The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Lessons learned

Wednesday 27 July 2005 at 10:30 pm

I think I’ve learnt a few more lessons than normal in the past week — and not just because my parents had to suddenly leave the country, forcing me to become carer for my sister. Although that might have been one factor. Maybe.

  • Keeping a blog updated doesn’t quite seem so pressing when there’s shopping to be done.
  • Promising to be in different places at the same time, to different people, is not a good thing.
  • Illustrating stupidity by saying “how’s the winter?” to a person in the northern hemisphere is, er, stupid.
  • Sixteen year olds do less housework than what most husbands are accused of (not) doing … grrr.

On a similar note, I learned a few lessons at work today too.

  • When designing a database, care is required. If you’re recording something that’s unique (like, say, a MAC address), many headaches will occur should you fail to specify UNIQUE, because …
  • Large imports of data from one source to another pretty much never work exactly the way you want them to.
  • Care is also required when dealing with inexperienced users who are confronted with features that are supposed to simplify their work, but end up just confusing them.
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Mutter grumble …

Saturday 16 July 2005 at 11:49 pm

Stupid Microsoft software. Suppose that I wanted to do something perfectly normal and reasonable, like sharing a printer on my network. I tick the “share this printer” checkbox just like you’re supposed to, check that my (still-awesome) router is okay, and go to add the printer on the other computer.

How am I supposed to know that …

Windows cannot connect to the printer. Either the printer name was typed incorrectly, or the specified printer has lost its connection to the server.

… means that “since you didn’t turn the printer on until after the computer started up, and I’m a stupid OS that doesn’t properly understand hot-plugging, I will refuse to let you connect to this printer”?!

I spent two hours chasing fairies around RPC endpoints, NetBIOS name resolution, and services that weren’t running … only to discover that all I had to do was turn the printer on before starting up Windows. Sheesh.

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Hopes for Palestine?

Saturday 9 July 2005 at 5:48 pm

In the wake of my support for the Make Poverty History folks, and in light of Brendan Nelson’s ramblings, allow me to present a Plain English Report Card ™ of the recently ended G8 summit.

  • Making poverty history: C-
    US$ 50 billion in aid and the US$ 30 billion of debt relief announced earlier are both very good things that will mitigate at least some of Africa’s woes. Likewise the improvements in access for AIDS drugs. But there’s still only vague mention of removing the enormous US and EU agricultural subsidies that are seriously hampering African economies.
  • The environment: F
    Finally there is at least a tacit acknowledgement from the US that global warming just might be real (shock! horror!), but beyond that there’s nothing new.
  • Middle-East peace: A
    Announced relatively quietly, the US$ 3 billion Palestinian aid package is exactly the kind of thing that just might bring some long-term stability to that region.
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Train bombs again?

Friday 8 July 2005 at 5:37 pm

Once again, there’s been a terrorist attack in a big Western city. I hope the mad rush to blame Islamic terrorists isn’t wrong … and I can’t wait to hear the fear-mongers remind us that it could happen here any time now! (although yes, in fairness, it might, just as terrorists might hit Moscow or Jakarta or Madrid. Oh wait …)

I have to say that I’m very impressed with the way London’s authorities seem to have handled this, coupled with the determined reaction of many City folk to not shut their lives down the way much of New York did in 2001. Aside from the inevitable chaos in public transport, London has continued to work reasonably normally over the last 24 hours — even the cricket went on long enough for Australia to get trounced!

I suspect the fact that not too many people died is an indication of how effective that response was — I for one am glad that no one I know seems to be hurt.

Even more amazing is the response of the online crowd, with both Wikipedia and Technorati carrying much, much more information, and more accurate information, than any of the commercial media.

And aside from everything else, it was very amusing to see G Dubya standing behind Tony Blair at Gleneagles, itching to make a profound leaderly statement of his own :-)

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I have new speakers!

Sunday 3 July 2005 at 10:51 pm

Logitech X-230 right speaker

Thanks to Electronics Boutique’s sale that just ended (plus Shane’s staff discount) I decided that I could afford a nice new set of Logitech X-230 speakers. They’re not shiny high-end audiophile gear (apparently this is “entry level” … at $100 RRP!) but they seem to do a decent job, being perfectly suited to games. They even do a decent job of playing music, too!

Unfortunately it seems they were designed by someone who is hard of hearing in the low frequency ranges. Even with the bass dial at its lowest setting, everyone seems to agree that they pump out insane levels of bass — it’s worse than what the average car stereo sounds like from the next lane at the traffic lights. On the upside, if you crank up the bass dial, place it near a wall, and have a wood-framed house, people three streets away will be complaining about that house with the obnoxious music!

An update to my whinge from last night: now AOL are getting all self-congratulatory for their coverage even though the article doesn’t quote one word from the “critics” that its headline refers to! If you had any doubt that AOL sucks as much now as it did in 1997, let it be dispelled now.

(In fairness to them, their servers did hold up much better than most other sites would have under a load of 150k simultaneous clients, but then Google or Akamai would barely blink with those numbers. Also, the American TV broadcast was apparently even worse.)


Live 8 … not so live

Sunday 3 July 2005 at 12:17 am

If you haven’t noticed, I too have jumped on the bandwagon of the current Make Poverty History campaign, if only because this one might actually bring about real change, and has already achieved more than most other attempts of the sort. So as part of this weekend’s festivities, I though I might check out Live 8 as well.

Apparently they reckon that 5.5 billion people will be able to watch the concerts! For crying out loud, there’s 500 million people in poverty in China alone, let alone bloomin’ Africa! (you know, Africa, that place that the concerts are supposed to be about?)

Of course, the number of viewers might be higher if the stupid AOL site was built well enough to handle a decent load without crumbling … for crying out loud, a 400k stream should be smooth on a 1500k line!

The redeeming grace: in Paris, Muse, as always, were awesome.

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