Category > Rants

Macrocephalic Society

05 October 2003 » In Rants » 1 Comment

JR, brother, I can relate to your lament. I’ve had exact same problem for as long as I can remember. Just recently I went to get a new bike helmet, knowing in advance that it would most likely be an exercise in futility, and wouldn’t you know, the cheapest helmet that did not squeeze my cranium in vice grip was around $140. Maybe we big-headed people could unite and petition manufacturers to produce larger head gear, and if they don’t, sue them for discrimination?

Fashion Item RIP

22 September 2003 » In Rants » No Comments

Some “fashion” trends are sure to pass me by completely. Good riddance. But I’ve got a vintage pair of coveralls for any interested hipsters.. Comes pre-covered in paint stains. Bidding to start soon.

Clueless job ads

13 June 2003 » In Rants » 4 Comments

This must be the most ridiculous job posting I have ever seen. So let’s see, the potential candidate needs to know Cisco equipment by heart, handle firewall software from several different vendors, be an accomplished network engineers, administrate Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, and Sybase, support Windows and Linux servers, write programs in PHP, Perl, Python, HTML, SQL, and JavaScript, and create graphics in Fireworks, Flash, Photoshop, and Illustrator to boot. All for a $50k salary. Good luck. They’ll still be looking when the Halley’s comet comes around next time.
I’ve seen a variation of this kind of silly ad, where the requirements are something like this: 10 years of Java, 7 years of .NET and C#, ability to eat UML for breakfast, and write compilers for dinner. No wonder there is a perception that the job market is incredibly tight. I don’t think that’s necessarily true; it’s just that both sides need to have more realistic expectations.

Realtime Orange

05 June 2003 » In Rants » No Comments

Instant notification of domestic terror alerts. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve been waiting for. How is knowing that the current alert level is Orange versus Yellow going to change the way I go about my everyday business? Am I supposed to be extra vigilant and report any Orange-level activities to appopriate authorities, armed with the Patriot Act? The whole terror alert system is silly. Reminds of a great Onion article (no link unfortunately) which talks about extremely loud sirens going 24 hours a day to announce the current alert level.

Hva sier du?

19 May 2003 » In Rants, Tech » 1 Comment

When I was in Norway this past January, I wanted to get a DVD that had audio tracks in both English and Norwegian, and the subtitles in the same languages as well, so that I could use it as an educational tool in my learning Norwegian. Apparently, the only types of DVDs that could satisfy the requirements were the ones intended for kids, so I purchased Toy Story 2.
Now, my regular DVD player at home is region 1, and the disc would not be recognized by it. “No problem”, I thought, “I’ll just fire up my laptop and use mplayer”. 2 hours, 3 cups of coffee, and an untold number of lost neurons later, I still could not get the subtitles to display. The movie played fine, the on screen display indicated that subtitles were turned on, and yet all my efforts were for naught. I read through the man page, the online forum discussions, and googled for answers. Eventually, a post on some message board revealed that one needs to specify the exact location of the font and the encoding for the subtitles, which proved to be the answer I needed. I could finally watch Buzz express himself in Norwegian.
The point of the story is, those who say that Linux is ready for desktop should check in with Reality from time to time. Now, I am fairly familiar with hardware, software, and other aspects of technology, and still, it took me a better part of the day to figure out what unique combination of options would get the DVD to work, so I don’t see how an average person can be expected to use Linux for any sort of multimedia without experiencing major frustration. And I wasn’t trying to do anything obscure — just turn on the damn subtitles. I’m sorry, Linux desktop-prime-time advocates, but that’s pathetic. Whatever bold proclamations you make, Linux will be relegated to the backend server room until glitches like these are a thing of the past. I will happily use Linux for software development, but on my desktop machine at home I will run Windows and save my neurons for something better.

Readability of XML

09 April 2003 » In Rants, Tech » No Comments

Today I was reading an article in Dr. Dobb’s Journal entitled “XML & Relational Databases”. It discusses the advantages of presenting the SQL query results in an XML format, due to better abstraction, clearer presentation of hierarchical relationships, platform independence, and human readability. Wait just a second, human readability?
This brings up a pet peeve of mine. Don’t get me wrong, XML is a good, flexible format and has many uses, but why must every XML-related article tout the fact that it can be read by mere humans? What is the inherent advantage of this “feature”? Not only does it increase the space required to store the XML documents, but the XML processors must deal with the larger amount of data, which must affect performance on some level. Who benefits? Companies making storage solutions and processors.
There has to be a better way. I don’t peruse low-level machine code, so why should the computer be stuck with handling the verboseness of XML? Equality for all, I say. There should be a compiled version of XML that the software can work with natively, and if a human needs to look at that data, well, they can just run an XML viewer or editor. To respond to expected arguments of “with plain-text XML you don’t need a special viewer or editor”: that’s fine, keep your config data or whatever else in XML, the software should be smart enough to compile it automatically. But it’s silly to have two computers communicating with each other via human-readable XML files (think SOAP), even if they are compressed — generate XML, compress, send, receive, uncompress, parse, process. There are definitely superfluous steps there.
And now Microsoft says that the next generation Office will store everything in XML. Well, okay, but what I am really going to do with plain-text multi-megabyte documents living on my hard drive, except using them in Word? Open them in Notepad and admire the hierarchical structure? Give me a break. Compile them instead. Leave the space for more MP3s – a format, mind you, that doesn’t use musical notation for storage.