Tuesday, 22 March 2005

In a series of semi-serious articles called "Managing Programmers for CEOs," management types (like me) and executive types (not me) can learn such valuable things as how to decipher the secret code programmers use in day-to-day conversation. For example, here are a few phrases taken from the first part of the series, "Decompiling Programmer-Speak."

(The information contained in these articles is valuable, but the humor is there and you can't help but laugh at parts. By the way, I think developers and development managers are great - I only laugh because I find a lot of it humorous in a nice way.)

“It’ll be done ASAP.”
Translation: There is no schedule yet.

“That feature shouldn’t add any time to the schedule.”
Translation:  There is no schedule yet.

“It’s fifty percent done.”
Translation: It hasn’t been started yet.

Also included in the series are a couple of other good articles, each containing good information and ideas, with some humor thrown in here and there:

  • Part Two - The Meaning of Done, and How You'll Know When You Get There (Good info about schedules, missing them and what that means to everyone)
  • Part Three - Features Kill Projects (How can you be "done" if the meaning of "done" keeps changing?)

As is often the case, be sure to read the comments on each article page - in the case of these three articles, the comments are well worth the read, as well.

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Humor | Random Stuff | Tech
Tuesday, 22 March 2005 21:34:36 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Take one old Ruger 10-22 rifle, some electronics gear, a long can antenna, and some time to spare, and you too can be The Bluetooth Sniper...

Apparently, these guys built a Bluetooth rifle and managed to stand on top of buildings in downtown Los Angeles without getting corralled by the police. In the process, they were able to connect to Bluetooth devices nearly a mile away:

"As more Bluetooth devices started appearing, John said, "This building is full of Bluetooth! Look we got some Blackberries!" He also explained that, with multiple guns, it would be possible to track a single Bluetooth device as the person walked around. In less than a few minutes, twenty devices were detected—all at distances over a half mile away! We decided to quickly conclude the scan, given police activity in the area earlier in the day from a bomb scare."

Tom's Networking has the full story, with step-by-step descriptions of the creation and use of the long gun radio:

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Geek Out | Tech
Tuesday, 22 March 2005 00:35:57 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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One of the popular topics of conversation lately (I won't use the fancy-dancy blogger terms, sorry...) has been the reawakening of the browser wars. I don't think it's quite like it was back in the day, but certainly it's gotten a bit more interesting of late...

Out of curiosity, I went to take gander at the stats to see if there was anything about the browsers being used by viewers of my weblog (web browser stats only below - no RSS numbers taken into account).

No big surprises, but I think the percentage of people who view my site using Firefox might be slightly higher than the web-wide average? Current traffic on March 22nd, accumulated since March 1st:

Browser name Page views % of traffic
MS Internet Explorer 552668 68.7 %
Firefox 128130 15.9 %
Unknown 65443 8.1 %
Netscape 20808 2.5 %
Safari 11990 1.4 %
Mozilla 11602 1.4 %
Opera 8137 1 %
NetNewsWire 2648 0.3 %
Konqueror 771 0 %
Camino 262 0 %
  Others 1083 0.1 %

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Tuesday, 22 March 2005 00:18:03 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 21 March 2005

If you think about it, people interested in Windows Media Center Edition (MCE) should be the perfect audience for podcasts, so it makes perfect sense that Ian Dixon should fire up The Windows Media Center Show. He also has a weblog where he covers lots of Media Center stuff.

There's already two episodes online as of the time of this writing, and more to come:

Nice start, Ian - keep it up!

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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Monday, 21 March 2005 20:55:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Media Center Customizer 2005 is a cool app that lets you customize (wait for it) your Media Center Edition PC the way you want it set up.

If you want to tweak your MCE 2005 settings and experience, you might want to give it a try. Read the full list of changes and get the download here. Cool stuff.

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Tech | Windows Media Technology
Monday, 21 March 2005 20:41:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Jeremy Wright and Mike Hillyer have just launched a new weblog called "The Wealthy Blogger," with the tagline "Money Management Blogging from two Decidedly Un-Wealthy Bloggers."

It looks like a great new site where conversations can take place about the pains of credit, debt and money management. It's a topic many people should be interested in, whether they actually are or not.

Anyhow, after reading a pre-release entry on the subject of credit card companies and the draining of today's college student population, I had some thoughts, which I posted there as a comment and am cross-posting here (slightly edited, but I have had more time to think about it since I originally posted my comments - see below).

But that's not really the point - go check out the site - I think it will be well worth our collective time as the site grows. I've subscribed.

Anyhow, here is me quoting myself (weird eh?) talking about my view of the reality of "borrowing" money... (edited and enhanced)

To get you started, please remember one very important thing. Behind the spin and sales lines, there are only two types of people in the world:

  • People who buy money (often mistakenly called "borrowers")
  • People who sell money (often mistakenly called "lenders")

That said, here are my comments:

Looking even beyond just the credit card companies, *no* company that "lends" you money is doing you a favor. That's like saying the car salesman is doing you a favor by letting you buy a car.

The fact of the matter is that when you get a home loan, a credit card, a personal loan, or charge to an installment account, *you* are the customer.

People need to realize that: When you take out this kind of loan, you are buying money. You are the customer and the lender is the one who is selling you the money in order to make a profit. No lender does anyone a favor, even if it feels like that's what's happening. Just like with the car salesman, the idea is to make it *feel* like it's a favor. But in reality, the profits are theirs. They do those things necessary to maximize their profits and minimize their losses, just like any other business.

Would you pay $100 in cash for $20 worth of groceries? If you put it on a card, that's possibly what you're doing, unless you pay your full balances within one or two months.

It used to be that credit cards were held and used for emergencies. Now people use them like they're free money, without thinking. That's too bad, because unless you happen to have a very astute credit mind and the ability to pay off everything you charge within the grace period, you're borrowing from sharks.

I know two young guys, about 20 to 22 years old, both of whom got credit cards and immediately ran them up buying fancy new computer equipment. One of them talked to me about it before he did it, and I advised him against it, but he did it anyhow. The other acted on his own without advice. Now they're both listening, after realizing how big a deal it is. I explained to both that it would take 30 years (or more with the high rates their cards had) to pay off a computer that would be outdated in one or two years if they made minimum payments. I told them about the virtues of saving and having cash on hand.

Credit cards are evil for most things, but they can be a blessing for a few things: Purchase protection for big-ticket items is nice to have, and rental car coverage is a good benefit if you travel. But some of the check cards with a logo of the major companies on it will give you similar benefits.

Which brings me to my final point: If you like using credit cards just because they are convenient and because you can use them to buy things online, you're probably using the wrong kind of card. Shop around for a ATM/Debit/Check/Visa-or-MasterCard type of card, and make sure you get one from a bank that offers the features you want.

Finally - a reminder: Whether it's a credit-card loan or another kind, the APR of the loan is what determines how much you are paying on an annual basis (compounded - which means you pay interest on the accumulated interest, too, and not just the dollar amount you originally borrowed) for the money you are buying from the lender. Yes - I said *you are buying* money from a lender, and how much you'll pay depends on how long it takes you to pay it off. It's as simple as that. Credit cards are a big-money business for lenders and are a big-loss pig of a deal for borrowers.

If you have to borrow, like for a car or home purchase, you should always shop for money the same way (or more diligently than) you shop for gas, cars, clothes, airline tickets, electronics, homes and whatnot. No lender is ever doing you a favor - they are selling you money, and they are doing so at a profit. Don't ever forget that.

See that? I did learn something, after all.

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Blogging | Random Stuff
Monday, 21 March 2005 08:54:50 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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