Oh sweet mercy

Filed under: General - Mark @ 8:26 am


My boss just gave me two DVDs containing a system that he maintains that is running in a version of our engine that was superceded over 5 years ago. We have to migrate it to the latest engine and then relocate its server. No biggie, that’s actually very easy.

What I was impressed by however, is this:


Last modified 14 years and 10 days ago. I always knew that these kinds of systems existed, but I never thought I would run into one. That’s also impressive that in the last 14 years the system has been progressively upgraded from one runtime engine to another (think of it like moving from QBasic to VB to VB6 to .NET to .NET 1.1 to .NET 2.0 to .NET 3 to .NET 3.5 etc etc). Given that it’s only been 5 years since its last batch of maintenance, and that it’s survived 5 years without maintenance (although I do vaugely remember having to re-build an index on a troublesome table about 2 years ago) is fairly impressive, and a testament to Btrieve databases (a very old version of Pervasive).

Add Comment (0) | 30/3/2009



The world gone crazy

Filed under: General - Mark @ 6:58 am


I was reading Nadine’s blog this morning, and just after she says the word that most men dread *cough*tampon*cough*, she links to a brand named called Moxie. So, out of morbid curiosity (and I’m bored, and I’ve never heard of that brand before, which in itself is not entirely unusual) I clicked the link. Low and behold, it’s one of the WORST websites I’ve ever seen. Let me explain.


Ok. That’s a screenshot of the website. No it’s not a splash banner or an intro movie, that’s the website. You navigate by clicking on some (but not all) of the objects on or around the mirror. And, there’s no clear distinction about what is and what isn’t a link. There does not seem to be any corrolation between the items you click on and where they take you (clicking the bottom drawer takes you to Events, clicking on the bottle of perfume takes you to Where To Buy).

I can’t even begin to list all the reasons why this is poor design – it’s just too long and I would have a buffer overflow if I tried to locate a starting point.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for progressive design. Many of the sites we develop we’ve thrown out the traditional design and gone for something different. But at least they’re usable. Logical. And they don’t open every single link in a new window.

Let’s just take one example. I went to the Moxie website because I was interested to see what they would sell that would make women want to put their most personal items inside it. Do you think I found anything? Hells no. Maybe thats because I’m a man – I don’t know. Do I click on “Collection” (a tin, which is a container, and thus I thought the logical thing to click on given my research reason), or do I click on “Designer Series” (an incredible unrealistic barbie-doll shaped woman designed to lower teenage girls self-image in a corset). Turns out neither.



An outdoors day

Filed under: General - Mark @ 6:56 pm


Seven hours. Thats how long it took me to fix the cigarette lighter in my car so I could get a power source back again. It’s been broken for over a year, but now that we’re driving to Adelaide and we can’t find the wall-charger for the TomTom I figured it was time to do something about it.

So, I already knew it wasn’t the fuse – I’m not that stupid, I checked that ages ago. So what I did check was that there was current passing through the fuse. There wasn’t. The power was not even getting to the fuse box. Very odd. When I discovered this, I called dad, we discussed it and decided the only thing to do was to take the power source for the lighter from another area.

The original lighter was 15 amps, so it would be great to pull it from another 15 amp location. So I went down to Jaycar and bought an in-line 15 amp fuse, and some little pastic thingos that allow you to splice into the middle of a wire without cutting it.

The radio was looking good for 15 amps, so I pulled out the wiring harness (which to get to the lighter wiring required the removal of the entire centre dashboard console. for that and spliced into the accessory power from the radio. Plugged a device in, all good for a few seconds, then POP – there goes the fuse in the fusebox. Weird, I thought, seeing as the in-line fuse should have busted first, not the one in the fusebox, so I pull out the fuse and – it’s perfectly fine! Really weird, so I pulled out all the fuses one by one (this was the first time of MANY it happened today) and found a 7.5 amp fuse had blown. Looked up why and it was because the 15 amp fuse was for the standbye power, not the aux power. So – no good there then.

