A site devoted to discussing techniques that promote quality and ethical practices in software development.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good for the Industry

More of this will be good for the IT industry.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Feeling a bit cloudy

Unless you have not touched the Internet in the past year or so, you would no doubt be bombarded by the latest hype called Cloud Computing while the poster boys of yesterday B2B, B2C, E-Commerce are conspicuously ignored. Surprisingly, those advocates seem to imply Cloud only applies to those modern often rehashed applications.

According to those definitions in here and here, no one can argument that the good IMAP, whose RFC was ratified before the word Cloud Computing was ever conned, does not fit the definition of a Cloud computing application.

Since GMail is now supporting both POP3, which I have been using ever since I used e-mail, and IMAP, I have decided to give this cloud application a try to see what kind of adjustment I had to made or what other problem I can see.

Of course, I am not quite ready to give up my Desktop e-mail client and I am using Thunderbird as the IMAP client. Here are the main issues:

How could I take my mail from GMail to another ISP

In the past, when I switch ISP, I simply change the e-mail client's POP3 servers addresses to my ISP and to tell my friends to switch addresses. Since I am using an e-mail redirection service, I did not have to bother my friends and associates. My e-mail storage is the central repository of all my e-mail correspondence from various ISPs over the years. As long as I have a sound back up policy to adhere to, I do not lose them.

However, with the IMAP, the messages are located on the IMAP server and I cannot take the collection from say the GMail IMAP and give that to XYZ's IMAP and from there to accumulate e-mail sent to XYZ's server. Perhaps it is peculiar to GMail, I don't even have the control on when a file is actually deleted.

I guess this is not uncommon to many person's concern with using Cloud Computing. How can I retrieve the data that ultimately belonging to the user of the Cloud application when that association is broken?

I cannot find anyway to pick up all my e-mail from GMail IMAP and transplant that to another ISP's IMAP. Or could that ever be possible with IMAP technology? The best I could do is to employ a offline e-mail archive program.

How do I read/compose/search my e-mail when I am disconnected

The next annoying issue with IMAP is like Web Mail and you may as well embedded the browser in a Desktop application and calling that a 'IMAP' client. No Internet means no ability to browse through your mails or prepare the responses.

Yes, you can set up your e-mail client to operate in offline mode and when that happens it will download the messages to your client program.

It is not a matter if it can be done but how well it works in practice.

If your WiFi is suddenly cut or you have flown across to the other side of the world without a Wireless Internet service, it is a bit discomforting to know that you should have pressed that button to download all your IMAP messages before losing connectivity. Perhaps Thunderbird cannot do that process automatically.

As said, you may as well work totally with Web Mail via your browser. I guess in all these Cloud Computing, it is all predicated on having connectivity. If that is lost, you may as well be tapping on a piece of slat. It is just a modern version of the good old dumb terminals with the same kind of problems that technology bring.

In the end, I opted to switch back to the trusted POP3. The IMAP was supposed to be more efficient but from my experiments, it seems a lot more wasteful; when I clicked on different folder, the client contacted the server for information.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Annoying-ware from Microsoft's MSDN

Lately, Microsoft's MSDN web site has adopted similar tactic used by those inconsiderate Adware sites demanding you take some action or else it continues to annoy the hell out of you.

Here is what I mean:

You can see this is if you navigate to the MSDN library site. The 'Switch View' pop up is so annoying, anti-social, inconsiderate and so intrusive that is actually worse than many adware sites.

Look at how inconsiderate Microsoft has placed that pop up.It covers up the down button of the scroll bar. It is designed purely to annoy the user in much the same way as they designed the Vista UAC.

The idea of that pop up is to annoy you until you give in to switch to "Script Free". Hardly a good tactic to encourage feedback from user; you definitely get some negative ones from me. The following picture shows that even Microsoft cannot handle a machine running with 120DPI:

The 'Script free' option is half disappeared. Is this another annoying strategy employed by Microsoft?

