H4X0R again

I never really became a hacker, I used to hang out with some people in college that knew how to get around some places but were mostly not really dangerous or malicious. However, recently I have been wanting to just start all over again and just take down sites… which ones, the ones that take over my browser.

One of the most annoying things that a website can do is resize my window. I know I can prevent it, I know its not the end of the world, but I dislike it more than being bombarded with adds or music.

I am not sure why they are lazy enough to not do something that works with all resolutions, but even if they do want to do that then launch another browser window. Why resize my current browser window and make me to through extra clicks just to get my interface back to normal?

Most websites are designed to transmit some kind of message, and the ones that are advertising or selling a product are the biggest offenders. Why would I ever want to buy a product from a company that is already making decisions for me on how to set my home computer resolution?

So what are some of your web annoyances?

Stats Whore

Blog's Stats

Should you be impressed by those numbers? I think not. I feel that 90% of them are spiders crawling the web. I really don’t think that stats mean much, at least not to me because I don’t try to make money of my blog (even though I do use google adsense and amazon links sometimes) and I do this blogging for totally selfish reasons. Sure it has been kind of cool to have a higher google page rank than most of my employers, but in reality it does not do all that much for me.

I have talked about the subject of why I blog before, but it boils down to two reasons.

Blogging is way better than therapy and I use it to practice my writing in English.

Recently Faith wrote a pretty good post, fueled partly by XO asking why any of us bothers. While the nicest side effect of the blogging world has been the friends I have made, one actually staying with us this weekend, I bother because in the back of my head I think I am doing something good. I hope I am sparking some people to look at a different point of view that their own.

When I started blogging I had no clue that it would actually get as many visits as it started to get. I think by my second year blogging I had become a total stats whore. I would go to other sites just fishing for more readers. Then life kind of made blogging take a different direction and it became my only outlet. I forgot about stats completely, I did not think anyone would care for vague posts that talked about almost nothing.

Moving to KC changed all of that. I had the chance to begin a new life and a lot of changes came about. Blogging was once again as fun as it used to be when I started. However, I never picked up the whole stats whore ways. I really don’t have the time, I barely get posts in when I want to… and have way too many (57 to be exact) half written and saved for another day.

If you want to be impressed by stats check out TKC. While Faith even put it simply as posting half naked woman and news links will get you there, I disagree. Even though I DO NOT share his views on many topics and he has ticked me off more than a couple of times with his borderline personal attacks (alas never on me) I do give him the credit that his writing style and good sources is what put him on the top of list of most visited sites in Kansas City. Anyone that is a stats whore would be jealous of the numbers of hits he gets. I just want to get to meet him some day, hopefully at one of our meet ups… I think Chimpo and I can do crowd control if things get out of hand. We almost thought he had shown up unannounced to our last meet up, but it was just a shy Mexican dude that sat at the bar.

Raiding and motorcycle riding

From WiKiPedia

A raid is a type of mission in a video game, where the objective is to use a very large number of people, relative to a normal team size set by the game, to defeat a boss.

I have spent the last three months plaing WoW (World of Warcraft) and I have to say that it is the most complete game that I have ever played. It has all the elements of the best RPG’s that the Finally Fantasy Series introduced to game, the progression mechanics that make everyone want to keep going and the social and team aspect of your best war shooter. A lot of negative things can be said about the game, about how it could suck your free time dry, but the pay off to me is well worth the time and money I spend into it… it makes my stress go away.

That said, the thing I dislike about the game the most is some of the people that play it. Here is where the motorcycle riding part comes along.

I love motorcycles, but what was coolest of all was getting a group of 20+ people to ride together even if it was just to grab a cup of coffee a town or two away. Riding in a large group is one of the most exciting things because it takes tons of trust for you to ride right next to someone. You need a leader both in the front and the back of the pack. You also need great communication to transmit messages such as “gravel up ahead” by just using non verbal signals.

Bad groups in motorcycle riding cause accidents and potential serious injuries, even death. The same goes for doing a raid in a game. However, in a game you can reset the game and just come back tomorrow, in motorcycle riding might have to remember one night for the rest of your life as the moment when one of your friends lost his ability to walk.

I try to approach everything in life with respect. To me when someone is in a group and does not respect the rules (or does not even know what they are) shows lack of respect. While it is the responsibility of the group to tech such rules, it is also necesary for the person to have the willingness to learn and listen.

I am a level 60 now in the game, and soon I will be moving toward the maximum level which is 70 right now. Now we I have started to participate in groups where roles have to be followed. This week I experienced the two complete opposite experiences in the same raid. I could not help but compare it to my best and worse riding experiences.

