Some Amazing Movies You’ve Probably Never Heard of

Over the last few weeks I have had the privilege of watching some rather amazing movies I had never really heard of. At least I had never heard of them being in the theater.

Hoax Richard Gere

One of the most unbelievable true stories you will ever watch. A writer that is destitute fakes hand written letters from Howard Hughes authorizing him to be the sole writer of his autobiography. While publicly denying any association with the book, either Hughes himself or some of his people ship the author a very large box with damaging insider information on Richard Nixon, the military, and every other person Hughes needs to get back under control. The book, burned after printing, actually turned out to be the main reason Watergate happened. Anyone old enough to remember Watergate will be floored by this movie and the quality of acting by all cast members.

Winter Passing Zooey Deschanel, Ed Harris

After watching this movie on the STARZ network last night, I firmly believe that Zooey is quite possibly the most gifted actress her generation has spawned. Ed Harris delivers a phenomenal performance and the story line simply sucks you in for the ride. You forget you are watching a movie and get lost in the story. Early on in the movie, there is a troubling scene. After building up a story line about how this struggling actress rescued a kitten and was now raising it in her run down place in New York, they make a point of having the animal hospital call to confirm the kitten has feline leukemia. A few scenes later will come the part which is troubling to watch. It was definitely necessary to show just how far below the bottom the character had landed, but some might skip watching the rest of the movie because of it.

The Hunting Party Richard Gere

No, I haven’t suddenly joined the Richard Gere admiration society. Quite honestly I hadn’t really seen him in anything since Pretty Woman and now I think I know why. It appears he has been making Indy type films which go straight to DVD. Thanks to my BlockBuster subscription I’m actually watching a lot more Indy movies. (Yes, I used to have Netflix, but being an IT professional and having to endure their Web site was just too much. BlockBuster got my business.)

Yet another true story about a journalist who hit rock bottom covering wars all over the world. When he had his meltdown on camera and became fodder for journalist programs in every college around the world he was in Bosnia. The story starts up back in Bosnia, it goes places you don’t see coming, and ends with the most pointed critique of why nobody can find Osama Bin Laden you will ever see.

Put this movie at the top of your viewing list.

 

Substring Exists in String

Today I got to burn about three hours looking online for an answer to a simple task. What simple task you ask? Why, I was trying to verify one string existed inside of another string while working in Bash under Linux. You see, I learned to write software on robust systems. Yes, I know, the Linux/Unix developer motto is “test nothing, just let it fail”, but I was taught to write good software. Simply posting a blurb about prerequisites in an obscure document file and berating someone who couldn’t find that doc for not being skilled simply isn’t in my fiber…well, there might be a chosen few I would do that to, but they deserve it for many other reasons, I certainly wouldn’t do it to the general public.

In the world of OpenVMS you would simply use a lexical function F$LOCATE() and it would look much like the following

$ l_x = f$locate( “ENDXXX”, “”line_in_str'”)

The single ticks around the line_in_str variable had to be there to force DCL to use the value of the variable rather than the name of the variable in the function call.

After three hours of searching using every variation of “locate” “contains” “find” in the Yahoo, Google, and Ask search engines, I finally found ONE document which bothered to give a useful example. Every other method I found involved calling sed or awk with a regular expression which looked like the output from a desktop calculator which was being profusely beaten by a Ballpean hammer.

What was I trying to do? I was trying to verify that SOME postgres directory existed in the current definition of PATH before continuing on. If it didn’t exist I wanted to force a definition in. Ultimately I ended up with the following snippet of code as the fruits of three hours.

##

## Now we need to check for postgres in the path

##

pp=$PATH

if !( [[ “$pp” =~ “postgres” ]] ); then

PATH=/usr/lib/postgresql/8.3/bin:$PATH

export PATH

echo “PATH updated to include postgres”

fi;

Once again, Unix/Linux documentation has proven to be expert friendly. I defy you to get the above mentioned search engines to let you find =~ in a search string. Here is what the GNU version of the Bash documentation had to say:

An additional binary operator, ‘ =~’, is available, with the same precedence as ‘ ==’ and ‘ !=’. When it is used, the string to the right of the operator is considered an extended regular expression and matched accordingly (as in regex3)). The return value is 0 if the string matches the pattern, and 1 otherwise. If the regular expression is syntactically incorrect, the conditional expression’s return value is 2. If the shell option nocasematch (see the description of shopt in Bash Builtins) is enabled, the match is performed without regard to the case of alphabetic characters. Substrings matched by parenthesized subexpressions within the regular expression are saved in the array variable BASH_REMATCH. The element of BASH_REMATCH with index 0 is the portion of the string matching the entire regular expression. The element of BASH_REMATCH with index n is the portion of the string matching the nth parenthesized subexpression.

