Computers, Events, Family, Personal, Thoughts

Further Observations on these Northerners

Each day that goes by is getting a little bit easier – thats a good sign that I am going to live to see 2011 after all!

The highlights first. I turned 26 this year! I’ve left the Spring of my life and moved into it’s Summer. For my birthday we went to Moe’s Southwestern Grill in Hanover. After gorging ourselves on queso, we went to see Get Him to the Greek in theaters. The movie was a riot and had me laughing so hard I was crying. Afterwards, we finished the evening off at the Cheesecake Factory at the South Shore Plaza mall (location of Mall Cop). After writing it off because of the name Kristin is now pumped to go back. Good news for me since I love this place (how can you not?)

I got a new netbook computer for my birthday present. The computer is an ASUS eee, model 1005HAB. I love it for what it does. I can sit outside on our nice patio set and listen to nature while surfing the Internet. I miss my old laptop, but I don’t miss its bulk, its pitiful battery or its weight. Ubuntu Linux has also made it wickedly easy to just install and go. We picked it up in Boston’s North Shore after a Craigslist tip, and what a cool area! We will be scheduling a trip back minus the car. This place is the “gold coast” of Boston, and it is so packed with shops it reminded me of Paris, France.

I also picked up God of War: III, which I can’t play yet, because I haven’t beaten God of War: II. I’ll get to them soon I hope. I heard its fantastic, and I will probably bring it in to work for all the 360 folks to check out (then cry over).

Our heatwave has finally broken, with pleasant afternoon temperatures hanging around 70 the last few days. You don’t really need air conditioning up here, save for a few days like we have had lately. When I walk down the street to get my morning coffee from Dunkin Donuts (more on that in a second), I see one house in four with an AC unit. One of my coworkers just moved into a new apartment, and he said that he has lived in a place without AC his whole life. Amazing!

We have added to our lists of places to go for food. We are both pretty tired of pizza and sub shops, which seems to dot the restaurant landscape as abundantly as weeds. In addition to Vinny Ts, and JJ Mulligans (a local pub), the Cheesecake Factory, and Redbones (BBQ place in Somerville) have made the list. Dunkin Donuts has taken a stranglehold on the coffee and donut market here. They probably outnumber Starbucks 10 to 1. Makes since being that this is where they started. I prefer them anyways – and they are winning Kristin over with their frozen coffee.

The wife and I are still adjusting to our jobs. Its all part of the experience of moving I suppose. We miss our old employers. One of my coworkers brought in a CO2 “rig” for carbonating our drinks. I have had so much carbonated water lately that I think my bladder and kidneys are shutting down. I carbonated some lemonade yesterday, and I am looking for other things to try next. I wonder what sweet tea would taste like? Drinking a freshly carbonated drink means swallowing a lot of CO2, which can make you feel giddy for a second or two. I think that is part of the appeal.

I am getting adjusted to my train ride into work. It has certainty solidified my nerves, since I now have to deal with “strange” people steadily. Instead of fearing the worst, I now just accept they are there, and try to ignore them. Its an improvement for me. I am so comfortable that some days I have drifted off to sleep on the train when I am not engaged in a good book. Doing this has made me end up heading to Ashmont because I missed the transfer at JFK U. Mass. I have gotten a lot of time to read lately. I just finished Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, Zig Ziggler’s See You at the Top (thanks Joyce!), and I am working on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban now.

Kristin and I are continuing our gardening experiment. Our peas are pushing four feet tall, and our tomatoes and cucumber have started to aggressively grow, but they are still tiny – just a few inches tall. The herbs have been a failure, and the green onion has been met with limited success so far. Its something fun to do though. It is satisfying to see something so tall that you started from a tiny seed. Probably the simple version of having a kid I suppose. We have been exploring local parks with the canines which we all enjoy. It really is beautiful up here, and the weather invites you to come outside rather than hitting you with an invisible wave of heat when you open the door.

And now the best news for last, you loyal readers. I will be flying back to Atlanta the morning of July 2nd to see all of you wonderful people. I can’t wait to see my family, my ex-co-workers, friends, babies, and critters! It has really picked my mood since I booked the flight. Hopefully there are some folks staying in town for the holiday weekend. If you are, lets catch up! Give me a ring, or shoot an email to me! See you all soon!

