Bogus Tech Measurements

This article really hits a couple things I have problems with in the tech industry’s measurements of things.

http://www.nytimes.com/indexes/2010/01/21/technology/circuitsemail/index.html?8cir&emc=cir

This week I need to hunt down if anyone can really see the difference between 60, 120, and 240 Hz TVs (and if we spent several hundred extra dollars this weekend).

Making It Easier To Cancel Accounts

Tonight, I had two very different experiences canceling accounts for Internet services. The first was my old cable modem service (Amanda and I switched to AT&T for reasons that I won’t get into now) and the second was my freecreditreport.com account.

The cable model cancellation was a breeze. I called them, told them I didn’t want service any more and my service was cut off. PERIOD.

The FCR.com account wasn’t as easy. The first thing I should say is that this is an online service that allows you to pull your credit report every day and then they monitor your credit. It was easy to set up you just go to their website and enter all your information. What do they ask in exchange for this? Fifteen of my hard earned dollars every month. The novelty of it wore of quickly though and I realized that there isn’t that many reasons for me to have this service.

The cancellation ended up being a pain. They have an 888 number that you have to call that connects you with someone from India and when you tell them you want to cancel your account they spend ten minutes telling you about how great their service is and how I’m not taking full advantage of it. I had to tell her four times that I wanted to cancel my account before she finally did (actually I haven’t received the confirmation e-mail yet 🙁 )

All websites should be legal required to have is button that reads “DELETE ACCOUNT”. Clicking this button would confirm that the user wants to do this and then the account would be deleted. That way I don’t have to spend ten minutes on the phone trying to convince the person on the other end that I really DON’T want their service anymore.

On that note I think it’s time for bed.

Why Don’t Open Source Projects Take Improvements From Their Users?

Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror has an interesting post today about how WordPress can max out the CPU of a server (http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001105.html). In the article he discusses how WP is really slowed down by the fact that it generates every page dynamically each time they are accessed (which in hindsight makes sense). But by just adding a caching plug-in it can really improve performance. During the course of the article he gets into the fact that WP should just roll this functionality into the base install given the increased performance.

This isn’t the first time I have heard this about an open source project. Firefox could be picking the top 10 plug-ins and integrate them into the next version. That way there would be official support for the features people want.

I had problems earlier this year with TinyXML not exporting very small floating point numbers in scientific notation. After trolling the internet I found that someone had already submitted a patch for that same problem over a year ago. I’m not sure why the TinyXML patches aren’t being integrated but I wonder how many other people have had the same problem. It makes me feel bad because the community involvement is really what sets open source apart and some projects just don’t take advantage of that.

What is the Market For High Quality Code

I just started reading Daily WTF and it’s really scary. Occasionally, they publish an article about someone’s experience at some business that handles money (bank, market trader, etc) where they have some mission critical piece of software that barely functions. The current year is hard coded, there are individual tables for each fiscal year, and the problems go on and on. Often we have experience with software that doesn’t work properly or crashes constantly on a daily basis.

A lot of self taught programmers and “classically” trained (if such a thing exists in our field) that don’t know their goto’s from a hole in the ground. The question needs to be asked: How many of these kinds of people end up starting their own consulting or software development business? When a businesses needs to have some custom code written for their in-house order tracking/billing/”add extra feature here” software they pick the cheapest bid and get what they paid for. It’s too bad we don’t have some kind of website where normal businesses can review contract programmers before they are hired.

This does explain why my credit card information has been stolen THREE times over the last year…

Daylight Savings Time

This is a just a reminder that tomorrow starts daylight savings time so set you clocks ahead so we can all feel off the whole week.  It’s funny how these one hour shifts can screw me up for the whole week.  I can’t remember if this is the week where I feel late or early for everything.  🙂  I think it’s late with spring forward.

The Dog Days of Winter

February is finally here and the weather is really crappy.  I understand why people get depressed during the winter and the reason is the cold and the 10+ inches of snow that is sitting outside my window right now.   I know that I get this way every year about this time but I would really like to move to a place where I don’t have to worry about the cold.  Right about now I don’t feel like doing anything and even the though about doing real work is hard.  I guess this is a fall back to the time when our species stayed inside during this kind of weather and slept to conserve energy.  Do people who live in more temperate climates have this problem?  Is moving really a solution or will I get to the point where I miss having snow?

Maybe after I finally graduate I can move to the southern portion of the USA so I can have my own farm and not have to worry about snow.  If things don’t work out I can always move back. I guess I can always dream.  🙂

Finally Movie Rentals For My AppleTV

So yesterday Apple started renting movies through the iTunes Store and I could be happier.  Apple will allow you 30 days to start watching the movie and then after you have started the movie you have 24 hours to finish it.  After the rental period is over the movie is automatically deleted from your computer.  It is limited to just movies at this point.

I don’t understand why you would have a 24 hour limit to finish watching the movies but 30 days to start it.  Why can’t they give you 30 days to watch the movie, period.  You should be able to do what every you want to with the file while you are renting it (good luck :-)).  If you want to watch it again why should I have to pay for and download the file again?  I think this is thing I don’t like the most because when I rent a movie from Netflix I can watch it as many times as I want (in theory).

I love how convenient this is because I can just download the movie I want to watch when I want to watch it.  Then I don’t have to wait for Netflix to send out the movie or actually drive down to the store and get it.  Another thing is how many times have you rented three or four movies at the store just to have watch just one and have the others sit on your coffee table accruing overdue fees.  Downloading the movies doesn’t have this problem because you download them as you want to watch them.

Finally, I really wish they would start doing TV rentals.  I only watch TV shows once and then they just sit there taking eating up hard drive space.  I don’t want to delete them because I spent two dollars on them and so I eventually burn the files off to DVD.  If we could rent TV shows this wouldn’t be a problem anymore and with a rental they could charge us a dollar less.

I’m going to start messing around with this tonight and I will be really happy when the software update for my AppleTV comes out and I can download the files directly to the AppleTV.