Developer Personality Test

I just did this test, which is quite funny (not quite hilarious, not quite dull).
Your programmer personality type is:
You’re a Doer.
You are very quick at getting tasks done. You believe the outcome is the most important part of a task and the faster you can reach that outcome the better. After all, time is money.
You like coding at a Low level.
You’re from the old school of programming and believe that you should have an intimate relationship with the computer. You don’t mind juggling registers around and spending hours getting a 5% performance increase in an algorithm.
You work best in a Solo situation.
The best way to program is by yourself. There’s no communication problems, you know every part of the code allowing you to write the best programs possible.
You are a liBeral programmer.
Programming is a complex task and you should use white space and comments as freely as possible to help simplify the task. We’re not writing on paper anymore so we can take up as much room as we need.
You can try it yourself here.

Why warehouse sales are good, but not in the way you think

I’d like to throw in my 2 cents with regards to the warehouse sales situation in Malaysia. There has been a couple of places where this has been discussed, and is definitely worth a look see.
For the past couple of years, there has been an increase in warehouse book sales from major bookstore chains in the country. In fact, it has gotten to the point where one can look forward to a warehouse sale every couple of months. This is excellent for the general public, as the prices are low. For booklovers, it’s like heaven.
The issue raised is that of the repercussions stemming from continuous warehouse sales. There is typically a sizeable selection of books on offer in warehouse sales which are also being sold at full price from bookstores around the country. This, of course, affects business as usual, and given time, the book industry here may implode, and especially hurting local distributors and publishers.
At the heart of the discussion is the practice of ‘book dumping’, which is mass importing of remaindered books from neighbouring countries and selling them off cheap here.
I’m of the opinion that books here are expensive. At almost RM40 a pop for a mass-market paperback, it’s a pretty high barrier to entry to a lot of folks who’d simply see a better way to spend the money. For bibliophiles like myself, this is getting to be an incredibly expensive pastime.
I will never forget the feeling when I see books I rushed out to buy from bookstores, only to find them sold under RM10 in warehouse sales.
There are those who believe that books sold in Malaysian bookstores are among the most affordable anywhere in the world. That is utter nonsense. Try telling that to the average wage earner. We have to factor in the exchange rate and the cost of shipping the books over here. Compare that to someone in the States for instance, also an average wage-earner, who gets to buy a mass-market paperback for less than 10 bucks. Anyone will tell you that when you live in the country, you go by the country’s cost of living. Who cares if the book costs less here if we convert the cost of the book from USD to RM?
So from where I’m standing, warehouse sales make a lot of sense to me financially. I get the sort of buying power someone else in another country has. And the books are *new*, by golly! So go to warehouse sales! Buy great books at great prices! You have the power now to *try* new authors, and expand from your comfort zone without feeling the pinch too badly! More exclamation points!!!
Some may accuse me of being short-sighted, that supporting these sales will accelerate the demise of the book industry. The truth is you’re never going to be able to stop people from buying from warehouse sales – that’s just crazy talk. The market will always show you what works and what doesn’t. And warehouse sales are clearly working.
So what needs to happen so that we can enjoy lower-priced books without the danger of an imploding industry? Lower the book prices.
The government has always stated that it wants a learned and well-read society. It has launched the National Reading Campaign, but largely confined that to the National Library. Nothing was done to instigate growth in the general public, nothing done economically as far as I can see beyond increasing the amount for book purchases as tax relief. Let the warehouse sale be a wake-up call to the distributors and publishers to push the government to lower the prices of books in general even further.
If the prices stay as they are, well, the warehouse sales are continuing to cater to the needs of the general public.
I have more books than I can read at present. Almost all are gems that is simply calling out to be read. I’m in no hurry to purchase from regular bookstores unless they are must-have new releases (George RR Martin, Guy Gavriel Kay, HP7 (yes, stop snickering), etc).
The one thing I am worried about where warehouse sales are concerned is the obvious impact to local authors and publishers. I bought my copy of May 13 for RM20, easily the most expensive in the haul that I had. Somehow this strikes me as wrong, and it’s not because Dr Kua hasn’t written something worthy of the 20 bucks.
Preemptive Comment Responses:
Q. If price is the issue, then why not use the library? They are *free*! Or doesn’t Malaysia have libraries?
A. Sadly, libraries are not as commonplace as you’d think around here. I’d agree that having more libraries and making it more accessible is one of the ways to tackle the accessibility to books problem. But it’s not especially good for bookstore sales either, and that’s what we’re talking about.
Also, I hear our libraries are crap. I’ve not been to one in about 15 years, so I can’t really comment without looking like an idiot (if I haven’t already).

Pnin by Nabokov

I accidentally saw this when I was having lunch a couple of days ago – Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov.

I’m beginning to formulate a book buying theory that I believe will work very well in Malaysia, given the propensity for book distributors and book stores to hold warehouse sales. I think I will talk about it in my next post.

Why I hate Lotus Notes

First off, let me say that I hate Microsoft Outlook. I’ve been using Outlook since I entered the workforce, and it has never endeared itself to me… it was bulky, slow, and has a ton of function that I never use such as Calendar and Tasks (don’t ask me – the companies I worked for never saw fit to integrate those functions, so they sit there on my notebook collecting virtual dust).

Then I made a jump to a company that uses Notes.

