Sep 17, 2006

Why Johny can't code and whether he really needs BASIC

David Brin has written an article at Salon titled Why Johny can't code. The basic premise is that it has become very difficult for the younger generation to pick up computing, as simple and straight forward environments of yesteryears are gone. As an example given by David, it was much easier to do between late 60's and early 80's when machines were 4-bit and BASIC was on the ROM of pretty much every home-brew computer.

I have myself started off with BASIC programming. I used to code simple drawing programs and "MS DOS emulators" on a Russian-made 8080 clone (it was called KUVT "Corvette"). Indeed, it was so much easier to pick up a very straight-forward no-nonsense BASIC approach to program writing. If you wanted to, you could be very structured about it too -- splitting your program into proper subroutines and not abusing the GOTO.

In the comments and replies that follow the article, opinions have essentially been divided between:

  • But you can use Python for that (despite the fact that David does mention what he does not like about Perl, Python, other scripting languages)
  • Why, you should have started from buying an old machine

I whole-heartedly agree with many that are saying that BASIC is actually a very bad tool to teach kids too. But I fail to find any other language that has so many things under a single roof, without the need to call up a host of modules/libraries/etc. -- and at the same time simple enough that a 12-14 year old does not need to have advanced math degree to see through it.

It was so easy to code something along the lines of: 10 ON KEY GOSUB 1000 to handle keyboard interruptions and 100 LINE (10,10)-(100,100): CIRCLE (50,50,50) to draw a line and a circle -- how much more typing would that require in Python? Tcl? Perl? Ruby? In all four you would at least need some graphics libraries imported (like Tk) before you can even start accessing the screen.

On the other hand, looking back now at the number of the crappy VB apps I can't help but think that part of the reason they are in such abundance is exactly because of BASIC being so easy, so forgiving.

Thus, I do not agree with David when he says that maybe Microsoft should include a simple version of BASIC with Windows. I do agree with him that kids may indeed need a comparably simple tool to apply their potential computer skills to a test -- but I would love for that not be BASIC...

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Jun 9, 2006

Folderless Outlook

This is a reply to an email I have received from Mark of CNXN fame, the one that made del.icio.us and Reddit with his No-Folder tutorial as a feedback to my post. The text has been edited slightly to better fit blog.

First a quote:

As illogical as this sounds I find this very valuable info. When I first started using Outlook without folders I had the “fear” as well until I kept at it and realized that it was unfounded. The realization came when I started looking at WHY I started using folders in the first place. For me it was generally to shrink the list of things I needed to look through so I could reduce the fear. That fear was directly proportional to the size of the list. Gradually though, that fear went away as it sunk in that the list did shrink conceptually by sorting the fields.

But this concept has to be learned, which takes effort, which takes time, which is something people generally have very little of. I hate drilling new habits as much as anyone, but my inconsistency with and distaste for filing necessitated that I do.

So back to being delighted. We’re developing an email tagger for Outlook in order to address some of the short comings of not using folders. Even though we strongly believe that people could get away with 95% less filing, there is undoubtedly a need for SOME type of categorization.

The fear you described is the most important factor in designing a functional UI for the email tagger - how are people going to react to 10000 messages in one place?

We’ve posed a number of questions to stimulate product suggestions, but the best feedback we’ve rec’d to date comes from saying to people, “Do it this way” and they tell us why the don’t want to.

I suppose the matter is not solely filing vs. not filing. A significant part of the issue is a tool at hand. When I use Gmail I do not, per se, file anything – Gmail is a proof enough that your approach is quite valid and can be used. However, what is very important in case of Gmail is that the way all communication is handled, whole efficiency of it. Conversations/threads are preserved and tracked well. Search is almost instantaneous. Rules can be used to efficiently tag/archive messages. What this does is that you are not feeling intimidated by the length of a scroll bar, a counter of messages in your inbox (let alone by the number of unread ones!).

What is interesting is that at that Gmail borrows well from Pine, Mutt, Elm. I would not mind to use mutt as my email client if I could at work! I am more than certain I’d be lots more efficient.

