Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trying Not To Get Discouraged

Trying Not To Get Discouraged

The people I work with? Very nice people. I'm learning a lot about C#/.NET. If this contract job were in Boise, I would be a little disappointed at the cut in pay and no benefits, but so what? I can live with it. But 5 1/2 hours from home? Having to rent out a place, and pay for meals out a lot? It is very discouraging. But even after paying for travel, lodging, and meals, it is way better than unemployment, or working at Home Depot, which were the only other options.

The first couple of days was spent writing a program to merge two mailing lists together--which doesn't sound hard at all, until you look at the problems of resolving discrepancies in company names, addresses, different formats of phone numbers, etc. Even after some cleverness in standardizing some fields to simplify equality comparisons, there's still some stuff that requires a human brain to process--and in this case, about 12,000 records. (Well, strictly speaking, I could probably have smartened up the code to do even more of the decision making, but then you have to worry about the software turning into Colossus: The Forbin Project. Or at least gobbling up too many hours of a software engineer's time.) The marketing person who wanted it declared herself happy with the result, and it was a mildly interesting and challenging piece of C#.

I am now starting on my main task: writing unit tests for a rather elaborate POS (which stands for Point Of Sale, and don't you forget it!) system. Microsoft Visual Studio Team Edition (or whatever its formal name is) has a lot of nice features to simplify production of unit tests, and as a result, once I became accustomed to how it worked, and learned enough about some of the classes in the POS system, I found that I was able to start whipping out unit tests quite rapidly.

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