November 2004 Blog Posts

Toothbrush Recall

I don't normally go for the electric version of health products. I use a non-electric razor. I don't blow-dry my hair. You get what I'm saying.

I did give in and buy an electric toothbrush, though, at the behest of my dentist. Oral-B CrossAction Power.

It's been time to get a new head for a while now, but I can't seem to find any replacement. I've tried for like a month now.

Turns out there's been a recall on them. New heads won't be available until January. Unbelievable. I think stores should post that stuff so people like me don't wonder how come nobody sells them anymore. Or at least tell the employees so I can ask and don't just get the, "I dunno... I guess we're out of stock" thing.

Thanksgiving Vacation

Thanksgiving was great. I didn't get Chinese food the way I thought I was going to because the place was closed, so I ended up with Lloyd's Barbecue Beef, which is an excellent second choice.

Jenn, of course, was at her grandma's house, so I had the place to myself with the cats - some great time for a San Andreas visit. Over the course of the four-day weekend, I've now collected everything (all the horseshoes and oysters and everything else they make you collect) and have nearly finished the standard string of missions. I haven't yet stolen all the cars or done all of the sub-missions (mining at the quarry, etc.), so I'm still not close to 100%, but I'm on the way.

We had three hockey games to go to, none of which really, truly held my interest. It's like watching a battle of mediocrity on the ice. There's competition, there's scoring, but it's not exciting like it's been in past years. Sometimes the opposing team is good and makes some nice plays, but by-and-large, this hockey season (for almost all the WHL teams) has been more for those folks who like low (or no) scoring games and a lot of battle without much fruition. I'd rather have a higher-scoring game with lots of cool plays and a couple of fights. If the team can't connect a pass, though... I dunno.

Going to three games in a week is a drain, especially when you're watching hockey like this. It makes me not want season tickets. The only redeeming factor left is that we sit with friends, and I like seeing them and hanging out, so we still go. If we sat next to crummy people, I'd probably skip next season.

Saw The Day After Tomorrow last night. Eh. The effects were cool, but the plausibility of the story was iffy at best. I was expecting utter trash after I talked to some folks, but it wasn't that bad. It didn't cost me anything, and I didn't feel like it was just two hours I'll never get back. That said, I really didn't care much about the characters and there was no way they'd have survived that cold, so the suspension of disbelief just wasn't there for me. Plus, I'm not big on natural disaster films. I give it two or three out of five.

And so, back to work. I've got my Christmas music on my iPod and I'm ready to go. It wouldn't have hurt my feelings to have won the lottery this weekend, but I guess since I gotta pay the bills, I'll go to work. Work's sorta like hockey in that sense - if I was surrounded by crummy people, I'd consider bailing. But I'm doing some good stuff there, learning new ways to do things, and I've got some good friends there, so if I gotta work, it's a good place to be.

San Andreas Shirt

Sporting the family colorsI got my San Andreas shirt delivered yesterday, and I'm proudly sporting it today. Didn't hurt at all that it came with two six-inch-square San Andreas logo stickers and an 18-inch-square San Andreas kerchief. It is, for lack of a better word, the bomb. Had I known all the extra stuff came with it, I'd have ordered sooner.

Web-Based Fame

Some folks get their 15 minutes by starring in movies, writing books, or singing songs. In my circles, you get your fame from being featured various spots on the web.

My good friend and co-worker, Greg, got himself featured on Engadget this morning. It's cool to see folks you know, particularly friends, with their name in the proverbial lights.

I don't get much in the way of web-based fame. I think my link on the CodeRush community site is about the closest it gets.

Maybe I'll have to work a little harder at that.

Viral Form

A note to people designing web sites: Users can see the URL line.

I entered a sweepstakes and, after entering (and losing) I get a form that asks me if I want to notify my friends of the ability to enter. The URL looked like this:

Viral form?!?! You'd think the site designers would have thought of some less aggressive name for the thing.

The Noble Collection

I got a catalog in the mail this weekend for "The Noble Collection." Normally I'm not too into the whole "collector's reproductions of movie crap" thing, but this stuff rocks. They have a great section on Harry Potter as well as a really cool section on Lord of the Rings.

