Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Life: Exercise 20150128

My Ankle

My right ankle still bothers me when I jog even after taking the previous day off. I did some lower body workout the day before that with no ankle problems.

This time around I found something interesting though. The discomfort was not as bad as before so I actually tried a faster pace. I found it odd that it takes around the same amount of time no matter the speed I ran at. At 6 - 6.5 mph, I have more of a running form. At this pace, my ankle did not bother me at all. I can do this for 10 minutes with no discomfort whatsoever (except that I was very out of breadth). When I go back to jogging form (5-5.5 mph), the discomfort grows again. Walking and running seems to remove the discomfort.

Walking around 4 degrees seem to cause a little strain to the ankle. At 7 degrees and 3.8 mph, the discomfort becomes similar to jogging. I did not stress it too much this time around by quickly returning back to angles and speed that do not cause the discomfort.


Oddly, I seem to lose more weight the day after I take a day off. I no longer gain weight after working out and at times I do lose a little bit of weight. Now, I have basically returned back to the weight I was at when I started three weeks ago which is about 5-6 pounds. I do feel leaner in exchange though. So far this has been the basic pattern whenever I start working out, and the inverted pattern when I stop working out for long periods of time (unfortunately more not working than working out).

I also do keep track of my weight on a spreadsheet. I have almost three years of data with many large gaps of data. I have one sheet that aggregates my average weekly weights. I did this because the daily weights changed to much because I did not keep a consistent time of when I weight myself. Interestingly, I noticed there were patterns of me gaining weight over the years. I gained weight when I didn't record my weight for long stretches of time (many weeks).

Basically when I become too busy with other life events, I also stop watching my health. So it seems that trying to keep a regular practice of storing my weight also keeps me more focused on healthier alternatives... or at least reminds me to be.


I plan to run in a 5k race in April, and I am hoping to be under 36 minutes as my safe goal. My primary goal is to be under 30 minutes by end of the year. At my current rate (assuming on a treadmill), I think I should be able to get pretty close to 30 minutes.

I can occasionally do 10 minutes at 6 mph. I can pretty easily do 5.5 for 20 . My limitations currently is my ankle then my breathing. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ted Blog on International Idioms

The ted blog on idioms was very fascinating.


Buggish: BMC Remedy Error - User Preference Server must be the same as Server 'xxx' for IGWL

User Preference Server " must be the same as AR Server 'xxxxxx' for IGWL
IGWL Has Failed to Load Properly. Please Exist Remedy and Try Again.

If you have already changed your Log File,  make sure to include the preference server and TCP/RCP port in the login window. You may have to click on the "Options >>" button to see the options.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Life: Exercising 20150121

It has been two weeks since the last exercise update. I have been having ankle issues when running on the treadmill so yesterday I took the day off. It was kind of sad to not meet my calorie goal after completing 15 days in a row with the Wii U.

Fortunately, today was the first day where I made some headway into losing weight. I also went back to the gym after a day rest. I did not want to stress my ankle too much so I started with 5mph after my warmup. I didn't not feel the usual strain that I felt last week. After 5-6 minutes, I started to feel some pressure in my ankle (right). I kept running through it then took a break after another 5 minutes (totally 10 minute jog). The pressure did not get worse. As usual, it goes away after walking for a bit.

After a small walking break, I started another 10 minute jog and this time the pressure did not return. Actually, it felt pretty good. I didn't want to push my luck so I went back to walking speed for 5 minutes.

On my third attempt, I felt a little more pressure than the first time after 7-8 minutes. The fourth time, the pressure didn't return but I did get pretty exhausted. Ended with 4.4 miles in an hour. I took a short break then did a slow pace on an elliptical.

Overall, I think this is a good sign for my ankle. I think I need to replace my shoes.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Who are These Electric Suppliers?

Once again, a relative thought I could assist in this just because I studied electrical engineering. A relative received a call from an energy supplier and was not sure if that was her electric company (ie energy provider). She thought she heard a different name at the start of the call but then they kept saying her provider's name. She was confused on what the difference was between a supplier and a provider.

I was confused too as the terms does sound very similar so google I went (I never understand why people just don't do this before calling). So I find that the suppliers are basically resellers of energy. All the infrastructure and maintenance is still done by the provider. The provider being the typical company that provides your energy.

