Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 35: Where do we keep the Dayquill?

Because I need tons. 

I have finally caught the office plague. I had a slight sore throat when I went to bed last night, only to be greeted with a painfully congested head and impossibly swollen throat this morning. I made it into the bathroom, hoping to shower it off, and was too lightheaded to continue. This is a day spent in bed.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 34: Who broke the build?

Me, evidently.


Many, many things happen when you break the build. You get a personal email with the error output. The entire team gets alerted through the inner-office chat system. The siren goes off, alerting anyone who missed the first message.


Thankfully, the error message emailed to me was actually super helpful. I'd modified a class to change the protected variables to public (for testing purposes while we also modified the reason the variables needed to be public so we could eventually change them back to protected). The unit tests I'd written depended on the variables being public. The problem, was that I forgot to recommit the file with the variable changes. 

Easy fix! I committed the proper file and executed all the tests to run once more. 

No more broken build!! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Day 33: Is this even broken?

This is the question I asked myself repeatedly all day while I worked on one of the tickets we created yesterday as a result of the issues I brought up.

Or, thought were issues. I'm still not convinced of what happened. 

When I initially ran the sort, the objects returned in a very clearly unsorted order. So I thought this was a problem.

Then I started looking into it and trying to trace it through and fix it. I moved some curly brackets around so I could read the code with more ease, and all of a sudden it worked. 


I ran all of the other unit tests to ensure that I hadn't busted anything, and they all passed. Sooooo... I'll take it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 32: How do you make a ticket?

Work I was doing led to the creation of two tickets for the sprint! 

The product tickets I picked up last Thursday needed additional work done in a different area of the system in order to use those abilities in the area I was working on. This means we create a ticket to track the work done. It's a really slick, well-oiled and industry standard practice. Still, it's great to see that the company has it working so smoothly. 

Bonus - since it's still a small company, they work on their workflow and change it as needed, trying to find the best system for the team, allowing for small changes any given week. 

The meetings went well today. Lasted pretty much the entire planned time, letting out right around 3 pm, just in time to go for coffee!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day 31: Why doesn't this work here?

The ticket I picked up on Friday involved limiting the number of objects pulled in a query. The second part is sorting all of the objects. This is the tricky part. 

I did something with our built in sorting functions a while back, and was hoping that would be the solution here as well.

Since it was hoped for, it of course was not. 

The sort method was not working. 


This is my whole day.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Day 30: Is that a puggle in the office?

That is absolutely a puggle! Topaz came to chillax with us this rainy Friday. 

Not the best photo of the darling, but she was very wiggly. Topaz helped us find the office mouse! Who has died in the spare tech closet somewhere. We will deal with that next week.

There were only 4 members of the dev team in the office today. We took nice coffee and lunch breaks while pushing to wrap up the queue. It was a nice day. Finished up the big product tickets I picked up yesterday and helped Tracy with some testing of a solution she'd worked on. 

But I have to go because we're going to Seattle this weekend to see Michael!!!

Term 1 is Over!

So I made it through my first term with minimal injury (and blog posts)!

It's kinda crazy to be done already. It seems like just yesterday I was writing down all my assignments on a calendar printout and saying "Jeez, that's a lot." I really had no idea at the time just how much it would be, and just how much stress it would cause.

The last few days of the term were filled with final projects, and almost all final projects at VFS include a presentation. They're really big on making you present over and over again to work up the skill. Thankfully I've had to do plenty of presentations in the past, so I was never too concerned about them.

But one thing I am NOT used to AT ALL is group projects and/or presentations. The computer science department at my university had one group assignment for the entire 4 years I was there, and it was poorly designed and executed. So going from that to almost every final assignment being group work was a test in patience. It's really easy for me to let go of responsibility during the planning phase and let others do the work, but it's even easier for me to think during the presentation "If I were doing this presentation by myself it would be a thousand times better."

And that's not really a good way to think about team work. My team members were there through the whole process (with only a couple frustrating exceptions) and they deserve to present our work just as much as I do, but I just wish they would do it BETTER sometimes.

