Anthony Greene

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Precious few moments of connectivity

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Well, I`m here in Montreal and it`s absolutely everything I remember it to be.  Except that I`m just remembering what a strange experience it is wandering around a big city where you quite literally know nobody.  I just went for my first job interview, and checked myself into a backpacker`s hostel, Auberge Utopik.  I`ve never much cared for spending too much on a motel room when all I really need is a bed to crash in, and a shower in the morning.  All I know is that the cost of the bed ($20) has easily been worth having a place to change and lock up my bag.  Today is just too hot to be wandering around montreal in a suit and tie, carrying a suitcase.  I`ve already spent about 4 hours doing just that.
 
Tomorrow I have a couple of interviews with CGI that I have big hopes riding on.  More and more, I am liking the idea of going to work for a huge, freaking consulting company.  While I`ve really enjoyed working for a small consulting group for the past couple of years, a change would be nice.  And both job interviews I`ve had in the past couple weeks have been with product companies, which is really driving something home to me that I never realized before.  I really enjoy consulting.  I`m not entirely sure if I would be happy working on software purely internally for a company. 
 
I don`t have much time here remaining on my 30 minute pay-per-use internet at this internet cafe.  But so far, if I have to say anything about how Montreal stacks up to how i remember it, I`d say that:
 
1)  Yes, the women are absolutely as beautiful as I remember them to be.  I still haven`t figured out how this city does it.  Maybe beautiful girls are offered tax incentives to move to the city.
 
2) If anything, Montreal has maybe TOO much style.  Almost every city block boasts some kind of work done by local artists, and in their bid to all outdo each other there`s almost a feeling of getting lost in it, of style overload.  I imagine the natives here don`t notice because they`re just used to it.
 
Nothing in my first couple hours of being here has pushed me towards or against relocating here. But I am looking at it from a slightly more sober, mature point of view than I have previously.  When it all comes down to it, it`s still a big city.  And it only took minutes of being back in a big city to remind me of the quiet charms of living back home in Moncton, NB.
 
Today I`ll just bum around Montreal for the rest of the day, hang out in parks and cafe`s, and maybe get some reading done.
 
If anyone`s reading this , pop in a suggestion on what i should do with my day here in Montreal.  I`ll probably come back here and check my email again sometime this evening.
 
 
 
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Written by anthonygreene

August 10, 2006 at 3:48 pm

Posted in the wondrous tao

Off to Montreal

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It’s been quite the summer.

In the last week of June I was informed by my present employer, Derek Hatchard of Ardent Development, that he would no longer be able to keep finding me new contract work. I can understand that. Ardent used to make a tidy profit from nearshoring contracts from the US, but with the Canadian dollar doing so well (or the US dollar doing so badly, however you want to look at it), nearshoring hasn’t been quite the lucrative market that it was two years ago when I started on with Ardent. Also, the IT market here in Moncton is pretty tight, and it’s been a difficult situation having my employer find me contract work, instead of me going out and finding it myself.

So, with that bomb dropped on me, I knew that I had to start looking for new work. Pending unemployment tends to take the ease and relaxation out of summer. I managed to squeeze in the best week-long vacation in my life, in Southshore, Nova Scotia. Hopefully a post will come with photos from that trip.

–Edit. Check out the photo gallery I just uploaded (Summer Vacation, Southshore 2006) for pictures from just before and during my vacation. The lovely couple of ladies you see (lucky) me with are Adeline (redhead) and Sascha (dark-haired), friends of mine from Moncton and all-around troublemakers.

After about a month of looking, I hadn’t found the IT scene here in Moncton to be very promising, so I started to consider some alternatives to finding work in Moncton. Anyone who’s worked with me anywhere has had the chance to hear me whine, moan, and generally go on about how much I would like to live in Montreal sometime in my life. It’s been a recurring theme since I was first there at twenty-two, and yet strangely it never seems to work out whenever I try to move there. The longest I have ever lived there for was (if I remember) about 3 weeks, back in June 2000, when I had left my job at ITI to bum around Montreal and look for work, only to be pulled right back to Toronto with a job offer from Cyence International (then Cyence Group) that I just couldn’t refuse.

Now I’m off to Montreal again, six years later, for a couple job interviews. At this point I still have no idea at all whether I’m going to go through with this or not. I’m hoping right now that a fantastic job offer will help to make my decision easier.

Of course I (and people around me) am thinking I’m crazy to be doing this. I’ve only just now gotten my house finally in a livable condition, complete with appliances, furniture and all that good stuff. And the cats really like it here. And I have friends, and family. Oh well. We’ll just see how it goes.

Written by anthonygreene

August 8, 2006 at 11:19 pm

Posted in the wondrous tao

@@identity crisis

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I’ve just spent the past hour tracking down an interesting bug in my sql code.  It’s a little embarasing, seeing as how it is purely a product of some of my own bad habits as a developer.
 
