Category Archives: opinion

“Almost good enough”

Some time ago, I read an article about why an “IKEA” would never happen in Denmark. Not that Swedes are anything special, or that Danes are’t smart enough.

But the argument is that to be able to create an IKEA, one would have to decide that things are only made to be “almost good enough”, meaning that one know that the product is not perfect, it will not last longer than it was designed to last, and so fort. And any one in Denmark who would start a company would would do so to produce products which where the best of the best (I am not fully in agrement with that one).

But lately that made me think about the stage of software quality, we know that it is impossible to remove all issues in software, the 90/10 rule still plays a role in our daily life. But we have gotten used to software which, we actually pay for, doesn’t work, or it crashes, or causes data loss.

The vendors, in many cases does not care, or tell us that it’s caused by us using the software wrongly. Last week Apple shipped a new Java for OSX Lion which closed a security hole which have been know for some time. When Microsoft shipped Windows 8, they had to lock it down to such a degree that it became almost impossible to use, for the sake for security. We are daily faced by annoyance, which are caused by people making things too complex, and end up having to add security layers which forces us to enter username / password everytime we wants to change a setting.

Not that it’s the fault of neither Apple nor Microsoft (or any vendor actually), it’s our hunger for new functionality which fuels their money machine, so us, but asking for this new functionality indirectly causes this, and at the same time these vendors do not have enough time to make a product which is “perfect”.

But one of the things, which really ticks me off, is the when one have something which is supposed to work, and one then get in contact with a vendor (more or less anyone of them), and am being told that this is know issue, and one will have to wait “sometime” for a fix. Like for example the crash issue with Macbook Pro’s when one wake them from sleep, or the Macbook Air’s which cannot switch it’s primary monitor when it’s woken from sleep in clamshell mode (external monitor). Both very known issues by Apple, but non the less not fixed. We can live with most of the most annoying things, but when our dear and beloved computers starts crashing without reason, then it’s not really fun anymore. This is the “almost good enough” atitude which I have a problem with.

Also when one look at smart phones; I still remember the people who got the first Windows Phones, who complained about having to reboot them 2 – 3 times a day for them to be able to use them. We are over that periode, now we have the “iPhone antenne gate”, batteries being drained if one enable the standard features of the phones. And we are being told that we are holding our phone wrongly, or that we should not expect that the numbers in the official marketing material are correct, and they are done with all features switched off.

I think that with the prices we pay for our software (yes it also runs on partly faulty hardware), are too high. Would we be happy if we had to restart our cars every 25 km, as they otherwise would stop working… don’t think so…

Should we believe the Scientists

Just watched Horizon on BBC (Science under Attack), which was presented by Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse, who obviously must have done some remarkable work, otherwise he would probably not have received the Nobel Prize.

His argument for the whole thing is that Science is under attack, and that something must be changed so that the public (that is everyone who is not a Scientist) will gain trust in what the Scientists are telling them.

Through the whole thing, he is trying to point out that science is not an exact science, that is for example with the argument that we can never really be sure, but if the same thing happens again, and again then there is a probability that there might is a pattern, and that can be use to prove something.

So if it rain every year on May 2nd, except for every 7th year, then science should be able to conclude that there is a probability that it will rain on May 2nd. That is how they can conclude that May 2nd is a wet day.

Now this is the simple approach, there is more behind these things, there are some really scary conclusions based on probability, Global Warming is one of them (I am not a sceptic, no do I agree on all conclusions as there is simply too much data and still not enough to make an assumption which can hold water).

As for Global Warming, there are the Scientists which say it will get worse, and there are the ones who say that it will not – that is kind of black and white, and we as the public are being asked to make a decision on whom we believe, or actually it is even worse, whom we trust in presenting the truth.

