March 28, 2007

Peyton Manning United Way Commercial

Timber liked this United Way commercial that Peyton Manning did, so I figured more people might like it too. Enjoy!

Posted by troutm8 at 01:18 PM

March 27, 2007

Exploratory Testing Is Fun

Assuming you are doing things right, after you get things automated and into a somewhat steady state, which means that all the really boring testing is out of the way, you get to do exploratory testing. I really enjoy doing exploratory testing because I get to sit with the developer, pick their brain on how their widget works, talk through scenarios of what to test and what to look for, and come up with a rough game plan on how I will test their widget. With that playbook in hand I then proceed to take their widget and waterboard it until I find defects. I frequently come up with new and interesting things to do to their widget that no one has thought of before and as a result usually find some interesting defects. After exploratory testing is over it is time to automate the regression tests, verify bug fixes, and move on to the next widget. Suprisingly there is never a shortage of things to test.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:36 AM

March 26, 2007

TMNT 1989 Style

Over the weekend I was playing he Xbox 360 that Wookie got for Timber and I for Christmas and I noticed on Xbox Live Arcade they just got Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1989 Arcade Game. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that. :-) I downloaded the demo version and checked it out. Sure enough it was exactly like the 1989 arcade game that I spent a lot of time playing with my friends. When my friends and I beat it for the first time I must have spent $20 in quarters doing so. So I went ahead and payed the $5 to get the full version of the game, and Timber and I had some fun playing it this weekend. One cool feature about the game is that you can play it over the network, so you and your friends from all over the world can play it just like you would in the arcade. It doesn't allow you to save your progress, but if you have infinite respawns it doesn't take all that long to beat the game. I think when I have friends over to play it I'll charge them a quarter per life and at the end we'll see who spent the least amount of money to beat the game. And of course they will all get their money back. So if you have an xbox 360 and you liked this game as much as I did you should definitely get it. On a side note xbox 360 live arcade has other classic games like Pacman, Castlevania, Paperboy, Ms. Pacman, Defender, Mortal Kombat, Contra, Street Fighter II, Doom, Dig Dug, Galaga, Frogger, Joust and more. Some of the games suck, but others like Pacman and Paperboy are still fun to play.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:20 AM

March 24, 2007


I just finished a book called "Survive!: My Fight for Life in the High Sierras" and I have to say thanks to Tom J for telling about it. It was a great book and a quick read. It was the true story of Peter DeLeo, a guy that crashed in Golden Trout Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California in the winter with two friends. After the crash he had a broken left ankle, broken ribs, a broken shoulder, and a host of other injuries yet he found a way to hike east over the mountains to highway 395 and survive the 13 day trek. This guy is my hero.

Posted by troutm8 at 12:08 AM

March 23, 2007

First Bike Ride To New Office

I can't believe that I've been at SVL for 6 months now and that today is my first time riding my bike to work. I think it is mostly because I'm lazy. It is really nice being able to drive to work with either the truck or Vespa and then just walk into the building and to my office. It makes for getting more sleep mostly, because like I said before I'm lazy. But today I broke out of my lazy rut and biked to work. It took 26 minutes and most of it was on the Coyote Creek Trail. Once I got to work I put my bike in my offce (if fits quite nicely and is not in the way) and then took a quick shower before starting work. So while it takes a bit more time (1 hour to commute and shower) to bike as opposed to drive (8 minutes) I'm going to try to bike more often. I know that if I bike more often I won't feel as guilty about what I eat and I may even lose weight if I keep eating well. Plus the bike has infinite gas mileage. The good weather is bad for snowboarding but good for bike riding. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 12:02 PM

March 22, 2007

Dubya Versus Congress Round 1

Congress: Hey Dubya, we want to find out what happened in the firings of some US Attorneys.
Dubya: Sure thing Congress. I'll send over Harriet and Karl to give yall all the information you need, but with a few r'strictions.
Congress: And they are?
Dubya: Well, what they say cannot be made public, ever, so no sound recordings and transcripts, and what they say cannot be used against them later, so no going under oath or any malarky like that. Oh, and they may look differently than when you last saw them, they both had plastic surgery and had their voices altered, so you may not think they are the real Karl and Harriet but I assure you they are the real deal. Oh, and they want to be able to take frequent breaks to receive instructions, I mean to call their mothers.
Congress (fuming): So basically you are stalling and not going to cooperate right?
Dubya: Yep.