About tagging. From what I know, there are several Outlook tools that attempt to do just that. Take, for instance, NEO. It is a great tool – allows you to categorize your mails easily, groups it for you by different views (by contact, by dates, by categories, etc.). It is fast and does rely on the same keep-it-all-in-one-place approach. If I were looking at a tagging solution – NEO would definitely be an app to look at closely.

Another alternative is ClearContext, although it does look more at tagging. Yet another is GTD Outlook add-in. It also allows you to tag (assign t projects and contexts).

Now, as far as tagging goes what it really requires s being easy to access and unobtrusive. You can categorize mail even now, but it requires way too much clicking around. Either a keyboard shortcut, or a drop-down list on the toolbar, or a small text box where status bar normally sits would be the way I’d go. Another good way, but I am not sure it is easy to do with Outlook, would be to do what MailTags does in MacOS Mail.app – an extra side bar that lets you set a few things, tags inclusive.

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Jun 4, 2006

Is Bangalore as high-quality resource-rich as it wants everyone to believe?

Apple software logs out of India- The Times of India:
Considering the low-cost, high-quality talent pool that Bangalore offers, it is unclear why Apple decided to shut shop just over a month after it commenced operations.

Say what? Maybe the proper way to react to Apple's actions was to actually stop and think: are there really that many high-quality support resources over at Bangalore? Low-cost -— sure, no doubt. But high-quality in impeccable Apple kind of way? I would not say so. One of the very important things that sets Apple apart from the rest of PC industry is their attention to details and to end-to-end customer experience. This also includes customer support. And Apple would certainly hate it had it somehow been forced to deliver service quality below its customers expectation. Something that has been all-to-frequent with India (and China) outsourced activities...

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CRN | Lenovo, Linux, Lenovo3000 | Lenovo To Shun Linux

As seen on Slashdot, quoted from CRN: CRN | Lenovo, Linux, Lenovo3000 | Lenovo To Shun Linux:
Computer maker Lenovo will not install or support the Linux operating system on any of its PCs, including ThinkPads and a series of new notebooks, the company said this week.

So, it has started. It has not really taken all that long. I used to be an almost adamant ThinkPad fan — I still think that in Wintel world they used to be the best laptops ever. Best engineering, even if a bit moody at times, requiring a very diligent installation process.

The day I learnt IBM would stop actually making them — I have not cried, but I was certain that the end has, indeed come. And I can attest that the most recent of my ThinkPads (T40), the one that has Lenovo's name on the back, is lousy, compared to 5-year-old 770E that still works.

IBM has never to the best of my memory, directly supported Linux on ThinkPads, though one could find some recommendations on forums, etc. about what might be the best setup. Remember how everyone cheered up when IBM announced that they are now a Linux company? One of the most frequent sentiments I remember was people saying "At last — we now will get native Linux drivers for-this-and-that!"

Never did happen. And now Lenovo is fully selling off to a certain Redmond-based company. So long.

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Using Outlook Without Folders, Without Filing

Over at Mark Rosenberg has published a tutorial on Using Outlook Without Folders, Without Filing.

This is so much un-GTD that I had shivers going down my spine when I realized what this was about. This is also likely targeted at those lucky among us that don't fear seeing an inbox full of 12,345 messages — then waiting for them to get sorted, the way author suggests.

I have known people to go by "my inbox is the place I keep all of my messages" approach — but I could never equate them with the most productive folk. True, Mark does suggest a few enhancements to how you keep all this info in one big pile: color, use different font, etc. Yet you're likely to go crazy if you do need to manage too many tasks/projects/relationships this way (say, is bold-italic-lime related to that mega-project or not?). This approach does not really help you organizing your info, it only reduces that 15-second decision you should have made when you got your message (and if you remember, David suggests that you should never file it in multiple places, you should rather go with the folder that first comes to mind, that's it).

