I was listening to Kevin Turner give his keynote at the World
Partner Conference earlier and I overheard this:
And so we've been running these PC value ads. Just giving people saying, hey, what
are you looking to spend? “Oh, I'm looking to spend less than $1,000.” Well we'll
give you $1,000. Go in and look and see what you can buy. And they come out and they
just show them. Those are completely unscripted commercials.
And you know why I know they're working? Because two weeks ago we got a call from
the Apple legal department saying, hey -- this is a true story -- saying, "Hey,
you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices." They took like $100
off or something. It was the greatest single phone call in the history that I've ever
taken in business. (Applause.)
I hope this is more than just executive hyperbole. Not because it’s so hard
to believe, but because it’s just damn funny.
It’s not everyday an application interface is designed to purposefully confuse people.
It mostly just kinda happens. There isn’t any malicious intent involved.
However, I’ve had it with Adobe and Google.
First off, let me say that I am very disappointed in Adobe for keeping Shockwave alive.
Merge it with Flash. Keep it down to one browser plug-in, jeez.
Second, shame on both companies for purposefully designing a confusing interface.
I visited a site recently that had a Shockwave applet. I wanted to see it, so
I installed the plug-in. Boom, up pops this window:
I read it as this: “Hey, you just started the installation of a plug-in. Click
next to continue.” Whereas it actually said “installing plug-in. To install
another plug-in you didn’t ask for, click next.” The insidiousness is in the
form of a little checkbox that asks if you want the toolbar. The problem is
that the checkbox looks like its part of the feature list, so naturally you just click
next to continue installing the original plug-in.
It’s a nicely designed form. It conveys information perfectly. Except
the information tricks you. It’s very malware-y. I would expect such a
thing from Adobe; they are starting to really annoy me. But Google has always
had the mantra of “do no evil”. I called phooey on that long ago, and this is
a perfect example of their hypocrisy. I realize they play a very minor role
in this situation, but they really should have rules about how people agree to install
I spent a good chunk of my morning yesterday listening to someone complain about how
Microsoft installs the .NET remote app installer plug-in into Firefox, and how inappropriate
that is. In my opinion, this is way worse. Microsoft just did it.
This is explicitly malicious. They go out of their way to confuse you so they
can say “hey, you agreed to install it.” Phooey, indeed.
Reposted without* permission from the Canadian
IT Pro blog.
just wanted to post a reminder that the Windows 7 Beta is set to expire on July 1st,
2009. What does that mean? Well it isn’t going to explode, eat your data
or lock you out. What is going to happen is that the PC will force you to reboot
every two hours. But have no fear there is a way to fix this, simply install
the Windows 7 Release Candidate which you can still download.
While an upgrade isn’t supported, and I strongly recommend a clean install,
you can find
a workaround that will allow you to do an in place upgrade.
Grab the Release
* I never asked. I doubt they will care. Correct me if I am wrong, Rodney!
Seems it automatically updates itself in IE.
I’m fairly certain there’s a good reason for this, but I just thought it was interesting
because these are not hashes. They are actual encrypted passwords. Statistically
improbable to get something like this in production systems. Completely understandable
in development. Just thought it was interesting to see.
A few weeks ago, six or so, I was offered a position as a Software Developer for the Woodbine
Entertainment Group. The position looked appealing so I accepted the job
offer. I am in a probationary period for the next four months and a bit.
Anything I say can be grounds for firing me. Never liked that part about non-contract
jobs. Ah well.
Woodbine is an interesting company. I knew very little about it until I got
word of the job. Seems I was the only one in Canada who didn’t know the company.
My grandmother, who moved to California 50 years ago, knew about the company.
Even used to bet there – well, the Woodbine Race Track, before it moved. It
has an interesting history.
It is migrating to be a Microsoft shop, from a more Novell focused infrastructure.
We are working towards standardizing on .NET for our custom applications.
The one thing that caught my eye with Woodbine is that the company is the technology
leader for Horse Racing. Not just in Canada, but throughout the world.