Posted by troutm8 at 05:37 PM

March 21, 2007

Spring Is Here

Huray Spring is here, but what happened to the Winter? Is it just me or did the snowboarding season this year suck? Timber and I went once this season and when we went the conditions were mediocre at best. Are we going to get any more storms? I like to snowboard in cloudy, snowy weather with lots of powder, not bright, sunny, hot days. My guess is that we'll get one more decent storm and then that is it. It almost feels like there was no snowboarding season this year... :-(

Posted by troutm8 at 03:49 PM

Nerd Rap

Thanks to Tim for the link.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:48 AM

March 15, 2007

Snickers Really Does Satisfy

Imagine my predicament, I had a small lunch at noon and the hour was rapidly approaching 5 PM and I'm starting to get hungry. The problem is that I just got hit with a bunch of work and a tight deadline which means I'm going to have to stay at work for a while to get it all done before I leave for the day. The cafeteria is closed and I have no snacks in my office. I decide to grab some change, head to the vending machine, and pray that I can find something halfway decent to hold me over until dinner, which at this point I'm estimating will be around 9 PM. What did I find? A Snickers bar. Then I remembered the commercials -> "Not going anywhere for a while..." and I decided to buy one and give it a try. I haven't had a Snickers bar in probably 10 years, so I didn't even remember what was in them. Imagine my suprise upon finishing the bar to feel that I'm not hungry any more. Other than it being a little too sweet it was pretty good. So to summarize, Snickers really does satisfy. :-)

Posted by troutm8 at 05:05 PM

March 14, 2007

Blackhawk Beatdown

Yesterday I went to the Sharks/Blackhawks hockey game with Timber's dad and we watched an interesting game. You can watch the video highlights here. The Sharks dominated the entire game by playing solid defense, getting good goaltending from Nabby, passing the puck well, and taking lots of shots (with 20 % of their shots going in the net) to end up scha-lacking the Chicago Blackhawks 7-1. The guy sitting to my right was a Blackhawks fan, and he must have been pretty miserable throughout the game. Billy Guerin ended up getting his first goal as a Shark and then decided to add two more to make it a hat trick. I'm kind of suspicious of the last call which gave him a penalty shot with 12 seconds left to go in the game but at the end of the day 6-1 or 7-1 doesn't really matter. All I can say is that I hope the Blackhawks learned something from this experience and get better. I generally like to watch competitive hockey games but I'll take a blowout like this every now and then as long as the Sharks are the ones winning.

Posted by troutm8 at 05:19 PM

March 13, 2007

Econ 101

OK, the lesson for today is buying a house and trying not to bring down the US economy. This message is for prospective house buyers. When you are looking to buy a house you have to consider many factors (financial and otherwise), some of them are:
Do I have enough money for a down payment?
What interest rate can I get on my mortgage?
Can I afford to pay my mortgage, property tax, routine maintenance, etc...?
How long will I live here?
Do I like the neighborhood?
Is this house worth the cost?
Can I afford to eat if I buy this house?
And there are many more questions. But the key point is this -> If you can only afford a house via an interest only loan, don't buy it <- Right now we are seeing lots of defaults because sub prime lenders let people borrow money to buy houses with and a significant percentage are defaulting on the loans. And as we are seeing now this is bad for the overall economy. So to restate the obvious you should do a gut check to see if you can really afford the place you are buying. If you're not sure then don't do it. A bad experience will hurt you, the lender, and the economy in general.