Folder-wise filing, with a very quick heat-of-the-moment filing decisions coupled with a good search tool like (no longer available for download) LookOut — this is what does make your mind flow, not a big pile of info.

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Jun 1, 2006

Opera Mini 2.0

Opera Mini™ for Mobile:
Opera Mini™ is a fast and tiny Web browser, that allows you to access the full Internet on your phone. ... The new version further improves the browsing experience by enabling download of images, MP3s, etc directly to your phone.

I've had previous version of OperaMini running on my Nokia 6230 phone and pretty much always preferred it to the stock Nokia browser. The only drawback was when accessing operator-enabled resources that did not like Opera, but in every other instance it was far superior to the default web browser.

For one thing, it uses screen much better, even a tiny one like mine. On my wife's 7650 it almost real thing! It has much better layout capabilities, supports enough JavaScript that you can access your Gmail account (although you should probably think twice before doing so -- it does not support HTTPS). And as a quote above says — you can even download media (images, MP#s, etc.) onto your phone!

First experience after upgrading — it definitely feels much faster. Opera states that:

Opera Mini uses a remote server to pre-process Web pages before sending them to your phone. Web content is optimized for your device, ensuring fast browsing and a great user experience. ... Opera Mini recognizes your phone and optimizes Web pages accordingly to provide faster browsing. link

This is quite impressive, and what is more important — it works. Web sites, though cramped into a tiny screen, “degraded” very gracefully in most of my tests — they were pretty much unrolled, following the structure and preserving styles as much as it was possible (i.e. if CSS called for leaving a 150px margin, that was not honored, while colors, pictures, fonts, etc. certainly was).

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May 28, 2006

Motorola exec reveals next-gen slimphone: the SCPL - Engadget

Motorola exec reveals next-gen slimphone: the SCPL - Engadget:
TLK BT TS: MTRL'S HD HNCH FR CLLPHNS, RN GRRQS, RVLD TH XSTNC F N PCMNG HNDST CLLD TH SCPL (THT'S SCLPL, N CS TH LCK F VWLS MD T NCLR) DRNG RCNT CMPN NVSTMNT CNFRNC -- BT KPT LL TH MPRTNT DTLS T HMSLF. LL THT'S KNWN BT TH SCPL (WHCH W HP N N WLL MSTK FR TH SRGCL TL PCTRD HR), THR THN TH BVS FCT THT T WLL B QT SLM, S THT T WLL SPRT FV FTRS THT PRMS T ST T PRT FRM TH PCK -- WHCH W'LL TK T MN WMX, GPS, 3CCD HD CMCRDR, 30GB HRD DRV, ND PRBBL DRCTV DSH S WLL. T THS PNT, W CN'T VN S FR SR THT TH SCPL S NT TH SM S TH SPPSD RZR 2, R "CNR," THT'S BN FLTTRNG RND RCNTL, BT WHTVR TH'R WRKNG N, W'LL HV T WT NTL NXT R T GT R HNDS N N.

And for those who like their text Motorolised -- here's a small Ruby thingie to do the trick:

#! /usr/bin/ruby -w
#
# Motorolise input (i.e. remove vowels and upper-case).
#

outp = file = data = ""

def mtrl (inpData)
  inpData.upcase!
  inpData.gsub!(/[AEIOUY]/,"")
  inpData
end

case ARGV.size
when 1
  if ARGV[0] == "-h"
    puts "MTRL or MTRL <flnm> or MTRL <flnmrd> <flnmwrt>"
  else
    file = ARGV[0]
    File.open(file) {|f| data = f.read }
    puts mtrl(data)
  end
when 0
  data = STDIN.read
  puts mtrl(data)
when 2
  file = ARGV[0]
  outp = ARGV[1]
  File.open(file) {|f| data = f.read }
  o = File.new(outp, File::CREAT|File::WRONLY)
  o.write(mtrl(data))
  o.close
end

Save this script as mtrl, do a decent chmod (chmod u+x mtrl should do). Assumption is made that your ruby is in /usr/bin if it is not — alter shebang line.

