IBM Five Year Service Award on Ebay

Apparently news of this ebay action for a IBM 5-years of service award is flying around the IBMer and ex-IBMer ranks.
I apparently got shafted on my 5-years of service award which I should have received right about 2 weeks before I got my proverbial pink slip (which was really a half-inch stack of paper, a “memorandum”). Just another thing my totally inadequate Lotus mis-management chain didn’t do right.
One of these days I have to enumerate the ways in which getting laid off from working on IBM Workplace Client is the best thing to ever happen to me…

News Map

Saw Ben Shneiderman present for an hour today at Tufts on information visualization. Will post much more from the notes I took in the coming days. Did see this cool application of Treemaps for representing news articles from (i presume) google news though:
Everyone’s probably seen that already, but I’m always the last to know 🙂
Another news map that isn’t as pretty, but is more interactive is here, and a few other consumer applications of treemapping can be found by the hive group here.

Weezer and Foo Fighters in Worcester

Saturday night we went to see Weezer and Foo Fighters in Worcester, Massachusetts at the DCU Center. Had floor tickets, which ruled! It was an **excellent** show. My personal highlight was two different perspectives on Kurt Cobain with respect to Foo Fighters.

– First was in the bathroom line, these two numbskulls behind me were talking about the relative merits of Weezer and Foo Fighters. One of them said he’d like Foo Fighters if they acknowledged Kurt Cobain and Nirvana – the (clearly) smarter of the two said someting about Dave Grohl setting out on his own.
– Second was this really high, drunk and loud man in the crowd who said something close to “I’m glad Kurt Cobain died, this guy has really made a name for himself”

There you have it, and something I agree with- **Foo Fighters are way better than Nirvana: Kurt Cobain died so that the Foo Fighters may live.**
Weezer was good but not great – I think I enjoyed their appearance in Hartford several years ago more, they seemed a little too chill for my taste. They did all their good songs, and the obligatory bring a fan up onto stage set-piece that is still fun.
Clearly there were people in the crowd that were there only to see weezer, because a whole bunch of people split from the floor after the weezer show.
###Foo Fighters:
Were awesome. Played all the classics, and a bunch of their new stuff. I was kind of bummed they didn’t slow down to play any of their acoustic stuff from the second half of their recent double CD, but what can you do? They also had a mini-U2 style light show, with 3 video screens, a bunch of really low-res LED displays, and some awesome laser light effects.
###DCU Center
Thumbs down. An email I got from there said they’re the “#3 music venue in the world according to billboard magazine”, but that had to be the subset of the world “in Worcester” or “in Western Mass”, or just some crazy parallel universe. I’ve seen shows at Madison Square Garden and the FleetCenter/Banknorth Garden and they’re definately better, and I think its highly likely there’s got to be another better arena “in the world”.

Ridiculous bathroom lines – and the mens rooms with 2 stalls and 2 urinals each. Who designed this “arena”? What happens during intermission of hockey games?
Then there were the hassles endemic to surburban “cities” – principally traffic in the parking garage that took well over an hour to empty. Let me jump on a train to get home any day.

**Update (10/17/2005):** Wrote to the marketing folks at the DCU center and received clarification that the statement actually means “#3 based on gross ticket sales among the top 10 US and British venus with capacities of 10,001 to 15,000 people”- Perhaps thats what should be at the bottom of the email, since the statement “#3 music venue in the world” implies some kind of quality to me.

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

See this movie! I’ve loved Wallace and Gromit since my grandparents in England introduced me to them with a tape of the first two shorts one visit in the late 90’s. W&G; are tremendous characters, and the world they inhabit in Were-Rabbit is so wonderfully filled out by great characters (if stereotypical English villagers) and creatures, and a great plot. Lots of pop culture references in line with trend that unfortunately has befallen all animated movies these days (I mean how funny will half the jokes in Alladin be in 25 years?) , and the occasional off-color comment make doubtful its potential as an all time classic, but its a great ride. Probably one of the best movies I’ve seen all year.

