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The importance of being earnest E-mail
Friday, 05 December 2008 21:56

Very frequently I come across professional websites that are missing content, or contain errors in syntax, grammar, and/or accuracy of information provided.  Having worked on designing and developing websites, I know how hard it can be to manage large sites and how easy to miss small mistakes.  It's certainly presumptuous to assume that because something is off the developers and designers are unskilled and incompetent.  But from the consumer standpoint, even small errors stand out, and they deserve the extra time, patience, and energy to avoid them.

I won't name names, but just yesterday I was on the official website of one of the largest electronics companies in the world.  The site was a subsite on a new technology, and I happened upon a page where a crucial image was missing.  The site is very professional and thorough (you wouldn't expect anything less given the size and status of this company) so it was probably a server issue or a small oversight on someone's part, but for me it underlined the point that we've come to expect such perfection from brand names in particular, that a single error in a site that contains thousands of pages gets registered in memory.

Another example I just came across was a healthcare provider's website.  Other websites claim to sell this provider's products in my area, whereas the provider's own website claims they do not service this area.  A healthcare facility in my area claims to work with this provider, so my hunch is that the provider's website is inaccurate.  This relatively small error could be costing this company potential business.

Small erorrs can affect corporate image, so I don't think enough can be said for paying attention to detail at every level, from the homepage served to millions to esoteric internal pages, the presentation and informational accuracy of which could make or break a potential client's buying decision.

Cool software E-mail
Thursday, 04 December 2008 17:53

For a while now I've had it in mind to compile a list of cool software I find useful.  I already made a list earlier about web development software, so this is just a more general list.

  • Altiris Software Virtualization Studio (SVS) - Virtualize software into layers so that it runs on top of Windows instead of in it.  If you don't like some program, just delete the layer.
  • NitroPDF - alternative to Adobe Acrobat
  • Foxit Reader - free alternative to Adobe Reader
  • ThreatFire - firewall that runs silently in the background and works without running any scans on files
  • FreeMind - open-source mind-mapping software
  • Sync2IT - keep bookmarks and favorites synchronized across computers
  • Winamp - I've never used Windows Media Player and never will, as long as WinAmp is around
  • ResumeMaker - excellent resume-making software
  • Media Player Classic - plays DVDs and all sorts of media files
  • WebCollect toolbar - I came across this when I was looking for something to capture an entire scrolling page in a screenshot
  • Trillian - my only instant messaging client for many years now (except for Meebo, which I used when Trillian couldn't get access)
  • Maxthon - my favorite browser; I like it more than Firefox
  • Windows Live Writer - works excellently with WordPress to blog from the desktop; handles categories, tags, pages, images, and maps wonderfully
  • FileHamster - easier to use than SVN for version control - if you're only working locally
Maps and photos E-mail
Sunday, 30 November 2008 23:50

Imagine my surprise when I discover that you can't embed a Virtual Earth map the way you can a Google Map.  I found a third website that lets you embed VE maps, but at the moment it's not working.  Additionally, you can embed side-by-side VE/Google maps through this site as well.

To my rescue came the KML file format that Virtual Earth allows exporting of map markers to.  All I had to do was import the feed into a custom Google map and embed it, and here's what I came up with for my New Mexico trip.

In a comparison between the two, this reviewer gives the slight edge to Virtual Earth for KML support.

On a related topic (since I want to map my photos from my recent trip), I was wondering why Google owns two photo-sharing services, Picasa and Panoramio.  From what I've gathered, Picasa is for sharing your photos, where mapping them is secondary.  Panoramio, on the other hand, is more geared toward viewing photos relevant to geographic locations throughout the world.

My head is spinning from all the options out there for sharing and geotagging photos.  Here are just the ones I've come across:

I also found a stand-alone software, GeoSetter, for encoding photos with geo-data.

My philosophy E-mail
Wednesday, 19 November 2008 16:43

I believe it is not beneficial to reinvent the wheel - except for the purpose of learning.  There's no better way to learn something than to do it yourself, even if it's been done a thousand times before.

Having said that, I believe leveraging existing resources and exploiting the knowledge and expertise of others is a great way to avoid reinventing the wheel.  If I need some functionality and someone has already developed a solution, I don't see why I should spend time reworking what someone has already worked out (and is willing to share with others).  This is why much of what I post here contains a link to another site or sites where I came across the information I found useful and wanted to share.  Again, this only applies on the application side.  If I'm learning a new skill, there's no better way than to do it myself.

I believe in open-source software, especially when it's as thorough and well-built as some of the ones I've used: Joomla!, WordPress, Eclipse, Paint.NET, among others.  I don't understand why someone would spend hundreds or thousands on a proprietary system when there's a great community-supported one already out there.  Instead, developers working on those projects could perhaps spend their efforts extending the abilities of these open-to-everyone platforms.

I believe in:

  • simple
  • open
  • light
  • functional

My portfolio can be viewed here.

I love this line of work for one reason above all: creativity.  I am not gifted with paint and sketch-pencil like some people, but nonetheless I have creative ideas buzzing around my head almost all the time, even when I'm asleep.  It's a great joy to bring those inner visions out to see myself and share with others.

It's amazing that the only thing limiting me in today's world is my ability to only learn a limited number of skills at any given time - a limitation every human being has.  The internet has brought within easy reach hundreds of tutorials, podcasts, and screencasts on every imaginable technology out there, so that if you're eager enough you can learn pretty much anything you want - even skills outside the world of technology.  It's discouraging that I'm only human, otherwise I would have learned everything there is to know already!  But that's what keeps me going, seeing what little I've done so far, and how much more there is I can do.


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