Our services can let you place a
bet live, on a track in Australia, and see results immediately. Can you
imagine the infrastructure required for such a feat? It’s sweet! The business-people
behind this are really keen on letting technology do it’s thing, so we can make money.
Lots of money. See our Annual
Reports on that. Check back for latest numbers.
Now, some of you may have noticed that our Corporate Portal is written in what looks
to be Classic ASP. For all intensive purposes, it is. Archive.org shows
the portal went live in 2001, and had a major rebuild in 2003. Since then incremental
changes have taken place, most of which have been built using ASP.NET. We are
working on the new portal. All I can say at the moment is: it’s going to be
awesome. So awesome that a new word will need to created to contain all of its
awesomeness. HorsePlayer Interactive is
pretty amazing, but I’d like to think this new site will be just that much more awesomer.
Yes, I said awesomer.
As for the nature of this site, it won’t change. I’ll still post my thoughts
and experiences. I might need to change stories a little to protect the innocent,
but it’s all in good fun. I may be forced to post details of how horse racing
actually works, because I’m still not sure I get all the facets of it. In time.
More to follow.
Someone once told me that a balanced audio connection works because of polarity. I
wish I had a rolled up newspaper so I could swat him with it on the nose. Balanced
systems are used to keep noise and interference out of systems. It is a common myth
that balancing a system involves polarity. It does not. Polarity plays a part in keeping
interference out, but the real reason balanced systems work has to do with impedance.
This type of connection is known as an unbalanced system. There is only one connection
leaving the Op-Amp in device A. The second connection is ground. In device B the signal
is brought in on one leg of the Op-Amp and the the second leg is a replica signal
sourced to ground (or reference). In other words the signal is the same except opposite
(polarity). There is absolutely nothing preventing noise and interference from entering
This is a balanced input. Notice how the input connector has 3 connections instead
This a balanced output. Notice the 2 Op-Amps and 3 connections. The balanced system
has both connections equally referenced to ground. How this prevents interference
is an idea called Common-Mode Rejection (CMR). Because interference hits all three
wires in a cable at once, they will all have an equal level of extra noise. It is
voltage essentially. When the signal enters the Op-Amp at the input it looks at the
ground line and sees what’s on it. It then compares what it sees on the two signal
lines. It kicks out what all three have in common. Hence Common-Mode Rejection.
This is theory though. Not all inputs are perfect, and because all cables have something
called cable capacitance, voltages differ minutely on each wire within the
cable and the rejection doesn’t work as well as the theory states it should. But it
still works pretty darn well. There is a whole science devoted to developing a standard
for getting better CMR. One of my favorite resources is Jensen Transformers’ Bill
Whitlock. He is a freakin genius. Here is his seminar
handbook on balanced and unbalanced connections. This is where it all started
making sense to me.
I am not a podcaster. I do not think I have the voice for continued listening.
However, I am a sound guy, and I am anal about it. I did a search online to
find out what equipment is necessary for podcasting and every time I came back with:
PC Editing Software
For each item on this list I have heard some very disturbing suggestions for what
type/brand to use. I thought I would dispel some myths about each piece of hardware.
Behringer is not a professional product line. They say they are; they are NOT.
I said it, and I will say it again: Behringer does not make professional equipment.
No way, no how. They market the products as professional equipment that all
the big stars use, but in actual fact the equipment would never make it on a tour.
It can’t. It’s not stable enough, and it’s not reliable enough. It WILL
Enough ranting about that. There are two main types of Microphones you will
be dealing with when podcasting. Dynamic and Condenser. They both have
their merits. Dynamic microphones are usually cheaper because they are easier
to make. The sound quality is theoretically lesser than a Condenser Mic.
And a Dynamic Mic does not need an external power source.
Sound quality is always an issue when recording. However, a podcast is 99% vocal.
At least on the recording side it is. On the frequency spectrum vocals range
between 80 Hz and 1100Hz. You do not need a super-ultra-fantastic microphone
for this job. In some cases you do, but generally if that were the case you
wouldn’t be reading this article – you would be talking to an audio recording professional.
