And why are you making this my problem?

I had to go into work today (Sunday) to investigate a couple of bugs. Couldn’t reproduce either of them, unfortunately, But that’s not the point of this rant.

The building I work in is ancient and poorly maintained. It’s also an industrial/manufacturing building at heart, with offices sort of grafted on as an afterthought. Really, it’s horrible. Between the annoying desk-shaking thumps I’ve mentioned before, the chemical smells, and the notices posted all over the place warning about asbestos, I feel like Great Big Sea’s “Chemical Workers Song” – “every day you work here you’re two days nearer death”.

It was also very rainy this week, so Thurday and Friday marked the appearance of several new buckets catching water from drips in the ceiling. One of those buckets was in the main hallway, where water was coming through acoustic ceiling tiles. The tiles were bulging and discouloured. Today, the inevitable happened – they didn’t fix it, and so one of the tiles had disintegrated and collapsed into the hallway. Plus the drips are in different places than where the buckets were, so while they were lucky that the tile collapsed didn’t knock over the bucket there was dirty water all over the floor. Since I had the only car in the parking lot, I thought I’d do the right thing and report it so that somebody can come out and clean it up before somebody trips over it.

I called security, because I doubted maintenance would be around on a Sunday. Over the next couple of hours, I got called back by two different people, both of whom called and left messages when I was out of reach, and then called me again when I was – Evidently security had called people, but given them my phone number as a contact. First guy to call me was an on-call pipe fitter – I told him I didn’t think it was a pipe, I thought it was a roof leak. Then another guy from maintenance called and wanted to know all about the details, and whether I thought they could wait till tomorrow or not. How the fuck should I know? Why don’t they send out a maintenance guy to look at it and have him decide?

All I know is that if it was happening in my house I’d want somebody to come out and deal with it right now. And if it had been reported to me by somebody working in my home, I would have come home to have a look at it rather than grilling them about the details.

The more I use Windows, the more I like Mac OS X

Last night I got home at 9:30, and decided to blow off steam by playing a bit of the MMORPG that must not be named.

While I was playing, the graphic screen went away and was replaced by the Windows desktop with a popup on it saying that updates have been installed and I need to reboot. I clicked the “reboot later” button and went back to the game. I figured that would be the end of it, but about 4 more times in the course of playing the game, it did the same damn thing. This would be an annoyance in a single player game, but when you’re playing with other people it’s infuriating to you and everybody else around you.


Meanwhile my Powerbook was sitting there, needing to reboot after installing the new version of iTunes and Quicktime, and all it was doing to annoy me was the Software Update program icon was hopping up and down in the dock. I’ve never seen it change the video mode or do anything more obtrusive than that, even when I was playing DVDs.

PTW Fly-In

I went to the fly-in breakfast at PTW, Pottstown Limerick Airport Pottstown, Pennsylvania. It was surprisingly well attended – I thought it would be just a little sleepy airport and a few people and planes, but it was wall to wall. Evidently this is their 52nd annual fly-in breakfast!

I went down there because a bunch of people I know from a mailing list have been gathering at this gathering for a number of years. (Pictures from 2003 and 2004 and 2005.) This was my first time going. One of the list members I’ve actually met before, Randy, is based at PTW so his hangar is sort of the center of festivities.
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The more I use Linux, the more I like Mac OS X

I’ve been using Linux since 1992 or so. I don’t remember the date, but the distro was SLS 1.03 and the kernel was 0.99.14. Linux has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of usability since then, but it still has a LONG way to go. Mac OS X has gone from 0 to way, way better than Linux in the course of 3 or 4 years. It’s amazing.

Error dialogSome Linux developer considered this a decent error dialog. Can I get a “Sheesh” from the crowd?

Nothing is ever easy in the CMS/blogging world.

I spent this weekend in a welter of frustration, all caused by blog add-ons and content management systems.

First thing, I saw that Jen had installed a plugin to enable her WordPress blog to embed Gallery images both in the content and on the sidebar. I used to have a “WPGallery” plugin, but it didn’t really work well when I switched to Gallery 2, so I haven’t used it in a while. This one promised to work on my current versions of WordPress and Gallery.

Except it didn’t. The blog entry editor allowed me to pick a picture to embed in my entry, but when it appeared on the blog it just said “** NOT FOUND **” where the picture was supposed to be. And when I attempted to do the sidebar thing, I just got an “Error 1”. Plus it was screwing up the comment system – if you attempted to comment on a blog post, you saw what looked like a Gallery themed message that said “database error”.

Ok, fine, time to get rid of that. Next on the list was to try to get a different content management system (CMS) working for my Browncroft Neighborhood Association test site.

I’d decided that the CMS I’d picked, MODX, wasn’t going to let me do all the stuff I wanted, or at least not easily. Unfortunately, the “test site” is appearing high on Google ranks and people are using it for real, so I couldn’t just blow it away and leave it blank while I’m fooling around with another CMS. So first I tried installing the new CMS, Xoops, on my personal web space somewhere. But Xoops is a bare-bones CMS with a huge library of plugins to install, and I couldn’t seem to get any of the plugins working. So I thought that maybe they didn’t like not being on the docroot, so I made a fake domain on my local DNS and installed it on the docroot. I tried about 6 different plugins, but none of them worked. Some of them threw errors that indicated they were trying dangerous programming practices that my version of php explicitly warns you not to enable in the php.ini file. Others just would show an empty screen or a menu that didn’t actually do anything in the module configuration page.

That’s when I decided that I’d follow the recommendations of a few people the last time I’d asked about CMSes, and install typo3. The problem with typo3 is that the documentation is abysmal, and it basically sneers at you for needing it in the first place. It also tells you it’s going to take weeks to get your web site set up, and maybe you should consider hiring one of the many typo3 consultants instead.

I’m still struggling to get my first page up on typo3. I put in some content, and then it complained I didn’t have a template. So I chose one of the templates, and the content showed up, but there is no menu or anything else that I’d expect on a CMS page. Since the template choice page didn’t give you any indication which templates did what, I want to switch to a different one and it won’t let me. Every time I go back to the template page, it shows me stuff about the existing one, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to go back to the choice page.

All I want is a simple CMS that works the way it’s supposed to work and which is easier to set up than hand-coding an entire site. Is that so hard?