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Comment Lipstick on a pig (Score 1) 288

I've encountered a lot of situations where so-called software designers ("so-called" because they are often graphic designers who ended up with the title "software designer" without the experience or education associated with that title) feel the need to make the UI look "better" when the underlying software doesn't completely work. This is like putting lipstick on a pig - it's still a pig.

Another aspect of this is that designers forget that users don't use their software as often as they might. They see things every day that they don't like, and they want to change these things, but the users don't see that problem.

One example of software that became less useful with changes is the Now Utilities suite for the Mac that was made unusable by constant changes. Useful features were removed or made useless. I finally had to freeze my environment so I could actually get my work done. This often meant living with other bugs because upgrading the software was detrimental to the system as a whole.

Comment Click the dot in a circle (Score 1) 479

Yes, I have been told to click on the dot in a circle. I really had to hold back the laughter on that one. Poor guy.

I just let it flow over me, keep records, and ask for a refund for time lost at the end. I once had my service out for a week - it literally took an earthquake to get it fixed (they finally had to power-cycle all of the equipment).

Comment Re:Start saving early... (Score 1) 583

My list is much shorter:

1. Start saving early - spend what you don't save; not the other way around
2. Enjoy life while you can

I was a workaholic who spent too much money on tech toys and continued to be a workaholic into my 40s. Fortunately for me, I realized that I could enjoy my life and still have a good career. If I had started saving 10 years earlier, I would be retired now.

Comment Time to start over (Score 1) 327

A lot of the problems with PP is that it was designed and written so long ago. It should be possible for a team (or a few teams) of people to figure out what would work better.

A new product could also be written with some thought to extendability. I develop Office add-ins, and PowerPoint is awful. There are missing events, incomplete methods, and methods that are missing altogether. The worst thing is that the program managers and designers use Word in the proof of concept, not realizing that Excel, PowerPoint, and other programs don't do everything the same way and may not have the same capabilities.

Comment Re:That's not the reason you're being ignored. (Score 1) 406

What I think is funny is that most times I've been on a plane in the last few years, someone would be gabbing on their cell phone or playing with some device long after the announcement was made to shut them down. The flight attendants just ignored this.

Maybe this will force more flight attendants to pay attention to the passengers.

Comment Re:Wow (Score 1) 85

It's really pretty weird there. You pay in dollars, but a lot of your change will be in old Ecuadorian coins. Also, there isn't a lot of change, especially outside of the big cities. I remember one night in a little town in the Andes where two of us were trying to buy enough stuff so that we could use a $20 bill. The store only had about $8 in change, and everything was so darn cheap that it felt like we had to buy up half the store.

If you do go to Ecuador, bring lots of $5 bills. You will be their king...

Comment Demo mode (Score 1) 57

I remember going into the office next to mine at a game development company and watching a couple of guys playing a boxing game. After a minute or so, I noticed that the movements on the screen seemed to have little to do with what the guys were doing with the controllers. I watched a little longer and asked if they were actually playing the game. They checked, and the game was in demo mode.

Comment Re:wow! (Score 1) 104

Kickstarter collects money, takes a cut, and sends it on. The only reason they check projects is to make sure they aren't wasting resources on projects that won't make them money. Once they've sent the money to the project creator, they no longer care what happens. It doesn't matter if the project is completed or shipped. Backing a Kickstarter project is a gamble. It's generally a pretty good gamble, but there are still scams and people who are way more enthusiastic than competent. After a couple of years backing projects, I came to the conclusion that I was better off lettering other people gamble on projects. I'll wait until they actually exist as commercial products.

Comment Interesting (Score 1) 47

Glad to hear it. Too many Kickstarter projects have screwed over their backers. Sure, you can play the "investment" card, but there are still several projects where the creators shipped a few units and then just disappeared. It's one thing to fail to create, but yet another just to keep the goods for yourself.

Comment Punch card repair kit (Score 1) 230

I started college in 1978, but I was lucky enough to get a job in the CS department where I learned how to use a terminal. While my fellow CS students had to type in punch cards, submit their jobs, and then wait for a printout, I was able to type my programs in using a text editor and submit the jobs so that the output went to a file. When it was time to turn in my assignment, if the instructor required cards to be turned in, I knew how to submit a "punch" request to get the cards.

I remember one day someone showed me a list of things you could buy outside of the job submission window, and one of the items was a "punch card repair kit". Someone bought one and showed it around. It consisted of a little metal rod that could be used to punch holes in a card and some little tape stickers to cover holes. I thought it was a joke, and told my dad about it. To my surprise, he told me that when he was in college (same college, same building) 30 years earlier, he actually used these. Back then, you would write your code on a form and submit it to the keypunch operator. When you got your cards back, you would carefully proofread them and submit any incorrect cards you found for retyping. If you only had a small mistake and the line was long for re-types, you would get out your punch card repair kit and fix the card yourself.

Comment Dedicated tax software on my PC (Score 2) 386

I started with MacInTax the first year it came out, and I've used tax software on a computer ever since. I used MacInTax and TurboTax until Intuit added DRM a few years back and mishandled things. I switched to H&R Block that year. However, if H&R Block ever does something idiotic, I will switch to whichever competing product does a good job. I have not tried any online tax software, but I have friends and family who do and they like it. In general, it takes me about an hour each year to do my taxes. I do have a mortgage and taxable investments (stocks, bonds, and mutual funds) and sometimes other income, but I live in a state without income tax, so that makes things go pretty quickly.

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