Friday, May 26, 2006


Well, this was going to be it... This was going to be the first time I went to go visit kathy in Boone. Head up friday night, chill for the weekend, then come down sometime sunday. So what happens? My co-worker goes into labor thursday then has the audacity to not come in to work saturday to do an upgrade on a clients server. sheesh, what is the world coming to?

Seriously, many congrats to Mahee, her husband and new boy or girl (we still have not heard back from them). With any luck it was a boy and they named it Thor like Jon (one of my bosses) wanted.

On the bright side, my being denied the chance to go see kathy gave me the chance to go to Wallyworld and pick up a few things yet still lacking from my appartment. First thing, dining room table. For only $99.97 I got a 5 peice dining room set. The table it's self I would get is in the neighborhood of 4'x3' or something like that (perhaps slightly bigger). Not terribly huge, but more than enough for my self, the roomy and a couple of guests. The big bonous is no longer hitting our heads on the chandalier!

Other misc things picked up:
Charcol grill
Charcol (no lighter fluid, I have a nifty starter system that doesn't require any).
6 black angus hamburger patty's
misc stuff to go on burgers
and some wine.

I also decided to treat my self to a 300GB Segate hard drive from newegg. It was only $100 bucks, including a rush on the order. I've had bad luck with Segate in the past, but I hear they've gotten better. Currently my system sports a 120GB Segate and it seems fine so far. So knock on wood, everything will be ok with it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

XML Integration Gate, or a lesson in how systems interact :)

Warning, the follow contains generalizations of technical information that you would only understand if you worked at my former employer at the same time I did in the programming department. Unless you did, you probably won't understand any of what I'm talking about.

Well, recently there has been some excitement several thousand dollars my former employer ended up having to pay a vendor due to a system error. My interest in the subject (no longer being employed there) is that there was a possibility that one of my systems was the cause of this error. Now, not that all of my code is perfect and never breaks, but I was pretty sure my code (or my code with out significant help) could not be the cause of such an issue. So here are my thoughts on the subject, and why ultimitily, I beleive that my code wins in the end.

The issue was the system getting caught in an infanant loop placing orders. When an order is placed in my former employers system, it automatically makes a request to a particular vendor which charges my former employer a small fee. The issue was some how, a queuing system I wrote for an XML Integration got caught in an endless loop replacing the same test order over and over again (presumably in thier production environment).

When I first heard of this issue, and was explained given the inital data on the cercomstances surrounding what was happening I made a suggestiong that the person investigating the issue check into a hack another programmer (lion) had added to the XML integration. This "hack" was to allow the system to cancel orders before our system actually placed them, while they still existed only in our queue. I'm not sure how much invetigation this person actually did as they happen to be in extreamly high demand over there. I doubt they had much time to check into it.

This is where the saviour comes in, a person DreamTeam dubs, Constallation.

What constillation found is that the issue was caused only when the middle man in the integration sent the system in our events in the following order (All for the same transaction identification number)

Order Placement
Order Cancellation
Order placement (new product)

The reason this was an issue is because of the nature of how this particular integration works, when I wrote the queing system I was forced to write the system to deail with multiple records in our database as a signle trasaction (as if they were transmitted in the same XML document) This was to ensure extra orders were not placed in my former employers system. Because of this, what ended up happending was the following:

Orders placed, new order records at status 'CREATED'
Orders cancelld, new order records presumably at status 'COMPLETE'
Orders placed, some records for this transaction at 'COMPLETE', some at 'CREATED'
Queue picks up the 'CREATED' protion of the transaction, marks the entire transaction 'LOADED'
Only the records which were previously at 'CREATED' status are processed, records which were previously at 'COMPLETED' are now set to created (thus the previously cancelled order is alive again and will be processed)

Here is where my lack access to the code limits my understanding of the siutation... Rather than the previously cancelled order simply being processed and marked 'COMPLETED' as they should have been, the system ended up in an endless loop replacing the "cancelled" order.

Now one aspect of the cancellation system that Lion wrote which I have not touched on yet, is a reposting mechinism. If for some reason the cancellation fails the system is supposed to automatically repost the cancellation and try again. At this point I can only guess that perhaps Lion's reposting system considered the cancellation a failour and endlessly retired to cancel the orders, while my order processing queue endlessly considered the order placement event for those orders a failour and endlessly tried to replace the order.