Also, on the topic of frustrating things, it's hard to come out of the first term without much to show for it. Most other terms end in at least a video game prototype, if not the final product, but term one ends with a board game. Mind you, our board game was pretty cool. My partner painted up a board for us and it was ridiculously well done. But it's still a board game. It's not something I can easily send to my friends and family to check out, and it's not even something I'm particularly proud of either, as we definitely had to half-ass a few things toward the end. I think what I'm trying to say is that this term was cool, but I'm really looking forward to what's next.

But that's all negative stuff, there were so many other great things that happened the last 8 weeks. For example:

  • Made new friends!
  • Made new enemies!
  • Discovered an interest in 3D modeling!
  • Got a lot of A's!
  • Got a lot of feedback on how to make the not A's become A's!
  • Programmed a game in the Windows Console!
  • Made my first ever story board!
  • Had a panic attack the night before I presented my story board about having to show people my terrible art!
  • Did really well on the story board presentation!
  • Joined a VFS League of Legends team!
  • Played a single game on the VFS LoL team!
  • And generally learned a lot about brainstorming and presenting ideas!
Next term starts Monday. Get hyped!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

That date night

Max met me for dinner after I got off work. :)

There's an amazingly delicious restaurant, White Spot, one block down from where I work, on the way back to the apartment. I'd heard great things about it from folks at work and wanted us to try it. They have a great menu! Burgers, shakes, rice dishes, turkey dinners, everything scrumptious.

Max's first term finished on Wednesday, so he had the whole day off! It was particularly nice for him to take some of his time off to make my day!

Then we both started playing Hearth Stone, an online card collecting game Max has had his eye on for a while. A little bit of both of us for an evening together!

Day 29: Are you talking to me?

I've been called up to the big leagues.

The office was practically empty today, and it's going to be more so tomorrow. Between the plague and the weird fact that people just asked off this Friday, there will be about 4 members of the dev team working tomorrow.

Since there were several pre-scheduled out of offices for this week, the queue was filled less so that we could still accomplish the work we set out to this week. However, it was very product heavy, which makes things more difficult for Mike and I.

The ticket I was working on this morning was just a spike, meaning the CS team just wanted us to do some research into a solution or the efforts it would take for the solution. There was one more ticket in the ops queue after this one, and it's a big ticket that Scott had spent a week researching and theorizing on. Yet since he's out of office, he'd taken his name off of it. I was really hesitant to get into all of that. So I was trying to make the spike ticket last! 

All good things must end, and this ticket did as well. Oh goodness. What next.

Product tickets.



Are you sure?

Yes. Evidently Adam and Tracy were sure. I was given two product tickets. They were tickets we had heavily discussed in Tuesday planning meetings and the architecture meetings. So I knew what was going on. Still, yipes. Big leagues Thursday for this little lady.

Also had just a great day with everyone in the office. Was very chill and almost eerie so empty. Tomorrow those of us who manage to avoid the plague are going out for lunch!! Whoop! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Day 28: Where do you go with a donut shirt on?

Cartems, apparently.

Cartems is a local donuterie, literally dreamt up by a local Vancouverite. It's the fanciest donut shop ever, and it's just around the corner from us.

Adam has a shirt with a large donut on it eating a box of policemen (which is a whole other box of topics) that he wore today. In spirit of this shirt, several of us took an after lunch adventure to Cartems!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 27: I just did what?

Meetings meetings meetings!!!

During sprint planning, we came across another ticket involving a grades sheet that had been mysteriously deleted. I had a slightly related ticket about a week and a half ago. This lead to the current ticket being handed directly to me. 

"Catherine, you just did one of these, right? Well, here, we'll just assign this one to you."

Um, wait, what, ok? I guess this has happened. Cool.

At least the school allows us to keep the backups this time, so I don't need a tunnel to the data to export an old copy of the grades sheet.

Ah, the up-sides.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 26: How do you catch ebola?

We are up to our elbows in ebola fear right now. For my colleagues, every story reporting more folks with ebola in Texas is just more cause to fear me. 

Not really, but they are mildly concerned about travel plans I might have back to the home state.

