A hard start

I was fortunate enough to be able to buy a great house exactly where I wanted to live in December of last year. It was a long road, albeit by choice, to get here. I am a big fan of flexibility and in fact, my life for quite a while involved a lot of travelling across the country to see my family.

I’m not complaining, that is just how it went down for me and it was great. But I bought this house, which again, I really do like. Feels very homey to me now, more so every day in fact. This morning I stepped outside with my coffee and realized I was too warm in my tshirt and hoody and had to take it off. If you know me personally, you’ll likely recall that I am usually cold and winter makes me cry like a little child :'(

At any rate. Last weekend, the garage was finally emptied of all boxes and we could park in there, which is awesome (thank you Rachel!) However, there is now a ton of boxes back in the house again. Its somewhat overwhelming.

I feel like I waste too much time winding down from a day at work. Don’t get me wrong, I love working and I love developing software of any kind on any platform. But being a person, I do have some personal preferences which I consider ideal. I find when they are not met it physically and emotionally takes a toll on the energy allotment I have to live with.

Well, this stuff is not going to put itself away, I guess I just wish I felt more like doing it. I’m sure when it’s done, I’ll feel great about it, just that damn motivation.

Anyway, wish me luck, tomorrow is looking like it’s going to be a busy one. Oh yeah, and then Boy Scouts at 7:30. Make that, it looks like it’s going to be a long, busy one 😉

Impressed but not impressively- A friend’s interview code sample

So a friend of mine is currently employed at a large multi-national IT contracting company. Well, that’s not entirely true, the company does staff augmentation for many sectors, IT being one of them, and while they can provide full software development life cycle services, they are typically staff augmentation.

That being said, he’s a developer. And a developer who came to developing later in life after learning, living, and dumping a previous career. He’s been doing professional development (i.e. it is his sole income) for 6 years and of the many developers I know he’s a natural, learns quick and the “right way” and the why’s. I’d hire the man for a senior developer position in a minute.

However, the economy being what it is, he is currently working a junior developer position. By which I mean doing senior developer work for junior developer money. Hey, it’s beats unemployment, no doubt, however things could be better along the compensation lines. As I’ve said, the man does not play around and he’d be a bargain at 3 times his salary (straight up.)

Well like any sane person (well as sane as one can be and still want to be a software developer), he’s taking the initiative and looking around for other employment where the compensation will be more commensurate with his efforts, and the challenges will be developmental and not overcoming ridiculous arbitrary management process (again, you’ll have to take my word that the problems are ridiculous and that he can not change them.)

So one of the places his recruiter is submitting his resume to is requiring he write a small windows console application that satisfies the following requirements:

  • Counts from between 1 and 100 inclusively
  • When the number is evenly divisible by 3, it should print “One
  • When the number is evenly divisible by 5, it should print “Two
  • When the number is evenly divisible by 3 and 5, it should print “OneTwo
  • When the number is not evenly divisible by 3 or 5, it should print the number
  • Ok, fair enough. I love that they asked for a code sample. At the end of the day, writing the code is part and parcel for software developers and I feel that the trend of those “what did you have to do”, “what were the results of doing it”, and “what could you have done differently” interviews… Sure you need to make sure the person is a good fit for the team as far as socializing, personality, not an asshat, but if they are a good fit, can they design and/or write the code.

    Well, I’ll say you have to at least consider it for a second but the above is not that challenging. Basically it will show you know how to nest/cascade if’s and perhaps know about the modulo operator.

    I would have been more impressed if they asked for a super and derived classes using interfaces to model a car, motorcyle, and airplane. But, I don’t know the company’s true needs so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Anyway, good luck my man!

    Below is what I did… I feel it could be more performant but is pretty readable and gentle enough on resources for most stuff (I had to take a swing right?!?) …

    static void Main(string[] args)
        StringBuilder valueBuilder = new StringBuilder();
        for (int counter = 1; counter <= 100; counter++)
            if (counter % 3 == 0) valueBuilder.Append(“One”);
                if (counter % 5 == 0) valueBuilder.Append(“Two”);
                if (valueBuilder.Length == 0) valueBuilder.Append(counter.ToString());

    On moving, home buying, and me

    Well, it’s been much longer than I had planned between writing here. But I have a reason excuse?

