Haiti People Finder: Technology in Chaos

Haitian earthquake disaster. This simple code allows you to have a I’m am Lost I am Found kind of solution to any website (though it is acting up a bit at the moment). Here is the code:

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Some other interesting tech bits today: Haitian Twitter information. CrisisCamp, using technology to help those in need, are meeting in many US cities.]]>

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How to find an elderly Chinese woman in Chinatown.

“She’s coming in on the 12:30 bus to Chinatown” the wife said.

“Ok, where does it drop off?” I reply.

“I don’t know. Look it up”.

“There are like 5 different Chinatown buses with 5 different stops.”

“I’ll find out the name of the bus, ok.”

“Ok, so what does she look like?”

“She’s Chinese”.

“Great, a Chinese woman in Chinatown. That’ll be easy. What does she look like?”

“I don’t know.”

“Ok, what’s her name?”

“Ms. Yang”

“Ok, so I have to find a woman named Ms. Yang somewhere in Chinatown. Great. That narrows it down, not”

“She’s wearing a red coat”

“A Ms. Yang in a red coat. Ok. Again, not much help. What’s her first name?”

“I don’t know. She’s elderly though, that might help.”

“Ok, an elderly Chinese woman named Ms. Yang arriving on some random Chinatown bus today. I have to find her.”

“Oh, she’s carrying a sword.”

“Um, what?”

“A sword, for her Tai Chi practice. She has a sword.”

“So, an elderly Chinese woman in a red coat named Ms. Yang and carrying a sword in Chinatown. That I think I can find”

“Told you it wouldn’t be that hard.”

“What if I get the wrong elderly Chinese woman in a red coat carrying a sword named Ms. Yang. Not sure I want some random weapons wielding old lady to be our children’s nanny.”

“Mary Poppins had an umbrella. Ms. Yang has a sword. Same thing, different culture.”

Life is pretty strange.


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Silly MYSQL limit examples

This is a common example for mysql limits. I think it is even in the official documentation (which is repeated all over the net).

SELECT * FROM `your_table` LIMIT 5, 5

This will show records 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10

Why silly? Because is it the first 5 or the second 5 that is the place you start, and is it the first five or the second five that is the number of rows to show? Yes, I know the answer, but for newbies they just stare and this and say ‘great, but why’. An example of that would be better would be:

SELECT * FROM `your_table` LIMIT 15, 4

This will show records 16, 17, 18, 19.

This gives a user a chance to think backward, apply a little math if the direct explanation is not present. Sometimes the guys who write these manuals aren’t thinking like a person who actually needs the manual for help.


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My Apple repair story morphs into the absurd.

Yea, it just gets better.

So I got fed up with my local retail and decided to go above their heads to get an answer. I called the 800 customer support number, who called the manager of the store, who called the chief genius in and they got things moving quite quickly. Apologies up and down, and a $50 gift card. Quite a nice response to what has been a pretty miserable event. They also said ‘we feel it is stable now and you can come pick it up this afternoon’ so I ran to the store, talked to the nice senior Genius (who took over my case) and he said it was fine and I should call him personally if there are any more problems.

The store opens at 10. I’ll be calling at 10:01.

I was playing with the machine last night and just had to laugh. Yes, the machine is stable, but it is running 10.5, the operating system from about a year ago, not 10.5.5, the upgrade that had sent my computer into a tizzy. The whole reason I took the machine in for repairs was difficulty in the upgrade from 10.5.4. to 10.5.5, and Apple’s store just erased my disk, reinstalled 10.5 and pronounced my machine ‘ready’. (For the record, I had 10.5 stable the day before I took it into them, even writing out on my notes ‘10.5 works, but 10.5.5 is having the problems).

Oh this will be a fun call to make. Basically a week spent to get me back to where I was a week ago.


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When the Mac Genius isn't one.


Tomorrow will be day 14 of my Mac Pro saga. It started with blue screens of death and bad memory and has expanded into bad hard drives and a ridiculous amount of ‘we’re about to call you’ replies from the Mac Geniuses.

What really is bugging me, beside the fact that at this point, we’re talking a clean install, start over (i.e. something anyone with the original software disks can do) is the fact that every time I call to check the status I get a five minute hold while they debate which genius will take my call and then a response ‘we have just one more thing to do and we’ll call you right back’. Those calls never come.

* They didn’t come Monday, when the machine was first promised to be done (after being ‘fixed’ the week before and not really working).

* They didn’t come on Wednesday, when I called and asked ‘could I just come pick it up tonight’.

* They didn’t come on Thursday, when the staff told me it just had to check one more thing and would ready in the morning.

* They didn’t come on Saturday, despite the plea ‘he just went to get some lunch and will call you as soon as he gets back’.

So now I’m stuck. It’s been two weeks since the blue screens and quite frankly, my faith in the Mac Geniuses is starting to falter. I think, in part, the Apple stores have seen the quality level of their senior staff get somewhat diluted. When they first opened, you would go into say Tysons and get some guy who had 20 years of experience with Macs. Now you get a 20 year old kid who simply follows the established procedure check list (this diagnostic, that diagnostic, etc).

Anyway, time to dial them again and maybe this time I’ll just stay on hold until I actually get to talk to someone.

UPDATE: The guy is at lunch. Of course the store just opened 15 minutes ago. Yeah right.


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