Software I Cannot Stand

  1. MSN Messenger: This deserves its own top 3 list of my favorite misfeatures.

    1. Automatically logging you in when it detects a network connection: This misfeature is particularly irritating because it means that if I'm working on my main machine and I plug in my laptop to charge it then I get logged of my main machine because my laptop connects to the wireless network.

      This often means that friends and coworkers think I'm online then try to chat with me only to be "ignored" when in truth I'm not even using my laptop.

      Why don't I just log off MSN Messenger? This leads to favorite misfeature number 2.

    2. MSN Messenger tied to Outlook and Outlook Express: Whenever you fire up Outlook to check your email or Outlook Express to check newsgroups, MSN Messenger launches as well.

      Even worse, is that it refuses to close unless you shutdown Outlook or Outlook Express. This means while I'm checking my email or reading newsgroups I also seem available for chat to my friends and coworkers who are online even though I just wanted to check my email/newsgroups in a quick 5 minutes.

      Then you might ask, why not just have MSN Messenger launch in invisible mode like you do with ICQ and Yahoo Messenger. That is misfeature number 3.

    3. Lack of Invisible Mode: Most modern instant messenging applications have an "invisible" mode. In this mode, you can see people who are online but they can't tell you are online. This is useful when you are at work and don't have time to chat with friends but want to quicky IM witha coworker or two. This also useful in dozens of other ways including making the first two misfeatures seem not as bad if this feature existed.

  2. Brute Force: After about three weeks of playing this game I've decided that it isn't actually a bad game. It just didn't meet my expectations which may have been unusually high due to prior experiences with Halo and the fact that the ads for the game I saw on TV don't actually show in-game graphics but instead the full motion video (FMV) cut scenes.

    After getting over those issues the game is actually fun in its own way. Walking around with Tex and bucking with two chain guns is actually kinda sweet as is sniping fools with Flint. I guess Brute Force doesn't actually fall into my "Software I Can't Stand" category any more.


James Robertson on the NEcho syndication format

James Robertson wrote

"I've posted a few times now ( try this site search) - as you can see, I'm skeptical about the motivations, and cynical about the benefits. Had they stuck to:

  • Providing a standard posting format

  • Coming up with a best practices document for RSS

we might have seen something useful. Instead, what we have now is a format that has (other than a couple of pointless tags, like subtitle and contributors) all the functionality of RSS 0.91. Soon, this effort will spawn modules that look astonishingly like RSS modules, but with different tag names.

Think about this from two standpoints - one, the end user of a news aggregator. Does necho provide said user any benefit over RSS? The sad truth is, no, it doesn't. In fact, it provides a user experience that looks a lot like an RSS 0.91 feed. Two, how does this affect aggregator authors? It's another format (and, if I'm correct, another set of modules) to support. Does it relieve us of the burden of supporting RSS? No, it doesn't. Does it gives us, as aggregator authors, any information we currently don't have that we could make use of for the end user? No, it doesn't. So, as Mark Bernstein so eloquently put it, this is an unfunded mandate for developers."


Understanding XML Namespaces

Dave Winer has a post about adding support for the nascent Necho subscription format to Radio where he states
Feedback for designers

"feed" is not a very unique name, and if another format were to come along with the same top level element we would not be able to write a format driver for it. Our architecture keys off the top-level element. I suggest changing the top-level element to indicate the format, and also add a version number so that aggregators can have an idea of what spec the content provider is using. I imagine Radio is not the only aggregator that would like to key off the name of the top-level element.
It's 2003, that means the W3C's Namespaces in XML recommendation solved this problem 4 years ago. It is unfortunate that Dave Winer isn't aware of such recent developments in the XML world but luckily help is at hand. I'll be sure to send him a link to James Clark's excellent explanation of the basics of how XML namespaces work or my more in-depth exploration of XML namespaces placing it in context with XPath and XSLT.

His advise on using a version attribute should be well heeded by the Necho folks though. The lack of a version attribute on some XML formats or even worse attempts to "version using XML namespaces" can cause much pain for downstream processors of such XML documents in future revisions of the format.


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Disclaimer: The above comments do not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer. They are solely my opinion.