I Hate Huge PowerPoint Files

I swear, only 3% of people seem to know how to make stylish, efficient charts.

Everyone else makes bloatware.

I’m not even bitching about the content on the slides; just the frou-frou crap like borders and such. These images are often far out-sized for the environment in which they are used.

Why does this anger me? It’s going to take most of the next hour to print, and I have this telecon at 3:00. I’ll hardly get any time to make notes on the slides before I have to go sit through the telecon.

Gah.

Beautificent!

The folks upstairs—yeah, the same turds who “overflowed the bathtub” a couple weeks back—now have a yapper dog.

It is an extremely ugly yapper dog. I think that it’s somewhat related to a dachshund, but all I know is that the little yap is ugly.

The little yap is also out on the porch now and, apparently, lonely, because he’s yapping pitifully.

I saw the youngest girl walking around outside with it earlier, and I feared that it would be their dog. [I don’t know who else I thought the dog might belong to, but well, in this situation, hope springs eternal … or something.] Then they bounded up the stairs together and, sure enough, it was theirs.

I say that Ant-Dawg and Heather need to bring over her little Pomeranian and let him yap to his heart’s content. It would be … payback?

Standards, Schmandards

You know what pisses me off?

There’s this whole movement towards the Semantic Web and designing with Web standards. It’s a beautiful thing.

What pisses me off is that every Web programming book I’ve ever perused fails to follow these things. I’ve seen more line-breaks and tables-for-design-positioning hacks in these books than I care to think about.

When the heck are the writers of good Web programming books going to drink the Kool-Aid and start pushing readers to output nice, happy, semantic code?

When, Lord, when?!

NASA’s Biggest Problem: No Vision

You know, the biggest problem with NASA is that, over the last 15 years, no one has given much of a damn about NASA.

Not George H.W. Bush, not Bill Clinton, and not George W. Bush.

Bush pere was left to figure out how to manage foreign and domestic policy in a post-Cold War world, and in a lot of ways, NASA was a Cold War relic. The Space Race was won; unfortunately, it was won in the 1960’s and had decayed in the 1970’s. The lax attitudes of the 1980’s then caused the Challenger disaster, which dealt NASA a blow. Rather than accept Challenger as a lesson learned–that politics shouldn’t drive management decisions that override safety–the prevailing attitude came to be, “We can’t lose any more astronauts.”

Continue reading NASA’s Biggest Problem: No Vision

NASA&’s Biggest Problem: No Vision

You know, the biggest problem with NASA is that, over the last 15 years, no one has given much of a damn about NASA.

Not George H.W. Bush, not Bill Clinton, and not George W. Bush.

Bush pere was left to figure out how to manage foreign and domestic policy in a post-Cold War world, and in a lot of ways, NASA was a Cold War relic. The Space Race was won; unfortunately, it was won in the 1960’s and had decayed in the 1970’s. The lax attitudes of the 1980’s then caused the Challenger disaster, which dealt NASA a blow. Rather than accept Challenger as a lesson learned–that politics shouldn’t drive management decisions that override safety–the prevailing attitude came to be, “We can’t lose any more astronauts.”

There’s not much you can do to make zero-loss-of-life a 100% reality. You do as much as you can, but poop still happens. No one outside the NASA community wants to accept that, and no one inside the NASA community wants to voice it. To voice it seems callous to the disinterested observer.

Columbia‘s disintegration was a tragedy, but it was just a result of waning interest and funding in NASA from Washington in the Clinton-Bush years. Clinton used Dan Goldin–installed by Bush pere–as his hatchet man with a mantra: “Faster, Better, Cheaper”. Goldin damn near killed NASA.

Bush fils doesn’t have anyone in his entourage with any kind of space experience. His NASA Administrator? And old OMB guy–a beancounter. Amazingly, Sean O’Keefe is providing leadership.

But there’s no vision.

None.

Don Peterson doesn’t say it in this op-ed, but it’s there: that everyone is reacting to perceived issues is dangerous. “Full envelope, full escape” seems to be the growing mantra for crew support. Unfortunately, to worry about such a capability for STS ignores STS’s biggest contribution to manned spaceflight: cargo carrier.