I had a really great day at work! The ops ticket I picked up on Friday took me most of the day. However, I figured it out all on my own without having to ask anyone else for any help!! It was an incredibly successful feeling! Plus I was able to wrap up all my tickets before the end of the sprint. Just, a really great start to the week!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Double dates all over the place

Excellent Saturday!!! 

First was breakfast as Ricky's. A new favorite place! It's like a really nice Denny's. It's reasonably priced (for Vancouver, which is not reasonably priced) and very delicious. Plus right across from the apartment! So, delightful.

Then we got Max a haircut!!! He was getting a little mountain man-y, and was long overdue for a haircut. He had it cut a lot shorter than usual, but it means he'll get to avoid the place for even longer this time around. Plus he looks really sharp :)

Max headed home for some work as his first term is wrapping up this week. I went for some shopping! It's been months since I'd gotten any new clothes, and I was feeling itchy. Plus it's getting chilly here and I am not prepared. I snagged a haircut as well. I was trying to remember the last time I had a haircut. I think it was around last Thanksgiving!! I didn't get it cut before the wedding since I was just doing an up-do. I trim my own bangs on a regular basis but it always becomes time for the rest of your hair to be trimmed up.

Dinner plans next!!! Max's good friend Taylor from VFS lives a few blocks over from us. We met up with Taylor and his girlfriend Marisa for some dinner and drinks. 

They laughingly told us they were taking us to McDonald's, weren't sure if we'd heard of it. We actually went to Elephant & Castle which has a couple of pubs around Vancouver and across the country. It was delicious food! The drinks didn't measure up quite as far, but still a great spot.

From there we headed to Granville Street for some crepes and people watching. Saturday nights bring out the best worst side of Vancouver all over Granville. There were street magicians, 3 cos-players (exactly 3, it was very odd), gals with large advertisement backpacks, folks on first dates and tons of locals hitting the club scene. The crepes were delicious though. Max and I split a cinnamon sugar crepe and enjoyed every last bit of that thing. 

It was great to be out with friends. That was the first thing we'd done together with folks we've met here. Quite the splendid evening.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day 25: Am I qualified enough for that?

Today was a day of new experiences. The dev team is making some big decisions regarding the way they operate, deliver product, and work together as a whole.

And they want my input on these decisions.


I've been here for all of five weeks! How am I in a position to answer these questions? They're at least not asking JUST me for input. Plus, I think what Mike and I input matters a little less than what all the 2+ year vets at the company have to say. 

It's nice, really, in the end. That i'm already considered an almost full member of the team. 

Today I ran into a completely empty ops queue with two days left until the end of the sprint. Sometimes on a Monday afternoon around 3, if I wrap something up, I'll just work on some general knowledge in the dev repository. However, two days makes that a little rough. 

So I reached out to Tracy to see if there was a cleared ticket in the ops backlog that I could pull up. I didn't want a repeat of two weeks ago when we pulled some tickets that weren't to be worked on. 

She also told me I could start testing tickets that other people are working on!!!! Whaatttt!? That's crazy, grown up developer stuff! I then even got two tickets from Sean to test! So that was super exciting! 

Now it's the weekend. Max and I have double date plans that I'll write about! Super exciting! Should be a great weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 24: What's next?

All week I've been wrapping up tickets and getting it done. It's been great! It does, however, mean I'm asking for more things to do on a pretty frequent basis. This is good and bad and leads to a lot of time just chatting with others. 

It's fascinating to hear about differences between the States and Canada. 

First of all, with the two national languages, folks are required to take French through most of their primary school careers, and many secondary education institutions used to have French requirements for entry. 

Then there's the co-op system. Many universities require their students to participate in a year long co-op program. They work full time and don't take classes during this. Your time at university is extended to five years because of this. That's nuts to me. Yet, having a full year of on the job work to add to a resume is quite something. It definitely has an upside. Plus you're getting paid a decent salary the whole year. 

It's different, the two countries side by side, almost overlapping in places, yet starkly different. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 23: Who knows how to work a computer?

All companies have technical issues from time to time. Even tech companies.