Now, admittingly the order entry queue could have been a bit smarter and done a few things to check that the order exsited in the system, however this is yet another project that I ended up writing in less than a week so.. I guess I'm not a super duper hero, just a super one (or something like that).

But at the same time, Lion's order cancellation system could never have worked (at least in this situation). The best he could have hoped for is for the system to simply not cancel the order. So, clearly more testing was required in this project, apparently it shouldn't have gotten past QA.

So in the end, I feel that the order entry queue was fine (though obviously had *some* weaknesses), the system worked exactly as it should have as long as people didn't start screwing with it externally. So in the end, Amlett's assesment that my system was broken, was incorrect. My system wasn't broken, it was just being affected by a broken order cancellation system.

Well, that's all for tonight. Some time later on Bear and I will post the story of how dream team came into being on our blogs respectivly. It is super exciting stuff so I'm sure none of you will want to miss it.

Good night

Friday, May 19, 2006

Photoblog update

Really not writing to say much, other than I'm going to be posting some pictures of the new appartment on the photoblog....

On a side note, apparently Jon and I quitting MIS ended up costing the company quite a bit of money... It seems that an interaction between some of his code and one of my systems caused our system to run up a bill of tens of thousands of dollars from test data... I guess the jury is out on what actually caused it, but I'm betting it has to do with a modification someone else made to my order entry system... Copax, if you're reading this, I ***have*** to know what happend... This is just ***to*** damn good...

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Hey there, I've finally gotten off my butt and decided to create a photo blog. You can find it at

For now I've just got a couple of pictures from my beer brewing, my very first batch in fact, but soon enough I should add many more pictures.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Usually I get bord at them... They can really be such horrible things if not done right... But I went out to one with Kathy today, and it was awesome. Well, I guess the awesomeness had a lot to do with kathy being there. That is a big help! But the wedding reception (technically I was not at the ceramony) was interesting. For starters, it was the first casual dress reception I've been to (which is why I could go to it, I have causal dress stuff but no forma/nice stuff ATM). It was the first one I've been to with a theme as well, "I'd walk anywhere with you". I thought that was really cool.

Anyway, I spent quite a bit of the reception dancing with kathy, and chit chatting about whatever. It was totally great.

Well, I'm realizing I'm having trouble keeping my line of thought here, so I best be off to bed. Good night everyone!


Well... I wasn't really expecting it... But it looks like I moved to NC to end up getting me a girlfriend pretty quick here. It's the most amazying thing, and I'm still recovering from the inital shock of what just happened... Kind of a long story, but I'll make it short since I need to go to bed :P

Basically, there's this super awesome girl I met about 10 or so year ago named Kathy. Over the years we developed a very close friendship, and eventually a little closer... After briefly flirting with an online relationship, and a couple visits we had become very very very close.

Unfortunetly, at about this time I graduated from college in MI with my programming degree, right at the same time the .Com bubble burst. Needless to say I spent 2 years looking for a job not only in north carolina, but really any job at all. When it became apparent that I wasn't going to be getting to NC any time soon we kind of ended the romance part of our relationship. We agreed to stick to strickly friendship and "move on" as it were. Eventually I moved to OH and briefly dated another (cool) girl Jen. Kathy also had found some one else. In the end, my relationship with Jen ended, and so did Kathy's with her b-friend at the time.

Eventually, I got my job here in NC, and started setting in etc (I've written a about htis so I'm skipping it)

Well, tonight I finally got to see kathy again in almost 4 year. I was extreamly nervouse in the build up to tonight, because I was under the impression that kathy wanted strickly frienship... Weeell... Turns out not exatly... We ended up cuddling for a bit, then kissing, then deciding that we really love eachother. It's the most amazing thing... I can't beleive this is happening.

Well, I need to go... I knew I said it'd be short... But hey, when do I ever write just a little bit? Good night everyone. And I hope everyone out there that is single finds some one that is as completly amazing as kathy, but I"m not sure that's possible because she is the best :)

Monday, May 01, 2006


...was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night...

