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.....<Begin Rant>....
Sat Apr 17 20:57:44 2004 | Prev | Next

Ok, so itís that time again. I am in the mood to rant a bit, but I am not sure how much I will be able to, just because I often times get frustrated with myself about how long it takes to say what I want to. Also I had much more passion about some of these things after certain events earlier, but am trying to remember much of what I thought about now while writing.

So first letís start with the topic of planning. Now there is a lot of effort in this world spent on planning. There are planning departments, there are city planners, there are wedding planners, there are financial planners, there are all sorts of planners that do not have planner in their title, but what is their real purpose? Well they all may have different answers (problem 1), but the way I see it is that their purpose is to: 1. save people time, 2. impart knowledge on to others, 3. think of scenarios that no one else does, and 4: provide others with estimates regarding time and cost related to whatever they are planning. This is all well and good in my mind. But what would happen if we did not have any planners? What if we all were the ones who suddenly had to do this all on our own? Would the experience that we were planning for be the same? Cost the same? Happen as quickly? Probably not! This is why I do not like planning. I am not a planner, when I have to plan things, then I end up spending WAY more time not only with the actually planning portion (which takes time itselfÖsometimes more than what you are planning for), but also on whatever I was planning in the first place. For some reason when I have to actually follow a plan while trying to do something, as long as I knew what I was doing (note that none of this applies if I donít know a lick about whatever I am doing in the first place) then it would take me much less time to workout things without a plan than to just "get things done" on the fly. But lately, what really starts to irritate me is the fact that others do not realize this, yet at the same time, I know others in the same position that I am in. So now if you have no "planner" amongst say a group of people doing things, and they all have to plan for themselves, report the plan constantly, and make sure to follow the plan, then its going to take everyone a lot longer to do things, there is a chance that the work that was planned for will not be done as well, and for sure there will be people not happy about whatís going on simply due to the fact that they are not a planner. This makes no sense to me. If you want me to do something, then give me the task, outline some basic parameters and then just tell me when to have it done by (note that this part is important), and I will most likely be able to do the work in less time than if you ask me to do something, but first come up with a detailed multi-part plan first and make sure that this plan fits into X number of other requirements where X > 10. Now I know immediately there will be some that say that while I am right that I have missed the point, that planning does not mean to get things done in the fastest time, but means to get things done the BEST way possible. Now normally I would agree with this statement, however things change when above all other requirements you have a date to worry about. So there is not worrying about doing things the BEST way because you already know that the best way would not fit within the time allotment which was given. That is the point at which I say that a plan is for not. When you give me a date ahead of time which I have to conform my plan to, yet itís obvious that any plan I would come up with would surpass that date. (Note that date is only one example and there are more constraints that mess everything up as well that I donít want to go into.) OK, so lets recap the situation shall we? So a. a deadline exists, so time is limited, b. a plan is required and must also exist in its "best" format, c. This plan must be communicated at least 4 times a week and can consequently change at any point after such communications. Well when this is the case, then I seem to end up with d. I spend all of my time planning and revising existing plans, arguing over existing plans, and doing everything else under the sun related to planning, yet donít have anymore time left in the schedule allotted (a.) for doing any of the work which is/was planned. SO FRUSTRATING.

Ok, now on to the second issue. I have more of a problem with this than I do with any other topic right now. I need to start this one with an extra disclaimer though. If you are reading this, and you think this applies to you than it probably doesnít since the target(s) of this rant would not even know the author. Now that this is out of the way, the next topic is people who do not reply to direct communication. Now I think that I need to give some background here to show that I AM indeed reasonable. So my primary mode of communication is email. Believe it or not I email others and receive email probably more than any other form of communication. Talking in person comes in a REAL close second followed by an equally close Instant Messaging, followed by this blog, and followed up by the phone. (I really only use my phone when I am not in the office or at home.) That being said, you can imagine that I get and receive a lot of email on a daily basis. For instance, in the last month, I have gotten 2652 emails which were addressed to me or to some other address which gets to me (meaning that junkmail is not included in this count) in the past month. Thatís about 87 emails a day. And at the same time, I have sent 401 emails in the past month. Which is about 13 emails a day. So hopefully with that evidence you can see how important email is to me when it comes to communicating. But of the flaws which exist in communicating over email, the one that REALLY gets to me more than any other is the fact that there is a tendency to delay a response or to not respond at all because its "impersonal". While I can see the logic in this, I donít understand it. If I was standing in front of you and I said the same thing that I said in the email, chances are that you would not walk off and then come give me an answer later, or even walk off and never say anything. Chances are that there would be SOME response right? Well now lets bring this back to my world. HOW do people NOT reply to a direct email sent to them (note that there are plenty of emails that I do not reply to, but most of them were not addressed to me at all or were not addressed directly to me (CC))? This just blows my mind completely, since its not as if the computer came up with the words on the screen by itself, its not a machine doing the talking, those are my words, and chances are it has not been long since I sent them. Why does this not deserve SOME response? Now I am making this VERY generic, and for every specific case, there are other specific arguments involved. One of the largest is technical malfunction. For instance, in some cases, I can send you an email, but I will never know if you received it, or were even able to receive it. Most email servers will have a system that will notify you if this was the case and you can try again later, but not all do, and the ones that do donít arrive for sometimes up to 10 days. Additionally what happens when that system breaks and is unable to send back a notification that the message can not be delivered, in that case there is expectation of delivery that never occurred. Those scenarios play out in my mind all the time. This is mainly because all the time I will send emails to people and never get a response. I donít understand that. Sure there is an adage which is "If you donít have something nice to say, then donít say it at all," but really I am sure that this applies to initiating communication and not to responding. Hell, even I canít right now, I am busy, or even got it, will respond later is vastly more acceptable than nothing at all. I HIGHLY encourage everyone to think of this the next time that you get an email from someone. Imagine that instead of a new line of text appearing in your inbox that actually that person just walked up to you then and said the things that are in the mail. Now when thinking about what to say or do, keep imagining that they are right in front of you and handle it the same way. Sure I know the counter argument that this is the luxury of the internet and asynchronous communication was one of the main goals of email, but really its SO fast over distances now that the same laws as regular mail dong hold true. Its just too real-time to treat it any differently than if you were in person with the other person. Now the same also goes true for instance messaging, but so far I have not had the same problem with IM (I send lots of IMs each day as well, especially since the product that I work on enables instant messaging), but I think that this is because of the real time interrupt that an IM causes. With email, often times YOU have to check mail and this happens whenever you want to, but with IM, the process of receiving an IM interrupts what you were doing since it appears on the screen immediately. This changes the nature of IM communication compared to email (and which is just one of the reasons that I like it better). So remember . . . remember to answer those emails.

