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Some People Left for Heaven Without Warning…

Too many people died in 2013. So many, it seems, that when Philip Chevron of The Pogues died, I didn’t get round to finishing my post. Here’s what I wrote in October:

… Except there ain’t no fucking heaven, and too damn many people have left for it this year. I hate 2013.

If there’s one slightly positive thing about Philip Chevron dying two days ago for me, it’s that I was reminded that the box set Just Look Them Straight In The Eye And Say… Pogue Mahone! exists; and also that it is now available in an inexpensive format for about £14. I ordered it on Tuesday night, and it arrived today.

I’ve been listening to it all afternoon. It’s a combination of outtakes, demos, live tracks and radio sessions, and it’s very good.

One thing that stands out at the moment, though, is that their music is steeped in the imagery of death. “Some people left for heaven without warning” is a line from “Sally Maclennane”, of course.

Weirdest Customer Request?

This is one of those unpublished posts I told you about. I don’t know why it wasn’t published (well, except that I hadn’t written the last couple of sentences).

A while back I heard the strangest ever request from a customer.

As you might know, I work for a software house.1 We write financial software for banks. As a thing to talk about it tends to be boring, but it can have interesting challenges.

Anyway, one of our product’s problems, as a web-based app, is that it was written to specifically target the Internet Explorer browser.

I know that seems at best charmingly retro, and at worst appallingly non-standards-compliant, but there are a couple of good-ish reasons. Principally the fact that the original version of the web app was written by contractors who both only knew IE, and were told that our clients only cared about IE. The latter was probably true at the time, and as for the former, well: let’s just say that sometimes people in companies make some stupid decisions, and leave it at that.

Inevitably, and especially as the browser landscape has matured and Apple and Google have come to rule the world, there have been calls to fix things. But there have always been higher-priorities. Getting new features done takes priority over making things work better, sadly.

One of these years we’ll fix it — personally I don’t think it’ll be as difficult as people always think (that fear is another reason why we have resisted doing it).

But what it would really take to force us to sort it out would be if a client demanded it.

If it were going to make or break a sale, we’d be all hands on deck.

So it’s interesting that we got a query a while back wherein a client was concerned about the fact that the app doesn’t work properly in Firefox. This was causing some of their users distress, as FF is their chosen browser. Was this it? Was this the opportunity, at last, driven by customer demand, to bring our app into the late twentieth century?

No.

No, the client had a better idea. They wanted us to to change our app such that it would detect that the user was running something other than IE

… and prompt them to use IE instead.

Oh dear.

(We didn’t agree to their request.)


  1. Incidentally, why “house”, I wonder? By association with “publishing house”, obviously, but why are those “houses”? I’m reminded of a discussion I had on a software mailing list in the nineties regarding the American tendency (then, if not now) for referring to a “shop”, meaning a programming entity, including an old-school IT department within a company. 

Another Lost Month, and Unpublished Posts

OK, so not content with the last post celebrating the fact that I missed a whole month, I then went on and missed February, too. These months just go by so fast.

Anyway, a couple of things. I noticed that I have a few posts sitting in draft form but that are more-or-less complete, so you may shortly see some slightly-non-timely things.

And I’m thinking I might have another go at blogging about the books I read. I appear not to have done that regularly since 2009 (these years go by so fast…) I might not give every book its own post, but put a few into a summary. As I’ve only read three so far this year (one of them was Stephen King’s 1300-page behemoth It, so I don’t feel too bad about the count) I’ll start with those.

This might just encourage me to post regularly, if not frequently.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of Arthur’s Seat to keep things visual.

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Missing Months

I missed all of December. On this blog, that is. No posts at all. V bad. And nearly missed January as well.

But not quite. Here’s a photo to remind us what January’s weather has been like.

And I’ve just done my tax return.

Welcome to the end of the first month of 2014.