Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fighting to make good software

To create a usable piece of software, you have to fight for every fix, every feature, every little accommodation that will get one more person up the curve. There are no shortcuts. Luck is involved, but you don't win by being lucky, it happens because you fought for every inch.
-- Dave Winer

I like this and try to live it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sales in Japan and the West

I get the impression that in the West, sales is all about closing the deal.

A salesman thinks his job is done when the deal is closed. A lot of Americans, in particular, can be such reality-distorted optimists that in my experience some of them act as if their commission is already in the bank from the point that it merely appears that the deal is going to close. When things fall through (as is increasingly common in these times) they are honestly surprised and shocked and angry.

In Japan, always a few degrees less flaky than America in most aspects, a salesman isn't as defined by the deals he's made and closed, so much as the maintenance of existing relationships. After a deal closes, his job begins in earnest.

Japanese clients seldom start out placing any kind of large order to a supplier or vendor they are using for the first time. They start out placing a small order and carefully observe the level of quality and service they are receiving. They are particularly finicky about the kind of customer support they get from the salesman, how responsive he is, how clear his explanation is, and his approach to dealing with errors or trouble. If they are satisfied they will progressively place larger and larger orders.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

CD/DVD drive keeps disappearing

I keep "losing" my CD/DVD drive on my new Dell.

Happens almost every day but not constantly. CDs don't get mounted, and if I look in My Computer the CD drive icon is gone. In the Device Manager too, the CD ROM device category is gone. Conversely, in the Hard Drives category some mystery item shows up, with a garbage character name.

Restarting seems to fix it. But still, WTF?

Called Dell Support, spoke to a lady named Kudo-san. We did the following two steps.
  • Set the BIOS to default settings.
  • Uninstall the CD drive from the Device Manager. Restarting the PC reinstalls it.
She will call back on Monday to ask if things are OK.

This new Dell is turning out to be quite a hassle.

Internet up and down today

Checked Air Station settings page. Fails on Name Resolution step.

Called Flets helpline. Received guidance as follows.

Create an internet connection as follows:
Internet Properties -> Connections [tab] -> Setup [btn in top right]
Run wizard
[o] Connect to the Internet
[o] Set up my connection manually
[o] Connect using a broadband connection that requires a user name and password
ISP Name: [anything]
User name: guest@flets
Password: guest

If we can connect here it means that the problem is either in the router or with the provider (e.g. Nifty)
(Note there's no .com or .jp at the end)

Was able to view it fine, indicating I may need to call Nifty. He gave me the following Nifty numbers.

Called Nifty and was given these new numbers.

Called Nifty but was told it would be a 20 minute wait. Seems to be OK for now so I won't bother.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Excel 2007 crashing

I am running Office 2007, on Windows XP Service Pack 3, brand-new Dell Latitude E6500.

Excel was crashing without fail whenever I tried to close a document with using the close box (top right). I mean Close Window, to close the document, not the one to close Excel itself. It didn't crash when I closed my doc using the Close menu item in the Office Button.

I seem to have resolved it by disabling the COM Add-in "Send to Bluetooth":c:\windows\system32\btsendto_office.dll

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Japanese applications on English Windows XP

I have long been running Japanese applications on an English version of Windows XP on my old self-made PC. I built that sucker in early 2003 and it's still going strong. In fact that's an understatement, it's actually my main work machine! I may have had various problems at the beginning with Japanese apps, but have not had any in nearly 6 years. So I had forgotten what it was like.

Anyway, my new Dell Latitude E6500 notebook came with an English XP. I installed Japanese Buffalo wireless client software so it can talk to my Buffalo router, and this software displayed a lot of garbage characters. Later I installed Hidemaru and had the same problem, lots of garbage characters.

I poked around and found the solution:
Control Panel -> Regional and Language Options -> Advanced -> Language for non-Unicode programs

I set this to Japanese, and this solved the problem.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Resolution on new Dell notebook

My new Dell Latitude E6500 arrived!

Anyway, the first shocker was that its resolution is so good. Too good, in fact.

In fact it's optimized at 1920 x 1200 px. On a 15.4 inch screen that makes for some very small text! Maybe I'm getting old, but it was really hurting my eyes.

I tried playing with the following settings:
  1. Display Properties -> Appearance -> Font size
  2. Display Properties -> Settings -> Screen resolution
  3. Display Properties -> Settings -> Advanced -> DPI setting
Nothing was satisfactory. If I changed the resolution, e.g. to 1280 x 1024 px, I would have to use the Intel graphics board driver settings, additionally, to maintain the aspect ratio, otherwise everything becomes stretched sideways. But if I did that it ends up shortening the screen width and I end up with unused vertical black bands of space on the left and right edges of my monitor. Which is wasteful, considering how valuable screen real estate is! Trying various values of 1 and 3 above too didn't bring satisfactory results.

I called Dell tech support and the guy's advice was to leave the resolution at the native 1920 x 1200, leave the font size in 1 above as Normal, and change the DPI in 3 above to 125% or 150%. The font size in 1 is just the fonts, whereas the DPI setting changes the size of everything such as icons.

So I did so, but all the text layout everywhere still looked really sloppy. I was losing hope and was considering returning the machine. I stepped out for a bit to go to the bank and grab lunch... and it occurred to me that perhaps I should try restarting... after all the DPI setting dialog explicitly tells you that some programs won't work properly if you don't. I was just in the habit of not restarting.

So when I got back home I restarted, and lo and behold things displayed quite nicely!

Hopefully this will be of use to whoever reads this.