Schwieb Random blatherings

May 8, 2008

Lying down on the job

Filed under: All,MacBU,Personal — Schwieb @ 10:50 pm

Well, the nerve, it’s not so good. I had an MRI last week and saw Dr. Peter Nora for a neurosurgical consult on Monday. There’s no immediate damage or need for surgery, but the MRI showed a definitive herniation at L5-S1 (not my personal MRI, but a decent example of one like mine), just like I’ve had twice before. Dr. Nora strongly recommended I take several weeks to minimize prolonged periods of sitting and standing, to take pressure off the disk and give my body a chance to solve the nerve irritation on its own.

That’s a great idea, but what about work? I’m still quite mentally fit (aside from the foggy effects of taking Percocet to dull the pain) and didn’t relish the idea of spending 3 weeks staring at the ceiling. Luckily, Microsoft has a great HR and benefits team, and I have an understanding manager (who happens to be a long-time friend and is actually the very first person I met at Microsoft on my first day as an intern in 1995!). Together with my general doctor, we crafted a formal ‘accomodation’ plan that acknowledges my limitations and still allows me to work from home part-time (and account for the rest of my time with sick leave). This way I get to be productive, keep my mind off of my back, and yet not stress my system with long commutes or hours sitting at my desk. I’ve got a laptop at home and can use Apple Remote Desktop to drive my Mac Pro at work, and thus can do pretty much anything from my bed that I could do at work.

The one tricky thing is that as a development lead, I have several people who report to me, and I need to be able to meet with them on a regular basis. Handily enough, between the new A/V capabilities of Microsoft Messenger 7 and the nice corded mic on my cell phone, I can attend meetings and talk to all my direct reports face to face. I did a number of one-on-one meetings that way today, and it seemed to work rather well.

So, I’m spending my days lying on my nice comfy bed with a couple of pillows and a freaking hot MacBook Pro. Not exactly where I’d like to be, but given the circumstances, I’ll take that over a stay in the hospital or a blah view of my ceiling. And, *knock on wood*, with any luck I’ll avoid a third surgery and be physically back in the office soon.

April 24, 2008

The nerve! It burns!

Filed under: All,Personal — Schwieb @ 10:13 am

So I said a few days ago that I was going to blog more — so much for that idea. Right now I’m standing at an elevated desk in my office, muttering under my breath at the firey pain coursing up and down my right leg, and generally bemoaning my inability to sit down.

I have an injured disc in my spine, at L5-S1, that has been pinching my right sciatic nerve for about 12 years now. I had surgery in 1996 and 2005 on it, and my back is generally in decent shape, but I somehow managed to irritate it last week such that the nerve is again all inflamed and causing pain.

I’m once again finding out just how challenging it is to sit with nerve pain. I haven’t been able to sit in front of my Mac at home to write up a blog post. I’m taking tomorrow off to go see the doctor — maybe I can get my laptop working again and write something up while lying down.

April 18, 2008

Preschool presents and PHP

Filed under: All,Personal — Schwieb @ 2:56 pm

I’ve been at home for the past two days. Yesterday, my son woke up with a nasty cough and hoarse voice, so we kept him home from preschool. My wife had to work during the day and go to her Montessori class in the afternoon, so I stayed home as well to take care of the boy. He’s lots of fun to be around — we went out for lunch to Metropolitan Market, where he scarfed down 8 pieces of California roll and most of an apple, we played ‘cave’ with two sofas and a blanket, and I got some occasional bits of work done while he entertained himself in the sandbox out on the deck. As the day progressed, however, I noticed my throat getting sore, and I had a number of sneezing fits, both of which are usually pretty good indicators that I’m about to become ill myself.

Sure enough, last night I could hardly sleep because my throat hurt so much, and today my head feels like it’s all stuffed up with lovely goo. I decided to stay home from work to get some rest and avoid giving this preschool germ to everyone around me. I got some quality bed rest in the morning, and spent the afternoon tweaking some of the PHP code in one of my WordPress plugins to interact better with Mint.

PHP is weird. There seem to be two distinct styles — HTML with PHP embedded inside of it, or PHP with HTML embedded inside of it. On occasion I’ve seen code where the designer couldn’t keep track of which was inside what, and it’s just a gnarly mess to read. (Then again, I suppose my stuffy head could be part of the problem, too.)

