Friday, March 31, 2006


Nothing better than
Haiku error messages
"Total System Crash"

Your computer sucks
Get a faster processor
If you want this app

Sorry. It's my fault.
Arrays are not my strong suit
Pointer out-of-range

Will you ever learn?
Letters? Numbers? Not the same.
Invalid input.

That file isn't there.
Maybe it is somewhere else.
Wanna go find it?

Wanna do something?
It doesn't matter right now.
I'm doing MY thing.

Solitary morn.
Mist outside my window pane,
Smoke in my PC.

Sorry 'bout your luck.
That file you wanted is gone.
Purged it yesterday.

Friday, March 24, 2006

See? Sharp.

For those of you who require a formal statement, I have begun the new phase of my career at Intuit Canada.

During my interview, they asked a lot of questions, testing my knowledge. Most of the questions asked by Adwin, the Senior Software Engineer, were based around C++ (as Quicken has always been programmed in C and C++ and the QSG [Quicken Solutions Group] has been a C++-centric group). I figured that the main reason I’d gotten the job was because of my fairly-extensive knowledge of C++.

Except I’m the only Engineer in Edmonton who isn’t working in C++.

It turns out that the driving force behind my being hired is that I have shown (through work experience and through my references) that I am not afraid to speak up when I have concerns and they felt that that would be a very valuable asset to have as a remote member of a development team.

So I’m using C#, leaning very heavily on concepts I’ve never really looked at like Events and Delegates. It’s going to be a harrowing couple of weeks, getting up to speed on these things. When I do, things will all be well (until they throw the next challenge at me, anyway!)

On the reading front, things are going slowly, but still relatively on target for the 50 books goal.

I’ve finished (but haven’t had time to write about): The Horse and his Boy, Nighttime Parenting, and The Subtle Knife. That gives me 14 books read through today. I have a month and a week to finish three books to be on track (though my goal #1 list has expanded out of control – there are now a whopping 23 books! I’m going to have to revise this list to allow for reality, and for the fact that I’m reading two software design books (they have already been added to the list but they’re taking precedence over all the other books right now. )

They’re Design Patterns by Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson and John Vlissides; and Code Complete by Steve McConnell. So far, they’re very high-level and have a lot to do with design intent, laying groundwork and avoiding just jumping into the code in order to avoid redoing a bunch of work.

Very interesting stuff.

36 books to go!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A little family history for you

Dear Mr Jones,

Thank you for your enquiry of 17th April, in which you request
informationconcerning Robert Hardie Wilson and Julia Allen.The only information
we have relates to Mr Wilson. The minutes of a meeting held on 10th October 1901
state that "Mr Wilson, who acted as secretary ofthe club for the past five
months should receive remuneration to the extentof £75". His employment in this
capacity probably began in April of thatyear, after the existing secretary
resigned, having been in the position foronly one year.Unfortunately, we have no
further details and I have been unable to find anyreference to Julia Allen.I
hope the information supplied i! s of some use. If I can be of any
furtherassistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,Angela
HoweHeritage & Museum Curator
The R&ASt AndrewsFife, KY16 9JD
Tel. +44 (0)1334 460062

My cousin Mike has been digging into our family history and it turns out that my great grandfather was the secretary for the St. Andrews golf club, the birthplace of golf. Thanks to Auntie Anne for forwarding this information to me.

This Time Next Week

This time next week, I’ll be sitting down, probably with Jim Whitelaw or Chris Smith (who is one of his underlings), going through stuff for the job.

Maybe I’ll be in the HR person’s office, going over benefits information, looking forward to that meeting being over so I can get on with working.

Most significantly, however, is the fact that I won’t be at Halliburton.

My post-university life has centred around two key elements: My relationship with Kim and my job at Halliburton.

Over the last three years, the two have been intertwined and, while my relationship with Kim has not been defined by my job at Halliburton, both have developed into long-term relationships. Now one of them is coming to an end.

The job was not without its frustrations: getting called out for things I didn’t do (probably because I was supposed to do them), working months on two or three projects, just to see them get cancelled or changed just before I finished them, and so on.

