J e r o e n ' s   w e b l o g

  • Yahoo customer care frustrations

    Why can't Yahoo customer care simply do what their name suggests? A couple of days ago, I sent an e-mail to Yahoo customer care asking about whether it's possible for me, as a resident of The Netherlands, to subscribe to a small business web hosting package. All I really wanted to know was whether it's a U.S.-only service or not, because I had read in some affiliate FAQ on their site that the web hosting packages are U.S.-only, while their general terms of service don't mention this at all. I was expecting to get a short reply stating that either the FAQ was incorrect or that they have some reason to only offer these plans to people in the U.S. The answer is actually pretty simple but I just wanted to avoid confusion in the future.

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  • Anyone up for annual software tax?

    I've been fairly critical of the Virtual Server 2005 R2 plans, mostly because I felt it to be unreasonable for current customers to have to invest in a new license just to be able to use their $999 Virtual Server 2005 Enterprise license effectively with Microsoft's own then current server platform. There have been some positive developments however, such as a substantial lowering of the price of Virtual Server (both editions have dropped 80%, the Standard went from $499 to $99 for instance) and the availability of updated additions to use with Server 2003 SP1 on the original edition of VS2005. Furthermore, participants in the Virtual Server 2005 R2 program have received a free Enterprise license of the final R2 release.

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  • Minimalist or Humane interfaces? Both ofcourse

    For some reason everybody has way more time on their hands to read blogs than I do, because whenever I feel like responding to a post from someone it turns out that it was written at least half a week ago and already has dozens of responses. Again here, concerning a recent post by Martin Fowler discussing humane interfaces. There are lots of responses, most of them listed at the bottom of his original posting. Trying to read through them I noticed that what I would consider the most important argument in the discussion is somehow present but not really discussed, so I decided to bring it up myself.

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  • Saving time with refactoring

    When I wrote about refactoring being free I mentioned only a typical situation where you have a (large) body of code and you want to modify it. This happens a lot, but refactoring is especially useful when you're enhancing small pieces of code that you just wrote, as in earlier the same day or somewhere last week. The point here being that the time you gain is not from the fact that you keep modifying your own code (which will always cost some time) but from the much greater amount of time you save from having a bigger chance that you're investing precious development time in the right features.

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  • Switching to e-books, sort of

    I've never been a fan of e-books. I don't have trouble reading large articles on the web though, or even entire chapters of books (usually example chapters provided by publishers) in Adobe Reader. It's not so much the reading on a monitor that I don't like, but more the idea that you buy a book, you read it and then you don't have a used slot on your bookshelf to show for it. But that's not all, I sometimes like to take a really good book with me when I have some travelling to do and I usually pick technical books for that. It's probably doable to read e-books on a PDA, but I don't use one and don't know if I'd enjoy reading from such a device. It's probably about perspective: if you don't associate books with your computer, then you simply don't want them to mix too much.

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  • Now all I need is a title snippet

    I have to admit, when I first saw the VS2005-integrated code snippets during the TechEd Europe 2004 (yes 2004) keynote, it sounded like the typical feature that I would never use. Well, to make a long story short, I've been using VC#2005 for a couple of days and it's already one of my favorite features!

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  • Doing it right means putting it left

    The first thing that hit me when firing up Visual Studio 2005 for the first time was that the solution explorer was docked on the right side of the screen. Funny thing is, it seems the same thing happened to Frans! His motivation of why the solution explorer should be docked on the left side of the screen is correct ofcourse, but while reading the comments one by Bruce Johnson made me laugh out loud, so I'll just paste it here:

    If you plan on keeping your Solution Explorer open, your suggestions make sense. On the other hand, I always keep mine collapsed, so I want it on the right side. Otherwise, when it expands, it covers the code that, as you wisely noted, sits mostly on the left.

    I'm guessing the decision as to the 'default' positioning was one made by committee. "If we collapse it by default, people won't know where it went to. But if we put it on the left, it makes the code jump around. Why don't we just put it on the right". Hence getting the worst of both worlds. ;)

    I remember noticing the default right-side docking when I first installed VS.NET 2003 so it's not a new decision. I remember seeing it on the left by default as well though. It appears to have something to do with the language selection you make when you first start it up: if you select VC++, you'll get the old left-side look from VC++6 (and before), but any .NET-language including C# will give you the VB6-type right docking position. Just goes to show that Microsoft is more concerned with keeping all those migrating VB-users happy than a bunch of those (always-whining anyway) C++ types :)

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  • Microsoft joins the web search API world

    Microsoft has released an API to use MSN Search at last. Instead of changing the license to their XML-formatted results, they've published a WSDL file for use with SOAP. I don't mind that at all though, I'm just happy I can finally use MSN Search output in my tools. The most important part of the license (for me as a developer anyway) is that every IP is allowed to retrieve 10k results per day for free, which is a much more elegant solution than Google's API key mechanism, where you have to get your application's users to register with Google and paste some key into a configuration screen or file. The 10k results are the same amount Google allows, both are dwarfed by Yahoo's 250k though.

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