    I just purchased my first home. It’s pretty exhausting and umm just really a general pain in the ass. However it is also pretty damn exciting. I’m relatively late to the game at 38 for a first home. I’ve been making enough money to get the job done for quite some time now but due to a marriage, child, divorce. I ended up doing some moving around and really grew to enjoy the freedom of being able to be where ever I really needed to be, if I really needed to be there.

    My general first time home buying view is not as great as it could have been. But it certainly was an interesting learning experience. The home that I purchased was the second home I brought into the underwriting stage. Which, for the uninitiated I’ll just say is pretty far into the “buy it” portion of the game. All the inspections, appraisals, repair work, documenting repair work, re-repair work due to lack of work permit originally had already been completed it was simply the act of jumping through the lender’s financial hoops for final thumbs up.

    The annoying part is that the financial guy should have caught the problem the second he had all the financial numbers. In a nutshell, since the whole housing market collapse debacle, the mortgage industry does a lot more due diligence (as then damn well should have been doing all along!) which basically results in many small rules changing every week. Well, absolutely your financial guy should be on top of every nuance of it. That’s his job. However in this case, since I earned my income though contracting, I had to prove a years worth of uninterrupted employment instead of a standard six months, for you average permanent employee.

    Make no mistake, I am happy to abide by any laws / rules that guide this process, but this was something that could have saved a whole lot of people a whole lot of time. In the end, the sellers did not want to risk not selling their house on the hopes of my employment not being terminated (which was never an issue, but how do you really prove that anyway.) I can’t blame them, though sadly, their house is still for sale and I live in a larger house around the corner for the same price. Sometimes gambles don’t pay off, or maybe they just didn’t care.

    It was tough getting that far invested into a house and then have it unravel. It all worked out for the best and my financial guy did in fact come through come close time, which I really appreciated and totally helped out at the exact second I needed it to!

    The second house, the one in I did in fact buy, really felt like home the second I walked into it, and the seller was great and easy to work with. I like to think I was a good buyer as well. After negotiating the price that is Winking smile

    It’s just almost a surreal feeling to sit in my basement in front of my computer and bang out a post in my own home. I honestly thought I would never buy one. It’s amazing how much life changes, and how good it can turn out being despite hard-times, penny-pinching, and life’s not-so-little obstacles.

    Overall, the whole experience is a must have. +1

    To launch a rocket

    When I was a kid, and I want to say around 11 or 12, my friends and I used to all go out and get model rockets and spend the weekends building them and launching them. If you’ve never built one, you really are missing out.

    I can’t really do justice to the feeling of watching a rocket you’ve built with your own hands take take off in a small blast of fire and smokey thrust and the unadulterated sound of speed as it flies off the launch plate into the sky after you’ve done the countdown and press the launch button. It jets up quickly and then hangs for a moment before the engine fires again to force the nosecone out which brings the parachute with it. There is a moment of worry before it happens, will it actually pop it out, where will the wind take it? And all you can do is watch and wait for it to lazily drift back to earth for you to retrieve it. And the the thrill of picking it up off the ground (or out of a tree) and seeing it’s just fine and wants to fly again. It’s awesome and it makes me wonder what the folks at NASA used to feel before money and war became more important then science and exploration.

    My son and I have been building model rockets for a few years now, it’s something we can do together and it also requires a bit of precision and working with tools so it is a good opportunity to demonstrate teamwork and longer project skills as well. We like to build them and paint them, sometimes we use the right colors, sometimes we get artistic, it’s really nice and I love it (I’m pretty sure he does too 😀 )

    He got four rockets for his birthday last year, which is in the winter, so it gave us a good amount of time to build and paint them. These are all Estes brand rockets, I assume they have competitors but Estes is the only name I can ever remember hearing. There was a Big Bertha, an Amazon, a Crossfire. There is a fourth, but we haven’t built it yet.

