Friday, 5 February 1999:

Plugging Away

At work today I kept plugging away at testing a rather nasty log that was kicked to me for PQA a week or so ago. I'm finding bugs that are not show-stopping, but are really hard to diagnose, especially since one of them seemed to be due to bad data ("bad data": bane of software analysis), and once I got past that I found a different problem. Agh. It will be interesting to be doing testing as my main task when I head to Apple, especially in a more controlled environment than the testing I do now, which is largely of the "What have people thrown on my desk today?" variety.

Also kept plugging away at my development project. Toward the end of the day I got tired of the repetitive tests I was running to see if it was working (hey, I've been working on the project for weeks, and it was Friday afternoon) so I switched gears and wrote a little report which should come in handy for diagnosing the set-up in the databases for the module - a good thing since this whole module is quite complex, relies very heavily on accurate data set-up, and is getting more complex with each new enhancement. Not bad for an hour's work.

Still waiting to hear from Apple regarding moving plans. It's only about two and a half weeks before I hope to move; I hope that's enough lead time for the movers and everything. But since pretty much everything is going to be coordinated by Apple, it's not really in my hands.

It's a little stressful to be waiting to hear, though. There's not much I can do to prepare until these plans are squared away.

Tonight's new episode of Homicide was entitled "". When I saw the previews last week my reaction was, "Oh brother, it's another trendy plot, and this time probably another cheesy rendition of computer technology by television." In fact, it was much better than that. Although they did hand-wave the "solution" to finding the killer a little, it was a powerful episode focusing on Sheppard and Bayliss. It's been a while since Bayliss had the spotlight actually, and putting him opposite Sheppard worked quite well. Probably the best episode of the season, in my estimation.

Cool fact of the day: The Web site used by the killer at the end of the episode really exists, but I recommend you don't check it out yet if you plan to see the episode but haven't yet.

Tonight I also headed down to the coffee shop to read, but was annoyed to see that once again they have a band playing there. I hate it when they have a band, because I go there for a quiet, calm place to read, and the band is loud and attracts a buttload of people. So I just walked in, saw the score, and walked out again, heading up the street to another coffee shop. Grr.

I finished John E. Stith's novel Reckoning Infinity, which I'm afraid I can't really recommend. It's a near-future story which involves a woman who was injured in an accident on a space station and had several limbs and organs (and her eyes) replaced with synthetics, and a man who was the pilot of the shuttle which hit the station (although apparently due to equipment failure, not any fault of his own). They end up on a ship on the edge of the solar system when they encounter an object hurtling towards and through the solar system which may or may not be of alien manufacture.

The majority of the book involves the protagonists and a few others exploring the insides of the object and encountering its bewildering interior. Unfortunately, all of this is not really much different from Arthur C. Clarke's novel Rendezvous With Rama as we're treated to a lot of obscure equipment and phenomena whose purpose is only broadly explained.

Basically, this book has the same problem that Rama does: It's a nuts-and-bolts novel of exploration of an alien object, but the purpose of that object is only weakly explained - failing to justify hundreds of pages of exploration - and overall the novel lacks a raison d'etre. Infinity tries harder to establish interesting characters than did Rama, but it didn't really succeed, for me.

Reckoning Infinity would have been more interesting if it had spent 80 pages on exploring the vessel, then reached what is the conclusion of the current novel, and spend the remaining 200-odd pages examining the whys of the object, and what happens to it and to humanity in the wake of the contact. But, of course, then it would have been a completely different novel.

Well, that's the way it goes.

Karen sent me a very nice card about my impending going away. I think she's a little stressed that a close friend is leaving just before she starts the process of making a major life change. I'll do what I can to support her in the next couple of weeks before I go, and try to call her often even after I head west.

It's nice to have good friends like that, though.

Speaking of which, Whump phoned me tonight and said, "I ought to read your journal more often." I hadn't yet told him that I'm moving out his way. His wife said, "He won't be able to ignore us anymore once he's here." Unfortunately I have not hooked up with them (or several of my other Bay Area friends) on my couple of trips out there; probably the longest time I ever hung out with them was at Worldcon in 1997. But it will be nice to see them again.

They're threatening to throw a party or something when I arrive. Between events before I leave Madison, the process of moving, and events after I arrive in SF, I'm going to be exhausted by mid-March!

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