net, personal comments edit


I’ve entirely lost track of my concept of time. I had to look at the calendar today to figure out it’s Thursday.

It being Thursday means that I only have one more night here and then I go home tomorrow after class. It’ll be nice to get home, to sleep in my own bed, to see Jenn and my kitties again. I will admit I’m a little lonely sitting in my hotel room at night, but the flipside is that I don’t have any distractions while I study.

Speaking of studying, I took a practice test on SQL Server last night. It took about two hours to go through 50 questions (I was in “learning” mode, so I was reading about WHY certain answers were right or wrong). When all was said and done, I got around 60% correct.

I was pretty confident about my SQL Server skills before I took that practice test. Taking the test showed me that I don’t know jack squat. Now I’m feeling pretty disheartened about my whole learning experience because I thought these classes I was taking would prepare me, or at least better prepare me, for the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer tests. I’m not so sure about it anymore. I mean, I’m learning a lot of stuff. The problem I’m having is that tests are not real-world. When will I ever be programming when I don’t have access to the help docs?

So, needless to say, I’m a little down today. I told Jenn about it and she was all, “Doesn’t it make you happy that not everything comes easy?” No, I’m not. It’s about the unrealistic nature of the tests. It’s about the fact that everything I do anymore is an uphill battle - work and school. It’s that this is exactly everything I hated about high school and college. It’s all of this pressure and all of this “challenge” all coming crashing back on me and inducing fits of anxiety, stressing me out.

I feel like I’m a good programmer. I think there are people out there who would agree with that. I also think that I’m really going to have problems with these tests, and at $125 a pop, I really can’t afford to fail.


I went cruising Amazon to see what sorts of study aids they have in print. There are all sorts of books, priced $25 - $40, none of which looked like they were “foolproof” or “all-inclusive.” I then see random boot camps and schools that promise certification “in 8 days - guaranteed.” It makes me wonder if that would have been a better investment. But then, I think I’m probably getting some better, more well-rounded knowledge out of these classes.

I’m just wondering if it’ll help me pass these tests.


Have you ever said a word over and over enough times that it starts sounding funny and you don’t remember what it means? The word of the day is “dispose.”


I was thinking about this (while sitting in class)… my job has made me a programming Sisyphus.


I just went through a lab on memory management (making sure your program doesn’t eat all of your computer’s memory) and while I understood it, and I think I could implement it myself, I didn’t like the lab very much. The way things were written/phrased, it was really difficult to figure out what they were trying to get you to do. I ended up having to refer to the solution, and I haven’t had to do that for any of the class labs I’ve had yet.

It reminds me of that game where you give a friend a pencil and a piece of paper and you have a picture of something that you’re looking at (and your friend can’t see). The object is to describe to your friend what they need to draw on their paper so they come up with a picture that looks like the one you’re holding. If you’ve never done that, try it. It’s harder than you might think. For simple stuff (a house, a flag, a can of cola), it’s not too bad - you can sort of refer to simple shapes (“draw a circle, then draw a couple parallel lines coming from the sides of the circle…”). If you have something more complex, like an office chair, it gets a heck of a lot harder. This lab was like someone trying to describe to me how to draw a Picasso piece. Crazy.


Still panicking about the exams and my lack of preparation. I went looking to see what Microsoft offers as far as test preparation material

  • lists of what they’re asking questions on, suggested preparation materials, etc. - and there’s nothing I can see that would help me. The lists of question topics are sufficiently vague that they may as well say, “We’re just, you know, testing you.” Thanks.

You’re probably tired of reading about my study anxiety. I’m tired of thinking about it. It’s just sort of sitting at the front of my mind, though, and it’s hard to get away from.


Finally, an old person who realizes that sometimes you do get too old to drive. And one who didn’t figure it out soon enough. My 80+ year old neighbors who drive these gigantic antique Cadillacs should read these articles.


That’s the end of today. We just did an interesting lab where we created a simple server app that can accept connections from clients and sends information. Just a little thing, but it demonstrates that you can do some powerful stuff in a simple way with .NET.

Just watch - I get this, but it won’t be on the test. The stuff I don’t get will be there.

net, personal comments edit


I’m back in class again, which means I’m back to waiting for the rest of class to get their shit together while I surf the web.

