Dysmey Post Archive > Pages for 2003 > Mid-December 2003 Edition

Mid-December 2003 Edition

Saddam has been caught.

U.S. troops found him near his hometown. He was hiding in a hole like a rat in a wall. I found out on NPR this morning.

I later saw a photo of Saddam. With the long beard, long hair and haggard face, he looks like a vagrant. No wonder our troops couldn't find him.

I have always thought that as long as Saddam was free he could direct guerilla war from any number of hiding places. As long as he was free the war would not end. Now that Saddam is in American hands, even if the guerilla war continues in some form, the war can now be said to be over.

The weather has been bitter cold for the past few days. There was snow last night, but not much of it. I just swept the walks; there wasn't enough snow to shovel.

I visited Muncie Monday to get more transcripts and drop off an XMas card for my friend DeAnne with her mother. Her mother was off that day, and I should have realized that, since she works on Saturday. But her co-workers were good enough to leave the card on her desk.

One of those co-workers is an Egyptian who has worked there since I was a student. He told me that I was on one of my ex-employer's commercials. He said my back was away from the camera and I was reading a book.

The bank I used to work for evidently has several old commercials that air on local public television to announce its sponsorship. If this is true, I wish that the bank pull that ad: I don't work for the bank anymore, so why should I appear in one of their ads, even if by inertia?

Anyway, I applied by mail for a "special projects developer" at the Bracken. It's a programmer/analyst job using Visual Basic/ASP/SQL: Basically, what I have done for the bank off and on. It's part-time and it's temporary, but the pay is such that I would earn as much as I would for a whole year at the bank.

The job looks to involve making interactive web pages on an IIS (Microsoft web server) environment. "Visual Basic" here would mean VBScript, which is mostly Visual Basic without the forms. You write script that opens a database, uses ADO/SQL to select data based on user input, and then produce a web page that displays the result.

That's the basic idea. Then you have to think about pre-conditions: what user input is valid for the database, and what to do for invalid input. You have to think about the design of the input form: It has to be easy and understandable for the users. If they will not use the form or if they complain about using it, it's just as much a failure as buggy code.

And all this has to satisfy not only the users but those who requested the project. This means a lot of discussion about what the project is to do and how it will do it, which is what 'analysis' is all about.

I'm glad I got my flu shot a couple of months ago. I say this because the makers of the vaccine (both of them) have run out, and half the people who need them didn't get them. I at least know to plan ahead.

It is incredible what some people will do to celebrate XMas. I pass several houses on my way through my hometown, and the yards are ablaze with lights and displays: Nativity scenes, inflatable snowmen and Santas, blinking lights of all kinds. I can imagine those people's juice bill next month! It's a common affection today. Ten years ago, only one family I knew blanketed their home with holiday lights. There's no lights of any kind there today: The house is abandoned.

With my new free time I am learning Java. Regardless of what the O'Reilly book I am using says, Java is a cleaned-up version of C++ (itself a descendant of C, that old hacker favorite) used mainly to make Web applets. After some difficulty I succeeded in making three applets from the book and get them to work. I had to use <applet> instead of the new <object> tag to get the applets to work because the latter doesn't seem to work in IE and Mozilla.

The Visual Basic .NET core book I ordered last week come Thursday. As the description at Amazon warned, it is truly thick: three inches thick. I got some reading to do.

Copyright © 2003 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Last updated 14 December 2003.