Menu-Driven Engineering

I can’t count the amount of times I have heard this at work: “I can’t determine the requirements because the customer doesn’t know what they want!”  Also, “how can I determine the requirements if they don’t tell me what they need?”  If the customer is reluctant to provide hard requirements, then they are essentially telling the technical team that they don’t know what they want.  They don’t know what the technical team can do for them.
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Update on my Standing Desk

After nearly a year with my standing desk, I decided to update every one on how it’s going.

It took me about three to four months to get used to standing all the time, but now I actually prefer it. I do still use a chair when I work, but I purposefully us a barstool so that I wouldn’t get too comfortable while sitting down. I mostly use the chair for when I eat lunch at my desk or when my back hurts. But for the most part I stand while I code.

I also bought an anti-fatigue mat to stand on, which helps with shifting weight around on my feet.

If I get busy enough, I forget that I am standing up. But I must admit: I have a better time coming up with ideas if I’m sitting down. So I have come up with a compromise: I sit (and frequently stand up and move around) while I am designing something, and when it comes time to just lay down code, I remain standing. This arrangement has worked well so far. Also — for some reason — I speak better when I stand up. This helps during conference calls.

I didn’t mention in my original post that I set the height for the monitor shelf too high and had to adjust it. Luckily, the posts that the shelf sits on are made of PVC and painted to look like metal. So all I had to do was cut them down to size and the problem was solved. Since the monitors are not that heavy, the shelf they sit on doesn’t need to be that strong. And as a result, if you shake the desk, the monitors tend to shake a lot. But that’s okay; I make sure not to jostle the desk around too much.

I had one person ask me if the desk could be made without the swaging wire and turnbuckles (the metal cable ‘X’ at the back the desk). Yes, it could, and it is fairly square without them, but the wires help keep the whole desk from twisting. Plus, the wire is much lighter than the wood it would take to accomplish the same task.

So all in all, I am really liking the desk, and I am really liking standing up while working.


I’ve always been fascinated by people’s reaction to money, especially when they don’t truly understand money. They say it’s the root of all evil, it’s not about the money, money isn’t everything, money can’t buy you love. It’s funny to me that they always attach money to emotions and feelings, as if money had a mind if its own. I suppose to those who don’t understand it, it probably does have a mind of its own. But this association of money with emotion is not unlike that of associating guns with emotion: somehow it’s the gun that kills people, not the person wielding it. Since they do not possess a true understanding of what a gun is, they can’t fathom its true purpose. The same goes for money. Somehow it’s the money that corrupts people, or oppresses people. Like guns — which save lives — money’s true purpose is widely misunderstood. Money facilitates lives. It greases the wheels of industry. It does not have a mind of its own.

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WebRoot Identity Shield stops Breevy from working

I decided to post this, since I couldn’t find any information about it on the intertubes.  If you have both  WebRoot SecureAnywhere and Breevy installed on your PC, WebRoot’s Identity Shield can get in the way of Breevy’s operation.  It doesn’t do this on all version of Windows, as I have Windows 7 Professional on my PC at work, and I have WIndows 7 Ultimate on my PC at home, and Breevy refuses to work on my Win 7 Ultimate PC with the Identity Shield on.

I have tried all manner of different WebRoot Identity Shield settings and configurations and the only way I can get Breevy to work on my Win 7 Ultimate box is by turning Identity Shield off completely.  As far as I can tell, there is no good combination of checkboxes being set or unset, or applications protected, allowed, or denied that allows Identity Shield to keep working and still allow Breevy to work.

If the Breevy guys or the WebRoot guys could figure this one out, I would appreciate it.  My home PC is an Intel Core 2 Q6600 with Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit, and my work PC is an Intel Core i5 M430 with WIn 7 Professional 64-bit.

My standing desk!

I have a standing desk now!


I totally stole the design from these guys, as they do not offer nationwide shipping. So I made it myself!

Of course, I added the monitor shelf, which was not part of Tinkering Monkey’s design.

I will be reporting on how I am doing with this desk in the very near future.

By the way, if you are wondering why anyone would need such a desk, check this out.

And if you want me to make one for you, leave a comment!

The Kidney Stone Diet

Last week I had a kidney stone attack. No warning, no build up to the attack, just a back spasm gone horribly wrong. 4:30 AM, steadily increasing pain in my lower back. No amount of moving or lying on the bed gives me relief. It feels like someone put a wrench on the right side of my lower back and started torquing it. Angelica gives me a leftover Percocet pill from some previous medical event of either mine or hers, and I barely swallow it. After about a half-hour to about 45 minutes, the pain starts alleviating.
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The 99% are not soaking everyone else. The Federal Government is. And it’s our fault.

I’m tired of one party blaming the other party for the county’s ills. Everyone is going to believe what the believe regardless of who’s to blame. The real problem is America’s entitlement mentality. Americans LOVE their entitlements. Be they named Social Security, subsidies, health care, tax shelters, or otherwise, Americans feel they are entitled to a lot of things (be they Republican or Democrat pet programs). But there is a price tag for all of these entitlements. All these wonderful government programs need to be paid for; they don’t just magically appear because a law was passed. And who pays for all the wonderful benefits of being an American? China.
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REVIEW: Prometheus

I have mixed feelings about Prometheus. On the one hand it’s a gorgeous movie; on the other it’s not as “transcendent” a moviegoing experience as I would have liked it to be. Of course, I’ve had 30 years to go gaga over Blade Runner and build up all sorts of unrealistic expectations for this movie. But still, it’s the story of Prometheus that bothers me the most, not the set, the special effects, or even the great 3D elements. Visually this film is a treat; story-wise, it not too much different from what you’ve seen before.
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