Why Windows 10 is not bad thing

Microsoft have announced that their new operating system, Windows 10, should be ready for release later in 2015.  If history is to be repeated, we can look forward to new machines being shipped with it in August, and the general public can get their hands on it in October; which is what happened with Windows 8 back in 2012.  That’s not a very long life for Windows 8, which was frowned upon for having lost the “Start” menu (brought back for 8.1) and generally being designed for tablet and touch screen users rather than those on a traditional desktop.  Personally I have always liked Windows 8, even if it did take some getting used to.  Yes 8.1 is better than standard 8, and much more user friendly, but I think the dislike towards the current operating system is because Microsoft made a change from what it’s had people get used to for the last 20-odd years.  Windows 10 looks to bring that format back, using a mix of the traditional start menu, and a slight mix in of the “metro” interface from Windows 8.

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Bug reports bugging me

In my life I’m no different to any other developer.  I make mistakes from time to time, and others around me make them too.  As a result, I occasionally get allocated some bugs to fix, either ones I’ve just managed to make myself, or long standing ones which have just been found.  Bugs are annoying for all concerned, I’m sure we can all agree on that.  They are annoying for the person who discovers them because it means the system can’t do what they wanted or expected it to.  They are annoying for anyone on a support desk, as it means they have to work through it and determine if it’s intended to work that way, or if it is doing something stupid.  And it’s annoying for the developer, because there’s usually a ton of other things to do besides fixing issues.  After all, our code is always perfect, so why can’t every other developer’s code be perfect?

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XML is your friend

I’ve been working a lot recently with data import and exports between systems.  Obviously different systems have a variety of ways they can export data, and some even have multiple ways of importing data, but none of them seem to have a standard type for the file data.  In recent weeks I have worked with:

Files where fields are delimited with a #
Files where fields are delimited with a ^
Files where fields are delimited with a , (typical CSV files)
Files where everything is nicely structured XML

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The importance of valid HTML

The need for standards compliant HTML is documented all over the internet with the primary reason of speed and cross browser compatibility.  There are, after all, reasons the standards have been created.  The idea behind them is that you can take the code which is fully standards compliant and run it in any browser and it will look the same.  Okay we all know that that’s not actually the case, and different browser engines render things slightly differently.  It’s one of the main reasons why the web development community hates Internet Explorer; it seems to have its own way of doing things which is different to everyone else.

Bitching about IE aside, I came across another reason to have standards compliant code this week, and a problem I have seen previously, forgotten about and had to research again, so I am here to share the wisdom I have recently rediscovered, and also have it somewhere I can easily find it again.

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Are error messages evil?

A colleague of mine posted a question to us developers for our input.  They had read an article on LinkedIn which stated the following, and asked for our thoughts:

Error messages punish people for not behaving like machines. It is time we let people behave like people. When a problem arises, we should call it machine error, not human error: the machine was designed wrong, demanding that we conform to its peculiar requirements. It is time to design and build machines that conform to our requirements. Stop confronting us: Collaborate with us.

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