That’s just lovely isn’t it. Not one single mention of the words “locate”, “contains” or “exists”

 

SOA Book Wins National Award

The Minimum You Need to Know About Service Oriented Architecture by Roland Hughes

ISBN 0­9770866­6­6

ISBN­13 978­0­9770866­6­5

Award-Winner in the Business: Technology/Computers/Internet category of the National Best Books 2008 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News

You’re Losing Candidates and You Don’t Know Why

I hear this a lot lately. You see, the OpenVMS world is starting to hop contract wise. There are even new installations happening now and several more scheduled for next year. Unlike the PC world, when I talk about “installation” I’m not talking about one machine on a desk, I’m talking about large scale systems which are going to run a company for more than 20 years without significant modification. What companies have systems that stable? Manufacturing and health care. On the manufacturing side it is companies which need to keep production running at capacity 24 hours per day for years on end without a single interruption. Not only is an interruption measured at around a million dollars per minute, it can be measured in human lives. If a life is lost, not only is it tragic, you are shut down for close to a week while the investigation happens.Of course, health care is cooking now for different reasons, and not the reasons you might expect. A lot of people are of the opinion that shortly after the upcoming election there will be sweeping changes in health care legislation. I have little doubt there will be sweeping changes proposed, and even less doubt those changes will be tied up in committee for months by lobbyist dollars.

The real reason health care is cooking now is failure. Some major companies had been banking on off-shore development of Java based systems running on AIX being able to replace the VAX/VMS systems which were currently running the company. They banked so heavily on these replacement systems that they sunk years into their development, putting little to no effort into maintaining the existing cash cow. In at least one case, more than four years. Their OpenVMS people mostly jumped ship when they were told just how heavily the company was banking on replacing the existing system.

How is it one finds out about such things? The contracts are posted all over the place. There aren’t a lot of seasoned OpenVMS professionals left out there, so we all get the phone calls from the pimps. When you are lucky enough to actually get a phone call from a pimp that speaks English, you get the story.

Besides OpenVMS, what do all of these positions have in common? Bad management. Oh, I’m not talking about the bad management which lead to the off-shoring fiasco in the first place. We all know that upper management will never be held accountable for such a disaster. I’m talking about the contracts themselves. I’m talking about the management which is managing the poster of the contract.

Over the past two months, all but one contract I have been called or emailed about has had the same management failure. The MBA managing the person posting the contract decided they were going to be an “affective” manager by mandating the person posting the contract couldn’t leave for vacation until they had all of the contracts posted. In only one case did the poster of the contract inform the pimp they were dealing with that they were hurling this contract out and leaving for a week’s vacation.

Most seasoned professionals have a rule, myself included. Unless you tell them up front the person needed to make the decision is out of the office, you get to present them for only one week. Imagine the pimp’s shock when you call them exactly one week later and tell them to withdraw your name. That’s exactly what has happened in each case, and it wasn’t just myself. Some of them volunteered they had lost other candidates for the same reason. It’s not that we aren’t interested in the contract any longer, it’s simply that a message must be sent. We aren’t magazines to be left on a shelf until someone decides they need reading material for the bathroom. Any company willing to do this with a posting is willing to treat people the same way once they start work. Seasoned professionals will not be treated like that.

So, if you posted a contract for five or more consultants and got a big pile of paper, don’t be surprised when you get done weeding through the chaff to find out the wheat you wanted to bring in has told the pimp to withdraw their name.

Plausible Deniability or Just Plain Lazy?

Years ago, pimps actually did a tiny bit of work for their massive margins. They actually read resumes rather than using a GREP utility searching for keywords. They also engaged in “creative writing” when they were low on placement quota. Of course this required that pimps be fluent in the native language of the country where they made money.

Today, most pimps are too lazy to even use a GREP utility. They go to on-line resume databases and let a search engine there find keywords. Most of them have some form of spider utility which goes to the N on-line resume databases they have subscribed to and returns the results to them in an email or some other document. Some have upgraded their spider utility so it automatically sends email to the matching candidates. Just a generic SPAM with which imports a text file of the job requirement.

Some of them actually have a template which includes a phrase much like the following:

“Please ensure the resume matches the opening exactly with the skills requirements highlighted at the very top”

Today’s pimps not only don’t speak the native language, they don’t even do their own creative writing. They send this SPAM out to force the candidate into committing wire fraud rather than the pimp committing it themselves. I guess enough of them have finally went to prison for it.

Remember how it used to work with pimps? They actually had someone who was technical talk to you on the phone to see if you had actually worked with the technology or just read a few buzzwords and added them to your resume. Today pimps don’t even bother keeping technical people around a the office. It’s not the client demanding skills certification tests, it’s the pimp. Usually a pimp which has already had several trips to the court room over forged resumes.

Like the Virginia Slims slogan says “ You’ve come a long way baby.”