Thursday, November 29, 2007

the right tools

Have you ever tried to use Open Office's "data pilot" feature? It's supposed to be like Excel's pivot tables, but OH MY GOD. I wasted 2 hours on it today. Basically, we're a fast moving software shop and I want to keep tabs on our bug open and bug close rate. Traditionally, software test engineers generate little counts like this- an imaginary "bugs openedy by component" table.
Component NameTwo Days agoYesterdayToday
Product Component X2817
Product Component Y234
Product Component Z330
Looking at that table, I would see that component X has been getting more unstable, while Y and Z have been stable. So if we're going to launch, I need to make sure that more regression tests are run on X and it receives more attention.

You generate these tables by dumping a list of bug IDs by component and Open Date, then making a Pivot Table. Easy. Well... I couldn't make Open Office's "data pilot" give me counts like "8" or "3". It had 100s of columns, each with a date at the top and a "1" somewhere down in the row that corresponded to a component. That's not that useful! I want rolled up counts! And yeah, I was marking "count" on the bug IDs. Oh well... We made the table today in about 3 seconds after pulling the data in Excel.

I was a little bummed out that we'd need to be using Excel for this until I got on the train today. I even looked online to see if there were any online pivot table generator websites or open source tools. And checked AppleWorks (I was desperate).

Or rather until NJT made me sit around on a platform at Penn Station waiting to get on a train (they called our track number and then 5 minutes later a train pulled up). While I was sitting around down there something in the back of my mind started saying "hey... this reminds you of data you've dealt with before". Well, yes. This is why I adore perl, gorgeous little data munging language that it is.

1. read in data
2. split lines so you have $date, $component, $bug ID
3. create %data{$date}{$component}=$count
4. print out your perl generated pivot table
5. profit

I felt like someone all of a sudden handed exactly the right tool. Bliss. And I kind of feel bad for people who want their data pivot tabled who don't know perl (;


Kick some __
Originally uploaded by slimeduckling
taken by lenny

Monday, November 26, 2007

Grand Sichuan St Marks

Damn that is a lot of food.
Originally uploaded by teknogeek
At amazon, we were addicted to 7 Stars Peppers (that review is even written by a former amazonian (; ). Now at Meetup, I'm working on spreading more Sichuan food love. This is Meetup eating lunch together from Grand Sichuan St Marks.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bertrand's Island mural at Mt Arlington

The murals are an homage to the Bertrand Island Amusement Park, along Lake Hopatcong, which drew visitors to the area from the early 1900s to its closing in 1983.

Flanking the station’s entrance are two large bas-relief tile murals depicting carousel horses in teal blue, yellow and pink. A tunnel to the station is lined with hand-painted tile murals of photographs from the park’s heyday. In one from 1930, people ride on a spindly-looking Ferris wheel. Another shows visitors wading in Lake Hopatcong in 1907, when the area was known as “Little Coney Island.”

The park had about 20 rides, but one of the most treasured was the carousel, which was created by the designer Marcus Illions, said Marty Kane, president of the Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum.

- article in NYT

Wow! I used to ride that carousel when I was a tiny little kid, and one of my earliest memories is of riding it late in the evening on the weekend that my little sister was born. It was right on the lake shore, and we still sail past where it used to be. This new train station is about the same distance from my house as the train station I use now, so I might have to drive over to take some pictures some early morning.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hello, poor neglected blog. Here's a picture of Declan to make up for recent quietness:

lounging dog

And a few other things
  • we had a surprise snowstorm on monday in NJ which left us with several inches of snow
  • I realized what a total nerd I am when I was asked during a demo the other day when epoch time started and I came up with "early 1970" on the spot (it's Jan 1, 1970 and god knows why I remembered the year so well)
  • I realized what a further nerd I was when I could come up with the date of epoch time overflow, which will be UNIX y2k
  • I need to write a few posts about early amazon christmases. Here's a tiny tidbit for now- when I first reported to the seattle Distribution Center, I was put on gift wrap because I was a girl. But I'm a klutz, so I got kicked out after 2 packages