Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dinner made for us

Here I am complaining about how we have to do all those pesky tasks around the house and Elana goes and proves me wrong.

She made us a very yummy dinner tonight and it was very much appreciated. Super tasty.



I remember a time during the dot com boom when there were dozens of small startup services that were going to run your errands for you. You name it, they were going to do it for you.

Boy, do I miss those days.


Office field trip

The whole company visited another company today. It was all very official. Fun to get out of the office, regardless.


From Python to Scheme

Danny Yoo sent a message to announcing some notes he's taken that record his journey from python to Scheme. I think they are interesting and should make scheme more accessible to anyone who knows python.

Thanks Danny.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Scenes from a shopping trip

Good o'l Harris Teeter. Picked up M&M's, it's not safe to have our house without M&M's. It would be like not having smoke alarms.

You just never know when they will save your life (or fulfill a craving saving you a trip to the store at 2am).


Watching the lightning

Us, waiting out the storm in the back of shira's acura.

I wouldn't want to be stranded with anyone else in the world.


In the eye of the storm

I'm currently sitting in our driveway waiting for a large storm to pass. We went from no rain to a massive storm in about two minutes.

Moblogging in action.


SISCWeb -- Initial Thoughts

Just spent some time playing with SISCWeb and I'm really impressed. Not only was I able to get their demos running in just a few minutes, I was able to fairly easily talk to a Postgres database and have a small application run queries against it. In fact, the hardest part of the process was getting my servlet container to load the Postgres JDBC Driver - I was bit by a classpath issue, of course. I think SISCWeb has done a great job of giving you an environment where you can author continuation based web apps. I would be very surprised if in 5-10 years from now we didn't all our web apps in this way. Once you've seen how easy it is to reason and develop a continuation based web app, it's hard to go back to the old fashion ways of maintaining state yourself. What's nice about SISCWeb is that it glues together a bunch of very cool packages so you end up with a really powerful environment. You get:
  • Everything that comes with Java, from the standard JDK, to JDBC and any other Java API you would want. The whole thing runs great under Tomcat, though I would assume it would run fine under any Java Servlet Container.
  • A fully compliant and sophisticated Scheme interpreter. The whole standard is implemented, so you get it all
  • Useful utility classes for generating HTML, talking to a JDBC databases and other utilities that are useful in a web environment
  • Access to all the SRFIs
  • Ability to make use of SISC's advanced features, such as generic/oo programming and a nice module system
  • Interactive development through a REPL, no need to restart servers, just redefine the code you wish on the fly
I'm still trying to appreciate some of the above features - but there's no doubt it's a useful environment.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The gift that keeps on rolling

Shira and I have a no gift policy on our anniversary (not a typical wife's no gift policy - which is really: no gift, no wife). But, I went out on a limb and got her one.

Shira's acura didn't have any caps on the air valves of her tires. So while at the store today buying air filters I picked up some fancy shiny blue caps for her.

Is that true love or what?


Chasing Jewels

The first piece of jewelry that I gave Shira was an $80.00 gold rope chain bracelet, bought from Service Merchandise. This was a big step for me.

I gave it to her and she wore it till it literally wore out. Then I gave her another one, just like it. The last time I gave her one was probably 4+ years ago.

Last night, the most recent chain broke. Not to worry, I was out today cruising jewelry stores looking for a replacement.

Turns out, their's a jewelry store right down the street from our house that will fix the bracelet for $12.00. And failing that, I can buy a near exact replacement.

So what does it all mean - breaking on our anniversary? I have no idea. Probably something about how precious things need to be cared for, and even when damaged can be repaired at a small cost. You just have to put in some effort.


The Card

I don't consider buying an anniversary card on the day there of late. I consider that effecient. Don't you? I have a good couple of hours now to fill it out.

Plenty 'o time


Anniversary lunch

For a change this year, I remembered my wedding anniversery. 7 glorious years. As a sign of the true love I have for my wife I drove to work, then drove back 45 minutes at lunch time to meet her. We had a fun lunch of Thai food.

There are other activities planned today, so I doubt this will be my last blog entry of the day. Stay tuned.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Dry cleaning

Just dropped off a batch of clothes at the dry cleaner. I'm pretty sure I'm putting my dry cleaner's children through college. And I'm not talking in state tution - I'm talking 5 years at an ivy league institution.

On the other hand, I do have a better relationship with her than I do my primary care phisician, so I'm glad to do it.


Elana the Hacker

Elana removing her hard drive to be shipped off to HP.

She went from laptop hacker newbie to expert in 2 minutes.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

My Resume

Had to touch up my resume today. Here's the latest version. And no, I'm not looking for a job -- just thought I'd publish this for the heck of it.