For background, the current project I’m working on is being developped with Whitehill Technologies’ BPI (Business Process Integration) software.  A consequence of using this tool is having no ability to step into any of my code as it executes, a debugging feature I am earnestly missing right now.
 
To compensate, I’ve littered my database stored procedures and triggers with statements that write into a debug table.  This is helping me monitor and track various complex processes within BPI as it interacts with my database.  BPI is a tremendously sophisticated application, serving much the same role as MS Biztalk.  However, as an application development tool it is a little clunky, so I find myself doing far more procedural code at the database level than I normally would in a traditional application.
 
When rows are populated into a dbo.individual table, I need to write a corresponding record into a dbo.entity table.  I’ve also just implemented a full database auditing pattern, where all updates to tables are checked to see if the incoming data is different than the existing data, and if so, log the new data, timestamp, and editing userid to an audit table.
 
As I’m looking through my debug logs, I’m finding many calls to usp_entity_edit with unsually low individual_ids, like 4, 10, 18, 25, etc. when I know the current @@identity of dbo.individual is in the area of 14500, 14501, 14502, etc.
 
What’s happened?  I’ve added one of my inserts into my debug table (which is regularly truncated) in the audit trigger of dbo.individual.  When I fetch @@identity of individual to write into the corresponding dbo.entity table, I end up retrieving the identity of the debug statement I just inserted, in dbo.individual’s audit trigger, and not dbo.individual’s individual_id identity.
 
Sigh!  I’m getting too old to make silly mistakes like this.
 
The resolution is simple.  Instead of using @@identity, it’s a simple matter to use IDENT_CURRENT(‘table_name‘) instead.  I seem to remember learning this a long time ago, and have forgotten somewhere along the way.
 
The great honor of working in software development is you truly do have the opportunity to learn something new every day.  The unfortunate irony, however, is many of these things end up getting forgotten over time, and oftentimes need to be relearned.

Written by anthonygreene

July 27, 2006 at 10:08 am

More trouble with the new address

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Something definitely seems to be bogged up pretty badly on Microsoft’s new Windows Live servers.  I’ve been transitioning off agreene73@hotmail.com address to anthony.greene@hotmail.com address.  Not only does there appear to be no way to transfer this site over to my new address, but my anthony.greene@hotmail.com is experiencing all kinds of strange issues.
 
1)  I can’t use Outlook Express with  anthony.greene@hotmail.com, but I can use it with agreene73@hotmail.com.  Isn’t that wonderful.  Supposedly, since my first account was created before an arbitrary date, it’s allowed to use OE.  But with my new email address, I need to pay $29.95 (USD) for the same privilege.  This was not immediately obvious.  It took a lot of digging around on newsgroups to figure this one out.
 
2)  MSN spaces show up on my contact list for agreene73@hotmail.com, but not for anthony.greene@hotmail.com.  This is even stranger.  Oh, the joy just never ends around here.

Written by anthonygreene

July 24, 2006 at 11:54 am

Msn Spaces is really squirrely.

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See my other msn space (which I’d like to move over to here) for details.

Written by anthonygreene

July 24, 2006 at 11:37 am

Posted in my digital life

Argh. Seriously. Argh.

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It doesn’t take much to annoy me. This is not a fact that I
actually consider true about myself at all. I generally think of
myself as the very model of patience and tolerance for life’s little
hiccups and pitfalls.

Unfortunately, it seems that people around me, at least
those who have shared an office space with me, would wholeheartedly and
very quickly agree that it actually takes very little to set me off,
and once annoyed, I tend to be (very) vocal, and relish verbally exploring down to the very minutiae
of exactly what’s gotten under my skin. It appears that when it comes to
annoyance, I tend to be very detail-oriented. I must remember to
put that on my resume somewhere.

This may or may not be true. I don’t really want to get into the
merits of this argument, for or against. But while it may be true
that I will pretty quickly get into a rant about something that really
annoys me (I suppose that may be true… I do rant a lot) it takes a
very special and distinct level of annoyance to actually drive me to
this Space to write about it.

My rant today? Microsoft. Damn you. Microsoft.

I know. How very original of me.

Today I registered for a new hotmail address. See how I lost the battle with spam for why I want a new email address. So, just for kicks, I tried getting the very sexy, very professional anthony.greene@hotmail.com,
and holy smokes, would you believe it, it was actually
available!!! Now that’s an email address I can actually feel good about
putting on my resume. I definitely plan on using
anthony.greene@hotmail.com as my primary email address, and slowly
leave behind poor old agreene73@hotmail.com as its original, intended purpose, as a
spam-mail address.

I really like my msn space, even if I don’t write here very
often. And I would hate to lose it and start fresh again. It’s not that
any of my posts are particular gems.  It’s the comments that mean
so much to me.  Wow… my friends actually read this blog!!! 
What a tremendous opportunity for mind control….

