Peace For All

September 27, 2006

Response to: Making a mountain out of a molehill (of bugs)

Filed under: Programming, technology — Devlin Bentley @ 1:58 pm

Letting bugs pile up is bad. This should be obvious.

My internship last year was lucky in two ways. The first was that the company was in a bug squishing phase, so I could count on feedback to my bug reports sometimes in a manner of hours.

The second bit of luck was that as a developer, I was able to gain a comprehension of the underlying foundations of the system. Using this comprehension, I was able to break the system in many creative and painful ways.

Examples include realizations that a particular operation was not truly atomic (DB corruption issues), to my favorite when I caused a buffer overflow by installing the Japanese Language Pack and started writing hiragana characters in to fields that expected just English text.

The Japanese exploit was my favorite one, if solely because it allowed me the opportunity to witness first hand (but not have to be involved in the fixing of!) the results of making assumptions about a user’s nationality, and about something so simple as how big a char should be. Using Unicode 100% through an application can be difficult, it only takes a single call to a function in some API that assumes 8 bit chars to break everything. Of course everyone knows that by now, but who actually tests it to that extreme?

Giving bug reporters quick feedback is essential for a programming team to do. QA is your enemy, and they are also your best friends. Remember that QA’s job is to poke you with a sharp stick now, so that you do not end up blowing off your entire leg with a shotgun later on down the line!

Why Office 2007 will be a failure

Filed under: C#, Microsoft Office 2007, Office 2007, Programming, technology — Devlin Bentley @ 1:36 pm

Let me start off by saying that the interface rocks. Use it for awhile, then go back to an application that is structured around menus, and there is this giant feeling of “What have we been doing for all these years? The entire industry is stupid!”

The interface is that good.

But Office 2007’s downfall will be the same downfall that Office XP had, and the same massive problem that Open Office has:

Slow load times.

A common use for Word is to spell check random bits of text. Click the blue W, [cntrl-v], [f7].

Under Office 2007 that procedure is now Click the blue W, [Whistle show tunes], [take a short nap], [cntrl-v], [f7]

Once any of the Office 2007 applications get started up they perform well (though Outlook has some minor performance issues) and yes there are performance gains to be had once the code base is cleaned up and readied for release, but those minor speed gains are not likely to offset the overall slow load time for what users expect to be a very simple set of applications (Write text, add numbers together, send and recieve email).

It is important for developers to remember that ultimately the users do not care how eloquent our code base is, they just care if the software delivers the desired functionality. Does eloquent code enable rapid deployment of features that the users desire? Often times yes, but if a user can load up a web app in less time than it takes to load up an eloquently programmed desktop application, well, which one do you really expect the user to use?

September 25, 2006

Treating Your Acne Part 4: Proactive Solution

Filed under: acne, health, Life in general — Devlin Bentley @ 1:34 pm

This is the part that sounds like a sales pitch. I used to have white heads going down my back before I started Proactiv, at present, I have 3 white heads on my face. From hundreds to three, the numbers alone speak for the efficiency of the product.

Proactiv treats all three sources of acne. It exfoliates (a fancy word that means “removes top layer of dead skin”) your skin, moisturizes it (this sounds odd, but wait!) kills the bacteria, and shrinks pores.

Proactiv has three steps:

  1. The first step is a beaded face wash that exfoliates your skin and has a strong benzoyl peroxide base to it, helping to ensuring that any bacteria that are exposed during this initial scrub are killed before they can spread to neighboring pores.
  2. The second step hydrates your skin. Don’t ask me what this means, I just know that it has witch hazel in it, and while witch hazel has a tendency to dry out skin, it is also a very nifty chemical overall in its many uses. It is applied with a cotton pad (cotton balls are a good way to waste your Proactiv and get a very clean cotton pads and not much second step on your face!)
  3. The third step contains a weaker (than the first step) dose of benzoyl peroxide, and moisturizing agents that help keep your face from producing excessive oils (as discussed previously). The third step also helps to reduce pore size (The larger the pores, the easier they get infected with acne and the worse the white heads) and to make your skin nice and smooth. It also lightens the color of acne scars, helping to blend them in with the rest of your face.

Proactiv gets insulted a lot, but I’ll tell you something, I have tried other cheaper products that say they work just as well as Proactiv: They don’t.

For the record, in contrast to what Proactiv’s latest adverts say, it does take awhile before it starts working. They used to admit this, and I think that it hurts their business reputation to claim instant results. Your first month (or two!) may involve a huge break out, but continued regular usage, twice a day every day will result in your acne improving. Mine is rather cyclic, it gets a lot better, than a little bit worse. It has been that way for over three years now, but as I said, I am down to just three whiteheads during a break out, compared to having hundreds on my face and back continuously.

