Monday, November 02, 2009

Software ever changing truths

Quite often in software [development] (more often than not?), as time goes on, what is truth, becomes not truth, and this is possibly one of the reasons it makes software development so difficult, human brains are normally trained to learn stuff, but are not trained for dis learning and that's where the problem resides, as humans, once we learn something a certain way and we learn that that is good (or "the best way"), it is very difficult to change our minds to do it differently.

Programmers are frequently questioning what is the best way to do x or y, in many cases people will grab the first result from a web search (sounds familiar?), take that as the absolute truth, apply it to whatever problem they are solving and move on with life, though other times the ramifications of such learning experience will carry over much further, maybe the person will write a blog post about it or teach his/her co-workers, thus distributing the knowledge.

Keep in mind that is not always about finding out the best way of doing things,  some other times we find out that something is not possible, and this last one might be worst, more so on young developers, learning that something is not possible is very dangerous, have you seen an elephant tied to the tiny stake? it has learned that as soon as it reaches the end of its rope, it can't go any further.

Many of these truths come from respected authorities in the world of software, maybe from the software vendor itself or the official community around it, making matters even more complicated because they are the source and you trust them. The key here is not that you can't trust anyone, it's only that you should not lock that into your brain as the absolute truth, software is always evolving, it's always changing truths.

There are few things that you should take as the absolute truth though ;), among them:
  • There's usually no best way of doing things, there's only a better way(s) of doing it.
  • Software development is not black or white, in fact I think most of it is gray area.
  • There are no hard rules in software development, it'd be too easy if that was the case. 
  • There is no such thing as an impossible thing, only incapable beings.
  • Software is always evolving, what is truth today may not be the truth tomorrow.
All I am saying is that whenever you come to "the best way of doing" (be it an algorithm, a technology, framework or methodology), a performance comparisson that shows that X is better than Y or something that is "not possible", it doesn't matter who it comes from, take it with a grain of salt. What is truth today may not be truth tomorrow.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Information disclosure: It's everywhere

You might have seen stickers like this in the back window of some minivan and maybe you thought it was funny/cute/stupid, but did you ever think of it as information disclosure? What's the big deal about showing all of your family's names? glad you ask :), let me briefly describe something that happens in Mexico and South America: Virtual kidnapping extortion, criminals will call your phone, tell you that hey have kidnapped your kid (they have the names you graciously provided) and ask you to immediately pay the ransom, when in reality they don't have your kid, but use the emotional momentum to take advantage of you. This is only one example of how they conduct these activities, there are many other ways, and I'm not trying to make you scared of that, but to make a point on information disclosure. It can be found in the most innocent places and if you think this can't happen to you, then you're already very vulnerable.

You've also probably seen this:

I couldn't even tell you how many blogs have been hacked because of that (hint: too many), WordPress makes it too easy to break those sites when new vulnerabilities appear (as they do every other week).

I have seen systems where they use some employee id as their login credentials, that id is visible when the computer is locked, and it turns out you can call the help desk, provide them with that id, the person's name, and they will happily reset the password for you.

Unfortunately there are no rules that I can give you or that I have ever seen anywhere to prevent the issue of information disclosure, I'm just trying to raise the awareness on the potential issue that represents having information that bad people can use for malign purposes both in your systems and your own life. The only thing I can tell you is that information disclosure is really everywhere, in your comments, in your configuration files, disclosing the components that your app users, that version, that user id, etc. even in that innocent sticker.

Security does get in the way of usability and usability gets in the way of security, just give it a second thought and be careful out there.

There is no such thing as a secure system, all you can do is raise the bar a little bit more and yes, security by obscurity may be your friend some times.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Duct tape programming: Elegant code doesn't pay the bills

Finally decided to jump into the Duct Tape programmer conversation that's been around the internets for the last weeks; talk about flame wars! a large portion of the blogging/twitter community took this post as an attack on TDD, Agile development practices and overall quality software development; which makes perfect sense if you think about it, that's what they sell, that's what they blog and tweet about all the time, so, Joel's post hit some sensitive nerves there. All of those patterns and practices fanboys are trying to convince the world that the duct tape programmers are those who don't care about quality and that they are just writing software that is not maintainable, extensible and all those things that we expect from good software. Those are the same people that quickly dismiss content that is "purely technical", you'll see them talking and talking all the time about good patterns and practices, but not so much about implementations of anything down to the actual code level. I say, theory is good, but without the practice, it's useless.

