Category Archives: Rant

It’s The Process

At work we have a process that must be followed for you get changes into production.  It’s not a foreign concept, just about any respectable company has a process, some are just more strict than others.  If measuring processes was done on a scale ranging from none to overboard I’d think we’re somewhere between middle of the road and overboard.

 

Well today I found that some of our application server logs were not making it to our Splunk servers from a sub environment.  After troubleshooting the problem I found that the Splunk agent didn’t have permissions and would have to be bounced.  Bouncing a Splunk agent isn’t a problem in of itself except we have some  processes running that have to be stopped before hand.  Long story short, it’s a pain to do it but thankfully I have a fix to make life good for all parties involved!  It’s past the commit for next week’s release but we have a way of getting these changes in.  This is a low risk change, comment out a section in an XML file.  Enter overboard process:

  1. Test the fix in the testing environment
  2. Create RFC (Request for Change)
  3. Wait for approval…
  4. Create outage ticket linking it to the approved RFC even though the problem has been there for 9+ months and nobody noticed…
  5. Create BCR (Baseline Change Request) for approved RFC and outage ticket
  6. Speak to an approval board to move forward
  7. Check in change
  8. Submit build request (configuration has to be built)
  9. Wait for approval…
  10. Deploy

Ten steps!  That’s 10 steps and about 4 hours of paper work, phone calls, putting cover sheets on TPS reports for something that could have been done in literally 20 minutes.  I don’t mind submitting build requests or a single change request form, some paperwork can be a good thing.  But I will never understand why I have to create an outage for fixing a problem that I’m already going to have to speak to.

Android and the Missing GEN Folder

I’ve been playing around with Android now and so far it’s been a good experience save one really annoying thing.

Project ‘Project Name’ is missing required source folder: ‘gen’

Seriously?!  I mean come on, the folder is in the project for crying out loud!  Sadly I’m not the only one who has been plagued by this error.  Many Google searches later and still no hard-fast answer that.  I have found one thing that seems to help although it’s a pain to keep doing it over and over again….

  1. Delete the R.java file under the gen folder
  2. Refresh the project
  3. Build Project, not Clean

This, so far, seems to be the only way to consistently get rid of the missing gen folder message….

Edit:

It seems I’m getting more and more traffic to this post.  Christian provided the correct fix below on how to resolve the missing GEN folder in the comments below.  Set the Java version of the project to 1.6 and you’ll be troubled no more.  Thanks Christian.

Interweb Blues II

When I last spoke about my internet speed and the wonderful customer service I said,

Mark my words though, if I have to put up with another incompetent tech there will be hell to pay.

Well guess what? There’s hell to pay. The Time Warner tech came out, asked me the usual questions and didn’t do squat. In fact he was more interested in my rig than my problem?! Here are some of his best comments and questions that he asked me.

What seems to be the problem?

First off, don’t you people read your case notes? You’re the second tech to come out, don’t you think it would be in your best interest to know why you came out?

I see you play Warcraft. Do you know where I can get a cracked copy of Frozen Throne?

Focus on the problem, not on my wallpaper and games. Also, why would you ask a client for something illegal when your in uniform?

Yes sir I did bring a new modem. But I’m not going to waist the time to install it. You’re getting 800KB/s which is below our minimum server but I’m not going to do it?

So why did you come out? What am I paying you people for? Replace the modem. Try it out. Make me, the customer, happy. All residential lines are setup on 7Megs down and 1 Meg up. I’m not even getting a Meg down!  What do you have to loose?

There are a lot of houses in the neighborhood and with that many people, you’re going to have slow service.

It’s 2:00 in the afternoon on a weekday?! I seriously doubt that my service is getting bottlenecked by all the stay at home moms! Yes I know that when a lot of people in the neighborhood are on my speed will drop some but think before you try to pass this one by.

You know, a slow computer can be the cause of your connection speed.

Excuse me?

What do you have in your computer?

OK, I’ll bite. AMD 2600+ on an Asus NForce2 mobo, 1GB PC3200, Nvidia 660GT Zalman cooled, and a 74GB Raptor. It’s not bleeding edge but it can more than handle the games that I play. Next question?