The wide screen LCD ripoff

Filed under: Hardware Review, technology — Devlin Bentley @ 1:33 pm

Do you know that when you buy a wide screen monitor you are being ripped off?

Previously Dell’s D600 line shipped with an LCD screen that had a resolution of 1400×1050, for a total pixel count of 1,470,000 pixels.

Dell’s new “wide screen D620” laptop ships with a screen that is 1440×900. That is only 1,296,000 pixels.

Do you want to know how wide screen LCDs are made? Let me tell you.

They take a regular 4:3 (the height to width ratio, same as your standard TV set) LCD, and then they chop off the top and bottom parts of it. Well not literally, they just make the screen smaller to begin with.

Oh but here is the beautiful part! They then charge you extra for your new and improved smaller screen!

Wide screens suck. Go to a store some time and compare a wide screen to a regular screen side by side (may be hard to do…) if you do even a casual comparison between screens of the same “size” in inches, you will find that the wide screen model is smaller. It also likely costs more.

Safeco: Employees? Important? Why?

Filed under: technology, Work — Devlin Bentley @ 1:26 pm

So Rosia gets a new laptop from Safeco so she can be a more mobile employee.

They give her one of their “good” machines.

It is a Thinkpad T23.  AKA about a 5 year old machine.

Pentium 3, 1.1Ghz!   512MB of ram (originally shipped with 256…)  running Windows 2000.

I do not mean to insult the Pentium 3, which has been upgraded and re-branded as the  Pentium M and is now the Core Duo, aka Intel’s Last Great Hope, and all of which are amazingly efficient and well performing processors.

Nor would I want to insult Windows 2000, which is a lovely OS that demonstrated that Microsoft can make a real OS, but unfortunately was horribly disfigured to create that monstrosity known as Windows XP.

No, what I am upset at is that a company can be so ignorant as to give its developers 5 year old machines.  Rosia tells me that some of the other Thinkpads there are even slower, and are so loaded down with crud that opening a single email in Outlook can take well over a minute.

If that isn’t a productivity killer, I don’t know what is.  Imagine spending an entire hour just clicking through your email each morning.  Not actually reading any of it, not responding to any o it, but an hour just clicking one by one through them.

In contrast, I also received a Laptop from my employer.  In my case, Boeing.  I got Boeing’s lowest end laptop, a Dell D600 with a mere 1.4 Ghz Pentium M processor and only a gigabyte of RAM.

Oh woe is me.    This is Boeing’s lowest end machine, and they are slowly being phased out of service.  Their highest end machine is a dual CPU monstrosity that has hundreds of gigabytes of HD space, a 512MB video card, and weighs over 9 pounds.

Actually I am kind of thankful that I did not recieve that machine!

For reference, Boeing uses Dell as their primary computer supplier (mostly it seems because Boeing can boss Dell around and has all sorts of cool custom configuration things going on), and most of Dell’s laptops are rather meh.  Well I say this coming from last years internship working with the Windows Tablet PC team…. Working with the shiniest newest laptops every day raised the bar for what it takes to impress me now.

September 22, 2006

Medicine should be available to all

Filed under: health, Life in general — Devlin Bentley @ 3:18 pm

This story demonstrates why science needs to be available to all.

I don’t approve of sex outside of marriage, but I have little problem with it in terms of an ongoging monogomous relationship. I *really* have problems when people are denied medical treatment!

I believe in use of science and technology to further the human species. I want bionic limbs some day, what happened to that poor woman is NOT a good way to start off. Humans have gained control of their environment, now we struggle to gain control of our own bodies, yet there are those so foolish as to oppose such goals.

September 20, 2006

Ate something different, now covered in white heads

Filed under: Life in general — Devlin Bentley @ 3:24 pm

Oatmeal with brown sugar and margarine.

Now I have white heads all over.


Note to self:  Do not eat oatmeal with brown sugar and margarine.

I eat oatmeal normally with no problems at all!  Maybe it was the brand of oatmeal, no clue.  Pre-made $1 stuff in cafeteria, so who knows what the ingredients are.

September 6, 2006

Response to feedback

Filed under: Meta (this site), technology — Devlin Bentley @ 10:07 am

I apologize about the MeeboMe widget, I have no control over it.  I realize that MeeboMe reconnecting every time you go to a different page is a bit retarded, but that is a limitation of current web technology.  Once websites are entirely AJAX (which will break a LOT of other functionality on the web!) then that will not be an issue…  Of course if that does happen, I hope that you are not too attached to your forward and back buttons!

Oddly enough, Frames would take care of the entire issue, but everybody decided that they hated frames, heh.  In terms of saving time and bandwidth, frames are actually a reasonably good thing, it is just that they were used incorrectly so often, that they got a bad reputation.

I will be posted some more Acne articles soon, most likely today.

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