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October 22, 2003

High Tech Meltdown

I see a trend steam-rolling across the US in a big way.  Since high-tech jobs are overseas in tremendous amounts, work in this area is very commoditized.  Technology work is no longer cool-and-high-paying.  It is just cheap, difficult to find, and you can't earn a living with it.  College students realize this.  The Denver Post has just written about it this past weekend.  One of the primary reasons students go to college is so that they can find a living wage paying job once they graduate.  Majors in engineering and high-technology no longer hold this promise.  In fact, it may be the opposite: you might do worse than had you applied yourself to a fast food chain from the start.

The government stepped in to protect American farmers through import taxes and farming subsidies when its own workers jobs were at risk.  This protected American-made goods from the rock bottom prices of a world-wide economy.  For the past three years, what has the government done for the high-tech industry?  Not only did it not protect high-tech work, but every move it made actually commoditized high-tech work to the greatest extent.  When it raised the H1-B limit levels, hi-tech work became cheaper.  Now that off-shoring work is a natural thing that every company does, the government lowers the H1-B levels.  What will this achieve now that it is no longer profitable  for foreign workers to come to the US for work?  In the meanwhile, the sum of these actions have added to the sorry state of the US economy.  There is even more long-term harm to be done when the educational institutions no longer find reasons to promote studies in the engineering and computing arena.  I fear that it may be too little too late when the government finally recognizes this trend.

October 09, 2003

People vs.Tools

I am writing this down in order to share a good article on common-sense. Coding Smart: People vs.Tools. This is from a developer at WindRiver Systems, probably an old-school type of person. The article rings true because today we have a plethora of tools ranging from good, bad, and everything in between. What is lacking is experience, wisdom, and plain ole business common-sense. These aspects are unfortunately considered worthless compared to the cool, new-fangled, glitsy tools that arrive on the scene.

October 07, 2003

The Habit of F11

I must remember to use F11 often in Internet Explorer.  It expands IE and allows you to use your entire screen for that particular IE instance.  I find myself using the computer more and more for the purpose of reading.  Generally as a power user, I often run lots and lots of programs at once.  As such, it is more often than not that I find my computer screen cluttered.  When it is time to concentrate on reading a web page or some news, I end up relegating myself to whatever screen real-estate IE presents to me at the moment.  Often it is about 2/3rd or 3/4rd of the screen on some corner.  This might be a silly habit that many of us are trapped into.  If you don't fall into this category, then you are smart enough to have already broken out of that mode.  I commend you on the proper use of your brain.

For me though, remembering to press F11 is a habit I really need to train myself into using.  No need to buy a gigantic computer screen, just remember F11.

Posted by Hoang at 08:06 AM | Add the first comment | Technology

April 29, 2003

Networld+Interop 2003

I just got back from the first day of Networld+Interop 2003
here in Las Vegas. 

John Chambers from Cisco did the Keynote speech early in the
morning.  Nothing new, just a lot more pitches for new products.  There was even a contrived script acting (a bit of Hollywood here).  Cisco set up a
play-pretend building-construction company in order to show how its products can
help streamline and optimize the business.  Chambers then play-acted with some
of his marketing folks to show how seamless their technology fits into the
business flow.  All this is in attempt to WOW the 2 to 3 thousand attendees who
sat through the presentation.  Unfortunately they don't tell you that the
products being presented are just a few days new.  They also don't tell you that
the cost to set up such an infrastructure would put any business person's
pocketbooks on fire.  Applied to the construction business where costs are
particularly scrutinized, the whole scenario just doesn't make any sense.

It was an interesting scenario though.  But had I wanted to see
science-fiction, I would rent a copy of Minority Report.  Chambers and Co. could have at least consulted a real construction business. They could have played real-world cost/benefits trade-offs.... but then that wouldn't have fit into the imaginary story.
The same sort of theme continued in the exhibits area.  There were companies
galore and and this time the hot theme was Wi-Fi.  
Everyone was pushing hot products. 

