My (Im)perfect Cousin?

in which we start to worry about the source of our inspiration
Mona Lisa Vito: So what’s your problem?
Vinny Gambini: My problem is, I wanted to win my first case without any help from anybody.
Lisa: Well, I guess that plan’s moot.
Vinny: Yeah.
Lisa: You know, this could be a sign of things to come. You win all your cases, but with somebody else’s help. Right? You win case, after case, – and then afterwards, you have to go up somebody and you have to say- “thank you“! Oh my God, what a fuckin’ nightmare!

It is one of the all-time great movies, and netted Marisa Tomei an Oscar in the process. Yes it is. It really is1.

Not only that, but My Cousin Vinny2 throws up parallels in real life all the time. Yes it does. It really does3.

Why only recently, I was puzzling over the best (or least worst) way to implement a particularly nonsensical requirement for an intransigent client. After summarising the various unpalatable options in an email, a reply arrived from a generally unproductive source. The message content made it obvious that he’d somewhat missed the point but the conclusion he drew from that misunderstanding triggered a new thought process that gave us a new, even less, er, worser solution to our problem.

Sadly, my unwitting muse has moved on now, but he left his mark for all time4 on our latest product. I suppose he should also take partial credit for the creation of a hitherto unknown development methodology: Powerpoint-Driven Development, but that’s a story for another day.

1 All right, IMHO
2 See also My Cousin Vinny At Work, application of quotes therefrom
4 Or at least until we have a better idea and change the whole damn thing

Ghosts in the Machines

in which we consider the death of Social Networking? How Seasonal…

The world is Socially Networked these days, or at least a seriously chunky proportion of the interwebular world is. I’ll admit to being present (to a greater, or more likely lesser extent) on Facebook, Friends Reunited, Twitter, LiveJournal and to having at least registered on a good few others.

Beyond those, there are places like WordPress, Stackoverflow (and sundry other StackExchange sites), Blogger, Opera, Google, Yahoo! etc etc ad nauseam. You’re reading this so it’s likely that you’re aware of most, if not all of this stuff.

As well as grumpy, I’m also old. Well, by the dictionary I appear to be in the first blush of middle-age, but when you reach the stage in life when all your relatives from the previous generation have died and your peers are starting to shuffle off this mortal coil then you’re at least beginning to be aware – uncomfortably so – of mortality.

So right now I’m all over the Internet. But in fifty years it’s statistically almost certain that I won’t be actively contributing any more.

People die.

More pertinently to my musings here, people on Facebook die. Of the ten countries with the highest estimated Facebook populations, assuming their age distributions are similar to the general population (obviously not, but stay with me) and that mortality rates as per the 2009 CIA World Factbook can be applied, then we get this:

Country FB Pop (m) Deaths/K FB deaths
USA 145.3 8.38 1,217,614
Indonesia 31.4 6.26 196,564
UK 28.8 10.02 288,576
Turkey 23.8 6.10 145,180
France 20.3 8.56 173,768
Philippines 18.8 5.10 95,880
Mexico 17.8 4.80 85,440
Italy 17.6 10.72 188,672
Canada 17.4 7.74 134,676
India 16.5 6.23 102,795
TOTAL 2,629,165

..or about 2.6 million Facebook users dying each year. Obviously the estimate may be a little low, there are only ten countries represented for one thing. What are you going to do when all your friends are dead?

Add in the all the other sites and we’re looking at a small-to-medium sized country-worth of “ghost” accounts, persisting – and inviting interaction, even.

I’m not offering any solutions – heck, I’m not even suggesting that this is even a Bad Thing – perhaps it’s as close to life after death as we’ll ever get. I just keep extrapolating to some inflection point where half the content on the Internet was written by people who are now dead.

So if I stop posting here, is it because I’m bored, out of things to write about or something more … terminal? And if the latter, how will you know?

The Hard Way

(stackoverflow rep: 7284, Project Euler 83/252 complete)

My main work PC was upgraded to IE7 yesterday. That’s one less IE6-infected machine to worry about. Unrelated to that (I suppose) is that the Aventail VPN product that I have to use each day decided it wanted to upgrade. I’m still trying to figure out how to make that work on IE7 but fortunately I also have an older machine that seems to have been immune to the upgrade, so I switched to that.

After some back-and-forth, I saw the happy news that this was happening:

All going acording to plan?

All going according to plan?

While this was cogitating, a message popped up, partially obscured by the progress dialog. So I moved it. The dialog, that is, not the message. And I saw this:


Dude, where's my progress bar?

How confused must the developer of this part of the installer have been to have built the progress bar as an entirely separate window? And how much more difficult must it have been to do it that way? I amused myself dragging the main dialog all over my desktop while the progress bar stayed resolutely where it was until the install completed.