We really do not know, first Science is based on trails, test, and repetition, unfortunately we are only able to see what is happening with earth (we can build another one for test purposes), which means that Sir Paul Nurse cannot use the argument that Science is based on trails, test, and repetition, but in this specific case on assumptions that something will happen. Now some of the information which is used in the arguments for Global Warming is coming from the study of tree rings, but something is wrong with that as the tree start misbehaving sometime around the 1950′s – 1960′s (acid rain could be something to look into) which means that they need to use measurements from mechanical devices, like thermometers, and other things like that. Unfortunately the number does not align, well these things happen, and can probably be explained – I hope. But no such explanation was given.

This is just one example of where Science, one thing which does make sense is that the public is divided in most things, come politics, or something as difficult to understand as Science.

He also touched the subject of GMO’s (Genetic Modified Organism’s), which is especially used for modifying crop, like potatoes, soaybeans, or corn. And the issue was put as people are either against it (shown as being everyone, except for the few farmers and Scientists who work with the subject). Well it’s not as clear cut, the problem with GMO’s (except for soyabean’s which is just plain horrible. Now with potatoes, there is a very good reason for looking at GMO modified potatoes, as potato blight can cause really unpleasant things to happen (The Irish Potato Famine is one), and it can if left untreated kill off all potatoes in a region with in weeks, also GMO modified crop can limit the amount of pesticides which are needed. But some of the American companies which are producing GMO modified seed will sell to farmers (farmers who are starting with GMO’s) for less that cost price and then after a year or maybe longer rise the price so that the farmers cannot pay it, they then end up in a situation where they are not able to earn enough to sustain a living and end up having to sell their farms, in some cases to the company which is producing the seed. This has nothing to do with Science, this is crooked business practice, but we tend to combine the two.

Science is to study the unknown to gain understanding, and draw conclusions, in todays world where everyone (well in the western world) have access to the internet we can look things up and try to understand, it is not always easy, and we normally take the easy way out, unfortunately the easy way is not always the right way. If Scientists tell us that the oceans will rice 90 cm with in the next 50 – 75 years if we do not stop using fossil fuel tomorrow, then it’s a hugh decision we have to make, if we are at the same time being told that if we just keep the amount of usage to what we are using today then it’s a bit easier to grasp, and if then we also are told that if we continue to consume even more nothing will happen. Then we really do not know who is right and who is wrong, as non of the Scientists really do know, they assume that something will happen, probably the summer ice will disappear, and The Netherlands will be covered by water. Not saying that they are not wrong, but it’s not an absolute, it is something they predict, and it will probably happen.

On the other side the Oil Companies, and the Saudis (incl. the previous administration in the US) tell us that there is no reason for alarm; the sceptic will probably follow that reasoning, and the public will be drawn between the “right” thinkers, and the “wrong” thinkers.

The best way for Scientists to get the public to understand why there isn’t any exact thing in existence is to explain that there is simply too much data to make anything more than assumptions, and at the same time there is simply not enough data to be sure that the assumptions are correct.

I myself think that something have to be done, but I do not think that it will get as bad as we’re told, as we will run out of oil way before (ref: Paul Roberts – The End of Oil: The Decline of the Petroleum Economy and the Rise of a New Energy Order) .

AppleTV version 2

According to [stag]Mr. Jobs[/stag] people want:

  • Hollywood movies & TV Shows
  • Everything in HD
  • Lower prices for content
  • Don’t want a computer
  • Don’t want to manage storage
  • Don’t want syncing
  • Silent,cool & small

I am sorry, I could not care for most of these things, I want to be able to stream content from a NAS device, or just a normal file server, or if I really have to from a shared folder on my desktop computer. I do not care if I had to install some software, use Samba, NFS, or AFP – but I want to be able to stream content from a system which does not have to run iTunes, and I would like to be able to use codecs which are not h.264, and support for VIDEO_TS would be really nice.

Yes I really like Apple products as they in many cases works, but this is not really what I was looking for.

Sorry Apple, but this is absolutely stupid….

BTW. the case looks like one of the similar devices which is currently available in my local MediaMarkt

“You know”

[stag]“You know”[/stag], actually I don’t, which is why I’m listing, if I did I would be doing something else, like reading a book.

