General Ramblings comments edit

I, like most of you, get a lot of email. We live in an email-centric culture. I don’t mind it so much. It just seems like some folks still “don’t get it.” I’ve got some email pet peeves, I’m sure you do, too. Here are some of mine:

Subject-Line-Only Email with Long Subject

If you have a quick thing to tell people, it’s convenient to just stick the message in the subject line.

Out to lunch, back in 15 <EOM>

One less thing to open, right? That’s helpful… except when your subject line isn’t really quick.

I’m going to be late to work because I had a flat tire while I was taking my daughter to school so I’m going to the tire place to get it fixed. In by 9:30 <EOM>

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Nice shootin’, Tex. That’s not a subject-line-only email. That’s a full, put-the-message-in-the-message-body email. I have to actually scroll the subject line in the tiny Outlook subject line area to see all of that. Not helpful.

Forward Upon Forward Upon Forward

Getting jokes in the mail is de rigueur for email. It’d be nice to just get the joke, though, and not see the 350-forward-long chain of headers tracing the joke back to 1997 when it first started. It’s also nice to see the joke just one time in the email, not 17 copies of the joke as people got tired of scrolling through the headers to get there so they copied the whole thing up to the top. Again.

Here are some helpful steps for forwarding a joke:

Stop for a minute. Decide if it’s really actually funny enough to bother forwarding in the first place.

You didn’t actually stop to think, you just clicked the button. Really, this time, stop for a second. If you didn’t laugh out loud - actually laugh out loud, not just “LOL” - it’s not good enough, so don’t forward it.

After hitting the forward button, wait before hitting “Send.” You’re not done.

Delete all of the stupid headers that show up above the joke. That includes:

  • The “Forwarded Message” garbage with all of the email addresses of past recipients.
  • The “Hey, I saw this and thought it was great!” commentary inserted by previous recipients.
  • All of the email signatures including the ones saying something about how this is a confidential email and you shouldn’t be forwarding it.
  • Anything below the joke that isn’t the joke or may be duplicate copies of the joke.

Once the only thing remaining in that email is the joke, and only one copy of the joke, fine, go ahead and send it.

Giant Video File Attachments

I’m not sure about the rest of you, but even if it’s the funniest thing in the world, when someone sends me a 10MB video file through email it goes straight to the trash. I’m really not interested in downloading it, saving it somewhere, firing up a media player to watch three minutes of a kid hitting his dad in the nuts with a wiffle ball bat.

We have YouTube nowadays to host these things. Do a search for whatever it is you’re going to forward. It’s probably on there. If it’s not already on YouTube, get a free account on YouTube and post the video. Send me a link to the video, not the whole video file.

Broken Embedded Images

If you’re forwarding an email with a ton of embedded images, make sure they’re going to come through. This is sort of a tricky thing because some mail programs don’t keep them from forward to forward, in which case the recipient gets an email that has a bunch of text that’s supposed to be interspersed with humorous images but really just reads like a monkey with ADHD.

Check out these hilarious animals!

<broken image>

Mom loves to hold her babies!

<broken image>

Riding a bike!

<broken image>

Oh, no, watch out for that banana!

<broken image>

Maybe try forwarding it to yourself - really - before sending it to everyone in your address book. A dry run doesn’t cost you anything.

Check Your Facts

There are a lot of rumors out there that sound funny or cool and they compel you, almost like “the power of Christ compels you,” to click that forward button.


Take a quick visit to Snopes, where they can dispel almost any internet rumor and include proof about whether it’s true or not.

Do not assume that other people will check your facts for you. They, your friends and other address book contacts, are assuming that you actually know what you’re talking about. You’re a smart person, why would you steer them wrong?

They’re going to visit some dinner party at the governor’s house and bring this thing up about how the pope was abducted by aliens or whatever, and the people there who could make or break their career are going to look at them like they’re complete morons because those people at the dinner party check their facts.

I’m Sure There’s More…

… but I’ll leave it at that for now. I mean, I could also go off on a diatribe about poor grammar and spelling making emails nearly unreadable, but that’s more a general written communication issue than email-specific.

What are your email pet peeves?

media, windows comments edit

Back in June 2009 I picked up a copy of PerfectDisk for Windows Home Server as a solution for defragmenting the system. At the time I hadn’t expanded things too far storage-wise, but since then I’ve increased my storage capacity to nearly 8TB.

Between June and December 2009, I noticed I would get reasonably frequent (roughly weekly) health warnings on my system drive. Running a “repair” on the drive would return things to normal. I prepared myself for it to fail, researching how to recover, replace the system disk, etc. In the meantime, I decided to stop running PerfectDisk on it since the system drive never really got any more fragmented than it already was. Why strain a failing drive, right?

