Sunday, March 25, 2007

What Have I Been Up To? . . .

Since the last post?

Well, primarily I’ve been working for the Railroads, my workload there has been, well, let’s just say, overwhelming, this month. There were several tight deadlines, and some areas of responsibility that were fairly new to me as well.

Those combined with my “Not a problem, I can handle it” attitude got me in some trouble around mid-month… I know, me, Mr. “I deliver on time”… finally got himself in trouble and missed a deadline… that may not be a big deal to some of you, but, it was a big deal to me.

I’m happy to say the team I work with, really, and I mean really, stepped up to the plate to help me bring this one phase in, and get the project back in the green. For someone (me) who has had little success in getting help from others (with a few notable exceptions) this was a wonderful turn of events.

In another phase, I’ve completed a data model and an application in VB.Net to allow folks to analyze what they’ve been working on. It’s comprised of one basic form, with a tab control, thirteen tabs each with various views of aspects of the data model. There’s even a context sensitive column search feature that’s activated on a right mouse-click.

How did I get that done, with everything else on my plate? One word, “Infragistics”.

These folks have a slogan “Powering the presentation layer”… from where I sit, they definitely do! If you’re involved with .Net, and are looking for a controls toolbox that functions in Windows, or Web, applications check this company out, for my money they’re definitely the real deal.

In my spare time, I’ve been working on, believe it or not, preparing a commercial VFP application for delivery. A very well known paint company contracted with me to help them with this project earlier this year, but, things didn’t really start heating up until mid-February, and then got very serious, when, in the middle of my other crisis.

Just this past week I worked over 50 hours for the RR’s and another 30 on the project for the paint company… my entire month of March has been a series of 70-80 hour work weeks. I’m not complaining mind you, just recognizing that old saying “When it rains, it pours!”

In talking with some of the other team member on the paint project, I’m pretty confident we have a shippable product now. We’ve converted the application to VFP9, added a software licensing process, altered how some internal password functionality is derived and in general done a decent ‘cleanup’ on the product.

Again, great team, excellent communications and hard work by everyone got this pulled together in time.

My friend Ken Sheldon (remember Ken?) and I had been planning to get together this weekend and hit a bowling alley, roll a few games and, in general just catch up with one another. On Wednesday, as I was looking at some additional tight deadlines (changes to the RR application for a Friday demo, and the fast approaching shipping deadline for the paint company, I was seriously considering postponing our plans.

At some point however, I realized that I always do that, let the work interfere with my personal life. I’ve been doing it for 25 years, Ken would have understood, he knows me and my dedication… about that same time I decided that four or five hours out of the weekend, to enjoy some time with an old friend (Ken and I have know each other 20 years, this year, and we’ve worked together at 3 different times over those years), was something I definitely needed to do.

So at about 8:00am on Saturday he and I headed out to Buffaloe Lanes in Cary. (Yes, that’s how they spell it… as Ken would say, from the Dan Quayle school of spelling).

When we got there, a youth league was in full swing, all 32 lanes in use by kids in the age range of 5-10 it appeared. Well we stood around and talked, and watched the kids bowl for an hour or so, and decided we’d reserve a pair of lanes for when the first pair freed up. As we were talking to the folks, one of them said “No one showed up on 27/28, let them have the pair”

So we were off and rolling (literally).

I’m happy to report that Ken has finally beaten me in bowling; in fact he gave me a sound ‘thrashing’… I averaged about 146, he averaged 198… The only other time he and I bowled together it was in Liverpool, NY.. I had probably the best three game series in my life, he had one of his worst… and I’ve hung on to that victory for over a decade… I’m just so glad that we got out again, and he won, it gives an excuse for a rematch!! Hey, he’s a great bowler, I’m just glad he’s not embarrassed to be seen rolling with me!

So what do ya think folks.. a strange month for sure… I’m neck deep in both VFP and .Net, Microsoft announces the end of VFP yet I’m working like a mad man to keep up…

Two lessons here for me…

1st, you should always make time for friends and family.. It’s worth every second of the time

2nd, hard work, and great team members can accomplish amazing results, especially when you let the team know you need their help.

So how has your March been?

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Lorna said...

thrashed at bowling? the pain....

jenbeauty said...

Hi Bill! Glad to see you are still a busy happy man! I cannot believe how the time has flown so far this year. I turned 40 and am looking forward to the new decade of my life!

Patrick M. Tracy said...


Glad to see you back around. I thought of you when I read that VFP was being parceled out to open source. Hard to say how that will turn out.

It's good to choose friends over work sometimes. I've had a hard time disengaging from work, and now I've racked up 151 hours of vacation, which I have to somehow use up before the end of June. Akk.

70-80 hour weeks don't sound like much fun. Not enough time to goof off. I don't recommend it.

When you said that you'd been working for the railroad, it rang a bell for me. My grandfather worked for the Denver and Rio Grande his whole life. I wish the railroads moved more of our freight. I think that trucking isn't nearly as efficient over the long hauls. Oh, well. It keeps people employed, so it has a bigger lobby.

If you get a chance to drop by Hawkcircle, click on the "collected links" area and see some of the expansions I've made to my little web empire in recent months. I tried to link your site, but whenever I did, it would bring up a pop-up asking for an adminstrator password. Maybe I'll try again.

In any case, good to be back. As far as getting beat at bowling, I think it's the act, not the result. Sort of like you're journey/destination motto. Peace.

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...

MY March has been TOTALLY overwhelming - - I have not posted to my blog in ages, I have not checked out OFK in ages (sorry, Maryan!) . . .

I MUST get cracking! :-)

Maybe April will be better . . . . . here's hoping!


Patrick M. Tracy said...


Oops. Forgot to mention that I changed my screen name. I'm "the artist formerly known as Firehawk". The longer I do this whole blogging thing, the more I realize that there's no downside to actuall divulging a little information. By the way, I was able to link your blog on my links page this time. I don't know what was going on before, but I suspect that it had something to do with the loose nut between the keyboard and the chair.

In any case, take it easy.

Jay said...

March is over!!
It was a busy one, come to think of it, but that's the way I like it.

Cyli said...

Aww Bill good to see your doing well, albeit busy :) I too have had busy march - in more ways then one LOL. I even'ed during month of marcch - can you believe it? Best to you and your wife :)

Bill said...

Hi y'all... I am really sorry I haven't been around.

There's been quite a bit going on here lately and I'm definitely not doing this place any justice!

Thanks to each of you for stopping by, and especially for leaving me a comment so I know you did!!

I promise, I'll be by to see you all very soon.