I didn't even like Lord of the Rings, but I have to admit, I must have the 18K One Ring. Like, to the point that... well, I don't wear jewelry of any nature, but I'm considering getting the sterling silver version of the thing, just to see how I like it (and to see the quality of the stuff these folks sell).

I also think the revolving elvish script ring is pretty cool.

And to answer my dad's question from this weekend: No, Liv Tyler does not come free with purchase of Arwen-related items, nor does Cate Blanchett come with Galadriel items. Sorry.

Moratorium On Thanksgiving

Due to the incompatibility with peoples' schedules, their desires, their qualms, and so on, my family has put a moratorium on Thanksgiving.

Which is to say: nobody's getting together, so I have a vacation day all to myself. Sounds like some Chinese food is in my future. Mmmm...

This is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever. I'm sure I'll be making my way back to San Andreas for a bit, which will be nice since I've only really had time to return on weekends.

Speaking of San Andreas, my shirt should be here today. I ordered it last week and I'm anxious for it. After spending so much time there, it'll be nice to have something that openly declares it so. I told Jenn I ordered this and she shook her head like I'd broken some unspoken rule that says I can't be a gamer geek like the rest of the English speaking world out there. Too bad, baby! I'm a citizen of San Andreas now!

I also got to play (San Andreas) for a while this weekend, which was nice. I finished a few more missions that opened up the ability for me to fly, so I've been cruising around in airplanes and helicopters, going back to other places to pick up money and guns that I normally wouldn't pick up because it's too far away... but now that I can fly, it's a lot faster. Just take a helicopter, land in the middle of the street, get what you need, and fly away. (My favorite flying vehicle is the jetpack - don't leave home without it!)

I finished the book I was reading, Eragon, this weekend and it was awesome. I can't wait for the next one.

While normally I alternate between fiction and non-fiction/educational books (I can only really read one book at a time because I forget what's going on in the various books if I don't stick to one), I've decided to break that and read another fiction. Next up is Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman. Admittedly short, but I loved the His Dark Materials trilogy with the same characters, so it'll be nice to see a little more from that universe.

Saw National Treasure this weekend and had a good time with it. Sure, it was totally implausible, but it was fun, so I have to give it high marks. I don't know if I'll be picking it up on DVD, but it was definitely worth the watch.

SharpReader2RSSBandit.xslt - Moving SharpReader Settings Into RSS Bandit

I use an RSS aggregator almost daily. I started off with RSS Reader, then decided to move to SharpReader because it had a little more of what I was looking for feature-wise.

I've used SharpReader for quite a while, but while it's configurable in some ways that other readers aren't, I found the control you have over feeds in RSS Bandit is pretty cool, particularly with the ability to apply your own XSLT to the feed, not to mention there's actually a product roadmap and some pretty decent support.

So today I downloaded RSS Bandit and started messing with it, liked it, and decided to move my settings over to it.

Hoo, boy.

SharpReader exports in OPML format. RSS Bandit exports in some other format. Time to write a conversion...

...and here it is. An XSLT document that, when run against the exported SharpReader settings, renders an XML document that you can import into RSS Bandit.

SharpReader2RSSBandit.xslt (Right-click, "Save As...")

CR_Documentor - The Documentor Plug-In for DXCore

UPDATE: CR_Documentor has found a new home on Google Code. Head over there to get the latest version and updated information.


Lutz Roeder, a fantastic developer of ultra-helpful tools, took his "Documentor" application - which allowed a developer to preview what XML document comments would look like rendered into end-user documentation - down from his site. He was nice enough to send me the source for it, though, so I've converted it into a Visual Studio tool window add-in via the rich plug-in framework offered by the Developer Express, Inc. package, DXCore (which also supports CodeRush for Visual Studio .NET).

This plug-in allows you to see a preview of your XML document comments - a la Roeder's original Documentor - real-time, as you edit the comments in Visual Studio.

CR_Documentor at work - click to enlarge

CR_Documentor offers the ability to choose the level of tags you want to be "compatible" with, the manner in which "unrecognized" tags are handled, and other formatting options.

CR_Documentor Options - click to enlarge

CR_Documentor also offers context-menu support to aid in working with XML documentation comments, including inserting templates, embedding selections in templates, toggling outlining on XML doc comments, and toggling visibility of the CR_Documentor window.