We have an architecture meeting every Wednesday morning to discuss approaches for new products we're developing. With some of our team working remotely, we need to conference call for the meeting.

Only, the management team was using the main conference room with the smooth running conference set up. 

We tried the smaller conference room. We couldn't hear the remote folks.

We tried the set up in the dev area, where we usually have our morning scrum meetings. We can't log in to the right accounts to view the documents we were discussing from there.

Oh it only gets better and better. 

Surely we can figure this out. You know, we only have degrees.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Day 22: Can I call dibs?

Each Tuesday we look at the tickets currently in the queue for the week. We discuss possible problems and where to start.

Most importantly, everyone scopes out what they want to work on for the week.

There were a couple of tickets this week that made me excited. They seemed like easy wins. Only, a couple of others were also intrigued.

Tracy has Mike and I's back though! She reminded everyone that the low hanging fruit should probably be left for the two of us to handle. Plus, we'd still need input from other members on the team, so it's not like they wouldn't get to work on them at all!

I grabbed one of them as soon as we got out of our meetings! I wrapped it up pretty quickly, and in that time the CS team had posted two more of a very similar nature, so I snagged those and closed them out before the end of the day! 

It was really great to be so highly effective so quickly. Three tickets is usually the number I might finish in a week. Now I just need to hope that more tickets become available and that I'll continue to have things to work on for the rest of the week.

Day 21: What do you eat at Canadian Thanksgiving?

Turkey, apparently. Similar to that of the American Thanksgiving. Though, there is less poultry-mixing (no turduckens) and a significant lack of deep-fried anything.

There was actually no work today. But I'm having a tough time getting off the beautifully clean five days a week numbering system.

We, however, did not have turkey today. 

Thankfully, Loki and I are both feeling much better after our rough and tough Friday. As such, I felt up to particularly special Thanksgiving dinner. 

Home-fried chicken sandwiches it is! Admittedly, not the best thing for me. But after three days of protein shakes, apple sauce and tomato soup, it sure sounded amazing! So far, the body is holding up fine despite the solid food interruption. Good news things. 

What else are we doing to celebrate the festive day? Why, watching all of the Harry Potter movies, of course! Man, things have really improved since 2001.

Burgess Family Infirmary

This weekend wasn't what we were expecting.

We had plans to go down to Seattle for the three day weekend. Visit Michael, see the Space Needle, visit the site of the World's Fair. All the Seattle things. 

But things were working against the Burgess clan.

I've been having constant stomach pains since Sunday night. They got worse at night, when I moved around or lied down. They got better when I ate. Sometimes the pain radiated through to my back. I finally gave in to go see a doctor on Thursday. He told me I have mild pancreatitis.

He then told us I should eat really gentle things for a few days to give my pancreas a break and let it heal itself. You know, steamed vegetables, bananas, mashed potatoes, rice. All of the things that I don't eat. Great. 

I did some internet medical research on my own and figured out that an all-liquids weekend was probably the best thing I could do for it. The doctor also gave me some pills that are essentially Prevacid to help calm down my stomach. 

After we got home from the doctor and propped me up with a heating pad, tomato soup, and tons of pillows, we noticed Loki was keeping his right eye closed. Because we weren't already up to our elbows in ailments. 

We called a vet to make sure there wasn't anything more seriously wrong with him. Initially we got the all clear, with instructions to bring him in if it didn't clear up. 

Friday night, of course, it hadn't cleared up. 

We'd already decided to stay in town for the weekend. My pain was getting worse, and walking around Seattle all weekend really wasn't in the cards. 

Loki had a trip back to the vet. He asked us a series of questions and we were initially hopeful as our answers were all "no." He hadn't been sneezing, or coughing, or itching at the eye, eating less or not drinking, there was not watery or gunky discharge. Evidently these were not the right answers and only made the vet more concerned. 

He gave Loki some drops to "freeze" the eye (still not sure what that was, but he said it would help with the pain he was having). Then he dropped in some dye that would stay in any scratches. Then he had to flush the eye with water.

Now, even with humans, flushing an eye with water is not an easy or pleasant experience. With cats, even worse. Loki hated every minute of this. The vet had a very large syringe without a needle so that he could repeatedly squirt the water at poor Loki's eye. 

