Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Winter Vacation from Hades


It all started with our house refinance coupled with buying a vehicle. I knew we didn't want to apply for a car loan until the house refinance was done cause I knew they checked our credit one last time at closing. If the car loan made a significant difference to our credit, it would jeopardize the entire refinance. So I called our refinance loan officer to ask when my credit would be clear so I can go get the vehicle we want; we already had one we wanted to buy. He told me it would be checked at closing and we'd be closing on Monday (it ended up being Tuesday). So to me, as a reasonable person, that meant I could buy the van on Tuesday/Wednesday after we signed. So we put a deposit on the van so it wouldn't sell in the next couple days. Come closing, I find out my credit will get checked a week later after we'd be up north for the holidays. Upon talking to my loan agent he tells me that's what closing means. I'm trying my best not to just lash out cause of gross miscommunication. How was I supposed to know these details? I was asking countless questions and he knew my intent to buy a van. Here's a timeline:

12/16: Find the van we want
12/17 AM: Discuss with lender about credit
12/17 PM: Place $500 deposit on the van
12/22: We sign at closing and learn of credit issue
12/22 PM: Place 50% deposit to hold van for 2 weeks
12/24: Leave for north
12/28: Refinance dispersal and credit check
1/4: Finalize van purchase

In the end it was all OK, but it was nonetheless a frustrating process because of miscommunicated expectations.

Outbound Flight

Then we get to our actual "vacation". The morning of 12/24, we get to the Atlanta airport to find out our flight has been cancelled due to severe weather, understandably. Not understandably is why we weren't notified since I setup notification email/SMS in my reservation. Since we're very late to the game, most flights have filled due to other people rescheduling. The next available spot is a flight that evening (6hrs later than the original). So we camp out in the airport and wait it out. A few hours later, I decide to check online to see if anything happened to my flight; I was worried we weren't getting notifications. Sure enough, our second flight was cancelled. I call Southwest to reschedule and figure out why updates aren't working. I'm told of a valid email on file, but notifications are set to go out via snail mail. WHY IS THAT EVEN AN OPTION? We supposedly get that fixed and reschedule for the next day in the evening (5:40pm on Christmas). So we drive back, the 2 hrs, home. Mind you, we have little to no food at home cause we planned it so. The next day we fly out uneventfully.  During the second flight, Isaiah developed a fever.

My Back

The next day, Isaiah is mostly better and as planned, we drive the 5 hours to Canada to visit my family in Ontario.  In some unknown way, I threw out my back and was in severe pain for a couple days.  I learned I could buy muscle relaxants over the counter and that took care of it.

Sinus Infection and Drive Back to NH

Meanwhile, I got what Isaiah had and could barely breath due to severe congestion.  Our drive back down to NH was right in the middle of a massive snow/ice storm.  So between sketchy roads, being sick, running out of windshield wiper fluid with stores sold out, the 5 hour trip took 8 hours.

More Sick

So back at my in-laws' house we get some time spent but the old house heated by wood stoves makes recovery from the sinus infection nearly impossible.  Over the next few days, everyone in my family is sick.

On Sunday the 3rd, I leave for the airport for my 5:15 AM flight.  Still sick, I finally get home at 12:45 PM and crash for the afternoon.  Meanwhile up north my family continues to get more and more sick.  By Tuesday the 5th, they're all running low grade fevers.

Loan Rate Debacle

Monday evening is spent by me securing the van only to find out the dealership can't secure the best loan rate as I assumed they could.  So Tuesday morning is spent at a local credit union getting a 1.99% loan instead of the 3.24% Honda couldn't improve.

Coming Home

Their return flight is on that Tuesday scheduled to leave at 11:40 AM.  Well, the plane has mechanical issues before boarding and eventually gets delayed to 5:30 PM.  They manage to get new flights leaving at 4:20pm and get to Atlanta at 9pm.  On the road at 10pm, they begin the last leg of this nightmare.

About 5-10 miles from the TN border, their vehicle has catastrophic transmission issues that nearly leaves them stranded at some rest area.  They finished the drive and end up at my brother-in-law's house for the night. Their attempts to call me at home are unfruitful because my phone had gone into night mode; I would have prevented this had I thought about it, but I never expected their drive to have such issues.

So finally, this morning I go get them in our new shiny van.  Now they're home with Hannah running 102.2F.  I've just today finally been able to dual-nostril breath and my back is hurting again.  The roller-coaster is still coasting...

While seeing family is always a positive, the trip itself was horrendous and why we'll remember it as the 2015 Christmas Trip from Hades.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cabal Reset in Vista

So my Haskell development on my Windows laptop is spread out. So often times when I get back to working on something on it, I get dependency hell cause everything needs updating. The general solution is to just blow away my packages and start from fresh. So in case someone is wondering how this is done in Windows and also just as a bookmark for myself, this is what I did today. I removed the following two directories and did a ghc-pkg recache.

The recache was complaining about not having perms to the global package.cache under Program Files. After a bunch of trial and error, I think the problem wasn't that I didn't have edit rights to that file, but that I didn't have rights to its folder, C:\Program Files\Haskell Platform\2012.2.0.0\lib\package.conf.d. I guess it was trying to delete the file and create a new one or something.

Anyhow, delete these two dirs and do a recache and you should have a clean install. 


