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Showing posts from 2011

Sorting vs Filtering

I wrote before about misuse of To:, Cc: and Bcc: in email communication. This is another one of those posts.
 vs 
I often get email from customers that lead me to believe that they don't understand the difference between sorting and filtering a list. Usually I come to this conclusion after reading their email, getting confused myself and having to read the same email 2-3 times before I realize "oh yeah, this is another person saying sort when she means filter". Let's go to the dictionary:


sort (verb):
a:to put in a certain place or rank according to kind, class, or nature

b: to arrange according to characteristics 


filter (verb): 
a: to pass (something, such as a gas or liquid) through a filter to remove something unwanted 


So when it comes to lists, sorting arranges the list in a particular order. Whereas filtering temporarily reduces the amount of record in the list (perhaps so you can focus on a smaller subset).

How do you know which you have done? If the number of rec…

My black friday nightmare with Walmart.com, Part 2

One of the things I left out of my post about my nightmare buying a TV from Walmart.com was that I used Consumerist's recipe to launch an EECB (Executive Email Carpet Bomb) on Walmart. Following the recipe, I composed an email and sent it off to 4 variants of the email of their Executive Vice President of General Merchandise. So who called me yesterday? Amberly from Walmart.com's Executive Escalation Department. Yeah it got that serious! She explained the same thing as the other robotic agents I had been talking to. However she promised to escalate to the billing dept. Did I believe her? Not entirely but she sounded more confident than the others. Especially since she was from the Executive Escalation Department. I asked how she learnt about the case and she said they got my email (sweet!).

About 30 minutes later, Amberly called me back and she had actual information for me. Apparently, orders are randomly flagged for review by Walmart. My first order for the 55 inch was flagg…

My black friday nightmare with Walmart.com

This past black Friday, I decided to do the smart and yet fiscally-responsible thing: shop online for electronics. Our current TV has been making weird noises that I interpret to be death rattles. So what better way to snag a big screen TV than by shopping super early on black Friday. Like a smart consumer, I did my research before hand and found Walmart.com had 2 TVs at really good prices: 47 inch LG for $699 and a 55 inch LG for $898. As soon as it was 12:05am, I logged on to Walmart.com and bummer, the 55 inch was "sold out". I settled on the 47 inch and made the purchase with an AMEX card. Why AMEX? Because they offer free extended warranty on electronics. Done with my shopping, I went to sleep. Woke up around 7am and decided to try the 55 inch again. Luckily it was in stock and I bought it too figuring I'll just return the 47 inch when it arrives. Free shipping on both TVs meant I wouldn't have wasted money on shipping the unwanted 47 inch. I was feeling very pr…

Taking good luck for granted

I wrote this a long time ago but didn't published it. Not really sure the title fits but what the heck...read it.

Ever since I became a parent, this blog post has been rolling around in my head. The fact is it's very easy for us to take good luck for granted. I am not saying one should "give testimony" for every little thing like waking up in the morning, taking the next breathe etc. But when I think about my kids and how normal they are and how non-trivial my wife's pregnancy was, I realize that I am very lucky. When you have 6 nieces and nephews, you start to think pregnancy isn't a big deal. After all, your sister and sister-in-law have done it 6 times with apparent ease. What could go wrong?

Then your wife gets pregnant, with twins and she starts watching all these weird shows on Discovery Chanel. And the answer to the question "what could go wrong?" becomes "a lot!".

Then you go to bed one night while your wife is only 4 months pregna…

Value City Furniture sucks

On July 4th 2011, I spent over $1500 at Value City Furniture on living and dining room set. I shouldn't have. I should have done somewhere else. Because Value City Furniture sucks. Here's what I wrote to them:

Hello,

I am writing to tell you about my horrible experience shopping in New Carrollton your store. I bought a living room set (3-piece sectional) on July 4th.  About a month after delivery, I noticed that both the sofa and loveseat had ripped. I called in to have it repaired. At this point, I was already disappointed with the quality of the furniture. The fillings inside the cushion were already coming out and the 1-month old sectional already had the appearance of a much older couch. To make matters worse, the rip that was repaired came back exactly 2 days after repair (and I was out of town for those 2 days!). Needless to say, at this point I was very disappointed with the quality of VCF's merchandise and repair expertise. After several calls to the store, I eventu…

Error HRESULT E_FAIL has been returned from a call to a COM component.