Unfortunately for them the very first example of duct tape programming that jumps out is StackOverflow, a site that has been developed by self acknowledged duct tape programmers, but also a site that has proven to be fast, reliable, and has delivered tons of features over time, which tells me the code is very extensible; I'm sure the code is not something your average programmer could get a grasp of and would probably make purists throw up a little bit here and there, but is code that does what it supposed to do, and does it very well (do I hear ship it?)

When I stated that in Twitter about SO, some didn't believe it (which tells me they thought it was so good it couldn't be duct tape programming, but there are podcasts you can look for and listen to what they have done), and someone else madly replied to me, arguing that SO was the only real example of successful duct tape programming, unfortunately for them (again) if you look at the tremendous success on Apple products lately, you'll see duct tape programming all over the place, Apple is the King (or Queen?) of duct tape programming, specially the iPhone development ecosystem, it's not all that pretty but Apple has always delivered what people want, you may read my own blog about many stupid things that Apple does, but on the end, people are very happy with their products, and that's all that matters, people don't care that the underlying infrastructure or the code for the apps looks like crap, I'll say it again: it doesn't matter.

The biggest problem with purists is that when you focus on making every single line of code fit within a pattern, it's very easy to cross the line of over engineering and forget about the very basics of software development, which is, it has to meet your customers expectations, and you have to deliver, if you don't deliver a product, it doesn't matter how good the code is, unfortunately elegant code doesn't pay the bills, getting the job done does.
A brute-force solution that works is better than an elegant solution that doesn't work. Code Complete 2
My most frequent pattern is "whatever works", I'm not afraid of throwing in procedural, OOP, functional, dynamic, stored procedures, you name it, whatever gets the job done (ok, except for XML, I hate XML) in a way that works and allows me to extend that code later, but most importantly, I am used to delivering good results, always, no excuses, you'll often hear me say, is not an option, it HAS to work. Don't get me wrong, I'm very strict with my code, I like elegant code, I follow good SOLID principles, I write unit tests when a piece of code definitely needs it, is just that I don't force everything into a pattern, I don't always write my tests first religiously (ok, actually, I never write the tests first, I think it's stupid). That for me, is the duct tape programmer. You just have to know when to pull the plug and keep in mind the most important feature of your product. Shipping is that feature, without it, whatever you do, even if it is a master piece, is worthless.

Now, when you corner purists showing them good results from duct tape programming, they argue that it takes very talented people to pull that off, sure, nobody said it was easy, it takes talent, it takes reading and understanding all those "purely technical content" entries, experimenting, playing, hacking, on the end, software development IS a people problem. I think methodologies are for people who don't have the talent, but that's a whole different topic.

There are no hard rules in programming, it would be too easy if that was the case.

disclaimer: I took the "elegant code doesn't pay the bills" phrase from someone in Twitter, sorry, can't find it now.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Mac intuitiveness: syncing notes and hard limits

I've had this issue from day 1, every time I sync my iPhone after I have added or modified some notes, I get this message

I usually keep around 10 notes on my iPhone, so, of course it's always going to be more than 5 freaking percent, why should it care that I change even 100% of all my notes, just keep a history if that's the concern, the other issue is that if you plug your iPhone in to sync it and walk away, you'll come back one hour later only to find out that it hasn't finished because it is stuck on this stupid dialog. Really bad usability there, hasn't improved even with the countless iTunes updates.

Always remember the least surprise principle.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Apple intuitiveness: The lost OK button

Every time you connect an iPhone/iPod to a Mac, iTunes does its thing, takes forever syncing and what not (one of those things is that it steals the focus, which I hate) and when is finally done, it comes up with this dialog:

Maybe it's just me, but it took me a long time (and I mean, months) to realize that it wasn't referring to an OK button, just that it was OK to disconnect your device; so much for being intuitive.

