Archive for July, 2009

Giant leap lost in time

Monday, July 20th, 2009

What happened to the “giant leap for mankind”? When I was a kid, I thought we would be much more advanced in space exploration by now. I checked the Lunar Exploration Timeline… 40 years have gone by, and I see no obvious evolution from that amazing Apollo 11 feat.

I used to dream about space exploration, watching stuff on TV like Space 1999, Il etait une fois l’espace, and Star Trek.

Heck, I thought that, by 2010, we would have one or more space stations orbiting Earth, the Moon, and possibly other planets. I thought that by now, the Moon was already colonized, a center for space study and exploration. Frequent spaceships would go to and from the Moon and the space stations, taking people and resources from place to place. I thought that, by now, energy-autonomous rover robots had already been deployed in the most interesting planets and moons of our solar system. I thought that, by now, we would already have a cheaper way of getting to space (gauss launchers, space elevators, etc).

Was I wrong.

I guess space exploration has no big motivation to drive it. Since it seems we are alone in this solar system, and we still haven’t stupidly stripped Earth of it’s natural resources (although this is not that far off), we don’t actually *need* to go anywhere else.

And, I think, the most important thing: it has no return on investment (or does it?). If no profit can be made from an activity (read real money, not mankind evolution, Universe awareness, etc), nobody will seem to do it.

But I hope to see a great evolution in the comming 10-20 years!

Everybody’s home

Friday, July 17th, 2009

I’m baffled by this great documentary I say on TV last night, “HOME”. You should go see it, when you have some free time, it’s freely available on the internet (or, better yet, purchase it in high definition on Blueray). It talks about our collective home, planet Earth, and what we’ve done to our resources, nature and society in the past 60 years alone. The video footage is beautifull to behold. Although the ideias exposed are not pretty, they are definitely eye-opening.

If you think all this is nonsense, and that you alone cannot change the World, think about this: you are never alone. You have familly, friends, and/or co-workers. If you influence 5 people to think differently, those 5 people will influence 25 more, those will influence 125 more, those will influence 625, those will influence 3125, and so on.

I’m contributing already; my future house will be mostly powered by the sun.

It really is too late to be pessimist!

Software : How it should NOT be done

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

It’s impressive how some big name software developers still are so complaisant with utterly absurd limitations. This is a screen capture of the installation of a big industrial brand software for configuring their measuring hardware (fluid flow, level, temperature, etc).

“This will change your system permanently. While installing system components your computer may restart without warning.”

Now, there’s something to reassure a computer user. Come on, there has got to be a better way to build software! If that means breaking with Windows rules and traditions, so be it.

In my point of view, this is crippled software that cripples a computer. What it says is: “I’m irreversively modifying your computer system, as I grab hold to it, and scatter parts of my entity throughout my new domain. Oh, and I will shutdown and restart it as my whims dictate. You have no choice in any of this, for you have purchased my hardware, and I command. You obey.” This is beyond weird, it’s creepy.

I’m also a software developer. My software is built with user friendliness in mind, be it in installation, use, or removal.

* Install: just copy a file or folder wherever you want.
* Use: just run the executable file. The application is as intuitive as possible.
* Uninstall: just delete the original file or folder. No traces are left on your system.

As simple as that, and I use this method in all my apps. This works for the user and for the developer, because deploys are simple, *very* quick, and can be done by just about everyone.

Now that I think of it, this method is similar to what the majority of Mac applications use (even though they usually leave some (innocuous) preferences files behind).