Posted by troutm8 at 04:40 PM

More On Agile

Posted by troutm8 at 09:08 AM

March 08, 2007

Office Vs Cube

In my old project I had a cube while in my new project I have an office. I've noticed that both have their pros and cons, but overall I prefer having an office.

Great interaction with the rest of the team.
Sense of community with those around you.
Flow of information is extemely fast.
Can be too loud at times.
Harder to take conference calls and call in to meetings because the noise sometimes annoyes cubemates.
Have to listen to headphones at times to drown out the sounds around and concentrate on work.
Constant interruptions.

More privacy and ability to concentrate on work in a quiet environment.
Can listen to things (music & podcasts without headphones).
Can easily do speakerphone on phone calls (which adds to productivity).
Not as connected to the rest of the team.
Harder to find people when everyone has an office.

Some of the things that I really like about having an office are that I can listen to Berkeley class podcasts (finished Geo 10 - Fall 2006: World Religions, Peoples, and States & nearly done with Astronomy 10P - Fall 2006: Introduction to General Astronomy), music, and work in peace and quiet when I want to. I can also open my door and let people come by and grab me when I'm open to interruptions.

Posted by troutm8 at 03:23 PM

Plagiarized California Bests

I plagiarized this list from this article. Thanks Tom S.
California bests

Prettiest lakes

1. Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

2. Donnell Reservoir, Stanislaus National Forest

3. Sardine Lake, Tahoe National Forest

4. Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park

5. Lake Sabrina, Inyo National Forest

Prettiest rivers

1. McCloud River, Shasta County

2. Smith River, Del Norte County

3. Rush Creek headwaters, Ansel Adams Wilderness

4. Yuba River, Sierra Nevada

5. Trinity River, Junction City canyon

Hikes to prettiest views

1. Yosemite Point, Yosemite National Park

2. Mitchell Peak, Jennie Lakes Wilderness

3. Glacier Point to Sentinel Dome, Yosemite

4. Lookout Peak, Kings Canyon National Park

5. Mount Whitney Trail, trail crest to summit

Fishing spots

1. Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta

2. San Diego deep sea

3. Barrett Lake, San Diego

4. Independence Lake, Truckee

5. Sacramento River, Redding to Anderson


1. Shasta Lake

2. Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta

3. Lake Don Pedro

4. Lake Oroville

5. Trinity Lake

Family destinations

1. Camp Richardson, Lake Tahoe

2. MacKerricher State Park, Fort Bragg

3. Lake Siskiyou, Mount Shasta

4. Lake Alpine, Stanislaus National Forest

5. Convict Lake, Inyo National Forest

Fly fishing for trout

1. Sacramento River, Redding (by boat)

2. Fall River (by pram)

3. Pit River

4. East Walker River

5. Middle Fork Feather hike-in/PCT

Boat-in camping

1. Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

2. Lake Sonoma, Sonoma County

3. Bullards Bar Reservoir, Sierra foothills

4. Shasta Lake, Redding

5. Union Valley Reservoir, Eldorado National Forest

Rafting rivers

1. Main stem Tuolumne

2. Salmon River

3. Forks of the Kern

4. Upper Klamath

5. South Fork American

-- Tom Stienstra
Bay Area bests


1. Skyline-to-the-Sea, headquarters to Berry Creek Canyon, Big Basin Redwoods State Park

2. Coast Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore

3. Montara Mountain Trail, San Pedro Valley County Park

4. Trail Camp Loop, Castle Rock State Park

5. Steep Ravine Trail, Mount Tamalpais State Park

Bike rides

1. Bay Ridge Trail, Crystal Springs Watershed

2. Skyline-to-the Sea, Rancho del Oso up Waddell Creek

3. Wilder Ridge Loop, Wilder Ranch State Park

4. Golden Gate Promenade to Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

5. Tennessee Valley to ocean, Marin Headlands


1. Tomales Bay boat-in, Point Reyes National Seashore

2. Sunset hike-in, Big Basin Redwoods

3. Wildcat hike-in, Point Reyes National Seashore

4. Sky Camp, Point Reyes National Seashore.

5. Pantoll walk-in, Mount Tamalpais State Park


1. Berry Creek/Silver/Golden Falls, Big Basin Redwoods

2. Alamere Falls, Point Reyes National Seashore

3. Cataract Falls, Mount Tamalpais

4. Black Rock Falls & Waterfall Loop, Uvas County Park

5. Carson Falls, Marin Watershed

Dog walks

1. Sunol Regional Preserve, Sunol

2. Point Isabel Regional Shoreline, Berkeley.