After hunting through the manual for the car, it turns out that the only accessory circuits accessible in the cabin were 7.5 amp circuits – with one exception, the automatic transmission which is 10 amps. Normally I would never fuck with an automatic transmission, except my car is a manual. So, I pulled out the entire centre console (armrest, housing, casings, everything, because this was what was required to get to the wiring for the transmission that I don’t have). Anyway after locating the elusive aux power there (and by this stage the entire inside of my car was outside, except for the seats) I wired it up tried it again and again… POP. There goes the fuse for the transmission (just as well I don’t have an auto). wtf? Turns out that what I had wired into was the lighting console, which is again 7.5 amps and the automatic transmission rail goes into the actual gearbox, which is not accessible from the cabin, so I loose again. SO. I said fuck it, and ran a 5-amp fuse in-line instead of a 15 amp fuse, so if it overloads it won’t blow everything up. Then, I decided to check it with a multimeter to make sure the voltage was OK and low and behold, it was alllll great until I checked the actual terminals inside the lighter. THey were corroded and rusted and no current at all. So I had to clean it, But I forgot to unplug it first and blew the inline fuse!

So, thank god for fuses. Once it was all working, I cleaned every single piece of the console before putting it back in, and at the end of the day, 7 hours later, I had a working lighter, the console was as clean as new, AND to top it all off, I had no screws left over.

Add Comment (0) | 28/3/2009



On my way

Filed under: General - Mark @ 5:34 pm


Well, I came up with an idea for an iPhone app. I want to create an application that monitors the brokers and requesters for our application remotely. They already exist for the PC but sometimes I need to check it when I’m not at a PC.

So, I did some research into whats required to develop an iPhone app, and it turns out you need an Intel Mac. Hah, no thanks. I just want to do this as a small hobby, I’m not going to spend any money on it. So in a few hours time, assuming I ticked the right boxes, I’ll have a nice hackintosh to work on.

So, while I was waiting for that I spent all my free time developing the same application in Visual Studio, to see how the comms work. It’s all TCP communication, and seeing as how I don’t have a reference for how to structure the data, I’ve spent more hours than I care to think of staring at wireshark packet captures. It’s not perfect, but I have a working example in Visual Studio on how to connect, authenticate and get basic server information (thankfully I could mostly copy/paste the byte stream from Wireshark and paste it into a variable of type byte to reconstruct the most of it).

So, hackintosh is on the way (thanks for the loan of your computer Ange, although I doubt you’ll read this, or for that matter even turn on your old computer now you’ve got your laptop), I’m watching the dev introduction videos, in a few days hopefully I’ll have something worth sharing.

Add Comment (0) | 26/3/2009



I wanna I wanna I wanna

Filed under: General - Mark @ 1:52 pm


I wanna develop an application for the iPhone, just to learn. I’ve had to bash around in C++ today and I really enjoyed it – it’s been months since I did anything in a traditional programming language. Thing is I can’t think of anything to write for the iPhone (apart from Hello World that is).

It can’t be anything too complex and it doesn’t have to have any value or merit in the real world. Just something for me to learn with!

Any ideas? Comment me.

Add Comment (0) | 25/3/2009




Filed under: General - Mark @ 7:12 am


Ok I’m going to break with tradition twice in one day.

I still have this dream! (If you can’t read it, click the comic).

Add Comment (0) | 19/3/2009



Breaking with tradition

Filed under: General - Mark @ 6:21 am


I normally avoid posting these kinds of things here, but this guy was just too cute to overlook!



Maybe not so cheap

Filed under: General - Mark @ 9:24 am


So, regarding my post the other day about how $1600 is a cheap surgery. Scrap that. Screw it up and throw it in the bin. I’m even considering deleting the post.


Well, yesterday we got another $1000 worth of bills in the mail, which we were at no stage informed about (we were told that the $1600 would be the only bill. It turns out that that ONLY covered the bed and the theatre for half an hour). And there will be more bills to come.

Oh, and I went to have my stitches out, and a shitload of fluid gushed out of my leg and ripped my wound open, so now it’s been re-stitched and I’m back to working from home because I can’t walk again (and there goes my 40 bucks on a weekly ticket, what a waste).

Add Comment (1) | 17/3/2009



Maybe not so great?

Filed under: General - Mark @ 7:54 am


I have deleted this post because it’s all crap. See this post instead.