Ok, so on to other non rant things. As some of you can tell, I have added two new features to the site. You can now control whether you want your font to appear as Times or as MY handwriting. I created a font from my own handwriting and then uploaded it to my website, so now one of the options on the page is to see what the post would actually look like in my handwriting. Since my handwriting is SO bad, I donít expect many people to use this option, but at the same time, it is quite a novelty and I think it can change the way the web looks completely since now people can express who THEY are in their handwriting style as well as what they write.

The other new feature that I have added is that while researching how to make the handwriting thing work, I made a few auxiliary functions that made it easy to allow you to choose your own scheme. Also a cookie is stored for both these items so that when you come back, your decision will be remembered. For instance, my favorite schemes from the list are Lake (this is a picture taken from a boat on the lake that I live on), and L.V. (this is a picture taken from the stratosphere in Las Vegas). And now if those are your favorites too, then you can choose to see those every time the site loads.

There are also other features that I am working on for the site as well. The one in the works right now is passport auth. I downloaded the Passport SDK, registered with the service and am working on some code to get passport auth working. This is going really slow though and takes a lot of time (since they have NO INSTRUCTIONS and I have no idea what I am doing). Another feature that has needed some work are the RSS feeds. This is because the fact that most CURRENT rss feeds actually take the date into account for each entry on the feed. Note that according to the rss 0.91 and 1.0 specs, this is not supported and rss was never meant to have a date other than the ONE date for the file which tells the last time the page was updated. One of my rss feeds is valid (use the validator link at the bottom), but the other can not be valid because the module that I use can not produce BOTH valid formats (meaning that I can either create a valid 0.91 OR a valid 1.0. This has to do with the fact that the format for storing the date in the file changed from one version to the other. Also, I can not support rss 2.0 yet either. So its been a general goal of mine to find a better RSS generator which will support all the versions as well as all of the common custom enhancements that people use (like DC:date on each item). This has not happened yet though since there are SO many other things that need to happen as well as well as everything else that is going on.

I have an update for the CarPC page to give, but just not the time to give it, since I just spent 65 minutes to write the previous 2400 words or so and donít have more time to spend on blog stuff.

Friday I organized a Kill Bill Double Feature. I showed the Kill Bill Vol. 1 Dvd on the projector at home, and then after that was over, we all went down to seattle to the Cinerama (because they had a showing that was 40 minutes later than everywhere else) to see Kill Bill Vol. 2. We got to the theater about 1 hour prior to showing (which was about 20 minutes before I planned to get there . . . and 50 minutes before I had originally planned on being there), which turned out to be a very good thing because even 1 hour beforehand the line was down the block and around the corner. When we drove by it had not rounded the corner yet, but by the time we got to the line it had. We still managed to get seats in a good location though and found an empty row, so everyone in the group got to sit there. The Sound and picture were simply amazing (although it was really loud), and I really liked Vol.2 much better than Vol.1 (although I like both). HOWEVER, I do have one complaint. That is the seats. A friend of mine told me that they were uncomfortable before going. I actually disagree with that. I would say that they are very comfortable, but the problem is that the seat in front of you is not that comfortable. These seats recline. Not only that, but they recline very easily, so just the act of sitting down (unless you lean really far forward) will make the seat recline. Now I am not a small person, but I am not as large as the person that was sitting in front of me. I donít have a problem with that, but what I did have a problem with is the fact that he leaned his seat back as far as it would go into my knees. At first I was kind and figured that I just had my legs too far forward, so I moved them back slightly (by bending them under my seat), and at the same time sat rather awkwardly as to not do the same thing to the person behind me. Well after 50% of the movie or so, my legs were cramping up real badly after having them contorted under my seat, and when the person in front of me leaned forward a bit, I moved them back to where they were to begin with. This meant though that the person in front could not lean back as far as they had been, but my legs were more comfortable. Now I think that any normal person in this case would realize and do something, but I honestly think that he was pushing back harder to try and lean back more. This of course is into my knees and is rather painful, but I can not go back to the other position as my legs were really hurting at that point, and still sitting so that I donít do the same thing to the person behind me is not helping either. So, I spend the whole rest of the movie like this; with a 250 lb + person leaning on my knees. Boo.

There is much more to write about, but I can not until I get the passport auth working and I can start having some restricted areas.

Until later

Posted by: j.p.

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