The worse ride of my life was not even one where I got into an accident. During that doomed ride we actually had 3 riders go down out of a group of about 12. There was no mayor injuries except for one bike that kind of ended up beyond repair. My day ended when I separated from the group because one of the riders that went down was too shaken up to continue so I chose to just follow him home to make sure he was ok.

Lots went wrong that day and I might some day list everything that happened, but it was doomed because of bad leadership. The last point of this post will tell you why.

The horrible raid this week was not due to bad leadership, it was actually people not listening to the leadership. However the result was the same as that doomed ride. There was no fun, there was a lot of disappointment. An activity that is supposed to make you feel better should not become frustrating.

The best raid I have had so far (besides the ones that Wook uses one of his awesome characters to dominate the game.) was a place where you need 5 people of around my level to go in. We only had 4 and I was the lowest level, everyone else was around mid 60s. It is a hard thing to do (which I found out with a bad group) this instance without a healer. The computer monsters hit pretty hard and with a bad group you end up dead a lot. However, with this group of other 3 people and no healer we were able to clear the whole place and never had a total wipe.

The best ride of my life was a charity ride with CLSB. Riding with them is one of the things I miss the most. That day we had 40+ riders and had to go quite a ways. However we had no issues. Even stopped traffic in some places without a police escort to keep the whole group together. It was a nice thing to have that many people ride together such a long distance and keep a nice pace the whole time.

What I have learned from motorcycle riding groups is that pace is the most important thing. Your leader has to set a pace and the group most follow. Great leaders will always set a pace that the most inexperienced rider can follow safely. In the game it is the same thing, a pace needs to be set and it is the responsibility of the players to follow.

The moment you start going to fast and not checking to make sure others around you are doing with the pace, the experience stops being fun and it starts getting dangerous.

Teamwork

Not too long ago I saw a TV show about video games. It highlighted that new multi player games that allow a user to be part of a team with specific tasks helps build the teamwork mentality.

I started to think of my corporate world experience and the more and more I thought about my past experiences the more I saw that teamwork is often talked about but seldom really implemented.

We live in a very individualistic society, and no matter how much corporate America tries to sell us the idea that there is no “I in teamwork” we still don’t get what that really means.

At the first opportunity people try to make themselves look better, or when there is blame to be passed around the finger pointing begins. There is the exception of the person that for some reason likes to take the fall, but because of their strong character they get a get out of jail free card every single time.

I think the breeding ground for teamwork is sports, but this country has diverted from actual keeping score for kids to everyone is a winner. I think this further enhances the notion on every kid that they are the best and they have to fend for themselves.

Life can be cruel at times, as can work environments, but a good team behind you is what gets you through. In life it is your family and friends when they selflessly rally around you when you need them. In the corporate world when something goes wrong and the team does the best it can to make the project work.

Maybe multi player video games will help people understand that every role in a team is important and it is ok to just be good at one thing. Maybe sports at the little kids level will start keeping score again; Because in a society of only winners, everyone ends up being a loser.

The Nice Programmer

I dislike the fact that many people think that computer programmers are hermits that like to live in little cubicles under the fluorescent lights. What does not help is that there are plenty of them that do think that computer users are just the enemy trying to break down the precious system.

The reality is that programming is something that requires concentration. To truly solve a problem with good logic you need to use your brain power to make sense of the steps that have to be taken. It sometimes takes time and then peace to be able to translate the thought into actual code.

Some programmers are always coding in their heads. I have actually woken up in the middle of the night with the solution to a problem and if I have remote access I log in and either solve the problem or send an email to myself. Trying to remember the next day is kind of difficult. Some programmers like to walk while they are solving some logic issue in their head so to other it looks like they are in a completely different world. I don’t pace when I think, however I do listen to music a little too loud and the more input the more I am able to work out a problem, but I am not the norm.

I think that this is where the problem with communicating with the mythical creature the programmer is comes from. You see a dude walking down the hall that does not acknowledge the world around him as a rude person. I think both sides feed off each other and the disconnect just becomes greater and greater. I have seen it in several organizations.

One of the most frustrating things as a person is to be ignored. While users would probably think that they are ignored the most on the equation, programmers are also only approached when they are needed for something. Like Milton in Office Space, they are the lasts ones to get the piece of cake if they even get any.

I will never forget the day that a user had a problem at one of my previous employers and I showed up at her desk. She was a middle age woman that I later found out was actually married to a programmer. When I said hi to her and asked her for more details on what was wrong with her report she looked almost scared. She then said, a programmer never talks to us. I later found out who the worse offender was in our department who even refused to talk to the help desk people.

I cannot solve the problem for everyone but I did find out how to make it better, at least for me. Start communication with people on a regular basis. I am not talking about full on water cooler talks with people but just saying hello in the morning when you walk in the office. I have observed that most people do not do this, or don’t like it. A good morning goes a long way into making you look more personable, specially for a programmer.

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