ZMP Site Update

If you’ve been clicking around my site recently, you may have noticed another round of changes in the ongoing redesign. I’ve been converting more pages to php to take advantage of modular inclusion of subpage elements. I’ve updated these too, with a new navigation element which the header and footer include by reference. I’ve taken steps towards a more modularized and visually streamline page style. All that’s left to go for this round is including these new elements in the blog home page.

The next round of work will further parameterize the pages styles to the point where I can change around the styles of the pages without having to touch the page code. After that is fully parameterized, template driven, on the fly page generation, but that may still be a ways off.

Workin’ Man’s Blues

I haven’t posted in a while. Last week I was feeling pretty burned out and dragged down by life and work in particular. In younger days this may have precipitated a semi-major existential crisis, but I’ve learned I usually just needed to unwind and catch up my rest, so I spent my evenings last week watching a movie or going to bed early rather than trying to get stuff done.

You may remember the management consultants skulking around my office a while back. Our corporate overlords want us to learn Agile since they don’t really understand software development or how to manage it. It should be said that we’ve been doing Agile for a few years now and we’re actually pretty good at it, and as far as it goes Agile is fine, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. The cultishness surrounding it is pretty silly and tiresome, and of course the problems in our organization have nothing to do with us not “doing Agile right”.

Nevertheless, the consultants were prized for their supposed Agile expertise. When they around to interview me I mentioned that I’ve seen a lot of management fads come and go. (Humans have been working together for more than 6000 years, so the idea that suddenly the One True Way of Project Management has been divined is kind of absurd.) We had several meetings in which developers raised legit issues about or process and the limitations of Agile, and the consultants gave us weak and unsatisfactory answers. Then they went off and wrote up a report and it’s been circulating our department. The consensus was that it was about 1/3 okay but that part was so generic they could have pasted it in from some web site, about 1/3 dead wrong, and 1/3 complete bullshit that couldn’t even be evaluated for correctness. Among the gems it contained was the bullet point “Developers think that Agile may be a management fad.” which is of course true, and if you reduce this to its essence, they have a problem with the fact that “developers think”.

My boss and the other tech directors, and basically everyone who read it had the same reaction, a combination of disgust and outrage. Even the VP’s of project management who commissioned the report were embarrassed to stand behind it. So they set up a meeting with the consultants and basically went over the report point by point tore them apart. I’d imagine that’s not the end of it, but it makes me feel better after having my professionalism slagged by some clueless wonks. One positive thing that was in the offing anyway is that we have a new VP to oversee our group and sibling projects. He made a good first impression on me and is well regarded by people who’ve worked with him. He’s now the new boss of the Bad Manager, so that will go a long way to solving that problem.

On top of this, we had to get a release of our product out the door last week. We just finished a major launch, and this was pretty much an unexpected follow-on to accomdate a new client. The Bad Manager wanted the release “immediately” so we had to call a meeting to explain to him what it all it would take to build, deploy and test the app. It’s a few days work, partly because we’re doing alot of the deploy stuff for the first time, and partly to allow for a full QA. At one point I’m enumerating the steps to the Bad Manager, and he says “Somebody ought to be writing this down.” So I handed him a pen and pad of paper. Yeesh.

Friday I stayed home from work because Michelle had to get a tooth pulled. I was totally burnt out, so it was just as well. She had a baby tooth that was fused to her jaw, so it was nontrivial surgery. I drove so Jeannie could hold Michelle’s hand in the backseat of the car. We’d known she’d need this for quite some time and Jeannie has been really dreading it. But it turned out not to be so bad. The tooth’s root had begun to dissolve and the x-ray didn’t look anywhere near as scary as the one from a year ago. The doctor and nurse were very nice and put Michelle at ease and the operation took only maybe a half hour. She was kind of woozy afterwards no major pain over the weekend.

So shaw’nuff life gets better. We had a fantastic weekend with beautiful weather. Took care of the yardwork, went skating, feeling rested again. The highlight was Jeannie and I went into the city last night to celebrate our friend Lisa’s birthday. (Lisa it’s your birthday, happy birthday Lisa.) We went to some crazy trendy Japanese restaurant in Chelsea. Fantastic food and drink and a really good time.

This n’ That

Things are pretty quiet here now. We took last weekend off after all the activity of the past few weeks, and basically hung around the house and caught up on work and on some household projects. I’m redoing supports for the curtain in our family room. The old one was bent and drooping from years of kids pulling on the curtain, put the real problem was the supports weren’t strong enough in the first place. This was on the todo list over the winter but it was one of the things I had to let slide after I hurt my back. But now it’s the season for using the patio door so the time has come. Even a small project like this takes time and effort though. Multiple trips to the hardware store, drilling holes, spackling, sanding and painting, etc., it all adds up. Today I’m mostly finished, but I’m going to wait a day or two to install the last bracket over the spot where I repaired the wall.

The other good news is that today the roofers came and replaced the shingles on our roof that had blown off in the storm a couple months back. It only took them an hour so, and while they were up there they cleaned out the gunk that was clogging my gutters. So the todo list clicks forward three notches, but lots and lots of tasks in the offing keep me from getting too excited about it.

Sunday was Mother’s day and Michelle was very excited about it. Together with Lizzy we made Jeannie brunch, and later in the day she put on a special show. She wrote two songs especially for the occasion, and had me help her out on piano. She’s been working on these songs for a couple weeks now, trying to keep it a secret from Jeannie so it’d be a surprise. One is called “Love” and the other “Now and Forever”. It was very sweet. Then she had Jeannie and me dance while she played one of the songs of my new record. This is funny because most of the time when Jeannie dance or hug and kiss, she’ll wedge herself in between us and insist we stop.

I’ve been getting back into diagramming origami after taking most of the winter off. Closing in on finishing my 100+ step dragon. Boy, I sure hope when I finally publish my book people like it.

After the big heat wave a last week it turned cold, and I mean cold. Down into the 30’s every night and maybe up into the 60’s in the day. It’s also been pretty windy and lots of rain off and on.

Summer Warmup

The weather last weekend was actually hot for the first time. Really feels like summer. Saturday we had a birthday party for Michelle, and Martin, Kathleen and Charlie came down for a visit on Sunday and it was up in the 90’s and we had a good ol’ barbeque. Last night we had a pretty heavy rainstorm, and today it’s hot and steamy in the city.

Over the weekend while we were enjoying ice cream and birthday cake out in the ‘burbs, some nutjob parked a bombwagon literally right under my office window. Luckily the thing fizzled and no one was hurt.