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May 27, 2006

GUI vs. console

Is the Console next Desktop?:
For professions that require loads of data-entry, such as bookkeepping, income tax, retail... console-based applications still provide more user performance than any visual design.

This is the second para in the first comment posted. I can't agree more. Time and time again I am seeing that good GUI metaphors are extremely hard to come up with. Designing an intuitive GUI, even if you've got a whole bunch of guidelines is not easy at all, for better or for worse you do end up making numerous exceptions to rules you came up with yourself.

At work we have recently replaced an old console-based back-office application with a new one with a GUI. Operations productivity has dropped. This was not only a result of an unfamiliar interface (this certainly is impacting performance). Even once users have managed to come to grips with new interface, they were still spending more time than before on processing transactions. And that's despite the fact that there was more information on a single screen...

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Macbook -- continuation

I have now had a little more time to play with the “little white box,” here’s a few amendments/additions/clarifications to my earlier review.

Glare/display

There is a glare. In some case it might, indeed, be strong. Yet you can relatively easily get rid or reduce it -- you should generally not be sitting with strong sources of light beaming either straight or at an angle at your MacBook screen.

However, it is well worth to note that screen is much more crisp than either PowerBook G4 or iMac G5 I have. And it has a very respectable resolution for a tiny 13.3“ screen.

Performance

While it is a very fast machine indeed, I can't say that it performs levels of magnitude faster than my iMac. When one runs benchmarks -- maybe. But for a regular (or average) person’s tasks (”regular“ does not include hard-core gamers and geeks that love compiling X11 after lunch) you are not likely to be blown away You will notice a speed up, but it won't be like moving from Apple ][e onto a PowerMac G5 Dual. And it is a good thing :).

Ports/periferals/network

For a modern laptop it seems to have all the ports my heart desires: 2 USB ports are there, FireWire, external monitor, etc. Since this is a light (and likely a secondary) machine, I doubt it really needs much more. Since it is not a high-end portable, then a few things that the ”Pro“ has, that are missing from the younger brother -- no problem

I did run onto some strange AirPort issues with loss of connection to the network -- not (yet) sure if this is wrong configuration or genuine hardware issue...

Remote control -- is a cool eye candy, really. Makes all of my friends salivate, but so far has been useful for little more.

The box (where it was all packed)

Was small. Four times smaller than my PowerBook's.

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Why Your Boss Is Overpaid - Forbes.com

Why Your Boss Is Overpaid - Forbes.com:
Workers are frequently ranked relative to each other and promoted not for being good at their jobs but for being better than their rivals. It is a natural response to the difficulty of true performance pay.

Now, this is one interesting statement, and so very true. This also makes any sort of “objective performance appraisals” a nonsense: if you compare a person to only a limited subset of employees, your “exceeds expectation” mark may well be another man's “meets expectations.” So much for being a good manager at evaluating performance!

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May 22, 2006

MacBook

Today marks the day when I yielded to a temptation thoroughly. I saw, I liked and I bought — a new bright and shiny Apple MacBook. A nice little white marvel that fits so comfortably on ones laps or an airplane table...

By way of rationalization I bought it for my wife — she claims to have liked it. I think she may have said that to give me an excuse, if I needed one. I pretend that this was indeed her honest wish.

There now are three Macs in our household — my old PowerBook G4 17”, a relatively new iMac G5 (without iSight) and this new little baby. At first I wanted to wait till I got back and picked a name from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for it — then I decided to call it the name that sounds very close to marvel — it has, therefore, just been christened as “Marvin.”

Marvin is maxed out on RAM — it has 2GB of it. It is the top of the MacBook line with a SuperDrive and a 2.0GHz Intel CoreDuo CPU. The only thing I have decided to leave unchanged is the hard drive, hence it has a mere 60GB one (The primary reason is that I may decide on upgrading it to a bigger *and* faster HDD at some point in future. On the other hand, since my wife is unlikely to carry tons of MP3s and loads of AVIs on it — 60 should be enough!). While black matte MacBook looks quite nice, I found more traditional color to be a better fit.

