It’s easy, just…..

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Although this post is coming at the expense of Apple, I am quickly reminded of why I was learned 10 years ago that Linux would never dethrone Windows in the base consumer market.  At the time I installed a few different version of Linux with different desktops to try then out and two things quickly became apparent that Linux users all like to gloat about.

1. You didn’t save any space.  You might be able to configure Linux to run an FTP server from a floppy.  But as an end user, by the time you install Linux with all of the drivers, bells and whistles it has just as big a footprint as Windows

2. There are 5 ways to do anything (4 of which are commandline driven) and you never really know which one will work, and on top of that one that didn’t work at the beginning might work at the end, because you have changed some random setting.

Appreciating that many of these items are simply familiarity with the platform, McDonalds sums it up nicely 🙂

http://www.hanselman.com/blog/UpdatedFor2011McDonaldsWiFiGuideWithUpdatesForMacOSXLionAndWindows7.aspx

 

Annoyances in Coding

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Every once in a while I am doing something in programming that is….well, simply annoying.  I came across one of these tonight while doing a little work.

Lets say I have a number (double) which is a percent and I want to display it somehow.

Double percent = .1234;
String display = percent.ToString(“P2”);

Simple enough, nothing to worry about; now take that same string and turn back into a double.  Basically you can’t, you need to create a special function that will go and strip the % (if it exists) and then divide the resulting number by 100.  Now this is a small thing, but it annoys the crap out of me.  Microsoft has taken the time to handle currency, negatives, thousand separators and most any other type of string based number, why not a percentage?

http://potterspages.blogspot.com/2008/02/convert-percent-string-to-double.html

Markets are People

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As with most people out there I find myself continually drawn to certain subjects and being in IT as a career many of those subjects center around computers.  However, one subject that I continually find myself drawn to is basically human nature and more specifically how it is combining with our current technological advancement.

For one of the few times in human history it is notable that our current level of technology (not just computers and the internet, but medicine, food production, chemicals) is far superior to our cultural ability to absorb these items, understand them, and embed them into the culture in a way that is “good”.

Having been involved in the Sales cycle for software many times I always find it interesting how buyers/users view the world.  In my own way I almost always bucket people into 3 groups.  The ones who want change, those who don’t really care, and those who resist change.  During the sales cycle this generally crops up as, the group who are constantly pointing out the inadequacies of the current solution (whether it be software or manual), those who feel most any solution will do what they need it to do (just tell them how), and those than feel the currently solution is perfectly fine (if not awesome).

In the attached blog post he talks about the “9x Effect”, this being the fact that companies will try to over sell the product and the consumers overall will be skeptical about the benefits (the bottom 2/3s from above) as well as how we are always making “relative evaluations”.  I point this out because of 2 things.

1. Above I mention the top 1/3 who always want change, and as such they will point out the things they don’t like about something and it will give them a “relative” what is better about the new solution attitude.  Eventually they will notice that all is not sunshine and lollypops, but some issues will be solved for them.

2. I believe this is why a “new generation” is required for great leaps in culture (and also why that is not possible in our currently aging society).  A younger person/generation has not vested interest in the current technology, they don’t own it, didn’t grow up with it and since they didn’t do either of these things, see no value in it.

Youth tend to look at the new tech almost like companies do, they see value even if it doesn’t exist and they have both the time and energy to experience it.  Eventually most people are like the rest, as we age we become vested in a specific set of items and are convinced they are the best and that we don’t need the new stuff.

As such, the bulk of the consumer market is normally very “skeptical” about new items and are very quick to disregard the solution.  At face value you can look at new technologies/products which strictly speaking where not that new, but captured the market with the right time, marketing, location, price, features, etc that they very quickly established themselves as the the defacto standard.

  • The iPhone is simply a phone with contacts and email, what pulled it above the fray?
  • Facebook is not significantly different from other offering before it.  Yet, it is now the #1 site on the internet.

As often as not, we can look back as the Monday Morning Quarterback and say what went right or wrong, but doing it with foresight is an entirely different problem.

Answer the 9x question and be a billionaire…….

http://www.spatiallyrelevant.org/2011/07/19/9x-effect-google-and-netflix-looking-at-changing-markets/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SpatiallyRelevant+%28spatially+relevant+-+product+management%2C+marketing+and+launch%29

Stuxnet – Article

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Just reposting this as it is probably one of the most interesting articles I have read in a long time.

If you remember in the news a year or more ago there was some reporting of a virus trageted at Iran’s nuclear centrifuges.  This is the whole story.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/07/how-digital-detectives-deciphered-stuxnet/all/1

Does Bordom make you Antsy?

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Probably not that long ago I would have completely skipped over this article.  However I have 2 friends who left their previous jobs directly related to “boredom” or more specifically lack of work.  Interestingly enough one of the things that both said is “It’s nice for a while (6 months or so), but after a bit you start to go a little stir crazy”.  And so eventually they left their jobs and moved on the greener pastures.  In any case this is quite well written and worth a read if you have retention issues at the company you are working for or a company you are considering going to.

 

http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2011/07/12/bored_people_quit.html

D

Searching differences: Bing vs Google

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I was reading this morning how MS has pushed Billions of dollars in to the “online services division” at MS, only to be still saddled with operating losses.  Ballmer of course is doing “thousand points of light, stay the course” routine.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/why-microsoft-ceo-steve-ballmer-is-so-bullish-on-bing/9978

However one item caught my eye in the article, and that was how Bing has increased market share again, still piddlely compared to the great Google, but none the less improving over time. 

This made me think a little about how I have found myself going to Bing more often these days rather than Google due to one of the features Google implements and Bing doesn’t (at least not as whole sale).  This is the “auto correct” feature that both search engines have in some form or another.  Google seems to implement this in 2 different ways.  Way 1 is the explicit way.  Normally this seems to kick in when you type a word incorrectly, for instance….http://www.google.ca/#q=survivale+bottle.  Google will then show me a question asking me if I actually meant to type to word incorrectly.  This is great, works, well, and gives me the ability to override if I actually want to.

The other way that Google corrects me is the one I find most annoying.  This might be specific to development and technology, but it has to do with Google trying to over interpret what I am asking.  A good example of this is that on the weekend I was searching for some information on the Report Viewer Control in Visual Studio 2010.  So for simplicities sake, lets just do a search for “Reportviewer control 2010” http://www.google.ca/#q=reportviewer+control+2010.  Looking at the results you can quickly see that Google is smart enough to see that reportviewer is actually 2 words and search both for “reportviewer” and “report and viewer”.  Now this wouldn’t be nearly as annoying to me if like the auto correct for spelling it gave me the ability to override it, but it doesn’t and I have messed around in the “advanced features” area, etc trying to turn this off at times.  Since dealing with this I have discovered that Bing doesn’t do this (http://www.bing.com/search?q=reportviewer+control+2010) (at least not as forcefully), so I have been going to Bing more and more often to get around this little feature that Google has.

Anyway it has me wondering if the reign of Google is coming to a close.  In 2010 Facebook was a more visited web site than Google…..

 

Old Code isn’t so Bad

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Working in IT and coming up through software development, I have always found that I have a slightly different tact than others when it comes to software.  More often than not, we all feel we can build a better mouse trap and as such practically the first response to some old system long past it’s prime is to rebuild it from sctrach.  The thing is that this doesn’t normally make much business sense, and on the more technical side if the application is poorly documented and the people that built that system are gone it is likely that it does a lot of stuff you are unaware of, and won’t know about until it is too late. 

This morning a blog post caught my eye in this regard, finally somebody who thinks more like me :-).

http://java.dzone.com/articles/change-attitude-legacy-code