Archive for software

New Software I like

In the past couple weeks I’ve picked up a couple new pieces of software that I’m enjoying. Thunderbird for email and Firebug for web development. Thunderbird isn’t really that amazing, it’s just that it’s better than other alternatives. But Firebug has a lot of great features including tools for inspecting DOM, CSS, HTML, and even a Javascript Debugger. It’s really a must for any web development. Not that I’ve been doing much actual web development lately.

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Good looking software

Here are some software companies that I’ve seen interesting products from.

  • VMWare: The first and still best virtualization
  • Atlassian: Makers of JIRA and Confluence both very good products.
  • Alfresco: Impressive looking open source content management package
  • Zenoss: Open source Zope based monitoring
  • OpenQRM: Interesting data center virtualization with full linux process migration

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Yahoo Pipes

Yahoo Pipes is kind of an interesting tool. I’m not sure I’m that enthused about it yet, but I can see the potential. If I wanted finer control over my RSS feeds, then I could see using it, but that seems like a pretty small target market. Most users don’t even know what RSS is.

I can’t tell who exactly is the target market, is it programmers? Because reading the documentation, it sure looks like it. But do programmers want a tool like this? Yes it’s pretty cool, but I’m still not entirely sold on it. I think programmers could publish their own designed pipes and that’s worth something, but the concepts in Pipes make it seem pretty far out of reach of the average user.

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Shoulda known

So browsing Digg as I usually do, I come across a story about a new service that allows people to chat while browsing Digg called gabbly.com. So being a bit curious, I click through and of course the first chat I see is:

gabber95: see my sister naked xxx.net

Great. This is what we get for trusting user generated content.

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Selenium

A co-worker pointed out a pretty cool QA tool called Selenium. It’s a browser plugin which allows you to issue a series of commands and essentially program the browser to make certain clicks and perform certain actions. This makes for a really good way to test web applications like a real world user, but in an automated manner.

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Stupid beta software

The new beta blogger has some issues. It sucks in new and pretty extraordinary ways. I can’t seem to repost my entire blog with all the tags I just added. And the documentation isn’t very great, but I’m willing to ignore that part for now. As a beta user, I expect this sort of thing, but it’s still pretty disappointing. I hope it improves, otherwise I’ll continue to be sad. I’m pretty lazy and also kind of locked into blogger.com, so it’ll take some more annoyances for me to actually switch software, but my annoyance level is already kind of high.

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Software process as risk management

This article from Fast Company about software process gives insight into how true mission critical software gets written. Their development process is essential for their requirements, but very few software projects have requirements that stringent. Buggy software is a function of the rate of changing requirements. Most business are willing to accept some level of uncertainty(aka bugs) to reduce development time or cost. In the places I’ve worked at(none of which develop truly mission critical software), the business requirements change so quickly that bugs are a way of life.

Bug-free software is like secure software: business all want to do it, and all claim to be working towards it. But when you really get down to it, it’s very expensive and almost no one is really investing the time and effort required to get it done. From a business standpoint, writing buggy software is not inherently bad, it’s more like risk management. Businesses will find an acceptable level of uncertainty and risk for the software and they should accept it with the requirements. You want bug free software? Fine, be prepared to spend a lot of time and money on requirements, testing and QA.

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Any promising startups?

I have a friend who might be looking for a job at any promising startups in the Bay area, preferably South Bay, anyone know of any hot companies that are good to work for? I tried to talk to him about Shutterfly, but I think he’s looking for a smaller company(<50 people).

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MS Office

I hate Outlook, Microsoft Exchange, and Active Directory. Talk about a terrible interface and crappy interoperability. Everytime I have to use Outlook(which is daily) it annoys me. It’s a an average mail client and a terrible calendaring system. I also hate Word simply because there’s everything that it does can be done better with the web. Excel however is awesome, Access is fine, Powerpoint is fine.

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Excellent demo

I’ve rarely seen a game demo this cool. I was already going to buy HL2: episode 2, but having Portal and TF2 just makes it an even sweeter deal.

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