I'm Laura. I am female, 31, a gamer, a bookworm, a knitter, a spinner, a tatter, pierced, tattooed, musical, vehemently geeky and occasionally ineptly artistic.


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Virginia, summer 2006

Posted at 11 Dec 2008 10:50:44 AM

Wow, an update!

I've been down in Virginia since Monday, as we've some new people on the team and it's always nice to actually see the people one is working with. My hotel is (was) gorgeous; a lot more expensive than I'm sure the expense people will be happy with, but when you give me only half a week to make reservations in a highly commercial area, you take what you can get. And I certainly default to better places rather than worser when given a short list of options.

Monday --
I got to the office around noon. I found my cubicle, said hi to everyone, and then went to set up for the afternoon. I discovered that no longer did my laptop recognize its power cord...and the battery was dead. It had been slowly getting worse, requring me to jiggle and cajole the power cable until the laptop recognized it, and maybe something on the car ride just finally knocked the solder points between the connector and the motherboard loose. So, I had no laptop.

We just hired 2 new people, and someone cracked an LCD the day before. So, TRX had no spare laptops either.

On tuesday someone could bring in an extra that they'd been using for a demo model, but not by that afternoon.

So I went to find my hotel and took the afternoon off :-)

I decided around 7 that I ought to go find a grocery store so that I didn't have to starve or live off of the popcorn in the room. You know me - this is always a bad idea. I looked at a map, and it said to go out of my road, take a left and then another left, and then go straight until I practically ran into the supermarket.

I missed the second left. *headdesk*

Now, in Northern Virginia, roads are not NORMAL. They don't go one way, then you can turn around and go the opposite way to get back where you were. No, they jut off at odd angles, have 5-road intersections, lots of overpasses and off- and on-ramps are not always right across the highway for each other. Roads spontaneously change their names for a few miles, and go from highway 6-lanes to residential 2-lanes in the blink of an eye.

All of this adds up to Laura having a very bad time...

I wandered around completely blindly for about an hour, watching the gas tank I hadn't had a chance to refill after my drive down go from a quarter of a tank to dangerously close to empty. By dumb luck I ran smack into a Giant (not literally!), and it had a gas station a few doors down... so I bought some food, got some gas, then picked a direction and drove in it.

Another hour and a half saw me *finally* come to a road that I recognized, and my luck saw to it that it remained recognizable (I'd come across familiar highways before, but they turned spontaneously into South Broad Street and remained stubbornly residential for miles until I decided that right road or no, I was going the wrong way). Yogurt melted and frozen dinners dangerously close to the same, I piled back into my room and resolved never to drive anywhere in NoVa again.

Tuesday --
Normal day at work, nothing special. Got a new (to me) laptop, which we just transferred my hard drive into so that I don't even notice a difference.* I'm assigned to a lot of trouble support tickets and such now, rather than real development. This is nothing short of frustrating, but at least I got to talk to my leads now (we've temporary co-leads until a new manager is hired. The old one has left, and I can't say that I'm sorry) and we're more or less on the same page. I actually solved one of the tickets by the end of the day, though, and that feels pretty good.

I went up to Rockville in the evening to watch my cousins' dance recital rehersal, which was actually surprisingly fun :D It reminded me scarily of all the high school musical rehersals, with the same joking, running around and chatting onstage while waiting for the director to give notes. I really do miss that...
We all went out to get ice cream afterwards, and strawberry sundaes assuage even the most homesick hearts ;)

*no differences except for some reason, my windows don't shade anymore. I am completely mystified but haven't gotten around to reinstalling Litestep and/or Windowblinds yet to see whether that fixes it.

Wednesday --
Again, normal day at work. The whole team went out for lunch at a really good italian restaurant near the office. The best part of it, IMHO, was their soft rolls and dipping oil - I don't know how they made that oil, and of course I couldn't exactly ask, but I'd love to experiment with things like that. It was slightly spicy, slightly herby, with some leaves in it that I couldn't immediatley identify...not just generic red pepper flakes + basil + garlic. Really yummy...I only ate half my lunch because of it!

