More Project Fun

Another graph from one of my current projects.

Click for the bigger view. Looks kind of like a DNA slide to me.

Graphic from a project - looks kind of like a DNA slide.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


GPS Lady

Escape From Houston - How I fled Rita. By Mimi�Swartz:
"It took about three hours heading dead west on side-streets before I reached the approach to I-10. It was utterly jammed. Then I remembered my husband's Christmas present to me last year�a GPS device called the Magellan RoadMate. That may not sound like the most romantic gift, but I spend a lot of time in the car, and a lot of that time on strange roads on the verge of being very, very lost. 'Turn on the RoadMate,' I said to my son. "

These things are expensive - like $850.00 for one that talks to you - but it would be the only way to navigate the back roads in an emergency. Just get off the freeway, tell it where you want to go, and let it figure it out. If you see a crowd ahead, take off at an angle, and then let the GPS figure it out.

I used GPS navigation a lot a couple of years ago when I was travelling to California a lot. It was a life saver! Except the time it had THQ's address wrong. Then I called my wife and she guided me to THQ by using MapQuest from the PC at home.

One time I was going to meet someone at Warner Interactive, and this guy said, "It's on the west side near Santa Monica." Well, I put the address into the GPS and it took me to Burbank. This distressed me greatly, but it turned out the GPS was right.

One time I was in Burbank, taking the bus from the beautiful Burbank Airport to the nearby Hilton. My buddies and I were chatting about "GPS Lady", and how great she was at guiding us around LA. This lady in the bus (who claimed to be a computer programmer but I think she was a standup comic) said, "If I designed that thing, when you missed a turn, it would say, 'That was it! That was it!'". I wanted to hear more jokes but she ran off, probably scared of us game geeks.

One time I had GPS Man. He was a different brand. He was built-in to a Java based smart phone. He was stuck onto my windshield with a big giant suction cup. GPS Man actually gave better directions, but it was hard to operate. You had to make a phone call to some central place, tell them where you wanted to go, and then they would download the data into the phone. Overnight, GPS Man was left on, and his batteries died, which meant I had to figure out how to reinitialize him at least enough to get the central service to download something useful. That was interesting.

I have some friends with GPS Person built into their cars. It's pretty cool. I'm hoping my car lasts a long time, and that when I finally get a new car, instead of GPS Person I get GPS Driver, and I can just sit and surf the web while my car drives me to where I need to go.

(C) 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.

Palm Teams With Microsoft for Smart Phone: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Palm Teams With Microsoft for Smart Phone: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance:
"In the third quarter of last year, devices running Microsoft's software outsold those with Palm OS for the first time, according to the research firm Gartner Inc.

'No question that Microsoft has made significant inroads compared to where they were just a couple of years ago -- which was no where,' said Charles Golvin, analyst for Forrester Research.

Rumors have circulated for months that Palm was ready to embrace a Windows platform. Palm spent years trying to fend off Microsoft's forays into the sector."

As much as I've been a Palm fan for years, I think I'm looking forward to this. Ultimately the Palm OS is just too awkward when it comes to networking. I've had friends with Windows CE based PDA devices and they seem to be able to stream MP3s and do all kinds of cool things without any trouble. They have a way better browser than the crap that gets bundled in with Palm devices.

I have a Sony Clie that kicks ass - that is once I managed to get it configured properly. It has a huge screen (480x320), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, plays MP3s (but not streaming), and one of the worst designed cameras in the history of the universe*. Sadly the battery life isn't too great. But feature wise it is amazing. But it's also discontinued (the entire Sony Clie line was discontinued in the US). And it's also got a highly customized version by Sony of the Palm OS. So once it dies, it's dead. Game over. And quite frankly, you have to be an incredible computer wiz to even make it work. What a mess.

Since Microsoft has spent years trying to get this phone business going, they probably have something decent by now. I'm hoping. I know there have been buggy releases in the past. Hopefully Palm put an end to that. Well, if I do get one of these, it won't be one of the first ones off the assembly line - that's for sure. Palm has had glitches on product rollouts too.

But longterm, I think this is good.

* The worst camera in the world: you can only take 2-5 pictures with the flash before you have totally drained the battery. Mind boggling. And since you need the battery for everything else, you're pretty screwed. Still, if there is something you really want a picture of (2 megapixels), and the Clie is all you have, then fire away! Just make sure every shot counts.

Project Fun

This is a graphic I made while working on a project recently.

Exactly what it means will have to remain a mystery, but I think it looks cool, so I made a JPEG as a souvenir. (Click for bigger version.)

Fun graphic from a recent project.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.




This "Mini-Microsoft" blog is a strange blog. If I were younger I would agree with everything he says. But since I am older and wiser I don't.

I agree that the Microsoft review system is bad.

I don't agree that executives at Microsoft shouldn't get paid a million dollars a year. I think they should.

I agree that Microsoft used to have a different culture. It was smaller.

As things get big, the abstractions that managers use to manage change radically. In fact, one might argue, the difference between a successful manager and an unsuccessful manager (besides people skills) is his or her ability to grab on to the right abstract representation of the business. Clearly, in a business like Microsoft, it is impossible for the execs to know all the details. It's just impossible!

What matters is that they understand the control points. And those control points might not be obvious to the underlings.

