Archive for January 2010

Thanks for all the adds

2010/01/26

As regular listener to multiple TWIT Network podcasts (This Week In tech, Macbreak Weekly, This Week in Google, Free Libre Opensource Software, Security Now, Windows Weekly) I am very much aware of all the advertisers that keep Leo and the gang in business and make the podcast’s stream going. I have even acted upon several of the ads: we are customer of SquareSpace.com (the corporate blog runs on that platform), GoToMeeting is regular part of day-to-day business – we have several accounts and use it regularly for meetings. I would use GoToMyPC if I had any need to go to a PC :-). I bought Spinrite, although I used it only once over last 3 years.

Strangely enough, the only advertiser I do not see of trying out is Audible – not because I would not like their product offering, quite the opposite. I simply have have absolutely no time for more content in my life: TWIT plus few additional podcasts, Apple TV and ZIP.ca give me way more that I have time to consume. I have no intention of buying Mustang with Sync – my selection of gadgets purchased as part midlife crisis is strictly limited to shiny objects featuring either Apple logo or an IP address, ideally both. But back to point: I feel I have done my share in keeping TWIT in business and do not really want and have to listen to same adds 3-6 times every week.

Fortunately, the adds are not too annoying to justify drastic measures and additional inconvenience – such editing them out from MP3. I have to give Leo credit for being sensitive in his ad selection – except Mustang, which I find to be least in line with TWIT audience – most products were pretty good.

I found very simple solution that surprised me with completely unexpected side benefit. Whenever Leo goes to an ad (and J.C. Dvorak disappears to baste meat), I turn down the volume to 0 for 2-3 minutes. Just turn the volume off and focus on driving, walking or whatever I am doing. I do not plan, evaluate, program or think about anything, only focus on the current moment and feel whatever is happening right now. I found this being an excellent stress relieve and instead of being annoyed by the ads, I actually started to look forward to them. I do not necessarily subscribe to *all* that New Age hype about being in the present moment, but finding an opportunity few times a day just stop and focus on whatever is happening right now, however simple or mundane that activity is, has its benefits. And there is always something going on: at minimum, you are always breathing.

Therefore, Leo and all Twits – thanks for all the adds. Ignoring them in a creative way is actually very healthy.

One month with Windows 7

2010/01/25

It has been one month now that I started to use Windows 7 based Dell Vostro 1320 notebook on daily basis. The hardware parameters of this little thing are: Core 2 Duo 2.26, 500 GB HDD, 8 GB of RAM, 13″ screen, Windows 7 Professional (64 bit of course, how else with all that RAM). All this with 3 year next business day warranty for about $1400 CAD – not bad deal at all.

Reason of going bi-OS was need to run different configurations of ATG suite, consisting of 3-4 instances of JBoss (each with 1-2 GB of RAM) and the database server at the same time. The database server is quite often SQL Server which as we know does not really run on anything else but Windows. The performance penalty of using VM on notebook is too large so I had to go native. Alternative arrangement – Bootcamp on new Macbook Pro would be way too expensive – just price of additional RAM and Windows would be about $800, all  this with sharing 500 GB between 2 OS-es, so I took the chance to use Windows on PC grade hardware.

First impression on OS front: I like it. It is definitely the least annoying OS made in Redmond. Ever.

Microsoft picked good features to copy from OS-X – the dock is finally something that works. I really like the “compatibility mode” – it has saved me few times already when installing software either too old or too paranoid to go ahead without detecting XP. Combination of explicit and implicit restore points also worked very well for me: it is nice relief after years in running installers with the feeling “if this  fails, I am screwed and nothing but completely reinstall will get registry back to same state again”.

What also works much better than any windows is waking up and jumping networks. Wifi is quite reliable and security zones make sense. Kudos to Microsoft for getting it (finally) right.

All these observations are made while I am using Windows 7 in parallel with Snow Leopard. I have expected it to be much more annoying and uncomfortable going back and forth. The only thing that still drives me crazy is  the Ctrl-versus-Command key schizophrenia. I really wish there was a way how to make this be consistent.

On hardware side, I am less enthusiastic. The form factor and portability of beefed up notebook is the best thing I am really happy about. The rest is OK. Keyboard is OK, but not great. The trackpad drives me crazy with being much smaller that it could be and not allowing multi-finger scrolls. Screen is OK but not as great as the MBP equivalent. DVD drive often does not close and the convenient buttons for media  play should provide some form of tactile feedback.