All the stuff we build here on this contract all goes into STS. None of it could go in a rocket. None.

Everyone’s running scared, but … all you’ve got to do is make sure that the safety people get listened to and that the quality people aren’t grumbled at like they always are, and this problem largely goes away.

NASA draws some of the most talented minds in the world, and the contractor community’s right behind them. What NASA needs is better oversight, better management, and more resources. It doesn’t need a new crew transfer vehicle; not today.

I’m not the only pedant!

Jason Kottke posts on the origins of the term “weblog”.

That had some detail even I didn’t know.

I still hate the term “blog”, though. A “blog” sounds like a specimen you give a doctor. A “weblog” is a log that’s on the Web, or a log of the Web. Of course, it’s shorter than journallog, which is really foofy and somewhat superfluous, and after 1998 or so, e-something or online something both became passe.

But if you call my site a blog, I’ll beat you up.

I’m not the only pedant!

Jason Kottke posts on the origins of the term “weblog”.

That had some detail even I didn’t know.

I still hate the term “blog”, though. A “blog” sounds like a specimen you give a doctor. A “weblog” is a log that’s on the Web, or a log of the Web. Of course, it’s shorter than journallog, which is really foofy and somewhat superfluous, and after 1998 or so, e-something or online something both became passe.

But if you call my site a blog, I’ll beat you up.

Thanks for playing …

… but it’s nice to take a hint and know where you’re not wanted.

Have a nice one, kids. 🙄

To elaborate, my “we might mess with you for fun” comment was intended to be sarcastic. I should have probably limited any sarcasm in any comments to that entry. But I resent the insinuation that I was being immature in doing so.

I’ve had enough of it. I’ve had enough of the shit that you people give me for having a busy life. I’m sick and damn tired of the insinuation that I intentionally avoid you. This is how I live my life, dammit, and frankly, it is not up to you to choose how I spend my time. I appreciate that you like spending time with me, and I do enjoy spending time with you myself. But I’m sick and fucking tired of it. Does Jeremy get this kind of crap? I hope not.

Politely, kiss my ass.

Rant Warning! Rant Warning!

Astute observers will note the time of this entry, the time of the previous entry, and will realize that work has been bad today. Said observers get one beer. Me, I’m getting the rest of the case. The rest of you can by your own.

Today started off badly. Last night, I stayed up to listen [not watch, since I have no TV] to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. I stayed up even later to listen to Fox Sports Radio blast Bud Selig for the game being called as a 7-7 tie after 11 innings. I think Bud should have pitched, by the way. But today started off badly, for I woke up much later than anticipated. I know my alarm clock works, because I apparently slept-walked over, dickered with it, and got back in bed. I know this because I have a 9-volt battery as a backup for the clock; the cover’s broken, and the battery was propping up the radio. This was not its physical state when I went to bed last night.

Waking up late was just the start. The drive in was fine [unlike yesterday, when I found out that you don’t take Nick Fitcheard Road into town after 7:00 a.m., unless you like to wait bloody forever], and then the meetings hit. I have a daily 9:00 a.m. meeting on my major project. I got out of it at 10:45 because it was immediately followed up with a telecon with one of our Boeing customers. That was okay, because I knew it was happening coming into the day.

Of course, I hadn’t thought about the fun of updating our status sheets. See, I update our schedules for our customer; these are done in Microsoft Project98. But since Allan, our engineering liaison to Boeing, is off liaising at Kennedy Space Center, I’m getting his slack. Why? I’m the closest person we have in job description to him, and I’m already updating status, just in a different form. So I’ve spent the last two days figuring out how Allan’s Excel spreadsheets work. [I just finished, which is why I’m now pecking this entry.]

I left at 12:30 to drive out to the House and wait on the cable installers. And wait. And wait. The only fun was playing Grand Theft Auto III with Blake while I waited. What wasn’t fun was my battery cable coming loose while I was driving, killing the power to my truck immediately. Blessedly, I was in our subdivision when this happened. I have since tightened said cable.

