IBM and The Bane of Knowledge

I’ve been working on a variety of databases/programming languages/operating systems over the years and I’ve had it with IBM.

IBM doesn’t want you to learn how to use their products. Never ever have I been so frustrated at a company for making such poor product documentation. Then it dawned on me. IBM deliberately makes their documentation/website unreasonably difficult and verbose to tout their support/service business.

I don’t mind IBM hardware very much. The laptop I’m on is a Thinkpad and it works pretty well. A lot of our servers are IBM — and we haven’t had too many issues.

IBM’s software documentation is a completely different story.


From IBM’s site:

The DECLARE VARIABLE statement defines a CCSID for a host variable and the subtype of the variable. When it appears in an application program, the DECLARE VARIABLE statement causes the DB2® precompiler to tag a host variable with a specific CCSID. When the host variable appears in an SQL statement, the DB2 precompiler places this CCSID into the structures that it generates for the SQL statement.

That didn’t help me very much. All I want to do have a stored procedure with some local variables.

From vendors that aren’t actively trying to piss me off:


Exhibit B: Redbook “Linux Connectivity with IBM i5/OS”

This is a 100+ page document. A while ago I wrote a blog post telling anyone who needed this how to do it in about 200 words (minus the background info I provided)

Exhibit C: IBM Director 5.2: Hardware and Software Support Guide

In order to answer the question “Will this product work with our infrastructure?” you have to sift through a 50 page PDF, and oh-so-attrocious Table 6.

Table 6 is lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng:

Long table is lonnnnng.

Who cares? As long as the job gets done…right? Wrong. Solely relying on IBM makes your IT department reliant on IBM, locked-in, and intellectually crippled. Why have pay highly skilled workers if you’re just paying them to be IBM liaisons?

IBM: There’s a better way. Start by ditching the PDFs.


2007 Billboard #1s were 3% Introduction

I’ve been doing WAY too much thinking about the Intro music analysis.

With Last.FM and Youtube, I got the numbers for the 2007 Hot 100 Number-One Hits


(click for full image)

2007’s average introduction length was 3%.

Notable information:

  • Average song length was 4 minutes and 25 seconds
  • Kanye West – Stronger had a negative introduction
  • Maroon 5 – Makes me Wonder had the longest intro

I’ll be running several more years. My prediction: this experiment will show society’s attention span has gone way down, and further prove that popular music sucks. =)

Metallica’s And Justice for All Album: 21% Intro

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of an intro in popular music. Do long, non-vocals introductions work? Are they common?

An intro time is the number of seconds of music played before vocals enter the song.

The Intro Ratio™ is the number of seconds of an intro divided by the songs total number of seconds.

There are cases when this ratio can be negative. Think songs starting out A-Capella. Instrumental songs need not apply.

Since the thoughts were originally spawned by Metallica’s unnecessarily long intro to “King Nothing”, I thought I’d analyze a Metallica album.


An instrumental song, “To Live Is To Die” was omitted.

WTF are IE7’s Mystery Boxes in the bottom right hand corner?

The IE team gets a lot of flack from web developers because of questionable implementation with regards to existing specifications… but this just pisses me off.


Exactly what the fuck are these boxes? This is in the bottom right hand corner of your browser if you have your status bar turned on.

Mystery Meat Navigation anyone?

Here’s a full screenshot of my browser, I’ve colored in the boxes to show you where they are.


Let’s get to the bottom of this…


From left to right:

  1. No fucking clue. Right clicking doesn’t produce a context menu, single clicking doesn’t produce anything. No Tooltip on hover.
  2. Pop Up Blocker – I got to this by a single click (left or right).
  3. Manage Add-Ons – I got to this by a double click.
  4. No fucking clue. See the first item.
  5. “This type of document does not have a security certificate” – that one took a double click too.
  6. Automatic Phishing Filter – this was a menu brought up by a single left click or right click.

In the Ghetto… In the Ghettoooo

There’s a lot of talk about shared hosting and Rails being a ghetto.


So if shared hosting is a ghetto, does the recent major dreamhost screwup equate to a car jacking?

On Risk

About a month ago I went to a conference near Philadelphia, PA for work. My travel schedule went a little like this:

  • Depart Louisville, KY at 4:45 PM EST (I got to the airport at 4:00, but that’s another story)
  • Arrive in Cleveland, OH for a brief layover
  • Arrive in Philadelphia, PA
  • Somehow get to King of Prussia, PA

I had a hotel to stay at for the conference. The shuttle service didn’t run past 6PM. So the obvious alternative is to get a cab. I’m not very well-versed in giving cab instructions, especially in a place I’m not familiar with, especially to a place which is > 20 minutes away in another city. So while in Cleveland, I look to my dad for advice. He just says go for it with the cab and if they don’t know what you’re talking about, find another one. That’s Dad, always practical.

Then it got weird.

“You need a ride to King of Prussia?” a random older (40s-50s) man said. Then time kind of stopped. It was a classic devil on the shoulder/angel on the shoulder situation… except I couldn’t tell which voice was evil. I looked at the man — he looks fairly clean, probably a businessman. He was bigger than me, which was kind of worrisome.

“Dude, you’re just as likely to be chopped up and left in a ditch when you’re stepping into a cab. This guy already knows where you’re going and he speaks English”, one of the unidentifiable voices in my head said to me.

“Yeah,” I said, “we’ll meet up after the flight?”
“Sounds good.”

The guy turned out to be pretty cool. We talked a little shop about computers, but he turned out to be a minister. I offered him $60 (which would have been the cab fair) but he wouldn’t take any money.

As a direct result of this story, my mother and sister think I am a complete idiot.

Haircut Contingency Plan 2.0

Two and a half years ago (GAH!) I posted about needing a Haircut Contingency Plan.

I never implemented a Haircut Contingency Plan (HCP) because I didn’t really think I needed one. I thought the freak occurrence was once in a lifetime…

Fast forward to Friday, in Murray. Haircut scheduled for 2:00pm. 1:15 pm rolls around, and the lady who usually cuts my hair (not the same one as the 2004 post) calls me.

Andy, I don’t think I’m going to be able to cut your hair today. I am on my way to the hospital. I’m having contractions.

All I wanted was a flippin’ haircut. Now I’m stuck looking shaggy until I find someone reputable around here.