What it feels like

There were quite a few of MacBook reviews made all around the web already. Mine here is not really a proper review/benchmark, but rather a look at what is/is not different on this white Intel-based baby and my other two Macs (and it looks like I’ve got a nice set of three latest generations of Mac CPUs in my house).

This is all very subjective, yet overall this little thing does feel a bit more responsive than both of my other machines. Then again, my PowerBook and iMac both have respectively a fourth and a half the memory MacBook has. Applications do indeed startup much faster on MacBook, and dragging of the windows happens fast as well — no complaints there.

It is very quiet — especially while running on battery (a bit noisier when charger is plugged). It does seem to warm up a bit more than PowerBook, but at the same time it does not burn your laps as much — most likely thanks to its plastic body.

I do miss the ambient light sensor of the PowerBook and the keys that would light up automagically in low light conditions. The keys themselves feel a bit strange — they are completely flat and move in a subtly different way. That said, I don’t dislike them — they’re just different.

MagSafe connector I like — it snaps in nicely and stays there quite well, at least IMHO. Have not tried it in a “reclined” position, maybe then it would behave less adequately. (UPDATE: There does not seem to be any noticable issues with MagSafe). Wrist rest on MacBook is quite generous, although the edge of the body can be felt, maybe a good idea to tilt it a bit. I like the big rubbery legs that this laptop has, unlike the always-getting-torn-off-and-lost variety that a PowerBook has.

The screen — the one that sparked so many controversial POVs: I like it, although I have not yet tried it in daylight. May change my point of view then, but right now, in the evening, sitting in a dimly lit room I don’t get any glare from anywhere. (UPDATE: I have now seen the glare, although one needs to be sitting in such a way that there's a lot of light coming on to th screen, e.g. from behind. I doubt, however, that a non-glare screen manages considerably better in such condition). I’ll have to run a very subjective visual comparison (once I’ve gone with iKlear over PowerBook’s LCD) once I get home.

Battery life is better than on my PowerBook at present — although it is not that better than what battery life used to be when I had a new battery. It does take quite a bit of time to load the battery, especially while working. Power adapter also heats up quite a bit in the process.

What else is there to note? MacBook has a CD hatch on a side — small difference from where it is on a PowerBook (is it there on an iBook? I don’t know). iSight is fun, although I, for one, could live without it. Two-finger scrolling that is available as a hacked kernel module for my PowerBook comes as a standard here and is very nice. As an added feature you could also two-finger click to emulate a secondary button.

Preloaded

My MacBook came with a few preloaded titles — aside from iLife ’06 there’s also iWork ’06, a customarily Office for Mac Test Drive from a Redmond company, a bunch of board games from Big Bang (instead of a 3D flying Nanosaur I got with iMac), a copy of OmniOutliner (too bad no OmniGraffle), and Comic Life. It is clear that this setup is aimed more at a lighter home use, some entertainment — as opposed to PowerBook (and I suspect MacBook Pro) being targeted at a more professional segment. As all iSighted Macs, there are Front Row and Photo Booth applications that let you either sit back and enjoy a movie, or sit back and create a little cult of yourself using a peep hole of a camera.

Net-net

Overall, I think I like this little beast. It is a solid laptop in a very nice package. It is solid in and out — thanks to Apple engineering efforts. I wish this were our corporate standard...

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May 20, 2006

Throw No Stones


Throw No Stones
Originally uploaded by jurvetson.
This is unbelievable -- can anyone imagine anything like this coming out of Redmond?

May 5, 2006

Creationism is not Cristianity

Creationism dismissed as 'a kind of paganism' by Vatican's astronomer:

Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism - it's turning God into a nature god. And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do.

This is the best statement of how/if science and religion can coexist. This also puts an interesting spin on Christianity vs. Creationism & "Intelligent Design" — it has been mentioned before that Vatican does not support it.

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Apr 22, 2006

Windows API as part of MacOS X 10.x?