It’s had its successes, too. Most notably the programming projects, the technical writing, and the hours and hours of interacting with Engineering, trying to get the product out on time. Being support personnel is not an ideal career for me, but it did have its attractions.

I’ve also made friends. I don’t care to pretend that all of the people I’ve become friends with at Halliburton are people I will always keep in touch with. I’m going one direction and they’re going in another. However, I have made friends I care about, friends I will keep up with after I’m gone, and I will remember everyone I worked with until time leaves nothing but a vague impression. I will miss every one of them, whether they were stressors, friends, co-workers, bosses, mentors or just people I passed in the hallways and shared a quip with.

I will miss this place.

Monday, March 13, 2006

At Least the Milkshake was Tasty

I was making milkshakes for dessert when Kim calls into the kitchen, "What happened?"

I'd heard a small [crump] but I didn't pay it any mind, amid the whinings of an out-of-sorts Lillian and the incoherent babblings of everyday Nicholas. I joined her at the picture window and we saw a white car, stopped in the middle of the road.

Kim explained that she'd watched the car driving down the road and heard the noise. I slipped into my shoes and scurried outside to see if there was anything I could do.

A car was stopped at the entrance to the condo complex, facing outward. A man was walking toward the white car, which now had a hood bent up like an A.

Being a "first-aider", I assessed the situation and noticed that everyone was okay. It was pretty obvious what happened, but the guy who had been leaving the condo explained it to me anyway.

"It was slippery and I couldn't stop. Man, I hope she doesn't go to the cops." I was in no position to comment on that and I suggested that the woman, who was pretty shaken-up, pull her car over to the side of the road. Fortunately, it was still driveable, and she did as I suggested.

I wasn't going to go anywhere, since this guy was taller than I was, and the lady was a small Asian woman. I didn't think the guy would try to do anything but I wanted to make sure.

I suggested he go and get his insurance papers and he ran off to his car to get them. They weren't there. He drove off as I noted his license plate number in case he didn't come back.

While he was gone, I asked the lady if she had a pen and paper. She was still pretty shaken-up, and I offered to write the information down for her. I did, she told the guy she wouldn't go to the police and everyone left, if not happy, then satisfied. About the time that I finished writing the insurance information, I realized that I hadn't put my coat on. Or my touque.

I went inside and enjoyed my milkshake and now you have this delightful story to read.

The end.

Friday, March 10, 2006

"I quit." "You're fired."

Over the last three days, I've gotten to say both of these things.

I fired a temp yesterday because she wasn't performing up to expectations. Ah, expectations, which will invariably lead to disappointment. Still, as a boss (not a BOOSE) you have to have expectations and if they're not met, you get to fire people.

I did, and then had nightmares about it last night.

Firing people really sucks, but the gratitude on the faces of the rest of Document Control helped to ease that suckiness.

I hired someone new today. Heather likes her and figures she'll do okay. I hope she's right because we're running out of time.

For those of you keeping track, 6 days, 4 hours and 23 minutes... 22 minutes.

As for reading and my annual goal, I have been forced, by the work situation, to put that on hold. There is a certain amount of work I have to get done before I leave and it comes before any subtle knives.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Resigned To It

Well, today came the worst part of starting a new job – at least when you like the job you’re leaving.

I have nothing but the utmost respect for my current boss, Ed. He knows how to treat people and, while Halliburton is still among the lowest salaries for Engineers, there are more than enough perks to keep people around.

I told Ed today, when I handed in my resignation, that if it hadn’t been the situation that it is, I wouldn’t have left. I truly believe that. I think he believed it too. He took what had the potential to be a very painful experience and made it easy on me. He knew that I was leaving. Someone told him and I think I know who but that doesn’t matter. I wanted to be the one to tell him but that’s not always my choice when I tell other people. Regardless, I left his office with a handshake and best wishes and, I truly believe, no hard feelings on either side.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A New Job: I'll really be "Intuit"

I got the Job

For those of you who were at coffee when I was home alone, you know what I’m talking about.

