Youtube is such a pain

After trying to upload a 40 minute video to Youtube a couple of times, growing increasingly frustrated and, frankly, hateful against Youtube, I paid up for a Vimeo Pro account, and boy, was that well spent money. Youtube is nothing but pain and frustration. Vimeo simply works.

Yes, I know about verified Youtube accounts, but even after verifying it, it rejects my video as “too long” after an eight hour upload. It didn’t save it, but had me retry the entire upload again (yes, I’m on a pathetic 2Mbit/s uplink). Vimeo succeeded on first try.

Can’t recommend dumping Youtube and going for Vimeo enough. At least if you value your time and sanity higher than the price. I do.

Buying books is such a mess

Buying books is such a mess right now, at least if you try to switch over to eBooks in one form or another. Let’s see what we have here.


Kindle has the advantage of running on Kindle devices, Windows, OSX, iOS, whatever. Books are also usually cheap on Kindle, even though there are examples where the electronic version is actually more expensive than the paper version. The problem with Kindle is that it’s a proprietary and DRM’d format, and that doesn’t feel right. Non-technical litterature without illustrations are pretty nice on Kindle, but anything with code, drawings, or images sucks big time. Reading programming books on Kindle, at least on iOS and OSX, the platforms I use, is horrible.


I’ve never bought a book on iBooks. They may be fine, I don’t know, but since iBooks, an Apple product, doesn’t run on OSX (and how sick is that), I wouldn’t invest in any book on that platform. The books are also more expensive than on Kindle, while being just as DRM challenged.

Protected PDF

APress used to sell protected PDF books, and it was really shitty. You had to use Adobe Acrobat to read them, with all the limitations, such as not being able to read them on the iPad. They fixed that by switching over to unprotected PDF. Several other publishers still use protected PDF, but you have to really scrutinize their sites to discover this vital fact. I’m avoiding doing any business with these people.

Online reading

I have to include online repositories such as O’Reilly bookshelf. I have access to a limited form via ACM, but it’s pretty shitty. The interface to the book is based on a Flash browser plugin, making it difficult to navigate. And, worse, it doesn’t work when you’re offline.

Plain PDF

I’ve found three publishers that sell unprotected PDFs, or at least they are not mandating that you use Adobe Acrobat; any PDF reader, including Goodreader and OSX Preview, is good enough. The only thing these guys do is sprinkle the document with the name of the purchaser, making it really easy to see who gave away copies to the torrent sites. I find this totally acceptable. The three publishers I’ve found are Pragmatic Bookshelf, Apress, and O’Reilly. Somewhat disturbingly, O’Reilly charges almost double for their eBooks as compared with Kindle for the same titles, which irks me enough to not buy the books I would normally have wanted to buy.

What a mess this is

You end up with some of your books on Kindle, some in Dropbox (where I put the unprotected PDF files), and some on your physical bookshelf. The advantages of carrying around a laptop or iOS device with all the books on it, are huge, though. PDF files can also be easily searched, even from Spotlight on OSX. Luckily, the three publishers I mentioned, publish enough good titles that I can simply ignore the rest, at least as far as modern programming goes. I actually think that this is the model that will dominate in the long run, at least as far as technical books are concerned.

Beware of Network Solutions

…in particular if you’re a European company. I got an invoice ten days back with VAT added from them. Went and checked my account and there’s a VAT field there now, empty of course. So I filled it in and filed a support ticket about it. Waited a week, filed a new support ticket, more upset, especially since they promise response within 24 hours. This morning I got a phone call from them that they can’t refund the VAT. The guy claims they’ve sent out a notification about this in email.

Ok, maybe they did, but Network Solutions is sending out so much spam all the time, that if there was a notification about a VAT field being added to the account, there’s no way I would have seen that. Occasionally, other US companies charge VAT when they shouldn’t, but they’ve always been able to refund that once they get the number. Not so Network Solutions. Too lazy, too greedy, or simply don’t give a shit, I don’t know.

In short, they’re more expensive than other registrars, their customer support is crap, they spam me, so why do I keep using them? Good question, I see no reason.

