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Diary
By aphrael (Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 12:43:35 PM EST) (all tags)
J has been sick this week - curl up on the couch and hide from the world because it takes too much energy to do anything more sick - and my body briefly flirted with succumbing. Work has been unpleasant, my energy has been low, and even music has provided little refuge.

Still, the week is ending; I saw a live show for the first time since December and had far more fun than I expected; and I read a very good book. So, sucky parts notwithstanding, it's been a good week, and the weekend is looking up.



Work was dominated this week by a single irritating problem: in the two most recent weekly releases, on Japanese servers only, when connected only to a particular kind of printing hardware, no job would rasterize. They would all error out with an obscure message which was clearly being thrown by a particular subsystem.

That subsystem is maintained, in part, by one of the most difficult people I work with: someone who is aggressively defensive, and whose first choice in many circumstances seems to be to pick a fight with whomever he thinks is wrong; who prefers to get results out of his compatriots by force rather than persuasion.

Making the problem worse: the system could not be debugged, because the software needed to mount a copy of the source out of the version control system was failing. It took three days for the IT guys to figure out the problem (in their defense, it's difficult to figure out problems showing up on systems which interact only in languages you don't speak, and the actual details of the problem fell in the space between two groups, meaning neither of them had clear responsibility for the problem. Still, annoying to be on the receiving end of this kind of turf war: I'm the customer, I shouldn't need to care).

Eventually the immediate coworker of the guy I don't like working with stepped in and resolved the problem: it traced to two root causes - 1) a file was read only which his code needed to write to, and 2) an ifdef had a > when it wanted a <.

Bah.

[The build ended up being rejected yesterday, three days after I released it, for an unrelated problem: someone had passed a std::string to a chunk of code which wanted a c_str(), and the resulting hilarity crashed the system. Frustrating that it took QA three days to see this, though, as the fix missed the deadline for next week's build, so in addition to patching this week's, I have to do a special build for next week.)

[Bah.]

In other fun news, someone did some data mining and confirmed: on the rough order of 1/4 of the currently open OEM reported bugs have never been reproduced in house. So: the OEM is complaining (ya'll aren't fixing your bugs fast enough!), QA is complaining (we can't reproduce these!), engineering is looking around clueless (wtf are we supposed to do if we can't reproduce this?), and everyone is getting grumpy.

Bah.
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A classmate of mine sent me a FB invite a few weeks ago for her band's first gig. I wanted to go, but I didn't want to spend precious free time away from my husband so soon after actually having free time again. But ... supporting friends is important to me, and we talked about it, and it went on the schedule.

Her band was set to start at 10pm. I was going to just walk around the city for a while, but I found myself craving coffee at dinner time (bad habit i've gotten into because of drinking coffee to stay awake for clasS), so I stopped along the way. I did a three mile walk in that town, through a nice residential neighborhood in the foothills; it was a pretty area, somewhere I'd love to be able to afford to live. Then I finished the drive to the city, and did a further five mile hike, along the Embarcadero; I arrived at the venue around 9.

I had low expectations. The last time I went to see a friend's band, I was mostly bored. It was shoegaze, a genre of music I didn't really appreciate at the time, and it was loud. I couldn't tell if it was good (as I had no basis for judgment), and it didn't move me; at the end of the day, while I was glad to have gone and supported him, the experience left me nonplussed. (I've since learned to like his music more; one of the odd results of seeing The Verve two years ago was a sudden understanding and liking of a whole set of associated genres).

The venue was small. It was a two story shack - the first story appeared to be a small diner, the second story had a bar against one wall, maybe six tables along the other wall, and space for a band to play at the south end. My friend, her husband, and various of their friends were sitting at a table at the north end. I joined them; we chatted briefly about nothing in particular, and then the second act started.

It's hard to know what to think of them, really. They seemed to be having a lot of fun and enjoying themselves, and their music was an interesting mash of different genres - some clearly hip-hop, some clearly jazz. The lead singer had an amazing voice, but her compatriots failed to harmonize with it; at first this sounded terrible, but after a while it seemed like it was deliberate. My most vivid memory of their set was of a cover of "Billie Jean", which they made into a dirge. Still, they were fun, and by the time they were done, I could feel the music catching me. (There's something about that, about listening to live music, about feeling the music fill me and overtake me, which makes me feel particularly alive; it's a feeling which can be captured in echo, only, listening to recorded music).

They went off; I got some water; my friend's band set up. There were five of them: two fiddles, one guitar, one keyboard, one drum. They'd never performed together in public before, and  it made their setup difficult: they weren't quite sure where to stand, and one of the fiddlers had a portable mic which kept feeding back with the rest of the system and causing horrible noises. Eventually she ditched that, and the show proceeded.