For the rest of you, I’ll start at the beginning.

My wife left for the weekend. Hopped on a plane and headed to Vancouver for her brother’s wedding. The day after she left, I got an email from Graham Thompson, Talent Acquisition for Intuit, the makers of Quickbooks, Quicken, Quick Tax and I’m sure a few others. I figured it was a long shot for the job but I want a career in software development and they seemed to be a reasonable fit. C++ is their specialty, and it’s mine too, so we seemed to be a pretty good match.

Sunday came, and I had a 30-minute phone interview with Graham after I spent a few hours going over things I would say, trying to relax and trying to build up my confidence.

I kicked that interview’s ass.

Graham told me, at the end, that I sounded like a reasonable candidate for the position they were hiring for. I figured I’d get a second interview.

That Friday, I did.

When Kim sprained her ankle, I took two days off to take care of her, and that allowed me the opportunity to sneak off for a bit for a face-to-face interview with Jim Whitelaw, the hiring manager. It turned out that he interviewed me with a senior Software Engineer (though that may change soon if Apegga has their way). Partway through the interview, Jim turned to the senior man and said, “Do you have any more questions for him?” He said, “Yeah, but he’ll get them. Do you want me to ask them anyway?” At that point, I was fairly confident that I would get the job. They asked some good problem-solving questions, some programming questions and some about my history of conflict-resolution, predicting how long it would take me to finish a project and things of that nature. I had good answers for all of them. Still, I wasn’t entirely sure. I wasn’t ready to hand in my resignation, anyway.

Yesterday, I found out that they were going to offer me a package. Today I found out what the package was going to be. Either tomorrow or the next day, I’m going to go to Intuit and sign an agreement and I’m going to give my notice at the Big Red (hustling on!). The money is more than I expected out of a junior position and as much as I’m making now. With taking a car off the road, not using the gas, balanced by a bus pass, I’ll be taking home more than I was before and doing what I want to do for a living, not to mention that I’ll be at the bottom of the totem-pole, rather than at the top, so my opportunities for advancement will be more prevalent.

While 2006 started with a fairly nondescript aura, it’s turned out to be a fairly significant year. Thank god for the green years.

According to

Fitness Incentive and Games Room:
Our Edmonton office has a gymnasium and associated equipment onsite. Our onsite fitness facility is complete with treadmill, weights, exercise bike, showers and towel service. Our games room is equipped with a big-screen TV, VCR, billiards and fooseball! We have nap rooms too - three of them; each with a bed, bedding, nightstand, reading lamp and clock radio. Calgary and remote employees are eligible to receive a fitness incentive to help defray the cost of a gym membership or monthly gym fees.

Tuition Assistance:
Employees who choose to continue their education through an accredited school may qualify for assistance with books and tuition. Intuit reimburses employees up to $2,000 per fiscal year for job- or career-related courses.

Computer Loan Program:
After six months of regular employment, employees can borrow up to $3,000 to purchase a computer. The loan is interest free and is paid back through payroll deductions.

Product Discounts:
Employees enjoy substantial discounts on Intuit products.

Corporate Giving:
Intuit encourages and supports employees' community involvement efforts through the We Care and Give Back Program. It includes two components:

Employee Volunteer Program:
Employees are encouraged to develop and demonstrate leadership skills by organizing team volunteer activities. The program includes financial support and time off to volunteer for corporate approved projects and programs.

Employee Matching Program:
Intuit provides matching funds to charitable organizations that employees personally support, and/or funds raised through an individual's personal efforts for a charitable organization. We match donations made by eligible employees, dollar for dollar, up to $1,200.

Adoption Assistance:
To help offset the cost of adopting a child, Intuit reimburses up to $4,500 (net) per adoption.

On-Site Cafeteria:
The Edmonton location has a cafeteria on site, which includes a sandwich-bar/deli, salad bar, soups, pizza, pastas, roasted turkey, beef or pork, desserts, fruit - just about anything.