I digress.

So I searched online to see if there is any way to change my MS Passport,
from agreene73@hotmail.com to anthony.greene@hotmail.com. I only
came up with one useful link, a blog entry from a Microsoft employee on
the msn Messenger team.

http://carnage4life.spaces.msn.com/blog/cns!616444EE7A34F417!416.entry?_c=BlogPart#permalink

The short version of this story? Your msn Space is associated
with your Passport. If you have a Passport associated
with an email address that is anything except @hotmail.com,
you are free to change it. If your Passport is tied to a hotmail
address, guess what, boys and girls? You are SOL. Sad
truth. Microsoft, in its glorious wisdom, has decided to better
support people with third-party email addresses, than its own loyal
hotmail user-base.

Written by anthonygreene

July 19, 2006 at 4:34 pm

How I lost the battle with spam

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This is not a real a post. It’s more of a tangent from the post that I
really want to write, on how Microsoft has made a science out of
annyoing me
. But I found that post to be getting far too long,
mostly because of this tangent, so I figured I would break this
background story off into it’s own post so it can be safely skipped
over.

I feel like I’ve lost the war against spam. This is hardly anyone’s
fault but my own. For a period of about 3 years I used my
agreene73@hotmail.com primarily as a dummy account that I would give to
unscrupulous online websites that require I register with a valid email
address before I enter into their site. I knew this address would serve
as nothing but a spam magnet, and I was not too worried about it.

Around 2000 or 2001 I transitioned away from ICQ as my IM of choice.
That’s a whole new set of annoyances that drove me away from a program
I used to love. I don’t want to get into that. I was also changing
jobs, and found that having a permanent, personal email address was
more reliable than basing my online-identity on a work-based email,
which can (it appears) change at the drop of a hat. So,
agreene73@hotmail.com got promoted from spam-magnet to primary email
address, as well as (as Microsoft would have it) the very kernel of my
digital soul. Thank you Passport. Thank you very much.

Over the years, I’ve actually been incredibly happy with the use,
flexibility, and options of having my hotmail address be my primary
personal email address. It’s quite a lot to ask of something that is
free. When MSN spaces arrived on the scene, I instantly took a liking
to it. I’ve tried using Blogger.com, and MySpace.com, both of which are
more popular sites on the net for blogging, but for various reasons I
really could never be bothered with using either of those. After
a week or two my interest very quickly died off.

The killer feature that MSN Spaces has, I believe, is their
intergration with MSN Messenger. I must truly be out of touch with the
computing habits of the world at large (kids, damn kids), because I
completely fail to understand why this feature has not spelled the doom
of other blogging sites, or personal sites like MySpace or Friendster.

I really can’t be bothered to
remember all of my friends’ various blogs, web spaces, portals,
etc. And even if I did, I wouldn’t bother to check each one up
every day on the offhand chance that they’ve updated their blog.
I suppose I could subscribe to their blog to receive email
updates…but… nah, even that is too much bother. (Terrible,
aren’t I).

But you can rest assured, guaranteed,
if you are on my contact list, and you update your MSN Space, the
moment I see that twinkly little star next to your name, I will, that
very instant, click on it and read through your blog update, and look
carefully at every single picture you’ve uploaded to your site. I
may not leave many comments behind (though I know I should) but I most
certainly am reading it.

Though this little feature has managed to completely capture me, it has
not seemed to work so well with the rest of the internet’s
user-base. MSN Spaces remains a tiny mouse next to the rabid,
mutant elephant that is MySpace.com. Anyway, I’m not moving over to
MySpace.com anytime soon. I like having updates on my contact list far
too much, even if it means not being one of the cool kids.

Anyway, back to losing my battle with spam and today’s annoyance with
Microsoft. I do get tons of spam with my account
agreene73@hotmail.com. I know this is largely in part to me being on
dozens, nay hundreds of distribution lists thanks to my activity some
seven or eight years ago with this account. And don’t get me wrong.
Hotmail’s built in spam filters are doing a heroic job in stemming the
flow from the tsunami of spam mail that hits it every day. Sadly it
just is not enough.

There is also the fact that I just plain have never liked my
agreene73@hotmail.com address. It just seems… well very cheesy and
very 1998ish. I’ve never really been all that happy with this
email address, and have tried various other email services looking for
the right fit (and hopefully a better login name without arbitrary
numbers and characters). Inevitably, I keep coming back to this
agreene73@hotmail.com,
mostly because it is my msn messenger account, and now because of my
msn space. Congratulations, Microsoft, you really did find a way
to claim a chunk of my digital soul. It’s too bad that particular
chunk is stuck wearing a crappy name tag, and is presently drowning under a mountain of spam mail.


Click here
to go back to the real post that spawned this post.

Written by anthonygreene

July 19, 2006 at 4:32 pm