Category: random

Day 10,396

Every day on Facebook comes with a smattering of birthdays posts flying left and right, and the occasional revelation from one of my friends that they’re  “getting old”. Interestingly, this doesn’t seem to have become more frequent over the years. For most, it seems that every year feels old when it starts, only to seem young when it’s past. Given this, years ago, I found it silly to be on the “feeling old” side of that equation (especially in your 20s!) and decided take a lifelong outlook to age, and have frequently wrote in terms of “Day or Year X of my life” as a subtle reminder that it’s a unique moment in time, with unique opportunities. Weird? Maybe, but to me, calling today Day 10,396 helps me treat it more significantly, than if it were just another Thursday.

Checking in today, as of November 8th, 2013, I’ve lived a good 28.46 years upon this great Earth. A simple life expectancy calculator estimates a reasonably long 92 years of life, telling me that as of today, I’ve lived 31% of my life in raw time.

For me, the time ahead seems simultaneously long and short. It’s nearly a century of time, long enough for you to speak of the currents events of today as history. Still, rather than being an abstract big number, a century almost seems managable. Looking at that, I can say that I feel about right for my age, and am excited for the years to come. The median age of the world population is 29.4 years old, and the median age in the US is 37.2 years old, so I can’t really complain there either.

As a whole, I’d say it’s been good so far, and that the remaining 63.54 years may just be enough to do everything that I need to do. If not, I may just need to buy myself some more time… 😉

Week 4 Starting

Le sigh. So here were are then. It’s a Tuesday, I believe, so we’re at the beginning half of Week 4 of my Productive sabbatical. Let’s reflect–what has the time thus far taught me?

Finances — Without substantial changes to lifestyle, I’ve managed to reduce in last month’s spending by about $1,000, a 25% reduction. All the while, eating more healthily, and enjoying freedom to exercise as needed. That said, H was correct, in that there would be changes in my perception of modest spending habits. All this said, I think I’m doing fairly well at this point.

Of course, there was also the self-declared secondary goal of developing a side-stream of income that was self-managing. One project has the potential to be net positive, and I’ve just thought of a potential switch to the second project. Since Kitchenaid mixers seem to be so adaptable to this purpose…

“(c) 2010” is already on the web for massively scalable services? How?

As someone avidly interested in web services and their path from concept in a vision planning room, to the point where they leave their impact on the world, I find it fascinating that Facebook, Microsoft, and Google have changed their (c) 2009 to (c) 2010 on their front pages, but Yahoo, Twitter, Amazon, and even Yelp still read (c) 2009. I have my own reasons for finding that interesting, but that’s not important. What IS important is when the flip happened, and the deep understandings of each that the answer to ‘When?’ represents.

Sure, I don’t expect most people to care. This might seem like an utterly trivial, ‘who the hell cares?’ question to many, but when you think about it, at any given point, every piece of the a page’s visible design and text has to pass through one person’s yes/no decision, and one computer (likely unencrypted). Since there are so few software companies operating websites at distributed scales like this, there isn’t a lot of non-proprietary software that can manage these gargantuan services. This probably means the service management software isn’t very well updated with the latest data visualization software. Every change that might occur is either a bug, or something that was approved in a very deliberate fashion. Which is why when I see that several sites have already updated their copyright year to 2010, I realized that they must’ve had a team of people that discussed the importance of changing to 2010 immediately after the new year.

What kind of mindset is needed to get this resolved? I mean, at some point, close to the end of the year probably, some person had to stand up and say, “Hey, if we don’t do this when the year runs around, then we’re gonna look stupid.” And because of the yes/no process that ended in agreement with this guy, someone had to stay up and edit the year in, sync it across all required web-facing servers hosting the site, and then finally, produce it on demand, to the world. What I’m really curious about is speculations on the drama that could’ve surrounded this process.

I wonder… Did the engineer really stay up that late at work (on New Year’s Eve, no less) just for this? Or was there a decent chunk of dev/test resource time spent to make it happen with server-side code? Could he just pay Chinese gold farmers a couple bucks to press the button at the right time?

Let’s remove one simple but hugely complicated problem just to make the scope of the 2009->2010 challenge easier to understand than it actually is, and assume that there’s only one timezone to care about. (Actually, this might be more true than not, since most sites only have a centralized team managed page). Or maybe there was a legal team that warned the product groups that there was a potential for lawsuits if the year was misrepresented on a site with their logo. Nevermind the ridiculous legal precedent that must’ve been quoted to give the lawyers fear in the first place, or the BS they must’ve used to convince the PG it was important enough (heck, maybe the legal department was just playing a practical joke). Okay, fine, that last one is a little too unlikely.

I’m going to bet that this miraculous change was the decision of a single engineer, with a religiously singular internal desire to see this ridiculously low-pri task completed, and sitting on the cloud by 1/1 12:00. Probably a program manager, but with the collaboration of someone with world-server access. They probably worked with someone in operations that snuck it in at the last second before the RTW VS. [This could never happen at any of these, now-massive corporations… or could it? 😉 ]

Of course, my now immersed-in-the-web mind wonders some more: How was this change done? I wonder if a clever engineer decided to hardcode a date change script into the next build. What did this code do?
Would it still do it’s thing when the year rolls to 2011… and not throw some unexpected exception and take down the livesite? Could it really have been a Find-Replace that just changes all instances of “2009” to “2010”? Nah, it wouldn’t be that stupid, or we’d be seeing at least a few random instances of 2009 (that is specific to 2009) turn to 2010.
Maybe he/she made the change and had a script upload the new version at the right moment? Would they be able to secure buy-in from the deployment team for that?

[to be continued…]