Tag: work

Relentless resourcefulness

What good is a weblog if one doesn’t keep track of the most important changes in life, at least? A great many things unfolded recently, so here we go.

First of all, it’s time to propagate that I’m writing using a new domain. The name gefechtsdienst.de was a remnant of old times and doesn’t really convey the feeling I want to share with the world. As of now I will be using dispatched.ch to publish applications and software snippets. To me the phrase dispatched channels the meaning of done and reliable; what has been dispatched doesn’t need a fix-up, it has been taken care of. Respectively my blog will be published on blog.dispatched.ch where I will keep writing and ranting(;



As a foretaste on what can be found on dispatched.ch in the upcoming future, I give you a screenshot of my current project to improve productivity on a Windows machine. I’m under the impression that nobody has ever written a decent translation toolfor it; not to mention the lack of anything for searching synonyms.

The web is no option for me; I can’t afford to maximize the strain to my hands each and every time I have to look something up. So I chose to write something from scratch. I will keep you posted on that one.


This brings me to matters of profession. Last week I had my first annual review which went really well, I might say. My work seems to be appreciated; resulting in a raise (2 weeks more vacation – which is good, because I need spare time a lot more than more money, nowadays) and the proposal as to whether I would like to work out even more own projects in the future. This includes going to (potential) customers, figuring out requirements, consult where applicable and finally implement those requirements in a new project. Likewise I’m getting the feeling that I really could go for quite some time in my current job. Even though I have always said that I won’t ever have to work with MS-Office or write accounting-software, it’s kinda nice to see your work really having a big impact on the efficiency of big companies and banks. In the current economical situation, I believe it is of utmost importance that cash-flow is guaranteed and that in an optimized speed. I might not work in a very fancy field with a young elite on a thriving web-project, but my work matters – not to the average user, but to the economy, which ultimately is needed for a happy life of each and every average user, isn’t it?





I’m even getting a little more business-proof along the way. This is what I have looked just a month ago and last week. Each picture was taken after a work marathon of over 12 hours in the bureau, so be kind in your assessment.

Well, I need new trousers and a nice belt. I’m thinking of brown Kapok.


Now it is time to post a picture of my workplace, at least. It was taken on my natural hour – when everyone else has left the building, already(; It features a left-over of my previous employer Sun Microsystems – my favourite keyboard, a Sun Type 7 in British English (really.. how can anyone think of coding using a Swiss layout*argh*). You can also see some decently stacked notes, my nice 24″ Dell screen and well.. a table, I guess(;


Then, I finally found a nice place to stay for good. Now I rent an apartment in Zurich City, featuring 2.5 rooms, 50m² and a nice balcony with a good view. In the first month I already invested the better part of 10k CHF(which has formerly been more than I had available for a year..), but it really is worth the struggle. I find myself no longer situated in a clumsy small, dark and unproductive room, located in a house full of wildly drinking and partying students, but in my very own realm – featuring green planes around it, a great view, a close nature conservancy, shopping opportunities  nearby and public transportation just around the corner. It’s a real dream come true. And due to the caring help of my dear grandparents I was able to really move in – I finally have a 2×1.6m bed, a couch(+ table) and a very nice workplace. Of course there’s every other piece of furniture, you would expect in an apartment, but those I consider real convenience. This is a picture on how my study looked like when I was still assembling it. Now, everything is finished and I probably will release some pictures when I’m content with all the accessories. But rest assured, it already looks a lot cleaner and nicer.



But now to the utmost important change in my life – Katrin and I are back together again \(^_^)/

A good year ago we split up after sharing an apartment for a year and being a couple for over five. Who would have guessed that we could ever join again; from Stuttgart she moved to Weimar and I moved to Zurich – not only in this respect into opposite directions. But we found a way and now that she has moved again we’re only 40km apart geographically and can share a new and rejoicing quality of partnership. I love her and have been with her for the better part of my adult life – and I am very much looking forward to sharing the rest of it with her, as well. However, first we have to figure out our next anniversary and how many years we will be celebrating(;

On a stroll, April 2009

On a stroll, April 2009

Now why would I want to lead a life, relentlessly trying to improve it? Because in doing so, I find a great lot of joy, the time to work out, help my grandfather chop wood or go out and to the movies with Katrin without any further consideration – because I have created an environment in which I can find peace, love and happiness.

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On competence

Today was a day of competence – in its pure and inconceivable form. The first 8 hours of my 5.5 hours working day I have spent with a “Senior Consultant”. To shorten the story: after four months working overtime, I have finally reverse engineered enough information to be certain that the product we bought just isn’t going to do what it is supposed to. Instead I have to put up with approx. 10 fully committed days to compensate all flaws and inabilities – only to lessen the gap between what has been promised and what will be possible. Notice that “what has been promised” should have been done in about a weeks worth of work and that this week has lasted approximately four months now. Reasoning, I guess my position is save for yet another week*phew*

On the other hand I just had a soothing conversation on the phone with the astonishingly unfit almighty administration of the university I used to go to. As always they didn’t fail to surprise me once again in matters of stupidity, regression, unfriendliness and a relentless misperception/misapprehension of their own job.
Probably I shouldn’t go into detail too much, but let’s assume a situation where you wanted to send an application for something that is perfectly reasonable, what would you do? Also consider the fact that you already consulted the dean of your faculty and that he confirmed your thesis about the application being not only reasonable, but perfectly valid. What I did was to go the the universitiys’ website, get the form, filled it out and send it to the fax number I found on the application which should have been the last pro-active part of mine in this matter. Six weeks later, I’m still not done. What went wrong? It’s easy to figure.

