Sunday, February 14, 2010

Travels with Kim

Vanagon Camper in West Boise. These things are everywhere out here. I like that. I used to own one.

More Travels with Kim (a nod to my ex-hero Phil Greenspun) around Boise lands us next to yet another VW Vanagon. We went out to Impact Guns to shoot a Ruger LCP, and they were closed on Sunday! Took a north to Fairview to visit the only Korean grocery I've been able to find here to pick up some Kimchee and to try to find out if there are any Korean restaurants in Boise. I'm also trying out Idaho's open carry laws, and have my Glock 26 on my hip in the Serpa retention holster.

The proprietor was a Korean women my age who responded well to my crappy Korean speaking and told us about a place in Meridian that looks like it's actually in Boise, so we'll check it out. She glanced at my Glock and made no comment, and cheerfully sold me kimchee and dried seaweed. I'll go back there.

Where the Internet is kept.

Next stop was the building where the Internet is housed. If I'd gone in I'd have found Al Gore greeting us as Doug let me know. I'm sorry I missed meeting Al, I voted for him.

An employee greeted me in the parking lot and asked if he could help me. I said I just wanted to take a picture, and is that OK? He said fine, and asked if I was a Police. I said no, I'm a civilian. He asked if I always carry a weapon, and I said yes, and do you mind if I am on your property with it? He had no problem with it, so I took some photos and we left.

Lessons learned: Idaho is a shall issue state, so we'll get our concealed carry permits, and always carry concealed. No one open carries here, it seems, and some citizens are surprised to see someone doing that. Plus, concealed carry is safer - you can choose whether you want to be perceived as armed or not if some bad stuff happens around you.

Monday, February 08, 2010

What I'm Reading

I'm reading a lot about SQL Server Integration Services, also fish biology and habitat, for work. I'm reading about William Tecumsah Sherman for pleasure.

I've read a lot of books about the battle of Gettysburg, some pretty arcane, some not, because I study the scholarship on the battle when I can - and the scholarship does change more than I would have imagined before I started reading the battle years ago. There are new books written most every year that challenge the conventional, accepted wisdom about what was intended and what actually happened over those three days of fighting in Pennsylvania.

So when I have to recommend a one-volume book that gives a detailed overview of the battle for someone smart enough to consume the whole battle in detail (or someone way smarter than that, like Scott Matherly) I point them at Noah Trudeau's excellent book Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage. If you are only going to read one book about the battle of Gettysburg and then move on with your life to other things, this is the book to read.

Right now I'm reading Trudeau's Southern Storm: Sherman's March to the Sea a part of the Civil War I know very little about, and it just rocks. Trudeau has a unique writing style that lets him educate and convey loads of detail, while keeping things engaging, relatively light, and with occasional amusing juxtapositions.

Huzzah! Huzzah! to Kim for giving it to me.

Friday, February 05, 2010

One Fish, Two Fish. Red Fish, Blue Fish

A Chinook Salmon

My new work continues, and like any set of business processes that I have to manage from an IT perspective, as I learn more about it, I discover more complexity.

Take tracking fish movement. We put passive integrated transponders into fish, and we put underwater antenna arrays in rivers to track when a fish passes over the antenna. A satellite sends me the data about the fish who pass over the antenna array. It's all good. I get the data and I need to create technology to do stuff with it, mostly render it into information that scientists can draw conclusions from, and move it to different places, automatically.

Problem is, algae grow on the antenna arrays, and then macroinvertabrates start to hang around, feeding on the algae, and then sometimes a fish will hover over the antenna array eating the macroinvertabrates. The fish will hover over the array long enough to generate 50,000 or so rows of tracking data which get sent to me, 49,999 of which I don't need. At least I think that's why they send me all those data. The sampling rate for the antenna arrays is pretty high.

Got to count the fish (and evaluate habitat too, and that's a different post). It's problematic with this sort of thing going on. I have serious work to do before everything is just exactly perfect.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Where's Bob?

In meetings.  New job. I have to throw myself into it full speed, so I have no time to blog or post on facebook.

My job is to architect a massively parallel data collection and transfer protocol (scheme). It's the fish and stream data, and more, you know?

I'm getting briefings on database structure decisions, application design decisions, application architecture decisions, metadata, and more. The discussion ranges out to religious and philosophical issues, but in a genteel way - it's mostly about getting me educated in their (my) systems. These are very smart people so it's easy to work with them. Software development methodologies intrude, because we all have ideas about that, but there is no conflict. Past decisions are up for review, down to root level design decisions, so everything is on the table. That's good.

Easy meetings, progress made; right now in this process, success is possible, even likely.