Not to pile on Microsoft . . .

Actually, yes, I am piling on Microsoft. Microsoft deserves it.

Work just upgraded Outlook web mail last night, and the new and improved version only works in IE 6 or “greater” (their words, not mine). What this means is that Microsoft decided (Again) not to play along with all the web standards to which everyone is supposed to adhere. Instead, they’ll introduce some proprietary garbage that only works properly with their own ideas of what people should be doing with their computers.

I imagine they get around monopolistic anti-trust violations by continuing to support the old version for other browsers, but exploiting legal loopholes is hardly what I would call being a responsible company.

Anyway, those of you who come to this site in Internet Explorer, you’ve probably noticed the site doesn’t render properly. Some of you may make the argument that it doesn’t really render properly in any browser, and I would tell you that I’ll redesign when I’m good and f’ing ready. But I won’t make sure it works in IE. If you read at work, and don’t have a choice in your browser, I apologize. But if you’re using IE by choice, then I have no sympathy. IE is not only an inferior way to view a web page, it is also actively making the internet worse.

And please don’t tell me to buy a Mac.  They’re just as bad as Microsoft (In some ways worse), they just have prettier cases and better marketing.

Visual Studio is killing me inside

In March, I moved from a web development project in Java to one in ASP.NET. It was a good opportunity to get some more experience and more responsibility, and I had been on the old project two years.

So here I am, programming in Microsoft Visual Studio 2005. And let me tell you, it’s a piece of crap. It continues in the long Microsoft tradition of assuming that users are stupid. Go search for solutions to problems in .NET. Almost every single tutorial relies heavily on the Visual Studio GUI.

A good analogy here, for those of you who aren’t coders: Remember back in school when you were learning math? You probably learned how to do long division on paper, and you probably hated it. If you’re like me, you no doubt complained about it. Later, you got to use a calculator, and then things were more or less okay.

Imagine, however, that you had never been taught long division. More than that, you were never even told that long division even existed. Instead, you were handed a calculator and told that division means hitting one number, then the division button, then another number. Not that doing that would tell you the answer, but that doing that was what division was. It wasn’t a shortcut, a convenience. It was division.

Sure, you’d have the answer. You’d be able to divide any number by any other number. But you wouldn’t understand division.

This is what Visual Studio does.  It assumes that, if you end up with a working web page, then the fact that you have no idea how you got there is not important.

Now, I don’t mean to say that Visual Studio doesn’t have a lot of nice features that save you time.  I use the code completion features all the time.  But seriously, Microsoft.  Stop treating me like an idiot.

Bum bum bum bum BUM BUM DC U-ni-ted!

Short-handed United Holds Off Chivas’s Rush –

Despite playing a man down for the second half, United held off an unrelenting Chivas attack to emerge with a 2-1 advantage in front of a split crowd of 21,022.

Yeah, that last two in the crowd was the wife and me. One of her new coworkers has season tickets, and couldn’t make the game last night, and we were the lucky beneficiaries. Fantastic seats in the VIP section, just at midfield.

There’s a good atmosphere to DC United games. The fans are into it, they’re loud, and mostly pretty friendly. I did overhear a DC United fan make a rude comment to a Chivas fan while we were in line buying popcorn. The rude comment and the response were in Spanish, so I might have misunderstood, but one of the words that the Chivas supporter used in his response was definitely not friendly. It’s one of those words that doesn’t really have a direct translation into English, but I’ve always thought of it as the Spanish equivalent to a popular compound English curse word.

Anyway, the game was good – DC scored first, lost a man to a red card, then both sides scored second half goals. We should go to more games. It’s not expensive, compared to baseball or football.

Waiting for the blinds guy

No, not the blind guy. Someone from Next Day Blinds is coming out to measure the windows in the bedroom so we can replace the temporary blinds with real ones.

I have to say, while some may think that a DC resident going out to Virginia for window blinds is ridiculous, or even blasphemous, I have good reason.

First, I bought from Next Day Blinds in Bailey’s Crossroads when I was living in Falls Church and working less than a mile from the store. It was convenient then.

Second, and probably more importantly, Clinton, the manager at NDB Bailey’s Crossroads, is fantastic. He’s efficient and friendly. He sold us blinds without trying to talk us up to something more expensive or feed us a lot of marketing junk. When we were in on Saturday, they didn’t have an open slot to come measure this week, so he scheduled one for next week, but told us he’d call the install people Monday and see what he could do, and call us back.

Sure enough, on Monday he called and told us that he had a slot for us on Wednesday.

I’m not really hard to please when it comes to customer service. Don’t treat me like an idiot or an ATM, do what you say you’re going to do, and I should be fine.

Anyway, looking forward to getting our blinds installed next week. The temporary paper ones from Home Depot certainly do keep the construction workers next door from having a clear view into our bedroom, and even look pretty good for $10 folded paper. But they aren’t a permanent solution.

Edit:  Blinds guy came.  He was very pleasant, as well.  Took him all of five minutes.

