Crappy Headset Business

More bad shopping experiences.  Recently, I bought Plantronics MX10, an phone amplifier that connects to computer for multimedia works and VOIP, along with a Telex H-51 headset.  Actually, I got the Hello Direct Virtuoso before that but returned it in favor of MX10.

When I received it, I realized that MX10 requires headsets with a special type of connector called Quick-Disconnect (QD).  Note that Quick-Disconnect headsets are two to 9 times more expensive than normal computer headsets.  After a bit of grumbling, I ordered a Symphony headset from Headsets.com because it was cheaper than Plantronics headsets of comparable quality.

When I got the Symphony headset, I hooked it all up but couldn't hear the dial tone.  Hmm.  I tested the headset by hooking it up directly to my phone.  There wasn't any problem with the headset.  I tried everything, even talking to Plantronics' very nice clueless tech person.  Only conclusion I could make was that MX10 was defective.  So off it went back to Amazon.

Today, the replacement MX10 arrived.  I hooked it all up again but same symtoms.  I switched to a different phone and was rewarded with very distant dial tone.  Amplifier that weakens signal?  I called Headsets.com tech support this time and got the disgusting insider news:

Headsets and phone amplifiers from different manufacturers are not compatible with each other although they all use Quick-Disconnect connectors.

Huh?  That means Plantronics amplifiers like MX10 works only with Plantronics headsets and Symphony headsets will work only with Symphony amplifiers.  The fact that they use same connector form factor is just meaningless.

Totally disgusted, I packed up everything except the Telex H-51 and scheduled a UPS pickup tommorrow.  Since I ordered a telephony enabled modem with my new computer, I am gonna use that instead of fancy but insane phone equipment.  I don't know why I haven't thought of this before.  After all, I have written a sophisticated telephony app for a client nearly ten years ago.  Maybe I'll even write a telephony app that will put these crappy companies out of business.

One Great Fcuking Beach

I guess others liked Dave's post about his dawn walk along Florida's one great fcuking beach, one thousand miles long stretch of sand.  I thought about sending Dave a thank you note for that post, but work got to me.

Hey, Dave.  Don't fix that typo.  I lvoe it like that. ;-)  Oh yeah.  Thanks for that great post, man.  It made me want to drive to Half Moon Bay in the morning, but my lazy butt open the chute just in time.

Dell Madness

Dell is driving me nuts.

I ordered Dell's 8400 desktop a week ago and it's schedule to be shipped on 27th of this month.  I didn't want to spend that much so I got a moderate CPU (3.2GHz P4), so so storage (250G), non-gamer's video card (ATI X300SE), and 2G of speedy memory.  X300SE was intended to be just a placeholder for a better graphics card later.  Audio card?  Whatever came with the motherboard.

Just now I checked the price and found that I could get faster CPU (3.4GHz), moderate gamer's graphics card (ATI X800 SE), and top of the line audio card (Audigy2?) for the same price!  I have bought countless computers before and I have learned to live with price drops.  But seeing such drastic price drops even before the box ships is too much to bear.

So I cancelled the order and came over to my blog to vent some frustration.  At this rate, I'll keep on cancelling my orders until there is a severe component shortage.  If there are more people like me, I think companies like Dell will have to offer price adjustements at the time of shipment.  Heck, it's not the money.  It's the ol' feeling of getting shafted loyally in real time.

Update:

I went ahead with the new order and got free 2nd shipping as well which means it will arrive about the same time as my previous order would have arrived.  Nice.

I am starting to understand a little more of how my wife feels when she hounds local mall clerks into making up differences whenever there is a sale.  I couldn't believe it when I first heard of it.  She buys something for X and, if store lowers the price to Y sometime later, then she somehow talk them into coughing up X-Y.  What I don't understand is why US economy doesn't collapse with shoppers like her around.