I found that ideal mode of using the Vostro is to switch it on, put is somewhere within reach of WiFi network and access the desktop using remote desktop client from a Mac. This way I have access to really good keyboard and trackpad as well as the option of using all the Mac only software I need in addition to Windows: like Things,  TextMate, OmniGraffle. The cloud based services (Google Docs, DropBox, Evernote) take care of keeping things that need to be in sync in sync. Best of both worlds.

Unintended coincidence

2010/01/24

To be fair, the book is to appear in March 2010, so most likely the cover image is not ready yet. But I found lack of images for book whose main point is to make explanation illustrated quite ironical :-).

Cure for crashing FourSquare and RunKeeper on iPhone

2010/01/11

Few weeks ago, first Foursquare application and then my favorite RunKeeper app started to fail. The symptoms were simple:

1) attempt to start

2) wait for for 2-10 seconds

3) exit

Analysis of the crash logs did not reveal anything obvious (see ~/Library/Logs/CrashReporter/MobileDevice/NAME:


Process:         foursquare [374]
Path:            /var/mobile/Applications/7F37347B-......1663AA5/foursquare.app/foursquare
Identifier:      foursquare
Version:         ??? (???)
Code Type:       ARM (Native)
Parent Process:  launchd [1]

Date/Time:       2009-12-22 12:39:11.260 -0500
OS Version:      iPhone OS 3.1.2 (7D11)
Report Version:  104

Exception Type:  EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGSEGV)
Exception Codes: KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS at 0x20294628
Crashed Thread:  0

Thread 0 Crashed:
0   libobjc.A.dylib                   0x32668ecc 0x32665000 + 16076
1   CoreFoundation                    0x32d83d6a 0x32d4d000 + 224618
2   CoreFoundation                    0x32d4fc28 0x32d4d000 + 11304

What helped was to delete both applications from the phone, including data and let the iTunes install it back. No data is lost, because both services are cloud based – only minor inconvenience was to re-enter login information.

So, Nael – I am back in the game and cannot wait to claim back mayorships for all places I have been ousted 🙂

Attention is new currency

2010/01/05

Some companies just do not get it.

It starts with an email, like this one:

By coincidence, you are on project that has the CRM component so you decide to check it out and click on link. After all, it is free, right, so why wouldn’t you ?

The catch is that it is not free at all. Without realizing it, you have already made your first payment, by doing the sender a favor: as we know, clicking on a link in email is definitely not a good idea and recommended behaviour, unless you know the sender and trust the sender. Which – in this case – you have absolutely no reason to.

The link that promises to lead to the free whitepaper, ends up here:

So the “free whitepaper” is not quite free and you  just continue paying – with most precious currency: your time. First you need to spend the 10-15 minutes to fill out the lengthy form. Then another chunk of your time to actually read what you downloaded, just to find out that (in 9 out of 10 cases) it is useless, fluffy marketing material. If you pay attention to fine print below, you’ll find out that you have just subscribed to unknown number of similar spammy mailing lists and will be receiving many more offers for “free” stuff. Add more payments: time spent on weeding them out from Inbox for the rest of the email address’ lifetime … because majority of Unsubscribe links are (similar to unicorns) purely mythical constructs.

This behaviour is so much last century and comes from today completely invalid assumption: that information is something precious, valuable that needs to be protected, guarded and given only for exchange for your privacy. In today’s world, there is abundance of information that competes for readers attention. Rather then asking for anything upfront just to gain access, the authors should be happy and honored that in the world of so many options, somebody actually wants to invest time and effort to get more familiar with their product or service or whatever are they selling. Because they are selling – the only reason for the form-guarded “free” stuff is to sell, either by using the content in question or by following up. After all, they have all information to reach you …

I am not against selling or marketing – I just want the sellers to be honest about it. If you really want to collect any information for follow up, how about at minimum provide at least a preview of what the information is about. All respected sellers of eBooks do that – give you at minimum free chapter and TOC as free (I mean *really* free) download. This seems to be such easy and obvious thing, that I am surprised that even respectable companies (such as Citrix in this case) go for this ineffective trickery just to squeeze out contact information from possible audience. It is so easy to create disposable email or use services like http://10minutemail.com/

But much easier than using self-destroying email is simply click on next search result link. Why would one expect to gain anything useful from whitepaper produced by company that does not get the basics ?