30 April 2007

Mourning the Passing of a Dear Friend

My faithful boombox. You've been with me for almost 20 years. You've gone through everything with me: high school, parties, dances, sports, dates, my mission, work; anywhere I went in my youth, you were right there with me.

You were made superior to the rest, and none have surpassed you since. With your built in Hyper-Bass 3D subwoofer of boom, you delivered hi-fidelity, crazy-delicious sound that brought enjoyment to many; and hours of musical solitude to this big fan of music.

I kept you with me as long as I could. Those that knew me, knew you... we were inseparable. But now the time has come that we must part. Parting is such sweet sorrow. I'll never forget the smooth remixes you helped me create from my CD collection, and how much joy those creations brought me. We were a great team, you and I.

You've touched many lives... many love song compilations and "pick me up" compilations given to friends of the female persuasion. (You also helped me contribute to piracy, you naughty fiend... but we've since repented and are mending our ways...) :)

You've more than fulfilled your function as an emitter of audio; and have made many friends along the way. If any device had audio outputs, you were interfaced with it at some point... VCRs, DVD players, computers, video game consoles, even an old turntable.

Thank you for all the joy that you've brought. You will be sorely missed.

... A moment of silence ...

28 April 2007

Being a Software Developer Versus Being a Child Developer

Sometimes I wonder if I picked the wrong profession.

Think about it. I spend all my work day trying to teach a computer what to do and how to behave. I come home from work and have to do the same thing with my children.

The difference is... a computer must blindly obey with exactness; a child gets to choose whether to accept your instructions and perform them, and can choose whether or not they'll follow some, all or none of them.

When the computer doesn't produce the desired outcome I can't give it a timeout, scold it or punish it (trust me, I've tried... it doesn't get me anywhere.) Instead I reword the instructions until it learns the correct way to produce that outcome. The cool thing about that is; I always know I've taught it wrong until I see the desired outcome.

When a child doesn't produce the desired outcome, I have to perform some analysis; decide whether or not I gave the instructions incorrectly or the child didn't perform the instructions correctly.

In Software Development, there are different types of errors... in compiled languages, you can get compile errors and run-time errors.

Compile errors are those that happen when the computer tries to analyze your instructions to see if it can even do what you've asked. If you've given instructions in a way the computer can't understand; it lets you know right away if your instructions have been such that it can't understand them, much less execute them. It's very handy. I wish God would've installed that feature in my children; it would save much time, contention and frustration.

Run-time errors occur when you've given instructions in a format the computer can understand, but there is a flaw in the logic/flow of execution. These errors rear their ugly heads when the computer is in the middle of executing your instructions and can't complete the task. Again, with computers, it's very easy to recognize that when the computer can't complete it's task, it's usually because the Software Developer failed to instruct the computer successfully.

As a Child Devleoper, I don't get that luxury... I can't know when my child displays a run-time error that it's the fault of the Developer. Of course, because of pride, I assume first that the child has encountered a "Memory Fault" error and commence and immediately execute the Child.Chastise(), Child.Scorn() or Child.Discipline() subroutines.

Instead, I should get smart and think like my Software Developer side... assume it's my fault first and look to reword my instructions. Maybe I'll have more and quicker success with reaching desired outcomes from my children.

Maybe I DID pick the right profession...

27 April 2007


Curse you Sam's Club employee that lied to me!!! Curse you!!!! I now have a broken-hearted child on my hands with shattered dreams of interactive goodness.

My wife was informed a few days ago that the Sam's Club near our home would be receiving a shipment of Nintendo Wii's. We were instructed to call in each day to see if they'd come in yet.

Every day we're reminded about as many times as my son takes breaths to call Sam's and find out if the shipment came in.

Last night when I returned home from my sojourn on the "Trail to MCPD" - I was immediately inundated with requests to make that day's status call. I called and was told they were in... I asked how many they had. "We still have a lot left."

There was much rejoicing...

... That is, until I got to Sam's Club and picked up 2 cardboard "tickets" to use to purchase a couple.

I decided to ask one of the helpful Sam's Club employees if they also carried any games for the system. "Let me go look, but you're aware we don't have any of the systems yet, aren't you?"

"Umm, no... I called an hour ago and one of your co-workers told me you were stocked."

"We were supposed to get a shipment today, but we didn't... we've had people lingering around the store all day waiting for them."

What was I to tell my son?! So I asked, "Well, I can go pay for them, and just pick them up when they arrive, correct?" (hoping this would ease the blow when I arrived home sans-new-game-system.)

"No, you can't purchase them until we physically have them here."


Well, we needed to make a trip to Lowe's (who has somehow attached a siphon hose to my bank account recently) ... I decided to call and give my wife advanced warning of the pending doom that would befall our home when my son found out I couldn't deliver.

My son, being faster than the speed of light (only when the phone rings) and knowing how to read Caller Id... hit the talk button at the same time my wife did; but didn't say a word... just listened in hopes I was calling to ask what game(s) I should purchase with our newfound treasure.

Needless to say, when the sounds of discontent emitted through the phone, I realized advanced warning was not to be. Dang it! (Did I metion, "CURSE YOU, SAM'S CLUB LIAR EMPLOYEE?!")

So the hunt begins again... if you hear of any hitting the Salt Lake area anytime soon, hook a brutha up!!!

