Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Wake me up when it's over
Alright, it's official, my nerves are shot. After going through a week of utter chaos I'm hoping it all comes to an end tomorrow. The latest twist this week was a call from our lender that had me more than a little concerned. Our rep left a message on my voicemail at work telling me that our paperwork for the mortgage on our new house should be done by today but there's no guarantee at this point. I was a wee bit tense after hearing that message. I think most would understand why: We are supposed to close on our house tomorrow and had to be out of our apartment the same day.

I'm happy to report that I confirmed this afternoon that the paperwork is done and is being sent to the title agency for our closing tomorrow. Excellent! I can't say enough good things about our lender, First Franklin. Our rep there, John Valentini, helped us out more than anyone during the sale of our house in Ohio and the purchase of this new house in Wisconsin. While the real estate agents in both Ohio and here in Wisconsin left a bad taste in our mouth with their (often times) incompetence, John Valentini and the entire team behind him at First Franklin came through. This last hold up on their end was mainly due to our agent getting a revised sales contract to them so late.

Did I mention that I really don't care for real estate agents? It's nothing against them personally. Most real estate agents are about as helpful as your local used car salesman. There were often times where I had to give advice to the agent on how to approach a particular situation. For instance, on our house in Wisconsin our agent claimed there wasn't a commission listed on the MLS listing for the house we were putting the offer on so she put that she would get half of the sales commission, which is standard operating procedure. The seller's agent, after the seller accepted the offer, sent our agent a fax stating that she would be getting less than half of the sales commission since that was stated up front in the listing. While writing a new offer with our agent to include closing costs in the price, she asked my wife Kelly and I whether she should (again) write her commission in the new offer as being half of the sales commission. Why was she asking us this?! I explained to her that if the MLS listing had the buyer agent's commission stated up front, then she had to agree to that unless the seller's agent was willing to change. If the commission wasn't stated up front, then she was entitled to 50% of the commission. Either way, our offer to buy the house should not be affected by the agents' disagreement over commission. The buyer and the seller don't care about the commissions. (OK, maybe the seller does if her agent is trying to get more than half of the sales commission. By doing that the seller's agent is scaring away potential buyers' agents. But, once the seller has an offer on the table, the seller has no interest in what the commission split is.) Our agent handled that one horribly. She also screwed up getting the revised sales contract to our lender in a timely manner. In addition to that, she didn't even find this house for us. We found it! She couldn't even locate it when we gave her the MLS number! It wasn't until we told her we found it on the Internet that she was able to see the listing on the other major area MLS (Milwaukee.) Yikes! I wish I could say that our agent in Ohio was much better but he was just as bad if not worse.

OK, I'm cooling down now. I just had to vent a little. I'm really thankful for the new house and for things coming together. God is so good to me and my family. Whenever I want to complain about things not going my way I stop and think about it all. It normally doesn't take too long for me to realize that my problems don't even hold a match to most. That's not even to mention the fact that this life is so temporary. To get so bent out of shape by things that (in the end) don't matter all that much is silly. Lately, I've often had the image of Startup.com in my head. More specifically, I remember the scene where the two founders Tom and Kaleil are faced with the demise of their company. Tom, who's worked his butt off as much as anyone within the company, calmly says something along the lines of, “If they (the board) want to fire us, then so be it. I don't want to leave but I know that life goes on. We gave it our best shot.” The way Tom said it in the face of all that was about to happen to him and Kaleil was unbelievably calming. Tom cared deeply about his company but he was able to keep things in perspective. I'd like to be able to say the same thing looking back on the events of my life.
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The whole Java == SUV debate
Phillip Greenspun wrote a quick post saying that Java was much like an SUV. He was inspired to write this by watching a class of his Computer Science students struggle more with Java than those who used other languages like Perl, PHP and even .NET.

Numerous Slashdot readers went ballistic on this. Now we have TheServerSide doing the same. One common comment I've read on TSS is that Phillip Greenspun is a professor with no real world experience. While Greenspun may not be keeping up with the times, he is not a theory only guy. He once had a very successful content management consulting firm in ArsDigita. At the time, ArsDigita was kicking butt and taking names with a system written in Lisp. Yes, Lisp! While most of the competition was futzing around with making “enterprise level” systems, ArsDigita beat them to the punch with a fast and functional system based on a “has been” programming language.

There's a lesson to be learned by what Greenspun is saying and has said in the past when he had ArsDigita going. Microsoft seems to have learned that lesson. As much as people such as myself whine about Visual Basic, there's no denying its market penetration and quick development times. It's quick, dirty and (in general) works. The same cannot be said for Java. Part of this is due to having almost too many choices in libraries and development frameworks, as was stated in the TSS thread. Another part of this is due to Java not having a great development tool like Visual Studio. It's amazing how much easier you can make programming by providing a great development tool. I think the folks at Zend even realize this in regards to PHP development. Look at Zend Studio for proof. Yes, Zend Studio is impressive enough to sway someone to PHP over its other Open Source competition like Perl and Python. Just think how much more a great development tool could sway people to develop with Java, since it, in combination with with various J2EE components, is a technology capable of almost any size project.
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The Colonel