I had intended to spend part of today writing up a MacBU-based post, but I’ve been unable to organize my thoughts well enough, which is why you’re getting this fairly random post instead. Maybe tomorrow, if I feel better.

October 13, 2007


Filed under: All,Blog,Personal — Schwieb @ 8:50 pm

As I said a few weeks ago (and has been readily apparent if you look at the lack of posts here), I haven’t had much time to blog in a while. I’ve been spending some long days (and evenings!) at work polishing off stuff to get Mac Office 2008 ready to ship, and I haven’t felt like sitting down in front of the computer at home for long periods of time. However, I have been keeping up with the various RSS feeds that I read on a regular basis, and last week I read Adam Engst’s Confessions of a Twitter Convert on TidBITS. I’ve heard a lot about Twitter, but mostly ignored it as it seemed too hyperkinetic and “who the heck would care what I’m doing at any given moment”-ish. But, after reading Adam’s article, I decided to give it a shot.

I’m only following a few people at the moment (Adam, Daniel Jalkut of Red Sweater Software, John Gruber of Daring Fireball, and Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technica, and some MacBU folks among others), and it’s actually been pretty interesting. As Twitter intends by asking the question “What are you doing?”, the stream of pings is more or less random snippets of folks’ lives that they want to share, and thus not terribly heavy on Mac development or Mac news. However, I’ve seen entries fly by ranging from Daniel discovering that MarsEdit’s icon has been copied by a Linux distribution, to Adam fighting spam for the TidBITS domain, and a whole lot else in between.

I’ve tried to post little bits throughout the day myself, since Thursday or so. Tonya Engst is right, it is a whole lot easier to blurt out the ‘topic’ of a blog piece than it is to write up the whole thing. It might be of some minor interest to a few folks if I wrote up a blog piece about the byteswapping bug I spent most of Friday tracking down, but I was absolutely exhausted yesterday evening (my son woke me up at 6am, I had an eye doctor appointment at 9:15am which included getting my eyes dilated, so that I couldn’t read a computer screen for hours, I had 2 different triage meetings to attend, and a one-on-one meeting with my manager’s manager that day, plus fixing bugs) and had no energy to blog. Instead, I put up a few ‘headlines’ on Twitter throughout the day. Admittedly, my following on Twitter is very small so practically nobody saw them, but I felt like I was actually doing something public again for once.

So anyway. Yep, I gotta blog more. Folks have asked about Xcode over on Mac Mojo and now that we’re reaching the end of a major product development cycle on the new tools it’s time for an update. I’ll work on that, but in the meantime if you’re curious about some of the day-to-day stuff going on inside the MacBU, come follow me!

December 5, 2006

Busy busy busy

Filed under: All,Blog,Personal — Schwieb @ 8:58 pm

Hello everyone… My apologies for being away for so long — there’s a lot going on at work (some of which I’ll talk about in my next post) and a lot going on at home, so I haven’t had the time or the inclination to sit down in front of a computer in the evenings. In any case, I’m still here, still employed with the MacBU, and still working on Mac Office 12.

August 31, 2006

Vegas Mojo

Filed under: All,MacBU,Personal — Schwieb @ 11:06 pm

Well, I’m a little late to the announcement party. Can I claim I’m just being fashionable? On Tuesday, the MacBU started up its new team blog called Mac Mojo! I’ll be one of the contributers there, along with a bunch of other current MacBU bloggers and several new folks. I see that Brad, Sheridan, and Joe have already dipped their toes into the blog ocean. So, come read us over there!

As for myself, I’ve been pretty quiet here. I’ve received a lot of great feedback on VB and made sure it got into the proper inboxes at work. Thank you all for your comments and feedback. Alas, there’s no way I can ever reply to every comment, but I have read them all. I plan to post some snippets of VB-to-AppleScript conversions so that people can get a rough idea of what you can do with AS.

That will have to wait a few days, however, because I’ve got a ton of stuff to do at work. I just got back this evening from a week’s vacation with my family in Las Vegas. Nope, no gambling, but we did spend a lot of time at the pool (my son now loves waterslides, provided I hold him as we slide down) and wandering through several of the mega-hotels on the Strip. My son had a very hard time believing that this was *all* Las Vegas. I think he thought the hotel itself was named LV, and that everywhere outside it was some other magical new place (Bellagio fountains, MGM lions, Mandalay Bay shark reef, Mirage volcano and dolphins, Caesars Palace Forum, it just went on and on…!)