Lotus Notes is an incredibly powerful piece of software. There’s no denying it – it is simply a titan in the groupware category of software. There has to be a reason a software like this has gained a seemingly unassailable foothold in the groupware industry.

From my point of view however, I can’t for the life of me understand how it has achieved that.

I’m a useability kinda guy. I like smart user interfaces, software that doesn’t require a lot of thinking to figure out, no matter how complicated the software. I’d like to think I’m an intelligent guy, but sitting there figuring out stuff via guesswork, or worse, figuring out stuff that clearly doesn’t work right, isn’t my idea of fun.

So here is a list of stuff about Notes that bugs me:

  • A basic reply button gives you three functionality – reply, reply with history, reply without attachments. I mean, what the hell? If I reply, of course I want to bloody quote the bugger. If I wanted to send a blank email response to the sender (which is what the default Reply does), then I would have created a new mail with his address! This is not so much of a problem if it wasn’t the default behaviour when I reply a mail. To make it worse, I can’t change the preferences to make it behave the way I think it should.
  • Cannot quickly add recipients into address book. This is a more irritating problem than you’d first expect. Notes somehow assumes that everyone you’re ever going to communicate with are other Notes users in the same organization.
  • Oh, the address book is unusable.
  • To explain the following problem, a scenario is called for. Let’s say Archie has Jughead in his addressbook under the nickname ‘Juggy’. Archie sends an email to a few people, and ‘Juggy’ is one of them One of the recipients (say Veronica) decides to reply all. But lo and behold, Veronica gets an error on delivery because Notes doesn’t know who ‘Juggy’ is, even though she already has Jughead on her address book. This is a crazy problem because Notes isn’t smart enough to stop using other people’s nicknames when someone else decides to reply all. Why oh why can’t it resolve the email properly?
  • Simple selection doesn’t work in the email list view – I must work with its cryptic ‘checkmarks’ system which doesn’t adhere to basic windows SHIFT-select or CTRL select commands. It’s infuriating!
  • The searching is crap. You know you’re in trouble when another company provides a tool (called Google Desktop) to search for content on *your* application, and does it *miles* better than you can.
  • I cannot sort by subject and cannot quick search on the currently sorted column. I can, but it’s useless, because it only searches for the characters in order of appearance (I will find “Bozo the clown”, but not “I’m not a bozo”)
  • Every time you start to open your mailbox, your custom list of folders are all closed – it doesn’t remember your recently open folders. That is irritating as I’ve got emails sent thru filters, and i want to see them.
  • The concept of replication irritates me. You never seem to know whether that mail you sent was *really* sent, because you forgot to replicate. Well, actually, you can find out, but hey, I’m the user, and my impressions count a lot. I know Outlook as a similar concept, but it somehow doesn’t strike me as a chore. If I wanted to really be sure, I can just tap F5 in Outlook instead of Alt-B, 4, Alt-2, Down Arrow, Enter in Notes.
  • Images in the email doesn’t behave like normal objects – I can’t select it, copy and paste it elsewhere (i.e. Word, Paint).
  • The bullet handling and tables in the email is crap
  • On the tool bar, there is a button called ‘Search’. It’s a drop down button, meaning there’s a little arrow by the side that shows other options related to Search. And you know what I find? The following dropdown options under Search: ‘Altavista’, ‘Lycos’, ‘Hotbot’. They are now on the 7th generation of the software, and you still find *this*???
  • The email address lookup is weak – even when you have a local replica of the address book, a lookup takes forever if you (god forbid) ever misspell a recipient’s name, because the system will automatically know it’s not in the loca replica, and will automatically search on the main directory. If you’re an offline user, that’s 1 minute of lost time. Now imagine you misspell 2 people’s name on route to writing a 1 sentence email. Shoot self? Probably. But any software that makes me want to shoot myself should probably be shot first.
  • Now this is incredible. Every email software I’ve used has this ability, but not gargantuan bigshot Notes. You can’t download email! You can’t drag and drop it onto your desktop, and somehow make it store email as separate files. As a consequence, you can’t attach email in another email, so you have to (ready for this?) *copy and paste* the contents of the email you’re attaching into the new email!
  • Cannot multiple undo!
  • Copy and paste in the to, cc, bcc fields are buggy! The highlighting is all wrong, especially if you start selecting from the middle of a to/cc/bcc field that’s very long.
  • Why would i reply to myself if I reply all???
  • Archive – when moving of documents to archive, and the documents deleted from view, you can’t immediately do it again with another docs unless you refresh the view. This only happens for local replicas, but since nobody should be using direct server copies anyway, this should be fixed!

So what’s good about it? Notes has a concept of teamrooms, which has its heart in the right place. However, in Notes there are millions of ways of designing teamrooms, and this of course translates to inconsistencies in user interfaces for different categories of team rooms.

I hate Outlook. But having used Notes, I’d jump back in bed with Outlook any time of the day.

Another booksale, another haul

Here’s another happy outing. Hadn’t even realized there was a sale going on – a quick stop over and voila! Booksale.

[Click on image for a larger picture]
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
The Trial, Franz Kafka
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K Dick
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
The Long Good-bye, Raymond Chandler
Saturday, Ian McEwan
May 13, Kua Kia Soong
I’ve always been on the lookout for Raymond Chandler. Having sampled Dashiell Hammett, I wonder how Philip Marlowe can compare to Sam Spade, and I can’t wait to see which one I like more.