Ok ok ok... Enough of that... So I'm in north carolina and so far I have to say it's been pretty good over all. Thus far over the past week I have managed to:
1). Find walmart and a huge shopping area with help from the new roomy (Nikki)
2). Find the local grocery store with the help of Western Union.Com and mapquest
3). Write bunches of code
4). Decide my insurace company is evil.

Over all not bad, only real stick in the situation is progressive. I called about switching over my policy to NC. They gave me what was actually an awesome quote, but unfortunately by the time I got the quote I had basically spent just about my entire checking account, and didn't have the $$$ till my roomy could pay me back for the move in costs. Well, I finally got some of that money back, the $364.00 in cash that I x-fered bover p-pal to the roomie to pay for the room. Turned out paypal was too slow so I had to put in on the credit card. Anyway, back to the main story... I was told by progressive that if I called back by the 28th and gave them my quote number they would guarantee the rate they quoted me. Well, on the 28th I had the dough so I called them up to go ahead with transfering over my policy to NC. Well, wouldn't you know it. Progressive decided to screw with my rate... Interestingly they only increased the rate ever so slightly, but what really got me is they seriously increased my down payment (to the point where I could, again, no longer afford it) just so they could every so slighly decrease my monthly payment. I spent about 3 hours on the phone arguing with the guy about my rate. In the end the guy could only say that he did not doubt that what I told him was accurate but that the rate he was giving me was also accurate. At this point I decided to drop Progressive, I worked out a deal with them where I paid them a partial pmt on my MI policy for 13 days of coverage durring which time I will (hopefully get paid) and find another provider.

Best part... Just to put icing on the cake I logged into the progressive website to be greeted by a prompt telling me my account was cancelled. I called them to ask why this was as I had the partial payment, at first the moron on the phone started goinjg on about how I needed to pay half the policy to activate it. I got pretty agry at this point and explained that there was no way I was paying that much because I was canceling them because they seem to have trouble keeping their word. I told her that I was informed the payment I "sent in" was supposed to be good enough for 13 days. The lady went to go speak with her manager and came back saying that yeah it's supposed to be good for 13 days and that I should be able to log in tomorrow. Then she has the nerve to ask if I wanted to make a payment on the policy... Hmmmmmmmmmm.....



Anyway, sorry for going on about progressive for so long. I actually just got off the phone with that last lady not too long ago so the experience is still quite fresh in my mind. This move to NC, while being one of the craziest I've ever done (it terms of corrdinating stuff and such) has also been about the best ever! Rooming with Nikki should be great, for those of you not familiar with my NC gang, I've known these girls (Nikki/Kathy/Melly/et. al) for about 10 years now and I've kind of always wanted to move here. So I'm really looking forward to eventually getting to hang with everyone and have a grand old time :) Things are also just starting to come together after the move... I just got digital cable with DVR and a cable modem set up, I can't tell you how good it is to finally be on the 'net again after a week! I've also got almost all of my show's set back up on the DVR, though it's been a bit more difficult than with the TIVO. The cable DVR seems to only like pulling up listings for that particular day, not all listings for the show you're typing in. Oh well, I have a DVR, that's what counts. Besides, I'm going to build my own Mythbox as soon as I'm back into the swing of things here (probably after buying a queen size bed for super cheap at the local matress factory)! Well, I guess that is all for now.. I will leave you with the following words of wisdom, Jenn will understand I'm sure....

If you're blue and you don't know where to go to why don't you go where fashion sits, Puttin' on the ritz.
Different types who wear a day coat, pants with stripes and cutaway coat, perfect fits, Puttin' on the ritz.
Dressed up like a million dollar trouper
Trying hard to look like Gary Cooper (super duper)

Come let's mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks or "umberellas" in their mitts, Puttin' on the ritz.
Have you seen the well-to-do up and down Park Avenue On that famous thoroughfare with their noses in the air High hats and Arrow collars white spats and lots of dollars Spending every dime for a wonderful time
If you're blue and you don't know where to go to why don't you go where fashion sits, Puttin' on the ritz. Puttin' on the ritz. Puttin' on the ritz.......