Older blog entries for madscientist (starting at number 2)

Must ... do ... work ...
My family will be back in town tomorrow evening so I need to get the release candidate for the next GNU make release done this weekend. I promised myself I'd get it finished before they got back. It's so hard to sit down and do all the minutiae involved with a release, even with all the excellent supporting rules provided by automake etc. It's about this time that I always wish I had a better test suite framework: make is about the simplest program to write tests for you can imagine... it seems the working with the test suite is actually more difficult than writing the tests themselves, which is never a good thing.

I've been trying to find a good spec for, or implementation of, a reliable packet-based protocol: RDP or whatever. None of them seemed to have really caught on though. I wonder why? If anyone has any pointers to good reliable packet protocols that are used and considered mature and stable, I'm interested. What the heck, I'm interested even if they're cool but not mature :).

sdodji, I have to disagree with a few of your comments on ClearCase. As a preface let me say I've never used the Windows version of ClearCase, but we've been using it on UNIXen for over 6 years, since CC 2.0. This is a free software forum so I don't want to get into a big discussion, and some of your comments are right on: it does require more admin commitment than other tools, and it does require very reliable and fast network and server hardware. I think many companies buy ClearCase that shouldn't: it is a very high-end tool. If you are willing to plunk down the $$ needed for licenses, then you should have enough to not blink too much at getting a good server and good network components.

However, ClearCase is not unreliable (again, on UNIX). We've been using the same server for about four years, with well over 100 developers using it and thousands of workspaces at a time and it has never crashed or hung. My Linux box at work as currently been up for 149 days. This is my main development system: I do tons of work on it with multiple views, both local and mounted from remote systems.

Also, you are certainly not forced to use their merge utility (their text based one is about the worst I've ever seen; the graphical tool is mediocre). I use GNU diff3 or Emacs ediff for all my ClearCase merging. Their findmerge command has a -exec option that lets you invoke whatever merge tool you want, no problem.

Awesome fireworks in Boston today! We really have some of the best 4th entertainment around, I believe. But it was HOT. It's always this time of year I think I should have gotten AC.

Tom: it's not just you, or automake. We all get that kind of email. I agree that it's frustrating. And I know exactly what you mean: it's such a drag when you find yourself engaged in a meaningless flamefest and realize you're simply wasting your time with someone who has no real interest in having a discussion but just wants to vent. Who has energy for that? I unsubscribed from gmd years ago and that's helped a good bit with my free time :).

One thing I often do is write an email, then delete it before sending it. In a way it's still frustrating because maybe I wasted 15 minutes on the thing, but at least it doesn't drag on, and I usually feel better afterwards.

4 Jul 2002 (updated 4 Jul 2002 at 02:12 UTC) »

I guess I'm naive. For some reason I assumed that, with the current tech slowdown, there would be both a glut of at least reasonably talented people needing work, and a new commitment on the part of companies to keep the customers they have, and win new ones.

So why, then, has service in every segment of the tech industry (that I'm a customer of) begun to suck so badly? Is it really that companies don't have enough money to provide decent customer service any more? Or are people just too stunned and depressed to care?

I bring this up as I wait for the second day for someone at my ISP to clean out the /var partition on my hosting server: since that partition filled up sometime early yesterday morning major chunks of my site no longer work: I can't ssh into the box (I have a session still running from before the disk filled, which is how I know what's going on), various parts of my pages, like counters, no longer work, and anyone trying to send email to my mailing lists gets it rejected with an error about "insufficient resources". I've filed numerous cases with no response at all, and now even that doesn't work. How hard is it to delete some log files? If it comes to that, how hard is it to install some trivial scripts to proactively email the admins when a system disk is getting full?

And as bad as that is, I don't even want to get into the experiences my wife has had with her new Treo--she loves the Treo, but the customer service for everything ranging from the rebate offer to the email account to the phone service has been a nightmare.

So, what is it? Are companies broke? Did they fire anyone who knew anything? Are employees too depressed to care? I always used to assume bad customer service was due to record low unemployment--but now there are people who need work, and companies who need customers, and yet the customer service seems worse than ever.

I'm confused.

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