More Surgery

After seeing my surgeon again today it seems almost completely certain that I will be having another surgery next year on my left arm. This surgery will be to take some tendons from my arm and map them to my fingers and thumb. This surgery is imaginatively named a ‘tendon transfer’, and will theoretically provide my fingers with the functionality of being able to lift up, albeit all at once. In addition, my thumb will be given a brand new tendon also, meaning it too can be lifted.

As you can imagine, such a remapping of tendons is likely to severely screw with your brain, as what used to do one thing all of a sudden causes you to do another. This will be an interesting experience no doubt.

I hope the surgery goes well and gives me additional function to my relatively ‘dead’ arm. I’ll keep posting more about it as time progresses.

Thesis Complete

Well, it has taken a year of my life, but my masters thesis is now complete and ready to be reviewed by my supervisor and external reviewers. In hindsight I am very happy I chose to do my masters rather than a PhD – my preference in life is to be more practical rather than theoretical. Right now I’m about to get back into full-time development of Centruflow leading in to CeBIT in March next year – we have some awesome technology in the pipeline!

My thesis is titled ‘Improving Centruflow Using Semantic Web Technologies’. It weighs in at 139 pages or a little under 34,000 words. I start it by quoting Blaise Pascal “I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time”. The thesis covers a lot of software development detail but at the heart of it is a decent chunk of maths. This surprised even me, as I am by no means a mathematician.

You may notice my writing style has become severely ‘relaxed’ – too much ‘proper’ writing in my thesis has forced my brain to try to rebel – my sentences now instead flow into each other as a series of hyphens. 🙂

If anyone is interested in checking out the thesis feel free to ask – I’m more than happy to hand send it out. The only reason I don’t provide a link here is that I’d really like to know who is interested.

Why programming is fun

I’ve been completing my masters thesis recently, and one of the books I’ve been using as a distraction is the oft-mentioned “The Mythical Man-Month” by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. I’m only just getting into it now, but as a programmer one short quote really provided a good summary of why being a programmer is such good fun. It goes:

The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures.

If this isn’t why a programmer programs, what is (and please no one say “for money”)?

Me and CeBIT

Well, for the past few months I have been busily working towards finishing my masters thesis, but a little further away in March of next year, I will be going to the CeBIT tradeshow in Hannover, Germany. Whilst there I will be part of the Centruflow booth (as part of the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise stand). This is both exciting and daunting, as we will be unveiling Centruflow 3.0* to the world, which is the culmination of over four years of full-on development.

Centruflow is all about visualising your information, turning data into information that you can trust and understand. It sits on top of your datasources and helps to make everyone inside your business more understanding.

And it’s New Zealand made. That’s pretty cool.

* Being released in March 2008 doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the fun now though! Get in touch with me if you think Centruflow can help your business, and I’m sure we can sort you out with a beta copy (which I guarantee will be 100% safe on all your data).

I am a software pirate

well…..that is what Windows Vista has told me twice, since I installed it earlier this year.

The first time I was told my activation key was not valid about 4 months after I installed and originally validated it. I had to ring up Microsoft, and read them 25 random characters that Vista spewed out. I then had to write down 25 characters that my Indian tech support friend repeated to me. Surprisingly, this was not fast, and resulted in a fair bit of downtime.

Today was much worse – I was booted into a non-functioning and completely locked down Windows environment. No start menu, no keyboard shortcuts, just an error message spewing forth some cryptic comments that would send mere mortals to the hills. Fortunately I clicked the hyperlink, which opened windows help, which then opened Firefox. I went to the MS site to try and validate my software as genuine. No luck, in IE or FF.

I ring MS tech support, spend ages explaining my problem, and then being told I will be charged to get it fixed. Once again, I am a MS customer who got locked out of my machine for doing nothing – and then I’m told it’ll cost me money to fix?! Nice….

I argued, and they relented, but still, I mainly fixed the problem myself – after rebooting my computer twice Windows let me through, and then I could go prove my genuine-ness by going to a MS site and downloading an ActiveX script for my unused Internet Explorer.

What leaves me scratching my head is – what would a customer do in my situation that didn’t argue – would Microsoft genuinely charge their customer to fix a problem the customer had no part in creating?

I’m so close to moving to Linux. I have used it in the past for a year to 18 months at a time, and being treated like a criminal by Microsoft not once but twice has me seriously unimpressed. What’s stopping me? I’m too busy right now to transition over – but watch this space – when I get downtime I seriously plan to make my second partition my primary partition.