NASA Chief: Risk Inherent in Shuttle Flight.

Right on! For Michael Griffin.

DUH! To the people who think space flight is routine and safe, and need to be reminded that these brave astronauts know and accept the risk for the betterment of humankind.

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The BlackBerry Saga

Last Monday Cingular introduced the BlackBerry Personal Plan, which at $29.99/month is a bit of a bargain when the old unlimited plan is $44.99/month. I quickly changed Leah’s BB onto that plan and also signed myself up for the E61. Using the BlackBerry Connect software on my E61, I should be able to get BB Push emails which, if works, would make the phone even better.

I hit the first snag when my BB Connect PIN didn’t get pushed through to RIM’s server for over a day, and required me to log into Cingular’s Customer Forum online to get it done. So I was able to create a BB email account late in Monday night (~1AM) and added my three email addresses. So far so good, I thought. But then no service book was sent to my phone and so nothing was coming through. I gave up waiting after 15 minutes and went to bed. I guess Cingular’s server migration from using BIS 1.8 to 2.0 on the same Monday didn’t work well under load.

On Tuesday morning nothing had changed but now I couldn’t add more email address to my BB account. Strange, I thought, but again I put it down to RIM server overloaded. Then after lunch, emails started arriving so I thought everything was going to be fine. The only problem I had up to that point was unable to access the web while BB Connect is running in the background. I read about this on various forums on the net but I thought it was just a glitch that would resolve itself once everything is working.

Then I logged onto the customer forum again to resolve my inability to add more email account. The Cingular agent was very good, she even called RIM for me about the problem. But when she told RIM that I have a E61, RIM refused to help me in anyway because the E61 is a unsupported device. While I understand they can’t help every customers with unlocked phones from outside North America, my problem was so server based that I got very annoyed by their attitude. No attempt was made to even see what the issue was.

So I did the best thing I could do, and the worst for Cingular/RIM, I asked the agent to take off my BB plan and that was it. Doesn’t make much sense really for Cingular/RIM to lose $29.99/month over a device that they are not supported (yet). I bet if I’ve told them I have a Nokia 9500 they would have helped me. But my point was that it shouldn’t have been an issue at the first place. If RIM really wants to expand into the consumer market, they need to rethink their support position. At the end of the day, it was their loss. I still get my email, albeit slightly delayed but I don’t have to beg/lie to get support.

I would probably try again when Cingular releases the rumoured E62, which is a cut down version of E61 (no Wi-Fi, no 3G). Then I can just tell them I have the E62 and that will be that.

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No internet or HDTV

When I got home this evening I found that the lights on the cable modem was not flashing. So I promptly cycled the power, hoping it would solve the problem like previous times. Not so lucky this time and when I turned on the TV to see if it was just the cable modem I found the set-top box was out too. So no internet or TV, and this happened on the night of 24 season finales!

Time Warner Cable could only send a technician out here on Wednesday so we’ll be entertainment-less until then. At least the recorded shows on the DVR are Ok so at we can watch them. And I guess this also give me time to read all the magazines and books…

You can run but you can't hide

I know there are only a few episode left for The West Wing (exactly one after tonight), but that shouldn’t mean the production crew can ease off! Starting three episodes ago, Leah and I both noticed a camera focusing issue with many shots. For example, in tonight episode about 40% of the shots were out of focus. They were either couple of inches too deep or too short, sometimes nearly a foot. So the actors faces were never in focus, but their collars or knees were.

I can definitely take a guess that perhaps the cameraman did not see the focus problem because they were not monitoring on HD monitor. Normal TV in Standard Definition hides pretty much everything errors one can make because of its low quality. But what has changed? Did they switch from shooting on film (as I remembered reading from somewhere, possibly the AVS Forum) to shooting on HD camera? Or did they simply drop the ball because it doesn’t matter any more? I can forgive one episode but three in a roll? There is no excuse!

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Die by Dehydration

If it is medically possible, I think I’ll be the first fatality from dehydration through runny nose.

My nose has been running continuously since yesterday evening and does not seem to be letting up. Stupid nose.

Make up your mind Gmail

Gmail seems to be unable to make up its mind. I did not join Gmail at the beginning so I don’t know how it was before, but ever since I joined there has been three changes to the description of the option to delete an email.

First it was “Move to Trash”, then a few months back it changed to “Delete” which I like. Then today it changes again to “Move to Deleted Items”.

I can understand ‘Trash’ not being common terms outside North America but I think “Delete” is pretty obvious what it does. Talk about being verbose…

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FUD on MacBook Pro price

So The Register has another FUD headline for the new MacBook Pro, "Intel Macs stay at non-Intel prices".

Yes, $2500 for the 1.83GHz version is expensive but is it really?

Look! The Acer’s TravelMate 8200 has similar spec and the same price!

Bad code, part 2

Last Friday I was, half-jokingly, called a code snob. That was probably due to my continuous bitching of bad code in our project throughout Thursday and Friday. I know it is true so I will wear that label with pride! I just don’t understand developers who will write bad code that works but not refactor them later. I can understand write bad code initially to get a understanding of how the code needs to work first, then afterward refactor into nice clean code. I did that many times myself. But just leaving those badly written code once it is working? ARRRRGGGHHH!

Leah made a comment about my previous post about bad code before she jetted off to London. She said even though she didn’t understand what I was talking about she thought it must be like an English literature graduate reading a badly put together English sentence.

I think that is a rather good analogy for the non-programmers out there.

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Bad Code

Early last week we delivered a build of our application to the “customers” that has all of the planned features. Not a big bang release of course, since we practice TDD and XP so we release often. Sometimes too often for our liking but that’s another story!

So we all were in bug fixing mode but the bug list is moderated by our domain expert so there are times when all the bugs are being worked on and no new bugs are in the tracker.

The standard practice when that happens is to look for code to refactor. The amount of code we have and the uneven level of skills in the team meant there are plenty of opportunity for refactoring. After I did some light refactoring on some UI code, I came across this piece of gem:

if (someText.Length > 0)


if (someText.Length == 0)


Needless to say phrases such as, “WTF?”, “You are fired!” (in Donald Trump style), and many others came to my mind. I knew who wrote this piece of code and it amazes me that someone who has years of programming experience produces this kind of sloppy code. Even college students won’t make mistake like this.

Perhaps it is a one-off, you say? Try another piece of code that I’ve seen from the same developer at another time:

string fooString = new myForm().MyTextBox.Text;

string fooString2 = new myForm().MyTextBox2.Text;

I could immediately see three problems here. First, using a TextBox’s text property to store a default string for later use? Should have used constants. Second, exposing a TextBox as public property? Third and most important, instantiating a form just to get access to some data inside the form that has nothing to do with the form? How expensive is that!

So this developer violated some of the most fundamental rules/concepts of programming (Encapsulation in Object Oriented Programming, anyone?) for what, I don’t know and I don’t want to know.

Anyway, I showed the first piece of code to another team member who I know is discreet but even he shouted “What?” rather loudly after reading the code. I didn’t dare to show it (let alone the second one) to the team lead or the boss because I knew Donald Trump will definitely make an appearance!

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