Archive for the ‘H’ Category

What makes good software

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005

It’s not a question that really has a concrete answer. However, one thing that makes good software is how well it handles situations where things don’t really go to plan.

Having just got my phone back I needed to put all of the contacts back onto the phone. I do (or try to do) this using the Nokia PC Suite application that you can freely download from the Nokia site. This software is a pretty poor excuse for phone synchronization software, but other software isn’t really all that much better.

Anyway, I tried to synchronize the contacts from the Windows address book and got a very nice error message “An unspecified error has occured”. Thanks, that’s really useful.

Turns out that the phone was configured to use the SIM card memory only, and when I tried to change it to use SIM and phone memory it said it the phone memory was locked. How any typical user is likely to figure that out is beyond me.

Come on Nokia, you build the phones, you build the software, at least get them to work together in some remotely useable fashion.

Painting is actually only 20% painting

Sunday, April 10th, 2005

I’ve done my fair share of painting/renovation to date. Most of this has simply been re-painting in order to make things look more modern or, more commonly, just less old or less crappy (that’s a highly technical painting term). This is why the kitchen cabinets are being done at the moment. The old painting is pretty average, which translates to complete rat-shit. There are runs everywhere and the surface wasn’t prepped first so it peels off in strips if it gets knocked.

Only 20% of the time spent painting is actually spent physically painting though. This is unfortunate since its the only part that is remotely enjoyable. The rest of the time is spent doing mundane stuff like stripping the old paint (particularly unmotivating), sanding back the old paint (particuarly boring), filling holes (not too bad), filling gaps (at least you get to play with a calking gun), resanding (at least this doesn’t take long) and so on.

Anyway, I’ve just finished putting on the first sealer/primer coat on one side of the cabinets so most of the mundane part is over. Yay!

Creating physical things is so satisfying

Saturday, April 9th, 2005

I work in the software business. The fruits of your labour is a CD that contains an installer, some documentation, and ultimately users interacting with nothing more than different coloured pixels on a computer monitor. It seems so … um … un-real. If you turn off the monitor, poof, it all goes away. There’s nothing to hold, feel the weight of, push or click or turn to get things done.

Lately I’ve been working on repainting our kitchen and, although the work is somewhat laborious, at the end of it there will be a beautiful kitchen to be admired every time I go into the kitchen. You’ll actually be able to see the blood, sweat and tears (not literally luckily) that went into the transformation. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside to think that you were able to, and did, do that work to create something real.

At the same time during the repainting I’ve often thought how frustrating it is to do all the repetitve bits and pieces. For example, there’s three doors that I am working on at the moment. Once I’ve finished one it would be nice to just go Ctrl-C, then Ctrl-V twice.

Perhaps that’s why I stay in the software business because the repitive nature of physically creating things is just not my cup of tea.