It seams that an American add-on to the English language have been spreading to the rest of the civilized world; most sentences are littered with “you know” as if the interviewer know exactly what the person they are talking to is thinking, and so it would seam the people who are watching, or listing to the radio.

Please stop using useless terms, in this case “you know”, it makes you look as if you actually do not know how to form a sentence appropriately. And, even more, look like you actually do not know what you’re talking about.

Good websites are hard to find…

Someone said at a few years ago that the more you know the less you actually know. And that with the growth of information on the internet we would reach a point where there would be so much information that finding the right information would be very difficult.

I would say that we are staring to get to the point that there is so much useless information available that actually finding something is becoming more and more problematic – at some point it will be close to impossible.

I have to say that companies like [stag]Google[/stag], and prior to them [stag]Yahoo[/stag], and also to some degree [stag]Microsoft Bing[/stag] does make it easier as they have these wonderful robots eating away on the internet and sorting it so that we should be able to find it again. Unfortunately these companies also have to make a living, which means that if one search for something there is a 50% chance that the first 100 hits one get are pointers to companies or sites which actually do not provide any information, but they have paid to be listed first, and with some luck someone will use them to buy something. Which is annoying, and to say the least very frustrating.

Actually the only thing I find more annoying are websites with music – and flash introduction pages where one cannot either skip them or switch off the music, I actually mostly will find somewhere else to do my business, and I hope other people do the same, voting with ones feet.

Also years ago (actually 2 decades ago), when I was taught how to write software, and also how to design user interfaces we where told day in and day out that interfaces should be simple and easy to use – humm, these days one see websites where the designer have had a spasm, meaning there is absolutely no way to find out how to find information, let alone how to contact anyone for anything, and it is even sometimes difficult to figure out what the website is about…. next…

Could some one please educate people who make these things, in such a way that they understand that we want a) understandable messages, b) easy way to get it, and c) nothing too fancy.

Google Street View

So it does not matter weather you like it or not, I personally do not really know what to think of it – but [stag]Google Street View[/stag] is here to stay.

But now there is a change for you to make sure that you’re now where close to where they take pictures (if you don’t like being on the photos), or show up and make silly things, which people will have to look at for years.

Google have for that purpose created a website which shows where the photo cars are right now.

Now should one make a competition, to encourage people to do silly things??? (I’m in no doubt that Google’s legal department isn’t going to like that)

The Language

As a non-native English speaker it can sometimes be difficult or awkward to use a [stag]language[/stag] I did not grow up with (my English teacher actually failed me in verbal English – in High School). But it also makes me allergic so to say, to ‘add’ words to my native Danish – not mine (as it have not really developed for the last 9 years), but the language in general. I do not listen to a lot of Danish, I normally get my daily input from online news papers, and sometime I really get worked up over ‘add’ words which do not fit into the context or simply look like they are used by the writer just to “look” cool.. no good.

All languages have developed over the years (maybe except for Icelandic… they where cut off from the rest of the world for a while), and every language borrows words from neighboring languages, which means that in Danish there are German, Swedish (god forbid), English, Latin and so forth words, which have over the years found their way in, so that they are a part of the language, natural language development.

Thanks to the TV, movies and the internet it has now accelerated to the extent that people use English (actually American English which is even worse) words in combination with Danish where the words are used out of context. Which makes it very annoying for a native Danish speaker who is using English as the first language. It would be as using käfer (German nick name for the VW Beetle) when describing a normal beetle found in nature, if one would know that the käfer is a beetle (tough a car) then one would also know what the person would talk about, but otherwise be utterly lost.

Now in English it’s slightly different, here words are created (or developed) so that they describe something for which there earlier wasn’t a word, or simply because the object for which the word is being used didn’t exist before. Like ‘Social Notworker’ which is a person who is so busy with social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc) that this person does not find time working (nerds are like that – non-nerds think so). Unfortunately these words also find their way into other languages, and by that pollute them, why not use local words instead?

[stag]Paul McFedries[/stag] have created a website for these words (the English ones); called [stag]wordspy.com[/stag], have a look and see how bad it can get…..