A couple of friends from work, Matt and Renford, came over in the evening to hang out in my hotel and watch the AQ raid. Unfortunately, although I was first in the queue (!) I didn't actually get to go, so we mostly just goofed around and showed off whatever random things we had on our computers. I certainly had fun, and that was a better way to kill an evening than most.

Thursday --
Completely uneventful...and kind of restful. I got a couple more things done at work, and spent an excellent evening with a bowl of cold velveeta shells & cheese and a couple of Cat Who.. books. :-D

Friday --
Got into work a bit late, owing to the hotel bed being unbelievably comfortable. Packed up all my stuff, shoehorned it into the car, and checked out. Hotels have this thing now where they shove your receipt under your door at 7am and then let you leave your room key by the phone. Handy, but disconcerting somehow.

I'm heading up to Catskill this weekend, and am planning on driving more or less straight there once I leave the office. I'll stop in Binghamton to see Chris, grab dinner and refuel at a Starbucks, but with any luck I'll be in Catskill before 11. Going to be a long day of driving... so far the car hasn't complained any, and I'm thankful for it.

One thing I noticed about Virginia - every single car is less than 2 years old, costs more than I've owned in my life, and is shiny. I mean just-washed-it-yesterday shiny. It's absolutely unbelievable - I think I maybe saw a dozen cars that actually looked as though they'd been used, and certainly none as old as mine (well, not many are... ;) ).

And you'd think that with every second person in an Audi, BMW or Mercedes and the rest in new Hyundais and Toyotas, people wouldn't be chronic tailgaiters. Nope. The roads are *packed*, and people dart in and out of traffic all the time to get to/from the silly roads that jut out everywhere, so you're constantly stopping short - I don't understand it. People drive like they're in bumper cars rather than $200,000 worth of immaculately-painted finely-tuned machine. I will never understand.

It's 2:00 now and just about time for me to get out of here, and this is already more than long enough. I'll be in Catskill until Tuesday morning, as Dan, some friends and I are going to the Goo Goo Dolls concert at SPAC on Monday evening. Next weekend Chris and I are heading up to Lake George (YAY!), so it'll be a busy week :)

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A very simple podcast aggregator

Posted at 11 Dec 2008 11:01:07 AM

WHEN will people learn that a screw-up on the part of the client does IN NO WAY mean that adding new code to bypass the verification logic is a good idea?! I mean, the data won't load as-is, because they're sending a bad value in field X.
We have 2 choices:
1. Tell the client to start sending good data in field X. This is not difficult. I'll do it myself if management is having trouble writing the email. If they ask me nicely, I may even write it politely.
2. Write more crappy, inexplicable code to bypass the verification checks done on field X, and put some even more inexplicable (and guaranteed to be uncommented) qualifiers in there so that the bypass only happens for this specific client, because we really don't want unverified data getting in there under any normal and sane circumstances.

Apparently, choice 2 is better. WTF?!


Yesterday, I noticed that Penny-Arcade had completed a podcast rss file of sorts, which is available here for anyone that missed the announcement. I have been greatly enjoying the PA podcasts, and got to thinking - they're planning on submitting the podcast to iTunes. This is all well and nifty, except that I don't really use iTunes, for the reason that it would be really clunky to download things on my windows box at Chris', burn it to CD, and rip it back off at my apartment, just so I could listen to the silly things on my laptop/iPod/whatever. Accordingly, I went looking for a good piece of podcast aggregation software for linux. The consensus on LQ seems to be either Juice (formerly iPodder), or CastPodder (formerly known as iPodder Linux). I had two fairly major problems with these:

Juice: Says on any google search and on its FAQ page that it is available for "Windows, MacOSX and GNU/Linux". However, in little letters underneath "GNU/Linux" it adds "coming soon" and the download page shows no evidence of there ever having been a linux version. I am mystified by their apparently linux-y reputation.

