Saturday, December 08, 2007

i hate web forums

there, i said it, i hate web forums... i can't stand going to this web forum and then that web forum and then the other web forum (i hate doing that with normal websites too, that's why i love rss feeds)... i wish i could read all these web forums in thunderbird somehow, or better still, i wish these twits who decide they want to run a forum get a clue and use usenet instead - that's what it's there for... gaaa!

and yes, i know some forums have rss feeds, but rss is the wrong format for discussions (there's no threading in rss) and many that i'm interested in don't support unauthenticated feeds so my feed reader has to be able to log on as me, and guess what, google reader can't do that...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

that's despicable

i read this today and i'm struck by the sheer gall of this woman...

the basic gist is that a grown woman played manipulative games with a young girl (and when i say young i mean barely a teen) on myspace, at some point decided it was time to 'teach her a lesson' and instigated cyber-bullying against the kid resulting in the girl committing suicide... and then the woman has the temerity to start a blog with the title "megan meier had it coming" (megan being the girl) in an attempt to fight back against the vilification she's received in her community and by the media...

she seems to think that because the girl was a bully too that it was ok to lead her on with a fake teenage male persona on myspace only to later crush her with that same persona and leak secrets to her social contacts in some sort of ridiculous preemptive strike to protect her own daughter (rather than teaching her daughter how to deal with bullying)...

regardless of the character of megan meier, adults should not pull this kind of shit with children, they should know better... lori drew is a villain by any standard and it is she who had the vilification she's now receiving coming to her... as ye reap so shall ye sow...

Monday, December 03, 2007

serving many masters

came across an interesting blog post on commenting/documenting code today... i've seen many of the things mentioned before but at the end i'm always left with the feeling "why should i?"... not because i don't think i should bother, i know better, but because these tips never seem to address the key inertial speed bump of "what's my motivation?"...

what one really needs to be asking oneself, however, is "who am i writing code for?"... is it for me? my employer? the end user, perhaps?...

i'll ask another question - "who is going to see it?"... i'm going to see my own code, obviously, but so are other coders - specifically the people working with me on the project now and the people who will be working on it in the future... they are the audience of my code, they are the users of my functions, they are the consumers of my classes... when i write code, i'm writing it for other coders... with that in mind of course i'd try to write the best, most elegant, and meaningfully documented code i can...

it may seem strange that i'm considering my fellow coders as one of the masters i serve as a professional software developer or more specifically why them and not some other master... well, being a coder means mastering the art of serving many masters and they are the ones most directly impacted by the form and nature of my code...

end users, on the other hand, are most directly impacted by the user interface i design - so i design user interfaces for end users... likewise with employers (or direct supervisors, at any rate), they're most directly impacted by deadlines so i try to meet deadlines for them...

and for myself? i solve problems... i solve problems for the sense of accomplishment, of course, but also to make my life easier/better... and i don't just mean solving problems with the product (though that's part of it)... solving problems with the nature of my code means other coders can use it more easily... if they can use it more easily then then don't have to ask me as many questions and i can spend more time either being productive or goofing off... it also means they're less likely to use my code incorrectly and thereby introduce bugs which create more work and complexity for everyone down the line...

solving a problem that affects my productivity of course means that i can better meet my deadlines and that makes my employers happy - and it's far better to have employers that are happy you're meeting a deadline than employers that are unhappy because you are missing a deadline... that kind of stress sucks...

finally, solving a problem with the user interface makes the user experience go more smoothly... if the user experience goes more smoothly then the user is more apt to use the product the way it was intended to used... if the end user is less likely to use the product in unintended ways then they're less likely to encounter unexpected behaviour which would be reported to my employers to be fixed which leads to cluttering the next to-do list, making more work for me and my fellow coders, making the product more complex which inevitably means more questions asked of me, and making the deadlines harder to achieve which makes the employer less happy...

in the 7 years i've been programming professionally that's the realization i've come to... i need to design UI for users, meet deadlines for employers, code for other coders, and solve problems for me...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

clearing out the cruft

is cruft even a word?

anyways, i've begun to realize that although some of the ideas i come up with for blog posts may not be the greatest (no, really?) if i don't write them down they wind up cluttering my brain and keeping me from coming up with anything better...

and that sucks...