You probably knew it all the way when I mentioned the fax machine. I have used moderately modern and therefore too complex inadequate technology during the first contact; I even went so far as to use an e-mail address I found under “contact -> administration for students -> computer science department” to send an inquiry on whether my former request has been received. Today, when I called and asked for a confirmation of receiving my application, this most certainly hilariously ugly woman spontaneously burst into shouting. I immediately felt as if I had shot her baby. Turns out I was head-wrong. In the next 15 minutes I came to realize that she doesn’t hate me for personal reasons, but she still behaved as if I were claiming she never has paid taxes and I came to get them from her all at once. Certainly understandable – I wanted to know whether my application has been received and probably is being processed already; that could certainly be considered a matter of existence for her.

In the meantime, she taught me a great many wise things. For example I would be half a year behind. Behind what she didn’t tell. Plus I couldn’t do any exams. Which exams exactly, I also don’t know. When I asked her, the shouting resolved in angry yelling – stressing her vocal cords to a level close before the point where I might have considered it unfriendly. She repeated the upcoming facts that I would be behind and that I couldn’t do exams, because there would be no sixth semester. Never again, I thought? Great! I heard that one stinks, anyways. Then I made my first mistake – I tried to outsmart her. That’s something people usually don’t like very much. I told her I could take courses from the seventh semester. Oh, baby. She didn’t like that too much. After a long and shiny tirade I thought to myself “So what? Couldn’t hurt to tell her a little about her job, could it?”. I told her that it is possible, that I have colleagues doing something similar, that the examination regulations allowed me to do courses whenever I see fit and that I planned everything in full agreement of the dean of computer science. What I should have known is that everyone’s colleague is only telling him lies, that taking courses was not as simple as I think it is(yeah, probably she didn’t bother graduating from knitting school, because taking courses has been just too much a grind..) and finally that the dean simply had no say in these things at all.

Her fury began to annoy me a little by now, but when I tried to tell her that I only wanted to know about the status of my application she told me to shut up and wait. What followed should be considered the greatest accomplishments of mankind – complete and utter disregard for humbleness. She asked her colleague(remember; those are the guys always lying to you – so better don’t ask them too important stuff) whether it is possible to officially be in one semester, but take courses of another. Surely she was determined to start whatever she tried to do to me all over again after hearing reassuring words. Well, she didn’t. The nice, and officially most intelligent person in the bureau, told her that I’m in the main course and that I could do whatever and whenever I wanted to. Hearing this, I expected anything from a sign of insight to an apology of some sort. What I didn’t take into account was that her life already was very confusing and not that pleasing. So she went on hating the phone, me and herself. However, I had enough of this senseless waste of time. I gave her my best wishes and hung up.

What I still don’t know after having to put up with this miserable performance of a bureaucrat is whether my application will ever be processed at all. Today I even received a mail from a professor. He told me that “he heard” I would be taking his classes – he already designated me into a group and told me that next Monday would be a mandatory kick-off meeting. Well, I guess, I won’t pay the semesters’ fee and then I will be banned anyway. That’s what I wanted from the beginning, I think.. And if one thing is for sure: I won’t be in Stuttgart next Monday; for whatever reasons. Apart from the mail from the professor, I am very glad that I had this experience on the phone. It proved once more that just about any random person living in Stuttgart is miserable, unfriendly, conservative, boring and dumb – a combination of attributes I simply don’t want to face in aggregated form. How I miss Stuttgart! not.

Coming home, I realized that my fellow housemates were meeting with the landlord. The last months we were living like insects in a more cold than warm and more stone-age-ish than electriced cave(well.. it has walls and a ceiling of stone, at least). We were told that the house would be torn apart after we leave; granting us the choice whether or not to clean, to fix stuff and to let all the garbage obsolete furniture just inside. Today everything changed. The formerly liberal and avuncular landlord turned into Satan himself; demanding unscrupulous things like painting the tainted walls. Of course they were as stained when everyone moved in as they are now, but I guess that’s no argument to make. There’s more, of course, but it’s probably best not to think of it right now. Having rent apartments for the last years, I know a little about rights and responsibilities in this area – and I just spent my evening funnelling those insights into my fellow housemates.

