Monday, December 29, 2008

Griffin Support

Woo hoo long time no post! We'll see if I ever get any better, but don't get your hopes up - I'll probably spend most of my free time working on ideas for podcasts or businesses.

Anyway, I just wanted to give a quick shout-out to Griffin Technology support. Their product the SmartTalk has some durability issues, but they've always been great about giving replacements (at least to me) - they're clearly aware of the issue and willing to help.

I've contacted their support 3 times total (ironically all of these were cable durability problems, though only 2 related to the SmartTalk), and each time it's been a 5 minute, pleasant affair. No burning questions, long holds, or anything like that - simple, fast, helpful customer service.

Actually, most companies I've had to do warranty repair through have been at least nice about it. Maybe that reflects what kinds of companies I shop with. The only real problem I've had has been with Sony Ericsson - while I loved the product and their staff was nice, I've had to send in my phone twice now and they sent me back my same phone both times. That meant at least a notable delay (doubly unacceptable for cell phones), and unfortunately, not all of the issues were fixed. I'd say SE should be sending out refurbished phones to customers and requesting that they send the broken ones back. Many manufacturers do this; you just charge the customer for the new one if they don't return it. That way the customer never goes without a phone and you know the one they receive does not have issues.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Random thing

Here's a random link I found to interesting research on facial expressions in avatars. It's not that fantastic or new, but it seems like it would be amusing to see my friends sneeze when they sneeze.
Of course, what would be more interesting would be to see this tie in somehow with built-in isights on macs --- or some sort of manually operated version. I remember WAAAY back on the Daily Show they had that happen with a correspondent that was on e phone -his pic on the map changed according to the emotions, which was indeed pretty hilarious.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Auto-generate comments in C# .NET / Visual Studio

Apologies for not posting in a long time. I have a lot I would like to say, but as always, there's so little time to do it. Anyway, I knew I should post this before I forget about it.

So, I've been looking everywhere for how to do this, and I finally figured out how to do it. Hopefully some people searching for how to do this will find this , and it will be helpful.

If you've learned how to do .NET with an official curriculum, you may already know how to do this, but a lot of people, me included, have had to learn .NET sort of "by fire," without as much official instruction, since they were already familiar with similar languages, such as Java. When you learn by doing, sometimes you miss simple tips like this, and the .NET programmers probably already assumed everyone knows how to do this, because it's not even in the help files as far as I can tell.

I wanted to auto-generate comment blocks for my code like I have for quite some time in Eclipse. I believe the combination is alt-shift-J or something similar, and it's very useful to make sure that you properly document functions, classes, etc. However, I couldn't find any way to do that in .NET. Fortunately, I discovered that the correct way to do function comments in .NET is with three slashes - '///' - and that if you do that above a function, it will automatically generate a comment with the appropriate areas to fill in, etc.

I had assumed that the right way to comment was using "/**" blocks, and .NET happily created those blocks, complete with automatic *s at the beginning of every line. However, it never gave me the place to put things like parameters and output, much to my dismay. However, if you use '///' instead, it generates the kind of headers I'd expect. They're formatted in XML syntax, which is fitting with .NET's methodology. Anyway, I'm now living in a happy world of comment blocks with auto-generated formatting and names, which is a great change. I just wish it had been a bit easier to find this information-I already documented one of my projects by hand, and I'm sure I forgot some parameters or something along the way.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Finals will do strange things to your head. Here's a quote I made up that I thought was funny; hopefully it legitimately is and I'm not dellusional:

"All I care is that my name be remembered." -Unknown

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Random thought:

So I had a pretty hilarious warranty call today, which is not something I ever imagined myself saying. Something i bought was missing a part, and I called them-they just asked for my address and sent it, which was really awesome, but the guy sounded like he was really angry the entire time.
Usually, customer service and grumpy do not go hand in hand.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Quick thoughts

OK, so I still haven't uploaded the Yahoo pics or anything, so more interesting stuff will be coming later. However, I had some quick comments that I knew I would forget, so I wanted to jot them down somewhere.

