Monday, April 25, 2005

Where to Live in Seattle

To be honest, I shouldn't be considered an authority on this topic... but I've gotten this question enough times that I think it warrants a post.
If you're moving to Seattle for the summer, you're going to need a place to live. Where you should live really depends on a number of factors. These factors can be reduced to these 2 variables: cost, and 'fun'.
Cost: This is the most important for a lot of people. Luckily none of the Boeing factories are high-rent areas, so if you want to have less fun... you can find lots of cheap(ish) housing near where you work. These are usually less fun neighborhoods though. I personally have never spent much time after-hours in Renton, so I can't imagine there is too much to do down there (for someone my age). I don't know much about Everett... but lots of the Everett interns came down to Seattle to hang-out last year. Cost is directly proporational to fun. Higher cost = more fun, Lower cost = less fun. On my scale, I'm going to rate places to live on a cost scale of 0 to 10. 10=$300/month, 0=$1500.
Fun: If you're less concerned with getting cheap rent, then you're fun-o-meter is definitely going to go up. For rating the 'fun' of a neighborhood, 0="no-bars-or-anything-significantly-fun-for-5-miles", 10="walking-distance-to-extreme-fun".

[Format... Neighborhood Name: / - my comments]
Belltown: 0/10 - Right outside of downtown... this is the place to live if you feel like you're going to want to go to lots of bars with lots of young people. Expect HIGH rent in this area.
Lower Queen Anne: 1/9 - (AKA "Uptown") A little past Belltown, this is a mini-Belltown. Not quite as many bars and restaurants, but still fairly "hip".
Upper Queen Anne: 1/7 - This is actually where I live. Its a little pricey to live on top of Queen Anne. But its a pretty good quite neighborhood that is only a $10 cab ride to Belltown.
: 8/7 - This is where the University of Washington is. So, during the summer there is LOTS of housing, but not quite as many people there. You can usually find a place for about a 8-ish price. There is plenty to do in the U-District, and lots of good ethnic food.
Fremont: 3/7 - Self proclaimed "Center of the Universe". There are lots of good places to eat and drink at. It's got some nice views of the water (Lake Union).
Greenlake: 6/8 - I love Greenlake. Its a little recreational mecca within the limits of the actual city (I think). There is a beautiful lake with an awesome jogging trail around it. Good bars and good food.

These are the places that I go with some regularity. I don't feel comfortable commenting on the other neighborhoods around town. But, there are LOTS of websites with info about where you want to live. The MOST useful (that I've found) is this site from the Seattle P-I. Read it and soak in the information.

Go forth and find a place to live.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Most Fun...

The days when you get almost no work done are always the most fun (but usually the least rewarding). I had a friend that wanted to know what it was like to be a DBA, so he job shadowed me today. He came to a couple meetings with me... and he learned that being a DBA is actually pretty easy (most of the time). I felt bad for him, because he came to my group's staff meeting... which is where our manager tells us all the stuff that "Boeing" is trying to enforce on us. I use the word "Boeing" because even inside the company... "they" are just some intangible scapegoat to blame all of the organizational problems on.
The cool part of today was going to check out some Materials and Process Technology testing. One of my friends was FLAMETESTING some components for an airplane (yes... I was purposefully vague there). It was cool, but extremely boring. It was boring because the things being flame tested DIDN'T burn... which is an extremly positive thing, because its all over the airplane. Its cool to see something that you would expect to burst into flames just sit there and take a direct flame.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


mod_plsql is an Apache module that lets you call Oracle stored procedures to generate a webpage. Never in my whole life would I have imagined that something like this would exist... but it does, and apparently it’s sweet (but there are a few problems I'm seeing with it).
mod_perl and mod_python are for the weak of mind. Wrap around an application stored entirely in a database. Now imagine what a headache migrating between versions of Oracle might cause. Another thing to think about: how are the source files version controlled? Since they’re not actual files, how do you version them with an existing versioning program (Subversion, CVS, etc)?
I'll give you 2 guesses what multi-national aerospace conglomerate might have a critical application using mod_plsql (if you guessed ANYTHING other that Boeing… you belong with the unwashed masses). Now guess who gets to bring the system up to workable state. If you guessed "Adam," you're half right... they chose the 2 youngest people in my group... me and Alan (well, to be honest... you would be more like .75 right, because Alan is kind of a small guy).
One GIGANTICLY awesome advantage to working on this project is that it’s already rock-solid stable. So, there isn't a big time rush to get it fixed. But here is the condensed list of things we are going to do:

  • Get a test environment set up. A new database, a new web server, a new Oracle Internet Application Server, and a metric crapload of configuration files.
  • Lead the development of a configuration management system. Currently their source versioning system is: “source.file,” “copy of source.file,” “copy (2) of source.file,” ad nausem (did I use that correctly, I don’t know… I didn’t take Latin in high school). I think one of the things I get to do on this project is to take it from a “Joel Test” level 1, to a level 12 (or a 10, because its hard for an application in Boeing to get the support needed to meet #8 and #9).
  • Migrate from Oracle 8i to 10g. If you listened to Oracle, this should be no problem at all. But, if you’ve ever done an Oracle migration of anything more complex than the ‘scott/tiger’ demo… you know better than that.