Ever opened your aspx or ascx in Visual Studio 2010 only to see this:


When this happens:

Editing in design view is virtually impossibleCan't add new controlsExisting controls can't be edited in design viewThe solution that's worked for me is to:

Close VS 2010Delete all temporary files created by VS 2010. In addition to the usual suspects, make sure you delete the folder that corresponds to your website in this location: C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WebsiteCacheRestart VS 2010

The curse and blessing of developing software

There is a site called "The Daily WTF: Curious Perversions in Information Technology". Contrary to the name, the site is perfectly safe for work. In fact, it's probably should be mandatory reading for some workplaces. Why? Because the content of the site can be put in 2 categories: amusing screenshots of software behaving badly and examples of phenomenally bad code. By the former, I mean amusing error messages; error messages that the developers thinks will never show to the user; banks sending letters to demand payment of $0; things of that nature.
The second category is what I call the curse of being in the software business. Smart people coming up with really clever and awful ways to get things done. Part of the reason is that end users never get to see the source code of most applications. They only see the pretty UI. So what happens? Developers have the freedom to use whatever to get the job done. And boy, do they abuse that freedom.Spend a few minutes perusing the C…

I like to attempt dangerous acts...

Every once in a while I come across this dialog in Visual Studio and the language used in the dialog text always bugs me:

If you can't see the image, the text is:
An editor or project is attempting to save a file that is modified in memory. Saving files during a build is dangerousand may result in incorrect build outputs in the future. Continue with save?I am not sure what a better word is but "dangerous" just bugs the heck out of me. I mean I understand software is important and all but dangerous? Really? What's the worst that can happen? You mess up the build and are forced to do a "clean" and "rebuild". Big deal. Generally, I don't think anything that can happen in Visual Studio (short of blowing up your computer) should be termed as "dangerous".

Is Chrome intentionally trying to mess up web development?

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the weird behavior of Chrome's omnibox. Today, am posting about how Chrome's bungled a very simple feature of all web browsers. Since the very early days of the web, web browsers have always had an option for viewing the source code of the currently rendered page. Typically the menu is called "View Source" or something similar. You click it and you get the HTML source for the page you're looking at. Very simple, right? Well Chrome does it differently. In the spirit of complicating simple things, clicking on "View Source" in Chrome doesn't just give you the HTML of the current page. Oh no! It makes another request to the web server and shows you the HTML for that version. Yep. I am not sure how that's better than just showing the HTML of the already rendered page but that's what Chrome does. So in addition to using the omnibox to complicate web development, the "View Source" option makes a trivia…

Does InfoPath (still) suck?

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post titled "InfoPath & SharePoint (Part 1)". Back then I had just started working on a project using InfoPath 2007. So, expectedly, the post wasn't very complimentary to InfoPath (or SharePoint). In fact, I said:
InfoPath sucks and SharePoint is the most expensive piece of crap ever. InfoPath, as a development environment, has absolutely no redeeming value. It's worthless.... (more)Since then my opinion of InfoPath has changed slightly. It still suffers from all the flaws I pointed out in that post. However, I think when used right, InfoPath can be an OK tool. I think it's well suited for designing one off forms and not for anything that requires complex logic or multiple iterations (like most software development requires). Alas, most CTOs fall in love with its point & click simplicity and integration with SharePoint that they try to use it to replace more developed technologies like ASP.NET. What do you get? A horri…