so what has been cluttering up my brain? lots of things, but one that i keep coming back to was my visit to the dentist a couple weeks ago... as i'm wheel-less i took the bus... i've certainly found material to blog about on the bus before and this time was no exception... buses are, of course, no smoking areas and that's a good thing for me because i'm allergic to tobacco... unfortunately that really only means people can't light up or take a drag while on the bus, it doesn't actually protect us non-smokers from second-hand smoke because the nicotine addicts have a tendency to puff and puff and puff until the very last moment, get on the bus, sit down beside you, and then exhale their noxious, carcinogenic breath... thanks a lot folks... it's people like you that make me feel just a little less guilty about the realization that i'd be much better off if you all keeled over right now...

and that was just my trip to the dentist's office... once i got there and planted myself on one of those weird dentist chairs i learned something i didn't know before... you see, unfortunately for me i found myself with a raw spot on my gums just between and behind my 2 front upper incisors and i was sure that was going to make my trip to the dentist miserable (clearly they have no difficulty finding sensitive spots even where there were no obvious sensitive spots before)... i learned that dentists encounter such inflamed gum problems so frequently they actually have a term for it: a pizza burn... incredible, because that was exactly the cause too... darn that pizza, why does it always have to be so delicious that you can't wait for it to cool down...

oh, and of course the receptionist/cashier found a new way to confuse me once my visit was over and done with...

her: so did your parents send money for the visit or should i just send a bill home with you?
me: ???
her: ....
me: ??... uhh, credit card...

i'm 32 years old, my face is covered with hair, and she asks me how my parents will be paying... way to throw a guy off his game...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

copyright policy makers are dumb

here's something that i wish policy makers would get through their thick skulls:
Technical measures can be used to deny access to materials without authorization, but Copyright is a law that limits what you can do with material you already have access to. The two relate to very different concepts.


thank you, Russell McOrmond, for those 2 wonderfully put sentences...

Monday, November 05, 2007

adhd

adhd - it's like add only worse because you act out and are disruptive... such is the nature of hyperactivity..

do i have adhd? was i ever officially diagnosed with adhd? i don't know, i don't recall... what i do recall is being subjected to a behaviour modification experiment because i was too disruptive in class...

basically they had me take this drug (such as for example ritalin) one week, some other drug the next week, and so on and so forth and had the teachers write down their observations... those observations were that none of the drugs worked to modify my behaviour, which was good for me, but at the age of 13 i knew what was what and the threat of (presumably) well meaning authority figures continuing to try to change the way my brain worked did not appeal to me in the least... so as a result that did work to modify my behaviour...

by which i mean i learned that in order to avoid future (possibly successful) experimentation i had to learn to fly under the radar... i had to keep my head down, my mouth shut, and my body still - i had to learn to censor everything i did and become inhibited...

"but wait, surely there were limits" you say - and perhaps you're right, but there was no guidance on which impulses were ok to act on and which weren't, and the mental energy it takes to keep those impulses in check doesn't exactly leave a lot to spare for complex analysis of the situation at hand (and even if it did it would still be a filtered/censored response)... nor was it like there was much evidence any kind of middle ground existed as there always seemed to be a complaint designed for what i was doing...

even as an adult a more relaxed middle ground is hard to find - "stop bouncing your knee, your shaking the table", "i'm going to take that thing away from you in a minute", or "stop tickling the kids, you're getting them worked up and they're making too much noise", never mind the old childhood favourites like "no running in the house", "no jumping on the furniture", "stop jabbing your classmates in the side", "stop drumming on your desk", or "stop banging your head against the wall" (many of which i'd probably still be doing if not for the consequences)...

so i live in a world where, in the wrong setting, simple muscle ticks can get me in minor trouble - i learned as a kid that in order to hold on to the person i was (no way you can change the way the brain works without changing the way the mind works) i had to keep the real me to myself and now as a consequence the only time i can be myself, the only time i have the freedom to be myself, is when i'm alone... otherwise there are too many rules, too many consequences, and too much hassle - and then folks wonder why i don't let people in and don't socialize as well as i could...

i crave stimulation just like the next person, but as a tactile person fulfilling that craving means moving, often in ways that distract and annoy others, sometimes in ways that wind up being destructive... in a society that values order so highly, i represent chaos... so i try to find a balance between order and chaos because a whirlwind does not belong in a bottle and because if i can't be myself around others then there is a part of me i cannot see...