This is cool, because it’s more non-DBA work. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with DBA work… but diversifying my portfolio is something my career broker told me to do.

Sitting in front of my new 19” LCD makes me happy… that’s why you’re getting a flood of new posts to the site. Plus I've gotten some new music in the last couple days. Snuff rules.

For those keeping score at home. I've moved over to using MS Word to write my posts... then I paste it into blogger. Seems to work, but blogger claims they've fixed the problem. I haven't used Word in a while, but Office 2003 is really pretty looking and works wonderfully well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Can't think of anything

I can't really think of anything Boeing related to write about, but I want to write something (Blogging can be addictive). So I'm going to write about some cool things that I've started using lately. This is [programming/dork/people with no life]-oriented... so you might find it extremly dry and boring. But then again... I rule... so it might be good.

Doxygen, If you've ever used Javadoc and thought it was cool. Your heart was in the right place, but your mind was a million miles off. Doxygen will parse your code and create documentation for you. And, if you're not lazy, and actually write Doxygen style comments... it will even include those. If you've ever wondered how to document a project that was bigger than you can imagine... doxygen gets it done. KDevelop uses it to create they're API Docs

Trac, Working on a program that is more that a couple hundred lines of code? You definitely need a bug tracking system. Because you're never going to remember all the bugs in the code. Trac is awesome because of its integration into other software. Trac gives you information about your Subversion repository. Bug/Issue tracking and subversion integration make it worth using right there... but you better believe it... it also cuts through pennies. Its also got a built-in wiki that lets you automatically link to issues, milestones, and other stuff in your project. My one gripe with it right now is that doesn't use an RDBMS... just flat files. But, there is upcoming support for actual DB usage.

Forward Declarations: OH man these are sweet. Compiling can be a long and boring process. Forward Decls reduce that time by reducing the number of #includes you have to include in your code. If you want to use these, you better read a little bit.

Oh wow... Blogger did it to me again... I had another couple of paragraphs written, and it just blew 'em away. Maybe I should be learning instead of repeating the same dumb mistakes. Meh.

For the Boeing starved: There are 450+ interns in the Puget Sound area this summer. A lot of those kids are coming from other parts of the US. We want them to have a good time in Seattle... so we're putting together a list of things they should do while they're here in Seattle. What festivals/activities are there to go to? Where should they visit (day trips usually)?

What would you consider "Quintessential Seattle"? If you can think of something that we should include on the list... shoot me an email, or leave a comment.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Outline of the stuff I do

Some people have been asking me what I do. For the high-level 30,000 foot view, I'm a DBA. But at a lower-level, I'm oh-so-much more. I don't know exactly how much I can talk about these... so I'm going to play it on the safe side.

NEL: The Noise Engineering Laboratory. They do just what you imagine... they change stuff around to make engines, stabilizers, etc quieter. I've been to this lab, and its really awesome. They have lots of HUGE padded labs... you know, like you see in a recording studio to dampen echos. Since they acquire large amounts of data, they've got some Oracle databases... and your's truley is the DBA on those. Everything is already setup, and this has been a pretty easy project so far... just basic DBA stuff (renaming stuff, etc).

PROPLAB: The Propulsion Laboratory. Again... exactly like it sounds. They work on engines. And they store data in an Oracle database.

Windtunnel: Yeah, they run models through a windtunnel... and you wouldn't believe the amounts of data they're storing. This Oracle database is flippin' enourmous. So far I've just been writing scripts for these guys, but I think I'm about to start moving into a more primary role on this project.

The above 3 projects are actually all for the same group, they're just different labs. So they have somewhat similar setups.

Quick Sidenote: I was in a meeting for the windtunnel project last week, and as I was leaving... it sounded like I could hear some remote control cars. Well, it turns out I was pretty close... there was an electric slot-car race track setup in a cube on that floor. So... I sat there and raced a slot-car around a 5-second track for about 30 minutes. It was awesome.

Architecture Integration: I actually don't do any DBA work for this project. I started out as a 'Data Architect' (normally the role would be called a 'Data Modeler', but i'm too fat to model anymore). Now that the initial modeling stuff is over, I've gone to a sort of 'Data Analyst' role. I prefer the name the people on the project have given me though: "Data Guru".