3. Fort Funston, San Francisco

4. Kent Pump Trail, Marin

5. Franklin Ridge, Martinez

Wildlife watching

1. Pierce Ranch, Point Reyes National Seashore

2. Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, Fairfield

3. Napa-Sonoma Marsh, Sonoma

4. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach

5. Sunol Regional Wilderness


1. Goat Rock, Castle Rock State Park

2. Rock City, Mount Diablo State Park

3. Tafoni Monolith, El Corte de Madera Open Space

4. Preserve Wind Caves, Las Trampas Regional Wilderness

5. Vasco Caves, Vasco Regional Preserve

-- Tom Stienstra
State of grace

Some Golden State superlatives :

Best epic backpacking trip: John Muir Trail

Best mountain climb: Mount Shasta

Best deal: $10 bay boat tours at Fisherman's Wharf

Most dramatic easy hike with view: Pohono Trail, Yosemite National Park

Best wildflower bloom (when you hit it right): Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

Most difficult-to-reach wilderness lake: Little South Fork Lake, Trinity Alps Wilderness

Most dangerous kayak run: Cherry Valley, upper Tuolumne

Best mountain swimming hole: Dorris Lake out of Mono Hot Springs

Most pristine redwoods: Boy Scout Tree Trail, Jedediah Smith Redwoods

Best short backpack trip: Skyline-to-the-Sea, Big Basin headquarters to Sunset Camp

Prettiest ferns: Fern Canyon, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Best chance to see bears: Sequoia National Park

Best bald-eagle viewing: Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

Most difficult long hike: Hat Creek Rim section, Pacific Crest Trail

Best sea-otter viewing: Elkhorn Slough by kayak

Best scuba diving: Point Lobos Marine Reserve

Worst bike expedition: California Aqueduct service road

Best RV sites: Seacliff State Beach, Monterey Bay

Finest luxury lodging: Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

Most remote family-style ranch: Marble Mountain Ranch, Siskiyou County

Best snowshoe trip: Badger Pass to Dewey Point, Yosemite

Best cross-country ski: Badger Pass to Glacier Point overnight

Posted by troutm8 at 01:36 PM

March 07, 2007

6 Month Checkpoint

I've now been in my new group for 6 months, so it is no longer new. :-) Time has really flown by, but I think it is important to do a gut check at least quarterly to make sure that I'm liking where I'm at and also to make sure that I'm contributing and doing a good job. Some of the questions I ask myself are:
1. Am I making a positive difference?
2. Is my work interesting?
3. Am I helping those around me do a better job?
4. Am I growing my skills (technical, leadership, communication, etc...)?
5. Am I happy with my overall situation and what is the outlook?
6. Are there areas for improvement, either for me or for my group, and what are they?
The answers, not necessarily in any order are yes, I'm making a positive difference, I am helping those around me do their jobs better, I am growing my skills in many areas (java, ant, cruisecontrol, jameleon, selenium), I am happy overall with my situation and the outlook, and there are areas for improvement (but I won't list them on my blog). For the intersting work I've helped the team move the test case repository over to a better tool. I've also helped improve testing infrastructure that will save lots of resources and time as well as add to test coverage. The process (high level) goes like this:
1. Developers check code into the repository.
2. The code is pulled out of the repository at the same time every day via cruisecontrol.
3. The JUnit tests are run.
4. Code coverage tools are run against the code.
5. The Functional Tests are run which will:
a. Pull down the latest official build.
b. Install it.
c. Setup the test environment.
d. Run all automated tests (via GUI and API)
e. Generate reports based on the results.
f. Uninstall product and cleanup.
6. Generate overall results of JUnits, Code Coverage, and Functional Tests.
All of this is done with cruisecontrol, ant scripts, jameleon, and selenium. The automated test case building blocks (tags in jameleon speak) are written in java while the automated test cases themselves are written in xml. These are very cool tools which allow us to create more test cases as time goes on and add them to the automatic process which will in turn allow us to have more and more test coverage for our products. So for me overall, so far so good.