But then again, I'm not the only one who thinks that iTunes sucks

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ping doesn't cut it for connectivity testing

A failed ping only means that the ping failed, doesn't tell you much about the connectivity.

On some twitter discussion today I was reminded of how often people use the ping command to test for connectivity, what a lot of people don't know, is that ping is just another service, and can be disabled or blocked, -as it has become more frequent these days-, rendering this method useless, on top of that, more often than not you need to test connectivity to a specific service; a much better approach is to use telnet. Using telnet you can actually test not only that there is connectivity, but that you can reach the desired port.

Some frequently used ports:

20, 21 Standard FTP
23 Telnet default
80 Standard web
115 SFTP
443 Standard secure web
139 NETBIOS (file and printer sharing in Windows)
143 IMAP
445 SMB (to connect to Windows from other OSs)

an example of testing if you can access the web on some ip:
telnet 80

when the connection succeeds, you usually just get a black screen, with the cursor staring at you, if the connection fails, you will get an error message

As a final note, in case the connection fails, you might want to use tracert -d [ip address] to get more details of why the connection fails

Friday, July 17, 2009

How to: Save GIF files in MS Outlook

For some reason MS Outlook doesn't give you an option easy way to save animation files (.GIF), actually it won't let you save .JPG, .PNG, etc directly from a message and what it does instead is that it gives you the option of saving it as BMP, but many times this is not desirable, every once in a while I need this and I keep forgetting how to do it so I decided to use my blog once again for the purpose of remembering later how to do something; it actually works quite well, so here it is

I actually lied on the title, there are ways to save the .GIF files in Outlook, but I'm not going there, there is a much easier way, forward the message to a web-based email account such as Yahoo or Gmail (haven't tried Hotmail, but it probably works there too)

You'll be able to save the files from there as you would expect, with a right click, save file as...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Programming is like Chess

For a long time I have believed that software development is just like a Chess game, but apparently not many people have thought about it this way, just *bing* it and you'll see less than a page of results (Google is no better), of course this is about to change as I write this post and everybody sees the light... or not

anyway, let me elaborate on my analogy

The bad programmer
Arguably the average programmer, makes a move without thinking about the side effects, his capacity of analyzing problems is not all that great, there are so many side effects (breaking code, introducing bugs, security, etc) but this guy is not even aware of most of them, he basically relies on the debugger and if it runs on his machine then is good to go; when stuff inevitably breaks he just goes back and makes another move that seems to fix the problem, if you give this guy a large project it is likely that he'll make a stupid move that will just cause Checkmate on the project

The good
Analyzes different paths and choses the one he thinks is best, this player can play a good game, every once in a while his analysis is not that through and makes some mistakes but he can learn from that, this guy usually delivers good quality software with few bugs that he can go back and fix quickly enough to be acceptable

The best
This guy can make a whole bunch of moves all in his head, he's informed about all the latest techniques to defeat the opponent but he doesn't just rush and use them in a game, he tries them first on his own little projects and ends up using the ones that he proves to be useful, the ones that are shorter, quicker and give him the best return, he knows the techniques to use with the small projects and the ones to be used with large projects, and he knows they are very different, this guy knows what the opponent is thinking, he knows what the opponent will respond to every one of his moves so he usually chooses the best move... he knows the side effects; the "works on my machine" is not on this guy's vocabulary.

As you can see the the main two differences in my analogy are the capacity of analysis (selecting the move) and the awareness of the side effects (what happens when you make that move).
The opponent is your software project, the move is writing the code, the side effects are everything else that is affected by that.

When was the last time that you introduced a new bug fixing that other bug or writing some new functionality? or when *they* found bugs of your code right after it went to production? or when it worked on your machine but not on the server?

Every time you make a move, stop and think about the side effects, there are always side effects, if you can't think of them, there are tools that can help you think better, such as Unit Testing, the more you practice it, the better you'll get at it, I promise

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Firefox taking a long time to start after upgrading to 3.5

Firefox 3.5 (code name Shirekoto) is out, get it while is hot!