Installation is as easy as copying a DLL into a folder. The included readme.txt outlines installation, usage, and workarounds for known issues.

UPDATE: CR_Documentor has found a new home on Google Code. Head over there to get the latest version and updated information.

A Long Week Back

It was a pretty long week back at work after vacation last week. There was a deadline today... well, I guess it's yesterday, now... Friday... for the project I was working on. I got done what needed to get done, but the stuff I was working on didn't really get tested too well, so that'll have to happen next week.

I got home after work Friday and, after some dinner and conversation, decided it was time to re-enter San Andreas for a short period, which I did. Like, maybe only four hours. Heh.

And now... It's time for bed. I'm too tired to play anymore (and win; I could play and get killed repeatedly, but that's not really fun), but I'm just slightly too awake to sleep. I figure I should probably just go to bed, though. A friend of mine is coming over tomorrow night (that is, tonight, Saturday night) and I should probably be awake enough to, you know, visit.

Vacation At A Close

This evening is the end of my nine day sabbatical, and I look back on it with fondness, like the end of a movie where the person flashes back to all the good times in their life in a soft focus. I did nothing, and it was everything I thought it could be.

Tomorrow I'll return to work and wade through the emails, voice mails, sticky notes, white board scribblings, and other communicative relics folks felt so inclined to leave for me in my absence. I'll do my best to make sense of what happened while I was gone, piecing fragments of communiques together in a near-arbitrary order (since chronological doesn't ever quite do it), and people will ask why I'm not done with whatever it was I was working on, what my status is.


I will also face the choice of allowing myself to be distracted by the innumerable requests for a recount of my adventures in San Andreas or blocking my cubicle door, at which point I will only get half as many requests, these from the people who think the "I'm Busy" indicators outside my cube really don't apply to them (and those people would be incorrect). I will attempt to point them to my web site, where there is bound to be more richness and detail about my travels than I am able to impart in the abbreviated time allotted, but they will all always rather hear it directly from me, since I obviously will have copious amounts of time to spare on such things my first couple of days back.

In the end, my vacation was good, and I am glad I took it. However, when I return to work, bright and early tomorrow morning, I will probably close my eyes, shake my head, and wonder if it was really worth it, to take a small amount of relaxation time in the midst of one of my neverending projects, just so I can be that much further behind.

That said, I suppose it can be argued that if one is constantly sprinting, when "crunch time" really comes and additional speed is required, there will be no energy left to go that extra mile.

I think the answer is that maybe, just maybe, life itself needs to slow down - just a little - so it isn't always required that one sprints; perhaps slow and steady really does win the race. Sadly, the business world - the high-tech business world - rests for no one, and doesn't really afford its minions the rest, either. One must take one one can get, and enjoy it while it lasts, since the world waits for no one.

Onward, ever forward, I go.

Vacation in San Andreas, Day 5

My last day in San Andreas was probably my most eventful. I won't bore you with too much detail, but I did some cross-country racing; lost my girlfriend, Catalina, to a mute dude headed to Liberty City; destroyed a huge crop of weed and, once the cops came, a police helicopter; drove around San Fierro (one of the major cities in San Andreas); framed the San Fierro DA for drug possession (won't be seeing any more of him, will we?); and took a few photos of some very suspect individuals in an attempt to figure out who my lame ex-friends, Ryder and Big Smoke, are working with.

It may not sound like a lot, but it was. Much of this activity took me all across the countryside, particularly in the Badlands, in the southwest quadrant of San Andreas, and that's some real rural stuff.

I did take the time to participate in a defensive driving school, where they taught me useful skills like how to do cookies, control a car after running over a police spike strip, and execute a PIT maneuver. All things I'll definitely use back home.

I also took the time to drive some very popular women around town. They'd get calls from people named "John" (there are a lot of people named John in San Andreas!), and I'd drive them all over to meet these Johns. Then they'd finish talking (or whatever) with these gentlemen and I'd go pick them up and take them to see another friend. Each time I'd pick them up, they'd give me quite a large sum of money. Not too shabby for a glorified taxi driver, right?

