Email Bermuda

It used to be that when you send someone an email, you get a reply. But it seems like people are taking emails for granted more and more these days. I’d send someone an email and not hear from that person on the subject matter ever again — no replies, no thoughts on the subject, not even a quick one liner — as if the email has gone to the abyss of the Internet.

I haven’t decided what the proper etiquette is for replying emails (though one would think actually replying would be a good start). But now I’ve adopted the same etiquette for those who never reply — I simply read their emails and sit on them until inquired about. This may not be the best way to communicate. But I just don’t want to be the sucker who replies every time there’s a request for something while mine go unanswered. Sorry, jerks… 😉

Wii Fun

Jason surprised me last weekend with an early Christmas present — a Nintendo Wii. He bought it for us as a “thank you” for helping him with a website for his portfolio and resume.

We’d first played it when we visited him and AJ at their apartment. It’s the only kind of game console I could ever get Grace to participate in any kind of games. So we thought of getting one (and we might have gotten one already if it hadn’t been so freaking hard to find one). While I enjoy playing games, I am not exactly a game freak like Jason is. So it took me a couple of days to open the package (during which time, Jason kept asking me about it every single day, “did you open it yet, man?”).

Bryan and Wii Fun

Once everything’s up, the first customer, naturally, was Bryan. I let him play bowling for about 15 minutes, at the end of which it was nearly impossible to pry his fingers from the WiiMote. So we’ll have to set up rules for Wii time for everybody in the family. While I think games can help hand-eye coordination to a certain degree, I just don’t think it’s a replacement for any kind of outdoor activities that we can also enjoy as a family… But still, the temptation was too great — the thought of being able to hack Wii and program silly stuff for it convinced me that it’s a worthwhile “investment” (thought I didn’t spend a dime).

So expect to read about Wii hacking and programming in the future I suppose… Good times.

More Volusion Woes and Praises

After my last project using Volusion as an online storefront, I left with some bitter-sweet taste in my mouth. Volusion was excellent in a few things but wasn’t so great with others. This year, I got another chance to work with them again. And I noticed the following:

1. Extremely fast and responsive email tech support. When I say fast, it’s Apple-esque fast, not DELL. This is consistent with the last time I used them over a year ago.
2. Constant improvements on user UI and “some” ease of use. They’ve consolidated some features while making others a lot more usable.

However, there are still other problems they haven’t fixed, the most obvious is the lack of support for CSV files exported using a Macintosh. I’d forgotten that CSV files exported using Mac version of Microsoft Office didn’t play well with Volusion’s import tool. So I ran into the same problems I did last time. Good thing I blogged and documented about it though. Too bad Volusion didn’t bother with fixing that minor issue for Mac users (nor have they improved the documentation for it either).

For Apple’s Numbers users, they are out of luck. Numbers does not have the option to save a Volusion-compatible version of the CSV file. It was rather disappointing to see Apple leaving out a potentially show-stopping feature for a lame import tool such as Volusions.

Okay, enough bashing on Volusion. Obviously I liked them enough to send them another client for me to work on the storefront. The last time I was using them, they’d just upgraded their administration console to 4.0. This time around, it’s 5.0. Though I didn’t see too many obvious changes, I can certainly appreciate them constantly improving on their system. And a lot of the stuff I wrote about have become irrelevant after the v.4 and v.5 releases. For the price and performance, Volusion is a decent vendor to go with for an ecommerce storefront.

Inkless Printing — Zink

Murdza sent me a pretty cool video clip on this hot new company called Zink (which stands for “zero ink”). They introduced this technology where “ink” is essentially embedded into the paper itself. All the printing device does is to manipulate the microscopic ink particles in the paper itself to form the appropriate color compositions for the images being printed.

Pretty freaking cool! In a day and age where inkjet printer inks and bottled water cost more than gasoline, this is a welcome change. It’s good that we’d never run out of ink with this new technology. But then at the same time, consumers are pretty much locked in to this technology, and without competition, its high prices too.