Dr Dobbs circling the drain

I’ve subscribed to Dr Dobbs journal off and on for decades, probably for ten to 15 years in total. Wherever I turn in this house, I encounter stacks of old issues of DDJ, even though I’ve thrown away quite a number. A couple of years ago I stopped subscribing, since the main focus of DDJ was drifting away from my main focus, or vice versa, or both. Since Microsoft started buying up all the people central to the C++ evolution, then riddling their version of it with proprietary “extensions” (or rather limitations), that language has become more and more of a dead end and both I, and DDJ moved away from it. But during the years, I’ve often read parts of DDJ on the web and I do get the “Dr Dobbs Update” through email every now and then. The most recent arrived two days ago and had the weirdest “Editor’s Note” ever, at least as far as one would expect from DDJ.

Continue reading “Dr Dobbs circling the drain”

Fighting the good fight

Comment spam on a site like this is out of this world. Completely nuts. I just looked over the stats and this is what they look like:

Click the image for a better look at it. No, you’re not misreading it, 99.27% of all comments I get are spam. Un-frickin-believable. Only between one and five a month get through and have to be manually removed.

Without Akismet, there’s no way I’d allow comments at all. Killing on average 30 spam comments a day to get one sensible comment a week is not what I’d call a fruitful use of time.


Like this company X I know, in the vertical application business. Same as company Y and Z I also know in the vertical application business, all of them doing healthcare applications like record systems, pathology systems, etc. Doesn’t matter exactly what they do or who they are, they are all representative of how that entire segment is looking and behaving right now. So when I describe one of them, I describe them all.

Right off the bat, I have to confess that my sudden blinding flashes of the obvious are brought on by an overdose of Seth Godin’s books. I’m on my fifth right now, “Survival is not enough“, with the subtitle “Shift happens“, and I’ve got six more to go. I simply bought all of them, as far as I know. (Seth, shouldn’t you provide for subscriptions?)

Everything he says, I already knew, but I didn’t know I knew until he told me. That’s the best kind of book, the one that digs out something that’s been lurking inside your mind and exposes it to the air. It’s also the easiest kind of book to read for me, since I need no convincing. It comes from me, inside myself, so it must be true (I’m almost serious).

So what about these zombies, what are they doing wrong? Well, they’re challenged, to put it mildly. All of them seem to have sales teams on crack, selling anything to anyone, if it exists or not. Then they’ve got backlogs they can’t handle, increasingly irate customers (some of them trailing lawyers and stuff), development languages and IDEs that are orphaned since years. They try one new development methodology after another, decide they have no time to implement them and abandon them again, after spending monumental amounts of money and time on stuff they never give a chance to deliver a return. They get involved, but they don’t commit (insert favorite farm animal references here).

Once they start losing orders, they abandon even more of the changes they tried out and go back to their old ways, just like a wounded animal curling up in the bushes, hoping the predators will pass them by. The worse everything gets, the more these people grab hold of methods and means that used to work so many years ago, but evidently don’t work anymore. They know it won’t work, but they can’t let go. Amazing.

Look, there’s one message here, that seems not to penetrate, and that is: if your old methods don’t work, change. The worse it gets, the more reason you have to change. The sooner you change, the more capital and time you have to bridge the change and pick up on the other side of the divide. If you wait until there is nothing left, there is, um, nothing left.

But it’s pointless. They will not uncurl and come out from under that bush. Poor bastards.

Dry cleaning and the web

I went to have my suit (yes, I do have one) dry cleaned. Looked up dry cleaners in Uppsala, found one that even had a web site. On the web site I found their address, used my GPS to go there, walked around the block with my iPhone until I very precisely located the exact spot where it should be. Except it wasn’t. Walked around the block a few more times, since the maps in the iPhone aren’t all that accurate in positioning the user, so I thought that was the problem. Nope, no dry cleaners around.

Finally, I went into a nearby store and asked if they knew where the dry cleaners were, and they pointed me to the other side of the block on another street. And there I found the place.

I pointed out to the guy that they ought to update their homepage. He told me they couldn’t. The guy that did the homepage died on them three years back and he had all the passwords, and as I understood it, the ownership of the site and the domain. So they’re stuck. They moved the store to a new location two years back, but couldn’t get at the website source. (Yes, I also find it strange that the site stays up, do they pay for it somehow? If so why? I didn’t ask.) A lot of customers walk around the wrong block looking for them and then give up. They had a notice up at the old location for a while, but the new store owners made them take it down.

The moral of the story: don’t ever let your site be set up by somebody else without getting ownership of the domain and the accounts and all relevant passwords. Especially not if they plan on dying just like that. This store is much worse off having a website than if they’d never had one. If they had no website, customers could only find them through the yellow pages, and those you can always update.