After updating it and running it for the first time, I got this little window

It took me a while to even realize that that little guy was somewhere on my screen, I thought Firefox was just taking a long time to start after the update, then I clicked on the taskbar icon and that's when I saw the little window, I tried to re-size it but it didn't allow me to, all I could do was close the little (attempt of) window, then Firefox ran normal

thought I would blog about it in case this happens to more people

symptom: Firefox takes a long time to start after updating to 3.5
solution: click on the taskbar firefox icon and find the little window on your screen, close it, then Firefox will run normal

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Are we done with XML yet? hello JINI

I have never been a fan of XML, I've hated it from "day one", the format is too inefficient, too bloated; I have had some ideas on things that can be done to reduce the size on xml data sets, such as having some kind of header definition embedded at the top of the file and other ideas, but the point of this post is not to talk those ideas, but rather my own proposal to start getting rid of xml.

One area where I find particularly painful to use XML is on configuration files and my proposal to fix this problem is to formalize a new format, which I call JINI for now. JINI is a subset of JSON similar in simplicity to the good old .ini files and it's used specifically for configuration purposes to replace all those app.config xml configuration files

- Simple
- No brackets
- Simple
- Shorter
- Easier to read
- Simpler
- Everything that can be expressed in XML, can be expressed in JINI, but simpler

Too bad "jini" is kinda already taken (2 million results on Google and 714K on Bing say so)

I thought someone would have come up with this idea already, but a quick search gave me nothing, so I thought I would get the ball rolling

what do you think?

Monday, June 22, 2009

How to: Convert DIB to Bitmap

During the weekend a friend asked for some help on code to convert a DIB to a Bitmap in .NET, he had found some code in internet and it almost did everything he needed but the image was getting cut off along the sides, we figured the issue had something to do with getting the pointer to the bitmap, so we digged more and found some more code that then we had to make a couple fixes and changes to get it working. Since I was not able to find a full working solution to the problem I decided to write this post, I saw many people asking the same question in multiple forums so hopefully this will help

First, you’ll need to add System.Drawing.dll to the references of your project, then you’ll need to add the following uses clauses

//Name spaces needed
using System;
using System.Drawing;
using System.Drawing.Imaging;
using System.IO;
using System.Reflection;
using System.Runtime.InteropServices;

the next step is to declare the BITMAPINFOHEADER structure, this can be declared outside your class:

[StructLayout(LayoutKind.Sequential, Pack = 1)]
public uint biSize;
public int biWidth;
public int biHeight;
public ushort biPlanes;
public ushort biBitCount;
public uint biCompression;
public uint biSizeImage;
public int biXPelsPerMeter;
public int biYPelsPerMeter;
public uint biClrUsed;
public uint biClrImportant;

public void Init()
biSize = (uint)Marshal.SizeOf(this);

Then you need to import a function from GdiPlus.dll
//GDI External method needed Place it within your class
[DllImport("GdiPlus.dll", CharSet = CharSet.Unicode, ExactSpelling = true)]
private static extern int GdipCreateBitmapFromGdiDib(IntPtr pBIH,
IntPtr pPix, out IntPtr pBitmap);

Now we can get to the actual code to conver the DIB to Bitmap, note the use of a helper function GetPixelInfo, this was the culprit of our issues, and the one we had a hard time finding then getting to work, the function BitmapFromDIB that you’ll find all over the web doesn’t have this code and so it doesn’t work in many cases, in fact the function that you'll find all over the place has a parameter pPix but it doesn't specify how to get this value. This code needs to be declared inside your class

private static Bitmap BitmapFromDIB(IntPtr pDIB)
//get pointer to bitmap header info
IntPtr pPix = GetPixelInfo(pDIB);

//Call external GDI method
MethodInfo mi = typeof(Bitmap).GetMethod("FromGDIplus", BindingFlags.Static | BindingFlags.NonPublic);
if (mi == null)
return null;

// Initialize memory pointer where Bitmap will be saved
IntPtr pBmp = IntPtr.Zero;

