New business idea

Posted on 10 April 2012 in Rants

So, here's the plan. We write an iPhone app. iPhone-only, no Android. It's a simple social network, adding friends and chatting and sharing photos and all that crap. The cool thing is, it monitors your location. If you ever spend more than 50% of one week outside Shoreditch in London, the East Village in New York, or SoMa in San Francisco, it kicks you out -- you can never log in again. Once a week, it asks you a question about post-1900 conceptual art or artisan food vendors in your area. If you get it wrong, it kicks you out. Every day you have to take a photo of yourself, and other users get to vote on your outfit/fixed-gear bike/ironic facial hair. If you get less than a 50% approval rating, it kicks you out. Finally, the app comes with a guarantee that if the company's ever bought by Facebook, 10% of the purchase price goes to its few remaining members.

Who's with me? What should we call it?

IT headhunters considered harmful

Posted on 7 January 2010 in Business of Software, Rants

I got an interesting call from a headhunter today; he knew that we were likely to start hiring software developers at Resolver Systems soon (keep an eye on our jobs page or drop me a line if you're interested) because he had helped someone who'd chosen to leave us to find their new job.

As I said, it was interesting. I admire his honesty if not his morals; while most such people will merely hint about things, this chap came straight out with it: "we're actively trying to poach people who work for you, and we'll stop doing it if you stop trying to recruit people on the open market and use us instead".

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Dear lazyweb: what is is about Linux and WPA?

Posted on 11 January 2008 in Eee, Gadgets, Linux, OLPC XO, Rants

I don't think I really have enough of a readership for this blog to get an answer to this, but... perhaps someone passing by will know. Why is WPA support invariably so bad in Linux-based OSes?

Three examples:

  1. Despite having been a Linux user since 1992, I held off on switching my primary laptop, an aging Fujitsu-Siemens machine, from Windows for many years because no distribution I could find supported WPA out of the box with any kind of user interface I was willing to spend the time learning. This is not because I'm lazy -- I'm willing to put in weeks to learn web server configuration details, and years to learn programming languages. These things are inherently difficult and cannot be reasonably simplified. But connecting to an encrypted wireless network? Sure, the underlying tech is as complex as it gets, but if Microsoft can make it easy to use then why did it take so long for anything usable to get into any Linux distro? Sigh. Well, anyway, I eventually tried out Ubuntu 7.10, Gutsy Gibbon, and was delighted to discover that its support was OK. Not as good as Windows XP's, but good enough for me to switch the old lappy over, which I did sometime last autumn, and have never regretted. So, standard defined in 2004 or so, decent support in mid-2007. Hmm.

  2. So along came my new Eee, just before Christmas, and for some reason I have difficulties connecting to my work or home networks. Why? Well, I banged my head against it for a while, and eventually discovered that there was a bug in the scripts used for WPA connections that meant it could not connect if you had a key with a space in it. A bit of digging around on the Eee Wiki helped me sort that one out, but seriously...

  3. Anyhow, I posted earlier on today that I'd not been able to connect my OLPC XO to my work or home networks. No prizes for guessing what the problem was... from the wiki (found via):

    WPA is not working from the User Interface in Build 650! Some OLPCs (including in the G1G1 program) cannot connect to wireless routers protected with the WPA protocol. Although the networks are visible from the OLPC, the stall when user enters a password.

    The first solution they suggest is to switch off WPA. Right. Sorry, but I'm not Bruce Schneier, and there's no way I'm switching to WEP. It's almost enough to send me into some kind of Fake Steve Jobsesque rant.

    Luckily, some kind soul has worked out a hack to work around the problem, so I'll try that. [UPDATE, posted from XO: it works!]

But seriously -- what is the problem? Linux is a great OS, but WPA support seems to be seriously messed up. It can't just be a driver problem, because both the XO and the Eee have OSes built for them by the hardware manufacturers. Does anyone out there know?

Patronising messages

Posted on 24 March 2007 in Oddities, Rants

A quick rant -- why is it that Microsoft's "genuine advantage validation tool" feels the need to "show me some of the many advantages of using genuine software" after it has determined that my copy of Windows is legitimate? Seriously, can anyone think of a case where that wouldn't piss users off? I hate to think what it says if it finds out that you're using a pirated copy.

When Resolver starts selling software over the web, I will add a checkbox at the end of the checkout process. It will appear only if the customer's IP address belongs to Microsoft or to one of certain entertainment companies, it will be checked by default, it will be in large, friendly letters, and it will read "tell me about some of the benefits of not using stolen credit cards to buy software online."