get me in quick - today at 11:00a - and get me out by Friday. Woohoo! That’s good stuff.

Of course, I don’t have rental car insurance so I’ll be paying for that part myself. But for two or three days… I guess I can’t complain. Could be worse.

I should probably add rental car insurance to my policy. Assuming I’m not going to be paying through the ass for my insurance now.

I was talking to the admin here and she hit someone last Thursday. I guess I’m not alone on the minor rear-ender thing.

10:00a

Well, it’s about time I pack up to head out to Chris and John’s. Hopefully I’ll be back in time to get something useful from the rest of the course.

1:15p

I got back at around 11:30a and figured these guys would go to lunch so I’d be able to catch up. Instead what happened was they blasted through lunch - I don’t even think they did the lab for the section we were working on - and got halfway through the next section by the time I got back. So it’s time for their lunch and my catching up.

I am currently the not-so-proud driver of a Chevy Cavalier, or, as I’ve already come to fondly call it, a Chevy Shitmobile. I mean, it’s not that it’s particularly bad in any particular area, it’s just… it’s a rental car. What can I say?

I like cars that are aerodynamic. I like cars that look like they can cut you. I don’t want extraneous curves and wasted space, I don’t want “organic,” I don’t want bulky. American cars, by and large, are exactly what I don’t want. The interior of this thing was designed by a guy with a fascination with foam rubber. Everything has a layer of foam on it. The dashboard is this huge, hulky mass of resilience. The entire car is rounded everywhere and reminds me of those safety scissors you get when you’re in kindergarten. If this car is safety scissors, my car is a stiletto. I like my car. I hate this one.

That said, it’s only going to cost me $22/day for the thing, and since it’s not covered by insurance, that’s about right for my budget. I’ll be giving it back on Friday - not a day too soon - so for the money, I guess I’m getting what I’m paying for.

Of course, the admin and one of the instructors were sitting in the lobby of the training center when I drove up and had a nice laugh at my expense. Oh, well.

Time I should catch up on the lab work.

1:32p

It doesn’t look like they did the lab for the last module (the lab I would have missed). I can’t find any of the lab files installed on my computer, and the instructor was mentioning that the lab that we have in our books (the old version) is WAY different than the lab that they’re teaching now (the new version) so… so I don’t remember if we were going to do that or not, but I think we weren’t.

I guess I’ll ask when they all get back from lunch.

In the meantime, I’ll get a head start on the next lab, which looks to be a doozy.

1:54p

I guess there was no lab for the last module, so I’m totally caught up with the rest of the class. Cool!

2:02p

Okay, so we’re not going to do the labs for the next three modules… yet. We’ll do the lectures, then the labs all at the same time. Fine by me; I didn’t actually get going on the lab like I thought I was going to.

Well, more lab time for me. Fine. The lab’s where I really learn the stuff anyway.

2:50p

Just got a call from Progressive. The minor scratches on my bumper? $634.62 in damage. I’m loving my $250 deductible right about now. It’s amazing the cost of car repair. I mean, sure, it’s a lot of work, but I watch Discovery Channel’s American Chopper, I’ve seen how this stuff works, and I am pretty sure I saw the extent of my damage… $600 is a bit on the high side, but, well, I guess that’s why I pay insurance.

3:02p

I’m realizing that I have to go to work tomorrow and I don’t wanna.

3:54p

Looks like MSDN subscribers can get free PocketPCs until the end of the month. Turns out I’m eligible through my work subscription, but then work owns the PPC. Hmmm. I’ll have to think about that. How would they know?

3:59p

We’re on the last module, which doesn’t have a lab and looks quick. Then - extended lab time… but it’s already 4:00p. The instructor guy’s outta here at 4:30p… I guess we’ll see what happens.

4:25p

It’s not looking like we’re getting to do the last three labs. This was five days of class packed into three days. We definitely could have used more time.

4:30p

That’s that! I’m outta here!

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