My electronic notebook saved me today. I had a technical problem here at work, involving some old internal software. I vaguely remember using this software, but instead of rummaging through old e-mails or polling my co-workers I grepped my electronic notebook. I was able to find notes from the first time I used this software nearly two years ago. Rereading these put enough details into my head to be back "up to speed." I felt pretty smug. Electronic notebooks are my personal "best practice."
A co-worker asked me how my current project was going, and I said it was a slog. He apparently hadn't heard of this word, but a few days later he asked me how the slog was going. I had to smile.
I am headed "on the road" soon. Part of my job involves doing "onsite client work". This means I do installations, configurations, development, even training. It's part of the typical technical consultant's life: visiting the corporate back offices and IT departments across the nation (and for some, around the globe).
Today I was in RPM Hell, a punishing landscape even when you know what you're doing. And unfortunately for me, I only barely know what I'm doing.
A few nights ago, I tried to upgrade the CMS that powers this BLOG (Drupal). A Drupal upgrade involves an intricate but manageable series of steps, and since I have UNIX shell access with my hosting provider, it should have been straight-forward. Instead, after finishing the upgrade, my site produced a blank screen with this message: "Zero Sized Reply."
Over the past few weeks I had some simple text transformations that had me reaching for Perl, but ended up doing directly in Vim. These were very small exercises in Regular Expression (RE) matching/replacing, and what struck me was how small differences in dialect can sometimes prevent you from making progress.
If you're in front of UNIX system, you should have access to sed, the UNIX "stream editor", which has a lot of utility to it. Here's a little idiom that comes in handy every now and then.
% sed -n '16p' file.txt Not bad for 1/2 hour worth of work!
The string '16p' says "print line 16". So to print any particular line out of a file, use sed -n 'Np' file.txt, where N is the line that you want. And if you want a range of lines, use 'M,Np', where M and N are the starting and ending line numbers in question.
At the booksale room at my local library, I saw a copy of The Soul of A New Machine. Without a doubt, it's my favorite book about the work that I do.
My work laptop had a failure over the weekend. It wouldn't boot up into Windows, and after some fearful research, I discovered that the Windows registry seemed corrupted. So there I was, with an unusable laptop. Or was it?