A really good manager will explain those control points in a way the troops can understand. But the number of managers that can do that is about five. And they aren't going to work at a really big company.

It's funny, because I'm more of a fan of Microsoft now than I was in the old days. I find the software less buggy and easier to use than it used to be. And the compatibility problems Microsoft faces are huge! And yet they create this eco-system for PC development that continues to thrive. That's amazing.



When you flip the Bozo Bit on someone, it means that you put them in the Bozo (the clown) category so you never take anything from them seriously again. This is a major step, not easily reversed. "

I had never heard of the Bozo Bit until a manager told me he thought I flipped it on people 'too soon.' (I thought a couple of years of evidence of uselessness was adequate but he basically never wanted me to flip it on this one particular person. Everyone knew this person was a Bozo except the manager.)

So, upon learning of this great concept of the Bozo Bit from the manager, I promptly flipped it on him, since he clearly had no idea who was doing what in the company.


DDJ>PDC 2005: Opening Day

DDJ>PDC 2005: Opening Day:
"As always, Gates runs scared. That's perhaps an oversimplification, but just as Gates is one of the few people to really understand and take advantage of the deeper implications of Moore's Law, he's also one of the few to understand that if the hardware capability doubles every 18 months or so, in three years any company can be obsolete and in five can be out of business--and it gets harder to keep up with the hardware advances every cycle. "

This is so true ... so few people internalize what Moore's law really means for product development. Some people (including me from time to time) luck out because their project is late ... but by then computers are fast enough to run the project. (7th Guest, which I produced, was a year late, thank God! Because there weren't any very many CD drives sold when it was supposed to be finished. But a year later there were boatloads of them.)

My favorite quote from either Bill or the Intel guy is, "People over estimate what will be possible in five years and underestimate what will be possible in ten years."

I'll say now: In ten years cars will be driving themselves (again, Thank God!). Because you can just see it might be possible in five years - so ten years is a good shot. I would love it if the next car I bought drove itself. I've had my current car 12 years, so if I can get it to last another 12 years, I'll be in fat city.


Blogger: Download Blogger for Word (and Puppy)

Blogger: Download Blogger for Word

Wow. I'm going to check it out. It has to be much nicer than typing in this little window.

Okay, I downloaded it, and now I’m doing an edit in Word.

One nice thing: you can type in a link, for instance, http://www.directsong.com/, and it is automatically converted into a hyper link.

I wonder if I can insert a picture of a cute puppy:

(image placeholder)

Nemo with Gentle Leader

Well, the answer is no. Tables and pictures are not supported, but it didn't tell me that until I went to post. Too bad. (I inserted the puppy picture later by hand.)

He’s wearing something called a “Gentle Leader”. It’s not a muzzle. It’s just arranged so that when he pulls against the leash he gets guided back on to the straight and narrow rather than pulling your arm out of its socket.

Apple Hard Disk Based Camcorder

TIME.com: Stevie's Little Wonder -- Sep. 19, 2005 -- Page 1
Apple's stock price has almost quintupled over the past two years, revenues have doubled during that time, and Jobs is sitting on a war chest of $8 billion. He has a company with an almost freakishly diverse skill set--computer hardware, operating systems, applications, consumer electronics, Internet services. Will Jobs try to leverage Apple's dominance in the digital-music space to get its PC line back in the running? Or is the iPod the first in a full suite of Apple-flavored, network-enabled media appliances--TV, digital camera, camcorder, digital video recorder, video-game player?

Is Apple going to become the new Sony? After all, Sony become the ultra-cool 'Sony' that we know and love with the Walkman. The iPod could be the launching pad for a huge range of digital consumer products. I especially like the idea of an ultra-cool Apple camcorder. Think how cool it would be - and of course it would work seamlessly with the Mac. And set a new standard. Yes, I like that idea.

I have a Sony camcorder. It's almost really cool. It takes 2 megapixel stills - nice. It takes 30 fps full-frame progressive movies. It can take movies in widescreen. It has bluetooth - except the bluetooth doesn't work with anything. It has a web browser and a picture upload system - except it is too hard to work. It's got a really cool touch panel interface - pretty good, except too many menus to search up and down for the function I want.

I imagine if Apple had designed this thing. Wow. Everything would work and be simple.

Yes, I like the idea of an Apple camcorder.


Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19

Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19

Arrr! - This one is often confused with arrrgh, which is of course the sound you make when you sit on a belaying pin. "Arrr!" can mean, variously, "yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," "My team is going to win it all," "I saw that television show, it sucked!" and "That was a clever remark you or I just made." And those are just a few of the myriad possibilities of Arrr!

I think I mentioned this before - wouldn't a C programmer/pirate say, "Argc, argv, me hearties!"


Variety.com - Mouse of a different culture

Variety.com - Mouse of a different culture:
"Keeping up with reality in the world's most vertical city made designing Tomorrowland the hardest part of conceiving Hong Kong Disneyland, according to Tom Morris, veep and executive producer for Walt Disney Imagineering. The response from the project managers was to deliver the theme park, Disney's 11th worldwide, on budget and ahead of schedule...."

I've known Tom Morris since second grade. Other than my original family, I think I've known Tom longer than anyone. Ever since I have known him he has been an expert on things Disney (yes, even in second grade).

What a great job he has - creative supervision of the creation of a Disney theme park.