Random Thoughts

From Nick Jenkins
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I've come to a conclusion about buying stuff on the web - that although you CAN buy stuff from everywhere, it's usually most sensible to ACTUALLY buy it as locally as possible ... basically the price and time taken for shipping, plus the amount of hassle involved if there are problems, and compatibility issues like different TV-standards or power plugs, all combine to make it a bad idea to buy most types of products from overseas, especially electronics.

I've never been sold on PayPal. When I started their account application and they wanted to be able to take money OUT of my account, I said "hang on - I only want to be able to RECEIVE money, at least at first until I trust them!". That put me right off, and then the stories of problems with them started (freezing funds and pulling money out of bank accounts), plus their refusing to register as a bank (which would help force them to put a stop to dodgy behaviour), plus the apparent difficulty of talking to an actual human in event of problems - so at this point I have never had an account with PayPal, and I don't want one :) Update: As of at least 2005, PayPal have now fixed their terms and conditions so that this is no longer required.

A comment I saw and agreed with:

I still hate RealPlayer. Any sort of file format that requires me to install the company's software to use I will eternally hate, regardless of who it is. I hate Real, and I hate QuickTime. I'd ask that they both die a slow miserable death, but I honestly want them both out of the way so that more open standards will take their place faster.

Saw this and it made me laugh:

Are you Lonely ? Don't like working on your own ? Hate Making Decisions ?

Then Call a Meeting !!!!


  • SEE people
  • DRAW Flowcharts
  • FEEL Important
  • IMPRESS your colleagues
  • All on Company Time

MEETINGS - The practical alternative to work.

Some particularly bad Microsoft computing ideas:

  • Encouraging HTML email messages.
  • Allowing email to contain scripts (such as JavaScript).
  • Allowing an email to contain an executable program that runs by clicking on it.
  • Leaving many ports open, and enabling lots of services by default.

Random thoughts I had today:

  • Companies that grow too fast become completely dysfunctional.
  • When estimating cost and time taken to do something, people usually underestimate the time it will take them to do something, and massively underestimate the time and cost it will take someone else to do something.
  • Responsibility and authority. The two go together. You can't have one without the other, and if you do, then you'll find yourself living in a Dilbert cartoon.

Useful site if you buy stuff off of eBay: http://www.auctionstealer.com/ You just login to their web site, choose the eBay site (e.g. eBay US / eBay Aus / UK, etc), enter the item number, enter the amount you'll pay, and press go, and forget about it, and then you'll get an email telling you whether you won or not once the auction is over.

Software optimization stuff [mostly written by someone else,with 2 small additions by me]

These things ARE performance degraders:

  • Mass object construction.
  • Searching sequentially through large arrays.
  • Repeated string concatenation (there are techniques to mitigate this).
  • Staying inside critical sections for too long.
  • Things you do thousands of times (sometimes)

These things are NOT performance degraders:

  • Lots of object indirection.
  • Lots of critical sections.
  • Something you only do once. It really doesn't matter if these things are inefficient.

Saw this on an American web site: Right-Wing Ideology in a Nutshell: "Cheap Labor".

Regarding Open Source Java:

It would be better for Java developers, and probably for Sun too, if Java were made a standardized language, and an open source implementation of the virtual machine were released. Unfortunately it has been so long in coming that a lot of the momentum that would be gained from doing this has slowly dissipated. Better late than never though.

Various comments from other on this topic:

  • Xavier Basora editorialized, from December 1999, on Sun's recent actions. "Sun's removal of JAVA from consideration amply demonstrates that the company just doesn't understand Open standards let alone Open source. If Sun truly understood Open standards, the company would've realized that it gained more by opening than by owning the software code. Further, if Sun also understood Open source, it would've released JAVA under the GPL the moment that Microsoft began to add its own proprietary extensions."
  • Something from Newsforge in Oct 2003.
  • Sun should dual license Java under GPL + commercial licenses, from Feb 2004.
  • Sun announced this would happened in Nov 2006, with the source code available around March 2007.

I saw a quote I quite liked that people can sometimes forget: "Let me remind you of a basic rules of business: if you want to make money, find a group who have money to spend and make something they want. Who are you selling to? Do they have money?"

To which I would only add: "What are their alternatives? How much do they cost? How good are they?"

The Unix Haters handbook. A bit old, but the chapter on X-windows (chapter 7) is just as relevant and pointed today, as when this was book was written (around 10 years ago).

Oh, and cut-and-paste using X-windows still properly does not work for me, even in 2003! X windows really is a complete dog, and it needs to be replaced.

Areas that I think hold great promise of generating wealth in the future: nanotechnology, biotechnology, computing

Areas that seem overhyped to me and that I suspect won't produce much of practical value in the foreseeable future: AI or fuzzy-intelligence