Finally, at 4:45, the installers come. At 4:50, the installers–who are part of a local, just-in-time outfit that installs for Mediacom–realize that there’s only RG-6 cable running to the house, and that’s not good enough for four TV’s on a dwelling more than 150 feet from the cable junction. We banter with the installers [who are kick-ass people] for a while, and we come up with this solution:

1. They give me their home office number to contact them directly about when they’ll have the equipment they need to do our install. [Oddly enough, when Mediacom cancelled the install for them last week and notified me but not them, the installers had the equipment they needed. Mediacom’s customer service and planning functions could suck a dead bunny through a bent straw.]

2. They agreed not to tell Mediacom that Mediacom had failed to disconnect basic cable to the House in the first place; we have TV in the living room at the House for free until they can get the upgraded lines.

3. After we discussed running drops to each bedroom [none are wired for cable] and they noted that it’d cost us $50 per drop, Todd said, “Man, I’ve got to find some coax so we can run this ourselves.” The male installer said, “You know, I’ve had this spool of cable on my truck that’s been trying to fall off all day. It just might on our way out of here.” The female installer laughed and smirked. Sure enough, that damn spool fell right off the truck … guess we don’t have to find cable anymore.

I got to have a great bitchout session with Mediacom, where I made it abundantly clear that they were dolts and were screwing over their subcontractor and their end customer. As a subcontractor, I know all about that–it’s a part of my daily existence.

Then, the most fun comes from the fact that it’s now 5:30 p.m. and I still have work to do. With Other People’s Work–I’m down with OPW, yeah you know me–on my desk, and considering that the Excel sheets are a daily status form that we use in our 9:00 a.m. meetings, I got to come back in to work. Grabbing dinner [did I mention that I left work with so little margin that I didn’t get to grab lunch, and that I didn’t wish to snag food from my roommates, because what little food I have is in the Outhouse?] in a dash, I come back here and beat on Excelt for a while.

And now, it’s 7:30, I’m finished bitching, and all is … okay. I’m going to Best Buy for some retail therapy once the thunderstorm passes, and then I’m going to get some beer on my way home. Huzzah.

Oh well, like Shauna and I discussed:

GFM: Sorry, having to bitch out my cable company something fierce.
GFM: This is going to make a wondrous entry.
Shauna: ooh that’s a good way to look at life. “bad day, but good bloggin'”
GFM: Right.
GFM: Because who wants to read about endlessly good days?
Shauna: no one! happiness makes for a boring read 😛

Bad Polling

Guh. People–especially conservatives–talk all the time about how polls are skewed by their questions. Try this one at FoxNews.com, for instance:

The Pledge of Allegiance

Do you agree with the federal appeals court ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance, with the words “under God,” is unconstitutional?

Yes, the Pledge violates the separation of church and state.

No, “under God” belongs in the Pledge.

Not sure.

Whether or not I agree with the ruling is made irrelevant in this poll by the followon, attendant verbiage. I don’t think having “under God” in there violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, but the more I think about it, I don’t think “under God” necessarily belongs in the Pledge, either.

I’m tempted to answer “Not sure.”, because my true answer doesn’t lie with either qualifier. But given the political climate that’s present in the aftermath of the 9th Circuit’s ruling, giving a “Not Sure” is probably on the order of voting for a third-party candidate for President.

All of this leads me to something from my lunch yesterday with PJ: he and a mutual friend are taking PY 530: “Psychometrics 3 hrs. History and development of psychological testing with special emphasis given to both theory and process of effective evaluation. Prerequisites: AHS 300 and PY 311.” The reason PJ and Julie are in the class is to remove bias errors in their surveys of students for their research in Engineering Management [of which study of the UAH Integrated Product Teams design class is a large part]. I’m interested in the class because of bias errors in polling.

Now, I have to see if I can fit this class in to my Public Affairs program, because dammit, I’m interested in this stuff, and I can finally take a class with PJ. 🙂