San Andreas has taught me all sorts of useful skills during my stay. I've learned new vocabulary, driving skills, shooting skills, and even some new ways to positively influence the ladies, if you know what I mean. I've also decided that I'm definitely in the wrong line of work back home because there is so much more money to be easily made doing other, possibly less legal, things. I've probably made half a million dollars over the course of my stay. Tax free, no less.

In all seriousness, though, my stay in San Andreas was great fun. I've only seen about 2/3 of the place, so I'll definitely be coming back for more, just not during such an extended stay like this one.

One thing to note - I never saw any kids while walking/biking/driving the streets of San Andreas, and I think that's because kids aren't (and shouldn't be) allowed to visit. It's a lot more harsh than I remember my visit to Vice City being, and Vice City wasn't a child's destination, either. So, mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be gangsters. Or something like that.

In summary: Great place to visit (I'll be coming back! Soon!), but, as usual, wouldn't want to live there.

Vacation in San Andreas, Day 4

I got tired of my gang fighting within the ranks, and apparently other Grove Street members did, too, because they set up a meeting for us to reunite. Of course, the cops showed up in force, with helicopters, the SWAT team, motorcycles... you name it, it was there. Lucky for me, I had my trusty AK-47 with me.

My pal, Sweet, was trapped inside the hotel where the meeting was being held, so it was up to me to go in and save him. I'm amazed that I'm always strapped to the gills with guns and this guy never has any. Maybe I'll loan him one of mine sometime.

Anyway, I single-handedly battled our way out of the hotel onto the roof where a helicopter full of sharpshooters was waiting. All of them shot at Sweet (probably because he was unarmed) so while he drew fire it was my job to take the helicopter out. After that, we climbed off the roof and, after a pretty hairy car chase, escaped the cops.

Something I noticed in my travels in San Andreas is that the food here has restorative, healing powers. I can get shot several times, head into the local pizza joint, eat a couple of pizzas, and I'm good as new. What's better, I can buy a drink in a vending machine and get the same result. I'll have to remember to ask them what they're putting in it because I think that'd be a hit back home.

I got a call from a friend of mine, Cesar, who wanted to take me to see something but wouldn't tell me what it was. When we got there, I couldn't believe my eyes: my friends, Big Smoke and Ryder, were not only working with the corrupt police officer, Tenpenny, but they had the green car that my mom was gunned down by! I still have a tough time believing they'd turn on me like this, but I can't say I didn't suspect them all along.

Of course, because they were working with the cops, that meant the meeting some other friends of mine went to was an ambush because Big Smoke sold them out. (If you feel like this is happening a little fast for you, don't worry - you'd be amazed how fast things happen in San Andreas.)

I went to rescue my friends, who all had guns but couldn't seem to hit any of their attackers, and the cops showed up. Of course, it was Officer Tenpenny (who sounds a lot like Samuel L. Jackson, might I add), who knocked me out, put a bag over my head, and drove me out to the country.

Turns out he threw all of my surviving friends into jail, but somehow he saw something special in me and decided to let me go if I'd do a favor for him. There was a guy holed up in a safe house on a mountain and I had to go kill him and take a photo of the body. All in a day's work, right?

I hopped on a bike, headed up the mountain, flushed the guy out, and chased him down. I ended up running his car off the mountain road and - because Officer Tenpenny took all of my guns - punched the guy to death. Then I snapped a photo, dropped off the camera, and that was that.

A few things occurred to me at this point:

First, it's amazing how many people seem to leave their keys in their cars with the doors unlocked. With a one-man crime spree like me on the loose, you'd think they'd at least lock their doors. As it stands, I can hop into any parked car out there and it starts right up - I don't even have to close my door. Some folks never learn.

Second, I'm going to have to contact the highway safety office and have them investigate some of the roads around here. There are some seriously precarious mountain roads up there that don't have guard rails around them. Let me tell you, it's easier than you think to drive right off the mountain. You'll probably survive, but it does some good damage to your car. I may have a class action lawsuit brewing here.

Third, looking at my map I don't see the different gang turf anymore, so I'm thinking that, even though the meeting got ambushed by police, the gangs must have reunited. That's sort of unfortunate, because there was a lot of money to be made when the war was on. Kinda like real life, huh, Mr. Bush?