Now I wonder how much the paper costs…

When Another Parent Physically Disciplines Your Child

Something unthinkable happened this week…

Grace took Bryan to hang out with a couple of other mothers and their children earlier this week. Kids being kids (god, especially boys), they are bound to get rough with each other from time to time. And when they are as young as two, their lack of impulsive control simply overwhelms their feeble minds and their bodies sometimes muscle over their intentions.

So what happened? While having fun with a younger girl at the play date, Bryan bit her. When the girl screamed and started her flood of tears, Grace took her time and tried to find out what happened and attempted to pull Bryan aside to talk to him about this mischievous behavior. This was when the little girl’s mom swooped by Bryan’s side, yelled at him for being such a bully and heavily smacked Bryan by the arm — all without even finding out what happened or giving Grace a chance to take control of the situation.

Needless to say, Grace was really pissed. But she chose to hold back on the anger and came back to discuss the issue with me. And quite frankly, I was dumbfounded and shocked to hear that someone would go as far as overstepping another parent’s authority and spank someone else’s child like that.

We are very disappointed and frustrated with this individual and her lack of understanding of early childhood development (though she claims she knows a thing or two and brags about it [ahem, see my previous entry]). Does she have an EQ of a toddler or something? Brian offered the explanation that maybe she was overstressed and that was the tipping point for her. Brian argued that maybe she felt remorseful about what she’d done.

But later we found out that this woman has been announcing to everyone we know, well, basically about how Bryan, a two year-old child, is a prick and bullied her sweetest, most lovely, wonderful and adorable, sugar pie angel. Now, to be fair and to put things in perspective, with Bryan’s other regular play dates/play groups, Bryan’s considered the “calm” one — the one who gets picked on all the time. But let’s suppose Bryan was the “excitable” one, what gives the right to one parent spanking someone else’s child?

I wish her good luck with her own child with her involuntary spanking and frequent threats to spanking her (at barely one year old). And one can only hope that her daughter will never ever bite, scratch, kick or hit another child, EVER. And of course, constant threats to spanking and physical discipline always improves moral, self-confidence and repress violence. That’s why death penalties work so freaking well against crime, eh?

Too Much Personality

Before I got married, an uncle of mine taught me to categorize friends into a few distinct groups and weight their importance and influence in my life accordingly. The idea was to maximize my limited resources and don’t waste any time with those who aren’t meant to be my friends over the long haul and spend more time with those whom I care as much as they care about me. I thought the idea makes sense but never really thought much of it. In reality, everybody does that already anyway whether one likes it or even knows it or not.

We’ve come to know quite a few friends in the Bay Area in the four years we have been here. But there’s one type of friend I can’t help but noticed — the kind that has too much personality. It’s the kind of person who fills the room whenever s/he is around; the kind of person that dominates conversations, commends (and sometimes demands) attention and refuse to shut up about him/herself. Now, if that person was Bill Clinton or someone of significance and great charm, I probably wouldn’t mind so much. But when a self-centric person just blabs on and on about how wonderful him/herself is (or his/her child/ren are), it makes a very annoying party.

Sometimes I feel like telling them: “Wow, don’t ever stop. My pathetic life is just so uninteresting compared to your adventures. Do go on. Do make me admire you that much more.”

People like that obviously can’t stand each other. And I happen to know that these two acquaintances of ours also hate each other’s guts. Most people can take these type of personalities in small doses. Too much of it can cause headaches, diarrhea, involuntary vomiting, and an urge to tell them to shut the hell up.

This begs the question though… Would I rather gamble on a bag of Made-In-China potato chips or having a small party with one of those personalities? It’d be a double whammy if the person in question has a party and serves chips imported from China… D’oh!

Parallels v.s. VMWare Fusion

Ever since Mac’d gone Intel, a number of virtualization options have opened up for us Mac users. Among them, the biggest names are Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac and the much anticipated VMWare Fusion. I’ve also tried lesser known contenders CrossOver Mac (except it was the Linux version that I used) and Wine. But the results were less than satisfactory. So I am not going to bother with them.