The final step was to turn off all of the lights and use a florescent flashlight to look for any dye remaining in Loki's eye. To our horror, a spot the size of a pea shone bright green on his cornea. This is a corneal ulcer, one of the largest the vet had seen. Holy moly. 

He said the pain would be very harsh and it was odd that there had been no discharge. It would have started with a small scratch while he and Amelia were playing, or while Loki was grooming, or with a small foreign body, such as dust. The most important thing now was making sure that any treatment avenue we chose worked as fast as possible.

The vet brought in a gel-like eye drop antibiotic, dropping one drop into his eye and making sure it spread across the whole eye. This would need to be done every 2 hours for 24 hours, then every 4 hours for another 24 hours, then every 6 hours for 4 days. However, if there was no difference in the first 12 hours, we would need to switch to a stronger dose of two different antibiotics. 

Welcome to the long holiday weekend.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 20: Is this safe?

Yesterday I picked up a ticket that involved data from a remote database. It involved some values in a grade sheet that were deleted. 

Since we had minimal access to the backup with the values still there, it would be a pretty basic fix to restore them.

I found the exporter for the grade sheet and pulled a copy of the grades. 

Now, the next step was to use the importer to restore them. 

But holy moly things on the live site. 

Messing around on a copy of a backup is one thing. Even if (when) things DO go horribly wrong, the only person it effects is you! If you ruin things on a live site, the client and the company as a whole suffer! That is scary stuff for a new developer!

So I checked with everyone I could about whether I should do this and if I was doing it properly. 

The tricky part is Thanksgiving. Yeah, that's right, Thanksgiving in October. It's Monday. Several people also took Friday off in order to have an extra long weekend. There were less people around to help in case I broke everything.


I had a member of the customer service team actually sit down and walk me through the importer on the live site. Thankfully, it went off without a hitch! I was able to wrap up another ticket and get home since I wasn't feeling well and we were worried about Loki.

Day 19: How do we see what we don't have?

I finally figured out all of the issues with the log in page problem I was having yesterday. Unfortunately, I'll need to test it on the live site (talk about terrifying!). With all of the current high priority madness going on, the daily updates are a little crazy. Tracy recommended I hold off until next Tuesday or Wednesday for things to settle down before engaging the live site. That's fine by me!

I picked up a new ticket and learned something new.

There are clients who let us do their daily backups and store them. There are clients who store their own backups but allow us to pulls copies of them when we need to do fixes or tasks for them. Then there are clients who store their own backups and DON'T allow us to pull copies. These are the tricky ones. 

This ticket requires access to data from early September from a client who doesn't let us touch their backups. Fun stuff. I reached out to our sys admin and he set up a tunnel link so that we can view the data remotely. It then took everyone in the office to help me figure out how to access the tunnel and get everything set up so that I can pull the information I needed. 

What a fun way to end the day.

Day 18: Which tickets can we work on?

Mike and I are now free to work on tickets in the ops queue.

Well, some of the tickets.

Well, certain tickets.

What does that leave us with? We've been trying to figure that part out. A good part of the day is spent going through the ops tickets pulled for the week and determining which would make sense to work on. The team is really great about only picking up one ticket at a time, so people can't create a backlog of work for themselves. Yet sometimes Mike or I will pick up a ticket and get the quick message that says it's a little more complicated than we think and maybe someone else should handle it.

It's a short week, with Monday off, which means there are fewer things in the queue already. Plus there were some high-priority items that came in that got the attention of most of the team. It all sums up to an even slower week for Mike and I than usual.

I grabbed a ticket with a log in page issue. I needed to find a way for force a certain set of log in parameters, which proved tricky. But I got to do a knowledge-base write up about how to make it happen! That was pretty nifty!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day 17: Where does the plague end?

I was out last Thursday with the office illness. It started making the rounds the Monday before that. It is still taking folks out, more than a week later! Each day there's someone else who's working from home or late because of a doctor's appointment.

I'd always heard that small offices spread sickness like wildfire, but I've never actually seen it happen. Plus, this is just the start of the rainy season! Theoretically, it's only going to get worse!