Benjamin A.E. Simon

1010 S. Queen St. · Arlington, Virginia 22204 · (703) 920-4149 ·


State University of New York at Buffalo

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (1998)

summa cum laude


Vice President of Engineering (1999-present)

Amazing Media, Inc., Herndon, Virginia

· Manage a team of developers and designers responsible for the creation and maintenance of company products and tools

§ Supervise all parts of the software development process including task development and assignment, estimate creation, code reviews and achieving on-time delivery

§ Responsible for the building and maintenance of the code library ensuring that developers reuse existing code

§ Assist in shaping the vision of the technology team by choosing practices and methodologies for the team to follow

§ Conduct weekly team meetings and training sessions to encourage peer learning

§ Participate in human resource activities including interviewing, hiring and laying off of employees

· Contribute to the development of Amazing Media products by creating software using Java, Flash, perl, scheme and other technologies

§ Produce code using advanced Java concepts including threads, network communication, image manipulation, JDBC and J2EE

§ Instituted common programming practices such as JUnit testing, component creation and database interaction

§ Utilize domain specific languages such as scheme, PostScript, ActionScript, XSLT and awk to accomplish specific tasks

§ Develop software in a Linux environment using advanced Unix tools such as strace, tcpdump and netcat for diagnostic purposes

· Work directly with clients to understand requirements and propose solutions to internet advertising challenges

· Share responsibilities for performing Unix system administration such as the creation of accounts, managing mail, DNS, web services and the configuration of new servers

Contractor (2003-2004)

Macromedia, Inc.

· Authored ColdFusion components and documentation for release on several Development Resource Kits

· Components included an image manipulation API, RSS XML parsing tools and servlet utilities

Consultant (1998-1999)

Questra Corporation, Charlotte, North Carolina

· Provided consultant support to companies such as First Union and MCI for the creation of web applications in perl

· Developed an internal timesheet management application

· Worked onsite with customers to develop requirements

Contractor (1997-1998)

Latimer Data Systems, Buffalo, New York

· Created an implementation of the Logo programming language for use in educational software

· Utilized the lex and yacc tools to create an advanced language interpreter

· Developed the language interpreter in C on a Unix platform with capability to be cross-compiled to Windows

Photo Lab Technician (1993-1997)

MotoPhoto, Inc.


A new low

So, I've got this policy - record at least one interesting thing a day on this blog. That's the goal anyway.

What does it mean when the most interesting thing I can post here is a trip to the store to buy laundry detergent? It means that we have one slow Sunday on my hands.

Not that laundry detergent isn't interesting. The book by Robert Fulghum, "All I really needed to know I learned in Kindergarten" [1] has a terrific story about laundry detergent. Highly recommended.




Attended the funeral of Hillary Goldberg.

She was a poet, painter and a mensch. She will be deeply missed.



Greenwich Originally uploaded by blumenth.
We just posted our pictures to England. Feel free to check them out.

Please mind the gap.

Updated 9/18/2013: See the photos here.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Playing Mr. Fixit

Rather than spend $20 on a new electric can opener I decided I could fix ours myself.

Naturally I took it apart only to find out that I didn't need to do that at all. A simple push in the right place was all that was needed.

Now I have to put it back together and see if it works.



I know I should be to say something clever about the makers, marketers, retailers or buyers of this product. But I can't. I just lack the words.

And who knows, maybe all those years we had a cat we were abusing him by not making sure he had fresh breath. Did other cats make fun of him?


Playing Hookey

Shhhhh....don't tell anyone. This afternoon I played hookey from work. We hit best buy to pickup some needed gift cards and browsed TVs, DVD players and vacuums. I know, too exciting.

I even managed to use my sidekick to respond to an e-mail from a client while sitting at lunch.


poker tech: Why Erlang

A great article suumarizing why one would choose erlang over other languages.

It is remarkable how many enterprise level features you get out of the box with erlang. And, it all seems so much lightweight than J2EE.

If I had to develop a new large scale system today I think it would be foolish to at least not consider erlang.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Airport Run

Just saw "When Harry Met Sally" a few days ago and got the usual kick out of the scene where Harry explains why he never picks up his girl friend at the airport (short answer: because you stop taking her and then you have to hear her complain that you never pick her up anymore).

So here I am, picking up Shira.


No jeans?

Yep, those are dockers and real shoes. We have a visitor in the office today so I had to get all dressed up.

Oh, the sacrifices we have to make...


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Evening Stroll

Elana and I took a nice 45 minute walk tonight down to the pentagon. She was such a trooper and didn't complain too much about the hill we had to climb at the end.

At least it was a pretty evening to be out. --Ben

Cool presentation hack

Was trying to learn about Micro Formats, when I came accross this page: What are Microformats? Very interesting presentation technique. Seems like just CSS + JavaScript - and it looks good.

Men at work

Trying to upgrade Mike's box to have 2 slow processors instead of one.

Emphasis on the trying part... --Ben

collision detection: Of wikitorials -- and the glory of the "neutral point of view"

collision detection: Of wikitorials -- and the glory of the "neutral point of view" An interesting discussion of how to write non-biased materials. As suggested in this post, you should really read the the original article My favorite comment:
The policy is simply that we should characterize disputes rather than engage in them.
Well put.

Look who's driving the acura

Just dropped off Elana's buick @ a garage to have them look into the leak. The garage was a bit sketchy, but they are very close to the house and were very nice.

But the exciting part? Elana drove off in Mini, and I've got ZZ for the day. Wish me luck. --Ben