    So today, my son, my friend, and myself went out in search of the perfect field to launch them from. My son and I have built and launched a number o9f rockets in the past, but all of my old launch spots are not around or can’t be used for that anymore and for the say past 5 rockets we’ve built and launched, we’ve only recovered one, that’s right 1 single successful launch and recovery. It’s all my fault in bad spot picking, but I tell you, sometimes you just gotta take a chance. Sadly, never worked out well for us in this regard.

    My friend to the rescue! Recently, at a cookout, I had mentioned my dillema to my friend and he had two spots that sounded like prime locations, and they were in my area, always a win with that.

    So my son and I picked up my buddy and off we went. On the way to spot 1, an old polo field, we came across a potential field to try, but on closer inspection, the brush was too high, we’d never find the rocket once it touched back down.

    As we are pulling up to the old polo field, a police car pulls up and sets up shop for a speed trap, it was a damn good spot for the police, but I felt a little nervous about walking past him with ordinance (the rocket engines)  as well as the rockets. I am not sure of the laws in the are for launching model rockets and we decided better to play it safe than sorry.

    Spot number 2 is an abandoned small airport. Well I’m not even sure the building are there anymore but the runway is. However, to get to the place you need to park in a local metro park and hike through the woods. The only parking area however was closed and gated up today. Very disappointing, I was actually hoping we would be able to launch here for the coolness factor alone.

    Going deep, my friend pulled one more spot out of the air, but cautioned it is usually pretty busy, but at this point my son is getting antsy, and darn it, I want to fly a rocket, so we give it a go.

    The place was absolutely empty, huge field, no trees in the area, everything you could ask for! It was on my friends! I built the launching pad while my son prepped the first rocket, the Amazon, we were pumped. It launched like a dream! The wind had picked up slightly since we first set up the pad, so it did drift a bit with the parachute on it’s way down and of course landed in the only tree around… Fortunately we found a long piece of 1 inch PVC  tube that we were able to poke it out of the tree with.

    I mostly had A engines (which are the weakest and meant for small and light rockets) so we tried the Big Bertha and the Amazon again with an A engine. Don’t do this, it is sad, they are way too damn heavy for A engines. Don’t get me wrong it’s always cool to launch a rocket but they barely got high enough of the ground to eject their parachutes before touching back down in a very unflattering low arch. They really should have mid grade B engines at the least, and C’s worked great!

    We launched the crossfire a twice as well. The A engines worked great there. The second crossfire launch (and last of the day) did encounter a problem, the shock-cord (a fat rubber band that hold the rocket to the nosecone) was damaged in the building process and got caught during ejection with the nosecone, this caused the flash paper to burn and also burned the parachute. Now these things are thing plastic parachutes so it’s not a big deal at all and at least it can be repaired, unlike a rocket you never recover 😉

    Anyway, it was a great day thanks to everybody involved. Can’t wait for the next time, hopefully I will have some pictures to post soon!

    [Update: 9/4/2011] My friend uploaded his pictures and video, Thanks! http://blog.vec.com/2011/09/04/love-and-rockets/

    Rolling down I-77 South towards Charlotte, NC

    Right now, right this moment, I am a passenger on a road trip to Charlotte, NC. My girlfriend Rachel, is taking her 18 year old son Christian, to college.

    I just now passed over the Ohio river entering West Virginia. Pretty cool bridge, sadly I did not get a picture.

    Things feel somewhat surreal to me now, well this past week. Heck, who am I trying to kid, the whole damn year. My family has had a rough transition from 2010 into 2011 and I am so proud of them for pulling together and getting us all through it.

    Things have really been coming together the past few weeks and all the hard work we have all put in is paying off. Truly I am blessed!

    I can’t help but somewhat feel as though I am waiting for the ‘other’ shoe to drop, but every day that it doesn’t, is one more day of confidence in the future. I suppose what feels so odd to me is, actually having the confidence to feel the comfort it brings. Truly my friends, you can NOT put a price on that!

    And I’ve been noticing it more the older I get, big shocker there… It’s amazing that sone things, when told to you, make so much sense, but you really can’t fully grasp it until it happens to you.

    I would like to thank my friends and my family for making my life possible 🙂

    Much love.