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Nikolai Weibull
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They’re not even trying anymore:

Subject: {USD$250 Million)United State Dollar's Investment.
From: Mr. Victor <kvictk1@bmail.mygbiz.com>
Attachments: DETAILSS.pdf

FREE VIRUS DOWNLOAD.

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Watching Bret Victor is incredibly belittling.

Mentioning God in Your “Thank You”s

I just began reading The Joy of Clojure and in the Acknowledgments, Chris Houser decides to begin by thanking God, “the source of all good things”.  Now I don’t care whether Chris is religious or not, Christian or otherwise, but I don’t much care for having to hear about it in a book on a programming language.

It’s the same when artists thank God in their “thank you” speeches.  It’s cliché, unnecessary, and actually mildly insulting to both themselves and their audience.

Originally posted April 7, 2011.

An Utter Failure to Listen

I’m begin to reach the conclusion that the problems that plague human-computer interaction isn’t only the fault of the computer, programmer or interface designer. I would venture as far as to say that the main problem is the user’s general lack of trying.

Let me give you an example. RubyInstaller is a project that aims to provide an easily set up Ruby environment on Windows systems. That this is so is obvious from the information provided on the homepage:

  RubyInstaller for Windows The easy way to install Ruby on Windows

Like most software projects, RubyInstaller has a mailing list. The following message was posted on this list today:

  Hello everyone,

  I am new to the world of Ruby on Rails. Can anyone please tell me
  the steps for setting up Ruby on Rails on ubuntu 10.04(linux).

  Thanks,

Two items of information tells us that this person has been misinformed about RubyInstaller’s aim:

1. He mentions Ruby on Rails, which is a framework written in Ruby, not Ruby itself
2. He wants to install it on Ubuntu, which he knows to be a Linux distribution

Luis Lavena, RubyInstallers main developer and driving force, answers three minutes later:

  > Hello everyone,

  Hello,

  > I am new to the world of Ruby on Rails. Can anyone please tell me
  > the steps for setting up Ruby on Rails on ubuntu 10.04(linux).

  This is a group focus/oriented on Ruby for Windows. For sure you can
  get more help associated with Ruby on Rails here:

  http://groups.google.com/group/rubyonrails-talk

  Instructions to getting you started will vary depending on what you
  want to do. I’ll recommend getting a book and follow their tutorials.
  (no book preference or recommendation, sorry).

  Cheers,

Even though Luis’s English isn’t flawless, it’s certainly clear and informative. I admire him for writing such a clear “pointer in the right direction”.

Nine minutes later the following (top-posted) message appears from the original poster:

  man i am asking for ruby on linux

I can’t begin to explain how sad, yet highly entertaining, that response is. Let’s assume that the original poster stumbled upon a mailing list called rubyinstaller and figured that it might be for questions regarding the installation of Ruby and stuff written in Ruby. That would explain (and excuse) the first message. Luis provides a very nice response to this misapprehension. Instead of taking this message to heart and to investigate matters further the original poster simply throws out a “Hey, I don’t care if this is a list focusing on Ruby for Windows, I just want you to help me install Ruby on Rails on Ubuntu. It’s Linux, moron. I don’t care to spend any time investigating this further, so just solve my problems for me, OK?”

Then some douche posts the following in response to the previous message:

  Hahahahaha. Easily the funniest thing posted to this group ever!

I couldn’t agree more. I don’t know if this is the correct way to handle situations like this. It did, however, seem to end the discussion.
Either way it saddens me deeply that it seems that no one wants to spend any amount of time learning. How is this person going to learn how to use Ruby on Rails if he can’t even be bothered with following installation instructions?

Originally posted December 21, 2010.

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HD Drive versus DVD RW Drive

This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that the error is due to the fact that my hard drive is the drive without space, not the disc in the DVD RW drive.

Originally posted December 1, 2010.
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Stupid Things I’ve Read Today

Anonymized to protect myself from the guilty (Supplier being the supplier, Product being their product, and Client being their client):

•   Supplier Product Product’s Business Segment Solution Definition Workshop
•   Work with Supplier Product and our best practices on pulling together a solution to initiate a project
•   Provide Supplier Product with information to allow Client to understand the level of effert (both from Supplier Product and your own resources) (Authors note: I have no idea who “you” is at this point)
•   Support the business case
•   Scope the implementation

These examples are all from the first paragraph of a twelve-page document.

Originally posted November 19, 2010.

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Microsoft Word at its best

“End of alphabetic arabic arabic abjad arabic alpha baht text caps card text char for match I” error while trying to save a document in Word via COM.

Originally posted June 18, 2010.
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VSTO is Going to Kill Me

So after getting yet another “Not loaded. A runtime error occurred during the loading of the COM Add-In.” I spent yet another insane amount of time determining what the problem was. Last time it was the fact that the interop libraries weren’t installed. You’d figure that the VSTO runtime installer would warn about this or that you’d at least get a message along those lines, but no, you get “Not loaded. A runtime error occurred during the loading of the COM Add-In.”

The solution this time was to run Outlook with VSTO_SUPPRESSDISPLAYALERTS=0 in the environment. Obviously. One would think that there may be sort of relevant information in such alerts that perhaps support would want in case their add-in isn’t loaded properly. Imagine telling the user to run Outlook with VSTO_SUPPRESSDISPLAYALERTS=0 in the environment. Brainfreeze. In the end it turns out that the add-in pipeline cache hadn’t been created/updated properly, requiring you to run

  AddInUtil.exe -PipelineRoot:"%ProgramFiles%\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\VSTA\Pipeline".

Obviously.

Seriously, if you hide everything away behind layers upon layers of crap, at least make sure that it works. Some day people will realize the beauty of the UNIX way of simple text files for configuration. I’m not keeping my hopes up.

Originally posted May 26, 2010.

The Problem with Development on Windows

The main problem with developing stuff on Windows is the lack of source code. There, I said it. Sure, the documentation is mostly pretty decent, but you can never be certain that the documentation is in line with what will actually happen when you call a method or if a field is always defined or similar.

Actually, come to think of it, the main problem is that everything is so damn complicated. I mean, why the hell do I have to deal with ActiveX, COM, DCOM, OLE, C#, ClickOnce, heat, MSI, .Net, RegAsm, VBA, Visual Studio, VSTO, and WiX (and a bunch of plug-ins to WiX) to be able to write and install a simple plug-in? (Sure, ActiveX, COM, DCOM, and OLE are all names for the same technology – at least I think that that’s the case – but that actually makes it worse.)

To make matters even worse, the documentation is often quite extensive, but rarely very specific and good examples are almost always missing. Again, this is what you get when you develop in a non-open-source-code environment…

Originally posted May 7, 2010.

VSTO Debugging Made Complicated

Debugging VSTO add-ins isn’t as easy as pressing F5 in Visual Studio. No, you need to install the add-in first, which registers the add-in. You’d assume that this would be taken care of automatically, but it’s still only 2010, so you’ll have to do it manually. Also, make sure not to change the version of the add-in, because doing so will require you to reinstall the add-in. But reinstalling the Add-in actually requires you to uninstall the previous version first. But uninstalling the add-in doesn’t always uninstall the add-in, so you’ll have to clear the ClickOnce cache first:

  % mage -cc

Originally posted April 29, 2010.
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