Monthly Archives: April 2008

An open letter to the people who write applications which require no Internet access but whose documentation is only available online

In many parts of the world, including the part I live in, always-on-Internet is far from cheap and frequently completely unavailable. Since your application has nothing to do with the Internet, I and many others use it for whatever it’s designed to do while not online. When we decide to consult the documentation, it is therefore extremely frustrating to have your application launch our web browser and attempt to navigate to the location on your website that the documentation lives at. Your application requires no Internet access – why on earth should the help do so?

At the least, kindly inform the prospective user when they’re downloading your application that the documentation is only available online. Far better would be to offer them the option of downloading the help documents at the same time, while they are currently online, if you do not wish to bundle them with your application by default. Unless your help documents are hand crafted HTML, providing the documentation in a separate format should not be a problem.

Thank you
Someone who doesn’t have a 24-hour online life but yet would still like to use and possibly purchase your application

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An open link to an open letter

I heartily concur.

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Why not a personal personalised plate?

I’ve been reading Jeremy Clarkson’s excellent Clarkson on Cars, a collection of columns he has written to do (at least vaguely) with motoring. In one of them, he ponders a question that has long puzzled me as well: what is the point of paying a huge amount of money for a personalised number plate which is a reference to the model of your car? I often see cars with plates like JAGUAR – ZN and BMW316 – ZN. I just don’t get it. For those car aficionado’s who would care and/or be impressed that your vehicle is a BMW 316, they already know that by the time they can read your plate. For those people who couldn’t care less, the plate isn’t going to suddenly make them impressed. I really don’t follow the logic behind it – but yet I’ve seen so many people with R1500 license plates which serve as a magnification of the badge on the boot of their car.

I can well understand personal personalised plates, that may bear some significance to the owner – a bible verse or significant phrase perhaps (I wouldn’t get one myself, but I can see the point at least). A vehicle identifier I’ll admit I just don’t understand though.

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Some favourite quotes

Karnaugh recently posted some of his favourite quotes, including one of my personal favourites:

"The competent programmer is fully aware of the limited size of his own skull. He therefore approaches his task with full humility, and avoids clever tricks like the plague." ~ Edsger W. Dijkstra

This inspired me to post a few of my own:

Quality means doing it right when no one is looking. ~ Henry Ford

Engineering is the art of modelling materials we do not wholly understand, into shapes we cannot precisely analyse and withstand forces we cannot properly assess, in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance. ~ Dr AR Dykes

When an engineer says something is “non-trivial,” it’s the equivalent of an airline pilot calmly telling you that you might encounter “just a bit of turbulence” as he flies you into a cat 5 hurricane. ~ Doug Edwards, former director of consumer marketing and brand management for Google.

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning. ~ Unknown

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