Moving out and moving on

published: Thu, 16-Oct-2003   |   updated: Thu, 27-Oct-2005
Turnstone's open space

It's been a major while since I last blogged. The reasons are simple: I had to move apartments; Donna and I took a long weekend in Chicago so that she could run the Marathon.

My studio apartment, the one in which I'm now living, puts the emphasis on studio not apartment. I haven't lived in somewhere so small since my student and early employment days in London. A small kitchenette with a two ring cooker, fridge and ubiquitous microwave; a small separate bathroom; a love seat (I can't call it a sofa); a desk and chair and a chest of drawers with a TV; and finally a bed. It's not too bad -- at least I can shut the door on the outside -- but unfortunately the noise is pretty high. Not from my neighbors, you understand, but from outside. The I405 interstate is only 200 yards away and there's a whole bunch of roadworks going on. Luckily I pay the rent monthly, so if it gets too bad I'll find somewhere else and move on.

In other news of note: last week I received my royalty statement from Wordware, the publishers of my book. Now, before I go any further, you need a little background. This statement was for the fourth half-year that my book has been on sale (it was released 1-Jun-2001), and this statement was for the period 1-Jan-2003 to 30-Jun-2003. In the final half year of 2002 I'd managed to sell 180 books, more or less; that is, about one a day. The first 6 months of this year? 37. All overseas, to boot. Also 4 people had returned their books in the same period, meaning that I earned royalty on 34 books. Since Wordware keep back a certain percentage of my royalty to cover returns, it meant that I earned about $18 from my book in the last 6 months. Wooowee! If you come to McDonalds in Redmond I'll buy you a French fry to celebrate.

The conclusion from this is, don't start looking at houses on the beach in St Lucia if you're writing a technical book.

The week before last I decided to try a Vanni CD. CD? Yes, I'm so old-fashioned that I still buy CDs, although this time I wished I could've downloaded some examples of his work using KaZaA first. First my credentials: I like Vangelis and Jean-Michel Jarre and some of the more melodic electronic/techno stuff from William Orbit, Dirty Vegas, and Underworld. So I decided to try Vanni, thinking that he'd be a little like Vangelis, perhaps. How wrong I was. It was tedious stuff, to be honest. It sounded like the music they play over the loudspeakers at Walt Disney World, all pompous and fluffed up, with an over-inflated sense of self-importance. And I tried, mind you: listening on headphones at work. I'm disappointed. Time to use KaZaA, methinks, for my musicological experiments.

Although my apartment comes with a TV, I don't watch it. Apart from one evening a week, that is: Wednesday evenings on UPN with Enterprise and then Jake 2.0. I'd tried Enterprise before and found it way too wishy washy, but with this series they've hardened it a great deal and given the whole series a unifying plot line. It's actually rather good now, although a recent episode was rather silly science-wise. The ship ended up just outside an asteroid field. This asteroid field was packed to the gills with asteroids, so much so that they were continually bashing into each other, and our heroes were having to dodge asteroids as they piloted their shuttle craft through to the disabled Vulcan ship in the middle. It made for some fun special effects but, the thing is, if the asteroids were so close to each other that they were continually hitting each other, they would have worn down pretty quickly, and even more important, they would have coalesced into a proto-planet much sooner.

Jake 2.0 is a fairly light series about a techno-geek called Jake, believe it or not, who, though being in the wrong place at the wrong time, manages to get injected with some nano technology at the NSA. The nano "upgrade" him by giving him extra strength and enabling him to interface with ordinary electronic/computer equipment just by staring at it in a funny way. Being a poorly paid techno-geek though, he doesn't have a flash car and last week's episode started by showing our hero Jake stuck in the rush hour next to his overheating car. There's a little joke where he's standing just by his car and next to this red Porsche 355 Spider and this pretty girl walking by thinks the Porsche belongs to Jake. In fact, old Jakeroo has a much flashier car than that: from what I could see, he had a 1972 Volvo 1800E and in pretty good nick as well.

(Bias alert: I used to have a red 1969 Volvo 1800S until I moved to the US. From a child I'd always wanted one ever since I used to watch The Saint with Roger Moore in the 60s on the telly. Finally I bought a fairly rare one in my early thirties. It was rare as well: it was a model that was only built for one year in between two other more long-lived models. It had a normally aspirated 2 litre engine, the B20. Prior to that, the 1800Ss were 1.8 litres (hence the name); after that, the model was changed to become the 1800E with a fuel-injected 2 litre engine. And way cool as well. I always had compliments about it.)

One of my jobs as PM is to organize the once-a-month C# chats (they're on the third Thursday of every month on the MSDN site. Today's was a hoot: the topic was Visual C# for Java Programmers, and I was expecting some hard questions about exception management, J2EE, the speed of the java VM versus the CLR, etc. As it turned out it was pretty much a bust. We had possibly half a dozen real questions to answer, the rest was people just messing around. Oh well. Next month: Whidbey and the new stuff. PDC will have happened so we expect a whole bonanza of questions.

Alas, I'm not going to PDC this year. I should be, but instead I argued for something different: I'm going to BorCon! I'm presenting session 4158: C# Enhancements in Whidbey. (Quote: "In Whidbey, the next version of Visual Studio, the C# language will be extended with a variety of new constructs. Learn the ins and outs, the whys and wherefores of how generics provide improved code reuse, iterators simplify implementation of enumerator patterns, anonymous methods ease work with delegates, and partial types provide easier development and code maintenance. See how these and other language enhancements deliver "code-focused" RAD for C# developers.") This is going to be a killer presentation: I get to use Anders' slidedeck, subtly altered, and I get to show off what C# 2.0 can do.