//Call external methosd that saves bitmap into pointer
int status = GdipCreateBitmapFromGdiDib(pDIB, pPix, out pBmp);

//If success return bitmap, if failed return null
if ((status == 0) && (pBmp != IntPtr.Zero))
return (Bitmap)mi.Invoke(null, new object[] { pBmp });
return null

private static IntPtr GetPixelInfo(IntPtr bmpPtr)

if (bmi.biSizeImage == 0)
bmi.biSizeImage = (uint)(((((bmi.biWidth * bmi.biBitCount) + 31) & ~31) >> 3) * bmi.biHeight);

int p = (int)bmi.biClrUsed;
if ((p == 0) && (bmi.biBitCount <= 8))
p = 1 << bmi.biBitCount;
p = (p * 4) + (int)bmi.biSize + (int)bmpPtr;
return (IntPtr)p;

finally, as a plus, what my friend actually needed was to convert from DIB to TIFF, so he wrote a function to do that, this function reuses the BitmapFromDIB function and allows you to set the image resolution

private void SavehDibToTiff(int hDIB, string fileName, int xRes, int yRes)
//Identify the memory pointer to the DIB Handler (hDIB)
IntPtr dibPtr = new IntPtr(hDIB);

//Save the contents of DIB pointer into bitmap object
Bitmap myBitmap = BitmapFromDIB(dibPtr);

//Set resolution if needed
if (xRes >0 && yRes>0)
myBitmap.SetResolution(xRes, yRes);

//Create an instance of the windows TIFF encoder
ImageCodecInfo ici = GetEncoderInfo("image/tiff");

//Define encoder parameters
EncoderParameters eps = new EncoderParameters(1); // only one parameter in this case (compression)

//Create an Encoder Value for TIFF compression Group 4
long ev = (long)EncoderValue.CompressionCCITT4;
eps.Param[0] = new EncoderParameter(System.Drawing.Imaging.Encoder.Compression, ev);

//Save file
myBitmap.Save(fileName, ici, eps);
//Helper to get Encoder from Windows for file type.
private static ImageCodecInfo GetEncoderInfo(String mimeType)
ImageCodecInfo[] encoders = ImageCodecInfo.GetImageEncoders();
for (int j = 0; j < encoders.Length; ++j)
if (encoders[j].MimeType == mimeType)
return encoders[j];
return null;

and that is it, hoping this will help someone out there

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What are those colors on IE tabs?

colored tabs

I thought this was one of the best features in Internet Explorer 8, but not everyone gets the meaning of the colors on the tabs. The colors represent that the tabs are related, meaning that you followed a link from one page, IE opened another tab and assigned the same color as the previous tab, so that way the tabs that are derived from other tabs are now all grouped and it’s very easy to see this, very useful when you have multiple tabs open for different purposes. I just had to blog this because someone actually asked me what those colors were for, so I figured there’s more people who may have the same question.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Silverlight how to: Add a user control to another user control

I'm starting to experiment with SilverLight and there's plenty of material out there, but some of the small details are really hard to find. The first application I'm working on requires a couple user controls, one embedded in the other and I spent a couple hours finding how to insert the user control into another control, then to the page, I thought it would be as easy as drag and drop but that didn't work, tried a few other things with no luck, turns out you have to add the namespace to the xaml, similar to the way you declare your controls in ASP.NET
The top xml of a user control (or the Page.xaml which is really just a user control) looks like this:

<UserControl x:Class="MyNameSpace.SomeUserControl"
    Width="200" Height="300">

right after the last line with xmlns, you can type "xmlns:[prefix]=" (where [prefix] is the prefix you want to use in the xml to add your control, and make sure to add the = at the end); intellisense will do the rest, the first line of the drop down will contain the default namespace of your assembly, select that and you're good to go, it will look something like this:

<UserControl x:Class="MyNameSpace.SomeUserControl"
    Width="200" Height="300">

You can now start adding your control by typing <prefix: wherever you want to add your control and again intellisense will do the rest for you, you will be able to select any of the user controls that you have created previously under that namespace.
One last thing, if you will be referencing that user control from the code behind, you will need to name your control:

<prefix:MyUserControl Name="myControl" ></prefix:MyUserControl>

Doing so will give you strongly typed access to the instance of the control in your code behind, public members included


Thursday, April 16, 2009

my solution to Eric Lippert's quiz

Eric posted a quiz a few days ago, it generated quite a number of responses, so I thought I would answer with the shortest possible C# answer (with my previous team we used to kinda compete on refactoring), so here it is (Justin and Paul, bring it on!):
The problem:
Write me a function that takes a non-null IEnumerable and returns a string with the following characteristics:

(1) If the sequence is empty then the resulting string is "{}".
(2) If the sequence is a single item "ABC" then the resulting string is "{ABC}".
(3) If the sequence is the two item sequence "ABC", "DEF" then the resulting string is "{ABC and DEF}".
(4) If the sequence has more than two items, say, "ABC", "DEF", "G", "H" then the resulting string is "{ABC, DEF, G and H}". (Note: no Oxford comma!)

My solution:

static string JoinStrings(IEnumerable<string> strings) {

int len = strings.Count();

return "{"+(

(len > 1) ?

strings.Take(len - 1)

.Aggregate((string head, string tail) => head+", "+tail)+

" and " +strings.Last()

: (len == 1) ?


: "")+



Thursday, April 02, 2009

public ASP.NET MVC { get; private set; }

For the 2 people who don't read many blogs (or twitter), but do read this one, yesterday it was announced that ASP.NET MVC 1.0 is open source baby! "Free like Speech." and there are no restrictions to the platform either, the license is MS-PL which provides broad rights to modify and redistribute the source code.

The first question that was raised was "can I submit patches?" and the answer is no, however nothing stops you from going and creating your own copy (forking) and start modifying it and redistributing it like this guy has already done.

You can get the source code here.

Did you know? Interface members are allowed to be private

This one comes as a surprise to most people, but it is possible to have a private implementation for an interface member, let's look at a very simple example, just for purposes of the ilustration.

public interface ITest {

void Test();


public class Test : ITest {

void ITest.Test() {



public void Test2() {




class Program {

static void Main(string[] args) {

ITest t = new Test();


Test t2 = new Test();

//t2.Test(); //<<=== doesn't compile

If you don't believe it you can try it of course.

But why is this useful or how do you use this?

The technique allows you to ensure that the method is only visible to those who are using a variable of the interface type. All this does is to force the use of the member through an instance of the interface, meaning, for this example, if you want to get access to the .Test method, you can only do so through a variable of type ITest.

The only trick to make this work is to precede the member declaration with the Interface type as in:

void ITest.Test();

Not the most useful of tricks, but something to have on the bag of tricks, or maybe something to make you win a bet ;)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Do you want to view only the webpage content that was delivered securely? The simple guide

The post about the new dialog for secure/unsecure items in IE8 has had quite a few visits, so I thought I would make it much easier on the visitors to get to what they specifically need, I am guessing they are arriving here mainly to find out:
1 - What the heck does it mean.
2 - What they should do to see the full page.
3 - How can they get rid of the stupid message.
1 - What the heck does it mean?
They inverted the question from the previous dialog:
"This page contains both secure and nonsecure items.
Do you want to display the nonsecure items?"
So that more people will just click the default, and by doing so IE will not display the unsecure items on the page.

2 - I just want to see the entire page, what should I do?
Click NO

3 - How can I get rid of the stupid dialog once and for all?.
The short answer would be: Tools>internet options>security>custom level>display mixed content: Enable.
The long answer is on this other post: How to: Prevent the security dialog about unsecure items in IE

hope this helps! If I didn't answer what you were looking for, please let me know in the comments.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How to: Prevent the security dialog about unsecure items in IE

keywords: IE8, mixed, content, dialog, warning.

