Saturday, December 24, 2005

Have a great festive season

2005 is almost over, and I'm going on holiday.

I will be back in 2006.


I read George Orwell's Animal Farm when I was in high school, but I didn't get around to 1984 till this week when I downloaded it1. It was an impressive book, and I can see why it is so influential.

I hope it was 1984. I once downloaded and read a fake Harry Potter book, although I did figure out is was a fake after a couple of hundred pages.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Fuel shortage

There is/was a petrol shortage in parts of the country, and Vaz Lube puts the blame squarely at the feet of government regulation.

I have no reason - and I don't know enough about the causes of the shortage- to dispute his claim.

On the plus side though, the panic buying didn't seem as bad as one would have expected, at least in Gauteng. There was also no price gouging (because it isn't allowed).

It would be interesting for someone versed in economics to explain whether panic buying is better dampened by the higher prices that would follow a shortage or by the knowledge that the government will control prices, so there is no need to rush to the pump.

See also, my previous post on the topic, where I explain my somewhat irrational reasons for supporting for petrol price regulation.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

In house systems for IT companies

Reading this article by Joel on Software about developing a shipping system for his company's products, reminded me of my own experiences when developing small in-house systems. It's easy when the customer understands the technical and business requirements of a system, the scope is well-defined, and you can get immediate feedback. Too bad all systems can't be like that...

Free Linux CDs

You can order free Ubuntu Linux CDs on the internet. You may have to pay a handling charge of less than R20 to the post office, but apart from that, the CDs are free, and you can order enough for your friends and family. This really does work, and is very useful for us in South Africa, because of out limited and expensive internet access.

My first experience with Linux was with the SUSE distribution in 2000. I later installed Mandrake. My computer's graphics card (a SiS 6326) needed a lot of tweaking to get it to work properly. With a new computer and VMware (I am not willing to re-partition my hard drive yet), I hope that my experience with Ubuntu Linux will be better.

PS. To Install VMware tools for Linux this link is useful.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

December blues

The next two weeks are going to be extremely hot and boring for many of us, as we wait for the festive season to arrive, and for the 2005 work year to end.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Arrogance versus Maintainability in Software Development

One of my pet hates is the "we are smarter than everyone else" attitude of some developers. "Drag and drop programming" is sneered at, while exotic architectures that ignore important principles of software design, and fundamental principles of database design are promoted.

Of course these gurus leave their messy systems to lesser mortals to maintain, and move on, as problems begin to pile up.

Post inspired by this Daily WTF.

Web Software

A blogger has posted his best Web 2.0 Software Picks. [via Digg].

An updated list of my top apps would be (not all would qualify as "Web 2.0"), or even as web apps, but they do make my life easier (see also previous entry):

Sunday, December 11, 2005

American right-wing blog watching: Sydney race riots

I will be watching the blog-world's reactions to the race riots in Australia with a lot of interest, especially in the more conservative precincts of the internet.

Update 12/12/2005: At least one of the links above didn't disappoint. The more I read of the thread, the more I felt that SA whites are extremely fortunate. It appears that tolerance towards minorities is skin deep in much of the first world.

See also

Update 2: Some of the people who try to justify the race riots claim that activities by Lebanese gangs justify the attacks on "wogs". If that is the case, then I wonder how they would react if, hypothetically, black mobs in South Africa decided to go on a racist rampage when, say, a white farmer throws a black farm worker into a lion enclosure?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Random thought: Shoprite Checkers and branding confusion

I don't keep up with marketing issues, but I find the whole Shoprite/Checkers/OK business very confusing.

Two wheeled morons

Cyclists and motorcyclists are often militant about their "right" to use our roads. But, as any Gauteng motorist will tell you, they often are a danger, both to themselves and to other road users.

Driving on a busy freeway, I always check my mirrors and ensure that I have a clear space around my car. But, more than once, I have been shocked to hear a loud roar as a motorcyclist slips past my vehicle, in the same lane, without me even realizing that he was there. A friend recently had his car badly damaged by a kamikaze on a motorbike.

Bicycle riders, too, are often a danger to themselves, and others. While I have sympathy for those who need bicycles to get to work, recreational cyclists, who are often inconsiderate morons who train during rush hour on busy roads at twilight, need to be fined and taken off the road. Companies that sponsor cycle events should also be exposed to negative publicity whenever someone training for their events gets creamed.

Of course, it is politically correct to blame motorists for cycling accidents:

Most accidents on bikes, except in our rural areas, occur in cyclists between the ages of 7 and 17. Statistics improve once they reach their mid-teens by which time they have learned some road sense. Unfortunately the same is often not true of those driving cars, mini-bus taxis and large commercial vehicles. Since generally motorists in this country are not trained to take notice of cyclists, cyclists must learn to take notice of them!
Anyone who has done their driver's licence in the last decade or so will know that the idea that they are not trained to look for cyclists is rubbish .

Perhaps the time has come for drivers to become militant about our right to use the road and to push for cycles to be banned from major routes, and for motorcycles to be taken off our freeways.

Saturday, December 03, 2005