Wow, nice rig. Can you help me build one? Where do you get your hardware?

Newegg, it’s your friend. And no, we’re focusing on the client’s horrible service, not your future machine. Focus man, focus!

Well sir, you’re getting bad packet loss and there is nothing I can do.

This is why I begged the “almighty” level III tech support not to send out another tech. Needless to say, I called the billing department and had a nice long talk with them. Now my case has been “elevated” to a supervisor whom I’m still waiting for his/her call. Thanks Time Warner. Thanks for sending out two techs to do nothing but tell me that I having problems with your service. Thanks for the long holds and even longer transfer times. Thanks.

Interweb Blues

In my neighborhood we have Time Warner, it’s the only thing available. I have no real “beef” with TW except for the usual overpriced argument that you can apply to any cable company. Let’s face it, charging customers $45+ a month for internet access when you’ve already covered the cost of the lines and making 100% profit is annoying, however capitalism works. What I cannot stand for is paying full price for slow speed and poor service.

Recently I noticed that my speed was crawling (2 hours to download a 120MB file when you’re supposed to have 10MB down and 3MB up is a good sign) and called TW. I spent an hour and a half on the phone with their national help desk. And yes, it was painful. After letting them run their “mandatory” tests on my router they finally came to the conculsion that my speed was not up to par. I’m getting 800KB when I’m paying for 10MB service. You think!

A few days latter the TW tech comes out, asking “what’s the problem?” What’s the problem? Don’t you people ever read your case notes? After I filled him in we did the same battery of tests. My favorite part was when the tech told me that the speed looked fine.

Sir, you’re getting 6784 Kbs so where’s the problem?

Yes this is true, but Kb is not KB. The glazed look on his face said it all. He goes to check the lines and performs yet another battery of tests only to come back and tell me that they’ll have to send someone else out. On the positive side the tech now knows the difference between bits and bytes :)

A few more days go by and nothing, haven’t heard anything or noticed any changes.  So I call TW again to see where we stand.  Wouldn’t you know they said that they already fixed the problem.  However there was no difference in my speed.  Begin yet another hour on the phone with their tech support.  Though, this time they finally transferred me to a level III tech support (something I had been requesting since the start).  After going through the normal tests, rinse-lather-repeat, the guy comes to the same conclusion, packet loss.  What gets better is that they “need to send someone out again.”  For the love of God no.  I literally begged the guy not to send someone else out.  I didn’t want to have to deal with their incompetent techs again.  Alas, I have no choice and they’re coming out at the end of the week.

As you may recall I said that I will not pay full price for bad service.  When I was off the phone with their level III tech support “guru” I called the billing department.  Lets just say that I got $20 bucks knocked off (would have been more however the TV and phone are fine) and 18 movie channels free for a year.  The movie channels are nothing but bribery however I’ll take what I can get.  Mark my words though, if I have to put up with another incompetent tech there will be hell to pay.

IE Sucks

Rant!!!!

I hate Internet Explorer. It is the biggest piece of crap! If you’re not a web developer then you won’t know what I’m talking about. But for us web developers, it’s a pain to have to write bad code just to get IE to work right. It doesn’t handle transparent images, has errors when creating boxes, can’t parse CSS files correctly, has ActiveX, and the list goes on and on. Oh, but wait, IE 7 is coming out *soon*. Great, now I have to break my pages again!

Some links for you if you’re curious as to what I’m talking about:

PICNIC v. PEBKAC

I just got of the phone with one of those users who can realy make you want to shoot yourself. While talking with friend I told him that it was a total case of PEBKAC, Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair. He in turned replyed with PICNIC, Problem In Chair, Not In Computer. This brings up an interesting question. Which one is it? The urge to scream something is growing. Do I yell “PEBKAC!!!!” or do I yell “PICNIC!!!!”? Tell me for the fate of the world hangs in the balance of this one decision.

Heat Wave!

