Tuesday, January 15, 2013


So Scout and I stopped into the grocery store to buy a couple extra things for her lunch. We got to the checkout area, and decided to use a real lane instead of self-serve, since cashiers are much nicer to me when I have Scout in tow. (When I'm alone, it's self-serve only, unless the guy who looks like he just got out of prison is on duty at my local Kroger, he's alright.)

"Do you have your Kroger card?"

"No, but here, let me type in the number." I grabbed the giant rubber stylus, and poked at the "Alt ID" button, heard the reassuring click... and then nothing. So I poked at it a couple more times, and noticed that the button on the opposite side was occasionally gaining focus, and the language kept switching back and forth between Spanish and English.

"Oh, looks like your touch-screen is misaligned..." she mashed some buttons on the register, "...or something, you should probably shut this lane down until that gets re..."

"Try it now," she interrupted. Poke, poke, poke... Hello, Hola, Hello. Same thing.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Manhandling Gentran for fun and profit

About 10am on Wednesday, an instant message window pops up on my workstation, from my buddy and coworker Jim. "Hey, you see all those Gentran errors?"

"Ah crap," I thought, "there goes my day."

I work as a software developer, but in a specialized role: my group writes software to support a production electronic commerce and energy trading system, fitting it with new regulatory requirements, feeds to new vendors, retrofitting logging and administrataion solutions, and our current nightmare, making our code compatible with new vendor frameworks, and migrating it en masse. (Vendor lock-in, in my opinion, is the biggest scam played out on American businesses, and 9 years of bellyaching about that in my job has netted me very few victories.)

In short, I write code, but for the purpose of keeping an enterprise integration system running. In my group, we rotate who is assigned for "production support", where you try to work on your coding tasks as you can, but when there are any hiccups in the system, you're suddenly in a system admin role instead, complete with (justifiably) panicked business users worrying about the status of their million dollar wire transfer, or avoiding regulatory fines for processing data late, etc.