The Trail to MCPD - 1 Down, 2 to Go

As mentioned in my last epistle, I'm studying to take three Microsoft certification exams. I took the first of three yesterday and PASSED!!!! Needless to say, I'm stoked to have 1/3 less of a stress to worry about.

Unfortunately, it was probably the easiest of the three tests and I studied like a mad-man for it. It takes 700 points to pass and I got 771. While happy about it, I'm still worried about passing the other two.

Here's to hopin'...

24 April 2007

Blog Clog - Dude, Where's my Plunger?

So it's been about a month. I dropped off the face of the Earth and apparently fell into a cess pool of masochist mayhem.

I've managed to get myself piled on with so many things, I don't have time to think, sleep or poop. That's right, it's not just the blog that's clogged. Nevertheless, I digress.

I haven't done much in way of lists on this thing, so let's do one tonight... this is what I have on my plate right now, so my "absence" from this digi-journal (digornio?) will feel somewhat justified: (These are definitely NOT listed in priority order.)
  • Microsoft Exams: My employer has challenged me (and graciously paid for a 5-day "boot camp" of training) to take and pass 3 Microsoft certification exams to become a "Microsoft Certified Professional Developer" (or something to that effect; I hate acronyms...) I take my first test on Thursday.
  • Side Job Project: A friend referred me to a company he works for to do a little data-entry piece of software over the next couple months. It's a fun ASP.net project that I get to use a cool new ORM/Data Access Layer library called SubSonic. So far it's really cool, and if I can get that time to poop, I may just also make the time to blog about SubSonic. Wow, I just used the terms SubSonic and poop in the same sentence. Dangerous. I'm a little excited (and frightened) for the comments on this post now.
  • Jordan High Centennial - For 4 years, the Jordan Alumni Association has been working hard to set up this once-in-a-lifetime celebration. Now it's less than 80 days away and the action surrounding it is picking up momentum like a speeding freight train.
  • Prepping the house to sell. Yep, with the news of twins on the way, our humble abode just won't accomodate us; so it's time to pack up and re-shack up in a newer, shinier, bigger adobe. Wow, I just used abode and adobe in the same sentence; say those ten times fast.
  • Finding a new house. We started this venture before, but realized we need to finish paying off a couple more debts first; and finish prepping our home to sell. We'll start hitting it hard again in a few weeks, but are still putting out feelers and getting other balls in motion (talking to realtors/lenders/etc.) as we get closer to that goal.
  • Work - Ah yes, the real job... the family away from family (since one spends more waking hours with them then your own family.) Can't forget that one. :)
  • Church - Sunday actually FEELS like a day of rest, even though it's as busy as any of the other days in my week. It's nice to take a day of the week and devote it to the Lord and do something different to take one's mind off the incredibly fast-paced, quadruple overbooked lifestyle one lives the other six days of the week. Thank you, God, for the Sabbath.
  • Family - Yes, I actually try to squeeze time in for my darling wife and beautiful children; who have been so very patient with me amidst all my stress. I thank God again that they have'n't killed or disowned me yet. They truly are a blessing. And I enjoy the time I get to spend with them; even if it's short lately. Voltron has become a fun nightly ritual for us...
  • I've probably forgotten something, but it doesn't matter... that list is long enough.

I want to talk more about Voltron for a moment. For my birthday, I picked up the Season One DVD set of Voltron: Defender of the Universe. If you're not familiar with Voltron, it's a catroon from 1984 that had 5 Space Explorers who encountered a nasty bad guy on the Planet Arus. Planet Arus had a mighty robot named Voltron that was split into 5 parts... mechanical lions that could me piloted individually, then flown into formation and formed into the mighty robot Voltron. This, of course is the climax of the show... Voltron is formed, he whips out the blazing sword, and opens up a can on some robot beast sent by before mentioned nasty bad guy (who happens to be known as Zarkon.)

Anyway, I popped the DVD in and instantly had a smile permeate my face as I watched and rode the flood stream that was the nostalgia river in my head. Soon, the kids flocked around me to see what the cool "new" cartoon was. It has entered the ranks of, dare I say, "Kim Possible" in the Litster household. We've been watching an episode or two everynight for bedtime stories; and recently finished the first season.

It only took three days of neverending groveling of my cuties to get me to the store to purchase Season Two. Good times... and at least I have them still amidst the Chaos. I again thank the Lord for the time I get to spend with my family. It's definitely cherished.

Except for those times when 'tudes are copped and voices are raised. Those aren't so fun. My poor kids and wife; they feel the stress and have been affected by it as much as I have; despite my efforts to shield them from it.

The consolation is that, by July 8th - much of that list will be accomplished and moved to the past; and I can focus on slowing things down so I can take care of my wife who will be moving into the "you may be confined to bedrest soon" zone.

So for now, the blincoln blogs may be few, but my thoughts are with my family and friends always... enjoy the silence - you'll be hit with my onslaughts of long-windedness again soon enough.

And thanks for reading! My family and friends mean the world to me. I'm glad you're one of them.

Now I must be off to mind-meld with a Microsoft manual. Say that ten times fast and you'll win cupie doll; but only if you forward this to ten of your best friends in the next 5 minutes. Oh, and I almost forgot... close your eyes and make a wish too, and something cool will pop up on your screen. I didn't believe it either when I first read it, but trust me; it works!