It was a good day despite the absences. Meetings most of the day, with some new ticket work book ending said meetings! It's nice to be off the massive sorting ticket and on to something new. 

Plus there's new things coming down the pipeline with the third quarter wrapping and the fourth starting. We haven't heard too much about it yet, but new projects always give you a chance to do some learning. 

Day 16: Does that count as lunch?

I had a pleasantly busy day. 

I'd spent most of Friday dealing with an issue caused by an SVN client. The system didn't update one of my local files, which caused my dev platform not to load. Then in trying to remedy the problem, things only got progressively worse. I had to repeatedly destroy and rebuild my virtual machine, then wound up deleting all of my local files and checking out the project files all over again. It was a long day.

So it was doubly great to have a productive Monday. I finally wrapped up the sorting ticket and picked up another ticket that will need Ryan's help (Ryan is our Sys Admin).

However, I distractedly worked through lunch! I hadn't brought anything in, thinking I would run out for something. With our 11 am daily meeting, it throws off my balance of when lunch should be. It was almost 3 before I knew what was happening. All I wanted was Starbucks. So that was lunch. Will try to do better moving forward!

Day 15: Can we reschedule?

I was supposed to have my one on one with Tracy on Thursday, but I stayed home very, very sick. I felt better this morning and made it into the office.

We now had to reschedule our meeting. I got the email Thursday night that it would be Friday morning.

The next morning I had an email that it had been pushed to just before lunch. 

Then Tracy had an interview run long and we rescheduled again.

Then everyone wanted to go out to the Warehouse for lunch. 

Well. We'll try again next week.

Day 14: Can I take a sick day?

Because I do not feel well.

There's a flu-like bug going around the office, and I have caught it.

Today was a great day to stay home with the delight of my own bed, bathroom, pajamas, and kittens. Hopefully I will feel better in the morning.

Day 13: Is there a solution?

The sorting ticket has me in a bind. 

There were so many locations where this was an issue. It keeps adding up. Plus there's one place in the system where I can not seem to find a fix. So far it had been a simple locate the feed of data, sort that data, for each problem. Here I can't seem to find the source of the data. It frustrated me all day.

Finally Tracy stopped by at the end of the day. She saw what area I was in and let out a large groan. Apparently it is awful and no one should be in there ever because it's awful. 

Yay. Fun for me. 

She's going to think on it and get back to me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day 12: Are you sure you want to add us?

Tuesday - Meeting Day!!

Today had exciting developments! 

Each week they evaluate the current tickets in the queues, and predict how much they'll be able to accomplish. This is the velocity for the week. 

Mike and I have finally made it into the big leagues! We will now count towards the predicted and actual velocity! 

Well, half count. They added one developer to their calculations, as we're not quite up to full speed. Getting their quickly though!

I'm not convinced it's a good idea yet...

Day 11: Why does this effect nothing?

Still working on the sorting ticket I picked up on Friday.

But all day. 

Because nothing worked.

I first just tried pulling the most recent code, updating to the most recent copy of the database, and attempting to duplicate the issue. It's still an issue.

Sarah had recently redone the sorting methods for the system, so I'd looked in to how to use those. I knew the pieces I'd put in should be doing x or y, but nothing I did, no matter where in the system I put the sort, nothing was impacting the actual output! 

It made no sense that changes were effecting all of nothing.

I spent what was realistically too long just sort of crawling through the code. Eventually I asked Tracy for some suggestions, and she pointed out a couple of weirdly hidden method calls that took me to other classes, where the lists of data were actually being produced. Now I dropped in the sort and the problem was fixed. Immediately.


Oh well.

The ticket pointed to about 5 different areas of the product where there were sorting issues. The fix for area one had no impact on any of the other 5 areas. Let the hunt begin.

The second area was a quick fix that I was able to accomplish before the day ended.

Monday's are rough, but Monday nights are pretty nice. Max is usually home, and usually doesn't have any homework to work on. This means we make an extra nice dinner and watch some TV together. It's nice to be able to unwind like that on the first night of the week.