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How hard could it be?

Here is an excellent article by Joel Spolsky on 5 ways to make a project fail.

I happen to particularly agree/like this from point 5:

Software development takes immense intellectual effort. Even the best programmers can rarely sustain that level of effort for more than a few hours a day. Beyond that, they need to rest their brains a bit, which is why they always seem to be surfing the Internet or playing games when you barge in on them.

So next time you see me playing a game of surfing the of internets, give me a break, it takes immense intellectual effort. Honest it does.

Laws of Technology

Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Benford’s Corollary: Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.

Raymond’s Second Law: Any sufficiently advanced system of magic would be indistinguishable from a technology.

Sterling’s Corollary: Any sufficiently advanced garbage is indistinguishable from magic.

Langford’s application to science fiction: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a completely ad-hoc plot device.

… has an invalid qualified name

I like to google error messages that I encounter, as any good developer should. I googled the message “… has an invalid qualified name.”, and I got what has to be one of the most helpful reference messages ever:

XML-21017: invalid qualified name: string
Cause: The qualified name passed to a DOM function was invalid.
Action: Fix the qualified name.

Wow. Thanks. I need to fix the qualified name now do I? Thats really helpful. You really are a helpful reference aren’t you?

Google Checkout in the UK

After running successfully in the US for a number of months Google Checkout has now been opened up to UK sellers. While examining the system with a view to integrate it with the Karova Store e-commerce framework I ran up this overview of the features, the good points, the bad and the everything else.

Its only a very high level overview, but if you’re interested in it and want to quickly get an idea of what Google Checkout is and what it can do you can find it here.

If you don’t feel like reading it, I’ll sum it up. It’s good. And the engineer’s have clearly been working hard to aid easy integration from a developers standpoint. The api’s all seem very well rounded and intuitive, so much so I’m actually looking forward to getting some time free to work on the full integration with Karova Store 2.x.

Read Integrating Karova Store with Google Checkout.

pretty sweet internet, pretty sweet

filehippo

One of the problems with all this computer lark is how fast things go out of date. Take for instance Firefox. With the amount of extensions I use almost every time I start up there is a slew of update to my extensions. I like this. This is good. It keeps things up to date, and running smoothly.

What I don’t like is things that don’t automatically update, or at least don’t give me the opportunity to do it automatically. “A newer version of this software is available”. Fine, but don’t make ME go and get it.

But here’s a solution. A nifty little program from File Hippo, imaginatively called Update Checker.

Its a tiny little program that you can get here. It just quickly runs through everything installed on your system and checks them against the most recent versions. If it finds any it displays them in a browser window with links to the updates. It even does beta updates if you happen to be that way inclined.

How lovely. While its not a thing I would use on a daily basis, maybe scheduling it to run every week or so would be quite nice. If you find it of use let me know. (On my first run I had 20 updates – beat that)

strange flvplayer problems

Playing around with flv player yesterday I came across an odd problem.

Using flvplayer to play a flv file on my machine worked fine. As soon as I uploaded it to a server (infact in this case it was my localhost – but same thing really) it no longer played.

After all sorts of searches for phrases like “FLVPlayer not streaming video”, “flv not streaming online”, “problems streaming flv video”, “im bored and slightly hungry”, “why isn’t this working”, “what is the answer mr google? tell me!”, “flv player flv video streaming problems” and so on, I came across an odd thing. This is a well known problem .

Under IIS 6.0, microsoft changed the way they handle flv files. Heres the article by adobe on how to fix the problem with iis. The way to fix is to add the .flv extension as a MIME type on iis.

The way I found to do this best (as it was on my local server) was to go to IIS and then the Default Web Site, right click on properties, then go to the HTTPHeaders tab. On the bottom click on File Types and in there add the following:

Associated Extension: flv

Content Type (MIME): flv-application/oclet-stream

For all intents and purposes, this should of fixed the problem.

But it didn’t.

Here’s the markup I’m using for embeding:

<object data=”mcpassets/flvplayer/flvplayer.swf” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” height=”600″ width=”600″>

<paramvalue=”file=assets/video/pete.flv&image=assets/video/pete_thumb.jpg” name=”flashvars” />

<param name=”movie”value=”mcpassets/flvplayer/flvplayer.swf?file=assets/video/pete.flv&image=assets/video/pete_thumb.jpg” />

<object>

Now while this showed the thumbnail, the

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