So, after having been gone for a week, I came back to 772 new messages in my work inbox (110 per day!) that I need to cull through. Wheee!

July 16, 2006

Long time no post

Filed under: All,Personal — Schwieb @ 10:01 pm

Sorry for the long delay in posting… When I went back to work a few weeks ago, I was still getting up at least twice in the middle of the night to feed my daughter. After a full day of work and playing with my son before his bedtime, I was absolutely exhausted by 9pm and pretty much crashed then. Now my daughter is down to eating only once during the night (!) but my son brought home his first cold from preschool and promptly gave it to my wife and me.

That was back on July 4th. I’ve had a cold since then, and a few days ago it got much worse. I had no energy, a bad cough, and my head hurt all the time — especially when I coughed or leaned over to pick up my son or daughter. I even took some time off of work because I felt so horrible. My wife finally told me to go see the doctor, and it turns out my cold turned into a sinus infection. Ugh. So now I’m on some massive antibiotics, and I’m finally starting to feel better. I have a post I’ve been mulling over for 3 weeks now, and hope to get it written up soon. I’ve got to have the energy to stay up past 10pm to get it done, though!

July 7, 2006

I’m not dead yet!

Filed under: All,Blog,Personal — Schwieb @ 10:01 pm

Just really busy and tired. I’ll hopefully get some post up this weekend. Sorry for the long wait!

June 18, 2006

And now for something completely different

Filed under: All,Personal — Schwieb @ 10:09 pm

Sorry for the lack of posts recently… I’m now on a relatively normal sleep cycle and don’t have much time to post in the evening after my son goes to bed before I do too.

On a completely non-work-related topic, my son starts pre-school tomorrow. He’s so excited! He keeps telling us about his ‘Mosori’ (2.5 yr old pronounciation of Montessori) school and how he’s going to take a nap there. We visited the school on Friday with him and met his summer teacher. My son was super excited until we made him come inside fromn the rain, at which point he threw a total tantrum. Royally embarassing for me and my wife, but the staff was very understanding. 🙂

I’m also taking my last two days off for parental leave this Monday and Tuesday, and then will be back to work full-time on Wednesday. It’s time to dive back into Xcode and finish the transition process.

June 6, 2006

To sleep, perchance to dream…

Filed under: All,Personal — Schwieb @ 10:41 pm

Ever since we came home from my daughter’s birth early last month, I’ve been doing the night-time feedings. At first, this meant feeding her every 2-3 hours from 10pm to 8am. Since I’m naturally a night-owl, I very quickly adapted to staying up until 3 or 4am. I’d get up once between 6 and 7am to do one more feeding, and then get up again at 8 or so when my wife came upstairs to take a shower. I’d also go check on my son if he called out in the middle of the night (as 2 1/2-yr-olds are often wont to do… “Daaaaadddyyyy, I want some waaaaaaatttteeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrr…” Ugh.) I’d then put in my earplugs and go back to bed until 2pm or so.

That worked well, but it felt like I barely saw my family. In the last week, my daughter has all of a sudden started sleeping for at least one 5-hour stretch at night, from roughly 9:30pm to 2:30am. I have to go back to work in less than two weeks and I need to get back to a more normal sleep cycle, so last night I decided I’d try to go to sleep shortly after she did and get up earlier.


So first of all, I couldn’t fall asleep. I think I finally went to sleep around 11:45 or so, because I don’t recall the clock reading 12:00. My daughter then woke up at 1:48am. I fed her and put her back down at 2:20. I then was wide awake and tossed and turned until almost 4am, roughly at which point I fell back asleep. This time my daughter woke up at 5:04am. I fed her and put her back down at 5:45. She decided she wasn’t sleepy and wanted to be held (or rocked, or something, just not in bed. At least, that’s what I think she was crying about.) Ok, fine. I stumbled around the room for 30 minutes until she did fall asleep. I went back to bed at 6:15. My son woke up at 7:09am saying “Daaaaadddyyy, I want Daaaadddddyyyy…”

At this point I’d had a grand total of 3 hrs and 50 minutes of sleep, in three separate chunks. I went downstairs and checked on my son, who proudly announced “Daddy, I’m awake.” I got him out of bed and woke my wife up to take her shower. I got myself back in bed around 7:45 and then smacked the snooze button twice when my alarm went off at 11:00am.

Let’s see how tonight goes!

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