CastPodder: Requires, in this order:
Python 2.4 >
libpython 2.4 >
libwxPythonGTK 2.6 >
wxPythonGTK (wxPython on some distro's) 2.6 >
libxml2-python 2.6 >
xmms-python(pyxmms) - Python interface to XMMS
PyBMP (for beep-media-player) can be found at http://borgforge.net/projects/pybmp

Python 2.4 - check
libpython 2.4 - can't find it anywhere, except a vague mention of an RPM available for Mandrake. This is curious, not to mention problematic.
libwxPythonGTK - Google draws a complete blank.

I didn't bother to go further than that. Anything that compiles from source, and has that many obscure requirements, has a duty to also post links to them somewhere on their download page. It's not hard to do, and apparently you found them somewhere because you tested the software...right?

So I gave up. Darned if I'll chase down random python libraries just because someone wanted their overblown software to look pretty. I still needed an aggregator, though....so I wrote one. It took all of a few hours.

For now, it's available here, although I'm sort of hoping that it'll be up on Sourceforge soon. I can't possibly be the only person in existance who doesn't feel the need to slog through graphical bs when all that's desired is a simple download. Maybe I am...we'll see.

Sooo...because that little post up there never got quite finished on Friday before we left internet-enabled territory, everything's getting lumped together into one post For Your Convenience.
It was a good weekend - left late on Friday as is our wont, got to Carmel around 2am, spent a very lazy Saturday (^_^) in which Chris mostly read while I read and went shopping. Bath and Body Works, FTW.

I meant to do some more productive things over the weekend, I really did - write up a not-terrible summary web page for the ASSPA thing mentioned above, roll up some characters for Forgotten Realms or just plain DnD, learn about what a template class is (not in the programming sense), stuff like that. It partially got done, I guess...it was truly nice to spend the weekend with a few good books rather than a few good raids, though.

We're going up to Catskill this coming weekend, which I'm very much looking forward to. It'll be nice to be home (and it's getting warmer out- definitely a plus! :P)

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Billy Joel concert + False is finally lvl60!

Posted at 11 Dec 2008 10:50:31 AM

I'm finally getting a chance to update, yay! It's really been unforgivably long, considering how much has been crammed into the past week.

Last Saturday, Dan came out to Binghamton for the day, and that evening Chris, Dan and I drove on up to Syracuse for the Billy Joel My Lives concert! I can't even begin to describe how wonderful it was - I honestly think that it's one of the best times I can remember having. He started off with Prelude/Angry Young Man, and went right through Summer Highland Falls, Billy the Kid, Goodnight Saigon, Miami 2017 and Zanzabar to Only the Good Die Young, Piano Man (!) and Italian Restaurant. There was only one song that I didn't know, which is pretty good ;) Thanks to Dan's spawn-camping of the ticketmaster page last December we had fantastic floor seats, and they didn't mind cameras at all. The place was *HUGE*, and the whole crowd sang along at every possible opportunity...the effect was awe-inspiring and just indescribable. The guys from Orange County Choppers showed up onstage in the middle to give Billy a shiny new bike, which was a pretty neat extra!

I think, though, that Dan and I singing along while Billy played Italian Restaurant live right up there on the stage shall forever remain one of my favorite memories...I'm getting all teary again while I write this, which damnit is just not fair since it's a really happy one!

We came back with sufficient loot to prove we were there, and although I only had a crappy camera with me, I do have pictures. I need to get them off said camera now...