They were very good. The guitarist/singer had a soft voice, it was hard to hear him, but it was pretty. The music had a nice folk-bluegrass feel. The keyboardist would periodically alternate in, play guitar and take over the singing role; my friend would then rotate off the fiddle and onto the keyboard. He had a great stage presence, so the songs where he was singing were a lot of fun. My friend spent half the set looking like she was working while the others were having fun; but at a certain point she shifted and started to look like she was enjoying herself.

The bar had filled up by the time they started - they had quite a community of fans. The energy was good, the band was having fun, the music was excellent. It was a great night.

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Wednesday I was, of course, exhausted (I crashed hard after I got home from work on Wednesday), as my body started to flirt with sickness. But it was brightened considerably by the fact that I received a book in the mail: the new Guy Gavriel Kay.

In addition to having been involved in the production of the Silmarillion, Guy Gavriel Kay is responsible for one of the best modern fantasy novels: The Lions of al-Rassan, a brilliant pastiche of the fall of al-Andalus, a touching love story with an ending that could melt the hearts of trolls. His most recent books, though, have been disappointments. They haven't shaken my faith in him as a writer as much as the more recent works of David Brin, or the way my faith in Kevin Spacey's acting has been shattered by his last dozen movies, but both Ysabel and The Last Light of the Sun were disappointments, echoes of potential rather than potential fulfilled.

Under Heaven, on the other hand, was a return to form. It was a compelling, and lovely, portrait of something akin to T'ang China; it featured strong, interesting characters, and a haunting mythos. It's the best work of fiction I've read since Anathem.

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I'm still working my way through the Coachella bootlegs.

Portugal, the Man: I first discovered this band because Morris, one of last year's most prolific tapers, likes them a lot and therefore has many bootlegs of them. I saw them at Outside Lands last year, and they were quite good; I would have seen them this year had I gone. The bootleg is excellent; they had a good set, and the files seem to be a rip from the webcast. A great deal of fun to listen to (albeit, since I know all their songs now, much less exciting than encountering them new).

De La Soul: I listened to them a bit during the live webcast, and wasn't impressed. I remained unimpressed listening to them Monday. At the time, I thought it was just that hip-hop is losing it's appeal; subsequent information changed that belief ... but, still, meh. I really wanted to like them.

The Dead Weather: surprisingly good. It's been long enough now since I listened to them (Monday) that I can't quite remember any specifics, but ... it was a lot of fun to listen to, and I wasn't expecting it.

MGMT: You'd think that the band responsible for one of my favorite songs from last year would leave me writhing in paroxysms of joy when I listen to them via a live bootleg. You'd be wrong.

B.o.B. After being disappointed by De La Soul, I was ready to swear off all hip-hop. That would be a mistake, as B.o.B. taught me: his set was excellent ... high energy independent hiphop with an upbeat, reflective message. It reminded me in some ways of Xzibit, in other ways of KRS-One. Impressive, fun, enjoyable set; I was blown away.

Coheed and Cambria. Wikipedia says they're prog rock; they sound metal to me. Their music is not, generally speaking, my thing. But their performance was great; it didn't blow me away as much as B.o.B. did, but it took me by (pleasant) surprise.

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Returning to form | 4 comments (4 topical, 0 hidden)
it took QA three days to see this, by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #1 Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 01:32:30 PM EST
At one job I had we had bad code that resulted in obscure errors being thrown and not caught. By the time QA found it the code had been in use for a year or more. I diarized about it at the time.

It was software for the Terrorist Watch List...

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Guy Gavriel Kay by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #2 Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 02:15:51 PM EST
Interesting.  I read The Last Light of the Sun and was unimpressed enough that I don't even remember what it was about.  I had been thinking of picking up more by Kay, and now you have given me some reason to do so.  Thanks much.

As an aside, I have just finished Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker.  I usually like Sanderson's stuff a lot.  For example, Elantris, the Mistborn Trilogy and The Gathering Storm are all excellent.  Warbreaker was not anywhere near as good.  I think Sanderson by his own admission has been working on this book a long time and I think that something essential was lost in the process.  It's a decent book, but not awesome.


Gedvondur

"Adrenaline dumbs pain" - xth
Sanderson by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #3 Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 02:24:58 PM EST
Mistborn is one of my favorite fantasy novels published in the last decade. I got both of the sequels when they came out; they didn't rivet me as much as Mistborn did, but they were still good, and the ending I think fulfilled the promise of the series.

Elantris was also quite good.

Like you, I didn't like Warbreaker nearly as much as the others; it got a 'meh' response from me.

(The Gathering Storm is right off my list as I gave up on the series after book 4 or so).
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Kay by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #4 Fri Apr 30, 2010 at 03:57:37 PM EST
Last Light is probably his weakest. Lions of Al-Rassan or the Sarantium ones are probably my favourites.


[ Parent ]
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