Stick To 80 Columns. Please?

I know we’re not still living in the 1970’s, nor are we still working with 80 column punch cards, but please, for the love of all that is good in the world try to limit your code to 80 characters per line or thereabouts! I’ve been looking at some code recently that has line lengths of 250 characters or more, and that just ain’t right. Not all of us have 60″ flat-panel monitors that will allow us to see those huge lines without horizontal scrolling and it’s damned annoying to have to scroll sideways to see the code. Now I understand that there are times when there just isn’t a good place to break a line to keep it to 80 characters; but that should be the exception and not the rule. Please people, break your lines into reasonable lengths. And don’t put 400 lines of code in a single method either. But that’s another story…

Another Exciting Gladiator Night!

Thomas and I just got back from another exciting evening with the Gwinnett Gladiators, and what a night it was! The visiting team was the Alaska Aces who, unfortunately for them, lost 5 – 0. There was much cool stuff tonight, which began even before the game started.

First, we had excellent seats, directly behind the visitor’s bench. We arrived about 40 minutes before play started to watch them practice. As we were sitting there watching, one of the Aces came into the box and Thomas started a-waving at him. The player, Smith I think it was, turned around and hit the ice, apparently without noticing him. He came back within about 5 seconds, picked up a new stick, tapped on the glass with his old stick to get Thomas’ attention, and then gave Thomas his stick! That was extremely cool and prompted Thomas to say “I’m going to cheer for that team tonight!”. Then during the second intermission, they drive a Cadillac truck onto the ice, with Maximus, the team mascot, firing t-shirts into the crowd with a t-shirt gun. Thomas was jumping and flailing about trying to get one, when a guy walks up to the glass, gets my attention and then lobs one underhand over the glass to make sure he gets one. And if that weren’t enough, when they dropped coupons for Buffalo’s Cafe from the ceiling, a woman pointed out to Thomas where one had fallen, so he got one of those too! What an evening.

Unfortunately there are only two more home games this season. I sure wish we had discovered them sooner. We’re going to take in one of the final two, but then we have to wait until October. Ah well, it will be worth it.

BTW, all three photos were taken with my LG VX6000 cameraphone. The first one I took two weeks ago at our second game. The bottom two were actually taken by Thomas at tonight’s game.

Dervish + Live = Amazing!

Tammy and I just got back from seeing Dervish at the Variety Playhouse and all I can say is that if they come to a town within 100 miles of your house go see them!!! I’ve been waiting to see them for over 10 years now and finally they come to Atlanta. What an awesome show. The entire group, all seven of them, were extremely dynamic. They are tight and play some extremely fast, yet extremely musical, jigs and reels. Cathy Jordan is a lovely woman with a beautiful voice and typical Celtic sense of humor. Her introductions and occasional jokes were a highlight of the evening.

I took a pocketful of money with me to pick up the remaining Dervish records to complete my collection. I bought Midsummer’s Night, which I’ve been unable to find in America for the last 4 years (possibly because of it’s… umm… interesting cover…) and their latest record Spirit. Most of the sets they did tonight were from Spirit, but they did a bunch of older stuff too, much to my delight! So, again, if they come anywhere near you, go see them!

That picture is far from being the best photo in the world, but I took it from a table, not 5 feet from the band, with my LG VX6000 cameraphone.

Evenings With the Gwinnett Gladiators

Friday night I took Thomas to his first ice hockey game and he loved it! He loved it so much we went back for another game tonight (Saturday)! The team is the Gwinnett Gladiators, part of the ECHL, which is an AA hockey league. What excellent hockey! This team is really good, and this is their first season. Last night’s game was against the Pensacola Ice Pilots, which the Gladiators won 4 – 1, and tonight’s game was against the Greensboro Generals which we lost in a heartbreaking sudden death overtime 4 – 3.

I didn’t catch the attendance numbers last night, but tonight there were 5,406 fans, which for a minor league team in its first year, seems like a good crowd to me. The fans were just as enthusiastic as I’ve seen at any NHL game, and just as rowdy at times. The pre-game lead-in to the teams taking the ice is well produced and very professional. The announcer does a good job of getting the fans into the game. And the players give it everything they’ve got, but with amazingly few penalties. Last night two of the Ice Pilots got ejected for fighting, but no one got tossed tonight. Which is good.

We got there before the game started to watch them warm up and lo and behold, a puck came soaring up over the glass in our section. It hit the net over the glass and fell to the floor. I jumped out of my seat and high-tailed it to pick it up for Thomas. He was very happy, indeed!

And what’s probably most amazing is that my darling wife, who generally hates spectator sports, went with us tonight… and… enjoyed the game! She’s willing to go back again! Hoo-ray!

It’s been years since I’ve been to a hockey game and now I’ve been twice in one weekend. We are planning on going back next weekend when the Gladiators take on the Florence Pride. O yeah, Scooby Doo will also be there…

Atlanta Ruby User Group

If you read my stuff very often then you know that I am a huge fan of the Ruby programming language. I write a ton of Ruby code and went to RubyConf 2003, so there was only one other direction to take my love of Ruby: start a user group. So, I have started the Atlanta Ruby User Group. Our first meeting will be Tuesday, March 30 2004, at my office in Norcross. There is a map at the web site and a mailing list. Rather than try to restate the meeting announcement, I’m just going to repost the email I sent to the mailing list here. If you want more info, drop me an email and/or visit the group site. If you are within range of Atlanta, please come on out for the meeting.

Our first meeting will be Tuesday March 30 at 7:00 PM. The meeting location is at my office in Norcross, on Peachtree Industrial Blvd. There is a map on the website. We have classrooms, so it will be a comfortable environment.

This meeting will be a "get to know each other" type meeting where we can discuss what, if anything, we've done with Ruby so far. I will then present the first part of an introduction to Ruby, and then discuss the future direction of the group. The meeting should be finished at 8:30 PM.

Things we need to discuss are meeting frequency, topics, presenters and commitments from group members as far as attendance goes. I'm not suggesting that everyone must commit to being at every meeting, but with a small group, if several people miss each meeting, there won't be much "group" to the group, if you know what I mean. As for frequency, I'm currently thinking a meeting every other month (6 per year) but I'm open to suggestions.

Anyway, Sams Publishing has agreed to send me a few copies of The Ruby Way and Teach Yourself Ruby in 21 Days, so I will have those to hand out. (The Ruby Way is an excellent book [thanks, Hal]; I haven't seen the 21 Days book.) I will provide drinks and some snacks for the first meeting, but if we decide to have food at subsequent meetings, then we need to also decide how we are going to pay for it. Lots to discuss, eh?

So, be sure to mark Tuesday, March 30 on your calendar as we kick off the Atlanta Ruby User Group!

The Oscars

I watched the last 20 minutes of The Oscars last night and was utterly disappointed to see that the wretched Return of the King walked away with 11 awards. What a joke. If you’ve been reading for a while, you already know how I feel about this travesty of a film. 11 Oscars? Give me a break.

I was also disappointed to see that the amazing film Lost in Translation only one a single award, for Best Original Screenplay. It should have won more than that. This is one of the best films I’ve seen in a very long time, and I’m glad I bought it on DVD.