Chrome's Omnibox, debugging web applications and web statistics

If you use the latest version of Google's Chrome browser, you may have seen this setting:



Couple of days ago, I decided to turn it on. This way, I can get instant results when I search via the omnibox. Since I never go to Google's home page, this is the only way for me to get the benefits of instant search. So I turned it on and promptly forgot about it. Fact is, I never actually thought about how it worked. Why? Because the way it works is every character you typed is instantly sent, as a search query, to your search provider. So far, that's not a big deal. That's intuitive. However, what's not so intuitive is that once Chrome detects you are typing a URL, it starts sending those requests to the webserver for the URL. So say you want to type in "http://localhost/myapplication/pageAmTesting.aspx?Id=500", the last few requests Chrome will send are:
http://localhost/myapplication/pageAmTesting.asphttp://localhost/myapplication/pageAmTesting.aspxhttp://localh…

My review of Google OS (on the Cr-48)

First, I am typing this on the Cr-48 running Google OS. I signed up for the pilot program a couple of months ago and didn't give it any further thought. After all, what are the chances of them actually giving me a unit? Well, guess what was waiting for me when I arrived home this evening? Yep! A brand new laptop (more like netbook) with Google OS installed. These are my initial reactions:

when I first heard about Google OS being based upon the chrome browser, my first thought was how will they deal with the *claustrophobia* that some people (ok me) will experience at being confined to a single window? Well they didn't deal with the issue. So that was the first thing I noticed. It just feels like I am being confined to a single browser instanceWhat do you mean "everything is in the cloud"? Literally, everything is in the cloud! There's no file system. Personally, I think it's a mistake that Google didn't even create an abstraction to replace the file system…

Why I left Aquilent

I wrote the bulk of this post in November last year. Since then, I have indeed left Aquilent and now work at NIH.

How do you keep employees happy?

I am sure most people will immediately think of money when asked this question. To me, it's never been about money. Sure, everyone wants to be adequately compensated and certainly I wouldn't volunteer for a pay cut. But it takes more than money to keep a good employee happy. I am careful to qualify that with "good employee" because a bad employee will stick around and take the money. I think a key aspect of what keeps employees happy is how good the daily work experience is (from the employee's perspective). If your employees hate coming to work each day, you can be bet no amount of money will make them happy or keep them from leaving.

Why am I talking about this? Well it occurred to me while riding the Metro to DC (where I am working on a SharePoint implementation project...feel free to Google that..I'll wait). So …

The federal govt is huge

I know that sounds like an obvious observation but until you really think about, you may not realize how big the federal govt really is. I just started working at the National Institutes of Health (which is 1 of 12 operating divisions under the Department of Health and Human Services). HHS itself is 1 of 15 federal executive departments in the United States. With me so far? So at orientation, I found out that NIH employs over 27,000 employees! NIH is the largest consumer of electricity in Montgomery County! 27,000 employees in an agency within the 10th largest (of 15) department in the US. According to wikipedia.org, as of 2007 the federal government employed 4.2 million people! Wow! That makes them by far the largest employer in the country. For comparison, the largest private employer in the US is Walmart with 1.8 million employees. That means the federal govt employs more than twice as many employees as the largest private employer. That's some serious clout.

Crime against humanity

So I just got a new job and along with that comes the task of setting up a new PC from scratch. First thing I did was install CCleaner and check out all the programs that have been set to run on start up (i.e. programs that run every time you start your computer) Since these programs are configured to run on start up, you would think they ought to be very critical components of your computer. So why is it that every self-important software company seem to think their programs belong in this category. For example, if Adobe Reader doesn't start every single time I boot my computer, is that really a big deal? So why the heck does Adobe think they need not 1, not 2 but 3 programs starting up every time I boot up? Why does Sun (Oracle) think I need to update Java (a program almost no one uses except for server applications)? Why does Apple think Quicktime needs to be started along with the computer? For one thing, the idea of having Quicktime is like appendix in humans i.e. absolutely …