Back to my day: I dropped off the camera, then went to visit Officer Tenpenny at this local yokel's hotel room. The guy was some sort of drugged-out flower child who called himself "The Truth." Anyway, he wanted me to go steal a combine harvester from a group of survivalists on a farm out in the country. Whatever, man.

Shot down a bunch of the survivalists on the way to the combine, then once I was in the combine, I could run them down. Of course, they'd shoot out the back of the combine in chopped up pieces when I did, which I figured was a warning to those standing in my way of what would happen to them... but no one heeded that warning and just stood in the way. I took the combine back to The Truth's farm, the combine possessed, like something from a Stephen King film.

Oh! I also met a new girlfriend, Catalina. She's into the sado-masochistic thing, and on our first date she brought out a real live rack to put me on. I begged for mercy and she relented, but I admit I was a little freaked out.

Catalina is also into robberies, so we robbed a bank and an off-track horse race betting place. Reasonably uneventful, beyond the usual police chases and such.

Catalina's a fiery woman. No sooner do I drop her off at her house but she calls me and tells me she's going to "cut my balls off and make me eat them" or something like that. I'm not sure why I always fall in with this hostile crowd, but I guess I'll take what I can get.

Vacation in San Andreas, Day 3

Today was a big day. Not only did I burn down a rival gang's house, I picked up a girlfriend in the process. She seems to like being taken out to cheap bars or fast food, and if I don't see her every couple of days, she calls me and tells me not to treat her like a ho or she'll put a cap in my ass. Who wouldn't want a girl like that?

I was also entrusted by my gang to start taking over rival gang territory, so I spent quite a bit of time doing that. Every once in a while, a gang would try to take some territory back, but I'd show up with my AK-47 and put them back in their place.

OG Loc violated parole and he's headed back to prison, so we gave him a final sendoff party he'll never forget. Of course, a rival gang crashed it so we had to kill them all before the party could really get going. A few car explosions and dead bodies later, and I was dancing the night away.

I'm starting to notice the gang members getting smarter, using flanking tactics and such when they attack. That could prove to be interesting, though I've been able to use their own intelligence against them - if I back myself down a long alleyway, they all funnel in and get gunned down single-file. A couple might hold back, but after the majority of the gang's out of the way, one or two stragglers isn't a problem, particularly when wearing body armor.

Vacation in San Andreas, Day 2

Day 2 in San Andreas was reasonably eventful.

I started out the day realizing I was low on funds and would have to make a quick buck if I was going to save myself from having to drive back and forth across Los Santos. I decided to impersonate a taxi driver for a while, which netted me some decent dough, and after 50 fares, I was informed that all cabs have nitrous on them. Very cool if you need a fast car.

I took my money and bought a small shack in the northeast portion of Los Santos. $10,000 - what a steal! Not much to look at, but somewhere you can call home.

My pal Big Smoke let me know that a friend of mine, Jeffrey, was coming out of jail, so we went to meet him. He's trying to start a rap career (but he sucks) and figured going to jail would somehow give him street credibility. Whatever.

Jeffrey met us outside the jail and informed us to now call him "OG Loc," which is the stupidest rapper name ever, but it fits with his rap, which also sucks. We dropped OG Loc off at his new job as a "hygiene technician" at the Burger Shot.

I took the downtime to run over to the tattoo parlor and get one of everything. I'm covered in tattoos now, and the rest of the gang respects that. I also visited the gym, since I hadn't been in a while, and built up my muscle and stamina.

Big Smoke took me to pick up his cousin Mary, who just came in from Mexico, but - would you believe it? - he was talking about marijuana. Just say no, Big Smoke! But I guess that's probably why they call him "Big Smoke," and there wasn't much I could do, so I let him do his thing. Of course, the deal went south, so I had to chase one of the dealers down and kill him. I tried to reason with him, but no, he wanted to run. Hey, man - you make your bed, you sleep in it.

Big Smoke seemed troubled over the whole drug deal gone bad, so I went over to his house to console him and he decided to take some revenge. I, of course, attempted once again to talk some sense into him, but he'd have none of it.