I’m learning some good stuff, details that I wasn’t aware of, which is a Good Thing. After going through a few more flash cards last night in preparation for the tests I’ve got to take, I found that I don’t know crap. That said, I still need to run through a full practice test because, while flash cards are good, I think I’ll know the answer if I get to see it in a multiple choice context (which is how the tests work). At least that’s what I’m hoping.

I was going to do a practice test last night, but when I clicked the “start” button, it came up with a surprise “Activate This Product Now!” screen, telling me that if I want to do the test I need to connect online to their web site and get a code. Of course, I don’t have Internet access from the hotel, so I was hosed. I tried to get my cell phone working as a modem via infrared, but that didn’t work so well.

I went to the web site this morning and entered one code, then got another code that I’ve written down that should, when I return to the room, successfully activate the test so I can make use of it.

Here’s something I’m wondering: How come coffee foams up like pee bubbles? That whole idea disturbs me.


I’ve been trying, for the last 10 minutes, to reply to a message via webmail. But the stupid “compose message” screen will not come up and I’m pretty much ready to beat the crap out of it… in a, uh, virtual sort of way.

The rest of the class is still working on their labs, and I’m boooooored. I think I may play a little Game Boy, since I finished my book last night and I don’t have anything here to read.


Hold on to your seats, folks, we’ve finally started class.


I thought of a cool idea for a program (for the .NET developers out there). A full-featured configuration file editor. Windows/console applications have pretty extensive configuration files that allow you to govern how they link to different library versions, which paths they search, etc. Web apps have different security settings, handlers specified, etc. Microsoft provides the “mscorcfg.msc” tool that does some of the Windows/console app configuration for you, but it’s not all-inclusive and it doesn’t do web apps. I’ve seen a semi-functional web app config file editor, but it didn’t do Windows/console apps. A full config editor would be a Cool Thing, and I think it might give me some good experience developing applications for Windows in .NET.

Not to mention making it easier for everyone to work with configuration files.

I’m thinking if you wrote your classes write, wired them up with XmlSerializer attributes, you could just deserialize the configuration file directly, make changes to the classes, then just serialize it all back into your config file.



Check this out

  • 128MB USB drive for $37, and it’s smaller than other USB drives. I may have to splurge on this.


Lab time.

I have to say, I’m feeling a little oppressed in this overly geeky environment. I mean, sure, I work in a software development company, but the terrible, terrible geek humor isn’t remotely as prevalent as it seems to be here.

I sit in class here and people say things like, “I can’t tell you how many times I was burned by not having a copy constructor” and then snicker at the… humor? Riiiight. You’re so funny! You should be a comedian!


Well, I’ve had lunch (sandwich) and finished the lab work, and now we’re moving on. I’m glad we’re sticking to the schedule; we might be able to move right along.


Webmail is working again, so I was able to reply to a couple of messages. That’s cool.


I think we’re on the last lab of the day. We get to write simple chat server applications. Should be interesting.

I noticed the bathroom here smells like the one at my dentist’s office. Sort of a mixture of urinal cakes and Scope mouthwash.


That’s the end of lab. I’m outta here.

net, personal comments edit


There’s some road work down the street and someone cut the power to the classroom (and, conveniently, the bathrooms). Not all the classrooms, mind you, just a couple, which includes the one I’m in.

We’ve got some big orange extension cords running in here from another room now so we can work. It’s pretty crazy.

I worked last night on some of the lab work I missed from my Programming Windows Apps class and a bunch of concepts came clear. After that, I decided to try some of the flash cards that came with my practice test for Programming Windows Apps - you know, just to see how I’d do.

There are three difficulty levels on the cards - Easy, Medium, and Hard. I was able to answer almost all of the Medium and Hard questions but the Easy ones stumped me. I wonder what that means…


The air conditioner’s off and it’s getting hot so they just brought us popsicles. I got grape.

Now I’m craving Otter Pops.


Well, it seems that the extra extension cords they’ve run to get our computers up and running are now blowing transformers because they can’t keep up with the increased power drain, so now we have to turn off our computers. Not so great, since that’s how we do labs. Unbelievable.