The savings that was given was about 20%, but the supplier's telemarketer was very pushy about getting voice authorization... because it is so obvious that people should just sign up. No information on contract or fees or anything. They also called me at a bad time (my relative forwarded the call... sadly my private number now on another calling list that will probably never be removed), so I was trying to get off for a meeting. They kept pushing that it will only take 2 minutes to authorize while I am trying to say that I need to do more research before doing so and this lasted another 15 minutes!!! I felt too invested to hang up at this point but I should have.

After finally hanging up, I did more research and I suppose it was a good deal but her electric bill was already pretty low so the savings did not seem worth the hassle of switching to a company that would use such unscrupulous tactics to get someone to sign up. There are many things the supplier claimed that basically everything will be the same but I could not find any reviews online so I didn't think it was worth the risk.

They may be a legit company. They are on the list of licensed supplier in the state. Even then, there are so many terrible practices that can used to just annoy you to no end with just billing alone much less if there are other problems. I cannot say if suppliers do these things but could easily be done as you do read about them in other industries. I also had one where the vendor never stopped billing/charging my credit card even after I called and even went onsite a couple times. Eventually, I just called the credit card company and blacklisted them, and fortunately my money back. But usually utility companies require direct payment from bank or debit cards where you won't have that extra level of protection. Even then, it is such a hassle to manage.

So for a company to have to call and pressure the person to switch (especially not willing to provide written form of the agreeement/contract), this deal is just not worth it to save a couple dollars.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Simple Life Reminder to Appreciate Your Parents

A talk from Marc Mero about appreciating your parents. Although it was in front of kids, the message can be applied to anyone in any stage of their lives. A nice message for the young, a kind reminder for the experienced.

The real sad part is in the comments where responses to seemingly innocently posts that some people judge as ignorance are completely opposite to the video's message thus their own message. Some responses are legit to counter-argue but then they throw in name calling or other derogatory comments that just does not belong with their response. I know this is just part of today's internet life, but I still hope.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Center div with table content and fit to content

style="border: 1px solid black; display: table; padding: 0px 25px 25px 25px; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"

The trick for me is the "display: table" portion which seems new to me but did exactly what I wanted it to do. I wanted a div containing a table to be centered into the middle of the page.

Without the display parameter, the div defaults to the full width of its parent container which then obviously would not have margins to auto-fill. Floating the div would only keep it to the left (obviously but still had to try). The stackoverflow articles also contained some other alternatives but this one seemed cleanest for what I needed.


Monday, January 12, 2015

New Employee Promoted Over Seniority

I just read an article about whether it was fair or legal for a company to promote a new employee over longer term employees. The article does a good job of explaining how to overcome this and does overlap with my ideology (albeit admittedly also not perfect) on how to manage my own life. I will be discussing more on the side of knowledge-skilled labor. Some could probably apply to other skilled labor or unskilled labor, but I am sure the dynamics would be slightly different.

In my experience and highly in my opinion, I find that companies typically promote an unqualified manager whether you choose to review their credentials or experience. This is the most demoralized feeling for the group.

I definitely know my share of people who have been in the role for a while who seek management promotions. Like the article states, there are some that just would not make good managers in general and others that would not be good for that company's culture.

I think the most common mistake is that company's tend to look at either the management skills or their technical skills. Here I use "technical" meaning specialized knowledge of the field (ie engineering, secretarial, waste management, accounting, etc.). Rarely, do they seek for both. Even rarer do they even bother reviewing their own employees of different talents that typically are not needed in the technical field.

I keep a reserve of people in my mind that would make great managers. I do this in hopes that one day I will have the opportunity to provide a recommendation. Maybe because I am very science/logic oriented profession, our roles typically do not require us to display managerial skills. As you work with people, you do see some soft skills that I think are signs of better managers.

Unfortunately, most of my world does not really work that way. And bottom line, the managers do not make or break the company. Plenty of companies have been able to get by with below-par managers. I've seen managers gone weeks at a time. I have met acquaintances who are managers who proudly state that they do not do anything most of the time (which is also pretty obvious by the amount of non-work related things they do like posts, on-line shopping, even watching videos/movies during work hours).