In my previous post about the new dialog in IE8 about mixed content, someone asked "How can I prevent this message from reappearing?", I thought it would be a good-to-have post and started writing this, but someone else already answered it (thanks Anonymous), in any case, here's what you need to do if you don't want to see that dialog:
tools>internet options>security>custom level>display mixed content: enable

Note that if the site you are visiting is NOT on the internet zone, you would have to make the changes to the appropiate zone:

here's how you tell which "zone" you are on, on the bottom right hand corner of the browser you should see something like this:

If you double click that, you can make changes to the other zones (Local Intranet, Trusted sites, restricted sites)

Just click the zone you want, and it will bring up the first dialog (from this post) where you can make the change.

This applies to IE8, IE7, IE6 (I don't know about older versions)

Do you want to view only the webpage content that was delivered securely?

keywords: IE8, usability, warning, error, dialog

Update: If you just care about making the dialog disappear go straight to comments or this post for more details, if you want the simple answers check the "simple guide". This post was originally intended for developers but it seems a lot of people are looking for an answer to this puzzle.

IE8 has been released and it's got a few really cool features as well as some really good protection mechanisms, all in all, a fairly good release.

But then I found this while navigating a secure page (Gmail)

Say what???

In what felt like I passed out I had to re-read the full dialog, then took me about 5 seconds to get what the dialog was telling me and about 10 to understand what would happen if I clicked NO.

I'm copying the contents of dialog text here just for SEO

This webpage contains content that will not be delivered using a secure HTTPS connection, which could compromise the security of the entire webpage.

Why did they change the previous dialog?:

This page contains both secure and nonsecure items.
Do you want to display the nonsecure items?

The new dialog seems very confusing to me, the extra text after the question just makes it even more confusing and for as long as I can remember we've had the same old dialog, which seemed fine.

Notice that even the answer is the opposite for the new dialog, maybe this is the reason it feels like asking a negative question.

I think the intent is for users to click the default yes, since 99.99% users don't really read any dialogs, and that will cause IE to not display the unsecure items on the page.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pure Apple intuitiveness: The new iPod shuffle morse code control

I don't even have to try for this one, these are the instructions to operate the new iPod shuffle that has no controls on it, but defers that to the earphones, which is another WTF all on it's own

This are the buttons you get

You see, having a single button that performs so many different commands kinda defeats the purpose, imagine having an application with a single button to perform all the activities

update: Gizmodo calls it Morse code, I like it

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pure Mac intuitiveness: The keyboard

The newer Mac keyboards have 2 delete keys, but that's not the WTF (or maybe it is, but whatever).
I have some files on my desktop (is that what is called in Macland?) that I want to delete, so I select the files and hit the first delete key... nothing, the second delete key, nothing... WTF!!

After trying Ctrl, Option, Command, Shift and their combinations with the delete keys, finally found one that worked, I already forgot which one though.

How is that intuitive?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Pure Mac intuitiveness

I think I've had the worst luck with Macs in general; what you see here is a picture of Firefox on my iMac. Every single time I open Firefox, that's what I get and I have to grab that little window somewhere between the red and green little icons, drag it over to the left of my monitor, then make the window bigger. I think this started happening after I removed a monitor from the iMac.

Maybe it's just me, but I just don't see how that's intuitive.

By the way, I wanted to edit the image to add some more context but I didn't find an obvious way to edit the picture, neither from the context menu, or once on the preview, there's gotta be a way (you know, like in Windows, just right click, edit), is just doesn't seem to be all that intuitive.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Windows 7 installation: The product key does not match current Windows SKU

I just finished installing Windows 7 on my iMac, I had no problems during the installation until I got to the product key part, I grabbed a new key from the MS site, only to find out it didn't work, then I tried with another key, no luck, long story short, I tried at least 5 keys, including one I had already used to install it on my laptop, none of them worked.

Google has very few links to people who have had the problem, and the only answer seems to be that you may have downloaded the checked build, and you need to chose the Ultimate version; I had chosen Business edition.
Chris responds: You are probably installing from the "checked" ISO image. Please choose "Ultimate" and your key should work.
However, when you are on that screen there is no way to go back, do I don't know how you would select Ultimate.

Anyway, the solution that worked for me was to simply leave the field empty, yup, that simple.