Pager duty wrapped up on Thursday, and although it definitely went better than I expected I'm glad that it's done. Wednesday night was really long due to a mysterious transaction causing the Java code to fail (the exact cause remains undetermined...I think I need to work on that). I'm sort of miffed that I gave an honest answer to "How much sleep have you gotten?", and then got pulled off of active duty...my lead sent an email out saying "Can anyone cover the pager 'til the next guy comes on this afternoon?" I don't know, it doesn't seem fair really - it's not like I asked for nor needed help, and weekdays are pretty slow after you wrap up all the morning tasks (which I'd already done). Chris made the point that once you get to a certain level of sleep-depravation they can't really trust you to do things correctly, even if you still think you're ok...and while I understand that, I'm still going to be miffed. Le sigh.
Other than that, yeah...went well. Definitely a lack of sleep during the week (I think I was running on 7 hours, spread out over 3 days, by the end there...resulted in my getting sick, of course) but damnit, for an admittedly approval-dependant overly-responsible workaholic, it's the perfect job. I really like feeling needed, so even if I'm exhausted and have barely eaten that day, if I know that I'm doing something necessary that only I can do and do well, I still feel good and satisfied with everything. It's so hard to explain the mindset that I get into, that allows me to drive myself literally to ruin all while enjoying the work that I'm doing...it's very different-feeling, even internally, than my usual only-slightly-stressed way of thinking. I dare say that someone will stumble across this entry some day and will know what I mean, and if so, that's enough.

I was supposed to be able to take Friday off, but due to the amount of non-pager related work I still had all backed up it just wasn't possible. I had to promise to take a day off this week instead (today wouldn't have worked either). I can't say that I mind, now that I'm back in normal-Laura mode ;-)

Of course, instead of trying to get myself back onto some semblance of a normal sleep schedule this weekend, Chris and I went out on with friends on Friday, and I did my first Molten Core run on Saturday. I was still only 59 (the lowest out of all 40 of us, I think) and it was fantastic. I only stayed through Lucifron and Magmadar (by then it was 4am), although I saw in the guild note on Sunday that they'd gone on to take Gehennas and I think Garr. It was quite an experience, and we did *really* well - this guild is fantastic, and I'm feeling really lucky to be a part of it. Shin chose well when HoP merged into KotW!

I had a botched Scholo 5-man yesterday, as well as a pretty bad ZG run in the afternoon...can't really blame anyone for ZG, as some of the KotW people were running one of our sister guilds through for their first time. They didn't have enough people to field a 20man, though, so it was half-PuG half-guildies, and we didn't have a tank who was really equipped to handle the bosses down there. Meh, my intro to endgame raiding was pretty enlightening, and I imagine that it's the same for all of those
guys :)

Later last night I went on a really good guild HU Strat run, which is where I (finally) hit 60!!! I got a Righteous Orb and a shiny new pair of Ash Covered Boots for my birthday, too ^_^ Time to level Bron... ;)

There will be absolutely no WoW tonight, as good grief I need to sleep, as well as do some cleaning, etc. With any luck I won't need to stay late today...

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Panic Mode

Posted at 11 Dec 2008 10:50:25 AM

Well, I made it through my first night and morning of pager duty, and so far I'm still alive! I know, I'm shocked too.

Got to bed around 2, since as long as I had to be up anyway, Chris and I did our first ZG run with the guild. We had fun, and it certainly was quite an experience, being the first 20-man that we've either of us been on! Unfortunately I then had to get up at 7am to kick off some scripts for work...well, No. I am supposed to get up at 7 to kick off some scripts... What I actually did was get up at 7:30 only to discover that my laptop suffers from a severe malady of the type "Laura is Going To Throw You Against the Wall!!!!!!!!!!" (no internet, at all, nada. Not the network's fault, either...it's all the laptop's problem). So, off I go into work, bright and early on-time.

Very hectic morning, which somehow appears to have gotten very organized and sorted out. I'm not at all sure when that happened, but I'm eternally grateful for it. The afternoons are typically pretty quiet, and now I know what to expect from both an evening and a morning...I think that this may turn out alright :)

I left the office early yesterday, so I'd have some time between when I escaped and when I really had to pick up the pager to run errands. Went by Old Navy, discovered that they've redefined my jeans size yet again...clearly, if I want to stay the same size, I must now lose weight. WTF?