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Apple, Computers, Events, Family, Open-source, Personal, Ruby, Software, Thoughts, Web

Darkness Warshed Over the Dude

We moved into our new office this week. It is really nice inside – very professional. I got to construct a cabinet from IKEA and I thought my head was going to explode. There were points in the instruction booklet where instead of describing something, there would be an arrow and the noise some action would make like “snap!”. I have never seen modular furniture that was so – modular. We are finally setup at the new place, and the overhead lighting is making everyone hate the stupid high-gloss iMac screens. Someone made the comment that it was “like being stabbed repeatedly in the eyes”, and another “could count the hairs on his face”. Now that we have more space, I will be getting a second monitor which I know will be much less frustrating. Along with our move is the mandatory male interior decorator that is stylishly unshaven, wearing a sweater under a brown corduroy jacket, and designer jeans. He was walking around the room talking about how “powerful” the color scheme felt. At least we got some new chairs out of it.

I finally got to the Registry of Motor Vehicles this week after dropping Kristin off at the airport to go back to Atlanta. Of course her being gone threw me out of my barely comfortable routine. The RMV made me surrender my Georgia license without giving me a Massachusetts license. Go figure. So with Kristin gone, the beer gone, and me without a license for the last week I think I went a little crazy. Now that Kristin is back, I asked her to do a beer run with my sad “help me” eyes. No license yet.

I figured I could go park the car at the train station this week, and ride in as usual. Kristin usually drops me off in front, so it shouldn’t have been that different. I got there around 9am the first day I tried it and the damn lot was full. I thought I was going to be clever and drive a block and park in another parking lot and walk back to the station. Apparently everyone tries that because the signs all said “T station parking illegal. Vehicle will be towed at owner’s expense”. The last thing I needed was a pending accident investigation, no license, and a towed car. I ended up just driving in the whole way which I have come to increasingly dislike. The rest of the week worked out better. I just got there earlier and the lot had spaces. The office is right across the street from the train station, so without the bus, it takes about 45 minutes to get to work from the house.

Work has been a mixed bag. Some days I really feel independent enough to feel like I am churning out good, usable code. Other days it is a lot of waiting, or some silly thing that I get hung up on for hours. We moved our project through my first “iteration”. Development on this project is done through “User stories”. A user story (either real, or fictitious) outlines what is a problem, and what needs to be changed to resolve it. A developer can read the user story, make the revisions to the code, and then write a “feature” that demonstrates that it is resolved. The cool thing about features is that it is all natural language thanks to Cucumber. For example,

  Scenario: Search by title
    Given that I am a common user
    And I have a topic with a "title" of "test topic"
    And I am on the Topic Search page
    And I search for "test"
    Then I should see "Results"
    And I should see the topic "test topic"

You can see that it is very easy to follow, and it allows our limited-technical people to read User Stories features without worrying about understanding Ruby tests.  Also, making a change, then seeing your entire test suite pass is a very reassuring feeling. Testing is so important here, that we actually write the feature first, and then change the code to make it pass.

It has been quite a bit to adjust to. I haven’t really had the opportunity to do Ruby development full time, and I am unfamiliar with Git, and OS X. I have already gone through the O’Reilly book on Git with my time on the train, and I am a few chapters into the Ruby 1.8 Pickaxe book. Textmate has been decent, and I could get used to it, however it definitely lacks some of the things Rubymine has. I do like the speed and lightness of Textmate. Case in point is when switching a branch in Git, it applies a bunch of deltas to files in your path, and Textmate just detects that files have changed and reloads them in your tabs. I anticipate that Rubymine would shit bricks and try to re-index your project. Rubymine has some impressive features for speeding up Cucumber development, and showing code coverage though, so I may use it yet again. My co-workers have all been very supportive of me using the tools that I am most comfortable with.

I am getting adjusted to life is adjusting here, but I miss everyone very much. My weekends are just a lot of downtime, with Kristin at work, and me trying to occupy my time. I’ll try and get out of my funk today with a car wash, and a haircut. Hope everyone is having fun down in the Atl!