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I Am Legend

Now that finals are over, I finally took the chance to relax a bit. I went with Shai, Dan, and Todd (and almost Courtney, Nic, and Natalie, but the movie sold out before they go there) to see I Am Legend. I have been pretty pumped about this movie since Dan let me know about it a while back. It seems that the premise is just too cool to screw up too badly. Of course, that didn’t stop the 1970s version with Charlton Heston, “Omega Man,” from attempting, but even that movie was not a complete bust. A modern version with Will Smith was a pretty sure-fire thing, right?

Right! This story actually has a happy ending. I did enjoy the movie — my first in quite a while to be honest. It had funny moments, intense moments, a few too few thoughtful moments, but overall it was a good ride and did enough right with the compelling premise to be a good way to get back into the movie-watching swing of things.

I Am Legend gets a 4 out of 5 on my movie scale.

Stupidtown Ends in 10 hours

Stupidtown (aka Biochem 405) ends in 10 hours. I can’t wait!

Motorolla RAZR V3xx MMS/SMS problem

A few months ago I picked up a Motorola RAZR V3xx phone along with a new 2-year contract from AT&T Cingular AT&T. I have been quite happy with the phone, and I have even managed to treat it considerably better than my old T720. The phone’s slim profile lets me keep in in the pocket with my wallet; the T720 had to live with my keys, which were not the nicest to its shiny finish.

At any rate, back on Thanksgiving day, my phone started sending MMS (aka “Multimedia”) messages instead of the regular SMS (“Text”) messages. This was confusing to recipients because they thought I was sending them blank slide shows, and it was distressing to me because I’m sure MMS messages are at the very least as expensive as SMS messages. So today, I finally stumbled across the solution to this vexing problem, and it makes absolutely no sense.

Apparently, this bug shows up when there are too many messages in the phone memory. By deleting every message in my inbox after giving the same treatment to my outbox, the problem simply went away. And this occurred despite the memory being nowhere near full — I had over 450 messages in my inbox, and that rated only a 4/7 on the memory usage meter. Nevertheless, clearing my messages promptly did the trick. I guess this world could use a good test engineer. Of course, I’m sure it could use a good developer as well. <g>

Google Tests the Water

Google thinks that my skills would make me a good candidate for a Software Developer in Test. I have to say that the assessment bummed me out a little. My initial reaction was that I’ve done test; I was hoping to move on to a development job. Specifically a development job in a group with the TA who started the whole Google ball rolling for me.

I tried to start feeling good about it. I read some posts from the Google Testing Blog where it was clear that development is a big part of what their testers do. The main part, really. The recruiter set up a phone chat between myself and a Google testing manager. We talked about a variety of topics: the high Dev to Tester ratio; how the job stays interesting, how it really is a development position; how the job can give me a chance to be involved in a product at many more levels than as a normal developer; and about some of the specific meaty problems that the SDTs at Google have solved. It was a good conversation, but something was still bugging me. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but now I think I’ve figured it out.

Even if Google testers are different, even if they are “revered” as the recruiter put it, making sure something works right simply isn’t the same as making something that does work right. I’ll say it again, because I think it bears repeating:

Making sure something works right simply isn’t the same as making something that does work right

The accomplishments that I am most proud of at Microvision are not the many bugs I have caught or the test procedures I have successfully run. My pride is in what I have created. It is Flic firmware version X.37. It is the Automated Testing Fixture software. I know that in my role as a tester, I have helped create a higher quality product. But I don’t feel ownership for that product in the same way that I do for projects that I actually wrote code for.

I imagine it is similar to the feeling of ownership that I have over the recently completed 3D VGA card project I did with a partner in CSE 467, Advanced Digital Design, compared to the feeling of ownership that the excellent TA feels over our project: He certainly helped eliminate bugs, but it isn’t his creation. I fear that as a Software Developer in Test, I will miss that ownership, and the passion that goes with it.

In the end I want to be able to point to something important and say “I made that.”

Unspecified Potential Security

Even when I’m not using it, Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 appears to be trying very hard to make sure that I can’t ignore it. Recently installed after Microsoft decided to push out IE7 to users who, like me, refused to install Windows Genuine disAdvantage, I thought that it would be relatively harmless. Although I wasn’t planning on using it much anyway (at least not outside of the IEtab plugin), IE6 certainly needed an update and I thought it couldn’t hurt. Well, I was wrong.

First, the backstory. On Kaleidoscope, my venerable 2004-era desktop computer, I have a 4-disk RAID 0 stripe. At the time, this choice made a lot of sense, because I used the computer primarily for video editing and playing video games. Speed, not data security, was the primary concern. I kept all of my important documents on Kleinoscope, my laptop at the time, which I occasionally backed up.

However, Kleinoscope died a rather horrific death several months ago, and before the arrival of Graphitica, I ended up using Kaleidoscope for productivity considerably more than I had originally anticipated. Combined with several scary refusal-to-boot episodes, I decided that data security had to become a higher priority. So I headed to Fry’s and created Nexus, a file server with a couple of 750 gigabyte hard drives. I decided to transfer all of the documents I had been storing on Kaleidoscope to Nexus and just set that up as my default Documents storage location. Over a gigabit connection, response was snappy and everything worked great. Until I let IE7 install itself.

At that point, whenever I clicked on my Documents folder, I first received a pop-up warning dialog:

This page has an unspecified potential security risk. Do you want to continue?

Well of course I wanted to continue. I wanted to access my documents, and there was of course no potential security hazard, specified or not, in my doing so. I didn’t specifically link the appearance of this dialog to the installation of IE7 at the time, but I did find it annoying. Today, I was feeling a bit petulant and decided to see what would happen if I clicked “No” to the dialog’s inane question instead of my customary “Yes.” Well, I didn’t get to see my files, and my desktop decided that it was busy for the rest of time. Although performance appeared to be unaffected, whenever I hovered my mouse over the desktop, I was treated to an hourglass icon. A good 30 minutes later, the icon is still persistent. Well, this travesty motivated me to fix the problem once and for all. So I did the most anti-Microsoft thing imaginable: I Googled it. And true-to-form, Google delivered some excellent results.

The solution, found here, is simple:

Open Control Panels > Internet Options
Select the Security tab
Select the Local Intranet icon
Click the Sites button
Click the Advanced button
Type the name of the file server into the text box and click Add
Select Close and OK to exit all of the dialog boxes

Viola! Windows no longer complains about unspecified potential security risks that are not actually risks.

Hurts So Good

On Thursday I promised my physical therapist that I would make it into the gym before our next visit. So, while taking a brief break from The Project on Sunday, I headed to the IMA for a little bit of a workout. I was pleasantly surprised with how far I’ve come in just the couple of weeks.

Not long ago, my hamstrings could barely lift my own lower leg at all. A week ago, I couldn’t curl even 25 pounds. Sunday, 25 pounds was difficult, but I was able to curl it 10 times for three sets without overexerting myself. Now, two days later, I’m feeling the first “good pain” that my legs have felt in a long time — the achy muscle pains of gaining back muscle tone and strength to my atrophied right leg.

It has been a good start to the week in other ways as well. My CSE partner Remington’s work last night and this morning secured a 4.0 for us in our CSE class, and my physical therapist cleared me for riding my bike today. So for the first time in a long time, I rode my bike to school. It felt good, but next time I’m wearing my long fingered gloves :-).

Project (Mostly) Done

For anyone wondering where I was, I was underground:

Friday 4:30-12:30
Saturday 6:00-1:00
Sunday 11:00-12:30
Monday 10:30-7:00

Result: 36 hours, 3.4 –> 3.9 in CSE 467