Beware the Pseudo-Engineer

Snake-oil salesmen would use language that, to the commoner, would sound similar to the language of the doctors. As they traveled the nation, selling their concoctions plenty of folk where charmed by the salesman and their pitch, nicely peppered with pig latin words.


But the salesman is not a doctor, and when the ointment failed to cure any ills (that would not have cleared up by itself anyways), the circus had long since left town.

I still, occasionally, come across snake-oil salesmen once in a while. I often wonder if they are oblivious to their own deceit, or if they know that they are pretend-engineers. Some scientific research supports the idea that they most likely are not aware of their own ignorance. They simply consider themselves superior to their “peers”. This is called Illusory superiority (I am not making this up, I swear!).

You may come across people that pretend to know about H.264 and IP. To the lay-people it comes across as reasonable, even somewhat scientific, but anyone who really knows about video codecs and IP immediately understands that the salesman is full of shit. If you engage in a conversation with the misguided “engineer”, the salesman will often pepper his retort with “fancy words” to try and sound even more like a real engineer.

I am sure that there is a place for analog systems, and I appreciate their simplicity as much as the next person. But when vocal advocates for the “analog revolution” starts making things up about IP then it bothers me. It bothers me that some folks get up on their stoop and start confabulating about things that they clearly do not understand to people who might waste their money on a vial of “Dr. Rocks Heal-it-All Ointment”. They may admire the pretty uncompressed video, being sent across expensive dedicated lines from edge to recorder, but when the time comes and they look at the recordings from last nights burglary, they may realize that the ointment just smelled nice, but it gave a horrible rash when you applied it. But by that time, the circus has left town.

Wildcard Matching in Ocularis

Before you read this : Yes. I am repeating myself.

Some folks might remember when Yahoo! had a folder like structure. A sort of hierarchy, where everything was sorted according to a category, a subcategory, and a sub-subcategory. Naturally, they had a fallback wildcard search too. As it turns out, the wildcard search became quite popular. At some point, I believe the search engine was Google.

Now, the filtering in Ocularis is certainly not Google, but the point is that sometimes a linear search gets you where you want to be faster than going through folders (I have folders on dh0: but I often resort to search anyways).

Here’s a contrived example:


Who works at Microsoft?

Steve Balmer – here’s a way to save a lot of money. Get rid of the WPF team today. Oh, you already did kill WPF? Well, did you get rid of the geniuses who designed it? No?

As I was happily coding away, I decided I needed to host a control in a ScrollViewer rather than a grid. Once I did that, I realized that Mouse Down events no longer propagated to my callback. Turns out that ScrollViewer is severely retarded and does not really perform as the other controls. The MouseLeftButtonDown is there, but does it do anything. No. It doesn’t do anything. I just sits there. Stupidly.

Real, 2012-type, drag and drop UI stuff requires you to jump through hoops. Most of them completely illogical, because some part of the team thought that up really meant down, and that left was right.

If you are considering WPF, please re-consider right now. While WPF is a fun toy, it’s design flaws means that you will be spending too much time on things that you (rightfully) would assume were simple.