For example, I once worked for a company where I've been for about a year and a half. Seniority-wise, I was the youngest in the group. I also had a different skill set than most of my team so I was pretty confident I would never be promoted in that group. Within a few weeks from when I started, the company had promoted a person from another group as a manager within our group. She has been with the company only for a couple months. We had worked with her and respected that change since she had good managerial skills. A group of about 10 people who are at least at par with their roles. Some of them have good traits.

To keep up with company growth, our group hired a few new undergraduates. After four months, one of the new hires was promoted to supervisor role. This had a major shift within the group. To most of the group, she appeared to be the least experienced and least likely to manage. 5 of the original 10 people either quit or transferred within a month or two. I left after my first ever negative review. My review was that I was unable to anticipate all the changes she was unable to decide on. Probably also for the first time in my life did I actually stood up for myself on the quality of my work by stating how it was logically possible to build software if she could not make up her mind and very wishy-washy about what she wanted. I could not get the favor our original manager who became director, the manager of my current supervisor. The director didn't even counter argue and just remained quiet. On top of that, my applications were mostly build on my ideas while most of her ideas did not pan out. At the end of the day, I continued to provide good quality of work with more emphasis with some of her suggestions which was just to focus on her requirements which I kept and stored.

I eventually left for better opportunity not long after my review. I heard within a couple weeks, most of the remaining people had also left the group. The supervisor eventually "quit." The role was not filled. One of the remaining people tried to apply for the role but was told they were not going to make the same mistake again.

I would like to say that this was a win for fairness, but this really had no impact on the company. Business went on. The director is doing well. The manager is also still doing well. I have nothing against them (I consider the poor review as a minor incident... whatever). And the company as a whole is still growing and doing well.

As for the quality of work, they tried to get me to work on some of my other ideas. They even tried to get me to work on it without pay... can you even believe that! They may have paid for the work but I just did not care to return so quoted 2-3 times the going contracting rate. I may have done it for regular rate if they considered apologizing (but then how can they apologize if they don't even know they did wrong in the first place?). On second thought, I do not think I want to work with those kind of people anyways.

So, what is the lesson here? If you want to become a supervisor or manager, there are at least two paths to take. First is the one suggested by the article to learn relevant skill-sets and working with your manager on how to move up. Second is to play the system because the impact of a manager has very little impact (just see how frequently they change coaches and CEOs who you would imagine is the biggest cogs in the wheel).

If you think that you are a big part of the company too, think again. I had worked for a different company where the sales team sold a solution that we didn't have (not a surprise). They had quoted 80 hours, but the amount of requirements was clearly more than that. I was only given two weeks to finish and I spent 80 hours both weeks to finish that project. No post-integration problems or issues. Who won? The client because they were not charged the 80 hours (weak sales team who I even told them before I left that the project would take longer). My employer because he sold a solution and since I was an employee no over-time pay. The sales team because they get commission. I lost 80 hours of my time over two weeks which does not even include the travel time, lack of sleep, and my personal health (which is only realized later in life). You think an employee like that would be pretty invaluable to the company.

Nope! They just hired three people to do my work. Even then lower quality, then hired a couple more to support the lower quality. My coworkers also benefited because they got raises because now the company couldn't afford to lose them. And the company is still doing well and succeeding. When I was there we managed the work with 5-6 engineers for 4 years, now they have almost 15 within 2 years leaving. A company I recently left, they had replaced myself and coworker who left within the same period of time with 6 others.

Sooo...... sadly, you are replaceable. Your replacement may not be better or even make the company more money than you. The company may even regret losing you, but it will only be a small stumble. I hope this will inspire you to see the world differently and eventually change the world for the better... hopefully taking the high road.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

C# Session.Abandon() Event Process Not So Intuitive

Unless you understand how all the events are triggered within the webserver, a casual programmer may not necessarily understand the first time they use this method/function.

I was programming the login and logoff process. I use Session.Abandon() to clear the sessions. On the master page, I have the typical welcome user and log off hyperlink which should be cleared when accessing the logoff page. But it does not and remains on the corner of the page. After stepping through the debugger, the session still exists.

This is because the session is not cleared until all transactions have been completed. This is confirmed both on the Microsoft site and Stackoverflow site. I'm sure there is a reason for this.

Abandon vs Clear

The two links do a pretty good job of explaining the differences but it was not completely clear what impact this had on coding. One interesting comment was that they used Clear and Abandon. The counter-comment was that this was redundant.