You also have your choice between a Cardioid and an Omni-directional Mic. An
Omni-directional microphone will pick up sound from 360 degrees. It’s great
for dealing with multiple people talking at once, but horrible if you are talking
in a loud environment. A Cardioid (pronounced: car-dee-oid) microphone is directional.
It will pick up sound from a single direction, and is excellent if you are the only
person talking in a very noisy environment.
My two cents: go talk to a sound guy directly and tell them what you are doing.
They will understand. Brand-wise I like Shure and Sennheisser. By all
means contact me if you want more help.
A pre-amp will do one of two things, but first I need to explain how a microphone
works. Essentially a microphone works by producing a very small electrical signal
that is a representation of the sound hitting a membrane within the microphone capsule.
Different types of microphones (electret, condenser, dynamic, piezoelectric etc) capture
and translate the frequency patterns differently. The important thing to know
is that the electrical signal coming out of the microphone is extremely low.
The voltage is so low that most recorders cannot handle the voltage. They need
more. A pre-amp takes care of this problem. It amplifies the signal just
enough so the recorder can use it properly. In some cases microphones need voltage
going to them before they can actually produce a signal. Condenser microphones
are notorious for this. The required voltage is called Phantom Power.
It’s a long winded explanation of what actually happens with the phantom power, but
for all intensive purposes, the pre-amp will usually take care of the phantom power
too. This is definitely something you need to talk to a sound guy directly about.
I never got into digital recording, but just from basic analog to digital conversion
theory, here are some thoughts:
Get a recorder that converts to a lossless format. .Wav files are the most standard.
When recording you want the highest possible quality available.
Get a recorder that has a balanced audio input. XLR is balanced. Get a
microphone that outputs through XLR, and a pre-amp that takes XLR and outputs XLR.
You will end up with better quality. Balanced connections do wonders for interference.
It won’t remove interference already in the system, but it will prevent any other
from getting in.
Get one that is durable. You will drop it. You just will.
PC Editing Software
For editing the podcast you want a piece of software that can handle multiple tracks.
This allows you to layer chunks of audio without losing data. It also gives
you more wiggle room to move parts around. I like Adobe Audition. There
are many others out there though.
It seems just like yesterday that some government was telling Microsoft that the bundling
of Internet Explorer with Windows was unbecoming of an industry leader, because it
screwed other web browsers out of market share.
Union has made a decision stating Microsoft cannot bundle Internet Explorer with
Windows anymore, if they want to sell in any European countries. This decision
was the result of Opera Software ASA, the people behind the Opera browser. The
complaints are two-fold.
Market share is nearly seized completely by IE because it comes preinstalled with
Windows, which is the dominant operating system.
Because the majority of browsers are IE, websites need to conform to IE’s html rendering
which is “non-standard”.
I’d agree with the first statement, but I find it bogus. Regardless of whether
or not IE has dominant market share, you still need a browser. How would you
get your hands on the installation files for the new browser? Certainly not
by downloading it from the internet… You can get the software from the store.
Not likely. That just means one more piece of software to worry about.
You can have the browser company mail it to you. Is Firefox a company?
Do they have offices? Seriously? WTF? Oooh, or maybe Microsoft can
have a basic version of a web browser, that all it does is go to one specific site.
The site then has a list of all available web browsers on the market, which you can
then download. I’m actually at a loss to say for once.
With regards to the second point, Internet Explorer certainly does not have a great
track record for sticking to HTML standards. But I have to say Firefox, Opera,
Safari, etc, don’t conform either. None of them conform to the HTML standards
completely. With that being said, Internet
Explorer 8 is supposed to be ACID 2 compliant, meaning it is compliant at least
as much as everyone else. In other words, it shows the face:
I’m going to keep an eye out for news from the EU, because I suspect they will overturn
the ruling in some way or another. Some people say Internet Explorer is only
to be used to download Firefox. Now that it’s not there, how the hell do you
plan on downloading Firefox, eh?