I admit that I am a pretty big Harry Potter fan – I watch all of the movies with my kids whenever I can (and even without them), I have read all of the books multiple times, and I listen to the audio version of the books (the Jim Dale version) once a year to prepare for the then new book releases and the new movie releases. I’ve even found myself caught up in a fanfic or two and had a ship preference. That being said, it should be no small wonder that I have been eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Harry Potter movie franchise, especially after Order of the Phoenix, which I thought was cinematically far superior to its predecessors.
When I found out that the trailer for Half-Blood Prince was to be released on AOL at 9 PM EST, I of course had to download and view it like a proper Potter-maniac. My standards has fallen somewhat, though, as I did not view the trailer until an hour and a half after it was released – having four year old twins may have something to do with that, to be sure.
What did I think?
It left me yearning for more, and thinking that 114 days is still a long, long way away. I even jokingly told my wife that we better start arranging for a sitter so we could see the midnight showing. She laughed at me, but whole-heartedly agreed that we would be going to the midnight showing. The trailer focuses mainly on Dumbledore’s first meeting with the boy Tom Riddle, and seems to follow closely what I remember reading more than once. From what I saw, the only complaint I have is that the actor who plays the young Voldemort, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, does not come off quite haughty enough – the way I read HBP, Tom as a boy was haughty, mean, and eager to learn everything once it was confirmed he could do magic. I did not get that from Hero, but of course, it was a brief clip in a trailer.
Other than that, I cannot wait until more trailers are released, and of course, the movie itself, which I will assuredly be in line for the first showing.
I received the notice this morning that Firefox 3.0.1 was available for download, so I went ahead and installed the update, knowing that it had some security fixes in it. What I did not realize was that it would break all of my add-ons in the process of updating so that I was left with a vanilla 3.0.1 browser, no add-ons, no themes, nothing else when I restarted.
I quickly hit Basil’s Blog looking for answers, but could not quite believe what he was saying. He was telling me that the reason ALL of my add-ons and themes were not working was because of authors not declaring their compatibility range correctly? I was not buying that, as I use quite a few add-ons for web development and other aesthetics, and I could not fathom how every single one of them would have incorrectly stated their compatibility range “2.0 to 3.0” instead of “2.0 to 3.0.*”.
There was, of course, a quick way of confirming whether or not this was indeed the problem with my add-ons – disabling the add-on compatibility check. For those of you who are not familiar with this trick, type “about:config” in Firefox’s address bar, and hit enter. Accept the warning that will appear by clicking on the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” button, and a page will display with all of Firefox’s configuration settings. Right-click anywhere on this page, and go to New –> Boolean; a “New boolean value” window will pop-up requesting a preference name. Type “extensions.checkCompatibility” and click “OK”. The box will then display the option to set this to false or true, click false and then click “OK”. A new entry should be visible in the long list of names for your new value, but this will not take effect until you restart Firefox.
Having done this, I quickly confirmed that the problem with my add-ons had nothing to do with incorrect compatibility ranges, as none of my add-ons loaded, and I still had no themes. Thinking I had a problem with my profile, I browsed to the profile directory to check things out. It did not take me long to discover I did have a problem. The extensions.ini file in my profile directory was empty (0KB in size)! It was starting to look like this was the culprit of my problem. For thoroughness, I backed up all of my extensions files and then deleted them (extensions.cache, extensions.ini, and extensions.rdf). Then I restarted Firefox again.
When Firefox loaded up this time, my theme was back and so were all of my add-ons! A quick look in the profile directory verified that all of the extensions files had been recreated. Somehow, the Firefox 3.0.1 update had messed up the extensions files in my profile, but it turns out that it is easy to remedy once you know what the problem is – delete your extensions files and restart the browser.
I learned an important lesson the other day when I went to export the list of mailboxes from my firm’s Microsoft Exchange server – Microsoft did not take into consideration the commas that are potentially found in the name of the Mailbox, Size (KB), and Total Items columns.
To find out what I am talking about open up the Exchange System Manager on your Microsoft Exchange server, then browser to Administrative Groups –> [Group Name] –> Servers –> [Server Name] –> [Storage Group Name] –> Mailbox Store –> Mailboxes. Right-click on Mailboxes and go to Export List…, at which point an Export List window appears that will ask for the File name of your export file and the format you wish to save it in. Choose Text (Comma Delimited) (*.csv) from the Save as type drop-down menu, choose a name, and click Save.
The CSV file that you now have will be a complete mess; especially if you try and open it with Microsoft Excel (I am using Excel 2007). Instead of the six columns that are found under Mailboxes (Mailbox, Last Logged on By, Size (KB), Total Items, Last Logon Time, and Last Logoff Time), you could have (as in my case, dependent on the actual sizes of the mailboxes) ten columns. In my case, the Mailbox was split into two columns (first and last name), the Size (KB) column was split into three columns, and the Total Items was split into two columns. This is because Microsoft pretends everything is text, and no commas are stripped from any of the number columns. The names are problematic simply because our system has a Last, First schema for Mailbox names.
The way around this mess would be to actually follow RFC 4180 memo, that while not an actual standard, has good practices and conventions for CSV files, one of which is to place quotes around each column to preserve the internal commas. But as always Microsoft does not think ahead very far and their QA program is abysmal. Shame on them, and too bad for us. The only way to export your list of mailboxes (that I am aware of) is to export them as a tab delimited text file that can then be imported into Excel and formatted as it needs to be.
To my mind, Microsoft should have either placed quotes around every column entry (why not, since they are treating everything as text), or not sent the numbers as text with commas into the file (they are only numbers after all). With this second option<, the export would only fail on the Mailbox name, which is an issue only when you have a schema where there is a comma in the name (which I also believe is bad, but I did not set it up).
Either way, could Microsoft stop being so near-sighted and think ahead at what they are doing?
I am in the middle of my fourth technical review, and wonder if I am taking the best approach to technical review in general. I want to ensure that I produce a good quality review (after all, I relied on reviewers doing the same for me and my first book).
I make several reads through a chapter, attempting to hyper-focus on a particular thing through each read. On my first read though, I am reading what the author has to say on a topic, and looking for anything I consider to be dangerous commentary, incorrectly stated, or just plain wrong. The second read is where I concentrate on the code itself; is it consistent throughout in form, is it correct, could it be improved? Finally, I read through once more, and look for grammatical mistakes, typos, and incorrectly formatted text — once again ensuring that a format stays consistent throughout the book.
How does this approach compare to how others do their technical reviews? I am looking for comments so as to refine and improve my technique.