This post was way longer... but I 'previewed' it in... and it replaced about 5 paragraphs of text with: "%2". So guess what. I'm done.

P.S. Blogger sucks.

OH! I'm going to a presentation about corporate blogging tomorrow. I don't know the "scope" of the presentation... but hopefully its cool (and doesn't bore me to tears (which is fully possible when you do ANYTHING at a gigantore corporation)).

And one last thing. I don't know if this is Boeing specific... but business buzzwords drive me insane. I'm not even going to bother wasting your time talking about them right now. BUT just wait... I think I'm going to jot down a few especially annoying ones in the next couple weeks... maybe I'll find enough stuff to warrant posting about it.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Chairman’s Innovation Initiative

There are 2 parts to this post. The first is about the Chairman’s Innovation Initiative (CII) in general, and the second part is about the idea I proposed. Hopefully my idea will keep moving through the stages... because then I can document (right on this here blog) what its like to move through the CII process.
So, as the name would indication, the CII is about "incubating" new ideas that employees storm up. Here is what happens:
  • CII has a website where you can browse all the old ideas that people have submitted (to make sure you're not submitting a duplicate). And its a great place to find some "inspiration".
  • Then on the website it tells you to run a few personal checks on the idea: "do your friends think its a good idea?" Another check that I read on another website said: "Can you convince people to join your development team? If not, its probably not as good an idea as you think it is".
  • Then you can submit right through their website. You write a synaposis of your idea; it is how you would describe your idea to someone outside of the Boeing company. And you also write your "Marketing Plan / Strategy".
  • So, you've spent approximately 15 minutes of work on your idea... and already, things are about to start happening, because in just a few days, you're going to be contacted by an business analyst from the CII group. This is as far as I've made it in the "pipeline", so the rest is just what I've read and heard from various sources.
  • Now you get prepped for you "Gate I" review. This is you pitching your idea (more formally) to all the CII analysts, and some subject matter experts (SMEs). If they like your idea, and think you/your team are the people to move forward with it... you've just got yourself some funding!
  • Now you're in Phase II of your idea. You start building your real business model... you know... how is your idea going to make money? Basically you spend this time talking to possible business partners and suppliers, and getting a business proposal ready to pitch it to the President or Vice President of a interested business unit (If you don't know, Boeing is made up of a few business units (BUs), Commercial Airplanes, Integrated Defense, Capital Corporation, etc).
  • You're hitting "Gate II" right now. This is where you're pitching your idea to VPs and Presidents. And you better do a good job too, because your CII funding is all gone. If your idea doesn't get picked up by one of the BUs now... its all over.
  • Congrats, you've just passed Gate II, now there are a few options. You can go back to your normal job, and pretend you never did anything... but you get the satisfaction of knowing that your idea took off... and is going to be put into actual use. OR You can move with your idea and work on the development of that. Now you're getting funding from the BU that liked your idea... you get to start actually developing your product.

The company that helped develop the CII program has a case study about it, and if you're interested in the CII, you should read it [pdf] [HTML].

Now, about MY idea: Have you ever been on a long flight (or anything longer than about an hour)? No matter how good the book you brought is... you're always bored on the plane. The food tray in the seatback in front of you isn't quite big enough to play a board game on. So, why not bust out that shiny laptop that you've brought on the trip with you (but you're not sure why you brought it) and play some video games. Well, single player games lose their appeal pretty quickly... but who is there to play a game against? Well, you're in a confined space with at least 100 other bored people... and a lot of them have laptops too. See where I'm going? An intra-airplane gaming network. Connexion by Boeing establishes a wireless network on the airplane... so the hardware is done. Now we need the games, and a way to connect the people in the airplane together. Oh, and we need to figure out a business model that will work for this service.

There are lots of ways to expand on this basic idea too. For example: The Boeing Airbourne Network for Gaming (BANG... and YES I did just make that up) could be born. Now you can play against people on OTHER flights too!

I'm suppose to talk to my analyst later today (today is my day off... but I'm really excited about working with the CII), so we'll see how far my idea makes it. Even if this idea doesn't take off, I'm definitely going to keep coming up with ideas until one does!

Friday, April 01, 2005

My Nerd Quotient

My Nerd Quotient
Originally uploaded by adamb0mb.
I recently saw this test on someone's blog, and I HAD to know how nerdy I was. The person who had it on their blog scored a 93... and he works at MS (nerd kingdom). So, I figured I'd probably get in the high 80s.
One of the questions is: "What are you doing on a friday night?" and I answered: "Out with friends". Which is true (or wednesday, or thursday, or saturday night too). So, I don't know how I could decrease my nerd quotient.
The sad thing... I was answering some of the questions 'moderatly'.. trying not to expose my full nerdness.