Blog entries tagged with "rant"

I dislike hot weather

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 07:12pm

In general anything, over 30°C, but I have special feelings for all temperatures over 40°C. Like the bulk of this week.

Right now I should be in the city having some nice refreshing drinks at Sub Standards. No. Instead I am out in the heat waiting for a tow truck.

With Monday being a public holiday I took the remainder of the week off in order to get stuck into my todo list. This worked well and over the first few days I was able to tick a few items off.

But then the weather got hot. Above 40°C for all of the days I took as leave.

I did manage to make a new off-site backup (to an unused hard drive that I will keep at work) yesterday and this morning, but my part in that was only to plug the drive in and start the copy. For the remainder of the time I sat in the heat and watched a couple of movies.

Because of this, and a decent amount of traffic on the mailing list, I decided that I would borrow the car and drive into the city. Which was working out fine until after I dropped something off in Heidelberg on the way.

First the radio cut out, then the indicators stopped working and shortly after that the engine cut out at a set of lights. Not good as it appeared that this car still has electrical problems.

After the guy behind me helped me push the car off to the side of the road, I called the RACV, but was on hold for 15 minutes before being told that due to where the car was – on the nature strip next to a turning lane – they couldn’t just send a mechanic, the car would first need to be towed somewhere safe (straight to our usual mechanic). I had to accept that, only to be told that it could be an hour and a half before a tow truck could get there.

So here I am, sitting in some shade across the road from the car. Grumble.

Now, if the temperature had been more reasonable – at most 30°C – I would have done a lot more at home and then caught a train to the city where I would be having nice cool drinks and talking about stuff.

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I don’t do voicemail

Monday, January 12th, 2009 at 10:12pm

The situation is simple: I don’t do voicemail.

If I am away from my phone (eg it’s in another room) and it urgent that someone talks to me right now, then they can keep ringing until I hear it. If whatever it is can wait, then they can send me a text message. This serves the same purposes as a voicemail, yet it is in a much easier to use format. People (myself included) seem to take ages to get to the point in a voicemail.

At work (because I am at work, doing work stuff) it is not uncommon for me to decline an incoming call. Especially if I am working with someone else. If the caller were to leave a voicemail it takes a lot longer to listen to it than it takes to read a text message.

Before I got my iPhone I was with Vodafone for quite a few years.. With them it was really easy to change the diversion and voicemail settings through their website.

My iPhone is with Optus. So far their customer service sucks. Aside from the waste of time when I tried to call them (the amount I am getting billed is still different each month) their website is crap. The most obvious flaws (to me) are the poor navigation and the agonisingly inconsistent page load times, sluggish through to network timeouts.

Shortly after getting the iPhone I created an account on the my.optus site so I could view my bills and other things online. Through this I found a page to change my services. I unchecked voicemail and clicked submit. I can’t remember the exact terminology but this appears to trigger a job/order and a few days later I found that if I declined a call it didn’t go to voicemail. Exactly what I wanted.

But then it broke. A few months later I was told by someone who tried to call me that they got a voicemail setup message when they called my phone. Calling my own number confirmed that the voicemail divert was back and because I hadn’t setup voicemail it was giving a message that wouldn’t make sense to the caller.

I ignored it.

Until today when I was reminded that it was still happening. This prompted me to search to see if anyone else had problems turning off the Optus voicemail. There were a few results, but a recent blog post caught my eye as it gave different instructions than what I had done before.

I cancelled the diverts using ##21#, and then disabled both voicemail and the missed call SMS service through the mobile.optuszoo site. This seems to have worked and I hope it stays that way.

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Don’t call Optus on a Saturday

Saturday, November 15th, 2008 at 01:31pm

I just made a fundamental mistake: I tried to call a company outside of business hours.

When i received my phone bill earlier in the week it was significantly less than it should have been because of a “Customer Service Adjustment”. I have only been with Optus for a few months (because of my iPhone) and I can definitely say that I have not contacted them about anything. So where did the adjustment come from?

I didn’t have any spare time during the week so I tried calling today:

  • the IVR system was annoying
  • there was the delay of an international call
  • the horrible american accent would have been (partly) acceptable if it had been consistent
  • the operator took a few minutes to bring up my account

And then they couldn’t answer my question because “there are no notes in your file.”

That’s twenty minutes that I want back.

