February 5, 2012: Back to My College Days

Medifast Status: Day 278, Down ~74.5lbs (26lbs to go)

Liesl was much better today.  And after yesterday being a day without electronics today she used them very little even though she was no longer grounded and allowed to use them as usual.  She watched almost nothing all day and only used her LeapPad a little bit.

We didn’t do a whole lot today.  A little cleaning, a little exercising, a little just relaxing with the family.  Very low key day.

I ran out to Fry’s early this afternoon and did a little shopping.  I was there to get a power line conditioner that we need for the server room in the house.  The power has always been a problem there and Art thought that getting a line conditioner would clean it up enough to eliminate the problems.  I saw that Fry’s carried what we needed so I ran down there to get it so that I could start using the servers in the house.

On my way back from Fry’s I stopped off at Rockfish and picked up dinner.  Our meal from there is often mahi mahi in a mushroom sauce for Dominica and cedar plank salmon for myself.  Delicious.  We generally get the volcano shrimp appetizer as well to split.  It is a bit of cheating on our diet but not all that bad, all things considered.  What it is is way too expensive as Rockfish is nearly twice the cost of eating at the country club.  The country club costs about the same as just getting groceries and eating at home.  Rockfish, while not expensive, is quite expensive in comparison.

This evening Dominica decided to turn in early while I, for once not feeling tired, decided that I was going to stay up and tackle the last large project that has been sitting on my plate for sometime.  A Ruby on Rails project where the company that had original made the code and left it in a non-working state and had been unable to fix it themselves.  Not the kind of project that I typically do.

It has really been years since I have done work like this.  Back in 1994 and 1995 I spent the bulk of my workload pouring over other people’s Fortran 77 and C code looking for problems.  Not generally the most fun form of work.  It takes a lot of effort to learn someone else’s code and it is no small matter attempting to “load” that code into your brain, get a handle on how it works and then know it well enough, along with knowing how to code well enough, to repair the problem.

The disadvantage of not being the original coder is significant as I don’t know what they intended to do necessary, I don’t have access to their documentation, I don’t have the kind of time that they had or anything.  All I am doing is working from something that doesn’t work and attempting to make it into something that does work.  It is not the same as repairing something that once worked and returning it to a known state.  This is about taking something that never worked and making it do what it was intended to do, very different.  It is not a repair job, it is picking up an engineering project partway through without the resources that the original engineer had.

I ended up working solid on this coding project for many hours.  It turned out that there was a “secret” second, remote database being used that I had been told nothing about and to which I had no access so I could only derive its contents and structure from looking at bits of the code that I assumed were working properly.  I had to pull many crazy tricks like manually editing the database to create my own user so that I could test the system.

At around three in the morning I was finally able to get to the bottom of the problem and it was all resolved!  That’s an awesome feeling.  There were big obstacles to overcome and I pulled it off.  This is when IT is a lot of fun.  When you are given a serious challenge and the ability to just focus on it for a while until it is completed.  It is a real sense of accomplishment.

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