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Real Life Debugged » Personal Stories

Archive for the Category ◊ Personal Stories ◊

Oleg Savitsky and Fedor Emelianenko

I had the AWESOME opportunity to meet and photograph MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko in August at Zealous Nation MMA, the facility my trainer Oleg Savitsky owns in Middlesex, NJ.

Oleg scheduled an invite-only Mixed Martial Arts seminar with Fedor and asked me to be the photographer. Fedor is, like, number one in the entire universe, ever.

Fedor and Oleg have competed against one another in World SAMBO competitions and they are friends and colleagues, now through M-1 Global.  Fedor kicks some massive ass, and also happens to be a really nice guy, like Oleg. I was so excited to meet him!

Little did I know I’d somehow manage to lose every single picture I took of this exclusive seminar except the last 10.


So I got a new job doing embedded systems forensics - debugging medical devices that have possibly Gone Wrong.  Turns out my Phone on Fire book was an excellent calling card, as the position requires the same problem-solving brain twists as my own technical mysteries!

Pretty cool when your potential boss has read part of your book.

Anyway, we’d been working towards a Final Written Offer Letter for a little while.  I got a Verbal shortly after the interview, a Tentative Written Offer Letter a while later, and over the next couple months I completed two pretty comprehensive application packages about 1/2 a ream thick.  It would have been less stressful if Microsoft would have let me open my own thesis, but it got all registry passive-aggressive on me.

The final weeks we ramped asymptotically to 99.999% Goodness with the Tentative Official Offer Letter.  (My language, not theirs.)

So, happily, I get The Official Call from HR and I’ve passed all security clearances, have garnered the last 0.001% and am now officially 100% approved as a new hire!

… and (baited breath) shortly there after the long awaited Official Official Offer Letter arrives via email!  I double click, excited the day has finally arrived …

… and I can’t open the document.


Click to view







Simple task - a job application requires the abstract of my PhD dissertation.  So I find the file, double click, and … ERROR.


(Yes, I hear you cry!  I knew where the files were!)

You see, about 5 years ago I spent a couple days pulling stuff off boxes of floppies before the data puddled into magnetic goo.  Surrounded by mostly 3 1/2’s and many 5 1/4’s (and several disk backup tapes), I found my dissertation and with mixed memories (yes, the terror does fade with time), I tried to open the files.

Back then, Microsoft presented me with a different, although more frightening message when I attempted to open the files.  Something about not being able to read the old Word file format at all (Yikes!).

Had the ghost returned?


Let’s Debug It Live: Recovering My Hacked Blog
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 | Author: lisaksimone

I’m writing this post in Word because I can’t access my blog. It was hacked this weekend to provide you dear readers with low cost designer shoes and a delightful Trojan virus thrown in for free.

It appears the Wordpress and Network Solutions combo had a design flaw, and Network Solutions sent step-by-step instructions to recover (most) of our content. Like a good engineer (ahem) I followed the directions carefully. Didn’t work. But according to Network Solutions tech support, I am a special case. (Oh, the irony.) Alex expedited my request and then Elmer prioritized my case and now I’ll receive help in 1-3 business days. Grrr.

Thing is, I dug around on the server and found some strange goings-on with my blog files. I think the current account hack fix upset the carefully balanced apple cart Network Solutions built during my last trouble ticket mess.


After waiting forever for pictures on my laptop to load to show my family, I finally decided to upgrade my RAM from 1GB to 2GB.  I was ready for SCREAMING fast performance.

Then the Windows Shutdown “Hibernate” option stopped working.

“System Error : Insufficient system resources exist to complete the API.”

Now, I live to Hibernate.  Or, I should say I don’t reboot my laptop unless I *have* to.  The computer gets to Hibernate whenever I take it with me so I can resume with all windows and programs exactly where I left them.

I love Hibernate.

But suddenly Hibernate and I were plunged into a Jr High school relationship of drama and fickleness.


I had an mind-boggling problem yesterday. I belong to a Yahoo group and I registered with one of my Gmail accounts.  I was able to participate in the group for a couple weeks, but now when I send emails from that Gmail account, they’re rejected back to a DIFFERENT Gmail account.


Okay, to be specific.  I registered with a Gmail address, let’s say, (fake). My main Gmail address is lisaksimone(at) (real).

So I posted as usual to my Yahoo group by sending an email from It was rejected back to me at lisaksimone(at)

Again, this time with more feeling.



So my faithful little Dell Inspiron 700m laptop finally waved the white flag in the face of burgeoning memory requirements from many  programs that shall remain nameless, rude programs, Microsoft saying What The Hell to a zillion instances of the same program, and ramping memory leaks from other commonly used programs.

If I leave my computer for a while, that whole glacial crawl thing happens, and I finally got sick of apologizing for the wait when attempting to show pictures to my family.  Horrible.

So, how much memory can you put in an Inspiron 700m?  I didn’t realize it would be a difficult and contentious question.


My evil car knows I get cold easily, and it purposely screws with me when I desperately need hurricane winds of hot toasty air. “No heat for YOU” in its best Soup Nazi sneer, armrests crossed and headlights rolling in the air. “I just don’t feel like it right now.”

Northbranch Park. When I was *prepared* for the icicles.

Last spring, I jumped into my car, damp from a light afternoon shower and jacked up the heat. It was overcast but about 70ºF outside. Brrr - I was chilled! But when when I maxed out the temperature (90ºF) my car refused to emit the anticipated waves of warmth. Grrrr.

The gas tank was full, car nicely washed and detailed, clean air filter and sated with meandering drives in the country: she should be happy and content. But nooo, she’d gone bipolar and my car insurance doesn’t cover mental health.


My Blog Server(s) is Sentient and has Dementia
Saturday, June 20th, 2009 | Author: lisaksimone

What happens when you create a new user profile on a website and then it magically adds your picture to the profile? Do the servers trade stories after work over SMS martinis? Compare notes and plot random “Your Registration Has Expired” warnings to evil users?

I have a couple blogs with an elusive entity called “Wordpress.” I found out the hard way that massive social networking servers are as temperamental as Paris Hilton looking for a new BFF.

Apparently, according to Wordpress, I am 3 different people, but really only 2½, 2 of whom share the same face. Who had to be introduced to one another through a server matchmaker.


When I didn’t duck my head low enough this morning, the people-eating mangroves ripped off my hat and some hair, snagged my Jet Ski’s tow line and skidded me into the jail-like root system. Then the engine wouldn’t start. Gah gah gah gah. And I was WAY to far into the twisted passages for my husband to reach me by boat.

Gah gah gah gah. I was to get very familiar with this sound.