Wednesday, November 10 2021

not wearing pants, working on my blog, and restaurant qr codes



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Wednesday. I've only been conscious for two hours so far, but this day already has a lot of good things going for it. Miraculously, Miles remains asleep, so we're enjoying a tranquil morning. My on-call shift ends this afternoon, and I'm looking forward to silencing my phone and unplugging for a while. I've also discovered that a long sleeve t-shirt and a pair of boxers might be the perfect outfit for this bi-polar hot and cold weather. After writing this entry, I was planning on collecting my wash out of the dryer and completing my wardrobe, but sitting here in this half-outfit, I cannot deny how comfortable this feels. Will I put on pants this morning? That's the big cliff-hanger of the morning.

I have a daunting schedule today. My big code change finally surfaced some small issues that I need to fix. I'm giving an engineering training session to eighteen people, which is a much bigger class than usual. It's funny how the final days of my on-call weeks are the busiest, but the gauntlet is worth running so long as I have an ice cold beer and a page full of silly YouTube videos to catch up on at the end of the day. So we had better get to it then, shall we? Arm your battle stations. Gird your loins (if you are wearing any). Fill your coffee mugs with the life giving elixir of the cocoa bean.

Sip. Has anyone ever hit you with the question, "Notice anything different?" I'm going to pull that same crap on you this morning for my own amusement. Last night I made some changes to the website you're reading in this moment. Can you find it?

I don't think you or anyone is going to find it, so I'll just let the cat out of the bag. Up until yesterday, I had some extra text in the footer of each web page displaying the last timestamp and a link to the last change set on github. It was a very nerdy bit of functionality that gave me nerdy satisfaction. But I've found that this fancy HTML footer also ensures that every single web page on the website needs to get updated every day, and every new journal entry adds a yet another page to the burden. Programmers refer to these as "n-plus-1" problems, as in the problem gets worse each time you ask it to do something else.

Well, yesterday after uploading 810 individual files to my web host, I reached a breaking point, deciding the fancy footer at the bottom of each page wasn't worth this time. I deleted it, and as you could imagine it takes a lot less time to update four every files day than it does 800 plus. Sorry if that little footer happened to give you some joy. I'll reintroduce it as a little widget on the homepage instead, but that kind of heavy lifting will have to wait for the weekend.

In other news, I had a lunch adventure in the city yesterday. I met some fellow Madison based coworkers at a taco place. We grabbed a cozy booth in the back, unmasked, and munched our bowl of taco chips empty. We sat staring at the empty bowl for twenty minutes before someone noticed the tiny QR code in the middle of the table. Underneath the code in tiny font read the words "order and pay online".

Have you noticed these QR code things catching on? They're not all made the same. We each tried to place an order, and we each got a different result. A timeout error. A gateway error. I got the message "refence_not_found" in a warning box on my screen. I defiantly approached the bar and gave my order to the bartender in person, which annoyed him. Our meals came out individually five minutes apart, and none of us were sure when we could leave or whether or not we actually paid.

The whole experience rubbed me the wrong way. This taco place was pretty decent. They're fast with the chips, they rotate new things in and out of their menu, and they have dynamite margaritas. I don't understand why they had to screw it up with a new electronic ordering system. Taking my phone out is the last thing I feel like doing at a restaurant. I'm all for keeping servers safe, but it doesn't take a genius to see that these systems are actually more COVID friendly. After all, the waiter was six inches from my face while he was reading the error message of my phone. Why couldn't I have just told him my order from six feet away instead?

Does my petty rage inspire you? Will you join me in the fight to keep crappy web based ordering systems out of our favorite restaurants? Well then the next time you're asked to scan a QR code that opens a twelve step food ordering wizard on your phone, I invite you to just leave your phone in your pocket and say that you don't have one. Crappy tech companies are constantly on the prowl to stick crappy websites in places where we don't need them, and it's up to us to keep them out.

This one got a little ranty, but we'll end on a happy note. Rodney and I have almost beaten the lego jurassic park game. We got to the final stand-off with the Indominus rex. We need to defeat him by firing a stuffed animal launcher into its jaws and knocking him on the ground using one of Owen Grady's raptors, but we don't yet have the sequence quite right. It's going to be a big moment when we finally beat this game, Rodney and I have been hard at work.

That's what I got today. Happy Wednesday everybody.