So, How My Day Went, You Ask?

I spend a miserable morning working with Microsoft Sharepoint. A “smart quote” in a code sample from a KB article really chocolate-flavored my morning. Flavored it so much that I just had to send a profanity laced (virtually every sentence), but informative email to the MSDN keepers.

The funny thing about MS though is that interestingly enough they read and reply to feedback rather quickly. Just watch this: there will be a reply in my comments from Scoble in a day or two. Apple, Google, as well as the company where I work don’t really dedicate many people to answering customer complaints. Especially publicly. Yep, MS is funny that way – they even have real, live people looking at those crash error reports. And I hear that the suggestions and general emails get read and answered quicker than one might expect.

There’s even a link to “Request a Microsoft Executive to speak at events and functions” (notice capitalization), but sadly it does not work in Firefox. Too bad – I was gonna request that Ballmer give me and my co-workers a “Developers! Developers! Developers!” pep talk over lunch tomorrow.

Actually, here’s a little known fact for ya – if you write to One Microsoft Way and ask for Gates’ or Ballmer’s autograph, they’ll send you an Autopen-signed photo. I obtained Gates’ photo like this once, but I used it up as a birthday card for a Microsoft-loathing friend. I wonder if this trick will work on distinguished engineers past and present. I’d totally want Dave Cutler’s autograph.

In the evening I decided to go and replace my phone featured in this quaint still life from my cube’s desk. I mostly use the slide rule for pointing at the screen, poking my co-workers who having agreed to go out to lunch insist on sending one more email and drawing straight lines. I even learned how to do simple multiplication on it.

Being one of those people who insist on getting burned on new technology and then feeling resentful (thank you, Acer for making your first Tablet PC with a 256 meg ram limit and you, Microsoft developers, for using memory-hungry Win XP for the tablet’s OS) I finally decided that maybe it’s a good time to forgive Handspring for the disappointment that was the original Visor Phone. Oh, that stupid thing. It only worked when I didn’t need it and crashed whenever I did. Bulky, ugly, nasty thing. After one more crash/memory loss I sold off my Treo and my Visor phone and started using a different kind of PDA. I just shudder when I remember how Jeff Hawkins arrogantly told everyone that handheld users should mould themselves into using stupid graffiti script instead of giving us good thumb keyboards like smart people at RIM.

Well, I thought I’d get a Treo 650. I need something to type in on the train. The keyboard is not very comfortable compared to Blackberry or Danger (which design I like a lot more). But once again it’s the choice of better design vs an OS which is easier to develop for. Sadly I choose the latter way too frequently.

Also, in New York you can either pick a cellphone company that has better prices, phones and customer service or you can pick one that has good reception. Yes, everything about Verizon sucks. But they have so many damn tower that even though you get shafted on everything else, at least you get a phone that works better than others. You can actually send or receive a call in most places, even in some shallow subway stations.

Unfortunately it turned out that they want $25 extra per month for 10 megs of data, and in conjunction with a 2 year contract and $400 phone this just did not look like a good deal to me, so I passed. I guess I a destined to live with a bricky ol’ phone that is only good for making phone calls. Sadly it looks like to get better PDA features cheaper I’d need to sacrifice Verizon’s good reception.

Then I spent 3 hours this evening cleaning out spyware from a friend’s computer. I failed miserably – Adaware, Microsoft Antispyware Tool and Search & Destroy could not clean out all the crap even on multiple passes. Looks like I’ll have to reinstall.

More of Deadprogrammer’s Aspirations

I want to become rich in one of the most honorable ways possible – by inventing something. The first step that I took in that direction some time ago is writing down ideas into a notebook.

The notebooks is kind of special. It’s an NYPD style memo binder that I bought from DeSantis. Interesting to note that the NYPD binder is 4×8, but regular one is just 4×6. It took me a while to find correct paper that would fit the notebook, but I found out that the reporter’s notebook available in all stationary stores fits. I just had to remove the wire spiral. You know, the most amazing thing about this notebook is that cops manage to stuff it into the back pocket of their pants. I thought about buying some uniform pants (they look like dark dress casual pants, but are probably very comfortable and durable) but it turns out that you can’t buy them without a cop’s id.

But I digress. Inventing. Right. Well, sometimes I stumble upon companies that are already doing what I was thinking about. Maybe some of my ideas are actually not without merit.

I had an idea bout billboards beaming advertising to PDAs. I made a note in my log about making a cheap beaming module that could be used in subway ads. A blinking light would attract one’s attention, and if the passenger would point a palm pilot towards the ad, a coupon would be beamed down. I did a bit of searching, and it didn’t seem that any company was doing that at the time. That was a few years back, when I got my Palm III. The first company to actually do this (I think, I am not sure though) was Streetbeam. Today there are many more companies that make beaming booths, beaming nodes, etc. Wide Ray is just one of them.

Later I was thinking a lot about wireless power transmission after reading a book about Tesla. Tesla had his lab illuminated by wirelessly powered fluorescent lights. Why not power devices that don’t need that much juice, like cell phones and PDAs wirelessly, I thought? I was also thinking about magnetic fields in trains. Could it be possible to recharge a Palm Pilot or a cell phone from an induced current somehow? My hate of wall warts (12 volt transformers) is also well known. I was thinking for a while about a system of modules that would allow using one power cable to charge multiple devices. The system would involve a modular “multicradle” that would allow to store all devices needing powering neatly on the desk. This Friday I’ve read about a British startup that is going to produce a very cool wireless charging solution. That is going to be so cool.