September 14, 2005

Pictures... just because I can

So I've been doing a lot of familial reminiscing in the past few weeks, plus I just figured out how to add images on Blogger, so here's one of my sister and me, circa 1987. This is a particularly dear picture to me.

And here's one last year of my littlest sister and me. She isn't quite so little anymore; she just turned 9 in July!

I love them both very much, as you might have guessed.

September 11, 2005

Gosh, Windows...!

So Windows Vista will come out (when it does) with 7 different versions. My first thought: "[Groan] Oh, that'll be just great for support, trying to figure out which people are using and why 'feature X works on my other computer but not on this one...'." How can Microsoft tout usability and simplicity? Because most people don't know anything else. For example, since switching to Linux, I use a filesystem that does not need defragmentation. It's out there, but all Windows filesystems (don't know about the upcoming WinFS, which apparently won't be ready in time for Vista's release anyway) need defragmentation. So, users have to remember, manually, to defragment their hard disk periodically or suffer a performance loss. (Windows does not automatically add defragmentation to their Scheduled Tasks.)

Second thought, from one of the comments at the Slashdot link: artificial limitations. Windows is making all of this stuff, but they'll only give it to you if you pay more. This doesn't even sound like a good business model, let alone the fact that GNU software is simply free: Word and Outlook, widely used applications, have limited imitations in Windows by default (WordPad and Outlook Express), because they can't give away the major draw--MS Office--with the OS. Gosh.

September 10, 2005


The Heart of the Matter
"I’ve been tryin’ to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if you don’t love me anymore"

Why do we understand these truths or feel empathy from the world at large when rock singers belt it out? This song has little to do with the way things have been going in my life presently, but there is the same undercurrent. But, when I heard this song on the radio this morning, I suddenly felt like the world understood, like I wasn't alone. Not that I felt alone before, but somehow Don Henley makes it seem universal. Strange. I'm not sure I want to know what that implies about me.

September 7, 2005

Reflections after a week of phone support

I've heard this quote before, but it has been in my mind this last week or so since I've been on the phones supporting customers:
"Computer programming today is a race between software engineers, striving to build bigger and better 'idiot-proof' programs, and the Universe, trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe seems to be winning."

I also read another blog about user interfaces in which he talks about the fact that computer interfaces are designed with beginners in mind. However, once the user gets over the learning curve, the interface is a crutch. He asks a rather tough question: "So is it possible to design a system that's suits both beginners and professionals?" No easy answer for that. We could probably all rant about how certain implementations fail, but do we have anything better to offer? (For all my GNU/Linux snobbery, I must admit the problems with the two major open-source interfaces: GNOME is too simple and KDE too complex.)

As for "idiots", I don't really mean it. The same could be said for everyone driving a car: I certainly don't know very well how to diagnose the internal workings when something goes wrong. Yet I do appreciate a working knowledge of things. And I can certainly empathize that the trend (rather frustrating for developers) in computing seems to be trying to completely diminish the learning curve, and as usual, that makes most of the usefulness of computing null and void. (If you don't know how to use a mouse or to save a file, you won't be very productive.) Does that mean the learning curve should be a bit higher and computers demand a bit more knowledge before using them? Or does that mean we should all invest in our local computer education center?