Saturday, December 29, 2012

Popular Science, July 1957

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


A couple of months ago I switched from Verizon to T-Mobile in order to take advantage of T-Mobile's offer of a free Samsung Galaxy S3 for new contracts.

Awesome!  Right?

Well the phone is pretty nice.  And it was free.  Or so they claim.  I have yet to receive the rebate.  T-Mobile's coverage is astonishingly poor, but we can live with it.


Verizon has sent me two bills (so far), one last month and one just today.  Amount due?

Minus zero dollars.

Which is to say, that they feel I owe them negative zero.  Or is that something they owe me?  I can not log into the Verizon web site to investigate further as they have, naturally, removed my account.  I had a auto-pay set up with them using a credit card.  Will they bill the card negative zero?  Maybe!

Another embarrassing triumph of corporate technology!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Demo

Once upon a time, at the end of a week, a Thursday or Friday, I looked at my ChimpsTek Inc. email and caught the end of a long string about a problem and whose fault is was.  Well, it was actually my bug and none of the other chimps realized it.  So I put a fast stop to the email be saying it was my part of the system and I'd fix it Monday.

Monday morning, I did.  It took a couple hours.  Right away Wilbert asked me if I'd put the fix on [server] so he could test his work.  Well, I didn't respond right away because I'd never heard of [server].  My latest and greatest was always on [other  server].   And I knew there was some sort of demo coming up, although I didn't know the details.  I didn't want to be blamed if stuff I literally just compiled breaks [server].

But Wilbert wanted the change on [server] first and [other server] second if it was OK.  [other server] already has my very current work, but not this one last fix.

I waited.

Later yesterday, I asked Gus, what's [server]?  Wilbert wants this software on there, but I'm nervous about this demo I've heard about.

Gus says Vince is handling the demo and Gus thought [other server] was going to be used for the demo.   (which is weird because I don't consider [other server] stable, it is *very* current work). But Gus calls Vince and finds out, yes, it's [other server].  Gus doesn't know about [server].  What’s [server]?

So I wait some more.  Tuesday morning, I put the brand new configuration on [server], because the one it has is real old.  With that on there, putting my new stuff in place is just a matter of copying three files.  I sent out an email saying this and saying *exactly* what would need to be done if anyone wants the latest on there, really.  Copy three files.  Any chimp can do it.


Wilbert again says he really wants the software on there.  

So I ask Paul (new chimp).  What is this [server]?  Should I be messing with it?  It's Paul's software that's being demo'ed in part.

Paul asks me on what machine is the demo is going to be?  

How should I know!?  So Paul sends out an email saying that he thought the demo was on [other server], why is Big Chimp installing the latest on [server]?  (notice he's missing my point about not wanting to risk the demo entirely)

Wilbert answers, somewhat tersely, that he wants to test my change on [server] first.  (I think Wilbert gets as annoyed at this stuff as I do, he's a Windows chimp but he's pretty smart)

I wait some more.
Ok, finally I put the new software on [server] and restart [container].
It doesn't start right.  Basically, our whole suite now exceeds some default JVM memory settings.  I had already made a change to that on my PC, and Paul had already made the same change on [other server] which has a version of my work that is 99.999% the same, running fine.

I try to change the config by editing the [container] file I know about, but it doesn't work.  It seems that running it as a service in Windows changes where it gets its parameters (I conclude).  I do not have the foggiest idea how this works.  I've never set that up.  I don't use Windows, and I don't run things as a service.

I send out an email.  Could someone whose done this before setup [server] and same as [other server]?  Or should I roll back to the real old software.

More crickets.
Most of the morning passes.


I start over hearing talk down the hall about how [server] isn't working.  Does anyone know why?  We may have to postpone the demo (the demo?)

More time passes.
I get an email saying the demo is postponed.  WTF?!  I thought the demo was on [other server]?

I catch the Head Chimp in the hall and say to him (he's been on all these emails) that it is embarrassing to hold up progress because no one can set up the Windows service, and I have said *exactly* what's needed, I just don't know where to put it, and is *anybody* working on this?  SOMEBODY set up [other server] right?  Just make them the same and it will work!

The Head Chimp asks me which machine the demo is on?  Don't they need [server] for their part of the system?

How should I know??  I've never even heard of [server]!  So he says he will check with Paul.  Paul made the change on [other server] when the problem came up there.


Paul comes into my office.  What's wrong with [server]?
Make the settings the same as [other server], it needs more memory, I don't know where to set that in a Windows Service!  

I thought the demo was on [other server] he says.  Where's the demo?

What?  I'm in charge of the demo now??

He leaves.
I figure fine.  Great whatever.  I give up.  I get on [server] and start messing around.  I find another file with the JVM parameters in it.  Maybe that's it.  As I'm editing and restarting.  I get an email from Paul:

The demo is on [other server] go ahead and make [server] the same as [other server].


I reply that AGAIN, I do not have the foggiest idea how to do that.

Right at this point he starts fighting me for the remote desktop session.  I keep it.  And wait until [container] starts.  The log looks better, but there's still an error, different error.

I close the session and send an email saying that I guessed and edited this other file and put [exact change] in there.  It seemed to help but there's still a problem.  If someone could just make [server] and same as [other server] it will work.


Paul comes in and tells me he asked SysAdmin Chimp to give that VM more memory and it now seems to be working.  And he leaves.  I checked a couple things in my software, yes it seems to be working.

About an hour later, I get an email saying that the demo has been delayed until tomorrow.

Compiz is Killing Me

compiz is a piece of software included with the Ubuntu Linux distribution.  It's purpose has something to do with making dang sure you can't do want you want to do with the GUI.  This devious module will go to great lengths to interfere with your futile attempts to use your computer in the manner you like, at least through the Unity window manager; it's influence seems to stop at the borders of the windows manager.

The compiz program is determined.  It will stop at nothing.  Like The Terminator, it will just keep coming because...

That is what it does.

One of it's evil tricks is to saturate your CPU.  Want to send an email?  Ha!  No chance!  compiz is generating 400 million random longs first!  Take that!  70%, 80%, even 95% CPU is not enough for the mighty compiz!

That's right, just try to refresh that browser!

The root of this evil (and we speculate here) is that compiz is taking advantage of your past efforts to customize The Unity (did I mention that that was futile?) in older versions of the distribution.  This "problem" (the authors do not appear to think of it in these terms) seems to impact chimps that have had Unity installed for awhile, and have been through a few updates.

So we here at Computer Programmer Shirt recommend resetting compiz to its defaults.  It's easy, any chimp can do it.  First remove and make backup copies of your configuration files, in one swoop, with a move command.

mv ~/.compiz-1 ~/.compiz-1.broken
mv ~/.config/compiz-1 ~/.config/compiz-1.broken

The restart your computer.  Nice and Window-ish eh?  Well that's how you restart Unity.  It's the only way to be sure.  

The system will create fancy new versions of the compiz configuration.  If everything is OK, you can remove the backup copies.

Good luck, you will need it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012