So, if you downloaded the checked build, chose the Ultimate version; if you're stuck in that page, I hope this helps you

Friday, January 23, 2009

Windows 7 beta availability extended until Feb 10th

Due to the high interest in Windows 7, Microsoft has once more extended the download deadline

Because enthusiasm continues to be so high for the Windows 7 Beta and we don’t want anyone to miss out we will keep the Beta downloads open through February 10th. Customers who have started but not completed the download process will be able to do so through February 12th.

This will give you more than enough time if you want to try the beta. There are good reviews everywhere you look, so if you haven't decided, you are missing out a lot, especially if you are using Windows Vista. It is important to note that product keys will be available even after that

Product keys for the Windows 7 Beta will continue to be available. So if you have the Windows 7 Beta but didn’t get a product key you will be able to do so even after February 12th.

MSDN and Technet subscribers need not to worry about any dates as they will have access throughout the entire Windows 7 Beta phase

download link

Monday, January 19, 2009

Multiple profiles per user in twitter

Don't get too excited, that's just my proposal for twitter;

I would like to see something like

I think there are many benefits to this

  1. There are some of us using multiple accounts, one for each language.
  2. Some people even use different social networks similar to twitter, one for each aspect.
  3. When I subscribe to someone I only care about X (technical, personal), not Y.
  4. Noise reduction, big one.
  5. Would enable twitter searches on specific "tags" to find more relevant content.
Each profile could be protected to only allow the people you want, they could even be invisible so only the people you want even know about it.

People could subscribe to all public profiles if they wanted to.

The twittering tools would have to change a bit, just to specify which "tag" or specific profiles to tweet to.

I think it would reduce the noise considerably since the same account now allows you to deliver content in different branches.

I'm getting more and more ideas, the more I think about it, the more I like it.

oh, and yes, that's my twitter profile...(sigh, in English for technical content)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Windows 7 beta availability extended until Jan 24th

If you haven't been able to download Windows 7 beta you can still get it; due to the high demand MS has extended the availability to 2 more weeks and they won't limit it to a fixed number of downloads.

Due to an enormous surge in demand, the download experience was not ideal so we listened and took the necessary steps to ensure a good experience. We have clearly heard that many of you want to check out the Windows 7 Beta and, as a result, we have decided remove the initial 2.5 million limit on the public beta for the next two weeks (thru January 24th). During that time you will have access to the beta even if the download number exceeds the 2.5 million unit limit.

you can download it here
source: Windows Team Blog

Saturday, January 10, 2009

About the new Google favicon

Google just rolled out a new favicon, in this picture we can see all 3 favicons they've had

The icon that was originally submitted was this:
André Resende, a computer science undergraduate student at the University of Campinas in Brazil, submitted the design that inspired our new favicon
It seems to me the original favicon was much better than the one they came up

The one they chose feels too noisy, what do you think?


Friday, January 09, 2009

Windows 7 beta now avaiable to the public (first 2.5 million downloaders)

They are going to go fast, so if you want to try it, go get it now

Thursday, January 08, 2009

First post from Windows 7 beta

I'm running Windows 7 beta 64bit on my Mac using VMWare Fusion, even in this configuration things are looking pretty good, definitely a good improvement over Vista, they got rid of a lot of the UAC popups in areas where it just makes sense that way. The new task bar seems pretty good, it will take me a little bit getting used to, but mostly because I use it different than most users. My quick launch is gone!! I'm definitely going to need my quick launch back (I think).

I love the snipping tool, similar to the one found in Mac, users who have always used Windows will find it really nice, is like a print screen on steroids, you can capture free form, rectangular area, window, and full screen; very intuitive and very fast, pretty much instant

Perhaps this is what Vista should've been, so far all the reviews I have seen have been very positive in all areas, this post is just another "me too!"

Windows 7 beta available for MSDN and Technet subscribers

all the reviews say it is really good, what are you waiting for

oh that's right, no MSDN subscription, don't worry, it will be available to the public on friday

of course you could also find it on Bittorrent (just be careful)