I also went by the optometrist and got a new pair of glasses! I absolutely, positively cannot find my existing pair, and it was becoming imperative that I take my contacts out while still retaining the ability to to see clearly...staying up all night and leaving my contacts in was just unpleasant, and then having to go straight to work for 12 hours...yeah. Plus, in the event that I find my original ones, it's always good to have a spare pair. However, on to the reason for the announcement:

I really, _really_ like my new frames.

I will pause while you consider the enormity of that statement.

It's unprecedented in the umpteen years that I've needed vision correction, I assure you. Chris agrees that they're fantastic, even though he prefers glasses!Laura under most circumstances anyway and is therefore slightly biased ;) You may even see me wear them in public *GASP*, although I still dislike wearing them on principle...and also because I prefer my peripheral vision to be of the Non-Blurry type.

I've got tomorrow off, thankfully - it'll let me sleep at least a bit...! Dan, when are you planning on getting here? (Better not be too early ;-) ) And are you still planning to stay the night and drive to the airport in the morning? Just let me know...

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Happy belated St Pat's day, among other things

Posted at 12 May 2008 10:43:01 AM

Well, I think I should probably update this, seeing as how it's been awhile :-)

What's going on... Work's been really busy this week, I've been in the office 'til 9:30 and 7:30 these past couple of days, due to a MAJORCRISISOMG that seems to have started for our friends across the pond, so much involved research has been necessary. I start pager duty tomorrow, which should be erm....interesting. Keep your fingers crossed for me! Also, I've a phone conf. at 5am tomorrow morning (that crisis...), for which I need to be in the office and which means getting up at least by 4 ...that being the case, I'll certainly not be going out tonight. I may not even go to sleep, seeing as my usual bedtime is 1 or 2, and I really feel worse on 2 hours' sleep than I do on none at all. It will be a very, very long day, I can tell you that much! I'm planning on occupying my evening/night doing some work with my recipe book, installing DSL2.2 on my printserver, configuring its wireless connection (*crosses fingers*), possibly ordering some new parts for my main computer, cleaning my apartment and very probably playing a good deal of early-morning WoW :)

Oh yuk, I just realized that Starbucks isn't open at 4am. Craaaaaaaaaaapola, this will be an interesting phone conf.

We've joined up with a new WoW guild, Knights of the Watch. HoP didn't really fall apart so much as it did just sort of wander...the high-levels really wanted to raid on something approaching a regular schedule (as opposed to "never", which is about what we could pull off w/o resorting to half-PuG's). So we're mostly all in KotW now, with a few exceptions of people who had friends elsewhere. I like them, they're fun, and definitely helpful....there's 15-20 people on at 9pm, 10 or more of 'em 60s, and 270 members total.

Hmm, what else is going on? Billy Joel concert in Syracuse with Dan and Chris this Saturday!

I've learned some truly awesome bash tricks lately, if anyone cares. There's a couple of fantastic pages at Deadman.org (here and here) that are really helpful, and I'm learning a lot. I like commandline gibberish, it makes me happy ^_^

Been dl'ing everything that I see at OC Remix, lately...as my CD drive on my laptop doesn't work, this is my way of getting fresh mp3s, as I'm frequently entirely too lazy to actually reload my iPod. I should add that to my list of things to do tonight, as well... OCremix has a podcast that I'm interested in, and now P-A does too...I can't keep them actually on my iPod of course, but I'll certainly take a listen. Although with the wait for the P-A one over 200minutes now, if anyone wants it let me know and I'll give you a temp login for my ftpserver. Clearly I need to sort out my router so that it'll let my bittorrent client through, because if this is any kind of a regular thing...ouch.

Chris and I were down in the city for St. Patrick's day - we had dinner at his aunt's, and spent Saturday knocking around Manhattan with his whole gang from school....they're a lot of fun, and I liked 'em! It's been awhile since I've been part of a group of friends (even peripherally) and it's a good feeling :-)

That's it for now, largely because I actually have things to do. Remind me to kick myself into gear and crank out something for this week's ffawards...