Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Twitter is for Old Fogies, Teen Says

A 15-year-old London teenager is shaking up the staid business world with a report he wrote as an intern, called How Teenagers Consume Media. In the report, Matthew Robson describes a bizarro teenage world that, according to the London Times, is "a confusing place where the PC is a radio, the games console is a telephone, the mobile telephone is a stereo and text-message machine, the DVDs are pirate copies and no one uses Twitter." Some of Robson’s reasoning would make an economist, like the Morgan Stanley fogies who sponsored his internship, smile. Robson finds Twitter a waste, because he can send many texts to his friends for the same price as a single 140-character Twitter post. That teenagers have no money is also his basis for his use of other media, although many would argue that, at least in the US, teens have plenty of disposable income. Teens don’t go to movies once they have to pay full price, he says, and prefer to steal music and video from online sites such as Limewire. Robson’s view of telephonic communication is that it’s basically only good for conversing with the opposite sex. He chats with his friends mostly while playing video games like Call of Duty. According to the Times article, "You use a mobile phone if you want to talk to girls," he said, as "only about one in fifty girls plays computer games." Having raised three boys through their teen years, who are now 26, 22, and almost 20, much of what Robson says comes as no surprise. However, my kids and their friends differ quite a bit from Robson’s assertion that "Eight out of ten teenagers don’t buy music. It comes from limewire, blogs or torrents." Each of my sons owns a rather large legally-acquired library of DVDs and CDs. However, I have partially failed in getting them to understand the position and rights of content producers since they do preview music on free Websites and download TV shows. I believe that Robson’s view of cell phones, email, Twitter, and social networking in general will change as he enters the world of work, where such tools are increasingly more essential to the performance of a job. Nonetheless, expect huge changes in modes of communications over the next decade as current teens transition into the workplace. If you think you already live in a world where the pressure to be always-on and always-available is intense, just wait.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

IE7 and the Infinite Page (Sadness)

Why does generate infinite pages when print previewed in IE7? Good question.

A buddy of mine made some changes in his site, hosted at GoDaddy, using their WebSite Tonight (r) wizard. All of a sudden, none of his pages print in IE7. They print fine in Firefox.

I've examined the HTML and found it's predictably too verbose, lots of divs, some don't appear to be closed (I lost patience trying to match them up.) I made sure the HTML that could be controlled was pristine, but it looks like something in their template code is cheesing IE7 off.

The page I did surgery on is the home page, If your HTML or DOM mojo is strong, please check it out and let me know if you figure it out.

Wow! Two posts in a row complaining about Microsoft. Shouldn't kick them while they're down.

So, OK, on a completely different tack, I understand the Cram DeRux fan club has updated its unauthorized Website. Check it out. I can't wait for more!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Operating Systems That Make You Go Hmmmmm . . .

Recently I was reminded of an unforgivable quirk in Microsoft's directory system. I had run into this some time ago, but a friend's adventures in trying to transfer files from his daughter's W2000 PC to his XP PC called it to mind again.

My friend, we'll call him "Roger", reported: "So I am backing up [her] computer and it keeps failing. It takes me some time, but I find out that the folder structure she has created on her Windows 2000 machine is not compatible with my XP machine."

Well, I'm not sure that's the real answer there, though. For many generations, Windows operating systems have been able to create file names (and directory names) that the find to be illegal when you go and try to use them.

I found this out some time ago when I was trying to move a directory into my archive folders. It kept complaining about not being able to delete this one directory. On further investigation, I found that I had saved an Internet Explorer bookmark in the directory. In case you don't know, IE saves bookmarks by creating a shortcut using the title of the page in question.

Turns out the page I saved the link to had a gawd-awfully long title that included several characters that Windows finds to be illegal. Now you'd think a well-behaved and rational operating system would not allow me to save a file with an illegal name. You would be right. Since Windows XP is not well-behaved or rational, I was actually able to save this link in the directory that I could not delete.

No prob, you think. Just delete the file. Hah! You obviously know little about computers, my friend! When I tried to delete the file using Windows Explorer, Windows blithely tells me that there is no file by that name. Of course, I am staring right at the file's listing in the Explorer window right in front of me.

No prob, you think, Just rename the file. Well, you siee, Explorer can't find the file, because it's name is illegal. It was the file that dare not speak its name.

This anecdote would be much better if could remember how I outfoxed Windows to delete a file it had created. But, alas, all I can remember was that it took hours of effort.

Our friend "Roger", however, quickly deduced that XP was yowling about illegal names when he took a look at his daughter's directory structure in Explorer. It looked like this:

I think Windows objected to the daughter's enthusiasm for exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!

"Roger," who is either much more computer savvy than I (inconceivable!), or not as familiar with as many stupid computer tricks as I, solved the problem, probably in less time it took me. Here's his terse and efficient explanation:

I had to move the files in DOS. Explorer kept crashing. Save that one for a blog.

Be careful what you wish for, "Roger!"

Being memory-challenged, I can neither confirm nor deny that this was how I ended up fixing my particular problem, although I do remember screwing around in the CMD window and making liberal use of quotes. So it is obvious that the rudimentary, unsophisticated and unpolished reminder of a simpler time (DOS) is somehow able to deal with the kind of mind-boggling conundrums that Windows can create, but not solve.

One final thought: It is a tribute to the parenting instinct that "Roger" did not delete his daughter's hilarious directory tree to save himself trouble in the future. He lovingly preserved it for the ages. Thus, since "Roger" is not getting any younger, there will probably come a time in the probably not too distant future when he comes upon this particularly nasty directory villain again . . . and totally forgets how he dealt with it before.