Read Jason's post about Stat(CVS|SVN) if you care about repository analysis

My good friend Jason, one of the two talented developers that form micro-ISV LavaBlast Software, just put up a post about exciting happenings in the StatCVS and StatSVN world. Although I'm no longer really involved with those projects, I'm happy to see these developments, and want to give a kudos to guys like Jason Kealey and Benoit Xhenseval and all their collaborators for all the great effort they've put in.

As for myself, I'll be involved in more SVN-related tooling projects in the coming months, but I can't talk about that just now... :)

I need to reply to Jason's conclusion about coming back to Java development, though, especially the note about explicitly creating Integer objects:

"Personally, I enjoy loading up a recent version of Eclipse and working in Java once in a while because it helps me observe the best in both worlds. I much prefer coding in C# because of the easier string manipulation and the fact that everything is an object so you don't have to explicitly create an Integer object from your int to insert it into a collection. However, when working in VS.NET, I dearly miss the automatic incremental compilation feature that Eclipse runs when you save a file."

If it's been a little while since you've looked at Java, know that J2SE 1.5 brought a lot of great improvements especially in the Concurrent and Collections namespaces, as well as new language features. One such usability improvement is known as autoboxing, which means basic numeric types like int or float are automatically "boxed" into their object containers (Integer, Float, etc.) when required, like when adding an element to a collection, and "unboxed" when the native type is required. Just thought you'd like to know, Jason ;)

[It goes without saying that you should always be mindful of the performance impact of creating a bunch of temporary objects like this! Operations on Integers are always going to be slow-ish because they're immutable, and new objects are created for every value you use.]


Watch Out For Boingo Wireless in Airports (scam alert?)

Be very, very careful with Boingo Wireless hotspots.

On a recent trip from Madrid to Ottawa, I had a 6-hour layover in Newark Liberty Airport (EWR). I decided to go ahead and pay $7.95 USD for a 24-hour access pass on Boingo Wireless so I could catch up on news and mail, while passing the time. I didn't want to subscribe to anything (I'm not a frequent-flier, I just happened to want access that day), so I bought a day pass:


Here's what it says:

"Don't travel much? Get a Boingo AsYouGo account for just $7.95 per Connect Day for locations within the U.S. & Canada and $9.95 internationally. A Connect Day includes unlimited access in any location for 24 hours. No monthly fees apply."

I used the pass I bought on March 24th, 2 hours 35 minutes in Newark (EWR) and then 5 minutes in Ottawa (YOW) while waiting for checked luggage to arrive (email addict!). Note that the plan description says "in any location", not "in any single location". Imagine my surprise when I found two charges on my credit card bill: one on March 24th (expected), and another one two days later on March 26th! I called customer service, and they refused to reverse the second charge, informing me that it was incurred when I logged in for a second time in another airport.

I've reviewed the user agreement at [https://signup.boingo.com/signup/DisplayBCA.app], especially Section 3, "Locations and usage", and at time of this writing, it doesn't appear to me to contain any language restricting usage of a day pass to a single location, or any warning that logging in from a second location during the same 24 hour period will result in a new charge. I've since written to their customer service to explain the situation and request a refund of that second charge. I'll update this post when I hear back from them.

UPDATE: Sounds like it was simply a software glitch! I've been refunded.


Metro Madrid: You Fail at the Internet

Exhibit A: Line 2 is closed between Banco Espana and Opera.

OK, no big deal, I heard about some sort of closure in the paper, but before I go out I want to look up which stations are closed, and what the current status of the line is. Should be some sort of notice on the website, right?

Exhibit B: Metro Madrid's landing page, with current news items (March 23rd, 2 days after the line was partially shut down)


You fail at the Internet.


User-Hostile Design

This post is in the spirit of this fun one. I spent two nights in a hotel in beautiful Malaga (ES), and was confronted with these 'interesting' controls:

Here's the equipment:


Both rotating knobs have a small unmarked button on them, which can be pushed in, then comes back out by itself immediately. I was not able to figure out what either of those buttons did.

The left knob is marked with temperatures from 20C to 50C, so purportedly controls temperature, but there's no mark anywhere around it to act as a pointer, letting the user know which temperature is selected. Not that it matters much, I've tried spinning it in both directions, with and without holding the button, and never felt the temperature change from "warmish". It spins much more easily in one direction than the other, leading me to believe the direction with the most resistance must be doing something.

The right knob selects the flow and function (showerhead, telephone-style showerhead, bathtub spigot, those 3 body jets on top, and the 4 jets below those [which I never managed to turn on]), by turning in one direction, which you can do if the flow is on high. Keep turning (harder) when the flow is on high and it will switch functions (yes, think about it). The functions are marked 'T', 'C', 'C', 'L', 'E' (how clear!), I don't know in which language those letters might stand for something. The button apparently does nothing. Since switching functions can only happen by spinning one way, if you miss the one you wanted, you have to go through the whole array once more, spraying water out of every one of those holes.



Must we really drive so fast on a narrow mountain road?

You know those stories you keep seeing filed under "miscellaneous" with titles like "35 tourists plunged to their deaths in some other country blablabla"?

Well now I get it. Took a bus ride in Spain - the roads are super narrow and winding, there's only a few feet between the road and certain death, and the driver is treating his bus like it's a sports car. I had white knuckles the first thirty minutes until I got desensitized to it.


Best Blog I've Found This Year (So Far...)


The Odd Numbers blog by Zubin Jelveh. I find it similar in style to the winning formula of Freakonomics: a collection of tidbits of economic commentary about a variety of subjects, and the sometimes unexpected incentives that drive everyday trends. It's a bit American-centric, but still highly entertaining and informative. I just lost the last three hours reading the archives, so subscribe now, you'll thank me later!