Well done, Microsoft, you have succeeded in annoying your users and earn the same dubious title of that bestowed on Malware/Adware sites.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What does a decrease by a negative amount mean?

Recently I caused some share movement by amalgamating several holdings into one. As a result of my action, I received notification from the registry describing the movement.

But I am puzzled by this: under the column marked 'Decrease', it has a negative amount. To my mathematical mind, I would have thought a decrease (negative of increase) of a negative (double negative) would produce a positive number. Like calling a C++ function like this:

int Dec( int &var, int amount )
     return var -= (amount);

So if you have this:
int x = 100;
int y = Dec( x, -10 );
assert( x+10, y ); // as any logic will tell you.

If the registry intends on using negative amount to indicate reductions, it should display that figure in the 'Increase' column and the sum would come out right. Perhaps the company has not gotten around to amalgamate the 'Increase' and 'Decrease' columns into one 'Movement' column.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Imporantce to knows what is behind the facade

A well written essay argues
there is still a need for "old-fashioned gumption" — a need to retain some mastery over tools we rely on and to explore others' potential.
... "it can be very disempowering because people aren't really understanding what's going on in their business".
Of course, the most common tools in our business and personal lives have user-friendly interfaces, enabling the least tech-savvy to use them. An unfortunate side-effect of this, Mr Gelme says, is that "general users of technology have no idea about how an appliance really works, which means they may not know how to use it most effectively or repair it".
He adds: "Hiding the internal operation with an intuitive interface is compounded by the manufacturer's natural tendencies to protect their product from competitors and to increase sales by ensuring broken appliances have to be replaced, not repaired." This is achieved mainly through proprietary software.
Far too many developers lack the understanding of the mechanics behind the tools they use. Many relies on the tools as an escape from learning the fundamentals. As a consequence, they are at loss when problem occurs, which according to Murphy's law will inevitably occur.

AvgTrayMainWnd in AVG 9.0.698 - What kind of customers help from AVG?

Out of the blue, I had this task bar button with AVG icon appearing and clicking on it reviewed the "AvgTrayMainWnd". OK, that is a bit unusual. It would not close even when the Close menu was there and enabled. Hence it fits my definition of annoying-ware. To there developer, please disable the sysmenu's Close item if you intend on showing it on task bar. 

Anyway Google reviewed several people have sought help from the AVG Official forum. My search in the forum revealed 8 messages. Since I had the same problem, I opened a few of these submissions to see what was the official view on this. The experience showed what a waste of Internet, time and energy. This is the typical robotic response:
"Just carry out a forum search on AvgTrayMainWnd & you'll see that users are being contacted by AVG Technologies." from the moderator.

Some time the manager's response is equally unhelpful:
"you will be soon contacted by AVG techsupport for some information."

What is the secrecy of this issue, which is obviously AVG's? Why not post an explanation or even a work around? If your forum cannot help your user, don't post this kind of unhelpful remark.

How does AVG know people have seen this annoying-ware appearing "that users are being contacted by AVG Technologies."? Perhaps, you should instruct user to file a bug report so that AVG could contact them. For those who have been contacted as claimed by AVG, would you mind sending me the highly secret response that they could not even disclose on their forum?

Here is my work around:
1) Download pskill.exe to say C:\Windows\system32 or a directory in the path.
2) Copy the following line to a batch file called KillAvgTrayWnd.cmd or anything you like but make sure it ends with cmd.
@Echo off
pushd "c:\program files\avg\avg9"
pskill avgtray & avgtray.exe
3) Put this batch file anywhere you like, on the desktop for example.

If you have installed AVG9 to somewhere else, change the directory in the pushd command.

When that annoying button appears, just execute the batch file which terminates that annoying-ware taking that stubborn window with it and then restarts the monitor.

Alternately, just uninstall it and use another free anti-virus program with a more helpful forum.

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