Posted by troutm8 at 04:38 PM

March 04, 2007

Save An Orchard

On Saturday Timber and I volunteered at an orchard in Cupertino as part of a volunteer partnership between Apple and Village Harvest. Fittingly, the orchard was one that grows apples and pears. Village Harvest takes fruit from orchards and backyards and then gets it to food banks so that the food goes to the people that need it the most. Our activity on Saturday consisted mostly of taking compost and distributing it to the apple trees in the orchard as well as some pruning. That meant a lot of shoveling steaming compost into buckets and then carrying them through the orchard and sprinkling the compost above the root systems of the trees. Some of the other volunteers built small fences around some of the younger trees to protect them from deer.

Posted by troutm8 at 10:28 PM

Jessica's Wii Party

On Friday Timber and I went over to Jessica's house for a Wii party. She had lots of games, but most of us only played Tennis (2 on 2). I hadn't really played the Wii before, and it was very intuitive, and I can see how it would be a big seller. When you compare it to the xbox360 and ps3 it is definitely more intuitive and more family and group friendly. But I wouldn't buy one myself. But overall it was a good time with good food, games, and friends.

Posted by troutm8 at 01:40 PM

March 01, 2007

iTunes Equalizer Auto-Adjustment

Timber got some new headphones last week and while I don't really like the style of them (in ear headphones) I started playing around with the iTunes Equalizer while testing them out. I could totally hear the difference while using the different equalizer settings. But it got me thinking, and I always know this means trouble when I start with "It would be cool if..." In this case, it would be cool if you could tell iTunes to automatically set the equalizer setting to the genre of the song. It should be easy since all songs (more or less) have a genre. And it would optimize the sound of each song which is always good. Since I figured it was obvious I played around with the iTunes settings trying to find it. No luck. Then I figured some people had the same idea and figured out a way to do it, so I searched the web. No luck. Then I figured I could do it myself via Automator. Automator is pretty good for doing basic stuff but it couldn't do the job in this case. Again no luck. Finally I had to sort the songs by genre and then set the equalizer setting en mass per genre. It wasn't pretty but it only took 2 minutes to do. In the meantime I'll put in a feature request and we'll see what year this functionality gets put into iTunes.

Posted by troutm8 at 11:01 PM

Yahoo Pipes

Who here uses an rss reader( I recommend the Google Feed Reader)? If you don't then stop reading right now. If you do then you'll probably find Yahoo Pipes fairly useful. Yahoo Pipes is basically a feed aggregator that allows you to pipe multiple feeds into one and then subscribe to it. Being more than just a simple rss redirect it allows you to format dates, sort feeds, concatenate strings, boil it broil it, bbq it, saute' it, etc... . I've created a few which include Tahoe weather, Death Valley information, and female road bikes for sale in the Bay Area (for Timber).

Posted by troutm8 at 10:29 PM

Sharks Preds Game

Yesterday I went to the Sharks/Predators game with Timber's dad. We got pretty decent seats and watched an entertaining game. The Sharks started off hot, scoring on their first two power plays and doubled the shot of the Predators for a while. But as the game wore on the shots evened up as did the score. The Sharks did manage to tie the game with about 4 minutes left to play and then in overtime Nabby made one of the best saves I've ever seen to preserve the tie with 0.5 seconds left. The Predators went on to win the shootout but overall it was a pretty entertaining game. We got to see Billy Guerin in his first game as a Shark as well as Peter Forsberg play as a Predator.

Posted by troutm8 at 09:55 PM