23 June 2012
I read David Kushner's Masters of Doom a few years ago and just finished re-reading it again last night, inspired by Fabien Sanglard's awesome Doom 3 code review. It's a fun read that chronicles the rise of id Software and will leave you wanting to code, eat pizza, and slam Diet Cokes.
The book is interesting to me in the same way books like Founders at Work and Coders at Work are. While I hope to glean insights and learn from great programmers, they're entertaining as a kind of People magazine for entrepreneurs/programmers.
I got my first computer in high school, after Keen, Wolfenstein, Doom, and Doom II, so I never really played them, though I had friends that did. Thanks to my roommate at Georgia Tech, I did get a copy of Quake II. I didn't spend much time deathmatching but I liked firing rockets down dark corridors to light them up while exploring.
At my first co-op job at Tech, I downloaded the Quake source code and got it running with Visual Studio. I made my rockets fly faster. It was amazing to have the source, though I didn't do much with it.
Later, Michelle and I played a lot of Quake III Arena on Dreamcast. Her favorite character was the eyeball. She was ruthless, but prone to falling accidents despite being all eye.
As I read the book I found myself cross-referencing things I encountered: names, games, other companies, and locations. The locations are uninspiring (especially if you read TechCrunch), beginning in hot, humid, economically depressed Shreveport in 1989.
Softdisk offices, 606 Common St.. This is where they all met and worked. Carmack developed smooth 2D side-scrolling. They hauled Softdisk 386 PC's off in the night to work from their lake house on their own projects.
Bridge over Cross Lake to Lakeshore Drive in Shreveport, LA. One night, this bridge (or one around here), washed out during a storm. Romero waded through water to get to the house, where he and Carmack worked through the night.
A view from South Lakeshore Drive. The lake house they lived and worked in was somewhere around here. They cloned Super Mario Bros. 3 here and wrote Commander Keen.
La Prada apartments, Mesquite, TX, where they moved after a short, cold stint in Madison, WI. Wolfenstein development was completed here. Romero worked in an upstairs loft, Carmack sat at his NeXT workstation downstairs by the kitchen. Carmack, fed up with noise, eventually hauled his computer off to his own apartment to work alone.
Town East Tower in Mesquite, near Big Billy Barren's Used Cars and Sheplers Western Store. The black cube. One of the few offices in the area. Doom development.
id offices in Mesquite, across from Hooters and Olive Garden. Quake II, and probably most of the others.
"In the information age, the barriers just aren't there. The barriers are self-imposed. If you want to set off and go develop some grand new thing, you don't need millions of dollars and capitalization. You need enough pizza and Diet Coke to stick in your refrigerator, a cheap PC to work on, and the dedication to go through with it. We slept on floors. We waded across rivers."
- John Carmack
I'm fighting, unsuccessfully, the urge to end this with big things have small beginnings.
23 June 2012
Yesterday Michelle took the last shelf exam of her M3 year. This summer and fall will be, once again, very busy, but it's yet another big milestone. We saw a movie, ate popcorn, walked around the mall, flipped through books at Barnes and Noble, and had tacos with margarita-flavored slushies. The dogs continued the festivities today: Fitz caught his first squirrel (so many previous attempts) and I had to chase after him (he truly believes I want it for myself) and pry it out of his mouth with a rake handle. We've seen him bite calculatingly at his stuffed toys, severing limbs. The real-life version wasn't pretty. Poor squirrel.
16 June 2012
My brother and Megan welcomed Ava Eileen into the world last night. Now we have a niece! It was a little surreal looking at her first picture this morning, despite being past the age where the majority of my Facebook feed pertains to photos of children.
Looking forward to meeting her.
08 June 2012
Sometimes the dogs slip past our feet when we're leaving. At that point it's just easier to take them along for the ride. Bingley hops around the truck like that Corgi that loves to eat.
After Michelle gets out she rolls the window down so they can enjoy the ride home.
07 June 2012
We've been waking up at 5am for Michelle's current peds rotation. We naturally gravitate towards falling asleep around midnight, so any rotation like this (surgery, last fall), is a departure from the norm.