I'm beginning to think Big Smoke is working with some corrupt cops in town. They always seem to be at his house when I come over. Weird.

Anyway, we went to the train station and the drug dealers hopped on a train and tried to escape. I chased the train down on a conveniently located motorcycle and Big Smoke, riding on back, gunned them down from the bike.

Then I found out there was something going on between Big Smoke and some Russians, so we went downtown to talk to them, but they ended up chasing us through town and down a flood control trench. This time I rode on the back of the bike and Big Smoke drove, so it was up to me to shoot down any pursuing vehicles. It was rough going there for a while, but we made it. (To be honest, I'm not sure what Big Smoke got out of that one, but I have to trust he knows what he's doing.)

I went back downtown to visit OG Loc at his job, and he was having a difficult time writing lyrics and breaking into the rap business, so I offered to help him out by stealing the lyrics from a well-known rap artist and then killing the rap artist's manager. What are friends for? Both of those came off without a hitch, and I think OG Loc is going to be getting a career soon. We'll see.

Lastly, I decided I needed some more money, so I picked up a job as a courier at the local market dropping off packages of what resembled talcum powder. Why people need talcum powder dropped off all over town is beyond me, but it pays well, so I did it. After doing four sets of deliveries, the store told me they were very thankful for my work and now they pay me $2000 a week - free! Very kind of them, and helpful in my money making efforts.

I capped off the evening by buying a new place on the west side of Los Santos so now I have a place to stay wherever I'm at. Gotta love it.

Heard from home that Bush got elected for a second term and Oregon Measure 36 - a measure amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage - passed. I'm thinking about staying in San Andreas and never coming home because it's going to hell in a handbasket out there. I can't say it any better than Dan Gillmor, so read his statement and I say "ditto."

Vacation in San Andreas, Day 1

After getting off the plane in San Andreas, it became abundantly clear that the local cops were not part of the solution - they're part of the problem. Crooked like a dirty politician. They took my money and accused me of being a cop-killer, and I hadn't even been in town ten minutes.

It was good to see my friends again, though some didn't recognize me, I'd been gone so long. We soon got to reminiscing about old times and, against my better instincts, I fell back into the pattern of gang life that seems so prevalent here.

See, I came back because someone killed my mom, and I need to find out who. It was gang-related, though, and I'm thinking if I can infiltrate my way back in, I can figure it out and maybe even unite all the gang families in the process. Optimistic? Sure, but it's for the good of San Andreas.

When I first got here, all I had to get around on was a bicycle, but soon after I got myself a car. I drove around the town to get a feel for the place and it became abundantly clear that it's nearly impossible to get three or four blocks without causing massive amounts of property damage and killing several people. I started keeping a body count, but all I was doing was making hash marks that stopped me from getting about my business, so I decided against it. I figure, if I honk my horn and the pedestrians don't scurry, it's their own fault for getting waxed.

I found the local eateries and the gym, so I can keep myself in shape. I learned some new fighting moves at the gym, though I still don't get this "running attack" he taught me. I'd just as soon pull out a baseball bat as deal with trying an attack I can't seem to get right.

One of my friends, Sweet, let me in on a problem in the city - gangs have been tagging buildings everywhere. Thankfully, he provided me with a can of green spray paint to perform some community service and cover those nasty tags up with. Turns out there were 100 such tags, all of which I went around and cleaned up. That took a while, but I had a map that outlined the locations, so it wasn't as bad as you'd think.

That netted me quite a bit of respect from the gang, and after it was over, I found a load of weapons in my kitchen, as though the gun fairy dropped them off. As many times as I pick them up, they keep reappearing. No complaints. I figure I can put them to good use.

After that, I did a couple of drive-by shootings - you know, to get some more respect - and participated in a lowrider contest where I had to make my car bounce to the music. Oh, and I did just a little illegal street racing in that same lowrider.

Finally, my friend Ryder introduced me to the joys of breaking and entering. We didn't just settle for stealing guns from a retired Army colonel's house, though, we even ripped off the National Guard. Those guys never knew what hit them.

Halloween 2004

Halloween this year was a three day event that started on Friday at work. This is Halloween in the Product Engineering department:

Halloween in Product Engineering

Pretty crazy, huh? We went to lunch like that and all these little kids kept coming over to our table wanting to meet Spongebob. Too funny.