This CNet article covers some pretty basic benchmarks for using Parallels and Fusion v.s. Apple’s Boot Camp. My own experience echoes that of CNet’s results.

Pros: Nice touches on providing Windows Task Bar when in Coherence mode. I find myself needing access to the Windows desktop from time to time. I also like the fact that I can access the full “Start” menu from the Dock. Boots and runs fairly fast.
Cons: Somewhat awkward to use when Mac’s Exposé is invoked. Fusion does a much better job at this; seems to slow down the overall performance of the machine somewhat. But I can’t prove it scientifically.

Pros: Excellent integration with Exposé — each window that belongs to Windows actually scales! Supports both cores of my MBP! Virtual Appliances can be really helpful!
Cons: Poor implementation on giving user access to the Windows Desktop or the Task Bar when in Unity mode. Awkward “Launch” tool bar — I wish I can make the damn icons smaller. Instead of the “Applications” menu, Fusion should implement what Parallels does, full access to the “Start” menu from wthin the Dock.

It was relatively easy to enable my MacBook Pro’s iSight to use it with Windows Live Messenger (I hate it) on both softwares. But I did have to get iSight’s driver for Windows (stripped from Boot Camp) to get it to work.

Overall, my experience on both Parallels and Fusion is a pleasant one. Windows seemed to install faster on my virtual machines than they ever did when I had a real PC hardware to play with. Actually, it took longer to get Windows Updates to run and complete than the initial installation process. Oh, the ironies… I hope Microsoft continues to crank out crap ware like this for as long as they can afford to. The world just loves more crap ware shoved down its throat.

Viewing Javascript Generated Source in IE

After having battled IE for the past two days, I am glad to report that I actually learned something new and valuable when debugging for Javascript codes in IE. One of the chief complaints web developers have towards IE is its lack of a decent Javascript debugger. Hell, none of IE’s SEVEN versions even have a usable Javascript error console! After having written about my frustration finding a debugger, another useful thing a web developer would love to see is the actual HTML source code generated by all that wonderful Ajax/DOM scripting… Thankfully, there is a way.

It’s documented here by Eric Appel. Basically, I just need to type in a one-liner Javascript in IE’s URL to show the source.

javascript:'<xmp>' + window.document.body.outerHTML+ '</xmp>'

In case you didn’t already know, viewing generated source is quite simple in FIrefox via an addon appropriately called Web Developer. In Safari 3, the closest thing is to right click and select “Inspect Element” from the contextual menu.

I am still stunned at how far IE has fallen behind in feature set for both users and developers in its seventh iteration of the software (having zero development effort since it drove Netscape into ground). But I am still thankful for conditional comments the IE team has decided to support. At least it’s made life with IE using CSS a much more straight forward task.

Updating Windows — What A Joke

Because of the previous post on having to debug Javascript for IE, I’ve had to run Windows Update. I was shocked to see no less than 85 “high priority” updates directly coming from Microsoft’s server… This is on a fairly updated install of Windows XP running on my Parallels virtual machine… The last time I ran an update was a couple of months ago.

Running Windows Update

How can people tolerate this kind of B.S. from the largest software maker in the world? Don’t they spend billions a year on R&D? Here’s an idea, spend more of that resource on better software… I can’t believe I am writing two entries on Microsoft in one day…

Javascript Debugging for IE

In 2007, the year when the word Web 2.0 is taking over the world of Internet and seen as the resurgence of the another wonderful dot-com era, the world’s favorite web browser, Internet Explorer, still does not have a proper Javascript debugger. You’d have to go through hoops just to get one working by alternative means. How can developers working with IE’s framework love its technologies I guess I’ll never understand…

Some people claim MS is all goodies under the hood for developers. Com’on, where are the goodies? I haven’t met a web developer who doesn’t hate IE.

People who continue to use IE by choice are idiots. There. I’ve said it. Idiots. Idiots. Idiots. Start using better browsers from companies who care so that the World Wide Web can be a better place!

Ok. I feel better now… Back to dealing with crappy IE for idiots who prefer it.

Microsoft should change their marketing tag line to: Your Misery. Our Passion.