Getting up before the sun has its bright spots. Once she's at the hospital I do any dishes we have, make some coffee, and feed the dogs. Then I start work, typically 2-3 hours before many of my programmer brethren. It's quiet and cool, and it's always amazing to think, around 2pm, that the typical 8-hour workday is over.
How we wake: After my five-minute morning ritual of walking to the bathroom, washing my face, brushing my teeth, I walk back to the bed and turn on the lights and some noise (Pandora, or something from Hulu/Netflix). I like to think this helps her wake up gently, like those $100 gradual light-and-music alarm clocks. The truth is that she has a sleep sentinel that guards her from my waking advances. It dutifully pins up extra-thick opaque sheets behind her eyes, commandeers her ossicles, and installs itself somewhere in her brain stem, with just enough control to swat me away when I shake her. Eventually, after some more shake-then-recoil moves and lots of time to wake up, sweetie, this sentinel retreats. Her eyes open and she smiles at me, unaware of the little skirmish I fought.
Fitz rejects 5:00 am. He'd normally get up and follow us about the house, but at this hour he sleeps, staying in bed until we approach the door to leave, but he is too late, like Joey.
Joey: Ooh, I'll play! I'll play!
Phoebe: No-no! You need your sleep. Night-night! Shh!
24 May 2012
Last week I started my truck and, 5 seconds later, heard a beep. I looked down at the dash and noticed a message in the console.
TRANS FAULT no O/D
I shut it down and restarted it, hoping it was a glitch. The same message popped up. I backed out, didn't hear or feel anything unusual, and parked it so we could pull our car out.
The next day I drove it to the nearest Ford dealer to have someone take a look at it. The truck drove and shifted fine. From what I had read after seeing the message, I expected a sensor would need replacement. Investigating the transmission codes would cost $99, and it'd be another $99 if they needed to look in the transmission pan.
The service department called later to say that there were metal chunks in the transmission pan. They recommended installing a remanufactured Ford transmission ($2800) or installing a new torque converter ($1330 labor + any parts that turned out to be necessary). The second option was a little more open-ended price-wise, and was the more invasive of the two options.
Now, some details about my truck. It's a 2004 F-150 with a 4.6L V8, 2WD. I towed a small U-Haul trailer years ago during a move. It only has 58,000 miles, and most of that is highway. When we lived in midtown Atlanta, it remained parked for the better part of two years.
I contacted the Ford Customer Service department to tell them about my problem. I also wrote to @FordService on Twitter. The Twitter team is fast and responded within minutes; they noticed I had already filed an issue using the contact form on their website. I heard back from someone in the Customer Relationship Center (CRC), but it wasn't what I had hoped for. My truck is out of warranty, and though they wish they could help, they can't.
(I wish all companies could be like Apple - with any major failures we've had, Apple handed us brand-new equipment, even when out-of-warranty)
Hope for the future
The person at the CRC did say that if a recall or Customer Satisfaction Program is initiated in the future based on any discoveries, I'd obviously be eligible for a refund.
I did come across a few posts in the forums at ford-trucks.com and f150forum.com mentioning similar issues and early transmission replacement. There were also a few listed at CarComplaints.
The problem is that if people are randomly posting to forums or not posting at all, Ford may not know how extensive the issue is.
Have you had a similar problem?
I took my truck to Bobby Jones Ford in Augusta for service. Ford CEO Alan Mulally visited this dealer just a couple months ago during Masters.
The person that handled managing my service was nice; she would check on my truck occasionally and give me status updates. The new transmission was installed a day ahead of the original estimate and cost a bit less than originally quoted.
Unfortunately, ten minutes after driving away, the check engine light came on and I entered limp mode. After waiting around for the tech to get back from lunch, the diagnosis was that the ignition timing was off after a battery disconnect. That should not have happened, and forgetful things like that are the reason I stayed away from the labor-intensive torque converter replacment - just more that can go wrong.
They reflashed my PCM to get the latest timings and things, so far, have been fine.