The boring rants of a lazy nerd

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Personal - Today

I've met Asaf and Shiran (the prodigies) whom I haven't seen for more than two years. I think they did not recognize me at first (our school days must feel like a previous life to them). They looked happy to be suffering the way they do.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Personal - A year ago

I have finished my advanced training and began OJT at my unit's base. Since then, I'm not the youngest anymore, though I still have a lot to learn. Yesterday, two girls from my class at school were discharged after doing their two years. It was also the anniversary of my future (planned) discharge, four years from now. I was a bit sad thinking about it (though not as sad as I suppose I'll be when the day I should've been discharged comes and goes and I'll still be in uniform, poor as a Weasley). I have willingly signed the contract and don't regret it for a moment, but this kind of angst is customary to people in my profession, so I indulge myself from time to time. In the following year I'll become more senior than most of the people I'll meet outside of the office, though I suspect nothing will really change. On a happier note, I've been spotting flashier smallarms on people in public transport during my daily commutes. Why should I care? Because when the cool guys upgrade I might get to use their cast offs. I might get a CAR-15 when I'm NCO! I hear you saying "boys" and I smile.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Personal - Update

  • Have not done much progress on the web thingy.
  • Have been working long hours on a special rather difficult project, trying to solve it cheaply using the "wrong" tools. It is not doing too well. Have had some help from one of our reserves - a very nice female data warehousing/mining specialist. Have concluded I prefer working with females, provided they tolerate me geeking out once in a while (read: all the time). And it has absolutely nothing to do with the effect water has on white cotton.
  • Kokopelli has updated The Letters of Summer - Squee! *fanboys John*
  • Have downloaded some Joe Dassin. I conclude I only like music that's older than I am.
  • Reading referrer logs makes me laugh.
  • Blogger's new WYSIWYG editor is nice (especially the HTML source editing!), I only wish it'd have worked in my firefox. :-(

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Current Affairs - Iraq war intel. screwup report

Tim Bray has some strong words to day about politics and journalism. What an age we live in, that a government not only has to explain its actions to the public, but can't even doctor the documentation to look good afterwards. <Soviet> These peacenik attitudes will bring the extinction of western civilization, to be obsoleted by societies that allow their governments to lead the people in the struggle for dominance. The collapse of the eastern block does not mean all is well in the world, despite how appealing that idea is. But, since it appears people are disinclined to listen, I suggest you start practicing your Chinese. </Soviet>

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Pop Culture - Eurovision 2004

I know I'm late, but I've just downloaded and watched the video for the "song" that won the Eurovision 2004 contest, after hearing the performer was from Ukraine. What was that bloody Hip-Hop doing on Eurovision? Who let that slut on stage?! How did she win??? I'm not angry anymore. Just sad.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Web Tech/Personal - UI

A lot has been written on the topic of developing web applications, some of it by A-list bloggers. I do not wish to rehash this beaten topic. But I have to vent. You see (or rather, you don’t see, because it’s not ready yet1), I’m building a grid widget to display fic data. I want it to have some pretty nifty features. I also want it to work for as many users as possible, while degrading gracefully for people stuck with less sophisticated UAs (*coughoperacough*). And I also want to finish it before the next Harry Potter book comes out. If I were developing for the corporate WAN, I could’ve made assumptions that would’ve completely eliminated the need to do any work. I could’ve declared right from the start, that, for example2: the user has Windows 2000 with Explorer 5.5 or 6 on a brand-name PC bought in the last 48 months. The user has typical-to-LAN bandwidth to the server. The user has Microsoft Office installed. The user does not have any disabilities that would prevent him or her from normally using a browser, to the full extent of the audiovisual experience I choose to provide. The user will click “yes” if asked about trusting my domain to install third party software. The user is of legal age and literate. All kinds of stuff. Then, I would’ve loaded the data into an XML Data Island, opened Excel as an ActiveX control, told it to load the data into a spreadsheet, color it according to some rules and — voila! — instant data accessibility, do with it whatever your heart desires (e.g. pivot it and look for average word count per month per author grouped by preferred ship that would mean the slashers are more prolific than the canon thumpers — but of course finding supporting evidence for predetermined conclusions is a bit of bad science...). But I'm not, and I can’t. Because unlike on the nice clean corporate WAN, the people on the big scary internet have Camino on OS X on a G5, Netscape 3 on VMS/HPUX/SunOS/Tru64/AIX/IRIX/BSD/Win3.1, and Lynx/Links/W3M on an X-less Linux-based NAT firewall/router (with a 9” monitor, stuck in a utility closet). They speak many different languages, some are eight-year-olds, some are blind, and not many would install third-party untrusted software just to browse fanfic, or already conveniently have MS Office installed. So what can I do? Either give the user non-rich, static content, or reinvent the wheel. As you realize, I chose the later, because otherwise I wouldn’t be ranting about it. If I didn’t love doing this, I know I would've hated it. P.S. Every time I try to write more than one sentence, I realize how hard it is to write conformant documents in English. I mean, of course writing well is hard, as it’s an art that takes skill and talent, but just writing something that’s grammatically correct… Let’s just say I’m glad computer languages have much simpler rules. People, treasure your betas! 1 - Please leave a comment if you want a preview, wish to offer help beta testing it or wish to be included in random hallway usability tests. 2 - The described environment does not neccessarily represent the conditions at my workplace.

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