In future I will make sure I call during business hours in the hope that I can get someone located in Australia that should have better access and/or might know more about the accounts. If I don’t have time for the call I have in the past received decent responses from a support form on the company’s site or via email, even if those methods can take a few days until I get a response.

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I did need a Lego earthmover

Sunday, October 5th, 2008 at 03:15pm

Yesterday Dan said that I needed to get a Lego earthmover which are currently on special. As I was already planning to stop via Kmart, and needed to get my mind off a specific project at work, I decided to get one.

Which then led to a relaxing couple of hours where I first assembled it, and then (temporarily) motorised it. Since I don’t have the current motor set (which integrates extremely nicely inside the model) I turned to my 18 year old universal motor set. As there was an intermittent fault with the battery box I got my first ever technic set, the Technic II Set, down from the roof. After playing with it for a while I reverted the earthmover back to its non-motorised form.

It’s a very cool model and contains heaps of pieces that I have never seen before, not surprising since my next most recent set is the Supply Ship from 16 years ago. Unlike Dan I do miss the studded-beams, but I think that is mainly because the style of construction is now quite different and I am reacting emotionally to the change.

At some stage during the week (after I have printed the downloaded instructions in colour) I will break it down and reassemble it into the B model. And then probably back into the A model.

And that project at work? Just one of those projects that if not done properly will have a negative impact on most of the users and could even have major negative impact to the production environment. All because when the two developers on the project were asked to start designing (thinking, planning, etc) they started writing code without even looking at what specs existed. So at the time when the project should be ready for end to end testing; the specs are incomplete, there is no technical design and the code that has been written is only partially functional, not to mention it being overly complex for what is needed. And don’t get me started on our style and standards that have not been followed…

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Where is the eBay iPhone app?

Monday, September 8th, 2008 at 07:32pm

This afternoon something, I can’t remember what, reminded me of an official iPhone app for eBay. I have been using the mobile interface, but a native app should be a big improvement.

So where is it?

A search for ‘ebay’ in the app store (both on the phone and through iTunes) returns four results. None of them the offical app.

A google search for ‘ebay iphone app‘ finds, currently as the third result, the official eBay on iPhone page. This looks promising, but it says “available exclusively via the Apple App Store” in the fine print.

Wasn’t I just there and didn’t find it? Yes.

Then I realise that the words “Available Now” is a link to the App Store. Following that link on my PowerBook starts up iTunes, which is promising until I get the following message:

“The item you’ve requested is not currently available in the Australian Store.”


I go back to the eBay page to double check the fine print. There is nothing I can see about any region restrictions and I now remember seeing the eBay logo on one of the Apple pages, which I would consistenly be redirected to the Australian versions of.

And there it is. On right hand side of the Australian page for the iPhone 3G page, at the top of the Top Apps section on the right is a link to the eBay app. Again with an iTunes link that gives me the same not available message.

I’m confused.

The eBay page I can sort of understand as there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent page on the Australian eBay site. But the Australian iPhone page? I would consider it reasonable for the regional page to only list apps that are available in that region’s store.


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The Garmin map DRM annoys me

Saturday, September 6th, 2008 at 01:30pm

Tomorrow I’m going for a ride with a friend, so earlier in the week I set about installing the Garmin map software so I could load the route into my GPS unit. I had it installed previously, but that was before I built myself a new computer.

So over I went to the Garmin site to download the latest versions of the USB drivers, the firmware update tool, and MapSource, the mapping program. Installing these went fine until I installed the Australian maps that I had bought at the start of the year.

It wouldn’t let me unlock them. Specifically it wouldn’t let me retrieve the previous unlock codes.

The version of MapSource that I was using was 6.14.1 and the unlock procedure was different than I remmembered it. Instead of giving me an option to restore the unlock codes from a backup file, the only option was to unlock online.

After installing a Garmin plugin in Firefox the unlock web page was able to detect my GPS unit and, according to the instructions, all I needed to do was enter the serial number of the unit and click ‘Retrieve Unlocks’.

No: “Unable to unlock map(s) for unit”

Why didn’t that work? The maps are still loaded on the unit (but not viewable in MapSource) and when I login to the Garmin site it correctly tells me what unit I have AND what maps are installed/unlocked.

Maybe they’re not competent to support multiple browsers so I try Internet Explorer. Still unable to unlock so that’s not the problem.