There May Be an End-run for Apple Around Windows After All:
A souped-up OS X kernel with native Windows API support and the prospect of mixing and matching Windows and Mac applications would be, for many users, the best of both worlds. There would be no copy of Windows XP to buy, no large overhead of emulation or compatibility middleware, no chance for Microsoft to accidentally screw things up, substantially better security, and no need to even take a chance on Windows Vista.

There are times that I wonder what Cringely is on... While I like the last part of this statement, I sincerely doubt that anything like this either is in Steve's plans, or that it even makes much sense at all. I can't really imagine how would this work -- keeping the look and feel of OSX as apposed to having a soup of UIs (and with traditional, metal, merged toolbar, thin metal views in Tiger one might argue that soup is already there!)...

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Apr 14, 2006

Pirating to benefit Microsoft?

How Piracy Opens Doors for Windows:
The proliferation of pirated copies nevertheless establishes Microsoft products — particularly Windows and Office — as the software standard.

I could not agree more — this is exactly what I have been seeing in Russia, and it really is annoying. One would think that a country that is (used to be?) so paranoid about espionage be CIA and the gang would instead promote a much more open solution -- yet this is not the case. The number of MSCEs etc. is so great, and reliance on MSFT this or MSFT that is huge. It is indeed a de-facto standard, which is sad-sad-sad....

I have seen so many kids that are smart, yet have never played with Linux or *BSD in their life — despite the fact these free (in both senses) alternatives are out there.

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Mar 25, 2006

Russia’s Putin Reclaiming Dominant Role in Former Soviet Union - COLUMN - MOSNEWS.COM

Russia’s Putin Reclaiming Dominant Role in Former Soviet Union - COLUMN - MOSNEWS.COM:

At the center of the Russian policy in the region is a determination to resist the West’s efforts to boost its influence at Russia’s expense, in what Moscow says is falsely portrayed as a bid to promote democracy.

Let's just take a slightly different (though definitely biased) look: can you truly believe that intentions to be “democracy and nothing else” — in the most altruistic sense? Especially if it is a part of a foreign policy of one of the (potentially) largest empires of the human history?

Let's just keep in mind of the track record, shall we? Wasn't certain Usama Bin Laden a freedom-fighter? That turned into the top-ten most wanted? How about one Saddam Husein?

Democracy is important and Russia needs it badly, but what I think democracy exporters and importers need to remember is that it is not a fridge or a truck load of chicken thighs. You can't buy it, plug it in, turn on/set up and see it work. It takes effort from within. Like love, this is probably one of the things that money can't buy.

Especially if purchases handled by figures that are known not to be angels at all -- corrupt, making fortune on activities that can hardly be considered clean by those same democratic countries.

Democracy is also a very tough thing to sustain -- just look at what is happening in France these days, or UK, or that same USofA.

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Mar 19, 2006

Would you *really* want to dual boot Mactel?

WinXP and OSX dual boot in MacBook Pro:
Finally I’ve succeeded in installing Windows XP in MacBook Pro. Now it can dual boot between Windows XP and MacOS X. There’re few issues with windows xp but being able to boot smoothly between these 2 OSes are really amazing.

I do consider myself a geek, and I do like to tinker with things -- yet I am still a bit amazed that folks are so much intrigued and excited about a success of a story referenced above. I might sound like an old fart here -- but what's the deal? Ok, MSFT is not supporting EFI (and won't be in Vista either), yet Apple has been very much upfront about the thing -- there are no “special” barriers to being able to do this...

I can't remember where I saw this (most probably Slashdot -- but I may be mistaken), but it is so very true: for years Mac fans have been saying their machines and OS a superior to Windows ones -- and now so many of them have succumbed to this?..

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Mar 17, 2006

Everything new is well-forgotten old stuff

Backup Files to DV Camera:

Tape backup was once the norm for archiving files from home PCs. Consumer grade tape drives tended to be flaky and slow, but were the only alternative to using dozens of floppy disks. ... The average price for MiniDV tape in consumer quantities is about $4 or as low as $2.60 in 100 unit lots. MiniDV tape stores 8-12GB in SP mode or 12-18GB in LP mode, depending on how much compression is used during the backup process. The new 80min MiniDV tapes hold as much as 22GB in LP mode.