I’ve been thinking. The surgery I had on Monday cost us just over $1600 (see previous post about health insurer). That sounds like a lot for a surgery that lasted just over 30 minutes, but I’m not so sure. I doubt that the surgeon actually gets to see very much of that money. Reason being:

    Hospital Fees
  • An hour of a nurses time to check me in
  • The cost of occuping a bed for an afternoon (washing sheets, washing gown, and in a busy hospital it would also include the cost of turning someone else away from that bed)
  • The cost of a meal (which actually just wasn’t too bad!)
  • Two trips by a porter
  • Use of all the monitoring machines they hook you up to
  • The time spent by admin staff filling in paperwork and chasing my insurer
  • The time yet to be spent filling in forms for my insurer when they investigate my case
  • Parking (no wait we had to pay for that ourselves)
  • Other medical fees
    • Anesthetists time
    • Anesthetists equipment (IV drip, saline, the actual anesthetic)
    • The Anesthetists assistant
    • The cost of hiring the surgery theatre
    • Intubating
    • Recovery room staff (who have to stare at you for 20 minutes)
  • And if you wanna get niggly, there’s even more things like the cost of the disinfectant for the equipment, the use of the oxygen masks, etc etc. There’s probably hundreds of different things I forgot. All in all there’s probably two dozen people involved in a small surgery like mine, from the surgeon to the nurses to the admin staff.

    So $1600 is probably quite cheap.

    Add Comment (0) | 12/3/2009



    All done!

    Filed under: General - Mark @ 8:09 am


    I should have had this done 10 years ago, but I finally had my cyst removed! I had to have a general anaesthetic because the area was too large to have a local. I was a bit nervous at first, not ever having had a general before, and I wasn’t sure what it would be like.

    Well, to be honest, it was nice! It was one of the nicest feelings I’ve ever had. They canulated me, injected something, and I went light headed and fell into a proper sleep. I even dreamed!

    The only creepy thing is that I remember being intubated (where they stick a breathing tube down into your lungs), and I remember them taking the tube out. I was groggy for a long time, I think I kept asking the poor nurse in recovery the same few questions over and over 😛 And I don’t remember being wheeled back into my room so I guess I must have passed out again then too 😉

    Add Comment (0) | 10/3/2009



    LaTrobe health, that’s who

    Filed under: General - Mark @ 10:16 am


    What kind of national health insurer ceases their operations when it’s a public holiday in one state?

    LaTrobe, that’s who.

    I went to the surgeon today to get a consult about getting my cyst removed, and he told me he can take it out this arvo, so at 1pm I’m going to the hospital and having it out at 3.30.

    Anyway I tried to call my health insurer to sort it out, and it keeps telling me that they only open at 8.30am please call back during business hours (it’s 10:30 already).

    Anyway then the hospital called to tell me that THEY couldn’t contact the health insurer, because it’s a public holiday in Victoria, so I will have to pay the FULL amount and then do the re-imbursement myself.

    C’mon, that’s just poor. It’s not a public holiday anywhere else in the country.

    Add Comment (0) | 9/3/2009



    What will they come up with next?

    Filed under: General - Mark @ 9:55 am


    Wow! What a fantastic piece of journalism!


    What kind of amazing investigative technique that took? And how long did the editor sit there, wondering what headline to put on such an IMPORTANT piece of news!

    It makes me FUCKING angry to think that this kind of shit passes as news, even if it is on the bottom of an MSN box thingo.

    Add Comment (0) | 6/3/2009



    I’m all for change

    Filed under: General - Mark @ 7:41 am


    According to the Wayback machine (I just closed the tab with it open, so don’t bother for a URL) I’ve had this layout for over three years. And I still like it. Neat.

    In other news, Angela bought herself a HP 1001TU netbook, for the grand price of $639 (after cashback). It’s got a 90% sized keyboard (miles ahead of the EEEPC), XP Home (I would have preferred professional, but meh), 1Gb RAM (for XP that should be OK – for now), Atom 1.6Ghz, and a 60gb 4200RPM (Not SSD) harddrive. The trackpad is a bit weird, the buttons are to the left-and-right of the pad, rather than below it, but again no biggie, it’s something you get used to. Throw in a built-in webcam, bluetooth, wifi. The only thing that lets it down is the battery (3 hours vs 4-5 hours in other models), and the RRP (but with our discounted price it’s actually cheaper than most other models from other brands).

    Add Comment (1) | 4/3/2009



    Clearasil, eat your freakin heart out

    Filed under: General - Mark @ 11:10 am


    My leg got infected again on the weekend. The Cyst I had just before the wedding is now as red and as furious as ever. There was a bubble about 1cm long and 0.5cm wide that was packed full to bursting with puss. It burst during the night, so I never got a chance to do a good squeeze on it (just the leftovers the next morning). Picture after the cut.

    Add Comment (0) | 2/3/2009