The Internet is for FUD

Sometimes I think Avenue Q got it wrong; The Internet is for FUD. When it comes to generating Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt the internet reigns supreme. Oh the television was good, but it has limitations. When you need to simultaneously scare the pants off someone in NYC and an uncharted island off the coast of New Guinea, only the internet will do.

I Snapped My Chrome!

I Snapped My Chrome!

One of the more interesting features in Google’s new Chrome browser is “Application Shortcuts”. These are web site links that Chrome places on your Start menu, Desktop and/or Quick Launch bar. When launched they open with a trimmed down UI, giving the web application a decidedly “desktop” feel. I’ve created shortcuts for a number of applications, including my GMail account.

Today, while responding to an email, I got what is best described as a “black screen of death”. Chrome informed me that “Ah, Snap! Something went wrong while displaying this webpage. To continue, press Reload or go to another page”.

Aside from being a rather silly error message, it tells me nothing of value. I don’t know what went wrong. It doesn’t help me diagnose if it was Chrome that failed or the site it was viewing. And the methods suggested for resolving this error are not valid in “shortcut mode” as there are no toolbar items to press or URL boxes to navigate with.

One aspect of this message that I like is that it assumes the user isn’t an expert. It doesn’t shove a bunch of technical information at the poor user who cannot do anything with it anyway. Why needlessly make things confusing?

The problem is that they didn’t give any obvious way to get at the technical information for those who can make use of it. And if you’re going to go with the simplicity route then you need to make sure your error message gives a working resolution to the user. That novice user isn’t going to make the same assumption that I did and press F5 to reload the page.

New Year, New Resolutions

New Year, New Resolutions

Happy New Year!

This whole "new year" thing is really interesting. I know it is really just an arbitrary milestone based on the rotation of a single planet around some star on the outskirts of one of the many galaxies. And yet I still can’t help but feel a sense of renewal. What can I say? I’m a human being and we’re a bit odd sometimes.

So far 2008 looks to be one heck of a year. I’m expecting my 3rd child (and 2nd son) in April, I’ve got two products about to go into beta (more on them in the coming months), and a bunch of challenging new projects to architect involving everything from data centers to multi-language telephony. I’m very excited.

I’ve also got a few new years resolutions:

  • Switch for black coffee. We’re talking the difference between 150 calories and 15 here. At the rate I drink coffee I can afford an extra helping of Pad Thai on what I’ll save!
  • Spend more time at home. I am notoriously bad at using my vacation time. I get wrapped up in projects and free time feels anything but free. For the last two weeks I’ve been home in order to use up my vacation time (how bad am I? I still have over a week to roll over). This year I’m going to use all my vacation time and maybe even work from home once and a while so I can save the two hours a day I commute. In the end I love my family and I’d rather they not forget what I look like.
  • Learn LINQ / Entity Framework. I’ve played with both an really love what LINQ brings to the table. I’m not so sold on the the Entity Framework but that I’ve never been a real ORM guy. I’m using WCF in one of my projects and plan to use LINQ in it as well.
  • Learn Ruby. Last year I spent some time picking up Python. This will fill my one language per year quota. Python is nice but I quickly figured our I’m a "bracket" guy. Although I do I have to say I found some serious problems with Python (and dynamic languages in general) that leave me still leaning towards compiled languages. I’ll have to post my experiences and see what the community has to say – maybe the issues I’ve have can be mitigated (I hope so, I really like some aspects of dynamic languages).

So there you go. I’ve now publicly posted my resolutions so I might just feel a bit more obligated to keep them this year. I wouldn’t hold my breath. 🙂

[update: fixed typo]

Vista "Blue Screened" Today

Last week I got a new laptop from. It is a Dell Latitude D830 with a 15.4″ wide-screen display, a Core2Duo, and 4GB of RAM running Vista Ultimate. I really liked this model because I can run it with two monitors (using the optional docking system).

So far I’ve things have been running great. This morning while opening an email in Outlook however – Vista “blue screened”. I really can’t remember the last time I’ve seen one (years I think).

image

One feature of Vista that impressed me was the “Problem Reports and Solutions” control panel. Vista seems to do a good job of keeping track of what application and system failures you’ve run in to and offers some tools to help you track down solutions.