Several (ten? fifteen?) years ago you could buy a poor-mans tape backup connectors for PCs that would use a VHS recorder as a tape device. These were relatively popular here, in Russia -- for very much the same reason (much cheaper than the real thing, more than enough for average home use). Granted, drive sizes back then were a lot more modest (you get more data on a tiny little USB stick these days than an average PC used to have on a HDD) -- yet idea is the same.

Mar 16, 2006

What's worth the effort?

A revelation has downed on me the other day during one of the endless meetings:

It does not matter how elegant or smart a solution is (or can be). What matters is how timely it is and how well it addresses (especially a long-standing) immediate need.

Case in point -- procurement process (or rather lack thereof). Up to recently we've had an almost total paper kingdom. The only automated part was to fetch a quote from procurement service and fill it into a request -- after that you're on your own getting the quadrillion signatures and praying that scrap of paper does not get lost.

Nobody really wants to spend the money -- at least not until the next very important purchase request is lost. So, you get a poor man's version of a proper workflow tool: you put your standard purchasing items into a bunch of protected Excel sheets (with price quotes and some basic formulas) and you get your purchasing clerks to send out a simple Outlook message with voting buttons in place of a physical signature.

Can't say it is elegant, definitely not very inventive. Possibly smart -- definitely timely and serves immediate need. Bingo -- you get all the brownie points you want!

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Feb 18, 2006

Trust the unconscious self

An interesting point at “sleeping on it” or the way we put it in Russian -- “утро вечера мудренее”.

The research suggests the conscious mind should be trusted only with simple decisions, such as selecting a brand of oven glove. Sleeping on a big decision, such as buying a car or house, is more likely to produce a result people remain happy with than consciously weighing up the pros and cons of the problem, the researchers say.
Link

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Feb 12, 2006

Quicken 2005 for Mac

I wrote before about my little pet project that is not really going anywhere -- a moderately sophisticated personal accounting package for MacOS X. I am well aware of such apps as LiquidLedger, CashBox, Conto (btw, if you are really new to this and just want to get a feel for keeping your hands on your finances I would really recommen d going with Conto), iBank, MYOB, and many others. Yet I find pretty much all of them are lacking in one area or the other (specifics are worthy of a separate and a much more elaborate entry).

The last two drops in my decision to now consider taking the plunge and installing GnuCash under X11 is inabilities of Quicken (leader in personal finance market, ain't it?) to (a) handle multiple currencies in an efficient and unobtrusive manner (you have to trick the app to think you're actually investing in mutual funds account) and (b) it is completely brain damaged about any character encodings besides US ASCII (or at least I was unable to get my Russian transaction details to show up in the register).

I do not want to use Fink for this -- I already have DarwinPorts installed and do not ant a second set of libs and all to exist on this machine. This is likely to be quite a challenge, considering the myriad dependencies that GnuCash has.

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Jan 14, 2006

Helvetica Neue Condensed in Safari

The theme of this blog right now uses Helvetica Neue Condensed in heading elements, yet rendering of this font on a Mac is very much different between Safari, Opera and Mozilla-based browsers, see for yourself:

Safari Camino Opera
Safari Camino Opera

Not sure why Safari does not render condensed font correctly and no info seemed to be anywhere....

Jan 9, 2006

Changing Blogger theme

As I am working on an update to Ceesaxp.Org, I have decided to change the theme used here at Blogger. I've gone for JellyFish. It is relatively light, although a bit large or my taste. I might tweak it a little, or I might change it around entirely to suit the main site's theme better.

Jan 8, 2006

Small nifty tricks with iTunes and a Mac

While one might opt to pay for iRooster, there are cheaper if not a bit less elegant ways of achieving pretty much the same goal: getting up on time.