Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

07 April 2005

The Joy of Software Development

At DeLorme I primarily work on those core internal elements which are common to all of our products and then more specifically on the GIS engine. Such labors are often in the deep darks of the application, far removed fom the lighted areas where the user dwells. Despite the mantra of the eXtreme Programming devotees, it is rarely possible to design engine-tier code for a footprint the size of a specific feature. Designs of that nature frequent merit the appelation: stovepipe. As an engine developer, I often try to take requirements from specific tasks and fit them into a bigger picture which accounts for future growth or enables refactoring of duplicate code. A design of that size rarely sees its full potential exercised, but when the planets are aligned just so the possibilities pour out their elegant potential.

Today was just such a day.

The GIS engine team was assigned the development a new user-visible feature which is in frequent demand by both internal and external customers. We took the long view and architected a whole new, extremely flexible system. It seemed unlikely that the capacity offered by this feature would ever be completely delivered. By chance this afternoon, a request came to me for a piece of functionality which had been heretofore impossible. Back at my office, after talking to another developer about the idea, I returned to my station to find a request from another developer about whether a related function could be built using this same engine. As spring is to a flower, this was to our architecture. It opened revealing stunning hues. An addtional, often requested, new feature was made possible. The over-engineering we conducted to support a future macro system had enabled an entirely unrelated feature to be built.

It is nearly impossible to describe the raw pleasure in those moments. The discovery given by conversation. It was as if we walked through a maze and turned the corner to find more than we had anticipated. Here is to hoping that we can deliver on the idea as easily as we can conceptualize it.

This entry was written while listening to Orange Catholic Bible by Double U from their album Absurd Fjord [iTunes].

02 April 2005

The Hop Shop

The ladies took me out to The Hop Shop in Gray to pick up brewing supplies. It was like paradise! They had every kind of malt listed in the many of the better online supply houses. Their fridge and freezer was loaded with interesting yeast and hops. Their bookshelf had just incredible books including two with recipes for commercial beers. I dropped my wheat beer recipe and decided to try and replicate Paulaner Hefe-Wiezen. I opted for an all grain mash, which makes for nine pounds of grain (yikes!!).
The ladies then took me out for lunch at Pizzeria Uno. We had a great time and saw the woman who waited on us the night Tandy I and got married. After the reception we met up with a few friends and my mother and went to Unos. The waitress carded my mother and when she was lacking ID, refused to serve her. I pointed out that it was my _mother_, but the waitress was unmoved. She also claimed to be unable to bring garlic bread without cheese to the table. Go figure!
When I saw Tom later that day, we agreed to watch the first regular season Red Sox game while brewing up the Paulner knock-off. Zach is around too, so we might be able to rope him into some stirring!
If you need homebrew supplies in Southern Maine, try The Hop Shop, you will not regret it! The owner was super helpful and the selection is great.