Update 2:

Aha!  I found the culprit behind the sudden price drop.  Intel cut the price of its CPUs by as much as 35% on August 23rd.  Since Dell had a fairly large number of customers waiting to receive 8400 desktops, I think many of them will cancel their orders to take advantage of the price drop.

Getting a rise out of Reiser4

Last time I looked at ReiserFS was, I think, at least couple of years ago.  It was a nice file system but I didn't find any use for it.  Two years later, Reiser4 is released and I still can't find a good use for it, but it sure has some intriguing one liner feature list that would any geek a bit of excitement:

  • Reiser4 is the fastest filesystem, and here are the benchmarks.
  • Reiser4 is an atomic filesystem, which means that your filesystem operations either entirely occur, or they entirely don't, and they don't corrupt due to half occuring. We do this without significant performance losses, because we invented algorithms to do it without copying the data twice.
  • Reiser4 uses dancing trees, which obsolete the balanced tree algorithms used in databases (see farther down). This makes Reiser4 more space efficient than other filesystems because we squish small files together rather than wasting space due to block alignment like they do. It also means that Reiser4 scales better than any other filesystem. Do you want a million files in a directory, and want to create them fast? No problem.
  • Reiser4 is based on plugins, which means that it will attract many outside contributors, and you'll be able to upgrade to their innovations without reformatting your disk. If you like to code, you'll really like plugins….
  • Reiser4 is architected for military grade security. You'll find it is easy to audit the code, and that assertions guard the entrance to every function.

Dancing trees?  I gotta look into that algorithm sometimes.  I wonder if variations of the algorithms will be called Disco or Samba?  ;-)  Hmm.  One of the testimonials is LivingXML which is a native XML engine built-on top of Reiser.  That's nice except LivingXML seems to be, well, dead.  Oh, well.

Perl vs. Java RegEx

Tim Bray compares Perl and Java regular expression performance with the result of Java performing twice as fast as Perl when output performance is factored out.  Fantastic.  I knew Java regular expression library was fast but I didn't know it was this fast.  Even more encouraging, there are even faster third party regular expression libraries for Java.  I wonder if .NET 2.0 makes up for the lackluster RegEx performance in .NET 1.1.

Update:

Jeff Atwood is getting completely different result (.NET RE faster by ~40%) from an informal benchmark I did a while back (.NET slower by ~60%).  BTW, I don't believe .NET RE is 20 times slower than Java RE.

MyEclipse 3.8.1

MyEclipse 3.8.0 GA, released early last week, had a lot of bugs because the MyEclipse team decided to throw in IBM's contribution to Eclipse's Web Tools project which weren't production quality yet.  It's the price one has to pay for being too eager.

Thankfully, they made up for their mistake in short order by releasing version 3.8.1 last Sunday which fixes the most apparent bugs.  I am sure there are bugs yet to be unearthed, but I used it last night and found no serious problems that prevents me from using it.  They even added Sysdeo-style webapp project layout I mentioned before.

For $30 per year, MyEclipse offers a truck load of essential tools for server-side Java developers and unreasonably responsive technical support.  Think of MyEclipse as buying timeshare on a talented blacksmith.  If you want something done, it's just a matter of screaming the loudest.  Highly recommended.

Spring Framework

While I was playing around with MyEclipse 3.8.1 (quickly delivered butt saving release to make up for the silly 3.8.0 version), I got sidetracked into JavaServer Faces (definitely useful but seems to have the same disagreeable feel to it as Struts) and then fell into Spring Framework.  Hmm.  I liked what I read in this introductory article about the framework.

While I am not too hot on IoC (Inversion of Control), I like the way Spring guys implemented IoC.  Most of all, I like the way Spring makes components easier to test by reducing dependency and enhancing configurability.  Apparently, there is an effort to ease integration between Spring and JSF which I'll have to take a look at real soon.

Update:

There is a seemingly very nice Eclipse plugin for Spring Framework you should take a look at if you use Eclipse and are interested in giving Spring a try.