Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Today I used the word "crufty" with respect to an aspect of a process. I don't recall whether it was software or business. It doesn't really matter. When the word was used, I got that strange look from my boss - you know, what the look is like. It essentially says why are you using that word and what exactly does it mean?

Again, I decided to validate my usage with the help of Google.

Pick your favorite definition. I feel that my usage was appropriate.

cruft (noun)
Cruft is computing jargon for "code, data, or software of poor quality". The term may also refer to debris that accumulates on computer equipment. It has been generalized to mean any accumulation of obsolete, redundant, irrelevant, or unnecessary information, especially code.

1. (computing, informal) Anything old or of inferior quality.
2. (computing, informal) Redundant, old or improperly written code, especially that which accumulates over time; clutter.

Thanks very much to wikipedia and the wiktionary.

Monday, August 31, 2009


I like words. Today I about put the verb "borked" in an email and then wondered if I fully understood what I was saying. It's always a good idea to make sure the one completely understands the meaning and history of a word before it is put to use.

According to the Wiktionary, my usage was correct, but it was interesting to learn of the word's history.

One can learn about it by reading the history of Robert Bork an American legal scholar.

Personally I like the software meaning of the term better, though now that I understand there are possible politics in its etymology I may not use the word as much.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

When Your Sensor Needs Cleaning

I've had my Canon 30D for three years now. It's been a lot of fun. Recently I started to notice odd dust marks showing up on my pictures. At first I thought that it was dust in or on the lens. After a thorough cleaning I tried again, and they were still there. I attached my 50 mm lens, set the aperture as high as it would go, set the focus to infinity and took the following photo while pointing the camera at the wall.

Verdict: Dust on the sensor

I did some searching online and found that it is something that one can easily do, however, it does void your warranty with Canon. Rather unfortunate isn't it? At any rate, I decided I didn't want to take the life of my camera into my own hands. I am absolutely positive I would find a way to screw it up. So the camera is going to spend a weekend at the store where it was purchased so that someone who cleans sensors every day can make it all shiny and new again. In the meantime, it's strange not having my camera.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Christmas Tree

Globe with Glitter

Today I had my sisters Anne and Kate over. We spent a couple of hours this morning visiting stores in with high hopes of finding red and silver accoutrements for dressing the Christmas tree. With some persistence we managed to purchase some great looking decorations. After a nice lunch of left over Thanksgiving stuff, we worked on decorating the tree. I think it looks great. Kate and Anne are quite the team, and I sure appreciate them caring enough to make sure that my home is appropriately decked for the holiday season.

You can see a few out-takes from our decorating session over at flickr.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

To Pay the Piper

I just finished reading an editorial from today's edition of the New York Times titled New Jersey's Painful Lesson. It is indeed surprising to read that elected officials still do not understand simple rules of budgeting. Money always comes from somewhere and at a price. I applaud Gov. Jon Corzine for pushing a difficult agenda of budget cuts with his legislature. In an economy fraught with both moral and economic decisions to make, it becomes very difficult to tell people that they have to learn how to do more with less, or worse, that services needed by citizens are simply not available.

Financial responsibility is key to any economy be it the economy of a family, state, nation or world. Just as I have to pay my bills each month, so does my state, and our nation. It seems to me that we've gone far too long without seriously considering the financial impact that legislation and policy make on our lives. I am not against government. I fully understand that legislation and policy are tools by which our land and freedoms can be protected. I worry that those making these important decisions may not always have the best interest of the whole in mind.

Decisions impacting personal, state and federal budgets should be carefully considered not just for the impact of the moment, but in the long term. Like most, I hope for a healthy economy capable of supporting growth and great innovation for many years to come. I also believe that this dream is not possible without careful and very intentional planning. We should always be saving for the future, even if it means we don't have everything that we want in the here and now.

I agree with the opinion of the Times. "... it is not too late for other states and thousands of cities, towns and countries to learn that politicians who have little trouble running up a big tab have a terrible time paying it off when the bill, as it must, finally comes due."

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Free Time

Being at the tail end of a great week spent on vacation, I've allowed myself more time than I usually would to think. It was fun to get out of town, and tend to the lighter things in life, but at the back of my mind I kept being nagged by the should do's and need to do's that I've not been so diligent about keeping up with. That's not to say that I'm lazy in general, but professionally I've not been nearly as ambitious as I had hoped that I would be.

At the time I graduated I thought that it would be cool to try to learn a new programming language each quarter just for kicks. I also thought it would be a good idea to read at least a book a week be it recreational or work related. Rather than keeping up with these lofty goals I fell into a trap that most working American's know well. Television. There's always something on, and if there isn't something on right now, the DVR or iTunes can easily cure the problem. I love my HD television, but truth be told I spend too much time with it. It's just too easy and brainless. With a movie the television makes for an easy date. With a season or three of a sitcom or drama the television makes for more than several evenings of hanging out with friends. This is not to say that television and one way media consumption doesn't have its place, but I do question what that place should be.

Clay Shirky gave a presentation at the 2008 Web 2.0 Expo that seems to have gelled some of my thoughts regarding my current use of time. Shirky calls it "cognitive surplus" or "free time". He talks about how much time we, as a society, spend masking that surplus by watching television rather than investing it in other endeavors. He quoted some "back of the envelope" calculations that the wikipedia project has an investment of 100 million hours of human thought. Then stated that America spends 200 billion hours a year watching television. Shirky then went on to speak about the evolution of society and how we're just now beginning to experiment with new ways to invest that 200 billion hours in an "architecture of participation". This architecture of participation would include things like wikipedia, facebook, flickr, twitter, world of warcraft, google reader or blogging the list is virtually endless. He posits that people like to produce and share. This thought resonates with me.

Deploying my cognitive surplus in front of the HD television is easy indeed, but spending it creating, reading, writing and participating in global conversations feels much more rewarding. There's a certain feeling of accomplishment after I've posted a new blog entry, or commented on the flickr photo stream of a friend. I feel pride in the fact that I contributed or participated.

So maybe for the next week, I'll try to limit the time spent on my couch. Rather, I'll read, write, and live a bit more, with the expectation that it will enhance my experience and possible that of others as well.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

IBM Commands Attention?

Just finished listening to episode 182 of the Java Posse podcast.

I don't know who to attribute the quote to but thought it noteworthy none the less.

"You can't really discount the size of IBM as a market force. And IBM just as a company hasn't even really moved."

The statement was made during a discussion with regard to new JRE adoption specifically about how IBM and its customers are so slow to move. I think that the comment is relevant. As a software engineer working for a company that is beholden to IBM's WebSphere, we can only move as quickly as IBM will let us. Currently we're in the middle of a conversion from WAS 5.1 to WAS 6.1 which does give us a 1.5 JRE, but the conversion has not been without its own pain. It would be nice if IBM were able to support the bleeding edge, however when they insist on writing their own implementation of the JRE, speed isn't going to be there. Then again, the whole J2EE app server world seems heavy and slow to change.

It will be interesting to see what happens as Java continues to compete with newer and different languages. The pod cast did a great job at discussing the issues from various angles.