LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You Know You're DOOMED When...
Your Director waits for your Manager to go on vacation before he tells you that we're going to do business exactly the opposite of how we've done it before.
You've stumbled onto another issue of The Crapolla, a journal written for software professionals. No not the managers; I mean the people who do the work.
This Crapolla is sponsored by...
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In This Issue...
Why Can't Tivo Just Run My Life?
Remember Software Agents? Of course not, nobody ever saw one. But I remember in the late 80's and early 90's hearing about this great new idea in software. In case you never heard of this, here is a definition from MIT.
Sounds cool, eh? The idea was that your agents would understand the tasks you needed done, and at appropriate times go do them. They would be able to learn, and not get tripped up by random changes caused by the environment (humans).
One such agent could look at the weather forecast and determine that if rain was in the near future, it might be wise to close the windows. But if a tornado was coming, windows on one side of the house should remain open. (This is assuming you have a computer that can control your windows.)
The closest we have gotten to agents are reminders on web sites. This past January at CES, I stopped by the TitanTV booth. TitanTV is a company trying to get into the television information biz. One of their features is a program reminder. I can tell TitanTV's web site about every movie I ever want to watch, and the list of channels I receive. If one of the films comes up on the schedule, I get an email. Except it doesn't work very well.
The trouble is I only get 24 hours notice at best. I also have to maintain a presence (an account) on TitanTV's web site. Otherwise, they will decide I have no interest in their offering and will clean me out of their database. Which is what happened.
It strikes me this doesn't qualify as a software agent. With an agent, I should not have to periodically login to a web site, and maintain a password. The number of web sites that want demographic information is getting ridiculous. There are sites which are not customizing content to the reader's tastes which still require you fill out a full profile about yourself. This is simple data mining which more and more will be used to sell you something.
An agent would be installed on my computer. I would configure what I want it to do, and the work would be done on my machine. For instance, I read my.yahoo.com to get a smattering of news, since television news has become extremely poor. On my.yahoo.com, I have selected a collection news websites to gather headlines from. The trouble is the headlines don't change in a timely manner. I'm just manually trolling through news websites. It ain't too intelligent.
A real agent would be like TiVo. It would monitor what I read and then troll the web sites looking for content it thinks I'll want to read. After I look at an article, I would rate it's relevance so future trolling would be more accurate. My personalized newspaper would be constantly new. The closest I've seen to this is the MIT project Letizia. Letizia attempts to anticipate my next want.
Agents are just another cool idea that didn't happen. There are lot's of these in The Valley. Ideas that can't be made into a real product, or can't find funding, or can't find a market die off due to natural selection forces. Or the Vogons come by to blow up your planet to make way for a new hyperspace by-pass just as the Golden Master is approved.
The barrage of junk mail at Casa de Fek had an interesting tidbit. MicroCenter is running a Maxtor 250 gigabyte drive for $169.99 in store price, no rebate involved. As I am building a large file server, I decide to buy one.
The store, however, had other plans. They didn't actually have this drive in stock. The add runs for the whole of August, and I was told they would be getting a shipment "Real Soon Now". But they didn't know if the shipment would include this item.
I've heard this before from MicroCenter. There was once a digital camera I wanted which they never received during a one month sale. The people in the store have no idea what the Kansas City home office is going to send them. I suspect the home office has no idea what is in stock at any of their stores.
Then I looked at the bottom of the junk mail. I could go to MicroCenter's Web Site and buy the same drive. I could either have the drive shipped to me or pick it up at the store. I figured this would be a fun gotcha! I'd buy the drive online, mark the "pick up at store" button, and then go down to demand my merchandise.
The trouble with buying from the MicroCenter web site is you have to pay for shipping even if you pick it up at the store! This is significant because if MicroCenter properly stocked their stores you wouldn't have to go to their web site.
Jacko's trial has been pushed till next year! Don't you hate it when people can't make the schedule? Someone's not getting their bonus!
My director asked why I did that.
"A present for the next group who uses this room," said I.
Evil corporations are always claiming the lemon car, or the sagging bed, or the hard drive that turned into maracas is working as advertised, or you the moron customer abused it. I think the game should add the attribute to the simulation.
Has anyone noticed that we have an oil man in the White House, and we have experienced the highest price ever for a barrel of oil?
Star Wars Episode III Title Revealed!
Let's play, "Who said this?"
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"Better living through suffering."
"Well... It's a varnished turd."
"I visited a friend in San Quentin."
"I hate you optimistic people."
"Have you thought of actually putting features in the product?"
"You're coming back from vacation married. You're going to be ready to hit someone."
"We're organisms. Do we rot because we haven't been refrigerated?"
"You're rotten to the core!"
"How are you going to work a Diet Coke reference into your column this month?"
"The reason they don't build televisions in England is that the Brits haven't figured out how to make them leak oil."
"It tastes like rubber, and goes down like snot!"
I have to go get in line. I hope I'm not too late. The movie opens in less than a year.
(The Last Honest Geek)
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