Thursday, January 31, 2008
Here's my own post, here are a couple of humour pieces, and here's a good post, which, though it is staying in the black, is doing so only by virtue of a LOT of up votes.
I wonder is this just a general anti-criticism thing, or an army of new Arc fans out there? Some of the posts (my own included) aren't much good, but a couple are really quite funny and/or interesting.
Mind you, it's in a category with 75 other posts, so I don't rate my chances particularly highly. Fun, though!
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
It seems to me that the solution is not to encourage the noob illusion that macro calls are function calls.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Fun, eh? Sometimes I wonder about myself...
Monday, January 28, 2008
By 2015, a programmer's keyboard came with a button which, when pressed, typed the string 'org.apache.'. The average 'Hello World' demonstration, when put together, weighed in at 10 gigabytes, and required as much as six months of editing fiddly little XML files.
But that was just the start.
In 2027, with the release of Java 11 Enterprise Pair Programming For Transnationals Edition, UML came true.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Aren't banks fun? Hours of entertainment! Well, not really, no.
On Friday, I was privileged to interact with the bank (AIB) not once, but twice! First, I attempted to put some money on my credit card. Shouldn't be too hard, surely? After all, it appears as one of the accounts on the Internet banking thingy; I can probably just transfer money to it!
Oh, if only. It turns out that its status as an account there is very much read-only. So, I rang the bank. An annoying telephone menu, followed by waiting on hold for half an hour with American country music in the background, and finally I was connected to a nice lady (who must have the patience of a saint) who told me how to do it. It turns out, you go to 'Bill Pay', click 'Add bill', enter your credit card number, twice, in the field marked "Bill Reference Number", and enter a number from your code card. Easy once you know how, eh?
But that's not all! Once you actually make the transfer, the money leaves your account instantly. It doesn't appear on your card until the next day. Presumably it gets sent from branch to branch by carrier pigeon, or similar.
Note the interesting button placement choices made by the wonderfully skilled designer of AIB's beautiful, gorgeous, not in any way horribly confusing website.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
First, what is Pownce? Well, what indeed? During its private beta period, I had always assumed that it was a social network for cats, or similar, but now that it is finally open to the public I've been able to find out for myself. Sort of.
Pownce is written by noted string-rounding expert Leah Culver, who I've mentioned before. Various other Web 2.0 celebs are involved, too.
This was great fun. First, you tell it whether you're a boy or a girl. Well, sort of:
Disgustingly cutesy, as I'm sure you will agree. Please note that this is not the result of some silly application which adds whatever genders people type in; these are default values, put in by the authors. Ugh.
Pownce is disarmingly honest; they tell you up front that if, in a moment of madness, you decide to go for the paid plan (of which more later) they will bother you if you try to cancel.
They'd also like to know exactly where you live, but they're not saying why.
Finally, you are invited to upload an image of yourself. I responded with my usual picture. Perhaps understandably, the server choked in horror, and gave me this:
"You must be at least this good-looking to upload an image."
Thankfully, when I tried again I got a less shallow server process, and my image was put in place, no doubt shattering the hard disk platter. Here's my page, in case you're interested.
So, finally I was able to find out what Pownce actually did. It's terribly exciting!
Have a guess?
Well, it's the same as Twitter, really, except with no obvious mobile phone or instant messenger integration. You are also able to upload files, and define events. If you're a paid member, you can upload files of up to 100mb in size! How useful! You also don't see the ads (of which, also, more later), you get a little badge proclaiming you as the sort of person who gives crazed Web 2.0 entrepreneurs 20 dollars a year, and you are permitted, rather inevitably, to create your own hideous theme for your page.
Ah, the page. What does a user's page look like? Well, when they first sign up, it looks something like this:
Note the second sentence. What grammar!
Now, about those events. You can define events, giving a title, description, date and so forth. You can then click on an obscurely-icon-ed button; its URL implies that it will give you an iCal description of the event, to be imported into your favourite calendar app. What it actually does, of course, is gives you the same 500 error screen shown above. Lovely.
('Revenue Model' is a term used by Web 2.0 people. It means, roughly, 'hopefully the government will come up with public funding for social networking sites for cats'.)
Perhaps realising that no-one in their right minds would pay for this crap, the authors have decided to diversify into ads. Ads are inserted into peoples' notes on the public pages. They are entirely untargeted, and cost $3 per thousand impressions. Yep. Those will sell well.
Bits and Bobs
Is Pownce fast? Well, what do you think, given Leah's renowned programming skills?
The answer is emphatically no. It has that same horrid, grinding slowness that so turned me against Twitter in the first place. Why can't someone make one of these things that actually performs properly?
Leah, by the way, seems to have her share of stalkers:
(Please note that I am one of those homosexual things, and thus am indemnified against anyone thinking that I might be one of those stalkers. She does seem to be rather popular with the gentlemen, though, as you can see from the absurd suck-up comments on her blog.)
Pownce also has an API. At time of writing, there is no documentation on, for instance, exactly what the various calls return, though.
Then, there's the desktop app. It apparently uses a beta Adobe desktop application development thing called Air, which requires a special VM. I didn't try it, as I don't really want my pristine MacOS desktop polluted with weird-looking non-native pseudo-Flash beta crap. It seems that even the Pownce staff share my misgivings to an extent:
Pownce is an odd creature. It's like Twitter, but without any of the useful features. It's also like Facebook, but without any of the useful features. It does allow you to send files, rather like email, or any instant messenger application from this decade. Presumably, the user is expected to sit there refreshing the page once every few minutes, or else use the scary desktop application.
Oh, and the company has an absurd name: Megatechtronium.
I think that the conclusion is obvious. I've decided to include, however, a nod to Uncov, which does this sort of thing so very much better than me:
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Why, yes, I'd love to use dubious beta software to update my computer, so that I can have an allegedly nicer interface!
On the plus side, it is interesting in that it's the first time I've ever seen MS pushing .NET software for anything even vaguely system-related. I assume that it's basically the old update thing in un-managed C++, wrapped with a Silverlight UI, but still, it's progress. I wonder is this an indicator of where the next version of Windows is going?
Today, someone tried to use it to advertise their website! A tile bearing the URL 'downloadmusic.ie' (nofollowed link; PageRank, you know...) appeared; it has since been removed. I suppose that the person in question may simply have been unfamiliar with Internet ettiquete, but really, what were they trying to acheive?
By the way, if you like the game, and have a Reddit or Digg account, please do vote it up on the relevant services (links on site).
Also, I've confirmed that it does indeed work on IE.
So, Sun has apparently bought MySQL, of all things, for a billion dollars (roughly two and a half packets of crisps at today's exchange rate).
Interesting move. On the one hand, does the company really have anything much of value? Its only decent backend, InnoDB, is actually owned by competitor Oracle. On the other, MySQL is currently known for its poor performance on multi-processor machines, and Sun is currently championing multi-processor, with its 8 core, 64 hardware thread Niagara II, and various development tools. Potentially a match made in heaven, but the price seems very high...
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Saturday, January 5, 2008
(7:16:15 PM) Message could not be sent because an error with the switchboard occurred:
I must say, I'm amused by the idea of a switchboard for MSN. Win2k3 wasn't up to the job, evidently...
Friday, January 4, 2008
... and there are always people [in Google] who know more than you, be it C++, Java, Cryptic crosswords or even Hitler.
Thursday, January 3, 2008
So, out of these seven posts which one got the most participants? Got me seen as a thought leader?