Thursday, February 25, 2010

The fall of FriendFeed

A long time ago, I mentioned in this blog that I really liked the idea of FriendFeed as a hub for people's activities online that was both open and semi-extensible. Unfortunately it was probably a little too complex for most people and it never really caught up with the masses and was eventually acquired by Facebook.

After the acquisition there was a mass exodus from people adding content directly to FriendFeed, but I could still follow must of the people that I liked to follow there, because of the "hub" effect. I couldn't follow the discussions anymore, but there was still something out there to see.

Well, tonight a new nail was added to the FriendFeed coffin: it was down and has been down for at least 45 minutes (I tried to access it 45 minutes ago and it was down and, as far as I can tell, it's still down). I'm getting a great message:

500 Internal Server Error

Not good at all...

Actually I'm really tired of all this "news push" technologies. I have even stopped reading regularly my RSS readers. I don't access Twitter or Facebook. I at least read my emails, but haven't been very good at replying to them.

So you might ask what I've been doing with all this extra free time on my hands? My blog hasn't been the one receiving all of it, so what is it? To tell you the truth, I'm not really sure. I've been working until reasonably late, dealing with wedding stuff, sometimes playing some video game at night (as "my" PS3 is going to stop being mine on Tuesday).

Other things I've been doing is struggling with OpenEmbedded... I don't even want to start on this one. It has been a very painful process to just get to build a distribution with the developer libraries of OpenCV for my BeagleBoard. It's one of the hard things of working with a reasonably fast moving open source project: the main documentation that are the user discussions all seem to refer to previous versions, because their suggestions don't seem to work for me. And I'm really learning to despise Windows 7. If they call this the best Windows yet, those Microsoft people are keeping their bar quite low to allow for even better OSs in the future.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why do companies try to fool us?

I made a purchase online on an online company that seems to partner with bizrate for customer surveys. If you fill the survey, you automatically enter to win $25 on a daily drawing. Because I like to give feedback, I decided to enter all the data. At the end of the survey you are asked to provide your name and email address for the $25 drawing with the following options:

Yes. Enter me to win in the daily cash giveaway and send me bizrate's money saving newsletters!
No Thanks. - but, still enter me in the daily cash giveaway.

The boldface is actually the same they provide on their page. If you only read that you conclude that if you check the first one you will enter to win the prize, while if you check the second one you are forfeiting the option of entering to win $25. But when you read the whole phrase you see that actually the first one you are entering the drawing and signing up for their spam, while the second one you are still entering the drawing and not signing up for their email.

It's so dirty that makes me not want to buy at that company again. I know it's not their fault for this, but it just ruined my complete shopping experience.

But the bad quality of bizrate doesn't end there! After you enter it all it gives you your satisfaction rate compared to the average:

Do you see the problem there? Quite puzzling.

(by the way, "puzzling" seems to be my newest favorite word right now)

But just to end on a positive note, after one month wait I finally received my first printed board shipped from Bangkok through Hong Kong, from an Australian company. It looks exactly how I designed it and the components seem to fit as expected. Now I just need to have courage and do my first surface soldering of a component that requires a magnifying glass to see if it's in the right position (think of a 3mm x 3mm component). So it's going to be lots of fun! I ordered 4 boards so that I could make mistakes and I received 9! I can make lots of mistakes now!