I found that this is not redundant as the third comment has pointed out. The reason actually is the way I should have executed my logoff process because Clear() will "nullify" all the session values, then Abandon will clear out the session (supposedly the session id) as I would like a different session id if a different user is on.

My Programming Experience

Although I have been programming for several years in the past, I have fallen so far behind on a lot of new practices. I have enough knowledge to probably transition between one programming language to another, but not enough to program without a reference book or revisiting a lot of less-used functionality or program once functionality (ie login and logoff). I probably just used a flag in my past career life.

I had to look up the C# page even orders. I recall this was one of my interview questions. There is a bunch of events, but I typically only had to worry about init and load so I probably just answered that question poorly (mediocre at best... I knew a couple others but not the specific names).


Improving Charisma (link)

Interesting article... most of us known the list but does not hurt to be reminded on where we can improve on. For me #2 is the most difficult as it is difficult not to filter with all the information that could be presented. My limitation on the amount of information that I need to retain so I unconsciously "not listen" to someone, although I sometimes recall them talking about it before (who knows how much I actually forgot completely).

I think most people have a hard time with #10 because we are oftentimes told to be perfect (well, at least the people around me). In trying to be perfect, they try to hide their imperfections. In trying to hide their imperfections, they start lying to themselves then the other items start to fall short of their potential too.

I find the list to be a good list to follow to make a successful life. It may help with a successful career but there are many other factors, but then a successful career also may not mean a successful life.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Life: Exercising 20150108

Well, I guess I have survived the holiday meals. Lost some wait since October but gained a little back near the end of December.

I have been focusing more on running recently. Last night, I really pushed myself to complete 5 miles in an hour. I ran most of it around 5.2 mph with a couple minutes here and there to slow down which also meant that I had to speed up to 5.5-6.0 mph to catch up. So it feels good that I finally have a casual jog where I can catch my breath without going into a walking pace.

Tonight, I felt rather sluggish on the treadmill so I spent some time on a stationary bike. After 30 minutes, I did some leg workouts then back to the treadmill. Still sluggish, I planned to walk for about 30 minutes. After 10 minutes, I started feeling a bit more energetic and started to do some speed walking (4-4.5 mph)... almost completed 2 miles.

Per the Wii, I gained 6.5 pounds since last night. This is probably due to the sweats that I was wearing (too lazy to take them off and also pretty cold). I thought it would only be an extra pound. I guess I'll see if this goes back tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

First Year Home Owner - Home Maintenance (1)

I am still not completely sold on the home owner status versus remaining as a renter. Truthfully, I do not know where people even learn this stuff before. Perhaps the general American upbringing teaches these to the next generation, but I am pretty sure my parents did not do most of these things.

I just learned a new list of things that I have to do:
  • Sealing grout in bathrooms
  • Sealing granite countertops
  • Sealing grout in tiled rooms
  • Sealing wood floors
  • Caulking showers
  • Caulking counters
  • Changing air filter (this one I knew)
  • Clearing water tank
  • Closing external water lines (winter)
  • Cleaning out lint box behind dryer

Of course, I did not think to check all this beforehand so I also had to learn how to clean a bunch of things before all that. For example, sealing helps prevent staining. Well, some grout has also already stained so I had to learn how to clean that.

While cleaning, there is even more things to learn like acetone, caulking, and a bunch of other tools. Life as a renter was definitely much simpler. And this is only the tip of the iceberg because these are just known maintenance work. At some point, there are going to be major repairs because I am sure I am going to miss something, somewhere.

When do I get to realize the financial advantage of being an owner? sigh...


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Life: Blogger Dec 2014 Stats

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Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 Resolution

"My goal for 2015 is to accomplish the goals of 2014 which I should have done in 2013 because I made a promise in 2012 and planned in 2011."

Quite an inspiring quote (with a touch of sadness) for me this year.

The Bad

  • gained 5 pounds since last year
  • still not good at multi-tasking (particularly exercising while focusing on other things)
  • stopped tracking metrics for my car (too hard to track when people borrow my car and I forget to track those numbers)

The Good

  • I was actually up 10 pounds around June, so lost 5 of those pounds since then
  • First TV, Wii U, Wii U Fit
  • Lots of new board games
  • Blogging still going on
  • More new friends

The Future

  • Plan to run in more 5k races
  • Prepare to complete a 10k race next year or by end of year