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Amy’s Blog

Hot Diggity

We found out this week that hot dogs are a choking risk for children.  Knowing how many times I’d seen my siblings or children of friends gag on hot dog bits at picnics, this is not surprising.  Maybe rather than putting big warning labels on food that it’s a choking hazard, we need parents with more common sense.  I’m not sure how that is supposed to happen though, Darwin would be confused.    On a much more awesome note, twice in one week the US plays Canada in Olympic Hockey.  Thursday the women play for a gold medal (rather than just seeding and bragging rights the men were playing for on Sunday).  After tuning into both semi-final womens’ games, I’m certain it’s going to be a fantastic matchup and very fun to watch.  In the meantime, there is much work to be done here at DDA.  It might not be worth a gold medal, but it’s certainly world class.

We are getting ready in the office for a visit from a very high profile client who is using us to develop an interactive medical learning tool.  We are sprucing things up and making sure that we don’t have a client finding that chair in the kitchen that wobbles too much.  I will continue working on the interactive media and video ‘flipbook’ websites we have going on.  One of the designs keeps getting tossed around from person to person without progress, so it will land finally in my lap once I’ve completed the other two flash based projects I’ve been entrusted with.

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Entry by: amy

Weekendless

After a long weekend of getting back to the gym, spending half a day at a funeral, half a day watching various sporting events with Luke and a full Sunday with a headache, this morning’s rush of issues seemed to roll off my back with only a slight twinge of that frantic feeling.  Our server updates are still in progress which leaves me with nothing short of distress, it shouldn’t have taken a full week to get three servers put on to firewalls, even with the 40 IPs or so that they have assigned to them.  We also had a small issue with a client not receiving emails, which I had to look into first thing.  It seems to me that it’s more difficult to explain to a client that their email system is having the problem than actually having the problem yourself.  At least in this case I had the emails and logs as proof, but I’m sure I’ll have a comeback later and there will be a battle of the IT.

This morning’s task is to get Fusion Reactor up and running on the server.  The purpose of this system is to provide some Coldfusion metrics on our Medical website server, which is currently brimming with activity.  The setup itself was a  bit confusing. It tried to set itself up with an incorrect Coldfusion instance at first, leaving me questioning whether or not this great program really worked. After an uninstall and the old ‘lets start over’, I realized my mistake and everything was great.  The next problem was setting up datasources.

In order for programs like this to link into the various pieces of the Coldfusion server, we have to add in a JDBC wrapper to the datasources.  This then logs the request and passes it on like a normal database request, then gets back the information and so on.  It means we can track how many queries run and how quickly (or slowly in some cases) on each and every page hit on our webserver.  This will show which queries we need to tweak and which are running smoothly.  In the end, the idea is to fine tune our server and have it working in tip top shape in no time.  By having to improve our work, we improve our knowledge base and can keep a suite of best practices that help all of our projects work safely and securely in short time.

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Entry by: amy

Would you like to play a game?

This week’s news doesn’t one in my position much hope. Utah just decided to pass something through their assembly to note that the state of Utah is now denying climate change; Tesla loses 3 execs in a plane crash; Walmart’s sales are declining and the US just failed a huge national security test where the entire East Coast electrical power grid was destroyed.  Awesome.

Remember back in the early 1980s, Matthew Broderick played a plucky little hacker named David who answered the question “Would you like to play a game?” with “Global Thermonuclear War.” This really isn’t much different.  No, we’re not going to Defcon 4. In the movie, it was a simple case of a boy finding a backdoor into NORAD, and thinking he was playing a game, started World War III; it was harmless.  In today’s times, there are people out there who would actually plan it, but it works much the same way.  One or maybe two solidly planted pieces of malware and a couple of explosions later and chaos ensues in the US.  These people are supposed to be the experts, but unfortunately the problem isn’t in their expertise, it’s in the fact that we as citizens of the United States do not want the government to have enough control to protect us properly.  It’s quite difficult to trust an institution with that much power, especially knowing how corrupt the institution is and could become.  So, what is there to do?  Not much. This is why I’m not feeling very optimistic, but at least people are out there thinking and doing, and working for something better.

On the smaller scale, we have to work through these issues here at DDA every day.  Most of our programming tasks require user level security definitions and logic that needs to be in place so that there isn’t a backdoor and yet there’s enough leeway that the user isn’t constricted to having no control and a poor user experience.  We have to balance that fine line of power and productivity that all systems must deal with.  In our bigger projects we begin with a plan.  We set out the screens and imagine the roles each level of security must play, sometimes finding ways to make things work better, and sometimes finding ourselves falling into a rabbit hole.  In either case, it helps us a great deal before we even get to programming.  It would be a nightmare to find out later that x needed to do y which causes the entire project to be rewritten, and we all know what that means.

So if you’re looking for a medical CME or an interactive website, know that we put the thought into the entire project from start to finish and give you the best product possible as efficiently as possible.

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Entry by: amy

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