Vvvvvvvvvvvvvrm. Ah the sound of multiple fans blowing. A sound that puts you at ease removing any and all troubles from your life. Ok, maybe not. The AC at our office went out on Monday and it’s not getting any cooler. I have a small USB fan that provides some relief however when the tempurature is hovering at 84F it just doesn’t cut it. To help relieve the new found heat wave the building manager gave us a couple of fans to use. Too bad it doesn’t help too much. I can say one good thing from this unwanted increase in temperature, I’m drinking a ton of water. Three to four liters a day. Prayerfully it will be working tomorrow.

SSL Certificates & IIS

I’ve never really used SSL in a developer/web master sense and I find it to be very cumbersome. Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that I can securely buy something online and that certificates verify that http://www.newegg.com/ is in fact NewEgg and not some site in Europe ready to steal some information. In the last few days I’ve read up on how it works and how to set it up with Microsoft IIS 6.0 and it can be a pain!

Read more »

Palm to Pocket

I’ve been working on this old school ASP website for work now for about a month. So far everything is going well and I’m about ready for a beta release. Or so I thought. I was asked to develop the site with the assumption that all users would be accessing the site via a Treo 650 or like model. If you’ve ever done any coding; stand alone or web, you know that developing for one specific type of device/user can be bad. However, since this website is designed to compete with a Palm app and I just started the job I didn’t dwell on the matter too much. So after about four weeks of working around all the shortcomings of Palm and limitations of the Blazer browser my boss comes up to me and tells me that we’ll be changing end user devices to Pocket PC. This is a mixed blessing. The good thing is that Pocket PC, or Windows Mobile, has a fairly decent browser and can actually render thing correctly. The bad thing is that my boss wants me to add all the JavaScript features that I had to exclude because Blazer couldn’t hack it back into the website for the beta release. We’ll be discussing the website again on Monday and I’m 99% sure I’ll get him to say that the JavaScript features can be included in the beta 2 release.

One thing that I should point out is a vast difference in emulators. Palm had a couple of version of the Treo 650 emulator, one for each of the cell phone carriers, and they worked OK. I had too many crashes to count when using Blazer. Go to any site with a multiple select drop down list and it would work 75% of the time as opposed to the Pocket PC emulator that hasn’t crashed on me yet. There was also a big difference in size of the emulators. The Treo was 12 Megs zipped and used 150 Megs of memory when I upped the amount of memory to 128 Megs. 20 Megs of overhead give or take. The Pocket PC emulator was a 3 Meg exe, and 130 Megs if you wanted a skin. 80 Megs for the SKD which had to be installed to install the 50 Meg Windows CE Emulator images and skin. The Pocket PC emulator is actually a Virtual PC application though there is no virtual harddrive to save your prefences to. The Treo would at lease save some of your settings that you made while running the emulator in an ini file. Pros and Cons to both but I think I’ll like working with the Pocket PC a little more than the Palm.

Palm Emulators

Part of my job is developing a website that will be ran on a Treo 650. The Treo is a cool palm pilot/cell phone that runs for about $600 if you’re interested. What makes devloping this website so much fun is that the Treo uses a browser called Blazer. Blazer is actually a decent browser for a palm. It has HTML 4.0, XHTML, XML, CSS 1.0/2.0, and Javascript 1.5 support. The Javascript support is debateable in my opinion considering some simple scripts don’t work while others do but it does have some support. One of the most anoying things about Blazer is the way that it handles tables. You can create a table, specify the width, border, cell padding/spacing, etc all you want. Won’t actually do you any good but you can specify it. Table borders are the only thing that seems to work correctly! Another annoyance, however needed, is the way that selects, drop down lists and lists, are displayed. Sure it has to render the selects but why can I not specify the width?! Something like

<select name="name" size="2" style="width: 20px">

<option>1</option>

<option>2</option>

<option>some really long text goes here!!!!</option>

</select>

would work fine on just about any browser. However when it’s rendered it still takes the full required length! There are other things that are annoying but are just small quirks that I won’t go into full detail right now. Check out the simulator if you’re interested.