I know it's cliche by now to hate on Microsoft, but they really could use some help in the user experience division. Case in point: MS Windows Live OneCare. Now, I use the software, which I guess says some good things about it, although it certainly helped that it was almost free. So when I installed it, let's just say it's a good thing I'm a CS major.

The first problem was that it needed a network connection continuously to install. However, there was no notation, description, or warning. The only message you get is a cryptic "install failed due to failure in network connection" or some similarly worded message. Fortunately, my CS mind said: maybe it needs to be online to activate like some other Microsoft products. It turns out it needed to download a large amount of the program...I think one of Adobe's products, maybe reader, had a similar install a while back, except they actually made it clear what was going on.

Then, once installed, it says I need a subscription. Of course, I close, reopen, and restart trying to figure out why it thinks I need to buy something extra. Finally, my CS mind says to go ahead and click the button to continue and get a subscription, just to see what happens/what it looks like, although I was not very optimistic at this point. I had noted that the package said it included a one-year subscription, so I was a little confused.

Anyway, once you get there, you have to select that you already purchased a subscription-a little confusing because it seems like it's talking about a stand alone subscription, not one included with software. Anyway, I figured I'd give it a shot, and low and behold, that's how you get you included one year subscription activated.

We're not done yet, though: MS had one more bit of confusion to throw at us. After you input your number, it came up with a screen with a PURCHASE button at the bottom!!!!! Purchase order or subscription or something like that! Now, fortunately, I had experience working with the MSDN system, and knew that this was how things could look, even when they're free. So I went ahead and "purchased" my (free, included) license, and it worked. Apparently, purchase a license is MS speak for associate my included license code with this account.

Anyway, I managed to get it all figured out, but I seriously wonder what most people who purchase this, who I expect are not CS majors, especially given the nature of this software, are thinking when they see these screens. I hate bashing on MS because I think they're making some good efforts, but the apparently lack of any UI people having gone over this or even anyone with any common sense having tried to use this software is a bit concerning. MS, you have potential, but every failure like this just makes me and others wonder. I am amazed that any normal consumer can get through this install...and it's specifically consumer oriented software! Note to MS: user experience goes beyond the packaging!

UPDATE: It gets worse.
Backup is one thing I liked about OneCare. If you're going to be doing backup, surely it helps to have the maker of the OS on your side. They know which files need to be backed up, how best to restore, etc. However, here again we run into MS being overbearing and having seemingly no idea how real users would like to use the product.
In the new version of OneCare, the backup program no longer supports backing up the Program Files folder. Period, end of story, that's it. I looked around for quite a bit, because, just like EVERYONE else, I have plenty of valuable files in there. All I managed to find were forum replies from MS reps that, completely fulfilling expectations based on MS's reputation, stated that you could not back up from program files, so you would just have to move the files elsewhere. Has anyone at MS ever even used a PC? You can't easily alias those files, some of them are locked, and many of them are large. The decision not to give us the option to back up these files was ridiculous-the way to do it before was by manually making a backup plan, so it's not as if many consumers had this problem of backing up Program Files when they didn't want to. And the sheer idiocy of suggesting that people could just move the files-it's kind of staggering, really, and if MS ever wants a better reputation, they're going to have to stop this kind of behavior. Again, I hate to jump on the "MS sucks" bandwagon-they have done and will continue to do good things-but stuff like this just frustrates end users and worsens their reputation, rightfully so.

One nice thing (and one of the biggest features) of OneCare is that it's an integrated place to take care of everything. However, I already have spyware and virus software; firewall is included with Windows, and now that I have to install a separate backup solution, all onecare is really good for is reminding me to defrag. At least it was super cheap, but if I were Ballmer, it would be high time for the project manager of OneCare to move on.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

First Post!

Hi everyone! Welcome to my blog. I'll be posting more here soon, but right now I'm pretty busy with Yahoo!'s Hack Week...expect to see more on that soon though! I'm sure I'll have plenty of great stories and pictures to share!