Stopping PerfectDisk on my system drive stopped the health warnings from showing up. It’s been several months (maybe four) since I stopped running PD on that drive and I’ve not seen a single health warning. Failing drive… or PerfectDisk? Before you answer, let me finish the story.

Toward the latter half of the year, a couple of months into my PerfectDisk usage, I noticed that things would lock up on the system occasionally such that you couldn’t access the Windows Home Server console, you couldn’t connect to the Remote Desktop, and you couldn’t access any file shares. You had to power down hard and reboot to get things responding again. Looking in the event logs, I saw what looked like hardware issues:

Source: disk Error: The device, \Device\Harddisk5, is not ready for access yet.

Source: mv61xx Error: The device, \Device\Scsi\mv61xx1, did not respond within the timeout period.

Sounds hardware-ish to me, and that worries me. It always seemed to happen when I was running a scheduled task that backed up some data to another computer on my network (so there was a lot of disk I/O) and the PerfectDisk full defrag was running at the same time. On a hunch, on December 27, 2009, I stopped PerfectDisk from running on my system by disabling all of the jobs.

Windows Home Server started running without a single disk or mv61xx error. As part of my recent storage upgrade issue (where I got an incompatible drive) I ended up running extended diagnostics (both “chkdsk /x /r” and Western Digital disk diagnostics) on all of the drives in the system with no errors detected. Again, no errors - all the way through to yesterday, over a month later.

Yesterday I re-enabled PerfectDisk and set it to run a full defrag. Around 30 minutes into the full defrag, I decided to sync my iPod and all of my music is on the Windows Home Server.


Looking in the error log - same errors as before from “disk” and “mv61xx.”

Since I was able to run a bunch of diagnostics on the disks with no issues, I have a rough time thinking it’s a hardware problem. I might buy that there’s a driver issue and PerfectDisk brings it out by doing so much disk I/O so fast or something, but I don’t have any evidence to back it up. I did notice that when I see these errors, they seem to be related to the disks in my eSATA port multiplier, so maybe something is going on there. Again, I can cruise along for months with no issues, streaming videos, streaming music, sharing files, etc., until I run PerfectDisk, so I have a rough time thinking there’s no connection at all.

I’m currently working through this with PerfectDisk support, but so far they are calling “hardware issue” claiming they “use the Microsoft-provided defrag APIs.” I’m curious if the defrag APIs don’t quite work the same for Windows Home Server and/or if they don’t work nicely with my eSATA setup.

I’ll update this post if I find out anything new. Until then, I’ve got PerfectDisk disabled and I’m thinking, worst-case-scenario, I’m out the $40 I paid for the license.

UPDATE 6/16/2010: It appears that the WD Green drives I was using were not performing well. Removing them from the system allowed PerfectDisk to function properly.

downloads, vs, coderush comments edit

It’s been almost a year, but I’ve finally got the new CR_Documentor out the door. Several bug fixes and a couple of new features including:

  • Ability to “pause” rendering - “pause” the preview window and navigate around without having it update. Helpful if you’re using the documentation preview as a reference while developing.
  • Assignable shortcut actions - set up shortcuts for many of the actions previously only available in the context menu like “convert selection to XML doc comment” or “collapse all XML documentation blocks.”

Still free - head over to check out the release notes and see all the changes or just grab the latest now.

process comments edit

I just had an interesting [to me] interaction on Twitter that got me thinking:

Workaround... fix... tomato tomahto... same

Ignoring the original issue - that iTunes cover flow doesn’t handle similarly named albums properly - the “workaround… fix… same same” thing got me.

To a person who doesn’t develop software, I bet a workaround and a fix are the same thing. To people who develop software, they’re very different, and the distinction is important.

What’s the difference?

A workaround means a problem has been identified, there’s no official solution for it, but if you do some sort of temporary change on your end you can get things to function within reason. It may not be 100% correct behavior, but it’ll get you past the problem - in a way, you need to change your expectations to accept a workaround as a solution. In this case, the workaround would be for me to modify the metadata on all of my music to “fool” iTunes into behaving correctly. The important bit here is that the change is applied to how you use the product, not the product proper. The problem in the product still exists and the use of a workaround is expected to be temporary.

A fix means the problem has been officially solved so, once applied, the expected behavior will be the actual behavior. In this case, if the issue was fixed then I wouldn’t have to change the metadata on any of my songs - the iTunes cover flow would work properly. The important bit here is that the change is applied to the product proper. The problem in the product no longer exists because it’s actually been fixed.

This doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, but from a language precision standpoint (particularly for a software developer), it’s huge. If someone files a defect on one of my products and I provide a workaround, I’m still expected to fix it.

(Note that this is no reflection on Alex, who’s a smart guy and friend of mine. It just got me thinking, is all.)