Come see our cool product the IG3920, the Iron9293, the NetSpeed
92939, etc...
we are the global leader in gazoo-mazig,
our product is used by 29 gazillion companies in the world

After noticing a couple of these, it became funny. Then it became tiresome because I began to wonder if the speaker knows or even cares about what he is jabbering.
More pipes.  More gee-wiz.  I could swear the person giving the speeches at each
company must have degrees in snake-oil
Get a clue.... we're in a recession.  Everybody has got too much
gee-wiz already.  No one seems to be answering the only question in
business:  How do we make money from all the existing gee-wiz? 
Bits are... after all... only bits.  I didn't see a product that showed an
interesting way of using the bits.  Just more products pushing more bits. 
I don't think the theme of the show has changed from the one in 1999.

Posted by Hoang at 03:47 PM | Add the first comment | Technology

April 22, 2003

Hard Disk Sizes

Rule of thumb when buying hard disks.  Disk manufacturers round-up the numbers when they sell their drives.  This gives the buyers a false sense that they are buying a larger drive than it actually is.  The correct use of computer terminology is:

1 Kilobyte    =   1024 bytes
1 Megabyte  =   1024 kilobytes
1 Gigabyte   =   1024 megabytes  =  1024 * 1024 * 1024  =  1,073,741,824 bytes

The manufacturer claims that they use the following measurement which in reality translates to the following definition.

1 Kilobyte  =  1000 bytes
1 "Gig"   = 1,000,000,000 bytes

This redefinition of basic computer terms creates a ramification.  The new interpretation translates to a new reality:

100 "Gigs"    =   100,000,000,000 bytes   =  93.13226 gigabytes
120 "Gigs"    =   111.7587 gigabytes
150 "Gigs"    =   139.6984 gigabytes
200 "Gigs"    =   186.2645 gigabytes
250 "Gigs"    =   232.8831 gigabytes

As you can see, the smaller the drive is, the smaller the fib.  The larger the drive becomes, the difference from the truth becomes noticably visible.  Of course, the benefit goes to the manufacturers who can claim that they are selling a larger drive than it actually is.

Posted by Hoang at 06:02 AM | 1 Comments | Technology

April 19, 2003

Over-confidence can lead to the opposite in reality

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments . This provides more thought into the theory that maybe we are the worst of all people to assess ourselves. Our views are sometimes skewed in the direction of self-interest and self-aggrandizement. It is not an intentional thing, it is just our nature.

April 17, 2003

Some business Sense

Here is some business sense from Eric Sink. The article is: Choose Your Competition. It is, in a sense, a stand on divorcing technology from business. Sometimes this is absolutely necessary in order to bring your product focus and business focus back on track.

Feb-7-2004 : Getting Started with your own Company

March 13, 2003

Software tools

These are some good tools I have recently come across:

I have been looking for a Python Class Browser for some time but have not come across a decent one.  Despite all the bashing of Microsoft technologies, it must be admitted that Visual Studio is the premier tool of choice for developers.  I find myself entirely dependent and hooked on its integration of a class browser when doing development with MFC.  Why is a class browser such a powerful tool?  Well, it allows the developer to abstract his thinking beyond the line-by-line code.  In an object oriented world, we will assume the lower dependencies work.  Just like we assume a nail and hammer works when we are trying to put together a cabinet or something even bigger (a house).

So once it is understood that our dependencies work, we just put it aside and concentrate on the problem we are concerned with.  The class browser allows us to collapse the class and work with those classes which we are concerned with.  Additionally, the class list display is not constrained by only displaying classes within one file.  It displays the entire class hierarchy of a particular project.  I know, some of you may say "what's the big deal about manually openning up a different file".  Not much, actually.  But it is an impediment in the thought process.  If you do it enough time, all those little impediments add up to be a big stumbling block of creating your solution.

If anyone has been using such a tool for Python, please drop me a tip.

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