Of course, Monday (today) starts my vacation, and the Friday before vacation wouldn't be complete without the sales guys having a lack of preparation which translates to a state of emergency on my part. Which is to say, at about 1:30p I was told that some customizations needed to be done to a product demo for a sales presentation that was going to take place.

Normally that sort of thing is fine (though I admit I have a sour attitude about the whole thing because I moved to the product engineering department partially to get away from that damn demo), but then they showed me the "customizations" they wanted done.

"Customization" isn't really the proper word to describe it. It was more like "functional overhaul." They "only had four things" on the list, but each of those items was like three days' worth of work. All to be done by 5:00p that day. Riiiiight.

When we made the demo, we built in a certain amount of customizability. You can change colors of the site, logos that appear, any of the text on the various pages, and you can internationalize it so it'll appear in any language you want. You can't, however, add or remove functionality from the demo because that would require you recompile the application and redistribute it. No can do in three and a half hours. You also can't change the sizes or locations of things - we have a very specific set of CSS styles that get applied to the demo, all of which allow for color change, but once you change size and/or position of any elements, it affects every other element and you end up with a huge mess on your hands. Things are set up just so. This is also not a trivial thing to do.

Everything they wanted was either a functional change (no) or a size/position change (also, no).

I talked them down to sticking within the bounds that were originally set by the demo requirements - change the colors, text, and logos and call it a day.

I got those changes completed and sent out almost right at 5:00p, amidst the barrage of phone calls, emails, drop-in visits, and instant messages that happened to flood in right at the end of the day. It took me a half hour just to set up my out-of-office email message and voicemail because I kept getting interrupted.

Friday night was a hockey game, and I celebrated our win the next day by taking a nice afternoon nap. Ah, but I do love a good nap.

Which takes us to Saturday. Saturday night was the annual Halloween party at my friends Jason and Tracy's house. (I'm sure I got some possessive punctuation wrong in that last sentence, but bear with me.)

Here are Jenn and I, ready for the party. Jenn was Snow White with a costume of her own making and I was a crewmember from Alien.

Jenn and me, ready to party

Jason and Tracy always have cool parties, and this was no exception. The highlight of this year's party was a team tournament of shot glass checkers. Two teams of five, but the whole party was crowded around cheering. Great stuff. I'm not sure who won. Heh.

Stuart, a friend from work (pictured above as Count Dooku from Star Wars, Episode 2) came to the party and brought me a replacement for the Timmy doll that was so rudely stolen from my cubicle at work several weeks ago. Very cool. Those are hard to find, and I'm happy to have Timmy back by my side. I will bring him to work and chain his ass down so the fucking cleaning staff can't make off with him again. Stuart is the man.

Jenn and I pretty much closed the place down around 1:00a or so (the party started at 7:30p, so that's a decent party, even though it didn't last until like 7:00a the next morning; I'm no all-night partier, that's for sure).

Sunday Jenn and I went to see The Grudge, which I heard was dumb but which I thought was reasonably decent. You can't expect too much from horror movies, and this did get me to jump a couple of times, so I liked it. Didn't hurt that Sarah Michelle Gellar was in it, redeeming herself for the career sin that is Scooby Doo.

Sunday night, of course, the trick-or-treaters were out in full force. We live in the kind of neighborhood that parents figure is "safe" for trick-or-treaters, which translates into caravans of cars, trucks, SUVs, and minivans dropping loads of kids off and trolling up and down the street like the support crew for a long-distance relay race. We bought a 44 oz. bag of candy (those bite-size candy bars... not the "mini" ones, the ones slightly smaller than that), handed out two pieces to each trick or treater, and that didn't quite last 35 minutes. We busted out our own personal stash of candy and that got us another 10 minutes, at which point we turned off the porch light and listened to the army of kids continue to knock and ring the doorbell. (I don't know about you, but when the porch light went off, it meant the house was out of candy. That doesn't click with today's youth.)

And now it's Monday, my first day in San Andreas. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm considering posting sort of a travel journal from the trip. Pends on how ambitious I get, which means it probably won't get done, because, you know, I'm on vacation.