i don't understand girls

i don't understand girls sometimes, but i'm a guy so i guess i'm not supposed to... but still there are things that just seem odd...

here's what got me today - i was on the bus and there was a girl talking on her cell phone (no, that's not it yet) who had her nails done to look like dominoes... and not just black dominoes, some were black and others were hot pink...

i don't get over-the-top nails (truthfully i don't get painting nails at all but that's another matter) and this was just one example of it (i'm sure you've seen ample examples of it too)... do they attract attention? sure they do, much the same way a circus freak attracts attention - you stare because it's so odd...

i suppose some attention is better than no attention, but i find it hard to believe that's the kind of attention so many would be seeking...

the law of conservation of mental energy

yeah, i just made that up but hear me out...

i think that mental energy (like real energy) cannot be created or destroyed...

if that's true then it stands to reason that you only have a finite amount of mental energy you can put into a thing and thus the more you put into image the less that's left over for substance...

no where have i seen this more plainly demonstrated than with food... i was at a company function on friday and it was a fancy-pants sort of affair complete with fancy-pants food... you know the kinds - small portions with things drizzled on the plate in order to make it look like a work of art... i've encountered food like this before and never has it ever been great food... ok food, reasonable food, but never great, never anything to write home about... i enjoy bbq's more than i enjoy this type of food...

i don't know where the practice of dressing up food came from but i'm certain it's entirely misguided... we've all learned over the years what good food looks like and we've come to associate that appearance with the taste of the food so that good food just naturally looks good to us... making the food look like art visually indicates that the attention of the cook/chef was not 100% on the flavour of the food and that always seems to result in food that tastes less good than it could...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

idea time

here's an idea that i'm giving away for free to a good home... all anyone has to do is promise to do something about it...

loss of floss

you see that little white spool that the dental floss is usually wrapped around (when the case hasn't been taken apart)? that spool should be any colour other than white... black, blue, red, green, purple, i don't care, so long as there's some contrast between it and the floss wrapped around it... why? so that i can easily look at my dental floss and see that yes i'm running low and need to get some more... i hate going to pull out a length of floss for my normal oral hygiene ritual only to find that what's left isn't long enough to hold on to with both hands...

Monday, July 09, 2007

honey, why is there a mushroom cloud in the back yard?

i've said it before and i'll say it again: i like me some demolition...

i remember reading about match stick bombs when i was a kid - i never saw one in real life though - but here's a video of the effect minus the shrapnel (since the match heads weren't confined in a sealed vessel that would have formed the outer shell of an actual bomb)... i believe the proper term for this is deflagration...

today's demolition was brought to me (so i could share with you) by the fine folks at boing boing ('cause apparently they like demolition too)..

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

advertising cars on buses

yeah, yeah, it's been a while - shoot me already...

so i'm on the bus going to work this morning and trying to figure out what the god-aweful perforated stickers they put on the outside of mississauga transit buses (perforated so that the windows aren't completely opaque, just sort of not really transparent enough to read street signs anymore) is supposed to look like from the wrong side (the inside) and i realize they're graphics of cars...

lets follow this logic for a moment, folks... you have public transportation, it reduces pollution, it reduces traffic congestion, and it reduces it's own ridership by serving as a vehicle for encouraging people to keep their money out of the public transportation system and in the higher polluting/congesting world of cars?

this, more than anything else i can think of in recent (or even distant) memory is the moment that mississauga transit has jumped the shark...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

have you ever wondered . . .

you know how you can see your breath when it's cold outside, well have you ever wondered if you could see a fart under the same conditions? if so, what would it look like? if not, why not? (i know the air down there is different, but that different?)... well, now i have both questions answered at the same time with a video of a fart in infrared...

if you thought the absence of ultra low hanging clouds in winter months had anything to do with the muffling effects of garments you'd be wrong as the video plainly shows familiar movement apparently unimpeded by the garments obviously being worn... what the video also shows, however, (and this sort of surprised me) is that the gas is cold (the warmer the object, the lighter the colour)...

colour my curiosity satisfied...

Monday, January 01, 2007

snowboard usb flash drive

y'know, as soon as i saw this snowboard usb flash drive on ohgizmo i immediately thought of my friend andrea complaining that she couldn't fit her snowboard inside her tiny little VW beetle... well andrea, if you've still got the car, i think this one will fit...

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