This is Vista Home Basic...yeah, I know. I just don't have much need for this windows box, so it's not worth the $$ for me to upgrade to 7.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Price Matching

I've recently been in the market to make a medium sized purchase. The item I plan on buying generally retails at $590. Most stores online and offline have this price except for one store, Academy of Sports. They have it for $480. Unsurprisingly, they are nearly out of stock across the country. I tried to have a few other stores that carry the item match their price, but they wouldn't match unless the other store actually had it in stock.

Now, from the matching store's perspective, this makes perfect sense. Why would they match a price that you, the customer, can't realize? However, if Academy had it in stock, why would I ever go through the trouble of price matching instead of just going to Academy and buying it straight up?

From the matching store's perspective, price matching makes perfect sense. If the store would lose a sale due to a competitors price, then they can at least get the sale at a lower price; something is better than nothing. So my question, what's the point of price matching from the customer's perspective? If I could buy it at Academy, I wouldn't bother with price matching at another store.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Accidental Hack

Today I came across an issue that after walking around in several circles has shown to have a very simple solution. Maybe another instance of Occam's razor.

A little background information is needed. When a member uses their insurance and a claim is submitted, a process picks this up and sends out an email with a link to view this information. The URL is member agnostic and simply places the date of the claim. For instance When the user navigates to the URL, they are prompted to login. Upon successful login, any claims for the date on the URL are listed.

So, we get a help desk ticket stating that a member, Martha Smith, got such an email. When she clicked on the email, she logged in with msmith and saw claim information for John Smith. An obvious security and privacy issue was clear. So the hunt began. We store email information in two locations. We looked up John Smith's and Martha Smith's information and email settings all checked out. It was noted that msmith is John's username and not Martha's.

After some talking to people, the real story became clear. You see, John's email address was So, msmith doesn't stand for Martha Smith, but Mary Smith. So it would seem as though Martha forgot her username and guessed msmith. After a few tries, the account was locked. She went through the process of unlocking the account and successfully guessed the security question. This enabled her to reset the password and login. When she finally logged in, she saw John's claim information, not because of any technical issue, but simply because she logged in as him.

This whole story reminds me of this essay.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

PAF Hell

Here is the story of one PAF as it made its way through our processes. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. ;-)

NOTE: None of the applications moving are in ClearCase. Project management documents had to be moved into ClearCase mid-project because a Facets Extension change had to be made.

12/17/2009 – Sent PAF out for approval to Brent Smith, Jim Peterson, Mary Pearson, Brad Jules, QA, and Jami Robertson
12/18/2009 – Received PAF approvals from all except Brad Jules and QA.
12/18/2009 – QA informed me that they could not see the PAF in ClearCase.
12/21/2009 – Checked PAF into ClearCase. Sent email to QA also stating that all required approvals are now in as well.
12/21/2009 – Received approval from QA.
12/21/2009 – Sent email to CM requesting baseline of PAF.
12/21/2009 – Made arrangements with Web Architects for deployment on Tuesday 12/22 thinking baseline and other CM processes would still be completed 12/22.
12/22/2009 – Received rejection email from CM stating that PAF was not checked in using WorkRequest BCBST00020702 under the Unified Change Management Tab.
12/22/2009 – Re-assigned WorkRequest BCBST00020702 to me and checked out the PAF and checked it back in. Attached to WorkRequest. Sent back to CM for baseline.
12/22/2009 – Received rejection email from CM stating that two documents (Brad Jules’ approval and QA approval) were not in the WorkRequest attachments.
12/22/2009 – Added QA approval to attachments on WorkRequest. Sent baseline request back to CM stating that Len is not in the “minimum required approvals” list in the PAF.
12/23/2009 – Received phone call from CM explaining that all names listed in the PAF must approve even if they are not in the minimum required box.
12/28/2009 – Received Brad Jules’ approval. Tried several times to add to ClearCase and got errors. Unable to add document. Emailed issue to Rational ClearCase mailbox.
12/28/2009 – Received email from Rational ClearCase / Steve Mail stating that the error is caused by ClearCase’s limit of 1024 bytes for the Windows PATH variable and I would need to contact the help desk to fix shorten path variable.
12/28/2009 – Shortened my own path variable since I am admin on my machine. Reassigned the WorkRequest to me, copied the approval document to ClearCase, checked it in, attached it to the WorkRequest in ClearQuest, reassigned to CM, sent email stating my ClearCase problem had been resolved and requested baseline.
12/29/2009 – Received rejection email from CM stating that they needed new approvals from PM, DM, Req., and Mary Pearson as their approval timestamps were prior to the current PAF timestamp in ClearCase. I do not know how the PAF timestamp changed, it may have happened when I had to check out and back in under WorkRequest BCBST00020702 on 12/22.
12/29/2009 – Changed the date range on the PAF since date had already passed, reassigned WorkRequest BCBST00020702 back to me, checked in PAF. Sent out new approval request email to all parties.
12/29/2009 – Received all approvals except Mary Pearson who was out of the office.
12/29/2009 – Sent email to QA requesting permission to proceed with Jim Peterson’s approval since Mary reports to Jim. Received ok from QA.
12/29/2009 – Checked new approvals in to ClearCase, attached documents to WorkRequest, reassigned WorkRequest to CM. Sent email to CM requesting baseline.
12/30/2009 – PAF baselined.
12/31/2009 - Received CAR (Corrective Action Required for not following procedure).
12/31/2009 - Picked up job application from Taco Bell. ;-)