How about the support section of their site? I find a question about unlocking after a computer crash which seems promising. However the answer talks about an unlock wizard, more like what I remember from last time, which appears to be have been replaced by the web based process.

As I was planning to take a route drawn up in Bikely and my unit still has the maps installed there was no urgency in viewing them in MapSoruce, so I decided to submit a question. Which does lead to a browser support problem.

I first tried to submit my question in Firefox. But clicking submit didn’t seem to have any effect. The page that is supposed to “Access and manage your correspondence with Product Support” showed nothing. Had the question been submitted? Aparently not as when I tried it in Internet Explorer I got a success screen. But it still wasn’t being shown back to me as correspondence.

It is now 48 hours later and I hadn’t heard anything so I decided to try something different. Revert back to the version of MapSource that I had previously used (I had kept the 6.13.4 installer) and see what the unlock process is like there.

It was what I remembered and this time there was the option to use my backup file and the maps were unlocked. Yay! I then reinstalled 6.14.1 and the maps stayed unlocked. Another yay!

So what was good about this:

  • Garmin does update their software

But there is more bad:

  • The new web based process didn’t work
  • The support info was out of date
  • The support site didn’t work properly in Firefox ( if you were wondering)
  • The support site works more in Internet Explorer (7.0.6001) but maybe not entirely
  • If they did receive my question, then two business days is more than enough for at least an acknowledgement that they received it

I have it working now, but who knows if others have the same problems and if they are, then how would Garmin know if the channel for asking for help doesn’t seem to work?

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What is Web 2.0?

Thursday, February 8th, 2007 at 08:00pm

A few weeks ago Alfie finally launched his secret project, a free competitor to and This is the project that has been taking up every moment of his time, so much so that he ‘had’ to pull out of presenting a paper at OSDC.

What does this have to do with Web 2.0? In his launch post Alfie claims that he made a Web 2.0 site.


Where is the API? What about an RSS feed of the search results? Where is the community? Why isn’t it easier to create an account? Why do you even need to create an account to list a property? Why can’t you comment on listings? All these are characteristics that I would expect from a Web 2.0 site and are even part of the definition on Wikipedia.

When I raised this at work the next day the response I got was that anything after the bubble was Web 2.0. And not just sites that started afterwards, this included sites that survived the bubble, you know, all those garish sites lacking in content or community.

So what is my point? I don’t really have one, this is just a rant that leads into an ingenious video explaining Web 2.0 that has been making the rounds of the news sites over the past few days:

Even Lessig blogged it which says something all of its own…

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Requirements are always the key

Thursday, November 10th, 2005 at 07:52pm

One positive aspect of the renovations that are underway at work is that it is a practical example of the problems that incomplete requirement elicitation can cause.

<disclaimer>be warned, the following is a rant</disclaimer>

The architect who designed the new floor plan was given an initial brief and it seems to have been something like: “x offices for these people, a large meeting room, some other meeting rooms, and as many people in open plan as possible”. This is obviously a very cynical view…

A set of requirements such as that is probably going to be ok for those who are getting offices but for the rest of us (the majority) it pretty much sucks… Irrespective of our job function and required resources we have all been allocated identical work areas:

  • A 1800mm x 2000mm corner desk
  • A single drawer unit (two small drawers and one filing drawer)
  • Maybe some shelves that attach to the screens that two thirds of us have against our desks.

For a number of people this will be adquate. But what about the people that we think should have offices but policy dictates they don’t? At the upper end are a couple of people with three drawer filing cabinets full of work, shelves full of stuff and in one case a free standing electronic whiteboard.

My requirements are more modest but still exceeds our allocation as I will require around two metres of shelf space for my books, folders, etc. This means that I will have to put up with part of my view (I’m lucky enough to be by a window) cut off by a screen so shelves can be attached to it…

And that is just the desks. What about:

  • Zero whiteboards (which may not be so bad as it should force people to go to one of the two (only) breakout rooms for discussions)
  • Zero coat space. Are we expected to hang them on the back of our chairs? Isn’t that unprofessional? Considering the fuss the architect made about all new desks and chairs so the colours would match…
  • No consideration for bicycles. There will be a minimum of five bicycles every day. Maybe up to a dozen…
  • A smaller kitchen. It currently maxes out at eight. How will it handle fifty when it is reduced in size?

I know it is futile but what if this had all been taken into account…

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