All in all, I’m pretty impressed. I didn’t even bother to mention that I have been at home tonight for just about six hours before moving back to work; even though I have been there for 14 hours straight yesterday. Well, I even had darn good reason for that. I found code that locked itself out in not less than four places – giving my middleware a little bit of trouble. I also won’t go into detail that I found out about databases that have configuration tables for transcription tables which lead to statistics tables – only to never be read, but to be redundant to other configuration tables for another transcription table leading to its own statistics table. Since none of the tables have any keys or indices and there are lots of statistics to be saved, one of the tables has outgrown the state where queries going in will bring back a result different from a timeout. The most obvious part here is that both tables are never being read in a meaningful way. There is only one daemon process(the same that’s been filling these tables all along), reading one column of only one of the tables, sorts it and writes the top result in a third table. There the data will finally be read from a program and translated by a third transcription table. Apparently it proved impossible to fill these 4 bytes of information in the third table skipping the overhead before. And good for me I had to reverse-engineer all that great business logic; it’s not as if my todo-list is giving me any trouble recently; there’s still some space on the monitor that I can read in between the piles of notes.

I could go on, but then it might seem to you, my dear and noble reader, that I am a bitter old man having a hard time keeping my heart from exploding due to too much pressure. But the truth couldn’t be farther apart. In fact, I don’t think of myself as a truly smart man – I mean, I have my good parts that I have worked pretty hard for – and I am proud of them. But I’m no genius and as it seems never will be. On the other hand, being confronted with those massive amounts of stupidity in the world, I feel pretty neat about myself. I am deeply grateful for what I have not become.  Others missed out on that opportunity and are now stuck in a demeaning life of sluggishness. I look forward to the great journeys of tomorrow, they undoubtedly will be fun.

3 comments » | personal

Where to live – Week #1

Time is drawing nearer by the day; I should better hurry and secure me my dream mansion to live in. Unfortunately I’m lacking a major component for seeking one of those – time. Last week I bookmarked close to two dozen apartments, but just about each night I couldn’t go and attend visiting hours, because I had to work late. Friday then(and I may say this was yet another Friday night), I left the bureau well after 10PM, had dinner and a beer with a co-worker and was home just before midnight when others were about to enjoy their party habits. But how could I leave early while there was this sinking ship customer having decent trouble.

Only one day I was able to leave early. And so I planned it well. My first stop of the afternoon was to fetch my so called “Betreibungsauszug” attesting me to have no  debts; and guess what – it seems I have none they know of. Getting this one was rather easy since bureaucracy seems to work really smoothly; no overhead, no long waiting in lines, no unfriendly clerks, no over-complication leading to any trouble so far.

Then the real work began; I drove off to what I refused to believe it might exist in this beautiful city – a real ghetto with everything needed to feel uncomfortable: all those pseudo gangstas(please notice my fluent subcultural influences) in their pimped cars listening to crap, drunk migrant kids seeking for trouble, a lot of broken glass on the street to take my eyes of walls full of graffiti calling me names. Well, with all that filth I might have lived with – despite the fact that I would have had to arm myself in the future, but the apartment waiting for me was beyond all legally possible description. I will skip this part, because it probably would seem that I’m a vicious Nazi talking bad about friendly people just happening to originate from foreign cultures – only because I had the pleasure to find a flophouse full of terribly disgusting people – leaving me itches in the nasty places. Supposedly I should only contemplate to write a decent letter to the landlord, because I consider it frivolous impudence to put up with visiting hours while the only ways inside the apartment are those the rats have broken free for the sake of having flight tunnels when the nasty vermin wake up at night. Well, considering my spare time on the other hand; this might never happen.

On the other hand, the second apartment I saw was nothing but magnificent. Proclaiming the same matter of expense as “Exhibit A” for a future investigation on how cockroaches can engulf an entire human being if only the breeding habitat is set up properly, the apartment just fulfilled all my dreams – including being close to work, brightly and quiet. There were even bonuses like the Coop just around the corner having opening hours until 11PM even on Saturdays, the tram station being nearby or friendly, tidy and fluent previous tenants from the beautiful country of Liechtenstein. Oh man, I wish I could live there!

Of course I wanted to take action and introduce myself personally at the estate agency – probably to even leave a good impression there. But what shall I say, some client of us thought better of my plans and started to post some invoices not once, but multiple times… Thinking of the amounts being well in the high 6-figure ranges, I wonder what manual signatures are for (if our system fails due to the clients’ lack of supporting infrastructur that can handle the SQL traffic). No matter what, I had my fair share of quick-fixes work to do and stayed until some time around 11PM which probably only was 6 hours after the real estate guys went home and on with their personal lives. Considering that today(Monday) there might also have been a last minute opening for a private investigation on whether I could smuggle myself into my dreams, it might have been a good idea to stay less than 14 hours in the bureau one might think. Well, what can I say..

Don’t wonder if my address will slightly change and soon will be “Bridgestreet 24” – somewhere more close to the bureau – then I could finally leave all this logistical overhead behind and walk myself to work each day.

Update: Today I received a call from the real estate agency. As it turns out they made an excessive background-check on me – calling earlier  landlords and my employer who each took the liberty of recommending me – probably only because they know what I sound like when I’m really grumpy, but still, I’m very glad they all stood up for me, because on Friday morning my life will take the next turn and become even greater than now: I will be signing the contract for the mentioned apartment of my dreams*yay* As it seems “week #1” might be the last week for the next decade to come*phew*

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