How not to land a design job

I'm looking aroung my Linked in network vaguely looking for a graphic designer to work on a project I'm pitching for. Anyway one of my network knows someone who calls himself a designer. I go to his site only to find the front page Javascript resized my browser and has a Flash animation as the only content on the front page. Bing! You're no longer in the running buddy.

If anyone can recommend a good, reliable designer who knows standards and isn't addicted to superfluous Flash crap, get in touch. People with personal sites that behave as described above, don't waste my time.

ABC redesign looks good

The ABC launched their redesigned news site today. Poor timing as there was downtime around 13:00 on the day of a really big story but first impressions look good.

You can add a bunch of "tags" to a "My Tags" section, presumably stored as cookies. This means you can quickly and easily jump to those stories. The most useful feature of this is that the stories with a particular tag have an RSS feed. So you can subscribe for all stories truly local to you which is quite cool.

Video now seems to be served using Flash video, which is a massive improvement to the proprietary, not-very-cross-platform crap they used to use. At least it means Linux users will now find it as easy to watch stuff as YouTube.

Overall, quite impressed so far! Then again, they haven't turned on the ads yet.

J2ME Jabber client that doesn't suck?

Now that I can do GPRS at only mildly extortionate rates ($0.0058 per kb from Exetel, thanks to Graeme's tip) I've been playing with Jabber clients on my mobile. It can be kinda handy, and it's kinda cool. Problem is, all the clients I've found are either seriously crap or lilwannabebillgatesware.

So does anyone know of a Jabber client for J2ME (or native Symbian) that is free/libre and doesn't suck?

I also wonder if you can get one that gzip compresses the Jabber stream. The Jabber protocol is _incredibly_ verbose XML, which means it could cost quite a bit uncompressed but would be easily compressed.

Safari for Windows: that didn't last long

I just downloaded Safari, Apple's web browser, and installed it on the Windows machine here at work. It didn't stay on my hard drive long.

First problem is it doesn't support proxy servers. Presumably this is a beta "feature" which will be fixed soon. Second thing is it refuses to act in a Windows-ish way, instead having all the sizzle and CPU-burning features of OSX. Bollocks to that! If I wanted all that crap, I'd run OSX.

This is a pretty common thing for Apple to do. It's also the reason I don't have Quicktime installed. I can't stand applications that unilaterally decide to ignore all the UI standards of the host OS. Imagine how rabid the Apple fanbois would be if a Windows application didn't do things in an OSX-ish way?

Regardless, all I wanted to do is be able to test sites in Safari. It'll have to wait until proxies work.

A lesson on why you should use free software

Much of my work uses Skype for instant messaging and since the development is in completely the wrong timezone, I have to run it. This meant I installed it on my laptop at home. Recently though it's been crashing my entire machine. Full, hard lockup. Not sure what freaky stuff they're doing, but it's a good reminder to stick with free software.

Looks like I'm not the only one too.

Telstra could use existing infrastructure

Things are hotting up with the FTTN (fibre to the node, a technology that puts a fibre to the end of your street and uses high-speed copper for the rest) debate in Australia. It's quite worrying because Telstra's spin is all aimed at forcing the government to make a rash decision before the election. Such a decision would almost certainly re-entrench Telstra's monopoly.

Some are asking why we need FTTN. It promises amazingly fast speeds, and is a stepping stone to full FTTH (fibre to the home). That's all well and good, but there's nothing to say we really need it right now. In fact, a relic from the early 90s battle between Optus and Telstra could be used to demonstrate why we need FTTN speeds.

Running past my house are two cables for cable TV and data. The latest standards allow up to 160Mbit/s downstream and up to 120Mbit/s upstream on these cables. The architecture of this cable is that as bandwidth demands increase, they can add more capacity by running fibre closer and closer to homes.

So if Telstra really wants to push this agenda, why are the maximum speeds available through their cable only capable of 17Mbit/s down and 256kbit/s upstream? As always Telstra are huffing and puffing, but they could deliver FTTN and faster speeds to a fair number of consumers today!

This does not inspire confidence

Just tried to transfer some money from one of my bank accounts to the other using St George and got this message:
Your transaction may have been unsuccessful.
Please logout of Internet Banking and login again. Before making this transaction again, please view your transaction history to check if this payment or transfer was processed.
We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

That does not inspire confidence. Your transaction may have been unsuccessful. What kind of computer system can't be sure?

Agile: NOT!

Today's DailyWTF is The Great Pyramid of Agile which is really an attack on crappy analogies rather than agile methodologies. I don't have a lot of experience with agile development. I have a lot of experience with places that claim to use agile methodologies.

Just this week I turned down a second interview at a company that claimed to use agile. The thing that sent alarm bells ringing for me was that the only aspect of agile offered was "we do two week sprints". So what they're saying is they expect me to work 24 hours a day two weeks out of four, and still end up with a pile of crap.

The horror stories that are giving agile a bad name are all due to companies like this. They pick and choose the elements of agile that sound good: no documentation, no (up front, but they miss that bit too) design. All sounds good from a business perspective, and with the promise of it being a better end result and faster! Except that losing those bits needs to be balanced by other features: close iteration, self-documenting code, up-front tests, pair programming, actually doing testing.

So I'd love to see some agile programming where people are actually doing the whole process. XP sounds great, this new "lean" that's all the rage sounds nice, though once again the name is sucky and misleading.

What's really interesting about all this discussion on software methodologies is that we're talking about the meta of development. Realising that 90% of the problem is actually understanding what we're solving, getting a handle on what the customer is aiming to do. The take-home is that if you interview a programmer who shows no interest whatsoever in methodology, don't hire that programmer! Even if you use a crappy method of development, and most places too, having someone who's passionate about improvement can only be good!

I might go and talk to ThoughtWorks. Simon seems to enjoy working there and I've now met some of the people in the Sydney office. Might need to brush up on UML though.