So I’m going to save this and turn off the computer, and if I can I’ll post later today or, I guess, tomorrow if we don’t get back up.


net, personal comments edit


Second week of training is now underway. This time it’s MS-2349: Programming with the Microsoft .NET Framework (Microsoft C# .NET). It’s actually more of the introductory “here’s how to write programs” sort of class, and you might ask yourself why I didn’t start out by taking this class.

I’m asking myself that same question.

Actually, it wasn’t offered until now, so it wasn’t possible. It would have been nice, but now that I’m in it, I’m hoping it fills in gaps in the knowledge I already have. That’s what it’s looking like to me so far.


The time’s flying by, but mostly because this is total review so far and I’m working on other things, like typing up the outcome of my ten-year class reunion.

In fact, a lot of this class, I feel, is going to be review, but the stuff that isn’t is going to be very valuable indeed. I’m hoping that I’ll solidify my knowledge of the C# language - finally get a good understanding of the stuff that’s a little foggy. We’ll see, right?


We have an hour and a half (starting at noon) to do lunch and a lab, but I decided I was going to do the lab first and then just eat until everyone else finished up.

Of course, then I got talking to the instructor and now it’s 41 minutes into the time and I’m not even close to done with the lab. Maybe I should go get something to eat, eh?


I’m still doing review stuff in my class, but I’ve found yet another pet peeve as I’m sitting here. Actually, two.

First, I can’t stand people who talk to you when you’re trying to read your book. Look, buddy, not only is it obvious that I’m reading (and, hence, busy), but my reading implicitly indicates I have nothing to say to you. Shut up and turn around.

Second, I can’t stand people who pretentiously sit back in a class and act like they know everything about anything already and refuse to listen to you. For example, I work extensively with SharePoint Portal Server. I’d like to think I’m pretty up to speed on it. If you ask me a question and I actually have an answer for you, don’t instantly assume that I’m wrong, especially if you’ve never used the motherfucker. You don’t know, so you shut up. Besides, if you’re so smart, why are you asking me?

Anyway, that’s where I’m at here.


I should check out Broken Saints when I’ve got a computer with sound enabled and a decent connection. It’s supposed to be some pretty cool animation.

I noticed my first review is up on Yay, me! It had two votes on it, with an average rating of 2.5 out of 5 (which means someone voted it as “2” and someone gave it a “3”), so I chipped in a five-vote to raise my score. Hey, man - I like my review. The thing is, I actually meant it to be a two-part review: the first half explains the way I review and the rating scale, the second half is the movie proper. It got posted as a single item, though, so it looks like I’m not really paying attention to the movie and just running off at the mouth. If I ever get access to post/edit the site directly, I’ll be fixing that.

I actually got a note for another review job from them, but unfortunately (as you are all aware) I’m in Bellevue through the rest of the week and the movie’s tomorrow night… so I’m not going to be able to do it. I’d like to, though. Sort of sucks that it’s this week and not next week. Bah. Oh well. Hopefully there will be a “next time.”


We’re going on, like, 40 minutes for a 30 minute lab. Not so great. Admittedly, it’s a lab involving web clients (ASP.NET) which no one else here seems to be familiar with, but this is pretty ridiculous.


The class seems to thrive on bad geek humor. Which means uncalled for, ridiculous puns; utterly unrelated sidetracks and tangents; and jokes with long buildups and no punchline.

I am ready to kill someone.


Aw, shit. Sidetrack. Well, not really sidetrack so much as the know-it-all guy just not getting it. What’s he not getting? IT. Does it matter? The simple fact is that this guy’s all hot shit and now he’s holding up the class.


Well, that’s the end of the day. Tomorrow morning we start with lab. Let’s see how this goes tomorrow. Time to get back to the hotel, maybe do some of the lab work there.

personal comments edit

The weekend was uneventful except for Saturday. I mean, I spent some decent time Friday night and Saturday morning applying Zaino car polish to my car. As far as that’s concerned, while uneventful, I was very pleased with the results. No buffing, very easy, and my car looks great. Highly recommendable.

But Saturday was the “day of happenings” for this weekend.

Saturday afternoon Jenn and I went to a pool party/barbecue that her Job’s Daughters group had going on. It was held at this guy’s house who is some sort of adult leader… or something. Anyway, the guy’s got like an acre of property and the house is something like the Winchester Mystery House. You don’t see it from the street, but when you go into the back it’s a whole other story.