Wanna use your blog for good?

Blog Action Day

On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind – the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.

I know, many people use their blog to further good causes every day while I complain about the awful horrors of living and parking in Washington, DC. But I think many people who do fight for these causes forget that most people not only aren’t fighting, they’re not even aware.

The wife has complained about Metro riders who don’t recycle the Express newspaper. This morning, there were two down escalators at Columbia Heights. I went down the one that the girl with the large suitcase didn’t choose. At the bottom of her escalator, I saw a copy of Express that someone had dropped. As I was heading to the bottom, planning to pick it up, a woman on that escalator picked it up. “Wow,” I thought. “I never see people pick up trash in the Metro station”.

And then she turned left to throw the paper in the trash, rather than right to recycle it. It got me thinking. I know that my first thought if I have paper trash is to recycle it. In fact, I’ve been reading Express this week because I haven’t been to the library. They’re doing elevator work at Pentagon City, and the recycle bins are blocked. So I’ve been putting the Express in my bag and recycling it at home, or at Columbia Heights in the evening.

But lots of people don’t even think to recycle. I’m sure this woman didn’t consciously choose not to recycle – the thought probably never crossed her mind.

That’s why it’s important to tell people about the little things you can do to help the environment. It’s no harder to recycle Express than it is to throw it away, so you can’t say it’s hard to recycle (At least in this instance). Compact fluorescent bulbs are cheaper in the long run. Cutting down on energy use at home will save you money. There are plenty of things that you can do that are easy, that don’t require huge lifestyle changes or lots of money, and that really do make a difference. But people have to know about these things.

Once you get people started thinking about how their actions can help the environment, the effect can snowball. If that woman thought about recycling Express, she might wonder why she doesn’t recycle more at home.

Anyway, join me and tons of others on October 15th for Blog Action Day.

Be a part of local history might be a bit much

Columbia Heights News – Washington, DC – Columbia Heights Day – October 6

The First Annual Columbia Heights Day Festival is scheduled for Saturday, October 6th from 11 AM to 6 PM.

But hey, at least we’re having a Columbia Heights Day.  Not much detail at CH News, or at the CH Day website.  But there’s supposed to be a meeting of local business owners tonight, so maybe after that they’ll have a better idea of what’s happening.  They’re not giving themselves a whole lot of time.

Why am I not mad?

I just can’t seem to get worked up over the DC voting rights push.  Sure, it bugs me that I don’t have a representative.  But when I see the “Taxation without Representation” license plates (which aren’t the choice I thought they were – they’re standard issue DC tags) and I read about the “injustice” that this is, my immediate reaction is, “Stop whining”.

It may be that I moved from Virginia into the District knowing full well that we had no representatives, so I feel a little silly complaining about it now.

I really do want to have someone speaking for me at the national level.  I think it’s the right thing to do.  And I’m even okay with this little deal with Utah to placate Republicans who see giving DC a vote as a Democratic ploy to gain a seat.

Maybe there’s some argument that would strike a nerve and get me worked up over this that I just haven’t heard yet.  Anyone know what that argument might be?

And with them goes the stench of failure

AOL Moving Executives, Headquarters To New York –

The company said that while senior executives would depart for Manhattan, most of the 4,000 employees at the Dulles campus would remain. The shift is the latest step in the company’s transformation from a provider of dial-up Internet access to one focused on online advertising.

While I’m disappointed that the Dulles area may lose a bunch of jobs, I can’t say that I’m sorry to see AOL start to pull out of our area.  I say, “good riddance, you miserable failures”.  This is a company that for a while was synonymous with “the internet”.  Your average American didn’t “go online”, they “went on AOL”.  Never mind that the day AOL merged with Time Warner is generally considered the day the internet boom died.  These guys were so entrenched as number 1 that it’s amazing how clueless they turned out to be.

I would warn Google and the other companies that AOL’s entrance into the online advertising world probably means that the business is going to be changing significantly very soon, but I’m pretty sure they already know.  And don’t think I mean that AOL will drive the change.  I mean that AOL throwing their hat in the ring probably means it’s time to move to the bigger and better ring you’ve been building down the street.

Anyway, I don’t want to lose area jobs.  But I would like to see the Dulles area get a flagship company that doesn’t symbolize everything that’s wrong with the internet.

Go high or go home

We were at Science Club on 19th Street Saturday night.  I’ll try not to pass judgment on the crowd, because I was kind of tired and not really up for a crowded bar.  I went because some good friends were going and we didn’t want to call it a night.  I had a good time, but it was definitely the company, not the bar.

Anyway, if you’re going to go with a themed bar, you have to GO with the theme.  This place threw a few things up on the wall and left it at that.  We were down in the basement, and they have a periodic table on the wall, a picture of Einstein, and a microscope on a shelf.

How hard would it have been to look up geeky science stuff on Wikipedia?  Or give some GW student a free happy hour in exchange for covering the walls with differential equations?  Shame on you, Science Club.   You  get bonus points for having organic beer on tap, though.