Progress In Eclipse Land

Matt brought to my attention that two of the things we worked on (One of which I presented in a poster session at EclipseCon 2005) together at IBM are gaining traction with the core Eclipse platform team –

  • Control Sets: The ability to make rich contributions (more rich than the buttons/menus enabled by actions) to coolbars, toolbars, and the status line. We created our own extension point to do just that for IBM Workplace Managed Client (or whatever the management team has decided to call it today)
  • Personalities: The ability to fully control how the window is drawn in a soup to nuts fashion as is possible with the advisor, but such that more than one different kind of window can cohabitate simultaneously in the same VM/Eclipse Platform session

Good to see our ideas weren’t so crazy after all 🙂

Cleaning a grubby iBook

I had a problem with my ibook – the areas next to the trackpad (in front of the keyboard) had gotten grubby one sunday with newsprint on my hands from the NYT and I couldn’t get it out for the life of me. So I was at the library trying to study, and found that a white eraser cleaned up the click wheel on my ipod mini pretty well, and that’s the same porous plastic as that part of the ibook, so when I got home I put my trusty Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser to work, and the grubbiness is gone! Looking at the Staedtler site, they even recommend their plastic eraser for cleaning wallpaper and lightswitches.

Why I like Eclipse

Its a known element of human behavior that familiarity with something means one will like it more – make people listen to a set of music snippets, and the ones that they hear more they will rank better. So perhaps I like Eclipse just because I’ve been using it forever (or it contains at least small snippets of my code), and know all the keyboard shortcuts to be more productive. I’ve just commented on my dislike for IDEA Intellij, so I was psyched that the J2EE project I’m working on now does all the J2EE stuff in an ANT Script, leaving me able to use Eclipse as my IDE of choice.*
My top reasons I like eclipse this week (esp after recently using intellij):

  • Fast UI – it ain’t swing – when I go back to work there it doesn’t pause while it redraws.
  • Pretty intelligent workflow – smart enough as of the 3.0 Jobs framework to allow me to background long running tasks and get my work done. Continuous compilation. (as opposed to environments without that)
  • The ecosystem – this week I had to start working with a bunch of LoadRunner “scripts” which are actually C-code – and loadrunner comes with the worst editor ever. To the rescue, the Eclipse CDT – let me edit the code with an outline view and functionality almost as good as the Java mode
  • Eclipse also has performance tools which I’m hoping to try out this week once my loadrunner scripts are done

Well that’s all I got

* I was a little disappointed with the state of the Eclipse Webtools project last time I tried it – I guess after using WSAD and its successor Rational App Developer I expected at least a form-based web.xml editor – wonder why IBM didn’t just donate an older version of its editor?

Expensive car keys

Ugh, I lost my keys the other day, including my car key, remote, and house keys. Cost to replace house key, twice – $3 (including labor). Cost to replace car key, because it has a “chip” in it: $24 for the key, $44 for the labor to cut the key and hook a computer up to the car to tell it to start when it sees the new master key. I’m at least as much for progress as the next guy, but seriously, this shouldn’t cost this much.
Anyways, in the hopes that my keys will reappear (I lost them somewhere between my car and kickball, no more than a couple hundred yards) I went ahead and postered the immediate neighborhood So we’ll see if anything comes of that.
Lost Keys Flyer

Lying “Homeless” People

Now let me start by saying I’m not opposed to the impecunious members of society asking for money – I’m sure people can legitimately get into a situation where it becomes neccessary to ask strangers for money. What does bother me, and perhaps this is a thin line to cross, is those who lie to get money. For example: There’s a woman who I’ve seen riding the red line, moving from car to car – her story is that she had her bag stolen and needs $11 to get the bus home. That’s all well and good, but I saw her three times in two weeks with the same story. I would argue that it is highly improbable for one person to be that unfortunate with their bag – but people fork over money. Would it violate some implied social contract to stand up and point out that this woman did the same thing two days ago? In fact the man next to me last time I saw her whispered “She does this all the time…”. Too true.