The guy has two guest houses - both he built himself. He’s got a kidney shaped pool. There’s a garage the size of a plane hangar that has so much stuff… I counted nine pairs of antlers; seven or eight microwaves; a concrete form (basically a cardboard tube) about 12 feet high and five feet in diameter; an old-style Winnebago whose windows were crammed with blankets and pillows; the ceiling had rows of old tools hanging from it (scythe blades, drill bits, saws); three potato mashers… The list just goes on and on. The guy had like six trashed out cars in the back yard (at least).

Random shit, man. Next time we go I’m taking a camera. It’s not anything I can even describe accurately.

Plus, you know, teenage girls frolicking in bikinis. Can’t complain about that, can ya?

But that’s not the big thing from Saturday. Saturday evening was my ten-year high school reunion.

It was at a Mexican restaurant known for parties and such, so I figured it’d be a nice setup for mingling, saying hi to old acquaintances, etc.

Man, was I wrong.

I got there (with Jenn) and there were no signs to show where the reunion was happening. There were also no restaurant employees at the front desk to direct us. After tracking one down, we were directed to this area in the back which was not really private; it was more just a separate area in the back, albeit with no real walls or anything. It was sort of hard to tell where the restaurant ended and the reunion began.

I tracked down the “organizer” (since I have known her for years I did recognize her) to get my refund (enough people responded that I only had to pay $25 per person instead of $35 per person). It was good to see her - she looked drastically different, though good - and I said hi as I got my money back from her.

The general layout was such that there was no way to mingle or mill about and talk. They really packed in the chairs and tables - banquet style - and you couldn’t very well walk around and talk to people.

I looked around and… didn’t recognize a single person other than the organizer. Jenn and I took a place at a table that sort of overlooked the rest of the group and also had a view of people coming in. I watched as people continued filtering in and didn’t really see anyone I recognized.

Eventually a girl and her friend came over and sat down. I totally didn’t recognize her until she introduced herself, but it was a friend of mine - Rebecca - who lived just around the corner from my parents. She became a personal trainer (who’d have guessed?) and totally transformed herself. She looked great, and it was good to see her again. Another girl and her friend also sat down at our table. It was Pam, a girl I remember from school but who wasn’t really in my “circle of friends” or anything. Regardless, it was good to see her, too, and it sounded to me like she was pretty successful as a manager at the local sporting arena.

The room filled up, and as people came in Rebecca pointed out people and their faces finally clicked for me. I did end up starting to recognize people, but what I started to discover was that the people who were showing up to this thing… they weren’t the people I hung out with. These were the people who decided I was a “nerd” and didn’t want to associate with me. These were the people who made life difficult.

The other thing I noticed was that everyone out there made attempts to talk to each other, but nobody came up to our table.

Except one.

Sarah, a girl who was in the drama group with me, who was always very nice to me, came over to say hi. It was really great to see her again, to find out she’s in PR now, happily married and living not too far from where I’m living now. I told her what I’ve been up to (and maybe she’s checking out the site right now) and it was really great to catch up with her.

Beyond that, it was a difficult time. Over there’s the class president, who should have been the organizer of the event but decided it wasn’t worth his time (that’s the kind of class president he was, too). There’s the girl I would have died to go to prom with but who declined by laughing at me with her friends. That table there is the current embodiment of the popular crowd.

As I sat there, I couldn’t help but have several “what-if” sorts of things flow through my head. What if I wasn’t a nerd? What if I could have gone to prom with that girl? What if I had been popular?

I dunno. I’m sure everyone has these little reflective moments every once in a while, but it just went further to remind me that I’m a computer programmer and I never wanted to be. That there’s so much I could have done so far with my life but now that I’m on a path I don’t know how I could ever change. That I’m a creative individual in a profession that requires creativity but generates entirely intangible assets.

After two hours of sitting there and not seeing anyone else I really wanted to talk to, Jenn and I decided to leave. I found out as I was leaving that the group was planning on going “clubbing” later on… not really my thing, but it makes sense because that’s how my class was.

So my reunion was vastly lamer than Jenn’s was, and she’s sort of inwardly pleased with that, but I think the fact that my reunion sucked so bad was okay for one reason - it shows me that I never need to go back to another, and the effort that I’ve spent in trying to forget those years has not necessarily been in vain.